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26. We have now to say a few words about incense and wine, for these, too, are connected and mixed up with your ceremonies,48934893    Lit., “these kinds of ceremonies, too, were coupled and mixed,” etc. and are used largely in your religious acts. And, first, with respect to that very incense which you use, we ask this of you particularly, whence or at what time you have been able to become acquainted with it, and to know it, so that you have just reason to think that it is either worthy to be given to the gods, or most agreeable to their desires. For it is almost a novelty; and there is no endless succession of years since it began to be known in these parts, and won its way into the shrines of the gods. For neither in the heroic ages, as it is believed and declared, was it known what incense was, as is proved by the ancient writers, in whose books is found no mention48944894    On this Oehler remarks, that the books of Moses show that it was certainly used in the East in the most ancient times. But Arnobius has expressly restricted his statement to the use of incense “in these parts.” of it; nor was Etruria, the parent and mother of superstition, acquainted with its fame and renown, as the rites of the chapels prove; nor was it used by any one in offering sacrifice during the four hundred years in which Alba flourished; nor did even Romulus or Numa, who was skilful in devising new ceremonies, know either of its existence or growth, as the sacred grits48954895    Pium far. show with which it was customary that the usual sacrifices should be performed. Whence, therefore, did its use begin to be adopted? or what desire of novelty assailed the old and ancient custom, so that that which was not needed for so many ages took the first place in the ceremonies? For if without incense the performance of a religious service is imperfect, and if a quantity of it is necessary to make the celestials gentle and propitious to men, the ancients fell into sin, nay rather, their whole life was full of guilt, for they carelessly neglected to offer that which was most fitted to give pleasure to the gods. But if in ancient times neither men nor gods sought for this incense, it is proved that to-day also that is offered uselessly and in vain which antiquity did not believe necessary, but modern times desired without any reason.48964896    [See p. 519, note 1, supra.]


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