« ÎnapoiContinuați »
• nevolas lepido susurro permulceam-And his kind readers took him at his word : and from that day to this never troubled themselves about any farther meaning.'
And why should not · his readers take him at his word, and accept of his own account of the design of his work? And why should we trouble ourselves farther? Why may not we understand him as the ancients did ?
One reason against that is taken from the character of the writer, p. 117, . However, Macrobius scerns to wonder that • Apuleius should trifle at this rate; and well he might; • for the writer of the Metamorphosis was one of the gravest • and most virtuous philosophers of his age.
I do not know what assurance we have of this. I am not able to reconcile that character with the many horrible obscenities of that work, not inferior to the most offensive things of that kind in any of the works of Lucian. A grave philosopher may, for the sake of diversion, propose in conversation, or writing, a tale, "a Milesian tale,' if you please : but not such a story as that of Apuleius's ass. Marcus Aurelius was a philosopher of the same age; uo man can believe hiin capable of such an obscene performance as this, notwithstanding his aversion to christianity. I own that Apuleius must have been studious; otherwise he had not attained to such learning as appears in his writings; and he had the character of a philosopher : but his obscenity is a strong objection to his virtue and gravity. And his apology also manifests great gaiety of temper; nor is it entirely free from obscenity.
P. 123, 124, . The fable opens with the representation of ' a young man, figured in his own person. For certain, it is Lucius Apuleius himself throughout, who speaks, and acts, and suffers, in his fable.
P. 125. • Matters growing still from bad to worse, his • affairs come to a crisis; for being now about to perpetrate, • in the ninth book, (it should be said the tenth, one of the . most shocking enormities,-be abhors the idea of his projected crime, evades his keepers, and flies to the seashore.'
I must take the liberty to say I do not perceive that to be the truth of the case; for? he had before perpetrated that shocking enormity, and has related the commission of it with shameful particularity; but' he scorned to repeat it in public, and made his escape from his keepers.
At the end, in the eleventh book, he recovers his original form; and he undergoes three initiations into the mysteries of Isis, and then of Osiris, and lastly the Roman rites.
9 L. 10. p. 336, &c.
" Ib. p. 343, &c.
* All this considered,' says the venerable and laborious author before named, p. 130, who can any longer doubt • but that the true design of this work was to recomiend • initiation into the mysteries, in opposition to the new re• ligion?' meaning the christian religion.
I do not yet perceive the certainty of that conclusion. Supposing a man by some means to bave been transformed into an ass, and in that state to have been treated as a beast of burden, and to liave undergone many hardships; it was natural for him, upon his recovering the human shape, to make acknowledginents to hicaven, in a way agreeable to the religion of which he makes profession, or as best suited to his own temper. Lucian, whose regard for the gods is not reckoned to liave been very extraordinary, having been transformed, as Apuleius is represented to have been, upon the recovery of human shape, sacrifices to the gods his * saviours, and makes offerings to them.' Apuleius, who was more accustomed to religious rites, is initiated, as just showi).
I must therefore still understand this to be a Milesian fable, as the ancients did. And I cannot but consider the allegorical interpretation as a fiction without foundation.
But, though I am not able to discern that deep and bidden design which our author sees in this work, it may be allowed to be (whatt divers learned and ingenious men bave supposed) a perpetual satire of the tricks and irregularities of magicians, priests, debauchees, cheats, and sharpers, with which the world was then filled.
Crevier'su character of Apuleius is absurd and unac
8 Ενταυθα, θεοις σωτηρσιν εθυον, και αναθηματα εθηκα. Lucian. Asin. p. 117. T. 2. Græv.
? Tota porro hæc Metamorphosis Apuleiana et stylo et sententiâ satyricon est perpetuum, (ut recte observavit Barthius, Adv. I. 51. cap. 11.) in quo magica deliria, sacrificulorum scelera, adulterorum crimina, furum et latronum impunitæ factiones differuntur. J. Florid. Annot. in Apul. in usum Delphin.
See likewise Bayle in Apulée, note s.
Apuleius ought to be ranked with the philosophers who pretended to join magic to philosophy. He was an Apollonius Tyanæus in miniature. Mira•cles were ascribed to him and a supernatural commerce with the gods. In • the main, all he did was mere imposture, by which he proposed to raise his
character for knowledge, and to make himself a subject of admiration.' Crevier's Hist. of the Emperors, vol. vii. p. 344.
So says that learned modern. Had he never read the Apology of Apuleius ? And did he suppose every thing said in the Metamorphosis, or Fable of the Ass, to be real matter of fact?
countable. I put it below with a remark or two; and perhaps it may be remembered when we come to the chapter of Hierocles.
Since writing what is above, upon reviewing the chapter, I have observed that Mr. Mosheiin had seen and examined the argument of the bishop of Gloucester. But, after expressing just tokens of respect for his lordship, he declares himself not to be fully satisfied with his representation of the design of the fable of the ass.
A general account of the early adversaries of the christians,
who wrote against them : Celsus, Porphyry, Hierocles, Julian, Fronto, and some others.
THE next author to be quoted by me, is Celsus, who in the second century wrote professedly against the christians. And I shall now give a general account of all our ancient adversaries, or such heathen authors, who designedly opposed the christian religion,
Doubtless, all the heathen authors, hitherto quoted, were, in a sense, enemies to christianity. For though they had heard of it, they did not embrace it, but rejected it: and usually they manifest ill-will and aversion, in their manner of speaking of christians, and their principles. But now I intend such as on set purpose wrote against it, and endeavoured to confute it. 'In these it is reasonable to expect more particulars concerning christianity, than in others, who only speak of it by the by. We might at least expect this if their treatises were now entire; or if there remain some considerable fragments of them. We might expect to see there the best reasons which heathens had to offer against it, and the arguments deduced at length, and the defects of the evidences of our religion, if indeed there are any. And if those adversaries employ only weak and inconclusive arguments, or make use of ridicule and calumny, we may be thence farther confirmed in the persuasion of the
De consilio vero fabulæ de Asino, quod commendationem mysteriorum, et christianæ religionis contemtionem, vir doctissimus esse conjicit, dubitare mihi liceat; quum nihil afferri videam ex eâ quod difficulter in aliam partem accipi possit. Moshem, dc Reb. ante C. M. p. 563. .
truth of our religion. And it is very likely, that we should see fresh reason to admire the steadiness and perseverance of the christians of those times, who bore up, and held out, against the virulent pens of keen and witty adversaries, as well as against the sword of the magistrate, and the clamours of the common people.
The most noted adversaries of the christian religion, in the first four centuries, are Celsus, Porphyry, Hierocles, and Julian. The three former wrote within the
of the first three centuries, and before the establishment of christianity in the Roman empire by Constantine ; tbe last, not till after the middle of the fourth century, and after the reigns of several christian emperors, Constantine and his
But, beside them, there were some others, not so considerable, of whom I shall take some notice here.
The principal adversaries were Celsus, Porphyry, and Julian; as may be inferred from the distinct and frequent mention made of them by ancient christian writers; who, when they are speaking of the eneinies of our religion, sometimes mention those three only, without taking notice of any others. So Jeroma in the preface to his book Of Illustrious Men; and also in another place where he likewise particularly mentions those lcarved christians who had published answers to them. I transcribe both those places below.
It is evident froin a letter ofc Constantine, that in his time the memory of Porphyry was made infamous, and that his books against the christian religion were by edict ordered to be burnt. There was afterwards another edict of Theo
a Discant igitur Celsus, Porphyrius, Julianus; discant eorum sectatores, qui putant ecclesiam nullos philosophos, et eloquentes, nullos habuisse doctores, quanti et quales viri eam fundaverint, exstruxerint, adornaverint: et desinant fidem nostram, rusticæ tantum simplicitatis arguere, suamque potius imperitiam agnoscant. De Vir. Ill. in Procein.
6 Scripserunt contra nos Celsus atque Porphyrius. Priori Origenes, alteri Methodius, Eusebius, et Apollinarius fortissime responderunt. Quorum Origenes octo scripsit libros; Methodius usque ad decem millia procedit versuum ; Eusebius et Apollinarius viginti quinque et triginta volumina condiderunt.-Julianus Augustus septem libros in expeditione Parthicâ adversus Christum evomuit, et juxta fabulas poëtarum suo se ense laceravit
. Hieron. ad Magn. ep. 83. [al. 84.] T. iv. P. i:. p. 655.
Ap. Socrat, H. E. 1. i. cap.
. 9. p.
d Sancimus igitur, ut omnia, quæcumque Porphyrius suâ pulsus insaniâ, aut quivis alius, contra religiosum christianorum cultum conscripsit, apud quemcunque inventa fuerint, igni mancipentur. Omnia enim provocantia Deum ad iracundiam scripta, et pias mentes offendentia, ne ad aures quidem hominuin venire volumus. Cod. Lib. i. Tit. i. l. ji. in. Vid. et. Justinian. Nov.
42, cap. i.
dosius the younger, in 449, for abolishing the writings of Porphyry, and of every one else, who had written against the christian religion.
In that edict Porphyry only is expressly mentioned. It is a proof of the great aversion which christians bad for his meniory.
I do not by any means justify such proceedings; which have been often blamed by learned moderns, who regret the loss of those writings. However, I do not entirely ascribe the loss of them to imperial edicts; but rather to the general contempt which they soon fell under. There is a remarkable passage in Chrysostoin, in which he says, thatf the books written against christianity were so contemptible, that they had been all in a manner lost long .ago. Many of them perished almost as soon as they appeared. But if they are still to be found any where, it is among the christians.'
Lactantius makes particular mention of two persons in his own time, (thougb he does not name them,) who wrote against the christian religion; and he supposeth, that there might be others who did the like about the same time, as well as in former times. One of the two above mentioned is supposed to be Hierocles, who wrote, as is computed, in the year of Christ 303, and was confuted by Eusebius of Cæsarca. Of him we shall be obliged to take particular notice hereafter.
But beside them, I think, there were some others of an earlier age, possibly, about the same time with Celsus, or before him. Minucius Felix published his excellent apology for the christian religion about the year 210. It is in the form of a dialogue, or conference, between Cæcilius Natalis a heathen, and Octavius Januarius a christian, in which Minucius sits as judge.
Cæcilius, the heathen interlocutor, arguing against the
e Hinc Porphyrius, Syrus sive Tyrius, -vir inprimis subtilis et acutus, longum in christianos opus componebat, quod Imperatorum christianorum legibus periisse dolendum est. Moshem. de Reb. Chr. ante Const. M. p. 561.
At facile aliquis subscripserit virorum doctorum judicio, qui optent exstare, et christianorum potius gloriæ futurum putarent, si ad nos Porphyrii opus pervenisset. Verum non minus cgo vehementer optem exstare opera, quæ Porphyrio opposuerant christiani doctores antiqui, Eusebius, Methodius, Apollinarius, et Philostorgius. Fabr. Lux Evangel. cap. 8. p. 155.
* Αλλα τοσέτος εςι των υπ' αυτων γεγραμμενων και γελως, ωςε αφανισθηναι και τα βιβλια παλαι, και αμα το δειχθηναι, και απολεσθαι τα πολλα. Ει δε πε τι και ευρεθειη διασωθεν, παρα χριςιανοις τ8το σωζομενον ευρoι τις αν. De S. Bab. Or. 2. Tom. ii. p. 539. Bened. 5 Inst. I. v. cap. 2, 3, 4, 5.
h See Vol. ii. p. 386–389