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413

The Seven Books of Arnobius Against the Heathen.

(Adversus Gentes.)

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Book I.

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1. Since I have found some who deem themselves very wise in their opinions, acting as if they were inspired,32393239    The words insanire, bacchari, refer to the appearance of the ancient seers when under the influence of the deity. So Virgil says, Insanam vatem aspicies (Æn., iii. 443), and, Bacchatur vates(Æn., vi. 78). The meaning is, that they make their asseverations with all the confidence of a seer when filled, as he pretended, with the influence of the god. and announcing with all the authority of an oracle,32403240    Et velut quiddam promptum ex oraculo dicere, i.e., to declare a matter with boldness and majesty, as if most certain and undoubted. that from the time when the Christian people began to exist in the world the universe has gone to ruin, that the human race has been visited with ills of many kinds, that even the very gods, abandoning their accustomed charge, in virtue of which they were wont in former days to regard with interest our affairs, have been driven from the regions of earth,—I have resolved, so far as my capacity and my humble power of language will allow, to oppose public prejudice, and to refute calumnious accusations; lest, on the one hand, those persons should imagine that they are declaring some weighty matter, when they are merely retailing vulgar rumours;32413241    Popularia verba, i.e., rumours arising from the ignorance of the common people. and on the other, lest, if we refrain from such a contest, they should suppose that they have gained a cause, lost by its own inherent demerits, not abandoned by the silence of its advocates. For I should not deny that that charge is a most serious one, and that we fully deserve the hatred attaching to public enemies,32423242    The Christians were regarded as “public enemies,” and were so called. if it should appear that to us are attributable causes by reason of which the universe has deviated from its laws, the gods have been driven far away, and such swarms of miseries have been inflicted on the generations of men.


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