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Three Millennia of Greek Literature


Epistle to Diognetus : THE CHRISTIAN WAY

from the Epistle to Diognetus (Full Text), * 5.1-6.10, translated by A. Roberts and J. Donaldson
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OR the Christians are distinguished from other men neither by country, nor language, nor the customs which they observe. For they neither inhabit cities of their own, nor employ a peculiar form of speech, nor lead a life which is marked out by any singularity. The course of conduct which they follow has not been devised by any speculation or deliberation of inquisitive men; nor do they, like some, proclaim themselves the advocates of any merely human doctrines. But, inhabiting Greek as well as barbarian cities, according as the lot of each of them has determined, and following the customs of the natives in respect to clothing, food, and the rest of their ordinary conduct, they display to us their wonderful and confessedly striking method of life. They dwell in their own countries, but simply as sojourners. As citizens, they share in all things with others, and yet endure all things as if foreigners. Every foreign land is to them as their native country, and every land of their birth as a land of strangers. They marry, as do all [others]; they beget children; but they do not destroy their offspring.

Χριστιανῶν βίος

Χριστιανοὶ γὰρ οὔτε γῇ οὔτε φωνῇ οὔτε ἔθεσι διακεκριμένοι τῶν λοιπῶν εἰσιν ἀνθρώπων. Οὔτε γάρ που πόλεις ἰδίας κατοικοῦσιν οὔτε διαλέκτῳ τινὶ παρηλλαγμένῃ χρῶνται οὔτε βίον παράσημον ἀσκοῦσιν. Οὐ μὴν ἐπινοίᾳ τινὶ καὶ φροντίδι πολυπραγμόνων ἀνθρώπων μάθημα τοῦτ΄ αὐτοῖς ἐστὶν εὑρημένον͵ οὐδὲ δόγματος ἀνθρωπίνου προεστᾶσιν ὥσπερ ἔνιοι. Κατοικοῦντες δὲ πόλεις Ἑλληνίδας τε καὶ βαρβάρους ὡς ἕκαστος ἐκληρώθη͵ καὶ τοῖς ἐγχωρίοις ἔθεσιν ἀκολουθοῦντες ἔν τε ἐσθῆτι καὶ διαίτῃ καὶ τῷ λοιπῷ βίῳ͵ θαυμαστὴν καὶ ὁμολογουμένως παράδοξον ἐνδείκνυνται τὴν κατάστασιν τῆς ἑαυτῶν πολιτείας. Πατρίδας οἰκοῦσιν ἰδίας͵ ἀλλ΄ ὡς πάροικοι· μετέχουσι πάντων ὡς πολῖται͵ καὶ πανθ΄ ὑπομένουσιν ὡς ξένοι· πᾶσα ξένη πατρίς ἐστιν αὐτῶν͵ καὶ πᾶσα πατρὶς ξένη. Γαμοῦσιν ὡς πάντες͵ τεκνογονοῦσιν· ἀλλ΄ οὐ ῥίπτουσι τὰ γεννώμενα.

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