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Chapter IX.—They Give Rise to Superstitions.

Such are the demons; these are they who laid down the doctrine of Fate. Their fundamental principle was the placing of animals in the heavens. For the creeping things on the earth, and those that swim in the waters, and the quadrupeds on the mountains, with which they lived when expelled from heaven,—these they dignified with celestial honour, in order that they might themselves be thought to remain in heaven, and, by placing the constellations there, might make to appear rational the irrational course of life on earth. 445 Thus the high-spirited and he who is crushed with toil, the temperate and the intemperate, the indigent and the wealthy, are what they are simply from the controllers of their nativity. For the delineation of the zodiacal circle is the work of gods. And, when the light of one of them predominates, as they express it, it deprives all the rest p. 69 of their honour; and he who now is conquered, at another time gains the predominance. And the seven planets are well pleased with them, 446 as if they were amusing themselves with dice. But we are superior to Fate, and instead of wandering (πλανητῶν) demons, we have learned to know one Lord who wanders not; and, as we do not follow the guidance of Fate, we reject its lawgivers. Tell me, I adjure you, 447 did Triptolemus sow wheat and prove a benefactor to the Athenians after their sorrow? And why was not Demeter, before she lost her daughter, a benefactress to men? The Dog of Erigone is shown in the heavens, and the Scorpion the helper of Artemis, and Chiron the Centaur, and the divided Argo, and the Bear of Callisto. Yet how, before these performed the aforesaid deeds, were the heavens unadorned? And to whom will it not appear ridiculous that the Deltotum 448 should be placed among the stars, according to some, on account of Sicily, or, as others say, on account of the first letter in the name of Zeus (Διός)? For why are not Sardinia and Cyprus honoured in heaven? And why have not the letters of the names of the brothers of Zeus, who shared the kingdom with him, been fixed there too? And how is it that Kronos, who was put in chains and ejected from his kingdom, is constituted a manager 449 of Fate? How, too, can he give kingdoms who no longer reigns himself? Reject, then, these absurdities, and do not become transgressors by hating us unjustly.



Comp. ch. viii. init.


The signs of the Zodiac (Gesner).


Literally, “Tell me by God,” or, “in the name of God.”


The Deltotum was a star of the shape of a triangle.—Otto.


[οἰκόνομος. So cap. xii., infra: “the constitution of the body is under one management,” μιᾶς ἐστὶν οἰκονομἱας. Also cap. xxi., p. 74, infra, note 5.]

Next: Chapter X. Ridicule of the Heathen Divinities.