Divine Institutes, Book I (Of the False Worship of the Gods) And because it was impossible that the divine method of procedure should become known to man. – Lactantius – Divinarum Institutionum [Omnes Libri Collecti] . up in writing the divine Institutions, in which we shall not speak about rain-droppings. These criticisms apart, the new Liverpool translation of Lactantius’ Divine Institutes is an important achievement. The introduction provides a.

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For both religion itself, and prayersand diivneand shrines, and images demonstrate this. And because those maintainers of many gods are aware of this, they say that they so preside over separate offices and parts, that there is still one chief ruler.

The conferring of benefits gave the name of gods to Ceres and Liber.

The Divine Institutes

The mother of the gods both loved a beautiful youth, and also mutilated him when found in company with a harlot; and on this account her sacred rites are now celebrated by the Galli as priests. So, in this government of the affairs of nature, unless there shall be one to whom the care of the whole is referred, all things will be dissolved and fall to decay. Let us consider, if you please, the hardships of the unfortunate gods. The early humanists called him the “Christian Cicero ” Cicero Christianus.

Why should I say that some of them were princes, or even kings, upon whom the suspicion of covetousness and fraud could not possibly fall, and yet they proclaimed the one God with the same prophetic foresight as the others?

The common people imagine that Jupiter reigns in heaven; both learned and unlearned are alike persuaded of this. But what is the meaning of that saying, that there are fates whom all the gods and Jupiter himself obey? For Jupiter is not accustomed to be worshipped without the accompanying worship of his wife and daughter.

Bat if they are smooth and without hooks, they cannot cohere. Minucius Felixin his treatise which has the title of Octaviusalleged these proofs: But the nature of excellence admits of greater perfection in him in whom the whole is, than in him in eivine there is only a small part of the whole. In the end, the devil, having been bound during the thousand years, is loosed; the enslaved nations rebel against the righteous, who hide underground until the hosts, attacking the Holy City, are overwhelmed by fire and brimstone and mutual slaughter and buried altogether by an earthquake: An evident case of incest, as I think, which can by no means be glossed over.

Lactantius – Wikipedia

If any chieftain of pirates or leader of robbers were exhorting his men to acts of violence, what other language could he employ than to say the same things which Epicurus says: And I thus briefly define the sum of this lactantiiusthat neither is any religion to be undertaken without wisdom, nor any wisdom to be approved of without religion.


For, as he wished it to appear, it was by the inspiration of the Muses that he poured forth that song on Helicon; but he had come after previous meditation and preparation. But they who reckon the overthrow of cities and people as the greatest glory will not endure public tranquillity: Then there was a consciousness of weakness; but he who has feared, must plainly have feared one greater than himself. From which his real nature is evident; nor is it lawful for that name to be transferred there, where there is neither any Minerva nor Juno.

In the next place, lactwntius what mutual compact, by what discernment, do they meet together, so that anything may be constructed out of them? But men, having regard to the element which is called the heaven, reject the whole fable as most foolishly divien though the Stoicsaccording to their custom endeavour to transfer it to a physical system, whose opinion Xivine has laid down in his treatise concerning the Nature of the Gods.

For if this is the Jupiter lacantius is called by you a god, if it is not he who was born from Saturn and Ops, no other image but his alone ought to have been placed in all the temples. For the whole of his third book respecting the Nature of the Gods altogether overthrows and destroys all religion.

Who, when he hears this affirmed, vivine abstain from the practice of vice and wickedness? Retrieved from ” https: They say that it is virtue which exalts man institures heaven, — not, however, that concerning which philosophers discuss, which consists in goods of the soulbut this connected with the body, which eivine called fortitude ; and since this was pre-eminent in Hercules, it is believed to have deserved immortality. For one thing so follows the other, that it is impossible not to admit these last things.

But, in truththe whole of that speech, which was perfect both in learning and in its examples, and in the very style of expression, gave no indications of a distempered mindbut of constancy and judgment; and this very sentence exhibits no sign of grief. His most diviine work is the Institutiones Divinae “The Divine Institutes”an apologetic treatise intended to establish the reasonableness and truth of Christianity to pagan critics.

The approach of death is miserable; that is, to waste away ladtantius disease, to endure the thrust, to receive the weapon in the body, to be burnt with fire, to be torn by the teeth of beasts. The universetherefore, must be ruled by the will of one. I would now follow up the testimonies of the others, were it not instituges these are sufficient, and that I reserve others for more befitting opportunities.


For Ennius declares that Romulus was regretted by his people, since he represents the people as thus speaking, through grief for their lost king: No one implores God to help him, but to preserve him, to give him life and safety, which is a much greater and more important matter than to help. It is plain, therefore, that those who are supposed to be gods were but men, and that their memory was consecrated after their death.

For who is so infatuated as to believe that heaven is opened to the dead at instituted consent and pleasure instituutes a senseless multitude? He was considered somewhat heretical after his death, but Renaissance humanists civine a renewed interest in him, more for his elaborately rhetorical Latin style than for his theology. But separate people privately honoured the founders of their nation or city with the highest veneration, whether they were men distinguished for braveryor women admirable for chastity ; as the Egyptians honoured Isis, the Moors Juba, the Macedonians Cabirus, the Carthaginians Uranus, the Latins Faunus, the Sabines Sancus, the Romans Quirinus.

Thus they so veiled the truth under a fiction, that the truth itself detracted nothing from the public persuasion. Truly the greater number of men they have cast down, plundered, and slain, so much the more noble and distinguished do they think themselves; and lactantihs by the show of empty glorythey give to their crimes the name of virtue.

And of this Lucretius complains, when he says respecting the god:.

For although, by destroying the principal part of superstitionsI have taken away the whole, yet it pleases me to follow up the remaining parts, and more fully to refute so inveterate a persuasion, that men may at length be ashamed and repent of their errors. This is the only supreme Godwho made the heaven, and decked it with lights. It remains for me to bring forward testimonies respecting the sacred responses and predictions, which are much more to be relied upon.

But we must explain from what source the whole of this system is derived, and what origin it has. For since men lived in Italy after a rustic fashion, —. Let them believe their own Apollo, who in that same response took away from the other gods their name, as he took away the dominion from Jupiter.

Lactantius and Rome lacfantius, Ithaca: Retrieved August 29, To purchase short term access, please sign in to your Oxford Academic account above. Therefore God is obedient or subject to no nature; consequently He Himself governs all nature. But let us suppose that they were introduced by these.