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35. Come now: as the discussion has been prolonged and led to these points, let us, bringing forward what each has to say,49394939    Lit., “by opposition of the parts of each.” Considerable difficulty has been felt as to the abrupt way in which the book ends as it is arranged in the ms. Orelli has therefore adopted the suggestion of an anonymous critic, and transposed cc. 35, 36, 37 to the end. This does not, however, meet the difficulty; for the same objection still holds good, that there is a want of connection and harmony in these concluding chapters, and that, even when thus arranged, they do not form a fitting conclusion to the whole work. decide by a brief comparison whether your ideas of the gods above are the better, or our thoughts preferable, and much more honourable and just, and such as to give and assign its own dignity to the divine nature. And, first, you declare that the gods, whom you either think or believe to exist, of whom you have set up images and statues in all the temples, were born and produced from the germs of males and females, under the necessary condition of sexual embraces. But we, on the contrary, if they are indeed true gods, and have the authority, power, dignity of this name, consider that they must either be unbegotten, for it is pious to believe this, or, if they have a beginning in49404940    Lit., “of.” birth, it belongs to the supreme God to know by what methods He made them, or how many ages there are since He granted to them to enter upon the eternal being of His own divine nature. You consider that the deities have sexes, and that some of them are male, others female; we utterly deny that the powers of heaven have been distinguished by sexes, since this distinction has been given to the creatures of earth which the Author of the universe willed should embrace and generate, to provide, by their carnal desires, one generation of offspring after another. You think that they are like men, and have been fashioned with the countenances of mortals; we think that the images of them are wide of the mark,49414941    Lit., “that effigies have been far removed from them.” This may be understood, either as meaning that the gods had not visible form at all, or, as above, that their likenesses made by men showed no resemblance. as form belongs to a mortal body; and if they have any, we swear with the utmost earnestness and confidence that no man can comprehend it. By you they are said to have each his trade, like artisans; we laugh when we hear you say such things, as we hold and think that professions are not necessary to gods, and it is certain and evident that these have been provided to assist poverty.


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