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On this page: Terra – Tertia – Tertius Julianus – Tertullianus

1006

TERTULLIANUS.

Socr. p. 581, a.). It is doubtless this Terpsiop who is introduced by Plato as one of the interlocutors in the Theaetetus.

Another person of this name is mentioned by Athenaeus (viii. p. 337) as the first author of a yctffTpoXoyia, giving direction as to the viands from which it was advisable to abstain. A notable im­ promptu verse of his is recorded: ?H xp^l X€^(*}V7)S 3) tyuytiv fy pi] (payeiv, which actually attained to the distinction of a various reading even in anti­ quity. [C. P. M.]

TERRA. [tellus.]

T. TERRASI'DIUS, one of Caesar's officers in Gaul, was sent to the Unelli to obtain com in b. c. 57. (Caes. B. G. iii. 7.)

TERTIA, a female actress, and one of the favourite mistresses of Verres in Sicily. (Cic. Verr. iii. 34, v. 12, 16.)

TERTIA or TERTULLA, JUNTA. [Ju-nia, No. 3.]

TERTIA, MirCIA. [MuciA, No. 2.]

TERTIUS JULIANUS. [tettius, No. 3.]

TERTULLIANUS, whose name appears in the best MSS. under the form Q. Septimius Florens Tertullianus^ is the most ancient of the Latin fathers now extant. Notwithstanding the celebrity which he has always enjoyed, our knowledge of his per­sonal history is extremely limited, and is derived almost exclusively from a succinct notice by St. Jerome.

From this we learn that Tertullian was a native of Carthage, the son of a proconsular centurion (an officer who appears to have acted as a sort of aide-de-camp to provincial governors) ; that he flou­rished chiefly during the reigns of Septimius Se-verus and of Caracalla ; that he became a presbyter, and remained orthodox until he had reached the term of middle life, when, in consequence of the envy and ill-treatment which he experienced on the part of the Roman clergy, he went over to the Montanists, and wrote several books in defence of those heretics ; that he lived to a great age, and was the author of many works.

Various editors and historians of ecclesiastical literature have endeavoured to extend or illustrate the scanty information conveyed in the above sketch.

1. Since the elevation of Septimius Severus took place in A. d. 193, and since Caracalla was slain in a. d. 217, if we suppose that Tertullian attained to the age of eighty, his birth would fall somewhere about A. d. 160, and his death about a. d. 240. Allix places his birth about 145 or 150, and his death about a. d. 220 ; but the period thus em­braced would scarcely be sufficient to justify the statement of his biographer that he was believed to have attained to extreme old age (usque ad decre-pitam aetatem vixisse fertur).

2. It has been inferred from certain expres­sions which occur in different treatises by Tertul­lian, that he was not born and educated in the true faith. Making every allowance for the rhetorical style to which he is so much addicted, the words in question seem upon the whole to warrant this in­terpretation, but nothing can be ascertained with regard to the time or the circumstances of his con­version. (Apolog. 18, do Poenit. 1, de Spectac. 19, de Resurrect. Cam. 59, de Fuga in Persec. 6, adv. Marc. iii. 21.)

3. There can be no doubt that he was married, for v;e find among his tracts an address to his wife, in

TERTULLIANUS.

two books, and it seems probable, from their tenor, that she was considerably younger than himself.

4. Some members of the Roman Church, dis­turbed by the example of a wedded priest, have maintained that he never was a presbyter, and appeal to two passages in which he certainly as­sumes the character of a layman (de Monog. 12, de Exhort. Cast. 7). But we are here again em­barrassed by the abrupt transitions and bold per­sonifications so common in this author, and it has been urged, with considerable force, that in the passages referred to he is led naturally, by the course of his argument, to speak as if he actually belonged to that class whose position he describes. It is perfectly true, on the other hand, that we might read through the works of Tertullian with­out discovering that he had ever been ordained ; but neither this negative presumption nor the un­certain conclusions drawn from phrases of doubtful import can outweigh the positive testimony of Je­rome, who had ample means of ascertaining the fact which he records, and no conceivable motive for suppressing or perverting the truth.

5. It being admitted that he was a presbyter, another question arises as to the place where he exercised his functions, whether at Carthage or at Rome. Here we shall have much difficulty in forming a positive opinion. We should naturally conclude, in absence of all direct evidence to the contrary, that he remained in his native country, and we know that writers who flourished towards the close of the fourth century designate him as a Carthaginian presbyter (Optat. adv. Parmen. i. ; Praesdest. de Haeres. 26). On the other hand, it being certain that he visited Rome (de Cult. Femm. i. 7), his collision with the Roman clergy and the intimate knowledge which he frequently manifests with regard to the state of parties and the eccle­siastical proceedings in the metropolis, seem to indicate a lengthened residence and close personal observation. (Comp. Euseb. H. E. ii. 2.)

6. His defection from the Church, caused, ac­cording to Jerome, by the harsh and insulting conduct of the Roman clergy, has been ascribed by some persons in modern times to disappointed am­bition. They suppose that he had fixed his desires upon the bishopric of Rome or of Carthage, and that upon seeing others preferred to himself he se­ceded in disgust. It is unnecessary to enter into any lengthened investigation of this subject, for the views thus propounded are purely hypothetical, receiving no support or countenance from any trust­worthy authority.

The classification of the works of this father is attended with much difficulty. Some have pro­posed to arrange them in regular chronological suc­cession, but this scheme has proved altogether abortive ; for very few of his writings offer any in­dications upon which we can even attempt to found a calculation, and in one case only can we deter­mine the date with certainty. Others have.thought it expedient to distribute them, according to the nature of the topics discussed, into Dogmatical, Po­lemical^ and Moral, but many of the subjects are treated in such a manner as to render it impossible to assign them to any one of these divisions exclu­sively, and, when we consider that the opinions en­tertained by the author underwent material changes as he advanced in life, it is manifest that any

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arrangement which does not, to a certain extent, trace the gradual development of these new views.

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