1. We would ask you, and you above all, O Romans, lords and princes of the world, whether you think that Piety, Concord, Safety, Honour, Virtue, Happiness, and other such names, to which we see you rear1 altars and splendid temples, have divine power, and live in heaven?2 or, as is usual, have you classed them with the deities merely for form’s sake, because we desire and wish these blessings to fall to our lot? For if, while you think them empty names without any substance, you yet deify them with divine honours,3 you will have to consider whether that is a childish frolic, or tends to bring your deities into contempt,4 when you make equal, and add to their number vain and feigned names. But if you have loaded them with temples and couches, holding with more assurance that these, too, are deities, we pray you to teach us in our ignorance, by what course, in what way, Victory, Peace, Equity, and the others mentioned among the gods, can be understood to be gods, to belong to the assembly of the immortals?
2. For we – but, perhaps, you would rob and deprive us of common-sense – feel and perceive that none of these has divine power, or possesses a form of its own;5 but that, on the contrary, they are the excellence of manhood,6 the safety of the safe, the honour of the respected, the victory of the conqueror, the harmony of the allied, the piety of the pious, the recollection of the observant, the good fortune, indeed, of him who lives happily and without exciting any ill-feeling. Now it is easy to perceive that, in speaking thus, we speak most reasonably when we observe7 the contrary qualities opposed to them, misfortune, discord, forgetfulness, injustice, impiety, baseness of spirit, and unfortunate8 weakness of body. For as these things happen accidentally, and9 depend on human acts and chance moods, so their contraries, named10 after more agreeable qualities, must be found in others; and from these, originating in this wise, have arisen those invented names.
3. With regard, indeed, to your bringing forward to us other bands of unknown11 gods, we cannot determine whether you do that seriously, and from a belief in its certainty; or, merely playing with empty fictions, abandon yourselves to an unbridled imagination. The goddess Luperca, you tell us on the authority of Varro, was named because the fierce wolf spared the exposed children Was that goddess, then, disclosed, not by her own power, but by the course of events? and was it only after the wild beast restrained its cruel teeth, that she both began to be herself and was marked by12 her name? or if she was already a goddess long before the birth of Romulus and his brother, show us what was her name and title. Praestana was named, according to you, because, in throwing the javelin, Quirinus excelled all in strength;13 and the goddess Panda, or Pantica, was named because Titus Tatius was allowed to open up and make passable a road, that he might take the Capitoline. Before these events, then, had the deities never existed? and if Romulus had not held the first place in casting the javelin, and if the Sabine king had been unable to take the Tarpeian rock, would there be no Pantica, no Praestana? And if you say that they14 existed before that which gave rise to their name, a question which has been discussed in a preceding section,15 tell us also what they were called.
4. Pellonia is a goddess mighty to drive back enemies. Whose enemies, say, if it is convenient? Opposing armies meet, and fighting together, hand to hand, decide the battle; and to one this side, to another that, is hostile. Whom, then, will Pellonia turn to flight, since on both sides there will be fighting? or in favour of whom will she incline, seeing that she should afford to both sides the might and services of her name? But if she indeed16 did so, that is, if she gave her good-will and favour to both sides, she would destroy the meaning of her name, which was formed with regard to the beating back of one side. But you will perhaps say, She is goddess of the Romans only, and, being on the side of the Quirites alone, is ever ready graciously to help them.17 We wish, indeed, that it were so, for we like the name; but it is a very doubtful matter. What! do the Romans have gods to themselves, who do not help18 other nations? and how can they be gods, if they do not exercise their divine power impartially towards all nations everywhere? and where, I pray you, was this goddess Pellonia long ago, when the national honour was brought under the yoke at the Caudine Forks? when at the Trasimene lake the streams ran with blood? when the plains of Diomede19 were heaped up with dead Romans when a thousand other blows were sustained in countless disastrous battles? Was she snoring and sleeping; ([1Ki_18:27]) or, as the base often do, had she deserted to the enemies’ camp?
5. The sinister deities preside over the regions on the left hand only, and are opposed to those20 on the right. But with what reason this is said, or with what meaning, we do not understand ourselves; and we are sure that you cannot in any degree cause it to be clearly and generally understood.21 For in the first place, indeed, the world itself has in itself neither right nor left neither upper nor under regions, neither fore nor after parts. For whatever is round, and bounded on every side by the circumference22 of a solid sphere, has no beginning, no end; where there is no end and beginning, no part can have23 its own name and form the beginning. Therefore, when we say, This is the right, and that the left side, we do not refer to anything24 in the world, which is everywhere very much the same, but to our own place and position, we being25 so formed that we speak of some things as on our right hand, of others as on our left; and yet these very things which we name left, and the others which we name right, have in us no continuance, no fixedness, but take their forms from our sides, just as chance, and the accident of the moment, may have placed us. If I look towards the rising sun, the north pole and the north are on my left hand; and if I turn my face thither, the west will be on my left, for it will be regarded as behind the sun’s back. But, again, if I turn my eyes to the region of the west, the wind and country of the south are now said to be on26 my left. And if I am turned to this side by the necessary business of the moment, the result is, that the east is said to be on the left, owing to a further change of position,27 – from which it can be very easily seen that nothing is either on our right or on our left by nature, but from position, time,28 and according as our bodily position with regard to surrounding objects has been taken up. But in this case, by what means, in what way, will there be gods of the regions of the left, when it is clear that the same regions are at one time on the right, at another on the left? or what have the regions of the right done to the immortal gods, to deserve that they should be without any to care for them, while they have ordained that these should be fortunate, and ever accompanied by lucky omens?
6. Lateranus,29 as you say, is the god and genius of hearths, and received this name because men build that kind of fireplace of unbaked bricks. What then? if hearths were made of baked clay, or any other material whatever, will they have no genii? and will Lateranus, whoever he is, abandon his duty as guardian, because the kingdom which he possesses has not been formed of bricks of clay? And for what purpose,30 I ask, has that god received the charge of hearths? He runs about the kitchens of men, examining and discovering with what kinds of wood the heat in their fires is produced; he gives strength31 to earthen vessels that they may not fly in pieces, overcome by the violence of the flames; he sees that the flavour of unspoilt dainties reaches the taste of the palate with their own pleasantness, and acts the part of a taster, and tries whether the sauces have been rightly prepared. Is not this unseemly, nay – to speak with more truth – disgraceful, impious, to introduce some pretended deities for this only, not to do them reverence with fitting honours, but to appoint them over base things, and disreputable actions?32
7. Does Venus Militaris, also, preside over the evil-doing33 of camps, and the debaucheries of young men? Is there one Perfica,34 also, of the crowd of deities, who causes those base and filthy delights to reach their end with uninterrupted pleasure? Is there also Pertunda, who presides over the marriage35 couch? Is there also Tutunus, on whose huge members36 and horrent fascinum you think it auspicious, and desire, that your matrons should be borne? But if facts themselves have very little effect in suggesting to volt a right understanding of the truth, are you not able, even from the very names, to understand that these are the inventions of a most meaningless superstition, and the false gods of fancy?37 Puta, you say, presides over the pruning of trees, Peta over prayers; Nemestrinus38 is the god of groves; Patellana is a deity, and Patella, of whom the one has been set over things brought to light, the other over those yet to be disclosed. Nodutis is spoken of as a god, because he39 brings that which has been sown to the knots: and she who presides over the treading out of grain, Noduterensis;40 the goddess Upibilia41 delivers from straying from the right paths; parents bereaved of their children are under the care of Orbona, – those very near to death, under that of Naenia. Again,42 Ossilago herself is mentioned as she who gives firmness and solidity to the bones of young children. Mellonia is a goddess, strong and powerful in regard to bees, caring for and guarding the sweetness of their honey.
8. Say, I pray you, – that Peta, Puta, Patella may graciously favour you, – if there were no43 bees at all on the earth then, or if we men were born without bones, like some worms, would there be no goddess Mellonia;44 or would Ossilago, who gives bones their solidity, be without a name of her own? I ask truly, and eagerly inquire whether you think that gods, or men, or bees, fruits, twigs, and the rest, are the more ancient in nature, time, long duration? No man will doubt that you say that the gods precede all things whatever by countless ages and generations. But if it is so, how, in the nature of things, can it be that, from things produced afterwards, they received those names which are earlier in point of time? or that the gods were charged with the care45 of those things which were not yet produced, and assigned to be of use to men? Or were the gods long without names; and was it only after things began to spring up, and be on the earth, that you thought it right that they should be called by these names46 and titles? And whence could you have known what name to give to each, since you were wholly ignorant of their existence; or that they possessed any fixed powers, seeing that you were equally unaware which of them had any power, and over what he should be placed to suit his divine might?
9. What then? you say; do you declare that these gods exist nowhere in the world, and have been created by unreal fancies? Not we alone, but truth itself, and reason, say so, and that common-sense in which all men share. For who there who believes that there are gods of gain, and that they preside over the getting of it, seeing that it springs very often from the basest employments, and is always at the expense of others? Who believes that Libentina, who that Burnus.47 is set over those lusts which wisdom bids us avoid, and which, in a thousand ways, vile and filthy wretches48 attempt and practise? Who that Limentinus and Lima have the care of thresholds, and do the duties of their keepers, when every day we see the thresholds of temples and private houses destroyed and overthrown, and that the infamous approaches to stews are not without them? Who believes that the Limi49 watch over obliquities? who that Saturnus presides over the sown crops? who that Montinus is the guardian of mountains; Murcia,50 of the slothful? Who, finally, would believe that Money is a goddess, whom your writings declare, as though she were the greatest deity, to give golden rings,51 the front seats at games and shows, honours in the greatest number, the dignity of the magistracy, and that which the indolent love most of all, – an undisturbed ease, by means of riches.
10. But if you urge that bones, different kinds of honey, thresholds, and all the other things which we have either run over rapidly, or, to avoid prolixity, passed by altogether, have52 their own peculiar guardians, we may in like manner introduce a thousand other gods, who should care for and guard innumerable things. For why should a god have charge of honey only, and not of gourds, rape, cunila, cress, figs, beets, cabbages? Why should the bones alone have found protection, and not the nails, hair, and all the other things which are placed in the hidden parts and members of which we feel ashamed, and are exposed to very many accidents, and stand more in need of the care and attention of the gods? Or if you say that these parts, too, act under the care of their own tutelar deities, there will begin to be as many gods as there are things; nor will the cause be stated why the divine care does not protect all things, if you say that there are certain things over which the deities preside, and for which they care.
11. What say you, O fathers of new religions, and powers?53 Do you cry out, and complain that these gods are dishonoured by us, and neglected with profane contempt, viz. Lateranus, the genius of hearths; Limentinus, who presides over thresholds; Pertunda,54 Perfica, Noduterensis:55 and do you say that things have sunk into ruin, and that the world itself has changed its laws and constitution, because we do not bow humbly in supplication to Mutunus56 and Tutunus? But now look and see, lest while you imagine such monstrous things, and form such conceptions, you may have offended the gods who most assuredly exist, if only there are any who are worthy to bear and hold that most exalted title; and it be for no other reason that those evils, of which you speak, rage, and increase by accessions every day.57 Why, then, some one of you will perhaps say, do you maintain58 that it is not true that these gods exist? And, when invoked by the diviners, do they obey the call, and come when summoned by their own names, and give answers which may be relied on, to those who consult them? We can show that what is said is false, either because in the whole matter there is the greatest room for distrust, or because we, every day, see many of their predictions either prove untrue or baffled expectation to suit the opposite issues.
12. But let them59 be true, as you maintain, yet will you have us also believe60 that Mellonia, for example, introduces herself into the entrails, or Limentinus, and that they set themselves to make known61 what you seek to learn? Did you ever see their face, their deportment, their countenance? or can even these be seen in lungs or livers? May it not happen, may it not come to pass, although you craftily conceal it, that the one should take the other’s place, deluding, mocking, deceiving, and presenting the appearance of the deity invoked? If the magi, who are so much akin to62 soothsayers, relate that, in their incantations, pretended gods63 steal in frequently instead of those invoked; that some of these, moreover, are spirits of grosser substance, 64 who pretend that they are gods, and delude the ignorant by their lies and deceit, – why65 should we not similarly believe that here, too, others substitute themselves for those who are not, that they may both strengthen your superstitious beliefs, and rejoice that victims are slain in sacrifice to them under names not their own?
13. Or, if you refuse to believe this on account of its novelty,66 how can you know whether there is not some one, who comes in place of all whom yon invoke, and substituting himself in all parts of the world,67 shows to you what appear to be68 many gods and powers? Who is that one? some one will ask. We may perhaps, being instructed by truthful authors, be able to say; but, lest you should be unwilling to believe us, let my opponent ask the Egyptians, Persians, Indians, Chaldeans, Armenians, and all the others who have seen and become acquainted with these things in the more recondite arts. Then, indeed, you will learn who is the one God, or who the very many under Him are, who pretend to be gods, and make sport of men’s ignorance.
Even now we are ashamed to come to the point at which not only boys, young and pert, but grave men also, cannot restrain their laughter, and men who have been hardened into a strict and stern humour.69 For while we have all heard it inculcated and taught by our teachers, that in declining the names of the gods there was no plural number, because the gods were individuals, and the ownership of each name could not be common to a great many;70 you in forgetfulness, and putting away the memory of your early lessons, both give to several gods the same names, and, although you are elsewhere more moderate as to their number, have multiplied them, again, by community of names; which subject, indeed, men of keen discernment and acute intellect have before now treated both in Latin and Greek.71 And that might have lessened our labour,72 if it were not that at the same time we see that some know nothing of these books; and, also, that the discussion which we have begun, compels us to bring forward something on these subjects, although it has been already laid hold of, and related by those writers.
14. Your theologians, then, and authors on unknown antiquity, say that in the universe there are three Joves, one of whom has Aether for his father; another, Coelus; the third, Saturn, born and buried73 in the island of Crete. They speak of five Suns and five Mercuries, – of whom, as they relate, the first Sun is called the son of Jupiter, and is regarded as grandson of Aether; the second is also Jupiter’s son, and the mother who bore him Hyperiona;74 the third the son of Vulcan, not Vulcan of Lemnos, but the son of the Nile; the fourth, whom Acantho bore at Rhodes in the heroic age, was the father of Ialysus; while the fifth is regarded as the son of a Scythian king and subtle Circe. Again, the first Mercury, who is said to have lusted after Proserpina,75 is son of Coelus, who is above all. Under the earth is the second, who boasts that he is Trophonius. The third was born of Maia, his mother, and the third Jove;76 the fourth is the offspring of the Nile, whose name the people of Egypt dread and fear to utter. The fifth is the slayer of Argus, a fugitive and exile. and the inventor of letters in Egypt. But there are five Minervas also, they say, just as there are five Suns and Mercuries; the first of whom is no virgin but the mother of Apollo by Vulcan; the second, the offspring of the Nile, who is asserted to be the Egyptian Sais; the third is descended from Saturn, and is the one who devised the use of arms; the fourth is sprung from Jove, and the Messenians name her Coryphasia; and the fifth is she who slew her lustful77 father, Pallas.
15. And lest it should seem tedious and prolix to wish to consider each person singly, the same theologians say that there are four Vulcans and three Dianas, as many Aesculapii and five Dionysi, six Hercules and four Venuses, three sets of Castors and the same number of Muses, three winged Cupids, and four named Apollo;78 whose fathers they mention in like manner, in like manner their mothers, and the places where they were born, and point out the origin and family of each. But if it is true and certain, and is told in earnest as a well-known matter, either they are not all gods, inasmuch as there cannot be several under the same name, as we have been taught; or if there is one of them, he will not be known and recognised, because he is obscured by the confusion of very similar names. And thus it results from your own action, however unwilling you may be that it should be so, that religion is brought into difficulty and confusion, and has no fixed end to which it can turn itself, without being made the sport of equivocal illusions.
16. For suppose that it had occurred to us, moved either by suitable influence or violent fear of you,79 to worship Minerva, for example, with the rights you deem sacred, and the usual ceremony: if, when we prepare sacrifices, and approach to make the offerings appointed for her on the flaming altars, all the Minervas shall fly thither, and striving for the right to that name, each demand that the offerings prepared be given to herself; what drawn-out animal shall we place among them, or to whom shall we direct the sacred offices which are our duty?80 For the first one of whom we spoke will perhaps say: “The name Minerva is mine, mine81 the divine majesty, who bore Apollo and Diana, and by the fruit of my womb enriched heaven with deities, and multiplied the number of the gods.” “Nay, Minerva,” the fifth will say, “are you speaking,82 who, being a wife, and so often a mother, have lost the sanctity of spotless purity? Do you not see that in all temples83 the images of Minervas are those of virgins, and that all artists refrain from giving to them the figures of matrons?84 Cease, therefore, to appropriate to yourself a name not rightfully85 yours. For that I am Minerva, begotten of father Pallas, the whole band of poets bear witness, who call me Pallas, the surname being derived from my father.” The second will cry on hearing this: “What say you? Do you, then, bear the name of Minerva, an impudent parricide, and one defiled by the pollution of lewd lust, who, decking yourself with rouge and a harlot’s arts, roused upon yourself even your father’s passions, full of maddening desires? Go further, then, seek for yourself another name for this belongs to me, whom the Nile, greatest of rivers, begot from among his flowing waters, and brought to a maiden’s estate from the condensing of moisture.86 But if you inquire into the credibility of the matter, I too will bring as witnesses the Egyptians, in whose language I am called Neith, as Plato’s Timaeus87 attests.” What, then, do we suppose will be the result? Will she indeed cease to say that she is Minerva, who is named Coryphasia, either to mark her mother, or because she sprung forth from the top of Jove’s head, bearing a shield, and girt with the terror of arms? Or are we to suppose that she who is third will quietly surrender the name? and not argue88 and resist the assumption of the first two with such words as these: “Do you thus dare to assume the honour of my name, O Sais,89 sprung from the mud and eddies of a stream, and formed in miry places? Or do you usurp90 another’s rank, who falsely say that you were born a goddess from the head of Jupiter, and persuade very silly men that you are reason? Does he conceive and bring forth children from ms head? That the arms you bear might be forged and formed, was there even in the hollow of his head a smith’s workshop? were there anvils, hammers, furnaces, bellows, coals, and pincers? Or if, as you maintain, it is true that you are reason, cease to claim for yourself the name which is mine; for reason, of which you speak, is not a certain form of deity, but the understanding of difficult questions.” If, then, as we have said, five Minervas should meet us when we essay to sacrifice,91 and contending as to whose this name is, each demand that either fumigations of incense be offered to her, or sacrificial wines poured out from golden cups; by what arbiter, by what judge, shall we dispose of so great a dispute? or what examiner will there be, what umpire of so great boldness as to attempt, with such personages, either to give a just decision, or to declare their causes not founded on right? Will he not rather go home, and, keeping himself apart from such matters, think it safer to have nothing to do with them, test he should either make enemies of the rest, by giving to one what belongs to all, or be charged with folly for yielding92 to all what should be the property of one?
17. We may say the very same things of the Mercuries, the Suns, – indeed of all the others whose numbers you increase and multiply. But it is sufficient to know from one case that the same principle applies to the rest; and, lest our prolixity should chance to weary our audience, we shall cease to deal with individuals, lest, while we accuse you of excess, we also should ourselves be exposed to the charge of excessive loquacity. What do you say, you who, by the fear of bodily tortures, urge us to worship the gods, and constrain us to undertake the service of your deities? We can be easily won, if only something befitting the conception of so great a race be shown to us. Show us Mercury, but only one; give us Bacchus, but only one; one Venus, and in like manner one Diana. For you will never make us believe that there are four Apollos, or three Jupiters, not even if you were to call Jove himself as witness, or make the Pythian god your authority.
18. But some one on the opposite side says, How do we know whether the theologians have written what is certain and well known, or set forth a wanton fiction,93 as they thought and judged? That has nothing to do with the matter; nor does the reasonableness of your argument depend upon this, – whether the facts are as the writings of the theologians state, or are otherwise and markedly different. For to us it is enough to speak of things which come before the public; and we need not inquire what is true, but only confute and disprove that which lies open to all, and which men’s thoughts have generally received. But if they are liars, declare yourselves what is the truth, and disclose the unassailable mystery. And how can it be done when the services of men of letters are set aside? For what is there which can be said about. the immortal gods that has not reached men’s thoughts from what has been written by men on these subjects?94 Or can you relate anything yourselves about their rights and ceremonies, which has not been recorded in books, and made known by what authors have written? Or if you think these of no importance, let all the books be destroyed which have been composed about the gods for you by theologians, pontiffs, and even some devoted to the study of philosophy; nay, let us rather suppose that from the foundation of the world no man ever wrote95 anything about the gods: we wish to find out, and desire to know, whether you can mutter or murmur in mentioning the gods,96 or conceive those in thought to whom no idea97 from any book gave shape in your minds. But when it is clear that you have been informed of their names and powers by the suggestions of books,98 it is unjust to deny the reliableness of these books by whose testimony and authority you establish what you say.
19. But perhaps these things will turn out to be false, and what you say to be true. By what proof, by what evidence, will it be shown? For since both parties are men, both those who have said the one thing and those who have said the other, and on both sides the discussion was of doubtful matters, it is arrogant to say that that is true which seems so to you, but that that which offends your feelings manifests wantonness and falsehood. By the laws of the human race, and the associations of mortality itself, when you read and hear, That god was born of this father and of that mother, do you not feel in your mind99 that something is said which belongs to man, and relates to the meanness of our earthly race? Or, while you think that it is so,100 do you conceive no anxiety lest you should in something offend the gods themselves, whoever they are, because you believe that it is owing to filthy intercourse …101 that they have reached the light they knew not of, thanks to lewdness? For we, lest any one should chance to think that we are ignorant of, do not know, what befits the majesty of that name, assuredly102 think that the gods should not know birth; or if they are born at all, we hold and esteem that the Lord and Prince of the universe, by ways which He knew Himself, sent them forth spotless, most pure, undefiled, ignorant of sexual pollution,103 and brought to the full perfection of their natures as soon as they were begotten? 104
20. But you, on the contrary, forgetting how great105 their dignity and grandeur are, associate with them a birth,106 and impute to them a descent,106 which men of at all refined feelings regard as at once execrable and terrible. From Ops, you say, his mother, and from his father Saturn, Diespiter was born with his brothers. Do the gods, then, have wives; and, the matches having been previously planned, do they become subject to the bonds of marriage? Do they take upon themselves107 the engagements of the bridal couch by prescription, by the cake of spelt, and by a pretended sale?108 Have they their mistresses,109 their promised wives, their betrothed brides, on settled conditions? And what do we say about their marriages, too, when indeed you say that some celebrated their nuptials, and entertained joyous throngs, and that the goddesses sported at these; and that some threw all things into utter confusion with dissensions because they had no share in singing the Fescennine verses, and occasioned danger and destruction110 to the next generation of men?111
21. But perhaps this foul pollution may be less apparent in the rest. Did, then, the ruler of the heavens, the father of gods and men, who, by the motion of his eyebrow, and by his nod, shakes the whole heavens and makes them tremble, – did he find his origin in man and woman? And unless both sexes abandoned themselves to degrading pleasures in sensual embraces,112 would there be no Jupiter, greatest of all; and even to this time would the divinities have no king, and heaven stand without its lord? And why do we marvel that you say Jove sprang from a woman’s womb, seeing that your authors relate that he both had a nurse, and in the next place maintained the life given to him by nourishment drawn from a foreign113 breast? What say you, O men? Did, then, shall I repeat, the god who makes the thunder crash, lightens and hurls the thunderbolt, and draws together terrible clouds, drink in the streams of the breast, wail as an infant, creep about, and, that he might be persuaded to cease his crying most foolishly protracted, was he made silent by the noise of rattles,114 and put to sleep lying in a very soft cradle, and lulled with broken words? O devout assertion of the existence of gods, pointing out and declaring the venerable majesty of their awful grandeur! Is it thus in your opinion, ask, that the exalted powers115 of heaven are produced? do your gods come forth to the light by modes of birth such as these, by which asses, pigs, dogs, by which the whole of this unclean herd116 of earthly beasts is conceived and begotten?
22. And, not content to have ascribed these carnal unions to the venerable Saturn,117 you affirm that the king of the world himself begot children even more shamefully than he was himself born and begotten. Of Hyperiona,118 as his mother, you say, and Jupiter, who wields the thunderbolt, was born the golden and blazing Sun; of Latona and the same, the Delian archer, and Diana,119 who rouses the woods; of Leda and the same,120 those named in Greek Dioscori; of Alcmena and the same, the Theban Hercules, whom his club and hide defended; of him and Semele, Liber, who is named Bromius, and was born a second time from his father’s thigh; of him, again, and Maia, Mercury, eloquent in speech, and bearer of the harmless snakes. Can any greater insult be put upon your Jupiter, or is there anything else which will destroy and ruin the reputation of the chief of the gods, further than that you believe him to have been at times overcome by vicious pleasures, and to have glowed with the passion of a heart roused to lust after women? And what had the Saturnian king to do with strange nuptials? Did Juno not suffice him; and could he not stay the force of his desires on the queen of the deities, although so great excellence graced her, such beauty, majesty of countenance, and snowy and marble whiteness of arms? Or did he, not content with one wife, taking pleasure in concubines, mistresses, and courtezans, a lustful god, show121 his incontinence in all directions, as is the custom with dissolute122 youths; and in old age, after intercourse with numberless persons, did he renew his eagerness for pleasures now losing their zest? What say you, profane ones; or what vile thoughts do you fashion about your love? Do you not, then, observe do you not see with what disgrace you brand him? of what wrong-doing you make him the author? or what stains of vice, how great infamy you heap upon him?
23. Men, though prone to lust, and inclined, through weakness of character, to yield to the allurements of sensual pleasures, still punish adultery by the laws, and visit with the penalty of death those whom they find to have possessed themselves of others rights by forcing the marriage-bed. The greatest of kings, however, you tell us, did not know how vile, how infamous the person of the seducer and adulterer was; and he who, as is said, examines our merits and demerits, did not, owing to the reasonings of his abandoned heart, see what was the fitting course for him to resolve on. But this misconduct might perhaps be endured, if you were to conjoin him with persons at least his equals, and if he were made by you the paramour of the immortal goddesses. But what beauty, what grace was there, I ask you, in human bodies, which could move, which could turn to it123 the eyes of Jupiter? Skin, entrails, phlegm, and all that filthy mass placed under the coverings of the intestines, which not Lynceus only with his searching gaze can shudder at, but any other also can be made to turn from even by merely thinking.
24. If you will open your minds’ eyes, and see the real124 truth without gratifying any private end, you will find that the causes of all the miseries by which, as you say, the human race has long been afflicted, flow from such beliefs which you held in former times about your gods; and which you have refused to amend, although the truth was placed before your eyes. For what about them, pray, have we indeed ever either imagined which was unbecoming, or put forth in shameful writings that the troubles which assail men and the loss of the blessings of life125 should be used to excite a prejudice against us? Do we say that certain gods were produced from eggs,126 like storks and pigeons? Do we say that the radiant Cytherean Venus grew up, having taken form from the sea’s foam and the severed genitals of Coelus? that Saturn was thrown into chains for parricide, and relieved from their weight only on his own days?127 that Jupiter was saved from death128 by the services of the Curetes? that he drove his father from the seat of power, and by force and fraud possessed a sovereignty not his own? Do we say that his aged sire, when driven out, concealed himself in the territories of the Itali, and gave his name as a gift to Latium,129 because he had been there protected from his son? Do we say that Jupiter himself incestuously married his sister? or, instead of pork, breakfasted in ignorance upon the son of Lycaon, when invited to his table? that Vulcan, limping on one foot, wrought as a smith in the island of Lemnos? that Aeculapius was transfixed by a thunderbolt because of his greed and avarice, as the Boeotian Pindar130 sings? that Apollo, having become rich, by his ambiguous responses, deceived the very kings by whose treasures and gifts he had been enriched? Did we declare that Mercury was a thief? that Laverna is so also, and along with him presides over secret frauds? Is the writer Myrtilus one of us, who declares that the Muses were the handmaids of Megalcon,131 daughter of Macarus?132
25. Did we say133 that Venus was a courtezan, deified by a Cyprian king named Cinyras? Who reported that the palladium was formed from the remains of Pelops? Was it not you? Who that Mars was Spartanus? was it not your writer Epicharmus? Who that he was born within the confines of Thrace? was it not Sophocles the Athenian, with the assent of all his spectators? Who that he was born in Arcadia? was it not you? Who that he was kept a prisoner for thirteen months?134 was it not the son of the river Meles? Who said that dogs were sacrificed to him by the Carians, asses by the Scythians? was it not Apollodorus especially, along with the rest? Who that in wronging another’s marriage couch, he was caught entangled in snares? was it not your writings, your tragedies? Did we ever write that the gods for hire endured slavery, as Hercules at Sardis135 for lust and wantonness; as the Delian Apollo, who served Admetus, as Jove’s brother, who served the Trojan Laomedon, whom the Pythian also served, but with his uncle; as Minerva, who gives light, and trims the lamps to secret lovers? Is not he one of your poets, who represented Mars and Venus as wounded by men’s hands? Is not Panyassis one of you, who relates that father Dis and queenly Juno were wounded by Hercules? Do not the writings of your Polemo say that Pallas136 was slain,137 covered with her own blood, overwhelmed by Ornytus? Does not Sosibius declare that Hercules himself was afflicted by the wound and pain he suffered at the hands of Hipocoon’s children? Is it related at our instance that Jupiter was committed to the grave in the island of Crete? Do we say that the brothers,138 who were united in their cradle, were buried in the territories of Sparta and Lacedaemon? Is the author of our number, who is termed Patrocles the Thurian in the titles of his writings, who relates that the tomb and remains of Saturn are found139 in Sicily? Is Plutarch of Chaeronea140 esteemed one of us, who said that Hercules was reduced to ashes on the top of Mount Oeta, after his loss of strength through epilepsy?
26. But what shall I say of the desires with which it is written in your books, and contained in your writers, that the holy immortals lusted after women? For is it by us that the king of the sea is asserted in the heat of maddened passion to have robbed of their virgin purity Amphitrite,141 Hippothoe, Amymone, Menalippe, Alope?142 that the spotless Apollo, Latona’s son, most chaste and pure, with the passions of a breast not governed by reason, desired Arsinoe, Aethusa, Hypsipyle, Marpessa, Zeuxippe, and Prothoe, Daphne, and Sterope?141 Is it shown in our poems that the aged Saturn, already long covered with grey hair, and now cooled by weight of years, being taken by his wife in adultery, put on the form of one of the lower animals, and neighing loudly, escaped in the shape of a beast? Do you not accuse Jupiter himself of having assumed countless forms, and concealed by mean deceptions the ardour of his wanton lust? Have we ever written that he obtained his desires by deceit, at one time changing into gold, at another into a sportive satyr; into a serpent, a bird, a bull; and, to pass beyond all limits of disgrace, into a little ant, that he might, forsooth, make Clitor’s daughter the mother of Myrmidon, in Thessaly? Who represented him as having watched over Alcmena for nine nights without ceasing? was it not you? – that he indolently abandoned himself to his lusts, forsaking his post in heaven? was it not you? And, indeed, you ascribe143 to him no mean favours; since, in your opinion, the god Hercules was born to exceed and surpass in such matters his father’s powers. He in nine nights begot144 with difficulty one son; but Hercules, a holy god, in one night taught the fifty daughters of Thestius at once to lay aside their virginal title, and to bear a mother’s burden. Moreover, not content to have ascribed to the gods love of women, do you also say that they lusted after men? Some one loves Hylas; another is engaged with Hyacinthus; that one burns with desire for Pelops; this one sighs more ardently for Chrysippus; Catamitus is carried off to be a favourite and cup-bearer; and Fabius, that he may be called Jove’s darling, is branded on the soft parts, and marked in the hinder.
27. But among you, is it only the males who lust; and has the female sex preserved its purity?145 Is it not proved in your books that Tithonus was loved by Aurora; that Luna lusted after Endymion; the Nereid after Aeacus; Thetis after Achilles’ father; Proserpina after Adonis; her mother, Ceres, after some rustic Jasion, and afterwards Vulcan, Phaeton,146 Mars; Venus herself, the mother of Aeneas, and founder of the Roman power, to marry Anchises? While, therefore, you accuse, without making any exception, not one only by name, but the whole of the gods alike, in whose existence you believe, of such acts of extraordinary shamefulness and baseness, do you dare, without violation of modesty, to say either that we are impious, or that you are pious, although they receive from you much greater occasion for offence on account of all the shameful acts which you heap up to their reproach, than in connection with the service and duties required by their majesty, honour, and worship? For either all these things are false which you bring forward about them individually, lessening their credit and reputation; and it is in that case a matter quite deserving, that the gods should utterly destroy the race of men; or if they are true and certain, and perceived without any reasons for doubt, it comes to this issue, that, however unwilling you may be, we believe them to be not of heavenly, but of earthly birth.
28. For where there are weddings, marriages, births, nurses, arts,147 and weaknesses; where there are liberty and slavery; where there are wounds, slaughter, and shedding of blood; where there are lusts, desires, sensual pleasures; where there is every mental passion arising from disgusting emotions, – there must of necessity be nothing godlike there; nor can that cleave to a superior nature which belongs to a fleeting race, and to the frailty of earth. For who, if only he recognises and perceives what the nature of that power is, can believe either that a deity had the generative members, and was deprived of them by a very base operation; or that he at one time cut off the children sprung from himself, and was punished by suffering imprisonment; or that he, in a way, made civil war upon his father, and deprived him of the right of governing; or that he, filled with fear of one younger when overcome, turned to flight, and hid in remote solitudes, like a fugitive and exile? Who, I say, can believe that the deity reclined at men’s tables, was troubled on account of his avarice, deceived his suppliants by an ambiguous reply, excelled in the tricks of thieves, committed adultery, acted as a slave, was wounded, and in love, and submitted to the seduction of impure desires in all the forms of lust? But yet you declare all these things both were, and are, in your gods; and you pass by no form of vice, wickedness, error, without bringing it forward, in the wantonness of your fancies, to the reproach of the gods. You must, therefore, either seek out other gods, to whom all these reproaches shall not apply, for they are a human and earthly race to whom they apply; or if there are only these whose names and character you have declared, by your beliefs you do away with them: for all the things of which you speak relate to men.
29. And here, indeed, we can show that all those whom you represent to us as and call gods, were but men, by quoting either Euhemerus of Acragas,148 whose books were translated by Ennius into Latin that all might be thoroughly acquainted with them; or Nicanor149 the Cyprian; or the Pellaean Leon; or Theodorus of Cyrene; or Hippo and Diagoras of Melos; or a thousand other writers, who have minutely, industriously, and carefully150 brought secret things to light with noble candour. We may, I repeat, at pleasure, declare both the acts of Jupiter, and the wars of Minerva and the virgin151 Diana; by what stratagems Liber strove to make himself master of the Indian empire; what was the condition, the duty, the gain152 of Venus; to whom the great mother was bound in marriage; what hope, what joy was aroused in her by the comely Attis; whence came the Egyptian Serapis and Isis, or for what reasons their very names153 were formed.
30. But in the discussion which we at present maintain, we do not undertake this trouble or service, to show and declare who all these were. But this is what we proposed to ourselves, that as you call us impious and irreligious, and, on the other hand, maintain that you are pious and serve the gods, we should prove and make manifest that by no men are they treated with less respect than by you. But if it is proved by the very insults that it is so, it must, as a consequence, be understood that it is yon who rouse the gods to fierce and terrible rage, because you either listen to or believe, or yourselves invent about them, stories so degrading. For it is not he who is anxiously thinking of religious rites,154 and slays spotless victims, who gives piles of incense to be burned with fire, not he must be thought to worship the deities, or alone discharge the duties of religion. True worship is in the heart, and a belief worthy of the gods; nor does it at all avail to bring blood and gore, if you believe about them things which are not only far remote from and unlike their nature, but even to some extent stain and disgrace both their dignity and virtue.
31. We wish, then, to question you, and invite you to answer a short question, Whether you think it a greater offence to sacrifice to them being neither wishes nor desires these; or, with foul beliefs, to hold opinions about them so degrading, that they might rouse any one’s spirit to a mad desire for revenge? If the relative importance of the matters be weighed, you will find no judge so prejudiced as not to believe it a greater crime to defame by manifest insults any one’s reputation, than to treat it with silent neglect. For this, perhaps, may be held and believed from deference to reason; but the other course manifests an impious spirit, and a blindness despaired of in fiction. If in your ceremonies and rites neglected sacrifices and expiatory offerings may be demanded, guilt is said to have been contracted; if by a momentary forgetfulness155 any one has erred either in speaking or in pouring wine;156 or again,157 if at the solemn games and sacred races the dancer has halted, or the musician suddenly become silent, – you all cry out immediately that something has been done contrary to the sacredness of the ceremonies; or if the boy termed patrimus let go the thong in ignorance,158 or could not hold to the earth:159 and yet do you dare to deny that the gods are ever being wronged by you in sins so grievous, while you confess yourselves that, in less matters, they are often angry, to the national ruin?
1 Lit., “see altars built.”
2 Lit., “in the regions of heaven.”
3 The MS reads tam (corrected by the first four edd. tamen) in regionibus – “in the divine seats;” corrected, religionibus, as above, by Ursinus.
4 Lit., “to the deluding of your deities.”
5 Lit., “is contained in a form of its own kind.”
6 i.e., manliness.
7 Lit., “which it is easy to perceive to be said by us with the greatest truth from,” etc., – so most edd. reading nobis; but the MS, according to Crusius, gives vobis – “you,” as in Orelli and Oberthür.
8 Lit., “less auspicious.”
9 The MS, first four edd., and Elmenhorst, read quae – “which;” the rest, as above, que.
10 Lit., “what is opposed to them named,” nominatum; a correction by Oehler for the MS nominatur – “is named.”
11 The MS and both Roman edd. read signatorum – “sealed;” the others, except Hild., ignotorum, as above.
12 Lit., “drew the meaning of her name.”
13 Lit., “excelled the might of all.”
14 MS, “that these, too,” i.e., as well as Luperca.
15 No such discussion occurs in the preceding part of the work, but the subject is brought forward in the end of Rom_8:1-39, p. 478, infra.
16 In the first sentence the MS reads utrique, and in the second utique, which is reversed in most edd., as above.
17 Lit., “ever at hand with gracious assistances.”
18 Lit., “are not of.”
19 i.e., the field of Cannae.
20 Lit., “the parts.”
21 Lit., “it cannot be brought into any light of general understanding by you.”
22 Lit., “convexity.”
23 Lit., “be of.”
24 Lit., “to the state of the world.”
25 Lit., “who have been so formed, that some things are said by us,” nobis, the reading of Oberthür and Orelli for the MS in nos – “with regard to us,” which is retained by the first four edd., Elm., Hild., and Oehler.
26 i.e., transit in vocabulum sinistri; in being omitted in the MS and both Roman edd.
27 Lit., “the turning round of the body being changed.”
28 So Oehler, reading positione, sed tempore sed, for the MS positionis et temporis et.
29 No mention is made of this deity by any other author.
30 Lit., “that he may do what.”
31 Lit., “good condition,” habitudinem.
32 Lit., “a disreputable act.”
33 So the MS, reading flagitiis, followed by all edd. except LB and Orelli, who read plagiis – “kidnapping.”
34 Of this goddess, also, no other author makes mention but the germ may perhaps be found in Lucretius (ii. 1116-7), where nature is termed perfica, i.e., “perfecting,” or making all things complete. [The learned translator forgets Tertullian, who introduces us to this name in the work Arnobius imitates throughout. See vol. 3. p. 140.]
35 i.e., in cubiculis praesto est virginalem scrobem effodientibus maritis.
36 The first five edd. read Mutunus. Cf. Rom_11:1-36. [I think it a mistake to make Mutunus = Priapus. Their horrible deformities are diverse, as I have noted in European collections of antiquities. The specialty of Mutunus is noted by our author, and is unspeakably abominable. All this illustrates, therefore, the Christian scruples about marriage-feasts, of which see vol. 5. note 30, p. 435.]
37 Lit., the “fancies” or “imaginations” of false gods. Meursius proposed to transpose the whole of this sentence to the end of the chapter, which would give a more strictly logical arrangement; but it must be remembered that Arnobius allows himself much liberty in this respect.
38 Of these three deities no other mention is made.
39 The MS, LB., Hild., and Oehler read qui – “who brings;” the other edd., as above, quia.
40 So the MS (cf. Rom_11:1-36), first five edd., Oberth., Hild., and Oehler; the other edd. read Nodutim Ter.
41 So the MS, both Roman edd., and Oehler; the other edd. reading Vibilia, except Hild., Viabilia.
42 The MS reads nam – “for,” followed by all edd. except Orelli, who reads jam as above, and Oehler, who reads etiam – “also.”
43 Orelli omits non, following Oberthür.
44 Both in this and the preceding chapter the MS reads Melonia.
45 Lit., “obtained by lot the wardships.”
46 Lit., “signs.”
47 So the MS, both Roman edd., Hild., and Oehler; the others reading Liburnum, except Elm., who reads -am, while Meursius conjectured Liberum – “Bacchus.”
48 Lit., “shameful impurity seeks after;” expetit read by Gelenius, Canterus, and Oberthür, for the unintelligible MS reading expeditur, retained in both Roman edd.; the others reading experitur – “tries.”
49 The MS reads Lemons; Hild. and Oehler, Limones; the others, Limos, as above.
50 The MS, Hild., and Oehler read Murcidam; the others, Murciam, as above.
51 i.e., equestrian rank.
52 The MS reading is quid si haberet in sedibus suos, retained by the first five edd., with the change of -ret into -rent – “what if in their seats the bones had their own peculiar guardians;” Ursinus in the margin, followed by Hild. and Oehler, reads in se divos suos – “if for themselves the bones had gods as their own peculiar,” etc.; the other edd reading, as above, si habere insistitis suos.
53 i.e., deities. So LB. and Orelli, reading quid potestatum? – “what, O fathers of powers.” The MS gives qui – “what say you, O fathers of new religions, who cry out, and complain that gods of powers are indecently dishonoured by us, and neglected with impious contempt,” etc. Heraldus emends thus: “… fathers of great religions and powers? Do you, then, cry out,” etc. “Fathers,” i.e., those who discovered, and introduced, unknown deities and forms of worship.
54 The MS reads pertus quae- (marked as spurious) dam; and, according to Hild., naeniam is written over the latter word.
55 So the MS. Cf. Rom_7:1-25 [note 40, p. 478, supra.]
56 The MS is here very corrupt and imperfect, – supplices hoc est uno procumbimus atque est utuno (Orelli omits ut-), emended by Gelenius, with most edd. supp. Mut-uno proc. atque Tutuno, as above; Elm. and LB. merely insert humi – “on the ground,” after supp. [See p. 478, note 36, supra.]
57 Meursius is of opinion that some words have slipped out of the text here, and that some arguments had been introduced about augury and divination.
58 Contendis, not found in the MS.
59 i.e., the predictions.
60 Lit., “will you make the same belief.”
61 Lit., “adapt themselves to the significations of the things which.”
62 Lit., “brothers of.”
63 i.e., demons.
64 Perhaps “abilities” – materiis.
65 The MS reads cum – “with similar reason we may believe,” instead of cur, as above.
66 Lit., “novelty of the thing.”
67 Lit., “of places and divisions,” i.e., places separated from each other.
68 Lit., “affords to you the appearance of.”
69 Lit., “a severity of stern manner” – moris for the MS mares.
70 Orelli here introduces the sentence, “For it cannot be,” etc., with which this book is concluded in the MS. Cf. ch. 37, n. 196, infra.
71 There can be no doubt that Arnobius here refers to Clemens Alexandrinus (Λόγος Προτρεπτικὸς πρὸς Ἑλλῆνας), and Cicero (de Nat. Deor.), from whom he borrows most freely in the following chapters, quoting them at times very closely. We shall not indicate particular references without some special reason, as it must be understood these references would be required with every statement. [Compare Clement, vol. 2. pp. 305-13, and Tertullian, vol. 3. p. 34.]
72 Lit., “given to us an abridging,” i.e., an opportunity of abridging.
73 Lit., “committed to sepulture and born in,” etc.
74 Arnobius repeats this statement in ch. 22, or the name would have been regarded as corrupt, no other author making mention of such a goddess; while Cicero speaks of one Sun as born of Hyperion. It would appear, therefore, to be very probable that Arnobius, in writing from memory or otherwise, has been here in some confusion as to what Cicero did say, and thus wrote the name as we have it. It has also been proposed to read “born of Regina” (or, with Gelenius, Rhea), “and his father Hyperion,” because Cybele is termed βασίλεια; for which reading there seems no good reason. – Immediately below, Ialysus is made the son, instead of, as in Cicero, the grandson of the fourth; and again, Circe is said to be mother, while Cicero speaks of her as the daughter of the fifth Sun. These variations, viewed along with the general adherence to Cicero’s statements (de N. D., iii. 21 sqq.), seem to give good grounds for adopting the explanation given above.
75 i.e., in Proserpinam genitalibus adhinnivisse subrectis.
76 Lit., “of Jupiter, but the third.”
77 i.e., incestorum appetitorem.
78 So Cicero (iii. 23); but Clemens [vol. 2. p. 179, above note 17] speaks of five, and notes that a sixth had been mentioned.
79 Lit., “by the violence of your terror.” The preceding words are read in the MS ideo motos – “so moved by authority,” and were emended idonea, as in the text, by Gelenius.
80 Lit., “to what parts shall we transfer the duties of pious service.”
81 The MS reads cum numen; Rigalitus, followed by Oehler, emending, as above, meum; the first four edd. with Oberthür, tum – “then the deity is mine;” while the rest read cum numine – “with the deity.”
82 So LB., Orelli, and Oehler, reading tu tinnis for the MS tutunis.
83 Capitoliis. In the Capitol were three shrines, – to Jove, Juno, and Minerva; and Roman colonies followed the mother-state’s example. Hence the present general application of the term, which is found elsewhere in ecclesiastical Latin.
84 Lit., “Nor are the forms of married persons given to these by all artists;” nec read in all edd. for the MS et – “and of married,” etc., which is opposed to the context.
85 Lit., “not of your own right.”
86 Concretione roris – a strange phrase. Cf. Her., iv. 180: “They say that Minerva is the daughter of Poseidon and the Tritonian lake.”
87 St. p. 21. The MS reads quorum Nili lingua latonis; the two Roman edd. merely insert p., Plat.; Gelenius and Canterus adding dicor – “in whose language I am called the Nile’s,” Nili being changed into Neith by Elmenhorst and later edd.
88 Lit., “take account of herself.”
89 So Ursinus suggested in the margin for the MS si verum.
90 The third Minerva now addresses the fourth.
91 Lit., “approaching the duties of religion.”
92 According to the MS sic – “for so (i.e., as you do) yielding,” etc.
93 So all the edd., though Orelli approves of fictione (edd. -em), which is, he says, the MS reading, “set forth with wanton fiction.”
94 The MS and earlier edd., with Hild. and Oehler, read ex hominum de scriptis; LB. and Orelli inserting his after de, as above.
95 The MS and both Roman edd. read esse, which is clearly corrupt; for which LB. gives scriptisse (misprinted scripse), as above.
96 i.e., “speak of them at all.”
97 Lit., “an idea of no writing.”
98 Lit., “been informed by books suggesting to you,” etc.
99 Lit., “does it not touch the feeling of your mind.”
100 Ursinus would supply eos – “that they are so.”
101 Atque ex seminis, actu, or jactu, as the edd. except Hild. read it.
102 The MS reads dignitati-s aut; corrected, as above, d. sane, in the first five edd., Oberthür, and Orelli. [Joh_10:35]
103 Quaesit foeditas ista coeundi.
104 Lit., “as far as to themselves, their first generation being completed.”
105 Lit., “forgetting the so great majesty and sublimity.”
106 Both plural.
107 The MS, first four edd., and Oberthür read conducunt – “unite;” for which the rest read condic-unt, as above.
108 i.e., usu, farre, coemptione.
109 The word here translated mistresses, speratas, is used of maidens loved, but not yet asked in marriage.
110 Lit., “dangers of destructions.”
111 Instead of “occasioned,” sevisse, which the later editions give, the MS and first four edd. read saevisse – “that danger and destruction raged against,” etc.
112 Copulatis corporibus.
113 i.e., not his mother’s, but the dug of the goat Amalthea.
114 Lit., “rattles heard.”
115 Lit., “the eminence of the powers.”
116 Lit., “inundation.”
117 Lit., “Saturnian gravity.”
118 Cf. Joh_14:1-31, note 74, supra.
119 It is worth while to compare this passage with Joh_16:1-33. Here Arnobius makes Latona the mother of Apollo and Diana, in accordance with the common legend; but there he represents the first Minerva as claiming them as her children.
120 In the MS there is here an evident blunder on the part of the copyist, who has inserted the preceding line (“the archer Apollo, and of the woods”) after “the same.” Omitting these words, the MS reading is literally, “the name in Greek is to the Dioscori.” Before “the name” some word is pretty generally supposed to have been lost, some conjecturing “to whom;” others (among them Orelli, following Salmasius) “Castores.” But it is evidently not really necessary to supplement the text.
121 Lit., “scatter.”
122 Orelli reads, with the MS, LB., and Hild., babecali, which he interprets belli, i.e., “handsome.”
123 MS and first five edd. read inde – “thence;” the others in se, as above. [Elucidation III.]
124 Orelli, without receiving into the text, approves of the reading of Stewechius, promptam, “evident,” for the MS, propriam.
125 Lit., “the benefits diminished by which it is lived.”
126 The MS reads ex Jovis; the first five edd. Jove – “from Jove,” which is altogether out of place; the others, as above, ex ovis. Cf. i. 36.
127 The MS reads et ablui diebus tantis … elevari; LB., Hild., and Oehler, statis or statutis … et levari – “and was loosed and released on fixed days;” Elm., Oberthür, and Orelli receive the conjecture of Ursinus, et suis diebus tantum … rel., as above.
128 Cf. iii. [cap. 41, p. 475, and cap. 30, p. 472].
129 i.e., hiding-place. Virg., Aen., viii. 311: Quoniam latuisset tutus in oris.
130 Pyth., iii. 102 sq.
131 MS Meglac.
132 The MS and most edd. give filias, making the Muses daughters of Macarus; but Orelli, Hild., and Oehler adopt, as above, the reading of Canterus, filiae, in accordance with Clem. Alex.
133 So the MS reading numquid dictatum, which would refer this sentence to the end of the last chapter. Gelenius, with Canth., Oberth., and Orelli, reads quis ditatam, and joins with the following sentence thus: “Who related that Venus, and courtezan enriched by C., was deified …? who that the palladium,” etc. Cf. v. 19.
134 The MS reads quis mensibus in Arcadia tribus et decem vinctum – “Who that he was bound thirteen months in Arcadia? was it not the son,” etc. To which there are these two objections, – that Homer never says so; and that Clemens Alexandrinus [vol. 2. p. 179, at note 17, this series], from whom Arnobius here seems to draw, speaks of Homer as saying only that Mars was so bound, without referring to Arcadia. The MS reading may have arisen from carelessness on the part of Arnobius in quoting (cf. Joh_14:1-31, n. 74), or may be a corruption of the copyists. The reading translated is an emendation by Jortin, adopted by Orelli.
135 Sardibus, – a conjecture of Ursinus, adopted by LB., Hild., and Oehler for the MS sordibus; for which the others read sordidi – “for the sake of base lust.”
136 Lit., “the masculine one.”
137 As this seems rather extravagant when said of one of the immortals, laesam, “hurt”, has been proposed by Meursius.
138 Castor and Pollux.
139 Lit., “contained.”
140 The MS reads Hieronymus Pl. – “is Hier., is Pl.,” while Clem. Alex. mentions only “Hieronymus the philosopher.”
141 These names are all in the plural in the original.
142 So LB. and Orelli, reading Alopas, from Clem. Alex., for the MS Alcyonas.
143 Lit., “you add.”
144 In the original, somewhat at large – unam potuit prolem extundere, concinnare, compingere.
145 All edd. read this without mark of interrogation.
146 The MS reads Phaetontem: for which, both here and in Clem., Potter proposed Phaonem, because no such amour is mentioned elsewhere.
147 i.e., either the arts which belong to each god (cf. the words in ii. 18: “these (arts) are not the gifts of science, but the discoveries of necessity”), or, referring to the words immediately preceding, obstetric arts.
148 Lit., “Euhemerus being opened.”
149 So Elm. and Orelli, reading Nicanore for the MS Nicagora, retained by all other edd.
150 Lit., “with the care of scrupulous diligence.”
151 Meursius would join virginis to Minerva, thinking it an allusion to her title Παρθένος.
152 These terms are employed of hetaerae.
153 Lit., “the title itself of their names was.”
154 Qui sollicite relegit. Relegit is here used by Arnobius to denote the root of religio, and has therefore some such meaning as that given above. Cf. Cicero, de Nat. Deorum, ii. 28.
155 Lit., “an error of inadvertence.”
156 Lit., “with the sacrificial bowl.”
157 So the MS, both Roman edd., Elm., Hild., and Oehler, reading rursus; the others in cursu – “in the course.”
158 Patrimus, i.e., one whose father is alive, is probably used loosely for patrimus et matrimus, to denote one both of whose parents were alive, who was therefore eligible for certain religious services.
159 So the MS reading terram tenere, for which Hild. would read tensam, denoting the car on which were borne the images of the gods, the thongs or reigns of which were held by the patrimus et matrimus; Lipsius, siserram, the sacrificial victim. The reading of the text has been explained as meaning to touch the ground with one’s hands; but the general meaning is clear enough, – that it was unlucky if the boy made a slip, either with hands or feet.