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The magicians, too, have certain modes of evasion, as, for instance, that the gods will not obey, or even appear to, persons who have freckles upon the skin. Was this perchance the obstacle1 in Nero's way? As for his limbs, there was2 nothing deficient in them. And then, besides, he was at liberty to make choice of the days prescribed by the magic ritual: it was an easy thing for him to make choice of sheep whose colour was no other than perfectly black: and as to sacrificing human beings, there was nothing in the world that gave him greater pleasure. The Magian Tiridates3 was at his court, having repaired thither, in token of our triumph over Armenia, accompanied by a train which cost dear to the provinces through which it passed. For the fact was, that he was unwilling to travel by water, it being a maxim with the adepts in this art that it is improper to spit into the sea or to profane that element by any other of the evacuations that are inseparable from the infirmities of human nature. He brought with him, too, several other Magi, and went so far as to initiate the emperor in the repasts4 of the craft; and yet the prince, for all he had bestowed a kingdom upon the stranger, found himself unable to receive at his hands, in return, this art.

We may rest fully persuaded then, that magic is a thing detestable in itself. Frivolous and lying as it is, it still bears, however, some shadow of truth upon it; though reflected, in reality, by the practices of those who study the arts of secret poisoning, and not the pursuits of magic. Let any one picture to himself the lies of the magicians of former days, when he learns what has been stated by the grammarian Apion,5 a person whom I remember seeing myself when young. He tells us that the plant cynocephalia,6 known in Egypt as "osiritis," is useful for divination, and is a preservative against all the malpractices of magic, but that if a person takes it out of the ground entire, he will die upon the spot. He asserts, also, that he himself had raised the spirits7 of the dead, in order to make enquiry of Homer in reference to his native country and his parents; but he does not dare, he tells us, disclose the answer he received.

1 Suetonius says that his body was full of foul spots.

2 It was probably a doctrine of Magic, that an adept must not be de- ficient in any of his limbs.

3 After being conquered by the Roman general, Corbulo, he received the crown of Armenia from Nero, A.D. 63.

4 All vegetable substances were divided, according to their doctrine, into the pure and the impure, the rule being strictly observed at their repasts.

5 See end of this Book.

6 See B. xxv. c. 80.

7 Like the assertions of the famous impostor of the close of the last century, Count Cagliostro.

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