« Prev Chapter XXIV. Next »

24. Here also the advocates of images are wont to say this also, that the ancients knew well that images have no divine nature, and that there is no sense in them, but that they formed them profitably and wisely, for the sake of the unmanageable and ignorant mob, which is the majority in nations and in states, in order that a kind of appearance, as it were, of deities being presented to them, from fear they might shake off their rude natures, and, supposing that they were acting in the presence of the gods, put47464746    Lit., “lop away,” deputarent, the reading of the ms., Hild., and Oehler; the rest reading deponerent—“lay aside.” [The same plausible defences are used to this day by professed Christians. See Jesuits at Rome, by Hobart Seymour, p. 38, ed. New York, 1849.] away their impious deeds, and, changing their manners, learn to act as men;47474747    Lit., “pass to human offices.” and that august forms of gold and silver were sought for them, for no other reason than that some power was believed to reside in their splendour, such as not only to dazzle the eyes, but even to strike terror into the mind itself at the majestic beaming lustre. Now this might perhaps seem to be 517said with some reason, if, after the temples of the gods were founded, and their images set up, there were no wicked man in the world, no villany at all, if justice, peace, good faith, possessed the hearts of men, and no one on earth were called guilty and guiltless, all being ignorant of wicked deeds. But now when, on the contrary, all things are full of wicked men, the name of innocence has almost perished, and every moment, every second, evil deeds, till now unheard of, spring to light in myriads from the wickedness of wrongdoers, how is it right to say that images have been set up for the purpose of striking terror into the mob, while, besides innumerable forms of crime and wickedness,47484748    Lit., “crimes and wickednesses.” we see that even the temples themselves are attacked by tyrants, by kings, by robbers, and by nocturnal thieves, and that these very gods whom antiquity fashioned and consecrated to cause terror, are carried away47494749    Lit., “go,” vadere. into the caves of robbers, in spite even of the terrible splendour of the gold?47504750    Lit., “with their golden and to-be-feared splendours themselves.”

« Prev Chapter XXIV. 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 |