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whom we know and acknowledge, is presented to oust view. Weakness, caprice, passion, and crime in them dig up the very foundations of honour and virtue in the human mind. There is no alternative be tween this effect and pure atheism, or the abandonment of all religious principle whats ever'; and, perhaps, the latter is less to be dreaded. It is surely better, if no better faith can be found, that from a sense of diga nity and virtue, which we cannot part with, we should revolt from religion, than adhere to a religion, which confers a sacredness on every baseness and vice. Yet such is the character, and such the influence of the whole pantheon of the ancients, the Dii Majores and Minores, in all the exhibition of them. It is with all their follies and with all their crimes upon their heads, as received by the popular faith, that they are introduced in the poem, and as auxiliaries to the heroes of the poem.
Til j; The Pater. Hominumque Deûmque, the Supreme. Jove, makes his first appearance
in the page of heathen mythology, as der throning his father and marrying his sister, whom, according to some authors, he had previously debauched. But nor the united relation of sister and wife, nor the divinity, nor perpetuity of, youth as the attribute of divinity, nor the majesty of person, nor the lustre of her large blue eyes, in which Juno surpassed all the beauties of the celestial court, could secure the matrimonial fidelity of this Deus optimus maximus, Ungoverned and wide-ranging lust is the first feature of his character, and his history is that of a libertine, who, by fraud, by corruption, by false appearances, or open violence, subjects every woman to his will, whose unfortunate beauty excited his desire. And too often, with all the apathy of a sated libertine, he leaves the hapless victims of his lust to be the further victims of the relentless jealousy of his offended queen.
On the story of Clitoris, whom he violates in the shape of an ant, Vossius very gravely remarks, that thereby the ancients meant to inculcate,
" Quod ingentia plerumque a minimis mala oriuntur." What does not the heathen mythology owe to the ingenuity of some Christian moralists? The halter is not, indeed, a'“ dignus divino vindice nodus," but unprotected by supernatural power, this in our days would assuredly terminate the career of such a libertine on Earth. There is, in a passage of Terence, a striking attestation to the pernicious influence, which the character of the supreme Jove must have upon the moral mind. A young debauchee justifies his conduct by the plea of Jupiter's example. Terence wrote in the purer days of the Roman Republic; and that in these days a Roman audience could bear such an appeal in behalf of licentious amour, is a strong proof, that the reflection was not singular, but that it was familiar perhaps to every one, who received this immoral deity as the supreme object of his worship. With this character for licentious amour and restrained lust, Jupiter is acknowledged in the epic poem of the ancients. And such
as the Pater Deorum is, such are all the subordinate gods, who act their parts in the epic 'scene.
Quisque deus, Mars, Bacchus, Apollo, Venusque, Pessima sunt exempla lubidins irrequietä.
Equally immoral is the lesson, which the providential government of this unprincipled god must convey. Here no great and unchangeable laws of justice present themselves to our view, but all the fluctuations of cả. pricious favouritism and prostituted power, without regard to the distinctions of right and wrong. A wife, a daughter, a son, a brother, or á mistress, wheedles by turns this repository of supreme power, and points his thunder against the objects of their partial resentment, though in opposition to the prior determinations of his own' mind. Take a slight view of his conduct through the Iliad alone. Thetis, from the worst of motives, to gratify the pride and passion of her son, and avenge a private affront on his whole country, solicits the interposition of Jupiter
to befriend the Trojan arms; and bring dis grace and defeat on the Grecian host:s The easy god yields to her malicious request, and influences Agamemnon T to lead forth his army to báttle, as a designed sacrifices By the temperate: counsel of Hector, the bloody.conflict:is suspended, and Jupiter, as if forgetful of his promise to Thetis, iš bullied by Juno todisgrace the cause of Troy, and awake the vengeance of the irritated Greeks. To effect this purpose he gives the sanction of his godhead to an act of the most dishonourable treachery; he sends Minerva, the goddess of wisdom, on this base errand, to incite some Trojan chief, in the security of the truce, to aimi a' deadly arrow at the breast of Agamemnon The war is rekindled in all its fury, and falls heavy on the Trojans, who, unprotected by Jupiter, are exposed to all the malice of Juno and Minerva.'. After great irresolution and inequality of conduct through several books of the Iliad, Jupiter seems to recollect his promise, and by his direct and indirect interference, the tide of