« AnteriorContinua »
rule, omnia fucta dictaque ejus vice legis observare, as he says of himself in Tacitus, Ann. iv. 37. Observe also that the Jews persecuted the apostles and slew Stephen, and that Saul made havock of the church, entering into every house, and haling men and women, committed them to prison, and that Pilate connived at all this violence, and was not afraid of the resentment of Tiberius on that account.
The custom which the Romans had to deify and adore their emperors, most of them after their decease, and some of them during their lives, even though they were the vilest of mankind ; the apotheosis of Antinöus, Adrian's favourite ; the contempt which many emperors, as Tiberius, and Caius, and Nero * shewed towards their gods ; the endeavour of Heliogabalus to suppress the worship of the ancient deities, and to introduce a ridiculous god of his own †; the strange Egyptian deities which had crept into Italy, and were there adored by some and detested by others; the liberty which
persons had taken with the popular religion $;-these things had a tendency to wean the pagans by slow degrees from their attachment to idolatry, and to facilitate the worship of one God and Father of all, who, by his Son, or his Word, reconciled to himself, and instructed mankind, and by
* Religionum usquequaque contemtor, præter unius Deæ Syriæ. Hanc mox ita sprevit, ut urinâ contaminaret. Suet. Ner. 56.
+ Heliogabalum in Palatino monte juxta ædes imperatorias consecravit, eique templum fecit, studens et Matris typum, et Vestæ ignem, et Palladium, ot ancilia, et omnia Romanis veneranda in illud transferre templum, et id agens, ne quis Romæ deus nisi Heliogabalus coteretur, &c. Lampridius 3.
It is related somewhere of Diogenes the cynic, that, to shew his contempt of sacrifices, he took a louse, and cracked it upon the altar of Diana.
his Spirit assisted virtuous minds in their progres wisdom and happiness, as a religion more simple, a noble, and philosophical, and reasonable than pag: ism.
The Senate, says Dio, ordered the temples of I and Serapis to be pulled down, and afterwards woul not suffer any to be erected intra pomiprium. To's vxrs, ιδία τινές επιποί ηνίο, καθελεν τη Βελή έδοξεν και γαρ δή τις θες ενόμισαν, και ότε γε δε εξενίκησεν, ώςε και δημοσία αυτούς σέβεσθαι, έξω τη σωμηρία σφάς ιδρύσανθο. xl. p. 149. A little after the civil war between Cæsar and Pompey, the Haruspices ordered the temples of these deities to be demolished. Dio xlii. p. 196.
How much the goddess Isis and her sacred rites were despised may be seen in Propertius ii. 24. Lucan visi. 831. ix. 158. Juvenali vi. 489. 526. ix. 22: not to mention several others. The apotheosis of the Poman emperors is made the subject of the utmost contempt and ridicule by Seneca, in his 'Atoxoroxúrtwris!
The Romans knew not much of Christianity, and in a great measure overlooked it, till its professors were so considerably increased, that they could not easily be destroyed.
Christianity at first was more likely to prosper under bad than under good emperors, if these were tenacious of their religious rites and ceremonies. The bad emperors had usually other crimes and other mischief in view, and no leisure to plague such a little sect, little when compared to paganism. And accordingly, from the death of Christ to Vespasian, for about the
space of thirty-seven years, the Romans did not much mind the progress of the gospel. They were. ruled by weak, or frantic and vicious emperors ;
the magistrates and senators, and every worthy. man of
any note stood in continual fear for their own lives. Under Galba, Otho, and Vitellius, the empire was a scene of confusion, desolation, and misery.
Nero, indeed, destroyed several Christians at Roine, but it was for a supposed crime of which all the world knew them to be innocent; so that this cruel treatment raised compassion, and rather did service than harm to the Christian cause, and the persecution was soon over.
If Claudius and the Senate in his time had known the nature of the gospel in this point, that it was directly opposite to the national religion, and that, if it prospered, Paganism must decline and come to nothing, and that every Christian thought himself bound to spread his opinions by all arts and means which were not immoral, they would have endeavoured to suppress it effectually ; but it lay screened then under Judaism, and the Jews had leave to worship God in their own way.
The Christians who suffered under Nero are called malefici by Suetonius, c. 16. that is, sorcerers, magieians. Probably the Pagans had heard of their miracles, and ascribed them to magic arts, which yet was a kind of indirect acknowledgement of them. Juvenal iii. 41.
Quid Romce faciam? mentiri nescio--motus
Astrorum ignoro: funus promittere patris, &c. where the old scholiast says: motus astrorum : malefieus non sum. But here I doubt it should be, mathematicus non sum, which is a more literal interpretation.
Nemo mathematicus genium indemnatus habebit.--
With the reader's leave, I will step out of my way to correct a passage in this poet, xiii, 64.
Egregium sanctumque virum si cerno, bimembri
Gurgitibus miris, et lactis vortice torrens.
says we must read mirantis, not miranti. Gataker conjectures liranti. These honest men were all disposed to feed upon acorns, whilst other copies had miranti, which was very well explained by Britannicus, sub aratro miranti, ut rei inanimce dederit sensum. Miranti arutro is just such an expression as irato sistro, xiii. 93. esuriens ramus olivce, xiii. 99. &c. &c.
I need not observe how flat, and unmeaning, and unpoetical is the expression, Gurgitibus miris, and how ill it comes in after miranti. The poet intended to speak of a prodigy, of a river running bloody, which, together with showers of blood, has been often mens tioned amongst prodigies. See Cicero de Divin. i. 43. The word which he used was somewhat uncoinmon, and therefore lost, and ill supplied. He wrote, I believe,
Gurgitibus miniis, et lactis vortice torrens. minis, that is, sanguineis, rubris instar mini. The adjective minius, or mineus, from minium, red lead, vermilion, is twice used by Apuleius, Fulgentium rosarum minius color, and Cerricula psittaci circulo minco. Faber's Thesaurus.--If there were no example extant of the adjective minius, that would not be a sufficient reason to reject the emendation, since the Greek and
Latin poets frequently turn substantives into adjectives. So Juvenal himself, xi. 94. according to the best co
Qualis in Oceano fluctu testudo nataret.
Litore ab Oceano Gallis venientibus-113. Catullus, lxiii. according to Scaliger's emendation,
Nimirum Oceano se ostendit Noctifer imbre. And hence Milton, 1.
-hugest that swim th' ocean stream. Minium in Greek is uintos, and the Sibylline oracles speak thus of a bloody shower:
Και ψεκάδες σίπωσιν απ' έρανε, οία τε μίλτος. The old scholiast says, Gurgitibus miris] Aut lacteis, aut sanguineis. But you have nothing in Juvenal that answers to sanguineis, unless you change miris into ininiis, which is also a very slight alteration. The poet might have so contrived it as to have used sanguis or cruor, or their adjectives, but Gurgitibus miniis pleased him better, as it had a more ludicrous cast, and he chose rather to stain his river with red oker than with blood. It threw a contempt upon portents and prodigies, things which he was not much disposed to believe. Lucian, or whosoever he be who wrote the treatise De Dea Syria, says, that the river Adonis was stained with blood every year, ó đè stOTQμός εκάσε ετεος αιμάσσεται, και την χροιών ολέσας, εσωίπίει ες την θάλασσας και φοινίσσει το σολλόν το σελάγιος.-Illud funen singulis annis cruentatur, suoque amisso colore, in mare effunditur, et magnam maris partem inficit, 8. He adds, that an inhabitant of Byblus explained the phænomenon thus : ο "Αδωνις ο ποταμός, ω ξεϊνε, δια το Λιβάνα έρχεται, ο δε Λίβανος καρια ξανθογεώς έσι άνεμοι ών τρηχίες εκείνησι τήσι ημερησι ισάμενοι την γήν τω σοβαμώ επιφέρεσι, ευσαν ες τα μάλισα ΜΙΛΤΩΔΕΑ· η δε γη μιν αιμώδεα ρίθησι. Adonis flumen, ο