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The Seven Books Of Arnobius Against The Heathen by Arnobius

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

But is it only poets whom you have thought proper to allow to invent unseemly tales about the gods, and to turn them shamefully into sport? What do your pantomimists, the actors, that crowd of mimics and adulterers? Do they not abuse your gods to make to themselves gain, and do not the others find enticing pleasures in the wrongs and insults offered to the gods? At the public games, too, the colleges of all the priests and magistrates take their places, the chief Pontiffs, and the chief priests of the curiæ; the Quindecemviri take their places, crowned with wreaths of laurel, and the flamines diales with their mitres; the augurs take their places, who disclose the divine mind and will; and the chaste maidens also, who cherish and guard the ever-burning fire; the whole people and the senate take their places; the fathers who have done service as consuls, princes next to the gods, and most worthy of reverence; and, shameful to say, Venus, the mother of the race of Mars, and parent of the imperial people, is represented by gestures as in love, and is delineated with shameless mimicry as raving like a Bacchanal, with all the passions of a vile harlot. The Great Mother, too, adorned with her sacred fillets, is represented by dancing; and that Pessinuntic Dindymene is, to the dishonour of her age, represented as with shameful desire using passionate gestures in the embrace of a herdsman; and also in the Trachiniæ of Sophocles, that son of Jupiter, Hercules, entangled in the toils of a death-fraught garment, is exhibited uttering piteous cries, overcome by his violent suffering, and at last wasting away and being consumed, as his intestines soften and are dissolved. But in these tales even the Supreme Ruler of the heavens Himself is brought forward, without any reverence for His name and majesty, as acting the part of an adulterer, and changing His countenance for purposes of seduction, in order that He might by guile rob of their chastity matrons, who were the wives of others, and putting on the appearance of their husbands, by assuming the form of another.
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