Lactantius: Divine Institutes (Liverpool University Press - by Anthony Bowen, Peter Garnsey

By Anthony Bowen, Peter Garnsey

The Divine Institutes of Lactantius was once a lively riposte to pagan feedback and persecution of Christianity, which got here to a head within the "Great" Persecution of Diocletian within the early fourth century advert. This version has been ready with scholars and students of highbrow background in brain, however it also will attract these all for ecclesiastical historical past and patristics, and to an individual drawn to tracing the impression of classical philosophy and literature on an early Christian philosopher.

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Nam. Red. , 55ff. (Stilicho’s act a worse crime than Nero’s matricide). 17. 26–30; Origen, c. Cels. 53; cf. 62. Lactant_01_Intro 17 10/19/03, 15:16 18 LACTANTIUS: DIVINE INSTITUTES Lactantius uses the Sibylline Oracles extensively. There are 57 citations of one or more verses. Moreover, 37 citations appear in Books 4 and 7 where Lactantius is expounding Christian doctrine, and might have been expected to have used the testimony of Scripture almost exclusively. A lengthy prolegomenon at the beginning of Book 4 ends with the reinstatement of the testimony of the prophets.

134 We don’t, however, have to accept the argument of Furius. In particular, it is not the case that a wise man would rather be bad and well thought of than good and badly thought of. In any case, we can’t be such fools if our numbers are growing all the time. Our opponents tacitly admit we are not fools by persecuting us. Lactantius spends a chapter pondering the significance of the Christian virtue of endurance in the story of the expansion of Christianity. Then he asks again why opponents of justice – and Carneades135 has by now replaced his spokesman in Cicero’s treatise, Furius – were able to get away with the assertion that the just are foolish.

1–4. 17–20. 15–18. 74 Monat (1982), vol. 2, 19, n. 21. 75 Note ‘not my own words’ in the citation that follows. Lactantius leaves himself something to do, and this is important. In some contexts, he will take a secular source as far as he can and himself supply what is missing. g. 11: Cicero at his most inspired has to be supplemented by Lactantius himself. Here the author virtually assumes the role of a prophet, a role to which a mere philosopher could not aspire. Lactant_01_Intro 20 10/19/03, 15:16 INTRODUCTION 21 subject is the millennium, which he has just described with the aid of the Sibyls and Vergil.

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