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29. You press me to give my opinions about the nature of things. If there were room, I could repeat to you the views of Lucretius who follows Epicurus, or those of Aristotle as taught by the Peripatetics, or of Plato and Zeno by the Academics and the Stoics. Passing to the church, where we have the rule of truth, the books of Genesis and the Prophets and Ecclesiastes, give us much information on questions of this kind. But if we profess ignorance about all these things, as also about the origin of souls, you ought in your Apology to acknowledge your ignorance of all alike, and to ask your calumniators why they had the impudence to force you to reply on this single point when they themselves know nothing of all those great matters. But Oh! how vast was the wealth contained in that trireme 3188 which had come full of all the wares of Egypt and the East to enrich the poverty of the city of Rome.

 3189 “Thou art that hero, well-nam’d Maximus,

Thou who alone by writing sav’st the state.”

Unless you had come from the East, that very learned man would be still sticking fast among the mathematici, 3190 and all Christians would still be ignorant of what might be said against fatalism. You have a right to ply me with questions about astrology and the cause of the sky and the stars, when you brought to land a ship full of such wares as these. I acknowledge my poverty; I have not grown rich to this extent in the East like you. You learned in your long sojourn under the shadow of the Pharos what Rome never knew: Egypt instructed you in lore which Italy did not possess till now.



In Macarius’ dream, see Ruf. Apol. i, 11.


A parody upon the verse of Virgil and Ennius on Fabius Maximus called Cunctator because by his tactics of delay he saved Rome from the Carthaginians. “Thou art Maximus (greatest) who savedst the state by delaying (cunctando).”


Astrologers or magicians.

Next: My ignorance of many natural phenomena is no excuse for your ignorance as to the origin of souls. You ought, according to your boasting dream to know everything. The thing of most importance was forgotten in your cargo of Eastern wares.