But do you, who have not the perception of these things, be instructed by us who know them: though you do profess to despise death, and to be sufficient of yourselves for everything. But this is a discipline in which your philosophers are so greatly deficient, that some of them receive from the king of the Romans 600 aurei yearly, for no useful service they perform, but that they may not even wear a long beard without being paid for it! Crescens, who made his nest in the great city, surpassed all men in unnatural love (παιδεραστία), and was strongly addicted to the love of money. Yet this man, who professed to despise death, was so afraid of death, that he endeavoured to inflict on Justin, and indeed on me, the punishment of death, as being an evil, because by proclaiming the truth he convicted the philosophers of being gluttons and cheats. But whom of the philosophers, save you only, was he accustomed to inveigh against? If you say, in agreement with our tenets, that death is not to be dreaded, do not court death from an insane love of fame among men, like Anaxagoras, but become despisers of death by reason of the knowledge of God. The construction of the world is excellent, but the life men live in it is bad; and we may see those greeted with applause as in a solemn assembly who know not God. For what is divination? and why are ye deceived by it? It is a minister to thee of worldly lusts. You wish to make war, and you take Apollo as a counsellor of slaughter. You want to carry off a maiden by force, and you select a divinity to be your accomplice. You are ill by your own fault; and, as Agamemnon 478 wished for ten councillors, so you wish to have gods with you. Some woman by drinking water gets into a frenzy, and loses her senses by the fumes of frankincense, and you say that she has the gift of prophecy. Apollo was a prognosticator and a teacher of soothsayers: in the matter of Daphne he deceived himself. An oak, forsooth, is oracular, and birds utter presages! And so you are inferior to animals and plants! It would surely be a fine thing for you to become a divining rod, or to assume the wings of a bird! He who makes you fond of money also foretells your getting rich; he who excites to seditions and wars also predicts victory in war. If you are superior to the passions, you will despise all worldly things. Do not abhor us who have made this attainment, but, repudiating the demons, 479 follow the one God. “All things 480 were made by Him, and without Him not one thing was made.” If there is poison in natural productions, this has supervened through our sinfulness. I am able to show the perfect truth of these things; only do you hearken, and he who believes will understand.
Comp. Hom. Il., ii. 372.73:479
[The baptismal renunciation.]73:480
John i. 3.