Your Gods Hate You: Clement’s Critique of the Greek Pantheon

Clement of Alexandria, Exhortation to the Greeks III

“Seriously, then, let us add this too: your gods are inhuman and people-hating demons who do not only delight in the madness of humanity but even revel in the slaughter of humans. They gather their incitements for pleasure first in the armed conflicts in stadia and then in the countless arguments in war so that they might be especially able to sate their thirst for human gore. Already they have demanded human sacrifices in cities and nations, falling upon them like plagues. This is why Aristomenes the Messenian killed three hundred men for Zeus of Ithôme, because he believed that these types and numbers of hekatombs bring good outcomes.”

Φέρε δὴ οὖν καὶ τοῦτο προσθῶμεν, ὡς ἀπάνθρωποι καὶ μισάνθρωποι δαίμονες εἶεν ὑμῶν οἱ θεοὶ καὶ οὐχὶ μόνον ἐπιχαίροντες τῇ φρενοβλαβείᾳ τῶν ἀνθρώπων, πρὸς δὲ καὶ ἀνθρωποκτονίας ἀπολαύοντες· νυνὶ μὲν τὰς ἐν σταδίοις ἐνόπλους φιλονεικίας, νυνὶ δὲ τὰς ἐν πολέμοις ἀναρίθμους φιλοτιμίας ἀφορμὰς σφίσιν ἡδονῆς ποριζόμενοι, ὅπως ὅτι μάλιστα ἔχοιεν ἀνθρωπείων ἀνέδην ἐμφορεῖσθαι φόνων· ἤδη δὲ κατὰ πόλεις καὶ ἔθνη, οἱονεὶ λοιμοὶ ἐπισκήψαντες, σπονδὰς ἀπῄτησαν ἀνημέρους. Ἀριστομένης γοῦν ὁ Μεσσήνιος τῷ Ἰθωμήτῃ Διὶ τριακοσίους ἀπέσφαξεν, τοσαύτας ὁμοῦ καὶ τοιαύτας καλλιερεῖν οἰόμενος ἑκατόμβας·

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