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Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol III:
Tertullian: Part I: Chapter XII.

Early Church Fathers  Index     

Chapter XII.

But I first say a word also about the crown itself. This laurel one is sacred to Apollo or Bacchus—to the former as the god of archery, to the latter as the god of triumphs. In like manner Claudius teaches; when he tells us that soldiers are wont too to be wreathed in myrtle. For the myrtle belongs to Venus, the mother of the Æneadæ, the mistress also of the god of war, who, through Ilia and the Romuli is Roman.  But I do not believe that Venus is Roman as well as Mars, because of the vexation the concubine gave her. 423 When military service again is crowned with olive, the idolatry has respect to Minerva, who is equally the goddess of arms—but got a crown of the tree referred to, because of the peace she made with Neptune. In these respects, the superstition of the military garland will be everywhere defiled and all-defiling. And it is further defiled, I p. 101 should think, also in the grounds of it. Lo the yearly public pronouncing of vows, what does that bear on its face to be?  It takes place first in the part of the camp where the general’s tent is, and then in the temples. In addition to the places, observe the words also:  “We vow that you, O Jupiter, will then have an ox with gold-decorated horns.” What does the utterance mean? Without a doubt the denial (of Christ). Albeit the Christian says nothing in these places with the mouth, he makes his response by having the crown on his head. The laurel is likewise commanded (to be used) at the distribution of the largess. So you see idolatry is not without its gain, selling, as it does, Christ for pieces of gold, as Judas did for pieces of silver. Will it be “Ye cannot serve God and mammon” 424 to devote your energies to mammon, and to depart from God? Will it be “Render unto Cæsar the things which are Cæsar’s, and unto God the things which are God’s,” 425 not only not to render the human being to God, but even to take the denarius from Cæsar? Is the laurel of the triumph made of leaves, or of corpses? Is it adorned with ribbons, or with tombs? Is it bedewed with ointments, or with the tears of wives and mothers? It may be of some Christians too; 426 for Christ is also among the barbarians. 427 Has not he who has carried (a crown for) this cause on his head, fought even against himself?  Another son of service belongs to the royal guards. And indeed crowns are called (Castrenses), as belonging to the camp; Munificæ likewise, from the Cæsarean functions they perform. But even then you are still the soldier and the servant of another; and if of two masters, of God and Cæsar: but assuredly then not of Cæsar, when you owe yourself to God, as having higher claims, I should think, even in matters in which both have an interest.



i.e., Ilia.


Matt. vi. 24.


Matt. xxii. 21.


[Such considerations may account for our author’s abandonment of what he says in the Apology; which compare in capp. xlii. and xxxix.]


[Et apud barbaros enim Christus. See Kaye’s argument, p. 87.]

Next: Chapter XIII.

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