Saturday, July 20, 2019



Arnobius of Sicca, Against the Pagans 6.16 (tr. George E. McCracken):
Really, do you not see that these statues, so lifelike that they seem to breathe, whose feet and knees you touch and stroke in prayer, sometimes crumble away under dripping rain; that again they disintegrate through decay and rot; how vapors and smoke begrime and discolor them and they grow black; how neglect over a long period causes them to lose their appearance because of weathering, and they are eaten away by rust?

Yes, indeed, I say, do you not see that newts, shrews, mice, and light-shunning cockroaches place in them their nests and live at the base of the hollow parts of these your images; that hither they gather all kinds of filth and other things suited to their needs, hard bits of half-gnawed bread, bones dragged in against the future, rags, wool, bits of paper to make their nests soft, to keep their helpless young warm?

Do you not sometimes see spiders spinning cobwebs over the face of an image, and treacherous nets wherewith to entangle in their flight buzzing and impudent flies? Do you not see, finally, swallows full of filth flying around within the very domes of the temples, tossing themselves about and bedaubing now the very faces, now the mouths of the divinities, the beard, eyes, noses, and all other parts on which the outpourings of their emptied fundament falls?

ita enim non videtis spirantia haec signa, quorum plantas et genua contingitis et contrectatis orantes, modo casibus stillicidiorum labi, putredinis modo carie relaxari, ut nidoribus atque fumo suffita ac decolorata nigrescant, quemadmodum saecli longioris incuria perdant situ species et robigine convulnerentur exesa?

ita, inquam, non videtis sub istorum simulacrorum cuivis steliones sorices mures blattasque lucifugas nidamenta ponere atque habitare, spurcitias huc omnes atque alia usibus accommodata conducere, semirosi duritias panis, ossa in spem tracta, pannos lanuginem chartulas nidulorum in mollitiem sollicite, miserorum fomenta pullorum?

non in ore aliquando simulacri ab araneis ordiri retia atque insidiosos casses, quibus volatus innectere stridularum possint inpudentiumque muscarum? non hirundines denique intra ipsos aedium circumvolantes tholos iacularier stercoris plenas et modo ipsos vultus, modo numinum ora depingere, barbam oculos nasos aliasque omnis partes, in quascumque se detulerit deonerati proluvies podicis?

plenas cod.: splenas Auratus; pluvias Guyet; glebulas Karl Meiser, Studien zu Arnobius (Munich, 1908), p. 34; <pilas> plenas Cornelius Brakman, Miscella Altera (Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1913), p. 31; splenia Paul Thomas, Revue de l'Instruction Publique en Belgique 56 (1913) 334; spumas Wilhelm Kroll, Rheinisches Museum für Philologie 72 (1917/18) 89; glebas Karl Julius Hidén, Annales Academiae Scientiarum Fennicae 15 (1922) 24
I haven't seen the editions of Arnobius by Concetto Marchesi or Henri Le Bonniec or Bernard Fragu.

Cf. Horace, Satires 1.8.37-38, where a statue of the god Priapus says (my translation):
But if I not telling the whole truth, may I be fouled on my head with the white turds of crows...

mentior at siquid, merdis caput inquiner albis

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