Chapter V.—Simon Magus, a Formidable Antagonist.
When Peter had thus spoken to us, Niceta asks permission to say something to him; 605 and Peter having granted permission, he says: “With your pardon, I beseech you, my lord Peter, to hear me, who am very anxious for thee, and who am afraid lest, in the contest which you have in hand with Simon, you should seem to be overmatched. For it very frequently happens that he who defends the truth does not gain the victory, since the hearers are either prejudiced, or have no great interest in the better cause. But over and above all this, Simon himself is a most vehement orator, trained in the dialectic art, and in the meshes of syllogisms; and what is worse than all, he is greatly skilled in the magic art. And therefore I fear, lest haply, being so strongly fortified on every side, he shall be thought to be defending the truth, whilst he is alleging falsehoods, in the presence of those who do not know him. For neither should we ourselves have been able to escape from him, and to be converted to the Lord, had it not been that, while we were his assistants, and the sharers of his errors, we had ascertained that he was a deceiver and a magician.”
[The statements of Niceta and Aquila are introduced in the Homilies before the postponement of the discussion with Simon. There is a remarkable variety in the minor details respecting Simon as given in the two narratives.—R.]