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Bridges, by the Sea-side, &c. in order to put the Travellers in mind of the Gods, under whose Protection they travelled. The vast number of the Statues made Petronius say, that the Country was so crouded with Gods, that it was easier to meet with a God, than a Man, Utique noftra regio tam præfentibus plena est Numinibus, ut facilius pollis Deum, quam hominem invenire. It was the Custom of Travellers, in going out, or coming into any City, to kiss the Hands of the tutelar Gods. To this Custom allude the following Verses of Lucretius:
Sirataque jam vulgi pedibus detrita viarum
Englished by Mr. Creech thus :
- The Streets, by often treading, wear; The Brazen Statues, that our Gates adorn, Show their Right-Hands diminish'd much, and
worn ; By Touch of those that visit or pass bugs.
Alciatus mistakes widely the Sense of this Parfage, taking Lucretius to speak here, not of the Statues of the Gods, but of the rich and powerful Men of Rome ; who, says he, in order to avoid the Trouble of giving Audience every Morning to their Clients, caused their Statues to be set up before the Gates of their Houses, and obliged the Clients to make their Compliments, and pay their. Respects to them, instead of pay. ing them to the Patrons themselves. Had there been any such Custom among the Romans, it
* Lucr. Lib. 1. vf. 316.
would infallibly have been mentioned by some Writer or other: but the general Silence of Authors, in this Particular, is a sufficient Confucation of what Alciatus is pleased to ad. vance. Mr. Creech thinks, that the Ceremony of kissing the Statues of the Gods, cannot be proved from any of the antient Writers; but is greatly mistaken : for Tully mentions it in express Terms, and takes notice of a Statue of Hercules in the City of Agrigentum (now Girgenti) in Sicily, whose Mouth and Chin were, in some measure, worn out with the Kiffes of the Vo: taries: cujus rietum, says he,ac mentum paulo attritius, quod in precibus & gratulationibus non folum id venerari, verum etiam OSCULARI. folebant *.
The third and fourth Chapters, treat of the Gods who presided over the Ways among the Egyptians, Jews, Syrians, Chaldeans, Arabians and Persians. Among the Egyptians, presided over the High-ways Osiris and Ifis ; among the Syrians, Aftarte ; the Teraphim among the Chaldeans ; the Stars among the Arabians; and the Sun and Moon among the Persians. As to the Jews, they used to worship, when they fell into Idolatry, the Gods of the neighbouring Nations. The northern Nations worshipped the Sun and Moon, directing their Prayers to them, before they undertook, a Journey. The Moon however was their chief Divinity: and this is the reason, why the antient Germans counted Time by Nights, and not by Days, as other Nations did; which way of reckoning is still kept up among us ; for we say, this Day fe'night, this Day fortnight, wherein we differ from all other Nations. ,
... . . . In fo* Cicero IV. in Verr. C.43. ; ;
In the remaining Chapters of this first part, Our Author treats of the particular Gods, that were worshipped by the Greek and Roman Travellers ; of their various Names and Titles ; of the Manner and Ceremonies of their Worship, and the Favours each of them was believed to bestow upon his Votaries. He observes, that the Romans, as well as the Egyptians, paid worship, erected Temples, and consecrated Altars, not only to the Gods, at whose hands they expected Favours'; but to those likewise, who had no other power but that of doing mischief. Hence we read of Temples and Altars raised in honour of the Goddess Fever, of Contumely, Impudence, IN-luck, &c. Among the Inscriptions of Gruter one begins thus ; Febri Divæ, SANCTAE, MAGNAE, &* Prudentius counts the Itcb among these antient Goddesses; and adds, that this loathsome Deity had her Chapels and Altars : his Words are,
Par füror illorum, quos tradit fama dicatis
Confecraffe Deos Febrem Scabiemque Sacellis. · The ignoranc Vulgar truly believed, that the Gods inhabited the Temples and Statues which were erected to them ; but such as had the least Tincture of Learning, laughed at their Simplicity, and turned into ridicule the Gods they adored. Horace, in the eighth Satyr of the first Book vf. 1. introduces a wooden Priapus, telling how he came to be a God. It was formerly, says he, the Stump of a Fig-tree, and an 'useless Piece of Wood ; but the Workman, after having been for some time in suspense,whether he should make a Stool or a God of me, determined at last that I should be a God: hence a
. Gruter. Inscript. pag. 97.
God I am, a God who is the Terror of Birds and Thieves. Olim truncus eram ficulnus, inutile lignum : Cum faber, incertus scamnum faceretne Priapum, Maluit effe Deus; inde ego furum aviumque Maxima formido. And Martial, Libr. 8. Epigram. 40. addressing himself to a wooden Priapus, set up for a Safeguard to a Wood, advises him to be watchful against Thieves, because he is of Wood himself; insinuating thereby, that the Master of the Wood would make no conscience to burn him, could he not supply his Fire otherwise.
Non horti, neque palmitis beati,
If a Writer should now-a-days be so free with a wooden Saint, as these cwo Poets were with a wooden God, it would cost him his Life in a Country where the Inquisition reigns. Our Au-, thor observes here, that to the Gods of the Antients have succeeded the Roman Catholic Saints; to Diana, the Virgin Mary ; to Hercules, S. Christopher ; to Mercury, the God of Thievesa che penitent Thief; to Castor and Pollux, the tutelary Gods of Sailors, S, Nicholas and S. Telnus, &c. S. Nicholas well deserved the Honour that was conferred upon him ; for being appointed by the Pope to preach the Gospel to the Muscovites, he failed (if we believe N”. XVI. 1732
big Vol. III,
his Legend) from Rome to Muscovy on a Millftone. Cardinal Baronius * owns, that most part of the Roman Catholic Ceremonies have been borrowed from the Gentiles ; but adds, that as the primitive Christians thought it no Crime to convert the Temples of the Gentiles into Christian Churches ; so they are not to be blamed for having maintained the same Ceremonies, since they have fanctified them by changing their Object. If the primitive Chriftians thought fit to keep some Rites of the Gentiles, in order to gain them over, with more ease, to the Christian Religion ; yet they never kneeled down before Images, nor offered Incense, or addressed their Prayers to Stocks and Stones, as the Roman Cao' tholics do now-a-days. There are several Edicts of the first Christian Emperors forbidding the kneeling down, or burning of Incense before any Image or Statue whatsoever. And the Fa. thers, namely Gregory and Athanafius, often put the Christians in mind, that the Images of Saints are not to be worshipped, being allowed in the Churches only as Ornaments"; and their ACtions painted on the Walls, that they may serve instead of Books to such as cannot read, and stir them up to follow their Examples. Were Gregory, Athanasius, and the other Fathers, who were for embellishing the Walls of Churches with the Images of Saints, to return from the dead, and see the scandalous Abuses, and ido... latrous Worship, which, by degrees, have been introduced, and are entirely owing to such useless Ornaments; they would, no doubt, be of a different mind, and the first to pull down, and consume in the Flames, all Images of Saints.