Minucius Felix, Marcus

, a father of the primitive church, flourished in the third century. He is said to have been an African by birth, but little is known of his history, except tiiat he was a proselyte to Christianity, resided at Rome, and followed the profession of a lawyer. He is now known by his excellent dialogue, entitled “Octavius.” At what time he wrote it is a contested point, but as he appears to have imitated Tertullian, and to have been copied by Cyprian in his treatise “De idolornm vanitate,” it may probably be referred to the reign of the emperor Caracalla. The speakers in this dialogue are Caecilius, a heathen, and Octavius, a Christian; and Minucins, as their common friend, is chosen to moderate between the two disputants. Octavius is made to encounter the arguments of Caecilius, and maintains the unity of God, asserts his providence, vindicates the manners of Christians, and partly attempts to explain their tenets, and partly refers a more ample consideration of them to some future opportunity of discourse. It is a learned, elegant, and ingenious performance, although critical objections may be made to the form of the dialogue, and to some of the sentiments. This work was, for a considerable time, attributed to Arnobius; but in 1560, Francis Baldwin, a learned lawyer, published it at Heidelberg, in 8vo, and made the discovery in a preliminary dissertation, that Minucius was its true author. It has, since that time, gone through many editions, of which the best is that printed at Cambridge in 1712, with the dissertation of Baldwin prefixed, and w Commodiani Instructiones adversus Gentium Deos," added in the way of appendix. We have likewise an excellent translation of it, with notes and illustrations, published by sir D. Dalrymple, lord Hailes, in 1781, from the preface to which part of the above account is taken. 2


Cave, vol. I. L,ord Hailes’s preface. —Lardner’s Works. -—Saxii Onomast.