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The Seven Books Of Arnobius Against The Heathen by Arnobius

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

But, we are told, we rear no temples to them, and do not worship their images; we do not slay victims in sacrifice, we do not offer incense and libations of wine. And what greater honour or dignity can we ascribe to them, than that we put them in the same position as the Head and Lord of the universe, to whom the gods owe it in common with us, that they are conscious that they exist, and have a living being? For do we honour Him with shrines, and by building temples? Do we even slay victims to Him? Do we give Him the other things, to take which and pour them forth in libation shows not a careful regard to reason, but heed to a practice maintained merely by usage? For it is perfect folly to measure greater powers by your necessities, and to give the things useful to yourself to the gods who give all things, and to think this an honour, not an insult. We ask, therefore, to do what service to the gods, or to meet what want, do you say that temples have been reared, and think that they should be again built? Do they feel the cold of winter, or are they scorched by summer suns? Do storms of rain flow over them, or whirlwinds shake them? Are they in danger of being exposed to the onset of enemies, or the furious attacks of wild beasts, so that it is right and becoming to shut them up in places of security, or guard them by throwing up a rampart of stones? For what are these temples? If you ask human weakness -- something vast and spacious; if you consider the power of the gods -- small caves, as it were, and even, to speak more truly, the narrowest kind of caverns formed and contrived with sorry judgment. Now, if you ask to be told who was their first founder and builder, either Phoroneus or the Egyptian Merops will be mentioned to you, or, as Varro relates in his treatise |de Admirandis,| Æacus the offspring of Jupiter. Though these, then, should be built of heaps of marble, or shine resplendent with ceilings fretted with gold, though precious stones sparkle here, and gleam like stars set at varying intervals, all these things are made up of earth, and of the lowest dregs of even baser matter. For not even, if you value these more highly, is it to be believed that the gods take pleasure in them, or that they do not refuse and scorn to shut themselves up, and be confined within these barriers. This, my opponent says, is the temple of Mars, this that of Juno and of Venus, this that of Hercules, of Apollo, of Dis. What is this but to say this is the house of Mars, this of Juno and Venus, Apollo dwells here, in this abides Hercules, in that Summanus? Is it not, then, the very greatest affront to hold the gods kept fast in habitations, to give to them little huts, to build lockfast places and cells, and to think that the things are necessary to them which are needed by men, cats, emmets, and lizards, by quaking, timorous, and little mice?
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