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Introductory Notice


Introductory Notice to Lactantius.

The Divine Institutes

Book I. Of the False Worship of the Gods

Preface.—Of what great value the knowledge of the truth is and always has been

Chap. I.—Of religion and wisdom

Chap. II.—That there is a providence in the affairs of men

Chap. III.—Whether the universe is governed by the power of one God or of many

Chap. IV.—That the one God was foretold even by the prophets

Chap. V.—Of the testimonies of poets and philosophers

Chap. VI.—Of divine testimonies, and of the Sibyls and their predictions

Chap. VII.—Concerning the testimonies of Apollo and the gods

Chap. VIII.—That God is without a body, nor does he need difference of sex for procreation

Chap. IX.—Of Hercules and his life and death

Chap. X.—Of the life and actions of Æsculapius, Apollo, Neptune, Mars, Castor and Pollux, Mercury and Bacchus

Chap. XI.—Of the origin, life, reign, name and death of Jupiter, and of Saturn and Uranus

Chap. XII.—That the stoics transfer the figments of the poets to a philosophical system

Chap. XIII.—How vain and trifling are the interpretations of the stoics respecting the gods, and in them concerning the origin of Jupiter, concerning Saturn and Ops

Chap. XIV.—What the sacred history of Euhemerus and Ennius teaches concerning the gods

Chap. XV.—How they who were men obtained the name of gods

Chap. XVI.—By what argument it is proved that those who are distinguished by a difference of sex cannot be gods

Chap. XVII.—Concerning the same opinion of the stoics, and concerning the hardships and disgraceful conduct of the gods

Chap. XVIII.—On the consecration of gods, on account of the benefits which they conferred upon men

Chap. XIX.—That it is impossible for any one to worship the true God together with false deities

Chap. XX.—Of the gods peculiar to the Romans, and their sacred rites

Chap. XXI.—Of certain deities peculiar to barbarians, and their sacred rites; and in like manner concerning the Romans

Chap. XXII.—Who was the author of the vanities before described in Italy among the Romans, and who among other nations

Chap. XXIII.—Of the ages of vain superstitions, and the times at which they commenced

Book II. Of the Origin of Error

Chap. I.—That forgetfulness of reason makes men ignorant of the true God, whom they worship in adversity and despise in prosperity

Chap. II.—What was the first cause of making images; of the true likeness of God, and the true worship of him

Chap. III.—That Cicero and other men of learning erred in not turning away the people from error

Chap. IV.—Of images, and the ornaments of temples, and the contempt in which they are held even by the heathens themselves

Chap. V.—That God only, the creator of all things, is to be worshipped, and not the elements or heavenly bodies; and the opinion of the stoics is refuted, who think that the stars and planets are gods

Chap. VI.—That neither the whole universe nor the elements are God, nor are they possessed of life

Chap. VII.—Of God, and the religious rites of the foolish; of avarice, and the authority of ancestors

Chap. VIII.—Of the use of reason in religion; and of dreams, auguries, oracles, and similar portents

Chap. IX.—Of the devil, the world, God, providence, man, and his wisdom

Chap. X.—Of the world, and its parts, the elements and seasons

Chap. XI.—Of living creatures, of man; Prometheus, Deucalion, the Parcæ

Chap. XII.—That animals were not produced spontaneously, but by a divine arrangement, of which God would have given us the knowledge, if it were advantageous for us to know It

Chap. XIII.—Why man is of two sexes; what is his first death, and what the second and of the fault and punishment of our first parents

Chap. XIV.—Of Noah the inventor of wine, who first had knowledge of the stars, and of the origin of false religions

Chap. XV.—Of the corruption of angels, and the two kinds of demons

Chap. XVI.—That demons have no power over those who are established in the faith

Chap. XVII.—That astrology, soothsaying, and similar arts are the invention of demons

Chap. XVIII.—Of the patience and vengeance of God, the worship of demons, and false religions

Chap. XIX.—Of the worship of images and earthly objects

Chap. XX.—Of philosophy and the truth

Book III. Of the False Wisdom of the Philosophers

Chap. I.—A comparison of the truth with eloquence: why the philosophers did not attain to it. Of the simple style of the scriptures

Chap. II.—Of philosophy, and how vain was its occupation in setting forth the truth

Chap. III.—Of what subjects philosophy consists, and who was the chief founder of the academic sect

Chap. IV.—That knowledge is taken away by Socrates, and conjecture by Zeno

Chap. V.—That the knowledge of many things is necessary

Chap. VI.—Of wisdom, and the academics, and natural philosophy

Chap. VII.—Of moral philosophy, and the chief good

Chap. VIII.—Of the chief good, and the pleasures of the soul and body, and of virtue

Chap. IX.—Of the chief good, and the worship of the true God, and a refutation of Anaxagoras

Chap. X.—It is the peculiar property of man to know and worship God

Chap. XI.—Of religion, wisdom, and the chief good

Chap. XII.—Of the twofold conflict of body and soul; and of desiring virtue on account of eternal life

Chap. XIII.—Of the immortality of the soul, and of wisdom, philosophy, and eloquence

Chap. XIV.—That Lucretius and others have erred, and Cicero himself, in fixing the origin of wisdom

Chap. XV.—The error of Seneca in philosophy, and how the speech of philosophers is at variance with their life

Chap. XVI.—That the philosophers who give good instructions live badly, by the testimony of Cicero; therefore we should not so much devote ourselves to the study of philosophy as to wisdom

Chap. XVII.—He passes from philosophy to the philosophers, beginning with Epicurus; and how he regarded Leucippus and Democritus as authors of error

Chap. XVIII.—The Pythagoreans and Stoics, while they hold the immortality of the soul, foolishly persuade a voluntary death

Chap. XIX.—Cicero and others of the wisest men teach the immortality of the soul, but in an unbelieving manner; and that a good or an evil death must be weighed from the previous life

Chap. XX.—Socrates had more knowledge in philosophy than other men, although in many things he acted foolishly

Chap. XXI.—Of the system of Plato, which would lead to the overthrow of states

Chap. XXII.—Of the precepts of Plato, and censures of the same

Chap. XXIII.—Of the errors of certain philosophers, and of the sun and moon

Chap. XXIV.—Of the antipodes, the heaven, and the stars

Chap. XXV.—Of learning philosophy, and what great qualifications are necessary for its pursuit

Chap. XXVI.—It is divine instruction only which bestows wisdom; and of what efficacy the law of God is

Chap. XXVII.—How little the precepts of philosophers contribute to true wisdom, which you will find in religion only

Chap. XXVIII.—Of true religion and of nature. whether fortune is a goddess, and of philosophy

Chap. XXIX.—Of fortune again, and virtue

Chap. XXX.—The conclusion of the things before spoken; and by what means we must pass from the vanity of the philosophers to true wisdom, and the knowledge of the true god, in which alone are virtue and happiness

Book IV. Of True Wisdom and Religion

Chap. I.—Of the former religion of men, and how error was spread over every age, and of the seven wise men of Greece

Chap. II.—Where wisdom is to be found; why Pythagoras and Plato did not approach the Jews

Chap. III.—Wisdom and religion cannot be separated: the Lord of nature must necessarily be the Father of every one

Chapter IV.—Of wisdom likewise, and religion, and of the right of father and lord

Chap. V.—The oracles of the prophets must be looked into; and of their times, and the times of the judges and kings

Chap. VI.—Almighty God begat his Son; and the testimonies of the Sibyls and of Trismegistus concerning Him

Chap. VII.—Of the name of Son, and whence he is called Jesus and Christ

Chap. VIII.—Of the birth of Jesus in the spirit and in the flesh: of spirits and the testimonies of prophets

Chap. IX.—Of the Word of God

Chap. X.—Of the advent of Jesus; Of the fortunes of the Jews, and their government, until the passion of the Lord

Chap. XI.—Of the cause of the incarnation of Christ

Chap. XII.—Of the birth of Jesus from the Virgin; of his life, death, and resurrection, and the testimonies of the prophets respecting these things

Chap. XIII.—Of Jesus, God and man; and the testimonies of the prophets concerning him

Chap. XIV.—Of the priesthood of Jesus foretold by the prophets

Chap. XV.—Of the life and miracles of Jesus, and testimonies concerning them

Chap. XVI.—Of the passion of Jesus Christ; that it was foretold

Chap. XVII.—Of the superstitions of the Jews, and their hatred against Jesus

Chap. XVIII.—Of the Lord’s passion, and that it was foretold

Chap. XIX.—Of the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus; and the predictions of these events

Chap. XX.—Of the departure of Jesus into Galilee after his resurrection; and of the two testaments, the old and the new

Chap. XXI.—Of the ascension of Jesus, and the foretelling of it; and of the preaching and actions of the disciples

Chap. XXII.—Arguments of unbelievers against the incarnation of Jesus

Chap. XXIII.—Of giving precepts, and acting

Chap. XXIV.—The overthrowing of the arguments above urged by way of objection

Chap. XXV.—Of the advent of Jesus in the flesh and spirit, that He might be mediator between God and man

Chap. XXVI.—Of the cross, and other tortures of Jesus, and of the figure of the lamb under the law

Chap. XXVII.—Of the wonders effected by the power of the cross, and of demons

Chap. XXVIII.—Of hope and true religion, and of superstition

Chap. XXIX.—Of the Christian religion, and of the union of Jesus with the Father

Chap. XXX.—Of avoiding heresies and superstitions, and what is the only true Catholic Church

Book V. Of Justice

Chap. I.—Of the non-condemnation of accused persons without a hearing of their cause; from what cause philosophers despised the sacred writings; of the first advocates of the Christian religion

Chap. II.—To what an extent the Christian truth has been assailed by rash men

Chap. III.—Of the truth of the Christian doctrine, and the vanity of its adversaries; and that Christ was not a magician

Chap. IV.—Why this work was published, and again of Tertullian and Cyprian

Chap. V.—there was true justice under Saturnus, but it was banished by Jupiter

Chap. VI.—After the banishment of justice, lust, unjust laws, daring, avarice, ambition, pride, impiety, and other vices reigned

Chap. VII.—Of the coming of Jesus, and its fruit; and of the virtues and vices of that age

Chap. VIII.—Of justice known to all, but not embraced; of the true temple of God, and of His worship, that all vices may be subdued

Chap. IX.—Of the crimes of the wicked, and the torture inflicted on the Christians

Chap. X.—Of false piety, and of false and true religion

Chap XI.—Of the cruelty of the heathens against the Christians

Chap. XII.—Of true virtue; and of the estimation of a good or bad citizen

Chapter XIII.—Of the increase and the punishment of the Christians.

Chap. XIV.—Of the fortitude of the Christians

Chap. XV.—Of folly, wisdom, piety, equity, and justice

Chap. XVI.—Of the duties of the just man, and the equity of Christians

Chap. XVII.—Of the equity, wisdom, and foolishness of Christians

Chap. XVIII.—Of justice, wisdom, and folly

Chap. XIX.—Of virtue and the tortures of Christians, and of the right of a father and master

Chap. XX.—Of the vanity and crimes, impious superstitions, and of the tortures of the Christians

Chap. XXI.—Of the worship of other gods and the true God, and of the animals which the Egyptians worshipped

Chap. XXII.—Of the rage of the demons against Christians, and the error of unbelievers

Chap. XXIII.—Of the justice and patience of the Christians

Chap. XXIV.—Of the divine vengeance inflicted on the torturers of the Christians

Book VI. Of True Worship

Chap. I.—Of the worship of the true God, and of innocency, and of the worship of false Gods

Chap. II.—Of the worship of false gods and the true God

Chap. III.—Of the ways, and of vices and virtues; and of the rewards of heaven and the punishments of hell

Chap. IV.—Of the ways of life, of pleasures, also of the hardships of Christians

Chap. V.—Of false and true virtue; and of knowledge

Chap. VI.—Of the chief good and virtue, and or knowledge and righteousness

Chap. VII.—Of the Way of Error and of Truth: that It is Single, Narrow, and Steep, and Has God for Its Guide

Chap. VIII.—Of the errors of philosophers, and the variableness of law

Chap. IX.—Of the law and precept of god; of mercy, and the error of the philosophers

Chap. X.—Of religion towards God, and mercy towards men; and of the beginning of the world

Chap. XI.—Of the persons upon whom a benefit is to be conferred

Chap. XII.—Of the kinds of beneficence, and works of mercy

Chap. XIII.—Of repentance, of mercy, and the forgiveness of sins

Chap. XIV.—Of the affections, and the opinion of the Stoics respecting them; and of virtue, the vices, and mercy

Chap. XV.—Of the affections, and the opinion of the Peripatetics respecting them

Chap. XVI.—Of the affections, and the refutation of the opinion of the Peripatetics concerning them; what is the proper use of the affections, and what is a bad use of them

Chap. XVII.—Of the affections and their use; of patience, and the chief good of Christians

Chap. XVIII.—Of some commands of God, and of patience

Chap. XIX.—Of the affections and their use; and of the three furies

Chap. XX.—Of the senses, and their pleasures in the brutes and in man; and of pleasures of the eyes, and spectacles

Chap. XXI.—Of the pleasures of the ears, and of sacred literature

Chap. XXII.—Of the pleasures of taste and smell

Chap. XXIII.—De tactus voluptate et libidine, atque de matrimonio et continentiâ

Chap. XXIV.—Of repentance, of pardon, and the commands of God

Chap. XXV.—Of sacrifice, and of an offering worthy of God, and of the form of praising God

Book VII. Of a Happy Life

Chap. I.—Of the world, and those who are about to believe, and those who are not; and in this the censure of the faithless

Chap. II.—Of the error of the philosophers, and of the divine wisdom, and of the golden age

Chap. III.—Of nature, and of the world; and a censure of the Stoics and Epicureans

Chap. IV.—That all things were created for some use, even those things which appear evil; on what account man enjoys reason in so frail a body

Chap. V.—Of the creation of man, and of the arrangement of the world, and of the chief good

Chap. VI.—Why the world and man were created. How unprofitable is the worship of false gods

Chap. VII.—Of the variety of philosophers, and their truth

Chap. VIII.—Of the immortality of the soul

Chap. IX.—Of the immortality of the soul, and of virtue

Chap. X.—Of vices and virtues, and of life and death

Chap. XI.—Of the last times, and of the soul and body

Chap. XII.—Of the soul and the body, and of their union and separation and return

Chap. XIII.—Of the soul, and the testimonies concerning its eternity

Chap. XIV.—Of the first and last times of the world

Chap. XV.—Of the devastation of the world and change of the empires

Chap. XVI.—Of the devastation of the world, and its prophetic omens

Chap. XVII.—Of the false prophet, and the hardships of the righteous, and his destruction

Chap. XVIII.—Of the fortunes of the world at the last time, and of the things foretold by the soothsayers

Chap. XIX.—Of the advent of Christ to judgment, and of the overcoming of the false prophet

Chap. XX.—Of the judgment of Christ, of Christians, and of the soul

Chap. XXI.—Of the torments and punishments of souls

Chap. XXII.—Of the error of the poets, and the return of the soul from the lower regions

Chap. XXIII.—Of the resurrection of the soul, and the proofs of this fact

Chap. XXIV.—Of the renewed world

Chap. XXV.—Of the last times, and of the city of Rome

Chap. XXVI.—Of the loosing of the devil, and of the second and greatest judgment

Chap. XXVII.—An encouragement and confirmation of the pious

The Epitome of the Divine Institutes

The Preface.—The plan and purport of the whole Epitome, and of the Institutions

Chap. I.—Of the divine providence

Chap. II.—That there is but one God, and that there cannot be more

Chap. III.—The testimonies of the poets concerning the one God

Chap. IV.—The testimonies of the philosophers to the unity of God

Chap. V.—That the prophetic women—that is, the Sibyls—declare that there is but one God

Chap. VI.—Since God is eternal and immortal, he does not stand in need of sex and succession

Chap. VII.—Of the wicked life and death of Hercules

Chap. VIII.—Of Æsculapius, Apollo, Mars, Castor and Pollux, and of Mercurius and Bacchus

Chap. IX.—Of the disgraceful deeds of the gods

Chap. X.—Of Jupiter, and his licentious life

Chap. XI.—The various emblems under which the poets veiled the turpitude of Jupiter

Chap. XII.—The poets do not invent all those things which relate to the gods

Chap. XIII.—The actions of Jupiter are related from the historian Euhemerus

Chap. XIV.—The actions of Saturnus and Uranus taken from the historians

Chap. XX.—Of the gods peculiar to the Romans

Chap. XXI.—Of the sacred rites of the Roman gods

Chap. XXII.—Of the sacred rites Introduced by Faunus and Numa

Chap. XXIII.—Of the Gods and sacred rites of the barbarians

Chap. XXIV.—Of the origin of sacred rites and superstitions

Chap. XXV.—Of the golden age, of images, and Prometheus, who first fashioned man

Chap. XXVI.—Of the worship of the elements and stars

Chap. XXVII.—Of the creation, sin, and punishment of man; and of angels, both good and bad

Chap. XXVIII.—Of the demons, and their evil practices

Chap. XXIX.—Of the patience and providence of God

Chap. XXX.—Of false wisdom

Chap. XXXI.—Of knowledge and supposition

Chap. XXXII.—Of the sects of philosophers, and their disagreement

Chap. XXXIII.—What is the chief good to be sought in life

Chap. XXXIV.—That men are born to justice

Chap. XXXV.—That immortality is the chief good

Chap. XXXVI.—Of the philosophers,—namely, Epicurus and Pythagoras

Chap. XXXVII.—Of Socrates and his contradiction

Chap. XXXVIII.—Of Plato, whose doctrine approaches more nearly to the truth

Chap. XXXIX.—Of various philosophers, and of the antipodes

Chap. XL.—Of the foolishness of the philosophers

Chap. XLI.—Of true religion and wisdom

Chap. XLII.—Of religious wisdom: the name of Christ known to none, except himself and his father

Chap. XLIII.—Of the name of Jesus Christ, and his twofold nativity

Chap. XLIV.—The twofold nativity of Christ is proved from the prophets

Chap. XLV.—The power and works of Christ are proved from the scriptures

Chap. XLVI.—It is proved from the prophets that the passion and death of Christ had been foretold

Chap. XLVII.—Of the resurrection of Jesus Christ, the sending of the apostles, and the ascension of the saviour into heaven

Chap. XLVIII.—Of the disinheriting of the Jews, and the adoption of the Gentiles

Chap. XLIX.—That God is one only

Chap. L.—Why God assumed a mortal body, and suffered death

Chap. LI.—Of the death of Christ on the cross

Chap. LII.—The hope of the salvation of men consists in the knowledge of the true God, and of the hatred of the heathens against the Christians

Chap. LIII.—The reasons of the hatred against the Christians are examined and refuted

Chap. LIV.—Of the freedom of religion in the worship of God

Chap. LV.—The heathens charge justice with impiety in following God

Chap. LVI.—Of justice, which is the worship of the true God

Chap. LVII.—Of wisdom and foolishness

Chap. LVIII.—Of the true worship of God, and sacrifice

Chap. LIX.—Of the ways of life, and the first times of the world

Chap. LX.—Of the duties of justice

Chap. LXI.—Of the passions

Chap. LXII.—Of restraining the pleasures of the senses

Chap. LXIII.—That shows are most powerful to corrupt the minds

Chap. LXIV.—The passions are to be subdued, and we must abstain from forbidden things

Chap. LXV.—Precepts about those things which are commanded, and of pity

Chap. LXVI.—Of faith in religion, and of fortitude

Chap. LXVII.—Of repentance, the immortality of the soul, and of providence

Chap. LXVIII.—Of the world, man, and the providence of God

Chap. LXIX.—That the world was made on account of man, and man on account of God

Chap. LXX.—The immortality of the soul is confirmed

Chap. LXXI.—Of the last times

Chap. LXXII.—Of Christ descending from heaven to the general judgment, and of the millenarian reign

Chap. LXXIII.—The hope of safety is in the religion and worship of God


A Treatise on the Anger of God Addressed to Donatus

On the Workmanship of God, or the Formation of Man

Of the Manner in Which the Persecutors Died

Fragments of Lactantius


Asterius Urbanus



The Teaching of the Twelve Apostles

Constitutions of the Holy Apostles

Introductory Notice

Book I. Concerning the Laity

Book II. Of Bishops, Presbyters, and Deacons

Book III

Book IV

Book V

Book VI

Book VII. Concerning the Christian Life, and the Eucharist, and the Initiation into Christ

Book VIII. Concerning Gifts, and Ordinations, and the Ecclesiastical Canons

The Second Epistle of Clement

The Nicene Creed

Early Liturgies


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