Minucius Felix
(Late Second or Third Century)

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MINUCIUS FELIX, Marcus, author of the dialogue Octavius, which, in spite of its lack of originality, and profound theological intuition, occupies a prominent place among the ancient apologies of the Latin Church, both on account of its genuine enthusiasm and elegant form, and on account of the clear and pointed manner in which it presents and refutes all the various objections to Christianity at that time circulating among educated Pagans. Of the personal life of the author we only know that he was a successful lawyer in Rome when he was converted to Christianity: even the date of his great work is, somewhat doubtful. Formerly critics generally agreed in placing Minucius between Tertullian and Cyprian. Certain parts of Octavius seem to be based on Tertullian’s Apologeticus, and certain parts of Cyprian’s De idolorum vanitate are evidently borrowed from Octavius. Now, as the Apologeticus was written in 207, and the De idolorum vanitate in 247, Octavius must have been written in the first decades of the third century. In 1762, however, in an epistle Ad Gerhardum Meermann, J. D. Van Hoven drew attention to thc fact that the general state of Christianity, arid the specific Pagan objections to it, such as represented in Octavius, do not correspond to a period so late as the first decades of the third century; and, in course of time, more and more scholars adopted the view that Minucius preceded Tertullian, and wrote his Octavius in the reign of Marcus Aurelius. In 1868, finally, A. Ebert produced almost conclusive evidence in favor of this view by showing that there exists a direct relation between Octavius and Cicero’s De natura deorum, while all the corresponding passages of The Apologeticus seem to have been derived from Octavius. Of the work of Minucius, there exists only one manuscript, which was presented by Leo X. to Francis I. It was first published by Faustus Sabaeus, Rome, 1543, afterwards often; best by Balm, in Corp. Script. EccI. Lat., ii., Vienna, 1867. [There are translations into English in REEVE: Apologies of Justin Martyr, ii., and in vol. 2 of the Writings of Cyprian, in the Ante-Nicene Library, Edinburgh, 1873. See also P. FELICE: Etude sur l’Octavius de Minucius Felix, Blois, 1880; H. KUHN: Der Octacius d. Minucius Felix, Leipzig, 1882.]

Mangold, "MINUCIUS FELIX," Philip Schaff, ed., A Religious Encyclopaedia or Dictionary of Biblical, Historical, Doctrinal, and Practical Theology, 3rd edn, Vol. 3. Toronto, New York & London: Funk & Wagnalls Company, 1894. p.1521.


Article in Journal or Book T.P. Halton & R.D. Sider, "A Decade of Patristic Scholarship 1970-1979," The Classical World 76 (1982-1983): 112.

Primary Sources

Book or monograph Jerome, Lives of Illustrious Men 58.
Book or monograph Jerome, Letters 49.13; 60.10; 70.5.
Book or monograph Lactantius, Divine Institutes 1.11.55. (= Octavius 21.5-7)
On-line Resource Minucius Ferlix, Octavius (Christian Classics Etheral Library)
Book or monograph Minucius Felix, Octavius, M. Pellegrino, ed. Turin: Paravia, 1963.
Book or monograph Minucius Felix, Octavius, G.H. Rendall, translator. Loeb Classical Library. Harvard University Press, 1931. Hbk.
Book or monograph Minucius Felix, Octavius, Arbesmann et al, translators. Fathers of the Christian Church, Vol 10. Washington, DC.: Catholic University of America Press, 1950. Hbk.
Book or monograph Minucius Felix: OctaviusMinucius Felix, Octavius, G.W. Clarke, translator. Ancient Christian Writers, Vol. 39. New York: Paulist Press, 1978. Hbk. ISBN: 0809101890. pp.424.

Secondary Sources

Book or monograph H.J. Baylis, Minucius Felix and His Place Among the Early Fathers of the Latin Church. London: SPCK / New York & Toronto: MacMillan, 1928.
Article in Journal or Book G.L. Carver, "Tacitus' Dialogs as a Source of Minucius Felix' Octavius," Classical Philology 69 (1974): 100-06.
Article in Journal or Book G.L. Carver, "Minucius Felix and Cyprian: The Question of Priority," Transactions of the American Philological Association 108 (1978): 21-34.
Article in Journal or Book G.W. Clarke, "The Literary Setting of the Octavius of Minucius Felix," Journal of Religious History 3 (1965): 195-211.
Article in Journal or Book G.W. Clarke, "The Historical Setting of the Octavius of Minucius Felix," Journal of Religious History 4 (1967): 267-286.
Article in Journal or Book Peter James Cousins, "Great Lives in Troubled Times: The Date and Setting of the Octavius by Minucius Felix," Vox Evangelica 27 (1997): 45-56.
Book or monograph F.L. Cross, The Early Christian Fathers. Studies in Theology 1. London: Gerald Duckworth & Co. Ltd., 1960. Hbk. pp.146-148.
On-line Resource Minucius Felix (Paul Lejay)
Article in Journal or Book J.F. O'Connor, "The Conflict of Rhetoric in the Octavius of Minucius Felix," Classical Folia 30 (1976); 165-73.
On-line Resource Did Tertullian use Minucius Felix' Octavius? (Roger Pearce)
Article in Journal or Book Gilles Quispel, "A Jewish source of Minucius Felix," Vigiliae christianae 3.2 (1949): 113-122.
Article in Journal or Book Carsten Peter Thiede, "A Pagan Reader of 2 Peter: Cosmic Conflagration in 2 Peter 3 and the Octavius of Minucius Felix," Journal for the Study of the New Testament 26 (1986): 79-96.
Article in Journal or Book D.S. Wiesen, "Virgil, Minucius Felix and the Bible," Hermes 99 (1971): 70-91.

Related Subjects

Alexander of Alexandria | Ambrose | Aristides | Arnobius | Athanasius | Athenagoras | Augustine | Basil | Boethius | John Cassian | Celsus | Clement of Alexandria | Clement of Rome | Constantine | Cyprian | Cyril of Alexandria | Cyril of Jerusalem | Ephraem the Syrian | Epiphanius | Eusebius of Caesarea | Gregory of Nazianzus | Gregory of Nyssa | Gregory Thaumaturgus | Hermas | Hilary of Poitiers | Hippolytus | Ignatius of Antioch | Irenaeus of Lyons | Julius Africanus | Jerome | John Chrysostom | Josephus | Justin Martyr | Justinian I | Lactantius | Leo the Great | Marcellus | Martin of Tours | Melito | Methodius | Minucius Felix | Novatian | Origen | Pachomius | Papias | Philo | Polycarp | Synesius of Cyrene | Tatian | Tertullian | Theodore of Mopsuestia | Theodoret | Theophilus | Tyconius | Ulfilas | Victorinus | Marius Victorinus

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