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39. Whence, then, do we prove that all these narratives are records of events? From the solemn rites and mysteries of initiation, it is clear, whether those which are celebrated at fixed times and on set days, or those which are taught secretly by the heathen without allowing the observance of their usages to be interrupted. For it is not to be believed that these have no origin, are practised without reason or meaning, and have no causes connected with their first beginnings. That pine which is regularly born into the sanctuary of the Great Mother,45224522    The ms. and edd. read matris deæ—“of the mother goddess;” for which Meursius proposed deûm—“mother of the gods,” the usual form of the title. Cf. cc. 7 and 16. [See Elucidation V.; also note the reference to St. Augustine.] is it not in imitation of that tree beneath which Attis mutilated and unmanned himself, which also, they relate, the goddess consecrated to relieve her grief? That erecting of phalli and fascina, which Greece worships and celebrates in rites every year, does it not recall the deed by which Liber45234523    The name is wanting in the ms. Cf. c. 28. paid his debt? Of what do those Eleusinian mysteries and secret rites contain a narrative? Is it not of that wandering in which Ceres, worn out in seeking for her daughter, when she came to the confines of Attica, brought wheat with her, graced with a hind’s skin the family of the Nebridæ45244524    No Attic family of this name is mentioned anywhere; but in Cos the Nebridæ were famous as descendants of Æsculapius through Nebros. In Attica, on the other hand, the initiated were robed in fawn-skins (νεβρίδες), and were on this account spoken of as νεβρίζοντες. Salmasius has therefore suggested (ad Solinum, p. 864, E) that Arnobius, or the author on whom he relied, transferred the family to Attica on account of the similarity of sound. and laughed at that most wonderful sight in Baubo’s groins? Or if there is another cause, that is nothing to us, so long as they are all produced by some cause. For it is not credible that these things were set on foot without being preceded by any causes, or the inhabitants of Attica must be considered mad to have received45254525    Lit., “who have attached to themselves.” a religious ceremony got up without any reason. But if this is clear and certain, that is, if the causes and origins of the mysteries are traceable to past events, by no change can they be turned into the figures of allegory; for that which has been done, which has taken place, cannot, in the nature of things, be undone.45264526    Arnobius would seem to have been partial to this phrase, which occurs in the middle of c. 38.


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