I have always admired Lucretius’ stern and rational epicureanism, so different from the orthodox classical belief. (And Emanuele’s Cicero passage needs a counterblast!)
Illud in his rebus vereor, ne forte rearis 80
impia te rationis inire elementa viamque
indugredi sceleris. quod contra saepius illa
religio peperit scelerosa atque impia facta.
Aulide quo pacto Triviai virginis aram
Iphianassai turparunt sanguine foede 85
ductores Danaum delecti, prima virorum.
cui simul infula virgineos circum data comptus
ex utraque pari malarum parte profusast,
et maestum simul ante aras adstare parentem
sensit et hunc propter ferrum celare ministros 90
aspectuque suo lacrimas effundere civis,
muta metu terram genibus summissa petebat.
nec miserae prodesse in tali tempore quibat,
quod patrio princeps donarat nomine regem;
nam sublata virum manibus tremibundaque ad aras 95
deductast, non ut sollemni more sacrorum
perfecto posset claro comitari Hymenaeo,
sed casta inceste nubendi tempore in ipso
hostia concideret mactatu maesta parentis,
exitus ut classi felix faustusque daretur. 100
tantum religio potuit suadere malorum.
Now this I fear in this respect, that you may think that
you are entering blasphemous areas and stepping on a road to ruin.
But that very religion has bred criminal, appalling acts:
how once at Aulis the altar of Diana, virgin queen, was splattered with
the blood of Iphigenia by the leaders of the Greeks, the chosen, the
exalted heroes. The bands that bound her innocent locks fluttered
down both her cheeks; distraught, she saw her own sad father stand
beside the altar, the servants hide the knife – from him – and all her
people weep to see her; she quietly bowed her knees to earth and it did
no good to call the king her father; no, lifted by the heroes’ hands, she was
led trembling to the altar, but not in the company of marriage songs;
the pure girl, on her wedding day, fell to the foul stroke of her father – so
that a fair, fortunate fleet might sail. So great a pall of evil could religion raise.
Chosen and translated by Terry Walsh.
The above text is provided by the Perseus Digital Library.