Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

A Christian apologist living at Athens in the second century. According to Eusebius, the Emperor Hadrian, during his stay in Greece (123-127), caused himself to be initiated into the Eleusinian Mysteries. A persecution of the local Christians followed, due probably, to an outburst of pagan zeal, aroused by the Emperor's act. Two apologies for Christianity were composed on the occasion, that of Quadratus and that of Aristides which the author presented to Hadrian, at Athens, in 126 (Eus., H.E., IV, iii, 3, and Chron. II, 166). St. Jerome, in his work De vir. ill. , xx, calls him philosophus eloquentissimus , and, in his letter to Magnus (no. LXX), says of the "Apologeticum" that it was contextum philosophorum sententiis , and was later imitated by St. Justin Martyr. He says, further (De vir ill., loc. cit.), that the "Apology" was extant in his time, and highly thought of. Eusebius (loc. cit.), in the fourth century, states that it had a wide circulation among Christians. It is referred to, in the ninth century, by Ado, Archbishop of Vienne, and Usuard, monk of St. Germain. It was then lost sight of for a thousand years, until in 1878, the Mechitarite monks of San Lazzaro, at Venice, published a Latin translation of an Armenian fragment of the "Apology" and an Armenian homily, under the title: "S. Aristidis philosophi Atheniensis sermones duo." In 1889, Professor J. R. Harris of Cambridge discovered a Syriac version of the whole "Apology" in the Convent of St. Catherine on Mt. Sinai, and translated it into English (Texts and Studies, Cambridge, 1891, I, i). Professor J. A. Robinson found that the "Apology" is contained in the "Life of Barlaam and Josaphat" , ascribed to St. John Damascene . Attempts have also been made to restore the actual words of Aristides.

As to the date and occasion of the "Apology" there are opinion of opinion. While some critics hold, with Eusebius, that it was presented to Hadrian, others maintain that it was written during the reign of Antoninus Pius (138-161). The aim of the "Apology" is to show that Christians only have the true conception of God. Having affirmed that God is "the selfsame being who first established and now controls the universe ", Aristides points out the errors of the Chaldeans, Greeks, Egyptians, and Jews concerning the Deity, gives a brief summary of Christian belief, and emphasizes the righteousness of Christian life in contrast with the corrupt practices of paganism. The tone throughout is elevated and calm, and the reasonableness of Christianity is shown rather by an appeal to facts than by subtle argumentation. It is interesting to note that during the Middle Ages the "Life of Barlaam and Josaphat" had been translated into some twenty languages, English included, so that what was in reality the story of Buddha became the vehicle of Christian truth in many nations.


More Encyclopedia

The Catholic Encyclopedia is the most comprehensive resource on Catholic teaching, history, and information ever gathered in all of human history. This easy-to-search online version was originally printed in fifteen hardcopy volumes.

Catholic Encyclopedia

Designed to present its readers with the full body of Catholic teaching, the Encyclopedia contains not only precise statements of what the Church has defined, but also an impartial record of different views of acknowledged authority on all disputed questions, national, political or factional. In the determination of the truth the most recent and acknowledged scientific methods are employed, and the results of the latest research in theology, philosophy, history, apologetics, archaeology, and other sciences are given careful consideration.

No one who is interested in human history, past and present, can ignore the Catholic Church, either as an institution which has been the central figure in the civilized world for nearly two thousand years, decisively affecting its destinies, religious, literary, scientific, social and political, or as an existing power whose influence and activity extend to every part of the globe. In the past century the Church has grown both extensively and intensively among English-speaking peoples. Their living interests demand that they should have the means of informing themselves about this vast institution, which, whether they are Catholics or not, affects their fortunes and their destiny.

Copyright © Catholic Encyclopedia. Robert Appleton Company New York, NY. Volume 1: 1907; Volume 2: 1907; Volume 3: 1908; Volume 4: 1908; Volume 5: 1909; Volume 6: 1909; Volume 7: 1910; Volume 8: 1910; Volume 9: 1910; Volume 10: 1911; Volume 11: - 1911; Volume 12: - 1911; Volume 13: - 1912; Volume 14: 1912; Volume 15: 1912

Catholic Online Catholic Encyclopedia Digital version Compiled and Copyright © Catholic Online


Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Isaiah 7:10-14
10 Yahweh spoke to Ahaz again and said:11 ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 24:1-2, 3-4, 5-6
1 [Psalm Of David] To Yahweh belong the earth and all ... Read More

Gospel, Luke 1:26-38
26 In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for December 20th, 2014 Image

St. Dominic of Silos
December 20: Benedictine abbot and defender of the faith. Born in Canas, ... Read More

Inform, Inspire & Ignite Logo

Find Catholic Online on Facebook and get updates right in your live feed.

Become a fan of Catholic Online on Facebook


Follow Catholic Online on Twitter and get News and Product updates.

Follow us on Twitter