The Apology of St. Aristides of Athens (translation by M. R. James). On Early Christian Writings. Aristides also, a believer earnestly devoted to our religion, left, like Quadratus, an apology for the faith, addressed to Adrian. His work, too, has been preserved. Here follows the defense which Aristides the philosopher made before Hadrian the King on behalf of reverence for God. All-powerful C├Žsar Titus Hadrianus.

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Celsus is undoubtedly very nearly contemporary with Aristides; although it is difficult to determine his date exactly and even Origen was doubtful as to his identitywe may probably say with a good assurance of safety that he was at the zenith of his influence and fame under the reign aristices Antoninus Pius.

The Apology of Aristides

And if he could not help himself, how can he take thought for the human race? Again, the apology which Aristides the philosopher made before Hadrian the king concerning the worship of God. And mankind too are able by known means to confine and keep it in check in order that it may fulfil for them the service they require from it.

And being checked by skilled workmen through the restraint of aqueducts, they flow and are diverted against their inclination, and come into gardens and other places in order that they may be collected and issue forth as a means of fertility for man, and that they may cleanse away every impurity and fulfil the service man requires from them. But their poets and philosophers introduce and say, that the nature of all their gods is one; but they have not understood of God our Lord, that while He is one, He is yet in all.

If he followed a text which had the heading as in the Syriac, he has misunderstood the person spoken of as Hadrian the king; and if on the other hand he takes the opening sentences as his guide, he has made a superficial reference, which a closer reading would have corrected. Let us turn now, O King, to the elements in themselves, that we may make clear in regard to them, that they are not gods, but a created thing, liable to ruin and change, which is of the same nature as man; whereas God is imperishable and unvarying, and invisible, while yet He sees, and overrules, and transforms all things.

Apology of Aristides

Once also, Aphrodite was wailing and weeping for the death of Tammuz, and they say that she went down to Sheol that she aristixes redeem Adonis from Persephone, who is the daughter of Sheol Hades. Great then is the error into which the Barbarians aristieds in worshipping lifeless images which can do nothing to help them. Quorum praedicatio in hunc usque diem germinat atque fructificat, orbem Universum vocans ad lucem.


Our Syriac Apology certainly contains no trace of an allusion to Dionysius the Areopagite; on the aristidee hand it fairly enough teaches the Divinity of Christ. And they say that he was killed by a wound from a wild boar, without being able to help himself. Let us turn further to the Greeks also, that we may know what opinion they hold as to the true God.

The style of the Apology is exceedingly simple. For if the body of a man while it is many in its parts is not in dread, one member of another, but, since it is a united body, wholly agrees with itself; even so also God is one in His nature. This is taught from that Gospel which a little while ago was spoken among them as being preached; wherein if ye also will read, ye will comprehend the power that arisfides upon it.

For the worship of the Barbarians and the Greeks did not suffice them, but they introduced also the nature of beasts, and said concerning it that they were gods: Unless, therefore, it can be maintained that the language quoted by Eusebius from Quadratus is an exaggeration or a misunderstanding we can hardly identify the bishop with the apologist.

My email address is feedback at newadvent. And again they say of Tammuz that he is a god. The language and thought of the writer are, however, aristidrs simple and straightforward that the limits of error are much narrower than they would be in aristiees document where the structure was more highly complicated; the unintelligible sentences which accumulate in a translation so much more rapidly than in the copying of an original document, are almost entirely absent.

The rendering is designedly a literal one.

Further, if one or other of them have bondmen and bondwomen or children, through love aristkdes them they persuade them to become Christians, and when they have done so, they call them brethren without distinction. Again they introduce Kore and say that she is a goddess, and she was stolen away by Pluto, and could not help herself.

And they do not proclaim in the ears of the multitude the kind deeds they do, but are careful that no one should notice them; and they conceal their giving just as he who finds a treasure and conceals it. And assuredly the race of the Christians is more blessed than all the men who are upon the face of the earth.

For the deities or religion of the Barbarians and the Greeks did not suffice for them, but they introduced some also of the nature of the animals, and said thereof that they were gods, and likewise of creeping things which are found on the dry land and in the waters. Great then is the error into which the Barbarians wandered in worshipping lifeless images which can do nothing to help them. Adrianus Eleusinarum rerum gnarus fuit multaque dona Atheniensium largitus est.


Again they bring forward Kore; and they say that she was a goddess and that she was carried off by Pluto and was not able to help herself. The Barbarians, indeed, trace the origin of their kind of religion from Kronos and from Rhea and their other gods; the Greeks, however, from Helenos, who is said to be sprung from Zeus.

And it comes to me to wonder also, O king, at their philosophers, how they too have erred and have named gods those likenesses which have been made in honour of the elements; and the wise men have not understood that these very elements are corruptible and dissoluble; for if a little part of the element be dissolved or corrupted, all of it is dissolved and corrupted. Now the Egyptians, because they arc more evil and ignorant than all peoples upon the earth, have erred more than all men.

Let us examine this last point carefully, in order to answer, as far as our means will permit, the question as to the time of presentation of the Apology of Aristides and the person or persons to whom it was addressed.

If therefore Isis be a goddess, and was not able to help Osiris her brother and lord, how is it possible that she should help others? Inthe Armenian monks of the Mechitarite convent in Venice published the first two chapters, which they had found in a manuscript in their collection in Armenian translation. And their oppressors they appease lit: But the heathens and barbarians count their descent from Baal, and from Cronos, and from Hera, and from many others of their gods.

There is nothing, at first sight, to lead us to believe that this is the original heading; such a summary merely reflects the Eusebian tradition and might be immediately derived from it.

Apology of Aristides – Wikisource, the free online library

These last words point to the use in the composition of this apology of a lost apocryphal work of very early date, The Preachings of Peter. Now Jerome de Virr. And of some of their goddesses they say that they contended about beauty and came for judgment before men. And as for those who did not find deliverance for themselves, how can they serve the distress of men?

Ipse sine nomine, quod quicumque nomine appellatur, creatus est factusque ab alio.