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27. But among you, is it only the males who lust; and has the female sex preserved its purity?42264226    All edd. read this without mark of interrogation. Is it not proved in your books that Tithonus was loved by Aurora; that Luna lusted after Endymion; the Nereid after Æacus; Thetis after Achilles’ father; Proserpina after Adonis; her mother, Ceres, after some rustic Jasion, and afterwards Vulcan, Phaeton,42274227    The ms. reads Phætontem: for which, both here and in Clem., Potter proposed Phaonem, because no such amour is mentioned elsewhere. Mars; Venus herself, the mother of Æneas, and founder of the Roman power, to marry Anchises? While, therefore, you accuse, without making any exception, not one only by name, but the whole of the gods alike, in whose existence you believe, of such acts of extraordinary shamefulness and baseness, do you dare, without violation of modesty, to say either that we are impious, or that you are pious, although they receive from you much greater occasion for offence on account of all the shameful acts which you heap up to their reproach, than in connection with the service and duties required by their majesty, honour, and worship? For either all these things are false which you bring forward about them individually, lessening their credit and reputation; and it is in that case a matter quite deserving, that the gods should utterly destroy the race of men; or if they are true and certain, and perceived without any reasons for doubt, it comes to this issue, that, however unwilling you may be, we believe them to be not of heavenly, but of earthly birth.


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