« Prev Chapter VI. Next »

6. And yet let no one think that we are perversely determined not to submit to39363936    Lit., “take the oaths of allegiance” or military oaths, using a very common metaphor applied to Christians in the preceding book, c. 5. the other deities, whoever they are! For we lift up pious minds, and stretch forth our hands in prayer,39373937    Lit., “suppliant hands.” It has been thought that the word supplices is a gloss, and that the idea originally was that of a band of soldiers holding out their hands as they swore to be true to their country and leaders; but there is no want of simplicity and congruity in the sentence as it stands, to warrant us in rejecting the word. and do not refuse to draw near whithersoever you may have summoned us; if only we learn who those divine beings are whom you press upon us, and with whom it may be right to share the reverence which we show to the king and prince who is over all. It is Saturn, my opponent says, and Janus, Minerva, Juno, Apollo, Venus, Triptolemus, Hercules, Æsculapius, and all the others, to whom the reverence of antiquity dedicated magnificent temples in almost every city. You might, perhaps, have been able to attract us to the worship of these deities you mention, had you not been yourselves the first, with foul and unseemly fancies, to devise such tales about them as not merely to stain their honour, but, by the natures assigned to them, to prove that they did not exist at all. For, in the first place, we cannot be led to believe this,—that that immortal and supreme nature has been divided by sexes, and that there are some male, others female. But this point, indeed, has been long ago fully treated of by men of ardent genius, both in Latin and Greek; and Tullius, the most eloquent among the Romans, without dreading the vexatiousness of a charge of impiety, has above all, with greater piety,39383938    i.e., than the inventors of such fables had shown. declared—boldly, firmly, and frankly—what he thought of such a fancy; and if you would proceed to receive from him opinions written with true discernment, instead of merely brilliant sentences, this case would have been concluded; nor would it require at our weak hands39393939    Lit., “from us infants;” i.e., as compared with such a man as Cicero. a second pleading,39403940    Secundas actiones. The reference is evidently to a second speaker, who makes good his predecessor’s defects. as it is termed.

« Prev Chapter VI. Next »
Please login or register to save highlights and make annotations
Corrections disabled for this book
Proofing disabled for this book
Printer-friendly version


| Define | Popups: Login | Register | Prev Next | Help |