Friday, December 23, 2016
That Old-Time Religion
No one then felt the need of foreign gods,Dio Cassius 52.36.1-2 (Maecenas supposedly advising Augustus; tr. Earnest Cary):
when the tense crowd thrilled at the ritual of their fathers...
nulli cura fuit externos quaerere divos
cum tremeret patrio pendula turba sacro...
18 pendula codd.: credula Livineius, sedula Heimreich
Do you not only yourself worship the Divine Power everywhere and in every way in accordance with the traditions of our fathers, but compel all others to honour it. Those who attempt to distort our religion with strange rites you should abhor and punish, not merely for the sake of the gods (since if a man despises these he will not pay honour to any other being), but because such men, by bringing in new divinities in place of the old, persuade many to adopt foreign practices, from which spring up conspiracies, factions, and cabals, which are far from profitable to a monarchy.[Aelius Spartianus,] Life of Hadrian 22.10 (tr. David Magie):
τὸ μὲν θεῖον πάντῃ πάντως αὐτός τε σέβου κατὰ τὰ πάτρια καὶ τοὺς ἄλλους τιμᾶν ἀνάγκαζε, τοὺς δὲ δὴ ξενίζοντάς τι περὶ αὐτὸ καὶ μίσει καὶ κόλαζε, μὴ μόνον τῶν θεῶν ἕνεκα, ὧν ὁ καταφρονήσας οὐδ᾿ ἄλλου ἄν τινος προτιμήσειεν, ἀλλ᾿ ὅτι καὶ καινά τινα δαιμόνια οἱ τοιοῦτοι ἀντεσφέροντες πολλοὺς ἀναπείθουσιν ἀλλοτριονομεῖν, κἀκ τούτου καὶ συνωμοσίαι καὶ συστάσεις ἑταιρεῖαί τε γίγνονται, ἅπερ ἥκιστα μοναρχίᾳ συμφέρει.
He despised foreign cults, but native Roman ones he observed most scrupulously.
sacra Romana diligentissime curavit, peregrina contempsit.
Cf. Dio Cassius 6.24.1 (tr. Earnest Cary):
The Romans, after meeting with many reverses as well as successes in the course of the numerous battles they fought with the Faliscans, came to despise their ancestral rites and turned eagerly to foreign ones with the idea that these would help them. Human nature is for some reason accustomed in trouble to scorn what is familiar, even though it be divine, and to admire the untried. For, believing that they are not helped by the former in their present difficulty, men expect no benefit from it in the future either; but from what is strange they hope to accomplish whatever they may desire, by reason of its novelty.
Ὅτι πρὸς Φαλίσκους οἱ Ῥωμαῖοι πολλὰς μάχας μαχεσάμενοι καὶ πολλὰ καὶ παθόντες καὶ δράσαντες, τῶν μὲν πατρίων ἱερῶν ὠλιγώρησαν, πρὸς δὲ τὰ ξενικὰ ὡς καὶ ἐπαρκέσοντά σφισιν ὥρμησαν. φιλεῖ γάρ πως τὸ ἀνθρώπειον ἐν ταῖς συμφοραῖς τοῦ μὲν συνήθους, κἂν θεῖον ᾖ, καταφρονεῖν, τὸ δὲ ἀπείρατον θαυμάζειν. παρ᾿ ἐκείνου μὲν γὰρ ἅτε μηδὲν ἐς τὸ παρὸν ὠφελεῖσθαι νομίζοντες οὐδὲ ἐς τὸ ἔπειτα χρηστὸν οὐδὲν προσδέχονται, παρὰ δὲ δὴ τοῦ ξένου πᾶν ὅσον ἂν ἐθελήσωσιν ὑπὸ τῆς καινοτομίας ἐλπίζουσιν.