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Chapter VII.—Practical Absurdity of the Chaldaic Art; Development of the Art.

In this manner also, that these points are not deserving so much labour, is evident to those who prefer to think correctly, and do not attend to the bombast of the Chaldeans, who consign monarchs to utter obscurity, by perfecting cowardice182182    The Abbe Cruice suggests “freedom from danger,” instead of “cowardice,” and translates thus: “whereby kings are slain, by having impunity promised in the predictions of these seers.” in them, and rouse private individuals to dare great exploits. But if any one, surrendering himself to evil, is guilty of delinquency, he who has been thus deceived does not become a teacher to all whom the Chaldeans are disposed to mislead by their mistakes. (Far from it); (these astrologers) impel the minds (of their dupes, as they would have them), into endless perturbation, (when) they affirm that a configuration of the same stars could not return to a similar position, otherwise than by the renewal of the Great Year, through a space of seven thousand seven hundred and seventy and seven years.183183    Sextus makes the number “nine thousand nine hundred and seventy and seven years.” How then, I ask, will human observation for one birth be able to harmonize with so many ages; and this not once, (but oftentimes, 28when a destruction of the world, as some have stated, would intercept the progress of this Great Year; or a terrestrial convulsion, though partial, would utterly break the continuity of the historical tradition)?184184    The parenthetical words are taken from Sextus Empiricus, as introduced into his text by the Abbe Cruice. Schneidewin alludes to the passage in Sextus as proof of some confusion in Hippolytus’ text, which he thinks is signified by the transcriber in the words, “I think there is some deficiency or omissions,” which occur in the ms. of The Refutation. The Chaldaic art must necessarily be refuted by a greater number of arguments, although we have been reminding (our readers) of it on account of other circumstances, not peculiarly on account of the art itself.

Since, however, we have determined to omit none of the opinions advanced by Gentile philosophers, on account of the notorious knavery of the heretics, let us see what they also say who have attempted to propound doctrines concerning magnitudes,—who, observing the fruitless labour of the majority (of speculators), where each after a different fashion coined his own falsehoods and attained celebrity, have ventured to make some greater assertion, in order that they might be highly magnified by those who mightily extol their contemptible lies. These suppose the existence of circles, and measures, and triangles, and squares, both in twofold and threefold array. Their argumentation, however, in regard of this matter, is extensive, yet it is not necessary in reference to the subject which we have taken in hand.

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