Ante-Nicene Fathers/Volume VI/Arnobius/Adversus Gentes/Book VI/Chapter XXI

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21. They say that Antiochus of Cyzicum took from its shrine a statue of Jupiter made of gold ten[1] cubits high, and set up in its place one made of copper covered with thin plates of gold. If the gods are present, and dwell in their own images, with what business, with what cares, had Jupiter been entangled that he could not punish the wrong done to himself, and avenge his being substituted in baser metal? When the famous Dionysius—but it was the younger[2]—despoiled Jupiter of his golden vestment, and put instead of it one of wool, and, when mocking him with pleasantries also, he said that that which he was taking away was cold in the frosts of winter, this warm, that that one was cumbrous in summer, that this, again, was airy in hot weather,—where was the king of the world that he did not show his presence by some terrible deed, and recall the jocose buffoon to soberness by bitter torments? For why should I mention that the dignity of Æsculapius was mocked by him? For when Dionysius was spoiling him of his very ample beard, which was of great weight and philosophic thickness,[3] he said that it was not right that a son sprung from Apollo, a father smooth and beardless, and very like a mere boy,[4] should be formed with such a beard that it was left uncertain which of them was father, which son, or rather whether they were of the same[5] race and family. Now, when all these things were being done, and the robber was speaking with impious mockery, if the deity was concealed in the statue consecrated to his name and majesty, why did he not punish with just and merited vengeance the affront of stripping his face of its beard and disfiguring his countenance, and show by this, both that he was himself present, and that he kept watch over his temples and images without ceasing?


  1. So the ms., reading decem; but as Clement says πεντεκαίδεκα πηχῶν, we must either suppose that Arnobius mistook the Greek, or transcribed it carelessly, or, with the margin of Ursinus, read quindecim—“fifteen.”
  2. Stewechius and Heraldus regard these words as spurious, and as having originated in a gloss on the margin, scz. junior—“to wit, the younger.” Heraldus, however, changed his opinion, because Clement too, says, “Dionysius the younger.” The words mean more than this, however, referring probably to the fact that Cicero (de Nat. Deor., iii. 33, 34, 35) tells these and other stories of the elder Dionysius. To this Arnobius calls attention as an error, by adding to Clement’s phrase “but.”
  3. Only rustics, old-fashioned people, and philosophers wore the beard untrimmed; the last class wearing it as a kind of distinctive mark, just as Juvenal (iii. 15) speaks of a thick woolen cloak as marking a philosopher. [Compare vol. i. p. 160; also ii. p. 321, n. 9.]
  4. Impuberi.
  5. Lit., “one.”