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Chapter LIV.

But since he sends us to Hercules, let him repeat to us any of his sayings, and let him justify his shameful subjection to Omphale.  Let him show that divine honours should be paid to one who, like a highway robber, carries off a farmer’s ox by force, and afterwards devours it, amusing himself meanwhile with the curses of the owner; in memory of which even to this day sacrifices offered to the demon of Hercules are accompanied with curses.  Again he proposes Æsculapius to us, as if to oblige us to repeat what we have said already; but we forbear.  In regard to Orpheus, what does he admire in him to make him assert that, by common consent, he was regarded as a divinely inspired man, and lived a noble life?  I am greatly deceived if it is not the desire which Celsus has to oppose us and put down Jesus that leads him to sound forth the praises of Orpheus; and whether, when he made himself acquainted with his impious fables about the gods, he did not cast them aside as deserving, even more than the poems of Homer, to be excluded from a well-ordered state.  For, indeed, Orpheus says much worse things than Homer of those whom they call gods.  Noble, indeed, it was in Anaxarchus to say to Aristocreon, tyrant of Cyprus, “Beat on, beat the shell of Anaxarchus,” but it is the one admirable incident in the life of Anaxarchus known to the Greeks; and although, on the strength of that, some like Celsus might deservedly honour the man for his courage, yet to look up to Anaxarchus as a god is not consistent with reason.  He also directs us to Epictetus, whose firmness is justly admired, although his saying when his leg was broken by his master is not to be compared with the marvellous acts and words of Jesus which Celsus refuses to believe; and these words were accompanied by such a divine power, that even to this day they convert not only some of the more ignorant and simple, but many also of the most enlightened of men.

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