Tertullian, Apology

LCL 250: 2-3

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Tertullian

Tertulliani Apologeticus

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I. Si non licet vobis, Romani imperii antistites, in aperto et edito, in ipso fere vertice civitatis praesidentibus ad iudicandum palam dispicere et coram examinare quid sit liquido in causa Christianorum, si ad hanc solam speciem auctoritas vestra de iustitiae diligentia in publico aut timet aut erubescit inquirere, si denique, quod proxime accidit, domesticis iudiciis nimis operata infestatio sectae huius obstruit defensioni, liceat veritati vel occulta via tacitarum litterarum ad aures vestras pervenire.

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Nihil de causa sua deprecatur, quia nec de condicione miratur. Scit se peregrinam in terris agere, inter extraneos facile inimicos invenire, ceterum genus, sedem, spem, gratiam, dignitatem in caelis habere. Unum gestit interdum, ne ignorata damnetur. 3Quid hic deperit legibus in suo regno dominantibus, si audiatur? An hoc magis gloriabitur potestas eorum, quo etiam auditam damnabunt veritatem? Ceterum inauditam si damnent, praeter invidiam iniquitatis etiam suspicionem merebuntur

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Apologeticus

Tertullian: Apology

1

I. If you, the magistrates of the Roman Empire,—you, who, in the light of day, set on high, at the very head of the state, preside to do justice,—if you are not allowed openly to investigate, face to face to examine, the Christian issue, to learn what it is in truth;—if, in this phase of life, and this alone, your authority either dreads or blushes to inquire in public, with all the care that Justice demands;—if finally (as recently befell) persecution of this school is so busy in the domestic tribunala as to block the way of defence;—then let truth be allowed to reach your ears at least by the hidden path of silent literature.

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Truth asks no favours in her cause, since she has no surprise at her present position. Truth knows that she is a stranger on earth and easily finds enemies among men of another allegiance, but she knows that her race, home, hope, recompense, honour, are in heaven. For one thing meanwhile she is eager—not to be condemned without being known. The laws are3 supreme in their own sphere; what loss can they suffer, if Truth be heard? Why, would it not enhance the glory of their supremacy to condemn Truth after hearing her? But, if they condemn her unheard—let us set on one side the odium such injustice will incur—they will rouse the suspicion that they

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DOI: 10.4159/DLCL.tertullian-apology.1931