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Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Vol. II:
City of God: Chapter 18

Early Church Fathers  Index     

Chapter 18.—A More Credible Cause of the Rise of Pagan Error.

A far more credible account of these gods is given, when it is said that they were men, and that to each one of them sacred rites and solemnities were instituted, according to his particular genius, manners, actions, circumstances; which rites and solemnities, by gradually creeping through the souls of men, which are like demons, and eager for things which yield them sport, were spread far and wide; the poets adorning them with lies, and false spirits seducing men to receive them.  For it is far more likely that some youth, either impious himself, or afraid of being slain by an impious father, being desirous to reign, dethroned his father, than that (according to Varro’s interpretation) Saturn was overthrown by his son Jupiter:  for cause, which belongs to Jupiter, is before seed, which belongs to Saturn.  For had this been so, Saturn would never have been before Jupiter, nor would he have been the father of Jupiter.  For cause always precedes seed, and is never generated p. 133 from seed.  But when they seek to honor by natural interpretation most vain fables or deeds of men, even the acutest men are so perplexed that we are compelled to grieve for their folly also.


Next: Chapter 19

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