« Prev Chapter III. Next »

3. But, we are told, we rear no temples to them, and do not worship their images; we do not slay victims in sacrifice, we do not offer incense45714571    [See note 5, book. vi. p. 506.] and libations of wine. And what greater honour or dignity can we ascribe to them, than that we put them in the same position as the Head and Lord of the universe, to whom the gods owe it in common with us,45724572    The ms. and most edd. read di-vina nobiscum—“the divine things along with us;” Heraldus rejects div. as a gloss, while Meursius, followed by Orelli, corrects dii una, and Oehler divi una, as above. that they are conscious that they exist, and have a living being?45734573    Lit., “are contained in vital substance.” For do we honour Him with shrines, and by building temples?45744574    Arnobius here expressly denies that the Christians had any temples. There has been some controversy on the subject (Mosheim, book i. cent. 1, ch. 4, sec. 5, Soames’ ed.), surely as needless as controversy could be; for as the Christians must at all times have had stated places of meeting (although in time of persecution these might be changed frequently), it is clear that, in speaking thus, the meaning must be only, that their buildings had no architectural pretensions, and their service no splendour of ritual. [Diocletian’s mild beginning suffered Christians to build costly temples in many places. These he subsequently destroyed with great severity.] Do we even slay victims to Him? Do we give Him the other things, to take which and pour them forth in libation shows not a careful regard to reason, but heed to a practice maintained45754575    Lit., “drawn out.” merely by usage? For it is perfect folly to measure greater powers by your necessities, and to give the things useful to yourself to the gods who give all things, and to think this an honour, not an insult. We ask, therefore, to do what service to the gods, or to meet what want, do you say that temples have been reared,45764576    So the edd., reading constructafor the corrupt ms. conscripta—“written.” and think that they should be again built? Do they feel the cold of45774577    i.e., to suppose that temples are necessary to the gods, is to make them subject to human weakness. winter, or are they scorched by summer suns? Do storms of rain flow over them, or whirlwinds shake them? Are they in danger of being exposed to the onset of enemies, or the furious attacks of wild beasts, so that it is right and becoming to shut them up in places of security,45784578    Lit. “with fortifications of roofs.” or guard them by throwing up a rampart of stones? For what are these temples? If you ask human weakness45794579    i.e., if you have regard merely to the weakness of men, a temple may be something wonderful.—something vast and spacious; if you consider the power of the gods—small caves, as it were,45804580    Lit., “some.” and even, to speak more truly, the narrowest kind of caverns formed and contrived with sorry judgment.45814581    Lit., “formed by contrivance of a poor heart.” Now, if you ask to be told who was their first founder45824582    Institutor, wanting in all edd., except Hild. and Oehler. and builder, either Phoroneus or the Egyptian Merops45834583    Arnobius here agrees with Clemens Alexandrinus, but Jos. Scaliger has pointed out that the name should be Cecrops. It is possible that Arnobius may have been misled by what was merely a slip of Clement’s pen. [See the passage here referred to, vol. ii. p. 184, this series.] will be mentioned to you, or, as Varro relates in his treatisede Admirandis,” Æacus the offspring of Jupiter. Though these, then, should be built of heaps of marble, or shine resplendent with ceilings fretted with gold, though precious stones sparkle here, and gleam like stars set at varying intervals, all these things are made up of earth, and of the lowest dregs of even baser matter. For not even, if you value these more highly, is it to be believed that the gods take pleasure in them, or that they do not refuse and scorn to shut themselves up, and be confined within these barriers. This, my opponent says, is the temple of Mars, this that of Juno and of Venus, this that of Hercules, of Apollo, of Dis. What is this but to say this is the house of Mars, this of Juno and Venus,45844584    The preceding words, from “this of Hercules,” are omitted by the first four edd. and Elmenh., and were first restored from the ms. by Stewechius. Apollo dwells here, in this abides Hercules, in that Summanus? Is it not, then, the very45854585    Lit., “first and.” greatest affront to hold the 508gods kept fast45864586    So the edd., reading habere districtos for the ms. destructos. in habitations, to give to them little huts, to build lockfast places and cells, and to think that the things are45874587    Lit., “that the things be thought to be.” necessary to them which are needed by men, cats, emmets, and lizards, by quaking, timorous, and little mice?

« Prev Chapter III. Next »
Please login or register to save highlights and make annotations
Corrections disabled for this book
Proofing disabled for this book
Printer-friendly version


| Define | Popups: Login | Register | Prev Next | Help |