Sacred Texts  Christianity  Early Church Fathers  Index  Previous  Next 

Chapter X.—Ridicule of the Heathen Divinities.

There are legends of the metamorphosis of men: with you the gods also are metamorphosed. Rhea becomes a tree; Zeus a dragon, on account of Persephone; the sisters of Phaëthon are changed into poplars, and Leto into a bird of little value, on whose account what is now Delos was called Ortygia. A god, forsooth, becomes a swan, or takes the form of an eagle, and, making Ganymede his cupbearer, glories in a vile affection. How can I reverence gods who are eager for presents, and angry if they do not receive them? Let them have their Fate! I am not willing to adore wandering stars. What is that hair of Berenicé? Where were her stars before her death? And how was the dead Antinous fixed as a beautiful youth in the moon? Who carried him thither: unless perchance, as men, perjuring themselves for hire, are credited when they say in ridicule of the gods that kings have ascended into heaven, so some one, in like manner, has put this man also among the gods, 450 and been recompensed with honour and reward? Why have you robbed God? Why do you dishonour His workmanship? You sacrifice a sheep, and you adore the same animal. The Bull is in the heavens, and you slaughter its image. The Kneeler 451 crushes a noxious animal; and the eagle that devours the man-maker Prometheus is honoured. The swan is noble, forsooth, because it was an adulterer; and the Dioscuri, living on alternate days, the ravishers of the daughters of Leucippus, are also noble! Better still is Helen, who forsook the flaxen-haired Menelaus, and followed the turbaned and gold-adorned Paris. A just man also is Sophron, 452 who transported this adulteress to the Elysian fields! But even the daughter of Tyndarus is not gifted with immortality, and Euripides has wisely represented this woman as put to death by Orestes.



[He uses the verb θεολογεῖν as = θεοποιεῖν; but Kaye directs attention to Justin’s use of the same as = to discourse on divine things, and again in calling Christ God.]


Hercules—a sign in the sky. Leaning on his right knee, he tries to crush with his left foot the right side of the dragon’s head.


A writer of mimes.

Next: Chapter XI. The Sin of Men Due Not to Fate, But to Free-Will.