Minucius Felix - Introductory Note
[Translated by the Rev. Robert Ernest Wallis, Ph.D.]
Minucius Felix is said by Jerome  to have been an advocate at Rome prior to his conversion to Christianity.  Very little else is known, however, of his history; and of his writings nothing with any certainty, except the following dialogue; although Jerome speaks of another tract as having, probably without reason, been ascribed to him.
The Octavius, which is here translated, is a supposed argument between the heathen Cæcilius and the Christian Octavius--the writer being requested to arbitrate between the disputants. The date of its composition is still a matter of keen dispute. The settlement of the point hinges upon the answer to the question--Whether, in the numerous passages which are strikingly similar, occurring in the Apologeticus and the Octavius, Tertullian borrowed from Minucius, or Minucius borrowed from Tertullian? If Minucius borrowed from Tertullian, he must have flourished in the commencement of the third century, as the Apologeticus was written about the year 198 a.d. If, on the other hand, Tertullian borrowed from Minucius, the Octavius was written probably about the year 166, and Minucius flourished in the reign of Marcus Aurelius. The later date was the one adopted by earlier critics, and the reasons for it are well given by Mr. Holden in his introduction. The earlier date was suggested by Rösler, maintained by Niebuhr, and elaborately defended by Muralto. An exhaustive exhibition of arguments in favour of the earlier date has been given by Adolf Ebert in his paper, Tertullian's Verhältniss zu Minucius Felix, Leipzig, 1868.
Of the literary character of the dialogue, it is sufficient to quote the testimony of the late Dean Milman: "Perhaps no late work, either Pagan or Christian, reminds us of the golden days of Latin prose so much as the Octavius of Minucius Felix." 
In considering the claim of the dialogue to such praise as this, it must be borne in mind that the text as we have it is very uncertain, and often certainly corrupt; so that many passages seem to us confused, and some hopelessly obscure. Only one manuscript of the work has come down to us; which is now in the Imperial Library in Paris. It is beautifully written. Some editors have spoken of two other mss.; but it is now known that they were wrong. They supposed that the first edition was taken from a different ms. than the Codex Regius, and they were not aware that a codex in Brussels was merely a transcript of the one in Paris.
The Octavius appears in the ms. as the eighth book of Arnobius, and at first it was published as such. To Franciscus Balduinus (1560) is due the merit of having discovered the real author.
There are very many editions of the Octavius. Among the earlier, those of Gronovius (1709) and Davies (1712) are valuable. Among the later, Lindner (1760), Eduard de Muralto (1836), and Oehler (1847) may be mentioned. There is a very good English edition by the Rev. H. A. Holden, M.A., Cambridge, 1853. The most recent edition is that of Carl Halm, published under the auspices of the Imperial Academy of Letters in Vienna; Vindobonæ, 1867. Both Holden and Halm give new recensions of the Codex Regius. 
 Possibly as late as a.d. 230. Comp. Wordsworth, Hippol., p. 126.
 A condensed and valuable view of this matter may be seen in Dr. Schaff's History, etc., vol. iii. pp. 834-841.
 See Bishop Jewell, Works, vol. i. pp. 386, 441. Cambridge, 1845.
 Vol. I. of this series, pp. 23, 24. See also Bunsen, Hippol., i. p. 244.
 De Viris Illustribus, c. 58.
 [His connection with the Roman courts is inferred from cap. ii. infra.]
 Milman's Hist. of Christianity, vol. iii. book iv. ch. iii.
 [Dr. Wallis, the learned translator of the Octavius, is described in the Edinburgh edition as "Senior Priest-Vicar of Wells Cathedral, and incumbent of Christ Church, Coxley, Somerset."]
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