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The Seven Books Of Arnobius Against The Heathen by Arnobius

43 If Jupiter sought to have his games celebratedà

If Jupiter sought to have his games celebrated, and that afresh, with greater care; if he honestly sought to restore the people to health, and that the evil which he had caused should go no further and not be increased, would it not have been better that he should come to the consul himself, to some one of the public priests, the pontifex maximus, or to his own flamen Dialis, and in a vision reveal to him the defect in the games occasioned by the dancer, and the cause of the sadness of the times? What reason had there been that he should choose to announce his wishes and procure the satisfaction desired, a man accustomed to live in the country, unknown from the obscurity of his name, not acquainted with city matters, and perhaps not knowing what a dancer is? And if he indeed knew, as he must have known if he was a diviner, that this fellow would refuse to obey, would it not have been more natural and befitting a god, to change the man's mind, and constrain him to be willing to obey, than to try more cruel methods, and vent his rage indiscriminately, without any reason, as robbers do? For if the old rustic, not being quick in entering upon anything, delayed in doing what was commanded, being kept back by stronger motives, of what had his unhappy children been guilty, that Jupiter's anger and indignation should be turned upon them, and that they should pay for another's offences by being robbed of their lives? And can any man believe that he is a god who is so unjust, so impious, and who does not observe even the laws of men, among whom it would be held a great crime to punish one for another, and to avenge one man's offences upon others? But, I am told, he caused the man himself to be seized by the cruel pestilence. Would it not then have been better, nay rather, juster, if it seemed that this should be done, that dread of punishment should be first excited by the father, who had been the cause of such passion by his disobedient delay, than to do violence to the children, and to consume and destroy innocent persons to make him sorrowful? What, pray, was the meaning of this fierceness, this cruelty, which was so great that, his offspring being dead, it afterwards terrified the father by his own danger! But if he had chosen to do this long before, that is, in the first place, not only would not the innocent brothers have been cut off, but the indignant purpose of the deity also would have been known. But certainly, it will be said, when he had done his duty by announcing the vision, the disease immediately left him, and the man was forthwith restored to health. And what is there to admire in this if he removed the evil which he had himself breathed into the man, and vaunted himself with false pretence? But if you weigh the circumstances thoroughly, there was greater cruelty than kindness in his deliverance, for Jupiter did not preserve him to the joys of life who was miserable and wishing to perish after his children, but to learn his solitariness and the agonies of bereavement.
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