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28. For where there are weddings, marriages, births, nurses, arts,42284228    i.e., either the arts which belong to each god (cf. the words in ii. 18: “these (arts) are not the gifts of science, but the discoveries of necessity”), or, referring to the words immediately preceding, obstetric arts. and weaknesses; where there are liberty and slavery; where there are wounds, slaughter, and shedding of blood; where there are lusts, desires, sensual pleasures; where there is every mental passion arising from disgusting emotions,—there must of necessity be nothing godlike there; nor can that cleave to a superior nature which belongs to a fleeting race, and to the frailty of earth. For who, if only he recognises and perceives what the nature of that power is, can believe either that a deity had the generative members, and was deprived of them by a very base operation; or that he at one time cut off the children sprung from himself, and was punished by suffering imprisonment; or that he, in a way, made civil war upon his father, and deprived him of the right of governing; or that he, filled with fear of one younger when overcome, turned to flight, and hid in remote solitudes, like a fugitive and exile? Who, I say, can believe that the deity reclined at men’s tables, was troubled on account of his avarice, deceived his suppliants by an ambiguous reply, excelled in the tricks of thieves, committed adultery, acted as a slave, was wounded, and in love, and submitted to the seduction of impure desires in all the forms of lust? But yet you declare all these things both were, and are, in your gods; and you pass by no form of vice, wickedness, error, without bringing it forward, in the wantonness of your fancies, to the reproach of the gods. You must, therefore, either seek out other gods, to whom all these reproaches shall not apply, for they are a human and earthly race to whom they 486apply; or if there are only these whose names and character you have declared, by your beliefs you do away with them: for all the things of which you speak relate to men.


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