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The Seven Books Of Arnobius Against The Heathen by Arnobius

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

But you will perhaps say that the gods do not trouble themselves about these losses, and do not think that there is sufficient cause for them to come forth and inflict punishment upon the offenders for their impious sacrilege. Neither, then, if this is the case, do they wish to have these images, which they allow to be plucked up and torn away with impunity; nay, on the contrary, they tell us plainly that they despise these statues, in which they do not care to show that they were contemned, by taking any revenge. Philostephanus relates in his Cypriaca, that Pygmalion, king of Cyprus, loved as a woman an image of Venus, which was held by the Cyprians holy and venerable from ancient times, his mind, spirit, the light of his reason, and his judgment being darkened; and that he was wont in his madness, just as if he were dealing with his wife, having raised the deity to his couch, to be joined with it in embraces and face to face, and to do other vain things, carried away by a foolishly lustful imagination. Similarly, Posidippus, in the book which he mentions to have been written about Gnidus and about its affairs, relates that a young man, of noble birth, -- but he conceals his name, -- carried away with love of the Venus because of which Gnidus is famous, joined himself also in amorous lewdness to the image of the same deity, stretched on the genial couch, and enjoying the pleasures which ensue. To ask, again, in like manner: If the powers of the gods above lurk in copper and the other substances of which images have been formed, where in the world was the one Venus and the other to drive far away from them the lewd wantonness of the youths, and punish their impious touch with terrible suffering? Or, as the goddesses are gentle and of calmer dispositions, what would it have been for them to assuage the furious joys of the wretched men, and to bring back their insane minds again to their senses?
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