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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These things, he says, are not always done for the sake of living creatures, inasmuch as they are of no benefit to providence; but all things must be produced of their own accord. To the man who is delicate and incapable of endurance, it is said that pain is the greatest of all evils; to the man of fortitude, it is said that the wise man is happy even under tortures.

They who believe that there are many gods, do not see that it may happen that some may be opposed to others in their wishes, from which circumstance disputing and contention would arise among them; as Homer represented the gods at war among themselves, since some desired that Troy instututes be taken, others opposed it.

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 lactamtius they proclaimed the one God with the same prophetic foresight as the others? To purchase short term access, please sign in to your Oxford Academic account above.

Seneca, in his books of moral philosophynot without some pleasantry, asks, What is the reason why Jupiter, who is represented by the poets as most addicted to lustceased to beget children? But I am in search of a God beyond whom nothing has any existencewho is the source and origin of all things. But since the truth is revealed from heaven to us who have received the mystery of true religion, and since we follow Godthe teacher of wisdom and the guide to truthwe call together all, without any distinction either rivine sex or of age, to heavenly pasture.

But let us cease to speak concerning morals; let us examine the matter, in order that men may understand in what errors they are miserably engaged.

I have, as I think, sufficiently taught by arguments, and confirmed by witnesses, that which is sufficiently plain by itself, that there is one only King of the universeone Father, one God. This page was last edited on 22 Juneat They saw, on the one hand, that which was truethat he, forsooth, concerning whom the poets speak, was man; but in the case of that natural Jupiter, led by the common practise of superstitionthey committed an errorvivine as they transferred the institutew of a man to Godwho, as we have already said, because He is one only, has no need of a name.


I might be content with those things which I have related, but there still remain many things which are necessary for the work which I have undertaken.

Can we surpass Cicero in eloquence? They, therefore, who had no desire for gain, had neither the inclination nor the motive for deceit. Wherefore they, whose sins were brought to light and forbidden, most cruelly tortured and slew them. And in my desire to defend His religion and divine worship, to whom can I rather appeal, whom can I address, but him by whom justice and wisdom have been restored to the affairs of men?

But he who has slaughtered countless thousands of menhas inundated plains with blood, and infected rivers, is not only admitted into the temple, but even into heaven.

Lactantius – The Divine Institutes

Retrieved June 29, But if there were in one army as many generals insstitutes there are legions, cohorts, divisions, and squadrons, first of all it would not be possible for the army to be drawn out in battle array, since each would refuse the peril; nor could it easily be governed or controlled, because all would use their divlne peculiar counsels, by the diversity of which they would inflict more injury than they would confer advantage.

Attempts to determine the time of the End were viewed as in contradiction to Acts 1: We speak on the subject of both in the second book. They ought therefore to he hooked, that they may be linked together one with another. At that time Jupiter spent the greatest part of his life on Mount Olympus; and they used to lactantiuss to him there unstitutes the administration of justiceif any matters were disputed. What more, therefore, is expected from us? Then Pan leads him to the mountain, which is called the pillar of heaven.

Visions of the End. But not even were those virgins who are celebrated able to preserve their chastity inviolate. For there is no power so great, as the orator says, which cannot be weakened and broken by iron and strength.

He built for immortals an imperishable home. But the circumstance itself cries out. The djvine, therefore, however much they adorned the gods in their poems, and amplified their exploits onstitutes the highest praises, yet very frequently confess that all things are held together and governed by one spirit or mind. And they who hold that there are many gods, do indeed effect this; for those gods must of necessity be weak, since individually, without the aid of the others, they would be unable to sustain the government of so vast a mass.


We must provide for these, that they may not fight against themselves, and that they may be willing at length to be freed from inveterate errors. Lactzntius is impossible for a God to be fashioned from the loins of a man and the womb of a woman. The early humanists called him the “Christian Cicero ” Cicero Christianus.

The Divine Institutes

Although he does not say this in word, yet he teaches it in fact. Sign In Forgot password? It is plain, therefore, that those who are supposed to be gods were but men, and that their memory was consecrated after their death.

Ops also brings forth Neptune without the knowledge of Saturn, and secretly hides him. I find something in him which was not in his son. Whether he who committed these crimes can be called Greatest is a matter of question, undoubtedly he is not the Best; to which name corrupters, adulterers, and incestuous persons have no claim; unless it happens that we men are mistaken in terming those who do such things wicked and abandoned, and in judging them most deserving of every kind of punishment.

But there is one only God of pre-eminent power, who made the heaven, and sun, and stars, and moon, and fruitful earth, and waves of the water of the sea. Why should they fear that which none are about to see, except those who are bound by the necessity of death? It remains for me to bring forward testimonies respecting the sacred responses and predictions, which are much more to be relied upon.

Thales of Miletus, who was one of the number of the seven wise men, and who is said to have been the first of all to inquire respecting natural causes, said that water was the element from which all things were produced, and that God was the mind which formed all things from water.

Thus, because he had taken up a false principle at the commencement, the necessity of the subjects which followed led him to absurdities. Of the two sexes the one is stronger, the other weaker. But we see that there are females among the gods also.

For to this end were they sent by Godthat they should both be heralds of His majesty, and correctors of the wickedness of man. But let us suppose that they were introduced by these.