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518Book VII.


1. Since it has been sufficiently shown, as far as there has been opportunity, how vain it is to form images, the course of our argument requires that we should next speak as briefly as possible, and without any periphrasis, about sacrifices, about the slaughter and immolation of victims, about pure wine, about incense, and about all the other things which are provided on such occasions.47644764    Lit., “in that part of years.” For with respect to this you have been in the habit of exciting against us the most violent ill-will, of calling us atheists, and inflicting upon us the punishment of death, even by savagely tearing us to pieces with wild beasts, on the ground that we pay very little respect47654765    Lit., “attribute least.” to the gods; which, indeed, we admit that we do, not from contempt or scorn of the divine,47664766    Lit., “divine spurning.” but because we think that such powers require nothing of the kind, and are not possessed by desires for such things.47674767    [When good old Dutch Boyens came to the pontificate as Hadrian VI., he was accounted a “barbarian” because he so little appreciated the art-treasures in the Vatican, on which Leo X. had lavished so much money and so much devotion. His pious spirit seemed oppressed to see so many heathen images in the Vatican: sunt idola ethnicorum was all he could say of them,—a most creditable anecdote of such a man in such times. See p. 504, n. 6, supra.]

What, then,47684768    [In the Edin. edition this is the opening sentence, but the editor remarks]: “By some accident the introduction to the seventh book has been tacked on as a last chapter to the sixth, where it is just as out of place as here it is in keeping.” [I have restored it to its place accordingly.] some one will say, do you think that no sacrifices at all should be offered? To answer you not with our own, but with your Varro’s opinion—none. Why so? Because, he says, the true gods neither wish nor demand these; while those47694769    Lit., “those, moreover.” which are made of copper, earthenware, gypsum, or marble, care much less for these things, for they have no feeling; and you are not blamed47704770    Lit., “nor is any blame contracted.” if you do not offer them, nor do you win favour if you do. No sounder opinion can be found, none truer, and one which any one may adopt, although he may be stupid and very hard to convince. For who is so obtuse as either to slay victims in sacrifice to those who have no sense, or to think that they should be given to those who are removed far from them in their nature and blessed state?

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