previous next

40. [105]

Behold, behold, O priests, this religious man, and if it seems good to you, (and it is only the duty of virtuous priests,) warn him that there are some fixed limits to religion that a man ought not to be too superstitious. Why was it necessary for you, O fanatical man, with an old woman's superstition, to go to see a sacred ceremony which was being performed at another person's house? And how was it that you were possessed with such weakness of mind as to think it not possible for the gods to be sufficiently propitiated, unless you intruded yourself into the religious ceremonies of women? Whom of your ancestors did you ever hear of, of those men who were attentive to their private religious duties, and who presided over the public priesthoods, who were present when a sacrifice was being offered to the Bona Dea? No one; not even that great man who became blind: from which it may be easily seen that in this life men form many erroneous opinions; when he, who had not knowingly seen anything which it was impious to see, lost his eye-sight; but in the case of that fellow, who has polluted the ceremonies, not only by his presence, but also by his incestuous guilt and, adultery, all the punishment due to his eyes has fallen on the blindness of his mind. Can you, O priests, avoid being influenced by the authority of this man, so chaste, so religious, so holy, so pious a man, when he says that he, with his own hands, pulled down the house of a most virtuous citizen, and with the same hands consecrated it to the gods? [106]

What was that consecration of yours? “I had carried a bill,” says he, “to make it lawful for me to act.” What? had you not inserted this clause in it, that if there was anything contrary to what was right in the bill, it should be invalid? Will you then, O priests, by your decision, establish the point that it is right that the home of every one of you, and your altars, and your hearths, and your household gods, should be at the mercy of the caprice of the tribunes? that it is right for any one, not only to throw down the house of that man whom he may have chosen to attack with a body of excited men, and may have driven away by violence,—which is an act of present insanity, like the effect of a sudden terror,—but for him to bind that man and property for all future time by the everlasting obligation of religion?

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

load focus Latin (Albert Clark, 1909)
hide Places (automatically extracted)

View a map of the most frequently mentioned places in this document.

Download Pleiades ancient places geospacial dataset for this text.

hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: