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Sermon Podcast | Audio | Video : Christian Books : The Seven Books Of Arnobius Against The Heathen

The Seven Books Of Arnobius Against The Heathen - Arnobius

Title Page

Introductory Notice to Arnobius.

1 Since I have found some who deem themselves very wise in their opinionsà

2 Let us therefore examine carefully the real significance of that opinionà

3 Since this is so, and since no strange influence has suddenly manifested itself to breakà

4 When was the human race destroyed by a flood? was it not before us? Whenà

5 Did we bring it about, that ten thousand years ago a vast number of menà

6 Although you allege that those wars which you speak of were excited through hatred ofà

7 But if, say my opponents, no damage is done to human affairs by youà

8 And yet, that I may not seem to have no opinion on subjects of thisà

9 It rains not from heaven, my opponent says, and we are in distress from someà

10 And if anything happens which does not foster ourselves or our affairs with joyous successà

11 Would you venture to say that, in this universeà

12 It is rather presumptuous, when you are not your own masterà

13 Because of the Christians, my opponents say, the gods inflict upon us all calamitiesà

14 And yet do we not see that, in these years and seasons that have intervenedà

15 Sometimes, however, there were seasons of scarcity; yet they were relieved by times of plenty.à

16 Yet one cannot discover by any rational process of reasoningà

17 And yet, O ye great worshippers and priests of the deitiesà

18 But if this that you say is true, -- if it has been tested andà

19 Moreover, in this way you represent them as not only unstable and excitableà

20 Do they on this account wreak their wrath on you tooà

21 To you let them give good health, to us badà

22 And since facts themselves testify that this result never occursà

23 But the TRUE gods, and those who are worthy to have and to wear theà

24 These are your ideas, these are your sentiments, impiously conceivedà

25 And lest any one should suppose that we, through distrust in our replyà

26 Is this, I pray, that daring and heinous iniquity on account of which the mightyà

27 This is not the place to examine all our traducersà

28 What say ye, O interpreters of sacred and of divine law? Are they attached toà

29 And would that it were allowed me to deliver this argument with the whole worldà

30 Does it not occur to you to reflect and to examine in whose domain youà

31 O greatest, O Supreme Creator of things invisible! O Thou who art Thyself unseenà

32 Our discussion deals with those who, acknowledging that there is a divine race of beingsà

33 Is there any human being who has not entered on the first day of hisà

34 But in vain, says one, do you assail us with a groundless and calumnious chargeà

35 But suppose they be one, as you wish, and not different in any power ofà

36 But, says my opponent, the deities are not inimical to youà

37 We worship one who was born a man.à

38 But in the meantime let us grant, in submission to your ideasà

39 But lately, O blindness, I worshipped images produced from the furnaceà

40 But He died nailed to the cross.à

41 And yet, O ye who laugh because we worship one who died an ignominious deathà

42 You worship, says my opponent, one who was born a mere human being.à

43 My opponent will perhaps meet me with many other slanderous and childish charges which areà

44 And yet it is agreed on that Christ performed all those miracles which He wroughtà

45 What do you say again, oh you -- ? Is He then a manà

46 Was He one of us, I say, who by one act of intervention at onceà

47 These facts set forth in sanctuary we have put forwardà

48 But, says some one, you in vain claim so much for Christà

49 And since you compare Christ and the other deities as to the blessings of healthà

50 Moreover, by His own power He not only performed those miraculous deeds which have beenà

51 What say ye, O minds incredulous, stubborn, hardened? Did that great Jupiter Capitolinus of yoursà

52 Come, then, let some Magian Zoroaster arrive from a remote part of the globeà

53 Cease in your ignorance to receive such great deeds with abusive languageà

54 But you do not believe these things; yet those who witnessed their occurrenceà

55 But if this record of events is false, as you sayà

56 But our writers, we shall be told, have put forth these statements with FALSE effronteryà

57 You do not believe our writings, and we do not believe yours.à

58 But they were written by unlearned and ignorant menà

59 Your narratives, my opponent says, are overrun with barbarisms and solecismsà

60 But, say my opponents, if Christ was God, why did He appear in human shapeà

61 What, then, says my opponent, could not the Supreme Ruler have brought about those thingsà

62 But, you will say, He was cut off by death as men are.à

63 What are these hidden and unseen mysteries, you will sayà

64 What, then, constrains you, what excites you to revileà

65 Oh ungrateful and impious age, prepared for its own destruction by its extraordinary obstinacy! Ifà

1 Here, if any means could be found, I should wish to converse thus with allà

2 But indeed, some one will say, He deserved our hatred because He has driven religionà

3 But He did not permit men to make supplication to the lesser gods.à

4 But all these things will be more clearly and distinctly noticed when we have proceededà

5 What say you, O ignorant ones, for whom we might well weep and be sad?à

6 But perhaps those seem to you weak-minded and sillyà

7 In the first place, you yourselves, too, see clearly thatà

8 And since you have been wont to laugh at our faithà

9 What, have you seen with your eyes, and handled with your handsà

10 Finally, do not even the leaders and founders of the schools already mentionedà

11 But, supposing that these things do not at all hinder or prevent your being boundà

12 You bring forward arguments against us, and speculative quibblingsà

13 Meantime, however, O you who wonder and are astonished at the doctrines of the learnedà

14 Do you dare to laugh at us when we speak of hellà

15 Wherefore there is no reason that that should mislead usà

16 But, they say, while we are moving swiftly down towards our mortal bodiesà

17 But we have reason, one will say, and excel the whole race of dumb animalsà

18 They have not learned, I will be told, to make clothingà

19 But if men either knew themselves thoroughly, or had the slightest knowledge of Godà

20 And, that we may show you more clearly and distinctly what is the worth ofà

21 Now, as we have prepared a place for our ideaà

22 To what, then, you ask, do these things tend? We have brought them forward inà

23 If you give a grape to him when hungryà

24 Why, O Plato, do you in the Meno put to a young slave certain questionsà

25 What say you, O men, who assign to yourselves too much of an excellence notà

26 But when I hear the soul spoken of as something extraordinaryà

27 So then, if souls lose all their knowledge on being fettered with the bodyà

28 And yet, that we may not be as ignorant when we leave you as beforeà

29 Now, since it is so, cease, I pray youà

30 But will he not be terrified by the punishments in Hadesà

31 A certain neutral character, then, and undecided and doubtful nature of the soulà

32 Since these things are so, and we have been taught by the greatest teacher thatà

33 Seeing that the fear of death, that is, the ruin of our soulsà

34 Since this is the case, what, pray, is so unfair as that we should beà

35 But, say my opponents, if souls are mortal and of neutral characterà

36 But the gods are said to be immortal.à

37 But if souls were, as is said, the Lord's childrenà

38 For, to begin with what is important, what advantage is it to the world thatà

39 But perhaps, some one will urge, the Ruler of the world sent hither souls sprungà

40 Was it for this He sent souls hither, that while the other creatures are fedà

41 Was it for this He sent souls, that they which shortly before had been gentleà

42 Was it for this He sent souls, that some should infest the highways and roadsà

43 What say you, O offspring and descendants of the Supreme Deity? Did these soulsà

44 But, you say, they came of their own accordà

45 But let this monstrous and impious fancy be put far from usà

46 But, to say the same things again and againà

47 But, you say, if God is not the parent and father of soulsà

48 Here, too, in like manner, when we deny that souls are the offspring of Godà

49 But, you will say, there are good men also in the worldà

50 You say that there are good men in the human raceà

51 But you laugh at our reply, because, while we deny that souls are of royalà

52 And yet, lest you should suppose that none but yourselves can make use of conjecturesà

53 Since this, then, is the case, we do nothing out of place or foolish inà

54 Can, then, anything be made, some one will sayà

55 But when, overcome, we agree that there are these thingsà

56 As for all the other things which are usually dwelt upon in inquiries and discussionsà

57 While, then, this is the case, and it cannot but be that only one ofà

58 What, then, are we alone ignorant? do we alone not know who is the creatorà

59 If that which it has pleased us to know is within reachà

60 Seeing, then, that the origin, the cause, the reason of so many and so importantà

61 What business of yours is it, He says, to examineà

62 And be not deceived or deluded with vain hopes by that which is said byà

63 But if, my opponents say, Christ was sent by God for this endà

64 But, my opponents ask, if Christ came as the Saviour of menà

65 Nay, my opponent says, if God is powerful, mercifulà

66 So, then, even if you are pure, and have been cleansed from every stain ofà

67 Therefore, when you urge against us that we turn away from the religion of pastà

68 On the Alban hill, it was not allowed in ancient times to sacrifice any butà

69 But our name is new, we are told, and the religion which we follow aroseà

70 But why do I speak of these trivial things? The immortal gods themselvesà

71 But our rites are new; yours are ancient, and of excessive antiquityà

72 But your religion precedes ours by many years, and is thereforeà

73 But are we alone in this position? What! have you not introduced into the numberà

74 And why, my opponent says, did God, the Ruler and Lord of the universeà

75 You may object and rejoin, Why was the Saviour sent forth so late? In unboundedà

76 Inasmuch then, you say, as you serve the Almighty Godà

77 Therefore that bitterness of persecution of which you speak is our deliverance and not persecutionà

78 Wherefore, O men, refrain from obstructing what you hope for by vain questionsà

1 All these charges, then, which might truly be better termed abuseà

2 Let us now return to the order from which we were a little ago compelledà

3 And as in the kingdoms of earth we are in no wise constrained expressly toà

4 But we do not purpose delaying further on this part of the subjectà

5 But let it be assumed that there are these godsà

6 And yet let no one think that we are perversely determined not to submit toà

7 But why should I say that men seek from him subtleties of expression and splendourà

8 And yet, that no thoughtless person may raise a FALSE accusation against usà

9 What, then, shall we say? That gods beget and are begotten? and that therefore theyà

10 What say you, ye holy and pure guardians of religion? Have the godsà

11 And you dare to charge us with offending the godsà

12 Thus far of sex.à

13 But it is not enough that you limit the gods by formsà

14 Are, then, the divine bodies free from these deformities? and since they do not eatà

15 Does any man at all possessed of judgment, believe that hairs and down grow onà

16 But you will, perhaps, say that the gods have indeed other formsà

17 But, they say, if you are not satisfied with our opinionà

18 What, then, some one will say, does the Deity not hear? does He not speak?à

19 If you are willing to hear our conclusions, then learn that we are so farà

20 This, then, this matter of forms and sexes, is the first affront which youà

21 And, I ask, what reason is there, what unavoidable necessityà

22 You err, my opponent says, and are deceived; for the gods are not themselves artificersà

23 But you will, perhaps, say that the gods are not artificersà

24 No one, says my opponent, makes supplication to the tutelar deitiesà

25 Unxia, my opponent says, presides over the anointing of door-postsà

26 We shall not here mention Laverna, goddess of thievesà

27 Now we may apply this very argument to Venus in exactly the same way.à

28 Can any man, who has accepted the first principles even of reasonà

29 We might, however, even yet be able to receive from you these thoughtsà

30 But what shall we say of Jove himself, whom the wise have repeatedly asserted toà

31 Aristotle, a man of most powerful intellect, and distinguished for learningà

32 Mercury, also, has been named as though he were a kind of go-betweenà

33 We here leave Vulcan unnoticed, to avoid prolixity; whom you all declare to be fireà

34 Some of your learned men -- men, too, who do not chatter merely because theirà

35 Men worthy to be remembered in the study of philosophyà

36 If we sought to subvert the belief in your gods in so many waysà

37 We are told by Mnaseas that the Muses are the daughters of Tellus and Coelusà

38 How, then, can you give to religion its whole powerà

39 There are some, besides, who assert that those who from being men became godsà

40 Nigidius taught that the dii Penates were Neptune and Apolloà

41 We can, if it is thought proper, speak briefly of the Lares alsoà

42 It is a vast and endless task to examine each kind separatelyà

43 For if this deity requires a black, that a white skinà

44 Wherefore, if you are assured that in the lofty palaces of heaven there dwellsà

1 We would ask you, and you above all, O Romansà

2 For we -- but, perhaps, you would rob and deprive us of common-sense -- feelà

3 With regard, indeed, to your bringing forward to us other bands of unknown godsà

4 Pellonia is a goddess mighty to drive back enemies.à

5 The sinister deities preside over the regions on the left hand onlyà

6 Lateranus, as you say, is the god and genius of hearthsà

7 Does Venus Militaris, also, preside over the evil-doing of campsà

8 Say, I pray you, -- that Peta, Puta, Patella may graciously favour youà

9 What then? you say; do you declare that these gods exist nowhere in the worldà

10 But if you urge that bones, different kinds of honeyà

11 What say you, O fathers of new religions, and powers? Do you cry outà

12 But let them be true, as you maintain, yet will you have us also believeà

13 Or, if you refuse to believe this on account of its noveltyà

14 Your theologians, then, and authors on unknown antiquity, say that in the universe there areà

15 And lest it should seem tedious and prolix to wish to consider each person singlyà

16 For suppose that it had occurred to us, moved either by suitable influence or violentà

17 We may say the very same things of the Mercuriesà

18 But some one on the opposite side says, How do we know whether the theologiansà

19 But perhaps these things will turn out to be falseà

20 But you, on the contrary, forgetting how great their dignity and grandeur areà

21 But perhaps this foul pollution may be less apparent in the rest.à

22 And, not content to have ascribed these carnal unions to the venerable Saturnà

23 Men, though prone to lust, and inclined, through weakness of characterà

24 If you will open your minds' eyes, and see the real truth without gratifying anyà

25 Did we say that Venus was a courtezan, deified by a Cyprian king named Cinyras?à

26 But what shall I say of the desires with which it is written in yourà

27 But among you, is it only the males who lustà

28 For where there are weddings, marriages, births, nurses, artsà

29 And here, indeed, we can show that all those whom you represent to us asà

30 But in the discussion which we at present maintainà

31 We wish, then, to question you, and invite you to answer a short questionà

32 But all these things, they say, are the fictions of poetsà

33 Your gods, it is recorded, dine on celestial couchesà

34 But why do I complain that you have disregarded the insults offered to the otherà

35 But is it only poets whom you have thought proper to allow to invent unseemlyà

36 But this crime is not enough: the persons of the most sacred gods are mixedà

37 But this is the state of the case, that as you are exceedingly strong inà

1 Admitting that all these things which do the immortal gods dishonourà

2 What the mind should take up first, what lastà

3 But let us admit that, as is said, Jupiter has himself appointed against himself waysà

4 But you will perhaps say that the king was a diviner.à

5 In Timotheus, who was no mean mythologist, and also in others equally well informedà

6 Now, when it had been often considered in the councils of the godsà

7 Then Midas, king of Pessinus, wishing to withdraw the youth from so disgraceful an intimacyà

8 If some one, despising the deities, and furious with a savagely sacrilegious spirità

9 But why do we speak of your having bemired the Great Mother of the godsà

10 But you will perhaps say the human race shuns and execrates such unionsà

11 There was doubt in the councils of the gods how that unyielding and fierce violenceà

12 Would any one say this about the gods who had even a very low opinionà

13 Through her bosom, we are told, Nana conceived a son by an apple.à

14 What say you, O races and nations, given up to such beliefs? When these thingsà

15 We might long ago have urged you to ponder thisà

16 And yet how can you assert the falsehood of this storyà

17 Or if the things which we say are not soà

18 The greatness of the subject, and our duty to those on their defence alsoà

19 We shall pass by the wild Bacchanalia also, which are named in Greek Omophagiaà

20 It was our purpose to leave unnoticed those mysteries also into which Phrygia is initiatedà

21 Jupiter is troubled enough, being overwhelmed with fear, and cannot find means to soothe theà

22 I do not think it necessary here also with many words to go through eachà

23 I should wish, therefore, to see Jupiter, the father of the godsà

24 But, my opponent says, these are not the rites of our state.à

25 In her wanderings on that quest, she reaches the confines of Eleusis as well asà

26 If any one perchance thinks that we are speaking wicked calumniesà

27 Are then your deities carried off by force, and do they seize by violenceà

28 I confess that I have long been hesitating, looking on every sideà

29 Now, to prevent any one from thinking that we have devised what is so impiousà

30 I confess that, in reflecting on such monstrous stories in my own mindà

31 But you who assert that you are the defenders and propagators of their immortalityà

32 But you err, says my opponent, and are mistakenà

33 These are all quirks, as is evident, and quibbles with which they are wont toà

34 But, agreeing with you that in all these stories stags are spoken of instead ofà

35 Finally, if you think it right, returning to our inquiryà

36 But you will perhaps say that these allegories are not found in the whole bodyà

37 Let us examine, then, what is said in this way.à

38 Either, then, they must all have been written and put forward allegoricallyà

39 Whence, then, do we prove that all these narratives are records of events? From theà

40 And yet, even if we grant you that this is the caseà

41 It was once usual, in speaking allegorically, to conceal under perfectly decent ideasà

42 But you will perhaps say, for this only is left which you may think canà

43 But what the meaning of this is, is already clear to all.à

44 But if you come to the conclusion that these fables have been written allegoricallyà

45 Judge fairly, and you are deserving of censure in thisà

1 Having shown briefly how impious and infamous are the opinions which you have formed aboutà

2 For -- that you may learn what are our sentiments and opinions about that raceà

3 But, we are told, we rear no temples to themà

4 But, says my opponent, it is not for this reason that we assign temples toà

5 Now, if this be not the case, all hope of help is taken awayà

6 What can you say as to this, that it is attested by the writings ofà

7 But why do I speak of these trifles? What man is there who is ignorantà

8 We have therefore -- as I suppose -- shown sufficientlyà

9 We worship the gods, you say, by means of images.à

10 And whence, finally, do you know whether all these images which you form and putà

11 You laugh because in ancient times the Persians worshipped riversà

12 From such causes as these this also has followedà

13 But why do I laugh at the sickles and tridents which have been given toà

14 We would here, as if all nations on the earth were presentà

15 Lo, if some one were to place before you copper in the lumpà

16 And so unmindful and forgetful of what the substance and origin of the images areà

17 But you err, says my opponent, and are mistakenà

18 What then? Do the gods remain always in such substancesà

19 The gods dwell in images -- each wholly in oneà

20 And yet, O you -- if it is plain and clear to you that theà

21 They say that Antiochus of Cyzicum took from its shrine a statue of Jupiter madeà

22 But you will perhaps say that the gods do not trouble themselves about these lossesà

23 But perhaps, as you say, the goddesses took the greatest pleasure in these lewd andà

24 Here also the advocates of images are wont to say this alsoà

25 For what grandeur -- if you look at the truth without any prejudice -- isà

26 O dreadful forms of terror and frightful bugbears on account of which the human raceà

1 Since it has been sufficiently shown, as far as there has been opportunityà

2 Who are the TRUE gods? you say.à

3 So, then, if these things are so, we desire to learn thisà

4 If perchance it is not this, are victims not slain in sacrifice to the godsà

5 We have next to examine the argument which we hear continually coming from the lipsà

6 But let us allow, as you wish, that the gods are accustomed to such disturbanceà

7 But neither do I demand that this should be saidà

8 But this, as I said, I do not mentionà

9 So, if some ox, or any animal you pleaseà

10 But perhaps some one will say, We give to the gods sacrifices and other giftsà

11 Lastly, if the gods drive away sorrow and griefà

12 Or the gods of heaven should be said to be ungrateful ifà

13 We have shown sufficiently, as I suppose, that victimsà

14 But all this conceding and ascribing of honour about which we are speaking are metà

15 What then! some one will say, do you think that no honour should be givenà

16 What say you, O you -- ! is that foul smellà

17 Lo, if dogs -- for a case must be imaginedà

18 And as we are now speaking of the animals sacrificedà

19 But you err, says my opponent, and fall into mistakesà

20 But let us agree, as you wish, that there are both infernal regions and Manesà

21 But this, too, it is fitting that we should here learn from youà

22 If, then, these things are vain, and are not supported by any reasonà

23 For as to that which we hear said by youà

24 Be it so; let it be conceded that these most unfortunate cattle are not sacrificedà

25 For if whatever is done by men, and especially in religionà

26 We have now to say a few words about incense and wineà

27 Finally, that we may always abide by the rule and definition by which it hasà

28 Will any one say that incense is given to the celestialsà

29 Wine is used along with incense; and of thisà

30 But, says my opponent, you are insulting us without reasonà

31 It is worth while to bring forward the words themselves alsoà

32 But let there be, as you wish, honour in wine and in incenseà

33 But the games which you celebrate, called Floralia and Megalensiaà

34 Whence, therefore, have these vicious opinions flowed, or from what causes have they sprung? Fromà

35 Come now: as the discussion has been prolonged and led to these pointsà

36 You say that some of them cause dissensionsà

37 Since these things are so, and since there is so great difference between our opinionsà

38 If the immortal gods cannot be angry, says my opponentà

39 We have come, then, in speaking, to the very point of the caseà

40 But neither shall we deny that we know this as wellà

41 All these things which have been mentioned, have indeed a miraculous appearanceà

42 And what pollution or abomination could have flowed from thisà

43 If Jupiter sought to have his games celebratedà

44 In like manner we might go through the other narrativesà

45 And as we read that he used food alsoà

46 But, says my opponent, if he was not a godà

47 But if that snake was not a present deityà

48 But some one will perhaps say that the care of such a god hasà

49 But the Great Mother, also, says my opponentà

50 What shall we say then? Was Hannibal, that famous Carthaginianà

51 But suppose that the deity was present in that very stoneà



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