Notes on Tertullian

made by William Meyers, author of Vampires or Gods?

Covering Tertullian's Apology and De Spectaculis translated by T.R. Glover

and Minucius Felix's Octavius translated by Gerald H. Rendall

All included in the Loeb Classical Library, volume 250, Harvard University Press, 1984 printing

The notes here were taken to help get a picture of early Christianity. However, Tertullian and Felix are also sources on what little is known about various other vampire cults during this era. Tertullian is believed to have been writing around 200 A.D.

Materials in brackets within quotations are by Meyers.

Remarkably Tertullian says almost nothing about Jesus, instead talking about God (the Father, the Creator), perhaps because his main argument against paganism is that gods with human traits are ridiculous.

"To come next to your gods themselves, the decrees which your fathers prudently enacted, you, the most law-abiding of men, have repealed. Father Bacchus [Dionysus] and his mysteries, - the consuls with the approval of the Senate turned him not only out of the City but out of the whole of Italy. Serapis and Isis and Harpocrates with his Dog-head were forbidden the Capitol - in other words, expelled from the Assembly of the gods; and Piso and Gabinius - consuls, not Christians, I think - actually overturned their altars and banished them, in the endeavour to restrain the vices that go with foul and idle superstitions." - p. 35

"We [Christians] are said to be the most criminal of men, on the score of our sacramental baby-killing and the baby-eating that goes withit and the incest that follows the banquet." - p. 37

"Look, then; we offer a reward for these crimes; they promise eternal life! ... Come! Plunge the knife into the baby... watch for the young soul as it escapes; catch the infant blood; steep your bread with it; eat and enjoy it." - p. 43

Early Christians were against abortion: "For us murder is once for all forbidden; so even the child in the womb, while yet the mother's blood is still being drawn on to form the human being, it is not lawful for us to destroy." - p. 49

"Today and here, when men are dedicated to Bellona, the thigh is cut the blood is caught in a little shield, and then given to them to consume-as a sign." p. 51. Bellona is Mar's wife, the goddess of war.

"I am unwilling to review your rituals ... nor of the tithe of Hercules, of which you do not put one third on his altar." P. 74

"Then he (Christ) appointed them to the duty of preaching throughout the world, and, with a cloud cast about him, he was caught up to heaven - far more truly than any Romulus of yours in the tale of Proculus." - p. 113

"Let Cybele see to it, if she have loved the city of Rome in memory of the Trojan race, her own native race that she guarded against the arms of the Achaeans - if she looked ahead and planned to pass over to the avengers' camp, knowing that they would yet subdue Greece, conqueror of Phrygia! So it was indeed a fine proof of her greatness transferred to Rome that she offered in our own generation. The State lost Marcus Aurelius by death at Sirmium on the 17th of March; but on the 24th, his holiness the arch-eunuch, offering his own unclean blood and lashing his muscles, issued the usual orders to pray for the safety of Marcus, who was already dead. O sluggish messengers! O sleepy-headed postal service! It was your fault that Cybele failed to hear earlier of the Emperor's death, to prevent Christians from laughing at the goddess!" - p. 137

Early Christians were Communists: "So we, who are united in mind and soul, have no hesitation about sharing property. All is common among us - except our wives. At that point we dissolve our partnership, which is the one place where the rest of men make it effective." - p. 178

"Actuaries will have to reckon the cost of Hercules' tithes and banquets. At the Attic Apaturia, Dionysia and mysteries, conscription is proclaimed - for cooks. The smoke of a dinner of Serapis will fetch our the firemen. It is only the banquet of Christians that calls for criticism." - p. 179

"If at Rome Romulus was the first to display a four-horse chariot, he, I fancy, is enrolled among the idols himself, if he and Quirinus are the same." - p. 257

Minucius Felix, Octavius

"Witness the Idaean Mother [Cybele] who at her coming vindicated a matron's chastity and freed the city from fear of the enemy." - p. 331

Roman view of Christians: "Already-for ill weeds grow apace- decay of morals grows from day to day, and throughout thewide world the abominations of this impious confederacy multiply. Root and branch it must be exterminated and accursed. They recongnize one another by secret signs and marks; they fall in love almost before they are acquainted; everywhere they introduce a kind of religion of lust, a promiscuous `brotherhood' and `sisterhood' by which ordinary fornication, under cover of a hallowed name, is converted to incest. And thus their vain and foolish superstition makes an actual boast of crime. For themselves, were there not some foundation of truth, shrewd rumour would not impute gross and unmentionable forms of vice. I am told that under some idiotic impulse they consecrate and worship the head of an ass, the meanest of all beasts, a religion worthy of the morals which gave it birth." - p. 337

"But perhaps you imagine that men become gods after death; Romulus was made a god by the false oath of Proculus;" - p. 377 And Jesus was made a god by the Apostles' false oaths?

"Isis, with her Cynocephalus and shaven priests, mourning, bewailing and searching for her lost son; her miserable votaries beating their breasts and mimicking the sorrows of the unhappy mother; then, when the stripling is found, Isis rejoices, her priests jump for joy, the Cynocephalus glories in his discovery; and year by year, they cease not to lose what they find or to find what they lose. Is it not absurd either to mourn your object of worship, or to worship your object of mourning? Yet these old Egyptian rites have now found their way to Rome, so that you may play the fool to the swallow and sistrum of Isis, the scattered limbs, and the empty tomb of your Serapis or Osiris." - p. 383

"The tinkling cymbals of the Corybants are clashed for fear the father should hear his infant wails. Of Cybele and Dindyma it is a shame to speak: unable to satisfy the affections of her luckless paramour-for mothering of many gods had made her plain and old-she reduced the god to impotence, and in deference to this fable her Galli priests inflict the same disablement upon their bodies. Such practices are not sacred rites, but tortures." - p. 384

"Hercules puts off mortality by being consumed in the flames of Oeta." - p. 385

"As for the worship of a malefactor and his cross, which you ascribe to our religion, you go very far wide of the truth, in supposing that a criminal deserved or that a mortal man had the right to be believed in as a God. Pitiable indeed the man whose hope is stayed upon a mortal man, with whose death all that he builds on comes to an end!" - p. 405 Indeed!