Did Tertullian use Minucius Felix' Octavius?


It has long been known that some of the passages in the Octavius of Minucius Felix seem to be related to some in Tertullian's Apologeticum.  The latter is securely dated to 197AD.  The date of the former is quite uncertain, as will be seen.  The question of which came first has long exercised scholars.  This page does not pretend to weigh up the evidence, but to make available the information I have at hand.  To discuss the subject of the date of the Octavius properly is outside the scope of this site.  These notes should help the general reader.

The Octavius is preserved in a single manuscript, Codex Parisinus Latinus 1661 (9th century).

The current state of the question is that a later date is favoured, with the philological argument being solidly in that direction.  However the question is really open.

Here are a number of quotations from various works, discussing the subject.  All material quoted is indented.

A useful statement of the subject can be found in Chapter 3 (pp.19-23) of Michael E. HARDWICK, Josephus as a historical source in Patristic literature through Eusebius, Brown Judaic Studies 128, Scholars Press, Georgia, USA (1989).  I reproduce it here verbatim.



Chapter Three

Minucius Felix

The Octavius by the Roman lawyer, Marcus Minucius Felix, is an apology for Christianity in the form of a dialogue between the Christian Octavius and the pagan Caecilius on a trip from Rome to Ostia. Minucius Felix serves as moderator and narrator of the dialogue. Nothing is known of Minucius Felix except that he was a jurist prior to his conversion to Christianity1 and no other literature can be attributed to him.


1            Minucius Felix recalls his friend Octavius, now deceased, and proceeds to tell about his conversation with Caecilius whom he converted to Christianity.

2            Minucius Felix, Octavius, and Caecilius journey from Rome to the sea. Octavius opens a debate with Caecilius who does homage to an image of Serapis.

3-15            Caecilius argues in favor of the Roman religion. His main criticisms of Christians and Christianity are: (1) Christians have opinions on matters about which they are not sufficiently educated. (2) The Roman religion is responsible for the considerable success of the Empire and one should not reject what has made that success possible. (3) Christians are not socially respectable and hold ridiculous beliefs. (4) Christians engage in idle speculation about matters not knowable by mortals.

16-38            Octavius responds to Caecilius. The major points of his argument are: (1) Reason has been given to all men and Providence reveals itself in the world at large. Therefore, Christians are capable of pondering the mysteries of God. (2) That our ancestors have followed certain superstitions is no reason to continue doing so. Roman religion is a collection of superstitions which are not taken seriously even by Romans. (3) Roman success is not the result of the Roman deities but a consequence of efficient cruelty. (4)   |p20 Criticism of Christianity is demonic in origin and is based upon incorrect assumptions and half-truths. Octavius corrects a number of Caecilius’ misinterpretations of Christian doctrine.

39-40            Caecilius is convinced by Octavius’ argument and is converted to Christianity.

Date and Relationship to Tertullian’s Apology

Dating this work with any certainty is a difficult task. Harnack went so far as to declare it a hopeless one.2 However, it is possible to ascertain a reasonable terminus a quo. In chapters 9 and 21 reference is made to Fronto of Cirta although it cannot be said whether Fronto is still living at the time of Minucius’ writing. We will accept, therefore, Harnack’s earliest possible date of 160 C.E. assuming that the work may have been written during the last years of Fronto’s life.3

Regarding the terminus ad quem, it is quite probable that Novatian, who was active in the middle of the third century C.E., employed the Octavius in his De Trinitate.4Further, Beaujeu discovered parallels which indicate Cyprian’s dependence upon the Octavius.5 The alleged parallels range from the plausible to the seemingly certain. There is further dependence upon the Octavius by the pseudo-Cyprianic Ad Novatianum. Internal evidence indicates that it was composed sometime after the persecution of the Church by Gallus and Volusian (251-253 C.E.).6 Thus we can posit a terminus ad quem of c. 260 C.E.

A more difficult problem concerns the relationship between the Octavius and Tertullian’s Apology and To the Nations (Ad Nationes). To the Nations was written sometime before the Apology and material from the former work can be found in the latter. If Minucius knew Tertullian’s work, it is not necessary that he would have read To the Nations but he need have only known the Apology. However, if dependence goes the other way, Tertullian made use of the Octavius for both his works.7 The difficulty of resolving this problem is reflected by the volume of literature on it. We can, however, narrow the scholarship to three  |p21 positions: (1) Tertullian made use of the Octavius; (2) Minucius Felix utilized Tertullian; (3) both authors employed a common source.

The priority of Minucius Felix was first asserted in modern times by de Muralto in 1836.8 However, it was not until A. Ebert published Tertullians Verhältnis zu Minucius Felix (Leipzig, 1868) that priority of Minucius Felix was given serious defense. Ebert’s position was based upon what he considered the consistency of those passages shared by Tertullian and Minucius Felix with the overall purpose of the Octavius. Ebert viewed Tertullian’s Apology as reflecting a hasty composition and being juridical in approach whereas those passages shared by the two authors are philosophical in nature and therefore more likely original with Minucius Felix. L. Massebieau9 and P. Monceaux10 followed Ebert’s method but arrived at a different result. They concluded that Minucius copied material from Tertullian who was the more vigorous and therefore more creative writer. Minucius Felix was the rhetorician who made use of the Apology which was the product of the more creative intellect. R. Heinze11 made an exhaustive and exact study of the relevant passages and concluded that Minucius Felix abstracted material from the Apology and simplified it for effect. For Heinze, that the passages in the Apology are less pointed does not detract from the more logical order by Tertullian. B. Axelson12 proposed that Minucius Felix edited his already complete manuscript after reading To the Nations and the Apology.

It has also been proposed that both Tertullian and Minucius Felix made use of a common source.13 However, this proposal has not received broad acceptance given that it is necessary to propose and describe in detail a work for whose existence there is no evidence other than that of Tertullian and Minucius Felix.

If Tertullian made use of the Octavius then we could establish a terminus ad quem of 200 C.E. If, however, the prevailing opinion of Tertullian’s primacy is correct, the earliest date of the Octavius would be c. 200 C.E. The problem is  |p22 the inconclusiveness of proof. The priority of Minucius Felix rests upon the coherence and style of his narrative while Tertullian’s priority depends upon the assumption that his is the more vigorous and therefore more creative work. Both sides employ a priori considerations regarding what characterizes creativity. Therefore, the results are predetermined. Given the state of the debate it is not wise to go beyond dating the Octavius between c. 160 and c. 250 C.E.

Minucius and His Literary Sources

Minucius Felix is rather spartan in his use of Scripture. Beaujeu noted possible allusions to the Old Testament: Genesis in chapters 19 and 32, Exodus in 33, Kings in 32, Job in 17 and 36, Psalms in 32, Isaiah in 32, and Jeremiah in 29. He further isolated possible references to New Testament materials: Luke in chapter 36, John in 19, Acts in 32, Romans in 31, I and II Corinthians in 31, I Timothy in 29 and 32, and II Peter in 34. These allusions reflect subject matter rather than any clear literary dependence.14 Therefore, one might just as well suppose that Minucius Felix is drawing from the common parlance of the Church rather than directly from the Bible.

If his dependence upon Scripture is limited (if not entirely lacking), Minucius’ use of Latin literature is ample. Beaujeu noted his dependence upon Seneca and especially Cicero’s De Natura Deorum for meter, form and content (chapters 5, 17, 18, 19, and isolated passages throughout the work). Minucius Felix makes use of the Academica (chapter 13), De Amicitia (3 and 21), De Finibus (14 and 17), De Legibus (20), De Republica (33), Tusculanae Disputationes (17), Brutus (1), De Oratore (1), De Inuentione (18), Verrines (11 and 15), De Imperio Cn. Pompei (10), Pro Milone (32) and Ad Atticum (1).15 Beaujeu also notes that, next to Cicero, Seneca is most often cited: Dialogi (chapter 36), Consol. ad Heluiam (19), Ad Marciam (6), Ad Polybium (11), Epistolae Morales (10, 11, 14, 16, 24, 32, 36, 40) and traces of other works. Also found are citations from Sallust (14 and 40), Valerius Maximus (36), Tacitus (8), Suetonius (3) along with citations from poets such as Homer (19), Ennius (12 and 19), Lucretius (2 and 5), Catalus (3), Juvenal (4), Statius (18) and epecially Virgil (3, 5-7, 12, 13, 19, 23, 25, 35, 36).16

Minucius’ dependence upon Latin literature and his neglect of biblical material could be construed as ignorance of Scripture, yet his purpose is to offer a credible defense of Christianity to Romans using language and concepts familiar to them. Citing Scripture to those who denied its validity would have been a futile effort. The use of Scripture would have made the Octavius a didactic work for Christians who required a response to pagan accusations rather than an apology for Christianity to those who misunderstood its teachings. To |p23 those who deem Minucius Felix a rhetorician rather than a philosopher, it should be emphasized that he follows Cicero in thinking that to speak elegantly and eloquently on a subject is part of the philosopher’s task.

Minucius’ use of Josephus is part of his attempt to ground his opinion in an authority recognized by all. In chapter 33 Minucius Felix responds to the Roman charge that the destruction of the Jewish nation proves the superiority of the Roman deities to the biblical God. Minucius Felix does not reject the logic and indeed supports it by disassociating the Jews from Christianity and from the protection of God. The fate of the Jewish people did not come from the inefficacy of God but from their abandonment of Him: “Thus you will under­stand that they abandoned before they were abandoned and they were not, as you impiously say, taken captive with their God, but were given up by God as deserters from His discipline.”17 Josephus is mentioned, not as Jewish authority who witnesses against his own people, but as an authority on the Jewish war recognized by his Roman audience along with Antonius Julianus. Josephus’ own criticisms of the Jewish defenders at the siege of Jerusalem, which could be utilized for Minucius Felix’ argument, are interestingly absent. Although his knowledge of Latin literature is extensive, Minucius Felix demonstrates little acquaintance with Greek writing. One wonders whether he read Josephus at all or is merely mentioning the name of a famous historian who wrote about the Jews.

1 Jerome, De Viris Illus. 100.58.

2 A. Harnack, Die Chronologie der altchristlichen Literatur bis Eusebius (Leipzig, 1904), 2:324.

3 lbid. Fronto lived from c. 100 to c. 170 C.E.

4 Jerome (De Viris Illus. 70) had identified Tertullian as the source for Novation but Harnack, ibid., demonstrated that Novation’s argument on the nature of God follows that of Minucius Felix rather than that of Tertullian’s Adversus Praxeam.

5 J. Beaujeu, Minucius Felix: Octavius (Paris, 1964), lxvii-lxviv.

6 Beaujeu, lxvii-lxviv.

7 Beaujeu, liv-lv. Beaujeu provides a complete list of the parallels between Minucius Felix and Tertullian.

8 Jerome (De Viris Ill. 53 and Ep. 70.5) gives Tertullian priority although his chronology is not above suspicion. For an extensive survey of the scholarship on the relationship between Tertullian and Minucius Felix, see H. J. Baylis, Minucius Felix and his Place among the Early Fathers of the Latin Church (London, 1928), 274-359. For a more recent treatment see J. Beaujeu, liv-lxvii.

9 ”L’Apologetique de Tertullien et L’Octavius de Minucius Felix,” RHR 15 (1887), 316-346.

10 Histoire litteraire de l’Afrique chretienne depuis les origines jusqu’d l’invasion arabe (Paris, 1901), 1:316-346.

11 Tertullians Apologeticum (Leipzig, 1910).

12 Das Prioritatsproblem Tertullian.Minucius Felix (Lund, 1941).

13 F. Wilhelm, “De Min. Fel. Oct. et Tert. Apol.” in Breslauer philol. Abhandl. 2 (1887). Wilhelm, following a suggestion made by W. von Hartel in 1869, developed the theory that the common source contained material from Cicero used by both authors.

14 Beaujeu, xxxvii.

15 Beaujeu, xxxii-xxxiii.

16 Beaujeu, xxxiv-xxxv.

17 Oct. 33.5 (Beaujeu’s ed.): “Ita prius eos deseruisse comprehendes quam esse desertos nec, ut impie loqueris, cum deo suo captos sed a deo ut disciplinae transfugos deditos.”



In the Chronica Tertullianea, recent work on the subject is mentioned.  Here are a few snippets from the reviews.  (Each CTC entry is a review of a book or paper).

CTC 82.35 (p.326): QUISPEL (Gilles), African Christianity before Minucius Felix and Tertullian - Actus: Studies in honour of H.L.W. Nelson, Utrecht, Institut voor Klassieke Talen, 1982, pp.257-335.

... Les dernieres pages (308-321) rouvrent d'ailleurs le debat sur la priorite de l'auteur de l'Octavius que G.Q. a toujours soutenue et qu'il defend encore contre tous les arguments philologiques ; car "Philology is a dead alley" (p.318).  Il repond a Tibiletti (sur le temoignage de l'ame) comme a Waszink (sur la theologia tripertita).  D'une suggestion de Borleffs, passee inapercu, il tire un nouvel indice :  le rapprochement d'Oct. 29,4 et de Nat II, 8, 9 (culte divin rendu a un homme en Egypte) lui parait mettre en evidence une meprise de Tertullien sur le texte de son devancier.  Mais ces deux passages relevent de contextes tres dissemblables et peuvent fort bien s'expliquer independamment l'un de l'autre, par des sources differentes (apologie juive chez Minucius, tradition orale venue du judaisme chez Tertullien). ... Rene Braun.

...The final pages (308-321) reopen again the debate on the priority of the author of the Octavius which G.Q. has always held and which he still defends agains all the philological arguments; because "Philology is a dead alley" (p.318).  He responds to Tibiletti (on the witness of the soul) as to Waszink (on the theologia tripertita).  From a suggestion of Borleffs, which passed unnoticed, he takes a new line : the parallel of Oct 29,4 and Ad Nationes II, 8, 9 (the divine worship rendered to a man in Egypt) seems to him evidence of a mistake of Tertullian in reading the text of his predecessor.  But these two passages appear in very different contexts, and can very easily be explained independently of each other, by the different sources (jewish apology for Minucius, oral tradition originating in Judaism for Tertullian).  RB.

CTC 85.52 (p.279): CAPPELLETTI (Angel J.), Minucio Felix y su Filosofia de la Religion - Revista Venezolana de Filosofia, 19, 1985, pp. 7-61.

...Il adopte la date de 160, pour la composition du traite, a la suite de W. Baehrens (1915), mais sans engager une veritable discussion sur cette question si souvent debattue.  Simone Deleani.

...He adopts the date of 160 for the composition of the treatise, following W. Baehrens (1915), but without engaging in a real discussion on this so often debated question.  SD.

CTC 86.45 (p.320): FERRARINO (Pietro), Il problema artistico e cosmologico dell'Octavius - Scritti scelti. Firenze: L.S.olschki, 1986, pp.222-273.

...Analyse litteraire assez fine du dialogue, que P.F. situait entre 213, date de Prax (Octavius 18, 7 :  qui ante mundum fuerit sibi ipse pro mundo etant une reminiscence de Prax 5, 2 : ante omnia enim Deus erat solus, ipse sibi et locus et omnia ...) et le Quod idola de Cyprien.  J-C. Fredouille.

...Very detailed literary analysis of the dialogue, which P.F. places between 213, date of Adversus Praxean (Octavius 18, 7 :  qui ante mundum fuerit sibi ipse pro mundo being a reminiscence of Prax 5, 2 : ante omnia enim Deus erat solus, ipse sibi et locus et omnia ...) and the Quod idola of Cyprian.  J-C. F.

CTC C.15 (p.483): ALDAMA (Anna Maria), El Octavius de Minucius Felix : puntos discutidos - Estudios Clasicos, 29 (91), 1987, p. 55-64.

Presentation claire, d'apres une bibliographie arretee en 1982, de quatre questions ouvertes : date de l'ouvrage, identification et exploitation des sources, originalite a l'egard de l'apologetique anterieure (en tenant compte surtout des absences), degre de realite du dialogue.  Au sujet de la relation entre Oct et Apol, l'A. se demand si la question de priorite pourra etre un jour resolue, dans la mesure ou les deux ouvrages refletent les situations tres differentes d'une elite romaine et d'un milieu provincial.  F. Dolbeau.

Clear presentation, from a bibliography which stops  in 1982, of four open questions : the date of the work, identification and exploitation of the sources, originality with regard to previous apologetic (taking account above all of absences), degree of realitity of the dialogue.  On the subject of the relation between the Octavius and the Apologeticum, the author asks if the question of priority could one day be resolved, in the degree to which the two works reflect the very different situations of a Roman elite and a provincial milieu.  FD.

CTC C.123 (p. 521): BROSCIUS (Miecislaus), Quo tempore Minucii 'Octavius' conscriptus sit - Eos, Commentarii societatis philologae Polonorum, 82, 1994, p. 265.

Argumentation fonde sur l'historicite des evenements relates dans le dialogue et sur l'existence d'un edit de persecution.  Minucius, Octavius et Caecilius devaient etre citoyens romains ; ils n'ont pu embrasser la foi chretienne qu'avant 202, annee ou Septime Severe aurait prohibe la conversion des citoyens romains au christianisme.  Si les faits rapportes sont anterieurs a 202, en raison du deces premature d'Octavius, il est difficile de repousser la redaction du dialogue au-dela de 212-220.  F.  Dolbeau.

Argument founded on the historicity of the events related in the dialogue and on the existence of an edict of persecution.  Minucius, Octavius and Caecilius must have been Roman citizens ; they could not have embraced the Christian faith except before 202, year when Septimius Severus prohibited the conversion of Roman citizens to Christianity.  If the facts reported are before 202, because of the premature death of Octavius, it is difficult to place the editing of the dialogue later than 212-220.  F.D.

CTC SM.6 (p.526): CARVER (George L.), Minucius Felix and Cyprian.  The Question of Priority - Transactions of the American Philological Association, 108, 1978, p.21-34.

[etudie les paralleles suivants: BonPat 3/Oct. 386, 6; Don 1/Oct. 2,3 ; Dem 25/ Oct. 1,4 et conclut plutot a l'anteriorite de Cyprien]

[studying the following parallels: BonPat 3/Oct. 386, 6; Don 1/Oct. 2,3 ; Dem 25/ Oct. 1,4 and concluding rather with the priority of Cyprian].

CTC 99.12 (p.280-1): SIMONETTI (Manlio), PRINZIVALLI (Emanuela), Storia della letteratura cristiana antica, Casale Monferrato (Alessandria) : Piemme, 1999,572 p.

... Minucius Felix (p. 162-165) y est présenté avant Tertullien (p. 166-179) : plus précisément même, Oct est daté peu de temps avant 197, année de rédaction d'Apol (p. 163), l'argument avancé étant que Tertullien reprend volontiers ses propres écrits ou ceux de ses prédécesseurs. ... J.-C. Fredouille.

... Minucius Felix (p. 162-165) appears before Tertullian (p. 166-179) : even more precisely, Oct is dated a little before 197, the year in which Apol was published (p. 163), the argument advanced being that Tertullian readily reworks his own works or those of his predecessors. ... J-C.F.

CTC 99.35. PRICE (Simon), Latin Christian Apologetics : Minucius Felix, Tertullian, and Cyprian --Apologetics in the Roman Empire. Pagans, Jews, and Christians, ed. by M. EDWARDS, M. GOODMAN and S. PRICE in assoc. with C. ROWLAND, Oxford : Oxford University Press, 1999 p. 105-129.

L'ordre dans lequel le titre de ce chapitre énumère les trois apologistes latins (en référence sans doute à Lactance) ne correspond pas à celui qui est généralement (mais pas toujours, cf. supra, n° 12) admis aujourd'hui (Tert-Min Fel-Cypr) et qui est, d'ailleurs, respecté dans le cours de l'étude!  ... J.-C. Fredouille.

The order in which the title of this chapter ennumerates the three latin apologists (no doubt a reference to Lactantius) does not correspond to that which is generally (but not always, cf. supra, n° 12) accepted today (Tert-Min. Fel.-Cypr) and which is,  moreover, respected in the course of the study! ... J.-C. F.


From: Michael M. SAGE, Cyprian.  Patristic Monograph Series No. 1, Philadelphia Patristic Foundation (1975), pp.51-3.  ISBN: 0-915646-00-5.

[p.51 (contd.)] Others were willing to follow in the direction in which a strand of [Tertullian's] thought pointed. Christianity could seek accommodation with the pagan world. A synthesis would be formed in which the Christian message was clothed in pagan literary dress, thus reaching the members of the population at whom it was aimed.

The Octavius of Minucius Felix adopted this approach. It forms the intellectual background for the milieu that led Cyprian to adopt Christianity as an alternative to what seemed a disintegrating and shattered pagan world view. Tertullian formed the most potent influence on his thought, outside of the Bible.1 But the absence of Tertullian's erratic brilliance in the Octavius allows it to construct a more representative introduction to the transition of African Christian thought into a form which would find acceptance among the educated Roman classes of the province.

The central difficulty in using the Octavius as representative of the intellectual milieu of the first quarter of the third century has been the question of its date. A heated and prolonged controversy has grown up about its relationship to the Apologeticum of Tertullian.2 Resemblances [p.52] in style and content are too close to represent the results of chance alone. The composition of the Apologeticum is firmly dated to the autumn of 197, or slightly later.1 Thus the question resolves itself into the problem of which work is first and served as the basis for the second.2

The problem has been decided in favour of the priority of the Apologeticum. The Octavius contains resemblances not only to the Apologeticum, but also to the earlier version of that work by Tertullian, the Ad Nationes. But careful analysis has revealed that the earlier work contains fewer resemblances to the Octavius than the finished version which became the Apologeticum.3 [p.53] But such an argument can cut both ways. It could be argued that the Octavius appealed more to Tertullian as he revised, resulting in its greater utilization in the Apologeticum. Further detailed analysis led to the false view that Minucius Felix was simply a compiler and that his dialogue was a mosaic.1

Recently this view has been abandoned, and a decisive argument has been brought forward to establish the priority of the Apologeticum.2 A careful analysis of the use made in the Octavius of Cicero and Seneca has revealed that the author adopted and changed them for his own purposes. The dialogue is more than a mere patchwork of classical commonplaces. A comparison reveals that the works of Tertullian are utilized in the same manner by Minucius Felix as the others. Thus the question of priority has been resolved in favour of Tertullian.3

With the establishment of the terminus post quem, the problem of the terminus ante quem assumes new importance. The Octavius is badly represented in Christian literature. Only Lactantius, Jerome, Eucherius and the author of the disputed treatise, the Quod Idola Dii Non Sint, mention or utilize the Octavius. The earliest approximately datable reference is that of Lactantius in the Divinae Institutiones.4 This was probably . composed between the years 304 and 313.  [etc].

p.51 n.1. Jerome, Vir. Ill. 53. For further discussion of this passage, see infra pp. 100f

p.51 n.2. For a summary of the earlier literature, see B. Axelson, Das Prioritäts-problem Tertullian-Minucius Felix, Skrifter utgivna av Vetenskaps-Societeten i Lund, 27, (Lund, 1941), pp. 10 ff. Later literature is summarized in J. Beaujeu's excellent edition and commentary, Minucius Félix: Octavius (Paris, 1964), to which should be added C. Becker's important article, "Der Octavius des Minucius Felix", SBBayer, hft. 2 (Munich, 1967).

p.52 n.1. Apol. 35.9, 35.11 and 37-4. See also Barnes, Tert., p. 55.

p.52 n.2. M. Sordi, "L'apologia del martire romano Apollonio, come fonte dell' Apologeticum di Tertulliano e i rapporti fra Tertulliano e Minucio", Rivista di Storia della chiesa in Italia 18 (1964), pp. 169 ff. has argued that both the Apologeticum and the Octavius are dependent on a third work by Apollonius. But the use of Greek in Rome in the late second century, as well as the direct resemblances in thought and expression of the two works, tell against such an hypothesis.

p.52 n.3. Axelson, Das Prioritätsproblem, p. 66, on the relation of the two works. Also Barnes, Tert., pp. 49, 104-6.

p.53 n.1. Beaujeu, Minucius Felix, xliv ff., where these are cited.

p.53 n.2. Becker (1967).

p.53 n.3. Ibid.

p.53 n.4. The Divinae Institutiones contains two references, 1.11.55 and 5-1-21, but only the second is of any consequence for the question of dating.


Petr Kitzler mentions the subject in his review of Czech Tertullian scholarship:

The last of Vysoký’s articles (chronologically belonging to the time of "Remarks") is Stav nynějšího bádání o časovém pořadí Tertullianových spisů apologetických a Minuciova Oktavia ("The State of Today’s Research on Chronological Order of Tertullian’s Apologetic Writings and Octavius by Minucius").20 In this article Vysoký collected useful information about older research on the problem of Minucius –Tertullian priority, correcting, with healthy scepticism, some excesses of other scholars. For completeness’ sake modern scholars consider this puzzle solved: the priority of Tertullian’s Apologeticum – written about 197 – over Minucius’ Octavius – written between 210-245 – is in the main accepted. 21

20 Vysoký, Z. K., Stav nynějšího bádání o časovém pořadí Tertullianových spisů apologetických a Minuciova Oktavia. In: Listy filologické 65 (2-3), 1938, pp. 110-123.

21 Heck, E., M. Minucius Felix. In: HLL (Handbuch der lateinischen Literatur der Antike) 4, München 1997, § 485, p. 512. (A survey of newer scholarship, see l. c., p. 513.)

From Eberhard HECK, M. Minucius Felix. In: Handbuch der lateinischen Literatur der Antike, herausgegeben von Reinhart Herzog und Peter Lebrecht Schmidt. 4. Band: Die Literatur des Umbruchs von der römischen zur christlichen Literatur 117-284 n. Chr., herausgegeben von Klaus Sallmann. München: C. H. Beck 1997.  See § 485, p. 512.

Date:  Schanz 3, 268f.  (BibL),  overview by Beaujeu, Ed (Lit.1), XLIV LXXIX;  Clarke, 5-12 =JRH 4,1966/67,267-286, here 267-271, where Becker, 74-97 is lacking.  Indisputably are only t.post. (mid 2nd C.), the mention of Fronto (9,6.  31.2), and t.ante. (305/10), the testimony to the Octavius of Lactantius (T.l. 2).  A more exact date is only possible by clarifying  the relationship to Cypr. and Tert.  The research has particularly concentrated itself on the places where Min. Fel. is closely related to Tertullian’s Apologeticum (s. § 474 W.2; List Beaujeu, Ed., LIVf.)  affected (FBer. with methodological analysis: Diller, Lit.l, 566-568.579-581; Becker, 74-78; vgl. Beaujeu, Ed., LV-LXVII;   to consider throughout, although often too sharp, Axelson, Lit.l).  Following his predecessors, particularly Heinze, Diller, Axelson and  Buechner (all Lit 1), Becker on pp. 79-94, has convincingly settled the question in  favour of the priority of Tertullian by proving that Min. Fel. uses  Tertullian in the same imitative way as he does Cic. and Sen.;  in  addition, where in Min.Fel. Tertullianic material is supplemented by  Ciceronian  (e.g. 25,1-7;  s. Lit.3), the acceptance of  the priority of Min. Fel. presuppose an improbably complete elimination of all Ciceronian material by Tertullian.   For priority of Min. Fel. still Abel (Litl), 249.259 supp. 3; Id., Gnomon 37,1965,736; Danielou, 161-174, with missed argumentation (vgl. already Axelson, 17f.).  Sceptical von Geisau (s.o.), 988-994 (with  reservations against Axelson, whose criticism on the "Epigonen”  of Min. Fel.  goes too far;  s. Lit. 6);  see vgl. Kytzler, Ed.(Lit.l), Vif. - Becker, 94  shifts t.post. of 197 (composition of the Apologeticum)to 212 (Ad Scapulam;  § 474  Lit. 11), without convincing;  on the other hand Ahlborn (Lit. 3), 133-137 shows that he probably made use of De resurrectione carnis(§ 474 Lit.27), which sets t.p. about 210 - independent  of the relationship to Tert. information due to historical indications in  the work (no pursuit time) gives a date between Severus Alexander and  Decius, so Harnack, Geschichte 2, 2, 326-330;  on Caracalla’s accession 211 as  t.post. due to the statements about Egyptian cults such  as Sarapis Lieberg (Litl), 62 Anm.1; other such attempts with Clarke (s.o.), 8f.; Schmidt 1977 (Lit.5), 145 Anm.2; they do not  result in a convincing specifying of the t.p. (so Johanna Schmidt, Min. Fel. oder Tert.?, Diss. München 1932; criticized by Diller, 567) – clearer is the relationship of Min.Fel. to Cypr.  (vgl. Beaujeu, Ed., LXVII-LXXIV)  and as t.a. more surely won:   Ad Donatum (§ 478 W.7) (246/49) is dependent on Min.Fel. (Pellegrino, Studi, 111-115); ...


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F. DI CAPUA, L'Evoluzione della prosa metrica Latina nei prima tre secoli d. c., e la data dell'Ottavio di Minucio, Didaskaleion 2 (1913), pp. 1-41.  Reference checked - Personal copy.
George HINNISDAELS, L'Octavius de Minucius Felix et l'Apologétique de Tertullien. Bruxelles: M.Hayez (1924) 139 pp.
J.G.Ph. BORLEFFS, De Tertulliano et Minucio Felice. (Diss. Univ. Groningen). Groningen (1925) 123 pp.

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