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Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Vol. II:
City of God: Chapter 15

Early Church Fathers  Index     

Chapter 15.—Of the Fall of the Kingdom of Argos, When Picus the Son of Saturn First Received His Father’s Kingdom of Laurentum.

During those times the kingdom of Argos came to an end; being transferred to Mycene, from which Agamemnon came, and the kingdom of Laurentum arose, of which Picus son of Saturn was the first king, when the woman Deborah judged the Hebrews; but it was the Spirit of God who used her as His agent, for she was also a prophetess, although her prophecy is so obscure that we could not demonstrate, without a long discussion, that it was uttered concerning Christ.  Now the Laurentes already reigned in Italy, from whom the origin of the Roman people is quite evidently derived after the Greeks; yet the kingdom of Assyria still lasted, in which Lampares was the twenty-third king when Picus first began to reign at Laurentum.  The worshippers of such gods may see what they are to think of Saturn the father of Picus, who deny that he was a man; of whom some also have written that he himself reigned in Italy before Picus his son; and Virgil in his well-known book says,

“That race indocile, and through mountains high

Dispersed, he settled, and endowed with laws,

And named their country Latium, because

p. 369

Latent within their coasts he dwelt secure.

Tradition says the golden ages pure

Began when he was king.” 1140

But they regard these as poetic fancies, and assert that the father of Picus was Sterces rather, and relate that, being a most skillful husbandman, he discovered that the fields could be fertilized by the dung of animals, which is called stercus from his name.  Some say he was called Stercutius.  But for whatever reason they chose to call him Saturn, it is yet certain they made this Sterces or Stercutius a god for his merit in agriculture; and they likewise received into the number of these gods Picus his son, whom they affirm to have been a famous augur and warrior.  Picus begot Faunus, the second king of Laurentum; and he too is, or was, a god with them.  These divine honors they gave to dead men before the Trojan war.


Footnotes

369:1140

Æneid, viii. 321.


Next: Chapter 16

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