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The Seven Books Of Arnobius Against The Heathen by Arnobius

25 For if whatever is done by men, and especially in religionà

For if whatever is done by men, and especially in religion, should have its causes, -- and nothing should be done without a reason in all that men do and perform, -- tell us and say what is the cause, what the reason, that these things also are given to the gods and burned upon their sacred altars? For here we delay, constrained most urgently to wait for this cause, we pause, we stand fast, desiring to learn what a god has to do with pottage, with cakes, with different kinds of stuffing prepared in manifold ways, and with different ingredients? Are the deities affected by splendid dinners or luncheons, so that it is fitting to devise for them feasts without number? Are they troubled by the loathings of their stomachs, and is variety of flavours sought for to get rid of their aversion, so that there is set before them meat at one time roasted, at another raw, and at another half cooked and half raw? But if the gods like to receive all these parts which you term præsiciæ, and if these gratify them with any sense of pleasure or delight, what prevents, what hinders you from laying all these upon their altars at once with the whole animals? What cause, what reason is there that the haunch-piece by itself, the gullet, the tail, and the tail-piece separately, the entrails only, and the membrane alone, should be brought to do them honour? Are the gods of heaven moved by various condiments? After stuffing themselves with sumptuous and ample dinners, do they, as is usually done, take these little bits as sweet dainties, not to appease their hunger, but to rouse their wearied palates, and excite in themselves a perfectly voracious appetite? O wonderful greatness of the gods, comprehended by no men, understood by no creatures! if indeed their favours are bought with the testicles and gullets of beasts, and if they do not lay aside their anger and resentment, unless they see the entrails prepared and offæ bought and burned upon their altars.
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