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32. But all these things, they say, are the fictions of poets, and games arranged for pleasure. It is not credible, indeed, that men by no means thoughtless, who sought to trace out the character of the remotest antiquity, either did not42414241    Oberthür and Orelli omit non. insert in their poems the fables which survived in men’s minds42424242    Lit., “notions.” and common conversation;42434243    Lit., “placed in their ears.” or that they would have assumed to themselves so great licence as to foolishly feign what was almost sheer madness, and might give them reason to be afraid of the gods, and bring them into danger with men. But let us grant that the poets are, as you say, the inventors and authors of tales so disgraceful; you are not, however, even thus free from the guilt of dishonouring the gods, who either are remiss in punishing such offences, or have not, by passing laws, and by severity of punishments, opposed 487such indiscretion, and determined42444244    Lit., “and it has not been established by you,”—a very abrupt transition in the structure of the sentence. that no man should henceforth say that which tended to the dishonour,42454245    Lit., “which was very near to disgrace.” or was unworthy of the glory of the gods.42464246    So the margin of Ursinus, followed by later edd., prefixing d before the ms. -eorum. For whoever allows the wrongdoer to sin, strengthens his audacity; and it is more insulting to brand and mark any one with false accusations, than to bring forward and upbraid their real offences. For to be called what you are, and what you feel yourself to be, is less offensive, because your resentment is checked by the evidence supplied against you on privately reviewing your life;42474247    Lit., “has less bite, being weakened by the testimony of silent reviewing,” recognitionis. but that wounds very keenly which brands the innocent, and defames a man’s honourable name and reputation.


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