Sōtēria

Cybele & Attis
Cybele and her son Attis

Aliud etiam symbolum proferimus, ut contaminatae cogitationis scelera revelentur. cuius totus ordo dicendus est, ut aput omnes constet divinae dispositionis legem perversa diaboli esse imitatione corruptam. nocte quadam simulacrum in lectica supinum ponitur, et per numeros digestis fletibus plangitur. deinde cum se ficta lamentatione satiaverint, lumen infertur. tunc a sacerdote omnium qui flebant fauces unguentur, quibus perunctis sacerdos hoc lento murmure susurrat:
θαρρεῖτε, μύσται, τοῦ θεοῦ σεσωσμένου·
ἔσται γάρ ἡμῖν ἐκ πόνων σωτηρία.
quid miseros hortaris <ut> gaudeant? quid deceptos homines laetari compellis? quam illis spem, quam salutem funesta persuasione promittis? quid illos falsa pollicitatione sollicitas? dei tui mors nota est, vita non paret, nec de resurrectione eius divinum aliquando respondit oraculum, nec hominibus se post mortem ut sibi crederetur ostendit. nulla huius operis documenta praemisit, nec se hoc facturum esse praecedentibus monstravit exemplis. idolum sepelis, idolum plangis, idolum de sepultura proferis, et miser cum haec feceris gaudes. tu deum tuum liberas, tu iacentia lapidis membra componis, tu insensibile corrigis saxum. tibi agat gratias deus tuus, te paribus remuneret donis, te sui velit esse participem. sic moriaris ut moritur, sic vivas ut vixit. nam quod olore perunguentur fauces, quis non facinus istud dispecta vanitate contemnat? habet ergo diabolus christos suos, et quia ipse antichristus est ad infamiam nominis sui miseros homines scelerata societate perducit. unguentum hoc reserva mortuis, reserva morituris, ut quos laqueis tuis ceperis, eos venenato unguento oblitos lugubri ac funesto semper mergas exitio.
(Firmicus Maternus, De Errore Profanarum Religionum 22)

We adduce also another symbol, in order to lay bare the crimes of polluted thought. It is needful to give a complete and systematic account of it, so that all may be led to agree that the law of the divine dispensation has been corrupted by the devil’s crooked imitation. On a certain night, a statue is laid flat on its back on a bier, where it is bemoaned in cadenced plaints. Then when the worshippers have had their fill of feigned lamentation, a light is brought in. Next a priest anoints the throats of all who are mourning, and once that is done he whispers in a low murmur: “Rejoice, O mystai, our god appears as saved! And we shall find salvation, springing from our woes.” Why do you exhort unfortunate wretches to rejoice? Why do you drive deluded dupes to exult? What hope, what salvation do you promise them, convincing them to their own ruination? Why do you woo them with a false promise? The death of your god is known, but his life is not apparent, nor has a divine prophecy ever issued a statement about his resurrection, nor has he manifested himself to men after his death to cause himself to be believed. He provided no advance tokens of his action, nor did he show by prefiguring symbolic acts that he would do this. You bury an idol, you lament an idol, you bring forth from its sepulchre an idol, and having done this, unfortunate wretch, you rejoice. You rescue your god, you put together the stony limbs that lie there, you set in position an insensible stone. Your god should thank you, should pay you with equivalent gifts, should be willing to make you his partner. So you should die as he dies, and you should live as he lives. Now as for the throat being anointed with scented stuff, who would not despise the folly of this business and hold it in scorn? Therefore the devil has his anointed ones (“Christs”), and because he himself is Antichrist, he reduces unfortunate wretches into an unholy alliance with the infamy of his own name. Save this ointment for the dead, save it for the dying, that you may besmear with the poisonous stuff those whom you have entrapped with your snares, and plunge them forever in a sorrowful and deadly doom. (tr. Clarence A. Forbes)

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