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33. We here leave Vulcan unnoticed, to avoid prolixity; whom you all declare to be fire, with one consenting voice. We pass by Venus, named because lust assails all, and Proserpina, named because plants steal gradually forth into the light,—where, again, you do away with three deities; if indeed the first is the name of an element, and does not signify a living power; the second, of a desire common to all living creatures; while the third refers to seeds rising above ground, and the upward movements40204020    Lit., “motions.” of growing crops. What! when you maintain that Bacchus, Apollo, the Sun, are one deity, increased in number by 473the use of three names, is not the number of the gods lessened, and their vaunted reputation overthrown, by your opinions? For if it is true that the sun is also Bacchus and Apollo, there can consequently be in the universe no Apollo or Bacchus; and thus, by yourselves, the son of Semele and the Pythian god are blotted out and set aside,—one the giver of drunken merriment, the other the destroyer of Sminthian mice.


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