Tatian

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Die to the world, repudiating the insanity that pervades it. Live to God, and by apprehending God, apprehend your own nature as a spiritual being created in his image.
I do not wish to be a king; I am not anxious to be rich; I decline military command; I detest fornication; I am not impelled by an insatiable love of gain to go to sea; I do not contend for chaplets; I am free from a mad thirst for fame; I despise death; I am superior to every kind of disease; grief does not consume my soul.

Tatian of Adiabene or Tatian the Assyrian, Tatian the Syrian (Latin: Tatianus; Ancient Greek: Τατιανός; c. 120 – c. 180 AD) was an Assyrian Christian writer and theologian of the 2nd century.

Quotes[edit]

Address to the Greeks[edit]

(full text)
Translated by J.E. Ryland. From Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol. 2. Edited by Alexander Roberts, James Donaldson, and A. Cleveland Coxe. (Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Publishing Co., 1885.)
  • Be not, O Greeks, so very hostilely disposed towards the Barbarians. To the Babylonians you owe astronomy; to the Persians, magic; to the Egyptians, geometry; to the Phoeicians, instruction by alphabetic writing. Cease, then, to miscall these imitations inventions of your own. Orpheus, again, taught you poetry and song; from him, too, you learned the mysteries.
  • What noble thing have you produced by your pursuit of philosophy? Who of your most eminent men has been free from vain boasting? Diogenes, who made such a parade of his independence with his tub, was seized with a bowel complaint through eating a raw polypus, and so lost his life by gluttony. Aristippus, walking about in a purple robe, led a profligate life, in accordance with his professed opinions. Plato, a philosopher, was sold by Dionysius for his gormandizing propensities.
  • He alone is without beginning, and He Himself is the beginning of all things. God is a Spirit, not ​pervading matter, but the Maker of material spirits, and of the forms that are in matter; He is invisible, impalpable, being Himself the Father of both sensible and invisible things. Him we know from His creation, and apprehend His invisible power by His works. I refuse to adore that workmanship which He has made for our sakes. The sun and moon were made for us: how, then, can I adore my own servants? How can I speak of stocks and stones as gods? For the spirit that pervades matter is inferior to the more divine spirit; and this, even when assimilated to the soul, is not to be honoured equally with the perfect God.
    • Chap. iv.—The Christians worship God alone.
  • The power of the Logos, having in itself a faculty to foresee future events, not as fated, but as taking place by the choice of free agents, foretold from time to time the issues of things to come; it also became a forbidder of wickedness by means of prohibitions, and the encomiast of those who remained good.
  • There are legends of the metamorphosis of men: with you the gods also are metamorphosed. Rhea becomes a tree; Zeus a dragon, on account of Persephone; the sisters of Phaethon are changed into poplars, and Leto into a bird of little value, on whose account what is now Delos was called Ortygia. A god, forsooth, becomes a swan, or takes the form of an eagle, and, making Ganymede his cupbearer, glories in a vile affection. How can I reverence gods who are eager for presents, and angry if they do not receive them? Let them have their Fate!
  • Man is not, as the croaking philosophers say, merely a rational animal, capable of understanding and knowledge; for, according to them, even irrational creatures appear possessed of understanding and knowledge. But man alone is the image and likeness of God; and I mean by man, not one who performs actions similar to those of animals, but one who has advanced far beyond mere humanity — to God Himself. This question we have discussed more minutely in the treatise concerning animals. But the principal point to be spoken of now is, what is intended by the image and likeness of God.
  • We do not act as fools, O Greeks, nor utter idle tales, when we announce that God was born in the form of a man. I call on you who reproach us to compare your mythical accounts with our narrations. Athene, as they say, took the form of Deiphobus for the sake of Hector, and the unshorn Phoebus for the sake of Admetus fed the trailing-footed oxen, and the spouse of Zeus came as an old woman to Semele. But, while you treat seriously such things, how can you deride us? Your Asclepios died, and he who ravished fifty virgins in one night at Thespise lost his life by delivering him self to the devouring flame. Prometheus, fastened to Caucasus, suffered punishment for his good deeds to men.
  • My soul being taught of God, I discerned that the former class of writings lead to condemnation, but that these put an end to the slavery that is in the world, and rescue us from a multiplicity of rulers and ten thousand tyrants, while they give us, not indeed what we had not before received, but what we had received but were pre vented by error from retaining.
  • Of the Egyptians also there are accurate chronicles. Ptolemy, not the king, but a priest of Mendes, is the inter preter of their affairs. This writer, narrating the acts of the kings, says that the departure of the Jews from Egypt to the places whither they went occurred in the time of king Amosis, under the leadership of Moses.
  • But, that we may complete what is still wanting, I will give my explanation respecting the men who are esteemed wise. Minos, who has been thought to excel in every kind of wisdom, and mental acuteness, and legislative capacity, lived in the time of Lynceus, who reigned after Danaus in the eleventh generation after Inachus. Lycurgus, who was born long after the taking of Troy, gave laws to the Lacedemonians.
  • Regnare nolo: ditescere non libet: prae turam recuso, scortationem odi: navigare ob insatiabilem avaritiam non cupio: de coronis consequendis non dimico: liber sum ab insana gloria cupiditate: mortem contemno: quovis morbi genere superior sum: maror animum non peredit.
    • I do not wish to be a king; I am not anxious to be rich; I decline military command; I detest fornication; I am not impelled by an insatiable love of gain to go to sea; I do not contend for chaplets; I am free from a mad thirst for fame; I despise death; I am superior to every kind of disease; grief does not consume my soul.
      • Chapter XI, as translated by J. E. Ryland
  • Μundo morere, ejus insaniam rejiciens: vive Deo, per ipsius cognitionem, veterem generationem repudians. Νοn facti sumus ut moreremur, sed nostra culpa morimur. Perdidit nos libera voluntas: servi facti sumus, qui liberi eramus: per peccatum venditi sumus. Νihil mali factum est a Deo: nos ipsi improbitatem produximus. Εam vero qui produxerunt, denuo repudiare possunt.
    • Die to the world, repudiating the madness that is in it. Live to God, and by apprehending Him lay aside your old nature. We were not created to die, but we die by our own fault. Our free-will has destroyed us; we who were free have become slaves; we have been sold through sin. Nothing evil has been created by God; we ourselves have manifested wickedness; but we, who have manifested it, are able again to reject it.
      • Chapter XI, as translated by J. E. Ryland
  • Die to the world, repudiating the insanity that pervades it. Live to God, and by apprehending God, apprehend your own nature as a spiritual being created in his image.
  • We recognise two varieties of spirit, one of which is called the soul (ψυχή), but the other is greater than the soul, an image and likeness of God: both existed in the first men, that in one sense they might be material (ὑλικοί), and in another superior to matter.
    • Chap. xii.—The two kinds of spirits.
  • The Logos, in truth, is the light of God, but the ignorant soul is darkness. On this account, if it continues solitary, it tends downward towards matter, and dies with the flesh; but, if it enters into union with the Divine Spirit, it is no longer helpless, but ascends to the regions whither the Spirit guides it: for the dwelling-place of the spirit is above, but the origin of the soul is from beneath. Now, in the beginning the spirit was a constant companion of the soul, but the spirit forsook it because it was not willing to follow.
    • Chap. xiii.—Theory of the soul's immortality.
  • On this account the nature of the demons has no place for repentance; for they are the reflection of matter and of wickedness. But matter desired to exercise lordship over the soul; and according to their free-will these gave laws of death to men; but men, after the loss of immortality, have conquered death by submitting to death in faith; and by repentance a call has been given to them, according to the word which says, "Since they were made a little lower than the angels." And, for every one who has been conquered, it is possible again to conquer, if he rejects the condition which brings death. And what that is, may be easily seen by men who long for immortality.
    • Chap. xv.—Necessity of a union with the Holy Spirit.

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