Ad Nationes - Book 2
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. 
 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 above).
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 Croesus 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 Coelus 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.
 Prov. ix. 10; Ps. cxi. 10.
 Deum omnium notititam et veritatem adsecutus, i.e., "following the God of all as knowledge and truth."
 Passivæ fidei.
 "A nobody."
 Nisi ut sint expedire.
 Aliquot commeatus.
 Quasi certus.
 Istos deos.
 Non tenebat.
 De mundo deo didicimus.
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. 
 Ad præsentem speciem, the physical class.
 Or, classification.
 Ut jam hinc præjudicatum 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 "final infinitives."
 Compare Augustine, de Civit. Dei, vii. 6, 23, 24, 28.
 Alia sane vanitate.
Chapter IV.--Wrong Derivation of the Word Theos. The Name Indicative of the True Deity. God Without Shape and Immaterial. Anecdote of Thales.
Some affirm that the gods (i.e. theoi) were so called because the verbs theein and seisthai 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 Theos, 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 theoi from running and motion, but that the term was borrowed from the designation of the true God; so that you gave the name theoi 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 theoi to all those gods of yours, in whom there is no attribute of course or motion indicated. When, therefore, you call them both theoi 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.
 This seems to mean: "because theein has also the sense of seiesthai (motion as well as progression)."
 "Dominatione" is Oehler's reading, but he approves of "denominatione" (Rigault's reading); this would signify "designation of godhead."
 Sine capite.
 Majorem orbem. Another reading has "majorem orbe," q.d. "as larger than the world."
 Cecidit turpiter.
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.
 Circulorum conditionibus.
 Vi suavitatis.
 Caput facti.
 Servitutis artem. "Artem" Oehler explains by "artificiose institutum."
 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.
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.
 These are the moon's monthly changes.
 Tertullian refers to the Magian method of watching eclipses, the enoptromanteia.
 Instead of "non valet," there is the reading "non volet," "God would not consent," etc.
 Viderint igitur "Let them look to themselves," "never mind them."
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 Boeotian 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)? If 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.
 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 human scandals.
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 Coelestis, 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 dog.
 See above, c. i. [p. 129.]
 Municipes. "Their local worshippers or subjects."
 Literally, "Have men heard of any Nortia belonging to the Vulsinensians?"
 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. Sarapis; 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 Christian theology.
 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.]
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 degenerate 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 founded 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 refined Alcinous.
 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.; Minucius 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 nobilitatem."
 The word is "eorum" (possessive of "principum"), not "suæ."
 Dejerant adversus.
 What Tertullian himself thinks on this point, see his de Corona, xi.
 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 Æneas against Turnus, as detailed in the last books of the Æneid.
 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. 1; Ovid, Fasti, vi. 213, etc. Compare also Augustine, de Civ. Dei, xviii. 19. [Tom, vii. p. 576.]
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.
 Compare Augustine, de Civ. Dei, vi. 7. [Tom. vii. p. 184.]
 Æditum ejus.
 That is, when he mounted the pyre.
 Herculi functam. "Fungi alicui" means to satisfy, or yield to.
 The well-known Greek saying, Allos houtos Erakles.
 Pluto; Proserpine, the daughter of Ceres, is meant. Oehler once preferred to read, "Hebe, quæ mortuo placuit," i.e., "than Hebe, who gratified Hercules after death."
 Tertullian often refers indignantly to this atrocious case.
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.
 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, iii. 2.
 Comp. August. de Civ. Dei, vii. 2, 3.
 Comp. August. de Civ. Dei, iv. 11.
 Such as Lucina, Partula, Nona, Decima, Alemona.
 Or, Prorsa.
 "Quæ 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.
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 Coelus does Saturn, for Saturn was sprung from Coelus and Terra. I pass by, however, the origin of Coelus 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 Coelus 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 Coelus as he was sleeping. We read this name Coelus 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 Terra, however, although still quite young, was in no hurry  to marry another. Indeed, there was no second Coelus 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 Coelus and Terra. 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 Coelus and Terra 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 Kronos in Greek, meaning the same thing as chronos.  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, OEnotria, 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 founded  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 Coelus 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 Terra and Coelus." 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.
 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 argumentationibus.
 See his Histories, v. 2, 4.
 Antiquitatem canos, "hoary antiquity."
 Jano sive Jane.
 Depalaverat, "marked out with stakes."
 Magis proximis quoniam illius ætatis.
 Qualitas. [n.b. Our author's use of Præscriptio.]
 Monumenta liquent.
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: Tou patros to paidion--"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.
 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 the sea.
 In duos culleos dividi.
 De quo.
 De fugitivo.
 Abusui nundinare.
 The "operam ejus"=ingenia et artificia (Oehler).
 Percontationi alienæ.
 In the case of Europa.
 In the case of Danäe.
 Similitudines actuum ipsas.
 In the case of Ganymede.
 In the case of Leda.
 There would seem to be a jest here; "æquus" is not only just but equal, i.e., "on a par with" others--in evil, of course, as well as good.
Chapter XIV.--Gods, Those Which Were Confessedly Elevated to the Divine Condition, What Pre-Eminent Right Had They to Such Honour? Hercules an Inferior Character.
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 death?
 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: Alla kerdei kai sophia dedetai etrapen kai kakeinon haganori mistho chrusos en chersin phaneis andr ek thanatou komisai ede alokota; chersi d' ara Kronion rhipsais di amphoin ampnoan sternon kathelen okeos, aithon de keraunos eneskimpsen moron--"Even wisdom has been bound by love of gain, and gold 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.
Chapter XV.--The Constellations and the Genii Very Indifferent Gods. The Roman Monopoly of Gods Unsatisfactory. Other Nations Require Deities Quite as Much.
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 hills.
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?
 Deis ministratis.
 The constellation Virgo.
 Jovis exoletus, Ganymede, or Aquarius.
 He makes a similar postponement above, in c. vii., to The Apology, cc. xxii. xxiii.
 Et tristitiæ arbitros.
 Diva arquis.
 Perhaps another form of Diana.
 Faciunt = rhizousi.
 This seems to be the meaning of an almost unintelligible sentence, which we subjoin: "Geniis eisdem illi faciunt qui in isdem locis aras vel ædes habent; præterea 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.
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 surpassed. 
 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 æmulis. "In," in our author, often marks the instrument.
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 Christians.
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 esse,
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 Croesus 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. 
 Compare The Apology, xxv. xxvi., pp. 39, 40.
 The verb is in the singular number.
 Æneid, 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). Tertullian 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 Almighty.
 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.
Share & Connect
bakersfieldCATHOLIC - Copyright © 2013 - 2022 breakthrough - All Rights Reserved.
If you are seeking the website for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Fresno, please use the following URL: www.dioceseoffresno.org