And Whence, Finally, do You Know Whether all These Images which You Form and Put...
And whence, finally, do you know whether all these images which you form and put in the place of [4625] the immortal gods reproduce and bear a resemblance to the gods? For it may happen that in heaven one has a beard who by you is represented [4626] with smooth cheeks; that another is rather advanced in years to whom you give the appearance of a youth; [4627] that here he is fair, with blue eyes, [4628] who really has grey ones; that he has distended nostrils whom you make and form with a high nose. For it is not right to call or name that an image which does not derive from the face of the original features like it; which [4629] can be recognised to be clear and certain from things which are manifest. For while all we men see that the sun is perfectly round by our eyesight, which cannot be doubted, you have given [4630] to him the features of a man, and of mortal bodies. The moon is always in motion, and in its restoration every month puts on thirty faces: [4631] with you, as leaders and designers, that is represented as a woman, and has one countenance, which passes through a thousand different states, changing each day. [4632] We understand that all the winds are only a flow of air driven and impelled in mundane ways: in your hands they take [4633] the forms of men filling with breath twisted trumpets by blasts from out their breasts. [4634] Among the representations of your gods we see that there is the very stern face of a lion [4635] smeared with pure vermilion, and that it is named Frugifer. If all these images are likenesses of the gods above, there must then be said to dwell in heaven also a god such as the image which has been made to represent his form and appearance; [4636] and, of course, as here that figure of yours, so there the deity himself [4637] is a mere mask and face, without the rest of the body, growling with fiercely gaping jaws, terrible, red as blood, [4638] holding an apple fast with his teeth, and at times, as dogs do when wearied, putting his tongue out of his gaping mouth. [4639] But if, [4640] indeed, this is not the case, as we all think that it is not, what, pray, is the meaning of so great audacity to fashion to yourself whatever form you please, and to say [4641] that it is an image of a god whom you cannot prove to exist at all?


[4625] Lit., "with vicarious substitution for." [A very pertinent question as to the images worshipped in Rome to this day. There is one Madonna of African hue and features. See also Murray's Handbook, Italy, p. 72.]

[4626] The ms. reads effi-gitur, corrected as above, effin., in all edd. except Hild., who reads efficitur--"is made," and Stewechius, effigiatur--"is formed."

[4627] Lit., "boy's age."

[4628] Flavus, so invariably associated with blue eyes, that though these are the feature brought into contrast, they are only suggested in this way, and not directly mentioned--a mode of speech very characteristic of Arnobius.

[4629] i.e., a fact which can be seen to be true by appealing to analogy.

[4630] So the ms., LB., Hild., and Oehler, reading donastis, the others donatis--"you give."

[4631] As the appearance of the moon is the same in some of its phases as in others, it is clear that Arnobius cannot mean that it has thirty distinct forms. We must therefore suppose that he is either speaking very loosely of change upon change day after day, or that he is referring to some of the lunar theories of the ancients, such as that a new moon is created each day, and that its form is thus ever new (Lucr., v. 729-748).

[4632] Lit., "is changed through a thousand states with daily instability."

[4633] Lit., "are."

[4634] Lit., "intestine and domestic."

[4635] The ms. reads leon-e-s torvissimam faciem, emended, as above, leonis t. f., in LB., Orelli, Hild., and Oehler, and l. torvissima facie--"lions of very stern face," in the others. Nourry supposes that the reference is to the use of lions, or lion-headed figures, as architectural ornaments on temples (cf. the two lions rampant surmounting the gate of Mycenæ), but partially coincides in the view of Elm., that mixed figures are meant, such as are described by Tertullian and Minucius Felix (ch. 28: "You deify gods made up of a goat and a lion, and with the faces of lions and of dogs"). The epithet frugifer, however, which was applied to the Egyptian Osiris, the Persian Mithras, and Bacchus, who were also represented as lions, makes it probable that the reference is to symbolic statues of the sun.

[4636] Lit., "such a god to whose form and appearance the likeness of this image has been directed."

[4637] Lit., "that."

[4638] The ms. and both Roman edd. read unintelligibly sanquineo decotoro, for which s. de colore, as above, has been suggested by Canterus, with the approval of Heraldus.

[4639] The ms. here inserts puetuitate, for which no satisfactory emendation has been proposed. The early edd. read pituitate, a word for which there is no authority, while LB. gives potus aviditate--"drunk with avidity"--both being equally hopeless.

[4640] ms. sic, corrected by Gelenius si.

[4641] So Meursius, ac dicere, for ms. -cidere.

9 we worship the gods
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