The Seven Books of Arnobius Against the Heathen
The Seven Books of Arnobius Against the Heathen
Arnobius

Translated by Archdeacon Hamilton Bryce, LL.D., and Hugh Campbell, M.A.
Table of Contents


Title Page

Introductory Notice to Arnobius.

Book I.

1 Since I have found some who deem themselves very wise in their opinions…

2 Let us therefore examine carefully the real significance of that opinion…

3 Since this is so, and since no strange influence has suddenly manifested itself to break…

4 When was the human race destroyed by a flood? was it not before us? When…

5 Did we bring it about, that ten thousand years ago a vast number of men…

6 Although you allege that those wars which you speak of were excited through hatred of…

7 But if, say my opponents, no damage is done to human affairs by you…

8 And yet, that I may not seem to have no opinion on subjects of this…

9 It rains not from heaven, my opponent says, and we are in distress from some…

10 And if anything happens which does not foster ourselves or our affairs with joyous success…

11 Would you venture to say that, in this universe…

12 It is rather presumptuous, when you are not your own master…

13 Because of the Christians, my opponents say, the gods inflict upon us all calamities…

14 And yet do we not see that, in these years and seasons that have intervened…

15 Sometimes, however, there were seasons of scarcity; yet they were relieved by times of plenty.…

16 Yet one cannot discover by any rational process of reasoning…

17 And yet, O ye great worshippers and priests of the deities…

18 But if this that you say is true, -- if it has been tested and…

19 Moreover, in this way you represent them as not only unstable and excitable…

20 Do they on this account wreak their wrath on you too…

21 To you let them give good health, to us bad…

22 And since facts themselves testify that this result never occurs…

23 But the TRUE gods, and those who are worthy to have and to wear the…

24 These are your ideas, these are your sentiments, impiously conceived…

25 And lest any one should suppose that we, through distrust in our reply…

26 Is this, I pray, that daring and heinous iniquity on account of which the mighty…

27 This is not the place to examine all our traducers…

28 What say ye, O interpreters of sacred and of divine law? Are they attached to…

29 And would that it were allowed me to deliver this argument with the whole world…

30 Does it not occur to you to reflect and to examine in whose domain you…

31 O greatest, O Supreme Creator of things invisible! O Thou who art Thyself unseen…

32 Our discussion deals with those who, acknowledging that there is a divine race of beings…

33 Is there any human being who has not entered on the first day of his…

34 But in vain, says one, do you assail us with a groundless and calumnious charge…

35 But suppose they be one, as you wish, and not different in any power of…

36 But, says my opponent, the deities are not inimical to you…

37 We worship one who was born a man.…

38 But in the meantime let us grant, in submission to your ideas…

39 But lately, O blindness, I worshipped images produced from the furnace…

40 But He died nailed to the cross.…

41 And yet, O ye who laugh because we worship one who died an ignominious death…

42 You worship, says my opponent, one who was born a mere human being.…

43 My opponent will perhaps meet me with many other slanderous and childish charges which are…

44 And yet it is agreed on that Christ performed all those miracles which He wrought…

45 What do you say again, oh you -- ? Is He then a man…

46 Was He one of us, I say, who by one act of intervention at once…

47 These facts set forth in sanctuary we have put forward…

48 But, says some one, you in vain claim so much for Christ…

49 And since you compare Christ and the other deities as to the blessings of health…

50 Moreover, by His own power He not only performed those miraculous deeds which have been…

51 What say ye, O minds incredulous, stubborn, hardened? Did that great Jupiter Capitolinus of yours…

52 Come, then, let some Magian Zoroaster arrive from a remote part of the globe…

53 Cease in your ignorance to receive such great deeds with abusive language…

54 But you do not believe these things; yet those who witnessed their occurrence…

55 But if this record of events is false, as you say…

56 But our writers, we shall be told, have put forth these statements with FALSE effrontery…

57 You do not believe our writings, and we do not believe yours.…

58 But they were written by unlearned and ignorant men…

59 Your narratives, my opponent says, are overrun with barbarisms and solecisms…

60 But, say my opponents, if Christ was God, why did He appear in human shape…

61 What, then, says my opponent, could not the Supreme Ruler have brought about those things…

62 But, you will say, He was cut off by death as men are.…

63 What are these hidden and unseen mysteries, you will say…

64 What, then, constrains you, what excites you to revile…

65 Oh ungrateful and impious age, prepared for its own destruction by its extraordinary obstinacy! If…

Book II.

1 Here, if any means could be found, I should wish to converse thus with all…

2 But indeed, some one will say, He deserved our hatred because He has driven religion…

3 But He did not permit men to make supplication to the lesser gods.…

4 But all these things will be more clearly and distinctly noticed when we have proceeded…

5 What say you, O ignorant ones, for whom we might well weep and be sad?…

6 But perhaps those seem to you weak-minded and silly…

7 In the first place, you yourselves, too, see clearly that…

8 And since you have been wont to laugh at our faith…

9 What, have you seen with your eyes, and handled with your hands…

10 Finally, do not even the leaders and founders of the schools already mentioned…

11 But, supposing that these things do not at all hinder or prevent your being bound…

12 You bring forward arguments against us, and speculative quibblings…

13 Meantime, however, O you who wonder and are astonished at the doctrines of the learned…

14 Do you dare to laugh at us when we speak of hell…

15 Wherefore there is no reason that that should mislead us…

16 But, they say, while we are moving swiftly down towards our mortal bodies…

17 But we have reason, one will say, and excel the whole race of dumb animals…

18 They have not learned, I will be told, to make clothing…

19 But if men either knew themselves thoroughly, or had the slightest knowledge of God…

20 And, that we may show you more clearly and distinctly what is the worth of…

21 Now, as we have prepared a place for our idea…

22 To what, then, you ask, do these things tend? We have brought them forward in…

23 If you give a grape to him when hungry…

24 Why, O Plato, do you in the Meno put to a young slave certain questions…

25 What say you, O men, who assign to yourselves too much of an excellence not…

26 But when I hear the soul spoken of as something extraordinary…

27 So then, if souls lose all their knowledge on being fettered with the body…

28 And yet, that we may not be as ignorant when we leave you as before…

29 Now, since it is so, cease, I pray you…

30 But will he not be terrified by the punishments in Hades…

31 A certain neutral character, then, and undecided and doubtful nature of the soul…

32 Since these things are so, and we have been taught by the greatest teacher that…

33 Seeing that the fear of death, that is, the ruin of our souls…

34 Since this is the case, what, pray, is so unfair as that we should be…

35 But, say my opponents, if souls are mortal and of neutral character…

36 But the gods are said to be immortal.…

37 But if souls were, as is said, the Lord's children…

38 For, to begin with what is important, what advantage is it to the world that…

39 But perhaps, some one will urge, the Ruler of the world sent hither souls sprung…

40 Was it for this He sent souls hither, that while the other creatures are fed…

41 Was it for this He sent souls, that they which shortly before had been gentle…

42 Was it for this He sent souls, that some should infest the highways and roads…

43 What say you, O offspring and descendants of the Supreme Deity? Did these souls…

44 But, you say, they came of their own accord…

45 But let this monstrous and impious fancy be put far from us…

46 But, to say the same things again and again…

47 But, you say, if God is not the parent and father of souls…

48 Here, too, in like manner, when we deny that souls are the offspring of God…

49 But, you will say, there are good men also in the world…

50 You say that there are good men in the human race…

51 But you laugh at our reply, because, while we deny that souls are of royal…

52 And yet, lest you should suppose that none but yourselves can make use of conjectures…

53 Since this, then, is the case, we do nothing out of place or foolish in…

54 Can, then, anything be made, some one will say…

55 But when, overcome, we agree that there are these things…

56 As for all the other things which are usually dwelt upon in inquiries and discussions…

57 While, then, this is the case, and it cannot but be that only one of…

58 What, then, are we alone ignorant? do we alone not know who is the creator…

59 If that which it has pleased us to know is within reach…

60 Seeing, then, that the origin, the cause, the reason of so many and so important…

61 What business of yours is it, He says, to examine…

62 And be not deceived or deluded with vain hopes by that which is said by…

63 But if, my opponents say, Christ was sent by God for this end…

64 But, my opponents ask, if Christ came as the Saviour of men…

65 Nay, my opponent says, if God is powerful, merciful…

66 So, then, even if you are pure, and have been cleansed from every stain of…

67 Therefore, when you urge against us that we turn away from the religion of past…

68 On the Alban hill, it was not allowed in ancient times to sacrifice any but…

69 But our name is new, we are told, and the religion which we follow arose…

70 But why do I speak of these trivial things? The immortal gods themselves…

71 But our rites are new; yours are ancient, and of excessive antiquity…

72 But your religion precedes ours by many years, and is therefore…

73 But are we alone in this position? What! have you not introduced into the number…

74 And why, my opponent says, did God, the Ruler and Lord of the universe…

75 You may object and rejoin, Why was the Saviour sent forth so late? In unbounded…

76 Inasmuch then, you say, as you serve the Almighty God…

77 Therefore that bitterness of persecution of which you speak is our deliverance and not persecution…

78 Wherefore, O men, refrain from obstructing what you hope for by vain questions…

Book III.

1 All these charges, then, which might truly be better termed abuse…

2 Let us now return to the order from which we were a little ago compelled…

3 And as in the kingdoms of earth we are in no wise constrained expressly to…

4 But we do not purpose delaying further on this part of the subject…

5 But let it be assumed that there are these gods…

6 And yet let no one think that we are perversely determined not to submit to…

7 But why should I say that men seek from him subtleties of expression and splendour…

8 And yet, that no thoughtless person may raise a FALSE accusation against us…

9 What, then, shall we say? That gods beget and are begotten? and that therefore they…

10 What say you, ye holy and pure guardians of religion? Have the gods…

11 And you dare to charge us with offending the gods…

12 Thus far of sex.…

13 But it is not enough that you limit the gods by forms…

14 Are, then, the divine bodies free from these deformities? and since they do not eat…

15 Does any man at all possessed of judgment, believe that hairs and down grow on…

16 But you will, perhaps, say that the gods have indeed other forms…

17 But, they say, if you are not satisfied with our opinion…

18 What, then, some one will say, does the Deity not hear? does He not speak?…

19 If you are willing to hear our conclusions, then learn that we are so far…

20 This, then, this matter of forms and sexes, is the first affront which you…

21 And, I ask, what reason is there, what unavoidable necessity…

22 You err, my opponent says, and are deceived; for the gods are not themselves artificers…

23 But you will, perhaps, say that the gods are not artificers…

24 No one, says my opponent, makes supplication to the tutelar deities…

25 Unxia, my opponent says, presides over the anointing of door-posts…

26 We shall not here mention Laverna, goddess of thieves…

27 Now we may apply this very argument to Venus in exactly the same way.…

28 Can any man, who has accepted the first principles even of reason…

29 We might, however, even yet be able to receive from you these thoughts…

30 But what shall we say of Jove himself, whom the wise have repeatedly asserted to…

31 Aristotle, a man of most powerful intellect, and distinguished for learning…

32 Mercury, also, has been named as though he were a kind of go-between…

33 We here leave Vulcan unnoticed, to avoid prolixity; whom you all declare to be fire…

34 Some of your learned men -- men, too, who do not chatter merely because their…

35 Men worthy to be remembered in the study of philosophy…

36 If we sought to subvert the belief in your gods in so many ways…

37 We are told by Mnaseas that the Muses are the daughters of Tellus and Coelus…

38 How, then, can you give to religion its whole power…

39 There are some, besides, who assert that those who from being men became gods…

40 Nigidius taught that the dii Penates were Neptune and Apollo…

41 We can, if it is thought proper, speak briefly of the Lares also…

42 It is a vast and endless task to examine each kind separately…

43 For if this deity requires a black, that a white skin…

44 Wherefore, if you are assured that in the lofty palaces of heaven there dwells…

Book IV.

1 We would ask you, and you above all, O Romans…

2 For we -- but, perhaps, you would rob and deprive us of common-sense -- feel…

3 With regard, indeed, to your bringing forward to us other bands of unknown gods…

4 Pellonia is a goddess mighty to drive back enemies.…

5 The sinister deities preside over the regions on the left hand only…

6 Lateranus, as you say, is the god and genius of hearths…

7 Does Venus Militaris, also, preside over the evil-doing of camps…

8 Say, I pray you, -- that Peta, Puta, Patella may graciously favour you…

9 What then? you say; do you declare that these gods exist nowhere in the world…

10 But if you urge that bones, different kinds of honey…

11 What say you, O fathers of new religions, and powers? Do you cry out…

12 But let them be true, as you maintain, yet will you have us also believe…

13 Or, if you refuse to believe this on account of its novelty…

14 Your theologians, then, and authors on unknown antiquity, say that in the universe there are…

15 And lest it should seem tedious and prolix to wish to consider each person singly…

16 For suppose that it had occurred to us, moved either by suitable influence or violent…

17 We may say the very same things of the Mercuries…

18 But some one on the opposite side says, How do we know whether the theologians…

19 But perhaps these things will turn out to be false…

20 But you, on the contrary, forgetting how great their dignity and grandeur are…

21 But perhaps this foul pollution may be less apparent in the rest.…

22 And, not content to have ascribed these carnal unions to the venerable Saturn…

23 Men, though prone to lust, and inclined, through weakness of character…

24 If you will open your minds' eyes, and see the real truth without gratifying any…

25 Did we say that Venus was a courtezan, deified by a Cyprian king named Cinyras?…

26 But what shall I say of the desires with which it is written in your…

27 But among you, is it only the males who lust…

28 For where there are weddings, marriages, births, nurses, arts…

29 And here, indeed, we can show that all those whom you represent to us as…

30 But in the discussion which we at present maintain…

31 We wish, then, to question you, and invite you to answer a short question…

32 But all these things, they say, are the fictions of poets…

33 Your gods, it is recorded, dine on celestial couches…

34 But why do I complain that you have disregarded the insults offered to the other…

35 But is it only poets whom you have thought proper to allow to invent unseemly…

36 But this crime is not enough: the persons of the most sacred gods are mixed…

37 But this is the state of the case, that as you are exceedingly strong in…

Book V.

1 Admitting that all these things which do the immortal gods dishonour…

2 What the mind should take up first, what last…

3 But let us admit that, as is said, Jupiter has himself appointed against himself ways…

4 But you will perhaps say that the king was a diviner.…

5 In Timotheus, who was no mean mythologist, and also in others equally well informed…

6 Now, when it had been often considered in the councils of the gods…

7 Then Midas, king of Pessinus, wishing to withdraw the youth from so disgraceful an intimacy…

8 If some one, despising the deities, and furious with a savagely sacrilegious spirit…

9 But why do we speak of your having bemired the Great Mother of the gods…

10 But you will perhaps say the human race shuns and execrates such unions…

11 There was doubt in the councils of the gods how that unyielding and fierce violence…

12 Would any one say this about the gods who had even a very low opinion…

13 Through her bosom, we are told, Nana conceived a son by an apple.…

14 What say you, O races and nations, given up to such beliefs? When these things…

15 We might long ago have urged you to ponder this…

16 And yet how can you assert the falsehood of this story…

17 Or if the things which we say are not so…

18 The greatness of the subject, and our duty to those on their defence also…

19 We shall pass by the wild Bacchanalia also, which are named in Greek Omophagia…

20 It was our purpose to leave unnoticed those mysteries also into which Phrygia is initiated…

21 Jupiter is troubled enough, being overwhelmed with fear, and cannot find means to soothe the…

22 I do not think it necessary here also with many words to go through each…

23 I should wish, therefore, to see Jupiter, the father of the gods…

24 But, my opponent says, these are not the rites of our state.…

25 In her wanderings on that quest, she reaches the confines of Eleusis as well as…

26 If any one perchance thinks that we are speaking wicked calumnies…

27 Are then your deities carried off by force, and do they seize by violence…

28 I confess that I have long been hesitating, looking on every side…

29 Now, to prevent any one from thinking that we have devised what is so impious…

30 I confess that, in reflecting on such monstrous stories in my own mind…

31 But you who assert that you are the defenders and propagators of their immortality…

32 But you err, says my opponent, and are mistaken…

33 These are all quirks, as is evident, and quibbles with which they are wont to…

34 But, agreeing with you that in all these stories stags are spoken of instead of…

35 Finally, if you think it right, returning to our inquiry…

36 But you will perhaps say that these allegories are not found in the whole body…

37 Let us examine, then, what is said in this way.…

38 Either, then, they must all have been written and put forward allegorically…

39 Whence, then, do we prove that all these narratives are records of events? From the…

40 And yet, even if we grant you that this is the case…

41 It was once usual, in speaking allegorically, to conceal under perfectly decent ideas…

42 But you will perhaps say, for this only is left which you may think can…

43 But what the meaning of this is, is already clear to all.…

44 But if you come to the conclusion that these fables have been written allegorically…

45 Judge fairly, and you are deserving of censure in this…

Book VI.

1 Having shown briefly how impious and infamous are the opinions which you have formed about…

2 For -- that you may learn what are our sentiments and opinions about that race…

3 But, we are told, we rear no temples to them…

4 But, says my opponent, it is not for this reason that we assign temples to…

5 Now, if this be not the case, all hope of help is taken away…

6 What can you say as to this, that it is attested by the writings of…

7 But why do I speak of these trifles? What man is there who is ignorant…

8 We have therefore -- as I suppose -- shown sufficiently…

9 We worship the gods, you say, by means of images.…

10 And whence, finally, do you know whether all these images which you form and put…

11 You laugh because in ancient times the Persians worshipped rivers…

12 From such causes as these this also has followed…

13 But why do I laugh at the sickles and tridents which have been given to…

14 We would here, as if all nations on the earth were present…

15 Lo, if some one were to place before you copper in the lump…

16 And so unmindful and forgetful of what the substance and origin of the images are…

17 But you err, says my opponent, and are mistaken…

18 What then? Do the gods remain always in such substances…

19 The gods dwell in images -- each wholly in one…

20 And yet, O you -- if it is plain and clear to you that the…

21 They say that Antiochus of Cyzicum took from its shrine a statue of Jupiter made…

22 But you will perhaps say that the gods do not trouble themselves about these losses…

23 But perhaps, as you say, the goddesses took the greatest pleasure in these lewd and…

24 Here also the advocates of images are wont to say this also…

25 For what grandeur -- if you look at the truth without any prejudice -- is…

26 O dreadful forms of terror and frightful bugbears on account of which the human race…

Book VII.

1 Since it has been sufficiently shown, as far as there has been opportunity…

2 Who are the TRUE gods? you say.…

3 So, then, if these things are so, we desire to learn this…

4 If perchance it is not this, are victims not slain in sacrifice to the gods…

5 We have next to examine the argument which we hear continually coming from the lips…

6 But let us allow, as you wish, that the gods are accustomed to such disturbance…

7 But neither do I demand that this should be said…

8 But this, as I said, I do not mention…

9 So, if some ox, or any animal you please…

10 But perhaps some one will say, We give to the gods sacrifices and other gifts…

11 Lastly, if the gods drive away sorrow and grief…

12 Or the gods of heaven should be said to be ungrateful if…

13 We have shown sufficiently, as I suppose, that victims…

14 But all this conceding and ascribing of honour about which we are speaking are met…

15 What then! some one will say, do you think that no honour should be given…

16 What say you, O you -- ! is that foul smell…

17 Lo, if dogs -- for a case must be imagined…

18 And as we are now speaking of the animals sacrificed…

19 But you err, says my opponent, and fall into mistakes…

20 But let us agree, as you wish, that there are both infernal regions and Manes…

21 But this, too, it is fitting that we should here learn from you…

22 If, then, these things are vain, and are not supported by any reason…

23 For as to that which we hear said by you…

24 Be it so; let it be conceded that these most unfortunate cattle are not sacrificed…

25 For if whatever is done by men, and especially in religion…

26 We have now to say a few words about incense and wine…

27 Finally, that we may always abide by the rule and definition by which it has…

28 Will any one say that incense is given to the celestials…

29 Wine is used along with incense; and of this…

30 But, says my opponent, you are insulting us without reason…

31 It is worth while to bring forward the words themselves also…

32 But let there be, as you wish, honour in wine and in incense…

33 But the games which you celebrate, called Floralia and Megalensia…

34 Whence, therefore, have these vicious opinions flowed, or from what causes have they sprung? From…

35 Come now: as the discussion has been prolonged and led to these points…

36 You say that some of them cause dissensions…

37 Since these things are so, and since there is so great difference between our opinions…

38 If the immortal gods cannot be angry, says my opponent…

39 We have come, then, in speaking, to the very point of the case…

40 But neither shall we deny that we know this as well…

41 All these things which have been mentioned, have indeed a miraculous appearance…

42 And what pollution or abomination could have flowed from this…

43 If Jupiter sought to have his games celebrated…

44 In like manner we might go through the other narratives…

45 And as we read that he used food also…

46 But, says my opponent, if he was not a god…

47 But if that snake was not a present deity…

48 But some one will perhaps say that the care of such a god has…

49 But the Great Mother, also, says my opponent…

50 What shall we say then? Was Hannibal, that famous Carthaginian…

51 But suppose that the deity was present in that very stone…

Appendix.

Elucidations.




[<< Prev]  [Top]  [Next >>]

The Seven Books of Arnobius Against the Heathen
Christian Bookshelf