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The Seven Books Of Arnobius Against The Heathen by Arnobius

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

Since it has been sufficiently shown, as far as there has been opportunity, how vain it is to form images, the course of our argument requires that we should next speak as briefly as possible, and without any periphrasis, about sacrifices, about the slaughter and immolation of victims, about pure wine, about incense, and about all the other things which are provided on such occasions. For with respect to this you have been in the habit of exciting against us the most violent ill-will, of calling us atheists, and inflicting upon us the punishment of death, even by savagely tearing us to pieces with wild beasts, on the ground that we pay very little respect to the gods; which, indeed, we admit that we do, not from contempt or scorn of the divine, but because we think that such powers require nothing of the kind, and are not possessed by desires for such things.

What, then, some one will say, do you think that no sacrifices at all should be offered? To answer you not with our own, but with your Varro's opinion -- none. Why so? Because, he says, the true gods neither wish nor demand these; while those which are made of copper, earthenware, gypsum, or marble, care much less for these things, for they have no feeling; and you are not blamed if you do not offer them, nor do you win favour if you do. No sounder opinion can be found, none truer, and one which any one may adopt, although he may be stupid and very hard to convince. For who is so obtuse as either to slay victims in sacrifice to those who have no sense, or to think that they should be given to those who are removed far from them in their nature and blessed state?

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