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Chapter 3.—That the Gods Could Not Be Offended by the Adultery of Paris, This Crime Being So Common Among Themselves.

There is no ground, then, for representing the gods (by whom, as they say, that empire stood, though they are proved to have been conquered by the Greeks) as being enraged at the Trojan perjury.  Neither, as others again plead in their defence, was it indignation at the adultery of Paris that caused them to withdraw their protection from Troy.  For their habit is to be instigators and instructors in vice, not its avengers.  “The city of Rome,” says Sallust, “was first built and inhabited, as I have heard, by the Trojans, who, flying their country, under the conduct of Æneas, wandered about without making any settlement.”126126    De Conj. Cat.vi.  If, then, the gods were of opinion that the adultery of Paris should be punished, it was chiefly the Romans, or at least the Romans also, who should have suffered; for the adultery was brought about by Æneas’ mother.  But how could they hate in Paris a crime which they made no objection to in their own sister Venus, who (not to mention any other instance) committed adultery with Anchises, and so became the mother of Æneas?  Is it because in the one case Menelaus127127    Helen’s husband. was aggrieved, while in the other Vulcan128128    Venus’ husband. connived at the crime?  For the gods, I fancy, are so little jealous of their wives, that they make no scruple of sharing them with men.  But perhaps I may be suspected of turning the myths into ridicule, and not handling so weighty a subject with sufficient gravity.  Well, then, let us say that Æneas is not the son of Venus.  I am willing to admit it; but is Romulus any more the son of Mars?  For why not the one as well as the other?  Or is it lawful for gods to have intercourse with women, unlawful for men to have intercourse with goddesses?  A hard, or rather an incredible condition, that what was allowed to Mars by the law of Venus, should not be allowed to Venus herself by her own law.  However, both cases have the authority of Rome; for Cæsar in modern times believed no less that he was descended from Venus,129129    Suetonius, in his Life of Julius Cæsar (c. 6), relates that, in pronouncing a funeral oration in praise of his aunt Julia, Cæsar claimed for the Julian gens to which his family belonged a descent from Venus, through Iulus, son of Eneas. than the ancient Romulus believed himself the son of Mars.


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