Ad Martyras background information.

Early Christian Writings

Title: Ad martyras (To the martyrs) 


From: (

Ante-Nicene Fathers

Τὰ ἀρχαῖα ἔθη κρατείτω. The Nicene Council

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By: Roger Pearse  

Our Ref:
ECST: 167.23.1.T77

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Some words of encouragement and exhortation to Christians awaiting execution for their faith. Probably written in 197AD (see ch. 6), although some writers have dated it to the persecution of 202/203, when Perpetua and Felicitas were executed.


He writes, unworthy as he is, to comfort the imprisoned Christians. External conditions are beyond our control, and so are irrelevant – it is our will and reason that decide if we are happy. The devil lurks in the jails, but if the experience mortifies the flesh, then the spirit will grow. Christians are soldiers of the living God, and no-one becomes a soldier without painful training. Prison is that training ground.

The famous pagans endured unpleasant death, with only false ideals to comfort them. How much better should Christians do! Violent death happens by accident every day, and in the recent wars many died simply for another man.




This text is found only in the members of the Cluny collection. (q.v.). 

The primary witnesses, therefore, are: 

• The 15th century Florence MS, Codex Florentinus BNC Conventi soppressi J.6.9 (N). (From the Alpha branch).  The text is not in P or M, the earlier codices.  (I don’t know if there are readings from D or G for this work).

• The 15th century Luxembourg MS, Codex Luxemburgensis 75 (X).

• The 15th century(1426) Florence MS, Codex Florentinus BNC Conventi soppressi J.6.10 (F).

• Rhenanus edition of 1521.  This is because his only source for this work was the now lost Hirsau MS (H), the ancestor of F and X.

Possibly also to be considered are:

• The Naples MS, Codex Neapolitanus, Mus. Naz. 55, portions of which were once in Vienna as Codex Vindobonensis 4194 (V).

• The BPL Leiden MS, Codex Leidensis latinus 2 (L) has been considered independent but is merely a copy of V.

which may or may not have some independent witness.  Many consider them simply copies of F, however.


Pamelius, Rigaltius, Oehler, Bindley Ad martyras
N Incipit Ad martias
X Q. Septimii Florentis Tertulliani Ad martiras incipit liber
F,V,L Ad martirias
Rhenanus, Mesnartius, Gelenius Ad martyres


Unless otherwise indicated, details are from Quasten’s Patrology, 2 (1955). See also Editions page and Critical Editions page for more information.

[Note: I need to add some biblio, from l’Annee Phil. for the years 1954-1974].


F. OEHLER, Tertulliani Opera Quae Supersunt, 3 vols: Leipzig (1851-4), vol. 1, pp.3-16.  Includes commentary.  Checked

T. H. BINDLEY, Quinti Septimii Florentis Tertulliani De praescriptione haereticorum: Ad martyras: Ad Scapulam, Adv. omnes Haereses, ed., with intr. and notes, by  T.H. Bindley. Oxford &c. 1893. 19cm. (Details from Bodleian online catalogue).  Introduction and notes are in English; text is Latin. (Checked – I have this).  None of the notes or introductory material is very interesting.

E. DEKKERS, CCSL 1 (1954), pp. 1-8. Checked

V. BULHART, CSEL 76 (1957), pp.1-8. Checked

• Antonio QUACQUARELLIQ. S. F. Tertulliani Ad martyras. Prolegomeni, testo critico, traduzione e commento di Antonio Quacquarelli. Publisher: pp. 181. Roma, 1963. 8o. Series: Opuscula Patrum. vol. 2.  (Details from British Library).

Martino MENGHI, Tertulliano. De spectaculis. Ad martyras. Milano: A. Monadori (1995), xxiv+131p. Series: Oscar classici greci e latini 92. Not checked.  (Details from CTC 97,3).  Latin text without apparatus from CCSL, with printer errors, with excellent Italian translation.



C. DODGSONLibrary of the Fathers 10. Oxford, 1842, 150-157Checked. Online.

S. THELWALL (Tr.), ANCL 11 (1869), pp. 1-7; reprinted ANF 3 (1885), pp. 693-696. Online. Checked.

T.H.BINDLEYThe Epistle of the Gallican Churches with an Appendix containing Tertullian’s address to martyrs and The Passion of St. Perpetua, SPCK, London (1900). I have this. Boring and unreadable it is too. And he has the cheek to leave out bits of the St. Perpetua which he thinks are boring!  Now online.

R. ARBESMANNFathers of the Church, XL (1959), pp.17-32. Checked. (Personal copy)


Mathieu CAUBÈRETraités de Tertulien sur l’ornement des femmes, les spectacles, le batême & la patience : avec une lettre aux martirs ; traduits en francois. Paris: Jacques Rollin (1733).  XVIII, [4], 377 [i.d. 397], [13] p. : 12º ; 17 cm (Details Biblioteca de Catalunya).

A. DE GENOUDEAux martyrs. Oeuvres de Tertullien: Paris (1852).  3 vols.  Vol. 2.  (Details from BNF catalogue).

Le martyre dans l’Antiquité chrétienne. Textes de Tertullien, Cyprien, Origène. Paris: Éditions Migne (1990). 152 p. Series: Pères dans la foi, 4e série, vol. 38. (Details from CTC 90,4).  Rather limp and not very close translation, according to CTC.

Liette RÉAUConnaissance des Pères de l’Église 71 (1998), pp.17-21.  Checked (Personal copy) online. 


H. KELLNERAn die MärtyrerBKV7 (1912), pp. 215-223.  Checked. Online.


H. U. MEYBOOM, Aan de martelaren(Oudchristel. geschriften, dl. 43). Leiden, 1930.

CHR. MOHRMANN, (Tert. Apol. etc.) MC I, 3. Utrecht-Brussels, 1941, 183-195.


Selvaggia BORGHINIOpere di Tertulliano tradotte in Toscano. Rome (1756). p.311-320.  Personal copy. Checked.

Gino MAZZONI, Tertulliano: De Praescriptione; Esortazione ai Martiri.  Siena: Ezio Cantagalli (1929).  Series: I Classici Cristiani 7.  (Personal copy).

Francesco SCIUTO, Tertulliano , Tre opere parenetiche : Ad Martyras, De Patientia, De Paenitentia : stralcio provvisorio (= ‘provisional translation’); testo e traduzione a cura di F. Sciuto. Catania : La Nuovagrafica di A. Tringali (1960) 113 p. ; 21 cm. (Details from BN Florence OPAC)

Francesco SCIUTO, Tertulliano , Tre opere parenetiche : Ad Martyras, De Patientia, De Paenitentia, Catania, Centro di studi sull’antico cristianesimo, Università di Catania, 1961, CXXIX, 115 p.; 24 cm., with Latin text. (Details from Dr. Andrea Niccolotti – this was the full version of the ‘provisional’ 1960 edition)

Antonio QUACQUARELLIloc. cit., 1963.

Pier Angelo GRAMAGLIA, Ai martiri. Introduzione, traduzione e note di P.A.G, Rome: Edizioni Paoline (1981), 195p. Series: Letture cristiane delle origini, 22 / Testi. (Details from CTC 81,2).  Broadly based on Quacquarelli’s Latin text, but using other modern editions.  Too many vague notes, while not dealing with literary and historical details.

Giuliana CALDARELLI, Atti dei martiri. Introduzione, traduzione e note di G.C., 2nd ed., Torino, Edizione Paoline (1985). 782 p. Series: Letture cristiane delle origini, 14/Testi. pp.173-181.  (Details from CTC 85,6).

Martino MENGHIloc. cit. (1995).


JPELLICER DE OSSAU, Barcelona, 1639.

Arsenio SEAGE, Tertulliano: Tratado de la paciencia y exhortación a los mártires. Prólogo, traducción y notas de Arsenio Seage, Sevilla: Apostolado Mariano (1992), 70 p.  Series: Los Santos Padres vol. 4.  (Details from CTC C88).

Alfonso ROPERO, Lo Mejor de Tertuliano ; compilado por: Alfonso Ropero. Terrassa : Clie, cop. (2001). 335 p. : il. ; 24 cm. ISBN: 84-8267-206-1(cart.). Series: Grandes autores de la fe Patrística 4.  Conté: Apología contra los gentiles; Exhortación a los mártires; La virtud de la paciencia; La oración; La respuesta a los judíos. (Details Biblioteca de Catalunya)


• Tertulijan: Mučencem (Ad martyras).  Translated by Franc Ksaver LUKMAN during WWII, and placed online in 2001.


P. KITZLERQ.S.F.Tertullianus – Povzbuzení muèedníkùm (Ad martyras). In: Teologický sborník 8 (4), 2002, pp. 55-62. (Details from Dr. Kitzler – see also CDK).  Now online at his site.


László VANYÓ &c, Tertullianus muvei (The works of Tertullian), Budapest: Szent István Társulat (1986) 1100pp. (Ókeresztény frók 12). (Details CTC 2002.75).  The older translations of István Városi (Pat, Apol, Orat, Ux, Cult) and Marcell Mosolygó (Mart) have been recycled; the rest are new.


J.Kauppala, Marttyyrien historiaa. (1925) pp. 276-284. (an anthology of early martyr acts: this is the only work of Tertullian extant in Finnish.  Details from Tomi Vuolteenaho).


M. HAUPTVaria (On Ad Martyras 1); Coniectanea (On De Sodoma 5, 14), Hermes. Zeitschrift für Classische Philologie 5 (1871) pp. 191, 316

F. J. DOLGER, Der Kampf mit dem Agypter in der Perpetua-Vision. Das Martyrium als Kampf mit dem Teufel: AC 3 (1932) 177-188.

H. von CAMPENHAUSEN, Die Idee des Martyriums in der alten Kirche. Gottingen, 1936, 17-28.

G. D. SCHLEGELThe Ad martyras of Tertullian and the Circumstances of its Composition: Downside Review 63 (1945) 125-128. Checked.

Z. VYSOKY, The sources of the treatise Ad martyras by Tertullian (Czech): Listy Filologicke 72 (1948) 156-166.

E. E. MALONE, The Monk and the Martyr (SCA 12). Washington, 1950, 30-34.

Carlo TIBILETTIStoicismo nell’ Ad martyras di Tertulliano, Augustinianum 15 (1975), pp. 309-323.  (Details from CTC 75, 18).  Interesting study which shows by analysing certain words the influence of stoicism, of Seneca in particular, and even a textual parallel between Mart. 4, 8 and De providentia 4, 11.

René BRAUNSur la date, la composition et le texte de l’Ad martyras de Tertullien, Revue des Études augustiniennes 24 (1978), pp. 221-242.  (Details from CTC 78, 10).  Dates to 197, between Ad Nationes and the Apologeticum.

Willy RORDORF & René BRAUN, Dossier sur l’Ad martyras de Tertullien, Revue des Études augustiniennes 26 (1980), pp. 3-17.  (Details from CTC 80, 20). Reprising Schlegel’s date of 202-3, with a response by R.B.  Reprinted in : Willy RORDORF, Liturgie, foi et vie des premiers chrétiens. Études patristiques, Paris: Beauchesne (1986), 520 p. Series: Théologie historique 75.  (Details CTC 86, 44).

Paolo SINISCALCOArgomentazioni escatologiche e pubblico in alcune opere di Tertulliano, in De Tertullien aux Mozarabes. Mélanges offerts à Jacques Fontaine, t. 1, p. 393-402. (Details from CTC 92, 33).

Andrew MACGOWANDiscipline and Diet: Feeding the martyrs in Roman Carthage.  Harvard Theological Review 96 (2003) pp. 455-476. (Details CTC 03, 40).  Mart 1:6, 3; Pud 22:1; Pat.13.

References   [ + ]


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