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44.49874987    41 in Orelli. [See Appendix, note 1, p. 539.] In like manner we might go through the other narratives, and show that in these also, and in expositions of these, something far different from what the gods should be is said and declared about them, as in this very story which I shall next relate, one or two only being added to it, that disgust may not be produced by excess.49884988    In the ms. and both Roman edd. the section translated on p. 539 is inserted here. Ursinus, however (pp. 210–211), followed by Heraldus (312–313), enclosed it in brackets, and marked it with asterisks. In all other edd. it is either given as an appendix, or wholly rejected. After certain gods were brought from among nations dwelling beyond the sea, you say, and after temples were built to them, after their altars were heaped with sacrifices, the plague-stricken people grew strong and recovered, and the pestilence fled before the soundness of health which arose. What gods, say, I beseech? Æsculapius, you say, the god of health, from Epidaurus, and now settled in the island in the middle of the Tiber. If we were disposed to be very scrupulous in dealing with your assertions, we might prove by your own authority that he was by no means divine who had been conceived and born from a woman’s womb, who had by yearly stages reached that term of life at which, as is related in your books, a thunderbolt drove him at once from life and light. But we leave this question: let the son of Coronis be, as you wish, one of the immortals, and possessed of the everlasting blessedness49894989    Lit., “sublimity.” of heaven. From Epidaurus, however, what was brought except an enormous serpent? If we trust the annals, and ascribe to them well-ascertained truth, nothing else, as it has been recorded. What shall we say then? That Æsculapius, whom you extol, an excellent, a venerable god, the giver of health, the averter, preventer, destroyer of sickness, is contained within the form and outline of a serpent, crawling along the earth as worms are wont to do, which spring from mud; he rubs the ground with his chin and breast, dragging himself in sinuous coils; and that he may be able to go forward, he draws on the last part of his body by the efforts of the first.

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