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Ch. 1: Introduction

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6          NATURAL HISTORY OF PRECIOUS STONES, &c.
after the profession of Magic had been made a capital offence by the law of Constantius in his ninth Consulship. He even conjectures that the " god-lite prophet " alluded to (».'74) may be the philosopher Maximus, Julian's in­structor in divination, who was put to death under Valens for alleged complicity in the plot of Hilarius and Patricius. But this hypothesis appears to me to rest on no suffi­cient grounds. Had he written so late as the reign of Valens, the poet could not have spoken of sacrifices to the gods as matters of public and regular occurrence; and certainly be would not have let slip the opportunity of inveighing against the Christians, the then triumphant enemies of the ancient worship. As for his lamentations over the ignorance of mankind, their hatred of virtue, and the suspicion with which they regarded Magicians (points upon which Tyrwhit builds his strongest arguments), all these would equally apply to any previous period of the Empire, throughout which others, before Maximus, had commonly been put to death on the charge of magical practices. Besides, the actual allusion to the decapita­tion of the prophet was cleaily intended to refer to the fate of Orpheus himself, who had been named in the pre­ceding line. For Orpheus is only mentioned as the author of the poem by Tzetzes, that is, not before the twelfth century, in his Commentary upon Lycophron : whilst the very few MSS. of it, still extant, prefix no author's name at all. In fact another poem ' On Ceremonies,' existing in the same Collection, is there ascribed to Maximus him­self; a circumstance which alone, as we may suspect, induced Tyrwhit to place the Αιθικά also at the same low date.
But if any competent scholar will take the trouble to compare this poem with the 'Argonautica,' which also
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