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Chapter XXII.—Argument:  Moreover, These Fables, Which at First Were Invented by Ignorant Men, Were Afterwards Celebrated by Others, and Chiefly by Poets, Who Did No Little Mischief to the Truth by Their Authority.  By Fictions of This Kind, and by Falsehoods of a Yet More Attractive Nature, the Minds of Young People are Corrupted, and Thence They Miserably Grow Old in These Beliefs, Although, on the Other Hand, the Truth is Obvious to Them If They Will Only Seek After It.

“These fables and errors we both learn from ignorant parents, and, what is more serious still, we elaborate them in our very studies and instructions, especially in the verses of the poets, who as much as possible have prejudiced17911791    Some read, “and it is marvellous how these have prejudiced,” etc. the truth17921792    Some read, “the truth itself.” by their authority.  And for this reason Plato rightly expelled from the state which he had founded in his discourse, the illustrious Homer whom he had praised and crowned.17931793    Plat., de Rep., lib. iii.  For it was he especially who in the Trojan was allowed your gods, although he made jests of them, still to interfere in the affairs and doings of men:  he brought them together in contest; he wounded Venus; he bound, wounded, and drove away Mars.  He relates that Jupiter was set free by Briareus, so as not to be bound fast by the rest of the gods; and that he bewailed in showers of blood his son Sarpedon, because he could not snatch him from death; and that, enticed by the girdle of Venus, he lay more eagerly with his wife Juno than he was accustomed to do with his adulterous loves.  Elsewhere Hercules threw out dung, and Apollo is feeding cattle for Admetus.  Neptune, however, builds walls for Laomedon, and the unfortunate builder did not receive the wages for his work.  Then Jupiter’s thunderbolt is fabricated17941794    Otherwise, “Then Vulcan fabricates,” etc. on the anvil with the arms of Æneas, although there were heaven, and thunderbolts, and lightnings long before Jupiter was born in Crete; and neither could the Cyclops imitate, nor Jupiter himself help fearing, the flames of the real thunderbolt.  Why should I speak of the detected adultery of Mars and Venus, and of the violence of Jupiter against Ganymede,—a deed consecrated, (as you say,) in heaven?  And all these things have been put forward with this view, that a certain authority might be gained for the vices17951795    Otherwise, “judgments.” of men.  By these fictions, and such as these, and by lies of a more attractive kind, the minds of boys are corrupted; and with the same fables clinging to them, they grow up even to the strength of mature age; and, poor wretches, they grow old in the same beliefs, although the truth is plain, if they will only seek after it.  For all the writers of antiquity, both Greek and Roman, have set forth that Saturn, the beginner of this race and multitude, was a man.  Nepos knows this, and Cassius in his history; and Thallus and Diodorus speak the same thing.  This Saturn then, driven from Crete, by the fear of his raging son, had come to Italy, and, received by the hospitality of Janus, taught those unskilled and rustic men many things,—as, being something of a Greek, and polished,—to print letters for instance, to coin money, to make instruments.  Therefore he preferred that his hiding-place, because he had been safely hidden (latent) there, should be called Latium; and he gave a city, from his own name, the name of Saturnia, and Janus, Janiculum, so that each of them left their names to the memory of posterity.  Therefore it was certainly a man that fled, certainly a man who was concealed, and the father of a man, and sprung from a man.  He was declared, however, to be the son of earth or of heaven, because among the Italians he was of unknown parents; as even to this day we call those who appear unexpectedly, sent from heaven, those who are ignoble and unknown, sons of the earth.  His son Jupiter reigned at Crete after his father was driven out.  There he died, there he had sons.  To this day the cave of Jupiter is visited, and his sepulchre is shown, and he is convicted of being human by those very sacred rites of his.


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