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8. If some one, despising the deities, and furious with a savagely sacrilegious spirit, had set himself to blaspheme your gods, would he dare to say against them anything more severe than this tale relates, which you have reduced to form, as though it were some wonderful narrative, and have honoured without ceasing,43354335    i.e., in the ever-recurring festival of Cybele. lest the power of time and the remoteness43364336    Lit., “length.” of antiquity should cause it to be forgotten? For what is there asserted in it, or what written about the gods, which, if said with regard to a man brought up with bad habits and a pretty rough training, would not make you liable to be accused of wronging and insulting him, and expose you to hatred and dislike, accompanied by implacable resentment? From the stones, you say, which Deucalion and Pyrrha threw, was produced the 493mother of the gods. What do you say, O theologians? what, ye priests of the heavenly powers? Did the mother of the gods, then, not exist at all for the sake of the deluge? and would there be no cause or beginning of her birth, had not violent storms of rain swept away the whole race of men? It is through man, then, that she feels herself to exist, and she owes it to Pyrrha’s kindness that she sees herself addressed as a real being;43374337    So the edd., reading orari in alicujus substantiæ qualitate for the ms. erari restored by Oehler, num-erari—“numbered in the quality of some substance,” from the reading of an old copy adopted by Livineius. but if that is indeed true, this too will of necessity not be false, that she was human, not divine. For if it is certain that men are sprung originally from the casting of stones, it must be believed that she too was one of us, since she was produced by means of the same causes. For it cannot be, for nature would not suffer it,43384338    Lit., “through the resistance of nature.” that from one kind of stones, and from the same mode of throwing them, some should be formed to rank among the immortals, others with the condition of men. Varro, that famous Roman, distinguished by the diversity of his learning, and unwearied in his researches into ancient times, in the first of four books which he has left in writing on the race of the Roman people, shows by careful calculations, that from the time of the deluge, which we mentioned before, down to the consulship of Hirtius and Pansa,43394339    b.c. 43. there are not quite two thousand years; and if he is to be believed, the Great Mother, too, must be said to have her whole life bounded by the limits of this number. And thus the matter is brought to this issue, that she who is said to be parent of all the deities is not their mother, but their daughter; nay, rather a mere child, a little girl, since we admit that in the never-ending series of ages neither beginning nor end has been ascribed to the gods.


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