Genius of the Emperor

Genius Of The Emperor

In the early centuries of the Church, one of the tests by which Christians were detected was, to require them to make oath "by the genius or the fortune of the emperor;" an oath which the Christians, however willing to pray for kings, constantly refused, as savoring of idolatry. Thus Polycarp was required to swear by the fortune of Caesar; and Saturninus adjured Speratus, one of the martyrs of Scillita, "at least swear by the genius of our king;" to which he replied, " I do not know the genius of the emperor of the world." Minucius Felix reprobates the deification of the emperor, and the heathen practice of swearing by his "genius" or "daemon;" and Tertullian says that, although Christians did not swear by the genius of the Caesars, they swore by a more august oath, "by their salvation." We do not, says Origen, swear by the emperor's fortune, any more than by other reputed deities; for (as some at least think) they who swear by his fortune swear by his dsemon, and Christians would die rather than take such an oath.

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