Ante-Nicene Fathers/Volume IV/Minucius Felix/The Octavius of Minucius Felix/Chapter 27

Ante-Nicene Fathers Vol. IV, Minucius Felix, The Octavius of Minucius Felix
by Minucius Felix, translated by Robert Ernest Wallis
Chapter 27
155915Ante-Nicene Fathers Vol. IV, Minucius Felix, The Octavius of Minucius Felix — Chapter 27Robert Ernest WallisMinucius Felix

Chapter XXVII.—Argument:  Recapitulation.  Doubtless Here is a Source of Error:  Demons Lurk Under the Statues and Images, They Haunt the Fanes, They Animate the Fibres of the Entrails, Direct the Flights of Birds, Govern the Lots, Pour Forth Oracles Involved in False Responses.  These Things Not from God; But They are Constrained to Confess When They are Adjured in the Name of the True God, and are Driven from the Possessed Bodies.  Hence They Flee Hastily from the Neighbourhood of Christians, and Stir Up a Hatred Against Them in the Minds of the Gentiles Who Begin to Hate Them Before They Know Them.

“These impure spirits, therefore—the demons—as is shown by the Magi, by the philosophers, and by Plato, consecrated under statues and images, lurk there, and by their afflatus attain the authority as of a present deity; while in the meantime they are breathed into the prophets, while they dwell in the shrines, while sometimes they animate the fibres of the entrails, control the flights of birds, direct the lots, are the cause of oracles involved in many falsehoods.  For they are both deceived, and they deceive; inasmuch as they are both ignorant of the simple truth, and for their own ruin they confess not that which they know.  Thus they weigh men downwards from heaven, and call them away from the true God to material things:  they disturb the life, render all men[1] unquiet; creeping also secretly into human bodies, with subtlety, as being spirits, they feign diseases, alarm the minds, wrench about the limbs; that they may constrain men to worship them, being gorged with the fumes of altars or the sacrifices of cattle, that, by remitting what they had bound, they may seem to have cured it.  These raging maniacs also, whom you see rush about in public, are moreover themselves prophets without a temple; thus they rage, thus they rave, thus they are whirled around.  In them also there is a like instigation of the demon, but there is a dissimilar occasion for their madness.  From the same causes also arise those things which were spoken of a little time ago by you, that Jupiter demanded the restoration of his games in a dream, that the Castors appeared with horses, and that a small ship was following the leading of the matron’s girdle.  A great many, even some of your own people, know all those things that the demons themselves confess concerning themselves, as often as they are driven by us from bodies by the torments of our words and by the fires of our prayers.  Saturn himself, and Serapis, and Jupiter, and whatever demons you worship, overcome by pain, speak out what they are; and assuredly they do not lie to their own discredit, especially when any of you are standing by.  Since they themselves are the witnesses that they are demons, believe them when they confess the truth of themselves; for when abjured by the only and true God, unwillingly the wretched beings shudder in[2] their bodies, and either at once leap forth, or vanish by degrees, as the faith of the sufferer assists or the grace of the healer inspires.  Thus they fly from Christians when near at hand, whom at a distance they harassed by your means in their assemblies.  And thus, introduced into the minds of the ignorant, they secretly sow there a hatred of us by means of fear.  For it is natural both to hate one whom you fear, and to injure one whom you have feared, if you can.  Thus they take possession of the minds and obstruct the hearts, that men may begin to hate us before they know us; lest, if known, they should either imitate us, or not be able to condemn us.


  1. Some read “slumbers” for “all men.”
  2. “Cling to” is another reading.