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Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol VII:
Lactantius: Chap. VIII.—Of Æsculapius, Apollo, Mars, Castor and Pollux, and of Mercurius and Bacchus

Early Church Fathers  Index     

Chap. VIII.—Of Æsculapius, Apollo, Mars, Castor and Pollux, and of Mercurius and Bacchus.

Tarquitius relates that Æsculapius was born of doubtful parents, and that on this account he was exposed; and being taken up by hunters, and fed by the teats of a hound, was given to Chiron for instruction. He lived at Epidaurus, and was buried at Cynosuræ, as Cicero says, 1461 when he had been killed by lightning. But Apollo, his father, did not disdain to take charge of another’s flock that he might receive a wife; 1462 and when he had unintentionally killed a boy whom he loved, he inscribed his own lamentations on a flower. Mars, a man of the greatest bravery, was not free from the charge of adultery, since he was made a spectacle, being bound with a chain together with the adulteress.  

Castor and Pollux carried off the brides of others, but not with impunity, to whose death and burial Homer bears witness, not with poetical, but simple faith. Mercurius, who was the father of Androgynus by his intrigue with Venus, deserved to be a god, because he invented the lyre and the palæstra. Father Bacchus, after subduing India as a conqueror, having by chance come to Crete, saw Ariadne on the shore, whom Theseus had forced and deserted. Then, being inflamed by love, he united her in marriage to p. 227 himself, and placed her crown, as the poets say, conspicuously among the stars. The mother of the gods 1463 herself, while she lived in Phrygia after the banishment and death of her husband, though a widow, and aged, was enamoured of a beautiful youth; and because he was not faithful, she mutilated, and rendered him effeminate: on which account even now she delights in the Galli 1464 as her priests.  



Cicero, De Nat. Deor., iii. 22.  


When Pelias had promised his daughter Alcestis to Admetus, on condition of his coming to her in a chariot drawn by lions and boars, Apollo enabled Admetus to fulfil this condition.  


Rhea or Cybele.  


Galli, the priests of Cybele, were so called: they mutilated themselves, and performed many raving ceremonies.  

Next: Chap. IX.—Of the disgraceful deeds of the gods

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