XXIII

p. 234

XXIII. But I am much afraid that to give in to this explanation of the story will be to move things which ought not to be moved; and not only, as Simonides says, "to declare war against all antiquity," but likewise against whole families and nations who are fully possessed with the belief in the divinity of these beings. And it would be no less than dispossessing those great names of their heaven, and bringing them down to the earth. It would be to shake and loosen a worship and faith which have been firmly settled in nearly all mankind from their infancy. It would be to open a wide door for atheism to enter in at, and to encourage the attempts of those who would humanize the divine nature. More particularly it would give a clear sanction and authority to the impostures of Euhemerus the Messenian, who from mere imagination, and without the least appearance of truth to support it, has invented a new mythology of his own, asserting that "all those in general who are called and declared to be gods are none other than so many ancient generals and sea-captains and kings." Now, he says that he found this statement written in the Panchaean dialect in letters of gold, though in what part of the globe his Panchaeans dwell, any more than the Tryphillians, whom he mentions at the same time with them, he does not inform us. Nor can I learn that any other person, whether Greek or Barbarian, except himself, has ever yet been so fortunate as to meet with these imaginary countries.






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