Home > Uncategorized > Tertullian: As a last test of empire, make war on heaven

Tertullian: As a last test of empire, make war on heaven



Anti-war essays, poems, short stories and literary excerpts

Greek and Roman writers on war and peace


From Apology
Translated by Gerald H. Rendall

Unless I am mistaken, all kingship or empire is sought in war and extended by victory. War and victory depend on the capture and generally the overthrow of cities. That business is not put through without injury to the gods. Walls and temples have one destruction; citizens and priests alike are slain; the plunder of wealth is the same whether it is sacred property or that of laymen. Then the sacrileges of the Romans are exactly as many as their trophies; their triumphs over gods as many as over races; their spoils in war as many as the statues still left of captured gods…

Let the Emperor, as a last test, make war on heaven, carry heaven captive in his triumph, set a guard on heaven, lay taxes on heaven. He cannot…

We can count your troops; the Christians of one province will be more in number. For what war should we not have been fit and ready even if unequal in forces – we who are so glad to be butchered – were it not, of course, that in our doctrine we are given ampler liberty to be killed than to kill?

[N]othing is more foreign to us than the State. One state we know, of which all are citizens – the universe.

From De Spectaculis
Translated be Gerald H. Rendall

So it begins and so it goes on, – to madness, anger, discord to everything forbidden to the priests of peace.

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