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16. But you will, perhaps, say that the gods have indeed other forms, and that you have given the appearance of men to them merely by way of honour, and for form’s sake39693969    The ms. and first four edd. read dotis causa—“for the sake of a dowry:” corrected as above, dicis causa in the later edd. which is much more insulting than to have fallen into any error through ignorance. For if you confessed that you had ascribed to the divine forms that which you had supposed and believed, your error, originating in prejudice, would not be so blameable. But now, when you believe one thing and fashion another, you both dishonour those to whom you ascribe that which you confess does not belong to them, and show your impiety in adoring that which you fashion, not that which you think really is, and which is in very truth. If asses, dogs, pigs,39703970    This argument seems to have been suggested by the saying of Xenophanes, that the ox or lion, if possessed of man’s power, would have represented, after the fashion of their own bodies, the gods they would worship. [“The fair humanities of old religion.”—Coleridge (Schiller).] had any human wisdom and skill in contrivance, and wished to do us honour also by some kind of worship, and to show respect by dedicating statues to us, with what rage would they inflame us, what a tempest of passion would they excite, if they determined that our images should bear and assume the fashion of their own bodies? How would they, I repeat, fill us with rage, and rouse our passions, if the founder of Rome, Romulus, were to be set up with an ass’s face, the revered Pompilius with that of a dog, if under the image of a pig were written Cato’s or Marcus Cicero’s name? So, then, do you think that your stupidity is not laughed at by your deities, if they laugh at all? or, since you believe that they may be enraged, do you think that they are not roused, maddened to fury, and that they do not wish to be revenged for so great wrongs and insults, and to hurl on you the punishments usually dictated by chagrin, and devised by bitter hatred? How much better it had been to give to them the forms of elephants, panthers, or tigers, bulls, and horses! For what is there beautiful in man,—what, I pray you, worthy of admiration, or comely,—unless that which, some poet39713971    Ennius (Cic., de Nat. Deor., i. 35): Simia quam similis, turpissima bestia, nobis. has maintained, he possesses in common with the ape?


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