Sometime between a.d. 176 and a.d. 180 Athenagoras, a Christian, an amateur philosopher and possibly an Athenian, wrote a Plea addressed to the emperors Marcus Aurelius and Commodus. This document is marked by a carefully controlled apologetic aim unmarred by crude efforts to convert and is remarkable for the positive attitude it shows toward the Roman emperors and the administration of justice throughout their realm. Athenagoras' apology was lost sight of in antiquity, in all likelihood, because it contributed so little to theology; precisely for the same reason it is valuable to us in our assessment of the political and social awareness of a segment of Christians shortly before the empire plunged into the troubles of the third century. Athenagoras was obviously well trained in rhetoric; he had dabbled in philosophy; and he clearly felt himself culturally superior to the “common men, artisans, and old women” whom he praises for their simple, if unreasoned, display of Christian virtue (11.4). He is representative of a growing elite in Christian circles which was seeking to explain the new religion to the Graeco-Roman world.