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Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol II:
ATHENAGORAS: Chapter XXIX.—Proof of the Same from the Poets.

Early Church Fathers  Index     

Chapter XXIX.—Proof of the Same from the Poets.

But among the Greeks, also, those who are eminent in poetry and history say the same thing. Thus of Heracles:—

“That lawless wretch, that man of brutal strength,
Deaf to Heaven’s voice, the social rite transgressed.” 809

Such being his nature, deservedly did he go mad, and deservedly did he light the funeral pile and burn himself to death. Of Asklepius, Hesiod says:—

“The mighty father both of gods and men
Was filled with wrath, and from Olympus’ top
With flaming thunderbolt cast down and slew
Latona’s well-lov’d son—such was his ire.” 810

And Pindar:—

“But even wisdom is ensnared by gain.
The brilliant bribe of gold seen in the hand
Ev’n him 811 perverted: therefore Kronos’ son
With both hands quickly stopp’d his vital breath,
And by a bolt of fire ensured his doom.” 812

Either, therefore, they were gods and did not hanker after gold—

“O gold, the fairest prize to mortal men,
Which neither mother equals in delight,
Nor children dear” 813
p. 145

for the Deity is in want of nought, and is superior to carnal desire, nor did they die; or, having been born men, they were wicked by reason of ignorance, and overcome by love of money. What more need I say, or refer to Castor, or Pollux, or Amphiaraus, who, having been born, so to speak, only the other day, men of men, are looked upon as gods, when they imagine even Ino after her madness and its consequent sufferings to have become a goddess?

“Sea-rovers will her name Leucothea.” 814

And her son:—

“August Palæmon, sailors will invoke.”



Hom., Od., xxi. 28. sq.


Hesiod, Frag.


i.e., Æsculapius.


Pyth., iii. 96 sq.


Ascribed by Seneca to the Bellerophon of Eurip.


From the Ino, a lost play of Eurip.

Next: Chapter XXX.—Reasons Why Divinity Has Been Ascribed to Men.

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