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The Seven Books Of Arnobius Against The Heathen by Arnobius

12 From such causes as these this also has followedà

From such causes as these this also has followed, with your connivance, that the wanton fancy of artists has found full scope in representing the bodies of the gods, and giving forms to them, at which even the sternest might laugh. And so Hammon is even now formed and represented with a ram's horns; Saturn with his crooked sickle, like some guardian of the fields, and pruner of too luxuriant branches; the son of Maia with a broad-brimmed travelling cap, as if he were preparing to take the road, and avoiding the sun's rays and the dust; Liber with tender limbs, and with a woman's perfectly free and easily flowing lines of body; Venus, naked and unclothed, just as if you said that she exposed publicly, and sold to all comers, the beauty of her prostituted body; Vulcan with his cap and hammer, but with his right hand free, and with his dress girt up as a workman prepares for his work; the Delian god with a plectrum and lyre, gesticulating like a player on the cithern and an actor about to sing; the king of the sea with his trident, just as if he had to fight in the gladiatorial contest: nor can any figure of any deity be found which does not have certain characteristics bestowed on it by the generosity of its makers. Lo, if some witty and cunning king were to remove the Sun from his place before the gate and transfer him to that of Mercury, and again were to carry off Mercury and make him migrate to the shrine of the Sun, -- for both are made beardless by you, and with smooth faces, -- and to give to this one rays of light to place a little cap on the Sun's head, how will you be able to distinguish between them, whether this is the Sun, or that Mercury, since dress, not the peculiar appearance of the face, usually points out the gods to you? Again, if, having transported them in like manner, he were to take away his horns from the unclad Jupiter, and fix them upon the temples of Mars, and to strip Mars of his arms, and, on the other hand, invest Hammon with them, what distinction can there be between them, since he who had been Jupiter can be also supposed to be Mars, and he who had been Mavors can assume the appearance of Jupiter Hammon? To such an extent is there wantonness in fashioning those images and consecrating names, as if they were peculiar to them; since, if you take away their dress, the means of recognising each is put an end to, god may be believed to be god, one may seem to be the other, nay, more, both may be considered both!
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