I’m reading some Justin Martyr again. He was the Father with the most unfortunate last name. (“What, mom?! I’m called Martyr, and I’m going to be a martyr?! I’ll be a laughing stock!” – Thanks Eddie Izzard.)

To me, Justin has always been a complicated writer, and I find much that I like and much that is cloying about him.

This time through though, I was struck by some of the foreignness of everything. It’s pretty easy for us to take Orpheus and Eurydice and turn it into Hades town and draw conclusions that are interesting and insightful. No matter how beautiful your art is, you can’t bring back the dead. In the most dire and important situations, you’ll have self-doubt that will cause real and lasting damage to people.

Of course when Justin was writing, these weren’t just myths. It was real practiced religion with cultic rites and all the rest, and it’s hard to relate to that. It’s so nineteen hundred and twenty seven years ago.

I mean, when we think of the Oracle at Delphi, we think of “Know Thyself,” and it’s all rather benign. At the time, of course, the old Python might get in a mood and say, “Know Thyself, but also, you need to bury ten people alive in the Colosseum if you want to keep the gods happy and the crops growing.”

So, I have some room for his crabbiness now and then. Weirdly, all the people he is insulting, he calls friends and they return the favor. Maybe he was just that good looking or something.