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16. And so unmindful and forgetful of what the substance and origin of the images are, you, men, rational beings46914691 Lit., “a rational animal.” and endowed with the gift of wisdom and discretion, sink down before pieces of baked earthenware, adore plates of copper, beg from the teeth of elephants good health, magistracies, sovereignties, power, victories, acquisitions, gains, very good harvests, and very rich vintages; and while it is plain and clear that you are speaking to senseless things, you think that you are heard, and bring yourselves into disgrace of your own accord, by vainly and credulously deceiving yourselves.46924692 Lit., “with deceit of vain credulity.” The edd. read this as an interrogation: “Do you, therefore, sink down, adore, and bring yourselves into disgrace?” Oh, would that you might enter into some statue! rather, would that you might separate46934693 So Orelli, Hild., and Oehler, adopting a conjecture of Grævius, di-, for the ms. de-ducere—“to lead down.” and break up into parts46944694 Lit., “resolved into members.” those Olympian and Capitoline Jupiters, and behold all those parts alone and by themselves which make up the whole of their bodies! You would at once see that these gods of yours, to whom the smoothness of their exterior gives a majestic appearance by its alluring46954695 Lit., “by the charm of.” brightness, are only a framework of flexible46964696 The ms. reads flev-ilium, for which Hild. suggests flex-, as above, previous edd. reading flat-—“of cast plates;” which cannot, however, be correct, as Arnobius has just said that the images were in part made of ivory. plates, particles without shape joined together; that they are kept from falling into ruin and fear of destruction, by dove-tails and clamps and brace-irons; and that lead is run into the midst of all the hollows and where the joints meet, and causes delay46974697 Lit., “delays salutary for lastingnesses.” The sense is, that the lead prevents the joints from giving way, and so gives permanence to the statue. useful in preserving them. You would see, I say, at once that they have faces only without the rest of the head,46984698 Occipitiis. imperfect hands without arms, bellies and sides in halves, incomplete feet,46994699 Plantarum vestigia. and, which is most ridiculous, that they have been put together without uniformity in the construction of their bodies, being in one part made of wood, but in the other of stone. Now, indeed, if these things could not be seen through the skill with which they were kept out of sight,47004700 Lit., “from the art of obscurity.” even those at least which lie open to all should have taught and instructed you that you are effecting nothing, and giving your services in vain to dead things. For, in this case,47014701 i.e., if the nature of the images is really concealed by the skill displayed in their construction. do you not see that these images, which seem to breathe,47024702 Lit., “breathing.” [Ps. cxv. 4–8.] whose feet and knees you touch and handle when praying, at times fall into ruins from the constant dropping of rain, at other times lose the firm union of their parts from their decaying and becoming rotten,47034703 Lit., “are relaxed from decay of rottenness.”—how they grow black, being fumigated and discoloured by the steam of sacrifices, and by smoke,—how with continued neglect they lose their position47044704 i.e., fall from their pedestals. For the ms. reading situs (retained in LB., as above), the margin of Ursinus, followed by the other edd. except the first four and Oberthür, read situ-—“lose their appearance from mould.” and appearance, and are eaten away with rust? In this case, I say, do you not see that newts, shrews, mice, and cockroaches, which shun the light, build their nests and live under the hollow parts of these statues? that they gather carefully into these all kinds of filth, and other things suited to their wants, hard and half-gnawed bread, bones dragged thither in view of probable scarcity,47054705 So LB. and Oehler, reading famis in spemfor the ms. pannis, omitted in other edd. All prefix p, as above, to the next word, annos. rags, down, and pieces of paper to make their nests soft, and keep their young warm? Do you not see sometimes over the face of an image cobwebs and treacherous nets spun by spiders, that they may be able to entangle in them buzzing and imprudent flies while on the wing? Do you not see, finally, that swallows full of filth, flying within the very domes of the temples, toss themselves about, and bedaub now the very faces, now the mouths of 514the deities, the beard, eyes, noses, and all the other parts on which their excrements47064706 Deonerati proluvies podicis. [So Clement, vol. ii. p. 186, at note 1, this series.] fall? Blush, then, even though it is late, and accept true methods and views from dumb creatures, and let these teach you that there is nothing divine in images, into which they do not fear or scruple to cast unclean things in obedience to the laws of their being, and led by their unerring instincts.47074707 Lit., “incited by the truth of nature.” The ms. and both Roman edd. read d-, all others instincta, as above.
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