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38. How, then, can you give to religion its whole power, when you fall into error about the gods themselves? or summon us to their solemn worship, while you give us no definite information how to conceive of the deities themselves? For, to take no notice of the other40374037    Lit., “in the middle,” “intermediate.” authors, either the first40384038    i.e., Ephorus. makes away with and destroys six divine Muses, if they are certainly nine; or the last40394039    i.e., Hesiod. adds six who have no existence to the three who alone really are; so that it cannot be known or understood what should be added, what taken away; and in the performance of religious rites we are in danger40404040    Lit., “the undertaking of religion itself is brought into the danger,” etc. of either worshipping that which does not exist, or passing that by which, it may be, does exist. Piso believes that the Novensiles are nine gods, set up among the Sabines at Trebia.40414041    An Umbrian village. Granius thinks that they are the Muses, agreeing with Ælius; Varro teaches that they are nine,40424042    Lit., “that the number is nine.” [i.e., a triad of triads; the base a triad, regarded, even by heathen, as of mystical power.] because, in doing anything, that number is always reputed most powerful and greatest; Cornificius,40434043    A grammarian who lived in the time of Augustus, not to be confounded with Cicero’s correspondent. that they watch over the renewing of things,40444044    Novitatum. because, by their care, all things are afresh renewed in strength, and endure; Manilius, that they are the nine gods to whom alone Jupiter gave power to wield his thunder.40454045    The Etruscans held (Pliny, H. N., ii. 52) that nine gods could thunder, the bolts being of different kinds: the Romans so far maintained this distinction as to regard thunder during the day as sent by Jupiter, at night by Summanus. Cincius declares them to be deities brought from abroad, named from their very newness, because the Romans were in the habit of sometimes individually introducing into their families the rites40464046    So LB., reading relig- for the ms. reg-iones. of conquered cities, while some they publicly consecrated; and lest, from their great number, or in ignorance, any god should be passed by, all alike were briefly and compendiously invoked under one name—Novensiles.

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