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2. What the mind should take up first, what last, or what it should pass by silently, it is not easy to say, nor is it made clear by any amount of reflection; for all have been so devised and fitted to be laughed at, that you should strive that they may be believed to be false—even if they are true—rather than pass current as true, and suggest as it were something extraordinary, and bring contempt upon deity itself. What, then, do you say, O you—? Are we to believe42914291    The ms. and edd. read cred-i-musne—“do we believe,” for which Meursius suggests -e- as above. that that Faunus and Martius Picus—if they are of the number of the gods, and of that everlasting and immortal substance—were once parched with thirst, and sought the gushing fountains, that they might be able to cool with water their heated veins? Are we to believe that, ensnared by wine, and beguiled by the sweetness of mead, they dipped so long into the treacherous cups, that they even got into danger of becoming drunk? Are we to believe that, being fast asleep, and plunged in the forgetfulness of most profound slumbers, they gave to creatures of earth an opportunity to bind them? On what parts, then, were those bonds and chains flung? Did they have any solid substance, or had their hands been formed of hard bones, so that it might be possible to bind them with halters and hold them fast by tightly drawn knots? For I do not ask, I do not inquire whether they could have said anything when swaying to and fro in their drunken maunderings; or whether, while Jupiter was unwilling, or rather unwitting, any one could have made known the way to bring him down to earth. This only do I wish to hear, why, if Faunus and Picus are of divine origin and power, they did not rather themselves declare to Numa, as he questioned them, that which he desired to learn from Jove himself at a greater risk? Or42924292    Lit., “or whether.” Below the ms. reads corruptly ad ipsum—“to him.” did Jupiter alone have knowledge of this—for from him the thunderbolts fall—how training in some kind of knowledge should avert impending dangers? Or, while he himself hurls these fiery bolts, is it the business of others to know in what way it is fitting to allay his wrath and indignation? For truly it would be most absurd to suppose that he himself appoints42934293    The ms. reads scire, but “knows” would hardly suit the context. Instead of adopting any conjecture, however, it is sufficient to observe, with Oehler, that scire is elsewhere used as a contraction for sciscere. the means by which may be averted that which he has determined should befall men through the hurling of his thunderbolts. For this is to say, By such ceremonies you will turn aside my wrath; and if I shall at any time have foreshown by flashes of lightning that some evil is close at hand, do this and that, so that42944294    The ms. omits ut. what I have determined should be done may be done altogether in vain, and may pass away idly through the force42954295    So Cujacius, inserting vi, omitted by the ms. of these rites.


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