Ante-Nicene Fathers/Volume V/Caius/Fragments of Caius/Against the Heresy of Artemon

II.—Against the Heresy of Artemon.[1]


(In Eusebius’ Eccl. Hist., v. 28.)

For they say that all those of the first age, and the apostles themselves, both received and taught those things which these men now maintain; and that the truth of Gospel preaching was preserved until the times of Victor, who was the thirteenth bishop in Rome from Peter, and that from his successor Zephyrinus the truth was falsified. And perhaps what they allege might be credible, did not the Holy Scriptures, in the first place, contradict them.  And then, besides, there are writings of certain brethren older than the times of Victor, which they wrote against the heathen in defence of the truth, and against the heresies of their time: I mean Justin and Miltiades, and Tatian and Clement, and many others, in all which divinity is ascribed to Christ. For who is ignorant of the books of Irenæus and Melito, and the rest, which declare Christ to be God and man? All the psalms, too, and hymns[2] of brethren, which have been written from the beginning by the faithful, celebrate Christ the Word of God, ascribing divinity to Him. Since the doctrine of the Church, then, has been proclaimed so many years ago, how is it possible that men have preached, up to the time of Victor, in the manner asserted by these? And how are they not ashamed to utter these calumnies against Victor, knowing well that Victor excommunicated Theodotus the tanner,[3] the leader and father of this God-denying apostasy, who first affirmed that Christ was a mere man? For if, as they allege, Victor entertained the very opinions which their blasphemy teaches, how should he have cast off Theodotus, the author of this heresy?


(In Eusebius, as above.)

I shall, at any rate, remind many of the brethren of an affair that took place in our own time,—an affair which, had it taken place in Sodom, might, I think, have been a warning even to them. There was a certain confessor, Natalius,[4] who lived not in distant times, but in our own day. He was deluded once by Asclepiodotus, and another Theodotus, a banker. And these were both disciples of Theodotus the tanner, the first who was cut off from communion on account of this sentiment, or rather senselessness, by Victor, as I said, the bishop of the time.[5] Now Natalius was persuaded by them to let himself be chosen[6] bishop of this heresy, on the understanding that he should receive from them a salary of a hundred and fifty denarii a month. Connecting himself, therefore, with them, he was on many occasions admonished by the Lord in visions. For our merciful God and Lord Jesus Christ was not willing that a witness of His own sufferings should perish, being without the Church. But as he gave little heed to the visions, being ensnared by the dignity of presiding among them, and by that sordid lust of gain which ruins very many, he was at last scourged by holy angels, and severely beaten through a whole night, so that he rose early in the morning, and threw himself, clothed with sackcloth and covered with ashes, before Zephyrinus the bishop, with great haste and many tears, rolling beneath the feet not only of the clergy, but even of the laity, and moving the pity of the compassionate Church of the merciful Christ by his weeping. And after trying many a prayer, and showing the weals left by the blows which he had received, he was at length with difficulty admitted to communion.


(In Eusebius, as above)

The sacred Scriptures they have boldly falsified, and the canons of the ancient faith[7] they have rejected, and Christ they have ignored, not inquiring what the sacred Scriptures say, but laboriously seeking to discover what form of syllogism might be contrived to establish their impiety.[8] And should any one lay before them a word of divine Scripture, they examine whether it will make a connected or disjoined form of syllogism;[9] and leaving the Holy Scriptures of God, they study geometry, as men who are of the earth, and speak of the earth, and are ignorant of Him who cometh from above. Euclid, indeed, is laboriously measured[10] by some of them, and Aristotle and Theophrastus are admired; and Galen,[11] forsooth, is perhaps even worshipped by some of them. But as to those men who abuse the arts of the unbelievers to establish their own heretical doctrine, and by the craft of the impious adulterate the simple faith of the divine Scriptures, what need is there to say that these are not near the faith? For this reason is it they have boldly laid their hands upon the divine Scriptures, alleging that they have corrected them. And that I do not state this against them falsely, any one who pleases may ascertain. For if any one should choose to collect and compare all their copies together, he would find many discrepancies among them. The copies of Asclepiades,[12] at any rate, will be found at variance with those of Theodotus. And many such copies are to be had, because their disciples were very zealous in inserting the corrections, as they call them, i.e., the corruptions made by each of them.  And again, the copies of Hermophilus do not agree with these; and as for those of Apollonius,[13] they are not consistent even with themselves. For one may compare those which were formerly prepared by them[14] with those which have been afterwards corrupted with a special object, and many discrepancies will be found. And as to the great audacity implied in this offence, it is not likely that even they themselves can be ignorant of that. For either they do not believe that the divine Scriptures were dictated by the Holy Spirit, and are thus infidels; or they think themselves wiser than the Holy Spirit, and what are they then but demoniacs? Nor can they deny that the crime is theirs, when the copies have been written with their own hand; nor[15] did they receive such copies of the Scriptures from those by whom they were first instructed in the faith, and they cannot produce copies from which these were transcribed. And some of them did not even think it worth while to corrupt them; but simply denying the law and the prophets for the sake of their lawless and impious doctrine, under pretexts of grace, they sunk down to the lowest abyss of perdition.[16]


  1. Two fragments of an anonymous work ascribed by some to Caius. Artemon and his followers maintained that Christ was mere (ψιλόν) man.
  2. [Elucidation, I.]
  3. [See cap. xxiii. p. 114, supra, and Euseb., iii. cap. 28.]
  4. This may, perhaps, be the Cæcilius Natalis who appears in the Octavius of Minucius Felix, as maintaining the cause of paganism against Octavius Januarius, and becoming a convert to the truth through the discussion. Name, time, and profession at least suit. [A painful conjecture, and quite gratuitous.  See the Octavius, cap. xvi. note 6, p. 181, vol. iv., this series.]
  5. [τοῦ τότε ἐπισκόπου, “the then bishop.” Text of Routh.]
  6. There is another reading—named (κληθῆναι) instead of chosen or elected (κληρωθῆναι).
  7. [Thus early, primitive canons are recognised as in force.]
  8. [Here we have an early foreshadowing of the schoolmen, whose rise was predicted by St. Bernard in his protest against Abelard. See Bernard, Opp., tom. i. p. 410, et alibi.]
  9. The connected form here is the hypothetical, as e.g., “If it is day, it is light.” The disjoined is the disjunctive, as e.g., “It is either day or night.” The words admit another rendering, viz., “Whether it, when connected or disjoined, will make the form of a syllogism.”
  10. There is a play in the original on the word geometry.
  11. Galen composed treaties on the figures of syllogisms, and on philosophy in general. This is also a notable testimony, as proceeding from a very ancient author, almost contemporary with Galen himself. And from a great number of other writers, as well as this one, it is evident that Galen was ranked as the equal of Aristotle, Theophrastus, and even Plato. [Galen died circa a.d. 200.]
  12. In Nicephorus it is Asclepiodotus, which is also the reading of Rufinus.
  13. It appears from Theodoret (Hæret. Fab., book ii. ch. v.), as well as from Nicephorus and Rufinus, that we should read Apollonides for Apollonius.
  14. There is another reading—by him.
  15. This paragraph, down to the word “transcribed,” is wanting in the Codex Regius.
  16. [Note the care and jealousy with which the integrity of the codices was guarded. Comp. Uncan. and Apoc. Scriptures, by Churton, London, 1884.]