Ad Nationes - Book II - Tertullian
Text edited by Rev. Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson and
first published by T&T Clark in Edinburgh in 1867. Additional
introductionary material and notes provided for the American
edition by A. Cleveland Coxe, 1886.
Chapter I. The Heathen Gods from Heathen Authorities. Varro Has Written a
Work on the Subject. His Threefold Classification. The Changeable Character
of that Which Ought to Be Fixed and Certain.
Our defence requires that we should at this point discuss with you the
character of your gods, O ye heathen, fit objects of our pity, 
appealing even to your own conscience to determine whether they be truly
gods, as you would have it supposed, or falsely, as you are unwilling to
have proved.  Now this is the material part of human error, owing to
the wiles of its author, that it is never free from the ignorance of error,
 whence your guilt is all the greater. Your eyes are open, yet they see
not; your ears are unstopped, yet they hear not; though your heart beats, it
is yet dull, nor does your mind understand  that of which it is
cognizant.  If indeed the enormous perverseness (of your worship) could
 be broken up  by a single demurrer, we should have our objection
ready to hand in the declaration  that, as we know all those gods of
yours to have been instituted by men, all belief in the true Deity is by
this very circumstance brought to nought;  because, of course,
nothing which some time or other had a beginning can rightly seem to be
divine. But the fact is,  there are many things by which tenderness
of conscience is hardened into the callousness of wilful error. Truth is
beleaguered with the vast force (of the enemy), and yet how secure she is in
her own inherent strength! And naturally enough  when from her very
adversaries she gains to her side whomsoever she will, as her friends and
protectors, and prostrates the entire host of her assailants. It is
therefore against these things that our contest lies'against the
institutions of our ancestors, against the authority of tradition, 
the laws of our governors, and the reasonings of the wise; against
antiquity, custom, submission;  against precedents, prodigies,
miracles,'all which things have had their part in consolidating that
spurious  system of your gods. Wishing, then, to follow step by step
your own commentaries which you have drawn out of your theology of every
sort (because the authority of learned men goes further with you in matters
of this kind than the testimony of facts), I have taken and abridged the
works of Varro;  for he in his treatise Concerning Divine Things,
collected out of ancient digests, has shown himself a serviceable guide
 for us. Now, if I inquire of him who were the subtle inventors 
of the gods, he points to either the philosophers, the peoples, or the
poets. For he has made a threefold distinction in classifying the gods: one
being the physical class, of which the philosophers treat; another the
mythic class, which is the constant burden of  the poets; the third,
the gentile class, which the nations have adopted each one for itself. When,
therefore, the philosophers have ingeniously composed their physical
(theology) out of their own conjectures, when the poets have drawn their
mythical from fables, and the (several) nations have forged their gentile
(polytheism) according to their own will, where in the world must truth be
placed? In the conjectures? Well, but these are only a doubtful conception.
In the fables? But they are at best an absurd story. In the popular
accounts?  This sort of opinion,  however, is only
promiscuous  and municipal. Now all things with the philosophers are
uncertain, because of their variation with the poets all is worthless,
because immoral; with the nations all is irregular and confused, because
dependent on their mere choice. The nature of God, however, if it be the
true one with which you are concerned, is of so definite a character as not
to be derived from uncertain speculations,  nor contaminated with
worthless fables, nor determined by promiscuous conceits. It ought indeed to
be regarded, as it really is, as certain, entire, universal, because it is
in truth the property of all. Now, what god shall I believe? One that has
been gauged by vague suspicion? One that history  has divulged? One
that a community has invented? It would be a far worthier thing if I
believed no god, than one which is open to doubt, or full of shame, or the
object of arbitrary selection. 
Chapter II. Philosophers Had Not Succeeded in Discovering God. The
Uncertainty and Confusion of Their Speculations.
But the authority of the physical philosophers is maintained among you
 as the special property.  of wisdom. You mean of course, that
pure and simple wisdom of the philosophers which attests its own weakness
mainly by that variety of opinion which proceeds from an ignorance of the
truth. Now what wise man is so devoid of truth, as not to know that God is
the Father and Lord of wisdom itself and truth? Besides, there is that
divine oracle uttered by Solomon: "The fear of the Lord," says he," is the
beginning of wisdom."  But  fear has its origin in knowledge;
for how will a man fear that of which he knows nothing? Therefore he who
shall have the fear of God, even if he be ignorant of all things else, if he
has attained to the knowledge and truth of God,  will possess full
and perfect wisdom. This, however, is what philosophy has not clearly
realized. For although, in their inquisitive disposition to search into all
kinds of learning, the philosophers may seem to have investigated the sacred
Scriptures themselves for their antiquity, and to have derived thence some
of their opinions; yet because they have interpolated these deductions they
prove that they have either despised them wholly or have not fully believed
them, for in other cases also the simplicity of truth is shaken  by
the over-scrupulousness of an irregular belief,  and that they
therefore changed them, as their desire of glory grew, into products of
their own mind. The consequence of this is, that even that which they had
discovered degenerated into uncertainty, and there arose from one or two
drops of truth a perfect flood of argumentation. For after they had simply
 found God, they did not expound Him as they found Him, but rather
disputed about His quality, and His nature, and even about His abode. The
Platonists, indeed, (held) Him to care about worldly things, both as the
disposer and judge thereof. The Epicureans regarded Him as apathetic 
and inert, and (so to say) a non-entity.  The Stoics believed Him to
be outside of the world; the Platonists, within the world. The God whom they
had so imperfectly admitted, they could neither know nor fear; and therefore
they could not be wise, since they wandered away indeed from the beginning
of wisdom," that is, "the fear of God." Proofs are not wanting that among
the philosophers there was not only an ignorance, but actual doubt, about
the divinity. Diogenes, when asked what was taking place in heaven, answered
by saying, "I have never been up there." Again, whether there were any gods,
he replied, "I do not know; only there ought to be gods."  When
Cræsus inquired of Thales of Miletus what he thought of the gods, the latter
having taken some time  to consider, answered by the word
"Nothing." Even Socrates denied with an air of certainty  those gods
of yours.  Yet he with a like certainty requested that a cock should
be sacrificed to Æsculapius. And therefore when philosophy, in its practice
of defining about God, is detected in such uncertainty and inconsistency,
what "fear" could it possibly have had of Him whom it was not competent
 clearly to determine? We have been taught to believe of the world that
it is god.  For such the physical class of theologizers conclude it
to be, since they have handed down such views about the gods that Dionysius
the Stoic divides them into three kinds. The first, he supposes, includes
those gods which are most obvious, as the Sun, Moon, and Stars; the next,
those which are not apparent, as Neptune; the remaining one, those which are
said to have passed from the human state to the divine, as Hercules and
Amphiaraus. In like manner, Arcesilaus makes a threefold form of the
divinity'the Olympian, the Astral, the Titanian'sprung from Cælus and Terra;
from which through Saturn and Ops came Neptune, Jupiter, and Orcus, and
their entire progeny. Xenocrates, of the Academy, makes a twofold
division'the Olympian and the Titanian, which descend from Coelus and Terra.
Most of the Egyptians believe that there are four gods'the Sun and the Moon,
the Heaven and the Earth. Along with all the supernal fire Democritus
conjectures that the gods arose. Zeno, too, will have it that their nature
resembles it. Whence Varro also makes fire to be the soul of the world, that
in the world fire governs all things, just as the soul does in ourselves.
But all this is most absurd. For he says, Whilst it is in us, we have
existence; but as soon as it has left us, we die. Therefore, when fire quits
the world in lightning, the world comes to its end.
Chapter III. The Physical Philosophers Maintained the Divinity of the
Elements; The Absurdity of the Tenet Exposed.
From these developments of opinion, we see that your  physical class
of philosophers are driven to the necessity of contending that the elements
are gods, since it alleges that other gods are sprung from them; for it is
only from gods that gods could be born. Now, although we shall have to
examine these other gods more fully in the proper place, in the mythic
section of the poets, yet, inasmuch as we must meanwhile treat of them in
their connection with the present class,  we shall probably even from
their present class,  when once we turn to the gods themselves,
succeed in showing that they can by no means appear to be gods who are said
to be sprung from the elements; so that we have at once a presumption
 that the elements are not gods, since they which are born of the
elements are not gods. In like manner, whilst we show that the elements are
not gods, we shall, according to the law of natural relationship, 
get a presumptive argument that they cannot rightly be maintained to be gods
whose parents (in this case the elements) are not gods. It is a settled
point  that a god is born of a god, and that what lacks divinity
 is born of what is not divine. Now, so far as  the world of
which your philosophers treat  (for I apply this term to the universe
in the most comprehensive sense  ) contains the elements, ministering
to them as its component parts (for whatever its own condition may be, the
same of course will be that of its elements and constituent portions), it
must needs have been formed either by some being, according to the
enlightened view  of Plato, or else by none, according to the harsh
opinion  of Epicurus; and since it was formed, by having a beginning,
it must also have an end. That, therefore, which at one time before its
beginning had no existence, and will by and by after its end cease to have
an existence, cannot of course, by any possibility, seem to be a god,
wanting as it does that essential character of divinity, eternity, which is
reckoned to be  without beginning, and without end. If, however, it
 is in no wise formed, and therefore ought to be accounted
divine'since, as divine, it is subject neither to a beginning nor an end of
itself'how is it that some assign generation to the elements, which they
hold to be gods, when the Stoics deny that anything can be born of a god?
Likewise, how is it that they wish those beings, whom they suppose to be
born of the elements, to be regarded as gods, when they deny that a god can
be born? Now, what must hold good of the universe  will have to be
predicated of the elements, I mean of heaven, and of earth, and of the
stars, and of fire, which Varro has vainly proposed that you should
believe  to be gods, and the parents of gods, contrary to that
generation and nativity which he had declared to be impossible in a god. Now
this same Varro had shown that the earth and the stars were animated.
 But if this be the case, they must needs be also mortal, according to
the condition  of animated nature; for although the soul is evidently
immortal, this attribute is limited to it alone: it is not extended to that
with which it is associated, that is, the body. Nobody, however, will deny
that the elements have body, since we both touch them and are touched by
them, and we see certain bodies fall down from them. If, therefore, they are
animated, laying aside the principle  of a soul, as befits their
condition as bodies, they are mortal'of course not immortal. And yet whence
is it that the elements appear to Varro to be animated? Because, forsooth,
the elements have motion. And then, in order to anticipate what may be
objected on the other side, that many things else have motion'as wheels, as
carriages, as several other machines'he volunteers the statement that he
believes only such things to be animated as move of themselves, without any
apparent mover or impeller from without, like the apparent mover of the
wheel, or propeller of the carriage, or director of the machine. If, then,
they are not animated, they have no motion of themselves. Now, when he thus
alleges a power which is not apparent, he points to what it was his duty to
seek after, even the creator and controller of the motion for it does not at
once follow that, because we do not see a thing, we believe that it does not
exist. Rather, it is necessary the more profoundly to investigate what one
does not see, in order the better to understand the character of that which
is apparent. Besides if (you admit) only the existence of those things which
appear and are supposed to exist simply because they appear, how is it that
you also admit them to be gods which do not appear? If, moreover, those
things seem to have existence which have none, why may they not have
existence also which do not seem to have it? Such, for instance, as the
Mover  of the heavenly beings. Granted, then, that things are
animated because they move of themselves, and that they move of themselves
when they are not moved by another: still it does not follow that they must
straightway be gods, because they are animated, nor even because they move
of themselves; else what is to prevent all animals whatever being accounted
gods, moving as they do of themselves? This, to be sure, is allowed to the
Egyptians, but their superstitious vanity has another basis. 
Chapter IV. Wrong Derivation of the Word . The Name Indicative of the
True Deity. God Without Shape and Immaterial. Anecdote of Thales.
Some affirm that the gods were so called because the verbs
signify to run and to be moved.  This term,
then, is not indicative of any majesty, for it is derived from running and
motion, not from any dominion  of godhead. But inasmuch as the
Supreme God whom we worship is also designated , without however the
appearance of any course or motion in Him, because He is not visible to any
one, it is clear that that word must have had some other derivation, and
that the property of divinity, innate in Himself, must have been discovered.
Dismissing, then, that ingenious interpretation, it is more likely that the
gods were not called from running and motion, but that the term was
borrowed from the designation of the true God; so that you gave the name
to the gods, whom you had in like manner forged for yourselves. Now,
that this is the case, a plain proof is afforded in the fact that you
actually give the common appellation to all those gods of yours, in
whom there is no attribute of course or motion indicated. When, therefore,
you call them both and immoveable with equal readiness, there is a
deviation as well from the meaning of the word as from the idea  of
godhead, which is set aside  if measured by the notion of course and
motion. But if that sacred name be peculiarly significant of deity, and be
simply true and not of a forced interpretation  in the case of the
true God, but transferred in a borrowed sense  to those other objects
which you choose to call gods, then you ought to show to us  that
there is also a community of character between them, so that their common
designation may rightly depend on their union of essence. But the true God,
on the sole ground that He is not an object of sense, is incapable of being
compared with those false deities which are cognizable to sight and sense
(to sense indeed is sufficient); for this amounts to a clear statement of
the difference between an obscure proof and a manifest one. Now, since the
elements are obvious to all, (and) since God, on the contrary, is visible to
none, how will it be in your power from that part which you have not seen to
pass to a decision on the objects which you see? Since, therefore, you have
not to combine them in your perception or your reason, why do you combine
them in name with the purpose of combining them also in power? For see how
even Zeno separates the matter of the world from God: he says that the
latter has percolated through the former, like honey through the comb. God,
therefore, and Matter are two words (and) two things. Proportioned to the
difference of the words is the diversity of the things; the condition also
of matter follows its designation. Now if matter is not God, because its
very appellation teaches us so, how can those things which are inherent in
matter'that is, the elements'be regarded as gods, since the component
members cannot possibly be heterogeneous from the body? But what concern
have I with physiological conceits? It were better for one's mind to ascend
above the state of the world, not to stoop down to uncertain speculations.
Plato's form for the world was round. Its square, angular shape, such as
others had conceived it to be, he rounded off, I suppose, with compasses,
from his labouring to have it believed to be simply without a beginning.
 Epicurus, however, who had said, "What is above us is nothing to
us," wished notwithstanding to have a peep at the sky, and found the sun to
be a foot in diameter. Thus far you must confess  men were niggardly
in even celestial objects. In process of time their ambitious conceptions
advanced, and so the sun too enlarged its disk.  Accordingly, the
Peripatetics marked it out as a larger world.  Now, pray tell me,
what wisdom is there in this hankering after conjectural speculations? What
proof is afforded to us, notwithstanding the strong confidence of its
assertions, by the useless affectation of a scrupulous curiosity, 
which is tricked out with an artful show of language? It therefore served
Thales of Miletus quite right, when, star-gazing as he walked with all the
eyes he had, he had the mortification of falling  into a well, and
was unmercifully twitted by an Egyptian, who said to him, "Is it because you
found nothing on earth to look at, that you think you ought to confine your
gaze to the sky? "His fall, therefore, is a figurative picture of the
philosophers; of those, I mean,  who persist in applying 
their studies to a vain purpose, since they indulge a stupid curiosity on
natural objects, which they ought rather (intelligently to direct) to their
Creator and Governor.
Chapter V. The Physical Theory Continued. Further Reasons Advanced Against
the Divinity of the Elements.
Why, then, do we not resort to that far more reasonable  opinion,
which has clear proof of being derived from men's common sense and
unsophisticated deduction?  Even Varro bears it in mind, when he says
that the elements are supposed to be divine, because nothing whatever is
capable, without their concurrence,  of being produced, nourished, or
applied to the sustenance  of man's life and of the earth, since not
even our bodies and souls could have sufficed in themselves without the
modification  of the elements. By this it is that the world is made
generally habitable,'a result which is harmoniously secured  by the
distribution into zones,  except where human residence has been
rendered impracticable by intensity of cold or heat. On this account, men
have accounted as gods'the sun, because it imparts from itself the light of
day, ripens the fruit with its warmth, and measures the year with its stated
periods; the moon, which is at once the solace of the night and the
controller of the months by its governance; the stars also, certain
indications as they are of those seasons which are to be observed in the
tillage of our fields; lastly, the very heaven also under which, and the
earth over which, as well as the intermediate space within which, all things
conspire together for the good of man. Nor is it from their beneficent
influences only that a faith in their divinity has been deemed compatible
with the elements, but from their opposite qualities also, such as usually
happen from what one might call  their wrath and anger'as thunder,
and hail, and drought, and pestilential winds, floods also, and openings of
the ground, and earthquakes: these are all fairly enough  accounted
gods, whether their nature becomes the object of reverence as being
favourable, or of fear because terrible'the sovereign dispenser,  in
fact,  both of help and of hurt. But in the practical conduct of
social life, this is the way in which men act and feel: they do not show
gratitude or find fault with the very things from which the succour or the
injury proceeds, so much as with them by whose strength and power the
operation of the things is effected. For even in your amusements you do not
award the crown as a prize to the flute or the harp, but to the musician who
manages the said flute or harp by the power of his delightful skill. 
In like manner, when one is in ill-health, you do not bestow your
acknowledgments on the flannel wraps,  or the medicines, or the
poultices, but on the doctors by whose care and prudence the remedies become
effectual. So again, in untoward events, they who are wounded with the sword
do not charge the injury on the sword or the spear, but on the enemy or the
robber; whilst those whom a falling house covers do not blame the tiles or
the stones, but the oldness of the building; as again shipwrecked sailors
impute their calamity not to the rocks and waves, but to the tempest. And
rightly too; for it is certain that everything which happens must be
ascribed not to the instrument with which, but to the agent by whom, it
takes place; inasmuch as he is the prime cause of the occurrence, 
who appoints both the event itself and that by whose instrumentality it
comes to pass (as there are in all things these three particular
elements'the fact itself, its instrument, and its cause), because he himself
who wills the occurrence of a thing comes into notice  prior to the
thing which he wills, or the instrument by which it occurs. On all other
occasions therefore, your conduct is right enough, because you consider the
author; but in physical phenomena your rule is opposed to that natural
principle which prompts you to a wise judgment in all other cases, removing
out of sight as you do the supreme position of the author, and considering
rather the things that happen, than him by whom they happen. Thus it comes
to pass that you suppose the power and the dominion to belong to the
elements, which are but the slaves and functionaries. Now do we not, in thus
tracing out an artificer and master within, expose the artful structure of
their slavery  out of the appointed functions of those elements to
which you ascribe (the attributes) of power?  But gods are not
slaves; therefore whatever things are servile in character are not gods.
Otherwise  they should prove to us that, according to the ordinary
course of things, liberty is promoted by irregular licence, 
despotism by liberty, and that by despotism divine power is meant. For if
all the (heavenly bodies) overhead forget not  to fulfil their
courses in certain orbits, in regular seasons, at proper distances, and at
equal intervals'appointed in the way of a law for the revolutions of time,
and for directing the guidance thereof'can it fail to result  from
the very observance of their conditions and the fidelity of their
operations, that you will be convinced both by the recurrence of their
orbital courses and the accuracy of their mutations, when you bear in mind
how ceaseless is their recurrence, that a governing power presides over
them, to which the entire management of the world  is obedient,
reaching even to the utility and injury of the human race? For you cannot
pretend that these (phenomena) act and care for themselves alone, without
contributing anything to the advantage of mankind, when you maintain that
the elements are divine for no other reason than that you experience from
them either benefit or injury to yourself. For if they benefit themselves
only, you are under no obligation to them.
Chapter VI. The Changes of the Heavenly Bodies, Proof that They are Not
Divine. Transition from the Physical to the Mythic Class of Gods.
Come now, do you allow that the Divine Being not only has nothing servile in
His course, but exists in unimpaired integrity, and ought not to be
diminished, or suspended, or destroyed? Well, then, all His blessedness
 would disappear, if He were ever subject to change. Look, however, at
the stellar bodies; they both undergo change, and give clear evidence of the
fact. The moon tells us how great has been its loss, as it recovers its full
form;  its greater losses you are already accustomed to measure in a
mirror of water;  so that I need not any longer believe in any wise
what magians have asserted. The sun, too, is frequently put to the trial of
an eclipse. Explain as best you may the modes of these celestial casualties,
it is impossible  for God either to become less or to cease to
exist. Vain, therefore, are  those supports of human learning,
which, by their artful method of weaving conjectures, belie both wisdom and
truth. Besides,  it so happens, indeed, according to your natural
way of thinking, that he who has spoken the best is supposed to have spoken
most truly, instead of him who has spoken the truth being held to have
spoken the best. Now the man who shall carefully look into things, will
surely allow it to be a greater probability that those  elements
which we have been discussing are under some rule and direction, than that
they have a motion of their own, and that being under government they cannot
be gods. If, however, one is in error in this matter, it is better to err
simply than speculatively, like your physical philosophers. But, at the same
time,  if you consider the character of the mythic school, (and
compare it with the physical, ) the error which we have already seen frail
men  making in the latter is really the more respectable one, since
it ascribes a divine nature to those things which it supposes to be
superhuman in their sensibility, whether in respect of their position, their
power, their magnitude, or their divinity. For that which you suppose to be
higher than man, you believe to be very near to God.
Chapter VII. The Gods of the Mythic Class. The Poets a Very Poor Authority
in Such Matters. Homer and the Mythic Poets. Why Irreligious.
But to pass to the mythic class of gods, which we attributed to the
poets,  I hardly know whether I must only seek to put them on a par
with our own human mediocrity, or whether they must be affirmed to be gods,
with proofs of divinity, like the African Mopsus and the Bæotian Amphiaraus.
I must now indeed but slightly touch on this class, of which a fuller view
will be taken in the proper place.  Meanwhile, that these were only
human beings, is clear from the fact that you do not consistently call them
gods, but heroes. Why then discuss the point? Although divine honours had to
be ascribed to dead men, it was not to them as such, of course. Look at your
own practice, when with similar excess of presumption you sully heaven with
the sepulchres of your kings: is it not such as are illustrious for justice,
virtue, piety, and every excellence of this sort, that you honour with the
blessedness of deification, contented even to incur contempt if you forswear
yourselves  for such characters? And, on the other hand, do you not
deprive the impious and disgraceful of even the old prizes of human glory,
tear up  their decrees and titles, pull down their statues, and
deface  their images on the current coin? Will He, however, who
beholds all things, who approves, nay, rewards the good, prostitute before
all men  the attribute of His own inexhaustible grace and mercy? And
shall men be allowed an especial mount of care and righteousness, that they
may be wise  in selecting and multiplying  their deities?
Shall attendants on kings and princes be more pure than those who wait on
the Supreme God?  You turn your back in horror, indeed, on outcasts
and exiles, on the poor and weak, on the obscurely born and the
low-lived;  but yet you honour, even by legal sanctions, 
unchaste men, adulterers, robbers, and parricides. Must we regard it as a
subject of ridicule or indignation, that such characters are believed to be
gods who are not fit to be men? Then, again, in this mythic class of yours
which the poets celebrate, how uncertain is your conduct as to purity of
conscience and the maintenance thereof! For whenever we hold up to
execration the wretched, disgraceful and atrocious (examples) of your gods,
you defend them as mere fables, on the pretence of poetic licence; whenever
we volunteer a silent contempt  of this said  poetic
licence, then you are not only troubled with no horror of it, but you go so
far as  to show it respect, and to hold it as one of the
indispensable (fine) arts; nay,  you carry out the studies of your
higher classes  by its means, as the very foundation  of
your literature. Plato was of opinion that poets ought to be banished, as
calumniators of the gods; he would even have) Homer himself expelled from
his republic, although, as you are aware,  he was the crowned head
of them all. But while you admit and retain them thus, why should you not
believe them when they disclose such things respecting your gods? And if you
do believe your poets, how is it that you worship such gods (as they
describe)? you worship them simply because you do not believe the poets, why
do you bestow praise on such lying authors, without any fear of giving
offence to those whose calumniators you honour? A regard for truth 
is not, of course, to be expected of poets. But when you say that they only
make men into gods after their death, do you not admit that before death the
said gods were merely human? Now what is there strange in the fact, that
they who were once men are subject to the dishonour  of human
casualties, or crimes, or fables? Do you not, in fact, put faith in your
poets, when it is in accordance with their rhapsodies  that you have
arranged in some instances your very rituals? How is it that the priestess
of Ceres is ravished, if it is not because Ceres suffered a similar outrage?
Why are the children of others sacrificed to Saturn,  if it is not
because he spared not his own? Why is a male mutilated in honour of the
Idæan goddess Cybele, unless it be that the (unhappy) youth who was too
disdainful of her advances was castrated, owing to her vexation at his
daring to cross her love?  Why was not Hercules "a dainty dish" to
the good ladies of Lanuvium, if it was not for the primeval offence which
women gave to him? The poets, no doubt, are liars. Yet it is not because of
their telling us that  your gods did such things when they were
human beings, nor because they predicated divine scandals  of a
divine state, since it seemed to you more credible that gods should exist,
though not of such a character, than that there should be such characters,
although not gods.
Chapter VIII. The Gods of the Different Nations. Varro's Gentile Class.
Their Inferiority. A Good Deal of This Perverse Theology Taken from
Scripture. Serapis a Perversion of Joseph.
There remains the gentile class of gods amongst the several nations:
 these were adopted out of mere caprice, not from the knowledge of the
truth; and our information about them comes from the private notions of
different races. God, I imagine, is everywhere known, everywhere present,
powerful everywhere'an object whom all ought to worship, all ought to serve.
Since, then, it happens that even they, whom all the world worships in
common, fail in the evidence of their true divinity, how much more must this
befall those whom their very votaries  have not succeeded in
discovering! For what useful authority could possibly precede a theology of
so defective a character as to be wholly unknown to fame? How many have
either seen or heard of the Syrian Atargatis, the African Cælestis, the
Moorish Varsutina, the Arabian Obodas and Dusaris, or the Norican Belenus,
or those whom Varro mentions'Deluentinus of Casinum, Visidianus of Narnia,
Numiternus of Atina, or Ancharia of Asculum? And who have any clear
notions  of Nortia of Vulsinii?  There is no difference in
the worth of even their names, apart from the human surnames which
distinguish them. I laugh often enough at the little coteries of gods
 in each municipality, which have their honours confined within their
own city walls. To what lengths this licence of adopting gods has been
pushed, the superstitious practices of the Egyptians show us; for they
worship even their native  animals, such as cats, crocodiles, and
their snake. It is therefore a small matter that they have also deified a
man'him, I mean, whom not Egypt only, or Greece, but the whole world
worships, and the Africans swear by; about whose state also all that helps
our conjectures and imparts to our knowledge the semblance of truth is
stated in our own (sacred) literature. For that Serapis of yours was
originally one of our own saints called Joseph.  The youngest of his
brethren, but superior to them in intellect, he was from envy sold into
Egypt, and became a slave in the family of Pharaoh king of the country.
 Importuned by the unchaste queen, when he refused to comply with her
desire, she turned upon him and reported him to the king, by whom he is put
into prison. There he displays the power of his divine inspiration, by
interpreting aright the dreams of some (fellow-prisoners). Meanwhile the
king, too, has some terrible dreams. Joseph being brought before him,
according to his summons, was able to expound them. Having narrated the
proofs of true interpretation which he had given in the prison, he opens out
his dream to the king: those seven fat-fleshed and well-favoured kine
signified as many years of plenty; in like manner, the seven lean-fleshed
animals predicted the scarcity of the seven following years. He accordingly
recommends precautions to be taken against the future famine from the
previous plenty. The king believed him. The issue of all that happened
showed how wise he was, how invariably holy, and now how necessary. So
Pharaoh set him over all Egypt, that he might secure the provision of corn
for it, and thenceforth administer its government. They called him Serapis,
from the turban  which adorned his head. The peck-like 
shape of this turban marks the memory of his corn-provisioning; whilst
evidence is given that the care of the supplies was all on his head,
 by the very ears of corn which embellish the border of the head-dress.
For the same reason, also, they made the sacred figure of a dog, 
which they regard (as a sentry) in Hades, and put it under his right hand,
because the care of the Egyptians was concentrated  under his hand.
And they put at his side Pharia,  whose name shows her to have been
the king's daughter. For in addition to all the rest of his kind gifts and
rewards, Pharaoh had given him his own daughter in marriage. Since, however,
they had begun to worship both wild animals and human beings, they combined
both figures under one form Anubis, in which there may rather be seen clear
proofs of its own character and condition enshrined  by a nation at
war with itself, refractory  to its kings, despised among
foreigners, with even the appetite of a slave and the filthy nature of a
Chapter IX. The Power of Rome. Romanized Aspect of All the Heathen
Mythology. Varro's Threefold Distribution Criticised. Roman Heroes (Æneas
Included, ) Unfavourably Reviewed.
Such are the more obvious or more remarkable points which we had to mention
in connection with Varro's threefold distribution of the gods, in order that
a sufficient answer might seem to be given touching the physical, the
poetic, and the gentile classes. Since, however, it is no longer to the
philosophers, nor the poets, nor the nations that we owe the substitution of
all (heathen worship for the true religion) although they transmitted the
superstition, but to the dominant Romans, who received the tradition and
gave it wide authority, another phase of the widespread error of man must
now be encountered by us; nay, another forest must be felled by our axe,
which has obscured the childhood of the de generate worship  with
germs of superstitions gathered from all quarters. Well, but even the gods
of the Romans have received from (the same) Varro a threefold classification
into the certain, the uncertain, and the select. What absurdity! What need
had they of uncertain gods, when they possessed certain ones? Unless,
forsooth, they wished to commit themselves to  such folly as the
Athenians did; for at Athens there was an altar with this inscription: "To
The Unknown Gods."  Does, then, a man worship that which he knows
nothing of? Then, again, as they had certain gods, they ought to have been
contented with them, without requiring select ones. In this want they are
even found to be irreligious! For if gods are selected as onions are,
 then such as are not chosen are declared to be worthless. Now we on
our part allow that the Romans had two sets of gods, common and proper; in
other words, those which they had in common with other nations, and those
which they themselves devised. And were not these called the public and the
foreign  gods? Their altars tell us so; there is (a specimen) of the
foreign gods at the fane of Carna, of the public gods in the Palatium. Now,
since their common gods are comprehended in both the physical and the mythic
classes, we have already said enough concerning them. I should like to speak
of their particular kinds of deity. We ought then to admire the Romans for
that third set of the gods of their enemies,  because no other
nation ever discovered for itself so large a mass of superstition. Their
other deities we arrange in two classes: those which have become gods from
human beings, and those which have had their origin in some other way. Now,
since there is advanced the same colourable pretext for the deification of
the dead, that their lives were meritorious, we are compelled to urge the
same reply against them, that no one of them was worth so much pains. Their
fond  father Æneas, in whom they believed, was never glorious, and
was felled with a stone  'a vulgar weapon, to pelt a dog withal,
inflicting a wound no less ignoble! But this Æneas turns out  a
traitor to his country; yes, quite as much as Antenor. And if they will not
believe this to be true of him, he at any rate deserted his companions when
his country was in flames, and must be held inferior to that woman of
Carthage,  who, when her husband Hasdrubal supplicated the enemy
with the mild pusillanimity of our Æneas, refused to accompany him, but
hurrying her children along with her, disdained to take her beautiful self
and father's noble heart  into exile, but plunged into the flames of
the burning Carthage, as if rushing into the embraces of her (dear but)
ruined country. Is he "pious Æneas" for (rescuing) his young only son and
decrepit old father, but deserting Priam and Astyanax? But the Romans ought
rather to detest him; for in defence of their princes and their royal
 house, they surrender  even children and wives, and every
dearest pledge.  They deify the son of Venus, and this with the full
knowledge and consent of her husband Vulcan, and without opposition from
even Juno. Now, if sons have seats in heaven owing to their piety to their
parents, why are not those noble youths  of Argos rather accounted
gods, because they, to save their mother from guilt in the performance of
some sacred rites, with a devotion more than human, yoked themselves to her
car and dragged her to the temple? Why not make a goddess, for her exceeding
piety, of that daughter  who from her own breasts nourished her
father who was famishing in prison? What other glorious achievement can be
related of Æneas, but that he was nowhere seen in the fight on the field of
Laurentum? Following his bent, perhaps he fled a second time as a fugitive
from the battle.  In like manner, Romulus posthumously becomes a
god. Was it because he rounded the city? Then why not others also, who have
built cities, counting even  women? To be sure, Romulus slew his
brother in the bargain, and trickishly ravished some foreign virgins.
Therefore of course he becomes a god, and therefore a Quirinus ("god of the
spear"), because then their fathers had to use the spear  on his
account. What did Sterculus do to merit deification? If he worked hard to
enrich the fields stercoribus,  (with manure, ) Augias had more dung
than he to bestow on them. If Faunus, the son of Picus, used to do violence
to law and right, because struck with madness, it was more fit that he
should be doctored than deified.  If the daughter of Faunus so
excelled in chastity, that she would hold no conversation with men, it was
perhaps from rudeness, or a consciousness of deformity, or shame for her
father's insanity. How much worthier of divine honour than this "good
goddess"  was Penelope, who, although dwelling among so many suitors
of the vilest character, preserved with delicate tact the purity which they
assailed! There is Sanctus, too,  who for his hospitality had a
temple consecrated to him by king Plotius; and even Ulysses had it in his
power to have bestowed one more god upon you in the person of the most
Chapter X. A Disgraceful Feature of the Roman Mythology. It Honours Such
Infamous Characters as Larentina.
I hasten to even more abominable cases. Your writers have not been ashamed
to publish that of Larentina. She was a hired prostitute, whether as the
nurse of Romulus, and therefore called Lupa, because she was a prostitute,
or as the mistress of Hercules, now deceased, that is to say, now deified.
They  relate that his temple-warder  happened to be playing
at dice in the temple alone; and in order to represent a partner for himself
in the game, in the absence of an actual one, he began to play with one hand
for Hercules and the other for himself. (The condition was, ) that if he won
the stakes from Hercules, he should with them procure a supper and a
prostitute; if Hercules, however, proved the winner, I mean his other hand,
then he should provide the same for Hercules. The hand of Hercules won. That
achievement might well have been added to his twelve labours! The
temple-warden buys a supper for the hero, and hires Larentina to play the
whore. The fire which dissolved the body of even a Hercules  enjoyed
the supper, and the altar consumed everything. Larentina sleeps alone in the
temple; and she a woman from the brothel, boasts that in her dreams she had
submitted herself to the pleasure of Hercules;  and she might
possibly have experienced this, as it passed through her mind, in her sleep.
In the morning, on going out of the temple very early, she is solicited by a
young man'"a third Hercules," so to speak.  He invites her home. She
complies, remembering that Hercules had told her that it would be for her
advantage. He then, to be sure, obtains permission that they should be
united in lawful wedlock (for none was allowed to have intercourse with the
concubine of a god without being punished for it); the husband makes her his
heir. By and by, just before her death, she bequeathed to the Roman people
the rather large estate which she had obtained through Hercules. After this
she sought deification for her daughters too, whom indeed the divine
Larentina ought to have appointed her heirs also. The gods, of the Romans
received an accession in her dignity. For she alone of all the wives of
Hercules was dear to him, because she alone was rich; and she was even far
more fortunate than Ceres, who contributed to the pleasure of the (king of
the) dead.  After so many examples and eminent names among you, who
might not have been declared divine? Who, in fact, ever raised a question as
to his divinity against Antinous?  Was even Ganymede more grateful
and dear than he to (the supreme god) who loved him? According to you,
heaven is open to the dead. You prepare  a way from Hades to the
stars. Prostitutes mount it in all directions, so that you must not suppose
that you are conferring a great distinction upon your kings.
Chapter XI. The Romans Provided Gods for Birth, Nay, Even Before Birth, to
Death. Much Indelicacy in This System.
And you are not content to assert the divinity of such as were once known to
you, whom you heard and handled, and whose portraits have been painted, and
actions recounted, and memory retained amongst you; but men insist upon
consecrating with a heavenly life  I know not what incorporeal,
inanimate shadows, and the mere names of things'dividing man's entire
existence amongst separate powers even from his conception in the womb: so
that there is a god Consevius,  to preside over concubital
generation; and Fluviona,  to preserve the (growth of the) infant in
the womb; after these come Vitumnus and Sentinus,  through whom the
babe begins to have life and its earliest sensation; then Diespiter,
 by whose office the child accomplishes its birth. But when women begin
their parturition, Candelifera also comes in aid, since childbearing
requires the light of the candle; and other goddesses there are  who
get their names from the parts they bear in the stages of travail. There
were two Carmentas likewise, according to the general view: to one of them,
called Postverta, belonged the function of assisting the birth of the
introverted child; while the other, Prosa,  executed the like office
for the rightly born. The god Farinus was so called from (his inspiring) the
first utterance; while others believed in Locutius from his gift of speech.
Cunina  is present as the protector of the child's deep slumber, and
supplies to it refreshing rest. To lift them (when fallen)  there is
Levana, and along with her Rumina.  It is a wonderful oversight that
no gods were appointed for cleaning up the filth of children. Then, to
preside over their first pap and earliest drink you have Potina and
Edula;  to teach the child to stand erect is the work of Statina,
 whilst Adeona helps him to come to dear Mamma, and Abeona to toddle
off again; then there is Domiduca,  (to bring home the bride; ) and
the goddess Mens, to influence the mind to either good or evil. 
They have likewise Volumnus and Voleta,  to control the will;
Paventina, (the goddess) of fear; Venilia, of hope;  Volupia, of
pleasure;  Præstitia, of beauty.  Then, again, they give his
name to Peragenor,  from his teaching men to go through their work;
to Consus, from his suggesting to them counsel. Juventa is their guide on
assuming the manly gown, and "bearded Fortune" when they come to full
manhood.  If I must touch on their nuptial duties, there is
Afferenda whose appointed function is to see to the offering of the dower;
but fie on you! you have your Mutunus  and Tutunus and Pertunda
 and Subigus and the goddess Prema and likewise Perfica.  O
spare yourselves, ye impudent gods! No one is present at the secret
struggles of married life. Those very few persons who have a wish that way,
go away and blush for very shame in the midst of their joy.
Chapter XII.  'The Original Deities Were Human'With Some Very
Questionable Characteristics. Saturn or Time Was Human. Inconsistencies of
Opinion About Him.
Now, how much further need I go in recounting your gods'because I want to
descant on the character of such as you have adopted? It is quite uncertain
whether I shall laugh at your absurdity, or upbraid you for your blindness.
For how many, and indeed what, gods shall I bring forward? Shall it be the
greater ones, or the lesser? The old ones, or the novel? The male, or the
female? The unmarried, or such as are joined in wedlock? The clever, or the
unskilful? The rustic or the town ones? The national or the foreign? For the
truth is,  there are so many families, so many nations, which
require a catalogue  (of gods), that they cannot possibly be
examined, or distinguished, or described. But the more diffuse the subject
is, the more restriction must we impose on it. As, therefore, in this review
we keep before us but one object'that of proving that all these gods were
once human beings (not, indeed, to instruct you in the fact,  for
your conduct shows that you have forgotten it)'let us adopt our compendious
summary from the most natural method  of conducting the examination,
even by considering the origin of their race. For the origin characterizes
all that comes after it. Now this origin of your gods dates,  I
suppose, from Saturn. And when Varro mentions Jupiter, Juno, and Minerva, as
the most ancient of the gods, it ought not to have escaped our notice, that
every father is more ancient than his sons, and that Saturn therefore must
precede Jupiter, even as Cælus does Saturn, for Saturn was sprung from Cælus
and Terra. I pass by, however, the origin of Cælus and Terra. They led in
some unaccountable way  single lives, and had no children. Of course
they required a long time for vigorous growth to attain to such a
stature.  By and by, as soon as the voice of Cælus began to
break,  and the breasts of Terra to become firm,  they
contract marriage with one another. I suppose either Heaven  came
down to his spouse, or Earth went up to meet her lord. Be that as it may,
Earth conceived seed of Heaven, and when her year was fulfilled brought
forth Saturn in a wonderful manner. Which of his parents did he resemble?
Well, then, even after parentage began,  it is certain  that
they had no child previous to Saturn, and only one daughter afterwards'Ops;
thenceforth they ceased to procreate. The truth is, Saturn castrated Cælus
as he was sleeping. We read this name Cælus as of the masculine gender. And
for the matter of that, how could he be a father unless he were a male? But
with what instrument was the castration effected? He had a scythe. What, so
early as that? For Vulcan was not yet an artificer in iron. The widowed
Tetra, however, although still quite young, was in no hurry  to
marry another. Indeed, there was no second Cælus for her. What but Ocean
offers her an embrace? But he savours of brackishness, and she has been
accustomed to fresh water.  And so Saturn is the sole male child of
Cælus and Tetra. When grown to puberty, he marries his own sister. No laws
as yet prohibited incest, nor punished parricide. Then, when male children
were born to him, he would devour them; better himself (should take them)
than the wolves, (for to these would they become a prey) if he exposed them.
He was, no doubt, afraid that one of them might learn the lesson of his
father's scythe. When Jupiter was born in course of time, he was removed out
of the way:  (the father) swallowed a stone instead of the son, as
was pretended. This artifice secured his safety for a time; but at length
the son, whom he had not devoured, and who had grown up in secret, fell upon
him, and deprived him of his kingdom. Such, then, is the patriarch of the
gods whom Heaven  and Earth produced for you, with the poets
officiating as midwives. Now some persons with a refined 
imagination are of opinion that, by this allegorical fable of Saturn, there
is a physiological representation of Time: (they think) that it is because
all things are destroyed by Time, that Cælus and Tetra were themselves
parents without having any of their own, and that the (fatal) scythe was
used, and that (Saturn) devoured his own offspring, because he,  in
fact, absorbs within himself all things which have issued from him. They
call in also the witness of his name; for they say that he is called
in Greek, meaning the same thing as .  His Latin name also
they derive from seed-sowing;  for they suppose him to have been the
actual procreator'that the seed, in fact, was dropt down from heaven to
earth by his means. They unite him with Ops, because seeds produce the
affluent treasure (Opem) of actual life, and because they develope with
labour (Opus). Now I wish that you would explain this metaphorical 
statement. It was either Saturn or Time. If it was Time, how could it be
Saturn? If he, how could it be Time? For you cannot possibly reckon both
these corporeal subjects  as co-existing in one person. What,
however, was there to prevent your worshipping Time under its proper
quality? Why not make a human person, or even a mythic man, an object of
your adoration, but each in its proper nature not in the character of Time?
What is the meaning of that conceit of your mental ingenuity, if it be not
to colour the foulest matters with the feigned appearance of reasonable
proofs?  Neither, on the one hand, do you mean Saturn to be Time,
because you say he is a human being; nor, on the other hand, whilst
portraying him as Time, do you on that account mean that he was ever human.
No doubt, in the accounts of remote antiquity your god Saturn is plainly
described as living on earth in human guise. Anything whatever may obviously
be pictured as incorporeal which never had an existence; there is simply no
room for such fiction, where there is reality. Since, therefore, there is
clear evidence that Saturn once existed, it is in vain that you change his
character. He whom you will not deny to have once been man, is not at your
disposal to be treated anyhow, nor can it be maintained that he is either
divine or Time. In every page of your literature the origin  of
Saturn is conspicuous. We read of him in Cassius Severus and in the
Corneliuses, Nepos and Tacitus,  and, amongst the Greeks also, in
Diodorus, and all other compilers of ancient annals.  No more
faithful records of him are to be traced than in Italy itself. For, after
(traversing) many countries, and (enjoying) the hospitality of Athens, he
settled in Italy, or, as it was called, înotria, having met with a kind
welcome from Janus, or Janes,  as the Salii call him. The hill on
which he settled had the name Saturnius, whilst the city which he rounded
 still bears the name Saturnia; in short, the whole of Italy once had
the same designation. Such is the testimony derived from that country which
is now the mistress of the world: whatever doubt prevails about the origin
of Saturn, his actions tell us plainly that he was a human being. Since,
therefore, Saturn was human, he came undoubtedly from a human stock; and
more, because he was a man, he, of course, came not of Cælus and Terra. Some
people, however, found it easy enough to call him, whose parents were
unknown, the son of those gods from whom all may in a sense seem to be
derived. For who is there that does not speak under a feeling of reverence
of the heaven and the earth as his own father and mother? Or, in accordance
with a custom amongst men, which induces them to say of any who are unknown
or suddenly apparent, that "they came from the sky? "Hence it happened that,
because a stranger appeared suddenly everywhere, it became the custom to
call him a heaven-born man,  'just as we also commonly call
earth-born all those whose descent is unknown. I say nothing of the fact
that such was the state of antiquity, when men's eyes and minds were so
habitually rude, that they were excited by the appearance of every newcomer
as if it were that of a god: much more would this be the case with a king,
and that the primeval one. I will linger some time longer over the case of
Saturn, because by fully discussing his primordial history I shall
beforehand furnish a compendious answer for all other cases; and I do not
wish to omit the more convincing testimony of your sacred literature, the
credit of which ought to be the greater in proportion to its antiquity. Now
earlier than all literature was the Sibyl; that Sibyl, I mean, who was the
true prophetess of truth, from whom you borrow their title for the priests
of your demons. She in senarian verse expounds the descent of Saturn and his
exploits in words to this effect: "In the tenth generation of men, after the
flood had overwhelmed the former race, reigned Saturn, and Titan, and
Japetus, the bravest of the sons of Tetra and Cælus." Whatever credit,
therefore, is attached to your older writers and literature, and much more
to those who were the simplest as belonging to that age,  it becomes
sufficiently certain that Saturn and his family  were human beings.
We have in our possession, then, a brief principle which amounts to a
prescriptive rule about their origin serving for all other cases, to prevent
our going wrong in individual instances. The particular character 
of a posterity is shown by the original founders of the race'mortal beings
(come) from mortals, earthly ones from earthly; step after step comes in due
relation  'marriage, conception, birth'country, settlements,
kingdoms, all give the clearest proofs.  They, therefore who cannot
deny the birth of men, must also admit their death; they who allow their
mortality must not suppose them to be gods.
Chapter XIII.  'The Gods Human at First. Who Had the Authority to
Make Them Divine? Jupiter Not Only Human, But Immoral.
Manifest cases, indeed, like these have a force peculiarly their own. Men
like Varro and his fellow-dreamers admit into the ranks of the divinity
those whom they cannot assert to have been in their primitive condition
anything but men; (and this they do) by affirming that they became gods
after their death. Here, then, I take my stand. If your gods were elected
 to this dignity and deity,  just as you recruit the ranks of
your senate, you cannot help conceding, in your wisdom, that there must be
some one supreme sovereign who has the power of selecting, and is a kind of
Cæsar; and nobody is able to confer  on others a thing over which he
has not absolute control. Besides, if they were able to make gods of
themselves after their death, pray tell me why they chose to be in an
inferior condition at first? Or, again, if there is no one who made them
gods, how can they be said to have been made such, if they could only have
been made by some one else? There is therefore no ground afforded you for
denying that there is a certain wholesale distributor  of divinity.
Let us accordingly examine the reasons for despatching mortal beings to
heaven. I suppose you will produce a pair of them. Whoever, then, is the
awarder (of the divine honours), exercises his function, either that he may
have some supports, or defences, or it may be even ornaments to his own
dignity; or from the pressing claims of the meritorious, that he may reward
all the deserving. No other cause is it permitted us to conjecture. Now
there is no one who, when bestowing a gift on another, does not act with a
view to his own interest or the other's. This conduct, however, cannot be
worthy of the Divine Being, inasmuch as His power is so great that He can
make gods outright; whilst His bringing man into such request, on the
pretence that he requires the aid and support of certain, even dead persons,
is a strange conceit, since He was able from the very first to create for
Himself immortal beings. He who has compared human things with divine will
require no further arguments on these points. And yet the latter opinion
ought to be discussed, that God conferred divine honours in consideration of
meritorious claims. Well, then, if the award was made on such grounds, if
heaven was opened to men of the primitive age because of their deserts, we
must reflect that after that time no one was worthy of such honour; except
it be, that there is now no longer such a place for any one to attain to.
Let us grant that anciently men may have deserved heaven by reason of their
great merits. Then let us consider whether there really was such merit. Let
the man who alleges that it did exist declare his own view of merit. Since
the actions of men done in the very infancy of time  are a valid
claim for their deification, you consistently admitted to the honour the
brother and sister who were stained with the sin of incest'Ops and Saturn.
Your Jupiter too, stolen in his infancy, was unworthy of both the home and
the nutriment accorded to human beings; and, as he deserved for so bad a
child, he had to live in Crete.  Afterwards, when full-grown, he
dethrones his own father, who, whatever his parental character may have
been, was most prosperous in his reign, king as he was of the golden age.
Under him, a stranger to toil and want, peace maintained its joyous and
gentle sway; under him'
"Nulli subigebant arva coloni" 
"No swains would bring the fields beneath their sway; " 
and without the importunity of any one the earth would bear all crops
spontaneously.  But he hated a father who had been guilty of
incest, and had once mutilated his  grandfather. And yet, behold,
he himself marries his own sister; so that I should suppose the old adage
was made for him: '" Father's own child." There
was "not a pin to choose" between the father's piety and the son's. If the
laws had been just even at that early time,  Jupiter ought to have
been "sewed up in both sacks."  After this corroboration of his
lust with incestuous gratification, why should he hesitate to indulge
himself lavishly in the lighter excesses of adultery and debauchery? Ever
since  poetry sported thus with his character, in some such way as
is usual when a runaway slave  is posted up in public, we have been
in the habit of gossiping without restraint  of his tricks
 in our chat with passers-by;  sometimes sketching him out in
the form of the very money which was the fee of his debauchery'as when (he
personated) a bull, or rather paid the money's worth of one,  and
showered (gold. into the maiden's chamber, or rather forced his way in with
a bribe;  sometimes (figuring him) in the very likenesses of the
parts which were acted  'as the eagle which ravished (the beautiful
youth),  and the swan which sang (the enchanting song). 
Well now, are not such fables as these made up of the most disgusting
intrigues and the worst of scandals? or would not the morals and tempers of
men be likely to become wanton from such examples? In what manner demons,
the offspring of evil angels who have been long engaged in their mission,
have laboured to turn men  aside from the faith to unbelief and to
such fables, we must not in this place speak of to any extent. As indeed the
general body  (of your gods), which took their cue  from
their kings, and princes, and instructors,  was not of the
self-same nature, it was in some other way  that similarity of
character was exacted by their authority. But how much the worst of them was
he who (ought to have been, but) was not, the best of them? By a title
peculiar to him, you are indeed in the habit of calling Jupiter "the
Best,"  whilst in Virgil he is "Æquus Jupiter."  All
therefore were like him'incestuous towards their own kith and kin, unchaste
to strangers, impious, unjust! Now he whom mythic story left untainted with
no conspicuous infamy, was not worthy to be made a god.
Chapter XIV. Gods, Those Which Were Confessedly Elevated to the Divine
Condition, What Pre-Eminent Right Had They to Such Honour? Hercules an
But since they will have it that those who have been admitted from the human
state to the honours of deification should be kept separate from others, and
that the distinction which Dionysius the Stoic drew should be made between
the native and the factitious  gods, I will add a few words
concerning this last class also. I will take Hercules himself for raising
the gist of a reply  (to the question) whether he deserved heaven
and divine honours? For, as men choose to have it, these honours are awarded
to him for his merits. If it was for his valour in destroying wild beasts
with intrepidity, what was there in that so very memorable? Do not criminals
condemned to the games, though they are even consigned to the contest of the
vile arena, despatch several of these animals at one time, and that with
more earnest zeal? If it was for his world-wide travels, how often has the
same thing been accomplished by the rich at their pleasant leisure, or by
philosophers in their slave-like poverty?  Is it forgotten that the
cynic Asclepiades on a single sorry cow,  riding on her back, and
sometimes nourished at her udder, surveyed  the whole world with a
personal inspection? Even if Hercules visited the infernal regions, who does
not know that the way to Hades is open to all? If you have deified him on
account of his much carnage and many battles, a much greater number of
victories was gained by the illustrious Pompey, the conqueror of the pirates
who had not spared Ostia itself in their ravages; and (as to carnage), how
many thousands, let me ask, were cooped up in one corner of the citadel
 of Carthage, and slain by Scipio? Wherefore Scipio has a better claim
to be considered a fit candidate for deification  than Hercules.
You must be still more careful to add to the claims of (our) Hercules his
debaucheries with concubines and wives, and the swathes  of
Omphale, and his base desertion of the Argonauts because he had lost his
beautiful boy.  To this mark of baseness add for his glorification
likewise his attacks of madness, adore the arrows which slew his sons and
wife. This was the man who, after deeming himself worthy of a funeral pile
in the anguish of his remorse for his parricides,  deserved rather
to die the unhonoured death which awaited him, arrayed in the poisoned robe
which his wife sent him on account of his lascivious attachment (to
another). You, however, raised him from the pyre to the sky, with the same
facility with which (you have distinguished in like manner) another hero
 also, who was destroyed by the violence of a fire from the gods. He
having devised some few experiments, was said to have restored the dead to
life by his cures. He was the son of Apollo, half human, although the
grandson of Jupiter, and great-grandson of Saturn (or rather of spurious
origin, because his parentage was uncertain, as Socrates of Argon has
related; he was exposed also, and found in a worse tutelage than even
Jove's, suckled even at the dugs of a dog); nobody can deny that he deserved
the end which befell him when he perished by a stroke of lightning. In this
transaction, however, your most excellent Jupiter is once more found in the
wrong'impious to his grandson, envious of his artistic skill. Pindar,
indeed, has not concealed his true desert; according to him, he was punished
for his avarice and love of gain, influenced by which he would bring the
living to their death, rather than the dead to life, by the perverted use of
his medical art which he put up for sale.  It is said that his
mother was killed by the same stroke, and it was only right that she, who
had bestowed so dangerous a beast on the world,  should escape to
heaven by the same ladder. And yet the Athenians will not be at a loss how
to sacrifice to gods of such a fashion, for they pay divine honours to
Æsculapius and his mother amongst their dead (worthies). As if, too, they
had not ready to hand  their own Theseus to worship, so highly
deserving a god's distinction! Well, why not? Did he not on a foreign shore
abandon the preserver of his life,  with the same indifference, nay
heartlessness,  with which he became the cause of his father's
Chapter XV. The Constellations and the Genii Very Indifferent Gods. The
Roman Monopoly of Gods Unsatisfactory. Other Nations Require Deities Quite
It would be tedious to take a survey of all those, too, whom you have buried
amongst the constellations, and audaciously minister to as gods.  I
suppose your Castors, and Perseus, and Erigona,  have just the same
claims for the honours of the sky as Jupiter's own big boy  had.
But why should we wonder? You have transferred to heaven even dogs, and
scorpions, and crabs. I postpone all remarks  concerning those whom
you worship in your oracles. That this worship exists, is attested by him
who pronounces the oracle.  Why; you will have your gods to be
spectators even of sadness,  as is Viduus, who makes a widow of the
soul, by parting it from the body, and whom you have condemned, by not
permitting him to be enclosed within your city-walls; there is Cæculus also,
to deprive the eyes of their perception; and Orbana, to bereave seed of its
vital power; moreover, there is the goddess of death herself. To pass
hastily by all others,  you account as gods the sites of places or
of the city; such are Father Janus (there being, moreover, the
archer-goddess  Jana  ), and Septimontius of the seven
Men sacrifice  to the same Genii, whilst they have altars or
temples in the same places; but to others besides, when they dwell in a
strange place, or live in rented houses.  I say nothing about
Ascensus, who gets his name for his climbing propensity, and Clivicola, from
her sloping (haunts); I pass silently by the deities called Forculus from
doors, and Cardea from hinges, and Limentinus the god of thresholds, and
whatever others are worshipped by your neighbours as tutelar deities of
their street doors.  There is nothing strange in this, since men
have their respective gods in their brothels, their kitchens, and even in
their prison. Heaven, therefore, is crowded with innumerable gods of its
own, both these and others belonging to the Romans, which have distributed
amongst them the functions of one's whole life, in such a way that there is
no want of the other  gods. Although, it is true,  the
gods which we have enumerated are reckoned as Roman peculiarly, and as not
easily recognised abroad; yet how do all those functions and circumstances,
over which men have willed their gods to preside, come about,  in
every part of the human race, and in every nation, where their guarantees
 are not only without an official recognition, but even any
recognition at all?
Chapter XVI. Inventors of Useful Arts Unworthy of Deification. They Would Be
the First to Acknowledge a Creator. The Arts Changeable from Time to Time,
and Some Become Obsolete.
Well, but  certain men have discovered fruits and sundry
necessaries of life, (and hence are worthy of deification).  Now
let me ask, when you call these persons "discoverers," do you not confess
that what they discovered was already in existence? Why then do you not
prefer to honour the Author, from whom the gifts really come, instead of
converting the Author into mere discoverers? Previously he who made the
discover, the inventor himself no doubt expressed his gratitude to the
Author; no doubt, too, he felt that He was God, to whom really belonged the
religious service,  as the Creator (of the gift), by whom also both
he who discovered and that which was discovered were alike created. The
green fig of Africa nobody at Rome had heard of when Cato introduced it to
the Senate, in order that he might show how near was that province of the
enemy  whose subjugation he was constantly urging. The cherry was
first made common in Italy by Cn. Pompey, who imported it from Pontus. I
might possibly have thought the earliest introducers of apples amongst the
Romans deserving of the public honour  of deification. This,
however, would be as foolish a ground for making gods as even the invention
of the useful arts. And yet if the skilful men  of our own time be
compared with these, how much more suitable would deification be to the
later generation than to the former! For, tell me, have not all the extant
inventions superseded antiquity,  whilst daily experience goes on
adding to the new stock? Those, therefore, whom you regard as divine because
of their arts, you are really injuring by your very arts, and challenging
(their divinity) by means of rival attainments, which cannot be
Chapter XVII.  'Conclusion, the Romans Owe Not Their Imperial Power
to Their Gods. The Great God Alone Dispenses Kingdoms, He is the God of the
In conclusion, without denying all those whom antiquity willed and posterity
has believed to be gods, to be the guardians of your religion, there yet
remains for our consideration that very large assumption of the Roman
superstitions which we have to meet in opposition to you, O heathen, viz.
that the Romans have become the lords and masters of the whole world,
because by their religious offices they have merited this dominion to such
an extent that they are within a very little of excelling even their own
gods in power. One cannot wonder that Sterculus, and Mutunus, and Larentina,
have severally  advanced this empire to its height! The Roman
people has been by its gods alone ordained to such dominion. For I could not
imagine that any foreign gods would have preferred doing more for a strange
nation than for their own people, and so by such conduct become the
deserters and neglecters, nay, the betrayers of the native land wherein they
were born and bred, and ennobled and buried. Thus not even Jupiter could
suffer his own Crete to be subdued by the Roman fasces, forgetting that cave
of Ida, and the brazen cymbals of the Corybantes, and the most pleasant
odour of the goat which nursed him on that dear spot. Would he not have made
that tomb of his superior to the whole Capitol, so that that land should
most widely rule which covered the ashes of Jupiter? Would Juno, too, be
willing that the Punic city, for the love of which she even neglected Samos,
should be destroyed, and that, too, by the fires of the sons of Æneas?
Although I am well aware that
"Hic illius arma,
Hic currus fuit, hoc regnum des gentibus ease,
Si qua fata sinant, jam tunc tenditque fovetque." 
"Here were her arms, her chariot here,
Here goddess-like, to fix one day
The seat of universal sway,
Might fate be wrung to yield assent,
E'en then her schemes, her cares were bent."
 Still the unhappy (queen of gods) had no power against the fates!
And yet the Romans did not accord as much honour to the fates, although they
gave them Carthage, as they did to Larentina. But surely those gods of yours
have not the power of conferring empire. For when Jupiter reigned in Crete,
and Saturn in Italy, and Isis in Egypt, it was even as men that they
reigned, to whom also were assigned many to assist them.  Thus he
who serves also makes masters, and the bond-slave  of Admetus
 aggrandizes with empire the citizens of Rome, although he destroyed
his own liberal votary Cræsus by deceiving him with ambiguous oracles.
 Being a god, why was he afraid boldly to foretell to him the truth
that he must lose his kingdom. Surely those who were aggrandized with the
power of wielding empire might always have been able to keep an eye, as it
were,  on their own cities. If they were strong enough to confer
empire on the Romans, why did not Minerva defend Athens from Xerxes? Or why
did not Apollo rescue Delphi out of the hand of Pyrrhus? They who lost their
own cities preserve the city of Rome, since (forsooth) the religiousness
 of Rome has merited the protection! But is it not rather the fact
that this excessive devotion  has been devised since the empire has
attained its glory by the increase of its power? No doubt sacred rites were
introduced by Numa, but then your proceedings were not marred by a religion
of idols and temples. Piety was simple,  and worship humble; altars
were artlessly reared,  and the vessels (thereof) plain, and the
incense from them scant, and the god himself nowhere. Men therefore were not
religious before they achieved greatness, (nor great) because they were
religious. But how can the Romans possibly seem to have acquired their
empire by an excessive religiousness and very profound respect for the gods,
when that empire was rather increased after the gods had been slighted?
 Now, if I am not mistaken, every kingdom or empire is acquired and
enlarged by wars, whilst they and their gods also are injured by conquerors.
For the same ruin affects both city-walls and temples; similar is the
carnage both of civilians and of priests; identical the plunder of profane
things and of sacred. To the Romans belong as many sacrileges as trophies;
and then as many triumphs over gods as over nations. Still remaining are
their captive idols amongst them; and certainly, if they can only see their
conquerors, they do not give them their love. Since, however, they have no
perception, they are injured with impunity; and since they are injured with
impunity, they are worshipped to no purpose. The nation, therefore, which
has grown to its powerful height by victory after victory, cannot seem to
have developed owing to the merits of its religion'whether they have injured
the religion by augmenting their power, or augmented their power by injuring
the religion. All nations have possessed empire, each in its proper time, as
the Assyrians, the Medes, the Persians, the Egyptians; empire is even now
also in the possession of some, and yet they that have lost their power used
not to behave  without attention to religious services and the
worship of the gods, even after these had become unpropitious to them,
 until at last almost universal dominion has accrued to the Romans. It
is the fortune of the times that has thus constantly shaken kingdoms with
revolution.  Inquire who has ordained these changes in the times.
It is the same (great Being) who dispenses kingdoms,  and has now
put the supremacy of them into the hands of the Romans, very much as if
 the tribute of many nations were after its exaction amassed in one
(vast) coffer. What He has determined concerning it, they know who are the
nearest to Him. 
 In this part of his work the author reviews the heathen mythology, and
exposes the absurdity of the polytheistic worship in the various classes of
the gods, according to the distribution of Varro.
 Literally, "unwilling to know."
 i.e., it does not know that it is error.
 Discuti, or, in the logical sense, "be tested."
 Nunciatio (legally, this is "an information lodged against a wrong.")
 Excidere, "falls through."
 Sed enim.
 Necessitatem, answering to the "leges dominantium."
 St. Augustine, in his de Civit. Dei, makes similar use of Varro's
work on the heathen gods, Liber Divinarum.
 Scopum, perhaps "mark."
 Passiva, "a jumble."
 Historia. This word seems to refer to the class of mythical
divinity above mentioned. It therefore means "fable" or "absurd story" (see
 Prov. ix. 10; Ps. cxi. 10.
 Deum omnium notititam et veritatem absecutus, i.e., "following the
God of all as knowledge and truth."
 Passivae fidei.
 "A nobody."
 Nisi ut sint expedire.
 Aliquot commeatus.
 Quasi certus.
 Istos deos.
 Non tenebat.
 De mundo deo didicimus.
 Ad praesentem speciem, the physical class.
 Or, classification.
 Ut jam hinc praejudicatum sit.
 Ad illam agnatorum speciem.
 "Quod," with a subj. mood.
 Mundus iste.
 i.e., "iste mundus."
 Mundi, i.e., the universe; see above.
 The best reading is "vobis credi;" this is one of Tertullian's
 Compare Augustine, de Civit. Dei, vii. 6, 23, 24, 28.
 Alia sane vanitate.
 This seems to mean: "because has also the sense of
(motion as well as progression)."
 "Dominatione" is Oehler's reading, but he approves of
"denominatione" (Rigault's reading); this would signify "designation of
 Sine capite.
 Majorem orbem. Another reading has "majorem orbe," q.d. "as larger
than the world."
 Cecidit turpiter.
 Circulorum conditionibus.
 Vi suavitatis.
 Caput facti.
 Servitutis artem. "Artem" Oehler explains by "artificiose
 We subjoin Oehler's text of this obscure sentence: "Non in ista
investigatione alicujus artificis intus et domini servitutis artem
ostendimus elementorum certis ex operis" (for "operibis," not unusual in
Tertullian) "eorum quas facis potestatis?"
 De licentia passivitatis libertas approbetur.
 Num non.
 Universa negotiatio mundialis.
 These are the moon's monthly changes.
 Tertullian refers to the Magian method of watching eclipses, the
 Instead of "non valet," there is the reading "non volet," "God
would not consent," etc.
 Viderint igitur "Let them look to themselves," "never mind
 See above, c. i. [Note 19, p. 129.]
 See The Apology, especially cc. xxii. and xxiii.
 Sapere. The infinitive of purpose is frequent in our author.
 An allusion to Antinous, who is also referred to in The Apology,
xiii. ["Court-page." See, p. 29, Supra.]
 Inhoneste institutos.
 By the "legibus" Tertullian refers to the divine honours ordered
to be paid, by decrees of the Senate, to deceased emperors. Comp. Suetonius,
Octav. 88; and Pliny, Paneg. 11 (Oehler).
 Ultro siletur.
 Comp. The Apology, ix. [See, p. 25, Supra.]
 Comp. Minucius Felix, Octav. xxi.; Arnobius, adv. Nat. v. 6,7;
Augustine, Civ. Dei, vi. 7.
 This is the force of the subjunctive verb.
 By divine scandals, he means such as exceed in their atrocity even
 See above, c. i. [p. 129.]
 Minicipes. "their local worshippers of subjects."
 Literally, "Have men heard of any Nortia belonging to the
 Deos decuriones, in allusion to the small provincial senates which
in the later times spread over the Roman colonies and municipia.
 Compare Suidas, s. v. ; Rufinus, Hist. Eccl. ii. 23. As
Serapis was Joseph in disguise, so was Joseph a type of Christ, according to
the ancient Christians, who were fond of subordinating heathen myths to
 Tertullian is not the only writer who has made mistakes in citing
from memory Scripture narratives. Comp. Arnobius.
 Super caput esse, i.e., was entrusted to him.
 Canem dicaverunt.
 Isis; comp. The Apology, xvi. [See p. 31, supra.]
 Vitii pueritatem.
 Recipere (with a dative).
 Ignotis Deis. Comp. Acts xvii. 23.
 Ut bulbi. This is the passage which Augustine quotes (de Civit.
Dei, vii. 1) as "too facetious."
 Adventicii, "coming from abroad."
 Touching these gods of the vanquished nations, compare The
Apology, xxv.; below, c. xvii.; Minucious Felix, Octav. xxv.
 See Homer, Il. v. 300.
 Referred to also above, i. 18.
 The obscure "formam et patrem" is by Oehler rendered
"pulchritudinem et generis nobiltatem."
 The word is "eorum" (possessive of "principum"), not "suae"
 Dejerant adversus.
 What Tertullian himself thinks on this point, see his de Corona,
 Cleobis and Biton; see Herodotus i. 31.
 See Valerius Maximus, v. 4, 1.
 We need not stay to point out the unfairness of this statement, in
contrast with the exploits of Aeneas against Turnus, as detailed in the last
books of the Aeneid.
 Usque in.
 We have thus rendered "quiritatem est," to preserve as far as one
could the pun on the deified hero of the Quirites.
 We insert the Latin, to show the pun on Sterculus; see The
Apology, c. xxv. [See p. 40, supra.]
 Curaria quam consecrari.
 Bona Dea, i.e., the daughter of Faunus just mentioned.
 See Livy, viii. 20, xxxii. I; Ovid, Fasti, vi. 213, etc. Compare
also Augustine, de Civ. Dei, xviii. 10. [Tom, vii. p. 576.]
 Compare Augustine, de Civ. Dei, vi. 7. [Tom. vii. p. 184.]
 Aeditum ejus.
 That is, when he mounted the pyre.
 Herculi functam. "Fungi alicui" means to satisfy, or yield to.
 The well-known Greek saying, ..
 Pluto; Proserpine, the daughter of Ceres, is meant. Oehler once
preferred to read, "Hebe, quae mortuo placuit," i.e., "than Hebe, who
gratified Hercules after death."
 Tertullian often refers indignantly to this atrocious case.
 Efflagitant coelo et sanciunt, (i.e., "they insist on deifying.")
 Comp. Augustine, de Civ. Dei, vi. 9.
 A name of Juno, in reference to her office to mothers, "quia eam
sanguinis fluorem in conceptu retinere putabant." Comp. August. de Civ. Dei,
 Comp. August. de Civ. Dei, vii. 2, 3.
 Comp. August. de Civ. Dei, iv. 11.
 Such as Lucina, Partula, Nona, Decima, Alemona.
 Or, Prorsa.
 "Quae infantes in cunis (in their cradle) tuetur." Comp. August.
de Civ. Dei, iv. 11.
 Educatrix; Augustine says: "Ipse levet de terra et vocetur dea
Levana" (de Civ. Dei, iv. 11).
 From the old word ruma, a teat.
 Comp. August. de Civ. Dei, iv. 9, 11, 36.
 See also Tertullian's de Anima, xxxix.; and Augustine's de Civ.
Dei, iv. 21, where the god has the masculine name of Statilinus.
 See Augustine, de Civ. Dei, vi. 9 and vii. 3.
 Ibid. iv. 21, vii. 3.
 Ibid. iv. 21.
 Ibid. iv. 11, vii. 22.
 Ibid. iv. 11 [N.B. Augustine's borrowing from our author.]
 Arnobius, adv. Nationes, iv. 3.
 Augustine, de Civ. Dei. [iv. 11 and 16] mentions Agenoria.
 On Fortuna Barbata, see Augustine, de Civ. Dei, iv. 11, where he
also names Consus and Juventa.
 Tertullian, in Apol. xxv. sarcastically says, "Sterculus, and
Mutunus, and Larentina, have raised the empire to its present height."
 Arnobius, adv. Nationes, iv. 7,11; August. de Civ. Dei, vi. 9.
 For these three gods, see Augustine, de Civ. Dei, vi. 9; and
Arnobius, adv. Nationes, iv. 7.
 Agrees with The Apology, c. x.
 Bona fide.
 There is here an omitted clause, supplied in The Apology, "but
rather to recall it to your memory."
 Ab ipsa ratione.
 Tantam proceritatem.
 Insolescere, i.e., at the commencement of puberty.
 Lapilliscere, i.e., to indicate maturity.
 The nominative "coelum" is used.
 It is not very clear what is the force of "sed et pepererit," as
read by Oehler; we have given the clause an impersonal turn.
 "Certe" is sometime "certo" in our author.
 That is, to rain and cloud.
 The word is "coelum" here.
 i.e., as representing Time.
 So Augustine, de Civ. Dei, iv. 10; Arnobius, adv. Nationes, iii.
29; Cicero, de Nat. Deor. ii. 25.
 As if from "sero," satum.
 Utrumque corporale.
 Mentitis agrumentationibus.
 See his Histories, v. 2, 4.
 Antiquitatem canos, "hoary antiquity."
 Jano sive Jane.
 Depalaverat, "marked out with stakes."
 Magis proximis quoniam illius aetatis.
 Qualitas. [N.b. Our author's use of praescriptio.]
 Monumenta liquent.
 Comp. The Apology, c. xi. [p. 27. Supra.]
 This is not so terse as Tertullian's "nomen et numen."
 In cunabulis temporalitatis.
 The ill-fame of the Cretans is noted by St. Paul, Tit. i. 12.
 Virgil, Georg. i. 125.
 Jupiter's, of course.
 The law which prescribed the penalty of the paracide, that he be
sewed up in a sack with an ape, a serpent, and a cock, and be thrown into
 In duos culleos dividi.
 De quo.
 De fugitivo.
 Abusui nundinare.
 The "operam ejus"=ingenia et artificia (Oehler).
 Percontationi alienae
 In the case of Europa.
 In the case of Danae.
 Similitudines actuum ipsas.
 In the case of Ganymede.
 In the case of Leda.
 There would seem to be a jest here; "aequus" is not only just but
equal, i.e., "on a par with" others'in evil, of course, as well as good.
 Inter nativos et factos. See above, c. ii., p. 131.
 Summa responsionis.
 Famulatoria mendicitas.
 Subegisse oculis, "reduced to his own eyesight."
 Magis obtinendus divinitati deputatur.
 Rather murders of children and other kindred.
 Tertullian does not correctly quote Pindar (Pyth. iii. 54-59),
who notices the skilful hero's love of reward, but certainly ascribes to him
the merit of curing rather than killing: "Even wisdom has been bound by love of gain, and gols
shining in the hand by a magnificent reward induced even him to restore from
death a man already seized by it; and then the son of Saturn, hurling with
his hands a bolt through both, speedily took away the breath of their
breasts, and the flashing bolt inflicted death" (Dawson Turner).
 Tertullian does not follow the legend which is usually received.
He wishes to see no good in the object of his hatred, and so takes the worst
view, and certainly improves upon it. The "bestia" is out of reason. [He
doubtless followed some copy now lost.]
 Quasi non et ipsi.
 Deis ministratis.
 The constellation Virgo.
 Jobis exoletus, Ganymede, or Aquarius.
 He makes a similar postponement above, in c. vii., to The
Apology, cc. xxii. xxiii.
 Et tristitiae arbitros.
 Diva arquis.
 Perhaps another form of Diana.
 Faciunt =
 This seems to be the meaning of an almost unintelligible
sentence, which we subjoin: "Geniis eisdem illi faciunt qui in isdem locis
aras vel aedes habent; praeterea aliis qui in alieno loco aut mercedibus
habitant." Oehler, who makes this text, supposes that in each clause the
name of some god has dropped out.
 Numinum janitorum.
 Immo cum.
 We insert this clause at Oehler's suggestion.
 The incident, which was closely connected with the third Punic
war, is described pleasantly by Pliny, Hist. Nat. xv. 20.
 "Antiquitas" is here opposed to "novitas," and therefore means
"the arts of old times."
 In aemulis. "In," in our author, often marks the instrument.
 Compare The Apology, xxv. xxvi., pp. 39,40.
 The verb is in the singular number.
 Aeneid, i. 16-20.
 Operati plerique.
 Apollo; comp. The Apology, c. xiv., p. 30.
 See Herodot. i. 50.
 Veluti tueri.
 Morabantur. We have taken this word as if from "mores"
(character). Tertuallian often uses the participle "moratus" in this sense.
 Et depropitiorum.
 Compare The Apology, c. xxvi.
 We have treated this "tanquam" and its clause as something more
than a mere simile. It is, in fact, an integral element of the supremacy
which the entire sentence describes as conferred on the Romans by the
 That is, the Christians, who are well aware of God's purposes as
declared in prophecy. St. Paul tells the Thessalonians what the order of the
great events subsequent to the Roman power was to be: the destruction of
that power was to be followed by the development and reign of Antichrist;
and then the end of the world would come.
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