A fellow tried to trick the Oracle by holding a bird under his coat and asking if it was alive or dead. The Oracle said it was whatever the man wanted.
Do not mock the gods.
There was a certain bantering droll that took a journey to Delphos, a purpose to try if he could put a trick upon Apollo. He carry’d a sparrow in his hand under his coat, and told the god, I have somewhat in my hand, says he, is it dead or living? If the oracle should say ’twas dead, he could shew it alive; if living, ’twas but squeezing it, and then ’twas dead. Now he that saw the malice of his heart gave him this answer: It shall e’en be which of the two you please; for ’tis in your choice to have it either the one or the other.
Presumption leades people to infidelity in a trace, and so by insensible degrees to atheism: for when men have once cast off a reverence for religion, they are come within one step of laughing at it.
Apollo et Vir Facinorosus
Quidam vir facinorosus se contulit Delphos, tentaturus Apollinem, sub pallio habens passerculum quem pugno suo tenebat. Et accedens ad tripodas, eum interrogabat, dicens, “Quod in mea dextra habeo, vivitne, an est mortuum?” (prolaturus passcerculum vivum, si ille respondisset mortuum; rursus prolaturus mortuum, si respondisset vivum, etenim statim eum occidisset clam sub pallio priusquam proferret). At Deus, hominis calliditatem subdolam intellegens, dixit, “O consultor, utrum mavis facere facito – etenim est penes te – et proferto sive vivum, sive mortuum, quod habes in tuis manibus.”
Haec fabula innuit nihil latere neque fallere mentem divinam.