Demons! Corruption! Games!

Augustine, The City of God 4

“Scaevola, Pontifex Maximus, get rid of games if you are able. Instruct the people not to offer these honors to the immortal gods where it is permitted to wonder at divine crimes and it is pleasing to imitate them as much as they are able. If the people, moreover, respond to you, “Your priests have introduced these things to us.” Then ask the gods themselves who inspired you to give these orders so you don’t demand that these kinds of things are displayed for them. If they are evil and for this reason should be credited to the majesty of the gods in no way, then the insult is that much greater for the gods for whom they have been fabricated without punishment.

But they do not hear you: they are demons. They teach crime. They delight in corruption. They do not only disregard the insult, if these things are made up about them, but they are not able to bear the insult more if these things are not done in their honor. Indeed, if you turn to Jupiter against them, it becomes worse for the reason that his crimes are most often performed on the stages of the games.”

O Scaevola pontifex maxime, ludos tolle, si potes; praecipe populis ne tales honores diis inmortalibus deferant ubi crimina deorum libeat mirari et quae fieri possunt placeat imitari. Si autem tibi responderit populus: Vos nobis importastis ista pontifices; deos ipsos roga, quibus instigantibus ista iussistis ne talia sibi iubeant exhiberi. Quae si mala sunt et propterea nullo modo de deorum maiestate credenda, maior est deorum iniuria, de quibus inpune finguntur.

Sed non te audiunt, daemones sunt, prava docent, turpibus gaudent; non solum non deputant iniuriam, si de illis ista fingantur, sed eam potius iniuriam ferre non possunt, si per eorum sollemnia non agantur. Iam vero si adversus eos Iovem interpelles, maxime ob eam causam, quia eius plura crimina ludis scaenicis actitantur.

Jupiter and Semele by Gustave Moraeu

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