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A LARGE part of this book formed the course of Dale 
Lectures delivered in Mansfield College, Oxford, in 
the Spring of 1907. For the lecture-room the chapters 
lad to be considerably abridged ; they are now restored to 
heir full length, while revision and addition have further 
changed their character. They are published in accordance 
with the terms of the Dale foundation. 

To see the Founder of the Christian movement and some 
f his followers as they appeared among their contemporaries ; 
o represent Christian and pagan with equal goodwill and 
equal honesty, and in one perspective ; to recapture some- 
hing of the colour and movement of life, using imagination 
o interpret the data, and controlling it by them ; to follow 
he conflict of ideals, not in the abstract, but as they show 
hemselves in character and personality; and in this way to 
discover where lay the living force that changed the thoughts 
a.nd lives of men, and what it was ; these have been the 
lims of the writer, impossible, but worth attempting. So 
ar as they have been achieved, the book is relevant to 
he reader. 

The work of others has made the task lighter. German 
cholars, such as Bousset, von Dobschiitz, Harnack, Pfleiderer 
md Wernle ; Professor F. C. Burkitt and others nearer home 
vho have written of the beginnings of Christianity ; Boissier, 
\lartha and Professor Samuel Dill ; Edward Caird, Lecky, and 
Seller; with the authors of monographs, Croiset, de Faye, 
ireard, Koziol, Oakesmith, Volkmann ; these and others have 
>een laid under contribution. In another way Dr Wilhelm 
ierrmann, of Marburg, and Thomas Carlyle have helped the 



book. The references to ancient authorities are mostly of 
the writer's own gathering, and they have been verified. 

Lastly, there are friends to thank, at Cambridge and at I 
Woodbrooke, for the services that only friends can render 
suggestion, criticism, approval, correction, and all the other | ! 
kindly form5 of encouragement and enlightenment. 


February igog. 




II. THE STOICS ....... 33 

III. PLUTARCH ....... 75 

IV. JESUS OF NAZARETH . . . . . .113 



VII. "GODS OR ATOMS?" ...... 196 

III. CELSUS ........ 239 


X. TERTULLIAN ....... 305 

INDEX ........ 349 




ON the Ides of March in the year 44 B.C. Julius Caesar lay 
dead at the foot of Pompey's statue. His body had 
twenty three wounds. So far the conspirators had done 
their work thoroughly, and no farther. They had made no 
preparation for the government of the Roman world. They 
had not realized that they were removing the great organizing 
intelligence which stood between the world and chaos, and back 
into chaos the world swiftly rolled. They had hated personal 
government ; they were to learn that the only alternative was 
no government at all. "Be your own Senate yourself" 1 wrote 
Cicero to Plancus in despair. There was war, there were 
faction fights, massacres, confiscations, conscriptions. The 
enemies of Rome came over her borders, and brigandage 
flourished within them. 

At the end of his first Georgic Virgil prays for the triumph 
of the one hope which the world saw for the preservation and 
he rule of the young Caesar, and he sums up in a few lines the 
.orror from which mankind seeks to be delivered. " Right and 
rong are confounded ; so many wars the world over, so many 
brms of wrong; no worthy honour is left to the plough; the 
usbandmen are marched away and the fields grow dirty ; the 
ook has its curve straightened into the sword-blade. In the 
st, Euphrates is stirring up war, in the West, Germany : nay, 
lose-neighbouring cities break their mutual league and draw 
he sword, and the war-god's unnatural fury rages over the 
hole world ; even as when in the Circus the chariots burst 

1 Cic. ad Jam. x, 1 6. 2, Ipse tibi sis senatus. 


from their floodgates, they dash into the course, and pulling 
desperately at the reins the driver lets the horses drive him, and 
the car is deaf to the curb." l 

Virgil's hope that Octavian might be spared to give peace to 
the world was realized. The foreign enemies were driven over 
their frontiers and thoroughly cowed ; brigandage was crushed, 
and finally, with the fall of Antony and Cleopatra, the govern- 
ment of the whole world was once more, after thirteen years of 
suffering, disorder and death, safely gathered into the hands of 
one man. There was peace at last and Rome had leisure to 
think cut the experience through which she had passed. 

The thirteen years between the murder of Caesar and the 
battle of Actium were only a part of that experience ; for a 
century there had been continuous disintegration in the State. 
The empire had been increased, but the imperial people had 
declined. There had been civil war in Rome over and over 
again murder employed as a common resource of politics 
reckless disregard of the sacredness of life and property, anc 
thorough carelessness of the State. The impression that 
England made upon Wordsworth in 1802 was precisely thai 
left upon the mind of the serious Roman when he reflected 
upon his country. All was " rapine, avarice, expense." 

Plain living and high thinking are no more : 
The homely beauty of the good old cause 
Is gone ; our peace, our fearful innocence, 
And pure religion breathing household laws. 

Such complaints, real or conventional, are familiar to the 
readers of the literature of the last century before Christ. Every- 
one felt that a profound change had come over Rome. 
Attempts had been made in various ways to remedy this 
change ; laws had been passed ; citizens had been banished and 
murdered ; armies had been called in to restore ancient 
principles ; and all had resulted in failure. Finally a gleam ol 
restoration was seen when Julius began to set things in order 
when he " corrected the year by the Sun " and gave promise of 
as true and deep-going a correction of everything else. His 
murder put an end to all this at the time, and it took thirteen 
years to regain the lost opportunity and the years were not 
1 Gcorgic i, 505-514 (Conington's translation, with alterations). 


altogether loss for they proved conclusively that there was now 
no alternative to the rule of the " Prince." 

Accordingly the Prince set himself to discover what was to 
be done to heal the hurt of his people, and to heal it thoroughly. 
What was the real disease ? was the question that men asked 
where was the root of all the evil ? why was it that in old days 
men were honest, governed themselves firmly, knew how to 
obey, and served the State ? A famous line of Ennius, written 
two centuries before, said that the Roman Commonwealth stood 
on ancient character, and on men. 

Moribus antiquis stat res Romana virisque. 

Both these bases of the national life seemed to be lost 
were they beyond recall ? could they be restored ? What was 
it that had made the " ancient character " ? What was the 
ultimate difference between the old Roman and the Roman 
of the days of Antony and Octavian ? Ovid congratulated 
tiimself on the perfect congruity of the age and his personal 

hcsc cetas moribus apta meis 

and he was quite right. And precisely in the measure that 
Ovid was right in finding the age and his character in agree- 
ment, the age and national character were demonstrably 
degenerate. It was the great question before the nation, its 
statesmen, patriots and poets, to find why two hundred years 
had wrought such a change. 

It was not long before an answer was suggested. A reason 
was found, which had a history of its own. The decline had 
been foreseen. We are fortunately in possession of a forecast 
by a Greek thinker of the second century B.C., who knew Rome 
well Polybius, the intimate of the younger Scipio. In the 
course of his great summary of the Rome he knew, when he is 
explaining her actual and future greatness to the Greek world, 
he says : " The most important difference for the better, which 
the Roman Commonwealth appears to me to display, is in their 
religious beliefs, for I conceive that what in other nations is 
looked upon as a reproach, I mean a scrupulous fear of the 
gods, is the very thing which keeps the Roman Common- 
wealth together ; (cnWxeti/ ra 'PeoyUcuW Tr/oay/xara). To such an 
extraordinary height is this carried among them 


KGU TrapeicrtJKTai) both in private and public business, that 
nothing could exceed it. Many people might think this un- 
accountable, but in my opinion their object is to use it as a 
check upon the common people. If it were possible to form 
a state wholly of philosophers, such a custom would perhaps 
be unnecessary. But seeing that every multitude is fickle and 
full of lawless desires, unreasoning anger and violent passion, 
the only resource is to keep them in check by mysterious 
terrors and scenic effects of this sort (TO& aSri\ot$ <f>6/3oi$ KOI 
ry Totavry rpaywSia). Wherefore, to my mind, the ancients 
were not acting without purpose or at random, when they 
brought in among the vulgar those opinions about the gods 
and the belief in the punishments in Hades : much rather do 
I think that men nowadays are acting rashly and foolishly in 
rejecting them. This is the reason why, apart from anything 
else, Greek statesmen, if entrusted with a single talent, though 
protected by ten checking-clerks, as many seals and twice as 
many witnesses, yet cannot be induced to keep faith ; whereas 
among the Romans, in their magistracies and embassies, men 
have the handling of a great amount of money, and yet from 
pure respect to their oath keep their faith intact." 1 Later on 
Polybius limits his assertion of Roman honesty to "the 
majority " the habits and principles of Rome were beginning 
to be contaminated. 2 

This view of the value of religion is an old one among the 
Greeks. Critias, the friend of Socrates, embodied it in verses, 
which are preserved for us by Sextus Empiricus. In summary 
he holds that there was a time when men's life knew no order, 
but at last laws were ordained to punish .; and the laws kept 
men from open misdeeds, " but they did many things in secret ; 
and then, I think, some shrewd and wise man invented a terror 
for the evil in case secretly they should do or say or think 
aught. So he introduced the divine, alleging that there is a 
divinity (Sai/uuav), blest with eternal life, who with his mind sees 
and hears, thinks, and marks these things, and bears a divine 
nature, who will hear all that is said among men and can see 
all that is done, and though in silence thou plan some evil, yet 
this shall not escape the gods." This was a most pleasant 

1 Polybius, vi, 56, Shuckburgh's Translation. 

2 Polybius, xviii, 35. 


lesson which he introduced, "with a false reason covering 
truth " ; and he said the gods abode in that region whence 
thunder and lightning and rain come, and so "he quenched 
lawlessness with laws." l 

This was a shallow judgi ment upon religion. That " it 
utterly abolished religion altogether" was the criticism of 
Cicero's Academic. 2 But most of the contemporary views of 
the origin of religion were shallow. Euhemerism with its 
deified men, and inspiration with its distraught votaries were 
perhaps nobler, a little nobler, but in reality there was little 
respect for religion among the philosophic. But the practical 
people of the day accepted the view of Critias as wise enough. 
"The myths that are told of affairs in Hades, though pure 
invention at bottom, contribute to make men pious and up- 
right," wrote the Sicilian Diodorus at this very time. 3 Varro 4 
divided religion into three varieties, mythical, physical (on 
which the less said in public, he owned, the better) and "civil," 
and he pronounced the last the best adapted for national 
purposes, as it consisted in knowing what gods state and 
citizen should worship and with what rites. " It is the in- 
terest," he said, " of states to be deceived in religion." 

So the great question narrowed itself to this : Was it , 
possible for another shrewd and wise man to do again for 
Rome what the original inventor of religion had done for man- 
kind ? once more to establish effective gods to do the work 
of police? Augustus endeavoured to show that it was still 

On the famous monument of Ancyra, which preserves for 
us the Emperor's official autobiography, he enumerates the 
temples he built temples in honour of Apollo, of Julius, of 
Quirinus, of Juppiter Feretrius, of Jove the Thunderer, of 
Minerva, of the Queen Juno, of Juppiter Liberalis, of the Lares, 
of the Penates, of Youth, of the Great Mother, and the shrine 
known as the Lupercal ; he tells how he dedicated vast sums 
from his spoils, how he restored to the temples of Asia the 
ornaments of which they had been robbed, and how he be- 

1 Sextus Empiricus, Adv. mathematicos^ ix, 54. - Cicero, N.D. i, 42, 118. 

3 Diodorus Siculus, i, 2. 

4 Quoted by Augustine, C.D. iv, 27; vi, 5; also referred to by Tertullian, ad 
Natt. ii, i. 


came Pontifex Maximus, after patiently waiting for Lepidus 
to vacate the office by a natural death. His biographer 
Suetonius tells of his care for the Sibylline books, of his in- 
creasing the numbers, dignities and allowances of the priests, 
and his especial regard for the Vestal Virgins, of his restora- 
tion of ancient ceremonies, of his celebration of festivals and 
holy days, and of his discrimination among foreign religions, 
his regard for the Athenian mysteries and his contempt for 
Egyptian Apis. 1 His private feelings and instincts had a tinge 
of superstition. He used a sealskin as a protection against 
thunder ; he carefully studied his dreams, was " much moved 
by portents," and " observed days." 2 

The most lasting monument (cere perennius] of the restora- 
tion of religion by Augustus consists of the odes which Horace 
wrote to forward the plans of the Emperor. They were very 
different men, but it is not unreasonable to hold that Horace 
felt no less than Augustus that there was something wrong 
with the state. His personal attitude to religion was his own 
affair, and to it we shall have to return, but in grave and 
dignified odes, which he gave to the world, he lent himself to 
the cause of reformation. He deplored the reckless luxury oi 
the day with much appearance of earnestness, and, though in 
his published collections, these poems of lament are interleaved 
with others whose burden is sparge rosas, he was serious in 
some degree ; for his own taste, at least when he came within 
sight of middle life, was all for moderation. He spoke gravely 
of the effect upon the race of its disregard of all the virtues 
necessary for the continuance of a society, Like other poets 
of the day, he found Utopias in distant ages and remote lands. 
His idealized picture of the blessedness of savage life is not 
unlike Rousseau's, and in both cases the inspiration was the 
same discontent with an environment complicated, extrava- 
gant and corrupt. 

Better with nomad Scythians roam, 
Whose travelling cart is all their home, 
Or where the ruder Getae spread 
From steppes unmeasured raise their bread. 

1 Suetonius, Augustus, 31, 75, 93 ; Warde Fowler, Roman Festivals, p. 344. 

2 Suet. Aug. 90, 92. 


There with a single year content 
The tiller shifts his tenement ; 
Another, when that labour ends, 
To the self-same condition bends. 

The simple step-dame there will bless 
With care the children motherless : 
No wife by wealth command procures, 
None heeds the sleek adulterer's lures. 1 

Other poets also imagined Golden Ages of quiet ease and 
idleness, but the conclusion which Horace drew was more 
robust. He appealed to the Emperor for laws, and effective 
laws, to correct the " unreined license " of the day, and though 
his poem declines into declamation of a very idle kind about 
" useless gold," as his poems are apt to decline on the first 
hint of rhetoric, the practical suggestion was not rhetorical 
it was perhaps the purpose of the piece. In another famous 
poem, the last of a sequence of six, all dedicated to the higher 
life of Rome and all reaching an elevation not often attained 
by his odes, he points more clearly to the decline of religion 
as the cause of Rome's misfortunes. 2 

The idea that Rome's Empire was the outcome of her piety 
was not first struck out by Horace. Cicero uses it in one of his 
public speeches with effect and puts it into the mouth of his 
Stoic in the work on the Nature of the Gods. 3 Later on, one 
after another of the Latin Apologists for Christianity, from 
Tertullian 4 to Prudentius, has to combat the same idea. It 
was evidently popular, and the appeal to the ruined shrine and 
the neglected image touched or was supposed to touch the 
popular imagination. 

Mankind are apt to look twice at the piety of a ruler, and 
the old question of Satan comes easily, " Doth Job serve God 
for naught?" Why does an Emperor wish to be called " the 
eldest son of the church ? " We may be fairly sure in the case 
of Augustus that, if popular sentiment had been strongly against 

1 Horace, Odes, iii, 24, 9-20, Gladstone's version. 

2 Horace, Odes, iii, 6, Delicta maiorum. 

3 De Haruspicum Responsis, 9, 19 ; N.D. ii, 3, 8. 

4 E.g. ApoL 25, with a serious criticism of the contrast between Roman character 
before and after the conquest of the world, before and after the invasion of Rome by 
the images and idols of Etruscans and Greeks. 


the restoration of religion, he would have said less about it. 
We have to go behind the Emperor and Horace to discover 
how the matter really stood between religion and the Roman 

We may first of all remark that, just as the French Revolu- 
tion was in some sense the parent of the Romantic movement, 
the disintegration of the old Roman life was accompanied by 
the rise of antiquarianism. Cicero's was the last generation 
that learnt the Twelve Tables by heart at school ut carmen 
necessarium ; and Varro, Cicero's contemporary, was the first 
and perhaps the greatest of all Roman antiquaries. So at 
least St Augustine held. Sixteen of his forty-one books of 
Antiquities Varro gave to the gods, for " he says he was afraid 
they would perish, not by any hostile invasion, but by the 
neglect of the Roman citizens, and from this he says they were 
rescued by himself, as from a fallen house, and safely stored 
and preserved in the memory of good men by books like his ; and 
that his care for this was of more service than that which Metellus 
is said to have shown in rescuing the sacred emblems of Vesta 
from the fire or ^Eneas in saving the penates from the Fall of 
Troy." 1 He rescued a good deal more than a later and more 
pious age was grateful for ; Augustine found him invaluable, but 
Servius, the great commentator on Virgil, called him " every- 
where the foe of religion." 2 The poets, too, felt to the full the 
charm of antiquity. Propertius 3 and Ovid both undertook to 
write of olden days of sacred things (" rooted out of ancient 
annals " 4 ), and of the names of long ago. Virgil himself was 
looked upon as a great antiquary. Livy wrote of Rome's early 
history and told how Numa " put the fear of the gods " upon 
his people " as the most effective thing for an ignorant and 
rough multitude " ; 5 his history abounds in portents and omens, 
but he is not altogether a believer. As early as a generation 
before Rome was burnt by the Gauls it was remarked, he says, 
that foreign religion had invaded the city, brought by prophets 
who made money out of the superstitions they roused and the 
alien and unusual means they employed to procure the peace of 
the gods. 6 

1 Augustine C.D. vi, 2. 2 On sEneid, xi, 785. 

3 Propertius, v, I, 69. 4 Ovid, Fasti, i, 7. 

6 Livy, i, 19. 6 Livy, iv, 30. 


Nowhere perhaps is antiquarianism more fascinating than in 
the sphere of religion. The Lupercalia had once a real meaning. 
The sacrifice of goats and young dogs, and of sacred cakes that 
the Vestals made of the first ears of the last year's harvest ; 
the Luperci, with blood on their brows, naked but for the skins 
of the slaughtered goats ; the februa of goatskin, the touch of 
which would take sterility from a woman all this is intelligible 
to the student of primitive religion ; but when Mark Antony, 
Consul though he was, was one of the runners at the Lupercalia, 
it was not in the spirit of the ancient Latin. It was an anti- 
quarian revival of an old festival of the countryside, which had 
perhaps never died out. At all events it was celebrated as 
late as the fifth century A.D., and it was only then abolished 
by the substitution of a Christian feast by Pope Gelasfus. 1 
Augustus took pains to revive such ceremonies. Suetonius 
mentions the " augury of safety," the " flaminate of Juppiter," the 
" Lupercal rite," and various sacred games. 2 Varro in one of 
his books, speaks of the Arval Brothers ; and Archaeology and 
the spade have recovered for us the acta of ninety-six of the 
annual meetings which this curious old college held at the end 
of May in the grove of Dea Dia. It is significant that the 
oldest of these acta refer to the meeting in 14 A.D., the 
year of Augustus' death. The hymn which they sang runs 
las follows : 

Enos Lases iuvate 

Neve lue rue Marmar sins incurrere in pleores 

Satur fu fere Mars limen salt sta berber 

Semunis Alternis advocapit conctos 

Enos Marmor iuvato 


le first five lines were repeated thrice, and Triumpe five 
times. 3 Quintilian tells us that " the hymns of the Salii were 
lardly intelligible to the priests themselves," 4 yet they found 
idmirers who amused Horace with their zeal for mere age and 
)bscurity. 5 

1 Plutarch, Romulus, 21 ; Caesar, 61, Warde Fowler, Roman Festivals, p. 310 f. 

2 Suetonius, Aug. 31, Warde Fowler, op. cit. p. 190. 

3 Mommsen, History, i, p. 231, who translates the hymn. 

4 Quintilian, i, 6, 40. See specimen in Varro, L.L. vii, 26. 
6 Epp. ii, i, 20-27, 86. 


But an antiquarian interest in ritual is not inconsistent with 
indifference to religion. Varro, as we have seen, was criticized 
as an actual enemy of religion in spite of the services he claimed 
to have rendered to the gods and the very claim justifies the 
criticism. So far as the literature of the last century B.C. and 
the stories current about the leading men in Rome allow us to 
judge, it is hard to suppose there has ever been an age less 
interested in religion. Cicero, for example, wrote or, perhaps, 
compiled three books "On the Nature of the Gods." He 
casts his matter into the form of a dialogue, in which in turn an 
Epicurean and a Stoic give their grounds for rejecting and for 
accepting the gods, and an Academic points out the inadequacy 
of the reasoning in both cases. He has also written on the 
immortality of the soul. But Cicero's correspondence is a more 
reliable index to his own beliefs and those of the society in 
which he moved. No society could be more indifferent to what 
we call the religious life. In theory and practice, in character 
and instinct, they were thoroughly secular. One sentence will 
exhibit Cicero's own feeling. He wrote to his wife from 
Brundusium on 3Oth April 58 B.C., when he was on his way to 
foreign exile : " If these miseries are to be permanent, I onl; 
wish, my dearest (mea vita), to see you as soon as possible anc 
to die in your arms, since neither gods, whom you have wor 
shipped with such pure devotion, nor men, whom / have alway 
served, have made us any return." } Even when his daughte 
Tullia died, no sign of any hope of re-union escaped him in hi 
letters, nor did Servius Sulpicius, who wrote him a beautifu 
letter of consolation, do more than merely hint at such a thing 
"If the dead have consciousness, would she wish you to be so 
overcome of sorrow ? " Horace, whose odes, as we have seen 
are now and then consecrated to the restoration of religion, w 
every whit as secular-minded. He laughed at superstition and 
ridiculed the idea of a divine interest in men, when he expresse( 
his own feeling. No one was ever more thoroughly Epicurean 
in the truest sense of the word ; no one ever urged more 
pleasantly the Epicurean theory Carpe diem ; no one ever hac 
more deeply ingrained in him the belief Mors ultima linea rerun 
est. His candour, his humour, his friendliness, combine to give 
him a very human charm, but in all that is associated with th 

1 Cicero, adfam. xiv, 4, i. 


religious side of man's thought and experience, he is sterile and 
insufficient. And Horace, like Cicero, represents a group. 
Fuscus Aristius, it is true, declined to rescue the poet from the 
bore on the ground that "it was the thirtieth Sabbath and 
Horace could not wish to offend the Jews ? " but we realize that 
this scruple was dramatic. Fuscus is said to have been a writer 
of comedies. 1 

But the jest of Fuscus was the earnest of many. If men 
were conscious of decay in the sanction which religion had once 
given to morality, there was still a great deal of vague religious 
feeling among the uneducated and partially educated classes. 
Again and again we read complaints of the folly of grand- 
mothers and nurses, and it was from them that the first impres- 
sions of childhood came. Four centuries la,ter than the period 
now under discussion it was still the same. " When once vain 
superstition obsessed the heathen hearts of our fathers, un- 
checked was its course through a thousand generations. The 
tender hope of the house shuddered, and worshipped whatever 
venerable thing his hoary grandsires showed him. Infancy drank 
in error with its mother's milk. Amid his cries the sacred meal 
was put between the baby's lips. He saw the wax dripping 
upon the stones, the black Lares trickling with unguent. A little 
child he saw the image of Fortune with her horn of wealth, and 
the sacred stone that stood by the house, and his mother pale at 
her prayers before it. Soon himself too, raised high on his 
nurse's shoulders, he pressed his lips to the stone, poured forth 
his childish prayers, and asked riches for himself from the blind 
rock, and was sure that, whatever one wished, that was where to 
ask. Never did he lift his eyes and his mind to turn to the 
citadel of reason, but he believed, and held to the foolish 
custom, honouring with blood of lambs the gods of his family. 
And then when he went forth from his home, how he marvelled 
at the public festivals, the holy days and the games, and gazed 
at the towering Capitol, and saw the laurelled servants of the 
gods at the temples while the Sacred Way echoed to the lowing 
of the victims." So wrote Prudentius. 2 So too wrote Tibullus 
-" Keep me, Lares of my fathers ; for ye bred me to manhood 
when a tender child I played at your feet." 3 

1 Hor. Sat. i, 9, 69 : Porphyrion is the authority for the comedies. 

2 Prudentius, contra Symmachum, i, 197-218. 3 Tibullus, i, 10, 15. 


How crowded the whole of life was with cult and ritual and 
usage, how full of divinities, petty, pleasing or terrible, but 
generally vague and ill-defined, no one will readily realize with- 
out special study, but some idea of the complexity of the 
Roman's divine environment can be gained from even a cursory 
survey of Ovid's Fasti, for example, or Tertullian's Apology, or 
some of the chapters of the fourth book of Augustine's City of 
God. " When," asks Augustine, " can I ever mention in one 
passage of this book all the names of gods and goddesses, which 
they have scarcely been able to compass in great volumes, see- 
ing that they allot to every individual thing the special function 
of some divinity?" He names a few of the gods of agriculture 
Segetia, Tutilina, Proserpina, Nodutus, Volutina, Patelana, 
Lacturnus, Matuta, etc. " I do not mention all." * " Satan and 
his angels have filled the whole world," said Tertullian. 2 

Gods of this type naturally make little figure in literature 
though Proserpina, in consequence of her identification with the 
Greek Persephone, achieved a great place and is indeed the 
subject of the last great poem written under the Roman Empire. 
But there were other gods of countryside and woodland, whom 
we know better in art and poetry. " Faunus lover of fugitive 
Nymphs " is charming enough in Horace's ode, and Fauns, 
Pans and Satyrs lend themselves readily to grotesque treat- 
ment in statue and gem and picture. But the country people 
took them seriously. Lucretius, speaking of echoes among the 
hills, says : " These spots the people round about fancy that 
goat-footed Satyrs and nymphs inhabit ; they say that they are 
the Fauns, whose noise and sportive play breaks the still silence 
of the night as they move from place to place. . . . They tell us 
that the country people far and wide full oft hear Pan, when, 
nodding the pine-cap on his half-bestial head, he runs over the 
gaping reeds with curved lip. . . . And of other like monsters 
and marvels they tell us, that they may not be thought to 
inhabit lonely places, abandoned even by the gods." 3 Cicero 

1 C.D. iv, 8. "To an early Greek," says Mr Gilbert Murray, "the earth,; 
water and air were full of living eyes : of theoi, of datmones, of Keres. One early 
poet says emphatically that the air is so crowded full of them that there is no room to 
put in the spike of an ear of corn without touching one. " Rise of Greek Epic, p. 82. 

2 de Sped. 5 ; cf. de Idol 16 ; de cor. mil. 13, gods of the door ; de Ammo, 39, 
goddesses of child-birth. 

" Lucr. iv. 580 f. Virg. sEn. viii, 314. 


makes his Stoic say their voices are often to be heard. 1 Pliny, 
in his Natural History, says that certain dogs can actually 
see Fauns ; he quotes a prescription, concocted of a dragon's 
tongue, eyes and gall, which the Magi recommend for those 
who are " harassed by gods of the night and by Fauns " ; 2 for 
they did not confine themselves to running after nymphs, but 
would chase human women in the dark. 

Plutarch has a story of King Numa drugging a spring from 

which "two daemons, Picus and Faunus," drank "creatures 

who must be compared to Satyrs or Pans in some respects and 

in others to the Idaean Dactyli," beings of great miraculous 

)ower. 3 A countryside haunted by inhabitants of more or less 

han human nature, part beasts and part fairies or devils, is one 

hing to an unbeliever who is interested in art or folk-lore, but 

uite another thing to the uneducated man or woman who has 

card their mysterious voices in the night solitude and has 

uttered in crop, or house, or herd from their ill-will. 4 What the 

jreek called " Panic " fears were attributed in Italy to Fauns. 5 

" Trees," says Pliny, " were temples of divinities, and in the 

Id way the simple country folk to this day dedicate any re- 

narkable tree to a god. Nor have we more worship for images 

glittering with gold and ivory than for groves and the very silence 

hat is in them." 6 The country people hung rags and other offer- 

ngs on holy trees the hedge round the sacred grove at Aricia is 

pecially mentioned by Ovid as thus honoured. 7 The river-god of 

he Tiber had his sacred oak hung with spoils of fallen foes. 8 

Holy wells too were common, which were honoured with 
nodels of the limbs their waters healed, and other curious gifts, 
hrown into them as they are still in every part of the Old 
World. Horace's fount of Bandusia is the most famous of these 
n literature. 9 It was an old usage to throw garlands into 
prings and to crown wells on October I3th. 10 Streams and 

1 Cic. N.D. \\, 2, 6: cf. De Div. i, 45, 101. Warde Fowler, Roman Festivals, 
>p. 256 ff. on the Fauni. 

Pliny, N.H. viii, 151 ; xxx, 84. 

Plutarch, Numa, 15 ; de facie in orbe luna, 30 ; Ovid, Fasti, iii, 291. 

Horace's ode attests the power of the Fauns over crops and herds. 

Dionys. Hal. v, 16. 8 Pliny, N.H. xii, 3. 

Ovid, Fasti, iii, 267. Licia dependent longas velantia scepes, et posita est mcritte 
multa tabella de&. 

Virgil, &n. x, 423. 9 Horace, Odts, iii, 13. 

10 yf Warde Fowler, Raman Festivals, p. 240. 


wells alike were haunted by mysterious powers, too often 
malevolent. 1 

Ovid describes old charms to keep off vampires, striges, 
from the cradles of children. 2 

In fact the whole of Nature teemed with beings whom we 

find it hard to name. They were not pleasant enough, and did 

not appeal enough to the fancy, to merit the name " fairies " at 

least since The Midsummer Nights Dream was written. Perhaps 

Ithey are nearer " The little People " the nameless " thim ones." 3 

JThey were neither gods nor demons in our sense of the words, 

though Greek thinkers used the old Homeric word Saijmcov to 

describe them or the diminutive of it, which allowed them to 

suppose that Socrates' SCU/ULOVIOV was something of the kind. 

But these Nature-spirits, whatever we may call them, were 
far frbm being the only superhuman beings that encompassed 
man. Every house had its Lares in a little shrine (lararium) on 
the hearth, little twin guardian gods with a dog at their feet, 
who watched over the family, and to whom something was given 
at every meal, and garlands on great days. Legend said that 
Servius Tullius was the son of the family Lart The Lares 
may have been spirits of ancestors. The Emperor Alexander 
Severus set images of Apollonius, Christ, Abraham and Orpheus, 
" and others of that sort " in his lararium? Not only houses but 
streets and cross-roads had Lares ; the city had a thousand, Ovid 
said, besides the genius of the Prince who gave them ; 6 for 
Augustus restored two yearly festivals in their honour in Spring 
and Autumn. There were also the Penates in every home, whom 
it would perhaps be hard to distinguish very clearly from the 
Lares. Horace has a graceful ode to "Phidyle" on the suffi- 
ciency of the simplest sacrifices to these little gods of home and 
hearth. 7 The worship of these family gods was almost the only 

1 Cf. Tertullian, de Baptismo, 5. Annon et alias sine ullo sacramento immundi 
spiritus aquis incubant, adfectantes illam in primordio divini spiritus gestationem ? 
Sciunt opaci quique fontes, et avii quique rivi, et in balneis piscina et euripi in 
domibus, vel cisterna et putei, qui rapere dicuntur, scilicet per vim spiritus nocentis. 
Nympholeptos et lymphaticos et hydrophobes vacant quos aqua necaverunt aut amentia 
vel formidine exercuerunt. Quorsum ista retulimus ? Ne quis durius credat 
angelum dei sanctum aquis in salutem hominis temperandis adesse. 

2 Ovid, Fasti, vi, 155 f. 

8 Cf. (Lucian) Asinus, 24. TTOI /3a5feis dwplq. raXaiirupe ; ovSt ra dai.fji.6via 5^5oi/cas. 
4 Pliny, N.H. xxxvi, 204. 6 Lampridius, Alex, Sev. 29. 2. 

6 Fasti, v. 145. Cf. Prudentius, adv. Symm. ii, 445 f. 

7 Odes, iii, 23. Far re pio. 


part of Roman religion that was not flooded and obscured by 
thejnrush of Oriental cults. 

" The Ancients," said Servius, " used the name Genius for 
the natural god of each individual place or thing or man," l and 
another antiquary thought that the genius and the Lar might be 
the same thing. For some reason men of letters laid hold upon 
the genius, and we find it everywhere. Why there should be 
such difference even between twin brothers, 

He only knows whose influence at our birth 
O'errules each mortal's planet upon earth, 
The attendant genius, temper-moulding pow'r, 
That stamps the colour of man's natal hour. 2 

The idea of this spiritual counterpart pervades the ancient world. 

It appears in Persia as the fravashi? It is in the Syrian 
(Gnostic's Hymn of the Soul, as a robe in the form and likeness 
I of a man. 

It was myself that I saw before me as in a mirror; 
Two in number we stood, but only one in appearance. 4 

lit is also probable that the "Angel " of Peter and the " Angels 
(of the little children " in the New Testament represent the same 
idea. The reader of Horace hardly needs to be reminded of 
the birthday feast in honour of the genius, indulge genio. 
:ember, as the month of Larentalia and Saturnalia, is the 
lonth welcome to every genius, Ovid says. 6 

The worship of all or most of these spirits of the country and 
>f the home was joyful, an affair of meat and drink. The 
>rimitive sacrifice brought man and god near one another in the 
>lood and flesh of the victim, which was of one race with them 
)th. 6 It was on some such ground that the Jews would not 
eat with blood," lest the soul of the beast should pass into the 

1 On Georgic i, 302, See Varro, ap. Aug. C.D. vii, 13. Also Tert. de Anima, 39, 
et omnibus genii deputantur, quod da-monum nomen est. Adeo nulla ferme 
'ivitas munda, utique ethnicorum, 
2 Hor. Ep. ii. 2, 187 f. Howes' translation. Cf. Faerie Queene, II, xii, 47. 

3 See J. H. Moulton in Journal oj Theological Studies, III, 514. 

4 Burkitt, Early Eastern Christianity, p. 222. 

5 Fasti, iii, 57 ; Seneca, Ep. 18. I, December est mensis : cum maxime civitas sudat, 
is luxuries publics datum est . . . ut non videatur mihi errasse qui dixit : olim 
lensem Decembrem fuisse nunc annum. 

8 Cf. Robertson Smith, Religion o the Semites, lect. xi. 


man. There were feasts in honour of the dead, too, which the 
church found so dear to the people that it only got rid of them 
by turning them into festivals of the Martyrs. It was not idly 
that St Paul spoke of " meat offered to idols " and said that the 
Kingdom of God was not eating or drinking. 

In addition to all these spirits of living beings, of actions and 
of places, we have to reckon the dead. There were Manes a 
name supposed to mean " the kindly ones," a caressing name 
given with a purpose and betraying a real fear. There were 
also ghosts, larva and lemures. 1 It was the thought of these 
that made burial so serious a thing, and all the ritual for 
averting the displeasure of the dead. The Parentalia were 
celebrated on the I3th of February in their honour, 2 and in 
May the Lemuria. It is, we are told, for this reason that none 
will marry in May. 3 Closely connected with this fear of ghosts 
and of the dead is that terror of death which Lucretius spends 
so much labour in trying to dissipate. 

" I see no race of men," wrote Cicero, " however polished 
and educated, however brutal and barbarous, which does not 
believe that warnings of future events are given and may be 
understood and announced by certain persons," 4 and he goes on 
to remark that Xenophanes and Epicurus were alone among 
philosophers in believing in no kind of Divination. 5 " Are we 
to wait till beasts speak ? Are we not content with the unan- 
imous authority of mankind ? " 6 The Stoics, he says, summed 
up the matter as follows : 

"If there are gods and they do not declare the future to 
men ; then either they do not love men ; or they are ignorant 
of what is to happen ; or they think it of no importance to men to 
know it; or they do not think it consistent with their majesty 
to tell men ; or the gods themselves are unable to indicate it. 
But neither do they not love men, for they are benefactors and 
friends to mankind ; nor are they ignorant of what they them- 
selves appoint and ordain ; nor is it of no importance to us to 
know the future for we shall be more careful if we do ; nor do 
they count it alien to their majesty, for there is nothing nobler 
than kindness ; nor are they unable to foreknow. Therefore no 

1 Warde Fowler, Roman Festivals, pp. 106 f. 

a Ovid, Fasti* ii, 409 f. Warde Fowler, op. cit. pp. 306 f. 3 Ovid, Fasti, v, 490. 

4 De Divinatione, i, I, 2. 5 ib. i, 3, 5. 6 ib. i, 39, 84. 


gods, no foretelling ; but there are gods ; therefore they foretell. 
Nor, if they foretell, do they fail to give us ways to learn what 
they foretell ; nor, if they give us such ways, is there no 
divination ; therefore, there is divination." l 

All this reasoning comes after the fact. The whole world 
believed in divination, and the Stoics found a reason for it. 2 
The flight of birds, the entrails of beasts, rain, thunder, lightning, 
dreams, everything was a means of Divination. Another passage 
from the same Dialogue of Cicero will suffice. Superstition, 
says the speaker, " follows you up, is hard upon you, pursues 
you wherever you turn. If you hear a prophet, or an omen ; 
if you sacrifice ; if you catch sight of a bird ; if you see a 
Chaldean or a haruspex; if it lightens, if it thunders, if anything 
is struck by lightning; if anything like a portent is born or 
occurs in any way something or other of the kind is bound to 
happen, so that you can never be at ease and have a quiet mind. 
The refuge from all our toils and anxieties would seem to be 
sleep. Yet from sleep itself the most of our cares and terrors 
come." 3 How true all this is will be seen by a moment's reflexion 
on the abundance of signs, omens and dreams that historians 
so different as Livy and Plutarch record. Horace uses them 
pleasantly enough in his Odes like much else such things are 
charming, if one does not believe in them. 4 But it is abundantly 
clear that it took an effort to be rid of such belief. A speaker 
in Cicero's Tusculans remarks on the effrontery of philosophers, 
who boast that by Epicurus' aid " they are freed from those most 
cruel of tyrants, eternal terror and fear by day and by night." 5 
When a man boasts of moral progress, of his freedom from 
avarice, what, asks Horace, of other like matters? 

You're not a miser. Good but prithee say, 
Is every vice with avarice flown away ? . . . 
Does Superstition ne'er your heart assail 
Nor bid your soul with fancied horrors quail ? 

1 DC Divinatione, i, 38, 82, 83. Cf. Tertullian, de Anima, 46. Sed et Stoici deuni 
tnalunt providentissimum humantt institutioni t inter cetera prasidia divinairicum 
artium et disciplinarum ? somnia quoque nobis indidisse, peculiars solatium naturalis 

2 Panaetius and Seneca should be excepted from this charge. 

3 Cic. de Div. ii, 72, 149, 150. Cf. de Legg. ii, 13, 32. Plutarch also has the 
same remark about sleep and superstition. 

4 Cf. Odes, iii, 27. 6 Tusculans, i, 21, 48. 




Or can you smile at magic's strange alarms, 

Dreams, witchcraft, ghosts, Thessalian spells and charms ? x 

Horace's " conversion " is recorded in one of his odes, but 
it may be taken too seriously. 

That superstition so gross was accompanied by paralysing 

belief in magic, enchantment, miracle, astrology 2 and witchcraft 

| generally, is not surprising. The historians of the Early Empire 

have plenty to say on this. It should be remembered that the 

step between magic and poisoning is a very short one. Magic, 

says Pliny, embraces the three arts that most rule the human 

mind, medicine, religion and mathematics a triple chain which 

enslaves mankind. 3 

We have thus in Roman society a political life of a highly 
developed type, which has run through a long course of evolu- 
tion and is now degenerating ; we have a literature based upon 
that of Greece and implying a good deal of philosophy and of 
intellectual freedom ; and, side by side with all this, a religious 
atmosphere in which the grossest and most primitive of savage 
conceptions and usages thrive in the neighbourhood of a scepti- 
cism as cool and detached as that of Horace. It is hard to 
realize that a people's experience can be so uneven, that 
development and retardation can exist at once in so remarkable 
a degree in the mind of a nation. The explanation is that we 
judge peoples and ages too much by their literature, and by 
their literature only after it has survived the test of centuries. 
In all immortal literature there is a common note ; it deals with 
the deathless and the vital ; and superstition, though long 
enough and tenacious enough of life, is outlived and outgrown 
by " man's unconquerable mind." But the period before us is 
one in which, under a rule that robbed men of every liberating 
interest in life, and left society politically, intellectually and 
morally sterile and empty, literature declined, and as it declined, 
it sank below the level of that flood of vulgar superstition, which 
rose higher and higher, as in each generation men were less 
wishful to think and less capable of thought. 

1 Hor. Ep. ii, 2, 208 ; Howes. 

2 Tertullian, de Idol. 9, scimus magia et astrologies inter se societatem. 

3 Pliny the elder on Magic, N.H. xxx, opening sections; N.H. xxriii, 10, on 
incantations, polleantne, aliquid -verba et incantameiita carminum. 


But our theme is religion, and so far we have discussed 
nothing but what we may call superstition and even Plutarch 
would hardly quarrel with the name. That to people possessed 
by such beliefs in non-human powers, in beings which beset 
human life with malignity, the restoration of ancient cult and 
ritual would commend itself, is only natural. To such minds 
the purpose of all worship is to induce the superhuman being to 
go peaceably away, and sacrifice implies not human sin, but 
divine irritation, which may be irrational. To the religious 
temperament, the essential thing is some kind of union, some 
communion, with the Divine ; and sacrifice becomes the means 
to effect the relation of life to a higher will, to a holier will, 
we might say, if we allow to the word " holy " a width of 
significance more congenial to ancient than to modern thought. 
And this higher will implies a divinity of wider reach than the 
little gods of primitive superstitidn, a power which may even be 
less personal if only it is great. Religion asks for the simpli- 
fication of man's relations with his divine environment, for 
escape from the thousand and one petty marauders of the 
spirit-world into the empire of some strong and central authority, 
harsh, perhaps, or even cruel, but at least a controlling force in 
man's experience. If this power is moral, religion is at once 
fused with morality ; if it is merely physical, religion remains 
non-moral, and has a constant tendency to decline into super- 
stition, or at least to make terms with it. 

In the hereditary religion of Rome, the only power that 
could possibly have been invested with any such character was 
Jupiter Capitolinus, but he had too great a likeness to the 
other gods of Italy the gods with names, that is, for some 
of the more significant had none Bona Dea and Dea Dia 
for example. Jupiter had his functions, but on the whole they 
were local, and there was very little or nothing in him to 
quicken thought or imagination. It was not till the Stoics 
made him more or less the embodiment of monotheism, that 
he had a chance of becoming the centre of a religion in the 
higher sense of the word, and even then it was impossible ; 
for first, he was at best little more than an impersonal dogma, 
and, secondly, the place was filled by foreign goddesses of far 
greater warmth and colour and activity. Stat magni nominis 


It was during the second Punic War that Cybele vas 
brought from Asia. Minor to Rome and definitely established 
as one of the divinities of the City. 1 The Great Mother Df 
the gods, she represented the principle of life and its repo- 
duction, and her worship appealed to every male and femae 
being in the world. It inspired awe, and it prompted to jiy 
and merriment; it was imposing and it was mysterious, 
Lucretius has a famous description of her pageant : 

"Adorned with this emblem (the mural crown), the ima^e 
of the divine Mother is carried nowadays through wide lams 
in awe-inspiring state. Different nations after old-established 
ritual name her Idsean Mother, and give for escort Phrygian 
bands. . . . Tight-stretched tambourines and hollow cymbas 
thunder all round to the stroke of their open hands, and norm 
menace with hoarse-sounding music, and the hollow pipe stirs 
their minds with its Phrygian strain. They carry weapons 
before them, emblems of furious rage, meet to fill the thank- 
less souls and godless breasts of the rabble with terror for 
the Divinity of the Goddess. So, when first she rides in pro- 
cession through great cities and mutely enriches mortals with 
a blessing not expressed in words, they straw all her path 
with brass and silver, presenting her with bounteous alms, and 
scatter over her a snow-shower of roses, Over-shadowing the 
mother and her troops of attendants. Here an armed band, 
to which the Greeks give the names of Phrygian Curetes, 
join in the game of arms and leap in measure, all dripping 
with blood, and the awful crests upon their heads quiver 
and shake." 2 

The invariable features of the worship of Cybele are men- 
tioned here, the eunuch priests, the tambourines, the shouting 
and leaping and cutting with knives, and the collection of 
money. 3 There is no indication of any control being exercised 
over these priests of Cybele by a central authority, and little 
bands of them strolled through the Mediterranean lands, mak- 
ing their living by exhibiting themselves and their goddess 
and gathering petty offerings. '/ They had a bad name and 
they seem to have deserved it. In the book called The Ass, 

1 Livy, xxix, 1 1, 14; Ovid, Fasti, iv, 179 f. The goddess was embodied in a 
big stone. 

2 Lucretius, ii, 608 f. 3 Cf. Strabo, c. 470 ; Juvenal, vi, 511 f. 


once ascribed to Lucian, is a short account of such a band. 
The ass, who is really a man transformed, is the speaker. 
"The next day they packed up the goddess and set her on 
my back. Then we drove out of the city and went round 
the country. When we entered any village, I, the god-bearer 
(a famous word, Qeo^opnro^) stood still, and the crowd of 
flutists blew like mad, and the others threw off their caps 
and rolled their heads about, and cut their arms with the 
swords and each stuck his tongue out beyond his teeth and 
cut it too, so that in a moment everything was full of fresh 
blood. And, I, when I saw this for the first time, stood 
trembling in case the goddess might need an ass' blood too. 
When they had cut themselves about in this way, they collected 
from the bystanders obols and drachmas ; and one or another 
would give them figs and cheeses and a jar of wine, and a 
medimnus of wheat and barley for the ass. So they lived 
upon these and did service to the goddess who rode on my 
back." - 

The Attis of Catullus gives a vivid picture of the frenzy 
which this worship could excite. Juvenal complains of the bad 
influence which the priests of Cybele, among others, had upon 
the minds of Roman ladies. St Augustine long afterwards 
says that " till yesterday " they were to be seen in the streets of 
Carthage "with wet hair, whitened face and mincing walk." It 
is interesting to note in passing that the land which introduced 
the Mother of the Gods to the Roman world, also gave the name 
OeoroKo? (Mother of God) to the church. 

Egypt also contributed gods to Rome, who forced themselves 
upon the state. The Senate forbade them the Capitol and had 
their statues thrown down, but the people set them up again 
with violence.* Gabinius, the Consul of 58 B.C., stopped the 
erection of altars to them, but eight years later the Senate had 
to pass a decree for the destruction of their shrines.y No 

1 See Ramsay, Church in the Roman Empire, p. 397. The Latins used the word 
divinus in this way Seneca, de beata vita, 26, 8. 

2 (Lucian) Asinus, 37. The same tale is amplified in Apuleius' Golden Ass, 
where the episode of these priests is given with more detail, in the eighth book. 
Seneca hints that a little blood might make a fair show ; see his picture of the same, 
de beata vita, 26, 8. 

8 Tertullian, ad Natt. i, 10 ; Apol. 6. He has the strange fancy that Serapis was 
originally the Joseph of the book of Genesis, ad Natt. ii, 8. 


workman dared lay hand to the work, so the consul Paullu. 
stripped off his consular toga, took an axe and dealt the first 
blow at the doors. 1 Another eight years passed, and the 
Triumvirs, after the death of Caesar, built a temple to Isis and 
Serapis to win the goodwill of the masses. 2 The large foreign 
and Eastern element in the city populace must be remembered- 
When Octavian captured Alexandria, he forgave the guilty city 
" in honour of Serapis," but on his return to Rome he destroyed 
all the shrines of the god within the city walls. In time Isis 
laid hold of the month of November, which had otherwise no 
festivals of importance. 

Isis seems to have appealed to women. Tibullus complains 
of Delia's devotion to her, and her ritual. There were baths 
and purifications ; the worshippers wore linen garments and 
slept alone. Whole nights were spent sitting in the temple 
amid the rattling of the sistrum. Morning and evening the 
votary with flowing hair recited the praises of the goddess. 3 
Isis could make her voice heard on occasion, or her snake of 
silver would be seen to move its head, and penance was required 
to avert her anger. She might bid her worshippers to stand in 
the Tiber in the winter, or to crawl, naked and trembling, with 
blood-stained knees, round the Campus Martius the Iseuin 
stood in the Campus as it was fordidden within the City Walls ; 
or to fetch water from Egypt to sprinkle in the Roman shrine 
They were high honours indeed that Anubis claimed, a: 
surrounded by shaven priests in linen garments, he scoured the 
city and laughed at the people who beat their breasts as he 
passed. 4 The "barking" Anubis might be despised by Virgil 
and others, but the vulgar feared him as the attendant of Isis 
and Serapis. 5 Isis began to usurp the functions of Juno Lucina, 
and women in childbed called upon her to deliver them. 6 She 
gave oracles, which were familiar perhaps even so early as 
Ennius' day, 7 and men and women slept in the temples of Isis 
and Serapis, as they did in those of ^Esculapius, to obtain in 
dreams the knowledge they needed to appease the god, or to 

Valerius Maximus, i, 3, 4. 2 Dio C. xlvii, 15. 

VTibullus, i, 3, 23 f. Cf. Propertius, ii, 28, 45 ; Ovid, A. A, iii, 635. 

4 Juvenal, vi, 522 f. 

8 Lucan, viii, 831, Isin semideosque canes. 

a Ovid, Am. ii, 13, 7. 

7 Unless Isiaci coniectores is Cicero's own phrase, de Div, i, 58, 132. 


recover their health, or what not. 1 It is not surprising that the 
shrines of Isis are mentioned by Ovid and Juvenal as the 
resorts of loose women. 2 

The devotion of the women is proved by the inscriptions 
v/hich are found recording their offerings to Isis. One woman, 
a Spaniard, may be taken as an illustration. In honour of her 
daughter she dedicated a silver statue to Isis, and she set forth 
how the goddess wore a diadem composed of one big pearl, six 
little pearls, emeralds, rubies, and jacinths ; earrings of emeralds 
and pearls ; a necklace of thirty-six pearls and eighteen 
emeralds (with two for clasps) ; bracelets on her arms and legs ; 
rings on her fingers ; and emeralds on her sandals. 3 There is 
evidence to show that the Madonna in Southern Italy is really 
Isis re-named. Isis, like the Madonna, was painted and sculp- 
tured with a child in her arms (Horus, Harpocrates). Their 
functions coincide as closely as this inscription proves that their 
offerings do. 4 

Die Mutter Gottes zu Kevlaar 
Tragt heut' ihr bestes Kleid. 

At first, it is possible that Egyptian religion, as it spread all 
over the world, was little better than Phrygian, but it had a 
better future. With Plutarch's work upon it we shall have to 
deal later on. Apuleius, at the end of the second century 
worshipped an Isis, who identified all the Divinities with her- 
self and was approached through the most imposing sacraments. 
She was the power underlying all nature, but there was a 
spiritual side to her worship. Two centuries or so later, Julian 
" the Apostate " looks upon Serapis as Catholics have done 
upon St Peter he is " the kindly and gentle god, who set souls 
utterly free from becoming or birth (yei/eVeo)?) and does not, 
when once they are free, nail them down to other bodies in 
punishment, but conveys them upward and brings them into the 

Cicero, Div. ii, 59, 121. For eyKol^-rjo'is or incubatio see Mary Hamilton, 
Incubation (1906) 

2 Clem. Alex. Pccdag. iii, 28, to the same effect. Tertullian on the temples, de 
Pttd. c. 5. Reference may be made to the hierodules of the temples in ancient Asia 
and in modern India. 

3 Corp. Inscr. Lat. ii, 3386. The enumeration of the jewels was a safeguard 
against theft. 

4 Flinders Petrie, Religion of Ancient Egypt, p. 44 ; Hamilton, Incubation, 
pp. 174, 182 f, 


ideal world." 1 It is possible that some hint of this lurked in 
the religion from the first, and, if it did, we need not be surprised 
that it escaped Juvenal's notice. 

It was not merely gods that came from the East, but a new 
series of religious ideas. Here were religions that claimed the 
whole of life, that taught of moral pollution and of reconcilia- 
tion, that gave anew the old sacramental value to rituals, 
religions of priest and devotee, equalizing rich and poor, save 
for the cost of holy rites, and giving to women the consciousness 
of life in touch with the divine. The eunuch priests of Cybele 
and the monks of Serapis introduced a new abstinence to 
Western thought. It is significant that Christian monasticism 
and the coenobite life began in Egypt, where, as we learn from 
papyri found in recent years, great monasteries of Serapis 
existed long before our era. Side by side with celibacy came 

No polytheistic religion can exclude gods from its pantheon ; 
all divinities that man can devise have a right there. Thus 
Cybele and Isis made peace with each other and with all the 
gods and goddesses whom they met in their travels and with 
all the damonia too. Their cults were steeped in superstition, 
and swung to and fro between continence and sensuality. They 
orientalized every religion of the West and developed every 
superstitious and romantic tendency. In the long run, they 
brought Philosophy to its knees, abasing it to be the apologist 
of everything they taught and did, and dignifying themselves 
by giving a philosophic colouring to their mysticism. But this 
is no strange thing. A religion begins in magic with rites and 
symbols that belong to the crudest Nature-worship to agricul- 
ture, for instance, and the reproductive organs and gradually 
develops or absorbs higher ideas, till it may reach the unity of 
the godhead and the immortality of the soul ; but the ultimate 
question is, will it cut itself clear of its past ? And this the 
religions of Cybele and Isis never satisfactorily achieved. 

In the meantime they promised little towards a moral regen- 
eration of society. They offered men and women emotions, but 
they scarcely touched morality. To the terrors of life, already 
many enough, they added crowning fears, and cramped and' 
dwarfed the minds of men. 

1 Julian, Or. iv, 136 B. 


" O hapless race of men ! " cried Lucretius, " when they 
attributed such deeds to the gods and added cruel anger there- 
to ! what groanings did they then beget for themselves, what 
wounds for us, what tears for our children's children ! No act 
of piety is it to be often seen with veiled head turning toward a 
stone, to haunt every altar, to lie prostrate on the ground with 
hands outspread before the shrines of gods, to sprinkle the 
altars with much blood of beasts and link vow to vow no ! 
rather to be able to look on all things with a mind at peace." l 
And a mind at peace was the last thing that contemporary 
religion could offer to any one. " Human life," he says, " lay 
visibly before men's eyes foully crushed to earth under the 
weight of Religion, who showed her head from the quarters of 
heaven with hideous aspect lowering upon men," till Epicurus 
" dared first to uplift mortal eyes against her face and first to 
withstand her. . . . The living force of his soul gained the day ; 
on he passed far beyond the flaming walls of the world and 
traversed in mind and spirit the immeasurable universe. And 
thence he returns again a conqueror, to tell us what can and 
what cannot come into being ; in short on what principle each 
thing has its powers defined, its deep-set boundary mark. So 
Religion is put under our feet and trampled upon in its turn ; 
while as for us, his victory sets us on a level with heaven." 2 

It was the establishment of law which brought peace to 
Lucretius. In the ease of mind which we see he gained from 
the contemplation of the fixity of cause and effect, in the 
enthusiasm with which he emphasizes such words as rationes, 
fcedera, leges, with which he celebrates Natura gubernans, we 
can read the horrible weight upon a feeling soul of a world 
distracted by the incalculable caprices of a myriad of divine or 
daemonic beings. 3 The force with which he flings himself 
against the doctrine of a future life shows that it is a fight for 
freedom. If men would rid themselves of "the dread of some- 
thing after death " and they could if they would, for reason 
will do it they could live in " the serene temples of the wise " ; 
the gods would pass from their minds ; bereavement would lose 
its sting, and life would no longer be brutalized by the cruelties 
of terror. Avarice, treachery, murder, civil war, suicide all 
these things are the fruit of this fear of death. 4 

1 Lucr. v, 1194. 2 Lucr. i, 62-79. * See Patin, La Potsie Latinc, i, 120. 

4 Lucr. iii, 60 f. 


Religion, similarly, "often and often has given birth to 
sinful and unholy deeds." The illustration, which he uses, is 
the sacrifice of Iphigenia, and it seems a little remote. Yet 
Pliny says that in 97 B.C. in the consulship of Lentulus and 
Crassus, a decree of the Senate forbade human sacrifice ne 
homo immolaretur. " It cannot be estimated," he goes on, 
" what a debt is owed to the Romans who have done away (in 
Gaul and Britain) with monstrous rites, in which it was 
counted the height of religion to kill a man, and a most 
healthful thing to eat him." x Elsewhere he hints darkly at his 
own age having seen something of the kind, and there is an 
obscure allusion in Plutarch's life of Marcellus to " unspeakable 
rites, that none may see, which are performed (?) upon Greeks 
and Gauls." 2 " At the temple of Aricia," says Strabo, " there 
is a barbarian and Scythian practice. For there is there estab- 
lished a priest, a runaway slave, who has killed with his own 
hand his predecessor. There he is, then, ever sword in hand, 
peering round about, lest he should be attacked, ready to 
defend himself." Strabo's description of the temple on the 
lake and the precipice overhanging it adds to the impressive- 
ness of the scene he thus pictures. 3 If human sacrifice was rare 
in practice, none the less it was in the minds of men. 

Tantum religio potuit suadere malorum 

concludes Lucretius, and yet it was not perhaps his last 

M. Patin has a fine study of the poet in which he deals with 
"the anti-Lucretius in Lucretius." Even in the matter of 
religion, his keen observation of Nature frequently suggests 
difficulties which are more powerfully expressed and more con- 
vincing than the arguments with which he himself tries to refute 
them. " When we look up to the heavenly regions of the great 
universe, the aether set on high above the glittering stars, and the 

1 Pliny, N.H. xxx, 12, 13. Warde Fowler, Roman Festivals, pp. in f. on the 
Argei and the whole question of human sacrifice. For Plutarch's explanation of it 
as due not to gods but to evil demons who enforced it, see p. 107. 

2 Pliny, N.H. xxviii, 12; Plutarch, Marcellus, 3, where, however, the meaning 
may only be that the rites are done in symbol ; he refers to the actual sacrifice of 
human beings in the past. See Tertullian, Apol. 9 on sacrifice of children in Africa 
in the reign of Tiberius. 

3 Strabo, c. 239. Strabo was a contemporary of Augustus. Cf. J. G. Frazer, 
Adonis Attis Osiris, p. 63, for another instance in this period. 


thought comes into our mind of the sun and moon and their 
courses ; then indeed in hearts laden with other woes that doubt 
too begins to wake and raise its head can it be perchance, 
after all, that we have to do with some vast Divine power that 
wheels those bright stars each in his orbit? Again who is 
there whose mind does not shrink into itself with fear of the 
gods, whose limbs do not creep with terror, when the parched 
earth rocks under horrible blow of the thunderbolt, and the 
roar sweeps over the vast sky ? . . . When too the utmost fury 
of the wild wind scours the sea and sweeps over its waters the 
admiral with his stout legions and his elephants, does he not in 
prayer seek peace with the gods ? . . . but all in vain, since, 
full oft, caught in the whirlwind, he is driven, for all his prayers, 
on, on to the shoals of death. Thus does some hidden power 
trample on mankind. . . . Again, when the whole earth rocks 
under their feet, and towns fall at the shock or hang ready to 
collapse, what wonder if men despise themselves, and make over 
to the gods high prerogative and marvellous powers to govern 
all things ? " l 

That Lucretius should be so open to impressions of this 
kind, in spite of his philosophy, is a measure of his greatness as 
a poet. It adds weight and worth to all that he says to his 
hatred of the polytheism and superstition round about him, and 
to his judgment upon their effect in darkening and benumbing 
the minds of men. He understands the feelings which he dis- 
likes he has felt them. The spectacle of the unguessed power 
that tramples on mankind has moved him ; and he has suffered 
the distress of all delicate spirits in times of bloodshed and dis- 
order. He knows the effect of such times upon those who still 
worship. " Much more keenly in evil days do they turn their 
minds to religion." - 

1 Lucr. v, 1204-1240. We may compare Brownings' Bp. Blougram on the 
instability of unbelief : 

Just when we are safest, there's a sunset-touch, 
A fancy from a flower-bell, some one's death, 
A chorus-ending from Euripides 
And that's enough for fifty hopes and fears 
As old and new at once as nature's self, 
To rap and knock and enter in our soul, 
Take hands and dance there, a fantastic ring, 
Round the ancient idol, on his base again, 
The grand Perhaps ! We look on helplessly. 
* Lucr. iii, 53. 


We have now to consider another poet, a disciple ol 
Lucretius in his early years, who, under the influence of Natire 
and human experience, moved away from Epicureanism, aid 
sought reconciliation with the gods, though he was too honest 
with himself to find peace in the systems and ideas that were 
yet available. 

Virgil was born in the year 70 B.C. the son of a little self- 
made man in a village North of the Po. He grew up in the 
country, with a spirit that year by year grew more sensitive to 
every aspect of the world around him. No Roman poet had a 
more gentle and sympathetic love of Nature ; none ever entered 
so deeply and so tenderly into the sorrows of men. He lived 
through forty years of Civil War, veiled and open. He saw its 
effects in broken homes and aching hearts, in coarsened minds 
and reckless lives. He was driven from his own farm, and had, 
like ^Eneas, to rescue an aged and blind father. Under such 
experience his early Epicureanism dissolved it had always 
been too genial to be the true kind. The Epicurean should 
never go beyond friendship, and Virgil loved. His love of the 
land in which he was born showed it to him more worthy to be 
loved than men had yet realized. Virgil was the pioneer who dis- 
covered the beauty, the charm and the romance of Italy. He 
loved the Italians and saw poetry in their hardy lives and quiet 
virtues, though they were not Greeks. His love of his father 
and of his land opened to him the significance of all love, and 
the deepening and widening of his experience is to be read in 
the music, stronger and profounder, that time reveals in his 

Here was a poet who loved Rome more than ever did 
Augustus or Horace, and he had no such speedy cure as they 
for "the woes of sorrowful Hesperia." The loss of faith in the 
old gods meant more to him than to them, so his tone in speak- 
ing of them is quieter, a great deal, than that of Horace. He 
took the decline of morals more seriously and more inwardly, 
and he saw more deeply into the springs of action ; he could 
never lightly use the talk of rapid and sweeping reformation, as 
his friend did in the odes which the Emperor inspired. He had 
every belief in Augustus, who was dearer to him personally than 
to Horace, and he hoped for much outcome from the new 
movement in the State. But with all his absorbing interest in 


his own times and how deep that interest was, only long and 
minute study of his poems will reveal he was without scheme 
or policy. He came before his countrymen, as prophets and 
poets do in all ages a child in affairs, but a man in inward 
experience ; he had little or nothing to offer but the impressions 
left upon his soul by human life. He had the advantage over 
most prophets in being a " lord of language " ; he drew more 
music from Latin words than had ever been achieved before or 
was ever reached again. 

He told man of a new experience of Nature. It is hardly 
exaggeration to say that he stands nearer Wordsworth in this 
feeling than any other poet. He had the same " impulses of 
deeper birth " ; he had seen new gleams and heard new voices ; 
he had enjoyed what no Italian had before, and he spoke in a 
new way, unintelligible then, and unintelligible still to those 
who have not seen and heard the same things* The gist of it 
all he tried to give in the language of Pantheism, which the 
Stoics had borrowed from Pythagoras : " The Deity, they tell 
us, pervades all, earth and the expanse of sea, and the deep 
vault of heaven ; from Him flocks, herds, men, wild beasts of 
every sort, each creature at its birth draws the bright thread 
of life; further, to Him all things return, are restored and 
reduced death has no place among them ; but they fly up alive 
into the ranks of the stars and take their seats aloft in the sky." 
So John Conington did the passage into English. But in such 
cases it may be said with no disrespect to the commentator who 
has done so much for his poet, the original words stand to the 
translation, as Virgil's thought did to the same thought in 
a Stoic's brain. 

Deum namque ire per omnis 

Terrasque tractusque maris c&lumque profundum ; 
Hinc pecudes, armenta, viros ', genus omne ferarum^ 
Quemque sibi tenues nascentem arcessere vitas ; 
Scilicet hue reddi deinde ac resoluta referri 
Omnia, nee morti esse locum, sed viva volare 
Sideris in numerum atque alto succedere c&lo. 

(Georgics, iv, 221.) 

The words might represent a fancy, or a dogma of the 
schools, and many no doubt so read them, because they had no 


experience to help them. But to others it is clear that the 
passage is one of the deepest import, for it is the key to Virgil's 
mind and the thought is an expression of what we can call by no 
other name than religion. Around him men and women were 
seeking communion with gods ; he had had communion with 
what he could not name he had experienced religion in a very 
deep, abiding and true way. There is nothing for it at least 
for Englishmen but to quote the "lines composed a few miles 
above Tintern Abbey " 

I have felt 

A presence that disturbs me with the joy 
Of elevated thoughts ; a sense sublime 
Of something far more deeply interfused, 
Whose dwelling is the light of setting suns, 
And the round ocean, and the living air, 
And the blue sky, and in the mind of man ; 
A motion and a spirit, that impels 
All thinking things, all objects of all thought, 
And rolls through all things. 

Virgil's experience did not stop here; like Wordsworth, he 

Nature's self 

By all varieties of human love 


He had been a son and a brother ; and such relations of men 
to men impressed him they took him into the deepest and 
most beautiful regions of life ; and one of the charms of Italy 
was that it was written all over with the records of human love 
and helpfulness. The clearing, the orchard, the hilltop town, 
the bed of flowers, all spoke to him " words that could not be 
uttered." His long acquaintance with such scripts brought it 
about that he found 

in man an object of delight, 
Of pure imagination and of love 

and he came to the Roman people with a deep impression of 
human worth something unknown altogether in Roman poetry 
before or after. Lucretius was impressed with man's insignifi- 
cance in the universe; Horace, with man's folly. Virgil's 


poetry throbbed with the sense of man's grandeur and his 

This human greatness, which his poetry brought home to 
the sympathetic reader, was not altogether foreign to the 
thought of the day. Homo sacra res hommi 1 was the teaching 
of the Stoics, but man was a more sacred thing to the poet than 
to the philosopher, for what the philosopher conceived to be a 
flaw and a weakness in man, the poet found to be man's chief 
significance. The Stoic loudly proclaimed man to be a member 
of the universe. The poet found man knit to man by a myriad 
ties, the strength of which he realized through that pain against 
which the Stoic sought to safeguard him. Man revealed to the 
poet his inner greatness in the haunting sense of his limitations 
he could not be self-sufficient (avrdpKtjs) as the Stoic urged ; 
he depended on men, on women and children, on the beauty of 
grass and living creature, of the sea and sky. And even all 
these things could not satisfy his craving for love and fellow- 
ship ; he felt a " hunger for the infinite." Here perhaps is the 
greatest contribution of Virgil to the life of the age. 

He, the poet to whom man and the world were most various 
and meant most, came to his people, and, without any articulate 
expression of it in direct words, made it clear to them that he 
had felt a gap in the heart of things, which philosophy could 
never fill. Philosophy could remove this sense of incomplete- 
ness, but only at the cost of love ; and love was to Virgil, as his 
poetry shows, the very essence of life. Yet he gave, and not 
altogether unconsciously, the impression that in proportion as 
love is apprehended, its demands extend beyond the present. 
The sixth book of the ^Eneid settles nothing and proves 
nothing, but it expresses an instinct, strong in Virgil, as the 
result of experience, that love must reach beyond the grave. 
Further, the whole story of ^Eneas is an utterance of man's 
craving for God, of the sense of man's incompleteness without 
a divine complement. These are the records of Virgil's life, 
intensely individual, but not peculiar to himself. In the litera- 
ture of his century, there is little indication of such instincts, 
but the history of four hundred years shows that they were 
deep in the general heart of man. 

These impressions Virgil brought before the Roman world. 
1 Seneca, Ep. 95, 33. 


As such things are, they were a criticism, and they meant 
change of values. In the light of them, the restoration c 
religion by Augustus became a little thing ; the popular super 
stition of the day was stamped as vulgar and trivial in itseli, 
while it became the sign of deep and unsatisfied craving in thJ 
human heart ; and lastly the current philosophies, in the face o^ 
Virgil's poetry, were felt to be shallow and cold, talk of the lip 
and trick of the brain. Of course this is not just to the philoso- 
phers who did much for the world, and without whom Virgil 
would not have been what he was. None the less, it was 
written in Virgil's poetry that the religions and philosophies of 
mankind must be thought over anew. 

This is no light contribution to an age or to mankind. In 
this case it carries with it the whole story that lies before us. 
Such an expression of a common instinct gave new force to 
that instinct; it added a powerful impulse to the deepest 
passion that man knows; and, in spite of the uncertainties 
which beset the poet himself, it gave new hope to mankind that 
the cry of the human heart for God was one that should receive 
an answer. 


" T AM entering," writes Tacitus, 1 "upon the history of a period, 
rich in disasters, gloomy with wars, rent with seditions, 
nay, savage in its very hours of peace. Four Emperors 
perished by the sword ; there were three civil wars ; there were 
more with foreigners and some had both characters at 
once. . . . Rome was wasted by fires, its oldest temples burnt, 
the very Capitol set in flames by Roman hands. There was 
defilement of sacred rites ; adulteries in high places ; the sea 
crowded with exiles ; island rocks drenched with murder. Yet 
wilder was the frenzy in Rome ; nobility, wealth, the refusal of 
office, its acceptance everything was a crime, and virtue the 
surest ruin. Nor were the rewards of informers less odious 
than their deeds; one found his spoils in a priesthood or a 
consulate; another in a provincial governorship ; another behind 
the throne ; and all was one delirium of hate and terror ; slaves 
were bribed to betray their masters, freedmen their patrons. 
He who had no foe was destroyed by his friend." 

It was to this that Virgil's hope of a new Golden Age had 
come Redeunt Saturnia regna. Augustus had restored the 
Republic ; he had restored religion ; and after a hundred years 
here is the outcome. Tacitus himself admits that the age was 
not "barren of virtues," that it "could show fine illustrations" 
of family love and friendship, and of heroic death. It must 
also be owned that the Provinces at large were better governed 
than under the Republic ; and, further, that, when he wrote 
Tacitus thought of a particular period of civil disorder and that 
not a long one. Yet the reader of his Annals will feel that the 
description will cover more than the year 69 ; it is essentially 
true of the reigns of Tiberius, Gaius, Claudius and Nero, and it 
was to be true again of the reign of Domitian of perhaps 
eighty years of the first century of our era. If it was not true 

1 Hist, i, 2, 

\ 33 


of the whole Mediterranean world, or even of the whole of 
Rome, it was true at least of that half-Rome which gave its 
colour to the thinking of the world. 

Through all the elaborate pretences devised by Augustus to 
obscure the truth, through all the names and phrases and 
formalities, the Roman world had realized the central fact of 
despotism. 1 The Emperors themselves had grasped it with 
pride and terror. One at least was insane, and the position 
was enough to turn almost any brain. " Monarchy," in 
Herodotus' quaint sentence, 2 " would set the best man outside 
the ordinary thoughts." Plato's myth of Gyges was fulfilled 
of the shepherd, who found a ring that made him invisible, and 
in its strength seduced a queen, murdered a king and became a 
tyrant. Gaius banished his own sisters, reminding them that 
he owned not only islands but swords ; and he bade his grand- 
mother remember that he could " do anything he liked and do 
it to anybody." 3 Oriental princes had been kept at Rome as 
hostages and had given the weaker-minded members of the 
Imperial family new ideas of royalty. The very word was 
spoken freely in his treatise " On Clemency " Seneca uses again 
and again the word regnum without apology. 

But what gave Despotism its sting was its uncertainty. 
Augustus had held a curiously complicated set of special powers 
severally conferred on him for specified periods, and technically 
they could be taken from him. The Senate was the Emperor's 
partner in the government of the world, and it was always con- 
ceivable that the partnership might cease, for it was not a 
definite institution prince followed prince, it is true, but there 
was an element of accident about it all. The situation was 
difficult ; Senate and Emperor eyed each other with suspicion 
neither knew how far the other could go, or would go ; neither 
knew the terms of the partnership. Tiberius wrote despatches 
to the Senate and he was an artist in concealing his meaning. 
The Senate had to guess what he wished ; if it guessed wrong, 
he would resent the liberty ; if it guessed right, he resented the 
appearance of servility. The solitude of the throne grew more 
and more uneasy. 

1 Tac. Ann. iv, 33, sic converse statu neque alia re Romano, t 

a Hdt. iii, 80. Cf. Tac. A. vi, 48, 4, vi dominationis convulsus et " 
3 Suetonius, Gaius, 29. 


Again, the republican government had been in the hands of 
free men, who ruled as magistrates, and the imperial govern- 
ment had no means of replacing them, for one free-born Roman 
could not take service with another. The. Emperor had to fall 
back upon his own household. His Secretaries of State were 
slaves and freedmen men very often of great ability, but their 
past was against them. If it had not depraved them, none the 
less it left upon them a social taint, which nothing could remove. 
They were despised by the men who courted them, and they 
knew it. It was almost impossible for such men not to be 
the gangrene of court and state. And as a fact we find that 
the freedman was throughout the readiest agent for all evil that 
Rome knew, and into the hands of such men the government 
of the world drifted. Under a weak, or a careless, or even an 
absent, Emperor Rome was governed by such men and such 
methods as we suppose to be peculiar to Sultanates and the 

The honour, the property, the life of every Roman lay in the 
hands of eunuchs and valets, and, as these quarrelled or made 
friends, the fortunes of an old nobility changed with the hour. 
It had not been so under Augustus, nor was it so under 
Vespasian, nor under Trajan or his successors ; but for the greater 
part of the first century A.D. Rome was governed by weak or 
vicious Emperors, and they by their servants. The spy and the 
informer were everywhere. 

To this confusion fresh elements of uncertainty were added 
by the astrologer and mathematician, and it became treason to 
be interested in " the health of the prince." Superstition ruled 
the weakling superstition, perpetually re-inforced by fresh 
hordes of Orientals, obsequious and unscrupulous. Seneca called 
the imperial court, which he knew, " a gloomy slave-gaol " (triste 
ergastulum). * 

Reduced to merely registering the wishes of their rulers, 
the Roman nobility sought their own safety in frivolity and 
extravagance. To be thoughtful was to be suspected of in- 
dependence and to invite danger. We naturally suppose 
moralists and satirists to exaggerate the vices of their con- 
temporaries, but a sober survey of Roman morals in the first 
century at any rate before 70 A.D. reveals a great deal that 

1 Sen. de ira, iii, 15, 3. 


is horrible. (Petronius is not exactly a moralist or a satirist* 
and there is plenty of other evidence.) Marriage does not thrive 
alongside of terror, nor yet where domestic slavery prevails, and 
in Rome both militated against purity of life. The Greek girl's 
beauty, her charm and wit, were everywhere available. For 
amusements, there were the gladiatorial shows, brutal, we 
understand, but their horrible fascination we fortunately cannot 
know. The reader of St Augustine's Confessions will remember 
a famous passage on these games. The gladiators were the 
popular favourites of the day. They toured the country, they 
were modelled and painted. Their names survive scratched by 
loafers on the walls of Pompeii. The very children played 
at being gladiators, Epictetus said "sometimes athletes, now 
monomachi, now trumpeters." The Colosseum had seats for 
80,000 spectators of the games, " and is even now at once the 
most imposing and the most characteristic relic of pagan 
Rome." i 

I Life was terrible in its fears and in its pleasures. If the 
poets drew Ages of Gold in the latter days of the Republic, 
now the philosophers and historians looked away to a " State of 
Nature," to times and places where greed and civilization were 
unknown. In those happy days, says Seneca, they enjoyed 
Nature in common ; the stronger had not laid his hand upon 
the weaker ; weapons lay unused, and human hands, unstained 
by human blood, turned all the hatred they felt upon the wild 
beasts ; they knew quiet nights without a sigh, while the stars 
moved onward above them and the splendid pageant of Night ; 
they drank from the stream and knew no water-pipes, and their 
meadows were beautiful without art; their home was Nature 
and not terrible ; while our abodes form the greatest part of our 
terror. 2 In Germany, writes Tacitus, the marriage-bond is 
strict ; there are no shows to tempt virtue ; adultery is rare ; 
none there makes a jest of vice, nee corrumpere et corrumpi 
seculum vocatur\ none but virgins marry and they marry to bear 
big children and to suckle them, sera iuvenum venus eoque 
inexhausta pubertas ; and the children inherit the sturdy frames 
of their parents. 3 

But whatever their dreams of the ideal, the actual was 

1 Lecky, European Morals, i, 275 ; Epictetus, D. iii, 15. 

8 Seneca, Ep. 90, 36-43. 3 Tacitus, Germany, cc. 18-20. 


around them, and men had to accommodate themselves to it. 
In France before the Revolution, men spoke of the government 
as " despotism tempered by epigrams," and the happy phrase is 
as true of Imperial Rome. "Verses of unknown authorship 
reached the public and provoked " Tiberius, 1 who complained 
of the " circles and dinner-parties." Now and again the authors 
were discovered and were punished sufficiently. The tone of 
the society that produced them lives for ever in the Annals of 
Tacitus. It is worth noting how men and women turned to 
Tacitus and Seneca during the French Revolution and found 
their own experience written in their books. 2 

Others unpacked their hearts with words in tyrannicide 
declamations and imitations of Greek tragedy. Juvenal laughs 
at the crowded class-room busy killing tyrants, waiting him- 
self till they were dead. The tragedies got nearer the mark. 
Here are a few lines from some of Seneca's own : 

Who bids all pay one penalty of death 

Knows not a tyrant's trade. Nay, vary it 

Forbid the wretch to die, and slay the happy. (H.F. 515.) 

And is there none to teach them stealth and sin ? 
Why ! then the throne will ! ( Thyestes 3 1 3.) 

Let him who serves a king, fling justice forth, 

Send every scruple packing from his heart ; 

Shame is no minister to wait on kings. (Phadra 436.) 



But bitterness and epigram could not heal ; and for healing 
d inward peace men longed more and more, 3 as they felt 
eir own weakness, the power of evil and the terror of life; and 
ey found both in a philosophy that had originally come into 
ing under circumstances somewhat similar. They needed 
some foundation for life, some means of linking the individual 
to something that could not be shaken, and this they found in .. 
Stoicism. The Stoic philosopher saw a unity in this world of 
confusion it was the " Generative Reason " the <nrep/uLariKo<{ 
Ao'yo?, the Divine Word, or Reason, that is the seed and vital 
principle, whence all things come and in virtue of which they 

1 Tac. A. i, 72. Suetonius ( Tib. 59) quotes specimens. 

2 See Boissier, Tacite, 188 f. ; F opposition sous les Cesars, 208-215. 
" Persius, v, 73, libertatc opus est. 


live. All things came from fiery breath, Trvev/ma Siairvpov, and 
returned to it. The whole universe was one polity TroXireia 
TOV Koa-fjiou in virtue of the spirit that was its origin and its 
life, of the common end to which it tended, of the absolute and 
universal scope of the laws it obeyed mind, matter, God, man, 
formed one community. The soul of the individual Roman 
partook of the very nature of God divince particula aurce^- 
and in a way stood nearer to the divine than did anything else 
in the world, every detail of which, however, was some mani- 
festation of the same divine essence. All men were in truth of 
one blood, of one family, all and each, as Seneca says, sacred 
to each and all. 2 ( Unum me donavit \sc. Natura rerum~\ omnibus, 
uni mihi omnes.) 

Taught by the Stoic, the troubled Roman looked upon him- 
self at once as a fragment of divinity, 3 an entity self-conscious 
and individual, and as a member of a divine system expressive 
of one divine idea, which his individuality subserved. These 
thoughts gave him ground and strength. If he seemed to be 
the slave and plaything of an Emperor or an imperial freed- 
man, none the less a divine life pulsed within him, and he was an 
essential part of " the world." He had two havens of refuge 
the universe and his own soul both quite beyond the reach of 
the oppressor. Over and over we find both notes sounded in 
the writings of the Stoics and their followers God within you 
and God without you. " Jupiter is all that you see, and all that 
lives within you." * There is a Providence that rules human and 
all other affairs ; nothing happens that is not appointed ; and 
to this Providence every man is related. " He who has once 
observed with understanding the administration of the world, 
and learnt that the greatest and supreme and most comprehen- 
sive community is the system (<rv<m>nu.a) of men and God, and 
that from God come the seeds whence all things, and especially 
rational beings, spring, why should not that man call himself a 
citizen of the world [Socrates' word /coVyouo?], why not a son of 
God ? " 5 And when we consider the individual, we find that God 

1 Horace, Sat. ii, 2, 79. 

2 See Edward Caird, Evolution of Theology in the Greek Philosophers, vol. ii, 
lectures xvii to xx, and Zeller, Eclectics, pp. 235-245. Seneca, B, V. 20, 3. 

3 Epictetus, D. ii, 8, cri) dTr6ffirao-fj.a ci TOV deov. 

4 Lucan, ix, 564-586, contains a short summary of Stoicism, supposed to be spoken 
by Cato. Epictetus, D. i, 9 (some lines omitted). 



has put in his power " the best thing of all, the master thing " 
the rational faculty. What is not in our power is the entire 
external world, of which we can alter nothing, but the use we 
make of it and its " appearances " 1 is our own. Confine yourself 
to "what is in your power" (ra eVt <rof)> an d no man can hurt 
you. If you can no longer endure life, leave it ; but remember 
in doing so to withdraw quietly, not at a run ; yet, says the 
sage, " Men ! wait for God ; when He shall give you the signal 
and release you from this service, then go to Him ; but for the 
present endure to dwell in this place where He has set you." 2 

To sum up ; the end of man's being and his true happiness is 
what Zeno expressed as " living harmoniously," a statement 
which Cleanthes developed by adding the words " with Nature." 
Harmony with Nature and with oneself is the ideal life ; and 
this the outside world of Emperors, freedmen, bereavements and 
accidents generally, can neither give nor take away. "The 
end," says Diogenes Laertius, "is to act in conformity with 
nature, that is, at once with the nature which is in us and with 
the nature of the universe, doing nothing forbidden by that 
common law which is the right reason that pervades all things, 
and which is, indeed, the same in the Divine Being who 
administers the universal system of things. Thus the life 
according to nature is that virtuous and blessed flow of exist- 

ce, which is enjoyed only by one who always acts so as to 
maintain the harmony between the daemon (SalfjLwv) within tha 
individual and the will of the power that orders the universe." 3 
This was indeed a philosophy for men, and it was also 

ngenial to Roman character, as history had already shown. 
t appealed to manhood, and whatever else has to be said of 
toics and Stoicism, it remains the fact that Stoicism inspired 
early all the great characters of the early Roman Empire, and 

rved almost every attempt that was made to maintain the - 
reedom and dignity of the human soul. 4 The government was 
not slow to realise the danger of men with such a trust in them- 
selves and so free from fear. 

On paper, perhaps, all religions and philosophies may at first 
glance seem equally good, and it is not till we test them in life 

, impressions left on the mind by things or events. 

2 Epictetus, D. i, 9. 

3 Diogenes Laertius, vii, i, 53 ; see Caird, op. dt. vol. ii, p. 124. 

4 See Lecky, European Morals ; i, 128, 129, 


that we can value them aright. And even here there is a wide 
field for error. Every religion has its saints men recognizable 
to everyone as saints in the beauty, manhood and tenderness of 
their character and it is perhaps humiliating to have to acknow- 
ledge that very often they seem to be so through some happy 
gift of Nature, quite Independently of any effort they make, or 
of the religion to which they themselves generally attribute 
anything that redeems them from being base. We have to 
take, if possible, large masses of men, and to see how they are 
affected by the religion which we wish to study average men, 
as we call them for in this way we shall escape being led to 
hasty conclusions by happy instances of natural endowment, or 
of virtues carefully acquired in favourable circumstances of 
retirement or helpful environment. Side by side with such 
results as we may reach from wider study, we have to set our 
saints and heroes, for while St Francis would have been tender 
and Thrasea brave under any system of thought, it remains 
that the one was Christian and the other Stoic. We need the 
' individual, if we are to avoid mere rough generalities ; but we 
must be sure, that he is representative in some way of the class 
and the system under review. 

As representatives of the Stoicism of the early Roman 
Empire, two men stand out conspicuous men whose characters 
may be known with a high degree of intimacy. The one was a 
Roman statesman, famous above all others in his age, and a 
man of letters one of those writers who reveal themselves in 
every sentence they write and seem to leave records of every 
mood they have known. The other was an emancipated slave, 
who lived at Nicopolis in Epirus, away from the main channels 
of life, who wrote nothing, but whose conversations or mono- 
logues were faithfully recorded by a disciple. 

" Notable Seneca," writes Carlyle, " so wistfully desirous to 
stand well with Truth and yet not ill with Nero, is and remains 
only our perhaps niceliest proportioned half-and-half, the plausi- 
blest Plausible on record ; no great man, no true man, no man 
at all ... ( the father of all such as wear shovel-hats.' " This 
was in the essay on Diderot written in 1833 ; and we find in his 
diary for loth August 1832, when Carlyle was fresh from reading 
Seneca, an earlier judgment to much the same effect "He is 
father of all that work in sentimentality, and, by fine speaking 


and decent behaviour, study to serve God and mammon, to 
stand well with philosophy and not ill with Nero. His force 
had mostly oozed out of him, or corrupted itself into benevolence, 
virtue, sensibility. Oh ! the everlasting- clatter about virtue ! 
virtue ! ! In the Devil's name be virtuous and no more about it." 

Even in his most one-sided judgments Carlyle is apt to 
speak truth, though it is well to remember that he himself said 
that little is to be learnt of a man by dwelling only or mainly 
on his faults. That what he says in these passages is in some 
degree true, every candid reader must admit ; but if he had 
written an essay instead of a paragraph we should have seen that 
a great deal more is true of Seneca. As it is, we must take what 
Carlyle says as representing a judgment which has often been 
passed upon Seneca, though seldom in such picturesque terms. 
It is in any case truer than Mommsen's description of Cicero. 

Seneca was born at Cordova in Spain about the Christian 
era certainly not long before it. His father was a rich man of 
equestrian rank, a rhetorician, who has left several volumes of 
rhetorical compositions on imaginary cases. He hated philo- 
sophy, his son tells us. 1 Seneca's mother seems to have been 
a good woman, and not the only one in the family; for his 
youth was delicate and owed much to the care of a good aunt 
at Rome; and his later years were spent with a good wife 
Pompeia Paulina, who bore him two little short-lived boys. 

In one of his letters (108) Seneca tells us of his early life in 
Rome. He went to the lectures of Attalus, a Stoic teacher, 
who laid great stress on simplicity of life and independence of 
character and was also interested in superstition and soothsaying. 
The pupil was a high-minded and sensitive youth, quick then, 
as he remained through life, to take fire at an idea. 2 " I used to 
be the first to come and the last to go ; and as he walked I 
would lead him on to further discussions, for he was not only 
ready for those who would learn, but he would meet them." 
"When I heard Attalus declaim against the vices, errors and 
evils of life, I would often pity mankind ; and as for him I 
thought of him as one on high, far above human nature's 
highest. He himself used to say he was a king [a Stoic 

1 Ep. 108, 22, philosophiam oderat. 

2 With these passages compare the fine account which Persius gives (Sal. v) of 
his early studies with the Stoic Cornutus. 


paradox at which Horace had laughed] ; but he seemed to me 
more than king, the judge of kings. When he began to 
commend poverty, and to show that whatever is more than 
need requires, is a useless burden to him that has it, I often 
longed to leave the room a poor man. When he attacked our 
pleasures and praised the chaste body, the sober table, the pure 
mind, I delighted to refrain, not merely from unlawful pleasures, 
but from needless ones too. Some of it has stuck by me, Lucilius, 
for I made a good beginning." All his life long, in fact, he 
avoided the luxuries of table and bath, and drank water. He 
continues, "Since I have begun to tell you how much more 
keenly I began philosophy in my youth than I persevere 
with it in my old age, I am not ashamed to own what love of 
Pythagoras Sotion waked in me." Sotion recommended vege- 
tarianism on the grounds which Pythagoras had laid down. 
" But you do not believe," he said, " that souls are allotted to 
one body after another, and that what we call death is trans- 
migration ? You don't believe that in beasts and fishes dwells 
the mind (animuni] that was once a man's ? . . . Great men 
have believed it ; so maintain your own opinion, but keep the 
matter open. If it is true, then to have abstained from animal 
food will be innocence ; if it is false, it will still be frugality." 1 
So for a year Seneca was a vegetarian with some satisfaction 
and he fancied that his mind was livelier than when he was " an 
eater of beef." 2 It is as well not to quote some contemporary 
methods of preparing meat. 3 However, after a while some 
scandal arose about foreign religions, and vegetarianism was 
counted a " proof of superstition," and the old rhetorician, more 
from dislike of philosophy than from fear of calumny, made it 
an excuse to put a little pressure on his philosophic son, who 
obediently gave up the practice. Such is the ardour of youth, 
he concludes, a good teacher finds idealists ready to his hand. 
The fault is partly in the teachers, who train us to argue and not 
to live, and partly in the pupils too, whose aim is to have the wits 
trained and not the mind. " So what was philosophy becomes 
philology the love of words." 4 

There is a certain gaiety and good humour about these 

1 Plutarch, de esu carnium, ii, 5. 

2 Plutarch, de esu carnium, i, 6, on clogging the soul by eating flesh. Clem. Alex. 
Peed, ii, 16, says St Matthew lived on seeds, nuts and vegetables, and without meat. 

3 Plutarch, de esu carnium, ii, I. 4 Sen. Ep. 108, 3, 13-23. 


confessions, which is closely bound up with that air of tolerance 
and that sense of buoyant ease 1 which pervade all his work. 
Here the tone is in keeping with the matter in hand, but it is 
not always. Everything seems so easy to him that the 
reader begins to doubt him and to wonder whether he is 
not after all "The plausiblest Plausible on record." We 
associate experience with a style more plain, more tense, more 
inevitable ; and the extraordinary buoyancy of Seneca's writing 
suggests that he can hardly have known the agony and bloody 
sweat of the true teacher. Yet under the easy phrases there 
lay a real sincerity. From his youth onward he took life 
seriously, and, so far as is possible for a man of easy good 
nature, he was in earnest with himself. 

Like other youths of genius, he had had thoughts of suicide, 
but on reflexion, he tells us, he decided to live, and his reason 
was characteristic. While for himself he felt equal to dying 
bravely, he was not so sure that his " kind old father " would 
be quite so brave in doing without him. It was to philosophy, 
he says, that he owed his resolution. 2 

Apart from philosophy, he went through the ordinary course 
of Roman education. He " wasted time on the grammarians," 3 
whom he never forgave, and at whom, as " guardians of Latin 
speech" 4 he loved to jest, and the greatest of all Roman 
Grammarians paid him back in the familiar style of the peda- 
gogue. Rhetoric came to him no doubt by nature, certainly 
by environment ; it conspicuously haunted his family for three 
generations. 5 He duly made his appearance at the bar making 
more speeches there than Virgil did, and perhaps not disliking 
it so much. But he did not like it, and, when his father died, 
he ceased to appear, and by and by found that he had lost 
the power to plead as he had long before lost the wish. 

On the accession of Claudius to the Imperial throne in 41 
A.D., Seneca, now in middle life, was for some reason banished 
to Corsica, and there for eight weary years he remained, till 
the Empress Messalina fell. A little treatise, which he wrote 

1 This is a quality that Quintilian notes in his style for praise or blame. Others 
(Gellius, N.A. xii, 2) found in him levis et quasi dicax argutia. 

2 Ep. 78, 2, 3, patris me inditlgentissimi senectus retinuit. 

' J p- 58,5- 4 ->. 95.65- 

5 His nephew Lucan, Quintilian severely says, was "perhaps a better model for 
orators than for poets."' 6 Ep. 49, 2. Virgil made one spech, 


to console his mother, survives couched in the rhetoric she knew 
so well. If the language is more magnificent than sons usually 
address to their mothers, it must be remembered that he wrote 
to console her for misfortunes which he was himself enduring. 
The familiar maxim that the mind can make itself happy and at 
home anywhere is rather like a platitude, but it loses something 
of that character when it comes from the lips of a man actually 
in exile. Another little work on the subject, which he addressed 
later on to Polybius, the freedman of Claudius, stands on a 
different footing, and his admirers could wish he had not written 
it. There is flattery in it of a painfully cringing tone. " The 
Emperor did not hurl him down so utterly as never to raise him 
again ; rather he supported him when evil fortune smote him 
and he tottered ; he gently used his godlike hand to sustain him 
and pleaded with the Senate to spare his life. . . . He will see to 
his cause. . . . He best knows the time at which to show favour. 
. . . Under the clemency of Claudius, exiles live more peacefully 
than princes did under Gaius." l But a little is enough of this. 

It is clear that Seneca was not what we call a strong man. 
A fragile youth, a spirit of great delicacy and sensibility, were 
no outfit for exile. Nor is it very easy to understand what 
exile was to the educated Roman. Some were confined to 
mere rocks, to go round and round them for ever and never 
leave them. Seneca had of course more space, but what he 
endured, we may in some measure divine from the diaries and 
narratives that tell of Napoleon's life on St Helena. The 
seclusion from the world, the narrow range, the limited number 
of faces, the red coats, the abhorred monotony, told heavily on 
every temper, on gaoler and prisoner alike, even on Napoleon ; 
and Seneca's temperament was not of stuff so stern. We may 
wish he had not broken down, but we cannot be surprised that 
he did. It was human of him. Perhaps the memory of his 
own weakness and failure contributed to make him the most 
sympathetic and the least arrogant of all Stoics. 

At last Messalina reached her end, and the new Empress, 
Agrippina, recalled the exile in 49 A.D., and made him tutor of 
her son, Nero ; and from now till within two years of his death 
Seneca lived in the circle of the young prince. When Claudius 
died in 54, Seneca and Burrus became the guardians of the 

1 ad Polybium, 13, 2, 3. 

NERO 45 

Emperor and virtually ruled the Empire. It was a position of 
great difficulty. Seneca grew to be immensely rich, and his 
wealth and his palaces and gardens l weakened his influence, 
while they intensified the jealousy felt for a minister so power- 
ful. Yet perhaps none of his detractors guessed the limits of his 
power as surely as he came to feel them himself. Some measure of 
the situation may be taken from what befell when the freedwoman 
Claudia Acte became the mistress of Nero. " His older friends did 
not thwart him," says Tacitus, " for here was a girl, who, without 
harm to anyone, gratified his desires, since he was utterly 
estranged from his wife Octavia." 2 Later on, we learn, Seneca 
had to avail himself of Acte's aid to prevent worse scandals. 

In February 55 A.D. the young prince Britannicus was 
poisoned at Nero's table. He was the son of Claudius and the 
brother of Octavia a possible claimant therefore to the Imperial 
throne. Nero, not more than eighteen years old, told the com- 
pany quite coolly that it was an epileptic seizure, and the feast 
went on, while the dead boy was carried out and buried there 
and then in the rain in a grave prepared before he had entered 
the dining-hall. 3 Ten months later Seneca wrote his tractate 
on Clemency. Nero should ask himself " Am I the elected of 
the gods to be their vice-gerent on earth ? The arbiter of life 
and death to the nations ? " and so forth. He is gently reminded 
of the great light that fronts the throne ; that his anger would 
be as disastrous as war ; that " Kings gain from kindness a 
greater security, while their cruelty swells the number of their 
enemies." Seneca wanders a good deal, but his drift is clear 
and the wretchedness of his position. 

That Burrus and he had no knowledge of Nero's design to 
do away with his mother, is the verdict of Nero's latest historian, 
but to Seneca fell the horrible task of writing the explanatory 
letter which Nero sent to the Senate when the murder was done. 
Perhaps to judge him fairly, one would need to have been a 
Prime Minister. It may have been a necessary thing to do, in 
order to maintain the world's government, but the letter imposed 
on nobody, and Thrasea Paetus at once rose from his seat and 
walked conspicuously out. 

From the year 59 Nero was more than ever his own master. 

1 Juvenal, x, 1 6, magnos Sentccz pradivitis hortos. 
Ann. xiii, 12, 2. * Tac. Ann. xiii, 15-17. 


His guardians' repeated condonations had set him free, and the 
lad, who had " wished he had never learned writing " when he 
had to sign his first death-warrant, began from now to build up 
that evil fame for which the murders of his brother and his 
mother were only the foundation. For three years Seneca and 
Burrus kept their places miserably enough. Then Burrus 
found a happy release in death, and with him died the last of 
Seneca's influence. 1 Seneca begged the Emperor's leave to 
retire from the Court, offering him the greater part of his wealth, 
and it was refused. It had long been upon his mind that he 
was too rich. In 58 a furious attack was made upon him by 
"one who had earned the hate of many," Publius Suillius ; this 
man asked in the Senate " by what kind of wisdom or maxims 
of philosophy " Seneca had amassed in four years a fortune equal 
to two and a half millions sterling ; and he went on to accuse 
him of intrigue with princesses, of hunting for legacies, and of 
" draining Italy and the provinces by boundless usury." 2 There 
was probably a good deal of inference in these charges, if one 
may judge by the carelessness of evidence which such men show 
in all ages. Still Seneca felt the taunt, and in a book " On the 
Happy Life," addressed to his brother Gallic, he dealt with the 
charge. He did not claim to be a sage (17, 3); his only hope 
was day by day to lessen his vices he was still in the thick of 
them; perhaps he might not reach wisdom, but he would at 
least live for mankind " as one born for others," 3 would do 
nothing for glory, and all for conscience, would be gentle and 
accessible even to his foes ; as for wealth, it gave a wise man 
more opportunity, but if his riches deserted him, they would 
take nothing else with them ; a philosopher might have wealth, 
"if it be taken forcibly from no man, stained with no man's 
blood, won by no wrong done to any, gained without dishonour ; 
if its spending be as honest as its getting, if it wake no envy but 
in the envious." 4 The treatise has a suggestion of excitement, 
and there is a good deal of rhetoric in it. Now he proposed to 
the Emperor to put his words into action, and Nero would not 
permit him he was not ready for the odium of despoiling his 
guardian, and the old man's name might still be of use to cover 
deeds in which he had no share. Seneca was not to resign his 

1 Tac. Ann. xiv, 51. 2 Tac. Ann. xiii, 42. 

3 B. V. 20, 3. 4 B. V. 23, i. 


wealth nor to leave Rome. Nero's words as given by Tacitus 
are pleasant enough, but we hardly need to be told their value. 1 
It was merely a reservation of the death sentence, and Seneca 
ust have known it. The only thing now was to wait till he 
lould receive the order to die, and Seneca occupied the time in 
riting. If what he wrote has a flushed and excited air, it is 
ot surprising. The uncertainity of his position had preyed 
)on him while he was still Minister " there are many," he had 
ritten, " who must hold fast to their dizzy height ; it is only 
y falling that they can leave it." 2 He had fallen, and still he 
ad to live in uncertainty ; he had always been a nervous man. 
The end came in 65, in connexion with the conspiracy of 
iso. Tacitus is not altogether distinct as to the implication of 
eneca in this plot, but modern historians have inclined to 
elieve in his guilt if guilt it was. 3 Mr Henderson, in par- 
cular, is very severe on him for this want of " gratitude " to his 
enefactor and pupil, but it is difficult to see what Nero had 
one for him that he would not have preferred undone. 4 Perhaps 
the time, and certainly later on, Seneca was regarded as a 
ossible substitute for Nero upon the throne ; 5 but he was well 
r er sixty and frail, nor is it clear that the world had yet decided 
at a man could be Emperor without being a member of the 
ulian or Claudian house. Seneca, in fact any man, must have 
It that any one would be better than Nero, but he had himself 
nspicuously left the world, and, with his wife, was living the 
lilosophic life a vegetarian again, and still a water-drinker. 6 
eneca was ready for the death-summons and at once opened 
veins. Death came slowly, but it came; and he died, 
oquent to the last novissimo quoque momenta suppeditante 

Such is the story of Seneca. Even in bare outline it shows 
>mething of his character his kindliness and sensibility, his 
eakness and vanity ; but there are other features revealed in 
s books and his many long letters to Lucilius. No Roman, 
erhaps, ever laid more stress on the duty of gentleness and 
rgiveness. 7 " Look at the City of Rome," he says, " and the 

1 Tac. Ann. xiv, 52-56. 2 de tranqu. animi, 10, 6. 

8 Tac. Ann. xiv, 65 ; xv, 45-65. 4 B. W. Henderson, Nero, pp. 280-3. 

6 Tac. Ann. xv, 65 ; Juvenal, viii, 212. K Tac. Ann. xv, 45, 6. 
'This is emphasized by Zeller, Eclectics, 240, and by Dill, Roman Society from 
'ero to Marcus, 324, 326. 


crowds unceasingly pouring through its broad streets what a 
solitude, what a wilderness it would be, were none left but 
whom a strict judge would acquit. We have all done wrong 
(peccavimus), some in greater measure, some in less, some on 
purpose, some by accident, some by the fault of others ; we have 
not stood bravely enough by our good resolutions ; despite our 
will and our resistance, we have lost our innocence. Nor is it 
only that we have acted amiss ; we shall do so to the end." l He 
is anxious to make Stoicism available for his friends ; he tones 
down its gratuitous harshness, accommodates, conciliates. He 
knows what conscience is ; he is recognized as a master in dealing 
with the mind at variance with itself, so skilfully does he analyse 
and lay bare its mischiefs. Perhaps he analyses too much the 
angel, who bade Hermas cease to ask concerning sins and ask 
of righteousness, might well have given him a word. But he 
is always tender with the man to whom he is writing. If he 
was, as Quintilian suggests, a " splendid assailant of the faults 
of men," it is the faults of the unnamed that he assails ; his 
friends' faults suggest his own, and he pleads and sympathizes. 
His style corresponds with the spirit in which he thinks. " You 
complain," he writes to Lucilius, " that my letters are not very 
finished in style. Who talks in a finished style unless he wishes 
to be affected ? What my talk would be, if we were sitting or 
walking together, unlaboured and easy, that is what I wish my 
letters to be, without anything precious or artificial in them." - 
And he has in measure succeeded in giving the air of talk toj 
his writing its ease, its gaiety, even its rambling and discursive- 
ness. He always sees the friend to whom he writes, and talks 
to him sometimes at him and not without some sugges- 
tion of gesticulation. He must have talked well though one 
imagines that, like Coleridge on Highgate Hill, he probably 
preferred the listener who sat "like a passive bucket to be 
pumped into." Happily the reader is not obliged to be quite so 

But we shall not do him justice if we do not recognize his 
high character. In an age when it was usual to charge every 
one with foulness, natural and unnatural, Dio Cassius alone 
among writers suggests it of Seneca; and, quite apart from 
his particular bias in this case, Dio is not a high authority, 

. i 6 


more especially as he belonged to a much later generation. If 
his talk is of " virtue ! virtue ! " Seneca's life was deliberately 
directed to virtue. In the midst of Roman society, and set 
in the highest place but one in the world, he still cherished 
ideals, and practised self-discipline, daily self-examination. 
" This is the one goal of my days and of my nights : this is my 
task, my thought to put an end to my old faults." 1 His 
whole philosophy is practical, and directed to the reformation of 
morals. The Stoic paradoxes, and with them every part of philo- 
sophy which has no immediate bearing upon conduct, he threw 
aside. His language on the accumulation of books recalls the 
amusement of St Francis at the idea of possessing a breviary. 
And further, we may note that whatever be charged against 
him as a statesman, not his own master, and as a writer, not 
always quite in control of his rhetoric, Seneca was funda- 
mentally truthful with himself. He never hid his own weak- 
ness ; he never concealed from himself the difficulty of his 
ideals ; he never tried to delude himself with what he could not 
believe. The Stoics had begun long since to make terms with 
popular religion, but Seneca is entirely free from delusions as 
to the gods of popular belief. He saw clearly enough that 
there was no truth in them, and he never sought help from any- 
thing but the real. He is a man, trained in the world, 2 in touch 
with its problems of government, with the individual and his 
questions of character, death and eternity, a man tender, pure 
and true too great a man to take the purely negative stand of 
Thrasea, or to practise the virtue of the schools in " arrogant 
indolence." But he has hardly reached the inner peace which 
he sought. \/ 

The story of Epictetus can be more briefly told, for there 
is very little to tell. 3 He was born at Hierapolis in Phrygia : 
he was the slave of Nero's freedman Epaphroditus, and some- 
how managed to hear the lectures of the Stoic Musonius. 
Eventually he was set free, and when Domitian expelled the 
philosophers from Rome, he went to Nicopolis in Epirus, 4 
riiere he lived and taught lame, neat, poor and old. How 

Ep. 61, i. 

Lucian, Nigrinus, 19, says there is no beti_- school for virtue, no truer test of 
strength, than life in the city of Rome. 

Gellius, N.A. ii, 1 8, 10. 4 Gell. N.A. xv, u, 5. 



he taught is to be seen in the discourses which Arrian took 
down in the reign of Trajan," Whatever I heard him say, I 
tried to write down exactly, and in his very words as far as 
I could to keep them as memorials for myself of his mind 
and of his outspokenness. So they are, as you would expect, 
very much what a man would say to another on the spur of 
the moment not what he would write for others to read 

afterwards His sole aim in speaking was to move the 

minds of his hearers to the best things. If then these dis- 
courses should achieve this, they would have the effect which 
I think a philosopher's words should have. But if they do not, 
let my readers know that, when he spoke them, the hearer 
could not avoid being affected as Epictetus wished him to be. 
If the discourses do not achieve this, perhaps it will be my 
fault, or perhaps it may be inevitable. Farewell." 

Such, save for a sentence or two omitted, is Arrian's 
preface, thereafter no voice is heard but that of Epictetus. To 
place, time or persons present the barest allusions only are 
made. "Someone said . . . And Epictetus spoke." The 
four books of Arrian give a strong impression of fidelity. We 
hear the tones of the old man, and can recognize " the mind 
and the outspokenness," which Arrian cherished in memory 
we understand why, as we read. The high moral sense of the 
teacher, his bursts of eloquence, his shrewdness, his abrupt 
turns of speech, his apostrophes "Slave!" he cries, as he 
addresses the weakling his diminutives of derision, produce 
the most lively sense of a personality. There is wit, too, but 
like Stoic wit in general it is hard and not very sympathetic ; 
it has nothing of the charm and delicacy of Plato's humour, 
nor of its kindliness. 

Here and there are words and thoughts which tell of his 
life. More than once he alludes to his age and his lameness 
" A lame old man like me." But perhaps nowhere in literature 
are there words that speak so loud of a man without experience 
of woman or child. " On a voyage," he says, " when the ship 
calls at a port and you go ashore for water, it amuses you to. 
pick up a shell or a plant by the way ; but your thoughts ought 
to be directed to the ship, ard you must watch lest the captain 
call, and then you must throw away all those things, that you 
may not be flung aboard, tied like the sheep. So in life, sup- 


pose that instead of some little shell or plant, you are given some- 
thing in the way of wife or child (avrl j3o\/3ap!ov KOI Kox^iSiov 
ywaiKctpiov KOI iratSlov) nothing need hinder. But, if the captain 
call, run to the ship letting them all go and never looking 
round. If you are old, do not even go far from the ship, lest 
you fail to come when called." 1 He bids a man endure 
hunger ; he can only die of it. " But my wife and children also 
suffer hunger, (ol ejmoi Treivijcrovcri). What then? does their 
hunger lead to any other place? Is there not for them the 
same descent, wherever it lead ? Below, is it not the same for 
them as for you ? " 2 " If you are kissing your child, or brother, 
or friend, never give full licence to the appearance (rrjv <pavra<riav) ; 
check your pleasure . . . remind yourself that you love a mortal 
thing, a thing that is not your own (ovSev rwv vavrov). . . . 
What harm does it do to whisper, as you kiss the child, ' To- 
morrow you will die ' ? " This is a thought he uses more than 
once, 3 though he knows the attractiveness of lively children. 4 He 
recommends us to practise resignation beginning on a broken 
jug or cup, then on a coat or puppy, and so up to oneself and 
one's limbs, children, wife or brothers. 6 " If a man wishes his 
son or his wife not to do wrong, he really wishes what is 
another's not to be another's." 6 

As to women, a few quotations will show his detachment. 
He seems hardly to have known a good woman. " Do not 
admire your wife's beauty, and you are not angry with the 
adulterer. Learn that a thief and an adulterer have no place 
among the things that are yours, but among those which are 
not yours and not in your power," 7 and he illustrates his 
philosophy with an anecdote of an iron lamp stolen from him, 
which he replaced with an earthenware one. From fourteen 
years old, he says, women think of nothing and aim at nothing 

1 Manual^ 7. I have constantly used Long's translation, but often altered it. It 
is a fine piece of work, well worth the English reader's study. 

2 D. iii, 26. Compare and contrast Tertullian, flfc Idol, iz^Jidesfatnem nontimct. 
Scit enim famem non minus sibi contemnendam propter Deuni quam onme mortis 
genus. The practical point is the same, perhaps ; the motive, how different ! 

*D. iii, 24; iv, i; M. ii, 26. 

4 D. ii, 24. He maintains, too, against Epicurus the naturalness of love for 
children ; once born, we cannot help loving them, D. i, 23. 

5 D. iv, I. 6 D. iv, 5, 0\t T& d.\\&rpia /J.T) elvai aXXorpta. 

7 D. i, 18. This does not stop his condemning the adulterer, D. ii, 4 (man, he 
said, is formed for fidelity), IO. Seneca on outward goods, ad Marc iai t 10. 


but lying with men. 1 Roman women liked Plato's Republic 
for the licence they wrongly supposed it gave. 2 He constantly 
speaks of women as a temptation, nearly always using a 
diminutive Kopda-iov, Kopaa-lSiov little girls and as a temptation 
hardly to be resisted by young men. He speaks of their 
" softer voices." 3 A young philosopher is no match for a 
" pretty girl " ; let him fly temptation. 4 " As to pleasure with 
women, abstain as far as you can, before marriage ; but if you 
do indulge in it, do it in the way conformable to custom. Do 
not, however, be disagreeable to those who take such pleasures, 
nor apt to rebuke them or to say often that you do not." 5 All 
this may be taken as the impression left by Rome and the 
household of Epaphroditus upon a slave's mind. It may be 
observed that he makes nothing like Dio Chrysostom's con- 
demnation of prostitution an utterance unexampled in pagan 

It is pleasanter to turn to other features of Epictetus. He 
has a very striking lecture on personal cleanliness. 6 In propor- 
tion as men draw near the gods by reason, they cling to purity 
of soul and body. Nature has given men hands and nostrils ; 
so, if a man does not use a handkerchief, " I say, he is not 
fulfilling the function of a man." Nature has provided water. 
" It is impossible that some impurity should not remain in the 
teeth after eating. ' So wash your teeth,' says Nature. Why ? 
' That you may be a man and not a beast a pig.' " If a man 
would not bathe and use the strigil and have his clothes washed 
-"either go into a desert where you deserve to go, or live 

alone and smell yourself." He cannot bear a dirty man, 

" who does not get out of his way ? " It gives philosophy a 
bad name, he says ; but it is quite clear that that was not his 
chief reason. He would sooner a young man came to him 
with his hair carefully trimmed than with it dirty and rough ; 
such care implied " some conception of the beautiful," which it 
was only necessary to direct towards the things of the mind ; 
"but if a man comes to me filthy and dirty, with a moustache 
down to his knees what can I say to him ? " " But whence 
am I to get a fine cloak ? Man ! you have water ; wash it ! " 

^40. 2Fragmentj53 

D. m, 12, classing the KopavlSiov with wine and cake 
8 D. iv, ii. 


Pupils gathered round him and he became famous, as we can 
see in the reminiscences of Aulus Gellius. 1 Sixty or seventy 
years after his death a man bought his old earthenware lamp for 
three thousand drachmas.' 2 Even in his lifetime men began to 
come about " the wonderful old man " who were hardly serious 
students. They wished, he says, to occupy the time while wait- 
ing to engage a passage on a ship they happened to be pass- 
ing (xa/oo^o? earnv) and looked in to see him as if he were a 
statue. "We can go and see Epictetus too. Then you go 
away and say ; Oh ! Epictetus was nothing ! he talked bad 
Greek oh ! barbarous Greek ! " 3 Others came to pick up a 
little philosophic language for use in public. Why could they 
not philosophize and say nothing ? he asked. " Sheep do not 
vomit up their grass to show the shepherd how much they have 
eaten no ! they digest it inside, and then produce wool and 
milk outside." 4 He took his teaching seriously as a matter of 
life, and he looked upon it as a service done to mankind quite 
equivalent to the production of "two or three ugly-nosed 
children." 5 He has a warm admiration for the Cynic philoso- 
pher's independence of encumberments how can he who has 
to teach mankind go looking after a wife's confinement or 
" something to heat the water in to give the baby a bath ? " 6 

These then are the two great teachers of Stoicism, the out- 
standing figures, whose words and tones survive, whose characters 
are familiar to us. They are clearly preachers, both of them, 
intent on the practical reformation of their listeners or correspon- 
dents. For them conduct is nine-tenths of life. Much of their 
teaching is of course the common property of all moral teachers 
the deprecation of anger, of quarrelsomeness, of self-indulgence, 
of grumbling, of impurity, is peculiar to no school. Others have 
emphasized that life is a campaign with a general to be obeyed, 
if you can by some instinct divine what he is .signalling. 7 But 

1 Cell. N.A. i, 2, 6 ; xvii, 19, I. - Lucian, adv. Indoct. 13. 

3 D. iii, 9. 4 M. 46. 

5 D. iii, 22, KaKOpvyxa TreuSi'a. 

6 D. iii, 22. Lucian says Epictetus urged Demonax to take a wife and leave some 
one to represent him in posterity. " Very well, Epictetus," said Demonax, "give 
me one of your own daughters " (v. Demon. 55). 

7 Epict. D. iii, 24. ffTpareia rfs ionv 6 /Sfos etcdo-Tov, KO.L avrij fiaKpa xal iroiKlXr). 

ffe Set TO TOV ffTpariuTov irp6(rvev/j.a /cai TOV ffTparrjyov jrpdffffeiv eVaara, el ol6v 


perhaps it was a new thing in the Western World, when so 
much accent was laid on conduct. The terror of contemporary 
life, with its repulsiveness, its brutality and its fascination, drove 
men in search of the moral guide. The philosopher's school 
was an infirmary, not for the glad but for the sorry. 1 "That 
man," says Seneca, "is looking for salvation ^ salutem 


Men sought the help of the philosopher, and relapsed, 
thinks he wishes reason. He has fallen out with luxury, but he 
will soon make friends with her. But he says he is offended 
with his own life ! I do not deny it ; who is not ? Men love 
their vices and hate them at the same time." - So writes Seneca 
of a friend of Lucilius and his fugitive thoughts of amendment, 
and Epictetus is no less emphatic on the crying need for earnest- 
ness. The Roman world was so full of glaring vice that every 
serious man from Augustus onward had insisted on some kind 
of reformation, and now men were beginning to feel that the 
reformation must begin within themselves. The habit of daily 
self-examination became general among the Stoics, and they 
recommended it warmly to their pupils. Here is Seneca's 
account of himself. 

"When the day was over and Sextius had gone to his 
night's rest, he used to ask his mind (animum) : ' what bad 
habit of yours have you cured to-day? what vice have you 
resisted ? in what respect are you better ? ' Anger will cease 
and will be more moderate, when it knows it must daily face 
the judge. Could anything be more beautiful than this habit of 
examining the whole day ? What a sleep is that which follows 
self-scrutiny ! How calm, how deep and free, when the mind 
is either praised or admonished, when it has looked into itself, 
and like a secret censor makes a report upon its own moral state. 
I avail myself of this power and daily try my own case. When 
the light is removed from my sight, and my wife, who knows 
my habit, is silent, I survey my whole day and I measure my 
words again. I hide nothing from myself ; I pass over nothing. 
For why should I be afraid of any of my errors, when I can 
say : ' See that you do it no more, now I forgive you. In that 
discussion, you spoke too pugnaciously; after this do not 
engage with the ignorant ; they will not learn who have never 
1 Epict. D. iii, 23. 2 Sen E p t , I2> 3 


learned. That man you admonished too freely, so you did him 
no good; you offended him. For the future, see not only 
whether what you say is true, but whether he to whom it is said 
will bear the truth.' " 1 

Similar passages might be multiplied. " Live with yourself 
and see how ill-furnished you are," wrote Persius (iv, 5 2 ) the 
pupil of Cornutus. " From heaven comes that word ' know 
thyself,' " said Juvenal. A rather remarkable illustration is the 
letter of Serenus, a friend of Seneca's, of whose life things are 
recorded by Tacitus that do not suggest self-scrutiny. In 
summary it is as follows : 

" I find myself not quite free, nor yet quite in bondage to 
faults which I feared and hated. I am in a state, not the worst 
indeed, but very querulous and uncomfortable, neither well nor 
ill. It is a weakness of the mind that sways between the two, 
that will neither bravely turn to right nor to wrong. Things 
disturb me, though they do not alter my principles. I think of 
public life ; something worries me, and I fall back into the 
life of leisure, to be pricked to the will to act by reading some 
brave words or seeing some fine example. I beg you, if you 
have any remedy to stay my fluctuation of mind, count me 
worthy to owe you peace. To put what I endure into a simile, 
it is not the tempest that troubles me, but sea-sickness." 2 

Epictetus quotes lines which he attributes to Pythagoras 

Let sleep not come upon thy languid eyes 
Ere thou has scanned the actions of the day 
Where have I sinned ? What done or left undone ? 
From first to last examine all, and then 
Blame what is wrong, in what is right, rejoice. 3 

These verses, he adds, are for use, not for quotation. Else- 
where he gives us a parody of self-examination the reflections of 
one who would prosper in the world " Where have I failed in 
flattery ? Can I have done anything like a free man, or a 
noble-minded ? Why did I say that ? Was it not in my power 
to lie ? Even the philosophers say nothing hinders a man from 
telling a lie." 4 

1 de ira, iii, 36, 1-4. 3 Sen. de tranqu. animi % I. 

3 Epict. D. iii, 10. I have here slightly altered Mr Long's rendering. 
*J). iv, 6. 


But self-examination may take us further 1 We come into 
the world, he says, with some innate idea (e'n<J>vTos cvvoia) of 
good and evil, as if Nature had taught us ; but we find other men 
with different ideas Syrians and Egyptians, for instance. It 
is by a comparison of our ideas with those of other men that 
philosophy comes into being for us. " The beginning of philo- 
sophywith those at least who enter upon it aright by the 

door is a consciousness of one's own weakness and insufficiency 

in necessary things (curOwelas Kal aSwaftias)." We need rules or 
canons, and philosophy determines these for us by criticism. 2 

This reference to Syrians and Egyptians is probably not idle. 
The prevalence of Syrian and Egyptian religions, inculcating 
ecstatic communion with a god and the soul's need of preparation 
for the next world, contributed to the change that is witnessed 
in Stoic philosophy. The Eastern mind is affecting the Greek, 
and later Stoicism like later Platonism has thoughts and ideals 
not familiar to the Greeks of earlier days. It was with religions, 
as opposed to city cults, that Stoicism had now to compete for 
the souls of men ; and while it retains its Greek characteristics 
in its intellectualism and its slightly-veiled contempt for the 
fool and the barbarian, it has taken on other features. It was 
avowedly a rule of life rather than a system of speculation ; 
and it was more, for the doctrine of the Spermaticos Logos 
(the Generative Reason) gave a new meaning to conduct and 
opened up a new and rational way to God. Thus Stoicism, 
while still a philosophy was pre-eminently a religion, and even 
a gospel Good News of emancipation from the evil in the 
world and of union with the Divine. 

Stoicism gave its convert a new conception of the relation 
of God and man. One Divine Word was the essence of both 
Reason was shared by men and gods, and by pure thought men 
came into contact with the divine mind. Others sought com- 
munion in trance and ritual the Stoic when he was awake, at 
his highest and best level, with his mind and not his hand, in 
thoughts, which he could understand and assimilate, rather than 
in magical formulae, which lost their value when they became 

1 Cf. Persius, iii, 66-72, causas cognoscite rerum, quid sumus aut quidnam victuri 
gignimur . . . quern te deus esse iussit et humana qua parte locatus es in re. 

1 D. ii, 1 1 . See Davidson, Stoic Creed, pp. 69, 81, on innate ideas. Plutarch, de coh. 
ira, 15, on Zeno's doctrine, TO <nrtpna fftipfuyfjia Kal /cfyaoywi T&V rfjs ^i/x^s Swafduv 


intelligible. God and men formed a polity, and the Stoic was 
the fellow-citizen of the gods, obeying, understanding and 
adoring, as they did, one divine law, one order a partaker of 
the divine nature, a citizen of the universe, a free man as no one 
else was free, because he knew his freedom and knew who 
shared it with him. He stood on a new footing with the gods, 
and for him the old cults passed away, superseded by a new 
worship which was divine service indeed. 

" How the gods are to be worshipped, men often tell us. 
Let us not permit a man to light lamps on the Sabbath, for the 
gods need not the light, and even men find no pleasure in the 
smoke. Let us forbid to pay the morning salutation and to sit 
at the doors of the temples ; it is human interest that is courted 
by such attentions : God, he worships who knows Him. Let us 
forbid to take napkins and strigils to Jove, to hold the mirror 
to Juno. God seeks none to minister to him ; nay ! himself he 
ministers to mankind ; everywhere he is, at the side of every 
man. Let a man hear what mode to keep in sacrifices, how far 
to avoid wearisomeness and superstition : never will enough be 
done, unless in his mind he shall have conceived God as he 
ought, as in possession of all things, as giving all things freely. 
What cause is there that the gods should do good ? Nature. 
He errs, who thinks they can not do harm ; they will not. 
They cannot receive an injury nor do one. To hurt and to be 
hurt are one thing. Nature, supreme and above all most 
beautiful, has exempted them from danger and from being 
dangerous. The beginning of worship of the gods is to believe 
gods are ; then to attribute to them their own majesty, to 
attribute to them goodness, without which majesty is not, to 
know it is they who preside over the universe, who rule all 
things by their might, who are guardians of mankind, at times 1 
thoughtful of individuals. They neither give nor have evil ; 
but they chastise, they check, they assign penalties and 
sometimes punish in the form of blessing. Would you pro- 
pitiate the gods ? Be good ! He has worshipped them enough 
who has imitated them." 2 

1 The qualification may be illustrated from Cicero's Stoic, de Nat. Deor. ii, 66, 
167, Magnet di cur ant parva neglegunt. 

3 Ep. 95, 47-50. Cf. Ep. 41 ; de Prov. i, 5. A very close parallel, with a strong 
Stoic tinge, in Minucius Felix, 32, 2, 3, ending Sic apttd nos religiosior cst Hie qui 


This is not merely a statement of Stoic dogma ; it was a 
proclamation of freedom. Line after line of this fine passage 
directly counters what was asserted and believed throughout 
the world by the adherents of the Eastern religions. Hear 
Seneca once more. 

" We understand Jove to be ruler and guardian of the whole, 
mind and breath of the Universe (animum spiritumque mundi], 
lord and artificer of this fabric. Every name is his. Would you 
call him fate ? You will not err. He it is on whom all things 
depend, the cause of causes. Would you call him Providence ? 
You will speak aright. He it is whose thought provides for the 
universe that it may move on its course unhurt and do its part. 
Would you call him Nature ? you will not speak amiss. He it 
is of whom all things are born, by whose breath (spiritu) we 
live. Would you call him Universe ? You will not be deceived. 
He himself is this whole that you see, fills his own parts, 
sustains himself and what is his." 1 

Some one asked Epictetus one day how we can be sure that 
all our actions are under the inspection of God. " Do you 
think," said Epictetus, "that all things are a unity?" (i.e. in 
the polity of the cosmos). " Yes." " Well then, do you not think 
that things earthly are in sympathy (a-vfj-TraQelv} with things 
heavenly?" "Yes." Epictetus reminded his listener of the 
harmony of external nature, of flowers and moon and sun. 
" But are leaves and our bodies so bound up and united with 
the whole, and are not our souls much more ? and are our souls 
so bound up and in touch with God (crvvafais TW Oeia) as parts of 
Him and portions of Him, and can it be that God does not 
perceive every motion of these parts as being His own motion 
cognate with Himself (arv^vov^ ? " 2 He bade the man reflect 
upon his own power of grasping in his mind ten thousand things 
at once under divine administration ; " and is not God able to 
oversee all things, and to be present with them, and to receive 
from all a certain communication ? " The man replied that he 
could not comprehend all these things at once. " And who tells 
you this that you have equal power with Zeus ? Nevertheless, 
he has placed by every man a guardian (eTrtrpoTrov), each man's 

1 Nat. Quasi, ii, 45. Cf. Tertullian, Apol. 21, on Zeno's testimony to the Logos, 
as creator, fate, God, animus lovis and nccessitas omnium rerum. 

2 Cf. Sen. Ep. 41, I. Prope est a te deus, tecum est, intus est. Ita dico, Lucili, 
s&er infra nos spiritus stdet malorum bonorumque nostrorum observator et custos. 


Daemon, to whom he has committed the care of the man, a 
guardian who never sleeps, is never deceived. For to what 
better and more careful watch (<J>v\aKi) could He have entrusted 
each of us ? When then you (plural) have shut your doors and 
made darkness within, remember never to say that you are 
alone, for you are not ; but God is within and your Daemon 
(o v/uerepos Sal/mew) ; and what need have they of light to see 
what you are doing? " l 

Here another feature occurs the question of the daemons. 
Seneca once alludes to the idea " for the present," he writes to 
Lucilius,^' set aside the view of some people, that to each in- 
dividual one of us a god is given as a pedagogue, not indeed of 
the first rank, but of an inferior brand, of the number of those 
whom Ovid calls ' gods of the lower order ' (dk plebe decs) ; yet 
remember that our ancestors who believed this were so far Stoics, 
for to every man and woman they gave a Genius or a Juno. 
Later on we shall see whether the gods have leisure to attend 
to private people's business." 2 But before we pursue a side 
issue, which we shall in any case have to examine at a later 
point, let us look further at the central idea. 

The thoughtful man finds himself, as we have seen, in a 
polity of gods and men, a cosmos, well-ordered in its very 
essence. " In truth," says Epictetus, " the whole scheme of 
things (ru oXa) is badly managed, if Zeus does not take care 
of his own citizens, so that they may be like himself, happy." :; 
The first lesson of philosophy is that " there is a God and that 
he provides for the whole scheme of things, and that it is not 
possible to conceal from him our acts no, nor our intentions 
or thoughts." 4 "God," says Seneca, "has a father's mind 
towards the good, and loves them stoutly ' let them,' he says, 
'be exercised in work, pain and loss, that they may gather true 
strength.' " It is because God is in love with the good (bonoruiu 
amantissimus] that he gives them fortune to wrestle with. " There 
is a match worth God's sight (par deo (lignum) a brave man paired 
with evil fortune especially if he is himself the challenger."* 
He goes on to show that what appear to be evils are not so ; 
that misfortunes are at once for the advantage of those whom 

1 Epict. D. i, 14. See Clem. Alex. Strom, vii, 37, for an interesting account of 
how (f>0di>fi r) Oela 8vva/, Ka.66.irfp <ws, Sudew TT}V "fyvxrp. 

2 Ep. no, I, pccdagogum dari deum. ;i D. iii, 24. 
4 /?. ii, 14. 5 de providenlia, 2, 6-9. 


they befall and of men in general or the universe (universis), 
" for which the gods care more than for individuals " ; that those 
who receive them are glad to have them " and deserve evil if 
they are not " ; that misfortunes come by fate and befall men by 
the same law by which they are good. " Always to be happy 
and to go through life without a pang of the mind (sine morsu 
animi) is to know only one half of Nature." l " The fates lead 
us: what time remains for each of us, the hour of our birth 
determined. Cause hangs upon cause. ... Of old it was 
ordained whereat you should rejoice or weep ; and though the 
lives of individuals seem marked out by a great variety, the sum 
total comes to one and the same thing perishable ourselves we 
receive what shall perish." 2 " The good man's part is then to 
r commit himself to fate it is a great comfort to be carried along 
with the universe. Whatever it is that has bidden us thus to 
live and thus to die, by the same necessity it binds the gods. 
An onward course that may not be stayed sweeps on human 
and divine alike. The very founder and ruler of all things has 
written fate, but he follows it : he ever obeys, he once com- 
manded." 3 To the good, God says, "To you I have given 
blessings sure and enduring ; all your good I have set within 
you. Endure ! herein you may even out-distance God ; he is 
outside the endurance of evils and you above it. 4 Above all I 
have provided that none may hold you against your will ; the 
door is open ; nothing I have made more easy than to die ; and 
death is quick." 5 

Epictetus is just as clear that we have been given all we need. 
"What says Zeus? Epictetus, had it been possible, I would 
have made both your little body and your little property free, 
and not exposed to hindrance. . . . Since I was not able to do 
this, I have given you a little portion of us, this faculty of 
pursuing or avoiding an object, the faculty of desire and 

1 de Prov. 4, I. 

a dt Prov. 5, 7. See Justin Martyr's criticism of Stoic fatalism, Apol. ii, 7. It 
involves, he says, either God's identity with the world of change, or his implication 
in all vice, or else that virtue and vice are nothing consequences which are alike 
contrary to every sane Zvvoia, to Xcryos and to voGs. 

3 de Prov. 5, 8. 

4 Plutarch, adv. Stoicos, 33 on this Stoic paradox of the equality of God and the 

8 de Prov. 6, 5-7. This Stoic justification of suicide was repudiated alike by 
Christians and Neo-Platonists. 


aversion and in a word the faculty of using the appearances of 
things." l " Must my leg then be lamed ? Slave ! do you then 
on account of one wretched leg find fault with the cosmos ? 
Will you not willingly surrender it for the whole? . . . Will 
you be vexed and discontented with what Zeus has set in order, 
with what he and the Moirae, who were there spinning thy 
nativity (yeveartv), ordained and appointed ? I mean as regards 
your body ; for so far as concerns reason you are no worse than 
the gods and no less." 2 

In language curiously suggestive of another school of thought, 
Seneca speaks of God within us, of divine help given to human 
effort. "God is near you, with you, within you. I say it, 
Lucilius; a holy spirit sits within us (sacer intra nos spiritus 
sedet), spectator of our evil and our good, and guardian. Even 
as he is treated by us, he treats us. None is a good man 
without God. 3 Can any triumph over fortune unless helped 
by him? He gives counsel, splendid and manly; in every 
good man, 

What god we know not, yet a god there dwells." 4 

" The gods," he says elsewhere, " are not scornful, they are not 
envious. They welcome us, and, as we ascend, they reach us 
their hands. Are you surprised a man should go to the gods ? 
God comes to men, nay ! nearer still ! he comes into men. No 
mind (mens) is good without God. Divine seeds are sown in 
human bodies," and will grow into likeness to their origin if < 
rightly cultivated. 5 It should be noted that the ascent is by 
the route of frugality, temperance and fortitude. To this we 
must return. 

Man's part in life is to be the " spectator and interpreter " 
of "God" 6 as he is the "son of God"; 7 to attach himself to 
God ; 8 to be his soldier, obey his signals, wait his call to 
* D. i, i. 

2 D. i, 12. See also D.\ i, 16 " We say ' Lord God ! how shall I not be anxions ? ' 
Fool, have you not hands, did not God make them for you ? Sit down now and pray 
that your nose may not run." 

3 Cf. Cicero's Stoic, N.D. ii, 66, 167, Nemo igitur vir magnus sine aliquo afflatu 
divino unquamfuit. 

4 Ep. 41, i, 2. (The line is from Virgil, Aen. viii, 352.) The rest of the letter 
develops the idea of divine dependence. Sic animus magiius ac sacer et in hoc 
demissus ut propius quidem divina nossfmus, conversatur quidem nobiscum sed 
haret origini sue?, etc. 

5 Ep. 73, 15, 16. 6 Epictetus, D. i, 6. 7 D. i, 9. Z>. iv, i. 


retreat ; or (in the language of the Olympian festival) to " join 
with him in the spectacle and the festival for a short time" 
(fTVfjLTrofJ.'jreixrovTa CLVTW KOU wveopTCKTOVTa TT/OO? 6\iyov), to watch 
the pomp and the panegyris, and then go away like a grateful 
and modest man ; l to look up to God and say " use me hence- 
forth for what thou will. I am of thy mind ; I am thine." 2 
" If we had understanding, what else ought we to do, but, 
together and severally, hymn God, and bless him (cvQrjfjLeiv*) and 
tell of his benefits? Ought we not, in digging or ploughing or 
eating, to sing this hymn to God ? ' Great is God who has 
given us such tools with which to till the earth ; great is God 
who has given us hands, the power of swallowing, stomachs, the 
power to grow unconsciously, and to breathe while we sleep.' 
. . . What else can I do, a lame old man, but hymn God? If 
I were a nightingale, I would do the part of a nightingale . . . 
but I am a rational creature, and I ought to hymn God ; this 
is my proper work ; I do it ; nor will I quit my post so long as 
it is given me ; and you I call upon to join in this same song." 8 
Herakles in all his toils had nothing dearer to him than God, 
and " for that reason he was believed to be the son of God and 
he was." 4 "Clear away from your thoughts sadness, fear, 
desire, envy, avarice, intemperance, etc. But it is not possible 
to eject all these things, otherwise than by looking away to 
God alone (717)09 povov TOV 6eov cnropXeTrovTa) by fixing your 
affections on him only, by being dedicated to his commands." 5 
This is " a peace not of Caesar's proclamation (for whence could 
he proclaim jt?) but of God's through reason." 6 

The man, who is thus in harmony with the Spermaticos, 
Logos, who has " put his ' I ' and ' mine ' " 7 in the things of 
the will, has no quarrel with anything external. He takes a 
part in the affairs of men without aggression, greed or mean- 
ness. He submits to what is laid upon him. His peace none 
can take away, and none can make him angry. There is a 
fine passage in Seneca's ninety-fifth letter, following his account 
of right worship already quoted, in which he proceeds to de- 
duce from this the right attitude to men. A sentence or two 

1 D, iv, i. 

* D. ii, 16 end, with a variant between <r6s eiju and has >, the former of which, 
Long says, is certain. 

3 D. i, 16. Contrast the passage of Clement quoted on p. 286 


must suffice. " How little it is not to injure him, whom you 
>ught to help! Great praise forsooth, that man should be 
dnd to man ! Are we to bid a man to lend a hand to the 
hipwrecked, point the way to the wanderer, share bread with 
he hungry? . . . This fabric which you see, wherein are 
divine and human, is one. We are members of a great body. 
Mature has made us of one blood, has implanted in us mutual 
ove, has made us for society (sociabiles). She is the author of 
ustice and equity. . . . Let that verse be in your heart and on 
'our lip. 

Homo sum, humani nihil a me altenum puto" 1 

Unhappy man ! will you ever love ? (ecquando amabis) " he 
says to the irritable. 2 A little before, he said, " Man, a sacred 
thing to man, is slain for sport and merriment ; naked and un- 
irmed he is led forth ; and the mere death of a man is 
spectacle enough." 8 This was the Stoic's condemnation of the 
gladiatorial shows. Nor was it only by words that Stoicism 
worked for humanity, for it was Stoic lawyers who softened 
and broadened and humanized Roman law. 4 

Yet Stoicism in Seneca and Epictetus had reached its 
zenith. From now onward it declined. Marcus Aurelius, in 
some ways the most attractive of all Stoics, was virtually the 

ast. With the second century Stoicism ceased to be an 
effective force in occupying and inspiring the whole mind of 
men, though it is evident that it still influenced thinkers. Men 
studied the Stoics and made fresh copies of their books, as 
they did for a thousand years; they borrowed and adapted ; 
but they were not Stoics. Stoicism had passed away as a 
system first and then as a religion ; and for this we have to 
find some reason or reasons. 

It may well be true that the environment of the Stoics was not 
lit for so high and pure a philosophy. The broad gulf between 
the common Roman life and Stoic teaching is evident enough. 
The intellectual force of the Roman world moreover was ebbing, 
and Stoicism required more strength of mind and character 
than was easily to be found. That a religion or a philosophy 

1 Ep> 95. 5 J -53- 2 & tra, Hi, 28, I. 

s Rp. 95, 33, homo sacra res homini. 

4 See Lecky, European Morals^ i, 294 S. : Maine, Ancient Law, p. 54 f. 

6 4 


fails to hold its own is not a sure sign that it is unfit or untrue ; 
it may only be premature, and it may be held that at another 
stage of the world's history Stoicism or some similar scheme of 
thought, or, better perhaps, some central idea round which a 
system and a life develop may yet command the assent of 
better men in a better age. At the same time, it is clear that 
when Stoicism re-emerges, if it does, it will be another thing. 
Already we have seen in Wordsworth, and (so far as I under- 
stand him) in Hegel, a great informing conception which seems 
to have clear affinity with the Spermaticos Logos of the Stoics. 
The passage from the " Lines written above Tintern Abbey " 
(quoted in the previous chapter) may be supplemented by 
many from the " Prelude " and other poems to illustrate at 
once the likeness and the difference between the forms the 
thought has taken. It is, however, a certain condemnation of 
a philosophic school when we have to admit that, whatever 
its apprehension of truth, it failed to capture its own genera- 
tion, either because of some error of presentment, or of some 
fundamental misconception. When we find, moreover, that 
there is not only a refusal of Stoicism but a reaction from it, 
conscious or unconscious, we are forced to inquire into the 

We shall perhaps be right in saying, to begin with, that 
the doctrine of the Generative Reason, the Spermaticos Logos, 
is not carried far enough. The immense practical need, which 
the Stoic felt, of fortifying himself against the world, is not 
unintelligible, but it led him into error. He employed his 
doctrine of the Spermaticos Logos to give grandeur and 
sufficiency to the individual, and then, for practical purposes, 
cut him off from the world. He manned and provisioned the 
fortress, and then shut it off from supplies and from relief. It 
was a necessary thing to assert the value and dignity of the 
mere individual man against the despotisms, but to isolate the 
man from mankind and from the world of nature was a fatal 
mistake. Of course, the Stoic did not do this in theory, for he 
insisted on the polity of gods and men, the " one city," 1 and the 
duty of the "citizen of the universe" (/coV/ouo?) a man is not an 
independent object ; like the foot in the body he is essenti- 

1 See, by the way, Plutarch's banter on this " polity "the stars its tribesmen, the 
sun, doubtless, councillor, and Hesperus prytanis or astynotnus, adv. Sto. 34. 


ally a " part." l In practice, too, Stoics were human. Seneca 
tells us to show clemency but not to feel pity, but we may be 
sure that the human heart in him was far from observing 
the distinction he " talked more boldly than he lived," he 
says he was " among those whom grief conquered," 2 and, 
though he goes on to show why he failed in this way, he is 
endeared to us by his failure to be his own ideal Stoic. Yet 
it remains that the chapters, with which his book on Clemency 
ends, are a Stoic protest against pity, and they can be re-in- 
forced by a good deal in Epictetus. If your friend is unhappy, 
"remember that his unhappiness is his own fault, for God has 
made all men to be happy, to be free from perturbations." 8 
Your friend has the remedy in his own hands; let him " purify 
his dogmata." 4 Epictetus would try to heal a friend's sorrow 
"but not by every means, for that would be to fight against God 
($eoyuaxe*V)>" and would involve daily and nightly punishment to 
himself 5 and "no one is nearer me than myself." 6 In the 
Manual the same thought is accentuated. " Say to yourself 
1 It is the opinion about this thing that afflicts the man.' So far 
as words go, do not hesitate to show sympathy, and even, if it so 
happen, to lament with him. Take care, though, that you do 
not lament internally also (//^ /ecu earwOev crreva^}" 1 We have 
seen what he has to say of a lost child. In spite of all his 
fine words, the Stoic really knows of nothing between the in- 
dividual and the cosmos, for his practical teaching deadens, if 
it does not kill, friendship and family love. 

Everything with the Stoic turns on the individual. Ta eiri 
orot, " the things in your own power," is the refrain of Epictetus' 
teaching. All is thrown upon the individual will, upon "the 
universal " working in the individual, according to Stoic theory, 
"upon me" the plain man would say. If the gods, as Seneca 
says, lend a hand to such as climb, the climber has to make his 
own way by temperance and fortitude. The " holy spirit within 
us" is after all hardly to be distinguished from conscience, 
intellect and will. 8 God, says Epictetus, ordains "if you wish 
good, get it from yourself." 9 Once the will (Trpoalpecris) is right, 

1 Epict. D. ii, 5 ; M. Aurelius, viii, 34. 2 Ep. 63, 14. 

8 D. iii, 24. 4 D. iv, i. 8 ib. 8 D. iv, 6. 7 M. 16. 

8 Cf. Theophilus (the apologist of about 160 A.D.), ii, 4, who, though not 
always to be trusted as to the Stoics, remarks this identification of God and 
conscience. 9 D. i, 29. 



all is achieved. 1 " You must exercise the will (OcXqa-at) and 
the thing is done, it is set right ; as on the other hand, only fall 
a nodding and the thing is lost. For from within (aro>0ei/) comes 
ruin, and from within comes help." 2 "What do you want 
with prayers?" asks Seneca, "make yourself happy." 3 The 
old Stoic paradox about the "folly" of mankind, and the 
worthlessness of the efforts of all save the sage, was by now 
chiefly remembered by their enemies. 4 

All this is due to the Stoic glorification of reason, as the 
embodiment in man of the Spermaticos Logos. Though Nous 
with the Stoics is not the pure dry light of reason, they tended 
in practice to distinguish reason from the emotions or passions 
(TrdOrj), in which they saw chiefly " perturbations," and they held 
up the ideal of freedom from them in consequence (aTrdOeia)? 
To be godlike, a man had to suppress his affections just as he 
suppressed his own sensations of pain or hunger. Every human 
instinct of paternal or conjugal love, of friendship, of sympathy, 
of pity, was thus brought to the test of a Reason, which had 
two catch-words by which to try them the " Universe " and 
"the things in your own power" and the sentence was swift 
and summary enough. They did not realize that for most men 
and probably it is truest of the best men Life moves onward 
with all its tender and gracious instincts, while Analysis limps 
behind. The experiment of testing affection and instinct by 
reason has often been tried, and it succeeds only where the 
reason is willing to be a constitutional monarch, so to say, 
instead of the despot responsible only to the vague concept of 
the Universe, whom the Stoics wished to enthrone. They 
talked of living according to Nature, but they were a great deal 
too quick in deciding what was Nature. If the centuries have 
taught us anything, it is to give Nature more time, more study 
and more respect than even yet we do. There are words 

1 Cf. D. i, I ; iii, 19 ; iv, 4 ; iv, 12, and very many other passages. 

2 D. iv, 9, end. 3 Ep. 31, 5. 

4 Plutarch, Progress in Virtue, c. 2, 76 A, on the absurdity of there being no 
difference between Plato and Meletus. Cf. also de repugn. Stoic, u, 1037 D. 

8 " Unconditional eradication," says Zeller, Eclectics, p. 226. " I do not hold with 
those who hymn the savage and hard Apathy (rty Aypiov Kal aK\ypa.v)" wrote 
Plutarch. Cons, ad Apoll. 3, 102 C. See Clem. Alex. Str. ii, no, on ird8i) as 
produced by the agency of spirits, and note his talk of Christian Apathy. Str. vi, 


at the beginning of the thirteenth book of the "Prelude" 
wiser and truer than anything the Stoics had to say of her 
with their " excessive zeal " and their " quick turns of intellect." 
Carried away by their theories (none, we must remember as 
we criticize them, without some ground in experience and 
observation), the Stoics made solitude in the heart and called it ^ 
peace. The price was too high ; mankind would not pay it, 
and sought a religion elsewhere that had a place for a man's 

Again, in their contempt for the passions the Stoics under- 
estimated their strength. How strong the passions are, no man 
can guess for another, even if he can be sure how strong his 
own are. Perhaps the Stoics could subordinate their passions 
to their reason ; ancient critics kept sharp eyes on them and 
said they were not always successful. 1 But there is no question 
that for the mass of men, the Stoic account of reason is absurd. 
" I see another law in my members," said a contemporary of 
Seneca's, " warring against the law of my mind and bringing me 
into captivity." Other men felt the same and sought deliverance 
in the sacraments of all the religions. That Salvation was not 
from within, was the testimony of every man who underwent 
the taurobolium. So far as such things can be, it is established 
by the witness of every religious mind that, whether the feeling > 
is just or not, the feeling is invincible that the will is inadequate | 
and that religion begins only when the Stoic's ideal of saving j 
oneself by one's own resolve and effort is finally abandoned. 
Whether this will permanently be true is another question, < 
probably for us unprofitable. The ancient world, at any rate, ' 
and in general the modern "world, have pronounced against Stoic 
Psychology it was too quick, too superficial. The Stoics did 
not allow for the sense of Sin. 2 They^recognized the presence 
of evil in the world ; they felt that " it has its seat within us, in 
our inward part " ; 3 and they remark the effect of evil in the 
blunting of the faculties let the guilty, says Persius, " see virtue, 
and pine that they have lost her forever." * While Seneca finds 
himself " growing better and becoming changed," he still feels 
there may be much more needing amendment. 5 He often 

1 Justin Martyr (ApoL ii, 8) praises Stoic morality and speaks of Stoics who 
suffered for it. 

2 Cf. Epict. D. iii, 25. 3 Sen. Ep. 50, 4. 
4 Persius, iii, 38. 5 Ep. 6, i. 


expresses dissatisfaction with himself. 1 But the deeper realiza- 
tion of weakness and failure did not come to the Stoics, and 
what help their teaching of strenuous endeavour could have 
brought to men stricken with the consciousness of broken will- 
power, it is hard to see. " Filthy Natta," according to Persius, 
was "benumbed by vice" (stupet hie vitio)? "When a man is 
hardened like a stone (aTroXiOwOjj), how shall we be able to deal 
with him by argument?" asks Epictetus, arguing against the 
Academics, who "opposed evident truths" what are we to do 
with necrosis of the soul? 3 But the Stoics really gave more 
thought to fancies of the sage's equality with God and occasional 
superiority so confident were they in the powers of the 
individual human mind. Plutarch, indeed, forces home upon 
them as a deduction from their doctrine of " the common nature " 
of gods and men the consequence that sin is not contrary to the 
Logos of Zeus and yet they say God punishes sin. 4 

Yet even the individual, much as they strove to exalt his < 
capabilities, was in the end cheapened in his own eyes. 5 As 
men have deepened their self-consciousness, they have yielded 
to an instinctive craving for the immortality of the soul. 6 
Whether savages feel this or not, it is needless to argue. No 
religion apart from Buddhism has permanently held men which 
had no hopes of immortality ; and how far the corruptions of 
Buddhism have modified its rigour for common people, it is not 
easy to say. In one form or another, in spite of a terrible 
want of evidence, men have clung to eternal life. The Stoics 
themselves used this consensus of opinion as evidence for the 
truth of the belief. 7 " It pleased me," writes Seneca, " to inquire 
of the eternity of souls (de ceternitate animaruni] nay ! to 
believe in it. I surrendered myself to that great hope." 8 

1 e.g. Ep. 57, 3, he is not even homo tolerabilis. On the bondage of the soul 
within the body, see Ep. 65, 21-23. 

2 Cf. Seneca, Ep. 53, 7, 8 quo quis peius habet minus sentit. " The worse one 
is, the less he notices it." 

3 D. i, 5- 

* Plut. de repugn. Stoic. 34, 1050 C. Cf. Tert. de exh. castit. 2. 
6 Cf. Plutarch, non suaviter, 1104 F. KaraQpovovvTes eavruv u>s f^^pwv areof 
the Epicureans. 

6 Cf. Plutarch, non suaviter, 1 104 C. TT?S dt5t6r7?ros <?\7rJs KO.\ 6 7r60os TOV efrai 
vdvrwv tpwrwv 7r/3c<r/9i/raTos &v Ko.1 ptyiffTos. Cf. ib, 1093 A. 

7 Sen. Ep. 1 17, 6. 

8 Ep. 102, 2. 


" How natural it is ! " he says, " the human mind is a great and 
generous thing ; it will have no bounds set to it unless they are 
shared by God." 1 " When the day shall come, which shall 
part this mixture of divine and human, here, where I found it, 
I will leave my body, myself I will give back to the gods. 
Even now I am not without them." He finds in our birth into 
this world an analogy of the soul passing into another world, 
and in language of beauty and sympathy he pictures the " birth- 
day of the eternal," the revelation of nature's secrets, a world of 
light and more light. " This thought suffers nothing sordid to 
dwell in the mind, nothing mean, nothing cruel. It tells us 
that the gods see all, bids us win their approval, prepare for 
them, and set eternity before us." 2 Beautiful words that wake 
emotion yet! 

But is it clear that it is eternity after all ? In the Consola- 
tion which Seneca wrote for Marcia, after speaking of the future 
life of her son, he passed at last to the Stoic doctrine of the 
first conflagration, and described the destruction of the present 
scheme of things that it may begin anew. " Then we also, 
happy souls who have been assigned to eternity (felices animce 
et (zterna sortita], when God shall see fit to reconstruct the 
universe, when all things pass (labentibus\ we too, a little 
element in a great catastrophe, shall be resolved into our 

icient elements. Happy is your son, Marcia, who already 

lows this." 3 Elsewhere he is still less certain. " Why am I 
jted for desire of him, who is either happy or non-existent ? 

tt aut beatus aut nullus est)" 4 
That in later years, in his letters to Lucilius, Seneca should 

in to belief in immortality, is natural enough. Epictetus' 
language, with some fluctuations, leans in the other direction. 
" When God does not supply what is necessary, he is sounding 
the signal for retreat he has opened the door and says to you, 
Come ! But whither ? To nothing terrible, but whence you 
came, to the dear and kin [both neuters], the elements. What 
in you was fire, shall go to fire, earth to earth, spirit to spirit 
[perhaps, breath ocrov Trvev/nariov e<V Tri/eu/xaTfoy], water to water; 

1 Ep. 1 02, 21 ; the following passages are from the same letter. Note the Stoic 
significance of naturale, 

2 Compare Cons, ad Marc. 25, I, integer ille, etc. 

3 The last words of the " Consolation." Plutarch on resolution into irup voepov, 
non suaviter, 1 107 B. 4 ad Polyb. 9, 3. 


no Hades, nor Acheron, nor Cocytus, nor Pyriphlegethon ; but 
all things full of gods and daemons. When a man has such 
things to think on, and sees sun and moon and stars, and enjoys 
earth and sea, he is not solitary or even helpless." J " This is 
death, a greater change, not from what now is into what is not, 
but into what now is not. Then shall I no longer be? You 
will be, but something else, of which now the cosmos has no 
need. For you began to be (eyeVou), not when you wished, but 
when the cosmos had need." 2 

On the whole the Stoic is in his way right, for the desire 
for immortality goes with the instincts he rejected it is nothing 
without the affections and human love. 3 But once more logic 
failed, and the obscure grave witnesses to man's instinctive 
rejection of Stoicism, with its simple inscription taurobolio in 
(sternum renatus. 

Lastly we come to the gods themselves, and here a double 
question meets us. Neither on the plurality nor the personality 
of the divine does Stoicism give a certain note. In the passages 
already quoted it will have been noticed how interchangeably 
"God," "the gods" and "Zeus" have been used. It is even a 
question whether " God " is not an identity with fate, providence, 
Nature and the Universe. 4 Seneca, as we have seen, dismisses 
the theory of daemons or genii rather abruptly " that is what 
some think." Epictetus definitely accepts them, so far as any- 
thing here is definite, and with them, or in them, the ancestral 
gods. Seneca, as we have seen, is contemptuous of popular 
ritual and superstition. Epictetus inculcates that " as to piety 
about the gods, the chief thing is to have right opinions about 
them," but, he concludes, " to make libations and to sacrifice 
according to the custom of our fathers, purely and not meanly, 
nor carelessly, nor scantily, nor above our ability, is a thing 
which belongs to all to do. 5 "Why do you," he asks, "act the 
part of a Jew, when you are a Greek ? " 6 He also accepts the 

1 D. iii, 13. Plutarch (nan snaviter, 1106 E) says Cocytus, etc., are not the chief 
terror but TJ TOV AIT? tvros dretXr}. 

3 D. iii, 24. 

1 See Plutarch on this, non suaviter, 1 105 E. 4 Seneca, N. Q. ii, 45. 

5 Manual, 31. Plutarch, de repugn. Stoic. 6, 1034 B, C, remarks on Stoic incon- 
sistency in accepting popular religious usages. 

8 D. ii, 9. In D. iv, 7, he refers to " Galilaeans," so that it is quite possible he has 
Christians in view here. 


fact of divination. 1 Indeed, aside perhaps from conspicuous 
extravagances, the popular religion suffices. Without enthusiasm 
and without clear belief, the Stoic may take part in the ordinary 
round of the cults. If he did not believe himself, he pointed 
out a way to the reflective polytheist by which he could reconcile 
his traditional faith with philosophy the many gods were like 
ourselves manifestations of the Spermaticos Logos ; and he 
could accept tolerantly the ordinary theory of daemons, for 
Chrysippus even raised the question whether such things as the 
disasters that befall good men are due to negligence on the part 
of Providence, or to evil daemons in charge of some things. 2 
While for himself the Stoic had the strength of mind to shake 
off superstition, the common people, and even the weaker 
brethren of the Stoic school, remained saddled with polytheism 
and all its terrors and follies. Of this compromise Seneca is 
guiltless. 3 It was difficult to cut the connexion with Greek 
tradition how difficult, we see in Plutarch's case. The Stoics, 
however, fell between two stools, for they had not enough 
feeling for the past to satisfy the pious and patriotic, nor the 
resolution to be done with it. After all, more help was to be 
had from Lucretius than from Epictetus in ridding the mind 
of the paralysis of polytheism. 

But the same instinct that made men demand immortality 
for themselves, a feeling, dim but strong, of the value of 
personality and of love, compelled them to seek personality in 
the divine. Here the Stoic had to halt, for after all it is a thing 
;yond the power of reason to demonstrate, and he could not 
;re allege, as he liked, that the facts stare one in the face. So, 
r ith other thinkers, impressed at once by the want of evidence, 
id impelled by the demand for some available terms, he 
ivered between a clear statement of his own uncertainty, and 
use of popular names. "Zeus" had long before been 
lopted by Cleanthes in his famous hymn, but this was an 
lement of weakness ; for the wall-paintings in every great house 
gave another account of Zeus, which belied every attribute with 
which the Stoics credited him. The apologists and the Stoics 

1 M. 32 ; D. iii, 22. 
2 Plut. de repugn. Stoic. 37, 1051 C. 

3 Tertullian, Apol. 12, idem estis qui Senecam aliqucm pluribus et antaHoribus de 
vestra superstitione perorantem reprehendistis. 


explained the legends by the use of allegory, but, as Plato says, 
children cannot distinguish between what is and what is not 
allegory nor did the common people. The finer religious 
tempers demanded something firmer and more real than 
allegory. They wanted God or Gods, immortal and eternal ; 
and at best the Stoic gods were to " melt like wax or tin " in 
their final conflagration, while Zeus too, into whom they were 
to be resolved, would thereby undergo change, and therefore 
himself also prove perishable. 1 

" I put myself in the hands of a Stoic," writes Justin Martyr, 
" and I stayed a long time with him, but when I got no further 
in the matter of God for he did not know himself and he used to 
say this knowledge was not necessary I left him." 2 Other 
men did not, like Justin, pursue their philosophic studies, and 
when they found that, while the Stoic's sense of truth would not 
let him ascribe personality to God, all round there were definite 
and authoritative voices which left the matter in no doubt, they 
made a quick choice. What authority means to a man in such a 
difficulty, we know only too well. 

The Stoics in some measure felt their weakness here. When 
they tell us to follow God, to obey God, to look to God, to live 
as God's sons, and leave us not altogether clear what they mean 
by God, their teaching is not very helpful, for it is hard to 
follow or look to a vaguely grasped conception. They realized * 
that some more definite example was needed. " We ought to 
choose some good man," writes Seneca, " and always have him 
before our eyes that we may live as if he watched us, and do < 
everything as if he saw." 3 The idea came from Epicurus. 
" Do everything, said he, as if Epicurus saw. It is without 
doubt a good thing to have set a guard over oneself, to whom 
you may look, whom you may feel present in your thoughts." 4 
" Wherever I am, I am consorting with the best men. To them, 
in whatever spot, in whatever age they were, I send my mind." 6 
He recommends Cato, Laelius, Socrates, Zeno. Epictetus has 
the same advice. What would Socrates do ? is the canon he 
recommends. 6 "Though you are not yet a Socrates, you 

1 See Plutarch, de comm. not. adv. Stoicos, c. 31, and de def. orac. 420 A, c. 19 ; 
Justin M. Apol. ii, 7. 

2 Dial. c. Tryphone, 2. 

Sen. Ep.ii, 8. Ep , ^ $ . ^ ^ cf 2J 

M. 33, rl av tTTolrjffcv tv TOVTQ 2wKpd.Ti)s $ 


ought to live as one who wishes to be a Socrates." 1 " Go 
away to Socrates and see him . . . think what a victory he felt 
he won over himself." 2 Comte in a later day gave somewhat 
similar advice. It seems to show that we cannot do well with- 
out some sort of personality in which to rest ourselves. 

When once this central uncertainty in Stoicism appeared, all 
the fine and true words the Stoics spoke of Providence lost 
their meaning for ordinary men who thought quickly. The re- 
ligious teachers of the day laid hold of the old paradoxes of 
the school and with them demolished the Stoic Providence. 
" Chrysippus," says Plutarch, "neither professes himself, nor 
any one of his acquaintances and teachers, to be good (<nrovSalov\ 
What then do they think of others, but precisely what they say 
that all men are insane, fools, unholy, impious, transgressors, 
that they reach the very acme of misery and of all wretched- 
ness? And then they say that it is by Providence that our 
concerns are ordered and we so wretched! If the Gods were 
to change their minds and wish to hurt us, to do us evil, to 
overthrow and utterly crush us, they could not put us in a worse 
condition ; for Chrysippus demonstrates that life can admit no 
greater degree either of misery or .unhappiness." 3 Of course, 
this attack is unfair, but it shows how men felt. They de- 
manded to know how they stood with the gods were the gods 
many or one ? were they persons or natural laws 4 or even 
natural objects ? did they care for mankind ? for the individual 
man ? This demand was edged by exactly the same experience 
of life which made Stoicism so needful and so welcome to its 
followers. The pressure of the empire and the terrors of living 
drove some to philosophy and many more to the gods 

wnr imfjaf^VT .j\ nA t^ g rrtlllrl nr> 

It is easy, but not so profitable as it seems, to fihdfauTts 
in the religion of other men. Their generation rejected the 
Stoics, but they may not have been right. If the Stoics were 
too hasty in making reason into a despot to rule over the 

1 M. 50. 

2 D. ii, 1 8. The tone of Tertullian, eg. in de Anima, I, on the Ph<zdo y suggests 
that Socrates may have been over-preached. What too (ib. 6) of barbarians and 
their souls, who have no " prison of Socrates," etc? 

3 Plut. de Stoic, repugnantiis, 31, 1048 E. Cf. de comm. not. 33. 

4 Plutarch, A mat. 13, 757 C. opgs STJTTOI; rov viro\o.^d.vovTa. fivdov 
dy ets irdOr) /cat Suvd^ieu *al dperds diaypd<f>u/j.fv HKOLGTOV 


emotions, their contemporaries were no less hasty in deciding,^ 
on the evidence of emotions and desires, that there were gods, 
and these the gods of their fathers, because they wished for 
inward peace and could find it nowhere else. The Stoics 

I were at least more honest with themselves, and though their 
school passed away, their memory remained and kept the 
respect of men who differed from them, but realized that they / 
had stood for truth. 


STOICISM as a system did not capture the ancient world, 
and even upon individuals it did not retain an undivided \ 
hold. To pronounce with its admirers to-day that it 
failed because the world was not worthy of it, would be a 
judgment, neither quite false nor altogether true, but at best not 
very illuminative. Men are said to be slow in taking in new 
thoughts, and yet it is equally true that somewhere in nearly 
every man there is something that responds to ideas, and even to 
theories ; but if these on longer acquaintance fail to harmonize 
with the deeper instincts within him, they alarm and annoy, and 
the response comes in the form of re-action. 

In modern times, we have seen the mind of a great people 
surrendered for a while to theorists and idealists. The thinking 
part of the French nation was carried away by the inspiration 
of Rousseau into all sorts of experiments at putting into hasty 
operation the principles and ideas they had more or less learnt 
from the master. Even theories extemporized on the moment, 
it was hoped, might be made the foundations of a new and ideal 
social fabric. The absurdities of the old religion yielded place 
to Reason embodied symbolically for the hour in the person 
of Mme Momoro afterwards, more vaguely, in Robespierre's 
Supreme Being, who really came from Rousseau. And then 
" avec ton Etre Supreme tu commences a m'embeter," said 
Billaud to Robespierre himself. Within a generation Chateau- 
briand, de Maistre, Bonald, and de la Mennais were busy re- 
founding the Christian faith. "The rites of Christianity," 
wrote Chateaubriand, " are in the highest degree moral, if for no 
other reason than that they have been practised by our fathers, 
that our mothers have watched over our cradles as Christian 
women, that the Christian religion has chanted its psalms over 
our parents' coffins and invoked peace upon them in their 



Alongside of this let us set a sentence or two of Plutarch, 
" Our father then, addressing Pemptides by name, said, ' You 
seem to me, Pemptides, to be handling a very big matter and a 
risky one or rather, you are discussing what should not be 
discussed at all (ra aKivrjra. Kiveiv), when you question the 
opinion we hold about the gods, and ask reason and demon- 
stration for everything. For the ancient and ancestral faith is 
enough (apKel yap y Trdrpios KOI TraXcua Tr/cm?), and no clearer 
proof could be found than itself 

Not though man's wisdom scale the heights of thought 

but it is a common home and an established foundation for all 
piety ; and if in one point its stable and traditional character 
(TO /3e/3aiov avTrjs KOI vevojuLKT/mevov) be shaken and disturbed, it 
will be undermined and no one will trust it. ... If you demand 
proof about each of the ancient gods, laying hands on everything 
sacred and bringing your sophistry to play on every altar, you 
will leave nothing free from quibble and cross-examination 
(ovSev a<rvKo<j>dvTt]TOv ovS' d/3a<rdvi(TTOv). . . . Others will say that 
Aphrodite is desire and Hermes reason, the Muses crafts and 
Athene thought. Do you see, then, the abyss of atheism that 
lies at our feet, if we resolve each of the gods into a passion or 
a force or a virtue ? ' " 1 

Such an utterance is unmistakeable it means a conserva- < 
tive re-action, and in another place we find its justification in 
religious emotion. " Nothing gives us more joy than what we 
see and do ourselves in divine service, when we carry the 
emblems, or join in the sacred dance, or stand by at the sacri- 
fice or initiation. ... It is when the soul most believes and 
perceives that the god is present, that she most puts from her 
pain and fear and anxiety, and gives herself up to joy, yes, even 
as far as intoxication and laughter and merriment. ... In 
sacred processions and sacrifices not only the old man and the 
old woman, nor the poor and lowly, but 

The thick-legged drudge that sways her at the mill, 
and household slaves and hirelings are uplifted by joy and 
triumph. Rich men and kings have always their own banquets 
and feasts but the feasts in the temples and at initiations, 
when men seem to touch the divine most nearly in their thought, 
13, 756 A, D ; 757 B. The quotation is from Euripides, Baccha, 203. 


with honour and worship, have a pleasure and a charm far more 
exceeding. And in this no man shares who has renounced 
belief in Providence. For it is not abundance of wine, nor the 
roasting of meat, that gives the joy in the festivals, but also a 
good hope, and a belief that the god is present and gracious, 
and accepts what is being done with a friendly mind." l 

One of Chateaubriand's critics says that his plea could be 
advanced on behalf of any religion ; and Plutarch had already 
made it on behalf of his own. He looks past the Stoics, and 
he finds in memory and association arguments that outweigh 
anything they can say. The Spermaticos Logos was a m&re 
tre Supreme a sublime conception perhaps, but it had no 
appeal to emotion, it waked no memories, it touched no chord 
of personal association. We live so largely by instinct, memory 
and association, that anything that threatens them seems to 
strike at our life, 

So was it when my life began ; 

So is it now I am a man 

So be it when I shall grow old, 

Or let me die ! 

The Child is father of the Man ; 
And I could wish my days to be 
Bound each to each by natural piety. 

Some such thought is native to every heart, and the man who 
does not cling to his own past seems wanting in something 
essentially human. The gods were part of the past of the 
ancient world, and if Reason took them away, what was left? 
There was so much, too, that Reason could not grasp ; so much 
to be learnt in ritual and in mystery that to the merely thinking 
mind had no meaning, that must be received. Reason was < 
invoked so lightly, and applied so carelessly and harshly, that 
it could take no account of the tender things of the heart. 
Reason destroyed but did not create, questioned without 
answering, and left life without sanction or communion. It was 
too often a mere affair of cleverness. It had its use and place, 
no doubt, in correcting extravagances of belief, but it was by no 
means the sole authority in man's life, and its function was 
essentially to be the handmaid of religion. "We must take 

1 Non snaviter, 21, noi E 1102 A. 


Reason from philosophy to be our mystagogue and then in holy 
reverence consider each several word and act of worship." 1 

Plutarch is our representative man in this revival of 
religion, and some survey of his life and environment will 
enable us to enter more fully into his thought, and through him 
to understand better the beginnings of a great religious move- 
ment, of which students too often have lost sight. 

For centuries the great men of Greek letters were natives of 
every region of the eastern Mediterranean except Greece, and 
Plutarch stands alone in later literature a Hellen of the mother- 
land Greek by blood, birth, home and instinct, proud of his 
race and his land, of their history, their art and their literature. 
When we speak of the influence of the past, it is well to 
remember to how great a past this man looked back, and from 
what a present. Long years of faction and war, as he himself 
says, had depopulated Greece, and the whole land could hardly 
furnish now the three thousand hoplites that four centuries 
before Megara alone had sent to Platsea. In regions where 
oracles of note had been, they were no more ; their existence 
would but have emphasized the solitude what good would an 
oracle be at Tegyra, or about Ptoum, where in a day's journey 
you might perhaps come on a solitary shepherd ? 2 It was not 
only that wars and faction fights had wasted the life of the 
Greek people, but with the opening of the far East by 
Alexander, and the development of the West under Roman 
rule, Commerce had shifted its centres, and the Greeks had 
left their old homes for new regions. Still keen on money, 
philosophy and art, they thronged Alexandria, Antioch and 
Rome, and a thousand other cities. The Petrie papyri have 
revealed a new feature of this emigration, for the wills of the 
settlers often mention the names of their wives, and these were 
Greek women and not Egyptian, as the names of their fathers 
and homes prove. 3 Julius Caesar had restored Corinth a 
century after Mummius destroyed it, and Athens was still as 
she had been and was to be for centuries, the resort of every 
one who loved philosophy and literature. 4 These were the two 

1 de hide, 68, 378 A. 2 de de ^ 

3 Mahaffy, Silver Age of Greek World, p. 45. 

4 Horace is the best known of Athenian students. The delightful letters of 
Synesius show the hold Athens still retained upon a very changed world in 400 A.D. 


cities of Greece ; the rest were reminders of what had been. In 
one of these forsaken places Plutarch was born, and there he 
was content to live and die, a citizen and a magistrate of 
Chaeronea in Bceotia. 

His family was an old one, long associated with Chaeronea. 
From childhood his life was rooted in the past by the most 
natural and delightful of all connexions. His great-grand- 
father, Nicarchus, used to tell how his fellow-citizens were 
commandeered to carry wheat on their own backs down to 
Anticyra for Antony's fleet and were quickened up with the 
whip as they went ; and " then when they had taken one con- 
signment so, and the second was already done up into loads and 
ready, the news came that Antony was defeated, and that 
saved the city ; for at once Antony's agents and soldiers fled, 
and they divided the grain among themselves." l The grand- 
father, Lamprias, lived long and saw the grandson a grown 
man. He appears often in Plutarch's Table Talk a bright old 
man and a lively talker like incense, he said, he was best when 
warmed up. 2 He thought poorly of the Jews for not eating 
pork a most righteous dish, he said. 8 He had tales of his own 
about Antony, picked up long ago from one Philotas, who had 
been a medical student in Alexandria and a friend of one of the 
royal cooks, and eventually medical attendant to a son of 
Antony's by Fulvia. 4 Plutarch's father was a quiet, sensible 
man, who maintained the practice of sacrificing, 6 kept good 
horses, 6 knew his Homer, and had something of his son's 
curious interest in odd problems. It is perhaps an accident 
that Plutarch never mentions his name, but, though he often 
speaks of him, it is always of "my father" or "our father" 
the lifelong and instinctive habit. There were also two 
brothers. The witty and amiable Lamprias loved laughter 
and was an expert in dancing a useful man to put things 
right when the dance went with more spirit than music. 7 Of 
Timon we hear less, but Plutarch sets Timon's goodness of 
heart among the very best gifts Fortune has sent him. 8 He 
emphasizes the bond that brothers have in the family sacrifices, 

1 Life of Antony, 68. 2 Symp. i, 5, I. 8 Symp. iv, 4, 4. 

4 v. Ant. 28. 6 Symp. iii, 7, I. 6 Symp. ii, 8, I. 

7 Symp. viii, 6, 5, v'/Spto-Trjs Ssv Kal 0iXo7Aws 0y<r. Symp. ix, 15, I. 

8 de fraterno amore, 1 6, 487 E. Volkmann, Plutarch, i, 24, suggests he was the 
Timon whose wife Pliny defended on one occasion, Epp. i, 5, 5. 


ancestral rites, the common home and the common grave. 1 
That Plutarch always had friends, men of kindly nature and 
intelligence, and some of them eminent, is not surprising. 
Other human relationships, to be mentioned hereafter, com- 
pleted his circle. He was born, and grew up, and lived, in a 
network of love and sympathy, the record of which is in all his 

Plutarch was born about the year 50 A.D., and, when Nero 
went on tour through Greece in 66 A.D., he was a student at 
Athens under Ammonius. 2 He recalls that among his fellow- 
students was a descendant of Themistocles, who bore his 
ancestor's name and still enjoyed the honours granted to him 
and his posterity at Magnesia. 3 Ammonius, whom he honoured 
and quoted throughout life, was a Platonist 4 much interested in 
Mathematics. 5 He was a serious and kindly teacher with a 
wide range of interests, not all speculative. Plutarch records a 
discussion of dancing by "the good Ammonius." 6 He was 
thrice " General " at Athens, 7 and had at any rate once the 
experience of an excited mob shouting for him in the street, 
while he supped with his friends indoors. 

Plutarch had many interests in Athens, in its literature, its 
philosophy and its ancient history in its relics, too, for he 
speaks of memorials of Phocion and Demosthenes still extant. 
But he lingers especially over the wonders of Pericles and 
Phidias, " still fresh and new and untouched by time, as if a 
spirit of eternal youth, a soul that was ageless, were in the work 
of the artist" 8 Athens was a conservative place, on the whole, 
and a great resort for strangers. The Athenian love of talk is 
noticed by Luke with a touch of satire, and Dio Chrysostom 
admitted that the Athenians fell short of the glory of their city 
and their ancestors. 9 Yet men loved Athens. 10 Aulus Gellius in 
memory of his years there, called his book of collections Attic 
Nights, and here and there he speaks of student life" It was 
from ^Egina to Piraeus that some of us who were fellow- 
students, Greeks and Romans, were crossing in the same ship. 

1 defrat. am. J, 481 D. de E. I, 385 B. * . Them. 32, end. 

4 Zeller, Eclectics, 334. 

5 <** 17, 391 E. Imagine the joys of a Euclid, says Plutarch, in non suaviter, 
ii, 1093 E. 

Rhodiaca, Or. 31, 117. 10 Cf> the NiRrinuSt 


It was night. The sea was calm. It was summertime and the 
sky was clear and still. So we were sitting on the poop, all of 
us together, with our eyes upon the shining stars," and fell to 
talking about their names. 1 

When his student days were over, Plutarch saw something 
of the world. He alludes to a visit to Alexandria, 2 but, though 
he was interested in Egyptian religion, as we shall see, he does 
not speak of travels in the country. He must have known 
European Greece well, but he had little knowledge, it seems, of 
Asia Minor and little interest in it. He went once on official 
business for his city to the pro-consul of Illyricum and had a 
useful lesson from his father who told him to say " We " in his 
report, though his appointed colleague had failed to go with 
him. 3 He twice went to Italy in the reigns of Vespasian and 
Domitian, and he seems to have stayed for some time in Rome, 
making friends in high places and giving lectures. Of the 
great Latin writers of his day he mentions none, nor is he 
mentioned by them. But he tells with pride how once Arulenus 
Rusticus had a letter from Domitian brought him by a soldier 
in the middle of one of these lectures and kept it unopened till 
the end. 4 The lectures were given in Greek. He confesses to 
his friend Sossius Senecio that, owing to the pressure of political 
business and the number of people who came about him for 
philosophy, when he was in Rome, it was late indeed in life that 
he attempted to learn Latin ; and when he read Latin, it was 
the general sense of a passage that helped him to the meaning 
of the words. The niceties of the language he could not 
attempt, he says, though it would have been a graceful and 
pleasant thing for one of more leisure and fewer years. 5 That 
this confession is a true one is shown by the scanty use he makes 
of Roman books in his biographies, by his want of acquaintance 
with Latin literature, poetry and philosophy, and by blunders in 
detail noted by his critics. Sine patris is a poor attempt at 
Latin grammar for a man of his learning, and in his life of 
Lucullus he has turned the streets of Rome into villages through 
inattention to the various meanings of vicus? 

1 Gellius, N.A. ii, 21, I, vos opici, says Gellius to his friends Philistines. 

2 Symp. v, 5, i. 3 Polit. prccc. 20, 816 D. 4 de curiositatc, 15. 

5 Demosthenes , 2. 

6 See Volkmann, i, 35, 36 ; Rom. Qu. 103 ; Lucullus, 37, end. 



But, as he says, he was a citizen of a small town, and he did 
not wish to make it smaller, 1 and he went back to Chaeronea 
and obscurity. A city he held to be an organism like a living 
being, 2 and he never cared for a man on whom the claims of his 
city sat loosely as they did on the Stoics. 3 The world was 
full of Greek philosophers and rhetoricians, lecturing and 
declaiming, to their great profit and glory, but Plutarch was 
content to stay at home, to be magistrate and priest. If men 
laughed to see him inspecting the measurement of tiles and the 
carrying of cement and stones " it is not for myself, I say, that 
I am doing this but for my native-place." 4 This was when he 
was Telearch an office once held by Epameinondas, as he 
liked to remember. Pliny's letters show that this official 
inspection of municipal building operations by honest and 
capable men was terribly needed. But Plutarch rose to higher 
dignities, and as Archon Eponymos he had to preside over 
feasts and sacrifices. 5 He was also a Bceotarch. The Roman 
Empire did not leave much political activity even to the free 
cities, but Plutarch loyally accepted the new era as from God, 
and found in it many blessings of peace and quiet, and some 
opportunities still of serving his city. He held a priesthood at 
Delphi, with some charge over the oracle and a stewardship at 
the Pythian games. He loved Delphi, and its shrine and 
antiquities, 6 and made the temple the scene of some of his best 
dialogues. " The kind Apollo (o 0/Xo?)," he says, " seems to 
heal the questions of life, and to resolve them, by the rules he 
gives to those who ask ; but the questions of thought he 
himself suggests to the philosophic temperament, waking in the 
soul an appetite that will lead it to truth." 7 

He does not seem to have gained much public renown, but 
he did not seek it. The fame in his day was for the men of 
rhetoric, and he was a man of letters. If he gave his time to 
municipal duties, he must have spent the greater part of his days 
in reading and writing. He says that a biographer needs a 
great many books and that as a rule many of them will not be 
readily accessible to have the abundance he requires, he ought 
really to be in some " famous city where learning is loved and 

1 Demosthenes, 2. * dc sera, 15, 559 A. de Stoic, rep. 2, 1033 B, C. 

/W. Pmc. 15, 811 C. * Sympt ii} I0j , . vi> 8> lm 

8 Reference to Polemo's hand-book to them, Symp. v, 2, 675 B. 7 de E. 384 F. 


men are many " ; though, he is careful to say, a man may be 
happy and upright in a town that is " inglorious and humble." l 

He must have read very widely, and he probably made 
good use of his stay in Rome. In philosophy and literature it is 
quite probable that he used hand-books of extracts, though 
this must not imply that he did not go to the original works of 
the greater writers. But his main interest lay in memoirs and 
travels. He had an instinct for all that was characteristic, or 
curious, or out-of-the-way ; and all sorts of casual references 
show how such things attached themselves to his memory. 
Discursive in his reading, as most men of letters seem to be, 
with a quick eye for the animated scene, the striking figure, the 
strange occurrence, he read, one feels, for enjoyment he would 
add, no doubt, for his own moral profit ; indeed he says that he 
began his Biographies for the advantage of others and found 
them to be much to his own. 2 He was of course an inveterate 
moralist ; but unlike others of the class, he never forgets the 
things that have given him pleasure. They crowd his pages in 
genial reminiscence and apt allusion. There is always the quiet 
and leisurely air of one who has seen and has enjoyed, and sees 
and enjoys again as he writes. It is this that has made his 
Biographies live. They may at times exasperate the modern 
historian, for he is not very systematic delightful writers rarely 
are. He rambles as he likes and avowedly passes the great 
things by and treasures the little and characteristic. " I am not 
writing histories but lives," he says, " and it is not necessarily in 
the famous action that a man's excellence or failure is revealed. 
But some little thing a word or a jest may often show 
character better than a battle with its ten thousand slain." 3 

But, after all, it is the characteristic rather than the character 
that interests him. He is not among the greatest who have 
drawn men, for he lacks the mind and patience to go far below 
the surface to find the key to the whole nature. When he has 
shown us one side of the hero, he will present another and a very 
different one, and leave us to reconcile them if we can. The con- 
tradictions remain contradictions, and he wanders pleasantly on. 
The Lives of Pericles and Themistocles, for instance, are little 
more than mere collectanea from sources widely discrepant, 
and often quite worthless. Of the mind of Pericles he had little 

1 Demosthenes, 2; and I. ^'limoleon, prcf. 3 Alexander, i. 


conception ; he gathered up and pleasantly told what he had read 
in books. He had too little of the critical instinct and took 
things too easily to weigh what he quoted. 

Above all, despite his "political" energy and enthusiasm, it 
was impossible for a Greek of his day to have the political 
insight that only comes from life in a living state. How could 
the Telearch of Chaeronea under the Roman Empire under- 
stand Pericles? Archbishop Trench contrasts his enthusiasm 
about the gift of liberty to Greece by Flamininus with the 
reflection of Wordsworth that it is a thing 

which is not to be given 
By all the blended powers of Earth and Heaven. 

Plutarch really did not know what liberty is ; Wordsworth on the 
other hand had taken part in the French Revolution, and watched 
with keen and sympathetic eyes the march of events throughout 
a most living epoch. It is worth noting that indirectly Plutarch 
contributed to the disasters of that epoch, for his Lycurgus 
had enormous influence with Rousseau and his followers who 
took it for history. Here was a man who made laws and 
constitutions in his own head and imposed them upon his 
fellow-countrymen. So Plutarch wrote and believed, and so 
read and believed thinking Frenchmen of the eighteenth 
century, like himself subjects of a despotism and without 
political experience. 

Besides Biographies he wrote moral treatises some based 
on lectures, others on conversation, others again little better 
than note-books pleasant and readable books, if the reader 
will forgive a certain want of humour, and a tendency to ramble, 
and will surrender his mind to the long and leisurely sentences, 
for Plutarch is not to be hurried. Everything he wrote had some 
moral or religious aim. He was a believer, in days of doubt and 
perplexity. The Epicurean was heard at Delphi. Even in the 
second century, when the great religious revival was in full 
swing, Lucian wrote and found readers. Men brought their 
difficulties to Plutarch and he went to meet them ever glad to 
do something for the ancestral faith. Nor was he less ready to 
discuss or record discussions of questions much less serious. 
Was the hen or the egg first ? Does a varied diet or a single dish 
help the digestion more ? Why is fresh water better than salt for 


washing clothes? Which of Aphrodite's hands did Diomed 
wound ? 

It is always the same man, genial, garrulous, moral and 
sensible. There are no theatricalities in his style he is not a 
rhetorician even on paper. 1 He discards the tricks of the school, 
adoxography, epigram and, as a rule, paradox. His simplicity 
is his charm. He is really interested in his subject whatever it 
is ; and he believes in its power of interesting other men, too 
much to think it worth while to trick it out with extraneous 
prettinesses. Yet after he hasdiscussed his theme, with excursions 
into its literary antecedents and its moral suggestions, we are 
not perhaps much nearer an explanation of the fact in question, 2 
nor always quite sure that it is a fact. Everything interests 
him, but he is in no hurry to get at the bottom of anything ; 
just as in the Lives he is occupied with everything except the 
depths of his hero's personality. It remains that in his various 
works he has given us an unexampled pageant of antiquity over 
a wide reach of time and many lands, and always bright with 
the colour of life the work of a lover of men. " I can hardly 
do without Plutarch," wrote Montaigne; "he is so universal and 
so full, that upon all occasions, and what extravagant subject 
soever you take in hand, he will still intrude himself into your 
business, and holds out to you a liberal and not to be exhausted 
hand of riches and embellishments." What Shakespeare thought 
of him is written in three great plays. 3 

But so far nothing has been said of Plutarch's own home. 
The lot of the wife of a great preacher or moralist is not 
commonly envied; and the tracts which Plutarch wrote upon 
historic women and their virtues, and on the duties of married 
life, on diet and on the education of the young, suggest that 
Timoxena must have lived in an atmosphere of high moral 
elevation, with a wise saw and an ancient^ instance for every 
occurrence of the day. But it is clear that he loved her, and his 
affection for their four little boys must have been as plain to 
her as to his readers and his joy when, after long waiting, at 
last a little girl was born. "You had longed for a daughter 

1 de tranqu. antmi, i, 464 F, OVK d/cpoaVews eVexa 6t)pwfj.trr)s KaXXtypaQiav a 
profession often made, but in Plutarch's case true enough as a rule. 

2 See, e.g. , variety of possible explanations of the E at Delphi, in tract upon it. 

8 Stapfer, Shakespeare and Classical Antiqiiity (tr. ), p. 299. " It may be safely said 
he followed Plutarch far more closely than he did even the old English chroniclers." 


after four sons," he writes to her, "and I was glad when she 
came and I could give her your name." The little Timoxena 
lived for two years, and the letter of consolation which Plutarch 
wrote her mother tells the story of her short life. "She 
had by nature wonderful good temper and gentleness. So 
responsive to affection, so generous was she that it was a 
pleasure to see her tenderness. For she used to bid her nurse 
give the breast to other children and not to them only, but even 
to toys and other things in which she took delight. She was 
so loving that she wished everything that gave her pleasure 
to share in the best of what she had. I do not see, my dear 
wife, why things such as these, which gave us so much happiness 
while she lived, should give us pain and trouble now when we 
think of them." l He reminds her of the mysteries of Dionysus 
of which they were both initiates. In language that recalls 
Wordsworth's great Ode on the Intimations of Immortality, 
he suggests that old age dulls our impressions of the soul's 
former life, and that their little one is gone from them, before 
she had time to fall in love with life on earth. " And the truth 
about this is to be seen in the ancient use and wont of our 
fathers," who did not observe the ordinary sad rites of burial 
for little children, "as if they felt it not right in the case 
of those who have passed to a better and diviner lot and place. 
. . . And since to disbelieve them is harder than to believe, let 
us comply with the laws in outward things, and let what is 
within be yet more stainless, pure and holy." 2 

Two of the sons had previously died the eldest Soclaros, 
and the fourth, " our beautiful Chaeron " the name is that of 
the traditional founder of Chaeronea. The other two, Auto- 
bulus and Plutarch grew up. Some of these names appear in 
the Table Talk, while others of his works were written at the 
suggestion of his sons. 

From the family we pass to the slaves, and here, as we 
should expect, Plutarch is an advocate of gentleness. In the 
tract On Restraining Anger a high and humane character is 
drawn in Fundanus, who had successfully mastered a naturally 
passionate temper. It has been thought that Plutarch was draw- 

1 Cons, ad Ux. 2-3, 608 C, D. 

- Cons, ad Ux. 1 1, 612 A, B. Cf. non stiaviter, 26, 1 104 C, on the loss of a child 
or a parent. 


ing his own portrait over his friend's name. A naYve tendency to 
idealise his own virtues he certainly shares with other moralists. 
Fundanus urges that, while all the passions need care and 
practice if they are to be overcome, anger is the failure to which 
we are most liable in the case of our slaves. Our authority 
over them sets us in a slippery place ; temper here has nothing 
to check it, for here we are irresponsible and that is a position 
of danger. A man's wife and his friends are too apt to call 
gentleness to the slaves mere easy-going slackness (aroviav KOI 
paOv/miav). " I used to be provoked by such criticism myself 
against my slaves. I was told they were going to pieces for 
want of correction. Later on I realized that, first of all, it is 
better to let them grow worse through my forbearance than by 
bitterness and anger to pervert oneself for the reformation of 
others. And, further, I saw that many of them, through not 
being punished, began to be ashamed of being bad, and that 
forgiveness was more apt than punishment to be the beginning 
of a change in them and indeed that they would serve some 
men more readily for a silent nod than they would others for 
blows and brandings. So I persuaded myself that reasoning 
does better than temper." * It will be remarked that Fundanus, 
or his recording friend, does not here take the Stoic position 
that the slave is as much a son of God as the master, 2 nor does 
he spare the slave for the slave's sake but to overcome his own 
temper. So much for theory ; but men's conduct does not 
always square with their theories, and in life we see men guilty 
of kind-heartedness and large-mindedness not at all to be 
reconciled with the theories which they profess, when they 
remember them. 

It is curious that one of the few stories of Plutarch that come 
from outside sources should concern this very tract and the 
punishment of a slave. Gellius heard it from the philosopher 
Taurus after one of his classes. Plutarch, Taurus said, had a 
worthless slave and ordered him a flogging. The man loudly 
protested he had done no wrong, and at last, under the stimulus of 
the lash, taunted his master with inconsistency what about the 
fine book on controlling Anger ? he was angry enough now. 

1 de coh. ira. 1 1, 459 C ; cf. Progress in Virtue, 80 B, 8 1 C, on tvitlwa and 
T/^OTTJS as signs of moral progress. 

8 Cf. Sen. Ep. 47 ; Clem. Alex. Pad. iii, 92. 


" Then Plutarch, slowly and gently " asked what signs of anger 
he showed in voice or colour or word ? " My eyes, I think, are 
not fierce ; nor my face flushed ; I am not shouting aloud ; 
there is no foam on my lip, no red in my cheek ; I am saying 
nothing to be ashamed of ; nothing to regret ; I am not excited 
nor gesticulating. All these, perhaps you are unaware, are the 
signs of anger." l Then turning to the man who was flogging 
the slave, he said, " In the meantime, while I and he are debat- 
ing, you go on with your business." 2 The story is generally 
accepted, and it is certainly characteristic. The philosopher, 
feeling his pulse, as it were, to make sure that he is not angry, 
while his slave is being lashed, is an interesting and suggestive 
picture, which it is well to remember. 

How long Plutarch lived we do not know. He refers to 
events of the year 104 or 105, and in his Solon he speaks of 
Athens and Plato each having an unfinished masterpiece, so 
that he cannot have known of the intention of the Emperor 
Hadrian to finish the temple of Zeus Olympics. 3 All that this 
need imply is that the Solon was written before 125 A.D. As 
to his death, it is certainly interesting when we recall how full 
of dreams and portents his Biographies are, to learn from 
Artemidorus' great work on the Interpretation of Dreams 
(written some forty years later) that Plutarch, when ill, dreamed 
that he was ascending to heaven, supported by Hermes. Next 
day he was told that this meant great happiness. " Shortly 
after he died, and this was what his dream and the interpretation 
meant. For ascent to heaven means destruction to a sick man, 
and the great happiness is a sign of death." 4 Plutarch might 
well have accepted this himself. 

Such was Plutarch's life the life of a quiet and simple- 
minded Greek gentleman, spent amid scenes where the past 
predominated over the present, nullum sine nomine saxum^ 
where Antiquity claimed him for her own by every right that it 
has ever had upon man. The land of his fathers, the literature, 
the art, the philosophy, the faith, and the reproduction of the 

1 A curious parallel to this in Tert. de Patientia, 15, where Tertullian draws the 
portrait of Patience perhaps from life, as Dean Robinson suggests after Perpetua 
the martyr. 

'Gellius, N.A. i, 26. 

"Solon, 32. 

4 Artemidorus, Oneirocritica, iv, 72. On this author see chapter vii. 


good old life in the pleasant household l everything conspired 
to make him what he was. We now come to his significance in 
the story of the conflict of religions in the Roman Empire. 

A good deal has been written about Plutarch's philosophy. 
His works are full of references to philosophy and philosophers, 
and he leaves us in no doubt as to his counting himself a 
disciple of Plato ; his commentaries on Platonic doctrines give 
him a place in the long series of Plato's expositors. But no 
one would expect a writer of the first century to be a man of 
one allegiance, and Plutarch modifies the teaching of Plato with 
elements from elsewhere. It has then been debated whether he 
should, or should not, be called an Eclectic, but not very 
profitably. The essential thing to note is that he is not properly 
a philosopher at all, much as the statement would have 
astonished him. 2 His real interest is elsewhere ; and while he, 
like the Greeks of his day, read and talked Philosophy inter- 
minably, as men in later ages have read and talked Theology, 
it was not with the philosophic spirit. Philosophy is not the 
mistress rather, he avows, the servant of something else ; and 
that means that it is not Philosophy. His test of philosophic 
thought and doctrine was availability for the moral and religious 
life a test which may or may not be sound, as it is applied. 
But Plutarch was an avowed moralist, didactic in every fibre ; 
and everything he wrote betrays the essential failure of the 
practical man and the moralist impatience, the short view. 
From his experience of human life in its manifold relations of 
love and friendship, he came to the conclusion that " the ancient 
faith of our fathers suffices." It is also plain that he was afraid 
of life without religion. So far as a man of his training would 
a man familiar with the history of philosophy, but without 
patience or depth enough to be clear in his own mind, he 
associated truth with his religion ; at all events it was 
"sufficient," for this he had found in his course through the 
world. Definite upon this one central point, he approached 
philosophy, but not with the true philosopher's purpose of 
examining his experience, in accordance with the Platonic 

1 See non suaviter, 17, 1098 D, on the unspeakably rich joy of such a life of 
friendly relations with gods and men. 

2 Progress in Virtue, 4, 77 C, Love of Philosophy compared to a lover's passion, 
to "hunger and thirst." 


suggestion * ; rather, with the more practical aim of profiting 
by every serviceable thought or maxim which he could find. 
And he certainly profited. If he started with preconceptions, < 
which he intended to keep, he enlarged and purified them in a 
sense, we may say, he adorned and enriched them. For where- 
ever he found a moving or suggestive idea, a high thought, he 
adopted it and found it a place in his mind, though without 
inquiring too closely whether it had any right to be there. In 
the end, it is very questionable whether the sum of his ideas 
will hold together at all, if we go beyond the quick test of a 
rather unexamined experience. We have already seen how he 
protested against too curious examination. " There is no 
philosophy possible," wrote John Stuart Mill, "where fear of 
consequences is a stronger principle than love of truth." 

But to such criticisms a reply is sometimes suggested, which 
is best made in the well-known words of Pascal "the heart 
has its reasons which the reason does not know." 2 The ex- 
perience which led Plutarch to his conclusion was real and 
sound. There is an evidential value in a good father, in wife 
and children even in a telearchy with its tiles and cement 
which is apt to be under-estimated. For with such elements 
in life are linked passions and emotions, which are deeply 
bound up with human nature, and rule us as instincts blind 
reasons of the heart. Like all other things they require study 
and criticism if they are not to mislead, and those who most 
follow them are sometimes the worst judges of their real 
significance. On the other hand the danger of emotion, in- * 
stinct and intuition as guides to truth is emphasized enough, 
it was emphasized by the Stoics ; and a contribution is made 
to human progress, when the value of these guides to truth is 
re-asserted, even to the extent of obvious exaggeration, by j 
some one, who, like Plutarch, has had a life rich in various 
human experience. It remains however, in Plutarch's case as 
in all such cases, the fundamental question, whether the sup- 
posed testimony of instinct and intuition is confirmed. If it 
is not confirmed, it may be taken to have been misunderstood. 

Keeping the whole life of this man in view, and realizing 
its soundness, its sweetness and its worth, we must see what 

1 Plato, Apology, 38 A, it 61 d^rao-ros p'ua ou jStwros AvBpt!nrtf. 

2 Ptntfes, Art. xxiv, 5. 


he made of the spiritual environment of man's life in general 
jlaying stress on what in his system, or his attempt at a system, < 
is most significant, and postponing criticism. It should be 
isaid once for all that a general statement of Plutarch's views 
cannot be quite faithful, for he was a man of many and wander- 
ing thoughts, and also something of an Academic ; and what- 
kver he affirmed was with qualifications, which in a short 
summary must be understood rather than repeated. 

Our knowledge of God and of things divine comes to us, < 
(according to Plutarch, from various sources. There is the 
(consensus of mankind. " Of all customs first and greatest is 
belief in gods. Lycurgus, Numa, Ion and Deucalion, alike 
isanctified men, by prayers and oaths and divinations and oracles 
(bringing them into touch with the divine in their hopes and fears. 
i You might find communities without walls, without letters, 
without kings, without houses, without money, with no need of 
(coinage, without acquaintance with theatres and gymnasia ; but < 
a community without holy rite, without a god, that uses not 
prayer nor oath, nor divination, nor sacrifice to win good or 
avert evil no man ever saw nor will see. . . . This is what 
[holds all society together and is the foundation and buttress of 
|all law." i 

This evidence from the consensus of mankind is brought to 
la higher point in the body of myth inherited from the past, and 
mi custom and law and is so far confirmed by reason. But 
we can go further and appeal to the highest and best minds of 
antiquity, who in their own highest moments of inspiration con- 
firmed the common view. " In the matter of belief in gods, and 
an general, our guides and teachers have been the poets and the 
lawgivers, and, thirdly, the philosophers all alike laying down 
chat there are gods, though differing among themselves as to 
pie number of the gods and their order, their nature and function. 
Those of the philosophers are free from pain and death ; toil 
they know not, and are clean escaped the roaring surge of 

1 Adv. Coloten (the Epicurean), 31, 1 125 D, E. For this argument from consensus, 
Usee Seneca, Ep. 117, 6, Multum dare solcmus prcesumptioni omnium hominum et 
yapitd nos veritatis argument urn est aliquid omnibus videri : tanquam deos esse inter 

Vi/ia hoc colligimus, quod omnibus imita de dis opinio est, nee ttlla gens usquam est 
nidfo extra leges moresque projecta ut non aliquos deos credat. This consensus rests 

(with the Stoics) on the common preconceptions of the mind, which are natural. 

tor ridicule of the doctrine of consensus, see Lucian, Zeus Tragccdus, 42. 


Acheron." l " It is likely that the word of ancient poets and 
philosophers is true," he says. 2 Plutarch was a lover of poetry 
and of literature, and he attributed to them a value as evidence 
to truth, which is little intelligible to men who have not the same 
passion. 3 Still the appeal to the poets in this connexion was 
very commonly made. 

But men are not only dependent on the tradition of their 
fathers and the inspiration of poets and philosophers, much as 
they should, and do, love and honour these. The gods make 
themselves felt in many ways. There was abundant evidence 
of this in many established cases of theolepsy, enthusiasm 
(evOeos) and possession. Again there were the oracles, in which 
it was clear that gods communicated with men and revealed 
truths not otherwise to be gained a clear demonstration of the 
spiritual. Men were " in anguish and fear lest Delphi should 
lose its glory of three thousand years," but Delphi has not failed ; 
for " the language of the Pythian priestess, like the right line of 
the Mathematicians the shortest between two points, makes 
neither declension nor winding, has neither double meaning nor 
ambiguity, but goes straight to the truth. Though hard to believe 
and much tested, she has never up to now been convicted of 
error, on the contrary she has filled the shrine with offerings 
and gifts from barbarians and Greeks, and adorned it with the 
beautiful buildings of the Amphictyons." 4 The revival of Delphi 
in Plutarch's day, " in so short a time," was not man's doing 
but " the God came here and inspired the oracle with his divinity." 
And Delphi was not the only oracle. The Stoics perhaps had 
pointed the way here with their teaching on divination, but as 
it stands the argument (such as it is) is said to be Plutarch's 
own. 6 Lastly in this connexion, the mysteries offered evidence,, 
but here he is reticent. " As to the mysteries, in which we may 
receive the greatest manifestations and illuminations of the truth 

1 Amatorius, 18, 763 C. Cf. view of Celsus ap. Orig. c. Cels. vii, 41. 

z Consol. ad A poll. 34, 120 B. 

! Quomodo Poetas, i, 15 E, F, poetry a preliminary study to philosophy, 
7r/Jo0iXocro077r^oj' rots Troir]fj.a<nv. 

4 de Pyth. orac. 29, 408 F. Cf. the pagan's speech in Minucius Felix, 7, 6, 
pleni et mixti deo vales futura praccrpunt . . . etiam per quietem deos 
videmus. . . . 

So Volkmann, Plutarch, ii, 290 n. Cf. a passage f Celsus, Orig. c. Cels. viii, 


i concerning daemons like Herodotus, I say, 'Be it un- 
spoken.'" 1 

Philosophy, poetry, tradition, oracles and mysteries- bring ' 

I Plutarch to belief in gods. "There are not Greek gods and 

(barbarian, southern or northern; but just as sun, moon, sky, 

I earth and sea are common to all men and have many names, so 

likewise it is one Reason that makes all these things a cosmos ; 

it is one Providence that cares for them, with ancillary powers 

appointed to all things; while in different people, different 

) honours and names are given to them as customs vary. Some 

1 use hallowed symbols that are faint, others symbols more clear, 

as they guide their thought to the divine." 3 This one ultimate 

I Reason is described by Plutarch in terms borrowed from all the 

I great teachers who had spoken to the Greeks of God. The 

I Demiurge, the One and Absolute, the World-Soul and the rest 

I all contribute features. 4 

" We," he says, " have really no share in Being, but every 

| mortal nature, set between becoming and perishing, offers but 

a show and a seeming of itself, dim and insecure " ; and he 

quotes the famous saying of Heraclitus that it is impossible to 

(descend into the same river twice, and develops the idea of 

! change in the individual. " No one remains, nor is he one, 

I but we become many as matter now gathers and now slips away 

I about one phantasm and a common form (or impress). . . . 

Sense through ignorance of Being is deceived into thinking 

I that the appearance is. What then indeed is Being? The 

| eternal, free from becoming, free from perishing, for which 

1 no time brings change. ... It is even impious to say * Was ' 

or ' Will be ' of Being ; for these are the varyings and passings 

and changings of that which by nature cannot abide in Being. 

But God zs, we must say, and that not in time, but in the aeon 

that knows no motion, time or variation, where is neither former 

1 de def. or. 14, 417 C, e>0acms and 5ta</>d(reis. 

2 Tertullian sums up the pagan line of argument and adds a telling criticism in his 
j book advcrsus Nation es, ii, I : adversus fuec igitur nobis negotiutn est, adversus 
J institutiones maiorum, auctoritates rcceptorum, leges dominantium, argumentationes 
ij prudent ium, adversus vetustatem consuetudinem necessitate, adversus exempla pro- 

digia miracula, qua omnia adulterinam istam divinitatem corroboraverint. . . . 
\ Maior in huiusmodi penes vos auctoritas litterarum quam rerum est. 
' de hide, 67, 377 F-37 A 
4 Oakesmith, Religion of Plutarch, p. 88 a book which I have found of great 



nor latter, future nor past, older nor younger ; but God is one, 
and with one Now he has filled Always, and is alone therein 
the one that Is." l 

The symbol E at Delphi affords him a text here. It is one of 
" the kind Apollo's " riddles to stimulate thought. Plutarch read 
it as Epsilon and translates it " Thou Art," and from this as from 
the very name of Apollo he draws a lesson as to the nature of 
real Being. The name 'A-7roXX-o> means of itself the "Not- 
Many," and the symbol E is the soul's address to God God 
is, and God is one. Not every one understands the nature of 
the divine ; men confuse God with his manifestations. " Those 
who suppose Apollo and the sun to be one and the same, we 
should welcome and love for their pious speech, because they 
attach the idea (e-jrivoia) of God to that thing which they honour 
most of all they know and crave for," but we should point 
them higher, " bid them go upward and see the truth of their 
dream, the real Being (rrjv ovcriav)" They may still honour the 
image the visible sun. But that a god should do the work of 
the sun, that there should be changes and progressions in a 
god, that he should project fire from himself and extend 
himself into land, sea, winds and animals, and into all the 
strange experiences of animals and plants (as the Stoics taught) 
it is not holy even to hear such things mentioned. No, God 
is not like Homer's child playing on the sand, making and un- 
making ; all this belongs to another god, or rather daemon, 
set over nature with its becomings and perishings. 2 To confuse 
gods and daemons is to make disorder of everything. 

It is here that the real interest of Plutarch's theology begins ; 
for, as Christian apologists were quick to point out, all the 
philosophers were in the last resort monotheists. But the' 
ultimate One God is by common consent far from all direct 
contact with this or any other universe of becoming and perish- 
ing. For it was questioned how many universes (KOCTJULOL) there 
might be l some conjecturing there would be one hundred and 
eighty-three and if there were more than one, the Stoics 
asked what became of Fate and Destiny, and would there not be 
many "Zeuses or Zenes"? Why should there be? asked 

1 de E. 18-20. Cf. Clem. Alex. Protr. 84. The true To-day of God is eternity. 
Also Tert. ad Natt. ii, 6, on the axiom of no change in God. 

' 3 Cf. Plato, Timcsus, 55 D. 


Plutarch ; why not in each universe a guide and ruler with 
mind and reason, such as he who in our universe is called lord 
and father of all ? What hinders that they should all be subjects 
of the Fate and Destiny that Zeus controls; that he should 
appoint to each several one of them his own realm, and the 
seeds and reasons of everything achieved in it ; that he should 
survey them, and they be responsible to him? That in the 
whole scheme of things there should be ten universes, or fifty, 
or a hundred, all governed by one Reason, all subordinate to 
one rule, is not impossible. The Ultimate God rules through < 
deputies. 1 

These deputies are Plutarch's chief concern in theology. 
The Stoics and he were at one about the Supreme and Ultimate^ 
God, waiving the matter of personality, which he asserted and 
which they left open. But when the Stoics turned the deputy 
gods into natural forces, which we might call laws of nature, < 
or, still worse, into natural objects like wine and grain, 2 Plutarch 
grew angry and denounced such teaching as atheism. "We 
must not as it were turn them into queen-bees who can never 
go out, nor keep them shut up in the prison of matter, or rather 
packed up, as they (the Stoics) do, when they turn the gods 
into conditions of the atmosphere and mingled forces of water 

1 Plutarch, de. def. orac. 29, 425 F 426 A. Celsus has the same view ; (Origen, c. 
Cels, v, 25 ; vii, 68) : the world's regions are severally allotted to epoptai under Provid- 
ence ; so that local usages may well be maintained in such form as pleases them ; to alter 
these would be impious, while to worship the daemons is to honour God, who is not 
jealous of them. Cf. Plutarch, de fortuna Romanorum, 1 1, 324 B, 6 'Pt^ua/ow /i^yas 
Sai/j.u}v . . . T-Q Tro'Xet ffvvrjflriffas Kal ffvvav^rjdels, KTC the tract is a poor and rhetorical 
one, and the phrase may be merely a synonym for "luck." See also Celsus (Orig. 
c. Cels. viii, 58) on the Egyptian attribution of the human body to thirty-six " daemons 
or gods of aether," so that by prayer to the right one disease in any part of the 
body may be cured ; Celsus gives some of their names. The Christians assumed a 
somewhat similar scheme with a rather different development. Athenagoras, an 
apologist of the second century, gives the following account in his Presbeia, 24-27. 
A system of angels under Providence existed, some good and some bad, enjoying 
free-will as men also do ; " the ruler of matter and of the forms in it" lusted after 
virgins and succumbed to flesh, and neglected the administration entrusted to him ; 
others fell with him ; they cannot regain heaven but meantime occupy the air ; their 
children by mortal women were giants and the souls of these are the daemons ; the 
ruler of matter directs all things against God ; with matter are connected the soul's 
worse impulses. See also Clem. Alex. Strom, vi, 157, on angelic governance of 
individual nations and cities ; and Lactantius, Instit. ii, 8, 14, whose account fairly 
resembles that of Athenagoras. Tertullian, however, suggests (Apol. 11) that the 
Creator had no need of ancillary gods to complete his work. 

3 For a summary of Stoic teaching here, see Cicero, N.D. ii, 60-70. 


and fire, and thus beget them with the universe and again burn 1 
them up with it; they do not leave the gods at liberty and 
free to move, as if they were charioteers or steersmen ; no ! like 
images they are nailed down, even fused to their bases, when 
they are thus shut up into the material, yes, and riveted to it, 
by being made partakers with it in destruction and resolution 
and change." l This is one of many assertions of the existence 
of ancillary gods, who are not metaphors, nor natural laws, 
but personal rulers of provinces, which may very well be each 
a universe, free and independent. " The true Zeus " has a far 
wider survey than " the Homeric Zeus " who looked away 
from Troy to Thrace and the Danube, nor does he contemplate 
a vacant infinite without, nor yet (as some say) himself and 
nothing else. To judge from the motions of the heavens, the 
divine really enjoys variety, and is glad to survey movement, 
the actions of gods and men, the periods of the stars. 2 

Thus under the Supreme is a hierarchy of heavenly powers 
or gods, and again between them and men is another order of 
beings, the daemons. 3 These, unlike the gods, are of mixed 
nature, for while the gods are emanations or Logoi of the 
Supreme, the daemons have something of the perishable. " Plato 
and Pythagoras and Xenocrates and Chrysippus, following the 
ancient theologians, say that daemons are stronger than men and 
far excel us in their natural endowment ; but the divine element 
in them is not unmixed nor undiluted, but partakes of the soul's 
nature and the body's sense-perception, and is susceptive of 
pleasure and pain, while the passions which attend these 
mutations affect them, some of them more and others less. For 
there are among dsemons, as among men, differences of virtue 
and wickedness." 4 " It can be proved on the testimony of wise 
and ancient witnesses that there are natures, as it were on the 
frontiers of gods and men, that admit mortal passions and 
inevitable changes, whom we may rightly, after the custom of 

1 de def. orac. 29, 426 B. Cf. de hide, 66, 377 D, E. " You might as well give 
the name of steersman to sails, ropes or anchor." 

2 de def. orac. 30, 246 D, E. 

3 This triple government of the Universe is worked out in defato (a tract whose 
authorship is questioned), but from one passage and another of Plutarch's undoubted 
works it can be established, though every statement has a little fringe of 

4 de hide, 25, 360 E. 


our fathers, consider to be daemons, and so calling them, 
worship them." 1 If the atmosphere were abolished between 
the earth and the moon (for beyond air and moon it was 
generally supposed that the gods lived 2 ), the void would 
destroy the unity of the universe ; and in precisely the same 
way "those who do not leave us the race of daemons, destroy all 
intercourse and contact between gods and men, by abolishing 
what Plato called the interpretive and ancillary nature, or else 
they compel us to make confusion and disorder of everything, 
by bringing God in among mortal passions and mortal affairs, 
fetching him down for our needs, as they say the witches in 
Thessaly do with the moon." 3 And " he, who involves God in 
human needs, does not spare his majesty, nor does he maintain 
the dignity and greatness of God's excellence." 4 The Stoic 
teaching that men are " parts of God " makes God responsible 
for every human act of wickedness and sin the common weak- 
ness of every pantheistic system. 5 

Thus the daemons serve two purposes in religious philos- ^ 
ophy. They safeguard the Absolute and the higher gods from 
contact with matter, and they relieve the Author of Good from 
responsibility for evil. At the same time they supply the means 
of that relation to the divine which is essential for man's higher 
life " passing on the prayers and supplications of men thither- 
ward, and thence bringing oracles and gifts of blessing." 6 
" They say well, who say that when Plato discovered the element 
underlying qualities that are begotten what nowadays they 
call matter and nature he set philosophers free from many great 
difficulties ; but to me they seem to solve more difficulties and 
greater ones, who set the race of daemons between gods and 

1 de dcf^orac. 12, 416 C. 

2 Cf. Athenagoras, Presb. 24 (quoted in note I on p. 95); and Apuleius, 
de deo Socr. 6, 132, cited on p. 232. 

3 de def. orac. 13, 416 F. * de def. orac. 9, 414 F. 

5 See de comm. not. adv. Stoicos, 33, and de Stoicorum repugn. 33, 34 three very 
interesting chapters. Clement of Alexandria has the same tone in criticizing this 
idea OVK old' STTWS dv^eral TIS tircuwv TOVTOV Oeov tyvwK&s aTriSwi/ eis TOV (3iov TOV 
Tjntrepov tv Sffois <f>vp6fj.e0a /ca/cots. efy yap av otfrws, 5 /j.i)5' direlv floats, (j.epiKUS 
dfj-aprdvuv 6 6eos, KT. Strom, ii, 74. 

6 de hide, 26, 361 C. Cf. Plato, Sympos. 202 E, 203 A (referred to above), for the 
functions of TO 6a.ifj.6viot>, which is /u.rau deov re /cat dvrp-ov . . . tpfjnjvevov KO.I 
5tairop6[j.evoi> 0eois rd trap* avOpunruv KO.I dvdpwirois rd Trapd 6euv KTC . . . decs 8 
a.v6p&ir(f ov /jilyvvrai . . . OVTOI 677 oi 5cu'/iOJ>es vroXXoi Kal Travrodairoi fiffu> t els 8 
rovruv fffrl /cat d "Epws. 



men and discovered that in some such way it made a community 
of us and brought us together, whether the theory belongs to 
the Magians who follow Zoroaster, or is Thracian and comes 
from Orpheus, or is Egyptian, or Phrygian." * Homer, he adds, 
still uses the terms " gods " and " daemons " alike ; " it was 
Hesiod who first clearly and distinctly set forth the four classes 
of beings endowed with reason, gods, daemons, heroes and 
finally men." 

The daemons, then, are the agents of Providence, of the One 
Reason, which orders the universe ; they are the ministers of 
the divine care for man. And here perhaps their mediation is 
helped by the fact that the border lines between themselves 
and the gods above on the one hand, and men below on the 
other, are not fixed and final. Some daemons, such as Isis, 
Osiris, Herakles and Dionysos, have by their virtue risen to be 
gods, 2 while their own numbers have been recruited from the 
souls of good men. 3 " Souls which are delivered from becoming 
(yevea-ecos) and thenceforth have rest from the body, as being 
utterly set free, are the daemons that care for men, as Hesiod 
says" ; 4 and, just as old athletes enjoy watching and encourag- 
ing young ones, " so the daemons, who through worth of soul 
are done with the conflicts of life," do not despise what they 
have left behind, but are kindly minded to such as strive for the 
same goal, especially when they see them close upon their hope, 
struggling and all but touching it. As in the case of a shipwreck 
those on shore will run out into the waves to lend a hand to the 
sailors they can reach (though if they are out on the sea, to 
watch in silence is all that can be done), so the daemons help 
us " while the affairs of life break over us (/JaTrrif o/xe'i/oi/s- VTTO T>V 
-irpa-ynaTwv) and we take one body after another as it were 
carriages." Above all they help us if we strive of our own 
virtue to be saved and reach the haven. 5 

But this is not all, for in his letter written to console 
Apollonios Plutarch carries us further. There was, he says, a 

1 <fe def. orac. 10, 414 F 415 A. 

2 <fe hide, 27, 361 E ; de def. orac. 10, 415 C ; cf. Tert. ad Natt. ii, 2. 

3 Romulus, 28 ; de def. orac. 10, 415 B. 

4 Hesiod, Works and Days, 121. But," asks Tatian (c. 16), " why should they 
get ^a*rur*rtpai Suvd/zews after death ? " See the reply given by Plutarch de def. 
era*- 39, 43 l E - Compare also views of Apuleius (de deo Socr. 15) cited on p. 233. 

5 de genio Socratis, 24, 593 D-F. He is thinking of the series of rebirths. 


man who lost his only son he was afraid, by poison. It per- 
haps adds confidence to the story that Plutarch gives his name 
and home ; he was Elysios of Terina in Southern Italy. The 
precision is characteristic. Elysios accordingly went to a 
psychomanteion, a shrine where the souls of the dead might be 
consulted. 1 He duly sacrificed and went to sleep in the temple. 
He saw in a dream his own father with a youth strikingly like 
the dead son, and he was told that this was " the son's daemon," 2 
and that the death had been natural, and right for the lad and 
for his parents. Elsewhere Plutarch quotes the lines of 

By each man standeth, from his natal hour, 

A daemon, his kind mystagogue through life 3 

but he prefers the view of Empedocles that there are two such 
beings in attendance on each of us. 4 The classical instance of 
a guardian spirit was the " daimonion " of Socrates, on which 
both Plutarch and Apuleius wrote books. 5 Plutarch discusses 
many theories that had been given of it, but hardly convinces 
the reader that he really knew what Socrates meant. 

In a later generation it was held that if proper means were 
taken the guardian spirit would come visibly before a man's 
eyes. So Apuleius held, and Porphyry records that when an 
Egyptian priest called on the daemon of Plotinus to manifest 
himself in the temple of Isis (the only " pure " spot the Egyptian 

1 On such places and on necromancy in general see Tertullian, de am'ma, 57, who 
puts it down to illusion of the evil one nee magnum ilh extcriores oculos circum- 
scribere cut interiorem mentis aciem exccecare ferfacile est. 

2 Cf. p. 15 on the genius and ihefravasAi. 

3 de tranqu. animi, 15, 474 B. 

4 Cf. the story of the appearance to Brutus of his evil genius 6 cro's, w Bpoyre, 
SaLfj.wv KO.KOS, Brutus, 36. Basilides the Gnostic (the father of Isidore) is credited 
with describing Man as a sort of Wooden Horse with a whole army of different 
spirits in him (Clem. Alex. Strom, ii, 113). Plutarch makes a similar jibe at the 
Stoic account of arts, virtues, vices, etc., as corporeal or even animate and rational 
beings making a man "a Paradise, or a cattle-pen, or a Wooden Horse," de 
commun, notit. adv. Stoicos, 45, 1084 B. There was a tendency in contemporary 
psychology to attribute all feelings, etc., to daemonic influence ; cf. Clem. Alex. Strom. 
ii, no, who suggests that all irdd-rj are imprints (as of a seal) made on the soul by 
the spiritual powers against which we have to wrestle. Cf. Tert. de Anima, 41, the 
evil of soul in part due to evil spirit. 

5 Clement says (Strom, vi, 53) that Isidore the Gnostic "in the first book of the 
expositions of Parchor the Prophet " dealt with the daemon of Socrates and quoted 
Aristotle's authority for such tutelary spirits. For the book of Apuleius, see ch. vii. 


could find in Rome), there came not a daemon but a god ; so great 
a being was Plotinus. 1 Plutarch discusses the question of such 
bodily appearances in connexion with the legend of Numa and 
Egeria. He can believe that God would not disdain the society 
of a specially good and holy man, but as for the idea that god 
or daemon would have anything to do with a human body 
"that would indeed require some persuasion." "Yet the 
Egyptians plausibly say that it is not impossible for the spirit 
of a god to have intercourse with a woman and beget some 
beginnings of life," though Plutarch finds a difficulty in such a 
union of unequals. 2 

Plutarch has comparatively little to say of visible appear- 
ances of tutelary or other daemons. To what lengths of credulity 
men went in this direction will be shown in a later chapter. 
Yet a guardian who does not communicate in some way with 
the person he guards, and a series of daemonic and divine 
powers content to be inert and silent, would be futile ; and in 
fact there was, Plutarch held, abundance of communication 
between men and the powers above them. It was indeed one 
of the main factors of his religion that man's life is intimately 
related to the divine. 

Plutarch, of course, could know nothing of the language in 
use to-day, but it is clear that he was familiar with some or all 
of the phaenomena, which in our times have received a vocabu- 
lary of their own, for the moment very impressive. Psycho- 
pathic, auto-suggestion, telepathy, the subliminal self the words 
may tell us something ; whether what they tell us is verifiable, 
remains to be seen. Plutarch's account of the facts, for the 
description of which this language has been invented, seems 
even more fantastic to a modern reader, but it must be re- 
membered that he and his contemporaries were led to it at 
once by observation of psychical phaenomena, still to be observed, 
and by philosophic speculation on the transcendence of God. 
As a body of theories, the ancient system holds together as well 
as most systems in the abstract. It was not in theory that it 
broke down. Plutarch as usual presents it with reservations. 

1 Porphyry, v. Plotini, 10. Cf. Origen, c. Cels. vii, 35, for Celsus' views on the 
visibility of daemons, e.g. in the cave of Trophonius. 

2 Life of Numa, 4 a most interesting chapter, when it is remembered what other 
works were being written contemporaneously. 


The daemons are not slow to speak ; it is we who are slow to 
hear. " In truth we men recognize one another's thoughts, as it 
were feeling after them in the dark by means of the voice. But 
the thoughts of the daemons are luminous and shine for those 
who can see ; and they need no words or names, such as men 
use among themselves as symbols to see images and pictures of 
what is thought, while, as for the things actually thought, those 
they only know who have some peculiar and daemonic light. 
The words of the daemons are borne through all things, but 
they sound only for those who have the untroubled nature and 
the still soul those, in fact, whom we call holy and happy 
(Sai/uLoviou^)" 1 Most people think the daemon only comes to * 
men when they are asleep, but this is due to their want of 
harmony. " The divine communicates immediately (8t avrov) 
with few and but rarely ; to most men it gives signs, from ** 
which rises the so-called Mantic art" 2 prophecy or sooth- 
saying. All souls have the "mantic" faculty the capacity 
for receiving impressions from daemons though not in an equal 
degree. A daemon after all is, from one point of view, merely 
a disembodied soul, and it may meet a soul incorporated in a 
body ; and thus, soul meeting soul, there are produced " im- 
pressions of the future," 3 for a voice is not needed to convey 

But if a disembodied soul can foresee the future, why should 
not a soul in a body also be able? In point of fact, the soul 
has this power, but it is dulled by the body. Memory is a 
parallel gift. Some souls only shake off the influence of the 
body in dreams, some at the approach of death. 4 The mantic 
element is receptive of impressions and of anticipations by 
means of feelings, and without reasoning process (acruXXoy/o-ro)?) 
it touches the future when it can get clear of the present. The 
state, in which this occurs, is called " enthusiasm," god- 
possession and into this the body will sometimes fall of 
itself, and sometimes it is cast into it by some vapour or ex- 
halation sent up by the earth. This vapour or whatever it is 
(TO /ULCLVTIKOV pev/ma KOI TrvevfAa) pervades the body, and produces 

1 ofe genie Socr. 20, 588 D, 589 D. 2 de gen. Socr. 24, 593 D. 

* de def. orac. 38, 431 C, <pavTa.<rias TOV /iAXovros. 

4 Cf. Clem. Alex. Strom, vi, 46, on preaching of Christ in Hades, where souls, 
rid of the flesh, see more clearly. 


in the soul a disposition, or combination (KpavLv), unfamiliar 
and strange, hard to describe, but from what is said it may 
be divined. "Probably by heat and diffusion it opens pores 
[or channels] whereby impressions of the future may be re- 
ceived." l Such a vapour was found to issue from the ground 
at Delphi the accidental discovery of a shepherd, Coretas 
by name, who spoke " words with God in them " ((fxavas 
v6ov<riu)Seis) under its influence ; and it was not till his words 
proved true that attention was paid to the place and the 
vapour. There is the same sort of relation between the soul 
and the mantic vapour as between the eye and light. 

But does not this vapour theory do away with the other 
theory that divination is mediated to us by the gods through 
the daemons ? Plutarch cites Plato's objection to Anaxagoras 
who was " entangled in natural causes " and lost sight of better 
causes and principles beyond them. There are double causes 
for everything. The ancients said that all things come from 
Zeus ; those who came later, natural philosophers (<j>vfriKol), 
on the contrary " wandered away from the fair and divine 
principle," and made everything depend on bodies, impacts, 
changes and combinations (/e/oacn?) ; and both miss something of 
the truth. " We do not make Mantic either godless or void of 
reason, when we give it the soul of man as its material, and 
the enthusiastic spirit and exhalation as its tool or plectron. 
For, first, the earth that produces these exhalations and the 
sun, who gives the earth the power of combination (icpaa-ii) and 
change, is by the tradition of our fathers a god ; and then we 
leave daemons installed as lords and warders and guards of 
this combination (Kpdareco$\ now loosening and now tightening 
(as if it were a harmony), taking away excessive ecstasy and 
confusion, and gently and painlessly blending the motive 
power for those who use it. So we shall not seem guilty of 
anything unreasonable or impossible." 2 

1 df def. orac. 40, 432 C-E, dep^r-qri yap Kal 5ia%y<7ei nbpovs rival avoiyeiv 
<po.vT&ffTLKQvs Tov /iAXoxTos eiV6j effTiv. For these irfyoi cf. Clem. Alex. Strom, vii, 
36, with J. B. Mayor's note. 

2 de def. orac. 46-48, 435 A 437 A (referring to Pfuedo, 97 D). The curious mix- 
ture of metaphors, the double suggestion of Kpacrts, the parallel from music, and the 
ambiguity of rb tvQovffiaffTiKov iritevpa (characteristic of the confusion of spiritual and 
material then prevalent) make a curious sentence in English, On the relation of 
demons to oracles, see also defade in orbe /<?, 30, 944 D ; also Tertullian, de Anima, 


Plutarch gives an interesting account of a potion, which 
will produce the same sort of effect. The Egyptians compound 
it in a very mystical way of sixteen drugs, nearly all of which 
are fragrant, while the very number sixteen as the square of a 
square has remarkable properties or suggestions. The mixture 
is called Kyphi, and when inhaled it calms the mind and re- 
duces anxiety, and " that part of us which receives impressions 
(<f>avTa<rriKov') and is susceptive of dreams, it rubs down and 
cleans as if it were a mirror." l 

The gods, he says, are our first and chiefest friends. 2 Not 
every one indeed so thinks " for see what Jews and Syrians 
think of the gods!" 3 But Plutarch insists that there is no 
joy in life apart from them. Epicureans may try to deliver us 
from the wrath of the gods, but they do away with their kindness 
at the same moment ; and Plutarch holds it better that there 
should even be some morbid element (TTCI^O?) of reverence and 
fear in our belief than that, in our desire to avoid this, we 
should leave ourselves neither hope, nor kindness, nor courage 
in prosperity, nor any recourse to the divine when we are in 
trouble. 4 Superstition is a rheum that gathers in the eye of 
faith, which we do well to remove, but not at the cost of 
knocking the eye out or blinding it. 5 In any case, its incon- 
venience is outweighed " ten thousand times " by the glad 
and joyous hopefulness that counts all blessing as coming from 
the gods. And he cites in proof of this that joy in temple- 
service, to which reference has already been made. Those who 
abolish Providence need no further punishment than to live 
without it. 6 

46, who gives a lucid account of daemons as the explanation of oracles, and Apol. 22 
daemons inhabiting the atmosphere have early knowledge of the weather, and by 
their incredible speed can pass miraculously quickly from one end of the earth to the 
other, and so bring information strange, he adds (c. 25), that Cybele took a week 
to inform her priest of the death of Marcus Aurelius o somniculosa diplomata ! 
("sleepy post"). 

1 de hide, 80, 383 E. Clem. Alex. Strom, i, 135, says Greek prophets of old were 
' ' stirred up by daemons, or disordered by waters, fragrances or some quality of the 
air/' but the Hebrews spoke " by the power and mind of God." 

- Prtcc. Conj. 19. Cf. Plato, Laws, 906 A, fftj/j./j.axoi 8t rjfuv 0eof re a/ia coi 
ocu/xovej, i]fj.fis 8' a? KTrjfj.a 0euv KO.I 5a.ifj.bvuv. 

3 de repugn. Stoic. 38, 1051 E. 4 ntn suaviter, 20, noi B. 

3 non suaviter 21, noi C. Clem. Alex. Pad. ii, I, says it is "peculiar to man 
to cleanse the eye of the soul." 

6 non suaviter, 22, 1 102 F. 


But the pleasures of faith are not only those of imagination 
or emotion. For while the gods give us all blessings, there is 
none better for man to receive or more awful for God to bestow 
than truth. Other things God gives to men, mind and thought 
he shares with them, for these are his attributes, and " I think 
that of God's own eternal life the happiness lies in his knowledge 
being equal to all that comes; for without knowledge and 
thought, immortality would be time and not life." ] The very 
name of Isis is etymologically connected with knowing (eiSevcu) " r 
and the goal of her sacred rites is " knowledge of the first and 
sovereign and intelligible, whom the goddess bids us seek and 
find in her." 2 Her philosophy is " hidden for the most part in 
myths, and in true tales (Xoyoc?) that give dim visions and 
revelations of truth." 3 Her temple at Sais bears the inscription : 
" I am all that has been and is and shall be, and my veil no 
mortal yet has lifted." 4 She is the goddess of " Ten Thousand 
Names." 5 

Plutarch connects with his belief in the gods "the great 
hypothesis " of immortality. " It is one argument that at one 
and the same time establishes the providence of God and the 
continuance of the human soul, and you cannot do away with 
the one and leave the other." 6 If we had nothing divine in us y 
nothing like God, if we faded like the leaves (as Homer said), 
God would hardly give us so much thought, nor would he, like 
women with their gardens of Adonis, tend and culture " souls 
of a day," growing in the flesh which will admit no "strong 
root of life." The dialogue, in which this is said, is supposed 
to have taken place in Delphi, so Plutarch turns to Apollo, 
" Do you think that, if Apollo knew that the souls of the dying 
perished at once, blowing away like mist or smoke from their 
bodies, he would ordain so many propitiations for the dead, and 
ask such great gifts and honours for the departed that he 
would cheat and humbug believers ? For my part, I will never 
let go the continuance of the soul, unless some Herakles shall 
come and take away the Pythia's tripod and abolish and destroy 
the oracle. For as long as so many oracles of this kind are 
given even in our day, it is not holy to condemn the soul to 

1 dt hide, i, 351 D. 2 de Isidet 2> 352 A 

3 de hide, 9, 354 C, e>0a<ras K al 5ia0d<reis. 4 de hide, 9, 354 C. 
6 de hide, 53, 372 E, Mupic^/xos. 6 de ser ^ num ^ vindt lg> $6o F 

EVIL 105 

death." l And Plutarch fortifies his conviction with stories of 
oracles, and of men who had converse with daemons, with 
apocalypses and revelations, among which are two notable 
Descents into Hades, 2 and a curious account of daemons in the 
British Isles. 3 

The theory of daemons lent itself to the explanation of the 
origin of evil, but speculation in this direction seems not to 
have appealed to Plutarch. He uses bad daemons to explain 
the less pleasant phases of paganism, as we shall see, but the 
question of evil he scarcely touches. In his book on Isis and 
Osiris he discusses Typhon as the evil element in nature, and 
refers with interest to the views of " the Magian Zoroaster who, 
they say, lived about five hundred years before the Trojan War." 
Zoroaster held that there were two divine beings, the better being 
a god, Horomazes (Ormuzd), the other a daemon Areimanios 
(Ahriman), the one most like to light of all sensible things, the 
other to darkness and ignorance, " and between them is Mithras, 
for which reason the Persians call Mithras the Mediator." But 
the hour of Mithras was not yet come, and in all his writings 
Plutarch hardly alludes to him more than half a dozen times.* 
It should be noted that, whatever his interest in Eastern dual- 
ism with its Western parallels, Plutarch does not abandon his 
belief in the One Ultimate Good God. 

This then in bare outline is a scheme of Plutarch's religion, 
though, as already noted, the scheme is not of his own making, 
but is put together from incidental utterances, all liable to 
qualification. It is not the religion of a philosopher ; and the 
qualifications, which look like concessions to philosophic 
hesitation, mean less than they suggest. They are entrench-,, 
ments thrown up against philosophy. He is an educated Greek 
who has read the philosophers, but he is at heart an apologist 
a defender of myth, ritual, mystery and polytheism. He has 

1 de ser. num. vind. 17, 560 B-D. Justin, Apology, i, 18, appeals to the belief in the 
continuance of the soul, which pagans derive from necromancy, dreams, oracles and 
persons " dcemoniolept." 

2 In de seranuminum vindicta and de genio Socratis. Cf. also the account of the 
souls of the dead given in de facie in orbe !un&, c. 28 ff. 

3 de def. orac. 1 8, 419 E. Another curious tale of these remote islands is in Clem. 
Alex. Strom, vi, 33. 

4 Cumont, Mysteries of Mithra (tr.), p. 35. Mithraism began to spread under the 
Flavians, but (p. 33) "remained for ever excluded from the Hellenic world." 


compromised where Plato challenged. His front (to carry out 
the military metaphor) extends over a very long line a line in 
places very weakly supported, and the daemons form its centre. 
It is the daemons who link men to the gods, and through them 
to the Supreme, making the universe a unity ; who keep the 
gods immune from contact with matter and from the suggestion 
of evil ; and what is more, they enable Plutarch to defend the 
myths of Greek and Egyptian tradition from the attack of 
philosopher and unbeliever. And this defence of myth was 
probably more to him than the unity of the universe. Every < 
kind of myth was finding a home in the eventual Greek religion, 
many of them obscene, bestial and cruel revolting to the purity 
and the tenderness developing more and more in the better 
minds of Greece. They could not well be detached from the , 
religion, so they had to be defended. 

There are, for example, many elements in the myth of Isis 
and Osiris that are disgusting. Plutarch recommends us first 
of all, by means of the preconceptions supplied by Greek 
philosophy upon the nature of God, to rule out what is objec- 
tionable as unworthy of God, but not to do this too harshly. 
Myth after all is a sort of rainbow to the sun of reason, 1 and 
should be received " in a holy and philosophic spirit." 2 We 
must not suppose that this or the other story " happened so and 
was actually done." Many things told of Isis and Osiris, if 
they were supposed to have truly befallen "the blessed and j 
incorruptible nature" of the gods, would be "lawless and 
barbarous fancy " which, as ^Eschylus says 

You must spit out and purify your mouth. 3 

But, all the same, myth must be handled tenderly and not in 
too rationalistic a spirit for that might be opening the doors to 
" the atheist people." Euhemerus, by recklessly turning all the 
gods into generals and admirals and kings of ancient days, has 
covered the whole world with atheism, 4 and the Stoics, as we 
have seen, are not much better, who turn the gods into their 
own gifts. No, we may handle myth far too freely" ah ! yet 

I de hide, 20, 358 F. 2 de Iside ^ Mj 35S C 

1 de hide, 20, .358 E. Cf. the language of Clement in dealing with expressions in 
Bible that seem to imply an anthropomorphic conception of God. See p 291. 
4 de hide, 23, 360 A. 


consider it again ! " There are so many possibilities of acceptance. 
And " in the rites of Isis there is nothing unreasonable, nothing 
fictitious, nor anything introduced by superstition, but some 
things have an ethical value, others a historical or physical 
suggestion." l 

In the second place, if nothing can be done for the myth or 
the rite if it is really an extreme case Plutarch falls back upon 
the daemons. There are differences among them as there are 
among men, and the elements of passion and unreason are 
strong in some of them ; and traces of these are to be found in 
rites and initiations and myths here and there. Rituals in 
which there is the eating of raw flesh, or the rending asunder 
of animals, fasting or beating of the breast, or again the narra- 
tion of obscene legends, are to be attributed to no god but to 
evil daemons. How many such rituals survived, Plutarch does 
not say and perhaps he did not know ; but the Christain 
apologists were less reticent, and Clement of Alexandria and 
Firmicus Maternus and the rest have abundant evidence about 
them. Some of these rites, Plutarch says, must have been 
practised to avert the attention of the daemons. " The human 
sacrifices that used to be performed," could not have been welcome 
to the gods, nor would kings and generals have been willing to 
sacrifice their own children unless they had been appeasing the 
anger of ugly, ill-tempered, and vengeful spirits, who would 
bring pestilence and war upon a people till they obtained what 
they sought. " Moreover as for all they say and sing in myth 
and hymn, of rapes and wanderings of the gods, of their hiding, 
of their exile and of their servitude, these are not the experi- 
ences of gods but of daemons." It is not right to say that 
Apollo fought a dragon for the Delphic shrine. 2 

But some such tales were to be found in the finest literature 
of the Greeks, and they were there told of the gods. 3 In reply 
to this, one of Plutarch's characters quotes the narrative of a 
hermit by the Red Sea. 4 This holy man conversed with men 
once a year, and the rest of the time he consorted with wander- 

1 de hide, 8, 353 E. 

a de def. orac. 14, 15, 417 B-F. Cf. Clem. Alex. Proir. 42, dirdvdpuiroi Kal 
fjLiffAvOpuTroi 8ai(jioi>es enjoying avOpwrroKTOvias. 

3 So Tertullian urges, ad Natt. ii, 7. 

4 This man, or somebody very like him, appears as a Christian hermit in Sulpicius 
Severus, Dial, i, 17 ; only there he is reported to consort with angels. 


ing nymphs and daemons "the most beautiful man I ever saw, 
and quite free from all disease." He lived on a bitter fruit 
which he ate once a month. This sage declared that the 
legends told of Dionysus and the rites performed in his honour 
at Delphi really pertained to a daemon. "If we call some 
daemons by the names that belong to gods, no wonder," said 
this stranger, " for a daemon is constantly called after the god, to 
whom he is assigned, and from whom he has his honour and his 
power " just as men are called Athenaeus or Dionysius and 
many of them have no sort of title to the gods' names they 
bear. 1 

With Philosophy so ready to be our mystagogue and to lead 
us into the true knowledge of divine goodness, and with so 
helpful a theory to explain away all that is offensive in traditional 
religion, faith ought to be as easy as it is happy and wholesome. 
But there is another danger beside Atheism its exact opposite, * 
superstition; and here apart from philosophical questions 
lay the practical difficulty of Plutarch's religion. He accepted * 
almost every cult and mythology which the ancient world had 
handed down ; Polytheism knows no false gods. But to guide 
one's course aright, between the true myth and the depraved, to 
distinguish between the true and good god and the pseudo- 
nymous daemon, was no easy task. The strange mass of 
Egyptian misunderstandings was a testimony to this some in 
their ignorance thought the gods underwent the actual experi- 
ence of the grain they gave men to sow, just as untaught Greeks 
identified the gods with their images; and some Egyptians 
worshipped the animals sacred to the gods; and so religion 
was brought into contempt, while "the weak and harmless" 
fell into unbounded superstition, and the shrewder and bolder 
into " beastly and atheistic reflections." 2 And yet on second 
thoughts Plutarch has a kindly apology for animal-worship. 3 

Plutarch himself wrote a tract on superstition in which 
some have found a note of rhetoric or special pleading, for he * 
decidedly gives the atheist the superiority over the superstitious, * 

1 de def. orac. 21,421 A-E. Cf. Tert. de Sped. 10. The names of the dead and 

heir images are nothing, but we know qui sub istis nominibus institutis simulacris 

opertntur ct gaudtant et divinitattm mentiantur, nequam spiritus scilicet, dcemones. 

He holds the gods to have been men, long deceased, but agrees in believing in 

daemonic operations in shrines, etc. 

'-' de hide, 70, 71, 379 B-E. 


a view which Amyot, his great translator, called dangerous, for 
" it is certain that Superstition comes nearer the mean of true 
Religion than does Atheism." l Perhaps it did in the sixteenth 
century, but in Plutarch's day superstition was the real enemy 
to be crushed. Nearly every superstitious practice he cites 
appears in other writers. 

Superstition, the worst of all terrors, like all other terrors 
kills action. It makes no truce with sleep, the refuge from 
other fears and pains. It invents all kinds of strange practices, 
immersions in mud, baptisms, 2 prostrations, shameful postures, 
outlandish worships. He who fears " the gods of his fathers 
and his race, saviours, friends and givers of good " whom will 
he not fear ? Superstition adds to the dread of death " the 
thought of eternal woes." The atheist lays his misfortunes 
down to accident and looks for remedies. The superstitious 
makes all into judgments, "the strokes of God," and will have 
no remedies lest he should seem " to fight against God " 
(Oeojmaxew)- " Leave me, Sir, to my punishment ! " he cries, 
" me the impious, the accursed, hated of Gods and daemons " 
so he sits in rags and rolls in the mud, confessing his sins 
and iniquities, how he ate or drank or walked when the 
dremonion forbade. " Wretched man ! " he says to himself, 
" Providence ordains thy suffering ; it is God's decree." The 
atheist thinks there are no gods ; the superstitious wishes there 
were none. It is they who have invented the sacrifices of 
children that prevailed at Carthage 3 and other things of the 
kind. If Typhons and Giants were to drive out the gods and 
become our rulers, what worse could they ask ? 

A hint from the Conjugal Precepts may be added here, as it 
suggests a difficulty in practice. " The wife ought not to have 
men friends of her own but to share her husband's; and the 
gods are our first and best friends. So those gods whom the 
the husband acknowledges, the wife ought to worship and own, 
and those alone, and keep the great door shut on superfluous 
devotions and foreign superstitions. No god really enjoys the 

1 See discussion in Oakesmith, Religion of Plutarch, p. 185. Greard, de la Morale 
de Plutarque, p. 269, ranks it with the best works that have come down to us from 

' 2 Tertullian on pagan baptisms Isis and Mithras, de Baptismo, 5 ; de Pr&scr. 
Har. 40. 

3 Cf. Tert. Apol. 9, on these sacrifices, in Africa, and elsewhere, and see p. 26. 


stolen rites of a woman in secret." l This is a counsel of peac I, 
but if "ugly, ill-tempered and vengeful spirits" seem to the motheJ 
to threaten her children, who will decide what are superfluous 
devotions ? 

The religion of Plutarch is a different thing from his 
morality. For his ethics rest on an experience much more eas > 
to analyse, and like every elderly and genial person he has muc J 
that he can say of the kindly duties of life. Every reader will] 
own the beauty and the high tone of much of his teaching,! 
though some will feel that its centre is the individual, and thad 
it is pleasant rather than compulsive and inevitable. After a\ 
nearly every religion has, somewhere or other, what are callecJ 
"good ethics," but the vital question is, "What else? " In thai 
last resort is ecstasy, independently of morality, the main thing 1 
Are words and acts holy as religious symbols which in a societ I 
are obviously vicious ? What propellent power lies behind the 
morals ? And where are truth and experience ? 

What then is to be said of Plutarch's religion ? Here his' 
experience was not so readily intelligible, and every inherited 
and acquired instinct within him conspired to make him cling 
to tradition and authority as opposed to independent judgment 
His philosophy was not Plato's, in spite of much that he 
borrowed from Plato, for its motive was not the love of truth.! 
The stress he lays upon the pleasure of believing shows that his 
ultimate canon is emotion. He does not really wish to find 
truth on its own account, though he honestly would like its 
support. He wishes to believe, and believe he will sit pro 
ratione voluntas. "There is something of the woman in 
Plutarch," says Mr Lecky. Like men of this temperament in 
every age, he surrenders to emotion, and emotion declines into 
sentimentalism. He cannot firmly say that anything, with 
which religious feeling has ever been associated, has ceased to 
be useful and has become false. He may talk bravely of 
shutting the great door against Superstition, but Superstition 
has many entrances indeed, was indoors already. 

We have only to look at his treatise on Isis and Osiris to 
see the effects of compromise in religion. He will never take a 
firm stand ; there are always possibilities, explanations, parallels, 
suggestions, symbolisms, by which he can escape from facing 

1 Conju!>. Prcec. 19. 


definitely the demand for a decisive reformation of religion. 
As a result, in spite of the radiant mist of amiability, which he 
diffuses over these Egyptian gods, till the old myths seem 
^capable of every conceivable interpretation, and everything a 
> symbol of everything else, and all is beautiful and holy the 
' t foolish and indecent old stories remain a definite and integral 
part of the religion, the animals are still objects of worship and 
the image of Osiris stands in its original naked obscenity. 1 
' And the Egyptian is not the only religion, for, as Tertullian 
points out, the old rites are still practised everywhere, with 
unabated horrors, symbol or no symbol. 2 Plutarch emphasizes 
the goodness and friendliness of the gods, but he leaves the evil 
daemons in all their activity. Strange and awful sacrifices of 
the past he deprecates, but he shows no reason why they should 
not continue. God, he says, is hardly to be conceived by man's 
mind as in a dream; and he thanks heaven for its peculiar 
grace that the oracles are reviving in his day ; he believes in 
necromancy, theolepsy and nearly every other grotesque means 
of intercourse with gods and daemons. He calls himself a 
Platonist ; he is proud of the great literature of Greece ; but 
nearly all that we associate in religious thought with such names 
as Xenophanes, Euripides and Plato, he gently waves aside on 
the authority of Apollo. It raises the dignity of Seneca when 
we set beside him this delightful man of letters, so full of charm, 
so warm with the love of all that is beautiful, so closely knit to 
the tender emotions of ancestral piety and so unspeakably 
inferior in essential truthfulness. 

The ancient world rejected Seneca, as we have seen, and 
chose Plutarch. If Plutarch was not the founder of Neo- 
Platonism, he was one of its precursors and he showed the path. 
Down that path ancient religion swung with deepening emotion 
into that strange medley of thought and mystery, piety, magic 
and absurdity, which is called the New Platonism and has 
nothing to do with Plato. Here and there some fine spirit 
emerged into clearer air, and in some moment of ecstasy 

1 Cf. de hide, 55, 373 C ; 18, 358 B ; the image of Osiris, 36, 365 B. Origen (c. 
Cels. v, 39) remarks that Celsus is quite pleased with those who worship crocodiles 
" in the ancestral way." 

2 If the legend is mere fable, he asks, cur rapitur saccrdos Ccreris, si non tale Ceres 
passa est ? cur Saiurno alieni liberi immolantur . . . cur Idceae masculus amputatur ? 
ad Natt. ii, 8. 


achieved " by a leap " some fleeting glimpse of Absolute Beiig, 
if there is such a thing. But the mass of men remained belw ' 
in a denser atmosphere, prisoners of ignorance and of fancy in 
an atmosphere not merely dark but tainted, full of spiritual aid 
intellectual death. 


When we hear any other speaker, even a very good one, he produces absolutely 
no effect upon us, or not much, whereas the mere fragments of you and your words, 
even at second-hand, and however imperfectly repeated, amaze and possess the souls 
of every man, woman and child who comes within hearing of them. Plato, 
Symposium, 215 D (Jowett). 

Dominus noster Chris f us veritatcm se non consuetudinent cognominavit. 
Tertullian, devirg. vcl. I. 

TOWARDS the end of the first century of our era, there 
began to appear a number of little books, written in the 
ordinary Greek of every-day life, the language which 
the common people used in conversation and correspondence. 
It was not the literary dialect, which men of letters affected a 
mannered and elaborate style modelled on the literature of 
ancient Greece and no longer a living speech. The books 
were not intended for a lettered public, but for plain people 
who wanted a plain story, which they knew already, set down 
in a handy and readable form. The writers did their work very 
faithfully some of them showing a surprising loyalty to the 
story which they had received. Like other writers they were 
limited by considerations of space and so forth, and this in- 
volved a certain freedom of choice in selecting, omitting, 
abridging and piecing together the material they gathered. 
Four only of the books survive intact ; of others there are 
scanty fragments ; and scholars have divined at least one 
independent work embodied in two that remain. So far as 
books can, three of them represent very fairly the ideas of an 
earlier generation, as it was intended they should, and tell their 
common story, with the variations natural to individual writers, 
but with a general harmony that is the pledge of its truth. 

At an early date, these books began to be called Gospels 1 
and by the time they had circulated for a generation they were 

1 Justin, Apology, i, 66. 
8 "3 


very widely known and read among the community for which 
they were written. Apart from a strong instinct which would 
allow no conscious change to be made in the lineaments of the 
central figure of the story, there was nothing to safeguard the 
little books from the fate of all popular works of their day. 
Celsus, at the end of the second century, maintained that a 
good deal of the story was originally invention ; and he added 
that the " believers " had made as free as drunk men with it 
and had written the gospel over again three times, four times, 
many times and had altered it to meet the needs of contro- 
versy. 1 Origen replied that Marcion's followers and two other 
schools had done so, but he knew of no others. It may to-day < 
be taken as established that the four gospels, as we know them, 
stand substantially as near the autograph of their authors as 
most ancient books which were at all widely read, though here 
and there it is probable, or even certain, that changes on a 
slight scale have been made in the wording to accommodate 
the text to the development of Christian ideas. 2 This is at 
first sight a serious qualification, but it is not so important as it 
seems. By comparison of the first three gospels with one 
another, with the aid of the history of their transmission in the 
original Greek and in many versions and quotations, it is not 
very difficult to see where the hand of a later day has touched 
the page and to break through to something in all probability 
very near the original story. 

This is the greatest problem of literary and historical 
criticism to-day. All sorts of objections have been raised 
against the credibility of the gospels from the time of Celsus 
they were raised even earlier ; for Celsus quotes them from 
previous controversialists and they are raised still. We are 
sometimes told that we cannot be absolutely certain of the 
authenticity of any single saying of Jesus, or perhaps of any 
recorded episode in his life. A hypertrophied conscience 
might admit this to be true in the case of any word or deed of 
Jesus that might be quoted, and yet maintain that we have not 
lost much. For, it is a commonplace of historians that an 
anecdote, even if false in itself, may contain historical truth ; it 

1 Quoted by Origen, contra Celsuin, ii, 26, 27. 
* Cf. Mr F. C. Conybeare's article on the remodelling of the baptismal formula, 
in Matthew xxviii after the Council of Niccea, Hibbert Journal, Oct. 1902. 


may be evidence, that is, to the character of the person of whom 
it is told ; for a false anecdote depends, even more than a true 
story, upon keeping the colour of its subject. It may be added 
that, as a rule, false anecdotes are apt to be more highly 
coloured than true stories, just as a piece of colour printing is 
generally a good deal brighter than nature. The reader, who, 
by familiarity with books, and with the ways of their writers, 
has developed any degree of literary instinct, will not be 
inclined to pronounce the colours in the first three gospels at 
least to be anything but natural and true. However, even if 
one were to concede that all the recorded sayings and doings of 
Jesus are fabrications (a wildly absurd hypothesis), there 4 
remains a common element in them, a unity of tone and 
character, which points to a well-known and clearly marked 
personality behind them, whose actual existence is further ' 
implied by the Christian movement. In other words, whether 
true or false in detail, the statements of the gospels, if we know 
how to use them aright, establish for us the historicity of Jesus 
and leave no sort of doubt as to his personality and the 
impression he made upon those who came into contact with 

We may not perhaps be able to reconstruct the life of Jesus 
as we should wish it will not be a biography, and it will have 
no dates and hardly any procession of events. We shall be 
able to date his birth and death, roughly in the reigns of 
Augustus and Tiberius, more exactly fixing in each case a 
period of five years or so within which it must have happened. 
Of epochs and crises in his life we can say little, for we do not 
know enough of John the Baptist and his work to be able to 
make clear his relations with Jesus, nor can we speak with 
much certainty of the development of the idea of Messiahship 
in the mind of Jesus himself. But we can with care re- 
apture something of the experience of Jesus; we can roughly 
ofloutline his outward life and environment. What is of more 
O t [consequence, we can realize that, whatever the particular facts 
a n|of his own career which opened the door for him, he entered 
itjinto the general experience of men and knew human life deeply - 

d intimately. And, after all, in this case as in others, it is 
ot the facts of the life that matter, but the central fact that 
li: 'Jthis man did know life as it is before he made judgment upon 


it. It is this alone that makes his judgment or any other 
man ' s __ f consequence to us. It is not his individual life, full 
of endless significance as that is, but his realization thereby of 
man's life and his attitude toward it that is the real gift of the 
great man his thought, his character, himself in fact And 
here our difficulty vanishes, for no one, who has cared to study 
the gospels with any degree of intelligent sympathy, has failed 
to realize the personality there revealed and to come in some 
way or other under its influence. 

So far in dealing with the religious life of the ancient world, 
\ve have had to do with ideas and traditions with a wel] 
thought-out scheme of philosophy and with an ancient and 
impressive series of mysteries and cults. The new force that 
now came into play is something quite different. The centre in 
the new religion is not an idea, nor a ritual act, but a person- 
ality. As its opponents were quick to point out, and they 
still find a curious pleasure in rediscovering it there was little 
new in Christian teaching. Men had been monotheists before, 
they had worshipped, they had loved their neighbours, they had 
displayed the virtues of Christians what was there peculiar in 
Christianity ? Plato, says Celsus, had taught long ago every- 
thing of the least value in the Christian scheme of things. The 
Talmud, according to the modern Jew, contains a parallel to 
everything that Jesus said (" and how much else ! " adds 
Wellhausen). What was new in the new religion, in this 
" third race " of men ? The Christians had their answer ready. 
In clear speech, and in aphasia, they indicated their founded 
He was new. If we are to understand the movement, we must 
in some degree realize him in himself and in his influencj 
upon men. 

In every endeavour made by any man to reconstruct 
another's personality, there will always be a subjective and 
imaginative element. Biography is always a work of thd 
imagination. The method has its dangers, but without imagiJ 
nation the thing is not to be done at all. A great man 
impresses men in a myriad of different ways he is as various 
and as bewiideringly suggestive as Nature herself and no two 
men will record quite the same experience of him. Where the 
imagination has to penetrate an extraordinary variety of im- 
pressions, to seize, not a series of forces each severally making 


its own impression, but a single personality of many elements 
and yet a unity, men may well differ in the pictures they make. 
Even the same man will at different times be differently 
impressed and not always be uniformly able to grasp and 
order his impressions. Hence it is that biographies and 
portraits are so full of surprises and disappointments, while 
even the writer or the painter will not always accept his own 
interpretation he outgrows it and detests it. And if it is 
possible to spend a life in the realization of the simplest human 
nature, what is to be said of an attempt to make a final picture 
of Jesus of Nazareth? Still the effort must be made to appre- 
hend what he was to those with whom he lived, for from that 
comes the whole Christian movement. 

Celsus denounced Jesus in language that amazes us ; but 
when he was confronted with the teaching of Jesus, the moral 
worth of which a mind so candid could not deny, he admitted 
its value, but he attributed it to the fact that Jesus plagiarized 
largely from Greek philosophy and above all from Plato. He 
did not grasp, Celsus adds, how good what he stole really was, 
and he spoiled it by his vulgarity of phrase. In particular, 
Celsus denounced the saying "Whosoever shall smite thee on 
the right cheek, turn to him the other also." The idea came 
from the Crito, where Socrates compels Crito to own that we 
must do evil to no one not even by way of requital. The 
passage is a fine one, and Celsus quoted it in triumph and 
asked if there were not something coarse and clownish in the 
style of Jesus. 1 

Celsus forgot for the moment that the same sort of criticism 
had been made upon Socrates. " ' You had better be done/ 
said Critias, ' with those shoemakers of yours, and the carpenters 
and coppersmiths. They must be pretty well down at the heel 
by now considering the way you have talked them round.' 
'Yes,' said Charicles, 'and the cowherds too.'" 2 But six 
centuries had made another man of Socrates. His ideas, inter- 
preted by Plato and others, had altered the whole thinking of 
the Greek world ; his Silenus-face had grown beautiful by 

1 Origen, c. Cels. vii, 58, dypoiKorepov. 

2 Xen. Mem, i, 2, 37. Cf. Plato, Symp. 221 E. Gorgias, 491 A. See Forbes, 
Socrates, 128 ; Adam, Religious Teachers of Greece, i, 338. 


association ; the physiognomy of his mind and speech was no 
longer so striking ; he was a familiar figure, and his words and 
phrases were current coin, accepted without question. But to 
Celsus Jesus was no such figure ; he had not the traditions and 
preconceptions which have in turn obscured for us the features 
of Jesus ; there was nothing in Jesus either hallowed or familiar, 
and one glance revealed a physiognomy. That he did not like 
it is of less importance. 

Taking the saying in question, we find, as Celsus did, 
absurdity upon the face of it, and, as he also did, something 
else at the heart of it a contrast between surface and inner 
value broad as the gulf between the common sense which men 
gather from experience and the morality which Jesus read 
beneath human nature. Among the words of Jesus there are 
many such sayings, and it is clear that he himself saw and 
designed the contrasts which we feel as we read them. This 
sense of contrast is one of the ground-factors of humour 
generally, perhaps the one indispensable factor ; it is always 
present in the highest humour. If we then take the words oC 
Jesus, as they struck those who first heard them or as they 
struck Celsus we cannot help remarking at once a strong 
individual character in them, one element in which is humour, 
always one of the most personal and individual of all marks 
of physiognomy. 

Humour, in its highest form, is the sign of a mind at peace 
[with itself, for which the contrasts and contradictions of life 
have ceased to jar, though they have not ceased to be, which 
accepts them as necessary and not without meaning, indeed as 
adding charm to life, when they are viewed from above. It is 
the faculty which lets a man see what Plato called " the whole 
tragedy and comedy of life" l the one in the other. Is it not 
humour that saw the Pharisee earnestly rinsing, rubbing and 
polishing the outside of his cup, forgetful of the fact that he 
drank from the inside ? that saw the simple-minded taking their 
baskets to gather the grape-harvest from bramble-bushes? 
That pleaded with a nation, already gaining a name for being 
sordid, not to cast peails before swine, and to forsake caring for 
the morrow, because such care was the mark of the Gentile 
world the distinguishing sign between Gentile and Jew? 
1 Plato, Philcbus, 50 B. 


That told the men he knew so well men bred in a rough 
world to " turn the other cheek," to yield the cloak to him 
who took the coat, not in irony, but with the brotherly feeling 
that " his necessity is greater than mine " to go when 
" commandeered " not the required mile, making an enemy by 
sourness of face, but to go two " two additional," the Syriac 
version says and so soften the man and make him a friend ? x 

What stamps the language of Jesus invariably is its delicate "" 
ease, implying a sensibility to every real aspect of the matter 
in hand a sense of mastery and peace. Men marvelled at the 
charm of his words Luke using the Greek xapi<s to express it. 2 
The homely parable may be in other hands coarse enough, but 
the parables of Jesus have a quality about them after all these 
years that leaves one certain he smiled as he spoke them. 
There is something of the same kind to be felt in Cowper's 
letters, but in the stronger nature the gift is of more significance. 
At the cost of a little study of human character, and close 
reading of the Synoptists, and some careful imagination, it is 
possible to see him as he spoke, the flash of the eye, the smile 
on the lip, the gesture of the hand, all the natural expression 
of himself and his thought that a man unconsciously gives in 
speaking, when he has forgotten himself in his matter and his 
hearer his physiognomy, in fact. We realize very soon his' 
complete mastery of the various aspects of what he says. 
That he realizes every implication of his words is less likely, 
for there is a spontaneity about them they are "out of the 
abundance of his heart " ; the form is not studied ; they are for 
the man and the moment. But they imply the speaker and his 
whole relation to God and man they cannot help implying this, 
and that is their charm. Living words, flashed out on the spur 
of the moment from the depths of him, they are the man. It 
was not idly that the early church used to say " Remember the 
words of the Lord Jesus." On any showing, it is of importance 
to learn the mind of one whose speech is so full of life, and it is 
happily possible to do this from even the small collections we 
possess of his recorded sayings. 

1 On "playfulness" in the words of Jesus, seeBurkitt, the Gospel History t p. 142. 
See also Life of Abp Temple, ii. 681 (letter to his son 18 Dec. 1896), on the "beam 
in the eye " and the " eye of the needle " " that faint touch of fun which all Oriental 
teachers delight in." 

2 Luke iv, 22, tdaij/j.a.fov CTTI rots \6yois 


Quite apart from the human interest which always clings 
about the childhood of a significant man, the early years of 
Jesus have a value of their own, for it was to them that he 
always returned when he wished to speak his deepest thought 
on the relations of God and man. In the life and love of the 
home he found the truest picture of the divine life. This we 
shall have to consider more fully at a later point. Very little 
is said by the evangelists of the childhood and youth at 
Nazareth, but in the parables we have Jesus' own reminis- 
cences, and the scenes and settings of the stories he tells fit 
in easily and pleasantly with the framework of the historical 
and geographical facts of his life at Nazareth. 

The town lies in a basin among hills, from the rim of 
which can be seen the historic plain of Esdraelon toward the 
South, Eastward the Jordan valley and the hills of Gilead, and 
to the West the sea. " It is a map of Old Testament history." * 
On great roads North and South of the town's girdle of hills 
passed to and fro, on the journey between Egypt and Meso- 
potamia, the many-coloured traffic of the East moving no 
faster than the camel cared to go, swinging disdainfully on, 
with contempt on its curled lip for mankind, its work and 
itself. Traders, pilgrims and princes the kingdoms of the 
world and the glory of them all within reach and in no great 
hurry, a panorama of life for a thoughtful and imaginative 

The history of his nation lay on the face of the land at 
his feet, and it was in the North that the Zealots throve. 
Was it by accident that Joseph the carpenter gave all his 
five sons names that stood for something in Hebrew history? 
Jesus himself says very little, if anything, of the past of his 
people, and he does not, like some of the Psalmists, turn to 
the story of Israel for the proof of his thoughts upon God. 
But it may be more than a coincidence that his countrymen 
were impressed with his knowledge of the national literature ; 
and traces of other than canonical books have been found in 
his teaching. It implies a home of piety, where God was in 
all their thoughts. 

The early disappearance of the elder Joseph has been ex- 
plained by his death, which seems probable. The widow was 

1 George Adam Smith, Historical Geography of the Holy Land, ad loc. 


left with five sons and some daughters. 1 The eldest son was, 
according to the story, more than twelve years old, and he 
had probably to share the household burden. The days were 
over when he played with the children in the market at 
weddings and at funerals, and while he never forgot the games 
and kept something of the child's mind throughout, he had 
to learn what it was to be weary and heavy-laden. His 
parables include pictures of home-life one of a little house, 
where the master in bed can argue with an importunate friend 
outside the door, who has come on a very homely errand. 2 
In a group of stories, parables of the mother, we see the 
woman sweeping the house till she finds a lost drachma, the 
recovery of which is joyful enough to be told to neighbours. 
We see her hiding leaven in three measures of meal, while 
the eldest son sat by and watched it work. He never forgot 
the sight of the heaving, panting mass, the bubbles swelling and 
bursting, and all the commotion the proof of something alive 
and at work below ; and he made it into a parable of the 
Kingdom of God associated in the minds of the weary with 
broken bubbles, and in the mind of Jesus with the profoundest 
and most living of realities. It was perhaps Mary, too, who 
explained to him why an old garment will not tolerate a new 
patch. Whatever is the historical value of the fourth Gospel, 
it lays stress on the close relation between Jesus and his 

One of the Aramaic words, which the church cherished from . 
the first as the ipsissima verba of Jesus, was Abba. It was 
what Mary had taught him as a baby to call Joseph. The fact 
that in manhood he gave to God the name that in his childhood 
he had given to Joseph, surely throws some light upon the 
homelife. To this word we shall return. 

Jesus had always a peculiar tenderness for children. < 
" Suffer little children to come unto me," is one of his most 
familiar sayings, though in quoting it we are apt to forget that 
" come " is in Greek a verb carrying volition with it, and that 
Mark uses another noticeable word, and tells us that Jesus put 
his arms round the child. 3 Little children, we may be sure, 
came to him of their own accord and were at ease with him ; 

1 Matthew xiii, 56 says 7ra<rat, and Mark uses a plural. 

2 Luke xi, 5. 3 Mark ix, 36, tvayica\t<rd/j.ei>os. 


and it has been suggested that the saying goes back to the 
Nazareth days, and that the little children came about their 
brother in the workshop there. Mr Burkitt has recently 
remarked l that we may read far and wide in Christian Literature 
before we find any such feeling for children as we know so well 
in the words of Jesus ; and in Classical Literature we may look 
as far. To Jesus the child is not unimportant to injure a child 
was an unspeakable thing. Indeed, if the Kingdom of God 
meant anything, it was that we must be children again God's 
little children, to whom their Father is the background of 
everything. The Christian phrase about being born again may 
be Jesus' own, but if so, it has lost for us something of what he 
intended by it, which survives in more authentic sayings. We 
have to recover, he said, what we lost when we outgrew the 
child ; we must have the simplicity and frankness of children 
their instinctive way of believing all things and hoping 
all things. All things are new to the child; it is only for 
grown-up people that God has to " make all things new." Paul 
has not much to say about children, but he has this thought 
" if any man be in Christ, it is a new creation, all things are 
made new." Probably the child's habit of taking nothing for 
granted except the love that is all about it is what Jesus 
missed most in grown men. Every idealist and every poet is a 
child from beginning to end and something of this sort is the 
mark of the school of Jesus. 

The outdoor life of Jesus lies recorded in his parables. 
Weinel has said that Paul was a man of a city Paul said so 
himself. But Jesus is at home in the open air. The sights 
and sounds of the farm are in his words the lost sheep, the 
fallen ox, the worried flock, the hen clucking to her chickens. 
This last gave a picture in which his thought instinctively 
clothed itself in one of his hours of deepest emotion. It is 
perhaps a mark of his race and land that to " feed swine " is 
with him a symbol of a lost life, and that the dog is an unclean 
animal as it very generally is elsewhere. He speaks of 
ploughing, clearly knowing how it should be done ; and like 
other teachers, he uses the analogies of sowing and harvest. 
The grain growing secretly, and the harvest, over-ripe and 
spilling its wheat, were to him pictures of human life. 

1 Gospel History, p. 285. 


Wild nature, too, he knew and loved. The wild lily, which 
the women used to burn in their ovens never thinking of its 
beauty, was to him something finer than King Solomon, and he 
probably had seen Herodian princes on the Galilean roads. 
(It is a curious thing that he has more than one allusion to 
royal draperies.) He bade men study the flowers (Kara^av 
Odvetv). It is perhaps worth remark that flower-poetry came 
into Greek literature from regions familiar to us in the life of 
Jesus ; Meleager was a Gadarene. The Psalmist long ago had 
said of the birds that they had their meat from God; but Jesus 
brought them into the human family " Your Heavenly Father 
feedeth them." Even his knowledge of weather signs is 
recorded. Not all flowers keep in literature the scent and 
colour of life ; they are a little apt to become " natural objects." 
But if they are to retain their charm in print, something is 
wanted that is not very common the open heart and the open 
eye, to which birds and flowers are willing to tell their secret. 
There are other things which point to the fact that Jesus had 
this endowment, and not least his being able to find in the 
flower a link so strong and so beautiful between God and man. 
Here as elsewhere he was in touch with his environment, for he 
loved Nature as Nature, and was true to it. His parables are 
not like ^Esop's Fables. His lost sheep has no arguments ; 
his lily is not a Solomon, though it is better dressed ; and his 
sparrows are neither moralists nor theologians but sparrows, 
which might be sold at two for a farthing, and in the meantime 
are chirping and nesting. And all this life of Nature spoke to 
him of the character of God, of God's delight in beauty and 
God's love. God is for him the ever-present thought in it all 
real too, to others, whenever he speaks of him. 

An amiable feeling for Nature is often to be found in senti- 
mental characters. But sentimentalism is essentially self- 
deception; and the Gospels make it clear that of all human 
sins and weaknesses none seems to have stirred the anger of 
Jesus as did self-deception. When the Pharisees in the 
synagogue watched to see whether Jesus would heal on the 
Sabbath, he "looked round about upon them all with anger," 
says Mark. This gaze of Jesus is often mentioned in the 
Gospels almost unconsciously but Luke and Matthew drop 
the last two words in quoting this passage, and do so at the cost 


of a most characteristic touch. Matthew elsewhere, in accord- 
ance with his habit of grouping his matter by subject, gathers 
together a collection of the utterances of Jesus upon the 
Pharisees, with the recurring refrain "Scribes and Pharisees, 
actors." The Mediterranean world was full of Greek actors ; 
we hear of them even among the Parthians in 53 B.C., and in 
Mesopotamia for centuries ; and as there had long been Greek 
cities in Palestine, and a strong movement for generations to- 
ward Greek ways of life, the actor cannot have been an un- 
familiar figure. To call the Pharisees " actors " was a new and 
strong thing to say, but Jesus said such things. Of the grosser 
classes of sinners he was tolerant to a point that amazed his 
contemporaries and gave great occasion of criticism to such 
enemies as Celsus and Julian. He had apparently no anger for 
the woman taken in adultery ; and he was the " friend of 
publicans and sinners " even eating with them. 

The explanation lies partly in Jesus' instinct for reality and 
truth. Sensualist and money-lover were at least occupied with 
a sort of reality ; pleasure and money in their way are real, 
and the pursuit of them brings a man, sooner or later, into 
contact with realities genuine enough. Whatever illusions 
/publican and harlot might have, the world saw to it that they 
did not keep them long. The danger for such people was that 
they might be disillusioned overmuch. But the Pharisee lied 
with himself. If at times he traded on his righteousness to 
over-reach others, his chief victim was himself, as Jesus saw, 
and as Paul found. Paul, brought up in their school to practise 
righteousness, gave the whole thing up as a pretence and a lie 
he would no longer have anything to do with "his own 
righteousness." But he was an exception ; Pharisees in general 
believed in their own righteousness ; and, by tampering with 
their sense of the proportions of things, they lost all feeling for 
reality, and with it all consciousness of the value and dignity of 
man and the very possibility of any conception of God. 

Jesus had been bred in another atmosphere, in a school of 
realities. When he said " Blessed are ye poor, for yours is the 
Kingdom of heaven," his words were the record of experience 
the paradox was the story of his life. He had known poverty 
and hand-labour ; he had been " exposed to feel what wretches 
feel." Whatever criticism may make of the story of his feeding 



multitudes, it remains that he was markedly sensitive to the 
idea of hunger over and over he urged the feeding of the poor, 
the maimed and the blind ; he suggested the payment of a 
day's wage for an hour's work, where a day's food was needed 
and only an hour's work could be had ; he even reminded a too 
happy father that his little girl would be the better of food. No 
thinker of his day, or for long before and after, was so deeply 
conscious of the appeal of sheer misery, and this is one of the 
things on which his followers have never lost the mind of Jesus. 
Poverty was perhaps even for himself a key to the door into the 
Kingdom of God. At any rate, he always emphasizes the 
advantage of disadvantages, for they at least make a man in 
earnest with himself. 

There is a revelation of the seriousness of his whole mind 
bnd nature in his reply to the follower who would go away and 
return. " No man, having put his hand to the plough and 
looking back, is// for the Kingdom of God." This every one 
knows who has tried to drive a furrow, and all men of action 
know only too well that the man, whom Jesus so describes, is 
fit for no kind of Kingdom. It is only the sentimentalism of 
the church that supposes the flabby-minded to be at home in 
the Kingdom of God. Jesus did not. The same kind of energy 
is in the parables. The unjust steward was a knave, but he 
Iras in earnest ; and so was the questionably honest man who 
bund treasure in a field. The merchant let everything go for 
the one pearl of great price. Mary chose " the one thing need- 
|pil." We may be sure that in one shop in Nazareth benches 
prere made to stand on four feet and doors to open and shut, 
[the parables from nature, as we have seen, are true to the 
|acts of nature. They too stand on four feet. The church 
laid hold of a characteristic word, when it adopted for all time 
Jesus' Amen "in truth." Jesus was always explicit with his 
followers they should know from the first that their goal was 
he cross, and that meantime they would have no place where 
jto lay their heads. They were to begin with hard realities, and 
to consort with him on the basis of the real. 

The world in the age of Jesus was living a good deal upon 
:s past, looking to old books and old cults, as we see in 
Plutarch and many others. The Jews no less lived upon their 
great books. Even Philo was fettered to the Old Testament, 


except when he could dissolve his fetters by allegory, and ev( 
then he believed himself loyal to the higher meaning of the t( 
But nothing of the kind is to be seen in Jesus. His knowledge! 
of Psalmist and Prophet excited wonder ; but in all his quota-? 
tions of the Old Testament that have reached us, there is no! 
trace of servitude to the letter and no hint of allegory. Ho[ 
does not quote Scripture as his followers did. Here too hi 
spoke as having authority. If sometimes he quoted words foJ 
their own sake, it was always as an argmnentum ad hominewm 
But his own way was to grasp the writer's mind a vejj 
difficult thing in his day, and little done and to go straight to 
the root of the matter, regardless of authority and tradition! 
Like draws to like, and an intensely real man at once grasped 
his kinship with other intensely real men ; and he found in th^ 
prophets, not reeds shaken with the wind, courtiers of king or of 
people, but men in touch with reality, with their eyes open for 
God, friends and fore-runners, whose experience illumined hiA 
own. This type of manhood needed no explanation for him. 
The other sort perplexed him "Why can you not judge foA 
yourselves ? " how was it that men could see and yet not seofl 
From his inner sympathy with the prophetic mind, came his 
freedom in dealing with the prophets. He read and understood! 
and decided for himself. No sincere man would ever wish his 
word to be final for another. Jesus was conscious of his own 
right to think and to see and to judge, and for him, as for the 
modern temper, the final thing was not opinion, nor scripture^ 
nor authority, but reality and experience. There lay the road * 
to God. Hence it is that Jesus is so tranquil, he does " not 
strive nor cry " for the man who has experienced in himself 
the power of the real has no doubts about it being able ta 
maintain itself in a world, where at heart men want nothinJj 

When so clear an eye for reality is turned upon the greaft 
questions of man's life and of man's relations with God, it il 
apt here too to reach the centre. From the first, men lingered 
over the thought that Jesus had gone to the bottom of humai 
experience and found in this fact his power to help them. Hi 
was made like to his brethren ; he was touched with the feeling 
of our infirmities; he was "able to sympathize" (Svvd/u.evoi 
for he was " tempted in all respects like us." Ir 


the Gospel, as it is handed down to us, the temptation of Christ 
is summed up in three episodes set at the beginning of the story 
and told in a symbolic form, which may or may not have been 
given to them by Jesus himself. Then " the devil left him "- 
Luke adding significantly " till a time." The interpretation is 
not very clear. Strong men do not discuss their own feelings 
very much, but it is possible now and then to divine some 
experience from an involuntary tone, or the unconscious 
sensitiveness with which certain things are mentioned; or, more 
rarely, emotion may open the lips for a moment of self-revela- 
tion, in which a word lays bare a lifetime's struggle. It will 
add to the significance of his general attitude toward God and 
man's life, if we can catch any glimpse of the inner mind of 

We have records of his being exhausted and seeking quiet. " 
Biographers of that day concealed such things in their heroes, 
out the Gospels freely reveal what contemporary critics counted 
weaknesses in Jesus. He weeps, he hungers, he is worn out. 
He has to be alone on the mountain by night, in a desert-place 
Defore dawn. Such exhaustion is never merely physical or 
merely spiritual ; the two things are one. Men crowded upon 
Jesus, till he had not leisure to eat ; he came into touch with a 
ceaseless stream of human personalities ; and those who have 
Deen through any such experience will understand what it cost 
lim. To communicate an idea or to share a feeling is exhaust- 
ng work, and we read further of deeds of healing, which, Jesus 
limself said, took " virtue " (Svva/unv) out of him, and he had to 
withdraw. When the Syro-Phcenician woman called for his aid, 
it was a question with him whether he should spend on a 
foreigner the "virtue" that could with difficulty meet the claims 
of Israel, for he was not conscious of the " omnipotence " which 
has been lightly attributed to him. It was the woman's 
brilliant answer about the little dogs eating the children's crumbs 
that gained her request. The turn of speech showed a vein of 
humour, and he consented "for this saying." 1 If human 
experience goes for anything in such a case, contact with a 
spirit so delicate and sympathetic gave him something of the 

1 I believe that the allusion to dogs has been thrown back into Jesus' words from 
the woman's reply, and that she was the first to mention them. Note Mark's 
emphatic phrase 5td TOITOV TOP \byov ; vii, 29. 


strength he spent. The incident throws light upon the " fluxes 
and refluxes of feeling " within him, and the effect upon him of 
a spirit with something of his own tenderness and humour. 
For the moment, though, his sense of having reached his limits 
should be noticed. 

The church has never forgotten the agony in the garden, but 
that episode has lost some of its significance because it has not 
been recognized to be one link in a chain of experience, which 
we must try to reconstruct. It has been assumed that Jesus 
never expected to influence the Pharisees and scribes ; but this 
is to misinterpret the common temper of idealists, and to miss 
the pain of Jesus' words when he found his hopes of the 
Pharisees to be vain. Gradually, from their pressure upon his 
spirit, he grew conscious of the outcome they would not be 
content with logomachies ; the end might be death. Few of us* 
have any experience to tell us at what cost to the spirit such a 
discovery is made. The common people he read easily enough 
and recognized their levity. And now, in exile, as Mr Burkitt 
has lately suggested, 2 he began to concentrate himself upon 
the twelve. It was not till Peter, by a sudden flash of insight, 
grasped his Messiahship a character, which Jesus had realized *' 
already, though we do not know by what process, and had for4 
reasons of his own concealed, it was not till then that Jesusl 
disclosed his belief that he would be killed at last. From thatl 
moment we may date the falling away of Judas, and what this 
man's constant presence must have meant to Jesus, ordinary 
experience may suggest. Shrewd, clever and disappointed, he 
must have been a chill upon his Master at all hours. His 
influence upon the rest of the group must have been consciously 
and increasingly antipathetic. Night by night Jesus could read 
in the faces which of them had been with Judas during the day. 
The sour triumph of Judas when the Son of man was told to go 
on to another village after a day's journey, and the uncomfort- I 
able air of one or more of the others, all entered into Jesus' j 
experience ; and night by night he had to undo Judas' work. 
He "learnt by what he suffered " from the man's tone and look | 
that there would be desertion, perhaps betrayal. The daily 
suffering involved in trying to recapture the man, in going to 
seek the lost sheep in the wilderness of bitterness, may be 

1 Gospel History -, p. 93 f. (with map). 


imagined. Side by side, King, Pharisee and disciple are against 
him, and the tension, heightened by the uncertainty as to the 
how, when and where of the issue must have been great. Luke's 
graphic word says his face was " set " for Jerusalem it would 
be, he knew, a focus for the growing forces of hatred. 

Day by day the strain increased. Finally Jesus spoke. 
The where and how of the betrayal he could not determine ; the 
when he could. At the supper, he looked at Judas and then he 
spoke. 1 " What thou doest, do quickly." The man's face as 
he hurried out said " Yes " to the unspoken question and for 
the moment it brought relief. This is the background of the 
garden-scene. What the agony moant spiritually, we can 
hardly divine. The physical cost is attested by the memory of 
his face which haunted the disciples. The profuse sweat that 
goes with acute mental strain is a familiar phenomenon, and its 
traces were upon him visible in the torchlight. Last of all, 
upon the cross, Nature reclaimed her due from him. Jesus had 
drawn, as men say, upon the body, and in such cases Nature 
repays herself from the spirit. The worn-out frame dragged the 
spirit with it, and he died with the cry " My God, my God, 
why hast thou forsaken me ? " 

Turning back, we find in Luke 2 that Jesus said to his 
disciples " Ye are they that have continued with me in my 
temptations." Dr John Brown 3 used to speak of Jesus having 
" a disposition for private friendships." A mind with the genius 
for friendliness is not only active but passive. We constantly 
find in history instances of men with such a gift failing in great 
crises because of it they yield to the friendly word ; it means 
so much to them. Thus when Peter, a friend of old standing 
and of far greater value since his confession at Philippi, spoke 
and reinforced the impressions made on Jesus' mind by his 
prevision of failure and death, the temptation was of a terrible 
kind. The sudden rejoinder, in which Jesus identifies the man 
he loved with Satan, shows what had happened. But, if friend- 
ship carried with it temptation, yet when physical exhaustion 
brought spiritual exhaustion in its train, the love and tenderness 

1 The steady gaze and the pause are mentioned by the Gospels, in more than one 
place, as preceding utterance. There are of course great variations in the accounts of 
the last supper. 

2 xxii, 28. 3 The author of Rab and his Friends. 


of his friends upheld him. But, more still, their belief in him 
and in his ideas, their need of him, drove the tempter away. 
He could not disappoint them. The faces that softened to 
him, all that came to his mind as he thought of his friends 
name by name gave him hope and comfort, though the body 
might do its worst. It was perhaps in part this experience of 
the friendship of simple and commonplace men that differ- 
entiated the teaching of Jesus from the best the world had yet 
had. No other teacher dreamed that common men could * 
possess a tenth part of the moral grandeur and spiritual power, 
which Jesus elicited from them chiefly by believing in them. 
Here, to any one who will study the period, the sheer originality 
of Jesus is bewildering. This belief in men Jesus gave to his 
followers and they have never lost it. 

It was in the new life and happiness in God that he was < 
bringing to the common people that Jesus saw his firmest 
credentials. He laid stress indeed upon the expulsion of devils 
and the cure of disease matters explained to-day by "sugges- 
tion." But the culmination was " the good news for the poor." < 
"Gospel" and "Evangelical" have in time become technical 
terms, and have no longer the pulse of sheer happiness which 
Jesus felt in them, and which the early church likewise experi- 
enced. "Be of good cheer!" is the familiar English rendering 
of one of the words of Jesus, often on his lips " Courage ! " he 
said. One text of Luke represents him as saying it even on the 
cross, when he spoke to the penitent thief. 

Summing up what we have so far reached, we may remark 
the broad contrast between the attitude of Jesus to human life 
and the views of the world around him. A simple home with 
an atmosphere of love and truth and intelligence, where life 
was not lost sight of in its refinements, where ordinary needs 
and common duties were the daily facts, where God was a 
constant and friendly presence this was his early environment. 
Later on it was the carpenter's bench, the fisherman's boat, wind 
on the mountain and storm on the lake, leaven in the meal and 
wheat in the field. Everywhere his life is rooted in the normal 1 
and the natural, and everywhere he finds God filling the^ 
meanest detail of man's life with glory and revelation. 

Philosophers were anxious to keep God clear of contact 
with matter ; Marcus Aurelius found " decay in the substance 


of all things nothing 1 but water, dust, bones, stench." 1 Jesus ^ 
saw life in all things God clothing the grass and watching 
over little birds. To-day the old antithesis of God and matter 
is gone, and it comes as a relief to find that Jesus anticipated 
its disappearance. The religious in his day looked for God in 
trance and ritual, in the abnormal and unusual, but for him, as 
for every man who has ever helped mankind, the ordinary and 
the commonplace were enough. The Kingdom of God is : 
among you, or even within you in the common people, of 
whom all the other teachers despaired. 

We come now to the central question of man's relation - 
with God, never before so vital a matter to serious people in the 
Mediterranean world. Jew and Greek and Egyptian were all 
full of it, and men's talk ran much upon it. Men were anxious 
to be right with God, and sought earnestly in the ways of their 
fathers for the means of communion with God and the attain- 
ment of some kind of safety in their position with regard to him. 
Jew and Greek alike talked of heaven and hell and of the ways 
to them. They talked of righteousness and holiness " holy " is 
one of the great words of the period and they sought these 
things in ritual and abstinence. Modern Jews resent the 
suggestion that the thousand and one regulatious as to cere- 
monial purity, and the casuistries, as many or more, spun out of 
the law and the traditions, ranked with the great commandments 
of neighbourly love and the worship of the One God. No 
doubt they are right, but it is noticeable that in practice the 
common type of mind is more impressed with minutiae than 
with principles. The Southern European to-day will do murder 
on little provocation, but to eat meat in Lent is sin. But, 
without attributing such conspicuous sins as theft and adultery 
and murder to the Pharisees, it is clear that in establishing 
their own righteousness they laid excessive stress on the details 
of the law, on Sabbath-keeping (a constant topic with the 
Christian apologists), on tithes, and temple ritual, on the 
washing of pots and plates still rigorously maintained by the 
modern Jew and all this was supposed to constitute holiness. 
Jesus with the clear incisive word of genius dismissed it all as 
"acting." The Pharisee was essentially an actor playing to 
himself the most contemptible little comedies of holiness. 

1 ix, 36. 


Listen, cries Jesus, and he tells the tale of the man fallen among 
thieves and left for dead, and how priest and Levite passed by 
on the other side, fearing the pollution of a corpse, and how they 
left mercy, God's own work " I will have mercy and not 
sacrifice " was one of his quotations from Hosea, to be done by 
one unclean and damned the Samaritan. Whited sepulchres ! 
he cries, pretty to look at, but full of what ? of death, corruption 
and foulness. " How can you escape from the judgment of 
hell ? " he asked them, and no one records what they answered 
or could answer. 

It is clear, however, that, outside Palestine, the Jews in the 
great world were moving to a more purely moral conception of 
religion their environment made mere Pharisaism impossible, 
and Greek criticism compelled them to think more or less in the 
terms of the fundamental. The debt of the Jew to the Gentile 
is not very generously acknowledged. None the less, the 
distinctive badge of all his tribe was and remained what the 
Greeks called fussiness (TO ^o^o&re'?). 1 The Sabbath, circum- 
cision, the blood and butter taboos remained as they still 
remain in the most liberal of " Liberal Judaisms " tribe marks 
with no religious value, but maintained by patriotism. And 
side by side with this lived and lives that hatred of the 
Gentile, which is attributed to Christian persecution, but which 
Juvenal saw and noted before the Christian had ceased to be 
persecuted by the Jew. The extravagant nonsense found in 
Jewish speculation as to how many Gentile souls were equivalent 
in God's sight to that of one Jew is symptomatic. To this 
day it is confessedly the weakness of Judaism that it offers 
no impulse and knows no enthusiasm for self-sacrificing love 
where the interests of the tribe are not concerned. 2 

The great work of Jesus in this matter was the final and 
decisive cleavage with antiquity. Greek rationalism had long 
since laughed at the puerilities of the Greek cults ; but 
rationalism and laughter are unequally matched against Re- 
ligion, and it triumphed over them, and, as we see in Plutarch 

1 Cf. ad Diognetum, cited on p. 177. 

2 I quote this from a friend to whom a Jew said as much ; of course every general 
statement requires modification. Still the predominantly tribal character of Judaism 
implies contempt for the spiritual life of the Gentile Christian and pagan. If the 
knowledge of God was or is of value to the Jew, he has made little effort to 
share it. 


and the Neo-Platonists, it imposed its puerilities yes, and its 
obscenities upon Philosophy and made her in sober truth 
"procuress to the lords of hell." It was a new thing when^ 
Religion, in the name of truth and for the love of God, abolished 
the connexion with a trivial past. Jesus cut away at once every 
vestige of the primitive and every savage survival all natural 
growths perhaps, and helpful too to primitive man and to the 
savage, but confusing to men on a higher plane, either mere 
play-acting or the " damnation of hell." Pagan cults he summed 
up as much speaking. Once for all he set Religion free from 
all taboos and rituals. Paul, once, on the spur of the moment, 
called Jesus the "Yes" of all the promises of God a most 
suggestive name for the vindicator and exponent of God's 
realities. It is such a man as this who liberates mankind, 
cutting us clear of make-believes and negations and taboos, and 
living in the open-air, whether it is cloud or sun. That Jesus 
shocked his contemporaries with the abrupt nakedness of his 
religious ideas is not surprising. The church made decent haste 
to cover a good many of them up, but not very successfully. A 
mind like that of Jesus propagates itself, and reappears with 
startling vitality, as history in many a strange page can reveal. 

We must now consider what was the thought of Jesus upon 
God and how he conceived of the relation between God and 
man. He approached the matter originally from the stand- 
point of Judaism, and no attempt to prove the influence of 
Greek philosophy is likely to succeed. The result of Greek 
speculation upon God where it did not end in pure pantheism 
was that of God nothing whatever could be predicated not 
even being, but that he was to be expressed by the negation 
of every idea that could be formed of him. To this men had 
been led by their preconception of absolute being, and so 
strong was the influence of contemporary philosophy that 
Christian thinkers adopted the same conclusion, managing what 
clumsy combinations they could of it and of the doctrine of 
incarnation. Clement of Alexandria is a marked example of 
this method. 

To the philosophic mind God remains a difficult problem, 
but to the religious temper things are very different. To it 
God is the one great reality never very far away, and is con- 
ceived not as an abstraction, nor as a force, but as a personality. 


It has been and is the strength and redemption of Judaism, 
that God is the God of Israel " Oh God, thou art my God ! " 
How intuition is to be reconciled with philosophy has been the 
problem of Christian thinkers in every age, but it may be 
remarked that the varying term is philosophy. To the intuition 
of Jesus Christians have held fast though Greeks and others 
have called it " folly " ; and in the meantime a good many 
philosophies have had their day. 

The central thought of Jesus is the Fatherhood of God.^ 
For this, as for much else, parallels have been founcPm the 
words of Hebrew thinkers, ancient and contemporary, and we 
may readily concede that it was not original with Jesus to call 
God Father. The name was given to God by the prophets, 
but it was also given to him by the Stoics and by Homer; so 
that to speak of God's Fatherhood might mean anything between 
the two extremes of everything and nothing. Christian theology, 
for instance, starting with the idea of the Fatherhood of God, 
has not hesitated to speak in the same breath of his " vindicating 
his majesty " a phrase which there is no record or suggestion 
that Jesus ever used. There may be fathers who vindicate their 
x majesty, as there are many other kinds, but until we realize the 
connotation of the word for men who speak of God as Father, 
it is idle to speak of it being a thought common to them. The 
name may be in the Old Testament and in Homer, but the 
meaning which Jesus gave to it is his own. 

Jesus never uses the name Father without an air of gladness. v 
Men are anxious as to what they shall eat, and what they 
shall drink, and wherewithal they shall be clothed "your 
heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things." 
Children ask father and mother for bread will they receive 
a stone ? The women had hid the leaven in the three measures 
of meal long before the children began to feel hungry. And 
as to clothes God has clothed the flower far better than 
Solomon ever clothed himself, "and shall he not much more 
clothe you, O ye of little faith ? " The picture is one of the < 
strong and tender parent, smiling at the child's anxiety with 
no notion of his own majesty or of anything but love. So 
incredibly simple is the relation between God and man simple,^ 
unconstrained, heedless and tender as the talk round a table in 
Nazareth. Jesus is greater than the men who have elaborated 


his ideas, and majesty is the foible of little minds. The great 
man, if he thinks of his dignity, lets it take care of itself; he is 
more interested in love and truth, and he forgets to think of 
what is due to himself. Aristotle said that his " magnificent 
man " would never run ; but, says Jesus, when the prodigal son 
was yet a great way off, "his father saw him, and ran, and fell 
on his neck, and kissed him." This contrast measures the 
distance between the thought of Jesus and some Christian 
theologies. It is worth noting that in the two parables, in 
which a father directly addresses his son, it is with the tender 
word reKvov, which is more like a pet name. It adds to the 
meaning of the parable of the prodigal, when the father calls 
the elder brother by the little name that has come down from 
childhood. It was a word which Jesus himself used in speaking 
to his friends. 1 The heavenly Father does not cease to be a 
father because his children are ungracious and bad. He sends 
rain and sun and all they mean to evil and to good. The 
whole New Testament is tuned to the thought of Jesus "the 
philanthropy of God our saviour." 2 

Plato had long before defined the object of human life as 
"becoming like to God." Jesus finds the means to this likeness 
to God in the simplest of every day's opportunities. "Love 
your enemies and do good, and ye shall be sons of the 
Highest, for he is good and pitiful." " Blessed are the peace- 
makers," he said, "for they shall be called children of God." 
This is sometimes limited to the reconciliation of quarrels, but 
the worst of quarrels is the rift in a man's own soul, the 
"division of his spiritual substance against itself" which is the 
essence of all tragedy. There are some whose least word, or 
whose momentary presence, can somehow make peace wherever 
they go, and leave men stronger for the rest they have found 
in another's soul. This, according to Jesus, is the family like- 
ness by which God's children are recognized in all sorts of 
company. To have the faculty of communicating peace of 
mind and it is more often than not done unconsciously, as 
most great things are is no light or accidental gift 

Jesus lays a good deal more stress upon unconscious instinct 
than most moralists do. Once only he is reported to have 
spoken of the Last Judgment, which was a favourite theme 

1 e.g. Mark x, 24. 2 Titus iii, 4. 


with the eschatologists of his period, Jewish, pagan, and 
Christian. He borrowed the whole framework of the scene, 
but he changed, and doubly changed, the significance of it. 
For lie-discarded the national or_nolitical criterion which the 
Jew preferred, and he did not Jiave recourse to^the rather 
individualistic moral test which Greek thinkers proposed, in 
imfialtoffoTTlato ;~strH"4ess did it occur to him to suggest a 
Credo. With him the ultimate standard was one of sheer kind- 
ness and good-heartedness " inasmuch as ye did it to one of 
the least of these my brethren." But it is still more interesting 
to note how this standard is applied. Every one at the Last 
Judgment accepts it, just as every one accepts the propositions 
of moralists in general. But the real cleavage between the 
classes of men does not depend on morality, as the chilly 
suggestion of the mere word reminds us. Men judge other 
men not by their morality, professed or practised, so much as 
by their unconscious selves by instinct, impulse and so forth, 
the things that really give a clue to the innermost man. The 
most noticeable point then in Jesus' picture of the Last Judg- 
ment is that, when " sheep " and " goats " are separated, neither 
party at once understands the reasons of the decision. These 
are conscious of duties done ; the others have no very clear 
idea about it. Elsewhere Jesus suggests that, when men have 
done all required of them, they may still have the feeling that 
they are unprofitable servants ; and it is precisely the peace- 
makers and the pure in heart who do not realize how near they 
come to God. The priest and the Levite in the parable were 
conscious of their purity, but Jesus gives no hint that they 
saw God. The Samaritan lived in another atmosphere, but it 
was natural to him and he breathed it unconsciously. The 
cultivation of likeness to God by Greek philosophers and their 
pupils was very different. Plutarch has left a tract, kindly and 
sensible, on " How a man may recognize his own progress in 
virtue," but there is no native Christian product of the kind. 

From what Jesus directly says of God, and from what he 
says of God's children, we may conclude that he classes God 
with the strong and sunny natures ; with the people of bright 
eyes who see through things and into things, who have the 
feeling for reality, and love every aspect of the real. God has 
that sense which is peculiar to the creative mind the keen joy 


in beauty, that loves star and bird and child. God has the 
father's instinct, a full understanding of human nature, and a 
heart open for the prodigal son, the publican and the woman 
with seven devils. " In his will is our peace," wrote the 
great Christian poet of the middle ages. " Doing the will we 
find rest," said a humble and forgotten Christian of the second 
century. 1 They both learnt the thought from Jesus, who set 
it in the prayer beginning with Abba which he taught his 
disciples, and who prayed it himself in the garden with the 
same Abba in his heart. " In the Lord's prayer," said Tertullian, 
" there is an epitome of the whole Gospel." 2 

At this point two questions rise, which are of some historical 
importance, and bear upon Jesus' view of God. It is clear, 
first of all, that the expression " the Kingdom of God " was 
much upon the lips of Jesus, at least in the earlier part of his 
ministry. It was not of his own coining, and scholars have 
differed as to what he really meant. Such controversy always 
rises about the terms in which a great mind expresses itself. 
The great thinker, even the statesman, has to use the best 
language he can find to convey his ideas, and if the ideas are 
new, the difficulty of expression is sometimes very great. The 
words imply one thing to the listener, and another to the 
speaker who is really trying (as Diogenes put it) to " re-mint the 
currency," and how far he succeeds depends mostly upon his 
personality. To-day " the Kingdom," or more accurately " the 
Kingship of God," is in some quarters interpreted rather 
vigorously in the sense which the ordinary Jew gave to the 
phrase in the age of Jesus; but it is more than usually un- 
sound criticism to take the words of such a man as meaning 
merely what they would in the common talk of unreflective 
persons, who use words as' counters and nothing else. There 
was a vulgar interpretation of the " Kingship of God," and 
there was a higher one, current among the better spirits ; and 
it is only reasonable to interpret this phrase, or any other, in 
the light of the total mind of the man who uses it. It is clear 
then that, when Jesus used "the Kingship of God," he must 
have subordinated it to his general idea of God ; and what 

1 Second Clement (so-called), 6, 7. 

8 Tert. de Or. I (end). Cf. also c. 4, on the prayer in the Garden ; and de 
, 8. 


that was, we have seen. To-day the phrase is returning into 
religious speech to signify the permeation of society by the 
mind of Christ, which cannot be far from what it meant to the 
earliest disciples. It is significant that the author of the fourth 
gospel virtually dropped the phrase altogether, that Paul pre- 
ferred other expressions as a rule, and that it was merged and 
lost in the idea of the church. 

Closely bound up with the " Kingdom of God " is the name 
Messiah, with a similarly wide range of meanings. The question 
has also been raised as to how far Jesus identified himself with 
the Messiah. It might be more pertinent to ask with which 
Messiah. On the whole, the importance of the matter can be 
gauged by the fate of the word. It was translated into Greek, 
and very soon Christos, or Chrestos, was a proper name and 
hardly a title at all except in apologetics, where alone the 
conception retained some importance. The Divine Son and 
the Divine Logos terms which Jesus did not use superseded 
the old Hebrew title, at any rate in the Gentile world, and this 
could hardly have occurred if the idea had been of fundamental 
moment in Jesus' mind and speech. If he used the name, as 
seems probable, it too must have been subordinated to his 
master-thought of God's fatherhood. It would then imply at 
most a close relation to the purposes of God, and a mission to 
men, the stewardship of thoughts that would put mankind on 
a new footing with God. The idea of his being a mediator in 
the Pauline sense is foreign to the gospels, and the later con- 
ception of a purchase of mankind from the devil, or from the 
justice of God, by the blood of a victim is still more alien to 
Jesus' mind. 

These are some of the features of the founder of the new 
religion as revealed in the Gospels features that permanently 
compel attention, but after all it was not the consideration of 
these that conquered the world. Of far more account in winning* 
the world was the death of this man upon the cross. It was 
the cross that gave certainty to all that Jesus had taught about 
God. The church sturdily and indignantly repudiated any 
suggestion, however philosophic, that in any way seemed likely 
to lessen the significance of the cross. That he should taste 
the ultimate bitterness of death undisguised, that he should 
refuse the palliative wine and myrrh (an action symbolic of his 


whole attitude to everything and to death itself), that with 
open eyes he should set his face for Jerusalem, and with all the 
sensitiveness of a character, so susceptive of impression and so 
rich in imagination, he should expose himself to our experience 
to the foretaste of death, to the horror of the unknown, and 
to the supreme fear the dread of the extinction of personality ; 
and that he should actually undergo all he foresaw, as the last 
cry upon the cross testified all this let the world into the real 
meaning of his central thought upon God. It was the pledge 
of his truth, and thus made possible our reconciliation with God. 
If we may take an illustration from English literature, 
Shakespeare's Julius Ccesar may suggest something here. It 
has been noticed how small a part Caesar plays in the drama 
how little he speaks ; what weakness he shows epilepsy, deaf- 
ness, arrogance, vacillation ; and how soon he disappears. 
Would not the play have been better named Brutust Yet 
Shakespeare knew what he was doing ; for the whole play is 
Julius Caesar, from the outbreak of Cassius at the beginning- 
Why ! man he doth bestride the narrow world 
Like a colossus, 

to the bitter cry of Brutus at the end 

O Julius Caesar, thou art mighty yet! 

Caesar determines everything in the story. Every character in 
it is a mirror in which we see some figure of him, and the life 
of every man there is made or unmade by his mind toward 
Caesar. Caesar is the one great determining factor in the story ; 
living and dead, he is the centre and explanation of it all. 

What was written in the Gospels of the life and death of 
Jesus, might by now be ancient history, if the Gospels had told 
the whole story. But they did not tell the whole story ; and 
they neither were, nor are, the source of the Christian move- 
ment, great as their influence is and has been. The Jesus who 
has impressed himself upon mankind is not a character, how- 
ever strong and beautiful, that is to be read about in a book. 
Before the Gospels were written, men spoke of the " Spirit of 
| Jesus" as an active force amongst them. We may criticize 
I their phrase and their psychology as we like, but they were 
speaking of something they knew, something they had seen 



and felt, and it is that " something " which changed the course 
of history. Jesus lives for us in the pages of the Gospels, but 
we are not his followers on that account, nor were the Christians 
of the first century. They, like ourselves, followed him under 
the irresistible attraction of his character repeating itself in the 
lives of men and women whom they knew. The Son of God, 
they said, revealed himself in men, and it was true. Of his 
immediate followers we know almost nothing, but it was they 
who passed him on the next generation, consciously in their 
preaching, which was not always very good ; and unconsciously 
in their lives, which he had transformed, and which had gained 
from him something of the power of his own life. The church 
was a nexus of quickened and redeemed personalities, men and 
women in whom Christ lived. So Paul wrote of it. A century 
later another nameless Christian spoke of Christ being "new 
born every day over again in the hearts of believers," and it 
would be hard to correct the statement. If we are to give a 
true account of such men as Alexander and Caesar, we consider 
them in the light of the centuries through which their ideas 
lived and worked. In the same way, the life, the mind and the 
personality of Jesus will not be understood till we have realized 
by some intimate experience something of the worth and beauty 
of the countless souls that in every century have found and 
still find in him the Alpha and Omega of their being. For the 
Gospels are not four but "ten thousand times ten thousand, 
and thousands of thousands," and the last word of every one of 
them is " Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the 


TWO things stand out, when we study the character of the 
early church its great complexity and variety, and its 
unity in the personality of Jesus of Nazareth. In spite 
of the general levelling which Greek culture and Roman govern- 
ment had made all over the Mediterranean world, the age-long 
influences of race and climate and cult were still at work. 
Everywhere there was a varnish of Greek literature ; every- 
where a tendency to uniformity in government, very carefully 
managed with great tenderness for local susceptibilities, but 
none the less a fixed object of the Emperors ; everywhere cult 
was blended with cult with the lavish hospitality of polytheism ; 
and yet, apart from denationalized men of letters, artists and 
dilettanti, the old types remained and reproduced themselves. 
And when men looked at the Christian community, it was as 
various as the Empire " Thou wast slain," runs the hymn in 
the Apocalypse, " and thou hast redeemed us to God by thy 
blood out of every kindred and tongue and people and nation." 
There soon appeared that desire for uniformity which animated 
the secular government, and which appears to be an ineradicable 
instinct of the human mind. Yet for the first two centuries the 
period under our discussion the movement toward uniformity 
had not grown strong enough to overcome the race-marks and 
the place-marks. There are great areas over which in Christian 
life and thought the same general characteristics are to be seen, 
which were manifested in other ways before the Christian era. 
There is the great West of Italy, Gaul and Africa, Latin in 
outlook, but with strong local variations. There is the region 
of Asia Minor and Greece, where the church is Hellenistic in 
every sense of the word, very Greek upon the surface and less 
Greek underneath, again with marked contrasts due to geo- 
graphy and race-distribution. Again there is the Christian 
South Alexandria, with its Christian community, Greek and 


Jewish, and a little known hinterland, where Christian thought 
spread, we do not know how. There was Palestine with a group 
of Jewish Christians, very clearly differentiated. And Eastward 
there rose a Syrian Christendom, which as late as the fourth 
century kept a character of its own. 1 

Into all these great divisions of the world came men eager 
to tell " good news " generally quite commonplace and un- 
important people with a "treasure in earthen vessels." Their 
message they put in various ways, with the aphasia of ill- 
educated men, who have something to tell that is far too big 
for any words at their command. It was made out at last that 
they meant a new relation to God in virtue of Jesus Christ. 
From a philosophic point of view they talked " foolishness," and 
they lapsed now and then, under the pressure of what was 
within them, into inarticulate and unintelligible talk, from which 
they might emerge into utterance quite beyond their ordinary 
range. Such symptoms were familiar enough, but these people 
were not like the usual exponents of " theolepsy " and " enthu- 
siasm." They were astonishingly upright, pure and honest ; 
they were serious; and they had in themselves inexplicable 
reserves of moral force and a happiness far beyond anything 
that the world knew. They were men transfigured, as they 
owned. Some would confess to wasted and evil lives, but 
something had happened, 2 which they connected with Jesus or 
a holy spirit, but everything in the long run turned upon 

Clearer heads came about them, and then, as they put it, 
the holy spirit fell upon them also. These men of education 
and ideas were " converted," and began at once to analyse their 
experience, using naturally the language with which they 
were familiar. It was these men who gave the tone to the 
groups of believers in their various regions, and that tone varied 
with the colour of thought in which the more reflective converts 
had grown up. A great deal, of course, was common to all regions 
of the world, the new story and the new experience, an un- 
philosophized group of facts, which now, under the stimulus of 
man's unconquerable habit of speculation, began to be interpreted 

1 See Burkitt's Early Eastern Christianity. 

2 See Justin, Apology, i, 14, a vivid passage on the change of character that has 
been wrought in men by the Gospel. Cf. Tert. ad Scap. 2, nee aliunde noscibilcs 
quani de emendatione vitiorum pristinorum. 


and to be related in all sorts of ways to the general experience 
of me h. No wonder there was diversity. It took centuries to 
achieve a uniform account of the Christian faith. 

The unity of the early church lay in the reconciliation with 
God, ,m the holy spirit, and Jesus Christ, a unity soon felt and 
treasured. " There is one body and one spirit, even as ye are 
called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one 
baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all and 
throuj f h all and in you all." l The whole body of Christians was 
conscious of its unity, of its distinctness and its separation. It 
was a " peculiar people " 2 God's own ; a " third race," as the 
heathen said. 3 

To go further into detail we may consider the recruits and 
thei : experience, their explanations of this experience, and the 
new life in the world. 

The recruits came, as the Christians very soon saw, from 
every race of mankind, and they brought with them much that 
was of value in national preconceptions and characteristics. 
The presence of Jew, Greek, Roman, Syrian and Phrygian, 
made it impossible for the church to be anything but universal ; 
and if at times her methods of reconciling somewhat incom- 
patible contributions were unscientific, still in practice she 
achieved the task and gained accordingly. Where the Empire 
failed in imposing unity by decree, the church produced it 

It was on Jewish ground that Christianity began, and it was 
from its native soil and air that it drew, transmuting as it drew 
them, its passionate faith in One God, its high moral standard 
and its lofty hopes of a Messianic age to come. For no other 
race of the Mediterranean world was the moral law based on 
the " categoric imperative." Nowhere else was that law written 
in the inward parts, in the very hearts of the people, 4 and 
nowhere was it observed so loyally. The absurdity and scrupu- 
losity which the Greek ridiculed in the Jew, were the outcome 
of his devotion to the law of the Lord ; and, when once the law 
| was reinterpreted and taken to a higher plane by Jesus, the 

1 Ephesians iv, 4. 2 i Peter ii, 7. 

3 Tertullian, ad Naf tones, i, 8, Plane, tertium genus dicimur . . . verum recogitate 
quos tertium genus dicitis principem locum obtineant, siquidem non ulla gens non 
I Christiana. 

4 Cf. Jeremiah xxxi, 31 a favourite passage with Christian apologists. 


old passion turned naturally to the new morality. It \*/as the 
Jew who brought to the common Christian stock the cone eption 
of Sin, and the significance of this is immense in the history 
of trie religion. It differentiated Christianity from all the 


religious and philosophical systems of the ancient world. 

'Tis the faith that launched point-blank her dart 

At the head of a lie taught Original Sin, 
The Corruption of Man's Heart. 

Seneca and the Stoics played with the fancy of man's being 
equal, or in some points superior, to God a folly impossible 
for a Jewish mind. It was the Jews who gave the world the 
"oracles of God" in the Old Testament, who invested Chris- 
tianity for the moment with the dignity of an ancient history 
and endowed it for all time with a unique inheritance of 
religious experience. Nor is it only the Old Testament that 
the church owes to the Jew ; for the Gospels are also his gift 
anchors in the actual that have saved Christianity from all 
kinds of intellectual, spiritual and ecclesiastical perils. And, 
further, at the difficult moment of transition, when Christian 
ideas passed from the Jewish to the Gentile world, there were 
Jews of the Hellenistic type ready to mediate the change. 
They of all men stood most clearly at the universal point of 
view ; they knew the grandeur and the weakness of the law ; 
they understood at once the Jewish and the Greek mind. ' It 
is hard to exaggerate what Christianity owes to men of this 
school to Paul and to "John," and to a host of others, 
Christian Jews of the Dispersion, students of Philo, and 
followers of Jesus. On Jewish soil the new faith died ; it was 
transplantation alone that made Christianity possible ; for if: 
was the true outcome of the teaching of Jesus, that the new 
faith should be universal. 

The chief contribution of the greek was his demand for this 
very thing that Christianity must be universal. He made no 
secret of his contempt for Judaism, and he was emphatic in 
insisting on a larger outlook than the Jewish. No man could 
seem more naturally unlikely to welcome the thoughts of Jesus 
than the "little Greek" (Graculus] of the Roman world ; yet 
he was won ; and then by making it impossible for Christianity 
to remain an amalgam of the ideas of Jesus and of Jewish law. 


the Greek really secured the triumph of Jesus. He eliminated 
the tribal and the temporary in the Gospel as it came from 
purely Jewish teachers, and, with all his irregularities of 
conduct and his flightiness of thought, he nevertheless set 
Jesus before the world as the central figure of all history 
and of all existence. 1 Even the faults of the Greek have 
indirectly served the church ; for the Gospels gained their 
place in men's minds and hearts, because they were the 
real refuge from the vagaries of Greek speculation, and 
offered the ultimate means of verifying every hypothesis. 
The historic Jesus is never of such consequence to us as when 
the great intellects tell us that the true and only heaven 
is Nephelococcygia. For Aristophanes was right it was the 
real Paradise of the Greek mind. What relief the plain 
matter-of-fact Gospel must have brought men in a world, 
where nothing throve like these cities of the clouds, would 
be inconceivable, if we did not know its value still. While 
we recognize the real contribution of the Greek Christians, 
it is good to see what Christianity meant to men who were 
not Greeks. 

There was one Christian of some note in the second century, 
whose attitude toward everything Greek is original and inter- 
esting. Tatian was "born in the land of the Assyrians." 2 
He travelled widely in the Graeco-Roman world, 3 and studied 
rhetoric like a Greek ; he gave attention to the great collections 
of Greek art in Rome monuments of shame, he called them. 
He was admitted to the mysteries, but he became shocked at 
the cruelty and licentiousness tolerated and encouraged by 
paganism. While in this mind, seeking for the truth, "it 
befel that I lit upon some barbarian writings, older than the 
dogmata of the Greeks, divine in their contrast with Greek 
error ; and it befel too that I was convinced by them, because 
their style was simple, because there was an absence of artifice - 
in the speakers, because the structure of the whole was in- 
telligible, and also because of the fore-knowledge of future 

1 Professor Percy Gardner (Growth of Christianity^. 49) illustrates this by 
comparison of earlier and later stages in Christian Art. On some early Christian 

ircophagi Jesus is represented with markedly Jewish features ; soon however he is 
idealized into a type of the highest humanity. 

2 Tatian, 42. 3 Id. 35. 


events, the excellence of the precepts and the subordination of 
the whole universe to One Ruler (TO TUJV oXwv /jLovap-^tKov). My 
soul was taught of God, and I understood that while Greek 
literature (TO. /xey) leads to condemnation, this ends our slavery 
in the world and rescues us from rulers manifold and ten 
thousand tyrants." 1 He now repudiated the Greeks and all 
their works, the grammarians who " set the letters of the 
alphabet to quarrel among themselves," 2 the philosophers with 
their long hair and long nails and vanity, 3 the actors, poets and 
legislators ; and " saying good-bye to Roman pride and Attic 
pedantry (\lsvxpo\oyta) I laid hold of our barbarian philo- 
sophy." 4 He made the first harmony of the Gospels an 
early witness to the power of their sheer simplicity in a world 
of literary affectations. 

Another famous Syrian of the century was Ignatius of 
Antioch, whose story is collected from seven letters he wrote, 
in haste and excitement, as he travelled to Rome to be thrown 
to the beasts in the arena his guards in the meantime being as 
fierce as any leopards. The burden of them all is that Jesus 
Christ truly suffered on the cross. Men around him spoke of a 
phantom crucified by the deluded soldiers amid the deluded 
Jews. No ! cries Ignatius, over and over, he truly suffered, he 
truly rose, ate and drank, and was no daemon without a body 
(Sai/u.6viov ao-to/xaroi/) none of it is seeming, it is all truly, truly, 
truly. 5 He has been called hysterical, and his position might 
make any nervous man hysterical death before him, his Lord's 
reality denied, and only time for one word Truly. Before we 
pass him by, let us take a quieter saying of his to illustrate the 
deepest thought of himself and his age " He that hath the 
word of Jesus truly can hear his silence also." 6 

The Roman came to the Church as he came to a new 
province. He gravely surveyed the situation, considered the 
existing arrangements, accepted them, drew up as it were a lex 
provincice to secure their proper administration, and thereafter 
interpreted it in accordance with the usual principles of Roman 

1 Tatian, 29. Cf. the account Theophilus gives of the influence upon him of the 
study of the prophets, i, 14. 

26. 3 2 5 . 4 35< 

6 Ignatius, Magn. 1 1 ; Trail. 9, 10 ; Smyrn. I, 2, 3, 12. 
' Ignatius, Eph. 15, 6 \6yov 'iT/trot KCKTIJ^VOS a\T)8us dtvarai KCU r^j 
airroO cUodeiv. 


law, and, like the procurator in Achaea, left the Greeks to 
discuss any abstract propositions they pleased. Tertullian and 
Cyprian were lawyers, and gave Latin Christendom the lan- 
guage, in which in later days the relations of man with his 
Divine Sovereign were worked out by the great Latin Fathers. 

The confession of Tatian, above cited, emphasizes as one of 
the great features of the barbarian literature its " monarchic " 
teaching " it sets man free from ten thousand tyrants " and 
this may be our starting-point in considering the new experi- 
ence. To be rid of the whole daemon-world, to have left the 
daemons behind and their " hatred of men," * their astrology, 2 
their immorality and cruelty, their sacrifices, and the terror of 
" possession " and theolepsy and enchantment, 3 was happiness 
in itself. " We are above fate," said Tatian, " and, instead of 
daemons that deceive, we have learnt one master who deceiveth 
not." 4 "Christ," wrote an unknown Christian of a beautiful 
spirit " Christ wished to save the perishing, and such mercy 
has he shown us that we the living do not serve dead gods, but 
through him we know the Father of truth." 5 " Orpheus sang 
to beguile men, but my Singer has come to end the tyranny of 
daemons," said Clement. 6 The perils of " meats offered to 
idols " impressed some, who feared that by eating of them they 
would come under daemoniac influence. With what relief 
they must have read Paul's free speech on the subject " the 
earth is the Lord's and the fullness thereof" "for us there is 
one God, the Father, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom 
are all things, and we through him." 7 " Even the very name of 
Jesus is terrible to the daemons " 8 the " name that is above 
every name." In no other name was there salvation from 
daemons, for philosophy had made terms with them. 

No one can read the Christian Apologists without remarking 
the stress which they lay upon the knowledge of God, which the 
new faith made the free and glad possession of the humblest. 

1 Tatian, 16, 17. Cf. Plutarch (cited on p. 107) on malignant daemons. See 
Tertullian, Apol. 22 ; Justin, Apol. ii. 5 ; Clem. Alex. Protr. 3, 41, on the works of 

1 Tatian, 7, 8. 

3 See Tertullian, de Idol. 9, on the surprising case of a Christian who wished to 
pursue his calling of astrologer a claim Tertullian naturally will not allow. 

4 Tatian, 9. 6 The so-called second letter of Clement of Rome, c. 3. 
Clem. Alex. Protr. 3. 7 I Cor. vi, etc. 8 Justin, Dial. c. Tryph. 30. 



" They say of us that we babble nonsense among females, half- 
grown people, girls and old people. No! all our women are 
chaste and at their distaffs our maidens sing of things divine," 
said Tatian, and rejoined with observations on famous Greek 
women, Lais, Sappho and others. Justin, always kindlier, 
speaks of Socrates who urged men to seek God, yet owned that 
" it would be a hard task to find the father and maker of this 
All, and when one had found him, it would not be safe to 
declare him to all," 1 but, he goes on, " our Christ did this by his 
power. No man ever believed Socrates so much as to die for 
his teaching. But Christ, who was known to Socrates in part, 
(for he was and is the Word that is in everything . . . ) on 
Christ, I say, not only philosophers and scholars (<j>i\6\oyoi) 
believed, but artisans, men quite without learning (iStwrai), and 
despised glory and fear and death." " There is not a Christian 
workman but finds out God and manifests him," said Tertullian. 2 
This knowledge of God was not merely a desirable thing in 
theory, for it is clear that it was very earnestly sought. To 
Justin's quest for God, allusion has been made " I hoped I 
should have the vision of God at once (/caro^ co-flat )" he says. 
" Who among men had any knowledge of what God was, before 
he came ? " 3 " This," wrote the fourth evangelist, " is eternal 
life that they may know thee, the one true God and Jesus 
Christ whom thou hast sent." 

But it is one thing to be a monotheist, and another to be a 
child of "Abba Father," and this is one of the notes of the 
early Christian. It is impossible to over-emphasize the signifi- 
cance of Christian happiness amid the strain and doubt of the 
early Empire. Zeno and Isis each had something to say, but 
who had such a message of forgiveness and reconciliation and 
of the love of God ? " God is within you," said Seneca ; but he 
knew nothing of such an experience as the Christian summed 
up as the " grace of God," " grace sufficient " and " grace abound- 

1 Tatian, 33 ; Justin, ApoL ii, 10. It may be noted that Justin quotes the famous 
passage in the Timceus (28 C) not quite correctly. Such passages "familiar in his 
mouth as household words " are very rarely given with verbal accuracy. Tertullian, 
ApoL 46, and Clement, Strom, v, 78, 92, also quote this passage. 

2 Apol. 46. Compare Theophilus, i, 2 ; "If you say 'Show me your God,' I 
would say to you, ' Show me your man and I will show you my God,' or show me 
the eyes of your soul seeing, and the ears of your heart hearing." 

3 ad Diogn. 8, I. 


ing." It is hard to think of these familiar phrases being new 
and strange the coining of Paul to express what no man had 
said before and this at the moment when Seneca was writing 
his " moral letters " to Lucilius. Verbal coincidences may be 
found between Paul and Seneca, but they are essentially verbal. 
The Stoic Spermaticos Logos was a cold and uninspiring dogma 
compared with "Abba Father" and the Spirit of Jesus it was 
not the same thing at all. The one doctrine made man self- 
sufficient in the other, "our sufficiency (iKavoTw) ls of God." 
It was the law of nature, contrasted with the father of the 
prodigal son " our kind and tender-hearted father " as Clement 
of Rome calls him l the personal God, whose " problem is ever 
to save the flock of men ; that is why the good God has sent 
the good shepherd." 2 

The more lettered of Christian writers like to quote Plato's 
saying that man was born to be at home with God (OIKCIW cxeiv 
TT/QO? Oeov) and that he was " a heavenly plant." Falsehood, 
they say, and error obscured all this, but now "that ancient 
natural fellowship with heaven " has " leapt forth from the dark- 
ness and beams upon us." 3 " God," says Clement, " out of his 
great love for men, cleaves to man, and as when a little bird has 
fallen out of the nest, the mother-bird hovers over it, and if 
perchance some creeping beast open its mouth upon the little 

Wheeling o'er his head, with screams the dam 
Bewails her darling brood ; 

so God the Father seeks his image, and heals the fall, and 
chases away the beast, and picks up the little one again." 4 

God has " anointed and sealed " his child and given him a 
pledge of the new relation the holy spirit. This is distinctly 
said by St Paul, 5 and the variety of the phenomena, to which he 
refers, is a little curious. Several things are covered by the 
phrase, and are classed as manifestations with a common origin. 
There are many allusions to " speaking with tongues " ; Paul, 
however, clearly shows that we are not to understand a miracu- 
lous gift in using actual languages, reduced to grammar and 

1 Clem. R. 29, I, TOV eiria/c?} KO! etfffTrXayxvov rrarfpa T)/JIUI>. 

- Clem. Alex. Protr. 116. 3 Clem. Alex. Protr. 25, a0vros dpxaia Koivwvia. 

4 Clem. Alex. Protr. 91, citing Iliad, 2, 315 (Cowper). 5 2 Cor. i, 22 : v, 5. 


spoken by men, as the author of the Acts suggests with a 
possible reminiscence of a Jewish legend of the law-giving from 
Sinai. The " glossolaly " was inarticulate and unintelligible ; 
it was a feature of Greek " mantic," an accompaniment of over- 
strained emotion, and even to be produced by material agencies, 
as Plutarch lets us see. Paul himself is emphatic upon its real 
irrelevance to the Christian's main concern, and he deprecates 
the attention paid to it. Other " spiritual " manifestations were 
visions and prophecies. With these Dr William James has 
dealt in his Varieties of Religious Experience, showing that in 
them, as in " conversion," there is nothing distinctively Christian. 
The content of the vision and the outcome of the conversion are 
the determining factors. Where men believe that an ordinary 
human being can be temporarily transformed by the presence 
within him of a spirit, the very belief produces its own evidence. 
If the tenet of the holy spirit rested on nothing else, it would 
have filled a smaller place in Christian thought. 

But when Paul speaks of the holy spirit whereby the 
Christians are sealed, calling it now the spirit of God and now 
the spirit of Jesus, he is referring to a profounder experience. 
Explain conversion as we may, the word represents a real thing. 
Men were changed, and were conscious of it. Old desires 
passed away and a new life began, in which passion took a new 
direction, finding its centre of warmth and light, not in morality, 
not in religion, but in God as revealed in Jesus Christ. " To 
me to live is Christ," cried Paul, giving words to the experience 
of countless others. Life had a new centre ; and duty, pain and 
death were turned to gladness. The early Christian was con- 
scious of a new spirit within him. It was by this spirit that they 
could cry " Abba, Father " ; it was the spirit that guided them 
into all truth ; it was the spirit that united them to God, 1 that 
set them free from the law of sin and death, that meant life 
and peace and joy and holiness. Paul trusted everything to 
what we might call the Christian instinct and what he called the 
holy spirit, and he was justified. No force in the world has 
done so much as this nameless thing that has controlled and 
guided and illumined whatever we call it. Any one who has 
breathed the quiet air of a gathering of men and women con- 
sciously surrendered to the influence of Jesus Christ, with all its 

1 Cf. Tatian, 15. 


sobering effect, its consecration, its power and gladness, will 
know what Paul and his friends meant. It is hardly to be 
known otherwise. In our documents the spirit is closely as- 
sociated with the gathering of the community in prayer. 

Freedom from daemons, forgiveness and reconciliation with 
God, gladness and moral strength and peace in the holy spirit 
of such things the early Christians speak, and they associate 
them all invariably with one name, the living centre of all. 
"Jesus the beloved" is a phrase that lights up one of the 
dullest of early Christian pages. 1 " No ! you do not so much 
as listen to anyone, if he speaks of anything but Jesus Christ 
in truth," says Ignatius. 2 " What can we give him in return ? 
He gave us light ... he saved us when we were perishing . . . 
We were lame in understanding, and worshipped stone and 
wood, the works of men. Our whole life was nothing but 
death. . . . He pitied us, he had compassion, he saved us, for he 
saw we had no hope of salvation except from him ; he called 
us when we were not, and from not being he willed us to be." s 
" The blood of Jesus, shed for our salvation, has brought to all 
the world the grace of repentance." 4 "Ye see what is the 
pattern that has been given us ; what should we do who by 
him have come under the yoke of his grace ? " 5 " Let us be 
earnest to be imitators of the Lord." 6 These are a few words 
from Christians whose writings are not in the canon. Jesus 
is pre-eminently and always the Saviour; the author of the 
new life ; the revealer of God ; the bringer of immortality. It 
made an immense impression upon the ancient world to see 
the transformation of those whom it despised, women, artisans, 
slaves and even slave-girls. Socrates with the hemlock cup 
and the brave Thrasea were figures that men loved and 
honoured. But here were all sorts of common people doing 
the same thing as Socrates and Thrasea, cheerfully facing 
torture and death " for the name's sake " and it was a name 
of contempt, too. " Christ's people " Christianoi was a base- 
Latin improvisation by the people of Antioch, who were 
notorious in antiquity for impudent wit : 7 it was a happy shot 

1 Barnabas, 4, 8. 2 Ign. Eph. 6, 2. 

3 II. Clem, i, 3-7 (abridged a little). 4 Clem. R. 7, 4. 

8 Clem. R. 16, 17. 6 Ign. Eph. 10, 3. 

7 Cf. Socr. e.h. iii, 17, 4, the Antiochenes mocked the Emperor Julian, 


and touched the very centre of the target. " The name " and 
" his name," are constantly recurring phrases. But it was not 
only that men would die for the name men will die for any- 
thing that touches their imagination or their sympathy but 
they lived for it and showed themselves to be indeed a " new 
creation." "Our Jesus" 1 was the author of a new life, and a 
very different one from that of Hellenistic cities. That 
Christianity retained its own character in the face of the most 
desperate efforts of its friends to turn it into a philosophy con- 
genial to the philosophies of the day, was the result of the 
strong hold it had taken upon innumerable simple people, who ' 
had found in it the power of God in the transformation of their 
own characters and instincts, and who clung to Jesus Christ 
to the great objective facts of his incarnation and his death 
upon the cross as the firm foundations laid in the rock against 
which the floods of theory might beat in vain. For now we 
have to consider another side of early Christian activity the 
explanation of the new experience. 

The early Christian community found "the unexamined 
life " as impossible as Plato had, and they framed all sorts of 
theories to account for the change in themselves. Of most 
immediate interest are the accounts which they give of the 
holy spirit and of Jesus. Here we must remember that in all 
definition we try to express the less known through the more 
known, and that the early Christians necessarily used the best 
language available to them, and tried to communicate a new 
series of experiences by means of the terms and preconceptions 
of the thinking world of their day terms and preconceptions 
long since obsolete. 

Much in the early centuries of our era is unintelligible until 
we form some notion of the current belief in spiritual beings, 
evidence of which is found in abundance in the literature of the 
day, pagan and Christian. A growing consensus among philo- 
sophers made God more and more remote, and emphasized the 
necessity for intermediaries. We have seen how Plutarch pro- 
nounced for the delegation of rule over the universe and its 
functions to ministering spirits. The Jews had a parallel belief 
in angels, and had come to think of God's spirit and God's in- 
telligence as somehow detachable from his being. In abstract 

1 II. Clem. 14, 2. 


thought this may be possible just as we think of an angle 
without reference to matter. The great weakness in the specu- 
lation of the early Empire was this habit of supposing that 
men can be as certain of their deductions as of their premisses ; 
and God's Logos, being conceivable, passed into common re- 
ligious thought as a separate and proven existence. 

At the same time there was abundant evidence of devil- 
possession as there is in China to-day. Modern medicine dis- 
tinguishes four classes of cases which the ancients (and their 
modern followers) group under this one head : Insanity, 
Epilepsy, Hysteria major and the mystical state. To men 
who had no knowledge of modern medicine and its distinctions, 
the evidence of the " possessed " was enough, and it was apt to 
be quite clear and emphatic as it is in such cases to-day. The 
man said he " had a devil " or even a " legion of devils." The 
priestess at the oracle said that a god was within her (ei/0eo?). 
In both cases the ocular evidence was enough to convince the 
onlookers of the truth of the explanation, for the persons con- 
cerned were clearly changed and were not themselves. 1 Plato 
played with the idea that poetry even might be, as poets said, 
a matter of inspiration. The poet could not be merely himself 
when he wrote or sang words of such transforming power. The 
Jews gave a similar account of prophecy the Spirit of the 
Lord descended upon men, as we read in the Old Testament. 
The Spirit, says Athenagoras to the Greeks, used the Hebrew 
prophets, as a flute-player does a flute, while they were in 
ecstasy (/car' eKa-rao-iv) 2 the holy spirit, he adds, is an effluence 
(aTroppoia) of God. 3 

The Christians, finding ecstasy, prophecy, trance, and 
glossolaly among their own members, and having before them the 
parallel of Greek priestesses and Hebrew prophets, and making 
moreover the same very slight distinction as their pagan 

1 See Tertullian, Apol. 22. 2 Athenagoras, Presbeia, 9. 

3 See a very interesting chapter in Philo's de migr. Abr. 7 (441 M), where he 
gives a very frequent experience of his own (/u/ptct/as iraQuv) as a writer. Sometimes, 
though he " saw clearly " what to say, he found his mind " barren and sterile " and 
went away with nothing done, with " the womb of his soul closed." At other times 
he " came empty and suddenly became full, as thoughts were imperceptibly sowed 
and snowed upon him from above, so that, as if under Divine possession (ACOTOX^S 
tvdtov), he became frenzied (KopvpavTiav) and utterly knew not the place, nor those 
present, nor himself, nor what was said or written." See Tert. de Anima, n, on the 
spirits of God and of the devil that may come upon the soul. 


neighbours between matter and spirit, and, finally, possessing 
all the readiness of unscientific people in propounding theories, 
they assumed an " effluence " from God, a spirit which entered 
into a man, just as in ordinary life evil demons did, but here it 
was a holy spirit. This they connected with God after the 
manner familiar to Jewish thinkers, and following the same lead, 
began to equate it with God, as a separate being. It is not at 
first always quite clear whether it is the spirit of God or of Jesus 
or even a manifestation of the risen Jesus. 1 

When we pass to the early explanations of Jesus, we come 
into a region peculiarly difficult. A later age obscured the 
divergences of early theory. Some opinions the church 
decisively rejected Christians would have nothing to do with 
a Jesus who was an emanation from an absolute and inconceiv- 
able Being, a Jesus who in that case would be virtually 
indistinguishable from Asclepios the kindly-natured divine 
healer. Nor would they tolerate the notion of a phantom- Jesus 
crucified in show, while the divine Christ was far away like 
Helen in Euripides' play. 2 " Spare," says Tertullian, " the one 
hope of all the world." 3 They would not have a " daimonion 
without a body." But two theories, one of older Jewish, and 
the other of more recent Alexandrian origin, the church 
accepted and blended, though they do not necessarily belong 
to each other. 

The one theory is esjpcially.Paul's sacred to all who lean 
with him to the Hebrew viewoTTm"ngs, to all who, like him, are 
touched with the sense of sin and feel the need of another's 
righteousness, to all who have come under the spell of the one 
great writer of the first century. A Jew, a native of a Hellenistic 
city and " no mean one" 4 a citizen of the Roman Empire, a 
man of wide outlooks, with a gift for experience, he passed from 

1 It may be remarked, in passing, that the contemporary worship of the Emperor 
is to be explained by the same theory of the possibility of an indwelling daimonion. 
It was helped out by the practice, which had never so far died out in the East and 
in Egypt, of regarding the King and his children as gods incarnate. See J. G. 
Frazer, Early History of Kingship. 

2 Tertullian, adv. Marc, iii, 8, nihil solidum abinani, nihil plenum a vacua perfici 
licuit . . . imaginarius operator ; imaginaria opera. 

:{ Tertullian, de came Christi, 5. 

4 His Tarsiot feeling is perhaps shown by his preference that women should be 
veiled. Dio Chrysostom (Or. 33, 48) mentions that in Tarsus there is much con- 
servatism shown in the very close veiling of the women's faces. 

PAUL 155 

Pharisaism to Christ. The mediating idea was righteousness. 
He knew his own guilt before God, and found that by going 
about to establish his own righteousness he was achieving 

At the same time a suffering Messiah was a contradiction 
in terms, unspeakably repulsive to a Jew. We can see this 
much in the tremendous efforts of the Apologists to overcome 
Jewish aversion by producing Old Testament prophecies that 
Christ was to suffer. Ila&rroV (subject to suffering) was a word 
that waked rage and contempt in every one, who held to con- 
temporary views of God, or even had dabbled in Stoic or 
similar conceptions of human greatness. But it seems that 
the serenity and good conscience of Christian martyrs impressed 
their persecutor, who was not happy in his own conscience ; and 
at last the thought came along familiar lines that Christ's 
sufferings might be for the benefit of others. And then he 
saw Jesus on the road to Damascus. What exactly happened 
is a matter of discussion, but Paul was satisfied he was " a 
man in Christ." 

Much might be said in criticism of Paul's Christology if it 
were not for Paul and his followers. They have done too much 
and been too much for it to be possible to dissect their great 
conception in cold blood. Paul's theories are truer than 
another man's experiences they pulse with life, they have (in 
Luther's phrase) hands and feet to carry a man away. The 
man is so large and so strong, so simple and true, so various in 
his knowledge of the world, so tender in his feeling for men 
"all things to all men" such a master of language, so 
sympathetic and so open he is irresistible. The quick move- 
ment of his thought, his sudden flashes of anger and of tenderness, 
his apostrophes, his ejaculations one feels that pen and paper 
never got such a man written down before or since. Every 
sentence comes charged with the whole man half a dozen 
Greek words, and not always the best Greek and the 
Christian world for ever will sum up its deepest experience in 
" God forbid that I should glory save in the cross of our Lord 
Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me and I 
unto the world." 

Close examination reveals a good^deal of 

in Paul, a curious way of playing with the text of Scripture, 


odd reminiscences of old methods, and deeper infiltrations of a 
Jewish thought which is not that of Jesus. Yet it does not 
affect our feeling for him he stands too close to us as a man, 
too much over us as the teacher of Augustine, Calvin and 
Luther a man, whom it took more genius to explain than the 
church had for fifteen centuries, and yet the man to whom the 
church owes its universal reach and unity, its theology and the 
best of the language in which it has expressed its love for his 

Paul went back to the Jewish conception of a Messiah. 
modified, in the real spirit of Jesus, by the thought of suffering. 
But when we put side by side the Messiah of Jesus and the 
Messiah of Paul, we become conscious of a difference. The 
latter is a mediator between God and man, making atonement, 
transferring righteousness by a sort of legal fiction, and implying 
a conception of God's fatherhood far below that taught by Jesus. 
At the same time Paul has other thoughts of a profounder and 
more permanent value. It is hard, for instance, to imagine that 
any change, which time and thought may bring, can alter a 
word in his statement that " God was in Christ, reconciling the 
world to himself" here there is no local or temporal element 
even in the wording. It may be noted that Paul has his own 
names for Jesus, for while he uses " Messiah " (in Greek) and 
" Son of God," he is the first to speak of " the Lord " and " the 
Saviour." Paul held the door open for the other great theory 
of the early church, when he emphasized the pre-existence of 
the heavenly Christ and made him the beginning, the centre and 
the end of all history. 

s, as we have seen, was not an original idea of the 
Christian world. It was long familiar to Greek philosophy, and 
Philo and the Stoics base much of their thought upon it. It 
must have come into the church from a Greek or Hellenistic 
source, perhaps as a translation of Paul's "heavenly Christ." 
As it stands, it is a peculiarly bold annexation from Philosophy. 
No Stoic would have denied that the Spermaticos Logos was in 
Jesus, but the bold identification of the Logos with Jesus must 
have been " foolishness to the Greek." Still in contemporary 
thought there was much to dispose men to believe in such an 
incarnation of the Logos in a human being, though there is no 
suggestion that a spiritual being of any at all commensurate 


greatness was ever so incarnated before. But the thought 
appealed to the Christian mind, when once the shock to Greek 
susceptibilities was overcome. Once accepted, it " solved all 
questions in the earth and out of it." It permitted the congenial 
idea of Greek theology to remain the transcendence of God 
being saved by this personification of his Thought. It was a 
final blow to all theories that made Jesus an emanation, a 
phantom or a demi-god, and it kept his historic personality well 
in the centre of thought, though leaving it now comparatively 
much less significance. 

Surveying the two accounts, Jewish and Greek, we cannot 
help remarking that they belong to other ages of thought than 
our own. Columbus, Copernicus and Darwin were neither 
philosophers nor theologians, but they have changed the 
perspectives of philosophy and theology, and we think to-day 
with a totally different series of preconceptions from those of 
Jew and Greek of the first century. The Greek himself never 
thought much of the " chosen race," and it was only when he " 
realized that Jesus was not a tribal hero, that he accepted him. 
To the Greek the Messiah was as strange a thought as to 
ourselves. To us the Logos is as strange as the Messiah was 
to the Greek. We have really at present no terms in which to 
express what we feel to be the permanent significance of Jesus, 
and the old expressions may repel us until we realize, first, that 
they are not of the original essence of the Gospel, and second, 
that they represent the best language which Greek and Jew 
could find for a conviction which we share that Jesus of^ 
Nazareth does stand in the centre of human history, that he 
has brought God and man into a new relation, that he is the 
personal concern of everyone of us, and that there is more in 
him than we have yet accounted for. 

Into the question of the organization adopted by the early 
Christians and the development of the idea of the church, it is 
not essential to our present purpose to inquire. Opinion varies 
as to how far we should seek the origin of the church in the- 
teaching and work of Jesus. If his mind has been at all rightly 
represented in this book, it seems to follow that he was not 
responsible either for the name or the idea of the church. 
Minds of the class to which his belongs have as a rule little or 
no interest in organizations and arrangements, and nothing can 


be more alien to the tone and spirit of his thinking than the 
ecclesiastical idea as represented by Cyprian and Ignatius. 
That out of the group of followers who lived with Jesus, a 
society should grow, is natural ; and societie^_Jnstinctiyely 
organize themselves^ The Jew offered the pattern of a 
theocracy, and the Roman of a hierarchy of officials, but it took 
two centuries to produce the church of Cyprian. The series of 
running fights with Greek speculation in the second century 
contributed to the natural and acquired instincts for order and 
system, particularly in a world where such instincts had little 
opportunity of exercise in municipal, and less in political, life. 
The name was, as Harnack says, a masterly stroke the 
" ecclesia of God " suggested to the Greek the noble and free 
life of a self-governing organism such as the ancient world had 
known, but raised to a higher plane and transfigured from a 
Periclean Athens to a Heavenly Jerusalem. Fine conceptions 
and high ideals clung about the idea of the church in the best 
minds, 1 but in practice it meant the transformation of the 
gospel into a code, the repression of liberty of thought, and the 
final extinction of prophecy. For the view that every one of 
these results was desirable, reason might be shown in the 
vagaries of life and speculation which the age knew, but it 
was obviously a departure from the ideas of Jesus. 

The rise of the church was accompanied by the rise of 
There is a growing consensus of opinion among 

independent scholars that Jesus instituted no sacraments, yet 
Paul found the rudiments of them among the Christians and 
believed he had the warrant of Jesus for the heightening which 
he gave to them. Ignatius speaks of the Ephesians " breaking 
one bread, which is the medicine of immortality (0a/o/za/coi/ 
aOavaaiai) and the antidote that we should not die " the 
former phrase reappearing in Clement of Alexandria. 2 That 
such ideas should emerge in the Christian community is natural 
enough, when we consider its environment a world without 
natural science, steeped in belief in every kind of magic and 
enchantment, and full of public and private religious societies, 
every one of which had its mysteries and miracles and its 
blood-bond with its peculiar deity. It was from such a world 

1 Tert. Apol. 39, Corpus sumus de conscientia religionis et discipline unitatt et 
speifoedere. 2 Ign- #& 20 ; Clem. Alex. Protr. 106. 


and such societies that most of the converts came and brought 
with them the thoughts and instincts of countless generations, 
who had never conceived of a religion without rites and 
mysteries. Baptism similarly took on a miraculous colour men 
were baptized for the dead in Paul's time and before long 
it bore the names familiarly given by the world to all such 
rituals of admission enlightenment (0amo7>io9) and initiation ; 
and with the names came many added symbolic practices in its 
administration. The Christians readily recognized the parallel 
between their rites and those of the heathen, but no one seems 
to have perceived the real connexion between them. Quite 
naively they suggest the exact opposite it was the daemons, 
who foresaw what the Christian rites (fepd) would be, and fore- 
stalled them with all sorts of pagan parodies. 1 

But, after all, the force of the Christian movement lay neither 
in church, nor in sacrament, but in men. "Jrlp\v,fljcl .CJucLstiaP't 
rise and spread-among men ? " asks Carlyle, " was it by institute 
and establishments, and well arranged systems of mechanic 
No ! . . . It arose in the mystic deeps of man's soul ; and 
spread by the ' preaching of the word,' by simple, altogel 
natural and individual efforts ; and flew, like hallowed fire, fi 
heart to heart, till all were purified and illuminated by it. H 
was no Mechanism ; man's highest attainment was accomplish 
Dynamically, not Mechanically." 2 Nothing could be more ji 
The Gospel set fire to men's hearts, and they needed to do not 
ing but live to spread their faith. The ancient evidence i 
abundant for this. The Christian had an " insatiable passion for 
doing good " 3 not as yet a technical term and he " did good " 
in the simplest kind of ways. " Even those things which you 
do after the flesh are spiritual," says Ignatius himself, " for you 
do all things in Jesus Christ." 4 "Christians," says a writer 
whose name is lost, " are not distinguishable from the rest of 
mankind in land or speech or customs. They inhabit no 
special cities of their own, nor do they use any different form of 
speech, nor do they cultivate any out-of-the-way life. . . . But 
while they live in Greek and barbarian cities as their lot may be 

1 Justin, ApoL i, 66, the use of bread and cup in the mysteries of Mithras ; 
Tertullian, de Bapt. 5, on baptism in the rites of Isis and Mithras, the mysteries of 
Eleusis, etc. 

2 Carlyle, Signs of the Times. (Centenary edition of Essays, ii, p. 70.) 

3 Clem. R. 2, 2, &K6peffTos w60os ets dyaOoTrodav. 4 Ign. Eph. 8, 2. 


cast, and follow local customs in dress and food and life 
generally, . . . yet they live in their own countries as sojourners 
only ; they take part in everything as citizens and submit to 
everything as strangers. Every strange land is native to them, 
and every native land is strange. They marry and have 
children like everyone else but they do not expose their 
children. They have meals in common, but not wives. They 
are in the flesh, but they do not live after the flesh. They 
continue on earth, but their citizenship is in heaven. They 
obey the laws ordained, and by their private lives they overcome 
the laws. ... In a word, what the soul is in the body, that is 
what Christians are in the world." 1 

" As a rule," wrote Galen, " men need to be educated in 

parables. Just as in our day we see those who are called 

Christians 2 have gained their faith from parables. Yet they 

^"ictimes ac^ exactly as true philosophers would. That they 

pise death is a fact we all have before our eyes ; and by 

le impulse of modesty they abstain from sexual intercourse 

,ome among them, men and women, have done so all their 

s. And some, in ruling and controlling themselves, and in 

ir keen passion for virtue, have gone so far that real philo- 

jhers could not excel them." 3 So wrote a great heathen, and 

isus admits as much himself. In life at least, if not in theory, 

, Christians daily kept to the teaching of their Master. 

Vhich is ampler ? " asks Tertullian, " to say, Thou shalt not 

;ill ; or to teach, Be not even angry ? Which is more perfect, 

to forbid adultery or to bid refrain from a single lustful look ? " 

There was as yet no flight from the world, though Christians 

had no illusions about it or about the devil who played so large 

a part in its affairs. They lived in an age that saw Antinous 

deified. 5 They stood for marriage and family life, while all around 

" holy " men felt there was an unclean and daemonic element in 

marriage. 6 One Christian writer even speaks of women being 

1 Auctor ad Diognetum, 5-6. 

2 He apologizes for the use of the name, as educated people did in his day, when 
it was awkward or impossible to avoid using it. It was a vulgarism. 

3 Galen, extant in Arabic in hist, anteislam. Abulfedee (ed. Fleischer, p. 109), 
quoted by Harnack, Expansion of Christianity ', i, p. 266. 

4 Tertullian, Apol. 45 ; cf. Justin, Apol. i, 15. 5 Cf. Justin, ApoL i, 29. 

6 The feeling referred to is associated with the primitive sense of the mystery of 
procreation and conception surviving, it is said, among the Arunta of Australia, and 
very widely in the case of twins ; see P^ndel Harris, Cult of the Dioscuri. 


saved by child-bearing. 1 Social conditions they accepted 
even slavery among them but they brought a new spirit into 
all ; love and the sense of brotherhood could transform every 
thing. Slavery continued, but the word "slave "is not found 
in Christian catacombs. 2 

Above all, they were filled with their Master's own desire to 
save men. " I am debtor," wrote Paul, " both to Greeks and to 
barbarians, wise and unwise." 3 If modern criticism is right in 
detaching the " missionary commission " (in Matthew) from the 
words of Jesus, the fact remains that the early Christians were 
" g m g i 11 * all the world " and " preaching the gospel to every 
creature " for half a century before the words were written. 
Why? "He that has the word of Jesus truly can hear his 
silence," said Ignatius ; and if Jesus did not speak these words, 
men heard his silence to the same effect. Celsus, like Julian 
long after him, was shocked at the kind of people to whom 
the gospel was preached. 4 

The Christian came to the helpless and hopeless, whom men 
despised, and of whom men despaired, with a message of the 
love and tenderness of God, and he brought it home by a new 
type of love and tenderness of his own. Kindness to friends 
the world knew; gentleness, too, for the sake of philosophic 
calm ; clemency and other more or less self-contained virtues. 
The " third race " had other ideas in all their virtues there 
was the note of " going out of oneself," the unconsciousness 
which Jesus loved an instinctive habit of negating self 
(aTrapvy'ia-aaOat eauroV), which does not mean medieval asceticism, 
nor the dingy modern virtue of self-denial. There was no 
sentimentalism in it ; it was the spirit of Jesus spiritualizing 
and transforming and extending the natural instinct of brother- 
liness by making it theocentric. Christians for a century or two 
never thought of ataraxia or apathy, and, though Clement of 
Alexandria plays with them, he tries to give them a new turn. 
Fortunately the Gospels were more read than the Stromateis 
and " Christian apathy " never succeeded. The heathen re- 
cognized sympathy as a Christian characteristic " How these 

1 Tim. 2, 15. Cf. Tert. adv. Marc, iv, 17, nihil impudtntius si ilk not sibifilios 
facitt qui nobis filios facerc non permisit auferendo conubium. 
a de Rossi, cited by Harnack, Expansion, i, 208 n. 
Romans 1, 14. 4 See p. 241 ; and cf. Justin, Apol. i, 15. 



Christians love each other ! " they said. Lucian bears the same 
testimony to the mutual care and helpfulness of Christians. " You 
see," wrote Lucian, " these poor creatures have persuaded them- 
selves that they are immortal for all time and will live for ever, 
which explains why they despise death and voluntarily give them- 
selves up, as a general rule ; and then their original law-giver 
persuaded them that they are all brothers, from the moment 
that they cross over and deny the gods of Greece and 
worship their sophist who was gibbeted, and live after his laws. 
All this they accept, with the result that they despise all worldly 
goods alike and count them common property." In a later 
century Julian, perhaps following Maximin Daza, whom he 
copied in trying to organize heathenism into a new catholic 
church, urged benevolence on his fellow-pagans, if they wished 
to compete with the Christians. It was the only thing, he 
felt, that could revive paganism, and his appeal met with 
no response. " Infinite love in ordinary intercourse " is the 
Christian life, and it must come from within or nowhere. No 
organization can produce it, and, however much we may have 
to discount Christian charity in some directions as sometimes 
mechanical, the new spirit of brotherhood in the world pre- 
supposed a great change in the hearts of men. 

It was not Stoic cosmopolitanism. The Christian was not 
" the citizen of the world " nor " the Friend of Man " ; he was a 
plain person who gave himself up for other people, cared for 
the sick and the worthless, had a word of friendship and hope 
for the sinful and despised, would not go and see men killed in 
the amphitheatre, and most curious of all was careful to have 
indigent brothers taught trades by which they could help them- 
selves. A lazy Christian was no Christian, he was a " trader in 
Christ." 1 If the Christians' citizenship was in heaven, he had a 
social message for this world in the meantime. 

Every great religious movement coincides with a new 
discovery of truth of some kind, and such discoveries induce a 
new temper. Men inquire more freely and speak more freely 
the truth they feel. Mistakes are made and a movement begins 

* DidachC) 12. fl 8 OVK ?x et T ^X*''? I '> fard. T^f\v ffvveffiv V/JLUV Trpovorjaare, 
dpyos fj,ed' vfj.uv frjcreTai xp ia " riav ^- f l 8e ov 6e\ei ourw Troietv, xpicrre {juropfa ^.^ 
K-pofffXtre b T&v TOIOVTUV. See Tert. ApoL 39, on provision for the needy and the !i 
orphan, the shipwrecked, ami those in jails and mines. 


for " quenching the spirit." But the gains that have been mi 
by the liberated spirits are not lost. Thus the early Christian 
rose quickly to a sense of the value of woman. Dr Verrall 
pronounces that " the radical disease, of which, more than of 
anything else, ancient civilization perished " was " an imperfect 
ideal of woman." l In the early church woman did a good many 
things, which in later days the authorities preferred not to 
mention. Thekla's name is prominent in early story, and the 
prophetesses of Phrygia, Prisca and Maximilla, have a place in 
Church History. They were not popular ; but the church was 
committed to the Gospel of Luke and the ministry of women to 
the Lord. And whatever the Christian priesthood did or said, 
Jesus and his followers had set woman on a level with man. 
" There is neither male nor female." The same freedom of 
spirit is attested by the way in which pagan prophets and 
their dupes classed Christians with Epicureans 2 they saw and 
understood too much. The Christians were the only people 
(apart from the Jews) who openly denounced the folly of 
worshipping and deifying Emperors. Even Ignatius, who is 
most famous for his belief in authority, breaks into independence 
when men try to make the Gospel dependent on the Old 
Testament " for me the documents (TO. apxeia) are Jesus 
Christ ; my unassailable documents are his cross, and his death 
and resurrection, and the faith that is through him ; in which 
things I hope with your prayers to be saved." 3 " Where the 
spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty," as Paul said. 

God and immortality were associated in Christian thought. 
Christians, said a writer using the name of Peter, are to be 
" partakers of the divine nature." " If the soul," says Tatian, 
" enters into union with the divine spirit, it is no longer help- 
less, but ascends to regions whither the spirit guides it ; for 
the dwelling-place of the spirit is above, but the origin of the 
soul is from beneath." 4 " God sent forth to us the Saviour and 
Prince of immortality, by whom he also made manifest to us 
the truth and the heavenly life." 5 The Christian's life is 
" hid with Christ in God," and Christ's resurrection is to the 

1 Euripides the Rationalist, p. 1 1 1 n. 

2 Lucian, Alexander, 38, Alexander said : " If any atheist, or Christian, or 
Epicurean comes as a spy upon our rites let him flee ! " He said !w xP lffTLayo fa, and 
the people responded ew 'EiriKOvpelovs. 

8 Ignatius, Philad. 8. 4 Tatian, 13. 6 II. Clem. 20, 5. 


iy church the pledge of immortality "we shall be ever^ 
\vith the Lord." For the transmigration of souls and " eternal 
re-dying," life was substituted. 1 " We have believed," said 
Tatian, " that there will be a resurrection of our bodies, after 
the consummation of all things not, as the Stoics dogmatize, 
that in periodic cycles the same things for ever come into being 
and pass out of it for no good whatever, but once for all," and 
this for judgment. The judge is not Minos nor Rhadamanthus, 
but " God the maker is the arbiter." 2 " They shall see him 
(Jesus) then on that day," wrote the so-called Barnabas, " wearing 
the long scarlet robe upon his flesh, and they will say ' Is this not 
he whom we crucified, whom we spat upon, and rejected ? ' " 3 
Persecution tempted the thought of what " that day " would mean 
for the persecutor. But it was a real concern of the Christian him- 
self. " I myself, utterly sinful, not yet escaped from temptation, 
but still in the midst of the devil's engines, I do my diligence 
to follow after righteousness that I may prevail so far as at 
least to come near it, fearing the judgment that is to come." 4 
Immortality and righteousness the two thoughts go together, 
and both depend upon Jes'ulf Christ. He is emphatically called 
" our Hope " a favourite phrase with Ignatius. 5 

Some strong hope was needed some ''anchor of the soul, 
sure and steadfast." 6 Death lay in wait for the Christian at 
every turn, never certain, always probable. The daemons whom 
he had renounced took their revenge in exciting his neighbours 
against him. 7 The whim of a mob 8 or the cruelty of a governor 9 
might bring him face to face with death in no man knew what 
horrible form. One writer spoke of " the burning that came 
for trial," 10 and the phrase was not exclusively a metaphor. 

1 See Tertullian, de Testim. Animce, 4, the Christian opinion much nobler than the 

2 Tatian,6. Cf. Justin, ApoL i, 8; and Tertullian, de Spectaculis, 30, quoted on p. 305. 

3 Barnabas, 7, g. Cf. Rev. i, 7. Behold he cometh with the clouds and every eye 
shall see him and they that pierced him. Cf. Tertullian, de Sped. 30, once more. 

4 II. Clem. 18, 2. 5 Ignatius, Eph. 21 ; Magn. II ; Trail, int. 2, 2 ; Philad. II. 

6 Hebrews 6,19. 

7 Justin, Apol. i, 5, the daemons procured the death of Socrates, /cat o'/iotas e0* TJ^V 
TO avTo tvepyovffi : 10, they spread false reports against Christians ; Apol. ii, 12 ; 
Minucius Felix, 27, 8. 

8 The mob, with stones and torches, Tert. Apol. 37 ; even the dead Christian was 
dragged from the grave, de asylo quodam mortis, and torn to pieces. 

9 Stories of governors in Tert. ad Scap. 3, 4, 5 ; one provoked by his wife becoming 
a Christian. 10 I. Peter 4, 12. 


" Away with the atheists where is Polycarp ? " was a 
shout at Smyrna the mob already excited with sight 01 
right noble Germanicus fighting the wild beasts in a sik. 
way." The old man was sought and found with the ^orcL 
" God's will be done " upon his lips. He was pressed t^/ curse 
Christ. " Eighty-six years I have been his slave/'- -lie said, 
"and he has done me no wrong. How can I blaspheme my 
King who saved me?" 1 The suddenness of these attacks, 
and the cruelty, were enough to unnerve anyone who was not 
" built upon the foundation." Nero's treatment of the Christians 
waked distaste in Rome itself. But it was the martyrdoms that" 
made the church. Stephen's death captured Paul. " I delighted 
in Plato's teachings," says Justin, "and I heard Christians 
abused, but I saw they were fearless in the face of death and 
all the other things men count fearful." 2 Tertullian and others 
with him emphasize that " the blood of martyrs is the seed of 
the church." It was the death of Jesus over again the last 
word that carried conviction with it. 

With " the sentence of death in themselves " the early 
Christians faced the world, and astonished it by more than their 
" stubbornness." They were the most essentially happy people 
of the day Jesus was their hope, their sufficiency was of God, 
their names were written in heaven, they were full of love for all 
men they had " become little children," as Jesus put it, glad 
and natural. Jesus had brought them into a new world of 
possibilities. A conduct that ancient moralists dared not ask, the 
character of Jesus suggested, and the love of Jesus made actual. 
" I can do all things," said Paul, " in him that strengtheneth 
me." They looked to assured victory over evil and they achieved ' 
it. " This is the victory that has overcome the world our 
faith." Very soon a new note is heard in their words. Stoicism 
was never "essentially musical " ; Epictetus announces a hymn to 
Zeus, 3 but he never starts the tune. Over and over again there 
is a sound of singing in Paul as in the eighth chapter of the 
Romans, and the thirteenth of First Corinthians* and it repeats 
itself. " Children of joy " is Barnabas' name for his friends. 5 

1 Martyrium Polycarpi, 3, 7-11. 2 Justin, ApoL ii, 12. 

3 D. i, 16, the hymn he proposes is quoted on p. 62. It hardly sings itself, and 
he does not return to it. The verbal parallel of the passage with that in Clement, 
Strom, vii, 35, heightens the contrast of tone. 

4 See Norden, Kunstprosa, ii, 509. 5 Barnabas, 7, I. 



f the will of Christ we shall find rest," wrote the unknown 
/r of " Second Clement." x " Praising we plough ; and 
.ging we sail," wrote the greater Clement. 2 " Candidates for 
angelhood, even here we learn the strain hereafter to be raised 
to God, the function of our future glory," said Tertullian. 3 
" Clothe thyself in gladness, that always has grace with God 
and is welcome to him and revel in it. For every glad man 
does what is good, and thinks what is good. . , . The holy 
spirit is a glad spirit . . . yes, they shall all live to God, who 
put away sadness from themselves and clothe themselves in all 
gladness." So said the angel to Hermas, 4 and he was right. 
The holy spirit was a glad spirit, and gladness joy in the holy 
spirit was the secret of Christian morality. Nothing could 
well be more gay and happy than Clement's Protrepticus. 
Augustine was attracted to the church because he saw it non 
dissolute hilaris. Such happiness in men is never without a 
personal centre, and the church made no secret that this centre 
was "Jesus Christ, whom you have not seen, but you love him ; 
whom yet you see not, but you believe in him and rejoice with 
joy unspeakable and glorified." 5 

1 II. Clem. 6, 7. 2 Strom, vii, 35. 3 de orat. 3. 

4 Hermas, M. 10, 31, the word is IXapos ; which Clement (I.e. ) also uses, con- 
joining it with o-e/wj's. 
8 i Peter, 1, 8. , 


IT is a much discussed question as to how far Jesus 
realized the profound gulf between his own religious 
position and that of his contemporaries. Probably, since 
tradition meant more to them, they were quicker to see de- 
clension from orthodox Judaism than a mind more open and 
experimental ; and when they contrived his death, it was 
with a clear sense of acting in defence of God's Law and 
God's Covenant with Israel. From their own point of view 
they were right, for thej-nmpph nf the j(jg^g of Jesiis^ was 1;he 
abolition of tribal religions and their supersession byj_ajQgw 
m ind or^ spirit _wjthjQc^ingTocaI or racial about it. 

The death of Jesus meant to the little community, which 
he left behind him, a final cleavage with the system of their 
fathers, under which they had been born, and with which was 
associated every religious idea they had known before their 
great intimacy began. It was a moment of boundless import 
in the history of mankind. Slowly and reluctantly they 
moved out into the great unknown, pilgrim fathers, uncon- 
scious of the great issues they carried, but obedient to an 
impulse, the truth of which history has long since established. 
Once again it was their opponents who were the quickest to 
realize what was involved, for affection blinded their own eyes. 
The career of Paul raised the whole question between 
Judaism and Christianity. He was the first to speak de- 
cisively of going to the Gentiles. The author of the Acts 
cites precedents for his action ; and, as no great movement 
in man's affairs comes unheralded, it is easy to believe that 
even before Paul " the word " reached Gentile ears. None 
the less the leader in the movement was Paul ; and whatever 
we may imagine might have been the history of Christianity 
without him, it remains that he declared, decisjyeJ^jmjJHfor 

all time, the church's independence of the synagogue. It is 

< . . 167 


not unlikely that, even before his conversion, he had grasped 
the fact that church and synagogue were not to be reconciled, 
and that, when " it pleased God to reveal his Son in him," he 
knew at once that he was in " a new creation " and that he 
was to be a prophet of b. new dispensation. 

There is no doubt that the hostile Jews very quickly x 
realised Paul's significance, but the Christians were not so 
quick. Paul was a newcomer and very much the ablest 
man among them they were "not many wise, not many 
learned," and Paul, though he does not mention it, was both. 
He was moreover proposing to take them into regions far 
beyond their range ; he had not personally known " the Lord " 
and they had ; and there was no clear word of Jesus on the Gentile 
question. There was a conference. What took place, Paul 
tries in the Galatians to tell ; but he is far too quick a thinker 
to be a master of mere narrative ; the question of Christian 
freedom was too hot in his heart to leave him free for re- 
miniscence, and the matter is not very clear. The author of the 
Acts was not at the council, and, whatever his authorities may 
have been, there is a constant suggestion in his writing that 
he has a purpose in view a purpose of peace between 
parties. Whether they liked the result or not, the Christian 
community seem loyally to have submitted themselves to 
" the Spirit of Jesus." " It seemed good to the holy spirit 
and to us " tells the story of their deliberations, whether they 
put the phrase at the top of a resolution or did not. Paul 
came to the personal followers of Jesus with a new and 
strange conception of the religion of their Master. They 
laid it alongside of their memories of their Master, and they 
heard him say " Go ye into all the world " ; and they went. 

The natural outcome of this forward step at once became 
evident. Paul did not go among the Gentiles to " preach 
circumcision," and there quickly came into being, throughout 
Asia Minor and in the Balkan provinces, many groups of 
Christians of a new type Gentile in mind and tradition, and 
in Christian life no less Gentile. They remained uncircum- 
cised, they did not observe the Sabbath nor any other 
distinctive usage of Judaism they were a new people, a 
"third race." Their very existence put Judaism on the de- 
fensive ; for, if their position was justified, it was hard to see 


what right Judaism had to be. It was not yet quite clear 
what exactly the new religion was, nor into what it might 
develop^ ; but if, as the Gentile Christians and their Apostle 
claimed, they stood in a new relation to God, a higher and a 
more tender than the greatest and best spirits in Israel had 
known, and this without the seal of God's covenant with 
Israel and independently of his law, then it was evident that 
the unique privileges of Israel were void, and that, as Paul put 
it, " there is neither Jew nor Greek." 

That part of the Jewish race, and it was the larger part, 
which did not accept the new religion, was in no mind to 
admit either Paul's premisses or his conclusions. They stood ' 
for God's covenant with Israel. Nor did they stand alone, for 
it took time to convince even Christian Jews that the old 
dispensation had yielded to a new one, and that the day of 
Moses was past. To the one class the rise of the Christian 
community was a menace, to the other a problem. The one 
left no means untried to check it. By argument, by appeals 
to the past, by working on his superstitions, they sought to 
make the Christian convert into a Jew ; and, when they failed, ' 
they had other methods in reserve. Themselves everywhere 
despised and hated, as they are still, for their ability and their 
foreign air, they stirred up their heathen neighbours against 
the new race. Again and again, in the Acts and in later 
documents, we read of the Jews being the authors of pagan 
persecution. 1 The " unbelieving Jew " was a spiritual and a 
social danger to the Christian in every city of the East. The 
converted Jew was, in his way, almost as great a difficulty 
within the community. 

It is not hard to understand the feeling of the Jews within 
or without the Church. Other races had their ancient histories, 
and the Jew had his a history long and peculiar. From the 
day of Abraham, the friend of God, the chosen race had been 
the special care of Jehovah. Jehovah had watched over them ; 
he had saved them from their enemies ; he had visited them 
for their iniquities ; he had sent them prophets ; he had given 
them his law. In a long series of beautiful images, which 
move us yet, Jehovah had spoken, through holy men of old, 
of his love for Israel. To Israel belonged the oracles of God 

1 Justin, Trypho, c. 17; Tert. adv.Jud. 13. 


and his promises. For here again the national consciousness of 
Israel differed from that of every other race. It was something 
that in the past God had spoken to no human family except 
the seed of Abraham ; it was more that to them, and to them 
alone, he had assured the future. Deeply as Israel felt the 
trials of the present, the Roman would yet follow the Persian 
and the Greek, and the day of Israel would dawn. The 
Messiah was to come and restore all things. 

" He shall destroy the ungodly nations with the word of his 
mouth, so that at his rebuke the nations may flee before him, 
and he shall convict the sinners in the thoughts of their 

" And he shall gather together a holy people whom he shall 
lead in righteousness ; and shall judge the tribes of his people 
that hath been sanctified by the Lord his God. 

"And he shall not suffer iniquity to lodge in their 
midst, and none that knoweth wickedness shall dwell with 
them. . . . 

" And he shall possess the nations of the heathen to serve 
him beneath his yoke ; and he shall glorify the Lord in a place 
to be seen of the whole earth ; 

" And he shall purge Jerusalem and make it holy, even as 
it was in the days of old. 

" So that the nations may come from the ends of the 
earth to see his glory, bringing as gifts her sons that had 

" And may see the glory of the Lord, wherewith God hath 
glorified her." 

So runs one of the Psalms of Solomon written between 
70 and 40 B.C. 1 Parallel passages might be multiplied, 
but one may suffice, written perhaps in the lifetime of 

" Then thou, O Israel, wilt be happy, and thou wilt mount 
upon the neck of the eagle, and [the days of thy mourning] 
will be ended, 

" And God will exalt thee, and he will cause thee to 
approach to the heaven of the stars, and he will establish thy 
habitation among them. 

"And thou wilt look from on high, and wilt see thine 

1 Psalm. Solom. xvii, 27-35. Ed - R Y le and James. 


enemies in Ge[henna], and thou wilt recognize them and 
rejoice, and wilt give thanks and confess thy Creator." l 

No people in the Mediterranean world had such a past 
behind them, and none a future so sure and so glorious before 
them none indeed seems to have had any great hope of the 
future at all ; their Golden Ages were all in the past, or far 
away in mythical islands of the Eastern seas or beyond the 
Rhine. And if the Christian doctrine was true, that great 
past was as dead as Babylon, and the Messianic Kingdom was 
a mockery Israel was "feeding on the east wind," and the 
nation was not Jehovah's chosen. At one stroke Israel was 
abolished, and every national memory and every national 
instinct, rooted in a past of suffering and revelation, and 
watered with tears in a present of pain, were to wither 
like the gardens of Adonis. No man with a human heart 
but must face the alternative of surrendering national for 
Christian ideals, or hating and exterminating the enemy of 
his race. 

So much for the nation, and what Christianity meant for 
it, but much beside was at stake. There was the seal of 
circumcision, the hereditary token of God's covenant with 
Abraham, a sacrament passed on from father to son and 
associated with generations of faith and piety. Week by 
week the Sabbath came with its transforming memories the 
11 Princess Sabbath," for Heine was not the first to feel the 
magic that at sunset on Friday restores the Jew to the " halls 
of his royal father, the tents of Jacob." Every one of their 
religious usages spoke irresistibly of childhood. " When your 
children shall say unto you ' What mean ye by this service,' 
ye shall say . . . ," so ran the old law, binding every Jew to 
his father by the dearest and strongest of all bonds. To 
become a Christian was thus to be alienated from the 
commonwealth of Israel, to renounce a father's faith and his 
home. If the pagan had to suffer for his conversion, the 
Jew's heritage was nobler and holier, and the harder to forego. 
Even the friendly Jew pleads, " Cannot a man be saved who 
trusts in Christ and also keeps the law keeps it so far as he 

1 Assumption of Moses, x, 8-10, tr. R. H. Charles. "Gehenna" is a restoration 
which seems probable, the Latin in terrain representing what was left of the word in 
Greek. See Dr Charles' note. 


can under the conditions of the dispersion, the Sabbath, 
circumcision, the months, and certain washings ? " 1 

But this was not all. Israel had stood for monotheism 
and that not the monotheism of Greek philosophy, a dogma 
of the schools consistent with the cults of Egypt and Phrygia, 
with hierodules and a deified Antinous. The whole nation 
had been consecrated to the worship of One God, a personal 
God, who had, at least where Israel was concerned, no hint 
of philosophic Apathy. The Jew was now asked by the 
Christian to admit a second God a God beside the Creator 
0eo? Trapa TOV Troirjrrjv TWV oXcov 2 ) and such a God ! 
JWR knw a ^ ahnnt J*g]]ff of Nazareth it was absurd to 
try to pass him off even as the Messiah. " Sir," said Trypho, 
" these scriptures compel us to expect one glorious and great, 
who receives from ' the Ancient of Days ' the * eternal 
Kingdom ' as ' Son of Man ' ; but this man of yours your 
so-called Christ was unhonoured and inglorious, so that he 
actually fell under the extreme curse that is in the law of 
God ; for he was crucified." 3 The whole thing was a paradox, 
incapable of proof. 4 " It is an incredible thing, and almost 
impossible that you are trying to prove that God endured to 
be begotten and to become a man." 5 

The Jews had a propaganda of their own about Jesus. 
They sent emissaries from Palestine to supply their country- 
men and pagans with the truth. 6 Celsus imagines a Jew 
disputing with a Christian, a more life-like Jew, according to 
Harnack, than Christian apologists draw, and the arguments 
he uses came from Jewish sources. Jesus was born, they said, 
in a village, the bastard child of a peasant woman, a poor 
person who worked with her hands, divorced by her hushand 
(who was a carpenter) for adultery. 7 The father was a soldier 
called Panthera. As to the Christian story, what could have 
attracted the attention of God to her? Was she pretty? 
The carpenter at all events hated her and cast her out. 8 

1 Justin, Trypho, 46, 47. The question is still asked ; I have heard it asked. 

2 Justin, Trypho, 50. 3 Justin, Trypho, 32 ; the quotations are from Daniel. 
4 Justin, Trypho, 48. 5 Justin, Trypho, 68. 

6 Justin, Trypho> 17, 108. 

7 Cf. Tert. de Spect. 30, fabri aut qucestuaricB filius. 

8 Origen, c. Cels. i, 28, 32, 39. The beauty of the woman is an element in the 
stories of Greek demi-gods. 


(" I do not think I need trouble about this argument," is all 
Origen says.) Who saw the dove, or heard the voice from 
heaven, at the baptism ? Jesus suffered death in Palestine for 
the guilt he had committed (TrX^/x/xeXr/arat/rci). He convinced 
no one while he lived ; even his disciples betrayed him a 
thing even brigands would not have done by their chief 
so far was he from improving them, and so little ground is 
there for saying that he foretold to them what he should suffer. 
He even complained of thirst on the cross. As for the 
resurrection, that rests on the evidence of a mad woman 
(Tra/oofo-T/oo?) or some other such person among the same 
set of deceivers, dreaming, or deluded, or " wishing to startle 
the rest with the miracle, and by a lie of that kind to give 
other impostors a lead." Does the resurrection of Jesus at all 
differ from those of Pythagoras or Zamolxis or Orpheus or 
Herakles " or do you think that the tales of other men both 
are and seem myths, but that the catastrophe of your play is a 
well-managed and plausible piece of invention the cry upon 
the gibbet, when he died, and the earthquake and the 
darkness ? " l The Christians systematically edited and 
altered the Gospels to meet the needs of the moment ; 2 but 
Jesus did not fulfil the prophecies of the Messiah " the 
prophets say he shall be great, a dynast, lord of all the earth 
and all its nations and armies." 3 There are ten thousand 
other men to whom the prophecies are more applicable than 
to Jesus, 4 and as many who in frenzy claim to " come from 
God." 5 In short the whole story of the Christians rests on no 
evidence that will stand investigation. 

Even men who would refrain from the hot-tempered 
method of controversy, which these quotations reflect, might 
well feel the contrast between the historic Jesus and the ex- 
pected Messiah between the proved failure of the cross and 
the world-empire of a purified and glorious Israel. And when 
it was suggested further that Jesus was God, an effluence 
coming from God, as light is lit by light even if this were 
true, it would seem that the Jew was asked to give up the 
worship of the One God, which he had learnt of his fathers, 
and to turn to a being not unlike the pagan gods around him 
in every land, who also, their apologists said, came from the 

1 c. Cels. ii, 55. 2 ii, 27. s ii, 29. * ii, 28. 5 i, 50. 


Supreme, and were his emanations and ministers and might 
therefore be worshipped. 

Thus everything that was distinctive of their race and their 
religion the past of Israel, the Messiah and the glorious 
future, the beautiful symbols of family religion, and the One 
God Himself all was to be surrendered by the man who*, 
became a Christian. We realize the extraordinary and com- 
pelling force of the new religion, when we remember that, in 
spite of all to hold them back, there were those who made the 
surrender and " suffered the loss of all things to win Christ and 
be found in him." Paul however rested, as he said, on revela- 
tion, and ordinary men, who were not conscious of any such 
distinction, who mistrusted themselves and their emotions, and 
who rested most naturally upon the cumulative religious ex- 
perience of their race, might well ask whether after all they 
wf tYjicr|if in VHrafcinor^with a sacred past whether, apart from 
subjective grounds, there were any clear warrant from outside 
to enable them to go forward. The Jew had of course oracles 
of God given by inspiration (OeoTrveva-ros 1 ), written by " holy 
men of God, moved by the holy spirit." These were his 
warrant. Here circumcision, the Sabbath, the Passover, and ' 
all his religious life was definitely and minutely prescribed in 
what was almost, like the original two tables, the autograph of 
the One God. The law had its own history bound up with 
that of the race, and the experience and associations of every 
new generation made it more deeply awful and mysterious. 
Had the Christian any Jaw ? had he any oracles, apart from the 
unintelligible glossolalies of men possessed (evOova-iwvres)? 
When Justin spoke of the gifts of the Spirit, Trypho interjected, 
" I should like you to know that you are talking nonsense." 2 

Not unnaturally then did men say to Ignatius (as we have 
seen), " If I do not find it in the ancient documents, I do not 
believe it in the gospel." And when Ignatius rejoined, "It is 
written " ; " That is the problem," said they. 3 It was their 
problem, though it was not his. For him Judaism is "a leaven 
old and sour," and " to use the name of Jesus Christ and yet 
observe Jewish customs is absurd (aroirov) " or really " to con- 
fess we have not received grace." 4 His documents were 

1 2 Tim. 3, 15. 2 Trypho, 39. 

5 Ign. PhUad. 8, 2. 4 Ign. Magn. 10, 3 ; 8, i. 


Jesus Christ, his cross and death and resurrection, and faith 
through him. 

" That is the problem " can it be shown from the in- 
fallible Hebrew Scriptures that the crucified Jesus is the 
Messiah of prophecy, that he is a " God beside the Creator," 
that Sabbath and Circumcision are to be superseded, that 
Israel's covenant is temporary, and that the larger outlook of 
the Christian is after all the eternal dispensation of which the 
Jewish was a copy made for a time? If this could be shown, 
it might in some measure stop the mouths of hostile Jews, and 
calm the uneasy consciences of Jews and proselytes who had 
become Christians. And it might serve another and a distinct 
purpose. It was one of the difficulties of the Christian that 
his religion was a new thing in the world. Around him were 
men who gloried in ancient literatures and historic cults. All 
the support that men can derive from tradition and authority, 
or even from the mere fact of having a past behind them, was 
wanting to the new faith, as its opponents pointed out. If, by 
establishing his contention against the Jew, the Christian could 
achieve another end, and could demonstrate to the Greek that 
he too had a history and a literature, that his religion was no 
mere accident of a day, but was rooted in the past, that it had 
been foretold by God himself, and was part of the divine 
scheme for the destiny of mankind, then, resting on the sure 
j ground of Providence made plain, he could call upon the Greek 
in his turn to forsake his errors and superstitions for the first 
I of all religions, which should also be the last the faith of 
| Jesus Christ. 

The one method thus served two ends. Justin addressed 
Ian Apology to Antoninus Pius, and one-half of his book is 
occupied with the demonstration that every major characteristic 
of Christianity had been prophesied and was a fulfilment The 
thirty chapters show what weight the sheer miracle of this had 
with the apologist, though, if the Emperor actually read the 
\Apology > it was probably his first contact with Jewish scripture. 
Some difference of treatment was necessary, according as the 
| method was directed to Jew or Gentile. For the Jew it was 
txiomatic that Scripture was the word of God, and, if he did 
grant the Christian's postulate of allegory, he was with- 
Iding from an opponent what had been allowed to Philo. 


The Greek would probably allow the allegory, and the first task 
in his case was to show by chronological reckoning that the 
greater prophets, and above all Moses, antedated the bloom of 
Greek literature, and then to draw the inference that it 
was from Hebrew sources that the best thoughts of Hellas had 
been derived. Here the notorious interest of early Greek 
thinkers in Egypt helped to establish the necessary, though 
rather remote, connexion. When once the priority of the 
Hebrew prophets had been proved, and, by means of allegory, 
a coincidence (age by age more striking) had been established 
between prophecy and event, the demonstration was complete. 
There could be only one interpretation of such facts. 

A number of these refutations of the Jew survive from 
early times. Justin's Dialogue with Trypho is the most 
famous, as it deserves to be. It opens in a pleasant Platonic 
style with a chance meeting one morning in a colonnade at 
Ephesus. 1 Trypho accosts the philosopher Justin " When I 
see a man in your garb, I gladly approach him, and that is 
why I spoke to you, hoping to hear something profitable from 
you." When Trypho says he is a Jew, Justin asks in what 
he expects to be more helped by philosophy than by his own 
prophets and law-giver. Is not all the philosophers' talk 
about God ? Trypho asks. Justin then tells him of his own 
wanderings in philosophy, how he went from school to 
school, and at last was directed by an old man to read the 
Jewish prophets, and how " a fire was kindled in my soul, 
and a passion seized me for the prophets and those men who 
are Christ's friends ; and so, discussing their words with 
myself, I found this philosophy alone to be safe and helpful. 
And that is how and why I am a philosopher." 2 Trypho 
smiled, but, while approving Justin's ardour in seeking after 
God, he added that he would have done better to philosophize 
with Plato or one of the others, practising endurance, con- 
tinence and temperance, than " to be deceived by lies and to 
follow men who are worthless." Then the battle begins, and it 
is waged in a courteous and kindly spirit, as befits philosophers, 
till after two days they part with prayers and goodwill for 
each other Trypho unconvinced. Other writers have less 

1 So says Eusebius, E. H. iv, 18. Justin does not name the city. 
* Trypho, 8. 


skill, and the features of dialogue are sadly whittled away. 
Others again abandon all pretence of discussion and frankly 
group their matter as a scheme of proof- texts. In what 
follows, Justin shall be our chief authority. 

We may start with the first point that Trypho raises. 
" If you will listen to me (for I count you a friend already), 
first of all be circumcised, and then keep, in the traditional 
way, the Sabbath and the feasts and new moons of God, and, 
in a word, do all that is written in the law, and then perhaps 
God will have mercy upon you. As for Christ, if indeed he 
has been born and already exists, he is unknown nay ! he 
does not even know himself yet, nor has he any power, till 
Elijah come and anoint him and make him manifest to all 
men. You people have accepted an empty tale, and are 
imagining a Christ for yourselves, and for the sake of him 
you are perishing quite aimlessly." l 

Salvation, according to the Jew, was inconceivable outside 
the pale of Judaism. " Except ye be circumcised, ye cannot 
be saved," men had said in Paul's time. Paul's repudiation of 
this assertion is to be read in his Epistle to the Galatians in 
his whole life and mind. But genius such as Paul's was not 
to be found in the early church, and men looked outside of 
themselves for arguments to prove what he had seen and 
known of his own experience and insight. 

Some apologists merely laughed at the Jew. Thus the 
brilliant and winsome writer known only by his Epistle to 
Diognetus has a short and ready way of dealing with Jewish 
usages, which is not conciliatory. " In the next place I think 
you wish to hear why Christians do not worship in the same 
way as the Jews. Now the Jews do well in abstaining from 
the mode of service I have described [paganism], in that they 
claim to reverence One God of the universe and count Him 
their master ; but, in offering this worship to Him in the 
same way as those I have mentioned, they go far astray. For 
the Greeks offer those things to senseless and deaf images 
and so give an exhibition of folly, while the Jews con- 
sidering they are presenting them to God as if He had need 
of them ought in all reason to count it foolery and not 
piety. For He that made the heaven and the earth and all 

1 Justin, Trypho, 8. 



that is in them, and gives freely to every one of us what we 
need, could not Himself need any of the things which He 
Himself actually gives to those who imagine they are giving 
them to Him. . . . 

" But again of their nervousness (\[so<f>o8ee$) about meats, and 
their superstition about the Sabbath, and the quackery (aXafot/e/a) 
of circumcision, and the pretence (eiptweia) of fasts and new 
moons ridiculous and worthless as it all is, I do not suppose 
you wish me to tell you. For to accept some of the things 
which God has made for man's need as well created, and to 
reject others as useless and superfluous, is it not rebellion 
(a0efju<TTov) ? To lie against God as if He forbade us to do 
good on the Sabbath day, is not that impiety ? To brag that 
the mutilation of the flesh is a proof of election as if God 
specially loved them for it ridiculous ! And that they 
should keep a look-out on the stars and the moon and so 
observe months and days and distinguish the ordinances of 
God and the changes of the seasons, as their impulses prompt 
them to make some into feasts and some into times of mourn- 
ing who would count this a mark of piety towards God and 
not much rather of folly ? 

" That Christians are right to keep aloof from the general 
silliness and deceit of the Jews, their fussiness and quackery, 
I think you are well enough instructed. The mystery of 
their own piety towards God you must not expect to be able 
to learn from man." 1 

This was to deal with the distinctive usages of Judaism on*' 
general principles and from a standpoint outside it. It would 
doubtless be convincing enough to men who did not need to 
be convinced, but of little weight with those to whom the 
Scriptures meant everything. Accordingly the Apologists 
went to the Scriptures and arrayed their evidence with spirit 
and system. 

We may begin, as the writer to Diognetus begins, with 
sacrifices. Here the Apologists could appeal to the Prophets, 
who had spoken of sacrifice in no sparing terms. Tertullian's 
fifth chapter in his book Against the Jews presents the evidence 
shortly and clearly. I will give the passages cited in a tabular 
form : 

1 ad Diogn. 3, 4. 


Malachi 1, 10: I will not receive sacrifice from your hands, 
since from the rising sun to the setting my name is 
glorified among the Gentiles, saith the Lord Almighty, 
and in every place they offer pure sacrifices to my name. 
Psalm 96, 7 : Offer to God glory and honour, offer to God 
the sacrifices of his name ; away with victims (tollite) and 
enter into his court. 
Psalm 51, 17 : A heart contrite and humbled is a sacrifice for 

Psalm 50, 14: Sacrifice to God the sacrifice of praise and 

render thy vows to the Most High. 

Isaiah 1, 1 1 : Wherefore to me the multitude of your sacrifices ? 
.... Whole burnt offerings and your sacrifices and the 
fat of goats and the blood of bulls I will not . . . Who 
has sought these from your hands ? 

Justin has other passages as decisive. Does not God say by 
Amos (5, 21) "I hate, I loathe your feasts, and I will not 
smell [your offerings] in your assemblies. When ye offer me 
your whole burnt offerings and your sacrifices, I will not receive 
them," and so forth, in a long passage quoted at length. And 

Jeremiah 7, 21-22 : Gather your flesh and your sacrifices and 
eat, for neither concerning sacrifices nor drink offerings 
did I command your fathers in the day that I took them 
by the hand to lead them out of Egypt. 1 

Next as to circumcision and the Sabbath. " You need a 
second circumcision," says Justin, " and yet you glory in the 
flesh ; the new law bids you keep a perpetual Sabbath, while 
you idle for one day and suppose you are pious in so doing ; 
you do not understand why it was enjoined upon you. And, 
if you eat unleavened bread, you say you have fulfilled the will 
of God." * Even by Moses, who gave the law, God cried " You 
shall circumcise the hardness of your hearts and stiffen your 
necks no more " ; 3 and Jeremiah long afterwards said the same 
more than once. 4 On the Sabbath question, Tertullian and 
the others distinguished two Sabbaths, an eternal and a 
temporal, 5 citing : 

1 Trypho, 22. 2 Ibid. 12. 3 Deut. 10, 16, 17 ; Trypho, 16. 

4 fcrtm. 4, 4; 9, 25 ; Trypho, 28. 6 Tert. adv.Jud. 4. 


Isaiah 1, 14 : My soul hates your sabbaths. 
Ezekiel 22, 8 : Ye have profaned my sabbath. 

The Jew is referred back to the righteous men of early days 
Was Adam circumcised, or did he keep the Sabbath ? or Abel, 
or Noah, or Enoch, or Melchizedek ? Did Abraham keep the 
Sabbath, or any of the patriarchs down to Moses ? 1 " But," 
rejoins the Jew, " was not Abraham circumcised ? Would not 
the son of Moses have been strangled, had not his mother 
circumcised him ? " 2 

To this the Christian had several replies. Circumcision 
was merely given for a sign, as is shown by the fact that a 
woman cannot receive it, " for God has made women as well 
able as men to do what is just and right." There is no 
righteousness in being of one sex rather than of the other. 3 
Circumcision then was imposed upon the Jews " to mark you 
off from the rest of the nations and from us, that you alone 
might suffer what now you are suffering, and so deservedly 
suffering that your lands should be desolate and your cities 
burnt with fire, that strangers should eat your fruits before 
your faces, and none of you set his foot in Jerusalem. For in 
nothing are you known from other men apart from the circum- 
cision of your flesh. None of you, I suppose, will venture to 
say that God did not foresee what should come to pass. And 
it is all deserved ; for you slew the Righteous one and his 
prophets before him ; and now you reject and dishonour so 
far as you can those who set their hopes on him and on the 
Almighty God, maker of all things, who sent him ; and in your 
synagogues you curse those who believe on Christ." 4 The 
Sabbath was given to remind the Jews of God ; and restrictions 
were laid on certain foods because of the Jewish proclivity to 
forsake the knowledge of God. 5 In general, all these com- 
mands were called for by the sins of Israel, 6 they were signs 
of judgment. 

On the other hand the so-called Barnabas maintains that 
the Jews never had understood their law at all. Fasts, feasts 

Austin, Trypho, 19; Tert. adv.Jud. 2; Cyprian, Testim. I, 8. Tertullian had 
to face a similar criticism of Christian life was Abraham baptized! de Bapt. 13. 
2 Tert. adv.Jud. 3. 3 Trypho, 23; Cyprian, Testim. I, 8. 

4 Trypho, 1 6 (slightly compressed). 
6 Trypho, 19, 20; cf. Tert. adv.Jud. 3. 6 Trypho, 22. 


and sacrifices were prescribed, not literally, but in a spiritual 
sense which the Jews had missed. The taboos on meats 
were not prohibitions of the flesh of weasels, hares and hyaenas 
and so forth, but were allegoric warnings against fleshly lusts, 
to which ancient zoologists and modern Arabs have supposed 
these animals to be prone. 1 Circumcision was meant, as the 
prophets showed, to be that of the heart ; evil daemons had 
misled the Jews into practising it upon the flesh. 2 The whole 
Jewish dispensation was a riddle, and of no value, unless it is 
understood as signifying Christianity. 

This line of attack was open to the criticism that it robbed 
the religious history of Israel of all value whatever, and the 
stronger Apologists do not take it. They will allow the Jews 
to have been so far right in observing their law, but they 
insist that it had a higher sense also, which had been over- 
looked except by the great prophets. The law was a series 
of types and shadows, precious till the substance came, which 
the shadows foretold. That they were mere shadows is shown 
by the fact that Enoch walked with God and Abraham was 
the friend of God. For this could not have been, if the 
Jewish contention were true that without Sabbath and circum- 
cision man cannot please God. Otherwise, either the God of 
Enoch was not the God of Moses which was absurd ; or else 
God had changed his mind as to right and wrong which was 
equally absurd. 3 No, the legislation of Moses was for a people 
and for a time ; it was not for mankind and eternity. It was 
a prophecy of a new legislator, who should repeal the carnal 
code and enact one that should be spiritual, final and eternal. 4 
Here, following the writer to the Hebrews, the Apologists 
quote a great passage of Jeremiah, with the advantage (not 
always possible) of using it in the true sense in which it was 
written. " Behold ! the days come, saith the Lord, when I 
will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with 
the house of Judah ; not that which I made with their fathers 
in the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out 
of Egypt ; which my covenant they brake, although I was an 

1 Barnabas, 10 ; cf. Pliny, N.H. 8, 218, on the hare ; and Plutarch, de hide et 
Osiride, 353 F, 363 F, 376 E, 381 A (weasel), for similar zoology and symbolism. 
Clem. Alex. Str. ii, 67 ; v, 51 ; refers to this teaching of Barnabas (cf. id. ii, 105). 

2 Barnabas, 9. s Trypho> 23. 4 Ibid. II. 


husband unto them, saith the Lord. But this shall be the 
covenant that I will make with the house of Israel : After 
those days, saith the Lord, I will put my law in their inward 
parts and write it in their hearts, and I will be their God and 
they shall be my people." 1 

With the law, the privilege of Israel passes away and the 
day of the Gentiles comes. It was foretold that Israel would 
not accept Christ " their ears they have closed " ; 2 " they 
have not known nor understood " ; 3 " who is blind but my 
servants ? " 4 " all these words shall be unto you as words of a 
book that is sealed." 5 " By Isaiah the prophet, God, knowing 
beforehand what you would do, cursed you thus " ; 6 and Justin 
cites Isaiah 3, 9-15, and 5, 18-25. Leah is the type of the 
synagogue and of the Jewish people and Rachel of "our 
church " ; the eyes of Leah were weak, and so are the eyes of 
your soul very weak. 7 No less was it prophesied that the 
Gentiles should believe on Christ " in thee shall all tribes of 
the earth be blest " ; " Behold ! I have manifested him as a 
witness to the nations, a prince and a ruler to the races. 
Races which knew thee not shall call upon thee and peoples 
who were ignorant of thee shall take refuge with thee." 8 

" By David He said ' A people I knew not has served me, 
and hearkened to me with the hearing of the ear.' Let us, 
the Gentiles gathered together, glorify God," says Justin, 
" because he has visited us ... for he is well pleased with 
the Gentiles, and receives our sacrifices with more pleasure 
than yours. What have I to do with circumcision, who have 
the testimony of God ? What need of that baptism to me, 
baptized with the holy spirit ? These things, I think, will 
persuade even the slow of understanding. For these are not argu- 
ments devised by me, nor tricked out by human skill, nay ! 
this was the theme of David's lyre, this the glad news Isaiah 
brought, that Zechariah proclaimed and Moses wrote. Do 
you recognize them, Trypho ? They are in your books no ! 
not yours, but ours for we believe them and you, when you 

l jerem. 31, 31 ; Trypho, 1 1 ; Tert. adv. fud. 3. 

2 Is. 6, 10 ; Trpyho 12 ; Cyprian, Testim. i, 3. 

3 Ps. 82, 5; Trypho, 124; Cyprian, Testim. i, 3. 

4 Is. 42, 19 ; Trypho, 123, where the plural is used. 

5 Is. 29, II ; Cyprian, Testim. i, 4. 6 Trypho, 133. 7 Trypho, 134. 
8 Cyprian, Testim. i, 21 ; Justin, Trypho, 12 ; Tert. adv. Marc, iii, 20. 


read, do not understand the mind that is in them." 1 And 
with that Justin passes on to discuss whether Jesus is the 
Messiah. Such a passage raises the question as to how far 
he is reporting an actual conversation. In his 8oth chapter 
he says to Trypho that he will make a book (<nWay) of their 
conversation of the whole of it to the best of his ability, 
faithfully recording all that he concedes to Trypho. Probably 
he takes Plato's liberty to develop what was said unless 
indeed the dialogue is from beginning to end merely a literary 
form imposed upon a thesis. In that case, it must be owned 
that Justin manages to give a considerable suggestion of life 
to Trypho's words. 

But, even if the law be temporary, and the Sabbath 
spiritual, if Israel is to be rejected and the Gentiles chosen, we 
are still far from being assured on the warrant of the Old 
Testament that Jesus is the Messiah, who shall accomplish 
this great change. Why he rather than any of the "ten 
thousand others" who might much more plausibly be called 
the Messiah ? 2 

To prove the Messiahship of Jesus, a great system of Old 
Testament citations was developed, the origins of which are 
lost to us. Paul certainly applied Scripture to Jesus in a free 
way of his own, though he is not more fanciful in quotation 
than his contemporaries. But he never sought to base the 
Christian faith on a scheme of texts. Lactantius, writing 
about 300 A.D., implies that Jesus is the author of the system. 
" He abode forty days with them and interpreted the Scriptures, 
which up to that time had been obscure and involved." 3 
Something of the kind is suggested by Luke (24, 27). But it 
is obvious that the whole method is quite alien to the mind 
and style of Jesus, in spite of quotations in the vein of the 
apologists which the evangelists here and there have attributed 
to him. 

We may discover two great canons in the operations of 
the Apologists. In the first place, they seek to show that all 
things prophesied of the Messiah were fulfilled in Jesus of 
N azareth ; ari'd, se(!6|lllly> Llial everytfting which befel Jesus was 
prophesied of^the Messiah. Ihese canoiTS need only to be 
stated to show the sheer impossibility of the enterprise to any- 

1 Trypho, 29. a c. Celt, ii, 28. * Lactantiui, dt mart, ftrstc. 2. 


one who attaches meaning to words, But in the early centuries 
of our era there was little disposition with Jew or Greek to do 
this where those books were concerned, whose age and beauty 
gave them a peculiar hold upon the mind. In each case the 
preconception had grown up, as about the myths of Isis, for 
example, that such books were in some way sacred and 
inspired. The theory gave men an external authority, but it 
presented some difficulties ; for, both in Homer and in Genesis 
as in the Egyptian myths, there were stories repugnant to 
every idea of the divine nature which a philosophic mind could 
entertain. They were explained away by the allegoric 
method. Plutarch shows how the grossest features of the Isis 
legend have subtle and spiritual meanings and were never 
meant to be taken literally that the myths are logoi in fact ; 
and Philo vindicates the Old Testament in the same way. 1 
The whole procedure was haphazard and unscientific ; it closely 
resembled the principles used by Artemidorus for the interpreta- 
tion of dreams a painful analogy. But, in the absence of 
any kind of historic sense, it was perhaps the only way in 
which the continuity of religious thought could then be main- 
tained. It is not surprising in view of the prevalence of 
allegory that the Christians used it they could hardly do 
anything else. Thus with the fatal aid of allegory, the double 
.thesis of the Apolo^ists'BeTanie^a^TeT^nd easier to maintain. 

The most accessible illustration of this line of apology is 
to be found in the second chapter of Matthew. We may set 
out in parallel columns the events in the life of Jesus and the 
prophecies which they fulfil. 

(a) The Virgin-Birth. Isaiah 7, 14 : Behold a virgin 

shall conceive. 

(b) Bethlehem. Micah 5, 2 : And thou, Bethle- 

hem, etc. 

(c) The Flight into Egypt. Hosea 11, I : Out of Egypt 

have I called my son. 

(cT) The Murder of the children. Jerem. 31, 15: Rachel weeping. 
(e) Nazareth. Judges 13, 5 : A Nazarene. 

1 Tertullian lays down the canon (adv. Marc, iii, 5) pleraque figurate portenduntur 
per cenigmata et alle^orias et parabolas, aliter intelligenda quam scripta sunt ; but 
(de resurr. carnis, 20) non omnia imagines sed et veritates> nee omnia umbra sed et 
corpora, e.g. the Virgin-birth is not foretold in figure. 


It is hardly unfair to say that the man who cited these 
passages in these connexions had no idea whatever of their 
original meaning, even where he quotes them correctly. 

Here is a fuller scheme taken from the Apology which 
Justin addressed to the Emperor Antoninus Pius. (The 
numbers on the left refer to the chapter in the first Apology?) 

32. Jesus Christ foretold by Gen. 49, lof: (the blessing of 

Moses. Judah). 

Numbers 24, 17: There shall 

dawn a star, etc. 

Jesus Christ foretold by Isaiah 11, I : the rod of Jesse, 
Isaiah. etc. 

33. Jesus Christ to be born Is. 7, 14: (the sign to 

of a virgin. Ahaz). 

34. Jesus Christ to be born at Micah 5, 2 : Thou, Bethlehem, 

Bethlehem. etc. 

35. The triumphal entry into 

The Crucifixion: the Cross. 

The Crucifixion : the 

The Crucifixion : the nails 

and the casting of lots. 

38. The Crucifixion : the 

The Crucifixion : the 

The Crucifixion : the 


Zech. 9, 9 : Thy king cometh 

riding on an ass, etc. 
Is. 9, 6 : The government upon 

his shoulders. 
Is. 65, 2 : I have stretched out 

my hands, etc. 
Is. 58, 2 : They ask me for 

judgment, etc. 
Psalm 22, 16, 18: They 

pierced my feet and my 

hands ; they cast lots upon 

my raiment. 

Is. 50, 6-8 : I gave my back 
to the lashes and my cheeks 
to blows, etc. 

Ps. 22, 7 : they wagged the 
head, saying, etc. 

Ps. 3, 5 : I slept and slumbered 
and I rose up (oyforv) be- 
cause the Lord laid hold of 


39. The sending of the twelve 


40. The proclamation of the 


Christ, Pilate, the Jews 
and Herod. 

41. Christ to reign after the 


45. The Ascension. 

47. The desolation of Jeru- 

48. The miracles of Christ. 

Christ's death. 

49. The Gentiles to find Christ 

but not the Jews. 

50. Christ's humiliation and 
the glorious second 

51. His sufferings, origin, 

reign and ascension. 
His second coming. 

Is. 2, 3 f.: Out of Sion shall go 
forth the law. 

Ps. 19, 2-5 : Day unto day, 

Psatms I and 2 : cited in 


i Chron. 16, 23, 25-31 : (a 
psalm). Cf. Ps. 96, I, 2, 
4-10, with ending: "The 
Lord hath reigned from the 

Ps. 110, 1-3 : Sit thou at my 
right hand, etc. 

Is. 64, i o- 1 2 : Sion has become 

desert, etc. 
Is. 1, 7, and Jer. 50, 3 : Their 

land is desert. 

Is. 35, 5, 6: The lame shall 
leap . . . the dead shall rise 
and walk, etc. 

Is. 57, i f.: Behold, how the 
Just Man has perished, etc. 

Is. 65, 1-3 : I was visible to 
them that asked not for me 
... I spread out my hands 
to a disobedient people. 

Is. 53, 12 : For that they gave 
his soul to death ... he 
shall be exalted. 

Is. 52, 13-53, 8 : ... he was 
wounded, etc. 

Is. 53, 8-12. 

"Jeremiah " = Daniel 7, 13, as 
it were a son of man cometh 
upon the clouds and his 
angels with him. 


52. The final resurrection. 

53. More Gentiles than Jews 
will believe. 

60. The Cross foretold in the 

brazen serpent. 

6 1. Baptism. 

Ezek. 37, 7-8 : Bone shall be 
joined to bone. 

Is. 45, 23 : Every knee shall 
bow to the Lord. 

Is. 66, 24 : The worm shall 
not sleep nor the fire be 

Also a composite quotation 
with phrases mingled from 
Isaiah and Zechariah, at- 
tributed to the latter. 

Is. 54, i : Rejoice, O barren, 

" Isaiah ' 

Num. 21, S: If ye look at this 
type(rir7rft>) I believe ye shall 
be saved in it (/ aurw), 

Is. 1, 16: Wash you ... I 
will whiten as wool. 

= Jerem. 9, 26 : 
uncircumcised in 

What in the Apology is a bare outline, is developed at 
great length and with amazing ingenuity in the dialogue 
with Trypho. We may begin with the question of a " God 
beside the Creator." 

When Moses wrote in Genesis (1, 26) " And God said, ' Let 
us make man in our image after our likeness,'" and again 
(3, 22) " And the Lord God said, ' Behold the man is become 
as one of us,' " * why did he use the plural, unless there is a 
God beside God ? Again, when Sodom is destroyed why does 
the holy text say " The Lord rained upon Sodom and Gomorrha 
sulphur and fire from the Lord from heaven " ? 2 And again 
in the Psalms (110) what is meant by " The Lord said unto 
my Lord " ? 3 and by " Thy throne, O God, is for ever and 
ever . . . therefore God, thy God, hath anointed thee with the 
oil of gladness above thy fellows ? " 4 

The Old Testament abounds in theophanies, which are 

1 Trypho, 62, 129 ; Barnabas, 5, 5 ; Tert. adv. Prax. 12. 
a Trypho, 56. 3 Ibid. 56. * Ibid. 56. 


brought up in turn. Justin cites the three men who appeared 
to Abraham " they were angels," says Trypho, and a long 
argument follows to show from the passage that one of them 
is not to be explained as an angel, 1 nor of course as the Creator 
of all things. Trypho owns this. Justin pauses at his sugges- 
tion to discuss the meal which Abraham had served, but is 
soon caught up with the words : " Now, come, show us that 
this God who appeared to Abraham and is the servant of God, 
the Maker of all, was born of a virgin, and became, as you 
said, a man of like passions with all men." But Justin has 
more evidence to unfold before he reaches that stage. Without 
following the discussion as it sways from point to point, we may 
take the passage in which he recapitulates this line of argument. 
" I think I have said enough, so that, when my God says ' God 
went up from Abraham/ or ' The Lord spoke to Moses,' or 
' The Lord descended to see the tower which the sons of men 
had built,' or ' The Lord shut the ark of Noah from without,' 
you will not suppose the unbegotten God Himself went down 
or went up. For the ineffable Father and Lord of all neither 
comes anywhere, nor ' walks ' [as in the garden of Eden], nor 
sleeps, nor rises, but abides in his own region wherever it is, 
seeing keenly and hearing keenly, but not with eyes or ears, 
but by power unspeakable ; and he surveys all things and 
knows all things, and none of us escapes his notice ; nor does 
he move, nor can space contain him, no, nor the whole 
universe, him, who was before the universe was made." 2 

Who then was it who walked in the garden, who wrestled with 
Jacob, who appeared in arms to Joshua, who spoke with Moses and 
with Abraham, who shut Noah into the ark, who was the fourth 
figure in the fiery furnace ? Scripture gives us a key. Can the'. 
Jew say, who it is whom Ezekiel calls the "angel of great counsel," 
and the " man " ; whom Daniel describes " as the Son of man " ; 
whom Isaiah called " child," and David " Christ " and " God 
adored"; whom Moses called "Joseph" and "Jacob" and 
" the star " ; whom Zechariah called " the daystar " ; whom 

1 Trypho, 56, 57. 

2 Trypho, 127. Tert. adv. Marc, ii, 27. Qucecunque cxigitis deo digna, habebuntut 
in patre invisibili incongressibilique et placido et, ut ita dixerim, philosophorum deo. 
Qu&cunque autem ut indigna reprehenditts, deputabunturinfilio, etc. Cf. on the dis- 
tinction Tert. adv. Prax. 14 ff. Cf. the language of Celsus on God "descending," see 
p. 248. 


Isaiah again called the " sufferer " (iraOrjTos), " Jacob " and 
" Israel " ; whom others have named " the Rod," " the Flower," 
" the Chief Corner-stone " and " the Son of God " ? l The 
answer is more clearly given by Solomon in the eighth chapter 
of Proverbs it is the Divine Wisdom, to whom all these 
names apply. When it is said " Let us make man," it is to be 
understood that the Ineffable communicated his design to his 
Wisdom, his Logos or Son, and the Son made man. The Son 
rained upon Sodom the fire and brimstone from the Father. It 
was the Son who appeared to men in all the many passages 
cited the Son, Christ the Lord, God and Son of God insepar- 
able and unseverable from the Father, His Wisdom and His 
Word and His Might (Suva/mis). 2 

But, while all this might be accepted by a Jew, it still seemed 
to Trypho that it was " paradoxical, and foolish, too," to say 
that Christ could be God before all the ages, and then tolerate 
to be born a man, and yet " not a man of men." The offence 
of the Cross also remained. The Apologist began by explain- 
ing the mysteries of the two comings of Christ, first in humilia- 
tion, and afterwards in glory, as Jacob prophesied in his last 
words. 3 For the First Coming Tertullian quotes Isaiah " he 
is led as a sheep to the slaughter " ; and the Psalms " made 
a little lower than the angels," " a worm and not a man " ; 
while the Second Coming is to be read of in Daniel and the 
forty-fifth Psalm, and in the more awful passage of Zechariah 
" and then they shall know him whom they pierced." 4 The 
paschal lamb is a type of the First Coming especially as it was 
to be roasted whole and trussed like a cross ; and the two goats 
of Leviticus (16) are types of the two Comings. 5 

" And now," says Justin, u I took up the argument again to 
show that he was born of a virgin, and that it had been pro- 
phesied by Isaiah that he should be born of a virgin ; and I 
again recited the prophecy itself. This is it : ' And the Lord 
said moreover unto Ahaz, saying : ' Ask for thyself a sign from 
the Lord thy God in the depth or in the height. And Ahaz 

1 Trypho, 126. Other titles are quoted by Justin, Trypho, 61. 

2 Trypho, 128. Cf. Tertullian, adv. Marc, ii, 27, Jlle cst qui descendit, ille qui 
interrogat, ille qui postulat, ille qui jurat ; adv. Prax. 15, Filius itaque est q ui. . . . 

8 Gen. 49, 8-12 ; Trypho, 52, 53 ; Apol. i, 32 ; Cyprian, Tcstim. i, 21. 

4 Tert. adv.Jud. 14. 5 Trypho, 40 ; Tert. adv.Jud. 14 ; Barnabas, 7. 


said : I will not ask nor tempt the Lord. And Isaiah said : 
Hear ye then, O house of David ! Is it a little thing with you 
to strive with men ? and how will ye strive with the Lord ? 
Therefore shall the Lord himself give you a sign. Behold, the 
virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his 
name Emmanuel. Butter and honey shall he eat. Before he 
shall either have knowledge or choose evil, he shall choose 
good ; because, before the child knows evil or good, he refuses 
evil to choose good. Because, before the child knows to call 
father or mother, he shall take the power of Damascus and the 
spoils of Samaria before the King of the Assyrians. And the 
land shall be taken, which thou shalt bear hardly from before 
the face of two kings. But God will bring upon thee, and 
upon thy people, and upon the house of thy father, days which 
have never come, from the day when Ephraim removed from 
Judah the King of the Assyrians.' And I added, ' That, in the 
family of Abraham according to the flesh, none has ever yet 
been born of a virgin, or spoken of as so born, except our 
Christ, is manifest to all.' " It may be noted that the passage 
is not only misquoted, but is a combination of clauses from 
two distinct chapters. 1 The explanation is perhaps that Justin 
found it so in a manual of proof-texts and did not consult the 
original. Similar misquotations in other authors have suggested 
the same explanation. 

" Trypho rejoined : ' The scripture has not : Behold the 
virgin shall conceive and bear a son ; but : Behold the young 
woman shall conceive and bear a son : and the rest as you 
said. The whole prophecy was spoken of Hezekiah and was 
fulfilled of him. In the myths of the Greeks it is said that 
Perseus was born of Danae, when she was a virgin after their 
so-called Zeus had come upon her in the form of gold. You 
ought to be ashamed to tell the same story as they do. You 
would do better to say this Jesus was born a man of men, and 
if you show from the Scriptures that he is the Christ say 
that it was by his lawful and perfect life that he was counted 
worthy of being chosen as Christ. Don't talk miracles of that 
kind, or you will be proved to talk folly beyond even that of 
the Greeks.'" 2 

Trypho has the Hebrew text behind him, which says 

) 66. Isaiah vii and viii. 2 Trypho, 67. 


nothing about a virgin, though the Septuagint has the word. 
The sign given to Ahaz has a close parallel in a prophecy of 
Muhammad. Before he became known, an old man foretold 
that a great prophet should come, and on being challenged for a 
sign he pointed to a boy lying in rugs by the camp-fire " That 
boy should see the prophet " ; and he did. Isaiah's sign is 
much the same ; a young woman shall conceive and have a son, 
and before that son is two or three years old, Damascus and 
Syria will fall before the King of Assyria. 

But Justin and the Apologists are not to be diverted. As 
for Danae, the Devil (StdftoXos) has there anticipated the fulfil- 
ment of God's prophecy, as in many other instances, e.g. : 
Dionysus rode an ass, he rose from the dead and ascended to 
heaven ; Herakles is a parody of the verse in Psalm xix the 
strong man rejoicing to run a race, a Messianic text ; 
iEsculapius raised the dead ; and the cave of Mithras is 
Daniel's " stone cut without hands from the great mountains." 
" I do not believe your teachers ; they will not admit that the 
seventy elders of Ptolemy, King of Egypt, translated well, but 
they try to translate for themselves. And I should like you to 
know that they have cut many passages out of the versions made 
by Ptolemy's elders which prove expressly that this man, who was 
crucified, was prophesied of as God and man, crucified and 
slain. I know that all your race deny this ; so, in discussions 
of this kind I do not quote those passages, but I have recourse 
to such as come from what you still acknowledge." 1 The 
objection to the rendering " young woman " is that it completely 
nullifies the sign given to Ahaz, for children are born of young 
women every day " what would really be a sign and would 
give confidence to mankind, to wit, that the firstborn of all 
creations should take flesh and really be born a child of a virgin 
womb that was what he proclaimed beforehand by the pro- 
phetic spirit." 2 

The whole story is parable. It would be absurd to suppose 
that an infant could be a warrior and reduce great states. The 
spoils are really the gifts of the Magi, as is indicated by 
passages in Zechariah (" he shall gather all the strength of the 
jpeoples round about, gold and silver," 14, 14) and the seventy 
(second Psalm (" Kings of the Arabs and of Saba shall bring 

1 Trypho, 71. - Trypho, 84. Cf. Tert. adv. Jud. 9 = adv. Marc, iii, 13. 


gifts to him ; and to him shall be given gold from the 
East"). Samaria again is a common synonym with the pro- 
phets for idolatry. Damascus means the revolt of the Magi 
from the evil daemon who misdirected their arts to evil. The 
King of Assyria stands, says Justin, for King Herod, and so 
says Tertullian, writing against Marcion, though in the tract 
Against the Jews (if it is Tertullian's) he says the devil is 
intended. 1 The usual passages from Micah and Jeremiah are 
cited to add Bethlehem and the Murder of the infants to the 
prophetic story. 

" At this Trypho, with some hint of annoyance, 
but overawed by the Scriptures, as his face showed, 
said to me : ' God's words are holy, but your expositions 
[or translations] are artificial or blasphemous, I should 
say.' " 2 

To complete the proof, it is shown that the very name of 
Jesus was foretold. When Moses changed the name of his 
successor from Auses to Jesus, it was a prophecy, as Scripture 
shows. " The Lord said unto Moses : Say to this people, Behold 
I send my angel before thy face that he may guard thee in 
the way, that he may lead thee into the land that I have 
prepared for thee. Give heed unto him ... for he will not 
let thee go, for my name is in him." 3 This is confirmed by 
Zechariah's account of the High Priest Joshua. Furthermore, 
the chronology of the book of Daniel, when carefully worked 
out, proves to have contained the prediction of the precise date 
at which Christ should come, and at that precise date Christ 

Barnabas discovers another prophecy of Jesus in an un- 
likely place. " Learn, children of love," he says, " that Abraham, 
who first gave circumcision, looked forward in spirit unto Jesus, 
when he circumcised, for he received dogmata in three letters. 
For it saith : And Abraham circumcised of his house men 18 
and 300. What then was the knowledge given unto him? 
Mark that it says 18 first, and then after a pause 300. 18 
[IH in Greek notation] there thou hast Jesus. And because ; 
the cross in T [=300 in Greek notation] was to have grace, it i 

1 Trypho, 77: Tert. adv. Jud, 9 = adv. Marc, iii, 13; both referring to 
Psalm 71. 

3 Trypho, 79. s Trypho, 75 ; Exodus 23, 20. 


saith 300 as well. It shows Jesus in the two letters, and in 
the one the cross." l 

We now reach ''he prophecies of the cross, and, as the 
method is plain, a few references may suffice, taken this time 
from Tertullian (c. 10) : 

Genesis 22, 6 : Isaac carrying the wood for the sacrifice of 


Genesis 37, 28 : Joseph sold by his brethren. 
Deuteronomy 33, 17 : Moses' blessing of Joseph. (The unicorn's 

horns, with some arrangement, form a cross : cf. Psalm 22). 
Exodus 1 7, ii : Moses with his arms spread wide. 
Numbers 21, 9 : The brazen serpent. 
Psalm 96, 10 : The Lord hath reigned from the tree, e ligno 

(though the Jews have cut out the last words). 
Isaiah 9, 6 : The government upon his shoulder. 
Jeremiah 11, 19 : Let us cast wood (lignum) into his bread. 
Isaiah 53, 8, 9 : For the transgression of my people is he 

stricken . . . and his sepulture is taken from the midst 

(i.e. the resurrection). 
Amos 8, 9 : I will cause the sun to go down at noon. 

For a long time before Justin was done with his exposition, 
Trypho was silent the better part, perhaps, in all controversy. 
At last, writes Justin, " I finished. Trypho said nothing for a 
while, and then he said, ' You see, we came to the controversy 
unprepared. Still, I own, I am greatly pleased to have met 
you, and I think my friends have the same feeling. For we 
have found more than we expected, or anyone could have 
expected. If we could do it at more length, we might be 
better profited by looking into the passages themselves. But, 
since you are on the point of sailing and expect to embark every 
day now, be sure you think of us as friends, if you go.' " 2 
So, with kindly feelings, Trypho went away unconvinced. 
And there were others, as clear of mind, who were as little 
convinced, Marcion, for instance, and Celsus. " The more 
reasonable among Jews and Christians," says Celsus, " try to 
allegorize them [the Scriptures], but they are beyond being 

1 Barnabas, 9, 8 (the subject of ' saith ' may in each case be ' he '). Clement of 
Alexandria cites this and adds a mystic and mathematical account of this suggestive 
figure 318, Strom, vi, 84. 2 Trypho, 142. 



allegorized and are nothing but sheer my] hology of the silliest 
type. The supposed allegories that have been made are more 
disgraceful than the myths and more absivd, in their endeavour 
to string together what never can in any way be harmonized 
it is folly positively wonderful for its utter want of perception." l 
The modern reader may not be so ready as Origen was to 
suggest that Celsus probably had Philo in mind. 2 

It is clear that, in the endeavour to give Christianity a 
historical background and a prophetic warrant, the Apologists 
lost all perspective. 3 The compelling personality of Jesus 
receded behind the vague figure of the Christ of prophecy ; and, 
in their pre-occupation with what they themselves called 
" types and shadows," men stepped out of the sunlight into 
the shade and hardly noticed the change. Yet there is still 
among the best of them the note of love of Jesus " do not 
speak evil of the crucified," pleads Justin, " nor mock at his 
stripes, whereby all may be healed, as we have been healed." * 
And after all it was an instinct for the truth and universal 
significance of Jesus that carried them away. He must be 
eternal ; and they, like the men of their day, thought much 
of the beginning and the end of creation, and perhaps found 
it easier than we do, certainly more natural, to frame 
schemes under which the Eternal Mind might manifest itself. 
Eschatology, purpose, foreknowledge, pervade their religious 
thought, and they speak with a confidence which the centuries 
since the Renaissance have made more and more impossible 
for us, who find it hard enough to be sure of the fact without 
adventuring ourselves in the possibilities that lie around it. 
None the less the centre of interest was the same for them as 
for us what is the significance of Jesus of Nazareth ? For 
them the facts of his life and of his mind had often less 
value than the fancy that they fulfilled prophecy ; Celsus said 
outright that the Christians altered them, and there is some 
evidence that, in the accommodation of prophecy and history, 

1 Celsus ap. Orig. c. Cels.\v, 50, 51. 

2 Especially when he finds Celsus referring to the dialogue of Jason and Papiscus i 
as " more worthy of pity and hatred than of laughter " ; c. Cels. iv, 52. 

3 Porphyry (cited by Euseb. E.H. vi, 19), says they made riddles of what was 
perfectly plain in Moses, their expositions would not hang together, and they cheated 
their own critical faculty, TO KPLTIKOV rrjs 

4 Trypho, 137. 


the latter was sometimes over-developed. For us, the danger 
is the opposite ; we risk losing sight of the eternal significance 
in our need of seeing clearly the historic lineaments. 

In the conflict of religions, Christianity had first to face 
Judaism, and, though the encounter left its record upon the 
conquering faith, it secured its freedom from the yoke of 
the past. It gained background and the broadening of the 
historic imagination. It made the prophets and psalmists of 
Israel a permanent and integral part of Christian literature 
and in all these ways it became more fit to be the faith of 
mankind, as it deepened its hold upon the universal religious 
experience. Yet it did so at the cost of a false method which 
las hampered it for centuries, and of a departure (for too 
ong a time) from the simplicity and candour of the mind of 
[esus. In seeking to recover that mind to-day we commit 
ourselves to the belief that it is sufficient, and that, when we 
lave rid ourselves of all that in the course of ages has obscured 
he great personality, in proportion as we regain his point of 
view, we shall find once more (in the words of a far distant 
age) that his spirit will guide us into all truth. 


IN the first two centuries of our era a great change came 
over the ancient world. A despised and traditional 
religion, under the stimulus of new cults coming from 
the East, revived and re-asserted its power over the minds of 
men. Philosophy, grown practical in its old age, forsook its 
youthful enthusiasm for the quest of truth, and turned aside to , 
the regulation of conduct, by means of maxims now instead of 
inspiration, and finally, as we have seen, to apology for the 
ancient faith of the fathers. Its business now was to reconcile 
its own monotheistic dogma with popular polytheistic practice. 
It was perhaps this very reconciliation that threw open the 
door for the glowing monotheism of the disciples of Jesus ; 
but, whatever the cause, Christianity quickly spread over the 
whole Roman Empire. We are apt to wonder to-day at the 
great political and national developments that have altered the 
whole aspect of Europe since the French Revolution, and to 
reflect rather idly on their rapidity. Yet the past has its own 
stories of rapid change, and not the least striking of them is 
the disappearance of that world of thought which we call 
Classical. By 180 A.D. nearly every distinctive mark of 
classical antiquity is gone the old political ideas, the old 
philosophies, the old literatures, and much else with them. 
Old forms and names remain there are still consuls and 
archons, poets and philosophers, but the atmosphere is another, 
and the names have a new meaning, if they have any at all. 
But the mere survival of the names hid for many the fact that 
they were living in a new era. 

In the reign of Marcus Aurelius, however, the signs of 
change became more evident, and men grew conscious that 
some transformation of the world was in progress. A great 

plague, the scanty records of which only allow us to speak in 


vague terms of an immense reduction in population 1 barbarism 
active upon the frontier of an Empire not so well able as it had 
fancied to defend itself superstitions, Egyptian and Jewish, 
diverting men from the ordinary ways of civic duty such 
were some of the symptoms that men marked. Under the 
weight of absurdity, quietism and individualism, the state 
seemed to be sinking, and all that freedom of mind which was 
the distinctive boast of Hellenism was rapidly being lost. 

It happens that, while the historical literature of the period 
has largely perished, a number of authors survive, who from 
their various points of view deal with what is our most 
immediate subject the conflict of religions. Faith, doubt, 
irritation and fatalism are all represented. The most con- 
spicuous men of letters of the age are undoubtedly the Emperor 
Marcus Aurelius himself and his two brilliant contemporaries, 
Lucian of Samosata and Apuleius of Madaura. 2 Celsus, a man 
of mind as powerful as any of the three, survives in fragments, 
but fragments ample enough to permit of re-construction. 
Among the Christians too there was increased literary activity, 
but Tertullian and Clement will suffice for our purpose. 

Though not in his day regarded as a man of letters, it is 
yet in virtue of his writing that Marcus Aurelius survives. 
His journal, with the title that tells its nature " To Himself," 
is to-day perhaps the most popular book of antiquity with 
those whose first concern is not literature. It is translated 
again and again, and it is studied. The peculiar mind of the 
solitary Emperor has made him, as Mr F. W. H. Myers put it, 
" the saint and exemplar of Agnosticism." Meditative, tender 
and candid, yet hesitant and so far ineffectual, he is sensitive 
to so much that is positive and to so much that is negative, 
that the diary, in which his character is most intimately 
revealed, gives him a place of his own in the hearts of men 
perplext in the extreme. He is a man who neither believes, 
nor disbelieves, " either gods or atoms " 3 seems to be the 
necessary antithesis, and there is so much to be said both for 

1 On the other hand see a very interesting passage in Tertullian, de Anima, 30, on 
the progress of the world in civilization, and population outstripping Nature, while 
plague, famine, war, etc., are looked on as tonsura insolescentis generis humani. 

- Marcus Aurelius was born about 12 1 A. D. and died in 180. The other two were 
born in or about 125. 

;? e.g. viii, 17. 


and against each of the alternatives that decision is impossible. 
He is attracted by the conception of Providence, but he 
hesitates to commit himself. There are arguments at least 
of the kind that rest on probability in favour of immortality, 
but they are insufficient to determine the matter. In his 
public capacity he became famous for the number and magnific- 
ence of his sacrifices to the gods of the state ; he owns in his 
journal his debt to the gods for warnings given in dreams, but 
he suspects at times that they may not exist. Meanwhile he 
persecutes the Christians for their disloyalty to the state. 
Their stubborn convictions were so markedly in contrast with 
his own wavering mind that he could not understand them 
perhaps their motive was bravado, he thought ; they were too 
theatrical altogether ; their pose recalled the tragedies com- 
posed by the pupils of the rhetoricians large language with 
nothing behind it. 1 

In the absence of any possibility of intellectual certainty, 
Marcus fell back upon conduct. Here his want of originality 
and of spiritual force was less felt, for conduct has tolerably 
well-established rules of neighbourliness, purity, good temper, 
public duty and the like. His Stoic guides, too, might in this 
region help him to follow with more confidence the voice of his 
own pure and delicate conscience the conscience of a saint 
and a quietist rather than that of a man of action. Yet even 
in the realm of conduct he is on the whole ineffectual. Pure, 
truthful, kind, and brave he is, but he does not believe enough 
to be great. He is called to be a statesman and an adminis- 
trator ; he does not expect much outcome from all his energies, 
and he preaches to himself the necessity of patience with his 
prospective failure to achieve anything beyond the infinitesimal. 

" Ever the same are the cycles of the universe, up and 
down, for ever and for ever. Either the intelligence of the 
Whole puts itself in motion for each separate effect in which 
case accept the result it gives ; or else it did so once for all, 
and everything is sequence*, one thing in another . . . [The 
text is doubtful for a line] ... In a word, either God, and all 
goes well ; or all at random live not thou at random. 

" A moment, and earth will cover us all ; then it too in its 
turn will change ; and what it changes to, will change again 

1 The one passage is in *i, 3. 


and again for ever ; and again change after change to infinity. 
The waves of change and transformation if a man think of 
them and of their speed, he will despise everything mortal. 

" The universal cause is like a winter torrent ; it carries all 
before it. How cheap then these poor statesmen, these who 
carry philosophy into practical affairs, as they fancy poor 
diminutive creatures. Drivellers. Man, what then ? Do 
what now Nature demands. Start, if it be given thee, and 
look not round to see if any will know. Hope not for Plato's 
Republic ; l but be content if the smallest thing advance ; to 
compass that one issue count no little feat. 

" Who shall change one of their dogmata [the regular word 
of Epictetus] ? And without a change of dogmata, what is 
there but the slavery of men groaning and pretending to obey ? 
Go now, and talk of Alexander, and Philip and Demetrius of 
Phalerum ; whether they saw the will of Nature and schooled 
themselves, is their affair ; if they played the tragic actor, no 
one has condemned me to copy them. Simplicity and modesty 
are the work of philosophy ; do not lead me astray into vanity. 

" Look down from above on the countless swarms of men, 
their countless initiations, and their varied voyage in storm and 
calm, their changing combinations, as they come into being, 
meet, and pass out of being. Think too of the life lived by 
others of old, of the life that shall be lived by others after 
thee, of the life now lived among the barbarian nations ; and 
of how many have never heard thy name, and how many will 
at once forget it, and how many may praise thee now perhaps 
but will very soon blame thee ; and how neither memory is of 
any account, nor glory, nor anything else at all. . . . 

"The rottenness of the material substance of every individual 
thing water, dust, bones, stench. . . . And this breathing 
element is another of the same, changing from this to 
that. . . . 

" Either the gods have no power, or they have power. If 
they have not, why pray? If they have, why not pray for 
deliverance from the fear, or the desire, or the pain, which the 
thing causes, rather than for the withholding or the giving of 
the particular thing ? For certainly, if they can co-operate with 
men, it is for these purposes they can co-operate. But perhaps 

1 Or, the English equivalent, Utopia. 

200 " GODS OR ATOMS ? " 

thou wilt say, The gods have put all these in my own power. 
Then is it not better to use what is in thine own power and be 
free, than to be set on what is not in thy power a slave and 
contemptible ? And who told thee that the gods do not help us 
even to what is in our own power ? " l 

This handful of short passages all from the same place, with 
a few omitted, may be taken as representing very fairly the 
mind of Marcus Aurelius. The world was his to rule, and he 
felt it a duty to remember how slight a thing it was. This 
was not the temper of Alexander or of Caesar, of men who 
make mankind, and who, by their belief in men and in the 
power of their own ideas to lift men to higher planes of life, 
actually do secure that advance is made, and that advance not 
the smallest. Yet he speaks of Alexander as a " tragic actor." * *" 
For a statesman, the attitude of Marcus is little short of betrayal. 
He worked, he ruled, he endowed, he fought he was pure, he 
was conscientious, he was unselfish but he did not believe, and 
he was ineffectual. The Germans it might have been beyond 
any man's power to repel at that day, but even at home Marcus 
was ineffectual. His wife and his son were by-words. He 
had almost a morbid horror of defilement from men and women 
of coarse minds, a craving too for peace and sympathy ; he 
shrank into himself, condoned, ignored. Among his bene- 
factors he does not mention Hadrian, who really gave him the 
Empire and it is easy to see why. In everything the two 
are a contrast. Hadrian's personal vices and his greatness as 
a ruler, as a man handling men and moving among ideas 3 - 
these were impossible for Marcus. 

Nor was the personal religion of this pure and candid spirit 
a possible one for mankind. " A genuine eternal Gospel," 
wrote Renan of this diary of Marcus, " the book of the Thoughts 
will never grow old, for it affirms no dogma. The Gospel has 
grown old in certain parts ; Science no longer allows us to 
admit the naive conception of the supernatural which is its base. 
. . . Yet Science might destroy God and the soul, and the book 
of the Thoughts would remain young in its life and truth." 

1 Marcus Aurelius, ix, 28-40, with omissions. Phrases have been borrowed from 
the translations of Mr Long and Dr Kendall. 

2 This sheds some light on his comparison of the Christians to actors, xi, 3. 

3 Cf. Tertullian, ApoL 5, Hadrianus omnium curiositatum explorator. 


Renan is right ; when Science, or anything else, " destroys God 
and the soul," there is no Gospel but that of Marcus ; and yet for 
men it is impossible ; and it is not young it is senile. Duty 
without enthusiasm, hope or belief belief in man, of course, 
for " God and the soul " are by hypothesis " destroyed " duty, 
that is, without object, reason or result, it is a magnificent fancy, 
and yet one recurs to the criticism that Marcus passed upon 
the Christians. Is there not a hint of the school about this ? 
Is it not possible that the simpler instincts of men, instincts 
with a history as ludicrous as Anthropologists sometimes sketch 
for us, may after all come nearer the truth of things than 
semi-Stoic reflexion ? At all events the instincts have ruled the 
world so far with the co-operation of Reason, and are as yet 
little inclined to yield their rights to their colleague. They 
have never done so without disaster. 

The world did not accept Marcus as a teacher. Men readily 
recognized his high character, but for a thousand years and 
more nobody dreamed of taking him as a guide nobody, that 
is, outside the schools. For the world it was faith or unbelief, 
and the two contemporaries already mentioned represent the 
two poles to which the thoughts of men gravitated, who were 
not yet ready for a cleavage with the past. 

" I am a Syrian from the Euphrates," l wrote Lucian of him- 
self ; and elsewhere he has a playful protest against a historian 
of his day, magnificently ignorant of Eastern geography, who 
' has taken up my native Samosata, and shifted it, citadel, 
walls and all, into Mesopotamia," and by this new feat of 
colonization has apparently turned him into a Parthian or 
Mesopotamian. 2 Samosata lay actually in Commagene, and 
there Lucian spent his boyhood talking Syriac, his native 
language. 3 He was born about 125 A.D. His family were 
poor, and as soon as he left school, the question of a trade was 
at once raised, for even a boy's earnings would be welcome. 
At school he had had a trick of scraping the wax from his 
tablets and making little figures of animals and men, so his 
father handed him over to his mother's brother, who was one of 
a family of statuaries. But a blunder and a breakage resulted 
in his uncle thrashing him, and he ran home to his mother. It 
was his first and last day in the sculptor's shop, and he went to 

1 Piscator, 19. '- Quomodo historia, 24. 3 Bis atcusattts, 27. 


bed with tears upon his face. In later life he told the story of 
a dream which he had that night a long and somewhat 
literary dream modelled on Prodicus' fable of the Choice of 
Herakles. He dreamed that two women appeared to him, one 
dusty and workmanlike, the other neat, charming and noble. 
They were Sculpture and Culture, and he chose the latter. He 
tells the dream, he says, that the young may be helped by his 
example to pursue the best and devote themselves to Culture, 
regardless of immediate poverty. 1 He was launched somehow 
on the career of his choice and became a rhetorician. It may be 
noted however that an instinctive interest in art remained with 
him, and he is reckoned one of the best art-critics of antiquity. 

Rhetoric, he says, " made a Greek of him," went with him 
from city to city in Greece and Ionia, " sailed the Ionian sea 
with him and attended him even as far as Gaul, scattering 
plenty in his path." 2 For, as he explains elsewhere, he was 
among the teachers who could command high fees, and he 
made a good income in Gaul. 3 But, about the age of forty, he 
resolved " to let the gentlemen of the jury rest in peace 
tyrants enough having been arraigned and princes enough 
eulogized." 4 From now onward he wrote dialogues he had 
at last found his proper work. 

Dialogue in former days had been the vehicle of speculation 
" had trodden those aerial plains on high above the clouds, 
where the great Zeus in heaven is borne along on winged car." 
But it was to do so no more, and in an amusing piece Lucian 
represents Dialogue personified as bringing a suit against him 
for outrage. Had Lucian debased Dialogue, by reducing him 
to the common level of humanity and making him associate 
with such persons as Aristophanes and Menippus, one a light- 
hearted mocker at things sacred, the other a barking, snarling 
dog of a Cynic, thus turning Dialogue into a literary Centaur, 
neither fit to walk nor able to soar ? Or was Dialogue really 
a musty, fusty, superannuated creature, and greatly improved 
now for having a bath and being taught to smile and to go 
genially in the company of Comedy ? Between the attack and 
the defence, the case is fairly stated. 5 Lucian created a new 

1 Somntum, 1 8. 2 Bis Accusatus, 30, 27. 3 Apology, 15. 

4 Bis Ace. 32. Cf. Juvenal, 7, 151, perimit scevos classis numerosa tyrannos. 

5 Bis Ace. 33, 34. 


mode in writing or perhaps he revived it, for it is not very 
clear how much he owes to his favourite Menippus, the Gadarene 
Cynic and satirist of four centuries before. 

Menippus however has perished and Lucian remains and is 
read ; for, whatever else is to be said of him, he is readable. 
He has not lost all the traces of the years during which he 
consorted with Rhetoric ; at times he amplifies and exaggerates, 
and will strain for more point and piquancy than a taste more 
sure would approve. Yet he has the instinct to avoid travesty, 
and his style is in general natural and simple, despite occasional 
literary reminiscences. His characters talk, as men may talk 
of their affairs, when they are not conscious of being overheard, 
with a naive frankness not always very wise, with a freedom and 
common sense, and sometimes with a folly, that together reveal 
the speaker. They rarely declaim, and they certainly never 
reach any high level of thought or feeling. The talk is slight 
and easy it flickers about from one idea to another, and gives 
a strong impression of being real. If it is gods who are talk- 
ing, they become surprisingly human and even bourgeois, they 
are so very much at home among themselves. Lucian's skill 
is amazing. He will take some episode from Homer and 
change no single detail, and yet, as we listen to the off-hand 
talk of the gods as they recount the occurrence, we are startled 
at the effect the irony is everywhere and nowhere ; the 
surprises are irresistible. Zeus, for instance, turns out to have 
more literary interests than we suppose ; he will quote Homer 
and make a Demosthenic oration to the gods, though alas ! his 
memory fails him in the middle of a sentence ; l he laments that 
his altars are as cold as Plato's Laws or the syllogisms of 
Chrysippus. He is the frankest gentleman of heaven, and so 
infinitely obliging ! 

In short, for sheer cleverness Lucian has no rival but 
Aristophanes in extant Greek literature. His originality, his 
wit, his humour (not at all equal, it may be said, to his wit), 
his gifts of invention and fancy, his light touch, and his genius 
for lively narrative, mark him out distinctively in an age when 
literature was all rhetoric, length and reminiscence. But as we 
read him, we become sensible of defects as extraordinary as 
his gifts. For all his Attic style, he belongs to his age. He 

1 Zeus Tragcedtts, i$. 

204 " GODS OR ATOMS ? " 

may renounce Rhetoric, but no man can easily escape from his 
past. The education had intensified the cardinal faults of his 
character, impatience, superficiality, a great lack of sympathy 
for the more tender attachments and the more profound interests 
of men essential unbelief in human grandeur. An expatriated 
adventurer, living for twenty years on his eloquence, with the 
merest smattering of philosophy and no interest whatever in 
nature and natural science or mathematics, with little feeling 
and no poetry, it was hardly to be expected that he should 
understand the depths of the human soul, lynx-eyed as he is 
for the surface of things. He had a very frank admiration for 
his own character, and he drew himself over and over again 
under various names. Lykinos, for example, is hardly a dis- 
guise at all. " Free-Speech, son of True-man, son of Examiner," 
he calls himself in one of his mock trials, "hater of shams, 
hater of impostors, hater of liars, hater of the pompous, hater 
of every such variety of hateful men and there are plenty of 
them " ; conversely, he loves the opposites, when he meets them, 
which, he owns, is not very often. 1 

With such a profession, it is not surprising that a man of 
more wit than sympathy, found abundance of material in the 
follies of his age. Men were taking themselves desperately 
seriously, preaching interminable Philosophy, saving their 
souls, and communing with gods and daemons in the most 
exasperating ways. Shams, impostures, and liars so Lucian 
summed them up, and he did not conceal his opinion. Granted 
that the age had aspects quite beyond his comprehension, he 
gives a very vivid picture of it from the outside. This is what 
men were doing and saying around him but why ? Why, 
but from vanity and folly ? Gods, philosophers, and all who 
take human life seriously, are deluged with one stream of 
badinage, always clever but not always in good taste. He has 
no purpose, religious or philosophic. If he attacks the gods, 
it is not as a Sceptic the Sceptics are ridiculed as much as 
any one else in the Sale of Lives men who know nothing, 
doubt of their own experience, and avow the end of their 
knowledge to be ignorance. 2 If he is what we nowadays 
loosely call sceptical ; it is not on philosophic grounds. We 
should hardly expect him in his satirical pamphlets really to 

1 Piscator, 19, 20. - Vit. atictio, 2"j. 


grapple with the question of Philosophy, but he seems not to 
understand in the least why there should be Philosophy at all. 
He is master of no single system, though he has the catch- 
words of them all at his finger-ends. 

His most serious dialogue on Philosophy is the Hermotimus. 
" Lykinos " meets Hermotimus on his way to a lecture a 
man of sixty who for many years has attended the Stoics. 
Into their argument we need not go, but one or two points 
may be noted. Hermotimus is a disciple, simple and per- 
severing, who owns that he has not reached the goal of Happi- 
ness and hardly expects to reach it, but he presses bravely on, 
full of faith in his teachers. Under the adroit questions of 
Lykinos, he is forced to admit that he had chosen the Stoics* 
rather than any other school by sheer intuition or because of 
general notions acquired more or less unconsciously like a 
man buying wine, he knew a good thing when he tasted it, and 
looked no further. Yes, says Lykinos, take the first step and 
the rest is easy Philosophy depends on a first assumption 
take the Briareus of the poets with three heads and six hands, 
and then work him out, six eyes, six ears, three voices talking 
at once, thirty fingers you cannot quarrel with the details as 
they come ; once grant the beginning, and the rest comes 
flooding in, irresistible, hardly now susceptible of doubt. So 
in Philosophy, your passion, like the longing of a lover, blinded 
you to the first assumptions, and the structure followed. 1 " Do 
not think that I speak against the Stoics, through any special 
dislike of the school ; my arguments hold against all the 
schools." 2 The end is that Hermotimus abandons all 
Philosophy for ever not a very dramatic or probable end, as 
Plato and Justin Martyr could have told Lucian. 

The other point to notice is the picture of Virtue under 
the image of a Celestial City, and here one cannot help 
wondering whether the irony has any element of personal 
reminiscence. Virtue Lykinos pictures as a City, whose 
citizens are happy, wise and good, little short of gods, as the 
Stoics say. All there is peace, unity, liberty, equality. The 
citizens are all aliens and foreigners, not a native among them 
barbarians, slaves, misformed, dwarfs, poor ; for wealth and 
birth and beauty are not reckoned there. "In good truth, we 

1 Hermot. 74. a Ibid. 85. 

206 " GODS OR ATOMS ? " 

should devote all our efforts to this, and let all else go. We 
should take no heed of our native-land, nor of the clinging and 
weeping of children or parents, if one has any, but call on them 
to take the same journey, and then, if they will not or cannot 
go with us, shake them off, and march straight for the city of 
all bliss, leaving one's coat in their hands, if they won't let go, 
for there is no fear of your being shut out there, even if you 
come without a coat." Fifteen years ago an old man had 
urged Lykinos to go there with him. " If the city had been 
near at hand and plain for all to see, long ago, you may be 
sure, with never a doubt I would have gone there, and had my 

franchise long since. But as you tell us, it lieth far away " 

and there are so many professed guides and so many roads, 
that there is no telling whether one is travelling to Babylon or 
to Corinth. 1 " So for the future you had better reconcile 
yourself to living like an ordinary man, without fantastic and 
vain hopes." 2 

Lucian never ceases to banter the philosophers. When he 
visits the Islands of the Blest, he remarks that, while Diogenes 
and the Epicureans are there, Plato prefers his own Republic 
and Laws, the Stoics are away climbing their steep hill of 
Virtue, and the Academics, though wishful to come, are still 
suspending their judgment, uncertain whether there really is 
such an island at all and not sure that Rhadamanthus himself 
is qualified to give judgment. 3 Diogenes in the shades, Pan 
in his grotto, Zeus in heaven, and the common man in the 
streets, are unanimous that they have had too much Philosophy 
altogether. The philosophers have indeed embarked on an 
impossible quest, for they will never find Truth. Once Lucian 
represents Truth in person, and his portrait is characteristic. 
She is pointed out to him a female figure, dim and indistinct 
of complexion ; " I do not see which one you mean," he 
says, and the answer is, " Don't you see the unadorned one 
there, the naked one, ever eluding the sight and slipping 
away ? " 4 

But still more absurd than Philosophy was the growth of 
belief in the supernatural. Lucian's Lover of Lies is a most 
illuminating book. Here are gathered specimens of the various 

1 Hermot. 22-28. 2 Ibid. 84. 

3 V.H. ii, 1 8. 4 Piscator, 16. 


types of contemporary superstition one would suspect the 
author of the wildest parody, if it were not that point by point 
we may find parallels in the other writers of the day. 
Tychiades (who is very like Lucian himself) tells how he has 
been visiting Eucrates and has dropped into a nest of 
absurdities. Eucrates is sixty and wears the solemn beard of 
student of philosophy. He has a ring made of iron from 
gibbets and is prepared to believe everything incredible. His 
house is full of professed philosophers, Aristotelian, Stoic, and 
Platonic, advising him how to cure the pain in his legs, by 
wrapping round them a lion's skin with the tooth of a field 
mouse folded within it. 1 Tychiades asks if they really believe 
that a charm hung on outside can cure the mischief within, and 
they laugh at his ignorance. The Platonist tells a number of 
stories to prove the reasonableness of the treatment, how a 
vine-dresser of his father's had died of snake-bite and been re- 
covered by a Chaldaean, and how the same Chaldaean charmed 
[like the Pied Piper) all the snakes off their farm. The Stoic 
narrates how he once saw a Hyperborean flying and walking on 
water " with those brogues on his feet that his countrymen 
habitually wear " a man whose more ordinary feats were raising 
spirits, calling the dead from their graves, and fetching down 
the moon. Ion, the Platonist, confirms all this with an account 
of another miracle-worker " everybody knows the Syrian of 
Palestine " who drives daemons out of men ; " he would stand 
t)y the patient lying on the ground and ask whence they have 
come into the body ; and, though the sick person does not 
speak, the daemon answers in Greek, or in some barbarian 
tongue, or whatever his own dialect may be, and explains how 
lie entered into the man and whence he came. Then the 
Syrian would solemnly adjure him, or threaten him if he were 
obstinate, and so drive him out. I can only say I saw one, of a 
black smoky hue, in the act of coming out." 2 The Syrian's 
treatment was expensive, it appears. Celsus, as we shall see 
later on, has some evidence on this matter. The nationality 
of the magicians quoted in the book may be remarked 
they are Libyan, Syrian, Arab, Chaldaean, Egyptian, and 
" Hyperborean." 

Other tales of magical statues, a wife's apparition, an 
1 Philopseudes, 7. 2 Ibid. 16. 

208 " GODS OR ATOMS ? " 

uneasy ghost, 1 a charm for bringing an absent lover, and the 
familiar one of the man who learns the spell of three syllables 
to make a pestle fetch water, but unhappily not that which will 
make it stop, and who finds on cutting it in two that there are 
now two inanimate water-carriers and a double deluge these 
we may pass over. We may note that this water- fetching 
spell came originally from a sacred scribe of Memphis, learned 
in all the wisdom of the Egyptians, who lived underground in 
the temple for three and twenty years and was taught his 
magic there by Isis herself. 2 Interviews with daemons are so 
common that instances are not given. 3 

More significant are the stories of the other world, for here 
we come again, from a different point of approach, into a region 
familiar to the reader of Plutarch. Eucrates himself, out in 
the woods, heard a noise of barking dogs ; an earthquake 
followed and a voice of thunder, and then came a woman more 
than six hundred feet high, bearing sword and torch, and 
followed by dogs " taller than Indian elephants, black in colour." 
Her feet were snakes here we may observe that Pausanias the 
traveller pauses to dismiss " the silly story that giants have 
serpents instead of feet," for a coffin more than eleven ells long 
was found near Antioch and " the whole body was that of a 
man." * So the snake-feet are not a mere fancy of Lucian's. 
The woman then tapped the earth with one of these feet of 
hers, and disappeared into the chasm she made. Eucrates, 
peeping over the edge, " saw everything in Hades, the river of 
fire and the lake, Cerberus and the dead " what is more, he 
recognized some of the dead. " Did you see Socrates and 
Plato ? " asks Ion. Socrates he thought he saw, " but Plato I 
did not recognize ; I suppose one is bound to stick to the 
exact truth in talking to one's friends." Pyrrhias the slave 
confirms the story as an eye-witness. 5 Another follows with 
a story of his trance in illness, and how he saw the world below, 
Fates, Furies, and all, and was brought before Pluto, who dis- 

1 This ghost appears rather earlier in a letter of Pliny's, vii, 27, who says he 
believes the story and adds another of his own. 

2 Philopseudes, 34. 3 Ibid. 17. 

4 Pausanias, viii, 29, 3. Cf. Milton's Ode on Nativity ', 25, "Typhon huge, ending 
in snaky twine. " References to remains of giants, in Tertullian, dc resurr. carnis, 42 ; 
Pliny, N.H. vii, 16, 73. 

5 Philopseudes, 22-24. 


missed him with some irritation, as not amenable yet to his 
Court, and called for the smith Demylos ; he came back to life 
and announced that Demylos would shortly die, and Demylos 
did die. "Where is the wonder?" says another the physician, "I 
know a man raised from the dead twenty days after his burial, for 
I attended him both before his death and after his resurrection." l 

In all this, it is clear that there is a strong element of 
mockery. Mockery was Lucian's object, but he probably kept 
in all these stories a great deal nearer to what his neighbours 
would believe than we may imagine. ^Elian, for example, has 
a story of a pious cock, which made a point of walking grate- 
fully in the processions that took place in honour of ^Esculapius ; 
and he does not tell it in the spirit of the author of the Jack- 
daiv of Rheims. 

As one of the main preoccupations of his age was with the 
gods, Lucian of course could not leave them alone. His 
usual method is to accept them as being exactly what tradition 
made them, and then to set them in new and impossible situa- 
tions. The philosopher Menippus takes " the right wing of an 
eagle and the left of a vulture," and, after some careful practice, 
flies up to heaven to interview Zeus. He has been so terribly 
distracted by the arguments of the schools, that he wants to 
see for himself " I dared not disbelieve men of such thunder- 
ing voices and such imposing beards." Zeus most amiably 
allows him to stand by and watch him at work, hearing prayers 
as they come up through tubes, and granting or rejecting them, 
then settling some auguries, and finally arranging the weather 
" rain in Scythia, snow in Greece, a storm in the Adriatic, and 
about a thousand bushels of hail in Cappadocia." 2 Zeus asks 
rather nervously what men are saying about him nowadays 
mankind is so fond of novelty. " There was a time," he says, 
" when I was everything to them 

Each street, each market-place was full of Zeus 

and I could hardly see for the smoke of sacrifice " ; but other 
gods, Asklepios, Bendis, Anubis and others, have set up shrines 
and the altars of Zeus are cold cold as Chrysippus. 3 
Altogether the dialogue is a masterpiece of humour and irony. 

In another piece, we find Zeus and the other gods in 
1 Philopseudes, 25, 26. l Icaromcnippus, 24-26. 2 Icaromen. 24. 


assembly listening to an argument going on at Athens. An 
Epicurean, Damis, and a singularly feeble Stoic are debating 
whether gods exist, and whether they exercise any providence 
for men. Poseidon recommends the prompt use of a thunder- 
bolt " to let them see," but Zeus reminds him that it is Destiny 
that really controls the thunderbolts and, besides, " it would 
look as if we were frightened." So the argument goes on, and 
all the familiar proofs from divine judgments, regularity of sun 
and season, from Homer and the poets, from the consensus of 
mankind and oracles, are produced and refuted there and 
then, while the gods listen, till it becomes doubtful whether 
they do exist. The Stoic breaks down and runs away. 
" What are we to do ? " asks Zeus. Hermes quotes a comic 
poet in Hamlet's vein " there is nothing either good or bad, 
but thinking makes it so " and what does it matter, if a few 
men are persuaded by Damis ? we still have the majority 
" most of the Greeks and all the barbarians." l 

In Zeus Cross-examined the process is carried further. 
Cyniscus questions Zeus, who is only too good-natured and 
falls into all the questioner's traps. He admits Destiny to be 
supreme, and gets entangled in a terrible net of problems 
about fore-knowledge, the value of sacrifice and of divination, 
divine wrath, sin and so forth, till he cries " You leave us 
nothing ! you seem to me to despise me, for sitting here and 
listening to you with a thunderbolt on my arm." " Hit me 
with it," says Cyniscus, " if it is so destined, I shall have no 
quarrel with you for it, but with Clotho." At last Zeus rises 
and goes away and will answer no more. But perhaps, reflects 
Cyniscus, he has said enough, and it was " not destined for me 
to hear any more." 2 The reader feels that Zeus has said 
more than enough. 

From the old gods of Greece, we naturally turn to the new- 
comers. When Zeus summoned the gods to discuss the ques- 
tion of atheism at Athens, a good many more came than under- 
stood Greek, and it was they who had the best seats as they 
were made of solid gold Bendis, Anubis, Attis and Mithras for 
example. Elsewhere Momus (who is a divine Lucian) complains 
to Zeus about them " that Mithras with his Persian robe and 
tiara, who can't talk Greek, nor even understand when one drinks 

1 Zeus Tragcedus, 2 Zeus Elenchomenos. 


to him " what is he doing in heaven ? And then the dog-faced 
Egyptian in linen who is he to bark at the gods ? " Of course," 
says Zeus, " Egyptian religion yes ! but all the same there are 
hidden meanings, and the uninitiated must not laugh at them." 
Still Zeus is provoked into issuing a decree on second thoughts, 
he would not put it to the vote of the divine assembly, for he 
felt sure he would be outvoted. The decree enacts that, whereas 
heaven is crowded with polyglot aliens, till there is a great rise in 
the price of nectar, and the old and true gods are being crowded 
out of their supremacy, a committee of seven gods shall be 
appointed to sit on claims ; further, that each god shall attend 
to his own function, Athene shall not heal nor Asklepios give 
oracles, etc. ; that philosophers shall talk no more nonsense ; 
and that the statues of deified men shall be replaced by those 
of Zeus, Hera, etc., the said men to be buried in the usual way. 1 
More than one reference has been made to new gods and 
new oracles. Lucian in his Alexander gives a merciless 
account of how such shrines were started. He came into 
personal contact indeed into conflict with Alexander, the 
founder of the oracle of Abonoteichos, and his story is full of 
detail. The man was a quack of the vulgarest type, and, yet 
by means of a tame snake and some other simple contrivances, 
he imposed himself upon the faith of a community. His 
renown spread far and wide. By recognizing other oracles he 
secured their support. Men came to him even from Rome. 
Through one of these devotees, he actually sent an oracle to 
Marcus Aurelius among the Marcomanni and Quadi, bidding 
him throw two lions with spices into the Danube, and there 
should be a great victory. This was done, Lucian says ; the 
lions swam ashore on the farther side, and the victory fell to 
the Germans. 2 Lucian himself trapped the prophet with some 
cunningly devised inquiries, which quite baffled god, prophet, 
snake and all. He also tried to detach an eminent adherent. 
Alexander realized what was going on, and Lucian got a guard 
of two soldiers from the governor of Cappadocia. Under their 
protection he went to see the prophet who had sent for him. 
The prophet, as he usually did with his followers, offered him 

1 Dear. Eccles. 14-18. 

2 Alexander, 48. The reader of Marcus will remember that his first book is dated 
"Among the Quadi." 


his hand to kiss, and Lucian records with satisfaction that he 
bit the proffered hand and nearly lamed it. Thanks to his 
guard, he came away uninjured. Alexander, however, after 
this tried still more to compass his death, which is not sur- 
prising. 1 There is other evidence than Lucian's, though it is 
not unnaturally slight, for the existence of this remarkable 

Lucian has one or two incidental references to Christians. 2 
Alexander warned them, in company with the Epicureans, to 
keep away from his shrine. But we hear more of them in 
connexion with Proteus Peregrinus. Lucian is not greatly 
interested in them ; he ridicules them as fools for being taken 
in by the impostor ; for Peregrinus, he tells us, duped them 
with the greatest success. He became a prophet among them, 
a thiasarch, a ruler of the synagogue, everything in fact ; he 
interpreted their books for them, and indeed wrote them a lot 
more ; and they counted him a god and a lawgiver. " You 
know," Lucian explains, " they still worship that great man of 
theirs, who was put on a gibbet in Palestine, because he added 
this new mystery (reXer^) to human life." In his mocking 
way he gives some interesting evidence on the attention and 
care bestowed by Christians on those of their members who 
were thrown into prison. He details what was done by the 
foolish community for " their new Socrates " when Peregrinus 
was a prisoner. When he was released, Peregrinus started 
wandering again, living on Christian charity, till " he got into 
trouble with them, too, he was caught eating forbidden meats." 3 

Lucian differs from Voltaire in having less purpose and no 
definite principles. He had no design to overthrow religion 
in favour of something else ; it is merely that the absurdity of 
it provoked him, and he enjoyed saying aloud, and with all the 
vigour of reckless wit, that religious belief was silly. If the 
effect was scepticism, it- was a scepticism founded, not on 

1 Alexander, 53-56. 

2 Keim, Celsus 1 Wahres Wort, p. 233, suggests that Lucian was not quite clear as 
to the differences between Judaism and Christianity. The reference to forbidden 
meat lends colour to this. 

3 De morte Peregrini, 1 1, 1 6 ; cf. the Passio Perpetuie, 3 and 1 6, on attention to 
Christians in prison. Tertullian, de Jejtmio, 12, gives an extraordinary account of 
what might be done for a Christian in prison, though the case of Pristinus, which he 
quotes, must have been unusual, if we are to take all he says as literally true. 


philosophy, but on the off-hand judgment of what is called 
common-sense. Hidden meanings and mysteries were to him 
nonsense. How little he was qualified to understand mysticism 
and religious enthusiasm, can be seen in his account of the 
self-immolation of Peregrinus on his pyre at the Olympian 
games l perhaps the most insufficient thing he ever wrote, full 
of value as it is. Peregrinus was a wanderer among the 
religions of the age. Gellius, who often heard him at Athens, 
calls him a man gravis atque constans, and says he spoke much 
that was useful and honest. He quotes in his way a paragraph 
of a discourse on sin, which does not lack moral elevation. 2 
To Lucian the man was a quack, an advertiser, a mountebank, 
who burnt himself to death merely to attract notice. Lucian 
says he witnessed the affair, and tells gaily how, among other 
jests, he imposed a pretty miracle of his own invention upon 
the credulous. He had taken no pains to understand the man 
nor did he to understand either the religious temper in 
general, or the philosophic, or anything else. His habit of 
handling things easily and lightly did not help him to see what 
could not be taken in at a glance. 

What then does Lucian make of human life ? On this he 
says a great deal. His most characteristic invention perhaps 
is the visit that Charon pays to the upper world to see what 
it really is that the dead regret so much. It is indeed, as 
M. Croiset points out, a fine stroke of irony to take the opinion 
of a minister of Death upon Life. Charon has left his ferry 
boat and comes up to light. Hermes meets him and they 
pile up some mountains Pelion on Ossa, and Parnassus on 
top, from the two summits of which they survey mankind a 
charm from Homer removing Charon's difficulty of vision. He 
sees many famous people, such as Milo, Polycrates and Cyrus ; 
and he overhears Crcesus and Solon discussing happiness, while 
Hermes foretells their fates. He sees a varied scene, life full 
of confusion, cities like swarms of bees, where each has a sting 
and stings his neighbour, and some, like wasps, harass and 
plunder the rest ; over them, like a cloud, hang hopes and fears 

1 Cf. Tertullian, ad Martyras, 4, Peregrinus qui non olim se rogo tmmisit. 
Athenagoras, Presb. 26, Ilpwrews, rovrov 5' OVK ayvoeire pL\favra eavTov ets TO irvp irepl 
TTJV 'OXv/nrtaj'. 

- Gellius, N.A. xii, II ; and summary of viii, 3. 

2i 4 "GODS OR ATOMS?" 

and follies, pleasures and passions and hatreds. He sees the 
Fates spinning slender threads, soon cut, from which men hang 
with never a thought of how quickly death ends their dreams ; 
and he compares them to bubbles, big and little inevitably 
broken. He would like to shout to them " to live with Death 
ever before their eyes " why be so earnest about what they 
can never take away ? but Hermes tells him it would be 
useless. He is amazed at the absurdity of their burial rites, and 
he astonishes Hermes by quoting Homer on the subject. Last 
of all he witnesses a battle and cries out at the folly of it. 
" Such," he concludes, " is the life of miserable men and n< 
a word about Charon." l 

In the same way and in the same spirit Menippus visits tl 
Lower World, where he sees Minos judging the dead. Mine 
too seems to have been interested in literature, for he reduce 
the sentence upon Dionysius, the tyrant of Syracuse, on the vei 
proper ground of his generosity to authors. But the genen 
picture has less humour. " We entered the Acherusian plain, 
and there we found the demi-gods, and the heroines, and the 
general throng of the dead in nations and tribes, some ancient 
and mouldering, ' strengthless heads ' as Homer says, others 
fresh and holding together Egyptians these in the main, so 
thoroughly good is their embalming. But to know one from 
another was no easy task ; all become so much alike when the 
bones are bared ; yet with pains and long scrutiny we began 
to recognize them. They lay pell-mell in undistinguishable 
heaps, with none of their earthly beauties left. With so many 
skeletons piled together, all as like as could be, eyes glaring 
ghastly and vacant, teeth gleaming bare, I knew not to tell 
Thersites from Nireus the fair. . . . For none of their ancient 
marks remained, and their bones were alike, uncertain, un- 
labelled, undistinguishable. When I saw all this, the life of 
man came before me under the likeness of a great pageant, 
arranged and marshalled by Chance," who assigns the parts 
and reassigns them as she pleases ; and then the pageant ends, 
every one disrobes and all are alike. " Such is human life, 
as it seemed to me while I gazed." 2 Over and over again with 
every accent of irony the one moral is enforced sometimes 
with sheer brutality as in the tract on Mourning. 

1 Charon is the title of the dialogue. 2 Menippus, 15, 16. 


Menippus asked Teiresias in the shades what was the best 
life. " He was a blind little old man, and pale, and had a 
weak voice." He said : " The life of ordinary people is best, and 
wiser ; cease from the folly of metaphysics, of inquiry into 
origins and purposes ; spit upon those clever syllogisms and 
count all these things idle talk ; and pursue one end alone, 
how you may well arrange the present and go on your way 
with a laugh for most things and no enthusiasms." l In fact, 
" the unexamined life " is the only one, as many a weary 
thinker has felt if it were but possible. 

Goethe's criticism on Heine may perhaps be applied to 
Lucian " We cannot deny that he has many brilliant qualities, 
but he is wanting in love . . . and thus he will never produce 
the effect which he ought." 2 Various views have been held 
of Lucian's contribution to the religious movement of the 
age ; it has even been suggested that his Dialogues advanced 
the cause of Christianity. But when one reflects upon the 
tender hearts to be found in the literature of the century, it is 
difficult to think that Lucian can have had any effect on the 
mass of serious people, unless to quicken in them by repulsion 
the desire for something less terrible than a godless world of 
mockery and death, and the impulse to seek it in the ancestral 
faith of their fathers. He did not love men enough to under- 
stand their inmost mind. The instincts that drove men back 
upon the old religion were among the deepest in human 
nature, and of their strength Lucian had no idea. His 
admirers to-day speak of him as one whose question was 
always " Is it true? " We have seen that it was a question 
lightly asked and quickly answered. It is evident enough 
that his mockery of religion has some warrant in the follies 
and superstitions of his day. But such criticism as his, based 
upon knowledge incomplete and sympathy imperfect, is of 
little value. If a man's judgment upon religion is not to be 
external, he must have felt the need of a religion, he must 
have had at some time the consciousness of imperative cravings 
and instincts which only a religion can satisfy. Such cravings 
are open to criticism, but men can neither be laughed out of 
them, nor indeed reasoned out of them ; and however absurd 
a religion may seem, and however defective it may be, if it is 
1 Menippus, 21. 2 Eckermann, 25th Dec. 1825. 


still the only available satisfaction of the deepest needs of 
which men are conscious, it will hold its own, despite mockery 
and despite philosophy as we shall see in the course of the 
chapter, though two more critics of religion remain to be 

Lucian was not the only man who sought to bring the age 
back to sound and untroubled thinking. There was a physician, 
Sextus known from the school of medicine to which he 
belonged as Sextus Empiricus who wrote a number of books 
about the end of the second century or the beginning of the 
third in defence of Scepticism. A medical work of his, and a 
treatise on the Soul are lost, but his Pyrrhonean Sketches and 
his books Against the Dogmatists remain written in a Greek 
which suggests that he was himself a Greek and not a foreigner 
using the language. Physicists, mathematicians, grammarians, 
moralists, astrologers, come under his survey, and the particular 
attention which he gives to the Stoics is a material fact in 
fixing his date, for after about 200 A.D. they cease to be of 
importance. His own point of view a short extract from 
his sketches will exhibit fully enough for our present purpose. 

" The aim of the Sceptic is ataraxia [freedom from mental 
perturbation or excitement] in matters which depend on 
opinion, and in things which are inevitable restraint of the 
feelings (/merpioTrdOciav). For he began to philosophise in order 
to judge his impressions (^can-curias) and to discover which of 
them are true and which false, so as to be free from perturba- 
tion. But he came to a point where the arguments were at 
once diametrically opposite and of equal weight ; and then, as 
he could not decide, he suspended judgment (ejrrx>), anc ^ as 
soon as he had done so, there followed as if by accident this very 
freedom from perturbation in the region of opinion. For if a 
man opines anything to be good or bad in its essential nature, 
he is always in perturbation. When he has not the things that 
appear to him to be good, he considers himself tortured by the 
things evil by nature, and he pursues the good (as he supposes 
them to be) ; but, as soon as he has them, he falls into even 
more perturbations, through being uplifted out of all reason 
and measure, and from fear of change he does everything 
not to lose the things that seem to him to be good. But the 
man, who makes no definitions as to what is good or bad by 


nature, neither avoids nor pursues anything with eagerness, 
and is therefore unperturbed. What is related of Apelles the 
painter has in fact befallen the Sceptic. The story goes that 
he was painting a horse and wished to represent the foam of 
its mouth in his picture ; but he was so unsuccessful that he 
gave it up, and took the sponge, on which he used to wipe the 
colours from his brush, and threw it at the picture. The 
sponge hit the picture and produced a likeness of the horse's 
foam. The Sceptics then hoped to gain ataraxia by forming 
some decision on the lack of correspondence between things as 
they appear to the eye and to the mind ; they were unable to 
do it, and so suspended judgment (cir&rxov) ; and then as if 
by accident the ataraxia followed just as a shadow follows a 
body. We do not say that the Sceptic is untroubled in every 
way, but we own he is troubled by things that are quite 
inevitable. For we admit that the Sceptic is cold sometimes, 
and thirsty, and so forth. But even in these matters the 
uneducated are caught in two ways at once, viz. : by the 
actual feelings and (not less) by supposing these conditions to 
be bad by nature. The Sceptic does away with the opinion 
that any one of these things is evil in its nature, and so he gets off 
more lightly even in these circumstances." l 

A view of this kind was hardly likely to appeal to the temper 
of the age, and the influence of Scepticism was practically none. 
Still it is interesting to find so vigorous and clear an exponent 
of the system flourishing in a period given over to the beliefs 
that Lucian parodied and Apuleius accepted. Sextus, it may 
be added, is the sole representative of ancient Scepticism whose 
works have come down to us in any complete form. 

One very obscure person of this period remains to be 
noticed, who in his small sphere gave his views to mankind in 
a way of his own. 

In 1884 two French scholars, MM. Holleaux and Paris were 
exploring the ruins of Oinoanda, a Greek city in Lycia, and 
they came upon a number of inscribed stones, most of them 
built in a wall. What was unusual was that these were neither 
fragments of municipal decrees nor of private monuments, but 
all formed part of one great inscription which dealt apparently 
with some philosophic subject. In June 1895 two Austrian 

1 Sextus Empiricus, Hypotyposts, i, 25-30. 


scholars, MM. Heberdey and Kalinka, re-collated the inscription 
and found some further fragments, and now the story is tolerably 
clear, and a curious one it is. 1 

It appears that the fragments originally belonged to an 
inscription carved on the side of a colonnade, and they fall 
into three series according to their place on the wall one above 
another. The middle series consists of columns of fourteen 
lines, the letters I J to 2 centimetres high, fifteen or sixteen in 
a line, each column forming a page, as it were ; and it extends 
over some twenty-one or two yards. The lowest series is in 
the same style. On top is a series of columns added later (as 
the inscription shows) and cut in letters of 2^-3 centimetres, 
generally ten lines to the column the larger size to compensate 
for the greater height above the ground, for it was all meant 
to be read. The inscription begins : 

" Diogenes to kinsmen, household and friends, this is my 
charge. Being so ill that it is critical whether I yet live or live 
no longer for an affection of the heart is carrying me off if 
I survive, I will gladly accept the life yet given to me ; if I do 
not survive, AO . . ." 

There ends a column, and a line or two has been lost at the 
top of what seems to be the next, after which come the words 
" a kindly feeling for strangers also who may be staying here," 
and the incomplete statement which begins " knowing assuredly, 
that by knowledge of the matters relating to Nature and feelings, 
which I have set forth in the spaces below. ..." It is evident 
that Diogenes had something to say which he considered it a 
duty to make known. This proves to have been the Epicurean 
theory of life ; and here he had carved up for all to read a 
simple exposition of the philosophy of his choice. 

The uppermost row contains his account of his purpose and 
something upon old age very fragmentary. There follow a 
letter of Epicurus to his mother, and another letter from some one 
unidentified to one Menneas, and then a series of apophthegms 
and sentences. Thus fragment 27 is a column of ten lines to 
this effect : " Nothing is so contributive to good spirits, as not 
to do many things, nor take in hand tiresome matters, nor force 
oneself in any way beyond one's own strength, for all these 
things perturb nature." Another column proclaims : " Acute 

1 See Rhcinisehes Museum, 1892, and Bulletin de Corrcspondance Hclltnique, 1897. 


pains cannot be long ; for either they quickly destroy life and 
are themselves destroyed with it, or they receive some abate- 
ment of their acuteness." These platitudes are, as we may 
guess, an afterthought. 

The middle row, the first to be inscribed, deals with the 
Epicurean theory of atoms not by apophthegm or aphorism, 
but with something of the fulness and technicality of a treatise. 
" Herakleitos of Ephesus, then, said fire was the element ; 
Thales of Miletus water ; Diogenes of Apollonia and Anaxi- 
menes air ; Empedocles of Agrigentum both fire and air and 
water and earth ; Anaxagoras of Clazomenae the homceomeries 
of each thing in particular ; those of the Stoa matter and God. 
But Democritus of Abdera said atomic natures and he did 
well ; but since he made some mistakes about them, these will 
be set right in our opinions. So now we will accuse the persons 
mentioned, not from any feeling of illwill against them, but 
wishing the truth to be saved (crwOfjvai)." So he takes them in 
turn and argues at leisure. The large fragment 45 discusses 
astronomy in its four columns in particular, the sun and its 
apparent distance and its nature. Fr. 48 (four columns) goes on 
to treat of civilization, of the development of dress from 
leaves to skins and woven garments, without the intervention 
" of any other god or of Athena either." Need and time did 
all. Hermes did not invent language. In fr. 50, we read that 
Protagoras " said he did not know if there are gods. That is 
the same thing as saying he knew there are not." Fr. 5 I deals 
with death " thou hast even persuaded me to laugh at it. For 
I am not a whit afraid because of the Tityos-es and Tantalus-es, 
whom some people paint in Hades, nor do I dread decay, 
reflecting that the [something] of the body . . . [three broken 
lines] . . . nor anything else." At the end of the row another 
letter begins (fr. 56) " [Diogen]es to Anti[pater] greeting." 
He writes from Rhodes, he says, just before winter begins, to 
friends in Athens and elsewhere, whom he would like to see. 
Though away from his country, he knows he can do more for 
it in this way than by taking part in political life. He wishes 
to show that " that which is convenient to Nature, viz. Ataraxia 
is the same for all." He is now " at the sunset of life," and all 
but departing ; so, since most men, as in a pestilence, are 
diseased with false opinion, which is very infectious, he wishes 


" to help those that shall be after us ; for they too are ours, even 
if they are not yet born " ; and strangers too. " I wished to 
make use of this colonnade and to set forth in public the 
medicine of salvation " (TO. rtjs crwr/y/o/a? TrpoOeivat 0a/>/xaKa, fr. 
58). The idle fears that oppressed him, he has shaken off; as 
to pains empty ones he has abolished utterly, and the rest are 
reduced to the smallest compass. He bewails the life of men, 
wasted as it is, and weeps for it ; and he has " counted it a 
good man's part " to help men as far as he can. That is why he 
has thought of this inscription which may enable men to obtain 
" joy with good spirits " (r^[? JULCT evOv]fjilas x a /"H)> rather than 
of a theatre or a bath or anything else of the kind, 
such as rich men would often build for their fellow-citizens 

(fr- 59)- 

The discussion which follows in the third series of columns 
need not here detain us. Diogenes appeals for its considera- 
tion that it may not merely be glanced at in passing (fr. 61, 
col. 3) ; but it will suffice us at present to note his statement 
that his object is " that life may become pleasant to us " (fr. 63, 
col. i ), and his protest " I will swear, both now and always, 
crying aloud to all, Greeks and barbarians, that pleasure is the 
objective of the best mode of life, while the virtues, which these 
people now unseasonably meddle with (for they shift them 
from the region of the contributive to that of the objective) are 
by no means an objective, but contributive to the objective " 
(fr. 67 col. 2, 3). Lastly we may notice his reference to the 
improvement made in the theory of Democritus by the dis- 
covery of Epicurus of the swerve inherent in the atoms 
(fr. 8 1). 

Altogether the inscription is as singular a monument of 
antiquity as we are likely to find. What the fellow-citizens of 
Diogenes thought of it, we do not know. Perhaps they might 
have preferred the bath or other commonplace gift of the 
ordinary rich man. It is a pity that Lucian did not see the 

Side by side with Lucian, Sextus and Diogenes it is 
interesting to consider their contemporaries who were not of 
their opinion. 

Perhaps, while the stone-masons were day by day carving 
up the long inscription at Oinoanda, others of their trade were 


busy across the ^gaean with one of another character. At 
any rate, the inscription which M. Julius Apellas set up in the 
temple of Asklepios in Epidauros, belongs to this period. 
Like Diogenes, he is not afraid of detail. 

" In the priesthood of Poplius ^Elius Antiochus. 

" I, Marcus Julius Apellas of Idrias and Mylasa, was sent 
for by the God, for I was a chronic invalid and suffered from 
dyspepsia. In the course of my journey the God told me in 
^Egina not to be so irritable. When I reached the Temple, 
he directed me to keep my head covered for two days ; and for 
these two days it rained. I was to eat bread and cheese, parsley 
with lettuce, to wash myself without help, to practise running, 
to drink citron-lemonade, to rub my body on the sides of the 
bath in the bath-room, to take walks in the upper portico, to 
use the trapeze, to rub myself over with sand, to go with bare 
feet in the bath-room, to pour wine into the hot water before I 
got in, to wash myself without help, and to give an Attic 
drachma to the bath-attendant, to offer in public sacrifices to 
Asklepios, Epione and the Eleusinian goddesses, and to take 
milk with honey. When for one day I had drunk milk 
alone, the god said to put honey in the milk to make it 

" When I called upon the god to cure me more quickly, I 
thought it was as if I had anointed my whole body with 
mustard and salt, and had come out of the sacred hall and 
gone in the direction of the bath-house, while a small child was 
going before holding a smoking censer. The priest said to 
me : ' Now you are cured, but you must pay up the fees for 
your treatment.' I acted according to the vision, and when 
I rubbed myself with salt and moistened mustard, I felt the pain 
still, but when I had bathed, I suffered no longer. These 
events took place in the first nine days after I had come to 
the Temple. The god also touched my right hand and my 

" The following day as I was offering sacrifice, a flame 
leapt up and caught my hand, so as to cause blisters. Yet 
after a little my hand was healed. 

" As I prolonged my stay in the Temple, the god told me 
to use dill along with olive-oil for my head-aches. Formerly I 
had not suffered from head-aches, but my studies had brought 


on congestion. After I used the olive-oil, I was cured of 
head-aches. For swollen glands the god told me to use a 
cold gargle, when I consulted him about it, and he ordered the 
same treatment for inflamed tonsils. 

" He bade me inscribe this treatment, and I left the Temple 
in good health and full of gratitude to the god." l 

Pausanias speaks of " the buildings erected in our time by 
Antoninus a man of the Conscript Senate " a Roman 
Senator in fact, 2 in honour of Asklepios at Epidauros, a bath, 
three temples, a colonnade, and " a house where a man may 
die, and a woman lie in, without sin," for these actions were 
not " holy " within the sanctuary precincts, and had had to be 
done in the open air hitherto. 

A more conspicuous patient of Asklepios is ^Elius Aristides, 
the rhetorician. This brilliant and hypochondriacal person 
spent years in watching his symptoms and consulting the god 
about them. Early in his illness the god instructed him to 
record its details, and he obeyed with zest, though 'in after 
years he was not always able to record the minuter points with 
complete clearness. He was bidden to make speeches, to rub 
himself over with mud, to plunge into icy water, to ride, and, 
once, to be bled to the amount of 120 litres. As the human 
body does not contain anything like that amount of blood, 
and as the temple servants knew of no one ever having been 
" cut " to that extent " at least except Ischyron, and his was 
one of the most remarkable cases," the god was not taken 
literally. 3 The regular plan was to sleep in the Temple, as 
already mentioned, and the god came. " The impression was 
that one could touch him, and perceive that he came in person ; 
as if one were between asleep and awake, and wished to look 
out and were in an agony lest he should depart too soon, as 
if one held one's ear and listened sometimes as in a dream, and 
then as in a waking vision one's hair was on end, and tears 
of joy were shed, and one felt light-hearted. And who among 

1 C.I.G. iv, 955. Translation of Mary Hamilton, in her Incubation, p. 41 

2 1 agree with the view of Schubart quoted by J. G. Frazer on the passage (Pausan. 
ii, 27, 6) that this man was neither the Emperor Antoninus Pius nor Marcus. It is 
perhaps superfluous to call attention to the value of Dr Frazer's commentary, here 
and elsewhere. 

* Sacred Speech^ ii, 47, p 301, \irpas fiicocri Kal e/cardv. 


men could set this forth in words ? Yet if there is one of 
the initiated, he knows and recognises [what I say]." 1 

None of the cases yet quoted can compare with the miracles 
of ancient days to be read in the inscriptions about the place 
stories of women with child for three and five years, of the 
extraordinary surgery of the god, cutting off the head of a 
dropsical patient, holding him upside down to let the water run 
out and putting the head on again, a mass of absurdities 
hardly to be matched outside The Glories of Mary. They 
make Lucian's Philopseudes seem tame. 

There were other gods, beside Asklepios, who gave oracles 
jin shrine and dream. Pausanias the traveller has left a book 
on Greece and its antiquities, temples, gods and legends of 
| extraordinary value. " A man made of common stuff and cast 
in a common mould," as Dr Frazer characterizes him, and 
i therefore the more representative he went through Greece 
with curious eyes and he saw much that no one else has 
recorded. At Sparta stood the only temple he knew of which 
had an upper story. In this upper story was an image of 
! Aphrodite Morpho fettered 2 a silly thing he thought it 
to fetter a cedar-wood doll. He particularly visited Phigalea, 
because of the " Black Demeter " a curious enough image she 
i had been, though by then destroyed. 3 He was initiated in the 
Eleusinian mysteries. 4 He tells us that the stony remnants of 
the lump of clay from which Prometheus fashioned the first 
man were still preserved, 6 and that the sceptre which Hephaistos 
| made for Agamemnon received a daily sacrifice in Chaeronea, 
Plutarch's city " a table is set beside it covered with all sorts 
of flesh and cakes." 6 He has many such stories. He tells us 
|too about a great many oracles of his day, of which that of 
Amphilochus at Mallus in Cilicia "is the most infallible" 7 a 
furiously suggestive superlative (a\jsevS ea-rar ov). He is greatly 

1 Sacred Speech, ii, 33, p. 298. For Aristides see Hamilton, Incubation, pt. i. 
Ich. 3, and Dill, Roman Society from Nero to Marcus Aurelius, bk. iv. ch. I. See also 
plichard Caton, M.D., The Temples and Ritual of Asklepios (1900). 

2 Paus. iii, 15, n. 3 Paus. viii, 42, n. 4 Paus. i, 37, 4 ; 38, 7. 

8 Paus. x, 4, 4 ; they smell very like human flesh. e Paus. ix, 40, 1 1. 

7 Paus. i, 34, 3. Cf. Tertullian, de Anima, 46, a list of dream-oracles. Strabo, c. 
^61-2, represents the practice as an essential feature of Judaism, e'-y/cot/i<r0at Si *al 
avTOL'S virtp tavruv icai i)irp TUV aXXwj' aXXous TOI)S evovclpovs ; he compares Moses to 
[Amphiaraus, Trophonius, Orpheus, etc. 


interested in Asklepios, but for our present purpose a few 
sentences from his elaborate account of the ceremony with 
which Trophonius is consulted at Lebadea must suffice. 

After due rites the inquirer comes to the oracle, in a linen 
tunic with ribbons, and boots of the country. Inside bronze 
railings is a pit of masonry, some four ells across and eight 
deep, and he goes down into it by means of a light ladder 
brought for the occasion. At the bottom he finds a hole, a 
very narrow one. " So he lays himself on his back on the 
ground, and holding in his hand barley cakes kneaded with 
honey, he thrusts his feet first into the hole, and follows him- 
self endeavouring to get his knees through the hole. When 
they are through, the rest of his body is immediately dragged 
after them and shoots in, just as a man might be caught 
and dragged down by the swirl of a mighty and rapid river. 
Once they are inside the shrine the future is not revealed to 
all in one and the same way, but to one it is given to see and 
to another to hear. They return through the same aperture 
feet foremost. . . . When a man has come up from Trophonius, 
the priests take him in hand again, and set him on what is 
called the chair of Memory, which stands not far from the 
shrine ; and, being seated there, he is questioned by them as 
to all he saw and heard. On being informed, they hand him 
over to his friends who carry him, still overpowered with fear, 
and quite unconscious of himself and his surroundings, to the 
building where he lodged before, the house of Good Fortune 
and the Good Daemon. Afterwards, however, he will have all 
his wits as before, and the power of laughter will come back to 
him. I write not from mere hearsay : I have myself consulted 
Trophonius and have seen others who have done so. All who 
have gone down to Trophonius are obliged to set up a tablet 
containing a record of all they heard and saw." l 

A man who has been through such an experience may be 
excused for believing much. While Pausanias kept his Greek 
habit of criticism and employs it on occasional myths and 
traditions, and particularly on stories of hell though the fact 
of punishment after death he seems to accept yet his travels 
and his inquiries made an impression on him. " When I began 
this work, I used to look on these Greek stories as little better 

1 Paus. ix, 39, 5-14, Frazer's translation. 


than foolishness ; but now that I have got as far as Arcadia, 
my opinion about them is this : I believe that the Greeks who 
were accounted wise spoke of old in riddles, and not straight 
out ; and, accordingly, I conjecture that this story about 
Cronos [swallowing a foal instead of his child] is a bit of 
Greek philosophy. In matters of religion I will follow 
tradition." l 

Pausanias mentions several oracles and temples of Apollo 
in Greece and Asia Minor one obscure local manifestation of 
the god he naturally enough omitted, but a fellow-citizen of the 
god preserves it. " It was in obedience to him, the god of my 
land, that I undertook this treatise. He often urged me to it, 
and in particular appeared visibly to me (evapyux; eTricrravTi)* 
since I knew thee, and all but ordered me to write all this. 
No wonder that the Daldian Apollo, whom we call by the 
ancestral name of Mystes, urged me to this, in care for thy 
worth and wisdom, for there is an old friendship between 
Lydians and Phoenicians, as they tell us who set forth the 
legends of the land." 3 So writes Artemidorus to his friend 
Cassius Maximus of his treatise on the scientific interpretation 
of dreams a work of which he is very proud. " Wonder not," 
he says, " at the title, that the name stands Artemidorus 
Daldianus, and not ' of Ephesus,' as on many of the books I 
have already written on other subjects. For Ephesus, it happens, 
is famous on her own account, and she has many men of note 
to proclaim her. But Daldia is a town of Lydia of no great 
renown, and, as she has had no such men, she has remained 
unknown till my day. So I dedicate this to her, my 
native-place on the mother's side, as a parent's due 

Marcus Aurelius records his gratitude " that remedies have 
been shown to me by dreams, both others, and against blood- 
spitting and giddiness." 5 Plutarch, Pausanias, Aristides 

1 Paus. viii, 8, 3 (Frazer). TWV ptv 5rj ^j r& dtiov T\^VTU>V rots 

8 The word of Luke 2, 9. 

3 Artemidorus Dald. ii, 70. 4 Artem. Dald. iii, 66. 

5 Marcus, i, 17 ; George Long's rendering, here as elsewhere somewhat literal, 
ibut valuable as leaving the sharp edges on the thought of the Greek, which get 
pnbbed off in some translations. See Tertullian, >& Anima, cc. 44 and following, fora 
idiscussion of dreams, referring to the five volumes of Hermippus of Berytus for the 
(whole story of them. 

2a6 <( GODS OR ATOMS?" 

dreams come into the scheme of things divine with all the 
devout of our period. Artemidorus is their humble brother 
not the first to give a whole book to dreams, but 
proud to be a pioneer in the really scientific treatment of 
them " the accuracy of the judgments, that is the thing 
for which, even by itself, I think highly of myself." l The 
critic may take it " that I too am quite capable of neo- 
logisms and persuasive rhetoric (evpea-iXoyeiv KOI TriOavevecrOai), 
but I have not undertaken all this for theatrical effect 
or to please the speech-mongers ; I appeal throughout to 
experience, as canon and witness of my words," and he begs 
his readers neither to add to his books nor take anything 
away. 2 His writing is, as he says, quite free from " the 
stage and tragedy style." 

Artemidorus takes himself very seriously. " For one thing, 
there is no book on the interpretation of dreams that I have 
not acquired, for I had great enthusiasm for this ; and, in the 
next place, though the prophets (/ULOLVTCWV) in the market-place 
are much slandered, and called beggars and quacks and 
humbugs by the gentlemen of solemn countenance and lifted 
eye-brows, I despised the slander and for many years I have 
associated with them both in Greece, in cities and at festivals, 
and in Asia, and in Italy, and in the largest and most 
populous of the islands, consenting to hear ancient dreams and 
their results." 3 This patient research has resulted in principles 
of classification. 4 There are dreams that merely repeat what 
a man is doing (evinrvia} ; and others (oveipoi) which are 
prophetic. These last fall into two classes theorematic 
dreams, as when a man dreams of a voyage, and wakes to go 
upon a voyage, and allegoric dreams. The latter adjective ha? 
a great history in regions more august, but the allegoric 
method is the same everywhere, as an illustration will show. 
A man dreamed he saw Charon playing at counters with 
another man, whom he called away on business ; Charon grew 
angry and chased him, till he ran for refuge into an inn called 

1 Artem. Dald. ii, pref., fdya Qpovw. 

8 Artem. Dald. ii, 70. Cf. v. pref., Avev ffKrjvijs Kal Tpay(f)5ias. 
8 Artem. Dald. i, pref. 

4 A very different classification in Tertullian, <fc Anima, 47, 48. Dreams may be 
due to demons, to God, the nature of the soul or ecstasy. 


" The Camel," and bolted the door, whereupon " the daemon " 
went away, but one of the man's thighs sprouted with 
grass. Shortly after this dream he had his thigh broken 
the one and sole event foretold. For Charon and the 
counters meant death, but Charon did not catch him, so 
it was shown that he would not die ; but his foot was 
threatened, since he was pursued. The name of the inn 
hinted at the thigh, because of the anatomy of a camel's 
thigh ; and the grass meant disuse of the limb, for grass 
only grows where the earth is left at rest. 1 The passage 
is worth remembering whenever we meet the word allegory 
and its derivatives in contemporary literature. Artemidorus 
has five books of this stuff the last two dedicated to 
his son, and containing instances " that will make you a 
better interpreter of dreams than all, or at least inferior to 
none ; but, if published, they will show you know no more 
than the rest" 2 The sentence suggests science declining 
into profession. 

Far more brilliant, more amusing and more attractive than 
any of these men, whom we have considered since we left 
Lucian, is Apuleius of Madaura. Rhetorician, philosopher 
and man of science, a story-teller wavering between Boccaccio 
and Hans Andersen, he is above all a stylist, a pietist and a 
humorist For his history we depend upon himself, and this 
involves us in difficulties ; for, while autobiography runs 
through two of his works, one of these is an elaboration of a 
defence he made on a charge of magic and the other is a 
novel of no discoverable class but its own, and through both 
runs a vein of nonsense, which makes one chary of being too 

The novel is the Golden Ass that at least is what St 
Augustine tells us the author called it. 3 Passages from this 
have been seriously used as sources of information as to the 
author. But there is another Ass, long attributed to Lucian 
though probably not Lucian's, and in each case the hero tells 
the tale in the first person, and the co-incidences between the 
Greek and the Latin make it obvious that there is some 

1 Artem. Dald. i, 4. 2 Artem. Dald. iv, pref. 

3 See Augustine, C.D. xviii, 18, Apuleius in libris quos Asini aurci titulo 
inscripsit. In the printed texts, it is generally called the Metamorphoses. 


literary connexion between them, whatever it is. The scene 
is Greece and Thessaly, but not the Greece and Thessaly of 
geography, any more than the maritime Bohemia of 
Shakespeare. Yet in the last book Apuleius seems to have 
forgotten " Lucius of Patrae " and to be giving us experiences 
of his own which have nothing to do with the hero of the Ass, 
Greek or Latin. 

In the Apology he comes closer to his own career and he 
tells us about himself. Here he does not venture on the 
delightful assertion that he is the descendant of the great 
Plutarch, as the hero of the Ass does, but avows that, as his 
native place is on the frontiers of Numidia and Gaetulia, he 
calls himself " half Numidian and half Gaetulian " just as 
Cyrus the Greater was " half Mede and half Persian." His 
city is " a most splendid colony," and his father held in turn 
all its magistracies, and he hopes not to be unworthy of him. 1 
He and his brother inherited two million sesterces, though he 
has lessened his share " by distant travel and long studies and 
constant liberalities." 2 Elsewhere he tells us definitely that he 
was educated at Athens. 3 Everybody goes to the litterator 
for his rudiments, to the grammarian next and then to the 
rhetorician " but I drank from other vessels at Athens," so 
" Empedocles frames songs, Plato dialogues, Socrates hymns, 
Epicharmus measures, Xenophon histories, Xenocrates satires ; 
your Apuleius does all these and cultivates the nine 
Muses with equal zeal with more will, that is, than 
skill." 4 

Like many brilliant men of his day he took to the strolling 
life of the rhetorician, going from city to city and giving 
displays of his powers of language, extemporizing wonderful 
combinations of words. Either he himself or some other 
admirer made a collection of elegant extracts from these 
exhibition-speeches, still extant under the title of Florida. 
His fame to-day rests on other works. In the course of his 
travels he came to Oea in his native-land, and there married 
the widowed mother of a fellow-student of his Athenian days. 
Her late husband's family resented the marriage ; and 
affecting to believe that her affections had been gained by 

1 ApoL 24. 2 Apol. 23. * Apol. 72 ; Flor. 1 8. 4 Flor. 20. 


some sort of witchcraft, they prosecuted Apuleius on a charge 
of magic. The charge was in itself rather a serious one, 
though Apuleius made light of it. His defence is an interest- 
ing document for the glimpses it gives into North African 
society, with its Greek, Latin and Punic elements. The 
younger stepson has fallen into bad hands ; " he never speaks 
except in Punic, a little Greek, perhaps, surviving from what 
he learnt of his mother ; Latin he neither will nor can speak." l 
On family life, on marriage customs, on the registration of 
births (c. 89) ; on the personal habits of the defendant, his 
toothpowder (and a verse he made in its praise) and his 
looking-glass, we gain curious information. Above all the 
speech sheds great light on the inter-relations of magic and 
religion in contemporary thought. A few points may be 

What, asks the prosecution, is the meaning of this curious 
interest Apuleius has in fish ? It is zoological, says Apuleius ; 
I have written books on fish, both in Greek and Latin, and 
dissected them. That curious story, too, of the boy falling 
down in his presence ? As to that, Apuleius knows all about 
divination by means of boys put under magical influence ; he 
has read of it, of course, but he does not know whether to 
believe or not ; " I do think with Plato," he owns to the 
court (or to his readers), " that between gods and men, in nature 
and in place intermediary, there are certain divine powers, and 
these preside over all divinations and the miracles of magicians. 
Nay, more, I have the fancy that the human soul, particularly 
the simple soul of a boy, might, whether by evocation of 
charm or by mollification of odour, be laid to sleep, and 
so brought out of itself into oblivion of things present, and 
for a brief space, all memory of the body put away, it 
might be restored and returned to its own nature, which is 
indeed immortal and divine, and thus, in a certain type of 
slumber, foretell the future." 2 As for the boy in question, 
however, he is so ricketty that it would take a magician 
to keep him standing. 

Then those mysterious " somethings " which Apuleius keeps 

1 ApoL 98. Cf. Passio Pcrpctua^ c. 13, et ccepit Perpetua Greece cum eis loqui, says 
Saturus ; Perpetua uses occasional Greek words herself in recording her visions. 

2 ApoL 43. Cf. Plutarch cited on p. 101. 

2 3 o " GODS OR ATOMS ? " 

wrapped up in a napkin ? "I have been initiated in many 
of the mysteries of Greece. Certain symbols and memorials 
of these, given to me by the priests, I sedulously preserve. I 
say nothing unusual, nothing unknown. To take one instance, 
those among you who are mystcz of Father Liber [Bacchus] 
know what it is you keep laid away at home, and worship in 
secret, far from all profane eyes. Now, I, as I said, from 
enthusiasm for truth and duty toward the gods, I have learnt 
many sacred mysteries, very many holy rites, and divers 
ceremonies " the audience will remember he said as much 
three years ago in his now very famous speech about 
^Esculapius "then could it seem strange to anyone, who 
has any thought of religion, that a man, admitted to so 
many divine mysteries, should keep certain emblems of those 
holy things at home, and wrap them in linen, the purest 
covering for things divine ? " Some men the prosecutor 
among them count it mirth to mock things divine ; no, he 
goes to no temple, has never prayed, will not even put his 
hand to his lips when he passes a shrine, why ! he has not 
so much as an anointed stone or a garlanded bough on his 
farm. 1 

One last flourish may deserve quotation. If you can prove, 
says Apuleius, any material advantage accruing to me from 
my marriage, " then write me down the great Carmendas or 
Damigeron or his . . . Moses or Jannes or Apollobeches or 
Dardanus himself, or anyone else from Zoroaster and Ostanes 
downwards who has been famous among magicians." 2 
Several of these names occur in other authors, 3 but the 
corruption is more interesting. Has some comparative fallen 
out, or does his conceal another name ? Is it ihs t in fact, 
a reference to Jesus analogous to the suggestion of Celsus 
that he too was a magician ? 

The philosophical works of Apuleius need not detain us, 
but a little space may be spared to his book On the God of 
Socrates, where he sets forth in a clear and vivid way that 
doctrine of daemonic beings, which lies at the heart of ancient 

1 Apol. 55, 56. Cf. Florida, I, an ornamental passage on pious usage. 

2 Apol. 90. Many restorations have been attempted. 

3 e.g. Tertullian, de Anima, 57, Ostanes et Typhon el Dardanus et Damigeron et 
Nectabis et Berenice. 


religion, pre-eminently in this period, from Plutarch onwards. 
His presentment is substantially the same as Plutarch's, but 
crisper altogether, and set forth in the brilliant rhetoric, to 
which the Greek did not aspire, and from which the African 
could not escape, nor indeed wished to escape. 

Plato, he says, classifies the gods in three groups, dis- 
tinguished by their place in the universe. 1 Of the celestial 
gods some we can see sun, moon and stars 2 (on which, like 
a true rhetorician, he digresses into some fine language, which 
can be omitted). Others the mind alone can grasp (intellectu 
eos rimabundi contemplamur} incorporeal natures, animate, with 
neither beginning nor end, eternal before and after, exempt 
from contagion of body ; in perfect intellect possessing 
supreme beatitude ; good, but not by participation of any 
extraneous good, but from themselves. Their father, lord and 
author of all things, free from every nexus of suffering or 
doing him Plato, with celestial eloquence and language 
commensurate with the immortal gods, has declared to be, in 
virtue of the ineffable immensity of his incredible majesty, 
beyond the poverty of human speech or definition while 
even to the sages themselves, when by force of soul they have 
removed themselves from the body, the conception of God 
comes, like a flash of light in thick darkness a flash only, 
and it is gone. 3 

At the other extremity of creation are men "proud in 
reason, loud in speech, immortal of soul, mortal of member, 
in mind light and anxious, in body brute and feeble, divers 
in character, in error the same, in daring pervicacious, in hope 
pertinacious, of vain toil, of frail fortune, severally mortal, 
generally continuous, mutable in the succession of offspring, 
time fleeting, wisdom lingering, death swift and life querulous, 
so they live." 4 Between such beings and the gods, contact 
cannot be. " To whom then shall I recite prayers ? to whom 
tender vows ? to whom slay victim ? on whom shall I call, to 

1 Much of this material Apuleius has taken from the Timaeus, 40 D to 43 A. 

2 Cf. Lactantius, Instil, ii, de origine crroris, c. 5. Tertullian, ad Natt. ii, 2. 
Cicero, N.D. ii, 15, 39-44. 

8 de deo Socr. 3, 124. Cf. the account (quoted below) of what was experienced 
in initiation, which suggests some acquaintance with mystical trance the confines 
of death and the sudden bright light look very like it. 

4 de deo Socr. 4, 126. 


help the wretched, to favour the good, to counter the evil? 
. . . . What thinkest thou ? Shall I swear 'by Jove the 
stone ' (per lovem lapidem] after the most ancient manner of 
Rome? Yet if Plato's thought be true, that never god and 
man can meet, the stone will hear me more easily than 
Jupiter." * 

" Nay, not so far (for Plato shall answer, the thought is 
his, if mine the voice) not so far, he saith, do I pronounce the 
gods to be sejunct and alienate from us, as to think that not 
even our prayers can reach them. Not from the care of 
human affairs, but from contact, have I removed them. But 
there are certain mediary divine powers, between aether above 
and earth beneath, situate in that mid space of air, by whom 
our desires and our deserts reach the gods. These the Greeks 
call daemons, carriers between human and heavenly, hence of 
prayers, thence of gifts ; back and forth they fare, hence with 
petition, thence with sufficiency, interpreters and bringers of 
salvation." 2 To cut short this flow of words, the daemons are, 
as is familiar to us by now, authors of divination of all kinds, 
each in its province. It would ill fit the majesty of the gods 
to send a dream to Hannibal or to soften the whetstone for 
Attius Navius these are the functions of the intermediate 
spirits. 3 Justin's explanation of the theophanies of the 
Old Testament may recur to the reader's mind, and not 
unjustly. 4 

The daemons are framed of a purer and rarer matter than 
we, " of that purest liquid of air, of that serene element," 
invisible therefore to us unless of their divine will they choose 
to be seen. 5 From their ranks come those " haters and lovers " 
of men, whom the poets describe as gods they feel pity and 
indignation, pain and joy and "every feature of the human 
mind"; while the gods above "are lords ever of one state in 
eternal equability," and know no passions of any kind. The 
daemons share their immortality and our passion. Hence we 
may accept the local diversities of religious cult, rites nocturnal 
or diurnal, victims, ceremonies and ritual sad or gay, Egyptian 

1 dedeo Socr. 5, 130132. 

2 de deo Socr. 6, 132. Cf. Tert. Apol. 22, 23, 24, on nature and works of demons^ 
on lines closely similar. 

3 de deo Socr. 7, 136. 4 See chapter vi. p. 188. 8 de deo Socr. II, 144. 


or Greek, neglect of these things the daemons resent, as we 
learn in dream and oracle. 

The human soul, too, is " a daemon in a body " the Genius 
of the Latins. From this we may believe that after death 
souls good and bad become good and bad ghosts Lares and 
Lemures and even gods, such as " Osiris in Egypt and 
jEsculapius everywhere." 1 Higher still are such daemons as 
Sleep and Love, and of this higher kind Plato supposes our 
guardian spirits to be " spectators and guardians of individual 
men, never seen, ever present, arbiters not merely of all acts, 
but of all thoughts," and after death witnesses for or against 
us. Of such was Socrates' familiar daemon. Why should not 
we too live after the model of Socrates, studying philosophy 
and obeying our daemon ? 

The Golden Ass is the chief work of Apuleius. Lector 
intende ; lataberis, he says in ending his short preface, and he 
judged his work aright. The hero, Lucius, is a man with an 
extravagant interest in magic, and he puts himself in the 
way of hearing the most wonderful stories of witchcraft and 
enchantment. Apuleius tells them with the utmost liveliness 
and humour. Magical transformations, the vengeance of 
witches, the vivification of waterskins one tale comes crowding 
after another, real and vivid, with the most alarming and the 
most amusing details. For example, we are told by an 
eye-witness (like everybody else in the book he is a master- 
hand at story-telling) how he saw witches by night cut 
the throat of his friend, draw out the heart and plug 
the hole with a sponge ; how terrified he was of the hags 
to begin with, and then lest he should himself be accused 
of the murder ; how the man rose and went on his journey 
somewhat wearily, it is true ; and how, as they rested, 
he stooped to drink, the sponge fell out and he was 

Lucius meddles with the drugs of a witch, and, wishing to 
I transform himself to a bird, by the ill-luck of using the wrong 
box he becomes an ass. He is carried off by robbers, and, 
I while he has the most varied adventures of his own, he is 
ibled to record some of the most gorgeous exploits that 

1 dedfo Socr. 15. 


brigands ever told one another in an ass's hearing. 1 What 
is more, a young girl is captured and held to ransom, and 
to comfort her for a little, the old woman who cooks the 
robbers' food " a witless and bibulous old hag " tells her a 
story " such a pretty little tale," that the ass, who is listening, 
wishes he had pen and paper to take it down. For, while 
in aspect Lucius is an ass, his mind remains human human 
enough to reflect sometimes what " a genuine ass " he is 
and his skin has not, he regrets, the proper thickness of true 
ass-hide. The tale which he would like to write down is 
Cupid and Psyche. " Erant in quadam civitate" begins the old 
woman " There were in a certain city a king and a 

The old and universal fairy-tales of the invisible husband, 
the cruel sisters, and the impossible quests are here woven 
together and brought into connexion with the Olympic 
pantheon, and through all runs a slight thread, only here and 
there visible, of allegory. But if Psyche is at times the soul, 
and if the daughter she bears to Cupid is Pleasure, the fairy- 
tale triumphs gloriously over the allegory, and remains the most 
wonderful thing of the kind in Latin. Here, and in the 
Golden Ass in general, the extraordinarily embroidered language 
of Apuleius is far more in keeping than in his philosophic 
writings. His hundreds of diminutives and neologisms, his 
antitheses, alliterations, assonances, figures and tropes, his 
brilliant invention, his fun and humour, here have full scope 
and add pleasure to every fresh episode of the fairy-tale and of 
the larger and more miscellaneous tale of adventure in which 
it is set in the strangest setting conceivable. Cupid and 
Psyche is his own addition to the story of the Ass quite 
irrelevant, and like many other irrelevant things in books an 
immense enrichment. 

Another development of the original story which is similarly 
due to Apuleius alone is the climax in the last book. The 
ass, in the Greek story, becomes a man by eating roses. In 
the Latin, Lucius, weary of the life of an ass, finds himself by 
moonlight on the seashore near Corinth, and amid " the silent 

1 The story of Lamachus "our high-souled leader," now "buried in the entire 
element," would make anyone wish to become a brigand, Sainte-Beuve said. Here 
one must regretfully omit the robbers' cave altogether. 



secrets of opaque night," he reflects that " the supreme goddess 
rules in transcendent majesty and governs human affairs by her 
providence." So he addresses a rather too eloquent prayer to 
the Queen of Heaven under her various possible names, Ceres, 
Venus, Diana and Proserpine. He then falls asleep, and at 
once " lo ! from mid sea, uplifting a countenance venerable 
even to gods, emerges a divine form. Gradually the vision, 
gleaming all over, and shaking off the sea, seemed to stand 
before me." A crown of flowers rests on her flowing hair. 
Glittering stars, the moon, flowers and fruits, are wrought into 
her raiment, which shimmers white and yellow and red as the 
light falls upon it. In one hand is a sistrum, in the other a 
golden vessel shaped like a boat, with an asp for its handle. 1 
She speaks. 

" Lo ! I come in answer, Lucius, to thy prayers, I mother 
of Nature, mistress of all the elements, initial offspring of ages, 
chief of divinities, queen of the dead, first of the heavenly ones, 
in one form expressing all gods and goddesses. I rule with 
my rod the bright pinnacles of heaven, the healthful breezes of 
the sea, the weeping silence of the world below. My sole 
godhead, in many an aspect, with many a various rite, and 
many a name, all the world worships." Some of these names 
she recites, and then declares her "true name, Queen Isis." 2 
The next day is her festival, she says, and her priest, taught 
by her in a dream, will tender Lucius the needful roses ; he 
will eat and be a man again. But hereafter all his life 
must be devoted to the goddess, and then in the Elysian fields 
he shall see her again, shining amid the darkness of Acheron, 
propitious to him. 

The next day all falls as predicted. The procession of Isis 
is elaborately described. 3 The prelude of the pomp is a series 
of men dressed in various characters, one like a soldier, 
another like a woman, others like a gladiator, a philospher and 
so forth. There is a tame bear dressed like a woman, and a 
monkey " in a Phrygian garment of saffron." Then come 
women in white, crowned with flowers, some with mirrors 
hanging on their backs, some carrying ivory combs. Men 
and women follow with torches and lamps ; then a choir of 

1 Afetam. xi, 3, 4. Apuleius had a fancy for flowing hair. 

2 Metam. xi, 5. u Mctam. xi, 8 ff. 

236 " GODS OR ATOMS ? " 

youths in white, singing a hymn, and fluteplayers dedicated to 
Serapis. After this a crowd of initiates of both sexes, of 
every age and degree, dressed in white linen and carrying 
sistra, the men with shaven heads. Then came five chief 
priests with emblems, and after them the images of the gods 
borne by other priests Anubis with his dog's head, black and 
gold after him the figure of a cow " the prolific image of the 
all-mother goddess " (" which one of this blessed ministry bore 
on his shoulder, with mimicking gait ") then an image of 
divinity, like nothing mortal, an ineffable symbol, worthy of all 
veneration for its exquisite art. At this point came the priest 
with the promised roses " my salvation " and Lucius ate 
and was a man again. The priest, in a short homily, tells 
him he has now reached the haven of quiet ; Fortune's 
blindness has no more power over him ; he is taken to 
the bosom of a Fortune who can see, who can illuminate 
even the other gods. Let him rejoice and consecrate his 
life to the goddess, undertake her warfare and become her 
soldier. 1 

The pomp moves onward till they reach the shore, and 
there a sacred ship is launched inscribed with Egyptian 
hieroglyphics, purified with a burning torch, an egg, and 
sulphur, on her sail a vow written in large letters. She is 
loaded with aromatics ; and " filled with copious gifts 
and auspicious prayers " she sails away before a gentle 
breeze and is lost to sight. The celebrants then return 
to the temple, but we have perhaps followed them far 

From now on to the end of the book the reformed Lucius 
lives in the odour of sanctity. He never sleeps without a 
vision of the goddess. He passes on from initiation to 
initiation, though the service of religion is difficult, chastity 
arduous, and life now a matter of circumspection it had not 
been before. The initiations are, he owns, rather expensive.- 
" Perhaps, my enthusiastic reader, thou wilt ask anxiously 
enough what was said, what done. I would speak if it were 

1 Metam. xi, 15, da nomcn sancta huic militia cuius . . . Sacramento, etc. 

'- Tertullian remarks that pagan rituals, unlike Christian baptism, owe much to 
pomp and expense ; de Baft. 2. Mentior si non e contrario idolorum sollemnia vel 
arcana de suggestu et apparaiu deque sumptu /Idem et auctoritatem sidi extruunt. 


lawful to speak, thou shouldst know if it were lawful to 
hear. . . . Hear then, and believe, for it is true. I drew near 
to the confines of death ; I trod the threshold of Proserpine ; 
I was borne through all the elements and returned. At 
midnight I saw the sun flashing with bright light. Gods of 
the world below, gods of the world above, into their presence I 
came, I worshipped there in their sight." Garments, emblems, 
rites, purifications are the elements of his life now. Nor does 
he grudge the trouble and expense, for the gods are blessing 
him with forensic success. In a dream, Osiris himself " chief 
among the great gods, of the greater highest, greatest of the 
highest, ruler of the greatest," appears in person, and promises 
him speaking with his own awful voice triumphs at the 
bar, with no need to fear the envy his learning might rouse. 
He should be one of the god's own Pastophori, one of " his 
quinquennial decurions." So " with my hair perfectly shaved, 
I performed in gladness the duties of that most ancient college, 
established in Sulla's times, not shading nor covering my bald- 
ness, but letting it be universally conspicuous." And there 
ends the Golden Ass. 

Was it true this story of the ass ? Augustine says that 
Apuleius " either disclosed or made up " these adventures. 
Both he and Lactantius had to show their contemporaries that 
there was a difference between the miracles of Apuleius and 
those of Christ. 1 The Emperor Septimius Severus, on the 
other hand, sneered at his rival Albinus for reading " the Punic 
Milesian-tales of his fellow-countryman Apuleius and such 
literary trifles." 2 

Between these two judgments we may find Apuleius. He 
is a man of letters, but he has a taste for religion. Ceremony, 
mystery, ritual, sacraments, appeal to him, and there he stands 
with his contemporaries. But a man, in whose pages bandit 
and old woman, ass and Isis, all talk in one Euphuistic strain, 
was possibly not so pious as men of simpler speech. Yet his 
giving such a conclusion to such a tale is significant, and there 
is not an absurdity among all the many, in which he so gaily 
revels, but corresponded with something that men believed. 

1 Augustine, C.D. xviii, 18; andcf. ib. viii, 14 (on the de deo Socr. ) ; and Lactantius, 
v, 3- 

* Capitolinus v. Albini, 12. 


In conclusion, we may ask what Lucian of Samosata and 
Diogenes of Oinoanda had to offer to Aristides and Pausanias 
and Apuleius ; and what they in turn could suggest to men 
whose concern in religion goes deeper than the cure of physical 
disease, trance and self-conscious revelling in ceremony. Some 
spiritual value still clung about the old religion, or it could 
not have found supporters in a Plotinus and a Porphyry, 
but (to quote again a most helpful question) " how much 
else ? " 



Deliquit, opinor, divina doctrina exjudaapotius quant ex Gratia orient. Erravit 
tt Christus piscatorcs citius quam sophistam ad praconium emittens* TERTULLIAN, 
de Anirna, 3. 

AT the beginning of the last chapter reference was made 
to the spread of Christianity in the second century, and 
then a brief survey was given of the position of the 
old religion without reference to the new. When one realizes 
the different habits of mind represented by the men there 
considered, the difficulties with which Christianity had to 
contend become more evident and more intelligible. Lucian 
generally ignored it, only noticing it to laugh at its folly and 
to pass on it was too inconspicuous to be worth attack. To 
the others the devout of the old religion, whose fondest 
thoughts were for the past, and for whom religion was largely 
a ritual, sanctified by tradition and by fancy, the Christian 
faith offered little beyond the negation of all they counted dear. 
We are happily in possession of fragments of an anti-Christian 
work of the day, written by a man philosophic and academic 
in temperament, but sympathetic with the followers of the 
religion of his fathers fragments only, but enough to show 
how Christianity at once provoked the laughter, incensed the 
patriotism, and offended the religious tastes of educated people. 
It was for a man called Celsus that Lucian wrote his book 
upon the prophet Alexander and his shrine at Abonoteichos, 
and it has been suggested that Lucian's friend and the Celsus, 
who wrote the famous True Word, may have been one and the 
same. The evidence is carefully worked out by Keim, 1 but it 
is not very strong, especially as some two dozen men of the 
name are known to the historians of the first three centuries of 
our era. Origen himself knew little of Celsus hardly more 
than we can gather from the quotations he made from the book 

1 Keim, Celsus' Wahrcs Wort (1873). 


2 4 o CELSUS 

in refuting it. From a close study of his occasional hints at 
contemporary history, Keim puts Celsus' book down to the 
latter part of the reign of Marcus Aurelius, or, more closely, to 
the year 178 A.D. 1 Celsus' general references to Christianity 
and to paganism imply that period. He writes under the 
pressure of the barbarian inroads on the Northern frontier, of 
the Parthians in the East and of the great plague. His main 
concern is the Roman State, shaken by all these misfortunes, 
and doubly threatened by the passive disaffection of Christians 
within its borders. 2 From what Turk and Mongol meant to 
Europe in the Middle Ages and may yet mean to us, we may- 
divine how men of culture and patriotism felt about the white 
savages coming down upon them from the North. 

Of the personal history of Celsus nothing can be said, but 
the features of his mind are well-marked. He was above all 
a man of culture, candid, scholarly and cool. He knew and 
admired the philosophical writings of ancient Greece, he had 
some knowledge of Egypt, and he also took the pains to read 
the books of the Jews and the Christians. On the whole he 
leant to Plato, but, like many philosophic spirits, he found 
destructive criticism more easy than the elaboration of a system 
of his own. Yet here we must use caution, for the object he 
had set before him was not to be served by individual specula- 
tion. It was immaterial what private opinions he might hold, 
for his great purpose was the abandonment of particularism and 
the fusion of all parties for the general good. Private judgment 
run mad was the mark of all Christians, orthodox and heretical, 
" men walling themselves off and isolating themselves from 
mankind " 3 and his thesis was that the whole spirit of the 
movement was wrong. A good citizen's part was loyal 
acceptance of the common belief, deviation from which was now 
shown to impair the solidarity of the civilized world. Of course 
such a position is never taken by really independent thinkers ; 
but it is the normal standpoint of men to whom practical 

1 Keim, pp. 264-273. 

2 Tertullian, Apol. 38, nee ulla res aliena magis quam publica. Elsewhere 
Tertullian explains this : Icedimus Romanos nee Romani habemur qui non 
Ronianorum deum cotimus, Apol. 24. 

3 Apud Origen, c. Cels. viii, 2. References in what follows will be made to the 
book and chapter of this work without repetition of Origen's name. The text used 
is that of Koetschau. 


affairs are of more moment than speculative precision men, 
who are at bottom sceptical, and have little interest in problems 
which they have given up as insoluble. Celsus was satisfied 
with the established order, alike in the regions of thought 
and of government. He mistrusted new movements not 
least when they were so conspicuously alien to the Greek mind 
as the new superstition that came from Palestine. He has 
all the ancient contempt of the Greek for the barbarian, and, 
while he is influenced by the high motive of care for the State, 
there are traces of irritation in his tone which speak of personal 
feeling. The folly of the movement provoked him. 

This, he says, is the language of the Christians : " ' Let no 
cultured person draw near, none wise, none sensible ; for all 
that kind of thing we count evil ; but if any man is ignorant, 
if any is wanting in sense and culture, if any is a fool, let him 
come boldly.' Such people they spontaneously avow to be 
worthy of their God ; and, so doing, they show that it is only 
the simpletons, the ignoble, the senseless, slaves and women- 
folk and children, whom they wish to persuade, or can 
persuade." l Those who summon men to the other initiations 
(reXera?), and offer purification from sins, proclaim : " Who- 
soever has clean hands and is wise of speech," or " Whosoever 
is pure from defilement, whose soul is conscious of no guilt, 
who has lived well and righteously." " But let us hear what 
sort these people invite ; ' Whosoever is a sinner, or unin- 
telligent, or a fool, in a word, whosoever is god-forsaken 
(KaKoSal/uujDv), him the kingdom of God will receive.' Now 
whom do you mean by the sinner but the wicked, thief, house- 
breaker, poisoner, temple- robber, grave-robber? Whom else 
would a brigand invite to join him ? " 2 But the Christian pro- 
paganda is still more odious. " We see them in our own houses, 
wool dressers, cobblers, and fullers, the most uneducated and 
vulgar persons, not daring to say a word in the presence of 
their masters whp are older and wiser ; but when they get hold 
of the children in private, and silly women with them, they are 
wonderfully eloquent, to the effect that the children must not 
listen to their father, but believe them and be taught by them ; 
. . . that they alone know how to live, and if the children will 
listen to them, they will be happy themselves, and will make 

1 c. Cels. iii, 44. >J Ibid, iii, 59. 



their home blessed. But if, while they are speaking, they see 
some of the children's teachers, some wiser person or their 
father coming, the more cautious of them will be gone in a 
moment, and the more impudent will egg on the children to 
throw off the reins whispering to them that, while their father 
or their teachers are about, they will not and cannot teach 
them anything good . . . they must come with the women, 
and the little children that play with them, to the women's 
quarters, or the cobbler's shop, or the fuller's, to receive perfect 
knowledge. And that is how they persuade them." l They are 
like quacks who warn men against the doctor " take care that 
none of you touches Science (e-Trto-nyjui;) ; Science is a bad 
thing ; knowledge (yi/toorf?) makes men fall from health of 
soul." 2 They will not argue about what they believe " they 
always bring in their ' Do not examine, but believe,' and ' Thy 
faith shall save thee ' " 3 " believe that he, whom I set forth to 
you, is the son of God, even though he was bound in the most 
dishonourable way, and punished in the most shameful, though 
yesterday or the day before he weltered in the most disgraceful 
fashion before the eyes of all men so much the more believe! " * 
So far all the Christian sects are at one. 

And the absurdity of it ! " Why was he not sent to the 
sinless as well as to sinners ? What harm is there in not 
having sinned?" 5 Listen to them! "The unjust, if he 
humble himself from his iniquity, God will receive ; but the 
just, if he look up to Him with virtue from beginning to end, 
him He will not receive." 6 Celsus' own view is very different 
" It must be clear to everybody, I should think, that those, 
who are sinners by nature and training, none could change, 

1 iii, 55* I have omitted a clause or two. 

Clem. A. Strom, iv, 67, on the other hand, speaks of the difficult position of wife or 
slave in such a divided household, and (68) of conversions in spite of the master of the 
house. Tert. ad Scap. 3, has a story of a governor whose wife became a Christian, 
and who in anger began a persecution at once. 

2 iii, 75- 

3 i, 9. Cf. Clem. Alex. Strom, i, 43, on some Christians who think themselves 
cv<t>veis and "ask for faith faith alone and bare." In Paed. i, 27, he says much the 
same himself, TO Trtcrrei/crat fj,bi>ov ical dvayevvridTJvai reXe^wcri's ICTTIV v farj. 

4 vi, 10. Clem. Alex. Strom, ii, 8, " The Greeks think Faith empty and barbarous, 
and revile it," but (ii, 30) " if it had been a human thing, as they supposed, it would 
have been quenched." 

8 iii, 62. 6 iii, 62. 


not even by punishment to say nothing of doing it by pity ! 
For to change nature completely is very difficult ; and those 
who have not sinned are better partners in life." l Christians 
in fact make God into a sentimentalist " the slave of pity for 
those who mourn " * to the point of injustice. 

Jews and Christians seem to Celsus " like a swarm of bats 
or ants creeping out of their nest or frogs holding a 
symposium round a swamp or worms in conventicle 
(KK\t]a-idov(ri) in a corner of the mud 3 debating which of 
them are the more sinful, and saying ' God reveals all things 
to us beforehand and gives us warning ; he forsakes the whole 
universe and the course of the heavenly spheres, and all this 
great earth he neglects, to dwell with us alone ; to us alone he 
despatches heralds, and never ceases to send and to seek how 
we may dwell with him for ever/ " " God is," say the worms, 
" and after him come we, brought into being by him (vir avrov 
yeyoi/o're?), in all things like unto God ; and to us all things 
are subjected, earth and water and air and stars ; for our sake 
all things are, and to serve us they are appointed." " Some 
of us," continue the worms (" he means us," says Origen) 
" some of us sin, so God will- come, or else he will send his son, 
that he may burn up the unrighteous, and that the rest of us 
may have eternal life with him." * 

The radical error in Jewish and Christian thinking is that 
it is anthropocentric. They say that God made all things for 
man, 5 but this is not at all evident. What we know of the 
world suggests that it is not more for the sake of man than 
of the irrational animals that all things were made. Plants and 
trees and grass and thorns do they grow for man a whit 
more than for the wildest animals ? " * Sun and night serve 
mortals,' says Euripides but why us more than the ants or 
the flies ? For them, too, night comes for rest, and day for sight 
and work." If men hunt and eat animals, they in their turn 
hunt and eat men ; and before towns and communities were 
formed, and tools and weapons made, man's supremacy was 
even more questionable. "In no way is man better in God's 

1 iii, 65, roi>s a/j.apT<ii>eii> ire<f>vKbras re Kal elOifffdvovt. * Hi, Jl. 

a Clement of Alexandria, Protr. 92, uses this simile of worms in the mud of swamps, 
applying it to people who live for pleasure. 

4 iv. 23. 5 ir, 74- 


sight than ants and bees " (iv. 8 1 ). The political instinct cf 
man is shared by both these creatures they have constitutions, 
cities, wars and victories, and trials at law as the drones 
know. Ants have sense enough to secure their corn stores 
from sprouting : they have graveyards ; they can tell one 
another which way to go thus they have Xoyo? and ewoiai like 
men. If one looked from heaven, would there be any marked 
difference between the procedures of men and of ants ? 1 But 
man has an intellectual affinity with God ; the human mind 
conceives thoughts that are essentially divine (Oe/a? ei/i/o/a?). 2 
Many animals can make the same claim " what could one 
call more divine than to foreknow and foretell the future ? 
And this men learn from the other animals and most of all 
from birds ; " and if this comes from God, " so much nearer 
divine intercourse do they seem by nature than we, wiser and 
more dear to God." Thus " all things were not made for man, 
just as they were not made for the lion, nor the eagle, nor the 
dolphin, but that the universe as a work of God might be complete 
and perfect in every part. It is for this cause that the pro- 
portions of all things are designed, not for one another (except 
incidentally) but for the whole. God's care is for the whole, 
and this Providence never neglects. The whole does not grow 
worse, nor does God periodically turn it to himself. He is not 
angry on account of men, just as he is not angry because of 
monkeys or flies ; nor does he threaten the things, each of 
which in measure has its portion of himself." 3 

Celsus held that Christians spoke of God in a way that 
was neither holy nor guiltless (ovx oo-iw ovS' ei/ayo>9, iv, I o) ; 
and he hinted that they did it to astonish ignorant listeners. 4 
For himself, he was impressed with the thought, which Plato 
has in the Timczus, a sentence that sums up what many of the 
most serious and religious natures have felt and will always 
feel to be profoundly true : " The maker and father of this 

1 So Lucian Icaromenippus> 19, explicitly. 

3 iv, 88. Cf. Clem. Alex. Padag. i, 7, TO <f>i\rpov tvSov ^.arlv iv r avOpuiry 
rou0' owep tfj.QtiffijiJ.a X^yercu 6eov. 

3 c. Cels. iv, 74-99. Cf. Plato, Laws, 903 B, ws T$ TOV iravrbs 4irifjie\<p irpfo 
TT)v ffUTrjplav KO.I dperrjv TOV o\ov Trdrr' cffri ffwreTay^va KTC, explicitly developing 
the idea of the part being for the whole. Also Cicero, N.D. ii, 13, 34-36. 

4 Cf. M. Aurelius, xi, 3, the criticism of the theatricality of the Christians. 
See p. 198. 


whole fabric it is hard to find, and, when one has found him, 
it is impossible to speak of him to all men." l Like the men 
of his day, a true and deep instinct led him to point back to 
" inspired poets, wise men and philosophers," and to Plato " a 
more living (cvepyea-repov) teacher of theology " 2 " though I 
should be surprised if you are able to follow him, seeing that 
you are utterly bound up in the flesh and see nothing clearly." 3 
What the sages tell him of God, he proceeds to set forth. 

" Being and becoming, one is intelligible, the other visible 
(vorjTov, oparov). Being is the sphere of truth ; becoming, of 
error. Truth is the subject of knowledge ; the other of 
opinion. Thought deals with the intelligible ; sight with the 
visible. The mind recognizes the intelligible, the eye the visible. 

" What then the Sun is among things visible, neither eye, 
nor sight yet to the eye the cause of its seeing, to sight the 
cause of its existing (o-vvtorTao-Qai) by his means, to things 
visible the cause of their being seen, to all things endowed with 
sensation the cause of their existence (yiveo-Ocu) and indeed the 
cause himself of himself being seen ; this HE is among things 
intelligible (vorjra), who is neither mind, nor thought, nor know- 
ledge, but to the mind the cause of thinking, to thought of its 
being by his means, to knowledge of our knowing by his means, 
to all things intelligible, to truth itself, and to being itself, the 
cause that they are out beyond all things (TTO.VTWV e-TrcKeiva a>v), 
intelligible only by some unspeakable faculty. 

" So have spoken men of mind ; and if you can understand 
anything of it, it is well for you. If you suppose a spirit 
descends from God to proclaim divine matters, it would be the 
spirit that proclaims this, that spirit with which men of old 
were filled and in consequence announced much that was good. 
But if you can take in nothing of it, be silent and hide your 
own ignorance, and do not say that those who see are blind, 
and those who run are lame, especially when you yourselves 
are utterly crippled and mutilated in soul, and live in the body 
that is to say, in the dead element." 4 

Origen says that Celsus is constantly guilty of tautology, 
and the reiteration of this charge of ignorance and want of 

1 <:. Cels. vii, 42, rbv ^v ofo Tron}T^v Kal irartpa rovSf rov iravros tvpeiv re fpyor 
Kal evpovTa efs Trdrros iMvarov \tyciv : Timceus, 28 C often cited by Clement too. 

2 vii, 42. * vii, 42. 4 vii, 45. 


culture is at least frequent enough. Yet if the Christian move- 
ment had been confined to people as vulgar and illiterate as he 
suggests, he might not have thought it worth his while to attack 
the new religion. His hint of the propagation of the Gospel by 
slaves in great houses, taken with the names of men of learning 
and position, whom we know to have been converted, shows 
the seriousness of the case. But to avoid the further charge 
which Origen brings against Celsus of " mixing everything up," 
it will be better to pursue Celsus' thoughts of God. 

" I say nothing new, but what seemed true of old (TraXai 
ScSoy/uieva). God is good, and beautiful, and happy, and is in 
that which is most beautiful and best. If then he ' descends 
to men,' it involves change for him, and change from good to 
bad, from beautiful to ugly, from happiness to unhappiness, 
from what is best to what is worst. Who would choose such 
a change ? For mortality it is only nature to alter and be 
changed ; but for the immortal to abide the same forever. 
God would not accept such a change." l He presents a 
dilemma to the Christians ; " Either God really changes, as 
they say, to a mortal body, and it has been shown that this 
is impossible ; or he himself does not change, but he makes 
those who see suppose so, and thus deceives and cheats them. 
Deceit and lying are evil, taken generally, though in the single 
case of medicine one might use them in healing friends who are 
sick or mad or against enemies in trying to escape danger. 
But none who is sick or mad is a friend of God's ; nor is God 
afraid of any one, so that he should use deceit to escape 
danger." - God in fact " made nothing mortal ; but God's 
works are such things as are immortal, and they have made 
the mortal. The soul is God's work, but the nature of the 
body is different, and in this respect there is no difference 
between the bodies of bat, worm, frog, and man. The matter 
is the same and the corruptible part is alike." * 

The Christian conception of the " descent of God " is 
repulsive to Celsus, for it means contact with matter. " God's 
anger," too, is an impious idea, for anger is a passion ; and 

2 iv, 1 8. See Tertullian's argument on this question of God changing, in de Came 
Christi, 3. See Plato, Rep. ii, 381 B. 

* iv, 52. See Timaus, 34 B ff. on God making soul. 


Celsus makes havoc of the Old Testament passages where God 
is spoken of as having human passions (avOpwrroTraQw), closing 
with an argumentum ad hominem " Is it not absurd that a man 
[Titus], angry with the Jews, slew all their youth and burnt 
their land, and so they came to nothing ; but God Almighty, 
as they say, angry and vexed and threatening, sends his son 
and endures such things as they tell ? " 1 Furthermore, the 
Christian account of God's anger at man's sin involves a pre- 
sumption that Christians really know what evil is. " Now the 
origin of evil is not to be easily known by one who has no 
philosophy. It is enough to tell the common people that evil 
is not from God, but is inherent in matter, and is a fellow- 
citizen (e/jiTroXiTeuerai) of mortality. The circuit of mortal 
things is from beginning to end the same, and in the appointed 
circles the same must always of necessity have been and be and 
be again." 2 " Nor could the good or evil elements in mortal 
things become either less or greater. God does not need to 
restore all things anew. God is not like a man, that, because 
he has faultily contrived or executed without skill, he should 
try to amend the world." 3 In short, " even if a thing seems to 
you to be bad, it is not yet clear that it is bad ; for you do not 
know what is of advantage to yourself, or to another, or to the 
whole." 4 Besides would God need to descend in order to 

1 iv, 73. See Clem. Alex. Paed. i, ch. 10, on God threatening ; and Strom, ii, 72 ; 
iv, 151 ; vii, 37, for the view that God is without anger, and for guidance as to the 
understanding of language in the O.T. which seems to imply the contrary. For a 
different view, see Tertullian, de Ttstim. Animce, 2, unde igitur naturalis timer 
animts in deum, si deus non novit irasci? adv. Marc, i, 26, 27, on the necessity for 
God's anger, if the moral law is to be maintained ; and adv. Marc, ii, 16, a further 
account of God's anger, while a literal interpretation of God's "eyes" and "right 
hand " is excluded. 

2 iv, 65. 8 iv,69. 

4 iv, 70. Long before (about 500 B.C.) Heraclitus had said (fragm. 61): "To 
God all things are beautiful and good and just ; but men have supposed some things 
to be unjust and others just." For this doctrine of the relativity of good and bad to 
the whole, cf. hymn of Clean thes to Zeus : 

dXXd <ru Kal ra irepiffffd r' tiriffra.ffa.1 apria Oclvai, 
ical Kofffj.f^v raKOfffia, icai ov <f>i\a ffol <f>L\a 
<55e yap efs (v iravra. ffvvr)p/j.OKas <r6\a. 
GiffO' eva. yiyveffdai TT&VTWV \6yov attv thro.. 

Cf. also the teaching of Chrysippus, as given by Gellius, N.A. vii, I : cum bona malts 
contraria sint, utraque mcessum est opposita inter sese et quasi mutuo adverse quaque 
fulta nisu consisterc ; nullum ideo contrarium est sine contrario altero . . . si tultris 


learn what was going on among men ? l Or was he dissatisfied 
with the attention he received, and did he really come down 
" to show off like a nouveau riche (ot veoTrAouTO*) ? " Then 
why not long before ? 3 

Should Christians ask him how God is to be seen, he has 
his answer : " If you will be blind to sense and see with the 
mind, if you will turn from the flesh and waken the eyes of 
the soul, thus and thus only shall you see God." 4 In words 
that Origen approves, he says, " from God we must never and 
in no way depart, neither by day nor by night, in public or in 
private, in every word and work perpetually, but, with these 
and without, let the soul ever be strained towards God." 5 "If 
any man bid you, in the worship of God, either to do impiety, 
or to say anything base, you must never be persuaded by him. 
Rather endure every torture and submit to every death, than 
think anything unholy of God, let alone say it." 6 

Thus the fundamental conceptions of the Christians are 
shown to be wrong, but more remains to be done. Let us 
assume for purposes of discussion that there could be a 
" descent of God " would it be what the Christians say it 
was ? " God is great and hard to be seen," he makes the 
Christian say, " so he put his own spirit into a body like ours 
and sent it down here that we might hear and learn from it." 7 
If that is true, he says, then God's son cannot be immortal, 
since the nature of a spirit is not such as to be permanent ; 
nor could Jesus have risen again in the body, " for God would 
not have received back the spirit which he gave when it was 
polluted with the nature of the body." 8 "If he had wished 
to send down a spirit from himself, why did he need to breathe 
it into the womb of a woman ? He knew already how to 

unum abstuleris utrumque. See also M. Aurelius in the same Stoic vein, viii, 50 ; 
ix, 42. On the other side see Plutarch's indignant criticism of this attribution of the 
responsibility for evil to God, de comm. not. adv. Sto. 14, 1065 D, ff. In opposition 
to Marcion, Tertullian emphasizes the worth of the world ; his position, as a few 
words will show, is not that of Celsus, but Stoic influence is not absent : adv. Marc. 
i, 13, 14; Ergo nee mundus deo indignus : nihil etenim deus indignum se fecit, etsi 
munduni homini non sibi fecit, etsi omne opus inferius est suo artifice ; see p. 317. 
1 iv, 3. 2 iv, 6. 3 iv, 7. 4 vii, 36. c viii, 63. 6 viii, 66. 

7 vi, 69. " Men, who count themselves wise," says Clement (Strom, i, 88), 
"count it a fairy tale that the son of God should speak through man, or that God 
should have a son, and he suffer." 

8 vi, 72. 


make men, and he could have fashioned a body about this 
spirit too, and so avoided putting his own spirit into such 
pollution." 1 Again the body, in which the spirit was sent, 
ought to have had stature or beauty or terror or persuasion, 
whereas they say it was little, ugly and ignoble. 2 

Then, finally, " suppose that God, like Zeus in the Comedy, 
waking out of long sleep, determined to rescue mankind from 
evil, why on earth did he send this spirit (as you call it) into 
one particular corner? He ought to have breathed through 
many bodies in the same way and sent them all over the 
world. The comic poet, to make merriment in the theatre, 
describes how Zeus waked up and sent Hermes to the 
Athenians and Lacedaemonians ; do you not think that your 
invention of God's son being sent to the Jews is more laugh- 
able still ? " 3 The incarnation further carried with it stories of 
" God eating " mutton, vinegar, gall. This revolted Celsus, 
and he summed it all up in one horrible word. 4 

The ignominy of the life of Jesus was evidence to Celsus 
of the falsity of his claim to be God's son. He bitterly taunts 
Christians with following a child of shame " God's would not 
be a body like yours nor begotten as you were begotten, 
Jesus ! " 6 He reviles Jesus for the Passion " unhelped by 
his Father and unable to help himself." 6 He goes to the 
Gospels (" I know the whole story," he says 7 ) and he cites 
incident after incident. He reproaches Jesus with seeking to 
escape the cross, 8 he brings forward " the men who mocked 
him and put the purple robe on him, the crown of thorns, and 

* l vi, 73. Cf. the Marcionite view ; cf. Tert. adv. Marc, iii, II ; iv, 21 ; v, 19, 
cuius ingeniis tarn longe abest veritas nostra ut . . . Christum ex vulva virginis 
natum non crubcscat, ridentibus philosophis et hareticis el ethnicis ipsis. See also de 
came Christi, 4, 5, where he strikes a higher note ; Christ loved man, born as man 
is, and descended for him. 

2 vi, 75. Cf. Tert. de carne Christi, 9, adeo nee humana honcstatis corpus fuit ; 
adv. Jud. 14, ne aspectu quidem honestus. 

3 vi, 78. Cf. Tert. adv. Marc, iii, z, atquin nihtl putem a deo subitum quia 
nihil a deo non dispositum. 

4 vii, 13, ffKaro^xiyeiv. Origen's reply is absurd 'iva yap *ral So'fl 6ri ^rtfiec, <ij 
(rwjta <f>opwv 6 'ITJO-OUS -ffffdiev. So also said Clement (Sirom. vi, 71). Valentinus had 

l another theory no better, Strom, iii. 59. Marcion, Tertullian says (adv. Marc, iii, 
10), called the flesh terrenam et stercoribus infusam. They are all filled with the 
| tame contempt for matter not Tertullian, however. 

*i, 69. 8 i, 54. 7 i, 12. ii, 23, 24. 

2 5 o CELSUS 

the reed in his hand " ; l he taunts him with being unable to 
endure his thirst upon the cross " which many a common 
man will endure." 5 As to the resurrection, " if Jesus wished 
really to display his divine power, he ought to have appeared 
to the actual men who reviled him, and to him who condemned 
him and to all, for, of course, he was no longer afraid of any 
man, seeing he was dead, and, as you say, God, and was not 
originally sent to elude observation." 3 Or, better still, to show 
his Godhead, he might have vanished from the gibbet. 4 

What befel Jesus, befals his followers. " Don't you see, my 
dear sir ? " Celsus says, " a man may stand and blaspheme your 
daemon ; and not that only, he may forbid him land and sea, 
and then lay hands on you, who are consecrated to him like a 
statue, bind you, march you off and impale you ; and the 
daemon, or, as you say, the son of God, does not help you." 5 
" You may stand and revile the statues of the gods and laugh. 
But if you tried it in the actual presence of Dionysus or 
Herakles, you might not get off so comfortably. But your 
god in his own person they spread out and punished, and those 
who did it have suffered nothing. . . . He too who sent his 
son (according to you) with some message or other, looked 
on and saw him thus cruelly punished, so that the message 
perished with him, and though all this time has passed he has 
never heeded. What father was ever so unnatural (ai/oVfo?) ? 
Ah ! but perhaps he wished it, you say, and that was why he 
endured the insult. And perhaps our gods wish it too, when 
you blaspheme them." 6 

Celsus would seem to have heard Christian preaching, for 
beside deriding " Only believe " and " Thy faith will save thee," 
he is offended by the language they use about the cross. 
" Wide as the sects stand apart, and bitter as are their quarrels 
and mutual abuse, you will hear them all say their ' To me the 
world is crucified and I to the world.' " 7 In one great passage 
he mixes, as Origen says, the things he has mis-heard, and 
quotes Christian utterances about "a soul that lives, and a 
heaven that is slain that it may live, and earth slain with the 

J ii, 34- 2 n, 37- 

3 ii, 66, 67. Tertullian meets this in Apol. 21. Nam nee ille se in vulgus eduxit \ 
ne impii errore liberarentur, ut et fides, non mediocri praemio destinata, difficulcate 

4 ii, 68. 5 viii, 39. 6 viii, 41. 7 v, 65. 


sword, and ever so many people being slain to live ; and death 
taking a rest in the world when the sin of the world dies ; and 
then a narrow way down, and gates that open of themselves. 
And everywhere you have the tree of life and the resurrection 
of the flesh from the tree I suppose, because their teacher 
was nailed to a cross and was a carpenter by trade. Exactly 
as, if he had chanced to be thrown down a precipice, or pushed 
into a pit, or choked in a noose, or if he had been a cobbler, 
or a stone-mason, or a blacksmith, there would have been above 
the heavens a precipice of life, or a pit of resurrection, or a rope 
of immortality, or a happy stone, or the iron of love, or the holy 
hide." l 

The miracles of Jesus Celsus easily explains. " Through 
poverty he went to Egypt and worked there as a hired 
labourer ; and there he became acquainted with certain powers 
[or faculties], on which the Egyptians pride themselves, and he 
came back holding his head high on account of them, and 
because of them he announced that he was God." 2 But, 
granting the miracles of healing and of raising the dead and 
feeding the multitudes, he maintains that ordinary quacks will 
do greater miracles in the streets for an obol or two, " driving 
devils out of men, 3 and blowing away diseases and calling up 
the souls of heroes, and displaying sumptuous banquets and 
tables and sweetmeats and dainties that are not there ; " 
" must we count them sons of God ? " 4 There are plenty of 
prophets too, " and it is quite an easy and ordinary thing for 
each of them to say * I am God or God's son or a divine 
spirit. And I am come ; for already the world perisheth, 
and ye, oh men, are lost for your sins. But I am willing to 

1 vi, 34. Cf. a curious passage of Clem. Alex. Protr. \ 14, o&ros r^v 5foii> et't\T)v /j.eT'fiya.yfjr KO.I rbv et's <aT]v<TTatfp<t}ffei> ffapiraaas St rijs dwwXefaT 
TOV &.vOpuirov irpoaeKp^affev aldtpi, and so forth. Cf. Tert. adv. Valent. 20, who 
suggests that the Valentinians had "nut-trees in the sky" it is a book in which he 
allows himself a good deal of gaiety and free quotation. 

2 i, 28. 

3 M. Aurelius, i, 6, " From Diognetus I learnt not to give credit to what was said 
by miracle-workers and jugglers (yoriruv) about incantations and the sending away of 
daemons and such things." Cf. Tertullian, adv. Marc, iii, 2-4, on inadequacy of proof 
from miracles alone, without that from prophecy ; also de Anima, 57, on these con- 
jurers, where he remarks, nee magnum illi exteriorcs oculos circumscribere, an 
interiorem mentis aciem excalcare ferfacile est. See also Apol. 22, 23. 

* i, 68. 


save you ; and ye shall see me hereafter coming with heavenly 
power. Blessed is he that has worshipped me now ; but upon 
all the rest I will send eternal fire, and upon their cities and 
lands. And men who do not recognize their own guilt shall 
repent in vain with groans ; and them that have believed me, I 
will guard for ever.' " J Jesus was, he holds, an obvious quack 
and impostor. In fact, there is little to choose between 
worshipping Jesus and Antinous, the favourite of Hadrian, who 
had actually been deified in Egypt. 2 

The teaching of Jesus, to which Christians pointed, was 
after all a mere medley of garbled quotations from Greek 
literature. Thus when Jesus said that it is easier for a camel 
to go through a needle's eye than for a rich man to go into 
the kingdom of God, he was merely spoiling the Platonic 
saying that it is impossible for a man to be exceedingly good 
and exceedingly rich at the same time. 3 The kingdom of 
heaven itself comes from the " divinely spoken " words of 
Plato ; it is the " supercelestial region " of the Phadrus?' 
Satan is a parody of Heraclitus' conception of War. 5 The 
Christian resurrection comes from metempsychosis. 6 The idea 
that " God will descend, carrying fire (like a torturer in a 
law-court) " comes from some confused notion of the teaching 
of the Greeks upon cycles and periods and the final conflagra- 
tion. 7 Plato has this advantage that he never boasted and 
never said that God had " a son who descended and talked 
with me." 8 The " son of God " itself was an expression 
borrowed in their clumsy way by the Christians from the 
ancients who conceived of the universe as God's offspring. 9 

Christians lay great stress on the immortality, " but it is 
silly of them to suppose that when God like a cook brings 
the fire, the rest of mankind will be roasted and they them- 
selves will alone remain, not merely the living, but even those 
who died long ago, rising from the earth with the identical 
flesh they had before. Really it is the hope of worms ! For 
what soul of a man would any longer wish for a body that 

1 vii, 9. 2 iii, 36. 

J vi, 1 6. Cf. Plato, Laws, v, 12, p. 743 A. 

4 vi, 17-19; Phcedrus, 247 C. 5 vi, 42. 

6 vii, 32; cf. Min. Felix. 1 1, 9. 7 iv, n. 8 vi, 8. 

* ri, 47. Cf. Plato, Timceus (last words), 92 C, e?s oJ/aavoy 55e 


had rotted ? " 1 The loathsomeness of the idea, he says, 
cannot be expressed, and besides it is impossible. " They have 
nothing to reply to this, so they fly to the absurdest refuge, and 
say that all is possible with God. But God cannot do what is 
foul, and what is contrary to nature he will not do. Though you 
in your vulgarity may wish a loathsome thing, it does not follow 
that God can do it, nor that you are right to believe at once 
that it will come to pass. For it is not of superfluous desire 
and wandering disorder, but of true and just nature that God 
is prince (apxiyerrjs). He could grant immortal life of the 
soul ; but ' corpses,' as Heraclitus says, ' are less useful than 
dung.' The flesh is full of what it is not beautiful even to 
mention and to make it immortal contrary to all reason 
(Tra/oaXo'yw?), is what God neither will nor can do. For he is 
the reason of all things that are, so that he cannot do anything 
contrary to reason or contrary to himself." 2 And yet, says 
Celsus, " you hope you will see God with the eyes of your 
body, and hear his voice with your ears, and touch him with 
the hands of sense." 3 If they threaten the heathen with 
eternal punishment, the exegetes, hierophants, and mystagogues 
of the temples hurl back the same threat, and while words are 
equal, they can show proofs in daemonic activities and oracles. 4 
" With those however who speak of the soul or the mind 
(whether they choose to call it spiritual, or a spirit intelligent, 
holy and happy, or a living soul, or the supercelestial and 
incorruptible offspring of a divine and bodyless nature or 
whatever they please) with those who hope to have this 
eternally with God, with such I will speak. For they are right 
in holding that they who have lived well will be happy and 
the unjust will be held in eternal woes. From this opinion 
((Soy/xaTo?) let not them nor any one else depart." 5 

In this way Celsus surveys the main points of Christian 
history and teaching. They have no real grounds beneath 
them. The basis of the church is " faction (Wacn?) and the 
profit it brings, and fear of those without ; those are the 
things that establish the faith for them." 6 Faction is their 
keynote, taken from the Jews at first ; and faction splits them 
up into innumerable sects beside the " great church," 7 " the 

1 v, 14. ~ v, 14. 3 vii, 34. 4 viii. 48. 

5 viii, 49. iii, 14- 7 v . 59- 


one thing they have in common, if indeed they still have it, is 
the name ; and this one thing they are ashamed to abandon." 1 
When they all say " ' Believe, if you wish to be saved, or 
else depart ' ; what are those to do who really wish to be 
saved ? Should they throw the dice to find out to whom 
to turn ? " 2 In short, faction is their breath of life, and 
" if all mankind were willing to be Christian, then they 
would not." 3 

But Celsus is not content merely to refute ; he will point 
out a more excellent way. " Are not all things ruled accord- 
ing to the will of God ? is not all Providence from him ? 
Whatever there is in the whole scheme of things, whether the 
work of God, or of angels, or other daemons, or heroes, all these 
have their law from the greatest God ; and in power over each 
thing is set he that has been counted fit." 4 " Probably the 
various sections are allotted to various rulers (eTroTrrcu?) and 
distributed in certain provinces, and so governed. Thus 
among the various nations things would be done rightly if done 
as those rulers would have them. It is then not holy to break 
down what has been from the beginning the tradition of one 
and another place." 5 Again, the body is the prison of the soul ; 
should there not then be warders of it daemons in fact ? 6 
Then " will not a man, who worships God, be justified in 
serving him who has his power from God ? " 7 To worship 
them all cannot grieve him to whom they all belong. 8 Over 
and over Celsus maintains the duty of " living by the ancestral 
usages," " each people worshipping its own traditional deities." 8 
To say with the Christians that there is one Lord, meaning 
God, is to break up the kingdom of God and make factions 
there (arraa-idfav), as if there were choices to be made, and one 
were a rival of another. 10 

Ammon is no worse than the angels of the Jews ; though 
here the Jews are so far right in that they hold by the ways of 
their ancestors an advantage which the Jewish proselytes have 

1 iii, 12. 2 vi, II. 

3 iii, 9. Tertullian speaks in a somewhat similar way of heretics, especially of the 
Gnostics: de prescriptions haret. c. 42. 

4 vii, 68. 5 v, 25. 6 viii, 53, 58. 

7 vii, 68. 8 viii, 2. 9 Cf. v, 34, 35. 

10 viii, II. Cf. Tert. adv. Prax. 3, where it is argued that God's monarchy is not 
impaired tot angelorutn numero, nor by the oucof o/xt'a of the Trinity. 


forfeited. 1 If the Jews pride themselves on superior knowledge 
and so hold aloof from other men, Herodotus is evidence that 
their supposed peculiar dogma is shared by the Persians ; and 
" I think it makes no difference whether you call Zeus the 
Most High, or Zeus, or Adonai, or Sabaoth, or Amun, like the 
Egyptians, or Papaios like the Scythians." z 

The evidence for the ancillary daemons and gods he finds in 
the familiar places. " Why need I tell at length how many 
things prophets and prophetesses at the oracles have foretold, 
and other men and women possessed by a voice of a god 
within them ? the marvels heard from shrines ? revelations from 
sacrifices and victims, and other miraculous tokens ? And some 
have been face to face with visible phantoms. The whole of 
life is full of these things." Cities have escaped plague and 
famine through warnings from oracles, and have suffered for 
neglecting them. The childless have gained children, and the 
crippled have been healed, while those who have treated sacred 
things with contempt have been punished in suicide and 
incurable diseases. 3 Let a man go to the shrine of Trophonius 
or Amphiaraus or Mopsus, and there he may see the gods in 
the likeness of men, no feigned forms tycvSofjLevov?) but clear to 
see, " not slipping by them once, like him who deceived these 
people [the Christians], but ever associating with those who 
will." 4 "A great multitude of men, Greeks and barbarians^ 
testify that they have often seen and still do see Asklepios, and 
not merely a phantom of him, but they see himself healing men, 
and doing them good, and foretelling the future." 5 Is it not 
likely that these " satraps and ministers of air and earth " could 
do you harm, if you did them despite? 6 Earthly rulers too 
deserve worship, since they hold their positions not without 
daemonic influence. 7 Why should not the Christians worship 
them, daemons and Emperors ? If they worshipped no other 
but one God, they might have some clear argument against other 
men ; but, as it is, they more than worship the person who lately 
appeared, and reckon that God is not wronged by the service 
done to his subordinate, 8 though in truth he is only a corpse. 9 
In any case, " if idols are nothing, what harm is there in taking 
part in the festival ? but if there are daemons, it is clear they too 

1 v, 41. 2 v, 41. * viii, 45. 4 vii, 35. 5 iii, 24. Cf. p. 222. 
6 v "i 35- " T '> 63. * viii, 12. 9 vii, 68. 


are of God, and in them we must trust, and speak them fair, 
according to the laws, and pray that they may be propitious." 1 

It is characteristic of the candour of Celsus that he lets slip 
a caution or two about the service of daemons. Christians are 
as credulous, he says in one place, as " those who lightly 
(aXo'y&>?) believe in the roaming priests of Cybele (/u.t]TpayupTais) 
and wonder-seers, Mithras and Sabadios and the like phantoms 
of Hecate or some other female daemon or daemons." 2 Again, 
he has a word of warning as to magic, and the danger and 
injury into which those fall who busy themselves with it 
" One must be on one's guard, that one may not, by being 
occupied with these matters, become entangled in the service of 
them [literally ; fused with them, o-w/ra/qj], and through love of 
the body and by turning away from better things be overcome 
by forgetfulness. For perhaps we should not disbelieve wise men, 
who say (as a matter of fact) that of the daemons who pervade 
the earth the greater part are entangled in ' becoming ' (yevevei 
o-wrer^/coV) fused and riveted to it and being bound to blood 
and smoke and chantings and other such things can do no 
more than heal the body and foretell future destiny to man and 
city ; and the limits of their knowledge and power are those of 
human affairs." 3 

At the last comes his great plea. Human authority is of 
divine ordinance. " To the Emperor all on earth is given ; 
and whatever you receive in life is from him." 4 " We must 
not disbelieve one of old, who long ago said 

Let one be king, to whom the son of wise Kronos has given it. 

If you invalidate this thought (SoyjULo), probably the 
Emperor will punish you. For if all men were to do as you 
do, nothing will prevent the Emperor being left alone and 
deserted, 6 and all things on earth falling into the power of the 

1 viii, 24. 2 i, 9, Mldpais nal Za|3a5ioiy. 

3 viii, 60. See note on ch. iii, p. 107. 4 viii, 67. 

3 Cf. Tert. de cor. mil. n, if a soldier is converted, aut dcscrendum statim ut a 
multis actum, aut, etc. The chapter is a general discussion whether military service 
and Christianity are compatible. Cf. also Tert. de idol. 19, Non convenit sacra- 
mento divino et huniano, signo Christi et signo diaboli y castris lucis et castris 
tenebrarum . . . quomodo autevi bellabit immo quomodo etiam in pace militabit sine 
gladio quern dominus abstulit? .... omnem postea militem dominus in Fetro 
exarmando disdnxit. Tertullian, it may be remembered, was a soldier's son. 


most lawless and barbarous savages, with the result that 
neither of your religion nor of the true wisdom would there be 
left among men so much as the name. 1 You will hardly 
allege that if the Romans were persuaded by you and forsook 
all their usages as to gods and men, and called upon your 
* Most High ' or whatever you like, he would descend and 
fight for them and they would need no other help. For before 
now that same God promised (as you say) this and much 
more to those who served him, and you see all the good he 
has done them and you. As for them [the Jews], instead 
of being masters of all the earth, they have not a clod nor a 
hearthstone left them ; while you if there is any of you left 
in hiding, search is being made for him to put him to death." 2 
The Christian sentiment that it is desirable for all who inhabit 
the Empire, Greeks and barbarians, Asia, Europe and Libya, 
to agree to one law or custom, is foolish and impracticable. 3 
So Celsus calls on the Christians " to come to the help of the 
Emperor with all their might and labour with him as right 
requires, fight on his behalf, take the field with him, if he call 
on you, and share the command of the legions with him * 
yes, and be magistrates, if need be, and to do this for the 
salvation of laws and religion." 5 

It will be noted that, so far as our fragments serve us, 
Celsus confines himself essentially to the charges of folly, 
perversity, and want of national feeling. An excessive opinion 
of the value of the human soul and an absurd fancy of 
God's interest in man are two of the chief faults he sees in 
Christianity. 6 He sees well, for the love of God our Father 
and the infinite significance of the meanest and commonest 
and most depraved of men were after all the cardinal doctrines 
of the new faith. There can be no compromise between the 
Christian conception of the Ecclesia of God and Celsus' 
contempt for an " ecclesia of worms in a pool " ; nor between 
the "Abba Father" of Jesus and the aloof and philosophic 
God of Celsus " away beyond everything." These two 

1 viii, 68. The Greeks used /3a<riXei>s as Emperor. 

2 viii, 69. For this taunt against the Jews, cf. Cicero, pro Flcuco, 28, 69. 

3 viii, 72. 4 viii, 73. 8 viii, 75. 

6 Cf. Clem. Alex. Stroni. i, 55, who says that hardly any words could be to the 
many more absurd than the mysteries of the faith. 


contrasts bring into clear relief the essentially new features of 
Christianity, and from the standpoint of ancient philosophy 
they were foolish and arbitrary fancies. That standpoint was 
unquestioned by Celsus. 

Confident in the truth of his premisses and the conclusions 
that follow from them, Celsus charged the Christians with 
folly and dogmatism. ' Yet it would be difficult to maintain 
that they were more dogmatic than himself; they at least had 
ventured on the experiment of a new life, that was to bring 
ancient Philosophy to a new test. They were the researchers 
in spiritual things, and he the traditionalist. As to the charge 
of folly, we may at once admit a comparatively lower standard 
of education among the Christians ; yet Lucian's book 
Alexander, with its curious story of the false prophet who 
classed them with the Epicureans as his natural enemies, 
suggests that, with all their limitations, they had an emancipa- 
tion of mind not reached by all their contemporaries. If they 
did not accept the conclusions of Greek thinkers as final, they 
were still less prepared to accept sleight-of-hand and hysteria 
as the ultimate authority in religious truth. 1 PI tarch, we 
may remember, based belief in immortality on the >racles of 
Apollo ; and Celsus himself appeals to the evidence of shrines 
and miracles. If we say that pagans and Christians alike 
believed in the occurrence of these miracles and in daemonic 
agency as their cause, it remains that the Christians put 
something much nearer the modern value upon them, while 
Celsus, who denounced the Christians as fools, tendered this 
contemptible evidence for the religion he advocated. 

His Greek training was in some degree the cause of this. 
The immeasurable vanity of the Greeks did not escape the 
Romans. A sense of indebtedness to the race that has given 
us Homer, Euripides and Plato leads us to treat all Greeks 
kindly with more kindness than those critics show them 
whose acquaintance with them has been less in literature and 
more in life. The great race still had gifts for mankind, but 
it was now mainly living upon its past. In Plutarch the 
pride of race is genial and pleasant ; in Celsus it takes another 
form that of contempt for the barbarian and the unlettered. 

1 Clem. Alex. Protr. 56 (on idols), ov yap /AOI 0^/us ^urio- 
rdj TTjy 


The truism may be forgiven that contempt is no pathway 
to understanding or to truth ; and in this case contempt cut 
Celsus off from any real access to the mind of the people he 
attacked. He read their books ; he heard them talk ; but, 
for all his conscious desire to inform himself, he did not 
penetrate into the heart of the movement nor of the men. 
He missed the real motive force the power of the life and^ 
personality of Jesus, on which depended the two cardinal 
doctrines which he assailed. 

The extraordinary blunders, to which the very surest 
critics in literature are liable, may prepare us for anything. 
But to those who have some intimate realization of the mind 
of Jesus, the portrait which Celsus drew of him is an amazing 
caricature the ignorant Jewish conjuror, who garbles Plato, 
and makes no impression on his friends, is hardly so much 
as a parody. It meant that Celsus did not understand the 
central thing in the new faith. The " godhead " of Jesus was 
as absurd as he said, if it was predicated of the Jesus whom 
he drew ; and there he let it rest. How such a dogma could 
have grown in such a case he did not inquire ; nor, finding it 
grown, did he correct his theory by the fact. Thus upon the 
real strength of Christianity he had nothing to say. This was 
not the way to convince opponents, and here the action of the 
Christians was sounder and braver. For they accepted the 
inspiration of the great men of Greece, entered into their 
spirit (as far as in that day it was possible), and fairly did 
their best to put themselves at a universal point of view. 1 
They had the larger sympathies. 

Yet for Celsus it may be pleaded that his object was perhaps 
less the reconversion of Christians to the old faith than to 
prevent the perversion of pagans to the new. But here too he 
failed, for he did not understand even the midway people with 
whom he was dealing. They were a large class men and 
women open to religous ideas from whatever source they might 
come Egypt, Judaea, or Persia, desirous of the knowledge of 

1 This was at all events the view of Clement, Strom, i, 19. ovSt Kara^ijt^iffffffai 
TWV 'EXX^j/wi/ olov re \jsi\rj ry irepl TUH> Soy^ariffQ^vruv CLVTOIS x/>w/x^vous <f>pdaei t /rij 

cis TTJV Kara fdpos &XP 1 vvyyvuffeus ^KK&\V^IV. irtords yap e5 
e/j.ireiplas (\ey\os, on Kat reXfiordrr} airodei^is evplffKerat rj yvCxru TUV 

2 6o CELSUS 

God and of communion with God, and in many cases conscious 
of sin. In none of these feelings did Celsus share his interests 
are all intellectual and practical. Plutarch before him, and 
the Neo-Platonists after him, understood the religous instincts 
which they endeavoured to satisfy, and for the cold, hard out- 
lines of Celsus' hierarchy of heavenly and daemonic beings they 
substituted personalities, approachable, warm and friendly 
(o 0/Ao? ' ATToXXwi/). Men felt the need of gods who were 
Saviours, of gods with whom they might commune in sacra- 
ments as the rise of Mithra-worship shows. They sought 
for salvation from sin, for holiness the word was much on 
their lips and for peace with God. To Celsus these seem 
hardly to have been necessities ; and whether we say that he 
made no effort to show that they were provided for in the old 
religion, or that he suggested, tacitly or explicitly, that the 
scheme he set forth had such a provision, the effect is the 
same. He really had nothing to offer. 

Celsus did not bring against the Christians the charges of 
" CEdipodean unions and Thyestean banquets " familiar to the 
reader of the Apologists l and to the student of the events 
that preceded the Boxer movement in China. While he 
taunted Jesus with being a bastard and a deceiver, and roundly 
denounced Christians generally for imposing upon the ignor- 
ance of men with false religion and false history, he did not 
say anything of note against ordinary Christian conduct. At 
least the fragments do not show anything of the kind. Later 
on the defenders and apologists of paganism had to own with 
annoyance that Christians set their fellow-citizens an example ; 
Maximin Daza and Julian tried vigorously to raise the tone of 
pagan society. Here lies an argument with which Celsus 
could not deal. The Fatherhood of God (in the sense which 
Jesus gave to the words) and the value of the individual soul, 
even the depraved and broken soul, are matters of argument, 
and on paper they may be very questionable ; but when the 
people, who held or (more truly) were held by these beliefs, 
managed somehow or other to show to the world lives trans- 
formed and endowed with the power of transforming others, 
the plain fact outweighed any number of True Words. What- 

1 It is regrettable that Clement should have flung one of these against the school 
of Carpocrates, Strom, iii, 10. 


ever the explanation, the thing was there. Christians in the 
second century laid great stress on the value of paper and 
argument, and to-day we feel with Celsus that among them, 
orthodox and heretical, they talked and wrote a great deal 
that was foolish " their allegories were worse than their 
myths" but the sheer weight of Christian character carried 
off allegories and myths, bore down the school of Celsus and 
the more powerful school of Plutarch, Porphyry and Plotinus, 
and abolished the ancient world, and then captured and trans- 
formed the Northern nations. 

Celsus could not foresee all that we look back upon. But 
it stands to his credit that he recognised the dangers which 
threatened the ancient civilization, dangers from German 
without and Christian within. He had not the religious 
temperament ; he was more the statesman in his habit of mind, 
and he clearly loved his country. The appeal with which he 
closes is a proposal of peace toleration, if the Christians will 
save the civilized world. It was not destined that his hopes 
should be fulfilled in the form he gave them, for it was the 
Christian Church that subdued the Germans and that carried 
over into a larger and more human civilization all that was of 
value in that inheritance of the past for which he pleaded. 
So far as his gifts carried him, he was candid ; and if sharp of 
tongue and a little irritable of temper, he was still an honour- 
able adversary. He was serious, and, if he did not understand 
religion, he believed in the state and did his best to save it. 



Viderint qui Stoicum et Platonicum et dialecticum Christianismum protulerunt. 
TERTULLIAN, de prcescr. haret. 7. 

No one can allege that the Bible has failed to win access for want of metaphysics 
being applied to it. MATTHEW ARNOLD, Literature and Dogma, p. 121. 

THOUGH Celsus had much to say upon the vulgar and 
servile character of the members of the Christian com- 
munity, he took the trouble to write a book to refute 
Christianity ; and this book, as we have seen, was written from 
a more or less philosophical point of view. He professed him- 
self doubtful as to whether his opponents would understand his 
arguments ; but that he wrote at all, and that he wrote as he 
did, is evidence that the new faith was making its way upward 
through society, and was gaining a hold upon the classes of 
wealth and education. 

It is not hard to understand this. Though conditions of 
industry were not what they are to-day, it is likely that con- 
version was followed by the economic results with which we 
are familiar. The teaching of the church condemned the vices 
that war against thrift ; and the new life that filled the convert 
had its inevitable effect in quickening insight and energy. The 
community insisted on every man having a trade and working 
at it. With no such end in view, the church must have num- 
bered among its adherents more and more people of wealth and 
influence in spite of all defections, just as to-day Protestantism 
in France has power and responsibility out of all proportions 
to mere numbers. The Emperor Hadrian is said to have made 
the observation that in Egypt, whether men worshipped Christ 
or Serapis, they all worshipped money. 1 The remark had pro- 
bably as much truth as such sayings generally have, but we 
may probably infer that many Christians were punctual in 

1 See the letter of Hadrian quoted by Vopiscus, SatHrninus, 8 (Script. Hist. 



their observance of the duty laid on them to be " not slothful 
in business." 

The first four or five generations of Christians could not, 
on the whole, boast much culture so far as their records 
permit us to judge. " Not many wise," said Paul, and their 
fewness has left an impress on the history of the church. A 
tendency to flightiness in speculation on the one hand, and a 
stolid refusal to speculate at all on the other, are the marks of 
second century Christianity. The early attempts made to 
come to terms with " human wisdom " were not happy, either 
at the centre or on the circumference of the body. The 
adjustment of the Gospel story to Old Testament prophecy was 
not a real triumph of the human mind, nor were the efforts at 
scientific theology any better. Docetism, with its phantom 
Christ, and Gnosticism with its antithesis of the just God and the 
good God, were not likely to satisfy mankind. Simple people 
felt that these things struck at their life, and they rejected them, 
and began to suspect the intellect. The century saw the 
growth of ecclesiastical system, episcopal order and apostolic 
tradition. Men began to speak of the "old church," the 
" original church " and the " catholic church," and to cleave to 
its " rule of faith " and " tradition of sound words." By 200 
A.D. the church was no longer a new thing in the world ; it 
had its own " ancient history " without going back to Judaism 
and the old covenant ; it had its legends ; and it could now 
speak like the Greeks of " the old faith of our fathers." 

As it rose in the world, the church came into contact with 
new problems. As long as men were without culture, they 
were not troubled by the necessity of reconciling culture with 
faith, but the time had come when it must be done in earnest. 
Wealth was bringing leisure, and refinement, and new intel- 
lectual outlooks and interests. Could the church do with them ? 
was the urgent question. Was it possible for a man to be at 
once a Greek gentleman of wealth and culture and a simple 
Christian like the humble grandfathers of his fellow-believers 
or like his own slaves, the fuller and the cobbler of his house- 
hold ? We shall understand the problem better if we can 
make some acquaintance with the daily life and environment 
of these converts of the better classes. 

In the second and third books of his Pedagogue Clement of 


Alexandria deals with the daily round and deportment of 
Christians, for whom extravagance and luxury might be a real 
temptation. A few points, gathered here and there from the 
two books, will suffice. He recommends simplicity of diet 
with health and strength as its objects the viands, which the 
Gospels suggest, fish and the honeycomb, being admirable for 
these purposes. 1 Wine provokes the passions " I there- 
fore admire those who have chosen the austere life and are 
fond of water, the medicine of temperance." " Boys and girls 
should as a general rule abstain from the [other] drug " wine. 2 
Good manners at table no noisy gulping, no hiccupping, no 
spilling, no soiling of the couch, no slobbering of hand or chin 
" how do you think the Lord drank, when he became man 
for us ? " 3 Vessels of silver and gold, furniture of rare woods 
inlaid with ivory, rugs of purple and rich colours, are hardly 
necessary for the Christian " the Lord ate from a cheap bowl 
and made his disciples lie on the ground, on the grass, and he 
washed their feet with a towel about him the lowly-minded 
God and Lord of the universe. He did not bring a silver 
foot-bath from heaven to carry about with him. He asked the 
Samaritan woman to give him to drink in a vessel of clay as 
she drew it up from the well, not seeking the royal gold, but 
teaching us to quench thirst easily." " In general as to 
food, dress, furniture and all that pertains to the house, I say 
at once, it should all be according to the institutions of the 
Christian man, fitting appropriately person, age, pursuits and 
time." 4 

Clement passes from the table to a general discussion of 
manners and habits. Man is a " laughing animal," but he 
should not laugh all the time. Humour is recommended 
rather than wit (xapievTio-reov ov ye\(aT07roit]Tov, 45, 4). 
" The orderly relaxation of the face which preserves its 
harmony " is a smile (46, 3) giggling and excessive laughter 
are perversions. Care should be taken in conversation to 
avoid low talk, and the scoff that leads the way to insolence, 
and the argument for barren victory " man is a creature of 
peace," as the greeting " Peace with you " shows us. Some 
talkers are like old shoes only the tongue left for mischief. 

1 Padag. ii, 2 ; 13 ; 14. 2 Peed, ii, 20, 2, 3. 

3 Pad, ii, 32, 2. 4 Pad. ii, 38, 1-3. 


There are many tricks unfit for a Christian gentleman spit- 
ting, coughing, scratching and other things ; and he would do 
well to avoid whistling and snapping his fingers to call the 
servants. Fidgetting is the mark of mental levity (a-v/jLJ3o\ov 

In the care of one's person, oil may be used ; it is a sign 
of the luxury of the times that scents and unguents are so 
universally applied to such various purposes. The heathen 
crowned their heads with flowers and made it a reproach that 
Christians gave up the practice. But, as Tertullian said, they 
smelt with their noses ; and Clement urges that on the head 
flowers are lost to sight and smell, and chill the brain. A 
flower-garden in spring, with the dew upon all its colours, 
and all the natural scents of the open air, is another thing. 
The Christian too will remember Tertullian also has this 
thought that it was another crown that the Lord wore 2 
ex spinis opinor, et tribulis. The real objection was that the 
custom was associated with idol-worship. 

Silk and purple and pearls are next dealt with and ear- 
rings, " an outrage on nature " if you pierce the ear, why 
not the nose too ? 3 All peculiarity of dress should be avoided, 
and so should cosmetics or else you may remind people of 
the Egyptian temple, outside all splendour, inside a priest 
singing a hymn to a cat or a crocodile. 4 " Temperance in 
drink and symmetry in food are wonderful cosmetics and quite 
natural." :> Let a woman work with her hands, and health 
will come and bring her beauty. She should go veiled to 
church, like Eneas' wife leaving Troy. 6 Men may play at 
ball, take country walks, and try gardening and drawing water 
and splitting billets. 7 Finger-rings are allowed for them 
gold rings, to be used as seals for security against the slaves. 

1 Pad. ii, 45-60. 

2 Pad. ii, 61-73 > Tertullian, de corona militis, 5, flowers on the head are against 
nature, etc. ; ib. 10, on the paganism of the practice ; ib. 13 (end), a list of the 
heathen gods honoured if a Christian hang a crown on his door. 

3 Pad. ii, 129, 3 ; iii, 56, 3 ; Tertullian ironically, de cultufcm. ii, 10, scrupulosa 
deus et auribiis vulnera intidit. 

4 iii, 4, 2. Cf. Erman, Handbook of Egyptian Religion^ p. 22 : "In the temple of 
Sobk there was a tank containing a crocodile, a cat dwelt in the temple of Bast.' 
The simile also in Lucian, Imag. n, and used by Celsus ap. Orig. c. Cels. iii, 17. 

s iii, 64, 2. iii, 79, 5. 7 iii, 50. 


" Let our seals be a dove, or a fish, or a ship running before 
the wind, or a lyre, or a ship's anchor " not an idol's face, 
or a sword or a cup or something worse. 1 Men should wear 
their hair short (unless it is curly), grow their beards and keep 
their moustaches trimmed with the scissors. 2 Our slaves we 
should treat as ourselves, for they are men as we ; " God " 
(as a verse, perhaps from Menander, puts it) " is the same for 
all, free or slave, if you think of it." 3 

All these admonitions imply an audience with some 
degree of wealth. The Christian artisan of Celsus had no 
temptation to use a silver foot-bath or to plaster himself with 
cosmetics. It may also be remarked that the man who gives 
the advice shows himself well acquainted with the ways of 
good society and perhaps of society not so well gifted 
with taste. With all this refinement went education. 
The children , of Christian parents were being educated, 
and new converts were being made among the cultured 
classes, and the adjustment of the new faith and the old 
culture was imperative. The men to make it were found 
in a succession of scholars, learned in all the wisdom of 
Greece, enthusiastic for philosophy and yet loyal to the 
Gospel tradition. 

The first of these, whose name we know, was Pantaenus ; 
but beyond his name there is little to be known of him. 
Eusebius says that he began as a*. Stoic philosopher and 
ended as a Christian missionary to India. 4 His pupil, 
Clement, is of far greater importance in the history of Christian 

Of Clement again there is little to be learnt beyond what 
can be gathered from his own writings. He alludes himself 
to the death of the Emperor Commodus as being " 194 years, 
I month and 13 days" after the birth of Christ (it was in 192 
A.D.); and Eusebius quotes a passage from a contemporary 
letter which shows that Clement was alive in 2 1 1 A.D., and 
another written in or about 215, which implies that he 
was dead. 5 We have also an indication from Eusebius that 
his activity as a teacher in Alexandria lasted from 180 

1 iii, 59, 2. 2 iii, 60, 61. 

3 iii, 92. Cf., in general, Tertullian, de Cultu Feminarum. 

4 Euseb. E.ff. v, 10. 5 Euseb. E.H. vi, II, 6 ; vi, 14, 8. 


to 202 or 2O3. 1 We may then assume that Clement was 
born about the middle of the century. 

Epiphanius says that Clement was either an Alexandrine 
or an Athenian. A phrase to be quoted below suggests that 
he was not an Alexandrine, and it has been held possible 
that he came from Athens. 2 It also seems that he was born 
a pagan. 3 Perhaps he says this himself when he writes : 
" rejoicing exceedingly and renouncing our old opinions we 
grow young again for salvation, singing with the prophecy 
that chants ' How good is God to Israel.' " 4 

It is obvious that he had the usual training of a Greek of 
his social position. If his code of manners is lifted above 
other such codes by the constant suggestion of the gentle 
spirit of Jesus, it yet bears the mark of his race and of his 
period. It is Greek and aristocratic, and it would in the 
main command the approval of Plutarch. He must have been 
taught Rhetoric like every one else, his style shows this as 
much as his protests that he does not aim at eloquence 
bJyAarrr/a), that he has not studied and does not practise 
" Greek style " (eXA^/feti/). 5 He has the diffuse learning of 
his day wide, second-hand and uncritical ; and, like other 
contemporary writers, he was a devotee of the note-book. No 
age of Greek literature has left us so many works of the 
kind he wrote the sheer congeries with no attempt at 
structure, no " beginning, middle and end," easy, accumula- 
tive books of fine miscellaneous feeding, with titles that play- 
fully confess to their character. Like other authors of this 
class, Clement preserves for us many and many a fragment of 
more interest and value than any original piece of literature 
could have been. He clearly loved the poetry of Greece, and 
it comes spontaneously and irresistibly to his mind as he 
writes, and the sayings of Jesus are reinforced by those of 
Menander or Epicharmus. The old words charm him, and 

1 Euseb. E.H. vi, 6 ; see de Faye, Cltment <f Alexandria, pp. 17 to 27, for the 
few facts of his life a book I have used and shall quote with satisfaction. 

- Epiphanius, Hacr. I, ii, 26, p. 213 ; de Faye, CUment <f Alcxandrit, p. 17, 
quoting Zahn. 

:1 Euseb. Prcepar. v. ii, 2, 64. KXTJ/MJS . . . iravruv i&v 5ici relpat e'X0u 
0aTToi/ 7e iiT)v T7?5 irXdi'T?? dpaveuVas, ws to trpbs TOV ffurrjplov \6yov ical 
fVayyf\(.KTJs StSacr/caXtas TUIV KO.K.U>V \f\vr puptvos. 

4 Pad. i, i, I. 6 Strom, i, 48, I ; ii, 3, I. 


he cannot reject them. His Stromateis are "not like orna- 
mental paradises laid out in rows to please the eye, but 
rather resemble some shady and thickly-wooded hill, where 
you may find cypress and plane, bay and ivy, and apple trees 
along with olives and figs " 1 trees with literary connotations. 
Such works imply some want of the creative instinct, of 
originality, and they are an index to the thinking of the age, 
impressed with its great ancestry. It is to be remarked that 
the writers of our period care little for the literature of the 
past two or three centuries ; they quote their own teachers 
and the great philosophers and poets of ancient Greece 2 Few 
of them have any new thoughts at all, and those who have 
are under the necessity of clothing them in the hallowed 
phrases of their predecessors. This was the training in which 
Clement shared. Later on, he emancipated himself, and 
spoke contemptuously of the school " a river of words and 
a trickle of mind " ; 3 but an education is not easily shaken 
off. He might quarrel with his teachers and their lessons, 
but he still believed in them. It may be noted that in his 
quotations of Greek literature his attention is mainly given to 
the thought which he finds in the words or attaches to them 
that he does not seem to conceive of a work of art as a 
whole, nor does he concern himself with the author. He 
used the words as a quotation, and it is not unlikely 
that many of the passages he borrowed he knew only as 

In philosophy his training must have been much the same, 
but here he had a more living interest. Philosophy touched 
him more nearly, for it bore upon the two great problems of 
the human soul conduct and God. Like Seneca and Plutarch 
he was not interested in Philosophy apart from these issues 
epistemology, psychology, physics and so forth were not 
practical matters. The philosophers he judged by their 
theology. With religious men of his day he leant to the 
Stoics and " truth-loving Plato " especially Plato, whom he 

1 Strom, vii. III. Such hills are described in Greek novels ; cf. /Elian, Varia 
Historia, xiii, I, Atalanta's bower. 

2 One may perhaps compare the admiration of the contemporary Fausanias for 
earlier rather than later art ; cf. Frazer, Pausanias and other Sketches, p. 92. 

3 Strom. i, 22, 5. 


seems to have read for himself but he avows that Philosophy 
for him means not the system of any school or thinker, but the 
sum of the unquestionable dogmata of all the schools, " all that 
in every school has been well said, to teach righteousness with 
pious knowledge this eclectic whole I call Philosophy." l 
To this Philosophy all other studies contribute they are " the 
handmaidens, and she the mistress" and she herself owns 
the sway of Theology. 

At some time of his life Clement acquired a close acquaint- 
ance with pagan mythology and its cults. It may be that he 
was initiated into mysteries ; in his Protrepticus he gives an 
account of many of them, which is of great value to the 
modern student. It is probable enough that an earnest man 
in search of God would explore the obvious avenues to the 
knowledge he sought avenues much travelled and loudly 
vaunted in his day. Having explored them, it is again not 
unlikely that a spirit so pure and gentle should be repelled by 
rituals and legends full of obscenity and cruelty. It is of 
course possible that much of his knowledge came from books, 
perhaps after his conversion, for one great part of Christian 
polemic was the simple exposure of the secret rites of paganism. 
Yet it remains that his language is permanently charged with 
technical terms proper to the mysteries, and that he loves to 
put Christian knowledge and experience in the old language 
" Oh ! mysteries truly holy ! Oh ! stainless light ! The 
daduchs lead me on to be the epopt of the heavens and of 
God ; I am initiated and become holy ; the Lord is the 
hierophant and seals the mystes for himself, himself the 
photagogue." 3 It is again a little surprising to hear of " the 
[Saviour " being "our mystagogue as in the tragedy 

He sees, we see, he gives the holy things (opyia) ; 
land if thou wilt inquire 

1 Strom, i, 37, 6 ; and vi, 55, 3. 

2 Strom, i, 29, 10 (the phrase is Philo's) ; Truth in fact has been divided by the philo- 
Isophic schools, as Fentheus was by the Maenads, Strom, i, 57. Cf. Milton, Areopagitica, 

3 Protr. 1 2O, I ; u> TWV ayiuv ws dXTjfluj fjLVffrrjpluv^ u> 0orrds dicrjpdTov. S^Sovxovfiai 
rote ofyai/otfj KCU rbv Bebv tiroirTevffOn, crytos yivofJLai /j.vovfjLevos, lepoQavrfi dt 6 KI//HOJ *al 

irbv fj.tffTi)i> <T<t>payteTai <f>a>Tay(i)yuv. Strange as the technical terms seem to-day, yet 
jwhen Clement wrote, they suggested religious emotion, and would have seemed less 
strange than the terms modern times have kept from the Greek bishop, deacon, 
j liturgy, diocese, etc. 


These holy things what form have they for thee ? 
thou wilt hear in reply 

Save Bacchus' own initiate, none may know." l 

It is inconceivable that a Hebrew, or anyone but a Greek, 
could have written such a passage with its double series of 
allusions to Greek mysteries and to Euripides' Baechce. 
Clement is the only man who writes in this way, with an 
allusiveness beyond Plutarch's, and a fancy as comprehensive 
as his charity and his experience of literature and religion. 

He had the Greek's curious interest in foreign religions, 
and he speaks of Chaldaeans and Magians, of Indian hermits 
and Brahmans " and among the Indians are those that follow | 
the precepts of Buddha (Boi/rra), whom for his exceeding 
holiness they have honoured as a god " of the holy women 
of the Germans and the Druids of the Gauls. 2 Probably in 
each of these cases his knowledge was soon exhausted, but it 
shows the direction of his thoughts. Egypt of course furnished 
a richer field of inquiry to him as to Plutarch. He has i 
passages on Egyptian symbolism, 3 and on their ceremonial, 4 j 
which contain interesting detail. It was admitted by the 
Greeks even by Celsus that barbarians excelled in the dis- 
covery of religious dogma, though they could not equal the 
Greeks in the philosophic use of it. Thus Pausanias says the 
Chaldaeans and Indian Magians first spoke of the soul's im- 
mortality, which many Greeks have accepted, " not least Plato 
son of Ariston." 5 

In the course of his intellectual wanderings, very possibly 
before he became a Christian, Clement investigated Jewish ; 
thought so far as it was accessible to him in Greek, for Greeks 
did not learn barbarian languages. Eusebius remarks upon 
his allusions to a number of Jewish historians. 6 His debt to 

1 Strom, iv, 162, 3. 

2 Strom, i, 71, 4. The Brahmans also in iii, 60. 

3 Strom, v, 20, 3 ; 31, 5 ; etc. 4 Strom, vi, ch. iv, 35 f. 

5 Origen, c. Cels. i, 2. Celsus' words : t/cavote evpeiv 56-y/iara TOI)S fiapfidpovs, and j 
then Kpwai 8 ical f3e[3ai<i)ffao-0at. Kal a<rKT)<rai irpos dperTjv TO. VTTO fiapfiapuv evpeQtvra ! 
d/ietVcWy elcru> "EXX^yes. Pausanias, iv, 32, 4, tyw Se XaXSat'ows /cat 'IvSwv TOI)J fj.dyovs i 
irpurovs olSa etVfWas ws aQdvaros effTiv avdpATrov fax 1 *!' Ka '<- o^i^i /cat 'EXXrjvuv dtXXot 
re fTrelffdrjffav Kal oi/x ^KLVTO. IIXctTWJ' 6 ' 

6 Euseb. E.H. vi, 13. 


iPhilo is very great, for it was not only his allegoric method in 
general and some elaborate allegories that he borrowed, but 
the central conception in his presentment of Christianity comes 
originally from the Jewish thinker, though Clement was not the 
first Christian to use the term Logos. 

Clement does not tell us that he was born of pagan 
parents, nor does he speak definitely of his conversion. It is 
an inference, and we are left to conjecture the steps by which 
it came, but without the help of evidence. One allusion to his 
Christian teachers is dropped when he justifies his writing the 
\Stromateis " memoranda treasured up for my old age, an 
iantidote against forgetfulness, a mere semblance and shadow- 
picture of those bright and living discourses, those men happy 
and truly remarkable, whom I was counted worthy to hear." 
And then the reading is uncertain, but, according to Dr 
jStahlin's text he says : " Of these, one was in Greece the 
(Ionian; the next (pi.) in Magna Graecia (one of whom was 
jfrom Coele Syria and the other from Egypt) ; others in the 
I East ; and in this region one was an Assyrian, and the other in 
Palestine a Hebrew by descent. The last of all (in power he 
I was the first) I met and found my rest in him, when I had 
i caught him hidden away in Egypt. He, the true Sicilian bee, 
! culling the flowers of the prophetic and apostolic meadow, 
I begot pure knowledge in the souls of those who heard him. 
(These men preserved the true tradition of the blessed teaching 
j direct from Peter and James, John and Paul, the holy apostles, 
son receiving it from father (' and few be sons their fathers' 
I peers '), and reached down by God's blessing even to us, in us 
to deposit those ancestral and apostolic seeds." l It is supposed 
jthat the Assyrian was Tatian, while the Sicilian bee hidden 
away in Egypt was almost certainly Pantaenus. 

Clement's education had been wide and superficial, his 
reading sympathetic but not deep, his philosophy vague and 
eclectic, and now from paganism with its strange and indefinite 
| aggregation of religions based on cult and legend, he passed 
| to a faith that rested on a tradition jealously maintained and 
| a rule beginning to be venerable. He met men with a definite 
(language in which they expressed a common experience who 
ihad moreover seen a good many efforts made to mend the 

1 Strom, i, n. The quotation is roughly from Homer, Od. ii, 276. 


language and all of them ending in " shipwreck concerning the 
faith " ; who therefore held to the " form of sound words " as 
the one foundation for the Christian life. 

It says a great deal for Clement's character one might 
boldly say at once that it is an index to his personal experience 
that he could sympathize with these men in the warm and 
generous way he did. Now and again he is guilty of directing 
a little irony against the louder-voiced defenders of " faith only, 
bare faith " 1 and " straight opinion " " the orthodoxasts, as 
they are called." 2 (The curious word shows that the terms 
" orthodox " and " orthodoxy " were not yet quite developed.) 
But he stands firmly by the simplest Christians and their 
experience. If he pleads for a wider view of things for what 
he calls " knowledge," it is, he maintains, the development of 
the common faith of all Christians. It is quite different from 
the wisdom that is implanted by teaching ; it comes by grace. 
" The foundation of knowledge is to have no doubts about God, 
but to believe ; Christ is both foundation and superstructure 
alike ; by him is the beginning and the end. . . . These, I 
mean faith and love, are not matters of teaching." 3 As Jesus 
became perfect by baptism and was hallowed by the descent 
of the spirit, " so it befals us also, whose pattern is the Lord. 
Baptized, we are enlightened ; enlightened, we are made sons ; 
made sons we are perfected ; made perfect we become im- 
mortal [all these verbs and participles are in the present]. ' I,' 
he saith, ' said ye are gods and sons of the Most High, all of 
you.' This work has many names ; it is called gift [or grace, 
Xa/ofo-ytta], enlightenment, perfection, baptism. . . . What is 
wanting for him who knows God ? It would be strange indeed 
if that were called a gift of God which was incomplete ; the 
Perfect will give what is perfect, one supposes. . . . Thus they 
that have once grasped the borders of life are already perfect ; 
we live already, who are separated from death. Salvation is 
following Christ. ... So to believe only to believe and to 
be born again is perfection in life." 4 He praises the poet of 

1 Strom, i, 43, I. Some who count themselves evQveis, fj,6vrjv /cat \f/L\T)v rty irlanv 

2 Strom, i, 45, 6, ol 6pOo8oa<rTal. 3 Strom, vii, 55. 

4 Padag. i, 26; 27. Perhaps for "he saith," we should read "it saith," viz. 


Agrigentum for hymning faith, which his verses declare to be 
hard ; " and that is why the Apostle exhorts ' that your faith 
may not be in the wisdom of men ' who offer to persuade 
1 but in the power of God ' which alone and without proofs 
can by bare faith save." x 

It was this strong sympathy with the simplest view of the 
Christian faith that made the life- work of Clement possible. He 
was to go far outside the ordinary thoughts of the Christian com- 
munity round about him inevitably he had to do this under 
the compulsion of his wide experience of books and thinkers 
but the centre of all his larger experience he found where his 
unlettered friends, " believing without letters," found their 
centre, and he checked his theories, original and borrowed or 
he aimed at checking them by life. " As in gardening and 
in medicine he is the man of real learning (x/^o-TO/ua&yy), who has 
had experience of the more varied lessons . . . ; so, I say, here 
too, of him who brings everything to bear on the truth. . . . 
We praise the pilot of wide range, who ' has seen the cities 
of many men ' ... so he who turns everything to the 
right life, fetching illustrations from things Greek and things 
barbarian alike, he is the much-experienced (TroXvireipos) tracker 
of truth, the real polymetis ; like the touchstone the Lydian 
stone believed to distinguish between the bastard and the true- 
born gold, he is able to separate, our polyidris and man of 
knowledge (yvcoa-riKos) as he is, sophistic from philosophy, the 
cosmetic art from the true gymnastic, cookery from medicine, 
rhetoric from dialectic, magic and other heresies in the barbarian 
philosophy from the actual truth." 2 This, in spirit and letter, 
is a very characteristic utterance. Beginning with the Lord 
as " the vine " from which some expect to gather clusters of 
grapes in the twinkling of an eye he ranges into medicine and 
sea-faring, from Odysseus " of many wiles, who saw the cities 
of many men and learnt their mind," to Plato's Gorgias, and 
brings all to bear on the Christian life. What his simple friends 
made of such a passage if they were able to read at all, or 
had it read to them it is not easy to guess, but contact 
must have shown them in the man a genuine and tender 
Christian as Christocentric as themselves, if in speech he 

^ Strom, v, 9. 2 Strom, 43,344*2. 



was oddly suited, a gay epitome of Greek literature in every 

This, then, is the man, a Greek of wide culture and open 
heart, who has dipped into everything that can charm the fancy 
and make the heart beat, curious in literature, cult, and 
philosophy, and now submitted to the tradition of the church 
and the authority of Hebrew prophet and Christian apostle, 
but not as one bowing to a strange and difficult necessity. 
Rather, with the humblest of God's children those "tender, 
simple and guileless" children on whom God lavishes all the 
little names which he has for his only Son, the " lamb " and 
the " child " l he finds in Christ " thanksgiving, blessing, 
triumph and joy," while Christ himself bends from above, like 
Sarah, to smile upon their " laughter." 2 Such was the range 
of Clement's experience, and now, under the influence of the 
great change that conversion brought, he had to re-think every- 
thing and to gather it up in a new unity. Thus in one man 
were summed up all the elements of import in the general 
situation of the church of his day. He was representative 
alike in his susceptibility to the ancient literature and philosophy 
and his love of Scripture " truth-loving Isaiah " and " St 
Paul " in his loyalty to the faith, and, not less, in his deter- 
mination to reach some higher ground from which the battle 
of the church could be fought with wider outlook, more intelli- 
gent grasp of the factors in play, and more hope of winning 
men for God. 

Clement did not come before his time. Philosophy had 
begun to realize the significance of the church. The repression 
of the " harmful superstition " was no longer an affair of police ; 
it was the common concern of good citizens. The model 
Emperor himself, the philosopher upon the throne, had openly 
departed from the easy policy laid down by Trajan and 
continued by his successors. He had witnessed, or had 
received reports of, executions. Writing in his diary of death, 
he says : " What a soul is that which is ready, if the moment 
has come for its separation from the body, whether it is to 
be extinguished, or dissolved, or to continue a whole. This 
readiness see that it come from your own judgment, not in 
mere obstinacy, as with the Christians, but reflectively and 

1 Peed, i, 14, 2 ; 19. Cf. Blake's poem. 8 Peed, i, 22, 3. 


with dignity, in a way to persuade another, with nothing of 
the actor in it." l This sentence betrays something of the limita- 
tions of a good man a beautiful spirit indeed, but not a little 
over-praised by his admirers in modern days. Celsus at once 
taunts his Christian opponents with their prospects of painful 
death and demonstrates the absurdity of their tenets from 
the point of view of philosophy. The Apologists say, too, 
that the philosophers lent themselves (as did also the daemons) 
to inciting the mob to massacre. But after all the dialectical 
weapons of Philosophy were the more dangerous, for they 
shook the faith of the Christian which death did not 

Again, the candid and inquiring temper of some notable 
converts and friends had led them to question the tradition of 
the church and to examine their Christian experience with a 
freedom from prejudice, at least in the evangelic direction, which 
had resulted in conclusions fatal, it seemed, to the Christian 
movement. Their philosophy had carried them outside the 
thoughts of Jesus they had abandoned the idea of the Abba 
Father, of the divine love, of the naturalness and instinctive- 
ness of Christian life. Incarnation and redemption they 
rejected, at least in the sense which made the conceptions of 
value to men. Jesus they remodelled into one and another 
figure more amenable to their theories a mere man, a demi- 
god, a phantom, into anything but the historic personality 
that was and could remain the centre and inspiration of 
Christian life. Of all this mischief philosophy, men said, was 
the cause.' 2 

" I know quite well," writes Clement, " what is said over 
and over again by some ignorantly nervous people who insist 
that we should confine ourselves to the inevitable minimum, to 
what contains the faith, and pass over what is outside and 
superfluous, as it wears us out to no purpose and occupies us 
with what contributes nothing to our end. Others say philo- 
sophy comes of evil and was introduced into life for the ruin of 

1 Marcus Aurelius, xi, 3. He may have had in mind some who courted 

2 Euseb. E.H. v, 28, quotes a document dealing with men who study Euclid, 
Aristotle and Theophrastus, and all but worship Galen, and have "corrected " the 
Scriptures. For the vievr of Tertullian on this, see p. 337. 


men by an evil inventor." l They were afraid of philosophy, 
as children might fear a ghost, in case it should take them away 2 
but this, as Clement saw, was no way to meet the danger. 
The Christian must not philosophize, they said Tertullian 
said it too ; but how could they know they must not philo- 
sophize unless they philosophized? 3 Whether philosophy is 
profitable or not, " you cannot condemn the Greeks on the 
basis of mere statements about their opinions, without going 
into it with them till point by point you discover what they 
mean and understand them. It is the refutation based upon 
experience that is reliable." 4 

So Clement has first of all to fight the battle of education 
inside the church, to convince his friends that culture counts, 
that philosophy is inevitable and of use at once for the refuta- 
tion of opponents and for the achievement of the full signifi- 
cance of faith. Then he has to show how philosophy at its best 
was the foe of superstition and the champion of God's unity 
and goodness a preparation for the Gospel. Lastly he has 
to restate the Christian position in the language of philosophy 
and to prove that the Gospel is reaffirming all that was best in 
the philosophic schools and bringing it to a higher point, indeed 
to the highest ; that the Gospel is the final philosophy of the 
universe, the solution of all the problems of existence, the 
revelation of the ultimate mind of God. 

Clement boldly asserts the unity of all knowledge. Every- 
thing contributes, everything is concentric. " Just as every 
family goes back to God the Creator, so does the teaching of 
all good things go back to the Lord, the teaching that makes 
men just, that takes them by the hand and brings them that 
way." 5 And again : " When many men launch a ship, 
pulling together, you could not say there are many causes, but 
one consisting of many for each of them is not by himseif 
the cause of its being launched but only in conjunction with 
others ; so philosophy, which is a search for truth, contributes 
to the perception (KarccX^*?) of truth, though it is not the 

1 Strom, i, 18, 2. 2 Strom, vi, 80, 5. :! Strom, vi, 162, 5. 

4 Strom, i, 19, 2. ^1X77 TT; irepl r&v 8oyfj,a.TiffdvT(t)v a^rots 

eis Trjv Kara 

5 Strom, vi, 59, I. The exact rendering of the last clause is doubtful ; the sense 
fairly clear. 


cause of perception, except in conjunction and co-operation 
with other things. Yet perhaps even a joint-cause we might 
call a cause. Happiness is one, and the virtues more than one 
which are its causes. The causes of warmth may be the sun, 
the fire, the bath and the clothing. So, truth is one and many 
things co-operate in the search for it, but the discovery is by 
the Son. . . . Truth is one, but in Geometry we have geomet- 
rical truth, in Music musical ; so in Philosophy right 
Philosophy we should have Greek truth. But alone the 
sovereign Truth is unassailable, which we are taught by the Son 
of God." l Elsewhere, when challenged to say what use there is 
in knowing the causes that explain the sun's motion, 2 geometry 
and dialectics, when Greek philosophy is merely man's under- 
standing, he falls back upon the mind's instinctive desire for 
such things, its free will (rrjv Trpoaipca-iv rov vov), and quickly 
marshals a series of texts from the Book of Wisdom on the 
divine source of wisdom and God's love of it, concluding with 
an allegory drawn from the five barley loaves and the two 
fishes on which the multitude were fed, the former typifying 
the Hebrew Law (" for barley is sooner ripe for harvest than 
wheat ") and the fishes Greek philosophy " born and moving 
amid Gentile billows." (" If you are curious, take one of the 
fishes as signifying ordinary education and the other the 
philosophy that succeeds it. ... 

A choir of voiceless fish came sweeping on, 

the Tragic muse says somewhere " 3 ). His appeal to the mind is 
a much stronger defence than any such accumulation of texts, but 
for the people he had in view the texts were probably more 

The impulse to Philosophy is an inevitable one, native to 
the human mind, and he shows that it is to the Divine Reason 
working in all things, to Providence, that we must attribute it. 

1 Strom, i, 97, 1-4. 

2 Spherical astronomy. A curious passage on this at the beginning of Lucan's 
Pharsalia, vii. 

3 Strom, vi, 93, 94. The line comes from a play of Sophocles, fr. 695. It may 
be noted that Clement has a good many such fragments, and the presence of some 
very doubtful ones among them, which are also quoted in the same way by other 
Christian writers (e.g. in Strom, v, 111-113), raises the possibility of his borrowing 
other men's quotations to something near certainty. Probably they all used books of 
extracts. See Justin, Coh. ad. Gent. 1 8 ; Athenagoras, Presb. 5, 24. 


" Everything, so far as its nature permits, came into being, and 
does so still, advancing to what is better than itself. So that 
it is not out of the way that Philosophy too should have been 
given in Divine Providence, as a preliminary training towards 
the perfection that comes by Christ. . . . ' Your hairs are 
numbered ' and your simplest movements ; can Philosophy be 
left out of the account ? [An allegory follows from Samson's 
hair.] Providence, it says, from above, from what is of first 
importance, as from the head, reaches down to all men, as ' the 
myrrh,' it says, * that descends upon Aaron's beard and to the 
fringe of his garment ' viz. : the Great -High Priest, ' by whom 
all things came into being, and without him nothing came '- 
not, that is, on to the beauty of the body ; Philosophy is outside 
the people [possibly Israel is meant] just as raiment is. The 
philosophers then, who are trained by the perceptive spirit for 
their own perception, when they investigate not a part of 
Philosophy, but Philosophy absolutely, they testify in a truth- 
loving way and without pride to truth by their beautiful sayings 
even with those who think otherwise, and they advance to under- 
standing (crvveviv), in accordance with the divine dispensation, 
that unspeakable goodness which universally brings the nature 
of all that exists onward toward the better so far as may be." 1 
Thought (<j>p6vr]an$} takes many forms, and it is diffused 
through all the universe and all human affairs, and in each sphere 
it has a separate name Thought, Knowledge, Wisdom or 
Faith. In the things of sense it is called Right Opinion ; in 
matters of handicraft, Art ; in the logical discussion of the 
things of the mind, it is Dialectic. " Those who say that 
Philosophy is not from God, come very near saying that God 
cannot know each several thing in particular and that He is 
not the cause of all good things, if each of them is a particular 
thing. Nothing that is could have been at all without God's 
will ; and, if with His will, then Philosophy is from God, since 
He willed it to be what it is for the sake of those who would 
not otherwise abstain from evil." 

" He seeth all things and he heareth all 2 

1 Strom, vi, 152, 3154, I. Cf. Strom, iv, 167, 4, "the soul is not sent from 
heaven hither for the worse, for God energizes all things for the better." If the 
English in some of these passages is involved and obscure, it perhaps gives the better 
impression of the Greek. 2 Cf. Iliad, 3, 277. 


and beholds the soul naked within, and he has through all 
eternity the thought (eirlvota) of each several thing in particular," 
seeing all things, as men in a theatre look around and take all 
in at a glance. " There are many things in life that find their 
beginning in human reason, though the spark that kindles them 
is from God. 1 Thus health through medicine, good condition 
through training, wealth through commerce, come into being 
and are amongst us, at once by Divine Providence and human 
co-operation. And from God comes understanding too. And 
the free will (Tr/oocu/oecn?) of good men most of all obeys God's 
will. . . . The thoughts (rrowcu) of virtuous men come by 
divine inspiration (eV/Ti/oia), the soul being disposed so ^and 
the divine will conveyed (SiaSiSojmevov) to human souls, the 
divine ministers taking part in such services ; for over all 
nations and cities are assigned angelic governances perhaps 
even over individuals." 2 Philosophy makes men virtuous, so 
it cannot be the product of evil that is, it is the work of God. 
As it was given to the best among the Greeks, we can divine 
who was the Giver. 3 

This is a favourite thought with Clement, and, as he does 
with all ideas that please him, he repeats it over and over again, 
in all sorts of connexions and in all variety of phrase. When 
a man is avowedly making " patchwork " books (Stromateis), 
there is really no occasion on which we can call it irrelevant 
for him to repeat himself, and this is a thought worth repeating. 
" Before the advent of the Lord, Philosophy was necessary to 
the Greeks for righteousness, and it is still profitable for piety, 
a sort of primary instruction for those who reap faith by revela- 
tion. . . . God is the cause of all good things, of some directly, 
as of the Old and New Testament, of others indirectly as of 
Philosophy. And perhaps even directly it was given in those 
times to the Greeks, before the Lord called the Greeks also ; 
for Philosophy too was a paidagogos for the Greek world, as 
the Law was for the Hebrews, to bring them to Christ" 4 

1 We may note his fondness for the old idea of Plato that man is an <j>\rrbv ovp&viov 
and has an fyi0irros dpxaia irpos ovpavov Koivuvia. Cf. Protr. 2$, 3 > IOO 3- 
- Strom, vi, 156, 3157, 5- 

3 Strom, vi, 159. Cf. vi, 57, 58, where he asks Who was the original teacher, 
and answers that it is the First-born, the Wisdom. 

4 Strom, i, 28, /card Trpotj^ov^vov and KO.T tiraKO\ov67ii*a. See de Faye, p. 168, 
169. Note ref. to Paul, Galat. 3, 24. 


" Generally speaking, we should not be wrong in saying that 
all that is necessary and profitable to life comes to us from 
God and that Philosophy was more especially given to the 
Greeks, as a sort of covenant (SiaO^K^ of their own, a step 
(vTTopdOpa) toward the Philosophy according to Christ, if 
Greek philosophers will not close their ears to the truths, 
through contempt of the barbarian speech." l " God is the 
bestower (xPiyo$) f both covenants, who also gave Philosophy 
to the Greeks, whereby among the Greeks the Almighty is 
glorified." 2 " In those times Philosophy by itself ' justified ' 
the Greeks though not to the point of perfect righteousness." 3 
" As in due season the Preaching now comes, so in due season 
the law and the prophets were given to the barbarians and 
Philosophy to the Greeks, to train their ears for the Preaching." 4 
Philosophy however fell short of the Law. Those, who 
were righteous by the Law, still lacked Faith ; while the others, 
whose righteousness was by Philosophy, not only lacked Faith 
but failed to break with idolatry. 5 (This was in many 
quarters the capital charge against contemporary philosophy.) 
It was for this reason that the Saviour preached the Gospel in 
Hades, just as after him, according to Hermas, " the apostles 
and teachers, when they fell asleep in the power and faith of 
the Son of God, preached to those who had fallen asleep 
before them." 6 It is curious that Clement not only cites 
Philosophy as a gift of God to the Gentiles before Faith came, 
that God's judgments might be just, but he also says, on the 
authority of the Law (quoting inaccurately and perhaps from 
memory), that God gave them the sun, the moon and stars to 
worship, which God made for the Gentiles that they might not 
become utterly atheistic and so utterly perish. " It was a 
road given to them, that in worshipping the stars they might 
look up to God." 7 That they fell into idolatry was however 
only too patent a fact. 

1 Strom, vi, 67, I. 2 Strom, vi, 42, i 3 Strom, i, 99, 3. 

4 Strom, vi, 44, I. Strom, vi, 44, 4, 

6 Strom, vi, 45-7 ; Cf. Strom, ii, 44, citing Hermas, Sim. ix, 16, 5-7. A curious 
discussion follows (in Strom, vi, 45-52) on the object of the Saviour's descent into 
Hades, and the necessity for the Gospel to be preached in the grave to those who in 
life had no chance of hearing it. " Could he have done anything else ? " ( 51). 

7 Strom, vi, no, in; Deuteronomy 4, 19, does not bear him out neither in 
Greek nor in English. 


The exact means, by which the Greeks received the 
truths contained in their philosophy, is not certain. A 
favourite explanation with Christian writers, and one to 
which Clement gives a good deal of thought, is that Greek 
thinkers borrowed at large from the Old Testament, for 
Moses lived some six hundred years before the deification of 
Dionysos, the Sibyl long before Orpheus. 1 Clement's illustra- 
tions are not very convincing. " The idea of bringing 
Providence as far down as the moon came to Aristotle from 
this Psalm : ' Lord, in heaven is thy mercy and thy truth as 
far as (eo)?) the clouds.' " Epicurus took his conception of 
Chance from " Vanity of vanities, all is vanity ; " while the 
Sabbath is found in several lines of Homer unfortunately 
spurious. An attempt to convict Euripides of plagiarism 
from Plato's Republic shows the worth of these suggestions, 
and the whole scheme wakes doubts as to the value of 
Clement's judgment. 2 

Another theory was angelic mediation. God might have 
communicated with the Greeks by inferior angels ; 3 or those 
angels who fell into pleasure might have told their human 
wives what they knew of divine secrets, " and so the doctrine 
of Providence got about." 4 Or else by happy guess or 
accident the Greeks found parts of the truth for themselves 
or in virtue of some naturally implanted notion (eWom) or 
common mind, and then " we know who is the author of 
nature." 5 

Whatever the explanation, in any case the hand of God 
was to be traced in it Providence foreknew all, and so de- 
signed that the wickedness of fallen angels and men should 
promote righteousness and truth. 6 So much for those who 
quote the text " All that ever came before me were thieves 
and robbers," 7 or who say that the devil is the author of 

1 Strom, i, 105 and 108. Cf. Tert. adv. Marc, ii, 17, sed ante Lycvrgos et 
Solonas omnes Mouses et deus ; de antma, 28, multo antiquior Moyses etiam Saturno 
nongentis circiter annis ; cf. Apol. 19. 

2 For the Scripture parallels see Strom, v, 90-107. For Euripides and other inter- 
Hellenic plagiarisms, Strom, vi, 24. 

3 Strom, vii, 6. 

4 Strom, v, 10, 2. See an amusing page in Lecky, European Morals, i, 344. 

8 Strom, i, 94, I ; /card irepLirruffiv ; /card ffvvrvxlav ; <f>vfftKr]v (vvoiav ; notvo* 

6 Strom, v, 10 ; i, 18 ; 86 ; 94. ~ Strom, i, 81, I ; John 10, 8. 


Philosophy l (though we may admit Epicureanism to have 
been sown by the sower of tares). 2 We might look far for a 
more vivid illustration of the contrast between sound instinct 
and absurd theory. 

Thus he vindicates the right of the Christian to claim 
Philosophy as the manifestation of the Divine Logos, and as 
a fore-runner of the Gospel, and in his Protrepticus he shows 
how the Christian thus re-inforced can deal with paganism. 
If the Stromateis weary even the sympathetic reader with their 
want of plan, their diffuseness and repetition, and their inter- 
minable and fanciful digressions faults inherent in all works 
of the kind the Protrepticus makes a different impression. 
It is written by the same hand and shows the same tendencies, 
but they are under better control. Allegories, analogies and 
allusions still hinder the development of his thought like 
Atalanta he can never let a golden apple run past him. He 
is not properly a philosopher in spite of all his love of 
Philosophy, and he thinks in colours, like a poet. Yet he is 
not essentially a man of letters or a poet ; he is too indolent ; 
his style is not inevitable or compulsive. It is too true a 
confession when he says that he does not aim at beauty of 
language. His sentence will begin well, and then grow in- 
tricate and involved in breaks an allusion, not always very 
relevant, and brings with it a quotation that has captured his 
fancy and paralyses his grammar several perhaps some 
accommodation is made, and the sentence straggles on, and 
will end somehow with a pile of long words, for which others 
have been patiently waiting since before the quotation, in 
pendent genitives, accusatives and so forth. But in the 
Protrepticus in the better parts of it something has happened 
to his style, for (to speak after his own manner) 

Nothing of him that doth fade, 
But doth suffer a sea-change 
Into something rich and strange. 

He is no longer arguing ; he surrenders to a tide of emotion, 
and is borne along singing, and as he sings, he seems to gather up 
all the music of the ancient world ; we catch notes that come 
from Greek and Hebrew song, and the whole is woven together 

1 Strom, vi, 66 ; 159. a Strom, vi, 67, 2. 



into a hymn to " the Saviour," " my Singer," " our new 
Orpheus," that for sheer beauty, for gladness and purity of 

I feeling is unmatched in early Christian literature. One comes 
back to it after years and the old charm is there still. That 
it can survive in a few translated fragments is hardly to be 

He begins with the famous singers of Greek myth 
Amphion, Arion, and Eunomus with the grass-hopper. . . You 
will believe empty myths, he says, but " Truth's bright face 
seems to you to be false and falls under eyes of unbelief." 
But Cithaeron and Helicon are old. " Let us bring Truth 
and shining Wisdom from heaven above to the holy mount of 
God and the holy choir of the prophets. Let her, beaming 
with light that spreads afar, illumine all about her them that 
lie in darkness, and save men from error." " My Eunomus 
sings not Terpander's strain, nor Capion's, not the Phrygian, 

| the Lydian or the Dorian, but the eternal strain of the new 
harmony, the strain that bears the name of God, the new song, 
the song of the Levite, with 

A drug infused antidote to the pains 
Of grief and anger, a most potent charm 
For ills of every name, 1 

a sweet and true cure of sorrow." Orpheus sang to enslave 
men to idols, to foolish rites, to shadows. " Not such is my 
singer ; he has come, soon to end cruel slavery to tyrannic 
daemons ; he transfers us to the gentle and kindly yoke 
of piety, and calls to heaven them that were fallen to 
I earth." 2 

It was this new song that first made the whole cosmos a 
harmony, and it is still the stay and harmony of all things. 
It was this Logos of God who framed " the little cosmos, man," 
setting soul and body together by the holy spirit, and who 
sings to God upon this organ of many tones man. The 
Logos himself is an organ for God, of all the harmonies, tune- 
ful and holy. 3 What does this organ, this new song, tell us ? 

The Logos, that was before the Day-Star was, has appeared 
among men as a teacher, he by whom all things were made. 

1 Odyssey, iv, 221, Cowper's translation. 
* Protr. 1-3. * Ibid. 5; 6. 


As Demiurge he gave life ; as teacher he taught to live well ; 
that, as God, he may lavish upon us life forever. Many voices 
and many means has the Saviour employed for the saving of 
men. Lest you should disbelieve these, the Logos of God has 
himself become man that you might learn from man how man 
may become God. 1 

He casts a glance over Greek myths and mysteries 
cymbals, tambourines, emblems, legends and uncleanness, the 
work of men who knew not the God who truly is, men " without 
hope and without God in the world." " There was from of 
old a certain natural fellowship of men with heaven, hidden in 
the darkness of their ignorance, but now on a sudden it has 
leapt through the darkness and shines resplendent even as 
that said by one of old, 

See'st thou that boundless aether there on high 
That laps earth round within its dewy arms ? 

and again, 

O stay of earth, that hast thy seat on earth, 
Whoe'er thou art, beyond man's guess to see ; 

and all the rest that the children of the poets sing." 2 But 
wrong conceptions have turned " the heavenly plant, man," 
from the heavenly life and laid him low on earth, persuading 
him to cleave to things fashioned of earth. So he returns to 
the discussion of pagan worships " but by now your myths too 
seem to me to have grown old " and he speaks of the daemon- 
theory by which the pagans themselves explained their 
religion. The daemons are inhuman and haters of men ; they 
enjoy the slaying of men no wonder that with such a be- 
ginning superstition is the source of cruelty and folly. But 
" no ! I must never entrust the hopes of the soul to things 
without souls." 3 " The only refuge, it seems, for him who 
would come to the gates of Salvation is the Divine Wisdom." 4 

1 Protr. 8, 4, 6 \6yos o TOV deov foffpuvos yev6fji.evos tva. 5r) /cat eri> napa dvdpwirov 
fj.ddr}S, irrj Trore apa avdpwiros ytvijrai 6e6s. 

2 Protr. 25, 3 ; ref. to Euripides, fr. 935, and Troades, 884. The latter (not 
quite correctly quoted by Clement) is one of the poet's finest and profoundest 

8 Protr. 56, 6. 4 Ibid. 63, 5. 


He now reviews the opinions of the philosophers about 
God. The Stoics (to omit the rest) " saying that the divine 
goes through all matter, even the most dishonourable, shame 
Philosophy." 1 "Epicurus alone I will gladly forget." 2 
" Where then are we to track out God, Plato ? ' The Father 
and maker of this whole it is hard to find, and, when one has 
found him, to declare him to all is impossible.' In his name 
why? ' For it is unspeakable.' Well said ! Plato! thou hast 
touched the truth ! " 3 " I know thy teachers," still addressing Plato, 
" Geometry thou dost learn from Egyptians, Astronomy from 
Babylonians, the charms that give health from Thracians ; 
much have the Assyrians taught thee ; but thy laws such 
of them as are true and thy thought of God, to these 
thou hast been helped by the Hebrews." 4 After the 
philosophers the poets are called upon to give evidence 
Euripides in particular. 5 Finally he turns to the prophets 
and their message of salvation " I could quote you ten 
thousand passages, of which ' not one tittle shall pass ' 
without being fulfilled ; for the mouth of the Lord, the 
holy spirit, spoke them." 6 

God speaks to men as to his children " gentle as a father," 
as Homer says. He offers freedom, and you run away to 
slavery ; he gives salvation, and you slip away into death. 
Yet he does not cease to plead " Wake, and Christ the Lord 
shall lighten upon you, the sun of resurrection." 7 "What 
would you have covenanted to give, oh ! men ! if eternal 
salvation had been for sale ? Not though one should measure 
out all Pactolus, the mythic river of gold, will he pay a price 
equal to salvation." 8 Yet " you can buy this precious salva- 
tion with your own treasure, with love and faith of life . . . that 
is a price God is glad to accept." fl Men grow to the world, 
like seaweed to the rocks by the sea, and despise immortality 
" like the old Ithacan, yearning not for Truth and the fatherland 

1 Protr. 66, 3. 2 Ibid. 66, 5. 3 Ibid. 68, I. 

4 Protr. 70, I ; in Strom, i, 150, 4, he quotes a description of Plato as MWWTTJJ 
a.rriKlfav. Cf. Tertullian, Apol. 47. 

8 Protr. 76. He quotes Orestes, 591 f. ; Alcestis, 760 ; and concludes (anticipating 
Dr Verrall) that in the Ion yvfj.vy Ty xe^oXr? CKKVK\^ TV fledrpy rot* 0fovt, quoting 
Ion, 442-447- 

6 Protr. 82, I. 7 Ibid. 84, 2. 

8 Ibid. 85,4. * Ibid. 86, i. 


in heaven, and the light that truly is, but for the smoke." i It 
is piety that " makes us like God " a reference to Plato's 
familiar phrase. God's function (epyov) is man's salvation. 
" The word is not hidden from any. Light is common and 
shines upon all men ; there is no Cimmerian in the reckoning. 
Let us hasten to salvation, to re-birth. Into one love to be 
gathered, many in number, according to the unity of the 
essence of the Monad, let us hasten. As we are blessed, 
let us pursue unity, seeking the good Monad. And 
this union of many, from a medley of voices and distrac- 
tion, receives a divine harmony and becomes one symphony, 
following one coryphaeus (xo/oeimfc) and teacher, the Word, 
resting upon the Truth itself, and saying 'Abba Father.'" 
Here indeed Philosophy and the Gospel join hands, when 
the Monad and Abba Father are shown to be one and the 
same. 3 

It is easy to see which of the thoughts represented by 
these names means most to Clement. " Our tender loving 
Father, the Father indeed, ceases not to urge, to admonish, to 
teach, to love ; for neither does he cease to save " " only, 
oh ! child ! thirst for thy Father, and God will be shown to 
thee without a price." 4 " Man's proper nature is to be at 
home with God ; " as then we set each animal to its natural 
task, the ox to plough and the horse to hunt, so " man, too, 
who is born for the sight of heaven, a heavenly plant most 
truly, we call to the knowledge of God. . . . Plough, we say, if 
you are a ploughman, but know God as you plough ; sail, if 
you love sea-faring, but calling on the heavenly pilot." 5 
" A noble hymn to God is an immortal man, being built 
up in righteousness, in whom are engraved the oracles 
of truth " 6 ; and very soon he quotes " Turn the other 
cheek " as a " reasonable law to be written in the heart." 7 

1 Protr. 86, 2. The reference is to Odyssey, i, 57. One feels that, with more ! 
justice to Odysseus, more might have been made of his craving for a sight of the j 
smoke of his island home. 

2 Protr. 88, 2, 3. 

3 Elsewhere, he says God is beyond the Monad, Paed. i, 71, i, tirtKeiva TOV Ms 
Kai virep avrty rty fj.ova.da. See p. 290. 

4 Protr. 94, 1,2. On God making the Christian his child, cf. Tert. adv. Marc. 
iv, 17. 

5 Protr. 100, 3, 4. 6 Ibid. 107, I. "' Ibid. 1 08, 5. 


I' God's problem is always to save the flock of men. It 
jwas for that the good God sent the good Shepherd. The 
Logos has made truth simple and shown to men the 
jneight of salvation." l " Christ wishes your salvation ; with 
|bne word he gives you life. And who is he? Hear in 
brief: the Word of truth, the Word of immortality, that 
[gives man re-birth, bears him up to truth, the goad of 
Salvation, who drives away destruction, who chases forth 
f|ieath, who built in men a temple that he might make God 
[to dwell among men." 2 

The last chapter is a beautiful picture of the Christian life, 
j!ull of wonderful language from Homer, the Bacchce of 
(Euripides, and the Mysteries, and in the centre of it its very 
Ipeart " Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy- 
i!aden, and I will give you rest." 

In the passages here quoted from the Protrepticus some 

|pf Clement's main ideas in the realm of Christian thought 

lire clearly to be seen ; and we have now to give them 

I: further and more detailed examination. We have to see 

fivhat he makes of the central things in the new religion 

> of God, and the Saviour, and of man, and how he 

i interprets the Gospel of Jesus in the language of Greek 

|j philosophy. It is to be noted that, whatever happened in 

|he course of his work and very few books are, when 

yritten, quite what the writer expected on beginning 

Clement looked upon his task as interpretation. The Scrip- 

fures are his authorities "he who has believed the divine 

Scriptures, with firm judgment, receives in the voice of God 

vho gave the Scriptures a proof that cannot be spoken 

Against." 3 Amid the prayers and hymns of the ideal 

Christian comes daily reading of the sacred books. 4 Clement 

ias no formal definition of inspiration, but he loved the 

lacred text, and he made it the standard by which to 

udge all propositions. It is perhaps impossible to over- 

|stimate the importance of this loyalty in an age, when 

fhristian speculation was justly under suspicion on account 

1 Protr. 116, I, S\f/os (height) is the word used inMiterature for "sublimity," and 
bat may be the thought here. Cf. Tert. de Bapt. 2, simplidtas divinorwn operum 
. . et magnificentia. See p. 328- 
1 Protr. 117, 4. 3 Strom, ii, 9, 6. * Ibid, vii, 49. 


of the free re-modelling of the New Testament text that 
went with it. Clement would neither alter, nor excise, 
but he found all the freedom he wanted in the accepted 
methods of exegesis. Allegory and the absence of any 
vestige of historical criticism -and, not least, the inability 
induced by the training of the day to conceive of a 
work of art, or even a piece of humbler literature, as a 
whole his very defects as a student secured his freedom 
as a philosopher. He can quote Scripture for his purpose ; 
the phrase will support him where the context will not ; and 
sometimes a defective memory will help him to the words he 
wants, as we have seen in the case of the worship of sun, 
moon and stars. To the modern mind such a use of Scripture 
is unwarrantable and seems to imply essential indifference to 
its real value, but in Clement and his contemporaries it is not 
inconsistent with indeed, it is indicative of a high sense of 
the value of Scripture as the ipsissima verba of God. And 
after all a mis-quotation may be as true as the most authentic 
text, and may help a man as effectually to insight into the 
thoughts of God. 

We have seen that Clement quarrelled with the Stoics for 
involving God in matter " even the most dishonourable." The 
world-soul was, in fact, repugnant to men who were impressed 
with the thought of Sin, and who associated Sin with matter. 
This feeling and a desire to keep the idea of God disentangled 
from every limitation led to men falling back (as we saw in 
the case of Plutarch) on the Platonic conception of God's 
transcendence. Neo-Platonism has its " golden chain " ol 
existence descending from Real Being God through a vast 
series of beings who are in a less and less degree as they are 
further down the scale. It is not hard to sympathize with the 
thoughts and feelings which drew men in this direction 
The best thinkers and the most religious natures in the 
Mediterranean world (outside the circle of Jesus, and some 
Stoics) found the transcendence of God inevitably attrac 
tive, and then their hearts sought means to bridge thej 
gulf their thoughts had made. For now he was out o 
all knowledge, and away beyond even revelation ; for re- 
velation involved relation and limitation, and God must b< 


We have seen how Plutarch found in the existence of 
I daemons a possibility of intercourse between gods and men, 
while above the daemons the gods, he implies, are in com- 
munication with the remote Supreme. But for some thinkers 
|this solution was revolting. Philo, with the great record 
before him of the religious experience of his race, was not 
(prepared to give up the thought " O God, thou art my God." l 
iLinking the Hebrew phrase " the word of the Lord " with the 
jStoic Logos Spermaticos and Plato's Idea, he found in the 
resulting conception a divine, rational and spiritual principle 
(immanent in man and in the universe, and he also found a 
divine personality, or quasi-personality, to come between the 
kbsolute and the world. He pictures the Logos as the Son 
pf God, the First-born, the oldest of angels, the " idea of ideas," 
and again as the image of God, and the ideal in whose likeness 
nan was made. As the ambassador of God, and High Priest, 
the Logos is able to mediate directly between man and God, 
md bridges the gulf that separates us from the Absolute. 2 
plore than anything else, this great conception of Philo's pre- 
pared the way for fusion of Greek thought and Christianity. 
Element is conspicuously a student and a follower of Philo 
lor was he the first among Christian writers to feel his 

Clement, as already said, professed himself an eclectic in 
bhilosophy, and of such we need not expect the closest reason- 
ng. Our plan will be to gather passages illustrative of his 
Noughts we might almost say of his moods and set 
|ide by side what he says from time to time of God. 
j)n such a subject it is perhaps impossible to hope for 
or consistency except at the cost of real aspects of 
ne matter in hand. Something will be gained if we 
pn realize the thoughts which most moved the man, even 
hough their reconciliation is questionably possible. This 
pubt however does not seem to have occurred to himself, 
br he connects the dogmata of the philosophers and the 
baching of the New Testament as if it were the most 
atural thing in the world. 

. * fta/m 63. I. 

' See Caird, Evolution of Theology in tht Greek Philosophers, ii, pp. 183 ff ; de 
kye, CUmenl, pp. 231-8. 


To begin with the account of God which Clement gives in 
philosophical language. " The Lord calls himself ' one ' (fcV) 
' that they all may be one ... as we are one ; I in them, and 
thou in me, that they may be perfected into one.' Now God 
is ' one' (*v) and away. beyond the ' one ' (evo?) and above the 
Monad itself." 1 Again, after quoting Solon and Etnpedocles 
and " John the Apostle " (" no man hath seen God at any 
time "), Clement enlarges on the difficulty of speaking of God : 
" How can that be expressed, which is neither genus, nor 
differentia, nor species, neither indivisible, nor sum, nor accident, 
nor susceptive of accident ? Nor could one properly call him 
a whole (O\CH>) ; for whole (TO <>\ov) implies dimension, and he 
is Father of the Whole (ran/ oXan/). Nor could one speak of 
his parts, for the one is indivisible and therefore limitless, not 
so conceived because there is no passing beyond it, but as 
being without dimension or limit, and therefore without form 
or name. And if we ever name him, calling him, though not 
properly, one, or the good, or mind, or absolute being, or father, 
or God, or demiurge, or lord, we do not so speak as putting 
forward his name ; but, for want of his name, we use beautiful 
names, that the mind may not wander at large, but may rest 
on these. None of these names, taken singly, informs us of 
God ; but, collectively and taken all together, they point to his 
almighty power. For predicates are spoken either of properties 
or of relation, and none of these can we assume about God. Nor 
is he the subject of the knowledge which amounts to demon- 
stration ; for this depends on premisses (Trporepa) and things 
better known (yvtapi^repa] ; 2 but nothing is anterior to the 
unbegotten. It remains then by divine grace and by the 
Logos alone that is from him to perceive the unknowable." 1 
Again, " God has no natural relation (<f>v(mcr]i> crxtW) to us 
the founders of heresies hold (not though he make us of what 
is not, or fashion us from matter, for that is not at all, and this 
is in every point different from God) unless you venture 
to say that we are part of him and of one essence (oyuooucr/ou?) 
with God ; and I do not understand how anyone who 

1 Pad. i, 71, I ; cf. Philo, Leg. Alleg. ii, I, 67 M. rdrrerat otr o 0e6t xarA r6 
h xai TV /xoi/d3o, /naXXoi/ Si ical i /xocAj KarA rov Jfxa Ot6t>. Cf. de Fayc, p. 31* 
* Expirs.ions tukt-n from Aristotle, Anal. Post, i, 2, p. 71 t>, 20. 
v, 81, 582, 3. 


knows God will endure to hear tint said, when he casts 

ye upon our life and the evils with which we are mixed 

u p. For in this way (and it is a thing not fit to speak of) 

God would be sinning in his parts, that is, if the pai: 

parts of tin- whole and complete the whole if they do not 

complete it, they would not be parts. However, God, by 

nature (fwrtt) being rich in pity (tXeo?), of his goodness 

ires for us who are not his members nor by nature his 

children (/Aifrt /UO/HCW ovrtw aurov wre <f>v<ret rtKvtav). Indeed 

this is the chief proof of God's goodness, that though 

this is our position with regard to him, by nature utterly 

alienated ' from him, he nevertheless cares for us. For the 

instinct of kindness to offspring is natural (Qwrucii) in 

animals, and so is friendship with the like-minded based 

on old acquaintance, but God's pity is rich towards us 

who in no respect have anything to do with him, I mean, 

in our being (ouor/a) or nature or the peculiar property of 

<nn heing (<W/x 77; OIKCUI Ttj? ovcria? nnS>v\ but merely by 

our beiiu- the work of His will." l " The God of the Whole 

> W), who is above every voice and every thought and 

conception, could never be set forth in writing, for his 

property is to be unspeakable." 2 

It follows that the language of the Bible is not to be taken 
lite-rally when it attributes feelings to God. Clement has cited 
texts which speak of "joy" and "pity" in connexion with 
(iod. and he has to meet the objection that these are moods 
of the soul and passions (T/DOTTU? ^v\^ KC " Tru^n)- We mistake, 
wlu u we interpret Scripture in accordance with our own 
experience of the flesh and of passions, "taking the will 
of the passionless God (rou uTraOov? Oeou) on a line with our 
own perturbations (fftwj/uutn). When we suppose that the fact 
in the case of the Almighty is as we are able to hear, we err 
in an at heist ir way. For the divine was not to be declared as 
I it ts ; but as we, fettered by flesh, were able to understand, 
even so the prophets spoke to us, the Lord accommodating 
himself to the weakness of men with a mind to save them 

',. ii, 74, 175,2 ; cf. Plutarch, dt <&/. or. 414 F, 416 F (quoted on p. 07), " 
involving (.'.oil in hum. in :ill.m , : ami also adv. Sto. 33, ami 4 ". 33, 34, n 

U ilortiiiu- ni.ikmp, li>l n -sjiDiisihlc for human sin. Cf. further stateiiu-nlk in 
the same vein in Strom, ii, 6, I ; v, 71, 5 ; vii, 2. * Strom, v. 65, 2. 


Thus the language of our emotions, though not 
properly to be employed, is used to help our weakness. 1 For 
God is, in fact, " without emotion, without wrath, without 
desire " (a.7ra9r]s, aOu/mos, aveTriOv/jLJjros). 2 ' Clement repeatedly 
recurs with pleasure to this conception of " Apathy " ; it is 
the mark of God, of Christ, of the Apostles, and of the ideal 
Christian, with whom it becomes a fixed habit (ef?). 3 

God is not like a man (av6pa)7roeiSrj$), nor does he need 
senses to hear with, nor does he depend on the sensitiveness of 
the air (TO ev7ra6e$ TOV aepo?) for his apprehensions, " but the 
instantaneous perception of the angels and the power of 
conscience touching the soul these recognize all things, with 
the quickness of thought, by means of some indescribable 
faculty apart from sensible hearing. Even if one should say 
that it was impossible for the voice, rolling in this lower air, 
to reach to God, still the thoughts of the saints (aytW) cleave, 
not the air alone, but the whole universe as well. And the 
divine power instantly penetrates the whole soul like light. 
Again do not our resolves also find their way to God, uttering 
a voice of their own ? And are not some things also wafted 
heavenward by the conscience ? . . . God is all ear and all eye, 
if we may make use of these expressions." 4 Thus it would 
seem that God is not so far from every one of us as we might 
have supposed from the passages previously quoted, and the 
contrast between the two views of God grows wider when we 
recall Clement's words in the Protrepticus about the Heavenly 
Father. While a Greek, the pupil of the philosophers, could 
never use the language of a Jew about " God our Father " with 
the same freedom from mental reservation, Clement undoubt- 
edly speaks of God at times in the same spirit that we feel in 
the utterances of Jesus. He goes beyond what contemporary 
philosophers would have counted suitable or desirable, as we can 
see in the complaints which Celsus makes of Christian language 
about God, though Celsus, of course, is colder than the religious 

1 Strom, ii, 72, 1-4. z Strom, iv, 151, I. 

3 See Strom, ii, 103, I ; iv, 138, I ; vi, 71-73 ; Peed, i, 4, I. 

4 Strom, vii, 37, Mayor's translation. The " expressions" are said to go back to 
Xenophanes (cited by Sext. Empir. ix, 144) oDXoj y&p opqi, oCXos 5 poet, oSXos 5^ T' 
d/cotfet. Cf. Pliny, N.H. ii, 7, 14, quisquis est deus, si modo est alius, et quacumque in 
partt, totus est sensuus, totus visuus, totus audituus, totus animce, totus animi, totw 



of his day. But the main difference between Christians 
and philosophers was not as to God the Father, but as 
to Christ. 

When Clement, in his work of restatement, came to 
discuss Christ, he found Philo's Logos ready to his hand and 
he was not slow to use it. It is characteristic that, just 
as he unquestioningly accepted the current philosophic 
account of God and saw no great difficulty in equating 
a God best described in negations with the Abba Father 
of Jesus, so he adopted, not less light-heartedly, the 
conflate conception of the Logos. Whether its Platonic 
and Stoic elements would hold together ; whether either 
of them was really germane to the Hebrew part ; whether 
in any case any of the three sets of constituents corre- 
sponded with anything actually to be reached by observation 
or experience ; or whether, waiving that point, the com- 
bination was equal to its task of helping man to conceive 
of God at once as immanent and transcendent, Clement 
hardly inquired. So far he followed Philo. Then came 
in a new factor which might well have surprised Plato, 
Zeno and Philo alike. Following once more, but this time 
another leader, Clement equates the Philonian Logos with the 
historic Jesus of Nazareth. 

So stated, the work of Clement may well look absurd. 
But after all he is not the only man who has identified 
the leading of instinct with philosophic proof. In suc- 
cession he touched the central thoughts of his various 
leaders, and he found them answer to cravings within 
him. He wanted a God beyond the contagion of earth, 
Supreme and Absolute ; and Plato told him of such a 
God. Yet the world needed some divine element ; it 
must not be outside the range and thought of God ; and 
here the conception of divine Reason, linking man and 
nature with God Himself, appealed to his longing. Lastly 
the impossibility of thinking Jesus and his work to be 
accidental, of conceiving of them as anything but vitally 
bound up with the spiritual essence of all things, with God 
and with God's ultimate mind for man and eternity, was the 
natural outcome of entering into the thoughts of Jesus, of 
realizing his personality and even of observing his effect upon 


mankind. 1 When one remembers how in every age men have 
passed through one form and another of experience, and have 
then compacted philosophies to account for those experiences, 
have thought their constructions final, and have recommended 
their theories as of more value than the facts on which, after reflec- 
tion, slight or profound, but perhaps never adequate, they have 
based them, it will not seem strange that Clement did the same. 

Ah yet, when all is thought and said, 
The heart still overrules the head ; 
Still what we hope we must believe, 
And what is given us receive. 

The old task is still to do. The old cravings are still within 
us ; still the imperishable impulse lives to seek some solution 
of the great question of the relations of God and the soul and 
the universe, which may give us more abiding satisfaction than 
Clement's can now have, and which will yet recognize those old 
cravings, will recognize and meet them, not some but all of them. 
" Most perfect, and most holy of all," says Clement, " most 
sovereign, most lordly, most royal and most beneficent, is the 
nature of the Son, which approaches most closely to the One 
Almighty Being. The Son is the highest Pre-eminence, which 
sets in order all things according to the Father's will, and 
steers the universe aright, performing all things with unweary- 
ing energy, beholding the Father's secret thoughts through his 
working. For the Son of God never moves from his watch- 
tower, being never divided, never dissevered, never passing from 
place to place, but existing everywhere at all times and free 
from all limitations. He is all reason, all eye, all light from 
the Father, seeing all things, hearing all things, knowing all 
things, with power searching the powers. To him is subjected 
the whole army of angels and of gods to him, the Word of 
the Father, who has received the holy administration by reason 
of Him who subjected it to him ; through whom also all men 
belong to him, but some by way of knowledge, while others 
have not yet attained to this ; some as friends, some as faithful 
servants, others as servants merely." 2 

1 Cf. Strom, ii, 30, I, et yap dvOpi/j-rrivov t\v TO 

dT&r/S??. T) 5 otfei (sc. T] Trums). Protr. no, I, oi5 yap dv otfrws & 6\lyv 
ToaovTov Hpyov avcv Oeias KO/u5?Js ft-rii/wey 

2 Strom, vii, 5, J. B. Mayor's translation. 


The Logos is the source of Providence, the author, as 
already seen, of all human thought and activity, of the beauty 
of the human body too, 1 Saviour and Lord at once of all men 
man being "his peculiar work," for into him alone of 
animals was a conception of God instilled at his creation. 
" Being the power of the Father, he easily prevails over whom- 
soever he will, not leaving even the smallest atom of his govern- 
ment uncared for." * " He it is in truth that devises the bridle 
for the horse, the yoke for the bull, the noose for the wild 
beast, the rod for the fish, the snare for the bird ; he governs 
the city and ploughs the land, rules and serves, and all things 
he maketh ; 

Therein he set the earth, the heaven, the sea, 
And all the stars wherewith the heaven is crowned. 

O the divine creations ! O the divine commands ! This 
water, let it roll within itself; this fire, let it check its rage; 
this air, let it spread to aether ; and let earth be fixed and 
borne, when I will it. Man I yet wish to make ; for his 
material I have the elements ; I dwell with him my hands 
fashion. If thou know me, the fire shall be thy slave." 1 

" All 4 gaze on the supreme Administrator of the universe, 
as he pilots all in safety according to the Father's will, rank 
being subordinated to rank under different leaders till in the 
end the Great High Priest is reached. For on one original 
principle, which works in accordance with the Father's will, 
depend the first and second and third gradations ; and then at 
the extreme end of the visible world there is the blessed 
ordinance of angels ; and so, even down to ourselves, ranks 
below ranks are appointed, all saving and being saved by the 
initiation and through the instrumentality of One. As then 
the remotest particle of iron is drawn by the breath (TUM/MOTI) 
of the stone of Heraklea [the magnet] extending through a 
long series of iron rings, so also through the attraction of the 
holy spirit (Trvcvfiari) the virtuous are adapted to the highest 

1 Pad. i, 6, 6, r6 51 <ru>/ua /cciXXei KCU evpvOv-iq. ffvvcKcpa<raro. 

2 Phrases mostly from Strom, vii, 6-9. ZVVOI.OLV (vearaxBoa Oeov. See criticism of 
Celsus, p. 244. 

3 Pad. iii, 99, 2100, i. The quotation is from Homers description of 
Hephaistos making the shield for Achilles, //. 18, 483. 

4 All parts of the universe. 


mansion ; and the others in their order even to the last 
mansion ; but they that are wicked from weakness, having 
fallen into an evil habit owing to unrighteous greed, neither 
keep hold themselves nor are held by another, but collapse 
and fall to the ground, being entangled in their own passions." 1 
This last clause raises questions as to evil and freewill. 
Clement believed in freewill ; for one thing, it was necessary 
if God was to be acquitted of the authorship of evil. " God 
made all things to be helpful for virtue, in so far as might be 
without hindering the freedom of man's choice, and showed 
them to be so, in order that he who is indeed the One 
Alone Almighty might, even to those who can only see darkly, 
be in some way revealed as a good God, a Saviour from age to 
age through the instrumentality of his Son, and in all ways 
absolutely guiltless of evil." 2 

Clement also brings in the Platonic Idea to help to express 
Christ. " The idea is a thought of God (ew/oi//ua), which the 
barbarians have called God's Logos." 3 " All the activity of 
the Lord is referred to the Almighty, the Son being, so to 
speak, a certain activity (evepyeia) of the Father," 4 and a little 
lower he adds that the Son is " the power (Suva/jus) of the 
Father/' 6 As such he may well be " above the whole universe, 
or rather beyond the region of thought." 6 And yet, as we 
have seen, he leans to the view that the Logos is a person 
the Great High Priest. In criticizing him, it is well to 
remember how divergent are the conceptions which he wishes 
to keep, and to keep in some kind of unity. 

Once again, in many of Clement's utterances upon the 
Logos there is little that Philo, or perhaps even a pagan 
philosopher, could not have approved ; but through it all there 
is a new note which is Clement's own and which comes from 
another series of thoughts. For it is a distinctive mark of 
Clement's work that the reader rises from it impressed with 
the idea of "the Saviour." The Protrepticus is full of the 
thought of that divine love of men, warm and active, which 

1 Strom, vii, 9. Mayor's translation, modified to keep the double use of irveD/^o. 
For the magnet see Plato, Ion. 533 D E. 

* Strom, vii, 12. 3 Strom, v, 16, 3 (no article with Logos). 

4 Strom, vii, 7 5 Strom, vii, 9. 

8 Strom, v, 38, 6, o KI//HOJ vvcpdvu TOW K6fff*ov 7r<WT6s, /uaAXov Si iirtKciva TOV 


j Jesus associated with "your heavenly Father," but which 
I Clement, under the stress of his philosophy must connect with 
I the Logos "cleansing, saving and kindly; most manifest 
God indeed, made equal with the ruler of the universe." 1 
| He is our " only refuge " (/movrj KarcKfrwyri), the " sun of resur- 
rection," the " sun of the soul." 2 And yet one group of ideas, 
familiar in this connection, receives little notice from Clement. 
'The Logos is indeed the Great High Priest, but the symbolism 
of priest and sacrifice and sin-bearer is left rather remarkably 
iunemphasized. He is " the all-availing healer of mankind," s 
ibut his function is more to educate, to quicken, and to give 
(knowledge than to expiate. 

The great and characteristic feature of the Logos is that 
" he took the mask (Trpo<rwjrelov) of a man and moulded it for 
himself in flesh and played a part in the drama of mankind's 
salvation ; for he was a true player (71/17070? ayowerni?), a 
fellow-player with the creature ; and most quickly was he 
spread abroad among all men, more quickly than the sun, 
when he rose from the Father's will, and proved whence he 
was and who he was by what he taught and showed, he, the 
bringer of the covenant, the reconciler, the Logos our Saviour, 
the fountain of life and peace, shed over the whole face of the 
sarth, by whom (so to say) all things have become an ocean 
}f blessings." 4 Though essentially and eternally free from 
oassion (cnraOijs) " for our sake he took upon him our flesh 
fvith its capacity for suffering" (rrjv iraOrjTrjv vdpica) 6 and 
' descended to sensation (aio-Orja-i^)." 6 "It is clear that none 
:an in his lifetime clearly apprehend God ; but ' the pure in 
leart shall see God ' when they come to the final perfection, 
pince, then, the soul was too weak for the perception of what 
's (rwv OVTWV), we needed a divine teacher. The Saviour is 
lent down to teach us how to acquire good, and to give it to 
Is (xwyoV) the secret and holy knowledge of the great 
providence," 7 " to show God to foolish men, to end corruption, 

1 Protr. no, I. 2 Protr. 63, 5 ; 84, 2 ; 68, 4. 

I ' Peed, i, 6, 2, <TXot/ jnjfcrcu rov irXda/xaroj, nal <ru>/za *al ^v*V a*eTot atrrov 6 
cwipKTjs TT)S dvQpuTrbTrjTos Iarp6s. 

* Protr. no, 2, 3. Cf. also Pad. i, 4, 1-2. 
I 8 Strom, vii, 6. Cf. Pad. i, 4, 2. drdXvroj (Is rt> iravTeXls drepwirbur Toflwr. 

' Strom, v, 40, 3. 

7 Strom, v, 7, 7-8. 


to conquer death, to reconcile disobedient children to their 
Father. . . . The Lord pities, educates, encourages, exhorts, saves 
and guards, and as the prize of learning he promises us out of 
his abundance the kingdom of heaven this alone giving him 
joy in us, that we are saved." l All this was foreknown before 
the foundation of the world ; the Logos was and is the 
divine beginning or principle of all things, " but because he 
has now taken the long-hallowed name, the name worthy of 
his power, the Christ, that is why I call it the new song." 2 
And indeed he is right, for " the Epiphany, now shining among 
us, of the Word that was in the beginning and before it " ! 
is new in philosophy ; and it is a new thing also that the 
doctrine of a Logos should be " essentially musical." The 
Incarnation of the divine Teacher is the central fact for 

The identification of this incarnate Logos with Jesus of 
Nazareth was part of Clement's inheritance, and as usual he 
accepted the form which the tradition of the Church had 
assumed. But Clement's theology altered the significance of 
Jesus. For the Abba Father whom Jesus loved, he substituted 
the great Unknowable, and then he had to bring in a figure 
unfamiliar to the thought of Jesus the Logos, whom he 
clothed with many of the attributes of the Father of Jesus, 
and then identified with Jesus himself. Not unnaturally in 
this combination the historic is outweighed by the theoretic 
element, and indeed receives very little attention. The! 
thought of Incarnation is to Clement much more important 
than the Personality. 

Jesus is " God and pedagogue," " good shepherd," and 
"mystic Angel (or messenger)," "the pearl," "the great High 
Priest," and so forth. 4 In a few passages (some of them 
already quoted) Clement speaks of the earthly life of Jesus 
of the crown of thorns, the common ware, and the absence of 
a silver foot-bath. But he takes care to make it clear that 
Jesus was " not an ordinary man," and that was why he did 
not marry and have children this in opposition to certain 

1 Protr, 6, 1-2, TOVTO /j.6vov &iro\aijui> i)/j.>v 

2 Protr. 6, 5. 3 Protr. 7, 3. 

4 The references are (in order) Peed, i, 55 ; i, 53, 2 ; i, 59, I ; ii, 118, 5 ; Protr,, 

I2O, 2. 


vain persons who held up the Lord's example as a reason 
for rejecting marriage, which "they call simple prostitution 
and a practice introduced by the devil." T So far was Jesus 
from being " an ordinary man " that Clement takes pains to 
dissociate him from ordinary human experience. To the 
miraculous birth he refers incidentally but in a way that 
leaves no mistake possible. " Most people even now believe, 
as it seems, that Mary ceased to be a virgin through the birth 
of her child, though this was not really the case for some 
say she was found by the midwife to be a virgin after her 
delivery." 2 This expansion of the traditional story is to be 
noted as an early illustration of the influence of dogma. The 
episode appears in an elaborate form in the apocryphal 
Gospels. 3 But Clement goes further. " In the case of the 
Saviour, to suppose that his body required, qud body, the 
necessary attentions for its continuance, would be laughable 
(yeXcoy). For he ate not on account of his body, which was 
held together by holy power, but that it might not occur 
to those who consorted with him to think otherwise of him 
as indeed later on some really supposed him to have been 
manifested merely in appearance [i.e. the Docetists who 
counted his body a phantom]. He himself was entirely 
without passion (cnraflrfc) and into him entered no emotional 
movement (Kitujfia 7ra0/;-n/coV), neither pleasure nor pain." 4 
A fragment (in a Latin translation) of a commentary of 
Clement's upon the first Epistle of John, contains a curious 
statement : " It is said in the traditions that John touched the 
surface of the body of Jesus, and drove his hand deep into 
it, and the firmness of the flesh was no obstacle but gave way 
to the hand of the disciple." 5 At the same time we read: 
" It was not idly that the Lord chose to employ a body of 
mean form, in order that no one, while praising his comeliness 

1 Strom, iii, 49, 1-3, ovSt avBpwiros ty KOIVOI. 

2 Strom, vii, 93. 

8 See Protevangcliumjaeobi, 19, 20 (in Tischendorf 's Evan^elia Apocrypha, p. 36), 
a work quoted in the 4th century by Gregory of Nyssa, and possibly the source of this 
statement of Clement's. Tischendorf thinks it may also have been known to Justin. 
See vkstopseudo-Matthaievangclium, 13 (Tischendorf, p. 75), known to St Jerome. 

4 Strom, vi, 71, 2. A strange opinion of Valentinus about Jesus eating may be 
compared, which Clement quotes without dissent in Strom, iii, 59, 3. See p. 249, n. 4. 

5 Printed in Dindorf's edition, vol. iii, p. 4 8 5- 


and beauty, should depart from what he said, and in cleaving 
to what is left behind should be severed from the higher things 
of thought (ran/ votjrwv)" l 

It is consistent with the general scheme of Clement's 
thought that the cross has but a small part in his theology. 
" It was not by the will of his Father that the Lord suffered, 
nor are the persecuted so treated in accordance with his choice " 
it is rather in both cases that " such things occur, God not 
preventing them ; this alone saves at once the providence and 
goodness of God." 2 Yet " the blood of the Lord is twofold ; 
there is the fleshly, whereby we have been redeemed from 
corruption, and the spiritual, by which we have been 
anointed." 3 The cross is the landmark between us and our 
past. 4 On the whole Clement has not much to say about sin, 
though of course he does not ignore it. It is " eternal death " ; 6 
it is " irrational " ; 6 it is not to be attributed " to the operation 
(energy) of daemons," as that would be to acquit the sinner, 
still it makes a man " like the daemons " (SaifjLoviKos). 7 God's 
punishments he holds to be curative in purpose. 8 He says 
nothing to imply the eternity of punishment, 9 and as we have 
seen he speaks definitely of the Gospel being preached to the 

The Christian religion, according to Clement, begins in 
faith and goes on to knowledge. The heavier emphasis with 
him always falls on knowledge, though he maintains in a fine 
chapter that faith is its foundation. 10 " The Greeks," he says, 
" consider faith an empty and barbarous thing," n but he is far 
from such a view. Faith must be well-founded " if faith is 
such as to be destroyed by plausible talk, let it be destroyed." 1 
But the word left upon the reader's mind is knowledge. A 
passage like the following is unmistakable. " Supposing one 
were to offer the Gnostic his choice, whether he would prefer 

I Strom, vi, 151, 3. Cf. Celsus, p. 249, and Tert. de carne Christi, 9, Adeo nee 
humana honestatis corpus fuit ; Tertullian however is far from any such fancies as 
to Christ's body not being quite human, see p. 340. 

8 Strom, iv, 86, 2, 3 ; contrast Tertullian 's attitude in de Fuga in Persccutione, etc. 

3 Pad. ii, 19, 4. 4 Pad. iii, 85, 3. 

5 Protr. 115, 2. 6 Pad. i, ch. 13. 7 Strom, vi, 98, i. 

8 Cf. Strom, i, 173 ; iv, 153, 2 ; Fad. i, 70, i) ybp xoXcurcs ^TT' deafly KO.I <> 
ui$f Aet'a TOV Ko\a^o/j.^vov. 

9 Cf. J. B. Mayor, Pref. to Stromatcis, vii, p. xl. 10 Strom, ii, ch. 4. Cf. ii, 48. 

II Strom, ii, 8, 4. 12 Strom, vi, 81, i. 


the knowledge of God or eternal salvation, one or the other 
(though of course they are above all things an identity) ; 
without the slightest hesitation he would choose the knowledge 
of God for its own sake." l The ideal Christian is habitually 
spoken of in this way, as the " man of knowledge " the true 
" Gnostic," as opposed to the heretics who illegitimately claim 
the title. A very great deal of Clement's writing is devoted to 
(building up this Gnostic, to outlining his ideal character. He 
is essentially man as God conceived him, entering into the 
(divine life, and, by the grace of the Logos, even becoming 

This thought of man becoming God Clement repeats very 
|often, and it is a mark of how far Christianity has travelled 
ifrom Palestine. It begins with the Platonic ideal of being 
[made like to God, and the means is the knowledge of God or 
Ithe sight of God given by the Logos. " ' Nought say I of the 
.rest,' 2 glorifying God. Only I say that those Gnostic souls 
are so carried away by the magnificence of the vision (Oecopla) 
that they cannot confine themselves within the lines of the 
constitution by which each holy degree is assigned and in 
accordance with which the blessed abodes of the gods have 
(been marked out and allotted ; but being counted as ' holy 
|among the holy,' and translated absolutely and entirely to 
another sphere, they keep on always moving to better and yet 
better regions, until they no longer greet the divine vision in 
mirrors or by means of mirrors, but with loving souls feast for 
ever on the uncloying never-ending sight, radiant in its 
transparent clearness, while throughout the endless ages they 
taste a never-wearying delight, and thus continue, all alike 
lonoured with an identity of pre-eminence. This is the 
apprehensive vision of the pure in heart. This, then, is the 
ork (evepyeia) of the perfected Gnostic to hold communion 
ith God through the Great High Christ being made like the 
Lord as far as may be. Yes, and in this process of becoming 
ike God the Gnostic creates and fashions himself anew, and 
.dorns those that hear him." 3 In an interesting chapter 
Clement discusses abstraction from material things as a necessary 

1 Strom, iv, 136, 5. z From jEsch. Agam. 36. 

3 Strom, vii, 13. (Mayor's translation in the main). Cf. Protr. 86, 2, 
T$ 0ey ; Peed, i, 99, I ; Strom, vi, 1041 2. 


condition for attaining the knowledge of God ; we must " cast 
ourselves into the greatness of Christ and thence go forward." l 
" If a man know himself, he shall know God, and knowing 
God shall be made like to him. . . . The man with whom the 
Logos dwells ... is made like to God . . . and that man 
becomes God, for God wishes it." 2 " By being deified into 
Apathy (cnrdOeiav) a man becomes Monadic without stain." 3 
As Homer makes men poets, Crobylus cooks, and Plato 
philosophers ; " so he who obeys the Lord and follows the 
prophecy given through him, is fully perfected after the like- 
ness of his Teacher, and thus becomes a god while still moving 
about in the flesh." 4 " Dwelling with the Lord, talking with 
him and sharing his hearth, he will abide according to the 
spirit, pure in flesh, pure in heart, sanctified in word. ' The 
world to him,' it says, * is crucified and he to the world.' 
He carries the cross of the Saviour and follows the Lord ' in 
his footsteps as of a god/ and is become holy of the 
holy." 6 

We seem to touch the world of daily life, when after all 
the beatific visions we see the cross again. Clement has 
abundance of suggestion for Christian society in Alexandria, 
and it is surprising how simple, natural and wise is his attitude 
to the daily round and common task. Men and women alike 
may " philosophize," for their " virtue " (in Aristotle's phrase) is 
the same so may the slave, the ignorant and the child. 6 The 
Christian life is not to eradicate the natural but to control it. r 
Marriage is a state of God's appointing Clement is no Jerome. 
Nature made us to marry and " the childless man falls short of 
the perfection of Nature." 8 Men must marry for their country's i 
sake and for the completeness of the universe. 9 True man- 
hood is not proved by celibacy the married man may " fall 
short of the other as regards his personal salvation, but he has i 

1 Strom, v, 71, 3. 2 /W. Hi, i, i, and 5. s Strom, iv, 152, I. 

4 Strom, vii, 101. 

5 Strom, ii, 104, 2, 3, with reff. to Paul Gal. 6, 14 ; and Odyssey, 2, 406. Other , 
passages in which the notion occurs are Strom, iv, 149, 8 ; vii, 56, 82. Augustine I 
has the thought all the Fathers, indeed, according to Harnack. See Mayor's note 
on Strom, vii, 3. It also comes in the Theologia Germanica. 

ti Strom, iv. 62, 4 ; 58, 3 ; the Apery in Peed, i, 10, I. 

7 Peed, ii, 46, i. 8 Strom, ii, 139, 5. 

9 Strom, ii, 140, I, a very remarkable utterance. 


|:he advantage in the conduct of life inasmuch as he really 
preserves a faint (oXiyijv) image of the true Providence." 1 The 
fieathen, it is true, may expose their own children and keep 
parrots, but the begetting and upbringing of children is a part 
pf the married Christian life. 2 " Who are the two or three 
! fathering in the name of Christ, among whom the Lord is in 
the midst? Does he not mean man, wife and child by 
|:he three, seeing woman is made to match man by 
fcod." 3 

The real fact about the Christian life is simply this, that the 
pew Song turns wild beasts into men of God. 4 " Sail past the 
iiren's song, it works death," says Clement, "if only thou wilt, 
hhou hast overcome destruction ; lashed to the wood thou shalt 
I be loosed from ruin ; the Word of God will steer thee and the 
loly spirit will moor thee to the havens of heaven." 5 To 
the early Christian " the wood " always meant the cross of 
fesus. The new life is "doing good for love's sake," 8 and "he 
Lvho shows pity ought not to know that he is doing it. ... 
(When he does good by instinctive habit (ev eei) then he will 
pe imitating the nature of good." 7 God breathed into man 
ind there has always been something charming in a man since 
phen (</\T/ooi>). 8 So "the new people" are always happy, 
Always in the full bloom of thought, always at spring-time.* 
The Church is the one thing in the world that always 
rejoices. 10 

Clement's theology is composite rather than organic a 
Structure of materials old and new, hardly fit for the open air, 
jthe wind and the rain. But his faith is another thing it rests 
iipon the living personality of the Saviour, the love of God and 
the significance of the individual soul, and it has the stamp of 
(such faith in all the ages joy and peace in believing. It has 
iasted because it lived. If Christianity had depended on the 

1 Strom, vii, 70, end. 

8 Pad. ii, 83, I, TO?J 3 yeyafj.ijK6ai CT/CO'TTOJ TJ iraiSoiroita, rAos & i) eOrtKvLa.. 
Cf. Tertullian, adv. Marc, iv, 17, on the impropriety of God calling us children if we 
puppose that he nobis filiosfacere non pcrmisit auferendo connubium. The opposite 
jriew, for purposes of argument perhaps, in de exh. castilatis, 12, where he ridicules the 
idea of producing children for the sake of the state. 

' Strom, iii, 68, I. 4 Protr. 4, 3. * Protr. 1 1 8, 4. 

6 Strom, iv, 135, 4. 7 Strom, iv, 138, 2, 3. 8 Pad. i, 7, 2. 

" Pad. i, 20, 3, 4. 

10 Pad. i, 22, 2, uov-i) a0T7j els TOI)S at'wvas /dvs i xalpovaa. &el. 


Logos, it would have followed the Logos to the limbo whither 
went ALon and Aporrhoia and Spermaticos Logos. But that 
the Logos has not perished is due to the one fact that with the 
Cross it has been borne through the ages on the shoulders of 




IN his most famous chapter Gibbon speaks at one point of 
the affirmation of the early church that those who per- 
sisted in the worship of the daemons " neither deserved 
nor could expect a pardon from the irritated justice of the 
Deity." Oppressed in this world by the power of the Pagans, 
Christians " were sometimes seduced by resentment and spiritual 
pride to delight in the prospect of their future triumph. ' You 
are fond of spectacles,' exclaims the stern Tertullian, ' expect 
the greatest of all spectacles, the last and eternal judgment of 
the universe. How shall I admire, how laugh, how rejoice, 
how exult, when I behold so many proud monarchs, and 
fancied gods, groaning in the lowest abyss of darkness ; so 
many magistrates, who persecuted the name of the Lord, lique- 
fying in fiercer fires than they ever kindled against the 
Christians ; so many sage philosophers blushing in red-hot 
flames with their deluded scholars ; so many celebrated poets 
trembling before the tribunal, not of Minos, but of Christ ; so 
many tragedians more tuneful in the expression of their own 

sufferings ; so many dancers ' But the humanity of the 

reader will permit me to draw a veil over the rest of this in- 
fernal description, which the zealous African pursues in a long 
variety of affected and unfeeling witticisms." l 

The passage is a magnificent example of Gibbon's style 
and method, more useful, however, as an index to the mind of 
Gibbon than to that of Tertullian. He has abridged his transla- 
tion, and in one or two clauses he has missed Tertullian's points ; 
finally he has drawn his veil over the rest of the infernal 
description exactly when he knew there was little or nothing 
more to be quoted that would serve his purpose. He has 
made no attempt to understand the man he quotes, nor the 

1 Gibbon, Decline and Fall, c. 15 (vol. ii, p. 177, Milman-Smith) ; Tertullian, de 
Spectofulis, 30. 



mood in which he spoke, nor the circumstances which gave 
rise to that mood. Yet on the evidence of this passage 
and a sonnet of Matthew Arnold's, English readers pass 
a swift judgment on "the stern Tertullian " and his "unpity- 
ing Phrygian sect." But to the historian of human thought, 
and to the student of human character, there are few figures 
of more significance in Latin literature. Of the men who 
moulded Western Christendom few have stamped themselves 
and their ideas upon it with anything approaching the 
clearness and the effect of Tertullian. He first turned the 
currents of Christian thought in the West into channels in 
which they have never yet ceased to flow and will probably 
long continue to flow. He was the first Latin churchman, 
and his genius helped to shape Latin Christianity. He, too, 
was the first great Puritan of the West, precursor alike of 
Augustine and of the Reformation. The Catholic Church left 
him unread throughout the Middle Ages, but at the Renaissance 
he began once more to be studied, and simultaneously there 
also began the great movement for the purification of the 
church and the deepening of Christian life, which were 
the causes to which he had given himself and his 

Such a man may be open to criticism on many sides. He 
may be permanently or fitfully wrong in thought or speech or 
conduct ; but it is clear that an influence so great rests upon 
something more profound than irritability however brilliant in 
expression. There must be somewhere in the man something 
that corresponds with the enduring thoughts of mankind 
something that engages the mind or that wins the friendship 
of men something that is true and valid. And this, what- 
ever it is, is the outcome of many confluent elements of 
temperament, environment and experience, perhaps, in chief. 
The man must be seen as his personal friends saw him and as 
his enemies saw him ; what is more, they both sets of them 
must be seen as he saw them. The critic must himself, by 
dint of study and imagination, be played upon by as many of 
the factors of the man's experience as he can re-capture. 
Impressions, pleasures, doubts, hopes, convictions, friendships, 
inspirations everything that goes to shape a man is relevant 
to that study of character without which, in the case of 


formative men, history itself becomes pedantry and illusion. 
Particularly in the case of such a man as Tertullian is it 
needful to repeat this caution. The impetuous dogmatism in 
which his mind and, quite as often, his mood express them- 
selves, and his hard words, harder a great deal than his heart, 
no less than his impulsive convictions, " seem," as Gibbon put 
it, " to offend the reason and the humanity of the present age." 
On the other side, the church, which the historian in a footnote 
saddles with the responsibility of sharing Tertullian's most 
harsh beliefs, is at one with " the present age " in repudiating 
him on grounds of her own. Yet, questioned or condemned, 
Tertullian played his part, and that no little one, in the conflict 
of religions ; he stood for truth as he saw it, and wrote and 
spoke with little thought of the praise or blame of his 
contemporaries or of posterity all that he had abandoned 
once for all, when he made the great choice of his life. 
Questioned or condemned, he is representative, and he is 
individual, the first man of genius of the Latin race to 
follow Jesus Christ, and to re-set his ideas in the language 
native to that race. 

Tertullian was born about the middle of the second century 
A.D. at Carthage, or in its neighbourhood. The city at all 
events is the scene of his life a great city with a great history. 
" Tyre in Africa " is one of his phrases for Carthage and her 
u sister-cities," and he quotes Virgil's description of Dido's town 
studiis asperrima belli. 1 But his Carthage was not that of 
Dido and Hannibal. It was the re-founded city of Julius 
Caesar, now itself two hundred years old a place with a 
character of its own familiar to the reader of Apuleius and 
of Augustine's Confessions, a character confirmed by the 
references of Tertullian to its amusements and its daily sights. 
" What sea-captain is there that does not carry his mirth even 
to the point of shame ? Every day we see the frolics in which 
I sailors take their pleasure." 2 Scholars have played with the 
| fancy that they could trace in Tertullian's work the influence 
I of some Semitic strain, as others with equal reason have found 

1 Both of these in de Pallio, i. It may be noted that in allusions to Dido's story 
he prefers the non-Virgilian version, more honourable to the Queen ; Afol. 50 ; ad 
martyras, 4. 

* adv. Valentin. 12. 


traces of the Celt in Virgil and Livy. Tertullian himself has 
perhaps even fewer references to Punic speech and people than 
Apuleius, while, like Apuleius, he wrote in both Greek and 
Latin, 1 and it is possible that, like Apuleius, and Perpetua the 
martyr, he spoke both. 

Jerome tells us that Tertullian was the son of a centurion. 2 
He tells us himself, incidentally and by implication, that he 
was the child of heathen parents. " Idolatry," he says, " is the 
midwife that brings all men into the world ; " and he gives a 
very curious picture of the pagan ceremonies that went with 
child-birth, the fillet on the mother's womb, the cries to Lucina, 
the table spread for Juno, the horoscope, and finally the 
dedication of a hair of the child, or of all his hair together, as 
the rites of clan or family may require. 3 Thus from the very 
first the boy is dedicated to a genius ', and to the evil he inherits 
through the transmission of his bodily nature is added the 
influence of a false daemon " though there still is good innate 
in the soul, the archetypal good, divine and germane, 
essentially natural ; for what comes from God is not so much 
extinguished as overshadowed." 4 The children of Christian 
parents have so far, he indicates, a better beginning ; they are 
holy in virtue of their stock and of their upbringing. 5 With 
himself it had not been so. It is curious to find the great 
controversialist of later days recalling nursery tales, how " amid 
the difficulties of sleep one heard from one's nurse about the 
witch's towers and the combs of the sun " recalling too the 
children's witticisms about the apples that grow in the sea and 
the fishes that grow on the tree. 6 They come back into his 
mind as he thinks of the speculations of Valentinus and his 

His education was that of his day, lavish rhetoric, and 
knowledge of that very wide character which in all his 
contemporaries is perhaps too suggestive of manual and 

1 References to his Greek treatises (all lost) may be found in de cor. mil, 6 ; de 
bapt. 15 ; de virg. vet. I. 

2 De viris illustribus, sub nomine. 

3 de anima 39. 4 Ibid. 41. 5 Ibid. 39. 

6 adv. Valent. 3, in infantia inter somni difficultates a nutricula audisse lamia 
turres et pectines Salts ; ibid. 20, puerilium dicibulorum in mari poma nasci et in 
arbore pisccs. 


cyclopaedia 1 works never so abundant in antiquity as then. 
But he was well taught, as a brilliant boy deserved, and his 
range of interests is remarkable. Nor is he overwhelmed by 
miscellaneous erudition, like Aulus Gellius for instance, or like 
Clement of Alexandria, to come to a man more on his own 
level. He is master of the great literature of Rome ; he has 
read the historians and Cicero ; he can quote Virgil with telling 
effect. Usque adeone mori miserum est? he asks of the 
Christian who hesitates to be martyred ; 2 " a hint from the 
world " he says. Sooner or later, he read Varro's books, the 
armoury of every Latin Christian against polytheism. 

He " looked into medicine," he tells us, and a good many 
passages in his treatises remind us of the fact. 3 It may help 
to explain an explicitness in the use of terms more usual in the 
physician perhaps than in the layman. 

But his career lay not in medicine but in law, and he 
caught the spirit of his profession. It has been debated 
whether the Tertullian, whose treatise de castrensi peculio is 
quoted in the Digest, is the apologist or another, but no legal 
treatises are needed to convince the reader how thoroughly 
a lawyer was the author of the theological works. He has 
every art and every artifice of his trade. He can reason quietly 
and soundly, he can declaim, he can do both together. He is a 
master of logic, delighting in huge chains of alternatives. He 
can quibble and wrest the obvious meaning of a document to 
perfection, browbeat an opponent, argue ad hominem* evade a 
clear issue, and anticipate and escape an obvious objection, as 
well as any lawyer that ever practised. Again and again he 
impresses us as a special pleader, and we feel that he is forcing 
us away from the evidence of our own sense and intelligence 
to a conclusion which he prefers on other grounds. His 

1 e.g. he alludes to a manual on flowers and garlands by Claudius Saturninus, 
and another on a similar subject, perhaps, by Leo /Egyptius ; de cor. mil. 7, 12. 
Apart from the Christian controversy on the use of flowers, we shall find later on 
that he had a keener interest in them than some critics might suppose ; adv. Marc. 

i. 13, 14- 

2 dejuga, 10. 

:J de anima, 2 ; cf. ibid. 10, quotation of a great anatomist Herophilus who dissected 
" six hundred " subjects in order to find out Nature's secrets ; also ibid. 25, a dis- 
cussion of childbirth to show that the soul does not come into the child with its first 
breath ; ibid. 43, a discussion of sleep. Scorpiact, 5, surgery. 

4 f.g. the end of adv. Hcrmogenem. 


epigrams rival Tacitus, and there is even in his rhetoric a 
conviction and a passion which Cicero never reaches. The 
suddenness of his questions, and the amazing readiness of his 
jests, savage, subtle, ironic, good-natured, brilliant or common- 
place, 1 impress the reader again and again, however well he 
knows him. Yet Tertullian never loses sight of his object, 
whatever the flights of rhetoric or humour on which he ventures. 
In one case, he plainly says that his end will best be achieved 
by ridicule. " Put it down, reader, as a sham fight before the 
battle. I will show how to deal wounds, but I will not deal 
them. If there shall be laughter, the matter itself shall be the 
apology. There are many things that deserve so to be 
refuted ; gravity would be too high a compliment. Vanity 
and mirth may go together. Yes, and it becomes Truth to 
laugh, because she is glad, to play with her rivals, because she 
is free from fear." 2 Then, with a caution as to becoming 
laughter, he launches into his most amusing book that against 
the Valentinians. 

Tertullian rivals Apuleius in brilliant mastery of the 
elaborate and artificial rhetoric of the day. He has the same 
tricks of rhyming clauses and balancing phrases. Thus : attente 
custoditiir quod tarde invenitur ; 3 or more fully : spiritus enim 
dominatur, caro famulatur ; tamen utrumque inter se communi- 
cant reatum, spiritus ob imperium, caro ob ministeriumt Here 
the vanities of his pagan training subserve true thought. 
Elsewhere they are more playful, as when he suggests to 
those, who like the pagans took off their cloaks to pray, that 
God heard the three saints in the fiery furnace of the Babylonian 
king though they prayed cum sarabaris et tiaris suis in turbans 
and trousers. 5 But when he gives us such a string of phrases 
as aut Platonis honor , aut Zenonis vigor \ aut A ristotelis tenor , aut 
Epicuri stupor, aut Heracliti moeror, aut Empedoclis furor? one 
feels that he is for the moment little better than one of the 
wicked. At the beginning of his tract on Baptism, after speaking 

1 Puns, e.g., on area, ad Scap. 3 ; on stropha, de Spcct. 29 ; on pleroma, adv. Val. 
12. See his nonsense on the tears, salt, sweet, and bituminous, of Achamoth, a 
Valentinian figure, adv. Val. 15 ; on " the Milesian tales of his^Eons," de Anima. 23. 

a adv. Valent. 6. 3 adv. Valent. I. 

4 de baptisntO) 4. 5 de orations t 15. 

* de anima, 3. 


of water he pulls himself up abruptly he is afraid, he says, 
that the reader may fancy he is composing laudes aquae (in 
the manner of rhetorical adoxography) rather than discussing 
the principles of baptism. 1 His tract de Pallio is frankly a 
humorous excursion into old methods, in which the elderly 
Montanist, who has left off wearing the toga, justifies himself 
for his highly conservative and entirely suitable conduct in 
adopting the pallium. The " stern " Tertullian appears here in 
the character that his pagan friends had long ago known, and 
that his Christian readers might feel somewhere or other in 
everything that he writes. There is a good-tempered playful- 
ness about the piece, a fund of splendid nonsense, which suggest 
the fellow-citizen of Apuleius rather than the presbyter.' 2 But 
earnestness, which is not incompatible with humour, is his strong 
characteristic, and when it arms itself with an irony so power- 
ful as that of Tertullian, the result is amazing. Sometimes he 
exceeds all bounds, as when in his Ad Nationes he turns that 
irony upon the horrible charges, which the pagans, knowing 
them to be false, bring against the Christians, while he, pretend- 
ing for the moment that they are true, invites his antagonists 
to think them out to their consequences and to act upon them. 8 
Or again take the speech of Christ on the judgment day, in 
which the Lord is pictured as saying that he had indeed en- 
trusted the Gospel once for all to the Apostles, but had thought 
better of it and made some changes as of course, Tertullian 
suggests, he really would have to say, if it could be supposed 
that the latest heretics were right after all. 4 

But, whatever be said or thought of the rhetoric, playful or 
earnest, it has another character than it wears in his con- 
temporaries. For here was a far more powerful brain, strong, 
clear and well-trained, and a heart whose tenderness and sensi- 
bility have never had justice. In some ways he very much 
suggests Thomas Carlyle he has the same passion, the same 
vivid imagination and keen sensibility, the same earnestness 
and the same loyalty to truth as he sees it regardless of conse- 

1 de bapt. 3 (end) 

2 On de pallio see Boissier, La Fin du Paganisnie, bk. iii, ch. I. 

3 adNatt, i, 7 ; the charges were incest, and child-murder for purposes of magic. 

4 de Prescript ione, 44 (end). Similarly of resurrection, virgin-birth, etc. 


quence and compromise, and alas ! the same " natural faculty 
for being in a hurry," which Carlyle deplored, and Tertullian 
before him " I, poor wretch, always sick with the fever of 
impatience " l the same fatal gift for pungent phrase, and the 
same burning and indignant sympathy for the victim of wrong 
and cruelty. 2 The beautiful feeling, which he shows in handling 
the parables of the lost sheep and the prodigal son, in setting 
forth from them the loving fatherhood of God, 3 might surprise 
some of his critics. Nor has every great Christian of later and 
more humane days been capable of writing as he wrote of 
victory in battle against foreigners " Is the laurel of triumph 
made of leaves or the dead bodies of men ? With ribbons is 
it adorned or with graves ? Is it bedewed with unguents, or 
the tears of wives and mothers? perhaps too of some who 
are Christians, for even among the barbarians is Christ." 4 
There are again among his books some which have an appeal 
and a tender charm throughout that haunt the reader that 
is, if he has himself passed through any such experience as 
will enable him to enter into what was in Tertullian's mind 
and heart as he wrote. So truly and intimately does he know 
and with such sympathy does he express some of the deepest 
religious emotions. 6 

From time to time Tertullian drops a stray allusion to his 
earlier years. He was a pagan de vestris sumus " one of 
yourselves" (Apol. 18); "the kind of man I was myself once, 
blind and without the light of the Lord." 6 A Roman city, 
and Carthage perhaps in particular, offered to a gifted youth of 
Roman ways of thinking endless opportunities of self-indulgence. 
Tertullian speaks of what he had seen in the arena the con- 
demned criminal, dressed as some hero or god of the mythology, 
mutilated or burned alive, for the amusement of a shouting 

1 de Patientia, I , miserrimus ego semper czger caloribus impatienti<f. 

2 Cf. his tone as to the scortum, unexampled, so far as I know, in Latin literature, 
and only approached in Greek perhaps by Dio Chrysostom the publics libidinis 
hostia (de Sped. 17), publicarum libidinum victims (de cult. fern, ii, 12). He of all 
who mention the strange annual scene on the stage, which Cato withdrew to allow, 
has pity for the poor women. 

s de Panitcntia, 8. * de corona, 12. 

5 I refer especially to such passages as de Carne Christi, 4-9, 14 ; de Resurr. 
Carnis, 7, 12, etc. 

6 de Ptxnit. I, hoc genus hominum quod et ipsi retro fuimus, cad, sine domini 


audience, 1 "exulting in human blood." 2 " We have laughed, 
amid the mocking cruelties of noonday, at Mercury as he 
examined the bodies of the dead with his burning iron ; we 
have seen Jove's brother too, with his mallet, hauling out the 
corpses of gladiators." 3 In later days when he speaks of such 
things, he shudders and leaves the subject rather than remember 
(what he has seen malo non implere quam memint'sse* He 
knew the theatre of the Roman city " the consistory of all 
! uncleanness " he calls it. " Why should it be lawful (for a 
| Christian)," he asked, "to see what it is sin to do? Why 
I should the things, which ' coming out of the mouth defile a 
i man,' seem not to defile a man when he takes them in through 
I eyes and ears?" 5 He speaks of Tragedies and Comedies, 
i teaching guilt and lust, bloody and wanton ; and the reader of 
the Golden Ass can recall from fiction cases wonderfully 
illuminative of what could have been seen in fact. When he 
apostrophizes the sinner, he speaks of himself. "You," he 
cries, " you, the sinner, like me no ! less sinner than I, for I 
recognize my own pre-eminence in guilt" 6 He is, he says, 
" a sinner of every brand, born for nothing but repentance." 7 
To say, with Professor Hort, on the evidence of such passages 
ithat Tertullian was " apparently a man of vicious life " might 
involve a similar condemnation of Bunyan and St Paul ; while 
to find the charge "painfully " confirmed by " the foulness which 
ever afterwards infested his mind " is to exaggerate absurdly 
in the first place, and in the second to forget such parallels as 
iSwift and Carlyle, who both carried explicit speech to a point 
;beyond ordinary men, while neither is open to such a suggestion 
as that brought against Tertullian. With such cases as 
jApuleius, Hadrian or even Julius Caesar before us, it is im- 
possible to maintain that Tertullian's early life must have been 
(spotless, but it is possible to fancy more wrong than there was. 
The excesses of a man of genius are generally touched by the 

1 Apol. 15, cf. ad Natt. i, 10, another draft of the same matter. 

8 de Spect. 19, eamus in amphitheatrum . . . delcctemur sanguine humano 

8 Apol. 15. The burning-iron was to see whether any life were left in the 

4 de Spect. 19 (end). 5 de Sptctaculis, 17. 

* de Pcmit. 4. 

7 de Panit. 12, peuator omnium notarum, rue ulli ret nisi panittntim natus. 


imagination, and therein lies at once their peculiar danger, and 
also something redemptive that promises another future. 

Tertullian at any rate married when, we cannot say ; but, 
as a Christian and a Montanist, he addressed a book to his 
wife, and in his De Anima he twice alludes to the ways of 
small infants in a manner which suggests personal knowledge. 
In the one he speaks with curious observation of the sense- 
perception of very young babies ; in the other he appeals to 
their movements in sleep, their tremors and smiles, as evidence 
that they also have dreams. Such passages if met in 
Augustine's pages would not so much surprise us. They 
suggest that the depth and tenderness of Tertullian's nature 
have not been fully understood. 1 

Meanwhile, whatever his amusements, the young lawyer 
had his serious interests. If he was already acquiring the 
arts of a successful pleader, the more real aspects of Law were 
making their impression upon him. The great and ordered 
conceptions of principle and harmony, which fill the minds of 
reflective students of law in all ages, were then reinforced by 
the Stoic teaching of the unity of Nature in the indwelling of 
the Spermaticos Logos with its universal scope and power. 
Law and Stoicism, in this union, formed the mind and char- 
acter of Tertullian. In later days, under the stress of con- 
troversy (which he always enjoyed) he could find points in 
which to criticize his Stoic teachers ; but the contrast between 
the language he uses of Plato and his friendliness (for instance) 
for Seneca s&pe noster^ is suggestive. But that is not all. A 
Roman lawyer could hardly speculate except in the terms of 
Stoicism it was his natural and predestined language. Above 
all, the constant citation of Nature by Tertullian shows who 
had taught him in the first instance to think. 

When, years after, in 2 1 2 A.D., he told Scapula that " it is 
a fundamental human right, a privilege of Nature, that any | 
and every man should worship what he thinks right," he had 
sub-consciously gone back to the great Stoic Jus Natures? 

1 de anima, 19 and 49. Add his words on the wife taken away by death, cut 
ttiam religiosiorem reseruas affectioncm, etc., de exh. cast. II. 

2 de anima, 20. Cf. ibid. 17, on the moderation of the Stoics, as compared with 
Plato, in their treatment of the fidelity of the senses. 

3 ad Scap. 2. Tamen humani tun's et naturalis potestatis est unicuique quod pula- 
vtrit colere. 


(Nature is the original authority side by side, he would say 
in his later years, with the inspired word of God, yet even so 
r it was not the pen of Moses that initiated the knowledge of 
the Creator. . . . The vast majority of mankind, though they 
have never heard the name of Moses to say nothing of his 
Ipook know the God of Moses none the less." 1 One of his 
favourite arguments rests on what he calls the testimonium 
\inimce naturaliter Christiana the testimony of the soul 
Miich in its ultimate and true nature is essentially Christian ; 
|ind this argument rests on his general conception of Nature. 
Let a man " reflect on the majesty of Nature, for it is from 
(Nature that the authority of the soul comes. What you give 
|to the teacher, you must allow to the pupil. Nature is the 
teacher, the soul the pupil. And whatever the one has taught 
or the other learnt, comes from God, who is the teacher of the 
teacher (i.e. Nature) " ; 2 and neither God nor Nature can lie. 8 
An extension of this is to be found in his remark, in a much 
more homely connexion, that if the " common consciousness " 
'conscientia communis) be consulted, we shall find " Nature 
itself" teaching us that mind and soul are livelier and more 
ntelligent when the stomach is not heavily loaded. 4 The 
appeal to the consensus of men. as the expression of the 
universal and the natural, and therefore as evidence to truth, is 
essentially Stoic. 

Over and over he lays stress upon natural law. " All 
filings are fixed in the truth of God," ft he says, and " our God 
is the God of Nature." 6 He identifies the natural and the 
rational " all the properties of God must be rational just as 
they are natural," that is a clear principle (reguld] ; 7 " the 
rational element must be counted natural because it is native 
to the soul from the beginning coming as it does from a 
rational author (auctore)"* He objects to Marcion that 
Everything is so " sudden " so spasmodic in his scheme of 
things. 9 For himself, he holds with Paul (" doth not Nature 
teach you ? ") that " law is natural and Nature legal," that 

1 adv. Marc, i, 10, major popularitas generis humani. 

-de testim. anima:, 5. n de test. an. 6. 

4 dejejunio, 6. * de spectaculis, 20. 

6 decor, mil. 5, Natures deus noster est. 

''adv. Marc, i, 23. *de anima, 16. **dv. Marc, iii, 2; hr, II. 


God's law is published in the universe, and written on the 
natural tables of the heart. 1 

This clear and strong conception of Nature gives him a 
sure ground for dealing with antagonists. There were those 
who denied the reality of Christ's body, and declaimed upon 
the ugly and polluting features in child-birth could the 
incarnation of God have been subjected to this ? 2 But Nature 
needs no blush Natura veneranda est non erubescenda ; there is 
nothing shameful in birth or procreation, unless there is lust. 3 
On the contrary, the travailing woman should be honoured for 
her peril, and counted holy as Nature suggests. 4 Here once 
more we have an instance of Tertullian's sympathy and 
tenderness for woman, whom he perhaps never includes in 
his most sweeping attacks and condemnations. Similarly, 
he is not carried away by the extreme asceticism of the 
religions of his day into contempt for the flesh. It is the 
setting in which God has placed " the shadow of his own soul, 
the breath of his own spirit " can it really be so vile ? Yet 
is the soul set, or not rather blended and mingled with the 
flesh, " so that it may be questioned whether the flesh carries 
the soul or the soul the flesh, whether the flesh serves the 
soul, or the soul serves the flesh. . . . What use of Nature, 
what enjoyment of the universe, what savour of the elements, 
does the soul not enjoy by the agency of the flesh ? " Think, 
he says, of the services rendered to the soul by the senses, by 
speech, by all the arts, interests and ingenuities dependent 
on the flesh ; think of what the flesh does by living and 
dying. 5 The Jove of Phidias is not the world's great deity, 
because the ivory is so much, but because Phidias is so great ; 
and did God give less of hand and thought, of providence and 
love, to the matter of which he made man ? Whatever shape 
the clay took, Christ was in his mind as the future man. 

Some of these passages come from works of Tertullian's 
later years, when he was evidently leaning more than of old 
to ascetic theory. They are therefore the more significant. 

1 de cor. mil. 6, et legtm naturalem suggerit et naturam legalem. 
a Cf. de carne Christi, 4. 3 de anima, 27. 

4 de carne Christi, 4, ipsum mulieris enitentis ptidorem vel pr periculo honor- 
undum vel pro natura rcligiosum. 

*de Resurr. Car/it's, 7. Ibid. 6. 


jlf he wrote as a pagan at all, what he wrote is lost ; but it is 
|not pushing conjecture too far to suggest that his interest in 
iStoicism precedes his Christian period, when such an interest 
is so clearly more akin to the bent of the Roman lawyer than 
jthe Christian of the second century. 

The rationality and the order of the Universe are common- 
Iplaces of Stoic teachers, and, in measure, its beauty. Of this 
(last Tertullian shows in a remarkable passage how sensible he 
jwas. Marcion condemns the God who created this world. 
But, says Tertullian, " one flower of the hedge-row by itself, I 
jthink I do not say a flower of the meadows ; one shell of any 
sea you like, I do not say the Red Sea ; one feather of a 
jmoor-fowl to say nothing of a peacock, will they speak to 
(you of a mean Creator ? " " Copy if you can the buildings of 
the bee, the barns of the ant, the webs of the spider." What 
of sky, earth and sea ? " If I offer you a rose, you will not 
iscorn its Creator ! " l It is surely possible to feel more than the 
controversialist here. " It was Goodness that spoke the word ; 
Goodness that formed man from the clay into this consistency 
of flesh, furnished out of one material with so many qualities ; 
Goodness that breathed into him a soul, not dead, but alive ; 
iGoodness that set him over all things, to enjoy them, to rule 
ithem, even to give them their names ; Goodness, too, that went 
further and added delight to man . . . and provided a help- 
meet for him." 2 

Of his conceptions of law something will be said at a later 
point. It should be clear however that a man with such 
interests in a profession, in speculation, in the beauty and the 
(law of Nature, could hardly at any time be a careless hedonist, 
leven if, like most men converted in mid-life, he knows regret 
and repentance. 

On the side of religion, little perhaps can be said. He had 
jlaughed at the gods burlesqued in the arena. To Mithras 
iperhaps he gave more attention. In discussing the soldier's 
(crown he is able to quote an analogy from the rites of Mithras, 
|in which a crown was rejected, and in which one grade of 

1 adv. Marcion. i, 13, 14. Compare the beautiful picture at the end of de Oratione, 
iof the little birds flying up, " spreading out the cross of their wings instead of hands, 
and saying something that seems to be prayer." 

2 adv. Marc, ii, 4. 


initiates were known as " soldiers." 1 Elsewhere he speaks of the 
oblation of bread and the symbol of resurrection in those rites, 
" and, if I still remember, Mithras there seals his soldiers on 
the brow." 2 Si memini is a colloquialism, which should not be 
pressed, but the adhuc inserted may make it a more real and 
personal record. 

To Christian ideas he gave little attention. There were 
Christians round about him, no doubt in numbers, but they did 
not greatly interest him. He seems, however, to have looked 
somewhat carelessly into their teaching, but he laughed at 
resurrection, at judgment and retribution in an eternal life. 3 
He was far from studying the Scriptures " nobody," he said 
later on, " comes to them unless he is already a Christian." 4 
Justin devoted about a half of his Apology to prove the fulfil- 
ment of Old Testament prophecy in the life of Jesus an 
Apology addressed to a pagan Emperor. Tertullian, in his 
Apology, gives four chapters to the subject, and one of these 
seems to be an alternative draft. The difference is explained 
by Justin's narrative of his conversion, in which he tells us how 
it was by the path of the Scriptures and Judaism that he, like 
Tatian and Theophilus, came to the church. Tertullian's story 
is different, and, not expecting pagans to pay attention to a 
work in such deplorable style 5 as the Latin Bible, which he had 
himself ignored, he used other arguments, the weight of which 
he knew from experience. In his de Pallio, addressed to a 
pagan audience, as we have seen, he alludes to Adam and the 
fig-leaves, but he does not mention Adam's name and rapidly 
passes on "But this is esoteric nor is it everybody's to know 
it." 6 

Tertullian is never autobiographical except by accident, 
yet it is possible to gather from his allusions how he became a 
Christian. In his address to Scapula 7 he says that the first 
governor to draw the sword on the Christians of Africa was 
Vigellius Saturninus. Dr Armitage Robinson's discovery of 
the original Latin text of the Acts of the Scillitan Martyrs > who 

1 de cor. mil. 15. 2 de prase r. 40, et si adhuc memini ', Mithra signat, etc. 

3 Apol. 1 8. H<zc et nos risimus aliquando. De vestris sumus. 

4 de test. animce, I. 

5 So Arnobius (i, 58, 59) and Augustine felt. Tertullian does not complain of the 
style himself, but it was a real hindrance to many. 

6 de Pallio, 3, Sed arcana ista nee omnium nosse. ad Scap. 3- 


Buffered under Saturninus, has enabled us to put a date to the 
fevent, for we read that it took place in the Consulship of 
|Praesens (his second term) and of Claudianus that is in 1 80 
|\.D M the year of the death of Marcus Aurelius. These Acts are 
pf the briefest and most perfunctory character. One after 
linother, a batch of quite obscure Christians in the fewest 
bossible words confess their faith, are condemned, say Deo 
firatias, and then " so all of them were crowned together in 
jnartyrdom and reign with the Father and the Son and the Holy 
ispirit for ever and ever. Amen." That is all. They were 
jnen and women, some of them perhaps of Punic extraction 
j^artzalus and Cittinus have not a Roman sound. After this, 
t would seem that in Africa, as elsewhere, persecution recurred 
ntermittently ; it might be the governor who began it, or the 
:hance cry of an unknown person in a mob, and then the people, 
vild and sudden as the Gadarene swine and for the same reason 
Christians said), 1 would fling themselves into unspeakable 
orgies of bloodshed and destruction. What was more, no one 
ould foretell the hour it might be years before it happened 
igain ; it might be now. And the Christians were surprisingly 
eady, whenever it came. 

Sometimes they argued a little, sometimes they said hardly 
nything. Christiana sum, was all that one of the Scillitan 
i/omen said. But one thing struck everybody their firmness, 
vstinatw. 2 Some, like the philosophic Emperor, might call it 
perversity ; he, as we have seen, found it thin and theatrical, 
nd contrasted it with " the readiness " that " proceeded from 
riward conviction, of a temper rational and grave " 3 an interest- 
hg judgment from the most self-conscious and virtuous of 
len. On other men it made a very different impression on 
pen, that is, more open than the Caesar of the passionless face 4 
p impression, men of a more sensitive and imaginative make, 
uicker in penetrating the feeling of others. 

Tertullian, in two short passages, written at different dates, 
hows how the martyrs perhaps these very Scillitan martyrs 

" The devils entered into the swine." Cf. p. 164. 
2 Pliny to Trajan, 96, 3, pcrtinaciam et infiexibilem obstinationtm. 
\ * Marcus Aurelius, xi, 3. Cf. Aristides, Or. 46, who attributes aOOddtia to 
tv rrj Ha\aiffTii>T] 8vffff^ely. 

I * Hist. August. M. Anton. 1 6, Erat enim ipsc tanta tranquillitatis ut vultum 
mutavcrit niarorc vel gaudio. 


moved him. " That very obstinacy with which you taunt 
us, is your teacher. For who is not stirred up by the con- 
templation of it to find out what there is in the thing within ? 
who, when he has found out, does not draw near ? and then, 
when he has drawn near, desire to suffer, that he may gain 
the whole grace of God, that he may receive all forgiveness 
from him in exchange for his blood ? " * So he wrote in 
197-8 A.D., and fourteen years later his last words to Scapula 
were in the same tenor " None the less this school (secta) will 
never fail no ! you must learn that then it is built up the 
more, when it seems to be cut down. Every man, who 
witnesses this great endurance, is struck with some mis- 
giving and is set on fire to look into it, to find what is 
its cause ; and when he has learnt the truth, he instantly 
follows it himself as well." 2 It would be hard to put 
into a sentence so much history and so much character 
Et ipse statim sequitur. 

The martyrs made him uneasy (scrupulo]. There must be 
more behind than he had fancied from the little he had seen 
and heard of their teaching. " No one would have wished tc 
be killed unless in possession of the truth," he says. 3 In spite 
of his laughter at resurrection and judgment, he was not sure 
about them. When he speaks in later life of the naturals 
timor anima in deum* that instinctive fear of God which 
Nature has set in the soul he is probably not himself without 
consciousness of sharing here too the common experienaj 
of men ; and this is amply confirmed by the frequency anc| 
earnestness with which he speaks of things to come aftei 
death. Here however were men who had not this fear 
Their obstinacy was his teacher. He looked for the reason, h<j 
learned the truth and he followed it at once. That energy i: 
his character to be read in all he does. Like Carlyle's hi: 
writings have "the signature of the writer in every word. 

1 Apol. 50, Ilia ipsa obstinatio quam exprobratis magistra est. Quis cnim n& > 
contemplations eius concutitur ad requirendum quid intus in re sit! gut's non ttt 
requisivit accedit ? ubi accessit pati cxoptat, etc. 

2 ad. Scap. 5. Quisquc enim tantam tolerantiam spectans, ut aliquo scrupui 
percussus, et inquirere accenditur, quid sit in causa, et ubi cognoverit verttattm : 
ipse statim sequitur. 

3 Scorpiacc, 8 (end). 

4 de testim. anima;, 2. Cf. de cult. fern, ii, 2, Timor fundament uni salutis est, 


" It is the idlest thing in the world," he says, " for a man to 
say, ' I wished it and yet I did not do it.' You ought to 
carry it through (perficere) because you wish it, or else not to 
wish it at all because you do not carry it through." 1 And 
again : " Why debate ? God commands." 2 Tertullian obeyed, 
and ever after he felt that men had only to look into the 
matter, to learn and to obey. " All who like you were 
[ignorant in time past, and like you hated, as soon as it 
falls to their lot to know, they cease to hate who cease to be 
lignorant." 3 

Tertullian's tract On Idolatry illustrates his mind upon this 
decisive change. There he deals with Christians who earn their 
[living by making idols statuaries, painters, gilders, and the 
jlike ; and when the plea is suggested that they must live and 
jhave no other way of living, he indignantly retorts that they 
should have thought this out before. Vivere ergo habes ? 4 
\Must you live ? he asks. Elsewhere he says " there are no 
musts where faith is concerned." 5 The man who claims to 
jbe condicionalis* to serve God on terms, Tertullian cannot 
tolerate. " Christ our Master called himself Truth not 
Convention." 7 Every form of idolatry must be renounced, 
and idolatry took many forms. The schoolmaster and the 
professor litterarum were almost bound to be disloyal to Christ ; 
fill their holidays were heathen festivals, and their very fees 
fri part due to Minerva ; while their business was to instruct 
the youth in the literature and the scandals of Olympus. But 
might not one study pagan literature? and, if so, why not 
ceach it? Because, in teaching it, a man is bound, by his 
position, to drive heathenism deep into the minds of the 
Lroung ; in personal study he deals with no one but himself, 
^nd can judge and omit as he sees fit. 8 The dilemma of 
choosing between literature and Christ was a painful thing for 
fnen of letters for centuries after this. 9 So Tertullian lays 
down the law for others ; what for himself? 

1 de Ptenitentia, 3. 2 de Panit. 4. Quid revolvis ? Deu s prxcipit. 

3 adNatt. i, i. 4 de Idol. 5. 

5 de cor. mil. 1 1, non admittit status Jidei ttecessitates. 6 de Idol. 12. 

7 de virg. vel. I, Domitms noster Christus veritattm se non consueiudincm 

8 de Idol. 10. 9 See the correspondence of Ausonius and Taulinus. 


Under the Empire there were two ways to eminence, the 
bar and the camp, and Tertullian had chosen the former. His 
rhetoric, his wit, his force of mind, and his strong grasp of legal 
principles in general and the issue of the moment in particular, 
might have carried him far. He might have risen as high as 
a civilian could. It was a tempting prospect, the kingdoms 
of the world and the glory of them and he renounced it ; and 
never once in all the books that have come down to us, does 
he give any hint of looking back, never so much as suggests 
that he had given up anythiug. Official life was full of 
religious usage, full too of minor duties of ritual which a 
Christian might not discharge. Tertullian was not the first to 
see this. A century earlier Flavius Clemens, the cousin of 
Domitian, seems to have been a Christian Dio Cassius speaks 
of his atheism and Jewish practices, and Suetonius remarks upon 
his " contemptible inertia," though he was consul. 1 In other 
words, the Emperor's cousin found that public life meant 
compromise at every step. This is Tertullian's decision of 
the case it has the note of his profession about it. " Let us 
grant that it is possible for a man successfully to manage that, 
whatever office it be, he bears merely the title of that office ; 
that he does not sacrifice, nor lend his authority to sacrifices, 
nor make contracts as to victims, nor delegate the charge of 
temples, nor look after their tributes ; that he does not give 
shows (spectacula] at his own or the public cost, nor preside over 
them when being given ; that he makes no proclamation or edict 
dealing with a festival ; that he takes no oath ; that and these 
are the duties of a magistrate he does not sit in judgment on 
any man's life or honour (for you might bear with his judging | 
in matters of money) ; that he pronounces no sentence of con- 
demnation nor any [as legislator] that should tend to condemna- 
tion ; that he binds no man, imprisons no man, tortures 2 no 
man " if all this can be managed, a Christian may be a 
magistrate. 3 Tertullian made his renunciation and held no 
magistracy. It may be said that, as he held none, it was easy 
to renounce it ; but hopes are often harder to renounce than 
realities. So Tertullian left the law and the Stoics, to study 

1 Dio Cassius, 67, 14 ; Suetonius, Domit. 15 ; Eusebius, E.H. iii, 18. See E. G. 
Hardy, Studies in Xoman History, ch. v., pp. 66, 67. 

2 To obtain evidence legal in the case of slaves. ;; de, Idol. 17. 


the Scriptures, Justin and Irenaeus * the Bible and the regula 
fidei his new code, and the others his commentators. The 
Christian is " a stranger in this world, a citizen of the city above, 
of Jerusalem " ; his ranks, his magistracies, his senate are the 
Church of Christ ; his purple the blood of his Lord, his laticlave 
in His cross. 2 

But Tertullian could speak, on occasion, of what he had 
done. "We have no fear or terror of what we may suffer 
I from those who do not know," he wrote to Scapula, " for we 
I have joined this school (sectam) fully accepting the terms of 
our agreement ; so that we come into these conflicts with no 
[further right to our own souls." 3 The contest was, as he says 
|elsewhere, " against the institutions of our ancestors, the 
authority of usage, the laws of rulers, the arguments of the 
wise ; against antiquity, custom, necessity ; against precedents, 
(prodigies and miracles," 4 and he did not need Celsus to 
iremind him what form the resistance of the enemy 
imight take. He knew, for he had seen, and that was 
[why he stood where he did. But it is worth our while 
jto understand how vividly he realized the possibilities 
before him. 

There were the private risks of informers and blackmailers, 
Jews r> and soldiers, to which the Christians were exposed. 6 
tThey were always liable to be trapped in their meetings 
P every day we are besieged ; every day we are betrayed ; 
jnost of all in our actual gatherings and congregations are 
[ve surprised." 7 How are we to meet at all, asks the anxious 
Christian, unless we buy off the soldiers ? By night, says 
[Tertullian, " or let three be your church." 8 Then- came the 
Appearance before the magistrate, where everything turned on 
;he character or the mood of the official. Tertullian quotes 
o Scapula several instances of kindness on the bench, rough 
tnd ready, or high-principled. 9 Anything might happen 

1 Cf. adv. Valentin. 5. 

8 decor, mil. 13, clavus latus in cruce ipsitis. There is a suggestion of a play 
jpon words. 

3 ad Scap. i, opening sentence of the tract. * ad Nat. ii, I. 

1 Apol. 7. Cf. Scorp. 10, synagogas Judtomm fontes pcrsccutionum. 
6 Cf. defuga, 12 ; ad Scap. 5. 7 Apol. 7. 

8 dcfaga, 14, sit tibi et in tribus ecclesia. 
' ad Scap. 4. 


" then," wrote Perpetua, " he had all our names recited together 
and condemned us to the beasts." 1 

What followed in the arena may be read in various Acts 
of Martyrdom in the story of Perpetua herself, as told in 
tense and quiet language by Tertullian. He, it is generally 
agreed, edited her visions, preserving what she wrote as she 
left it, and adding in a postscript what happened when she 
had laid down her pen for ever. The scene with the beasts 
is not easy to abridge, and though not long in itself it is too 
long to quote here ; but no one who has read it will forget 
the episode of Saturus drenched in his own blood from the 
leopard's bite, amid the yells of the spectators, Salvmn lotum ! 
salvum lotum ! nor that of Perpetua and Felicitas, mothers 
both, one a month or so, the other three days, stripped naked 
to be tossed by a wild cow. And here comes a curious 
touch ; the mob, with a superficial delicacy, suggested cloth- 
ing ; rough cloths were put over the women, and the cow 
was let loose ; they were tossed, and then all were put to the 

" At this present moment," writes Tertullian, " it is the 
very middle of the heat, the very dog-days of persecution 
as you would expect, from the dog-headed himself, of course. 
\ Some Christians have been tested by the fire, some by the 
sword, some by the beasts ; some, lashed and torn with hooks, 
have just tasted martyrdom, and lie hungering for it in 
prison." 2 Cross, hook, aricT beasts 3 the circus, the prison, 
the rack 4 the vivicomburium? burning alive and mean- j 
while the renegade Jew is there with his placard of the "god 1 
of the Christians," an ugly caricature with the ears and one j 
hoof of an ass, clad in a toga, book in hand 6 the Gnostic ; 
and the nervous Christian are asking whether the text " flee 
ye to the next " may not be God's present counsel and 
meantime " faith glows and the church is burning like the , 
bush." 7 Yet, says Tertullian to the heathen, " we say, and j 
we say it openly, while you are torturing us, torn and bleed- , 
ing, we cry aloud * We worship God through Christ.' " 

1 Passio Perpetual, 6. * Scorpiace, I. 3 Apol. 30. 4 Scorp. 10. 

6 de anima> I. fi Apol. 16 ; ad Nat f. i, 14. 

7 Scorpiace, I ; the reference is to Moses' bush, nee tanten consnmebafur. 

8 ApoL 21. 


the Christian he says : " The command is given to me to 
name no other God, whether by act of hand, or word of 
tongue . . . save the One alone, whom I am bidden to fear, 
lest he forsake me ; whom I am bidden to love with all my 
being, so as to die for him. I am his soldier, sworn to his 
service, and the enemy challenge me. I am as they are, if 
I surrender to them. In defence of my allegiance I fight it 
out to the end in the battle-line, I am wounded, I fall, I am 
killed. Who wished this end for his soldier who but he 
who sealed him with such an oath of enlistment ? There you 
have the will of my God." 1 " And therefore the Paraclete is 
needed, to guide into all truth, to animate for all endurance. 
Those, who receive him, know not to flee persecution, nor to 
buy themselves off; they have him who will be with us, to 
speak for us when we are questioned, to help us when we 
suffer." - " He who fears to suffer cannot be his who 
suffered." - The tracts On Flight in Persecution and The 
Antidote for the Scorpion are among his most impressive 
pieces. They must have been read by his friends with a 
strange stirring of the blood. Even to-day they bring back 
the situation living as only genius can make it live. 

But what of the man of genius who wrote them ? At 
what cost were they written ? " Picture the martyr," he 
writes, " with his head under the sword already poised, picture 
him on the gibbet his body just outspread, picture him tied 
to the stake when the lion has just been granted, on the 
wheel with the faggots piled about him " 3 and no doubt 
Tertullian saw these things often enough, with that close 
realization of each detail of shame and pain which is only 
possible to so vivid and sensitive an imagination. He saw 
himself tied to the stake heard the governor in response to 
the cry Christiano leonem 4 concede the lion and then had to 
wait, how long ? How long would it take to bring and to 
let loose the lion ? How long would it seem ? Through all 
this he went, in his mind, not once, nor twice. And mean- 
while, what was the audience doing, while he stood there tied, 

1 Scorpiact, 4 (end). 2 defuga, 14 (both passages). 

3 de pudicitia, 22. 

* For this cry in various forms see ApoL 40 ; de res. earn. 22 ; de exh. castit. 
12; de sped. 27, convent et cactus . . . illic quotidianiin not /tones expostulanlur. 


waiting interminably for the lion ? He knew what they 
would be doing, for he had seen it, and in the passage at the 
end of de Spectaculis, which Gibbon quotes, every item of the 
description of the spectator is taken in irony from the actual 
circus. No man, trained, as the public speaker or pleader 
must be, to respond intimately and at once to the feelings 
and thoughts, expressed or unexpressed, of the audience, 
could escape realizing in heightened tension every possibility 
of anguish in such a crowd of hostile faces, full of frantic 
hatred, 1 cruelty and noise. To this Tertullian looked forward, 
as we have seen, and went onward as another did who 
" steadfastly set his face for Jerusalem." The test of emotion 
is what it has survived, and Tertullian's faith in Christ and 
his peace of mind survived this martyrdom through the 
imagination. Whatever criticism has to be passed upon his 
work and spirit, to some of his critics he might reply 
( Ye have not yet resisted unto blood, striving against 

So much did martyrdom mean to the individual, yet it 
was not merely a personal affair. It was God's chosen way 
to propagate his church so it had been foretold, and so it 
was fulfilled. " Nothing whatever is achieved," says Tertullian 
to the heathen, " by each more exquisite cruelty you invent ; ' l 
on the contrary, it wins men for our school. We are made 
more as often as you mow us down ; the blood of Christians 
is seed." 3 

Sixteen centuries or so later, Thoreau in his Plea for 
Captain John Brown, a work not unlike Tertullian's own in its 
force, its surprises, its desperate energy and high conviction, 
wrote similarly of the opponents of another great movement 
" Such do not know that like the seed is the fruit, and that in 
the moral world, when good seed is planted, good fruit is 
inevitable, and does not depend on our watering and cultivat- 
ing ; that when you plant, or bury, a hero in his field, a crop 
of heroes is sure to spring up. This is a seed of such 

1 Scorpiace, II, ecce auiem et odio habemur ab omnibus hominibus nominis causa ; 
de anima, I, non unius urbis sed tini7)ersi orbis iniquam sententiam sustitiens pro 
nomine veritatis. 

2 Cf. de aninia, I, de patibuLo ct vivicomburio per o/nne ingeniwn <~rude!itatts 

n Apol. 50, semen est sanguis Ckristianorum. 


force and vitality, that it does not ask our leave to 

There were yet other possibilities in martyrdom. It was 
believed by Christians that in baptism the sins of the earlier 
life were washed away ; but what of sins after baptism ? They 
involved a terrible risk "the world is destined to fire like 
the man who after baptism renews his sins" 1 and it was 
often felt safer to defer baptism to the last moment in conse- 
quence. Constantine was baptized on his death-bed. " The 
postponement of baptism is more serviceable especially in the 
case of children ; " says Tertullian, " let them become Christians 
when they shall be able to know Christ. Why should the 
innocent age hasten to the remission of sins ? " : As to sins 
committed after baptism, different views were held. In general, 
as the church grew larger and more comprehensive, it took a 
lighter view of sin, but Tertullian and his Montanist friends 
did not, and for this they have been well abused, in their own 
day and since. They held that adultery and apostasy were 
not venial matters, to be forgiven by a bishop issuing an 
" edict," like a Pontifex Maximus, in the legal style, " I forgive 
the sins of adultery and fornication to such as have done 
penance, pcenitentia functis" 3 The Montanist alternative was 
not so easy ; God, they held, permitted a second baptism, 
which should be final a baptism of blood. " God had fore- 
seen the weaknesses of humanity, the strategems of the enemy, 
the deceitfulness of affairs, the snares of the world that faith 
even after baptism would be imperilled, that many would be 
lost again after being saved who should soil the wedding 
dress, and provide no oil for their lamps, who should yet have 
to be sought over mountain and forest, and carried home on 
the shoulders. He therefore appointed a second consolation, 
a last resource, the fight of martyrdom and the baptism of 
blood, thereafter secure." 4 This view may not appeal to us 
to-day ; it did not appeal to Gnostic, time-server and coward. 
The philosophy of sin involved is hardly deep enough, but 

1 de Bapt. 8. ' 2 Ibid - l8 ' 

: ' Ironic chapter in de pudicitia, i. The edict is a technical term of the state, 

and the Pent if ex Maximus was the Emperor, till Gratian refused the title in 

375 A.D. 

4 Scorpiace, 6 ; cf. de Bapt. 16. 


this doctrine of the second baptism cannot be said to lack 

But Tertullian himself did not receive the first baptism with 
any idea of looking for a second. Like men who are baptized 
of their own motion and understanding, he was greatly im- 
pressed by baptism. " There is nothing," he says, " which 
more hardens the minds of men than the simplicity of God's 
works, which appears in the doing, and the magnificence, 
which is promised in the effect. Here too, because, with such 
simplicity, without pomp, without any novel apparatus, and 
without cost, a man is sent down into the water and baptized, 
while but a few words are spoken, and rises again little or 
nothing cleaner, on that account his attainment of eternity is 
thought incredible." 1 It must be felt that the illustration 
declines from the principle. It may also be remarked that this 
is a more magical view of baptism than would have appealed 
to Seneca or to his contemporaries in the Christian movement, 
and that, as it is developed, it becomes even stranger. 

Tertullian's description of baptism is of interest in the 
history of the rite. The candidate prepares himself with prayer, 
watching and the confession of sin. 2 " The waters receive the 
mystery (sacramentum) of sanctification, when God has been 
called upon. The Spirit comes at once from heaven and is 
upon the waters, sanctifying them from himself, and so sancti- 
fied they receive [combibunf] the power of sanctifying." 3 This 
is due to what to-day we should call physical causes. The 
underlying matter, he says, must of necessity absorb the 
quality of the overlying, especially when the latter is spiritual, 
and therefore by the subtlety of its substance more penetrative. 4 
We may compare " the enthusiastic spirit," which, Plutarch 
tells us, came up as a gas from the chasm at Delphi, 5 and 
further the general teaching of Tertullian (Stoic in origin) of 
the corporeity of the soul and of similar spiritual beings. He 
illustrates the influence of the Spirit in thus affecting the 
waters of baptism by the analogy of the unclean spirits that 
haunt streams and fountains, natural and artificial, and similarly 
affect men, though for evil " lest any should think it a hard 
thing that God's holy angel should be present to temper 

1 de Bapt. 2. 3 Ibid. 20. 3 Ibid. 4. 

4 Ibid. 4. Cf. p. 102. 


waters for man's salvation." l Thus when the candidate has 
solemnly " renounced the devil, his pomp and his angels," - he 
is thrice plunged, 3 his spirit is washed corporeally by the waters 
" medicated " and his flesh spiritually is purified. 4 " It is not 
that in the waters we receive the Holy Spirit, but purified in 
water under the angel, we are prepared for the Holy Spirit. . . . 
The angel, that is arbiter of baptism, prepares the way for 
the Spirit that shall come." 5 On leaving the water the Christian 
is anointed (signaculuni). The hand of blessing is laid upon 
him, and in response to prayer the Holy Spirit descends with 
joy from the Father to rest upon the purified and blest. 6 

Tertullian never forgot the baptismal pledge in which he 
renounced the devil, his pomp and his angels ; and, for his 
part, he never showed any tendency to make compromise with 
them when he recognized them, for sometimes he seems not 
to have penetrated their disguises. Again and again his pledge 
comes back to him. What has the Christian to do with circus 
or theatre, who has renounced the devil, his pomp and his 
angels, when both places are specially consecrated to these, 
when there, above all, wickedness, lust and cruelty reign with- 
out reserve ? 7 How can the maker of idols, the temple-painter, 
etc., be said to have renounced the devil and his angels, if they 
make their living by them ? 8 We have seen the difficulty of 
the schoolmaster here. The general question of trade troubles 
Tertullian its cupidity, the lie that ministers to cupidity, to 
say nothing of perjury. 9 Of astrologers, he would have thought, 
nothing needed to be said but that he had " within these 
few days " heard some one claim the right to continue in the 
profession. He reminds him of the source of his magical in- 
formation the fallen angels. 10 One must not even name them 
to say Medius fidius is idolatry, for it is a prayer ; but to 
say " I live in the street of Isis " is not sin it is sense. 11 Many 
inventions were attributed by pagans to their gods. If every 
implement of life is set down to some god, " yet I still must 
recognize Christ lying on a couch or when he brings a basin 

1 de Bapt. 5. - de Spectac. 4 ; de cor. mil. 3. 

3 de cor. mil. 3, ter mergitamnr. 4 de Bapt. 4. 5 Ibid. 6. 

9 de Bapt. 8. For other minor details as to food and bathing see de for. mil. 3. 

7 de Spectac. 4. 8 de Idol. 6. 

9 de Idol. ii. Cf. Hernias. Mandate, 3, on lying in business. 

10 de Idol. 9. n Ibid. 20. 


to his disciples' feet, or pours water from the jug, and is girded 
with linen Osiris' own peculiar garb." 1 In fact, common 
utility, and the service of ordinary needs and comforts, may 
lead us to look upon things (to whomsoever attributed) as 
really due to the inspiration of God himself " who foresees, 
instructs and gives pleasure to man, who is after all His own." 2 
Thus common sense and his doctrine of Nature come to his 
aid. " So amid rocks and bays, amid the shoals and breakers 
of idolatry, faith steers her course, her sails rilled by the Spirit 
of God." 3 

Tertullian had been a lawyer and a pleader, as we are 
reminded in many a page, where the man of letters is over- 
ridden by the man of codes and arguments ; and a lawyer he 
remained. The Gospel, for instance, bade that, if any man 
take the tunic, he should be allowed to take the cloak also. 
Yes, says Tertullian, if he asks " if he threatens, I will ask 
for the tunic back." 4 A man, with such habits of mind, will 
not take violent measures to repel injustice, but he may be 
counted upon to defend himself in his own way. Tertullian, 
accordingly, when persecution broke out in the autumn of 197 
in Carthage, addressed to the governor of the province an 
Apology for the Christians. It is one of his greatest works. 
It was translated into Greek, and Eusebius quotes the trans- 
lation in several places. It is a most brilliant book. All his 
wit and warmth, his pungency and directness, his knowledge 
and his solid sense come into play. As a piece of rhetoric, as 
a lawyer's speech, it is inimitable. But it is more than that, ! 
for it is as full of his finest qualities as of his other gifts of 
dexterity and humour. It shows the full grown and developed 
man, every faculty at its highest and all consecrated, and the j 
book glows with the passion of a dedicated spirit. 

He begins with the ironical suggestion that, if the governors 
of provinces are not permitted in their judicial capacity to 
examine in public the case of the Christians, if this type of 
action alone their authority is afraid or blushes to investigate 
in the interests of justice, he yet hopes that Truth by the 

1 de cor. mil. 8. 2 Ibid. 8. 

3 de Idol. 24, inter hos scopulos et sinus, inter hcec vada et freta idololatria, 
velificata spiritu dei fides navigat. 


tilent path of letters may reach their ears. Truth makes no 
txcuse she knows she is a stranger here, while her race, home, 
hope, grace and dignity are in heaven. All her eagerness is 
hot to be condemned unheard. Condemnation without trial 
fis invidious, it suggests injustice and wakes suspicion. It is in 
the interests of Christianity, too, that it should be examined 
that is how the numbers of the Christians have grown to such 
!a height. They are not ashamed unless it be of having be- 
come Christians so late. The natural characteristics of evil 
jare fear, shame, tergiversation, regret ; yet the Christian 
(criminal is glad to be accused, prays to be condemned and is 
happy to suffer. You cannot call it madness, when you are 
|shown to be ignorant of what it is. 

Christians are condemned for the name's sake, though such 
condemnation, irrespective of the proving of guilt or innocence, 
iis outrage. Others are tortured to confess their guilt, Christians 
to deny it. Trajan's famous letter to Pliny, he tears to shreds ; 
.Christians are not to be hunted down that is, they are 
innocent ; but they are to be punished that is, they are 
Iguilty. If the one, why not hunt them down ? If the other, 
why not punish ? Of course Trajan's plan was a compromise, 
and Tertullian is not a man of compromises. If a founder's 
I name is guilt for a school, look around ! Schools of philosophers 
and schools of cooks bear their founders' names with impunity. 
But about the Founder of the Christian school curiosity ceases 
| to be inquisitive. But the " authority of laws " is invoked against 
j truth non licet esse vos ! is the cry. What if laws do forbid 
Christians to be? " If your law has made a mistake, well, I 
suppose, it was a human brain that conceived it ; for it did 
not come down from heaven." Laws are always being changed, 
and have been. " Are you not yourselves every day, as ex- 
i periment illumines the darkness of antiquity, engaged in felling 
and cutting the whole of that ancient and ugly forest of laws 
with the new axes of imperial rescripts and edicts ? " Roman 
laws once forbade extravagance, theatres, divorce they forbade 
I the religions of Bacchus, Serapis and Isis. Where are those 
laws now ? " You are always praising antiquity, and you im- 
provise your life from day to day." 2 

In passing, one remark may be made in view of what is 
1 Apol. 4. 


said sometimes of Tertullian and his conception of religion. 
" To Tertullian the revelation through the Christ is no more 
than a law." 1 There is truth in this criticism, of course ; but 
unless it is clearly understood that Tertullian drew the dis- 
tinction, which this passage of the Apology and others suggest, 
between Natural law, as conceived by the Stoics, and civil law 
as regarded by a Propraetor, he is likely to be misjudged. 
He constantly slips into the lawyer's way of handling law, 
for like all lawyers he is apt to think in terms of paper and 
parchment ; but he draws a great distinction, not so familiar 
to judges and lawyers as English daily papers abundantly 
reveal between the laws of God or Nature and the laws of 
human convention or human legislatures. The weak spot was 
his belief in the text of the Scriptures as the ultimate 
and irrefragable word and will of God, though even here, 
in his happier hours, when he is not under stress of 
argument, he will interpret the divine and infallible code, not 
by the letter, but by the general principles to be observed at 
once in Nature and the book. Legis injustce honor nullus est^ 
is not the ordinary language of a lawyer. 

The odious charges brought by the vulgar against the 
Christians then, as now in China, and used for their own 
purposes by men who really knew better, he shows to be 
incredible. No one has the least evidence of any kind for 
them, and yet Christian meetings are constantly surprised. 
What a triumph would await the spy or the traitor who 
could prove them ! But they are not believed, or men 
would harry the Christians from the face of the earth 
(c. 8). As to the idea that Christians eat children to gain 
eternal life who would think it worth the price ? No ! if 
such [things are done, by whom are they done ? He reminds 
his fellow-countrymen that in the reign of Tiberius priests of 
Saturn were crucified in Africa on the sacred trees around 
their temple for the sacrifice of children. And then who 
are those who practise abortion ? " how many of those who 
crowd around and gape for Christian blood ? " And the 
gladiatorial shows ? is it the Christians who frequent them ? 

Atheism and treason were more serious charges. " You do 

1 Gwatkin, The Knowledge of God (Gittord Lectures), ii, p. 163. 
' 2 adNatt. i, 5. % 


|not worship the gods." What gods? He cannot mention 
i them all " new, old, barbarian, Greek, Roman, foreign, captive, 
kdoptive, special, common, male, female, rustic, urban, nautical and 
military " but Saturn at any rate was a man, as the historians 
[know. But they were made gods after they died. Now, that 
pmplies " a God more sublime, true owner (mancipem\ so to 
Ispeak, of divinity," who made them into gods, for they could 
:piot of course have done it themselves; and meanwhile you 
(abolish the only one who could have. But why should he ? 
" unless the great God needed their ministry and aid in his 
divine tasks" dead men's aid! (c. u). No, the whole 
juniverse is the work of Reason ; nothing was left for Saturn to 
ao, or his family. It rained from the beginning, stars shone, 
jthunders roared, and " Jove himself shuddered at the living 
ibolts which you put in his hand." Ask the spiders what they 
think of your gods and their webs tell you (c. 1 2). To-day a 
igod, to-morrow a pan, as domestic necessity melts and casts 
Ithe metal. And the gods are carried round and alms begged 
for them religio mendicans "hold out your hand, Jupiter, if 
lyou want me to give you anything ! " x Does Homer's poetry 
do honour to the gods (c. 14) do the actors on the stage 
,(c. 15)? 

Christians are not atheists. They worship one God, 
Creator, true, great, whose very greatness makes him known 
of men and unknown. 2 Who he is, and that he is one, the 
human soul knows full well O testimonium animce naturaliter 
\Christiance! But God has other evidence instrumentum 
\litter atur(z. He sent into the world men " inundated with the 
|divine spirit " to proclaim the one God, who framed all things, 
I who made man, who one day will raise man from the dead for 
I eternal judgment. These writings of the prophets are not 
i secret books. Anyone can read them in the Greek version, 
! which was made by the seventy elders for Ptolemy Philadelphus. 
I To this book he appeals, to the majesty of Scripture, to the 
I fulfilment of prophecy. 

Zeno called the Logos the maker of all things and named 
!him Fate, God, mind of Jove, Necessity. Cleanthes described 
him as permeating all things. This the Christians also hold to 

1 Cf. pp. 20-22. 

2 Apol. 17, ittt turn vis magnitudims el not urn fiominibits obicit et ignolum. 


be God's Word, Reason and Power and his Son, one with him 
in being, Spirit as He is Spirit. This was born of a Virgin, be- 
came man, was crucified and rose again. Even the Caesars 
would have believed on Christ, if Caesars were not needful to 
the world, or if there could be Christian Caesars. 1 As for the 
pagan gods, they are daemons, daily exorcised into the con- 
fession of Christ. 

But the charge of Atheism may be retorted. Are not the 
pagans guilty of Atheism, at once in not worshipping the true 
God and in persecuting those who do ? As a rule they 
conceive, with Plato, of a great Jove in heaven surrounded by 
a hierarchy of gods and daemons. 2 But, as in the Roman 
Empire, with its Emperor and its procurators and prefects, it 
is a capital offence to turn from the supreme ruler to the 
subordinate, so " may it not involve a charge of irreligion to 
take away freedom of religion, to forbid free choice of divinity, 
that I may not worship whom I will ? " Every one else may ; 
but " we are not counted Romans, who do not worship the god 
of the Romans. It is well that God is God of all, whose we are, 
whether we will or no. But with you it is lawful to worship 
anything whatever except the true God." 

But the gods raised Rome to be what she is. Which 
gods? Sterculus? Larentina? Did Jove forget Crete for 
Rome's sake Crete, where he was born, where he lies buried ? 3 
No, look to it lest God prove to be the dispenser of kingdoms, 
to whom belong both the world that is ruled and the man 
who rules. Some are surprised that Christians prefer " obstinacy 
to deliverance " but Christians know from whom that sugges- 
tion comes, and they know the malevolence of the daemon ranks, 
who are now beginning to despair since " they recognize they 
are not a match for us " (c. 2 7). 

For the Emperor Christians invoke God, the eternal, the 
true, the living. They look up, with hands outspread, heads 
bared, and from their hearts, without a form of words, they 
pray for long life for the Emperor, an Empire free from alarms, 
a safe home, brave armies, a faithful senate, an honest people 
and a quiet world (c. 30). They do this, for the Empire stands 

1 Apol. 21. 

- Chapters 22 to 24 give a good summary of his views on daemons. 

a Celsus refers to Christian discussion of this ; Origen, adv. Ccls. iii, 43. 


between them and the world's end. (It was a common thought 
that the world and Rome would end together.) Christians 
however honour Caesar as God's vice-gerent ; he is theirs 
bore than any one's, for he is set up by the Christians' God. 
They make no plots and have no recourse to magic to inquire 
Into his " health" (c. 35). 1 In fact "we are the same to the 
jEmperors as to our next-door neighbours. We are equally 
j'orbidden to wish evil, to do evil, to speak evil, to think evil of 
Lnyone. 1 ' So much for being enemies of the state (c. 36). 

Christians do not retaliate on the mob for its violence, though, 
f they did, their numbers would be serious. " We are but of 
Yesterday, and we have filled everything, cities, islands, camps, 
balace, forum," etc. ; " all we have left you is the temples." 
But " far be it that a divine school should vindicate itself with 
human fire, or grieve to suffer that wherein it is proved " (c. 37). 
Christians make no disturbances and aspire to no offices, 
f hey are content to follow their religion and look after the 
Door, the shipwrecked, and men in mines and prisons. " See 
liow they love each other ! " say the heathen. 2 They are not, 
is alleged, the cause of public disasters ; though if the Nile do 
liot overflow, or if the Tiber do, it is at once Christianas ad 
'eonem ! But they are " unprofitable in business ! " Yes, to 
pimps, poisoners and mathematicians ; still they are not 
prahmans or solitaries of the woods, exiles from life, and they 
fefuse no gift of God. " We sail with you, take the field with 
ou, share your country life, and know all the intercourse of 
rts and business " (cc. 42, 43). They are innocent, for they 
ar God and not the proconsul. If they were a philosophic 
khool, they would have toleration " who compels a philosopher 
b sacrifice, to renounce, or to set out lamps at midday to no 
purpose ? " Yet the philosophers openly destroy your gods 
Ind your superstitions in their books, and win your applause 
br it and they " bark at your princes." He then points out 
kow much there is in common to Christians and philosophers, 
Ind yet (in a burst of temper) how unlike they are. No, 
iwhere is the likeness between the philosopher and the 
Christian ? the disciple of Greece and of heaven ? the trafficker 
p fame and in life ? the friend and the foe of error ? " (c. 46). 

1 Cf. ad, Scap. 2, with argument from end of world. 

2 c. 39 vidt, inquiunt, ut invicem se diligant. 


The Christian artisan knows God better than Plato did. And 
yet what is knowledge and genius in philosopher and poet, is 
" presumption " in a Christian ! " Say the things are false that 
protect you mere presumption ! yet necessary. Silly ! yet 
useful. For those who believe them are compelled to become 
better men, for fear of eternal punishment and hope of eternal 
refreshment. So it is inexpedient to call that false or count 
that silly, which it is expedient should be presumed true. On 
no plea can you condemn what does good " (c. 49). 

Yet, whatever their treatment, Christians would rather be 
condemned than fall from God. Their death is their victory ; 
their " obstinacy " educates the world ; and while men condemn 
them, God acquits them. That is his last word a deo 
absolvimur (c. 50). 

Such, in rough outline, is the great Apology not quite 
the work of the fuller or baker at whom Celsus sneered. Yet 
it has not the accent of the conventional Greek or Latin 
gentleman, nor that of the philosophic Greek Christian. The 
style is unlike anything of the age. Everything in it is 
individual ; there is hardly a quotation in the piece. Every- 
thing again is centripetal ; Tertullian is too much in earnest to 
lose himself in the endless periods of the rhetorician, or in the 
charming fancies dear to the eclectic and especially to con- 
temporary Platonists. Indeed his tone toward literature and 
philosophy is startlingly contemptuous, not least so when 
contrasted with that of Clement 

For this there are several reasons. First of all, like Carlyle, 
Tertullian has " to write with his nerves in a kind of blaze," and, 
like Carlyle, he says things strongly and sweepingly. It is 
partly temperament, partly the ingrown habit of the pleader. 
Something must be allowed to the man of moods, whose way 
it is to utter strongly what he feels for the moment. Such 
men do a service for which they have little thanks. Many 
moods go in them to the making of the mind, moods not 
peculiar to themselves. In most men feelings rarely find full 
and living expression, and something is gained when they are 
so expressed, even at the cost of apparent exaggeration. The 
sweeping half-truth at once suggests its complement to the man 
who utters it, and may stir very wholesome processes of thought 
in the milder person who hears it. 


In the next place the philosophers may have deserved the 
criticism. Fine talk and idle talk, in philosophic terms, had dis- 
gusted Epictetus ; l and for few has Lucian more mockery than 
for the philosophers of his day Tertullian's daywith their 
platitudes and their beards, their flunkeyism and love of gain. 
Clement of Alexandria, who loved philosophy, had occasional 
hard words for the vanity of its professors. 2 For a man of 
Tertullian's earnestness they were too little serious. Gloria 
animal 3 is one of his phrases a creature of vainglory was not 
likely to appeal to a man who lived in full view of the lion and 
the circus. He had made a root and branch cleavage with 
idolatry, because no men could die like the Christians unless 
they had the truth. The philosophers to say nothing of their 
part now and then in stirring the people against the Christians 
had made terms with polytheism, beast-worship, magic, all that 
was worst and falsest in paganism, " lovers of wisdom " and 
seekers after truth as they professed themselves to be. 
Ancient Philosophy suggests to the modern student the name 
of Heraclitus or Plato ; but Tertullian lived in the same streets 
with Apuleius, philosopher and Platonist, humorist and glories 
animal. But even Plato vexed Tertullian. 4 The "cock to 
be offered to ^Esculapius " was too available a quotation in a 
world where the miracles of the great Healer were everywhere 
famous. The triflers and the dogmatists of the day used Plato's 
myths to confute the Christian doctrine of the resurrection. 
And of course Plato and Tertullian are in temperament so far 
apart, that an antipathy provoked by such causes was hardly to 
be overcome. 

Again, Tertullian remarks frequently that heresy has the 
closest connexion with philosophy. Both handle the same 
questions : " Whence is evil, and why ? and whence is man and 
how ? and whence is God ? " 5 Marcion, for instance, is " sick 
(like so many nowadays and, most of all, the heretics) with 
the question of evil, whence is evil?" 6 and turns to dualism. Or 
else " the heretics begin with questions of the resurrection, for 
the resurrection of the flesh they find harder to believe than the 
unity of the Godhead." 7 What Celsus, a typical product of 

1 Epictetus, D. Hi, 23. 2 Clement, Strom, vi, 56, 0iXctim'a. 3 deanima, \. 
4 Cf. de anima, 6, 17, 18, 23, etc. 8 ^ />**r. 7. 

8 adv. Marc, i, 2. T de res. camis, 2. 



contemporary philosophy, thought of the resurrection of the 
flesh we have seen a " hope of worms ! " Lastly, there was a 
strong tendency in the church at large for re-statement of the 
gospel in the terms of philosophy ; and in such endeavours, as 
we know, there is always the danger of supposing the terms 
and the philosophy of the day to be more permanent and more 
valid than the experience which they are supposed to express. 
In Tertullian's century there seemed some prospect that every 
characteristic feature of the gospel would be so " re-stated " as 
to leave the gospel entirely indistinguishable from any other 
eclectic system of the moment. Jesus became a phantom, or 
an seon ; his body, sidereal substance, which offered, Clement 
himself said, no material resistance to the touch of St John's 
hand. God divided, heaven gone, no hope or faith left possible 
in a non-real Christ even in this life Christians would be indeed 
of all men most miserable, and morality would have no longer 
any basis nor any motive. What in all this could tempt a man 
to face the lions ? It was not for this that Christians shed their 
blood no, the Gnostics recommended flight in persecution. 
It is easy to understand the sweeping Viderint Tertullian's 
usual phrase for dismissing people and ideas on whom no more 
is to be said " Let them look to it who have produced a Stoic 
and Platonic and dialectic Christianity. We need no curiosity 
who have Jesus Christ, no inquiry who have the gospel." l 

It was natural for Clement and his school to try to bring 
the gospel and philosophy to a common basis a natural 
impulse, which all must share who speculate. The mistake has 
been that the church took their conclusions so readily and has 
continued to believe them. For Tertullian is, on his side, right, 
and we know in fact a great deal more about Jesus than we 
can know about the Logos. 

Accordingly a large part of Tertullian's work, as a Christian, 
was the writing of treatises against heresy. He has in one 
book de Prascriptionibus Hcereticorum dealt with all 
heretics together. The Regula Fidei, which is a short creed, 2 
was instituted, he says, by Christ, and is held among Christians 
without questions, " save those which heretics raise and which 
make heretics." On that Regula rests the Christian faith. To 
know nothing against it, is to know everything. But appeal is 

1 de Prascr. 7. 2 de Preset. 13. 


imade to Scripture. We must then see who has the title to 
Scripture (possessio)} and whence it comes. Jesus Christ while 
bn earth taught the twelve, and they went into the world and 
promulgated " the same doctrine of the same faith," founding 
churches in every city, from which other churches have taken 
faith and doctrine he uses the metaphors of seed and of layers 
\\tradttx) from plants. Every day churches are so formed and 
&uly counted Apostolic. Thus the immense numbers of 
fbhurches may be reckoned equivalent to the one first church. 
Ho other than the Apostles are to be received, as no others 
Ivere taught by Christ. "Thus it is established that every 
joctrine which agrees with those Apostolic mother-churches, 
[he originals of the faith, is to be set down to truth, as in 
Accordance with what the churches have received from the 
ipostles, the apostles from Christ, and Christ from God." 2 
3ut have the churches been faithful in the transmission of this 
Dody of doctrine? Suppose them all to have gone wrong, 
suppose the Holy Spirit to have been so negligent is it likely 
|hat so vast a number should have wandered away into one 
faith ? Again let Marcion and others show the history of their 
:hurches. Let their doctrines be compared with the Apostolic, 
ind their varieties and contradictions will show they are not 
\postolic. If then Truth be adjudged to those who walk by 
he Regula, duly transmitted through the church, the Apostles 
ind Christ from God, then heretics have no right of appeal to 
|he Scriptures which are not theirs. If they are heretics, they 
[annot be Christians ; if they are not Christians, they have no 
light (ius) to Christian literature. "With what right (iure) 
iflarcion, do you cut down my wood ? By what licence, 
Mentinus, do you divert my springs ? . . . This is my estate ; 
I have long held it ; I am first in occupation ; I trace my 
|ure descent from the founders to whom the thing belonged, 
am the heir of the Apostles." 3 

In this, as in most human arguments, there are strands of 
(ifferent value. The legal analogy gave a name to the book 
\-prcescriptio was the barring of a claim but it is not 

1 de Prascr. 15. 2 de Prascr. 21. 

3 de Prcescr. 37, Mea est possessio. Cf. definition which says possessions appel- 
mtur agri . . . qui non mancipatione sed usu tenebantur et ut quisque occupaverat 
widtbat. Tertullian improves this title as he goes on. 


the strongest line. Law rarely is. But Tertullian was not 
content to rule his opponents out of court. He used legal 
methods and manners too freely, but he knew well enough 
that these settled nothing. As a rule he had much stronger 
grounds for his attack. He wrote five books against Marcion 
to maintain the unity of the Godhead and the identity of the 
Father of Jesus, the God of the Old Testament and the God 
of Nature. His book against the Valentinians has a large 
element of humour in it perhaps the best rejoinder to the 
framers of a cosmogony of so many aeons, none demonstrable, 
all fanciful, the thirty of them suggest to him the famous 
Latin sow of the ALneidl Against Hermogenes he maintains 
the doctrine of the creation of the world from nothing. The 
hypothesis that God used pre-existing matter, makes matter 
antecedent and more or less equal to God. And then, in legal 
vein, he asks a question. How did God come to use matter ? 
" These are the three ways in which another's property may be 
taken, by right, by benefit, by assault, that is by title, by 
request, by violence." Hermogenes denies God's title in this 
case ; which then of the other means does he prefer ? 2 

His best work in the controversial field is in his treatises, 
On the Flesh of Christ, On the Resurrection of the Flesh, and On 
the Soul. The first of these, above all, will appeal to any 
reader to whom the historic Jesus is significant. Much has 
changed in outlook and preconceptions since Tertullian wrote, 
but his language on the reality of Jesus, as an actual human 
being and no sidereal or celestial semblance of a man, on thei 
incarnation, and the love of God, still glows and still finds a 
response. "Away," he pictures Marcion saying, " Away with! 
those census-rolls of Caesar, always tiresome, away with the 
cramped inns, the soiled rags, the hard stall. Let the angelic 
host look to it ! " 3 And then he rejoins, Do you think nativity 
impossible or unsuitable for God ? Declaim as you like on 
the ugliness of the circumstances ; yet Christ did love men 
(born, if you like, just as you say) ; for man he descended, for 
man he preached, for man he lowered himself with every 
humiliation down to death, and the death of the cross. Yes, 

1 This jibe is in adv. Marc, i, 5 ; there are plenty without it in adv. Val. 

2 adv. Hermog. 9, iure, beneficio, impetu^ id est dominio precario vi. 

3 de came Christi, 2. 


loved him whom he redeemed at so high a price. And 
rith man he loved man's nativity, even his flesh. The con- 
;ion of men to the worship of the true God, the rejection of 
>r, the discipline of justice, of purity, of pity, of patience, of 
innocence these are not folly, and they are bound up with 
ic truth of the Gospel. Is it unworthy of God ? " Spare 
one hope of all the world, thou, who wouldst do away with 
disgrace of faith. Whatever is unworthy of God is all to 
ly good." 1 The Son of God also died " It is credible because 
is foolish. He was buried and rose again ; it is certain 
luse it is impossible." And how could all this be, if his body 
not true ? " You bisect Christ with a lie. The whole of 
was Truth." 2 The gospel narrative from beginning to end 
iplies that Christ's body was like ours " he hungered under 
devil, thirsted under the Samaritan woman, shed tears 
:r Lazarus, was troubled 3 at death (for, the flesh, he said, is 
ik), last of all he shed his blood." How could men have 
it in a face radiant with " celestial grandeur " ? Wait ! 
irist has not yet subdued his enemies that he may triumph 
ith his friends. 

Jesus is to come again, as he was, as he is, sitting at the 
ather's right hand, God and man, flesh and blood, the same 
essence and form as when he ascended ; so he shall come. 4 
id men will be raised in the flesh to receive judgment. A 
m overhangs the world. 5 What the treasure-house of 
lal fire will be, may be guessed from the petty vents men 
in Etna and elsewhere. 6 There will be white robes for 
lartyrs ; for the timid a little portion in the lake of fire 
sulphur. 7 All that Gibbon thought would "offend the 
>n and humanity of the present age " in the last chapter of 
de Spectaculis may recur to the reader. But, continues 
'ertullian in that passage, my gaze will be upon those who let 
their fury on the Lord himself" ' This,' I shall say, * is 
the son of the carpenter or the harlot, Sabbath-breaker, 
imaritan, demoniac. This is he whom you bought from 

1 de came Christi, 5, Quodcnngue deo indignum est mihi expedit, 

2 de carne Chnsti, 5, prorsus credibilc est quid ineptum est, . . . cerium fsl guia 

nbile. . . . Quid dimidias mendacio Christum ? Totus veritasfuit. 

3 de carne Christi, 9, trepidat perhaps represents the dyuvia of Luke. 

4 de res. carnis, 51. 5 de penit. I. 6 de panit. 12. "' Scorfiace, 12 


Judas ; this is he, whom you beat with the reed and the palms 
of your hands, whom you disfigured with your spittle, to 
whom you gave gall and vinegar. This is he whom his 
disciples stole away, that it might be said he had risen, or the 
gardener took him away, that his lettuces might not be trodden 
by the crowds that came.' " " A long variety of affected and 
unfeeling witticisms," is Gibbon's judgment. 

A mind less intent on polemic will judge otherwise of 
Tertullian and his controversies. There is, first of all, much 
more of the philosophic temper than is commonly supposed. 
He does not, like Clement and other Greeks, revel in cosmo- 
logical speculations as to the Logos, nor does he loosely adopt 
the abstract methods of later Greek philosophy. But in his 
treatment of the Soul, of moral order and disorder, and of 
responsibility, he shows no mean powers of mind. He argues 
from experience, and from the two sources, from which he 
could best hope to learn most directly the mind of God, 
Nature and the Scriptures. The infallibility of the Scriptures 
is of course a limitation to freedom of speculation, but it was 
an axiom of the early church, and a man of experience might 
accept it, bound up as it was with sound results in the martyr- 
death and the changed life. Tertullian will get back to the 
facts, if he can ; and if he judges too swiftly of Nature and 
too swiftly accepts the literal truth of Scripture, while these 
are drawbacks to our acceptance of his conclusions, there is 
still to be seen in him more independence of mind than in 
those Greek Fathers for whom Greek philosophy had spoken 
the last word in metaphysics. It is psychology that interests 
Tertullian more, and moral questions, and these he handles 
more deeply than the Stoics. He stands in line with | 
Augustine and Calvin, his spiritual descendants. 

If he speaks more of hell than certain Greeks do, it is not 
unnatural. The man, who saw such deaths in the amphi- 
theatre as he describes in the Passion of Perpetua, who ; 
remembered the expressions he had then seen on the faces of 
the spectators, who knew too well the cruelty that went with : 
Roman lust, could hardly help believing in hell. What was ! 
the origin of evil ? asked philosopher and heretic. What is its 
destiny ? and what are you to do with it now ? asked 
Tertullian ; and, in all seriousness, the answer to the former 


I question is more likely to be found when the answers of the 
I latter are reached. At any rate the latter are more practical, 
I and that adjective, with what it suggests of drawback and of 
I gain, belongs to Tertullian. 

His application of the test of utility to belief is obviously 
I open to criticism. " It is expedient," said Varro, " for men to 
I be deceived in religion." No, Tertullian would have said, it is 
I more expedient for them to know the truth ; and he backed his 
I conviction by his appeal to Nature, on the one hand, Nature, 
I rational through and through, and ever loyal to law, to fixity 
I of principle, and on the other hand by reference to the 
I verification of his position yielded by experience once more 
I the martyr-death and the transformed character. These 
I fundamental ideas he may have misused in particulars, if not in 
I matters more essential ; but, if he is wrong from the beginning 
I in holding them, human knowledge, progress and conduct 
I become fortuitous and desultory at once. Nature and 
I verification from life are substantially all we have. To these 
I of course Tertullian added revelation in a sense distinct 

From the question of conduct we pass naturally to the 

t great cleavage of Tertullian with the church. A change had 

I come in church practice and government since the days when 

the Teaching of the Apostles represented actual present fact, 

E perhaps even since the Apology of Aristides. The church had 

grown larger, it had developed its organization, and it was 

|| relying more on the practical men with a turn for administra- 

jl tion, who always appear when a movement, begun by idealists, 

U seems to show signs of success. The situation creates them, 

and they cannot be avoided. They have their place, but they 

do not care for ideas. Thus in the church the ministry of the 

Spirit, the ministry of gifts, was succeeded by the ministry of 

office, with its lower ideals of the practical and the expedient. 

The numbers of the church swelled, and a theory began to 

i spread, which Cyprian took up later on, and which was almost 

inevitable on his principles, that the church was an ark, with 

beasts clean and beasts unclean within it. This theory 

answered to the actual facts, hardly to the ideal, and 

Tertullian rejected it. 1 Conduct at once suggested the theory, 

1 de Idol, 24 (end), Vidtritnus enim si secundum arttf typum tt tan'us et mi/vus 
tt lupus et cams et serf ens in ccclcsia erit. 


and responded to it. Christians fell into adultery and apostasy, 
and while at first this meant "delivery to Satan," restoration 
became progressively easy. The Shepherd of Hermas 
extended second chances, till Tertullian fiercely spoke of 
" that apocryphal shepherd of adulterers. 1 " 

From Phrygia came the suggestion of reformation. Our 
evidence as to the history of Montanism in its native land is 
derived from hostile sources, and the value of it must partly 
depend on the truth of the witnesses and partly on their in- 
telligence, and of neither have we any guarantee at all. That 
they are clearly hostile is plain from the fragments in Eusebius. 
That they understood the inner meaning of what they con- 
demned, we have no indication. Montanus, however, asserted 
Christ's promise of the Paraclete his enemies allege that he 
identified himself with the Paraclete, a statement which might 
be used to show how quotation may lead to suggestio falsi. 
But the coming of the Paraclete was not in fact a synonym for 
fanaticism and the collection of money, as the enemies of 
Montanus hinted. It meant the bracing of Christian life and 
character, and the restoration of prophecy, new revelation of 
truth, power and progress. It appealed to the Christian world, 
and the movement spread probably with modifications as it 
spread. The oracles of Montanus and of two women, Prisca 
and Maximilla, became widely known, and they inculcated a 
stern insistence on conduct, which was really needed, while they 
showed how reformation was to be reached. To use language 
of more modern times, involves risk of misconception ; but if 
it may be done with caution, we may roughly say that the 
Montanists stood for what the Friends call the Inner Light, and 
for progressive revelation or, at any rate, for something in 
this direction. The indwelling of God was not consistent with 
low living ; and earnest souls, all over the world, were invested 
with greater power and courage to battle with the growing 
lightness in the church and to meet the never-ceasing hostility 
of the world the lion and the cruel faces of the amphi- 

Yet Montanism failed for want of a clear conception of 
the real character of primitive Christianity. Aiming at morals, 
Montanists conceived of life and the human mind and God in a 

1 de Pud. 20. 


way very far from that of Jesus. They laid a stress, which is not 
Ihis, on asceticism and on penance, and they cultivated ecstasy 
in both regions renouncing the essentially spiritual conception 
lof religion, and turning to a non-Christian view of matter. 
JThey thus aimed at obtaining or keeping the indwelling spirit 
jof Jesus, known so well in the early church, but by mechanical 
jmeans ; and this, though the later church in this particular 
Jfollowed them for generations, is not to be done. Still, 
(Whatever their methods and their expedients, they stood for 
^righteousness, and here lay the fascination of Montanism 
nor Tertullian. 

Throughout his later life Tertullian, then, was a Montanist, 
though the change was not so great as might be expected. 
(Some of his works, such as that On Monogamy \ bear the stamp 
pf Montanism, for re-marriage was condemned by the Montan- 
tjists. Elsewhere his citation of the oracles of Prisca suggests 
fthat a book belongs to the Montanist period ; or we deduce it 
ijfrom such a passage as that in the work On the Soul where 
pe describes a vision. The passage is short and it is 

" We have to-day among us a sister who has received gifts 
^charismata] of the nature of revelations, which she undergoes 
\fatitur) in spirit in the church amid the rites of the Lord's 
pay falling into ecstasy (per ecstasiri}. She converses with 
Angels, sometimes even with the Lord, and sees and hears 
foysteries, and reads the hearts of certain persons, and brings 
I healings to those who ask. According to what Scriptures are 
jead, or psalms sung, or addresses made, or prayers offered up, 
fhe matter of her visions is supplied. It happened that we 
I pad spoken something of the soul, when this sister was in the 
tpirit When all was over, and the people had gone, she for 
|t is her practice to report what she has seen, and it is most 
tarefully examined that it may be proved ' amongst other 
hings,' she said, * a soul was shown to me in bodily form 
bd it seemed to be a spirit, but not empty, nor a thing of 
kcuity ; on the contrary, it seemed as if it might be 
puched, soft, lucid, of the colour of air, and of human form 
in every detail." 1 

Such a story explains itself. The corporeity of the soul 

1 de attima, 9. 


was a tenet of Stoicism, essential to Tertullian, for without it 
he could not conceive of what was to follow the resurrection. 
He spoke of it and we can imagine how. It would hardly 
take a vision to see anything of which he spoke. The sister 
however was, what in modern phrase is called, psychopathic, 
and the vision occurred, controlled by the suggestion that 
preceded it. 

It must be admitted that there is in some of his Montanist 
treatises, particularly where he is handling matters of less 
importance, such as re-marriage, fasting, and the like, a bitter- 
ness of tone which is not pleasant. As long as his humour 
and his strong sense control his irony, it is no bad adjunct of 
his style, it is a great resource. But it declines into sarcasm, 
and " sarcasm," as Teufelsdrockh put it, " is the language of the 
devil " ; and we find Tertullian, pleading for God and righteous- 
ness, in a tone and a temper little likely to win men. But the 
main ideas that dominate him still prevail conduct, obedience, 
God's law in Nature and in the book, the value of the martyr- 

Little is to be got by dwelling on his outbursts of ill 
temper ; they hardly do more than illustrate what we knew 
already, his intensity, his sensibility, his passion. They form 
the negative side of the great positive qualities. Let me 
gather up a few scattered thoughts which come from his heart 
and are better and truer illustrations of the man, and with them 
let chapter and book have an end. 

Conduct is the test of creed (de Prcescr. H<zr. 43). To 
lie about God is in a sense idolatry (de Pmscr. 40). 
Security in sin means love of it (de Pudic. 9). Whatever 
darkness you pile above your deeds, God is light (de Panit. 6). 
What we are forbidden to do, the soul pictures to itself at its 
peril (de Pcenit. 3). Truth persuades by teaching, it does 
not teach by making things plausible (adv. Valent. i). Faith 
is patience with its lamp lit illuminata (de Pat. 6). Patience 
is the very nature of God. The recognition of God understands 
well enough the duty laid upon it. Let wrong-doing be 
wearied by your patience (de Pat. 3, 4, 8). There is no 
greater incitement to despise money than that the Lord him- 
self had no wealth (de Pat. 7). Love is the supreme mystery 
(sacramentum) of faith (de Pat. 12). Faith fears no famine 


(de Idol. 1 2). Prayer is the wall of faith (de Or. 29). Every day, 
every moment, prayer is necessary to men. . . . Prayer comes 
1 from conscience. If conscience blush, prayer blushes (de exh. 
cast. 10). Good things scandalize none but the bad mind (de 
virg. vel. 3). Give to Caesar what is Caesar's his image on 

the coin; give to God what is God's his image in man, 
III yourself (de Idol. I 5 ). 

But to this there is no end, and an end there must be. By 

his expression of Christian ideas in the natural language of 
I Roman thought, by his insistence on the reality of the historic 

I Jesus and on the inevitable consequences of human conduct, by 

his reference of all matters of life and controversy to the will of 

God manifested in Nature, in inspiration and in experience, 
iTertullian laid Western Christendom under a great debt, never 

very generously acknowledged. For us it may be as profitable 

to go behind the writings till we find the man, and to think 
of the manhood, with every power and every endowment, 
sensibility, imagination, energy, flung with passionate enthusiasm 

on the side of purity and righteousness, of God and Trut 1 ^ ; to 
think of the silent self-sacrifice freely and generously made for 
: a despised cause, of a life-long readiness for martyrdom, of a 
jlspirit, unable to compromise, unable in its love of Christ to see 
ill His work undone by cowardice, indulgence and unfaith, and of 
li a nature in all its fulness surrendered. That the Gospel could 
l]|capture such a man as Tertullian, and, with all his faults of 

mind and temper, make of him what it did, was a measure of 
Hlks power to transform the old world and a prophecy of its 

II power to hold the modern world, too, and to make more of it 
las the ideas of Jesus find fuller realization and verification in 
|| every generation of Christian character and experience. 


ABSOLUTE Being (of God), 93, 1 1 2, 

133, 188, 231, 257, 288, 289, 


Actium, battle, 2. 
y^lian, 209. 
/Esculapius (Asklepios), 22, 191, 

209, 221-223, 255, 337. 
Alexander of Abonoteichos, 211, 


Alexander Severus, 14. 
Alexandria, 78, 79, 81 ; ch. ix., 

Allegoric methods, 72, 126, 181, 

184, 226, 278, 288. 
Anaxagoras, 102. 
Ancyra, monument, 5. 
Angels, 15, 95, 279, 281, 329. 
Antinous, 160, 172, 252. 
Antoninus, M. Aurelius, Emperor, 

see Marcus. 

Antony (M. Antonius, the Tri- 
umvir), 2, 9. 

Anubis, 22, 209, 211, 236. 
Apathy, 161, 232, 291, 292, 297, 

302 ; see also Greek Index. 
Apellas, M. Julius, 221, 222. 
Apelles, the painter, 217. 
Apis, 6. 

Apollo, 5, 82, 94. 
Apollonius of Tyana, 14. 
Apuleius, see ch. vii. generally, 
his origin and history, 228. 
his studies, 228. 
his mind and style, 227, 228, 

234, 237, 337. 
defence on charge of Magic, 

228, 230. 

the Golden Ass, 227, 233-237. 
on philosophy, 230. 
on gods, 231. 
on mysteries, 230. 

Apuleius continued. 
on human life, 231. 
on religion, 230. 
Aricia, 26. 

Aristides, ^Klius, 222. 
Artemidorus of Daldia, author of 

a book on the interpretation 

of dreams, 88, 225-227. 
Arval Brothers, 9. 
Ass, book once attributed to 

Lucian, 20, 21, 227. 
Astrology, 18, 35, 147, 329. 
Astronomy, 27, 97, 219, 277, 281, 


Ataraxia, 216, 219. 
Athens, 78, 80, 267. 

students at Athens, 78, 80, 228. 
Attalus, a Stoic, 41. 
Attis, 21. 
Augustine, St, 8, 12, 21, 166, 237, 

Augustus, i, 2. 

attempts to reform state, 3. 
his monument at Ancyra, 5. 
his superstitions, 6. 
restoration of religion, 5-7, 9, 14, 


his system of government, 34. 
effects of his system, 18, 33-37. 

BAPTISMS, 109, 159, 327-329. 
Barnabas, 151, 165, 180, 181, 


Blood, eating with, 15. 
Brahmans, 270, 335. 
Britannicus, 45. 
British Isles, 26, 105. 
Browning, R., quoted, 27, 144. 
Buddha, 270. 
Buddhism, 68. 
Burrus, 44~4 6 - 



CARLYLE, Thomas, 40, 41, 159, 

311, 312, 313, 336, 346. 
Carthage, 109, 307. 
Catullus, 21. 
Celsus, see ch. viii. generally. 

who was he ? 239, 240. 

his date, 240. 

his mind and style, 240, 241, 

on folly of Christians, 241-243, 

on vulgarity of Christians, 241, 


on "only believe," 242, 250. 
on Christian account of God, 


and God's descent, 246. 
his own account of God, 244, 

245, 246-248, 254. 

and of daemons, 254-256. 
Christian thinking anthropo- 

centric, 243, 244. 
on evil, 247. 
on true religion, 248, 254, 259, 


on ancestral religion, 254. 
on incarnation, 248, 249. 
on the historic Jesus, 117, 172, 

173, 249-252. 
on persecution of Christians, 

25, 275. 

on the sects, 250, 253. 
on miracles and magic, 251. 
on evidence of oracles, 255, 258. 
on Christian plagiarisms, 117, 


on immortality, 252, 253. 
his plea for Roman Empire, 256, 

257, 261. 

misses centre of Christian move- 
ment, 259. 
quoted ch. viii. passim, and pp. 

95, 114, 116, 117, 193, 194. 
Chseronea, 79, 82, 86, 223. 
Chaldaeans, 17, 207, 270. 
Christ in prophecy, 183-193. 
Christian community and early 

Church, see chs. v. and vi. 


Christian community and early 

Church continued. 
name Christian, 151. 
its variety, 141, 143-147. 
its unity, 141, 143. 
its universality, 143, 144. 
the new life, 142, 152, 159-162, 

164-166, 302, 303, 335. 
its happiness, 142, 148, 165, 166. 
conversion, 142, 150. 
Jewish influence, 143, 144. 
Greek influence, 144, 145, 168. 
Roman influence, 146. 
freedom from daemons, 146, 147, 

283, 284. 
daemons retaliate in persecution, 

164, 319. 

knowledge of God, 147, 300, 301. 
the "Holy Spirit," 142, 149- 

iS 1 * m- 
Jesus the centre, 141, 151, 152, 

157, 194, 259. 
Jesus the example, 264, 265, 

theories as to Jesus, 154-157, 

275, 289-298, 340, 341. 
the " ecclesia of God," 158, 257. 
organization of Christian society, 

157-159, 263, 339. 
its sacraments, 158, 159. 
propagation, 159-162, 196, 241. 
women, 163, 180, 316. 
marriage, 302, 303, 314. 
immortality, 163. 
belief in second coming of 

Christ, 164, 341. 
persecution, 164, 165, 250, 275, 

319. 323-326. 

martyrs, 146, 165, 319-321. 
controversy with Judaism, 167- 

169 ff., 175. 
effect of this, 194, 195. 
admission of Gentiles, 168. 
sects, 250, 253. 
the "great church," 253. 
spiritual religion, 179, 181, 


its progress, 196, 262, 263 f. 
daily reading of Scriptures, 287. 



Christian community and early 

Church continued. 
question of philosophy, 134, 

145. '56, 157, 263, 274-276, 

tenacity of historic facts of 

Gospel, 1 13-115* JI 9 i45 
152, 271. 

the regula, 338, 339. 

the " ark " theory, 343. 

Christian feeling toward the Em- 
pire, 240, 257, 303, 322, 334, 


Ihrysippus, 71, 73, 96, 209, 247. 
licero, M. Tullius, i, 7, 8. 
his wife and daughter, 10. 
on divination, 16, 17. 
klaudia Acte, 45. 
[laudius, Emperor, 43, 44. 
leanthes, 39, 71, 247. 
lement of Alexandria, see ch. ix. 

I his writings, 267, 279, 282. 

his history, 266, 267. 
I his education, 267-274. 
the mysteries, 269. 
his conversion, 271. 
1 his mind and style, 267, 273, 

282, 293. 
I his literary interests, 267, 273, 

his use of Scripture, 287, 288, 

on philosophy, 268, 273, 275- 

his references to Plato, 273, 279, 

281, 285, 286, 296. 
to Euripides, 281, 284. 
his use of Philo, 289. 
on knowledge, 272, 300, 301. 
'unity of knowledge, 275. 
on faith, 242, 280, 300. 
on Absolute God (see also Monad 

below), 290-292. 
on the Monad, 286, 290. 
the love of God and Abba 

Father, 285, 286, 293, 297. 
Jon the Logos, 283, 287, 289-298. 
'on incarnation, 297, 298. 

Clement of Alexandria continued. 
on Jesus, 283, 293, 298-300. 
on the cross, 300, 302. 
on Christian life, 272, 287, 302, 


on manners, 264-266. 
on sin, 300. 

on "deification," 301, 302. 
on marriage, 302, 303. 
on Christian tradition, 271. 
on virgin-birth, 299. 
Christocentric, 272, 273, 274. 
the Protrepticus, 282-287, 296. 
Clement quoted, ch. ix. passim, 

and on pp. 149, 166, 242, 243, 

244, 247, 248, 251, 257, 258, 

259, 260. 
Cleopatra, 2. 
Consensus of mankind as evidence, 

68, 91, 210, 315. 

lian (testimonium anima). 
Cooks, schools of, 302, 331. 
Cornutus, 41, 55. 
Critias, verses of, 4, 5. 
Crocodiles worshipped, 108, in, 


Cupid and Psyche, 234. 
Cybele, 5, 20, 21, 103. 
Cyprian, 147, 158, 343. 

DEMONS, 14, 39, 59, 94-102, 103, 

i5 2 " I 54, 254-256. 
not gods, 94, 232. 
intermediaries between gods and 

men, 96, 97, 98, 229, 232. 
subject to change, 96. 
guardian-daemons (genius}, 1 5, 

59, 99, 100, 233, 308. 
may be seen by the physical eye, 

99, 100, 207, 208, 232, 255. 
communicate with souls directly, 

101, 102. 

authors of pagan cults, 107, 232, 

relations with oracles, magic, etc., 

102, 108, 229, 253. 
resent neglect, 164, 233, 255. 
their tyranny, 19, 107, 146, 147. 



Daemons continued. 

some usurp names of gods, 107, 
108, 232. 

daemon-possession, 100, 153. 

" glossolaly," 150. 

dangers from daemons, 256. 

the name of Jesus and daemons, 

daemons the fallen angels, 95, 

daemon - theory and Emperor- 
worship, 154. 

daemons misled Jews as to law, 

forestalled Christian sacraments, 

and facts of Christian teaching, 

facts behind daemon-theory, 100, 

i5 X 53 222 > 2 3i- 
Dancing, secular and sacred, 76, 

79, 80. 

Dea did) 9, 19. 

Delphi, 82, 92, 102, 107, 108. 
Dio Cassius, 48, 322. 
Dio Chrysostom, 80, 312. 
Diodorus Siculus, 5. 
Diogenes Laertius, 39. 
Diogenes of Oinoanda, 217-220. 
Dionysus, 98, 108, 191, 250. 
Divination, 16, 17, 229. 
Docetism, 146, 154, 157, 299. 
Domitian, 49, 81, 322. 
Dreams studied, 6, 225-227. 
Druids, 270. 

ECSTASY, 101, 102, 153, 345. 
Egyptian religion, 21, 25, 56, 211, 
265, 270; see Isis, Osiris, 

Emperor-worship, 163. 
Ennius, 3. 
Epictetus, see ch. ii. generally. 

his history, 49-50. 

his solitude, 50-52. 

his habits, 52. 

his celebrity, 53. 

on cleanliness, 52. 

a relic of Epictetus, 53. 

Epictetus continued. 

his teaching, 50, 53. 

quoted throughout ch. ii. 
Epicurus, 16, 17, 218-220, 281,282 


Epidauros, 221, 222. 
Euclid, 80, 275. 
Euhemerus, 5, 106. 
Euripides, 243, 270, 281, 284, 285 

FAUNS, 12, 13. 
Flavius Clemens, 322. 
Francis, St, 40, 49. 
Fravashi, 15. 
Freedmen, 33, 35. 

GADARENES, 123, 203. 

Gaius, Emperor, 34. 

Galen, 160. 

Garlands, use of, 230, 265. 

Gellius, Aulus, 53, 80, 87, 213. 

Genius^ see Daemons. 

Germans, 36, 200, 211, 270. 

Giants, 208. 

Gibbon, 305. 

Gladiatorial shows, 36, 312, 313 

Stoic criticism, 63. 

Christian criticism, 162. 
Glossolaly, see Tongues. 
Gnosticism and Gnostics, 263 
see Marcion and Valentinus. 
God, see Absolute Being. 
Golden Age, 7, 33, 36, 171. 
Gospels, 113-115. 

credibility, 114, 115. 
Greece, depopulated, 78. 
Guardian, see Daemons. 
Gyges, myth of, 34. 

HADES, value of the belief in it, 5 
described by those who hav< 

seen it, 105, 208. 
the gospel preached in Hade 
by Christ and apostles, 101 

Hadrian, 88, 200, 252, 262. 
Heraclitus, 219, 247, 252, 253. 
Herakles, 62, 98, 173, 191, 250. 

Hennas, 48, 166, 280, 329, 344, 

^lerodotus, 34, 255. 

flesiod, 98. 

tlierodules, 22, 172. 

I' Holy," n, 13, 19. 
ttloly Spirit, see Christian com- 

Horace, 9, 13, 30, 78. 
| Odes on the Augustan reforma- 
tion, 6, 7. 
I his own feelings on religion, 10, 

i on superstition, 17. 

I his "conversion," 18. 

ftuman sacrifices, 26, 107. 

f Hymn of the Soul," Gnostic, 15. 

IDOLS, meat offered to, 16. 
Ignatius, 146, 158, 159, 161, 163, 

mmortality, 31, 68-70, 104, 105, 

163, 164, 252, 253. 
incubation, 22, 23, 99, 221. 
Indians, 270. 
Inspiration, 103, 169, 174, 287, 

333. 342. 
[renaeus, 323. 
sis, 22-24, 9 8 > 99> Io6 > I ^7) no, 

in, 235-237. 

[ESUS, see chapters iv. and v. 

generally ; see Christ. 
" Life " of Jesus hardly possible, 


dates available, 115. 

his character can be known, 

115, 116. 
his personality centre of Christian 

movement, 116, 139, 141, 

151, 152, 157, 194, 257. 
repeated in personality of his 

followers, 139, 140. 
his style, criticized by Celsus, 

his conversation, 117-120. 

humour or playfulness in his 

talk, 1 1 8, 119, 127. 
his manner, 119. 
his fixed gaze, 123. 


INDEX 353 

Jesus continued. 

his parables as reminiscences, 

his childhood and youth, 120, 


his mother and father, 120, 121. 
Abba, 121, 137, 148, 149, 150] 

257, 260, 286. 
Amen, 125. 
on children, 121, 122. 
on being "born again," 122. 
outdoor life, 122, 123. 
on wild nature, 123; cf. 265. 
his reality, 123-127. 
anger, 123. 

on self-deception, 124. 
on vulgar vices, 124. 
on poverty and hunger, 124, 

125; cf. 264, 346. 
energy of character, 125. 
on traditional beliefs, 125. 
his use of Scripture, 126. 
his temptations, 126-130. 
his "weakness," 127, 340. 
the agony in the garden, 128, 


his betrayal, 128, 129. 
his experience of men, 128, 130. 
his "disposition for private 

friendships," 129. 
his belief in common men, 

happiness in God centre of his 

Gospel, 130, 1,4, 150, 165, 


on holiness, 131-133. 
on rituals and taboos, 133. 
on relation with God, 130, 133- 

k . '?8. . 

his intuition, 134. 

on Fatherhood of God, 134-135. 

on likeness to God, 135. 

on instinct, 135, 136. 

on Last Judgment, 136. 

on Kingdom of God, 137. 

on Messiahship, 128, 138. 

his cross, 138, 139, 153, 163, 

25, 2 5 T 3- 3 02 - 
the crown of thorns, 265. 



Jesus continued. 

the "spirit of Jesus," 139, 150, 

1 68. 

Christian teaching of resur- 
rection, 146, 163, 173, 340. 
Jesus in early Church, 151. 
theories as to Jesus, 154-157, 


second coming, 164, 341. 
connexion with Judaism, 167 
Jewish slanders on Jesus, 172, 


attack of Celsus, 172, 173, 249- 

better known than the Logos, 

Jews, see Judaism. 

exiled from Palestine, 180. 

set mobs against Christians, 

169, 3 2 3 .324- 
John the Baptist, 115. 
Judaism, see ch. vi. generally. 

among Greeks and Romans, 1 1, 

70, 103. 

its history, 169-172. 
its Messianic future, 143, 170- 


its morality, 143. 
its casuistry, 131. 
its tribal character, 132, 144. 
its taboos, 131, 132, 178. 
its monotheism, 143, 146, 169, 

172, 173. 

its teaching on sin, 144. 
its Scriptures, 144, 174. 
influence on Greek readers, 176. 
prophecy of Christ in Scriptures, 


Judaism and Jesus, 167. 
Judaism and Paul, 167-169. 
resistance to Christiaaity, 169- 

174, 1 80. 

circumcision, 171, 177, 179, 180. 
Sabbath, n, 132, 171, 177-181. 
anti-Christian propaganda, 172, 

173, 3 2 4. 

Christian arguments against 

Judaism, 176-193. 
Jewish law temporary, 181, 182. 

Julian, 23, 162, 260. 

Julius Caesar, C, i, 78, 307. 

Julius Ccesar (Shakespeare's), 139. 

Juno (guardian), 59. 

Jupiter Capitolinus, 19. 

Justin Martyr, 72, 148, 165, 176- 

i93 3*8, 3 2 3; se e ch. vi. 

Juvenal, 21, 23, 24, 55, 132, 


KING, term applied to Roman 

Emperor, 34, 256. 
Kyphi, 103. 

LACTANTIUS, 183, 237. 

Lares, 5, n, 14, 233. 

Larvae, 16. 

Lemures, 16, 233. 

Linen, in religious ritual, 22, 211, 

224, 230, 236, 330. 
Livy, 8, 17. 
Logos spermaticos (Stoic), see Greek 


Logos (Christian), 138, 156, 157, 
189 ; see also under Clement. 
Lucian, see ch. vii. 

his origin and history, 201, 202. 

his Dialogues, 202 f. 

his mind and style, 203, 204, 

on philosophy, 205, 206, 209. 

on the " Celestial City," 205. 

on the gods, 209-211. 

on human life, 213-215. 

on superstition, 206^208. 

Philopseudes, 206-208. 

on life after death, 214, 215. 

on Christians, 162, 212. 

quoted, pp. 53, 162, 163. 
Lucretius, 12, 16, 20, 30, 71. 

on religion, 25, 26, 27. 

on Nature, 25. 
Lupercal, 5. 
Lupercalia, 9. 

MAGIANS, 13, 98, 105, 270. 
Magic, 18, 207, 229, 230, 233, 251, 
256, 335- 



(Mantle (see Oracles and Daemons), 

Marcion, 114, 193, 315, 317, 337- 

Marcus Aurelius, Emperor, 63, 

130, 196-201, 211, 225, 251, 

criticism of Christians, 198, 200, 

244, 274. 

Marriage, 160, 229, 299, 302, 303. 
; Martyrs, 146, 165, 319-326. 
(Maximilla, 163, 344. 
Maximin Daza, 162, 260. 
Menander, 99, 266, 267. 
iNlessalina, 43, 44. 
Messiah, 138, 156, 170, 173. 
Metempsychosis, 42, 164, 252. 
Mithras, 105, 191, 210, 256, 260, 

317, 3i8. 
Monarchy, 34. 
Monasticism, 24. 

Monotheism, 19, 94, 143, 146, 148. 
Montanism, 327, 343, 346. 
Moses before Greek literature, 176, 


1 1 man before Moses, 315. 
| a magician, 230. 
Mother of the gods, see Cybele. 
Muhammad, 191. 
llystagogue, 78, 99, 253, 269 
Mysteries, 6, 76, 92, 145, 158, 230, 

269, 284, 287. 


(Nature, in philosophy, 36, 39, 57, 

58, 66, 314-317- 
[Necromancy, 99, 105. 
Neo-Platonism, in. 
Nero, 44-47. 
IKicopolis, 49. 
Huma, King 

inventor of religion, 8. 
jj and the nymph, Egeria, 100. 
Nursery tales, 308. 

|)CTAVIAN, see Augustus. 
IHnoanda, 217. 
bracles, 223, 255. 
I their numbers, 78. 

Oracles continued. 

their evidence as to gods, 92, 255. 
as to immortality, 104. 
daemons and oracles, 101, 102, 

255; see Daemons, 
oracle of Trophonius, 224, 255. 
Origen, 114. 

his book against Celsus; see 

ch. vi\\. passim. 

Orpheus, 14, 98, 173, 281, 283. 
Osiris, 98, in, 233, 237,330. 
Ovid, 3, 8, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 23, 

PAN and Pans, 12, 13. 
Pantaenus, 266, 271. 
Pantheism, 29, 38, 58. 
Paul, 148-150, 154-156, 167-169, 

174, 177. 
Pausanias, the traveller, 222-225, 

268, 270. 
Penates, 8, 14. 

Peregrinus Proteus, 212, 2 [3. 
Perpetua, the martyr, 88, 229, 308, 

Persius, 41, 55, 56, 67, 68. 

Philo, 125, 153, 156, 194, 289, 290. 

Photagogue, 269. 

Piso's conspiracy, 47. 

Plagiarism, 117, 252, 281. 

Plato, 34, 50, 72, 96, 97, 102, 117, 
118, 135, 149, 229-232, 244, 
245, 252, 270, 285, 288, 289, 

293. 336, 337- 
Pliny, the Elder, 13, 18, 26. 
Pliny, the Younger, 82, 208, 331. 
Plotinus, 99, 100. 
Plutarch, see ch. iii. generally. 

his history, 78-88. 

his city, 79, 82. 

his family, 79-80. 

his friends, 80, 81. 

his wife and children, 85, 86. 

his slaves, 86-88. 

his travels, 81. 

his poor Latin, 81. 

his studies, 83. 

his writings, 83-85. 

his character, 83-85, 89, 105. 


Plutarch continued. 

his "philosophy," 89-91, 105 

defect in his thinking, 83, 85, 

1 10, III. 

value of his work, 90, no, in. 
"the ancient faith of our 

fathers," 76, 89. 
on the knowledge of the divine, 


on Absolute Being and trans- 
cendence of God, 93, 94, 97, 
Providence and the government 

of the universe, 93-96. 
on deputy gods and daemons 

(?), 94-102. 
the guardian, 99. 
on " Mantic " (oracles, divina- 
tion, etc.), 100-103. 
on superstition, 103. 
on pleasures of faith, 76, 104. 
on immortality, 104, 105. 
on evil, 105. 
his apocalypses, 105. 
on defence of tradition, 76, 106- 

108, in. 
on purification of legends, 106- 

on questionable rituals, 107, 

1 08. 
on the Stoics, 64, 66, 68, 72, 73, 

82, 94, 95. 97, 99; 
quoted, ch. iii. passim ; also pp. 
42, 56, 60, 66, 68, ; 

Polybius, on Roman religion, 3-4. 
Polycarp, 165. 
Pontifex Maximus, 6, 327. 
Porphyry, 99. 
Prisca, 163, 344. 
Propertius, 8. 
Prudentius, 7, u. 
Psychomanteion, 99. 
Punic language, etc,, 229, 308, 

Pythagoras, 42, 55, 96, 173. 

QUINTILIAX, 9, 43- 48. 

nature of, 19. 
development of, 24. 
Oriental, 24. 
polytheism knows no false gods* 

2 5- 

how to judge religions, 40. 

city cults, 56. 

Gospels, 56. 

and philosophy, 132. 

See also Jesus, Christian com- 
munity, and Plutarch. 
Rhetoric, 37, 41, 43, 82, 85, 2ofl 

226, 228, 231, 267, 268, 310. 

her empire gift of gods, 7, |H 

government of empire, i, 2, 33! 


rise of superstition, 18. 
under the Emperors, 33-37. 
influence of Stoics, 39. 
women of Rome, 41, 51-52. 
its crowds of people, 47, 48. 
as a school for virtue, 49. 
Plutarch at Rome, 81. 
art collections, 145. 

SABBATH, n, 132, i- 
Sacrifice, human, 26, 107. 
Salvation, 54, 67, 151. 
Satyrs, 12, 13. 
Scepticism, 216, 217. 
ScilJitan martyrs, 319. 
Scriptures source of Greek philo- 
sophy, 176, 281, 285. 
Sealskin, as protection ap 

thunder, 6. 
Self-examination, 54. 
Seneca, see ch. ii. generally. 

his histc: 

his parents, 41. 

his teachers, 41-43. 

his style, 43. 

exile, 43-44- 

minister, 44-46. 

his end, 47. 

his character, 47-49. 

his books, 45, 46. 



Jen eca continued. 
I his letters, 48. 
I his teaching, 49. 
I on popular gods and super- 
stition, 17, 49. 
I self-examination, 54. 
I quoted, ch. ii. passim ; also pp. 

15. 3i 9i- 
lerapis, 21-24. 
crvius, commentator on Virgil, 

8, 15. 

lervius Sulpicius, 10. 
lervius Tullius, 14. 
fcxtus Empiricus, 4, 216, 217. 
la very, 36, 52. 

berates, 38, 72, 73, 117, 148, 233. 
w>lornon, Psalms of, 170. 
ption, a Pythagorean, 42. 
fcermaticos Logos, see Greek 


jterculus, 334. 

|oicism, see chap. ii. generally ; 
see Epictetus, Marcus Aurelius, 
and Seneca ; see Greek Index 
for Spermaticos Logos and 
other technical terms, 
unity of existence, 37, 56, 57, 

58, 97, 314. 
man a "fragment of God," 38, 

58, 60. 
the soul, 38. 
God, 58. 
polytheism and personality of 

gods, 70, 73, 76, 95. 
worship of God, 57. 
"God within," 61, 148. 
"Holy Spirit," 61, 65. 
Providence, 38, 59-61, 71. 
harmony with Nature, 39, 66. 
argument from consensus, 68, 


divination, 16, 17, 92. 
daemons, 59, 70. 
the guardian, 58, 59. 
the example, 72, 73. 
fatalism, 60. 
prayer, 66, 199, 200. 
endurance, 60. 
duty, 6 1. 

Stoicism continued. 

the "hymn to Zeus," 61, 165. 

mankind, 63. 

failure of Stoicism, 63 f., 67, 


on pity, 65. 

the will, 65-68. 

the feelings, 66. 

sin, 67, 68. 

immortality, 68-70, 164. 

the final conflagration, 69, 72, 

criticism of Stoicism among the 
ancients, 64, 65, 66, 67, 68, 
70, 71-73, 82, 95,97, 99.164, 
205, 206, 216, 285, 288, 291. 
Strabo, the Geographer, 26, 223. 
Superstition, see chs. i. and vii. 

no refuge in sleep from it, 17, 

practices, 109, 230. 

beliefs, 206-208. 
Syriac, 201. 
Syrians, 56, 103, 207. 

TABOOS, 131, 132. 

Tacitus, 33, 37. 

Tatian, 145-147, 148, 164, 271, 


Taurobolium, 67, 70. 
Tertullian, see ch. x. generally, 
conventional accounts of him, 

305. 306, 3'3. 
his work, 306. 
his history, 307-322. 
his education, 308-310. 
his rhetoric, 309-311. 
his mind and style, 311, 312 

325. 33, 346. 

his literary interests, 309, 321. 
his interest in medicine, 309. 
his interest in law, 309,. 

330, 33 J 33 2 339. 34- 
his Stoicism, 314. 
on "Nature," 3 14-3 1 7- 
Nature's beauty, 317. 
as to asceticism, 316, 345. 
on man, 316. 
his conversion, 318-321. 


Tertullian continued. 

testimonium aninuz, 315, 320, 


on God, 315-317, 328. 
on sin, 327. 
on forgiveness, 327. 
on baptism, 327-329. 
on the Scriptures, 315, 332, 

on prophecies of Christ in Old 

Testament, 178-180, i84 ; 188, 

189, 193. 
on philosophy and philosophers, 


on heresy and heretics, 338-341. 
on idolatry, 321, 322, 329. 
on war, 312. 
on theatre, 313. 

on amphitheatre, 312, 313, 324. 
on marriage and child-birth, 314, 

3i6, 345. 

on Christian life, 335. 
on trade, 329. 
on persecution, 318-320, 323- 


on martyrdom ,,3 1 9-3 2 1, 324-327. 
his Apology, 330-336. 
on the Church, 343 f. 
on Montanism, 344 f. 
on ecstasy, 345. 
on the Paraclete, 344. 
on pagan gods, 7. 
Tertullian quoted, chs. vi. and x. 

passim ; also pp. 17, 18, 71, 73, 

93, 103, 108, in, 137, 142, 

143, 148, 160, 161, 165, 166, 

197, 212, 240, 243, 248, 249, 
250, 251, 254, 256. 

Theophilus, 148, 318. 
Thoreau, 326. 

Thrasea Psetus, 40, 45, 151. 

Tiberius, 33, 34. 

Tibullus, ii. 

Tongues, speaking with, 142, 149, 

153, 174- 
Tragedies, 37. 
Trajan, 35, 331. 
Trees, holy, 13, 230. 
Trophonius, oracle of, 224, 255. 
" Trypho," ch. vi. passim. 

VALENTINUS and his school, 299, 

308, 340. 

on national value of deceit in 

religion, 5, 343. 
his books on the gods, 8, 9, 

counted an "enemy of religion," 

8, 10 

Vegetarianism, 24, 42, 108. 
Virgil, see ch. i., 28-32. 
his history, 28. 
the civil wars, i, 28. 
Italy, 28. 
on Nature, 29. 
on Man, 31. 
on religion, 31, 32 
Virgin-births, 100, 189-192, 299, 

WELLS, holy, 13. 
Witches, 97, 233. 
Wordsworth, 2, 30, 64, 77, 86. 

XENOPHANES, 16, in, 292. 

ZENO, 39, 72, 333. 
Zoology, ancient, 181, 229. 
Zoroaster, 98, 105, 230. 




a7ra#eia, 66, 302. 

T;s, 291, 292, 297, 299. 
aTroppota, 153,^304^ 

rov deoVy 38. 

, 23, 6l, 98. 

, 39 ; see Daemons. 
65, 199. 

i/0eos, 92, 153; cf. 174. 

vOoV(TUt>SltfS, I O2. 

Ivvoia, 56, 244, 281, 295. 


v, 65, 109. 

060TOKOS, 21. 

S, 21. 

KOO-/A109, 38, 64. 


K/3CUTIS, I O2. 

Aoyos, see 

oXa, TO, 59, 290, 291. 

, 155, 189, 297. 
7ra0os, 66, 103. 
Trvevpi, 101, 102, 295. 
irvcvpa Siairvpov, 38. 
TTVev/xa v^ou(riaoTtcbv, 102. 

7ToXlTta TOU KOO-/10V, 39. 

7rpoai>o-is, 65, 279. 

Xoyos, 37, 56, 64, 71, 
77, 148, 156. 

ra rt o-ot, 39, 65, 66. 

39, 51, 101, 216. 
b, 103. 







Glover, Terrot Reaveley 
170 The conflict of religions 
G6 in the early Roman empire 
cop. 2