Chapter XXXII.—The Doctrine of the Christians, is Opposed to Dissensions, and Fitted for All.
But with us there is no desire of vainglory, nor do
we indulge in a variety of opinions. For having renounced the popular
and earthly, and obeying the commands of God, and following the law
of the Father of immortality, we reject everything which rests upon
human opinion. Not only do the rich among us pursue our philosophy, but
the poor enjoy instruction gratuitously;502502 for the things which come from God
surpass the requital of worldly gifts. Thus we admit all who desire to
hear, even old women and striplings; and, in short, persons of every
age are treated by us with respect, but every kind of licentiousness is
kept at a distance. And in speaking we do not utter falsehood. It would
be an excellent thing if your continuance in unbelief should receive a
check; but, however that may be, let our cause remain confirmed by the
judgment pronounced by God. Laugh, if you please; but you will have to
weep hereafter. Is it not absurd that Nestor,503503 who was slow at cutting
his horses’ reins owing to his weak and sluggish old age, is,
according to you, to be admired for attempting to rival the young men
in fighting, while you deride those among us who struggle against old
age and occupy themselves with the things pertaining to God? Who would
not laugh when you tell us that the Amazons, and Semiramis, and certain
other warlike women existed, while you cast reproaches on our maidens?
Achilles was a youth, yet is believed to have been very magnanimous;
and Neoptolemus was younger, but strong; Philoctetes was weak, but the
divinity had need of him against Troy. What sort of man was Thersites?
yet he held a command in the army, and, if he had not through doltishness
had such an unbridled tongue, he would not have been reproached for being
peak-headed and bald. As for those who wish to learn our philosophy,
we do not test them by their looks, nor do we judge of those who come to
us by their outward appearance; for we argue that there may be strength
of mind in all, though they may be weak in body. But your proceedings
are full of envy and abundant stupidity.