Sacred Texts  Christianity  Early Church Fathers  Index  Previous  Next 

I have learned not only from your letter but from those of many others that cavils are raised against me in the school of Tyrannus, 3000 “by the tongue of my dogs from the enemies by himself” 3001 because I have translated the books Περὶ ᾽Αρχῶν into Latin. What unprecedented shamelessness is this! They accuse the physician for detecting the poison: and this in order to protect their vendor of drugs, not in obtaining the reward of innocence but in his partnership with the criminal; as if the number of the offenders diminished the crime, or as if the accusation depended on our personal feelings not on the facts. Pamphlets are written against me; they are forced on every one’s attention; and yet they are not openly published, so that the hearts of the simple are disturbed, and no opportunity is given me of answering. This is a new way of injuring a man, to make accusations which you are afraid of sending abroad, to write what you are obliged to hide. If what he writes is true, why is he afraid of the public? if it is false, why has he written it? We read when we were boys the words of Cicero: “I consider it a lack of self-control to write anything which you intend to keep hidden.” 3002 I ask, What is it of which they complain? Whence comes this heat, this madness of theirs? Is it because I have rejected a feigned laudation? 3003 Because I refused the praise offered in insincere words? Because under the name of a friend I detected the snares of an enemy? I am called in this Preface brother and colleague, yet my supposed crimes are set forth openly, and it is proclaimed that I have written in favour of Origen, and have by my praises exalted him to the skies. The writer says that he has done this with a good intention. How then does it come to pass that he now casts in my teeth, as an open enemy, what he then praised as a friend? He declared that he had meant to follow me as his predecessor in his translation, and to borrow an authority for his work from some poor works of mine. If that was so, it would have been sufficient for him to have stated once for all that I had written. Where was the necessity for him to repeat the same things, and to force them on men’s notice by iteration, and to turn over the same words again and again, as if no one would believe in his praises? A praise which is simple and genuine does not show all this anxiety about its credit with the reader. How is it that he is afraid that, unless he produces my own words as witnesses, no one will believe him when he praises me? You see that we perfectly understand his arts; he has evidently been to the theatrical school, and has learned up by constant practice the part of the mocking encomiast. It is of no use to put on a veil of simplicity, when the schemer is detected in his malicious purpose. To have made a mistake once, or, to stretch the point, even twice, may be an unlucky chance; but how is it that he makes the supposed mistake with his eyes open, and repeats it, and weaves this mistake into the whole tissue of his writings so as to make it impossible for me to deny the things for which he praises me? A true friend who knew what he was about would, after our previous misunderstanding and our reconciliation, have avoided all appearance of suspicious conduct, and would have taken care not to do through inadvertence what might seem to be done advisedly. Tully says in his book of pleadings for Galinius: “I have always felt that it was a religious duty of the highest kind to preserve every friendship that I have p. 484 formed; but most of all those in which kindness has been restored after some disagreement. In the case of friendships which have never been shaken, if some attention has not been paid, the excuse of forgetfulness, or at the worst of neglect is readily accepted; but after a return to friendship, if anything is done to cause offence, it is imputed not to neglect but to an unfriendly intention, it is no longer a question of thoughtlessness but of breach of faith.” So Horace writes in his Epistle to Florus

 3004 “Kindness, ill-knit, cleaves not but flies apart.”



Acts xix. 9. Rufinus’s prænomen was Tyrannius.


Ps. lxviii. 23. Jerome’s version is here, as in many cases unintelligible through a perverse literalism and an incorrect Hebrew text. In our Revised Version it stands: “That the tongue of thy dogs may have its portion from thine enemies.”


Cic. Quæst. Acad. Lib. i.


That is, The Preface of Rufinus to his Translation of the Περὶ ᾽Αρχῶν (p. 427–8).


Hor. Ep. B. i, Ep. iii, 32.

Next: Others have translated Origen. Why does he single me out?