Tatian the Assyrian was a heretical "half Father, half heretic" Christian theologian from the second century who, according to St. Jerome, authored an "infinite number" of books, only one of which survives: the Address to the Greeks. Tatian was heretical because he was seduced by Gnosticism and, in the translator's words, "laid the egg which Tertullian hatched." Happily I am avoiding the byzantine intrigues of ancient Christian theological squabbles and the implications of Montanism, at least for the moment. My purpose here is instead to highlight an ancient example of political resentment that persists today in the form of books like
Guns, Germs, and Steel
. Tatian's piece also stands as a useful example of the tendency for people to impugn the legitimacy of philosophy and philosophers on the basis of
ad hominem tu quoque
fallacies and accusations of obscurantism.
I am aware that this was a Christian tendency, that it forms a considerable portion of The City of God , and that Herodotus echoes some of the observations in a far more scientific tone. The force of Tatian's address nevertheless stood out as a striking example, so I am reproducing the beginning here: