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Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol VII:
Lactantius: Chap. XXII.—Of the sacred rites Introduced by Faunus and Numa

Early Church Fathers  Index     

Chap. XXII.—Of the Sacred Rites Introduced by Faunus and Numa.

Faunas was the first in Latium who introduced these follies, who both instituted bloody sacrifices to his grandfather Saturnus, and wished that his father Picus should be worshipped as a god, and placed Fatua Fauna his wife and sister among the gods, and named her the good goddess. Then at Rome, Numa, who burthened those rude and rustic then with new superstitions, instituted priesthoods, and distributed the gods into families and nations, that he might call off the fierce spirits of the people from the pursuits of arms. Therefore Lucilius, in deriding the folly of those who are slaves to vain superstitions, introduced these verses:—  

“Those bugbears 1470 the Lamiæ, which Faunus and Numa Pompilius and others instituted, at these he trembles; he places everything in this. As infant boys believe that every statue of bronze is a living man, so these imagine that all things reigned are true: they believe that statues of bronze contain a heart. It is a painter’s 1471 gallery; nothing is real, everything fictitious.”

Tullius also, writing of the nature of the gods, complains that false and fictitious gods have been introduced, and that from thus source have arisen false opinions, and turbulent errors, and almost old womanly superstitions, which opinion ought in comparison 1472 with others to be esteemed more weighty, because these things were spoken by one who was both a philosopher and a priest.  


Footnotes

229:1470

Terriculas. There is another reading, “terricolas.” See note at Institutes, book i. ch. 22 p. 38, supra.  

229:1471

See preceding note and reference.  

229:1472

Comparari. Others read “compatari.”  


Next: Chap. XXIII.—Of the Gods and sacred rites of the barbarians

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