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Chapter LXXIX.

In the next place, in answer to the human race, who perceive their own superiority, which far exceeds that of the irrational animals, he says:  “With respect to your assertion, that God gave you the power to capture wild beasts, and to make your own use of them, we would say that, in all probability, before cities were built, and arts invented, and societies such as now exist were formed, and weapons and nets employed, men were generally caught and devoured by wild beasts, while wild beasts were very seldom captured by men.”  Now, in reference to this, observe that although men catch wild beasts, and wild beasts make prey of men, there is a great difference between the case of such as by means of their understanding obtain the mastery over those whose superiority consists in their savage and cruel nature, and that of those who do not make use of their understanding to secure their safety from injury by wild beasts.  But when Celsus says, “before cities were built, and arts invented, and societies such as now exist were formed,” he appears to have forgotten what he had before said, that “the world was uncreated and incorruptible, and that it was only the things on earth which underwent deluges and conflagrations, and that all these things did not happen at the same time.”  Now let it be granted that these admissions on his part are entirely in harmony with our views, though not at all with him and his statements made above; yet what does it all avail to prove that in the beginning men were mostly captured and devoured by wild beasts, while wild beasts were never caught by men?  For, since the world was created in conformity with the will of Providence, and God presided over the universe of things, it was necessary that the elements40084008    ζώπυρα. of the human race should at the commencement of its existence be placed under some protection of the higher powers, so that there might be formed from the beginning 533a union of the divine nature with that of men.  And the poet of Ascra, perceiving this, sings:—

“For common then were banquets, and common were seats,

Alike to immortal gods and mortal men.”40094009    Cf. Hesiod, Fragmenta Incerta, ed. Goettling, p. 231.

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