Online Library of Liberty

A collection of scholarly works about individual liberty and free markets. A project of Liberty Fund, Inc.

Advanced Search

Plutarch, Plutarch’s Morals, vol. 4 [1878]

0062 04 tp
Title Page
0062 04 toc
Original Table of Contents or First Page

Edition used:

Plutarch, Plutarch’s Morals. Translated from the Greek by Several Hands. Corrected and Revised by William W. Goodwin, with an Introduction by Ralph Waldo Emerson. 5 Volumes. (Boston: Little, Brown, and Co., 1878). Vol. 4.

Available in the following formats:
Facsimile PDF 38 MB This is a facsimile or image-based PDF made from scans of the original book.
Facsimile PDF small 26.8 MB This is a compressed facsimile or image-based PDF made from scans of the original book.
Kindle 649 KB This is an E-book formatted for Amazon Kindle devices.
EBook PDF 1.13 MB This text-based PDF or EBook was created from the HTML version of this book and is part of the Portable Library of Liberty.
ePub 463 KB ePub standard file for your iPad or any e-reader compatible with that format
HTML 1.2 MB This version has been converted from the original text. Every effort has been taken to translate the unique features of the printed book into the HTML medium.
Simplified HTML 1.2 MB This is a simplifed HTML format, intended for screen readers and other limited-function browsers.

About this Title:

Vol. 4 of a massive 5 volume work in which Plutarch muses on all manner of topics ranging from virtue and vice, friendship, flattery, the nature of love, stoic philosophy, fate, to the nature of government.

Copyright information:

The text is in the public domain.

Fair use statement:

This material is put online to further the educational goals of Liberty Fund, Inc. Unless otherwise stated in the Copyright Information section above, this material may be used freely for educational and academic purposes. It may not be used in any way for profit.

Table of Contents:

Edition: current; Page: [i]
CORRECTED AND REVISED BY WILLIAM W. GOODWIN, Ph. D., professor of greek literature in harvard university.
Vol. IV.
Edition: current; Page: [ii]

Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1870, by

little, brown, and company,

In the Office of the Librarian of Congress at Washington.


press of john wilson and son.

Edition: current; Page: [iii]



    • Two men, Demetrius of Tarsus, from England, and Cleombrotus the Lacedaemonian, from Egypt, meet at Delphi, 3.
    • Their conversation about what Cleombrotus had seen and heard in Egypt, 4.
    • He had visited the oracle of Jupiter Ammon, 4.
    • A remarkable lamp there, which was never extinguished, though its supply of oil was lessened continually, 4-6.
    • The conversation turns on oracles: why have most of the oracles, even in Greece, become silent? 7.
    • Formerly these oracles gave responses, 8.
    • What responses were given, 8.
    • Are responses now withheld, because of the great wickedness of the time? 10.
    • The gods are not inconstant or malevolent, 11.
    • One cause may be found in the diminished population of Greece, 12.
    • When there were more men, there were more responses, 12.
    • God himself has not abolished divination, 13.
    • God is not concerned in all human affairs, 14.
    • There are beings, called Daemons, intermediate between Gods and men, 14.
    • These Daemons were originally human beings, 14.
    • They are not immortal, though very long-lived, 15.
    • A mathematical computation of the possible length of a Daemon’s life, 15-17.
    • A Daemon resembles an isosceles triangle, 17.
    • A Daemon compared to the moon, 17, 18.
    • Daemons are employed by the gods as their agents and ministers in human affairs, particularly in matters of worship and religious ceremony, 18.
    • Human sacrifices and cruel rites are required by malignant Daemons, 19.
    • Combat between Apollo and the Dragon Python for the possession of the oracle at Delphi, 20.
    • Daemons are appointed to have the care of oracles; when the Daemons depart, the oracles must of course fail, 21.
    • That Daemons may be mortal, proved by a story related by one of the company: “The great god Pan is dead,” 23.
    • Another story, about the death in Britain of a Daemon, and the terrible storm that followed, 24.
    • Opinions of the Stoics concerning Daemons, 24.
    • Epicureans reject the idea of Daemons, and with it the Divine Providence, 25.
    • Story of a stranger encountered by Cleombrotus in his travels, and what he said about Daemons and oracles, 26-28.
    • The wars of the Titans were battles of Daemons with Daemons, 27.
    • Daemons, though not gods, like to be called gods and honored as such, 28.
    • How many worlds are there? one hundred and eighty-three, ranged in the form of a triangle, 29.
    • Homer says there are five worlds, 30.
    • Plato makes but one world, 28, 31.
    • Probably there are several worlds, 31.
    • Reasons for this opinion, 32.
    • There is one supreme God, but many inferior gods, 31, 33.
    • A plurality of worlds further discussed, 34, 35.
    • A plurality of worlds does not involve the existence of a plurality of Jupiters, 36.
    • An infinite number of worlds is a chimera: but a certain definite number is quite probable; and Jupiter may pass from one world to another, as occasion requires, Edition: current; Page: [iv] to regulate its affairs, 36-38.
    • As there are five regular forms of solid bodies, there are probably five worlds, 38, 39.
    • Objections to this opinion, 40.
    • The opinion defended, 41, 42.
    • One, or unity; two, or duality, — are the supreme principles of all things, 42.
    • One and two make three, an odd number; three and two make five; we reckon by fives, or by twice five; all other numbers are produced from these; we have five senses, and five fingers; the earth has five zones; the heaven has five circles; for these and similar reasons it is inferred that there are five worlds and no more, 42-47.
    • The silence of the oracles is due to the fact that the Daemons who presided over them have departed, 47.
    • But how did the Daemons exert their power over the oracles? 47.
    • If the Daemons, being human spirits disembodied, may foresee and foretell future events, why may not human spirits, embodied, possess a similar power? 48, 49.
    • Our souls certainly are endued by nature with this power, 50.
    • This power exists in certain states or dispositions of the body, assisted and enforced by certain exhalations from the earth, 51, 52.
    • Such an exhalation issues from the earth at Delphi and other places, 53.
    • But these exhalations are subject to changes, caused by earthquakes, &c., 53, 54.
    • From such causes the oracle may fail, 54.
    • A story about an oracle in Cilicia, 55.
    • Objections to the views now expressed, 56, 57.
    • If the prophetic faculty be a natural endowment, why do we offer sacrifice to the gods, in order to obtain a response? 57.
    • Because all good comes from the gods; although our natural wit and reason may help in obtaining it, 58-60.
    • Divination is from God; it is also from wit and reason; it is promoted by enthusiastic exhalations from the earth, 59.
    • When all these things concur, the oracle gives responses; when any are wanting, the oracle is silent, 60-64.

    • The knowledge of truth man’s greatest blessing; to be sought of the gods, 65.
    • Isis the goddess of wisdom and knowledge, 66.
    • What makes a true priest of Isis? 67.
    • Why do the priests of Isis shave their heads and wear linen garments? 67.
    • Why are those priests scrupulous about their food? 68.
    • Why is the bull Apis not watered from the Nile? 68.
    • Why do the priests of the Sun abstain from wine, or drink it sparingly? 69.
    • Why do the priests abstain from fish and from onions? 70.
    • They do not sacrifice the swine, 71.
    • They conceal their wisdom in enigmas, 72.
    • Hence the enigmas of Pythagoras, 72.
    • Some of the Egyptian enigmas stated, 73.
    • The tales related of the Egyptian gods not to be taken literally, 73.
    • A story about the birth of Osiris, 74.
    • Another about the birth of Isis and other deities, 75.
    • The great actions of Osiris, 75.
    • The manner of his death, 76.
    • His wife Isis, her lamentations, 76-78.
    • Her search for her husband, 77.
    • Finds the body of Osiris, 78, 79.
    • About Maneros, the foster-son of Isis, 79.
    • The body of Osiris torn in pieces by Typhon, his murderer, and the members scattered about, 80.
    • The members found and interred in many places, 80.
    • War between Typhon and Horus, the son of Osiris, 80, 81.
    • These stories not to be literally understood, 82.
    • These gods were not kings and mighty men, 83.
    • Semiramis, Sesostris, Cyrus, Alexander, were human beings, not deities, 85.
    • Isis, Osiris, and Typhon, were not divine beings, nor human, but Daemons, an intermediate genus, 86.
    • Such also were Saturn, the giants and Titans of the Greeks, 86.
    • This notion is sanctioned by Homer, Hesiod, Plato, Xenocrates, and Empedocles, 86, Edition: current; Page: [v] 87.
    • Typhon was a malignant Daemon, 88.
    • Isis and Osiris were good Daemons, afterwards changed into gods, 88.
    • Isis is the same as Proserpine; Serapis is Pluto, 88.
    • Osiris is identical with Serapis and with Bacchus, 89.
    • Osiris is also identical with the bull Apis, 90.
    • The Egyptians offer disrespect to Typhon, 91.
    • They maltreat the ass and animals and men having red hair, because his hair was red, 91.
    • According to some, Osiris is the Nile, and Typhon the sea; explanation, 92.
    • The most learned hold Osiris to be the cause of generation, 94.
    • Proofs that Osiris is the same as Bacchus, 95, 96.
    • The Phallic rites, and how they originated, 96, 97.
    • The Nile, and every thing humid, is the efflux of Osiris, and he is thus the cause of all things, 96, 97.
    • The country bordering on the Nile is the body of Isis, 98.
    • The conspiracy of Typhon explained, 99.
    • The mourning of Isis, and her recovery of the body of Osiris explained, 100.
    • Another explanation of Typhon, Osiris and Isis, the heavenly bodies, 101.
    • The eclipse of the moon is the death of Osiris, 104.
    • Worship of the dog Anubis, 77, 104.
    • Typhon stands for the principle or cause of evil, distress, and destruction, 105.
    • The Magian or Persian doctrine of two original independent forces or powers; one the source of light or good, the other of darkness and evil, 106.
    • These maintain an incessant struggle, 107.
    • The final issue will be happy, 108.
    • The same ideas are found among the Chaldeans and the Greeks, 108.
    • These ideas are found also among the Pythagoreans and in Plato, 109.
    • Throughout nature we find the two discordant principles, which are represented by the names Osiris and Typhon, 109, 110.
    • The hieroglyphics and religious rites which refer to these principles, 110-112.
    • Isis is the feminine and productive property of Nature, 113.
    • Horus, son of Isis, represents the world of mind, 114.
    • He has a struggle with Typhon, 114, 115.
    • The three constituents of the divine nature, 115.
    • Illustrated by a triangle, 115.
    • What Plato says of the production of love, 116, 117.
    • Fables are doctrinal only in part, 117.
    • The fable of Typhon further explained, 118.
    • Supposed etymology of the words Isis, Osiris, Anubis, and others, 119-121.
    • The sistrum, or timbrel, used at the feasts of Isis, 121.
    • Isis and Osiris produce whatever is orderly and beneficial; Typhon is the cause of disorder and mischief, 122.
    • These deities are not peculiar to Egypt; all mankind have them, 123.
    • We are not to rest in the letter of the accounts given of these gods, 124.
    • Sun, moon, earth, fire, wind, water, are not gods, but elements wielded by the gods, and by which the gods exhibit and manifest themselves, 124.
    • We are to rise above the symbol to the thing symbolized, 125.
    • We should not confound the true idea of God with the appearances and changes of external nature, 126, 127.
    • The statues of the gods are not the gods, 128.
    • The assumption of the forms of brute animals by the gods is not to be believed, 129.
    • Yet the idolatrous worship of the Egyptians had no better foundation than this belief, 129, 130.
    • Some reasons assigned for brute worship, 131, 132.
    • God is to be worshiped in Nature, not Nature instead of God, 134.
    • The sacred vestments of Isis and Osiris; their nature and use, 135.
    • Purpose for which incense and perfumes are burnt, 136-139.

    • “Concerning those whom God is slow to punish.” This subject is discussed between Plutarch and several of his relatives, Plutarch being the principal speaker. Epicurus had just left the company uttering invectives against the justice of the Deity in the government of the world, 140.
    • It is admitted that the Edition: current; Page: [vi] delay of divine justice gives rise to perplexing thoughts, 141.
    • Some of the objections are, —
      • (1) Such delay seems to proceed from indifference on the part of the Deity to the desert of crime;
      • (2) Punishment long delayed fails to restrain the commission of crime, as a speedy retribution would do;
      • (3) It is often entirely useless as a reparation to those who have suffered from injustice;
      • (4) It emboldens the transgressor, 141;
      • (5) It diminishes in many minds the belief of Divine Providence;
      • (6) Punishment long delayed fails of any good effect on the offender himself, 143.
      • To what good purpose, then, do the millstones of the gods grind, when they grind so slowly? 143.
      • To these objections it is answered as follows: It becomes us to enter on such inquiries with great caution and self-distrust, because our knowledge of God and of his ways is extremely narrow and imperfect, 144.
      • We are very incompetent judges of what it is fit for God to do, 144.
      • God only knows when, and in what manner, and how much to punish, 144.
      • Those who are ignorant of music or of military affairs are not competent judges of those matters, 144.
      • No one who is not properly trained can wisely administer human law, 145.
      • The remissness of which complaint is made is true only in part, and is only apparent. So far as it is real, it may be vindicated by the following considerations:
      • (1) The Deity, by being slow to punish, teaches us to moderate our anger, and never to punish in a passion, 146;
      • He would lead us to imitate his own gentleness and forbearance, 147;
      • (2) The wicked, in consequence of delay, have opportunity to repent, and are therefore spared from a desire of their reformation, 148;
      • The summary justice, to which the passions of men incite them, excludes all regard to this object, and degenerates into the mere gratification of malice and revenge, 148;
      • The wisdom of the divine policy, so different from this, is fully justified by the results, since history records many instances where men who, in early life, were profligate, have afterwards reformed and become useful to society, 149, 150;
      • (3) The wicked are often permitted to live and prosper, that Providence may by them execute its justice on others, of which instances are given, 151, 152;
      • (4) The wicked are sometimes spared that a noble and virtuous posterity, proceeding from them, may bless the world, 152;
      • (5) Punishment is sometimes deferred for a time that the hand of Providence may be more conspicuous in inflicting it, 153.
      • But the objection against an overruling Providence, founded on the prosperity of the wicked, assumes too much; the delay is apparent, rather than real, 154.
      • Retribution follows hard on the steps of crime, in the shame, remorse, and inward suffering of the offender, 154.
      • Many look with envy on wicked men who seem to enjoy high prosperity, while those men are soon to become involved in the deepest misery, 154.
      • Wicked men suffer not a late but a long punishment; they suffer all the time, 155.
      • What we call delay, is not such to the Deity; distinctions of time with him have no place, 155.
      • It is not the last moment of punishment which contains all the punishment, 155.
      • God has the offender all the while in his power, and does not suffer him to rest, 156.
      • Instances are given of remorse suffered by the guilty, 156, 157.
      • Were death the extinction of our being, it might still be maintained that the Deity is not remiss in punishing crime, 157.
      • The wicked find, even here, that no real good comes from their wickedness, 158.
      • Self-condemnation, a dread of censure, a fear of death, embitter their lives, 159.
      • One of the company now leads the conversation to a kindred subject, the question how the conduct of Providence can be justified in punishing children for the misconduct of their parents, of which several instances are quoted, 160, 161.
      • To this it is replied:
      • (1) Children often derive advantage from the virtue and piety of their fathers; it is not therefore strange that they should suffer for their wickedness, 163, 164. Edition: current; Page: [vii]
      • (2) The law of cause and effect comes in here, as in other cases, though we may not fully explain it; children often inherit the diseases of their parents; the plague of Athens took its rise in far distant Ethiopia, 165.
      • (3) The constitution of society binds one generation to another, and thus renders this retribution just, as well as inevitable; every family, as well as every state, has a separate existence, a personal identity of its own, and it is one and the same through successive ages; hence the social crime of one age may properly work out its legitimate results in another, 166-168.
      • (4) In all cases, God deals with men according to their deserts; if children are virtuous, they are not harmed for what their ancestors have done, 169.
      • But, says one of the company, some of your remarks imply the immortality of the soul, 168, 169.
      • Plutarch answers, yes; and we have good reason for assuming that point; if we were like the leaves which fall from the trees in autumn, or like the hot-house plant which has no enduring root; if we were brought into existence to endure only for a day, it would be unworthy of the Deity to lavish so much care upon us, 169.
      • The immortality of the soul, and an overruling Providence, are confirmed to us by the same argument, 170.
      • If the soul survives the body, we may conclude that its future state will be one of reward or punishment, because life is a struggle and a probation, 170.
      • Punishments that reach posterity often restrain the inclinations of wicked persons, 171.
      • Children born of diseased parents need to be guarded against the hereditary disease, 172.
      • And children of wicked parents will be themselves wicked, unless careful and timely restraints be placed upon them, 173, 174.
      • God sees the inbred corruption if we do not, and often does not wait till the actual outbreak before animadverting upon it, 174, 175.
      • Dormant villany may be more dangerous than open inquity, and so may need chastisement, 175.
      • The innocent are never punished for the guilty; but if a man tread in his father’s steps, he must succeed to his punishment, 175, 176.
      • The argument is enforced by the story of a man who lived a dishonest and wicked life; who appeared to die; visited the world of spirits; saw the rewards and punishments there experienced; came back to life, and was greatly reformed in consequence, 177-188.

    • The Grecians, from distrust of Grecian justice, appealed to foreign judicatures, 189.
    • In a similar manner, philosophers, instead of appeals to human nature, have appealed to brute affection, 189.
    • Absurdity of such an appeal, 189.
    • Brutes, having no reason, follow blindly and implicitly the guidance of Nature, 190.
    • All brutes love their offspring, toiling and suffering for their good, 190, 191.
    • Let them herein be our examples, 192.
    • Some pretend that among human beings disinterested affection does not exist, 192.
    • This assertion is not true, 193.
    • Nature has so ordered the circumstances in which man comes into being, as to necessitate the existence of a strong and tender love on the part of the mother, 193, 194.
    • Parents do not love their children in the hope of benefit to be derived from them, 195.
    • Nor from the desire of having heirs to their estates, 196.
    • A rich man without heirs has many friends; and children, when born to him, do not augment his power, 196.
    • Natural affection may be obscured and hindered by vice; but this disproves not its existence, 197.
Edition: current; Page: [viii]

    • Is the grandeur and power of the Roman Empire due to Virtue, or to Fortune? 198.
    • Virtue and Fortune, though different in nature, conspire to produce the same results, 198.
    • Both united in rearing that stupendous structure, the Roman Empire, 199.
    • The world was full of change, confusion, and disorder, till the power of Rome extended over the nations, 200.
    • Virtue and Fortune now come forward in this discussion to maintain their respective claims as architects and supporters of the Roman greatness, 200.
    • In the train of Virtue are Fabricius, Camillus, Cincinnatus, Marcellus, Scipio, and others, 201.
    • Fortune, having deserted the Persians, Greeks and Carthaginians, comes forward leading Numa, Aemilius Paulus, Metellus, Sylla, as her favored sons, 201-203.
    • The Romans themselves attributed their greatness to Fortune, and built many temples to it, 203, 211.
    • Caesar relied much on Fortune, and was greatly assisted by it, 204, 205.
    • Augustus was the favored child of Fortune, 205.
    • Fortune was manifest in all the affairs of Rome from the beginning, as in the birth and education of Romulus, 206-208.
    • In the long, wise, and peaceful reign of Numa, 208-210.
    • In the birth, elevation, and prosperity of Servius Tullius, 212, 213.
    • In the triumphs of the Romans over Philip, Antiochus, and the Carthaginians, and especially the expeditions of Pompey, 214.
    • The favor of Fortune was constant, from age to age: it attended the Romans in all their enterprises, 215.
    • The great overthrow at the river Allia was not fatal to Rome, 216-218.
    • The cackling of the sacred geese, a piece of good fortune, saved Rome, 217.
    • Alexander of Macedon was intending war against the Romans, but Fortune ordered his death just at the right time for them, 219.
    • [The remainder of this treatise, containing the arguments in behalf of Virtue, is lost.]

    • Talkativeness an inveterate disease, 220.
    • Talkative people are very troublesome, 221.
    • They are avoided and are not heard, 222.
    • They never gain belief, 223.
    • Talkativeness often results from drunkenness, 224.
    • Silence is often a great virtue; anecdote of Zeno at a feast, 225.
    • Loquacity shows great want of good breeding, 227.
    • It exposes to great danger, 228.
    • It gave Athens into the power of Sylla, 228.
    • It prolonged the tyranny of Nero, 228, 229.
    • The noble taciturnity of Leaena, 229, 230.
    • Secrets are not to be revealed, even to our most intimate friends, 232, 233.
    • Anecdote of a Roman senator and his wife, 233, 234.
    • Mischiefs of a vain curiosity, 236.
    • Loquacious men destroy themselves, 238.
    • Anecdote of Dionysius and a barber, 238.
    • Of an Athenian barber, 238, 239.
    • Of one who robbed the temple of Minerva, 239.
    • Of the murderers of Ibycus, 240.
    • Great peril of an unbridled tongue, 240.
    • A tell-tale is often a traitor, 241.
    • To cure ourselves of so vile a habit, consider the mischiefs which arise from it, 242.
    • Study conciseness of speech: imitate the Spartan brevity, 243.
    • When in company questions are asked, keep silence till all the rest have refused to answer, 245, 246.
    • Be not hasty to answer questions that are intended to ensnare you, 247.
    • When the questioner really desires information, let there be a pause between the question and the answer, 247.
    • Three sorts of answers to questions, — the necessary, Edition: current; Page: [ix] the polite, the superfluous, 248.
    • Beware of the third sort, 249.
    • Beware of talking on favorite subjects, and of matters relating to your profession, 250, 251.
    • Before you speak, consider what advantage may arise from speaking, and what mischief from holding your peace, 253.
  • OF LOVE.

    • The scene of this discussion is laid near Thespiae, on the slope of Mount Helicon, the interlocutors are Plutarch and several of his friends, 254, 255.
    • The occasion is a match projected between Ismenodora, a chaste. noble, and rich widow, and Baccho, a beautiful young man, both of Thespiae, 256.
    • There are different opinions concerning the propriety of the connection, chiefly on account of the disparity of age and outward condition, 256.
    • A discussion arises as to the true nature and foundation of love, as it actually exists in the world, 258.
    • Does it spring from the desire of carnal gratification merely, or from some higher impulse? 258, 259.
    • One speaker pretends that genuine love is that for beautiful boys, παιδεραστία, and condemns the love of women, 259.
    • Another condemns male converse as contrary to nature, 260.
    • It is of recent origin, nourished by the scenes of the palaestra, 261, 262.
    • As Venus is not present in such scenes, there is no real love, 262.
    • The connection of Baccho with Ismenodora is objected to by some of the speakers, on the ground that it would make him dependent on her, 264, 265.
    • Plutarch advocates the connection, 266.
    • Men have sometimes married wives who held them in subjection, but came to this result by their own weakness, 266, 267.
    • There may be a positive advantage in having a wife older than one’s self, arising from her superior wisdom, 268.
    • At this point, the company receive information that Ismenodora, with some friends, had got Baccho into her house, and was holding him there, 269.
    • A lady warmly in love, 270.
    • Is Love a Deity, or only a strong human passion? 272.
    • Why should we call in question the deity of Cupid more than that of Jupiter or Minerva? 273, 274.
    • Why admit the deity of Mars, the god of war and slaughter, and even of the nymphs and dryads, and refuse to believe that a god presides over the tenderest human affections? 275-280.
    • The god of love is not inferior either in power, or in the benefits he confers, to any other deity, 281.
    • Mere venereal delight may be purchased for a drachm; it is soon over, 281, 282.
    • Love, as an affection, has a controlling power; examples, 283-287.
    • Its power over the ancient heroes, 286.
    • Love makes cowards brave, and covetous men liberal, 288.
    • There are different opinions about the gods, but all confess the power of the god of love, 291.
    • Opinions of the Egyptians concerning the god of love, 292.
    • Resemblance between the sun and the god of love, and differences, 293, 294.
    • True love has for its main and ultimate object the qualities of the mind and heart, 295, 296.
    • True beauty is that of the soul, 297.
    • Love is the scourge of proud, ill-natured people, 298.
    • The causes of love are common to both sexes, 299.
    • Love is a noble and generous affection, 300.
    • In wedlock, founded on true love, there will be no “mine” and “thine,” 301.
    • There will be mutual respect and confidence, 301.
    • All other love will be excluded, 302.
    • Illustrated by the story of Camma, a Galatian lady, 302, 303.
    • A raging passion for beautiful persons, either male or female, is not true love, 305.
    • Yet personal charms in a modest woman will fix the affection of a husband, 305.
    • No earthly joy is so great and so lasting as that arising from the conjugal union, 307.
    • The love of virtuous women does not Edition: current; Page: [x] cease with their youth and beauty, 308.
    • Conjugal fidelity exemplified in the case of Sabinus of Galatia and his wife, 308-310.
    • The discussion ends with the marriage of Ismenodora and Baccho, 311.

    • 1. Aristoclia, of Haliartus in Boeotia, is sought in marriage by two young men; on her wedding-day she is slain, 312, 313.
    • 2 Archias of Corinth, enamoured of a young man named Actaeon, endeavors by force to obtain possession of his person; resistance being made, Actaeon is slain, 313-315.
    • 3. Two virgins of Leuctra in Boeotia having been ravished and murdered by two young Spartans, their father goes to Lacedaemon to obtain redress; failing in the attempt, he invokes the vengeance of the Furies upon that city, and slays himself; not long after, the Lacedaemonians receive a signal defeat at Leuctra, 315-319.
    • 4. Phocus, the father of a beautiful virgin, refusing to give her in marriage, is murdered; the murderers escape, but are at length taken, and put to death, 319, 320.
    • 5. Alcippus of Lacedaemon, a virtuous citizen, being unjustly banished, his wife and daughters are not permitted to follow him; his wife slays herself and daughters, and a terrible earthquake follows, 320-322.

    • Difficulty of giving advice to princes, 323.
    • A prince in the first place, should learn to govern himself, 324.
    • He should feel that he is God’s minister for good to his subjects, 325.
    • He should not affect the power or the absolute sovereignty of God, 326.
    • He should be more afraid of doing than of suffering ill, 327.
    • He should vigilantly guard the welfare of his subjects, 327.
    • His wisdom and justice should reflect the wisdom and justice of God, 328.
    • His power should be restrained by sound reason, 329.

    • Plutarch feels under obligation to defend his countrymen and others from the ungenerous representations of Herodotus, 331.
    • Some signs of a malicious narrative, 332.
    • To put the worst construction on actions; to relate faults having no connection with the story; to omit the relation of laudable actions; when the same action has been related in two different ways, to prefer the more unfavorable; to assign bad motives for an action of which the true motive is unknown: these things are signs of malice, 332-334.
    • Many misrepresentations occur in Herodotus: as in the story of Io; the cause of the Trojan war; and that the Greeks derived their religious worship from the Egyptians, 335, 336.
    • Also that the Persians learned the castration of boys from the Greeks, 336.
    • That Hercules came from Egypt, and Thales from Phœnicia, 337.
    • That the Alcmaeonidae were guilty of treason, 338.
    • That Othryadas was not truly a hero, 338.
    • He is inconsistent in his account of Croesus, 339.
    • He misrepresents the Athenians in the Edition: current; Page: [xi] affair of the Milesians, 339.
    • And the Lacedaemonians in their expedition against Polycrates of Samos, 340.
    • And the Corinthians in the affair of the 300 boys from Corcyra, 341.
    • He calumniates Clisthenes, the deliverer of Athens, Aristogiton, and the Lacedaemonians, for their share in the expulsion of Hippias, 343.
    • He gives an incorrect and defective account of the burning of Sardis by the Athenians and Eretrians, 344.
    • He falsifies the history of the Persian invasion of Greece, 345, et seq.
    • He defames the Alcmaeonidae and the Argives, for their conduct in that affair, 347-349.
    • He indulges a malignant spite against the Thebans, 351-356.
    • He does injustice to Leonidas, 354.
    • He misrepresents the retirement of the Greek fleet after the battle of Artemisium, 356-358.
    • He is unfair towards those of the Greeks who were compelled to submit to the overwhelming power of the Persians, 351, 352, 360.
    • He misrepresents the Naxians, 360, 361.
    • He is unjust to Themistocles, and to Adimantus, the Corinthian admiral, in respect to their conduct at Salamis, 361-364.
    • He unfairly represents the battle of Plataea, and the part taken in it by several of the confederate States, 366-369.
    • The summing up of the case, 370.

    • The views of Chrysippus, the Stoic, opposed, 372, et seq.
    • He and the Stoics in general pervert the common conceptions, 373, 374.
    • Do they agree with Nature who make all natural things indifferent? 375.
    • Natural things, — health, vigor, comfort, &c., — are necessary, if we would live according to Nature; but the Stoics deny this, 375.
    • An intelligent and wise man will estimate every thing at its true value, 376.
    • When deprived of good things, a wise man feels the loss, 377.
    • It is a common experience that a man has joy in exchanging a state of great evil for a state of great good; but the Stoics do not admit this, 377.
    • The Stoics do not admit that the continuance of a good thing increases its value, contrary to the common apprehension and belief, 378.
    • They maintain that virtue and happiness, when present, may not be perceived by him who enjoys them; which is a great absurdity, 378, 379.
    • Is the difference then so small between health and sickness, wisdom and folly? 379.
    • It is repugnant to the common conception, that all men who are not wise are equally foolish, wicked, and unjust; and yet the Stoics assert this, 380.
    • They say that a man possessing all good things may find it convenient to commit suicide; and that a man destitute of all good may find it fitting to live, 381, 382.
    • Chrysippus inconsistent with himself, 383.
    • He maintains that vice is not wholly useless; that it is indispensable to the existence of virtue, 384.
    • Must we then pray that wickedness may always continue? 385.
    • God has no need of thieves, murderers, and other evil-doers, nor is wickedness pleasing to him, 386.
    • The Stoics say that prudence could not exist in the utter absence of evil, 387.
    • But good and evil do not exist that there may be place and opportunity for prudence, 388.
    • Suppose evil to cease to exist: would any harm arise from the lack of prudence? 388.
    • Our taste would not be lost, if all bitter things were wanting, 389.
    • If good only existed, might there not be an apprehension of evil? 389.
    • If vice were absolutely necessary, might not a few examples suffice? 389.
    • The Stoics say that no vicious man receives benefit from any source; has no benefactors, and does not slight benefactors: of course, then, he is never ungrateful, 391.
    • What is utilty? 392.
    • According to the Stoics, it is a gathering and keeping of useless and indifferent things, 393.
    • To live virtuously and Edition: current; Page: [xii] according to nature is the true happiness, 394.
    • The Stoics, in practice, sanction this idea; but their philosophy rejects it, 394.
    • The end is more important and valuable than the means, though both may be good; but the Stoics allow no good or evil thing to be greater or less than another good or evil thing, 395.
    • It is against common sense to say, with Chrysippus, that there may be two ends or scopes proposed of life, and that all we do is not to be referred to one, 396.
    • That which is first by nature is to be first chosen, 396.
    • The Stoics say that the obtaining of natural things is not the end of aiming after them, 397.
    • Chrysippus says a man may be indifferent to good and evil before he understands the nature of good or evil: which is utterly impossible, 398.
    • The Stoics reason in a circle, 399, 400.
    • Absurdities of their philosophy, 402.
    • It is self-contradictory, 403.
    • According to them the universe is nothing and nowhere, 404.
    • Their conceptions of God are confused and erroneous, 404.
    • They believe none of the gods to be immortal, but Jupiter alone, 405.
    • They admit the providence of God, but do not allow that he bestows good things, 406.
    • They make God the author of evil, 408.
    • They hold a final conflagration, and an absorption of all things into God, 405, 409.
    • They say there is but one quality in two substances, 410.
    • They think that one body may mix with another through its whole extent, so that a drop of wine may extend through the whole Atlantic Ocean, 411, 412.
    • Their philosophy concerning the equality and inequality of bodies leads to absurdity, 412-416;
    • and so when they say that nothing touches another, 416, 417.
    • They also absurdly say that time may be past or future, but not present, 418-420.
    • They say that nothing can overtake another: a swift horse cannot overtake a slow tortoise, because the interval between can be divided into infinite spaces, 420.
    • They say that every man has two bodies precisely alike, one being substance, the other quality, 421, 422.
    • They make the virtues and vices, the fancies, impulses, and operations of the mind to be distinct bodies and animals, 423.
    • They make God himself to be an intellectual body, not incorporeal, 425.
    • They make qualities to be bodies, and yet say that matter is void of quality, 426.

    • The life of every man, especially of every philosopher, should agree with what he believes and teaches, 428.
    • The lives of Chrysippus, Zeno, and other Stoic philosophers, did not agree with their doctrines, 429, et seq.
    • It has been so when any of them have managed state affairs, 429.
    • And in regard to the worship of the gods, 430.
    • They represent virtue as one indivisible quality of the mind, and yet admit several virtues, 431.
    • They say that students should first learn logic, secondly ethics, then physics, and then say that natural science should come first, 432, 433.
    • Chrysippus has written on both sides of the same question; he has opposed his own doctrines, 434-436.
    • They say that the law commands good actions and forbids evil actions; and yet wicked men cannot do good, 437.
    • Chrysippus says that nothing properly belongs to a bad man, or is profitable to him; that no one vice or sin is greater than another, nor any good deed better than another; and then contradicts himself, 438-441.
    • He disparages the fear of divine wrath as a motive to virtue, and yet commends it, 442.
    • In one place he allows pleasure to be a good; in another place he denies that it is so, 443.
    • In one place he asserts that he who injures another injures also himself, and in another place says this is absurd, 444.
    • He often asserts that vice is the essence of unhappiness; Edition: current; Page: [xiii] but elsewhere says that it is profitable for a bad man to live rather than to die, although he never become good, 446.
    • He says it is sometimes meet for the happy to make away with themselves, and for the unhappy to continue to live, 447.
    • He says that good things are totally and necessarily different from bad; and yet that a man may change from one to the other without perceiving it, 447.
    • He maintains that a prudent man meddles not with public affairs; and also says that a wise man willingly takes upon him a kingdom, 448.
    • He makes a wise man indifferent to wealth, and yet eager to receive pay, 449.
    • In one place he justifies unclean practices from the example of brute animals, and in another place condemns them, 452.
    • When two things are exactly alike, and there is a necessity to choose between them, the mind chooses: which Chrysippus in one place calls an effect without a cause, but in another place thinks there may be a hidden cause, 452, 453.
    • He highly commends Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle, for what they delivered on dialectics, and yet opposes their views, 454.
    • He says that to have been happy a long time is to be no more happy than to be happy only for a moment; and yet that momentary happiness is worth nothing, 455.
    • He allows ornament to be desirable in a discourse, and yet says that blemishes and solecisms in speaking are not to be regarded, 456.
    • He applies to the gods terms of high praise, but makes them the authors of slaughter and carnage, 460.
    • If the gods are the authors of war they are also the authors of vice and wickedness, contrary to what Chrysippus says, 461.
    • He says nothing can be contrary to Nature, and even vicious practices are according to Nature and the laws established by the Deity: yet he says God, and man too, punishes vice, 462-464.
    • He says all the gods are nourished except Jupiter and the World; he also says the World is nourished, 466, 467.
    • He contradicts himself in regard to the generation of the soul; the nature and qualities of the air; a vacuum, &c., 468-473.
    • His doctrine of things possible is contrary to his doctrine of Fate, 473.
    • Fate he declares to be an invincible, absolute cause; yet admits that there are obstacles and hindrances to particular motions and actions, 474-477.

    • It is not probable that this word was placed there by chance, 479.
    • It is doubtless an enigma, like many other things in the temple of Apollo, 480.
    • What then is the meaning? 480.
    • Does it point to the number of the wise men of Greece, of whom Thales was one? 480.
    • Has it an astronomical meaning referring to the sun, the second of the planets, as ε is the second of the vowels? 481.
    • Does it denote a form of prayer to the god, εἰ standing for a wish? 482.
    • As Apollo is skilled in logic, does εἰ refer to that science, denoting the dependence of consequent or antecedent, or the connection of one thing with another? 482-484.
    • Has it a relation to mathematics, ε being the fifth letter of the alphabet, five being the sum of two and three, the even and odd numbers, and five or its double being that number by which we reckon? 484-486.
    • Or does it point to music and its five symphonies, or the five positions of the tetrachords? 488.
    • Or may we suppose it refers to five worlds, or to five elements of matter, or to the five geometrical solids? 489.
    • Or to the five portions of the world, or to the five species of animated beings? 490.
    • Or to the five principal beginnings? 491.
    • The true answer is, — By the word εἰ, we are to understand the verb εἱ, Thou art, as an Edition: current; Page: [xiv] address to Apollo; signifying thereby the actual and permanent existence of God, in contrast with our fleeting, transitory existence, 493-495.
    • God is: he exists, not in time but in eternity, an eternal, changeless now, 495.
    • God is One, and not many, though there are many manifestations of him, 495, 496.
    • The word εἱ, Thou art, then, testifies of this one God, as eternal and unchangeable, and challenges for Him our worship, 497, 498.

    • Men cannot enjoy wealth by reason of trouble; yet men earnestly seek it, 499.
    • Vice is sufficient of itself to produce misery; it needs no aid from instruments, 500.
    • Poverty, slavery, war, external calamity of every sort, even death in cruel forms, may be borne by a heroic spirit, 501.
    • In India, widows burn with joy on the funeral pile of their husbands, 502.
    • All the ills of Fortune cannot produce misery, without Vice; but Vice ruins and destroys, 503.

    • Man is the most unhappy of all creatures, 504.
    • The body has many diseases, and they are readily perceived, 505.
    • But the soul does not readily perceive its own maladies; it even mistakes them for indications of soundness, 506.
    • The man diseased in body willingly yields to the care of the physician, 506.
    • The unruly passions of the soul resist a cure, and are therefore more fatal, 507, 508.
Edition: current; Page: [1]


Edition: current; Page: [2] Edition: current; Page: [3]



1. There is an old story, friend Terentius Priscus, that heretofore eagles or swans, flying from the opposite bounds of the earth, met together where now stands the temple of Apollo Pythius, in the place now called the Navel; and that some while after, Epimenides the Phaestian, willing to satisfy his curiosity, enquired of the oracle of Apollo with regard to this story, but received such an answer as made him never a jot the wiser; upon which he said:

  • No navel is there of the earth or sea:
  • ’Tis known to Gods alone, if one there be.

Thus fitly did the God chastise this bold enquirer into ancient traditions.

2. But in our time, not long before the celebration of the Pythian games during the magistracy of Callistratus, there were two holy men who, coming as it were from the two opposite ends of the world, met together at the city of Delphi. The one was Demetrius the grammarian, who came from England to return to Tarsus in Cilicia, where he was born; the other, Cleombrotus the Lacedaemonian, who had been long conversant in Egypt and the Troglodytic country, and had made several voyages, as well on the Red Sea as other parts, — not as a merchant, to get Edition: current; Page: [4] money, but to improve his knowledge and enrich his mind; for he had enough to live upon, and cared for no more And he was collecting history, as the material for philosophy, the end whereof (as he called it) is theology. He, having been lately at the temple and oracle of Jupiter Ammon, seemed not much to marvel at any thing he there saw; yet he mentioned to us one particular (which he said was told him by the priest of the temple) touching the lamp that is never extinguished and spendeth less every year than the former. Whence they conjectured an inequality of years, whereby each year was shorter than the preceding.

3. This discourse was much wondered at by the company, and Demetrius amongst the rest affirmed it unreasonable to ground the knowledge of such great matters on such slight and trivial conjectures; for this was not (as Alcaeus said) to paint the lion from the measure of his claw,* but to change and disorder the motions of celestial bodies for the sake of a lamp or the snuff of a candle, and to overthrow at one stroke all the mathematical sciences. These men, replied Cleombrotus, will not be moved by what you say; for first, they will not yield to mathematicians in point of certainty, seeing they may be more easily mistaken in their comprehension of time, it being so slippery in its motions and with such distant periods, than these men in the measures of their oil, about which they are so exact and careful because of the strangeness of the thing. Moreover, Demetrius, by denying that small things are oft the signs and indications of great, must prejudice several arts and sciences, and deprive them of the proofs of several conclusions and predictions. And yet you grammarians will needs vouch that the Demi-gods and princes at the Trojan war shaved with razors, because you find in Homer the mention of such an instrument; that Edition: current; Page: [5] also usury was then in fashion, because he says in one place,

A debt is due me neither new nor small,*

where you interpret ὀφέλλεται to mean increases. And again, when he calls the night quick and sharp, you will needs have him to mean by this word, that the shadow of the earth being round groweth sharp at the end like the body of a cone. Again, who is he that, denying small things to be the signs and proofs of great, will allow what physicians tell us, namely, that we may prognosticate a pestilent summer when great numbers of spiders are seen, and also when the fig leaves in the spring resemble crows’ feet? And who will permit us to measure the greatness of the sun’s body by a pint or gallon of water, or will grant that a small table like a tile, making a sharp angle leaning on a plane superficies, can show the just measure of the elevation of the pole from the horizon which is ever to be seen in our hemisphere? And this is what the priests may allege in favor of what they affirm; so that we must offer other arguments against them, if we will maintain the course of the sun to be fixed and unchangeable, as we here hold it to be.

4. Not only of the sun, cried out aloud the philosopher Ammonius, who was there present, but also of the whole heaven; for, if the years really decrease, the passage which the sun makes from one tropic to another must of necessity be shortened, so that it shall not take up so great a part of the horizon as the mathematicians do imagine, but become less and shorter as the southern part approaches the northern. Whence consequently the summer will fall out to be shorter and the temperature of the air colder, by reason of the sun’s turning more inwardly, and describing greater parallels within the signs of the tropics than it now does in Edition: current; Page: [6] the longest day in summer and the shortest in winter. It would moreover also follow, that the pins of the dials in the city of Syene will no longer appear shadowless at the summer solstice, and some fixed stars will run under the horizon, and others against one another, for want of room. And should it be alleged that all the other celestial bodies keep their courses and ordinary motions without any change, they will never be able to cite any cause which shall hasten his motion alone above all the rest; but they will be forced to confound and disorder all evident appearances which do clearly show themselves to our eyes, and especially those of the moon. So that there will be no need of observing these measures of oil to know the difference of the years; because the eclipses will do this, if there be any, seeing the sun does oft meet with the moon, and the moon as oft falls within the shadow of the earth; so that we need not any longer hold arguing on this matter.

But, says Cleombrotus, I myself have seen the measure of the oil, for they have shown it several years; but that of the present is far less than that of ancient times. Unto which Ammonius answered: How comes it to pass then that other people who have an inextinguishable fire in veneration, and have preserved it even time out of mind, could never remark this? And granting what you say concerning this measure of oil, is it not better to attribute the cause of this to some coldness or dampness of air; or, on the contrary, to some heat or dryness, by which the fire in the lamp being weakened needs not so much nourishment, and could not consume the same quantity? For it is well known that fire burns better in winter than in summer, its heat being drawn in and enclosed by the cold; whereas in great heats and dry weather it is weakened, lying dead and languishing without any strength; and if it be kindled in the sunshine, its efficacy is small, for it hardly catches hold of the wood, and slowly consumes the fuel. Edition: current; Page: [7] But we may with greater probability attribute the circumstance of the oil to the oil itself; for oil formerly was of less nutriment, as squeezed out of olives which grew upon young trees; but being since better ordered, as coming of plants more fully grown, it must needs be more effectual to the nourishing and keeping of the fire. And this is the best way of saving the credit of the Ammonian priests in their supposition, which will not endure the test of reason.

5. Ammonius having finished his discourse, I pray, said I, Cleombrotus, give us some account of the oracle; for it ever has been in great esteem in those parts till these times, wherein its divinity and reputation seem to be decayed. Unto which Cleombrotus making no answer, but looking down to the ground, Demetrius took up the discourse, saying: You need not busy yourself in enquiries after the oracles in those parts, seeing we find the oracles in these parts to fail or (to speak better) to be totally silenced, except two or three; so that it would be more to the purpose to search into the cause of this silence. But we are more concerned in Boeotia, which, although formerly famous throughout all the world for oracles, is now like a fountain dried up, so that at present we find them dumb. For at this day there is no place in all Boeotia, unless in the town of Lebadea, where one can draw out any divination, all other parts being become silent and forsaken. Yet in the time of the war against the Persians, the oracle of Apollo Ptoüs was in request, as also that of Amphiaraus; for both of them were tried. The priest of Apollo Ptoüs, who was always wont to return the oracle’s answers in Aeolic Greek, spake to him that was sent from the barbarians in their own barbarous language, so that none of the assistants understood a word; whereby they were given to understand, that it was not lawful for the barbarians to have the use of the Greek tongue to serve their pleasure. And as to that of Amphiaraus, the Edition: current; Page: [8] person that was sent thither, having fallen asleep in the sanctuary, dreamed that he heard the minister of that God bidding him be gone out of the temple and saying that the God forbade him to remain, and that he presently shoved him out thence with both his hands; and seeing he still stopped by the way, he took up a great stone and struck him with it on the head. And what was this but a prediction and denunciation of what was to come to pass? For Mardonius was not long after defeated by Pausanias, who was no king, but only the king of Lacedaemonia’s guardian and minister, and the then lieutenant of the Grecians’ army, and was with a stone flung out of a sling felled to the ground, just as the Lydian servant thought he was struck in his dream. In the same manner also flourished the oracle near Tegyra, where it is said Apollo himself was born; and in effect, there are two sreams that glide near the place, one of which is still called the Palm-tree, and the other the Olive-tree. And at this oracle, in the time of the Medes’ war, Echecrates being then the prophet, the God Apollo answered by his mouth, that the honor and profit of this war would fall to the Greeks’ share. And during the Peloponnesian war, the Delians having been driven out of their island, they had word brought them from the oracle of Delphi, that they should search for the place where Apollo was born, and there make some certain sacrifice. At which they marvelling, and demanding whether Apollo was born elsewhere than in their parts, the prophetess Pythia moreover told them that a crow would show them the place. These deputies from the Delians, in their return home, passed by chance through the city of Chaeronea, where they heard their hostess at the inn talking to some travellers about the oracle of Tegyra, to which they were going, and at their parting they heard them say to her Adieu, Dame Corone.* By Edition: current; Page: [9] this they comprehended the meaning of Pythia’s answer; and having offered their sacrifices at Tegyra, they were soon after restored and established in their own country. Yet there have been given later answers from these oracles than those you have mentioned; but now they have wholly ceased, so that it will not be besides the matter, seeing we are near by Apollo Pythius, to enquire after the cause of this change.

6. Thus discoursing together, we left the temple, and were come as far as the Cnidian Hall, where entering in, we found our friends which we looked for, being set down in expectation of our coming. All the rest were at leisure, by reason of the time of the day, and did nothing but anoint their bodies, or gaze on the wrestlers who were exercising themselves. Whereupon Demetrius laughing said to them: It seems to me that you are not discoursing of any matter of great consequence, for I see you labor not under deep thoughts. It is true, replied Heracleon the Megarean, we are not a disputing, whether the verb Βάλλω in his future tense loses one of his λλ, nor from what positive or primitive are formed or derived these two comparatives, χεῖϱον and βέλτιον, and these two superlatives, χείϱιστον and βέλτιστον; for such questions as these make people knit their brows. A man may discourse of all other matters, especially of philosophy, without these frowning angry looks that put the by-standers into a fright. Receive us then, said Demetrius, into your company, and, if you please, the question too which has been now agitated amongst us, which does well agree with the place where we are, and, relating to the God Apollo, concerns therefore all that are here; but, however, let us have no knitting of the brows or frowning looks.

7. Being then all set down close together, and Demetrius having proposed the question we were upon, Didymus the Cynic philosopher, surnamed Planetiades, getting upon Edition: current; Page: [10] his feet and striking the ground two or three times with his stick, cried out: O Jupiter! what a hard question do you offer! What a difficult matter do you propose! For is it any wonder, the whole world wallowing in wickedness, and Shame and Retributive Justice having departed from men (as Hesiod long ago predicted), that the Gods should no longer suffer their oracles to be among them, as heretofore? For my part, I wonder there is so much as one left, and that Hercules or some other of the Gods has not long since plucked up and carried away the tripod whereon are offered such base and villainous questions to Apollo; some coming to him as a mere paltry astrologer, to try his skill and impose on him by subtle questions, others asking him about treasures buried under ground, others about incestuous marriages. So that Pythagoras is here soon convinced of his mistake, when he affirmed that the time when men are honestest is when they present themselves before the Gods; for those filthy passions, which they dare not discover before a grave mortal man, they scruple not to utter to Apollo. He had gone further, if Heracleon had not pulled him by the sleeve; and myself, who was better acquainted than any in the company besides, thus spake to him: Cease, friend Planetiades, from angering Apollo against thee, seeing he is sharp and choleric and not easily reconciled; although, as Pindar says,

Mortals to favor, Heaven has him enjoined.

And whether he be the sun, or the master of the sun and father of it, being above all visible natures, it is not to be supposed he disdains to hold any further intercourse with men at this time, seeing he gives them their birth, nourishment, subsistence, and reason. Neither is it credible that the Divine Providence (who, like a kind and indulgent mother, produces and conserves all things for our use) should show herself malevolent only in the matter of divination, Edition: current; Page: [11] or deprive us of it having once given it us; as if, when there were more oracles than there are now in the world, men were not then as wicked. But let us make a Pythian truce (as they say) with vice, which you are always sharply reprehending, and sit down here together to try whether we can find out any other cause of the ceasing of oracles; and let me only advise you, by the way, to remember that you keep this God propitious and move him not to wrath. Planetiades was so moved with these speeches, that he went away immediately, without speaking a word.

8. The company remaining a while in silence, Ammonius, addressing himself to me, said: Prithee, Lamprias, let us take care of what we say, and not be rash in our assertions; for we do not well when we make the God to be little or no cause of these oracles ceasing; for he that attributes the failing of them to any other cause than the will and decree of the God gives occasion to suspect him of believing that they never were nor are now by his disposition, but by some other means. For there is no other more excellent and noble cause and power which can destroy and abolish divination, if it be the work of a God. And as for Plantiades’s discourse, it does not at all please me, as well for the inequality and inconstancy which he attributes to the God, as for other reasons. For he makes him sometimes rejecting and detesting vice, and sometimes admitting and receiving it, just as a king, or rather a tyrant, who drives wicked people out of one gate, and receives them through another, and negotiates with them. But the greatest and most perfect work, that will admit of no additions, is that which agrees best with the dignity of the Gods. By supposing this, we may in my judgment affirm that in this common scarcity of men, occasioned by the former wars and seditions over all the world, Greece has most suffered; so that she can with much difficulty Edition: current; Page: [12] raise three thousand men, which number the single city of Megara sent heretofore to Plataea. Wherefore if the God now forsakes several oracles which anciently were frequented, what is this but a sign that Greece is at this time very much dispeopled, in comparison of what it was heretofore; and he that will affirm this shall not want for arguments. For of what use would the oracle be now, which was heretofore at Tegyra or at Ptoum? For scarcely shall you meet, in a whole day’s time, with so much as a herdsman or shepherd in those parts. We find also in writing, that this place of divination where we now are, and which is as ancient as any, and as famous and renowned as any in all Greece, was for a considerable time deserted and inaccessible, by means of a dangerous creature that resorted hither, namely a dragon. Yet those that have written this did not well comprehend the occasion of the oracle’s ceasing; for the dragon did not make the place solitary, but rather the solitude of the place occasioned the dragon to repair hither. Since that time, when Greece became populous and full of towns, they had two women prophetesses, who went down one after another into the cave. Moreover, there was a third chosen, if need were; whereas now there is but one, and yet we do not complain of it, because she is sufficient. And therefore we do not well to repine at Providence, seeing there is no want of divinations, where all that come are satisfied in whatever they desire to know. Homer tells us, Agamemnon had nine heralds, and yet with these could he hardly keep in order the Greeks, they being so many in number; but you will find here that the voice of one man is sufficient to be heard all over the theatre. The oracles then spake by more organs or voices, because there were then a greater number of men. So that we should think it strange, if the God should suffer the prophetical divination to be spilt and run to waste like water, or everywhere Edition: current; Page: [13] to resound, as in solitary fields we hear the rocks echoing the voices of shepherds and bleating cattle.

9. Ammonius having said these words, and I returning no answer, Cleombrotus took up the discourse, and addressed himself to me. Hast thou then, said he, confessed that it is the God who makes and unmakes oracles? Not I, said I; for I maintain that God was never the cause of taking away or abolishing any oracle or divination; but, on the contrary, whereas he produces and prepares several things for our use, so Nature leads them into corruption, and not seldom into a privation of their whole being. Or, to speak better, matter, which is itself privation or negation, often flies away, and dissolves what a more excellent being than herself had wrought. So that I am of opinion, there are other causes which obscure and extinguish these prophetic spirits. For though God does give to men several good and excellent things, yet he gives to none of them the power to exist eternally; for, though the Gods never die, yet their gifts do, as Sophocles speaks. It were then well becoming philosophers who exercise themselves in the study of Nature and the first matter, to enquire into the existence, property, and tendency of those things, but to leave the origin and first cause to God, as is most reasonable. For it is a very childish and silly thing, to suppose that the God himself does, like the spirits speaking in the bowels of ventriloquists (which were anciently called Euryclees, and now Pythons), enter into the bodies of the prophets, and speak by their mouths and voices, as fit instruments for that purpose. For he that thus mixes God in human affairs has not that respect and reverence which is due to so great a majesty, as being ignorant of his power and virtue.

10. Cleombrotus then answered: You say very well; but it is a hard matter to comprehend and define how far this providence does extend itself. They seem both alike Edition: current; Page: [14] faulty to me, who will have him simply the cause of nothing at all in the world, and who will have him to be concerned in all things; for both of these are run into extremes. But as those say well who hold that Plato, having invented the element on which spring up the qualities, — which we sometimes call the first matter, and sometimes Nature, — has thereby delivered the philosophers from several great difficulties; so it seems to me, that those who have ranked the genus of Daemons between that of Gods and men have solved greater doubts and difficulties, as having found the knot which does, as it were, join and hold together our society and communication with them. It is uncertain whence this opinion arose, whether from the ancient Magi by Zoroaster, or from Thrace by Orpheus, or from Egypt, or Phrygia; as may be conjectured from the sight of the sacrifices which are made in both countries, where amongst their holy and divine ceremonies there is seen a mixture of mortality and mourning. And as to the Greeks, Homer has indifferently used these two names, terming sometimes the Gods Daemons, and other whiles Daemons Gods. But Hesiod was the first that did best and most distinctly lay down four reasonable natures, the Gods, the Daemons (being many in number, and good in their kind), heroes, and men; for the Demi-gods are reckoned amongst heroes. Others say, there is a transmutation of bodies as well as of souls; and that, just as we see of the earth is engendered water, of the water the air, and of the air fire, the nature of the substance still ascending higher, so good spirits always change for the best, being transformed from men into heroes, and from heroes into Daemons; and from Daemons, by degrees and in a long space of time, a few souls being refined and purified come to partake of the nature of the Divinity. But there are some that cannot contain themselves, but rove about till they be entangled into mortal bodies, where they live meanly and obscurely, like smoke.

Edition: current; Page: [15]

11. And moreover, Hesiod imagines that the Daemons themselves, after certain revolutions of time, do at length die. For, introducing a Nymph speaking, he marks the time wherein they expire:

  • Nine ages of men in their flower doth live
  • The railing crow; four times the stags surmount
  • The life of crows; to ravens doth Nature give
  • A threefold age of stags, by true account;
  • One phoenix lives as long as ravens nine.
  • But you, fair Nymphs, as the daughters verily
  • Of mighty Jove and of Nature divine,
  • The phoenix’s years tenfold do multiply.

Now those which do not well understand what the poet means by this word γενεά (age) do cause this computation of time to amount to a great number of years. For the word means a year; so that the total sum makes but 9720 years, which is the space of the age of Daemons. And there are several mathematicians who make it shorter than this. Pindar himself does not make it longer when he says, Destiny has given Nymphs an equal life with trees; and therefore they are called Hamadryades, because they spring up and die with oaks. He was going on, when Demetrius interrupting him thus said: How is it possible, Cleombrotus, that you should maintain that a year was called by this poet the age of a man, seeing it is not the space of his flower and youth, nor of his old age? For there are divers readings of this place, some reading ήβώντων, others γηϱώντων, — one signifying flourishing, the other aged. Now those that understand hereby “flourishing” reckon thirty years for the age of man’s life, according to the opinion of Heraclitus; this being the space of time in which a father has begotten a son who then is apt and able to beget another. And those that read “aged” allow to the age of man a hundred and eight years, saying that fifty-four years are just the half part of a man’s life, which number consists of unity, the first two plane numbers, two squares, and two cubes (i. e. 1 + 2 + 3 + 4 + 9 + 8 + 27); which numbers Plato Edition: current; Page: [16] himself has appropriated to the procreation of the soul. And it seems also that Hesiod by these words intimated the consummation of the world by fire; at which time it is likely the Nymphs, with the rivers, marshes, and woods where they inhabit, shall be consumed,

  • Such as in woods, or grotto’s shady cell,
  • Near sacred springs and verdant meadows dwell.*

12. I have heard, says Cleombrotus, this alleged by several, and find that the Stoical conflagration hath intruded itself not only upon the works of Heraclitus and Orpheus, but also upon Hesiod’s, imposing such meanings on their words as they never thought of. But I cannot approve of the consummation of the world which they maintain, nor of the other impossible matters; and especially what they say about the crow and the stag would force us to believe in the most excessive numbers. Moreover, the year, containing in itself the beginning and end of all things which the seasons bring and the earth produces, may, in my opinion, be not impertinently called the age of man. For you yourselves confess that Hesiod does somewhere call the life of man γενεά (age). What say you, does he not? Which Demetrius confessing, he proceeded in this manner: It is also certain that we call the vessels whereby we measure things by the names of the things measured in them; as a pint, a quart, or a bushel. As we then call a unit a number, though it be but the least part and measure and the beginning of a number; so has he called a year the age of man, because it is the measure wherewith it is measured. As for those numbers which those others describe, they be not of such singularity and importance. But the sum of 9920 is thus composed. The four numbers arising in order from one, being added together and multiplied by four, amount to forty; this forty being tripled five times makes up the total of the forecited number. But as to that it is Edition: current; Page: [17] not necessary to enter into a debate with Demetrius; for whether it be a short or a long time, certain or uncertain, wherewith Hesiod limits the soul of a Daemon and the life of a Demi-god, either of those will prove, by ancient and evident testimonies, that there are natures neuter and mean, and as it were in the confines of the Gods and men, subject to mortal passions and necessary changes; which natures, according to the tradition and example of our predecessors, it is fitting we should call Daemons, giving them all due honor.

13. To which purpose Xenocrates, one of the familiar friends of Plato, was wont to allege the example of triangles, which agree very well with the subject; for that triangle which has equal sides and equal angles he compared unto the divine and immortal nature; and that which has all three unequal, to the human and mortal nature; and that which has two equal and one unequal, to the nature of Daemons, which is endued with the passions and perturbations of the mortal nature, and the force and power of the divine. Even Nature has set before us sensible figures and resemblance of this; of the Gods, the sun and the stars; of mortal men, the comets, flashings in the night, and shooting-stars. And this similitude is taken up by Euripides, when he saith:

  • He that but now was fleshy, plump, and gay,
  • As a fall’n star his glories melt away;
  • Like that extinguished on the ground he lies,
  • Breathing his soul into the ambient skies.

And for a mixed body representing the nature of Daemons, we have the moon; which some, observing it to be subject to increase and decrease and wholly to disappear, have thought very agreeable to the mutable condition of Daemons; and for this reason they have termed her a terrestrial star, others Olympic earth, and others the inheritance and possession of Hecate, both heavenly and earthly. As one Edition: current; Page: [18] then that should take from the world the air, and remove it from between the moon and the earth, would dissolve the continuation and composition of the universe, by leaving an empty place in the midst, without any contexture to hold the two parts together; so those that do not allow Daemons oppose all communication and conference of the Gods with men, seeing they destroy that nature (as Plato says) which serves as an interpreter and messenger between them both; or else they constrain us to perplex and confound all things together, by mixing the divine nature with human passions, and plucking it down from heaven, as the women of Thessaly are said to do the moon. Even this fiction has met with belief in some women, because Aglaonice, the daughter of Hegetor, being skilful in astrology, made the vulgar believe, whenever the moon was eclipsed, that by means of some charms and enchantments she brought it down from heaven. But as to us, let us not think there are any oracles or divinations without some divinity, or that the Gods are not pleased with sacrifices, and our services, and other ceremonies. And, on the other hand, let us not think that God is present in them, or employs himself personally about them; but rather believe that he does commit them to his officers, the Daemons, who are the spies and scouts of the Gods, wandering and circuiting about at their commands, — some beholding and ordering the sacred ceremonies and oblations offered to the Gods, others being employed to revenge and punish the high misdemeanors and enormous injustices of men. There are, moreover, others, to whom Hesiod gives a very venerable name, calling them the distributers of riches and donors of largesses among mortals; for the Gods have allowed them the privilege, and granted them a royal commission to see them duly distributed. He informs us here, by the way, that to be beneficent and liberal of favors is the proper office of a king. For there is a difference of Edition: current; Page: [19] virtue between these Daemons, as much as between men. For there are some of them in whom still there are some small remains (though weak and scarcely discernible) of the sensitive and irrational soul, which, like a small quantity of excrements and superfluities, stay still behind. Others there are, in whom there abideth a greater measure of these gross humors, the marks and traces of which are to be seen in many places, in the odd and singular ceremonies and sacrifices and the strange fables which prevail.

14. As to the mysteries and secret ceremonies, by which we may more clearly than by any other means understand the nature of Daemons, let me keep a religious silence, as Herodotus says. But as to the certain feasts and direful sacrifices which are held as unfortunate and mournful days, and are celebrated by eating raw flesh and tearing the skin with the nails, or days wherein they fast and smite their breasts, and in several places utter filthy and dishonest words during the sacrifices,

  • Wagging their heads in frantic wise,
  • With strange alarms and hideous cries, —

I will never think these done on any of the Gods’ account, but rather to avert, mollify, and appease the wrath and fury of some bad Daemons. For it is not likely there ever was a God that expected or required men to be sacrificed to him, as has been anciently done, or who received such kind of sacrifices with approbation. Neither must we imagine it was for nothing, that kings and great men have delivered their own children to be sacrificed, or that they sacrificed them themselves with their own hands; but they intended hereby to avert and appease the malice and rancor of some evil spirits, or to satisfy the violent and raging lusts of some, who either could not or would not enjoy them with their bodies or by their bodies. Even as Hercules besieged the city of Oechalia for a wench that Edition: current; Page: [20] was therein, so these powerful and tyrannical Daemons, requiring some human soul which is still compassed with a body, and yet not being able to satisfy their lust by the body, do therefore bring the plague and famine into towns, raise wars and seditions, till such time as they obtain and enjoy that which they love. Others, on the contrary (as I remember I observed in Crete, for I was some considerable time there) celebrate a feast in which they show the figure of a man without a head, calling it Molus, the father of Meriones, who, having violently laid hands on the Nymph, was afterwards found without a head.

15. The rapes committed on boys or girls, the long voyages, flights, banishments, and voluntary services of the Gods, which are sung by the poets, are passions fitting to be attributed not to Gods, but to Daemons, whose fortunes were recorded in memorial of their virtue and power. Neither is Aeschylus in the right, when he says,

Divine Apollo banished from the sky;

nor Admetus in Sophocles, saying of a God,

My cock by crowing led him to the mill.

The divines of Delphi were far from the truth when they asserted that there was a combat between Apollo and a Dragon about the possession of this oracle. No less are they to blame who suffer the poets or orators in the open theatres to act or speak of such matters; whereby they seem to condemn those things which themselves perform in their sacred solemnities. Philippus (for this man was an historian, and then present in the company), wondering at what was last said, enquired what divine solemnities they contradicted and condemned who contended one against another in the theatres. Even those, quoth Cleombrotus, which concern the oracle of Delphi, by which this city has lately admitted into these ceremonies and sacrifices all the Greeks without Thermopylae, including those Edition: current; Page: [21] that dwell as far as the vale of Tempe. For the tabernacle or hut, which is set up every ninth year within the court-yard of this temple, is not a representation of the Dragon’s den, but of some king or tyrant; as likewise the assaulting of it in great silence, by the way termed Dolonia, in which they lead hither a youth whose father and mother are still living, with torches burning; and having set this tabernacle on fire and overthrown the table, they run away as fast as they are able through the doors of the temple, never looking behind them. In fine, this boy’s wanderings, together with his servile offices, and all the expiatory sacrifices about Tempe, seem to declare the commission of some horrid crime in this place. For it looks silly to affirm that Apollo, for having killed the Dragon, was forced to fly to the farthest parts of Greece to be cleansed and purified; and that he there made certain offerings and libations, as men do when they design the appeasing those vindictive spirits whom we call Alastores and Palamnaei, which is to say, the revengers of such crimes as cannot be forgotten but must have punishment. It is true, indeed, that the relation which I have heard touching this flight is very strange and wonderful; but if there be any truth in it, we must not suppose it was an ordinary and common matter which happened then about this oracle. Yet lest I should be thought, as Empedocles says,

  • Starting new heads, to wander from the text,
  • And make the theme we have in hand perplext,

I entreat you to let me put a fit conclusion to my discourse (for now the time requires it), and to say what several have said before me, that when the Daemons who are appointed for the government and superintendency of oracles do fail, the oracles must of necessity fail too; and when they depart elsewhere, the divining powers must likewise cease in those places; but when they return again, after a long Edition: current; Page: [22] time, the places will begin again to speak, like musical instruments handled by those that know how to use them.

16. Cleombrotus having said thus much, Heracleon took up the discourse, saying: We have never an infidel among us, but are all agreed in our opinions touching the Gods; yet let us have a care, Philippus, lest in the heat and multiplicity of our words we unawares broach some false doctrine that may tend to impiety. Well! but, saith Philippus, I hope Cleombrotus has not said any thing which may occasion this caution. His asserting (says Heracleon) that they be not the Gods who preside over the oracles (because we are to suppose them free from all worldly care), but Daemons, or the Gods’ officers or messengers, does not scandalize me; but to attribute to these Daemons all the calamities, vexations, and plagues which happen to mortal men, — snatching these violently (we may almost say) from the verses of Empedocles, — and in the end to make them to die like them, this, in my mind, savors of bold presumption. Cleombrotus, having asked Philippus who this young man was, and being informed of his name and country, proceeded in this manner: I know very well, Heracleon, that the discourse I used may bear an absurd construction; but there is no speaking of great matters without laying first great foundations for the proof of one’s opinion. But, as for your part, you are not sensible how you contradict even that which you allow; for granting, as you do, that there be Daemons, but not allowing them to be vicious and mortal, you cannot prove there are any at all. For wherein do they differ from Gods, supposing they be incorruptible and impassible and not liable to error?

17. Whilst Heracleon was musing, and studying how to answer this, Cleombrotus went on, saying: It is not only Empedocles who affirms there are bad Daemons, but even Plato, Xenocrates, and Chrysippus; yea, and Democritus, Edition: current; Page: [23] when he prayed he might meet with good spirits, which shows that he thought there were bad as well as good Daemons. And as to their mortality, I have heard it reported from a person that was neither fool nor knave, being Epitherses, the father of Aemilianus the orator, whom some of you have heard declaim. This Epitherses was my townsman and a school-master, who told me that, designing a voyage to Italy, he embarked himself on a vessel well laden both with goods and passengers. About the evening the vessel was becalmed about the Isles Echinades, whereupon their ship drove with the tide till it was carried near the Isles of Paxi; when immediately a voice was heard by most of the passengers (who were then awake, and taking a cup after supper) calling unto one Thamus, and that with so loud a voice as made all the company amazed; which Thamus was a mariner of Egypt, whose name was scarcely known in the ship. He returned no answer to the first calls; but at the third he replied, Here! here! I am the man. Then the voice said aloud to him, When you are arrived at Palodes, take care to make it known that the great God Pan is dead. Epitherses told us, this voice did much astonish all that heard it, and caused much arguing whether this voice was to be obeyed or slighted. Thamus, for his part, was resolved, if the wind permitted, to sail by the place without saying a word; but if the wind ceased and there ensued a calm, to speak and cry out as loud as he was able what he was enjoined. Being come to Palodes, there was no wind stirring, and the sea was as smooth as glass. Whereupon Thamus standing on the deck, with his face towards the land, uttered with a loud voice his message, saying, The great Pan is dead. He had no sooner said this, but they heard a dreadful noise, not only of one, but of several, who, to their thinking, groaned and lamented with a kind of astonishment. And there being many persons in the ship, an account of this Edition: current; Page: [24] was soon spread over Rome, which made Tiberius the Emperor send for Thamus; and he seemed to give such heed to what he told him, that he earnestly enquired who this Pan was; and the learned men about him gave in their judgments, that it was the son of Mercury by Penelope. There were some then in the company who declared they had heard old Aemilianus say as much.

18. Demetrius then related, that about Britain there were many small and desolate islands, some of which were called the Isles of Daemons and Demi-gods; and that he himself, at the command of the Emperor, sailed to the nearest of those places for curiosity’s sake, where he found few inhabitants; but that they were all esteemed by the Britains as sacred and divine. Not long after he was arrived there, he said, the air and the weather were very foul and tempestuous, and there followed a terrible storm of wind and thunder; which at length ceasing, he says, the inhabitants told him that one of the Daemons or Demi-gods was deceased. For as a lamp, said he, while it is lighted, offends nobody with its scent, but when it is extinguished, it sends out such a scent as is nauseous to everybody; so these great souls, whilst they shine, are mild and gracious, without being troublesome to anybody; but when they draw to an end, they cause great storms and tempests, and not seldom infect the air with contagious distempers. They say farther, that Saturn is detained prisoner in one of those islands, and guarded by Briareus, being in a sound sleep (for that is the device to hold him captive), and that he has several of those Daemons for his valets and attendants.

19. Thus then spake Cleombrotus: I could, says he, relate several such stories as these; but it is sufficient that what has been said as yet does not contradict the opinion of any one here. And we all know, the Stoics believe the same as we do concerning the Daemons, and that amongst Edition: current; Page: [25] the great company of Gods which are commonly believed, there is but one who is eternal and immortal; all the rest, having been born in time, shall end by death. As to the flouts and scoffing of the Epicureans, they are not to be regarded, seeing they have the boldness to treat divine providence with as little reverence, calling it by no better a name than a mere whimsy and old wives’ fable. Whereas we, on the contrary, assert that their Infinity is fabulous and ridiculous, seeing among such endless numbers of worlds there is not one governed by reason or divine providence, they having been all made and upheld by chance. If we cannot forbear drolling even in matters of philosophy, they are most to be ridiculed who bring into their disputes of natural questions certain blind, dumb, and lifeless images, which appear they know not where nor when, which, they say, proceed from bodies, some of which are still living, and others long since dead and rotten. Now, such people’s opinions as these must needs be exploded and derided by all rational men; yet these very people shall be offended and angry at a man’s saying there be Daemons, and that they subsist both by reason and by Nature, and continue a long time.

20. Here Ammonius began to speak, saying: In my opinion, Theophrastus was in the right, and spoke like a philosopher and a divine; for whoever shall deny what he alleges must also reject many things which may happen, though we understand not the reasons why they do so. And granting what he offers to be true, it carries with it many things called impossible and unreal. But as to what I have heard the Epicureans allege against the Daemons which Empedocles brings in, — as, that it is impossible they can be happy and long-lived if they be bad and viciously affected, because vice in its own nature is blind and naturally precipitates itself into such mischiefs as destroy life, — that, I must tell you, is vain and idle. For if this Edition: current; Page: [26] reasoning be good, it will then follow that Epicurus was a worse man than Gorgias the sophister, and Metrodorus than Alexis the comic actor; for Alexis lived twice as long as Metrodorus, and Gorgias a third longer than Epicurus. For it is in another regard we say virtue is strong and vice weak, not in reference to the continuance or dissolution of the body; for we know there are many animals which are dull, slow, and heavy, and many disorderly and lustful, which live longer than those that are more sagacious and quicker of sense. And therefore they are much in the wrong in saying the divine nature is immortal because it avoideth the things which are ill and mischievous; for they should have supposed the divine nature free from all possibility of falling into corruption and alteration. But perhaps it will be thought not fair to dispute against those that are absent; I would have therefore Cleombrotus to resume his discourse touching the vanishing and transmigration of Daemons from one place to another.

21. With all my heart, answered Cleombrotus; but I shall now say something which will seem more absurd than any thing I have heretofore offered, although it seems to be grounded on natural reason; and Plato himself has touched upon it, not positively affirming it, but offering it as a probable opinion, although among other philosophers it has been much cried out against. And seeing that we are fallen into a free discourse, and that a man cannot light into better company and a more favorable auditory to test the story, as if it were foreign coin, I shall therefore tell you a story which I heard from a stranger, whose acquaintance has cost me no small sum of money in searching after him in divers countries, whom at length, after much travel, I found near the Red Sea. He would converse with men but once a year, all the rest of his time (as he told me) he spent among the Nymphs, Nomades, and Daemons. He was very free with me, and extremely obliging. I never Edition: current; Page: [27] saw a more graceful person in all my life; and that which was very strange in him was, that he was never subject to any disease; once every month he ate the bitter fruit of a certain medicinal herb. He spake several languages perfectly well; his discourse to me was in the Doric dialect; his speech was as charming as the sweetest music, and as soon as ever he opened his mouth to speak, there issued out of it so sweet and fragrant a breath, that all the place was filled with it. Now, as to human learning, such as history, he retained the knowledge thereof all the year; but as to the gift of divination, he was inspired therewith only one day in the year, in which he went down to the sea-side, and there foretold things to come. And thither resorted to him the princes and great men of all the country, or else their secretaries, who there attended his coming at a prefixed day, and then returned. This person attributed divination to the Daemons, and was well pleased to hear what we related concerning Delphi. Whatsoever we told concerning Bacchus and the sacrifices which are offered to him, he knew it all, saying that, as these were great accidents which happened to Daemons, so also was that which was related of the serpent Python. And he affirmed, that he who slew him was not banished for nine years, neither did he fly into the Valley of Tempe, but was driven out of this world into another, from whence, after nine revolutions of the great years, being returned, cleansed, and purified, and become a true Phoebus, — that is to say, clear and bright, — he had at length recovered the superintendence of the Delphic oracle, which in the mean time had been committed to the charge of Themis He said as much concerning what is related of Typhon and the Titans. For he affirmed, they were the battles of Daemons against Daemons, and the flights and banishments of those that had been vanquished, or the punishments inflicted by the Gods on those who had committed such Edition: current; Page: [28] acts as Typhon is said to have done against Osiris, and Saturn against Uranus, whose honors are much obscured, or wholly lost, by being translated into another world. For I know that the Solymeans, who are borderers to the Lycians, did greatly honor Saturn; but since he killed their princes, Arsalus, Dryus, and Trosobius, he fled into some other country, they knew not where, and he now is in a manner forgotten. But they called these three — Arsalus, Dryus, and Trosobius — the severe Gods, and the Lycians do at this day curse people in their names, as well in private as in public. Several other such like examples may a man find in the records of the Gods. And if we call any of the Daemons by the usual and common names of the Gods, on whom they do depend, it is no marvel at all, said the stranger; for they like to be called by the Gods on whom they do depend, and from whom they have received their honor and power; even as amongst us men one is named Diius, another Athenae, another Apollonius, another Dionysius, and still another Hermaeus. And there are some who have names imposed on them, as it were, by chance, which yet do well agree with their tempers; whereas some carry the names of the Gods which do not at all suit with their weaknesses.

22. Here Cleombrotus having paused, his discourse seemed strange to all the company, and Heracleon demanded of him, how all this concerned Plato, and how he had given occasion to this discourse. Unto which Cleombrotus answered: You do well to put me in mind of it; for first, Plato ever rejected the infinity of worlds, yet would determine nothing positively touching the precise number of them. And granting the probability of their opinion who affirmed there were five, one for each element, as to his own part, he kept to one, which seems to be his genuine opinion; whereas all other philosophers have been afraid to receive and admit the multitude of worlds, as if Edition: current; Page: [29] those who did not limit matter to one must needs fall into troublesome and boundless infinity. But was this stranger, said I, of the same opinion with Plato, touching the number of the worlds? Or did you not all the while ask his opinion in that matter? I was far from failing herein, says Cleombrotus, seeing I found him so communicative and affable to me. He told me, that neither was the number of the worlds infinite, neither was there but only one, nor five; but a hundred and eighty-three, which were ranged in a triangular form, every side containing sixty worlds; and of the three remaining, every corner had one. That they were so ordered, that one always touched another in a circle, like those who dance in a ring. That the plain within the triangle is, as it were, the foundation and common altar to all those worlds, which is called the Plain of Truth, in which lie the designs, moulds, ideas, and invariable examples of all things which were, or ever shall be; and about these is Eternity, whence flowed Time, as from a river, into these worlds. Moreover, that the souls of men, if they have lived well in this world, do see these ideas once in ten thousand years; and that the most holy mystical ceremonies which are performed here are no more than a dream of this sacred vision. And further, that all the pains which are taken in the study of philosophy are to attain to a sight of those beauties; otherwise they were all lost labors. I heard him, said he, relate all these things as perfectly, as if they had been some religious rites wherein he would have instructed me; for he brought me no proof or demonstration to confirm what he said.

23. Here, turning myself to Demetrius, I asked him what were the words which the wooers of Penelope spake in Homer, when they saw Ulysses handling his bow. And Demetrius having put me in mind of them, I said: It came into my thoughts to say as much of this wonderful Edition: current; Page: [30] man. He was indeed “an observer and a cunning thief” of opinions and discourses, and a person conversant in all sorts of learning, being a Greek born, and perfectly well skilled in the studies of his country. For this number of worlds shows us that he was neither an Indian nor an Egyptian; but his father was a Dorian Greek of the country of Sicily, named Petron, born in the city of Himera, who wrote a little book on this subject, which I indeed never saw, nor can tell whether it be extant. But Hippys, a native of Rhegium, mentioned by Phanias the Eresian, tells us, it was the doctrine of Petron that there were a hundred and eighty-three worlds, tacked to one another in their first principle; but he does not explain to us what this phrase means, nor does he offer any reason to prove this. It is certain, says Demetrius, that Plato himself, bringing no argument to evince this point, does hereby overthrow this opinion. Yet, says Heracleon, we have heard you grammarians say that Homer was the first author of this opinion, as having divided the universe into five worlds, heaven, water, air, earth, and that which he calls Olympus; of which he leaveth two to be common, — the earth to all beneath, and Olympus to all above, — but the three in the midst between them he attributes unto three several Gods. In the like manner Plato, assigning unto the principal parts of the universe the first forms and most excellent figures of the bodies, calls them five worlds, — those of the earth, water, air, and fire, and finally, of that which comprehended all the others, which he calls Dodecaedron (which is to say, with twelve bases), which, amply extending, is of easy motion and capacity, its form and figure being very fit and proper for the revolutions and motions of the souls. What need is there then, cried Demetrius, of bringing in good old Homer? For we have had fables enough already. But Plato is far from calling the different elements five worlds; for even where Edition: current; Page: [31] he disputes against those who assert an infinite number of worlds, he affirms, there is only one created of God and satisfying him, consisting of the entire corporeal Nature, perfect, endued with self-sufficiency, and wanting nothing; and therefore we may well think it strange that the truth which he spake should occasion the extravagancy of others. For had he not maintained the world’s unity, he would in some sort have given a foundation to those who affirm an infinite number of worlds; but that he asserted precisely five, this is marvellously strange and far from all probability, unless you can (says he, turning himself to me) clear this point. How! (said I) are you then resolved to drop here your first dispute about oracles, and to take up another of no less difficulty? Not so, replied Demetrius; yet we must take cognizance of this, which does, as it were, hold out its hand to us, though we shall not remain long upon it, but treat of it by the way, and soon return to our first discourse.

24. First of all then, I say, the reasons which hinder us from asserting an infinite number of worlds do not hinder us from affirming that there are more than one; for as well in many worlds as in one there may be Providence and Divination, while Fortune intervenes only in the smallest things; but most part of the grand and principal things have and take their beginnings and changes by order, which could not be in an infinite number of worlds. And it is more conformable to reason to say that God made more than one world; for, being perfectly good, he wants no virtue, and least of all justice and friendship, for they do chiefly become the nature of the Gods. Now God hath nothing that is superfluous and useless; and therefore there must be other inferior Gods proceeding from him, and other worlds made by him, towards whom he must use these social virtues; for he cannot exercise those virtues of justice and benignity on himself or any part of Edition: current; Page: [32] himself, but on others. So that it is not likely this world should float and wander about, without either friend, neighbor, or any sort of communication, in an infinite vacuum. For we see Nature includes all single things in genera and species, like as in vessels or in husks of seeds; for there is nothing to be found in Nature — and nothing can have a common notion or appellation — which is not qualified both in common and in particular. Now the world is not said to be such in common, but in particular, for its quality is derived from its being an harmonious whole made up of different parts. But yet, there being no such thing in Nature as one man alone, one horse, one star, one God, one Daemon, why may we not believe that there is not in Nature one only world and no more, but several? And if any one shall object against me that this world hath likewise but one earth and one sea, I can answer him, he is much deceived by not understanding the evidence afforded by like parts. For we divide the earth into similar parts of the same denomination; for all the parts of the earth are earth, and so of the sea; but no part of the world is still the world, it being composed of divers and different natures.

25. For as to the inconvenience which some do seem to fear, and in respect of which they confine all the matter within one world, lest, there remaining any thing without, it should disturb the composition of this, by the resistances and jars which it would make against it, — they have no need to dread this. For, there being many worlds, and each of them in particular having one definite and determinate measure and limit of its substance and matter, no part thereof will be without order and good disposition, nothing will remain superfluous or be cast out as an excrement. For the reason which belongeth to each world, being able to rule and govern the matter that is allotted thereto, will not suffer that any thing shall run out of Edition: current; Page: [33] course and order, and rencounter and jumble another world, nor likewise that any thing from another shall justle or disturb it, there being nothing in Nature infinite and inordinate in quantity, nor in motion without reason and order. And if perhaps there be any influence that passes from the one to the other, this is a fraternal communication, whereby they mix themselves together, like the light of the stars and the influence of their temperatures, and whereby they themselves do rejoice in beholding one another with a benign aspect, and give to the Gods (who are good and many in number in every world) an opportunity of knowing and caressing one another. For there is nothing in all this that is impossible, or fabulous, or contrary to reason; though some may think so because of the opinion of Aristotle, who saith that all bodies have their proper and natural places, by which means the earth must on all sides tend to the midst, and the water must rest upon it, serving by its weight for a foundation to the other lighter elements. Were there then many worlds, the earth would be often found above the airy and fiery regions, and as often under them; while air and water would be sometimes in their natural places, and sometimes in others which are their unnatural; which things being impossible, as he thinks, it follows then, there are neither two nor more worlds, but one only, which is this here, consisting of all kinds of elements, disposed according to Nature, agreeably to the diversity of bodies.

26. But in all this there is more probability than truth. For consider, friend Demetrius; when he saith that some bodies tend towards the midst, which is to say, downwards, the others from the midst, that is, upward, and a third sort move round about the midst, what does he mean by the midst? This cannot be understood in respect of a vacuum, there being no such thing in Nature, as he says himself; and, moreover, those that do allow it say that it can have Edition: current; Page: [34] no middle, no more than beginning and end; for beginning and end are extremities, but that which is infinite, everybody knows, is without an end. But supposing we should be necessitated to admit a middle in a vacuum, it is impossible to comprehend and imagine the difference in the motions of bodies towards it, because there is neither in this vacuum any power attractive of the body, nor in the bodies any inclination or affection to tend on all sides to this middle. And it is no less difficult to imagine that bodies can move of themselves towards an incorporeal place, or receive any motion from it. This middle then must be understood not locally, but corporeally. For this world being a mass and union consisting of different bodies joined together, this diversity of them must beget different motions from one another; which appears in that each of these bodies changing its substance does at the same time change its place. For subtilization and rarefaction dissipate the matter which springeth from the midst and ariseth upwards; whereas, on the contrary, condensation and constipation depress and drive it down towards the middle.

27. On these points it is not necessary to discourse any longer in this place. For whatever cause a man supposes shall produce such passions and changes, that very cause will contain each of these worlds in itself; because each of them has its sea and land, each its proper middle, and each its passions and change of bodies, and the nature and power which contain and preserve each in its place and being. For that which is without, whether it be nothing at all or an infinite vacuum, cannot allow any middle, as we have already said. But there being several worlds, each has its proper middle apart; so that in each of them there will be motions proper to bodies, some tending down to the midst, others mounting aloft from the midst, others moving round about it, according as they Edition: current; Page: [35] themselves do distinguish motions. And he who asserts there are many middles, and that heavy bodies from all sides do tend unto one alone, is like to him who shall affirm that the blood of several men runs from all parts into one vein, or that all their brains should be contained within one and the same membrane; supposing it absurd, that all natural bodies which are solid should not be in one place, and the rare in another. He that thus thinketh is certainly a mean philosopher; and no better is he who will not allow the whole to have all parts in their order, rank, and natural situation. What could be more foolish, than for a man to call that a world which had a moon within it so situated, as if a man should have his brains in his heels, and his heart in his forehead? Whereas there is no absurdity or inconveniency, if, in supposing several distinct worlds separated from one another, a man should distinguish and separate their parts. For in each of them the earth, sea, and sky will be placed and situated in their proper places, and each of these worlds may have its superior, inferior, circular, and middle part, not in respect of another world, nor in reference to what is without, but to what is within itself.

28. And as to the argument which some do draw from a stone supposed to be placed without the world, it neither proves rest nor motion; for how could it remain suspended, seeing it is by nature heavy, or move towards the midst of the world, as other ponderous bodies, seeing it is neither part of it nor like it? And as to that earth which is fixed and environed by another world, we must not wonder, considering its weightiness, if it does not drop down, seeing it is upheld by a certain natural force pertaining to it. For if we shall take high and low not within the world but without, we shall find ourselves involved in the same difficulties as Epicurus was when he made his little indivisible atoms to move and tend to those places Edition: current; Page: [36] which are under foot, as if the vacuum had feet, or its infinite space would permit one to talk of high or low. Indeed, a man would marvel what should cause Chrysippus to say, that the world was placed and situated directly in the midst, and that the matter thereof, from all eternity having possessed itself of the midst, yet is so compacted together that it remains for ever. For he writes this in his Fourth Book of Possible Things, vainly imagining there is a middle in that vast emptiness, and still more absurdly attributing unto that middle, which is not, the cause of the world’s stability and continuance; he having often said in other writings of his that the substance is upheld and governed, partly by the motions tending to the midst of it, and partly by others parting from the midst of it.

29. As to the other oppositions which the Stoics make, who should fear them? As when they demand, how it is possible to maintain a fatal destiny and a divine providence, and how it can be otherwise but that we must admit of several Jupiters, when we assert the plurality of worlds. Now if there be an inconveniency in admitting many Jupiters, their opinions will appear far more absurd; for they imagine there are suns, and moons, Apollos, Dianas, and Neptunes innumerable, in innumerable changes and revolutions of worlds. But where is the necessity which lies upon us to grant that there must be many Jupiters if there be many worlds, seeing that each of them may be subject to a sovereign governor of the whole, a God endued with a suitable mind and ability, like to him whom we name the Lord and Father of all things? Or what shall hinder us from asserting that the several worlds must be subject to the providence and destiny of Jupiter, and that he has an eye to all things, directing all, and administering to them the principles, seeds, and causes of all things which are made? For, while we often see here a body composed of several other distinct bodies, — for example, Edition: current; Page: [37] the assembly of a town, an army, or a chorus, — in each of which bodies there is life, prudence, and understanding; so it cannot be impossible that, in the whole universe, ten or fifty or a hundred worlds which may be in it should all use the same reason, and all correspond with the same principle. For this order and disposition is very suitable to the Gods; for we must not make them kings of a swarm of bees who never stir out of their hives, or keep them fast imprisoned in matter, like those who affirm the Gods to be certain dispositions of the air, and powers of waters and fire, infused and mixed within, which arise and spring up together with the world, and in time are to be burnt and end with it, — not affording them the liberty of coachmen and pilots, but nailing them down to their bases like statues and images. For they enclose the Gods within matter, and that in so strict a manner as makes them liable to all the changes, alterations, and decays of it.

30. It is certainly more agreeable to the nature of the Gods to say that they are wholly at liberty, like Castor and Pollux, ready to succor such as are overtaken by bad weather at sea; for when they appear, the winds cease and the waves are calmed. Not that they navigate and are partakers of the same peril; but they only appear in the sky, and the danger is over. Thus do the Gods visit each world, and rule and provide for all things in them. Jupiter in Homer cast not his eyes far from the city of Troy into Thrace, and to the nomad Scythians along the river Ister; but the true Jupiter has several seemly and agreeable passages for his majesty from one world into another, not looking into the infinite vacuum without, nor regarding himself and nothing else, as some have imagined, but weighing the deeds of Gods and men, and the motions and revolutions of the stars. For the Divinity does not hate variety and changes, but takes great pleasure in them, as one may conjecture by the circuits, conversions, and mutations Edition: current; Page: [38] observable in the heavens. And therefore I conclude that the infinite number of worlds is a chimera, which has not the least probability of truth, and which cannot by any means admit of any God, but must be wholly guided by chance and fortune. Whereas the government and providence of a certain definite number of worlds has nothing in it that seems more laborious and unworthy than that which is employed in the direction of one alone, which is transformed, renewed, and reformed an infinite number of times.

31. Having said this, I paused. And Philippus immediately cried out: Whether this be certain or not, I will not be too positive; but if we carry God beyond one world, it would more gratify me to know why we should make him the Creator only of five worlds and no more, and what proportion this number bears to that of the worlds, than to know why the word E I was inscribed upon this temple. For this is neither a triangular, a quadrate, a perfect, nor a cubic number, neither does it yield any elegancy to such as are delighted in this kind of sciences. As to what concerns the argument drawn from the number of elements, which Plato seems to have touched upon, it is obscure and improbable, and will not afford this consequence, — that, as there are formed from matter five sorts of regular bodies, which have equal angles and equal sides, and are environed with equal superficies, so there were from the beginning five worlds, made and formed of these five bodies.

32. Yet Theodorus the Solian, said I, when he reads Plato’s mathematics to his scholars, both keeps to the text and clearly expounds it, when he saith, the pyramid, octahedron, dodecahedron, icosahedron (which Plato lays down as the first bodies) are all beautiful both in their proportions and equalities; Nature cannot contrive and make better than these, nor perhaps so good. Yet they have not all the same constitution and origin; for the least Edition: current; Page: [39] and slightest of the five is the pyramid; the greatest, which has most parts, is the dodecahedron; and of the other two, the icosahedron is greater than the octahedron by more than twofold, if you compare their number of triangles. And therefore it is impossible they should be all made at once, of one and the same matter; for the smallest and most subtile have been certainly more pliable to the hand of the workman who moved and fashioned the matter, and consequently were sooner made and shaped, than those which have stronger parts and a greater mass of bodies, and whose composition was more laborious and difficult, like the dodecahedron. Whence it follows that the pyramid was the first body, and not one of the others, which were by nature last produced. Now the way also to avoid this absurdity is to separate and divide matter into five worlds; here the pyramid (for she is the first and most simple), there the octahedron, and there the icosahedron; and out of that which exists first in every one of these the rest draw their original by the concretion of parts, by which every thing is changed into every thing, as Plato himself shows us by examples throughout. But it will suffice us briefly to learn thus much. Air is engendered by the extinction of fire, and the same being subtilized and rarefied produceth fire. Now by the seeds of these two we may find out the passions and transmutations of all. The seminary or beginning of fire is the pyramid, consisting of twenty-four first triangles; and the octahedron is the seminary of the air, consisting of forty-eight triangles of the same kind. So that the one element of air stands upon two of fire, joined together and condensed. And again, one body or element of air is divided into two of fire, which again, becoming thick and hard, is changed into water; so that, throughout, that which comes first into light gives easily birth unto the rest by transmutation. And so it comes to pass, that there is not merely one first principle Edition: current; Page: [40] of all things; but one thing is so mixed with the origin of another, in the several changes and alterations of nature by motion, that the same name and denomination belong equally to all.

33. But here Ammonius interrupted him, and said: Notwithstanding that those things are so peremptorily and so pompously asserted by Theodorus, yet I shall wonder if he be not forced to make use of such suppositions as are destructive of themselves and one of another. For he will have it, that the five worlds he speaks of were not composed all at one time, but that that which was subtilest, and which gave least trouble in the making, came out first into being. And as if it were a consequent, and not a repugnant thing, he supposes that the matter does not always drive out into existence that which is most subtile and simple, but that sometimes the thickest, grossest, and heaviest parts do anticipate the more subtile in generation. But besides this, supposing that there be five primitive bodies or elements, and consequently that there be as many worlds, there are but four of those orders which he discourses rationally concerning. For as to the cube, he takes it away and removes it, as it were in a game of counters; for it is naturally unfit either to turn into any thing besides itself, or to yield that any of those other bodies be converted into it, inasmuch as the triangles of which they consist be not of the same sort. For all the rest consist in common of demi-triangles (or halves of equilateral triangles); but the proper subject of which the cube is particularly composed is the right isosceles triangle, which admits no inclination to a demi-triangle, nor can possibly be united and incorporated with it. If there be then five bodies, and consequently five worlds, and in each of these worlds the principle of generation be that body which is first produced, it must happen that, where the cube is the first in generation, none of the rest can possibly be produced, it being Edition: current; Page: [41] contrary to its nature to change into any of them. Not to insist here, that Theodorus and those of his mind make the element or principle of which the dodecahedron is composed to be different from the rest, it not being that triangle which is termed scalene, with three unequal sides, out of which the pyramid, octahedron, and icosahedron, according to Plato, are produced; so that (said Ammonius laughing) you must solve these objections, or offer something new concerning the matter in debate.*

34. And I answered him, that, for my part, I knew not at present how to say any thing which carried more probability. But perhaps (said I) it is better for a man to give an account of his own opinion than of another’s. Therefore I say that, there being supposed from the beginning of things two several natures contrary to each other, — the one sensible, mutable, subject to generation, corruption, and change every way, the other spiritual and intelligible, and abiding always in the same state, — it would be very strange, my friends, to say that the spiritual nature admitteth of division and hath diversity and difference in it, and to be angry if a man will not allow the passible and corporeal nature to be wholly united in itself, without dividing it into many parts. For it is most suitable to the permanent and divine natures to be tied and linked to each other, and to avoid, as much as is possible, all division and separation; and yet, amongst incorporeal natures the power of diversity works greater differences in regard to essential forms and reason, than those of distance of place in the corporeal world. And therefore Plato, refuting those who hold this proposition, that all is one, asserts these five grounds and principles of all, — entity, identity, diversity, motion, and rest; which five immaterial principles being admitted, it is no marvel if Nature have made every one of Edition: current; Page: [42] these to be an imitation, though not exact, yet as perfect and agreeable as could be drawn, of a correspondent principle in the corporeal mystery, partaking, as much as can be, of its power and virtue. For it is very plain that the cube is most proper and agreeable to repose and rest, by reason of the stability and firmness of those plain surfaces of which it consists. And as to the pyramid, everybody soon sees and acknowledges the nature of fire in it, by the slenderness of its decreasing sides, and the sharpness of its angles; and the nature of the dodecahedron, apt to comprehend all the other figures, may seem more properly to be the corporeal image of Ens, or Being in the general, indifferent to this or that particular form or shape. And of the other two which remain, the icosahedron resembleth the principle of diversity, and the octahedron principally partakes of the identical nature. And thus from one of these the air is produced, which partakes of and borders upon every substance, under one and the same outward form and appearance; and the other has afforded us the element of water, which by mixture may put on the greatest diversity of qualities. Therefore if Nature requires a certain uniformity and harmony in all things, it must be then that there are neither more nor fewer worlds in the corporeal nature than there are patterns or samples in the incorporeal, to the end that each pattern or sample in the invisible nature may have its own primary position and power, answering to a secondary or derivative in the different constitution or composition of bodies.

35. And this may serve for an answer to those that wonder at our dividing Nature, subject to generation and alteration, into so many kinds. But I entreat you all further, attentively to consider with yourselves that, of the two first and supreme principles of all things, — that is to say, the unity, and the indefinite binary or duality, — this latter, being the element and chief origin of all deformity and disorder, Edition: current; Page: [43] is termed infinity, and on the contrary, the nature of unity, determining and limiting the void infinity, which has no proportion nor termination, reduces it into form, and renders it in some manner capable of receiving a denomination which belongs only to sensible and particular things. Now these two general principles appear first in number; for the multitude is indeed no number, unless a certain form of the matter resulting out of indeterminate infinity is cut off, and bounded within respective limits, either shorter or longer. For then each multitude is made number, when once it is determined and limited by unity; whereas, if we take away unity, then the indeterminate duality brings all into confusion, and renders it without harmony, without number or measure. Now, the form not being the destruction of matter, but rather the order and the beauty of it, both these principles therefore must be within number, from whence ariseth the chief disparity and greatest difference. For the infinite and indeterminate principle is the cause of the even number; and the other better principle, which is the unity, is the father (as it were) of the odd number. So that the first even number is two, and the first odd number is three; of which is composed five by conjunction, which is by its composition common to both, but of power or nature not even but odd. For, since sensible and corporeal nature is divided into several parts, on account of its inborn necessity of diversity, it was necessary that the number of these parts should not be either the first even number, nor yet the first uneven or odd, but a third, consisting of both; to the end that it might be procreated out of both principles, viz. of that which causeth the even number, and of that which produceth the odd; for the one cannot be parted from the other, inasmuch as both have the nature, power, and force of a principle. These two principles being then joined together, the better one being mightier prevails over the indeterminate Edition: current; Page: [44] infinity or duality, which divideth the corporeal nature; and thus the matter being divided, the unity interposing itself between has hindered the universe from being divided and parted into two equal portions. But there has been a multitude of worlds caused by the diversity and disagreement of the infinite Nature; but this multitude was brought into an odd number by the virtue and power of identity, or the finite principle; and it was therefore odd, because the better principle would not suffer Nature to stretch itself further than was fitting. For if there had been nothing but pure and simple unity, the matter would have known no separation; but being mixed with the dividing nature of duality, it has by this means suffered separation and division; yet it has stopped here, by the odd numbers being the superior and master to the even.

36. This is the reason why the ancients were used to express numbering or reckoning by πεμπάσασθαι, to count by fives. And I am of opinion that that word πάντα, all, is derived from πέντε, which is to say five, five being compounded of the first numbers. For all the other numbers being afterwards multiplied by others, they produce numbers different from themselves; whereas five, being multiplied by an even number, produceth a perfect ten, and multiplied by an odd number, representeth itself again; not to insist that it is composed of the two first tetragons or quadrate numbers (unity and four), and that, being the first number whose square is equivalent to the two squares before it, it composeth the fairest of right angled triangles, and is the first number which containeth the sesquilateral proportion. Perhaps all these reasons are not very pertinent to the discourse of the present dispute, it being better to allege that in this number there is a natural virtue of dividing, and that nature divideth many things by this number. For in ourselves she has placed five senses, and five parts of the soul, the vital, the sensitive, the concupiscible, Edition: current; Page: [45] the irascible, and the rational; and as many fingers on each hand; and the most fruitful seed disperseth itself but into five, for we read nowhere of a woman that brought forth more than five at a birth. And the Egyptians also tell us that the Goddess Rhea was delivered of five Gods, giving us to understand in covert terms that of the same matter were procreated five worlds. And in the universe, the earth is divided into five zones, the heaven into five circles, — two arctics, two tropics, and one equinoctial in the midst. There are five revolutions of planets or wandering stars, inasmuch as the Sun, Venus, and Mercury make but one and the same revolution. And the construction of the world consists of an harmonical measure; even as our musical chords consist of the posture of five tetrachords, ranged orderly one after another, that is to say, those called ὑπάτων, μέσων, συνημμένων, διεζευγμένων, and ὑπεϱβολαίων.* The intervals also which are used in singing are five, diesis, semitone, tone, the tone and a half, and the double tone; so that Nature seems to delight more in making all things according to the number five, than she does in producing them in a spherical form, as Aristotle writeth.

37. But it will perhaps be demanded, why Plato refers the number of worlds to the five regular bodies or figures, saying that God made use of the number five in the fabric of the world, as it were transcribing and copying this; and then, having proposed a doubt and question of the number of the worlds, whether there be five, or one only, thereby clearly shows that his conjecture is grounded on this conceit of the five regular bodies. If now we may make a probable conjecture as to his opinion, we may believe that of necessity, with the diversity of these figures and bodies, there must presently ensue a difference and diversity of motions; as he himself teacheth, affirming that whatever is subtilized or condensed does, at the same time Edition: current; Page: [46] with its alteration of substance, alter and change its place. For if from the air there is engendered fire, when the octahedron is dissolved and vanished into pyramids, or, on the contrary, if the air be produced from the fire pressed and squeezed up into the form of the octahedron, it is not possible it should remain there where it was before, but it flies and runs to another place, forcing and combating whatever stands in the way to oppose it. And he shows this more clearly and evidently by an example and similitude of fans, and such like things as drive away the chaff from the corn; for thus the elements driving the matter, and being driven by it, do always bring like to like, some taking up this place, others that, before the world was digested as now it is. The matter then being in that condition in which it is likely every thing is where God is not present, the five first qualities, or first bodies, having each their proper and peculiar inclinations and motions, went apart, not wholly and altogether, nor throughly divided and separated one from another; for when all was huddled in confusion, such as were surmounted went continually against their nature with the mightier. And therefore, some going on one side and others going on the other, hence it has happened that there have been as many portions and distinctions as there are divers kinds of first bodies; one of fire, not wholly pure, but inclining towards the form of fire; another of an ethereal nature, yet not wholly so, but inclining thereto; another of earth, not simple and mere earth, but inclining to the form of earth. But especially there was a communication of water and air; for these, as we have already mentioned, went their ways, replenished with divers other kinds. For God did not separate and distribute the matter, but having found it thus carelessly dissipated in itself, and each part being carried away in such great disorder and confusion, he ranged and ordered it into symmetry and proportion; and setting Edition: current; Page: [47] reason over each as a guardian and governor, he made as many worlds as there were first bodies. However, in respect to Ammonius, let these Platonical notions pass for what they are worth. For my part, I will never be overzealous in this precise number of worlds; but this I will say, that those who hold there are more than one, yet not an infinite number, have as good grounds as others, seeing the matter does naturally spread itself and is diffused into many parts, — not resting in one, while yet it is contrary to reason that it should be infinitely extended. In short, let us here especially be mindful of the wise precepts of the Academy, and preserve ourselves upon such slippery ground as the controversy concerning the infinity of worlds, by refusing a too confident assent.

38. And when I had finished this discourse, Demetrius said: Lamprias is very much in the right; for the Gods deceive us with multiplicities, not of shadows and impostures (as Euripides* expresseth it), but even of realities and substances themselves, when we presume to be positive, as if we understood them in things of such weight and moment. But we must, as he advises us, return to our first question, which we seem to have forgotten. For what was said concerning the oracles remaining dumb and useless when the Daemons who presided over them were departed, even as we see musical instruments yield no harmony when the musician does not handle them, — this, I say, brings a greater question into debate, namely touching the cause and power by which these Daemons use to make their prophets and prophetesses to be ravished with enthusiasm and filled with fantastical imaginations. For to say the oracles are silent as being forsaken by the Daemons is nothing, unless we be first shown how (when they are present and govern them) they set them at work and make them prophesy.

Edition: current; Page: [48]

Ammonius then taking up the discourse, Do you think, said he, that the Daemons are any thing else

Than wandering spirits clothed in finest air,*

as Hesiod says? For as to my part, I think the same difference which there is between one man and another, when they act in a tragedy or comedy, is also to be found in this life in souls that are clothed with bodies. So that there is nothing in this which is strange or contrary to reason, if souls meeting with other souls do imprint on them visions and apprehensions of future things, just as we show several things already done and come to pass, and prognosticate of those which have not yet happened, not only by the help of speech, but also by letters and writings, or by a bare touch, or a single look; — unless you, Lamprias, are of another opinion. For we heard but very lately, that you discoursed at large upon this subject with the strangers that came to Lebadea; but he that gave us this information could give us no particular account of what passed. No wonder, replied I, for several avocations and businesses intervening, occasioned by the oracle and the solemn sacrifice that was then performing, made our discourse very broken and interrupted. But now, says Ammonius, you have auditors at leisure, that are inquisitive and desirous of instruction, so that you may speak freely, and expect all the candor and consideration which you can desire.

39. And the rest of the company making the like exhortations, having paused a while, I began after this manner: It so happened, Ammonius, that you did, without your knowledge, give occasion to the discourse which was then held; for if the Daemons be souls and spirits separated from bodies and having no communication with them, as you affirm, but according to the divine poet Hesiod,

Edition: current; Page: [49]

Are our kind guardians, walking here their rounds,*

why do we deprive the spirits and souls which are in bodies of the same power by which Daemons may foresee and foretell things to come? For it is not likely souls do acquire any property and power, when they abandon their bodies, wherewith they were not endowed before; but rather, we should think that they had always the same parts, but in a worse degree, when they were mixed with bodies, some of them being inapparent and hid, and others weak and obscure, like those who see through a thick mist or move in water, heavily and uneasily performing their operations, much desiring to be cured and so to recover what is their own, and to be discharged and purified of that which covers them. For as the sun does not then properly become bright when he has escaped out of the cloud, — for he is always so, though to our eyes, being clouded, he seems obscure and dark, — so the soul acquires not then the faculty of divining when gotten clear of the body, as from a cloud, but having the same before, is blinded by the commixture and confusion which she has with the mortal body. And this cannot seem strange or incredible, if we consider nothing else in the soul but the faculty of remembrance, which is, as it were, the reverse of divination, and if we reflect upon the miraculous power it hath of preserving things past, or, we should rather say, things present, for of what is past nothing remains, and all things do come into being and perish in the same moment, whether they be actions, or words, or passions; they all pass by and vanish as soon as they appear; for time, like the course of a river, passeth on, and carries every thing along with it. But this retentive faculty of the soul seizes upon these in some mysterious way, and gives a form and a being to those things which are no longer Edition: current; Page: [50] present. For the oracle which was given to those of Thessaly, touching Arne, enjoined them to declare

The deaf man’s hearing, and the blind man’s sight.

But memory is to us the hearing of things without voice, and the sight of things invisible; so that, as I now said, no marvel, if retaining the things which are no longer in being, the soul anticipates several of those which are still to come; for these do more concern her, and she does naturally sympathize with them, inclining and tending to things which are future; whereas, as to those which are past and have an end, she leaves them behind her, only retaining the bare remembrance of them.

40. Our souls then, having this inbred power, — though weak, obscure, and hardly able to express their apprehensions, — yet sometimes spread forth and recover themselves, either in dreams or in the time of sacrifice or religious worship, when the body is well purified and endued with a certain temperature proper to this effect or when the rational and speculative part, being released and freed from the solicitude after present things, joineth with the irrational and imaginative part to think of and represent what is to come. For it is not, as Euripides saith, that he is the best prophet who guesses well; but he is the wisest man, not whose guess succeeds well in the event, but who, whatever the event be, takes reason and probability for his guide. Now the faculty of divining, like blank paper, is void of any reason or determination of itself, but is susceptible of fantasies and presentiments; and without any ratiocination or discourse of reason, it touches on that which is to come, when it has withdrawn itself farthest from the present. And from this it withdraws by means of a certain disposition of body, by which that state is produced which we call inspiration or enthusiasm. Now the body is sometimes endued naturally with this disposition; but Edition: current; Page: [51] most times the earth casts forth to men the sources and causes of several other powers and faculties, some of which carry men beside themselves into ecstasy and phrensy, and produce maladies and mortalities; others again are good, gentle, and profitable, as appears by those who have had the experience of them. But this spring, or wind, or spirit of divination is most holy and divine, whether it comes by itself through the air, or through the water of some spring. For, being infused and mixed with the body, it produceth an odd temperature and strange disposition in the soul, which a man cannot exactly express, though he may resemble or compare it to several things. For by heat and dilatation it seems to open certain pores that make a discovery of future things; like wine, which, causing fumes to ascend up into the head, puts the spirits into many unusual motions, and reveals things that were laid up in secret. For drunkenness and phrensy, if we will believe Euripides, have a near approach to the nature of divination, when the soul, being hot and fiery, banishes those fears to which prudence and sobriety are subject, and which extinguish and quench the spirit of divination.

41. Furthermore, a man may say that dryness, being mixed with heat, attenuateth and subtilizeth the spirit, and makes it pure and of an ethereal nature and consistence; for the soul itself, according to Heraclitus, is of a dry constitution; whereas moisture does not only dim the sight and dull the hearing, but when mingled with the air and touching the superficies of mirrors, dusketh the brightness of the one and takes away the light of the other. Or perhaps, on the contrary, by some refrigeration and condensation of this spirit, like the tincture and hardening of iron, this part of the soul which does prognosticate may become more intense and get a perfect edge. Just as tin being melted with brass (which of itself is rare and spongeous) does drive it nearer and make it more massy and solid, and Edition: current; Page: [52] withal causeth it to look more bright and resplendent; so I cannot see any reason, why this prophetical exhalation, having some congruence and affinity with souls, may not fill up that which is lax and empty, and drive it more close together. For there are many things which have a reference and congruity one with another; as the bean is useful in dyeing purple, and soda in dyeing saffron, if they be mixed therewith; and as Empedocles says,

Linen is dyed with the bright saffron’s flower.

And we have learned of you, Demetrius, that only the river Cydnus cleaneth the knife consecrated to Apollo, in the city of Tarsus in Cilicia, and that there is no other water which can scour and cleanse it. So in the town of Olympia, they temper ashes with the water of the river Alpheus, with which they make a mortar wherewith they plaster the altar there; but if this be attempted to be done by the water of any other river, it is all to no purpose.

42. It is no wonder then if, the earth sending up many exhalations, only those of this sort transport the soul with a divine fury, and give it a faculty of foretelling future things. And, without a doubt, what is related touching the oracle of this place does herewith agree; for it is here where this faculty of divining first showed itself, by means of a certain shepherd, who chanced to fall down and began to utter enthusiastic speeches concerning future events; of which at first the neighbors took no notice; but when they saw what he foretold came to pass, they had him in admiration; and the most learned among the Delphians, speaking of this man, are used to call him by the name of Coretas. The soul seems to me to mix and join itself with this prophetic exhalation, just as the eye is affected with the light. For the eye, which has a natural property and faculty of seeing, would be wholly useless without the light; so the soul, having this faculty and property of foreseeing Edition: current; Page: [53] future things, as an eye, has need of a proper object which may enlighten and sharpen it. And therefore the ancients took the sun and Apollo to be the same God; and those who understand the beauty and wisdom of analogy or proportion do tell us, that as the body is to the soul, the sight to the mind, and light to truth, so is the sun with reference to Apollo; affirming the sun to be the offspring proceeding perpetually from Apollo, who is eternal and who continually bringeth him forth. For as the sun enlightens and excites the visive powers of the senses, so Apollo does excite the prophetic virtue in the soul.

43. Those then that imagined that both were one and the same God have with good reason dedicated and consecrated this oracle to Apollo and to the earth, deeming it to be the sun which imprinted this temperature and disposition on the earth, from whence arose this predictive exhalation. For as Hesiod, with far better reason than other philosophers, calls the earth

The well-fixed seat of all things;*

so do we esteem it eternal, immortal, and incorruptible. But as to the virtues and faculties which are in it, we believe that some fail in one place, and spring up anew in another. It seems also (for so some experiments incline us to conjecture) that these transitions, changes, and revolutions in process of time do circulate and return to the same place, and begin again where they left off. In some countries we see lakes and whole rivers and not a few fountains and springs of hot waters have sometimes failed and been entirely lost, and at others have fled and absconded themselves, being hidden and concealed under the earth; but perhaps some years after do appear again in the same place, or else run hard by. And so of metal mines, some have been quite exhausted, as the silver ones about Edition: current; Page: [54] Attica; and the same has happened to the veins of brass ore in Euboea, of which the best blades were made and hardened in cold water, as the poet Aeschylus tells us,

Taking his sword, a right Euboean blade.

It is not long since the quarry of Carystus has ceased to yield a certain soft stone, which was wont to be drawn into a fine thread; for I suppose some here have seen towels, net-work, and coifs woven of that thread, which could not be burnt; but when they were soiled with using, people flung them into the fire, and took them thence white and clean, the fire only purifying them. But all this is vanished; and there is nothing but some few fibres or hairy threads, lying up and down scatteringly in the grain of the stones, to be seen now in the quarry.

44. Aristotle and his followers affirm that all this proceeds from an exhalation within the earth, and when this fails or removes to another place, or revives and recovers itself again, the phenomena proceeding from them do so too. The same must we say of the prophetical exhalations which spring from the earth, that their virtue also is not immortal, but may wax old and decay; for it is not unlikely that great floods of rain and showers do extinguish them, and that the claps of thunder do dissipate them; or else (which I look upon to be the principal cause) they are sunk lower into the earth or utterly destroyed by the shock of earthquakes and the confusion that attends them, as here in this place there still remain the tragical monuments of that great earthquake that overthrew the city. And in the town of Orchomenus, they say, when the pestilence carried away such multitudes of people, the oracle of Tiresias of a sudden ceased, and remains mute to this day. And whether the like has not happened to the oracles in Cilicia, as we have heard it hath, no man can better inform us than you, Demetrius.

Edition: current; Page: [55]

45. I cannot tell, says Demetrius, how things are at present in those parts, for you all know I have been long absent from thence; but when I was there, both that of Mopsus and of Amphilochus flourished and were in great esteem. And as to the oracle of Mopsus, I can from my own knowledge tell you a strange story about it. The Governor of Cicilia was a man inclining to scepticism about the Gods, — through the infirmity of his unbelief, I think, for otherwise he was an oppressor and a worthless man, — and he had about him several Epicureans, who are wont to mock at the belief of such things as seem contrary to reason, as they themselves say, standing much upon their goodly natural philosophy. He sent a freed servant of his to the oracle, like a spy into an enemy’s camp, with a letter sealed, wherein was the question he was to ask the oracle, nobody knowing the contents thereof. This man then, as the custom of the place is, remaining all night in the temple-porch asleep, related the next morning the dream which he had; for he thought he saw a very handsome man stand before him, who said only this word, Black, to him, and nothing else, for he vanished away immediately. This seemed to us very impertinent, though we could not tell what to make of it; but the governor marvelled at it, and was so nettled with it, that he had the oracle in great veneration ever since; for, opening the letter, he showed this question which was therein: Shall I sacrifice to thee a white bull or a black? Which dashed his Epicureans quite out of countenance, and he offered the sacrifice required, and to the day of his death continued a devout admirer of Mopsus.

46. When Demetrius had given us this relation, he held his peace. And I, being desirous to put an end to this conference, cast mine eyes on Philippus and Ammonius, who sat together; and they, I thought, looked as if they had something to say to me, and therefore I kept silent. Edition: current; Page: [56] With that Ammonius: Philippus hath something to offer, Lamprias, touching what hath been debated; for he thinks, as well as other folks, that Apollo and the sun are the same God. But the question which I propose is of greater consequence; for just now in our discourse we have taken away divination from the Gods, and openly attributed it to the Daemons, and now we are for excluding them also, and dispossessing them of the oracle and three-footed stool, referring the cause, or rather the nature and essence, of divination to exhalations, winds, and vapors; for these opinions carry us still farther off from the Gods, introducing such a cause of this event as Euripides makes Polyphemus to allege:

  • The earth by force, whether she will or no
  • Does for my cattle make the grass to grow.*

Yet he says that he sacrificed his herds, not to the Gods, but to himself and his own belly, “the greatest of all Daemons;” whereas we offer them sacrifices and prayers to obtain an answer from their oracles; but to what purpose, if it be true that souls are naturally endued with the faculty of prediction, and that the chief cause that excites this faculty and virtue is a certain temperature of air and winds? And what signifies then the sacred institutions and setting apart these religious prophetesses, for the giving of answers? And why do they return no answer at all, unless the sacrifice tremble all over, even from the very feet, whilst the wine is poured on its head? For it is not enough to wag the head, as other beasts do which are appointed for sacrifices; but this quaking and shivering must be universal throughout all parts of the body, and that with a trembling noise; for if this be not done, they say that the oracle will give no answer, neither is the priestess even introduced. For it is very proper and suitable for them to do and believe thus who ascribe the impulses of Edition: current; Page: [57] prophetical inspiration either to a God or a Daemon, but by no means for those that are of your opinion. For the exhalation which springeth out of the ground, whether the beast tremble or not, will always, if it be present, cause a ravishment and transport of spirit, and dispose the soul alike, not only of Pythia, but of any one else that first cometh or is presented. And it must needs seem absurd to set apart one certain woman for the delivery of these oracles, and to oblige her to virginity and chastity all her days, when the thing is referred to such a cause. For as to that Coretas, whom the Delphians will needs have to be the first that happened to fall upon this chink or crevice of the ground, and gave the first proof of the virtue of the place, — he, I say, seems to me not at all to differ from other herdsmen or shepherds, supposing what is reported of him to be true, as I believe it is not. And truly, when I call to mind of what benefit this oracle has been unto the Greeks, not only in their wars and building of cities, but also in the stresses of plague and famine, methinks it is very unfit to refer its invention and original unto mere chance, rather than to God and divine providence. But I would willingly have you, Lamprias, says he, to speak on this point, and I pray you, Philippus, to have patience a while. With all my heart, replied Philippus, and I dare undertake the same for all the company.

47. And, as to my part, quoth I, O Philippus! I am not only much moved, but also ashamed, considering my youth, in the presence of so many wise and grave personages, to appear as if I endeavored by sophistry to impose upon them, and to destroy and evacuate what sage and holy men have determined concerning the divine nature and power. But though I am young, yet Plato was old and wise as you are, and he shall be my example and advocate in this case. He reprehended Anaxagoras for applying himself too much to natural causes, always following Edition: current; Page: [58] and pursuing the necessary and material cause of the passions and affections incident to bodies, and omitting the final and efficient, which are much better and more considerable principles than the other. But Plato either first, or most of all the philosophers, hath joined both of these principles together, attributing to God the causality of all things that are according to reason, and yet not depriving matter of a necessary or passive concurrence; but acknowledging that the adorning and disposing of all this sensible world does not depend on one single and simple cause, but took its being from the conjunction and fellowship of matter with reason. This may be illustrated by the works of art; as, for example, without going any further, the foot of the famous cup which is amongst the treasure of this temple, which Herodotus calls a Hypocrateridion, that has for the material causes fire and iron, and pliableness by means of fire, and the tincture in water, without which such a piece of work could not be wrought. But the principal cause, and that which is most properly so called, which wrought by all these, was art and reason. And we see the name of the artist set on all such pieces, according to that,

  • ’Twas Thasian Polygnotus, Aglaophon’s son,
  • That drew this draught of conquer’d Ilium.

But yet, without colors mixed and confounded with one another, it had been impossible to have done a piece so pleasing to the eye. Should one come then and enquire into the material cause, searching into and discoursing concerning the alterations and mutations which the vermilion receives mixed with ochre, or the ceruse with black, would he thereby lessen the credit of the painter Polygnotus? And so he that shall discourse how iron is both hardened and mollified, and how, being softened in the fire, it becomes obedient to them who by beating it drive it out in length and breadth; and afterwards, being plunged Edition: current; Page: [59] into fresh water, by the coldness of it becomes hardened and condensed after it was softened and rarefied by the fire, and acquires a firmness and temper which Homer calls the strength of the iron, — does he, because of this, e’er the less attribute the cause of the work to the workman? I do not think he does; for those who examine the virtues and properties of medicinal drugs do not thereby condemn the art of physic. Just as when Plato says that we see because the light of the eye is mixed with the clearness of the sun, and that we hear by the percussion of the air, yet this does not hinder but that we have the faculty of seeing and hearing from Divine Providence.

48. In a word, generation, as I have said, proceeding from two causes, the chiefest and most ancient poets and divines have stuck only to the first and most excellent of these, having on all occasions these known words in their mouths,

Jove, the beginning, middle, source of all;*

but as to the necessary and natural causes, they concern not themselves with them. Whereas their successors, who were for that reason called natural philosophers, took a different course; for they, forsaking this admirable and divine principle, ascribe all matter and the passions of it to the motions, mutations, and mixtures of its parts. So that both of these are defective in their methods, because they omit, through ignorance or design, the one the efficient, the others the material cause. Whereas he that first pointed at both causes, and manifestly joined with the reason, which freely operateth and moveth, the matter, which necessarily is obedient and passive, does defend both himself and us from all calumny and censure. For we do not deprive divination either of God or of reason; seeing we allow it for its subject the soul of man, and for its instrument an enthusiastic exhalation. For first, the earth, Edition: current; Page: [60] out of which exhalations are generated, and then the sun, which in and upon the earth works all the infinite possibilities of mixture and alteration, are, in the divinity of our forefathers, esteemed Gods. And hereunto if we add the Daemons as superintendents and guardians of this temperature, as of a harmony and consort, who in due time slacken or stretch the virtue of this exhalation, sometimes taking from it the too great activity which it has to torment the soul and transport it beyond itself, and mingling with it a virtue of moving, without causing pain to those that are possessed with it; in all this it seems to me that we do nothing that can look strange or impossible or unagreeable to reason.

49. And when we offer victims before we come to the oracle, and crown them with garlands of flowers and pour wine on their heads, I see we do not any thing in all this that is absurd or repugnant to this opinion of ours. For the priests, who offer the sacrifices, and pour out the holy wine thereon, and observe their motions and tremblings, do this for no other reason besides that of learning whether they can receive an answer from the oracle. For the animal which is offered to the Gods must be pure, entire, and sound, both as to soul and body. Now it is not very hard to discover the marks of the body; and as to the soul, they make an experiment of it in setting meal before the bulls and presenting pease to the boars; for if they will not taste them, it is a certain sign they be not sound. As to goats, cold water is a trial for them; for if the beast does not seem to be moved and affected when the water is poured upon her, this is an evident sign that her soul is not right according to Nature. And supposing it should be granted that it is a certain and unquestionable sign that God will give an answer when the sacrifice thus drenched stirs, and that when it is otherwise he vouchsafes none, I do not see herein any thing that disagrees with the account Edition: current; Page: [61] of oracles which I have given. For every natural virtue produceth the effect to which it is ordained better or worse, according as its season is more or less proper; and it is likely God gives us signs whereby we may know whether the opportunity be gone or not.

50. As for my part, I believe the exhalation itself which comes out of the ground is not always of the same kind, being at one time slack, and at another strong and vigorous; and the truth of that experiment which I use to prove it is attested by several strangers, and by all those which serve in the temple. For the room where those do wait who come for answers from the oracle is sometimes — though not often and at certain stated times, but as it were by chance — filled with such a fragrant odor and scent, that no perfumes in the world can exceed it, and this arises, as it were, out of a spring, from the sanctuary of the temple. And this proceeds very likely from its heat or some other power or faculty which is in it; and if peradventure this seems to any body an unlikely thing, such a one will, however, allow that the prophetess Pythia hath that part of the soul unto which this wind and blast of inspiration approacheth moved by variety of passions and affections, sometimes after one sort and sometimes another, and that she is not always in the same mood and temper, like a fixed and immutable harmony which the least alteration or change of such and such proportions destroys. For there are several vexations and passions, which agitate bodies and slide into the soul, that she perceives, but more that she does not, in which case it would be better that she should tarry away and not present herself to this divine inspiration, as not being clean and void of perturbations, like an instrument of music exquisitely made, but at present in disorder and out of tune. For wine does not at all times alike surprise the drunkard, neither does the sound of the flute always affect in the Edition: current; Page: [62] same manner him who dances to it. For the same persons are sometimes more and sometimes less transported beyond themselves, and more or less inebriated, according to the present disposition of their bodies. But especially the imaginative part of the soul is subject to change and sympathize together with the body, as is apparent from dreams; for sometimes we are mightily troubled with many and confused visions in our dreams, and at other times there is a perfect calm, undisturbed by any such images or ideas. We all know Cleon, a native of Daulia, who used to say to himself that in the many years in which he hath lived he never had any dream. And among the ancients, the same is related of Thrasymedes of Heraea. The cause of this lies in the complexion and constitution of bodies, as is seen by melancholy people, who are much subject to dreams in the night, and their dreams sometimes prove true. Inasmuch as such persons’ fancies run sometimes on one thing and at other times on another, they must thereby of necessity now and then light right, as they that shoot often must hit sometimes.

51. When therefore the imaginative part of the soul and the prophetic blast or exhalation have a sort of harmony and proportion with each other, so as the one, as it were in the nature of a medicament, may operate upon the other, then happens that enthusiasm or divine fury which is discernible in prophets and inspired persons. And, on the contrary, when the proportion is lost, there can be no prophetical inspiration, or only such as is as good as none; for then it is a forced fury, not a natural one, but violent and turbulent, such as we have seen to have happened in the prophetess Pythia who is lately deceased. For certain pilgrims being come for an answer from the oracle, it is said the sacrifice endured the first effusion without stirring or moving a jot, which made the priests, out of an excess of zeal, to continue to pour on more, till the beast was Edition: current; Page: [63] almost drowned with cold water; but what happened hereupon to the prophetess Pythia? She went down into the hole against her will; but at the first words which she uttered, she plainly showed by the hoarseness of her voice that she was not able to bear up against so strong an inspiration (like a ship under sail, oppressed with too much wind), but was possessed with a dumb and evil spirit. Finally, being horribly disordered and running with dreadful screeches towards the door to get out, she threw herself violently on the ground, so that not only the pilgrims fled for fear, but also the high priest Nicander and the other priests and religious which were there present; who entering within a while took her up, being out of her senses; and indeed she lived but few days after. For these reasons it is that Pythia is obliged to keep her body pure and clean from the company of men, there being no stranger permitted to converse with her. And before she goes to the oracle, they are used by certain marks to examine whether she be fit or no, believing that the God certainly knows when her body is disposed and fit to receive, without endangering her person, this enthusiastical inspiration. For the force and virtue of this exhalation does not move all sorts of persons, nor the same persons in like manner, nor as much at one time as at another; but it only gives beginning, and, as it were, kindles those spirits which are prepared and fitted to receive its influence. Now this exhalation is certainly divine and celestial, but yet not incorruptible and immortal, nor proof against the eternity of time, which subdues all things below the moon, as our doctrine teaches, — and, as some say, all things above it, which, weary and in despair as regards eternity and infinity, are apt to be suddenly renewed and changed.

52. But these things, said I, I must advise you and myself often and seriously to consider of, they being liable Edition: current; Page: [64] to many disputes and objections, which our leisure will not suffer to particularize; and therefore we must remit them, together with the questions which Philippus proposes touching Apollo and the sun, to another opportunity.

Edition: current; Page: [65]


1. It becomes wise men, dame Clea,* to go to the Gods for all the good things they would enjoy. Much more ought we, when we would aim at that knowledge of them which our nature can arrive at, to pray that they themselves would bestow it upon us; truth being the greatest good that man can receive, and the goodliest blessing that God can give. Other good things he bestows on men as they want them, they being not his own peculiars nor of any use to himself. For the blessedness of the Deity consists not in silver and gold, nor yet his power in lightnings and thunders, but in knowledge and wisdom. And it was the best thing Homer ever said of Gods, when he pronounced thus:

  • Both of one line, both of one country boast,
  • But royal Jove’s the eldest and knows most;

where he declares Jupiter’s prerogative in wisdom and science to be the more honorable, by terming it the elder. I, for my own part, do believe that the felicity of eternal living which the Gods enjoy lies mainly in this, that nothing escapes their cognizance that passes in the sphere of generation, and that, should we set aside wisdom and the knowledge of true beings, immortality itself would not be life, but merely a long time.

Edition: current; Page: [66]

2. And therefore the desire of truth, especially in what relates to the Gods, is a sort of grasping after divinity, it using learning and enquiry for a kind of resumption of things sacred, a work doubtless of more religion than any ritual purgation or charge of temples whatever, and especially most acceptable to the Goddess you serve, since she is more eminently wise and speculative, and since knowledge and science (as her very name* seems to import) appertain more peculiarly to her than any other thing. For the name of Isis is Greek, and so is that of her adversary Typhon, who, being puffed up through ignorance and mistake, pulls in pieces and destroys that holy doctrine, which she on the contrary collects, compiles, and delivers down to such as are regularly advanced unto the deified state; which, by constancy of sober diet, and abstaining from sundry meats and the use of women, both restrains the intemperate and voluptuous part, and habituates them to austere and hard services in the temples, the end of which is the knowledge of the original, supreme, and mental being, which the Goddess would have them enquire for, as near to herself and as dwelling with her. Besides, the very name of her temple most apparently promises the knowledge and acquaintance of true being (τὸ ὄν), for they call it Iseion (Ἴσειον), as who should say, We shall know true being, if with reason and sanctimony we approach the sacred temples of this Goddess.

3. Moreover, many have reported her the daughter of Hermes, and many of Prometheus; the latter of which they esteem as the author of wit and forecast, and the former of letters and music. For the same reason also they call the former of the Muses at Hermopolis at the same time Isis and Justice, Isis being (as we before said) Edition: current; Page: [67] no other than wisdom, and revealing things divine to such as are truly and justly styled the sacred bearers, and keepers of the sacred robes; and these are such as have in their minds, as in an ark, the sacred doctrine about the Gods, cleansed from superstitious frights and vain curiosities, keeping out of sight all dark and shady colors, and exposing to sight the light and gay ones, to insinuate something of the like kind in our persuasion about the Gods as we have represented to us in the sacred vestments. Wherefore, in that the priests of Isis are dressed up in these when they are dead, it is a token to us that this doctrine goes with them to the other life, and that nothing else can accompany them thither. For as neither the nourishing of beards nor the wearing of mantles can render men philosophers, so neither will linen garments or shaved heads make priests to Isis; but he is a true priest of Isis, who, after he hath received from the laws the representations and actions that refer to the Gods, doth next apply his reason to the enquiry and speculation of the truth contained in them.

4. For the greater part of men are ignorant even of this most common and ordinary thing, for what reason priests lay aside their hair and go in linen garments. Some are not at all solicitous to be informed about such questions; and others say their veneration for sheep is the cause why they abstain from their wool as well as their flesh, and that they shave their heads in token of mourning, and that they wear linen because of the bloomy color which the flax sendeth forth, in imitation of that ethereal clarity that environs the world. But indeed the true reason of them all is one and the same. For it is not lawful (as Plato saith) for a clean thing to be touched by an unclean; but now no superfluity of food or excrementitious substance can be pure or clean; but wool, down, hair, and nails come up and grow from superfluous excrements. It would Edition: current; Page: [68] be therefore an absurdity for them to lay aside their own hair in purgations, by shaving themselves and by making their bodies all over smooth, and yet in the mean time to wear and carry about them the hairs of brutes. For we ought to think that the poet Hesiod, when he saith,

  • Not at a feast of Gods from five-branched tree
  • With sharp-edged steel to part the green from dry,*

would teach us to keep the feast when we are already cleansed from such things as these, and not in the solemnities themselves to use purgation or removal of excrementitious superfluities. But now flax springs up from an immortal being, the earth, and bears an eatable fruit, and affords a simple and cleanly clothing, not burdensome to him that is covered with it, and convenient for every season of the year, and which besides (as they tell us) is the least subject to engender vermin; but of this to discourse in this place would not be pertinent.

5. But now the priests do so abhor all kinds of superfluous excrements, that they not only decline most sorts of pulse, and of flesh that of sheep and swine, which produce much superfluity, but also in the time of their purgations they exclude salt from their meals. For which, as they have several other good reasons, so more especially this, that it whets the appetite and renders men over-eager after meat and drink. For that the reason why salt is not accounted clean should be (as Aristagoras tells us) because that, when it is hardened together, many little animals are catched in it and there die, is fond and ridiculous. They are also said to water the Apis from a well of his own, and to restrain him altogether from the river Nile, — not because they hold the water for polluted by reason of the crocodile, as some suppose, for there is nothing in the world in more esteem with the Egyptians than the Nile, Edition: current; Page: [69] but because the water of the Nile being drunk is observed to be very feeding, and above all others to conduce to the increase of flesh. But they would not have the Apis nor themselves neither to be over fat; but that their bodies should sit light and easy about their souls, and not press and squeeze them down by a mortal part overpowering and weighing down the divine.

6. They also that at Heliopolis (Sun-town) wait upon the sun never bring wine into his temple, they looking upon it as a thing indecent and unfitting to drink by daylight, while their lord and king looks on. The rest of them do indeed use it, but very sparingly. They have likewise many purgations, wherein they prohibit the use of wine, in which they study philosophy, and pass their time in learning and teaching things divine. Moreover their kings, being priests also themselves, were wont to drink it by a certain measure prescribed them in the sacred books, as Hecataeus informs us. And they began first to drink it in the reign of Psammetichus; but before that time they were not used to drink wine at all, no, nor to pour if forth in sacrifice as a thing they thought any way grateful to the Gods, but as the blood of those who in ancient times waged war against the Gods, from whom, falling down from heaven and mixing with the earth, they conceived vines to have first sprung; which is the reason (say they) that drunkenness renders men besides themselves and mad; they being, as it were, gorged with the blood of their ancestors. These things (as Eudoxus tells us in the second book of his Travels) are thus related by the priests.

7. As to sea-fish, they do not all of them abstain from all, but some from one sort, and some from another. As for example, the Oxyrynchites abstain from such as are catched with the angle and hook; for, having the fish called oxyrynchus (the pike) in great veneration, they are Edition: current; Page: [70] afraid lest the hook should chance to catch hold of it and by that means become polluted. They of Syene also abstain from the phagrus (or sea-bream) because it is observed to appear with the approaching overflow of the Nile, and to present itself a voluntary messenger of the joyful news of its increase. But the priests abstain from all in general. But on the ninth day of the first month, when every other Egyptian eats a fried fish before the outer door of his house, the priests do not eat any fish, but only burn them before their doors. For which they have two reasons; the one whereof, being sacred and very curious, I shall resume by and by (it agreeing with the pious reasonings we shall make upon Osiris and Typhon); the other is a very manifest and obvious one, which, by declaring fish to be not a necessary but a superfluous and curious sort of food, greatly confirms Homer, who never makes either the dainty Phaeacians or the Ithacans (though both islanders) to make use of fish; no, nor the companions of Ulysses either in so long a voyage at sea, until they came to the last extremity of want. In short, they reckon the sea itself to be made of fire and to lie out of Nature’s confines, and not to be a part of the world or an element, but a preternatural, corrupt, and morbid excrement.

8. For nothing hath been ranked among their sacred and religious rites that savored of folly, romance, or superstition, as some do suppose; but some of them were such as contained some signification of morality and utility, and others such as were not without a fineness either in history or natural philosophy. As, for instance, in what refers to the onions; for that Dictys, the foster-father of Isis, as he was reaching at a handful of onions, fell into the river and was there drowned, is extremely improbable. But the true reason why the priests abhor, detest, and avoid the onion is because it is the only plant whose nature Edition: current; Page: [71] it is to grow and spread forth in the wane of the moon. Besides, it is no proper food, either for such as would practise abstinence and use purgations, or for such as would observe the festivals; for the former, because it causeth thirst, and for the latter, because it forceth tears from those that eat it. They likewise esteem the swine as an unhallowed animal, because it is observed to be most apt to engender in the wane of the moon, and because that such as drink its milk have a leprosy and scabbed roughness in their bodies. But the story which they that sacrifice a swine at every full moon are wont to subjoin after their eating of it, — how that Typhon, being once about the full of the moon in pursuit of a certain swine, found by chance the wooden chest wherein lay the body of Osiris, and scattered it, — is not received by all, but looked upon as a misrepresented story, as a great many more such are. They tell us moreover, that the ancients did so much despise delicacy, sumptuousness, and a soft and effeminate way of living, that they erected a pillar in the temple at Thebes, having engraven upon it several grievous curses against King Meinis, who (as they tell us) was the first that brought off the Egyptians from a mean, wealthless, and simple way of living. There goes also another story, how that Technatis, father to Bocchoris, commanding an army against the Arabians, and his baggage and provisions not coming in as soon as was expected, heartily fed upon such things as he could next light on, and afterwards had a sound sleep upon a pallet, whereupon he fell greatly in love with a poor and mean life; and for this reason he cursed Meinis, and that with the consent of all the priests, and carved that curse upon a pillar.

9. But their kings (you must know) were always chosen either out of the priesthood or soldiery, the latter having the right of succession by reason of their military valor, Edition: current; Page: [72] and the former by reason of their wisdom. But he that was chosen out of the soldiery was obliged immediately to turn priest, and was thereupon admitted to the participation of their philosophy, whose genius it was to conceal the greater part in tales and romantic relations, containing dark hints and resemblances of truth; which it is plain that even themselves would insinuate to us, while they are so kind as to set up Sphinxes before their temples, to intimate that their theology contained in it an enigmatical sort of learning. Moreover, the temple of Minerva which is at Sais (whom they look upon as the same with Isis) had upon it this inscription: I am whatever was, or is, or will be; and my veil no mortal ever took up. Besides, we find the greater part to be of opinion that the proper name of Jupiter in the Egyptian tongue is Amun (from which we have derived our word Ammon). But now Manetho the Sebennite thinks this word signifies hidden and hiding; but Hecataeus of Abdera saith, the Egyptians use this word when they call anybody; for that it is a term of calling. Therefore they must be of the opinion that the first God is the same with the universe; and therefore, while they invoke him who is unmanifest and hidden, and pray him to make himself manifest and known to them, they cry Amun. So great therefore was the piety of the Egyptians’ philosophy about things divine.

10. This is also confirmed by the most learned of the Greeks (such as Solon, Thales, Plato, Eudoxus, Pythagoras, and as some say, even Lycurgus) going to Egypt and conversing with the priests; of whom they say Eudoxus was a hearer of Chonuphis of Memphis, Solon of Sonchis of Sais, and Pythagoras of Oenuphis of Heliopolis. Whereof the last named, being (as is probable) more than ordinarily admired by the men, and they also by him, imitated their symbolical and mysterious way of talking, obscuring his sentiments with dark riddles. For the greatest Edition: current; Page: [73] part of the Pythagoric precepts fall nothing short of those sacred writings they call hieroglyphical, such as, Do not eat in a chariot; Do not sit on a choenix (or measure); Plant not a palm-tree; Stir not fire with a knife within the house. And I verily believe, that their terming the unit Apollo, the number two Diana, the number seven Minerva, and the first cube Neptune, refers to the columns set up in their temples, and to things there acted, aye, and painted too. For they represent their king and lord Osiris by an eye and a sceptre. There are some also that interpret his name by many-eyed, as if os in the Egyptian tongue signified many, and iri an eye. And the heaven, because by reason of its eternity it never grows old, they represent by a heart with a censer under it. There were also statues of judges erected at Thebes, having no hands; and the chief of them had also his eyes closed up, hereby signifying that among them justice was not to be solicited with either bribery or address. Moreover, the men of the sword had a beetle carved upon their signets, because there is no such thing as a female beetle; for they are all males, and they generate their young in certain round pellets formed of dirt, being herein as well providers of the place in which they are to be engendered, as of the matter of their nutrition.

11. When therefore you hear the tales which the Egyptians relate about the Gods, such as their wanderings, discerptions, and such like disasters that befell them, you are still to remember that none of these things have been really so acted and done as they are told. For they do not call the dog Hermes properly, but only attribute the warding, vigilancy, and philosophic acuteness of that animal, which by knowing or not knowing distinguishes between its friend and its foe (as Plato speaks), to the most knowing and ingenious of the Gods. Nor do they believe that the sun springs up a little boy from the top of the lotus, but Edition: current; Page: [74] they thus set forth his rising to insinuate the kindling of his rays by means of humids. Besides, that most savage and horrible king of the Persians named Ochus, who, when he had massacred abundance of people, afterwards slaughtered the Apis, and feasted upon him, both himself and his retinue, they called the Sword; and they call him so to this very day in their table of kings, hereby not denoting properly his person, but resembling by this instrument of murder the severity and mischievousness of his disposition. When therefore you thus hear the stories of the Gods from such as interpret them with consistency to piety and philosophy, and observe and practise those rites that are by law established, and are persuaded in your mind that you cannot possibly either offer or perform a more agreeable thing to the Gods than the entertaining of a right notion of them you will then avoid superstition as a no less evil than atheism itself.

12. The story is thus told after the most concise manner, the most useless and unnecessary parts being cut off. They tell us how that once on a time, Rhea having accompanied with Saturn by stealth, the Sun found them out, and pronounced a solemn curse against her, containing that she should not be delivered in any month or year; but that Hermes, afterwards making his court to the goddess, obtained her favor, in requital of which he went and played at dice with the Moon, and won of her the seventieth part from each day, and out of all these made five new days, which he added to the three hundred and sixty other days of the year; and these the Egyptians therefore to this day call the Epagomenae (or the superadded days), and they observe them as the birthdays of their Gods. Upon the first of these, as they say, Osiris was born, and a voice came into the world with him, saying, The Lord of all things is now born. There are others that affirm that one Pamyles, as he was fetching water at Thebes, heard a voice Edition: current; Page: [75] out of the temple of Jupiter, bidding him to publish with a loud voice that Osiris, the great and good king, was now born; and that he thereupon got to be foster-father to Osiris, Saturn entrusting him with the charge of him, and that the feast called Pamylia (resembling the Priapeian procession which the Greeks call Phallephoria) was instituted in honor of him. Upon the second day Arueris was born, whom some call Apollo, and others the elder Horus. Upon the third Typhon was born, who came not into the world either in due time or by the right way, but broke a hole in his mother’s side, and leaped out at the wound. Upon the fourth Isis was born in Panygra. And upon the fifth Nephthys, whom they sometimes call the end, and sometimes Venus, and sometimes also Victory. Of these they say Osiris and Arueris were begot by the Sun, Isis by Hermes, and Typhon and Nephthys by Saturn. For which reason their kings, looking upon the third of the Epagomenae as an inauspicious day, did no business upon it, nor took any care of their bodies until the evening. They say also that Nephthys was married unto Typhon, and that Isis and Osiris were in love with one another before they were born, and enjoyed each other in the dark before they came into the world. Some add also that Arueris was thus begotten, and that he was called by the Egyptians the elder Horus, and by the Greeks Apollo.

13. And they say that Osiris, when he was king of Egypt, drew them off from a beggarly and bestial way of living, by showing them the use of grain, and by making them laws, and teaching them to honor the Gods; and that afterwards he travelled all the world over, and made it civil, having but little need of arms, for he drew the most to him, alluring them by persuasion and oratory, intermixed with all sorts of poetry and music; whence it is that the Greek look upon him as the very same with Bacchus. They further add that Typhon, while he was from home, Edition: current; Page: [76] attempted nothing against him; for Isis was very watchful, and guarded him closely from harm. But when he came home, he formed a plot against him, taking seventy-two men for accomplices of his conspiracy, and being also abetted by a certain Queen of Ethiopia, whose name they say was Aso. Having therefore privately taken the measure of Osiris’s body, and framed a curious ark, very finely beautified and just of the size of his body, he brought it to a certain banquet. And as all were wonderfully delighted with so rare a sight and admired it greatly, Typhon in a sporting manner promised that whichsoever of the company should by lying in it find it to be of the size of his body, should have it for a present. And as every one of them was forward to try, and none fitted it, Osiris at last got into it himself, and lay along in it; whereupon they that were there present immediately ran to it, and clapped down the cover upon it, and when they had fastened it down with nails, and soldered it with melted lead, they carried it forth to the river side, and let it swim into the sea at the Tanaitic mouth, which the Egyptians therefore to this day detest, and abominate the very naming of it. These things happened (as they say) upon the seventeenth of the month Athyr, when the sun enters into the Scorpion, and that was upon the eight and twentieth year of the reign of Osiris. But there are some that say that was the time of his life, and not of his reign.

14. And because the Pans and Satyrs that inhabited the region about Chemmis were the first that knew of this disaster and raised the report of it among the people, all sudden frights and discomposures among the people have been ever since called panics. But when Isis heard of it, she cut off in that very place a lock of her hair, and put on a mourning weed, where there is a town at this day named Kopto; others think that name signifies bereaving, for that some use the word for depriving. And as she Edition: current; Page: [77] wandered up and down in all places, being deeply perplexed in her thoughts, and left no one she met withal unspoken to, she met at last with certain little children, of whom also she enquired about the ark. Now these had chanced to see all that had passed, and they named to her the very mouth of the Nile by which Typhon’s accomplices had sent the vessel into the sea; for which reason the Egyptians account little children to have a faculty of divination, and use more especially to lay hold on their omens when they play in sacred places or chance to say any thing there, whatever it be. And finding afterwards that Osiris had made his court to her sister, and through mistake enjoyed her instead of herself, for token of which she had found the melilot garland which he had left hard by Nephthys, she went to seek for the child; for her sister had immediately exposed it as soon as she was delivered of it, for fear of her husband Typhon. And when with great difficulty and labor she had found it, by means of certain dogs which conducted her to it, she brought it up; and he afterwards became her guardsman and follower, being named Anubis, and reported to guard the Gods as dogs do men.

15. Of him she had tidings of the ark, how it had been thrown out by the sea upon the coasts of Byblos, and the flood had gently entangled it in a certain thicket of heath. And this heath had in a very small time run up into a most beauteous and large tree, and had wrought itself about it, clung to it, and quite enclosed it within its trunk. Upon which the king of that place, much admiring at the unusual bigness of the plant, and cropping off the bushy part that encompassed the now invisible chest, made of it a post to support the roof of his house. These things (as they tell us) Isis being informed of by the divine breath of rumor, went herself to Byblos; where when she was come, she sate her down hard by a well, very pensive and full of Edition: current; Page: [78] tears, insomuch that she refused to speak to any person, save only to the queen’s women, whom she complimented and caressed at an extraordinary rate, and would often stroke back their hair with her hands, and withal transmit a most wonderful fragrant smell out of her body into theirs. The queen, perceiving that her women’s bodies and hair thus breathed of ambrosia, greatly longed to become acquainted with this new stranger. Upon this she being sent for, and becoming very intimate with the queen, was at last made nurse to her child. Now the name of this king (they tell us) was Malcander; and the queen, some say, was called Astarte, and some Saosis, and others Nemanun (which in Greek is as much as to say Athenaïs).

16. Isis nursed the child by putting her finger into his mouth instead of the breast; and in the night-time she would by a kind of lambent fire singe away what was mortal about him. In the mean while, herself would be turned to a swallow, and in that form would fly round about the post, bemoaning her misfortune and sad fate; until at last, the queen, who stood watching hard by, cried out aloud as she saw her child all on a light flame, and so robbed him of immortality. Upon which the Goddess discovered herself, and begged the post that held up the roof; which when she had obtained and taken down, she very quickly cropped off the bushy heath from about it and wrapping the trunk in fine linen and pouring perfumed oil upon it, she put it into the hands of their kings; and therefore the Byblians to this very day worship that piece of wood, laying it up in the temple of Isis. Then she threw herself down upon the chest, and her lamentations were so loud, that the younger of the king’s two sons died for very fear; but she, having the elder in her own possession, took both him and the ark, and carried them on shipboard, and so took sail. But the river Phaedrus sending forth a very keen and chill air, it being the dawning Edition: current; Page: [79] of the morn, she grew incensed at it, and dried up its current.

17. And in the first place where she could take rest, and found herself to be now at liberty and alone, she opened the ark, and laid her cheeks upon the cheeks of Osiris, and embraced him and wept bitterly. The little boy seeing her came silently behind her, and peeping saw what it was; which she perceiving cast a terrible look upon him in the height of her passion; the fright whereof the child could not endure, and immediately died. But there are some that say it was not so, but that in the forementioned manner he dropped into the sea, and was there drowned. And he hath divine honors given him to this very day upon the Goddess’s account; for they assure us that Maneros, whom the Egyptians so often mention in their carols at their banquets, is the very same. But others say that the boy was named Palaestinus or Pelusius, and that the city of that name was so called from him, it having been built by the Goddess. They also relate that this Maneros, so often spoken of in their songs, was the first that invented music. But some there are that would make us believe that Maneros was not the name of any person, but a certain form of speech, made use of to people in drinking and entertaining themselves at feasts, by way of wishing that all things might prove auspicious and agreeable to them; for that is the thing which the Egyptians would express by the word Maneros, when they so often roar it forth. In like manner they affirm that the likeness of a dead man, which is carried about in a little box and shown at feasts, is not to commemorate the disaster of Osiris, as some suppose, but was designed to encourage men to make use of and to enjoy the present things whilst they have them, since all men must quickly become such as they there see; for which reason they bring it into their revels and feasts.

Edition: current; Page: [80]

18. But when Isis came to her son Horus, who was then at nurse at Buto, and had laid the chest out of the way, Typhon, as he was hunting by moonshine, by chance lighted upon it, and knowing the body again, tore it into fourteen parts, and threw them all about. Which when Isis had heard, she went to look for them again in a certain barge made of papyrus, in which she sailed over all the fens. Whence (they tell us) it comes to pass, that such as go in boats made of this rush are never injured by the crocodiles, they having either a fear or else a veneration for it upon the account of the goddess Isis. And this (they say) hath occasioned the report that there are many sepulchres of Osiris in Egypt, because she made a particular funeral for each member as she found them. There are others that tell us it was not so, but that she made several effigies of him and sent them to every city, taking on her as if she had sent them his body; so that the greater number of people might pay divine honors to him, and withal, if it should chance that Typhon should get the better of Horus, and thereupon search for the body of Osiris, many bodies being discoursed of and shown him, he might despair of ever finding the right one. But of all Osiris’s members, Isis could never find out his private part, for it had been presently flung into the river Nile, and the lepidotus, sea-bream, and pike eating of it, these were for that reason more scrupulously avoided by the Egyptians than any other fish. But Isis, in lieu of it, made its effigies, and so consecrated the phallus for which the Egyptians to this day observe a festival.

19. After this, Osiris coming out of hell to assist his son Horus, first labored and trained him up in the discipline of war, and then questioned him what he thought to be the gallantest thing a man could do; to which he soon replied, to avenge one’s father’s and mother’s quarrel when they suffer injury. He asked him a second time, what animal Edition: current; Page: [81] he esteemed most useful to such as would go to battle. Horus told him, a horse; to which he said that he wondered much at his answer, and could not imagine why he did not rather name a lion than a horse. Horus replied, that a lion might indeed be very serviceable to one that needed help, but a horse would serve best to cut off and disperse a flying enemy. Which when Osiris heard, he was very much pleased with him, looking upon him now as sufficiently instructed for a soldier. It is reported likewise that, as a great many went over daily unto Horus, Typhon’s own concubine Thueris deserted also; but that a certain serpent, pursuing her close at the heels, was cut in pieces by Horus’s men, and that for that reason they still fling a certain cord into the midst of the room and then chop it to pieces. The battle therefore continued for several days, and Horus at last prevailed; but Isis, although she had Typhon delivered up to her fast bound, yet would not put him to death, but contrariwise loosed him and let him go. Which when Horus perceived, he could not brook it with any patience, but laid violent hands upon his mother, and plucked the royal diadem from off her head. But Hermes presently stepped in, and clapped a cow’s head upon her instead of a helmet. Likewise, when Typhon impeached Horus for being a bastard, Hermes became his advocate, and Horus was judged legitimate by all the Gods. After this, they say that Typhon was worsted in two several battles. Isis had also by Osiris, who accompanied with her after his decease, Harpocrates, who came into the world before his time and was lame in his lower parts.

20. These then are most of the heads of this fabular narration, the more harsh and coarse parts (such as the description of Horus and the beheading of Isis) being taken out. If therefore they say and believe such things as these of the blessed and incorruptible nature (which is Edition: current; Page: [82] the best conception we can have of divinity) as really thus done and happening to it, I need not tell you that you ought to spit and to make clean your mouth (as Aeschylus speaks) at the mentioning of them. For you are sufficiently averse of yourself to such as entertain such wicked and barbarous sentiments concerning the Gods. And yet that these relations are nothing akin to those foppish tales and vain fictions which poets and story-tellers are wont, like spiders, to spin out of their own bowels, without any substantial ground or foundation for them, and then weave and wire-draw them out at their own pleasures, but contain in them certain abstruse questions and rehearsals of events, you yourself are, I suppose, convinced. And as mathematicians do assert the rainbow to be an appearance of the sun so variegated by reflection of its rays in a cloud, so likewise the fable here related is the appearance of some doctrine whose meaning is transferred by reflection to some other matter; as is plainly suggested to us as well by the sacrifices themselves, in which there appears something lamentable and very sad, as by the forms and makes of their temples, which sometimes run out themselves into wings, and into open and airy circs, and at other times again have under ground certain private cells, resembling vaults and tombs. And this is most plainly hinted to us by the opinion received about those of Osiris, because his body is said to be interred in so many different places. Though it may be they will tell you that some one town, such as Abydos or Memphis, is named for the place where his true body lies; and that the most powerful and wealthy among the Egyptians are most ambitious to be buried at Abydos, that so they may be near the body of their God Osiris; and that the Apis is fed at Memphis, because he is the image of Osiris’s soul, where also they will have it that his body is interred. Some also interpret the name of this city to signify the haven of good things, and others, Edition: current; Page: [83] the tomb of Osiris. They add, that the little island at Philae is at other times inaccessible and not to be approached to by any man, and that the very birds dare not venture to fly over it nor the fish to touch upon its banks; yet upon a certain set time the priests go over into it, and there perform the accustomed rites for the dead, and crown his tomb, which stands there shaded over by a tree called methida, exceeding any olive in bigness.

21. But Eudoxus saith that, though there be in Egypt many tombs reported to be his, yet his true body lies at Busiris, for that was the place of his birth; neither can there be any room for dispute about Taphosiris, for that its very name bespeaks it, Osiris’s tomb. I pass by their cleaving of wood, their peeling of flax, and the wine libations then made by them, because many of their secret mysteries are therein contained. And it is not of this God only, but of all others also that are not ungotten and incorruptible, that the priests pretend that their bodies lie buried with them and are by them served, but their souls are stars shining in heaven; and they say that the soul of Isis is by the Greeks called the Dog, but by the Egyptians, Sothis; and that of Horus, Orion; and that of Typhon, the Bear. They also tell us, that towards the support of the animals honored by them all others pay the proportion assigned them by the laws, but that those that inhabit the country of Thebais are the only men that refuse to contribute any thing, because they believe in no mortal God, but in him only whom they call Cneph, who is ungotten and immortal.

22. They therefore who suppose that, because many things of this sort are both related and shown unto travellers, they are but so many commemorations of the actions and disasters of mighty kings and tyrants who, by reason of their eminent valor or puissance, wrote the title of divinity upon their fame, and afterwards fell into great Edition: current; Page: [84] calamities and misfortunes, — these, I say, make use of the most ready way of eluding the story, and plausibly enough remove things of harsh and uncouth sound from Gods to men. Nay, I will add this farther, that the arguments they use are fairly enough deduced from the things themselves related. For the Egyptians recount, that Mercury was, in regard to the make of his body, with one arm longer than the other, and that Typhon was by complexion red, Horus white, and Osiris black, as if they had been indeed nothing else but men. They moreover style Osiris a commander, and Canopus a pilot, from whom they say the star of that name was denominated. Also the ship which the Greeks call Argo — being the image of Osiris’s ark, and therefore, in honor of it, made a constellation — they make to ride not far from Orion and the Dog; whereof the one they believe to be sacred to Horus, and the other to Isis.

23. But I fear this would be to stir things that are not to be stirred, and to declare war not only (as Simonides speaks) against length of time, but also against many nations and families of mankind, whom a religious reverence towards these Gods holds fast bound like men astonished and amazed. And this would be no other than going about to remove so great and venerable names from heaven to earth, thereby shaking and dissolving that worship and persuasion that hath entered into almost all men’s constitutions from their very birth, and opening vast doors to the Atheists’ faction, who convert all divine matters into human, giving also a large license to the impostures of Euhemerus the Messenian, who out of his own brain contrived certain memoirs of a most incredible and imaginary mythology, and thereby spread all manner of Atheism throughout the world. This he did by describing all the received Gods under the style of generals, sea-captains, and kings, whom he makes to have lived in the more remote and ancient times, and to be recorded in golden characters in a certain Edition: current; Page: [85] country called Panchon, with which notwithstanding never any man, either Barbarian or Grecian, had the good fortune to meet, except Euhemerus alone, who (it seems) sailed to the land of the Panchoans and Triphyllians, that neither have nor ever had a being.

24. And although the actions of Semiramis are sung among the Assyrians as very great, and likewise those of Sesostris in Egypt, and the Phrygians to this very day style all illustrious and strange actions manic, because Manis, one of their ancient kings (whom some call Masdes) was a brave and mighty person; and although Cyrus enlarged the empire of the Persians, and Alexander that of the Macedonians, within a little matter of the world’s end; yet have they still retained the names and memorials of gallant princes. And if some, puffed up with excessive vain-glory (as Plato speaks), having their minds enflamed at once with both youthful blood and folly, have with an unruly extravagancy taken upon them the style of Gods and had temples erected in their honor, yet this opinion of them flourished but for a short season, and they afterwards underwent the blame of great vanity and arrogancy, conjoined with the highest impiety and wickedness; and so,

Like smoke they flew away with swift-paced Fate;*

and being dragged away from the altars like fugitive slaves, they have now nothing left them but their tombs and graves. Which made Antigonus the Elder, when one Hermodotus had in his poems declared him to be son to the Sun and a God, to say to him: Friend, he that empties my close-stool-pan knows no such matter of me. And Lysippus the carver had good reason to quarrel with the painter Apelles for drawing Alexander’s picture with a thunder-bolt in his hand, whereas himself had made him but with a spear, which (he said) was natural and proper for him, Edition: current; Page: [86] and a weapon the glory of which no time would rob him of.

25. Therefore they maintain the wiser opinion, who hold that the things here storied of Typhon, Osiris, and Isis were not the events of Gods, nor yet of men, but of certain grand Daemons, whom Plato, Pythagoras, Xenocrates, and Chrysippus (following herein the opinion of the most ancient theologists) affirm to be of greater strength than men, and to transcend our nature by much in power, but not to have a divine part pure and unmixed, but such as participates of both the soul’s nature and the body’s sensation, capable of receiving both pleasure and pain, and all the passions that attend these mutations, which disorder some of them more and others of them less. For there are divers degrees both of virtue and vice, as among men, so also among Daemons. For what they sing about among the Greeks, concerning the Giants and the Titans, and of certain horrible actions of Saturn, as also of Python’s combats with Apollo, of the flights of Bacchus, and the ramblings of Ceres, come nothing short of the relations about Osiris and Typhon and others such, which everybody may lawfully and freely hear as they are told in the mythology. The like may be also said of those things that, being veiled over in the mystic rites and sacred ceremonies of initiation, are therefore kept private from the sight and hearing of the common sort.

26. We also hear Homer often calling such as are extraordinary good “Godlike,” and “God’s compeers,” and “gifted with wisdom by the Gods.”* But the epithet derived from Daemons we find him to bestow upon the good and bad indifferently, as,

“Daemon-like sir, make haste, why do you fear the Argives thus?”

And then on the contrary,

“When the fourth time he rushed on like a Daemon;”

Edition: current; Page: [87]

and again where Jupiter speaks thus to Juno:

  • Daemonial dame, what hath poor Priam done
  • To anger you so much, or what his sons,
  • That you resolve fair Ilium’s overthrow,
  • And your revengeful purpose won’t forego?

where he seems to make Daemons to be of a mixed and unequal temper and inclination. Whence it is that Plato assigns to the Olympic Gods dexter things and odd numbers, and the opposite to these to Daemons. And Xenocrates also is of opinion, that such days as are commonly accounted unlucky, and those holy days in which are used scourgings, beatings of breasts, fastings, uncouth words, or obscene speeches, do not appertain to the honor of Gods or of good Daemons; but he thinks there are in the air, that environs us about, certain great and mighty natures, but withal morose and tetrical ones, that take pleasure in such things as these, and if they have them, they do no farther mischief. On the other side, the beneficent ones are styled by Hesiod “Holy Daemons,” and “Guardians of Mankind,” and,

Givers of wealth, this royal gift they have.*

And Plato calls this sort the interpreting and ministering kind, and saith, they are in a middle place betwixt the Gods and men, and that they carry up men’s prayers and addresses thither, and bring from thence hither prophetic answers and distributions of good things. Empedocles saith also that Daemons undergo severe punishments for their evil deeds and misdemeanors:—

  • The force of air them to the sea pursues;
  • The sea again upon the land them spews;
  • From land to th’ sun’s unwearied beams they’re hurled,
  • Thence far into the realm of aether whirled,
  • Received by each in turn, by all abhorred;

until, being thus chastened and purified, they are again admitted to that region and order that suits their nature.

Edition: current; Page: [88]

27. Now such things and such like things as these they tell us are here meant concerning Typhon; how he, moved with envy and spite, perpetrated most wicked and horrible things, and putting all things into confusion, filled both land and sea with infinite calamities and evils, and afterwards suffered for it condign punishment. But now the avenger of Osiris, who was both his sister and wife, having extinguished and put an end to the rage and madness of Typhon, did not forget the many contests and difficulties she had encountered withal, nor her wanderings and travels to and fro, so far as to commit her many acts both of wisdom and courage to utter oblivion and silence; but she mixed them with their most sacred rites of initiation, and together consecrated them as resemblances, dark hints, and imitations of her former sufferings, both as an example and an encouragement of piety for all men and women that should hereafter fall under the like hard circumstances and distresses. And now both herself and Osiris being for their virtue changed from good Daemons into Gods, as were Hercules and Bacchus after them, they have (and not without just grounds) the honors of both Gods and Daemons joined together, their power being indeed everywhere great, but yet more especial and eminent in things upon and under the earth. For Serapis they say is no other than Pluto, and Isis the same with Proserpine; as Archemachus of Euboea informs us, as also Heraclides of Pontus, who delivers it as his opinion that the oracle at Canopus appertains to Pluto.

28. Besides, Ptolemaeus Soter saw in a dream the colossus of Pluto that stood at Sinope (although he knew it not, nor had ever seen what shape it was of) calling upon him, and bidding him to convey it speedily away to Alexandria. And as he was ignorant and at a great loss where it should be found, and was telling his dream to his familiars, there was found by chance a certain fellow that had been a Edition: current; Page: [89] general rambler in all parts (his name was Sosibius), who affirmed he had seen at Sinope such a colossus as the king had dreamt of. He therefore sent Soteles and Bacchus thither, who in a long time and with much difficulty, and not without the special help of a Divine Providence, stole it away and brought it to Alexandria. When therefore it was conveyed thither and viewed, Timothy the expositor and Manetho the Sebennite, concluding from the Cerberus and serpent that stood by it that it must be the statue of Pluto, persuaded Ptolemy it could appertain to no other God but Serapis; for he had not this name when he came from thence, but after he was removed to Alexandria, he acquired the name of Serapis, which is the Egyptian for Pluto. And when Heraclitus the physiologist saith, Pluto and Bacchus are one and the same, in whose honor men are mad and rave, we are thus led to the same doctrine. For those that will needs have Pluto to be the body, the soul being as it were distracted and drunken in it, do in my opinion make use of an over fine and subtle allegory. It is therefore better to make Osiris to be the same with Bacchus, and Serapis again with Osiris, he obtaining that appellation since the change of his nature. For which reason Serapis is a common God to all, as they who participate of divine matters best understand.

29. For there is no reason we should attend to the writings of the Phrygians, which say that one Charopos was daughter to Hercules, and that Typhon was son to Isaeacus, son of Hercules; no more than we have not to contemn Phylarchus, when he writes that Bacchus first brought two bullocks out of India into Egypt, and that the name of the one was Apis, and the other Osiris; but that Serapis is the name of him who orders the universe, from σαίϱειν, which some use for beautifying and setting forth. For these sentiments of Phylarchus’s are very foolish and absurd; but theirs are much more so who affirm Serapis to Edition: current; Page: [90] be no God at all, but only the name of the chest in which Apis lies; and that there are at Memphis certain great gates of copper, called the gates of oblivion and lamentation, which, being opened when they bury the Apis, make a doleful and hideous noise; which (say they) is the reason that, when we hear any sort of copper instrument sounding, we are presently startled and seized with fear. But they judge more discreetly who suppose his name to be derived from σεύεσθαι or σοῦσθαι (which signifies to be borne along) and so make it to mean, that the motion of the universe is hurried and borne along violently. But the greatest part of the priests do say that Osiris and Apis are both of them but one complex being, while they tell us in their sacred commentaries and sermons that we are to look upon the Apis as the beautiful image of the soul of Osiris. I, for my part, do believe that, if the name of Serapis be Egyptian, it may not improperly denote joy and merriment, because I find the Egyptians term the festival which we call merry-making in their language sairei. Besides, I find Plato to be of opinion, that Pluto is called Hades because he is the son of Αἰδώ (which is Modesty) and because he is a gentle God to such as are conversant with him. And as among the Egyptians there are a great many other names that are also definitions of the things they express, so they call that place whither they believe men’s souls to go after death, Amenthes, which signifies in their language the receiver and the giver. But whether this be one of those names that have been anciently brought over and transplanted out of Greece into Egypt, we shall consider some other time; but at present we must hasten to despatch the remaining parts of the opinion here handled.

30. Osiris therefore and Isis passed from the number of good Daemons into that of Gods; but the power of Typhon being much obscured and weakened, and himself besides in great dejection of mind and in agony and, as it were, at Edition: current; Page: [91] the last gasp, they therefore one while use certain sacrifices to comfort and appease his mind, and another while again have certain solemnities wherein they abase and affront him, both by mishandling and abusing such men as they find to have red hair, and by breaking the neck of an ass down a precipice (as do the Coptites), because Typhon was red-haired and of the ass’s complexion. Moreover, those of Busiris and Lycopolis never make any use of trumpets, because they give a sound like that of asses. And they altogether esteem the ass as an animal not clean but daemoniac, because of its resemblance to Typhon; and when they make cakes at their sacrifices upon the months of Payni and Phaophi, they impress upon them an ass bound. Also, when they do their sacrifices to the Sun, they enjoin such as perform worship to that God neither to wear gold nor to give fodder to an ass. It is also most apparent that the Pythagoreans look upon Typhon as a daemoniac power; for they say he was produced in an even proportion of numbers, to wit, in that of fifty-six. And again, they say that the property of the triangle appertains to Pluto, Bacchus, and Mars; of the quadrangle to Rhea, Venus, Ceres, Vesta, and Juno; of the figure of twelve angles to Jupiter; and of the figure of fifty-six angles to Typhon; — as Eudoxus relates.

31. And because the Egyptians are of opinion that Typhon was born of a red complexion, they are therefore used to devote to him such of the neat kind as they find to be of a red color; and their observation herein is so very nice and strict that, if they perceive the beast to have but one hair about it that is either black or white, they account it unfit for sacrifice. For they hold that what is fit to be made a sacrifice must not be of a thing agreeable to the Gods, but contrariwise, such things as contain the souls of ungodly and wicked men transformed into their shapes. Wherefore in the more ancient times they were Edition: current; Page: [92] wont, after they had pronounced a solemn curse upon the head of the sacrifice, and had cut it off, to fling it into the river Nile; but now they distribute it among strangers. Those also among the priests that were termed Sphragistae or Sealers were wont to seal the beast that was to be offered; and the engraving of their seal was (as Castor tells us) a man upon his knees with his hands tied behind him, and a knife set under his throat. They believe, moreover, that the ass suffers for being like him (as hath been already spoken of), as much for the stupidity and sensualness of his disposition as for the redness of his color. Wherefore, because of all the Persian monarchs they had the greatest aversion for Ochus, as looking upon him as a villanous and abominable person, they gave him the nickname of the ass; upon which he replied: But this ass shall dine upon your ox. And so he slaughtered the Apis, as Dinon relates to us in his history. As for those that tell us that Typhon was seven days flying from the battle upon the back of an ass, and having narrowly escaped with his life, afterwards begat two sons called Hierosolymus and Judaeus, they are manifestly attempting, as is shown by the very matter, to wrest into this fable the relations of the Jews.

32. And so much for the allegories and secret meanings which this head affords us. And now we begin at another head, which is the account of those who seem to offer at something more philosophical; and of these we will first consider the more simple and plain sort. And they are those that tell us that, as the Greeks are used to allegorize Kronos (or Saturn) into chronos (time), and Hera (or Juno) into aer (air) and also to resolve the generation of Vulcan into the change of air into fire, so also among the Egyptians, Osiris is the river Nile, who accompanies with Isis, which is the earth; and Typhon is the sea, into which the Nile falling is thereby destroyed and scattered, excepting Edition: current; Page: [93] only that part of it which the earth receives and drinks up, by means whereof she becomes prolific. There is also a kind of a sacred lamentation used to Saturn, wherein they bemoan him “who was born in the left side of the world, and died in the right.” For the Egyptians believe the eastern part to be the world’s face, and the northern its right hand, and the southern its left. And therefore the river Nile, holding its course from the southern parts towards the northern, may justly be said to have its birth in the left side and its death in the right; for which reason, the priests account the sea abominable, and call salt Typhon’s foam. And it is one of the things they look upon as unlawful and prohibited to them, to use salt at their tables. And they use not to salute any pilots, because they have to do with the sea. And this is not the least reason of their so great aversedness to fish. They also make the picture of a fish to denote hatred. And therefore at the temple of Minerva at Sais there was carved in the porch an infant and an old man, and after them a hawk, and then a fish, and after all a hippopotamus, which, in a symbolical manner, contained this sentence: O! ye that are born and that die, God hateth impudence. From whence it is plain, that by a child and an old man they express our being born and our dying; by a hawk, God; by a fish, hatred (by reason of the sea, as hath been before spoken); and by a river-horse, impudence, because (as they say) he killeth his sire and forceth his dam. That also which the Pythagoreans are used to say, that the sea is the tear of Saturn, may seem to hint out to us that it is not pure nor congenial with our race.

33. These then are the things that may be uttered without doors and in public, they containing nothing but matters of common cognizance. But now the most learned and reserved of the priests do not term the Nile only Osiris, and the sea Typhon; but in general, the whole principle Edition: current; Page: [94] and faculty of rendering moist they call Osiris, as believing it to be the cause of generation and the very substance of the seminal moisture. And on the other hand, whatever is a-dust, fiery, or any way drying and repugnant to wet, they call Typhon. And therefore, because they believe he was of a red and sallow color when he was born, they do not greatly care to meet with men of such looks nor willingly converse with them. On the other side again they report that Osiris, when he was born, was of a black complexion, because that all water renders earth, clothes, and clouds black, when mixed with them; and the moisture also that is in young persons makes their hair black; but grayness, like a sort of paleness, comes up through over much draught upon such as are now past their vigor and begin to decline in years. In like manner, the spring time is gay, fecund, and very agreeable; but the autumn, through defect of moisture, is both destructive to plants and sickly to men. Moreover the ox called Mnevis, which is kept at Heliopolis (and is sacred to Osiris, and judged by some to be the sire of Apis), is of a coal-black color, and is honored in the second place after Apis. To which we may add, that they call Egypt (which is one of the blackest soils in the world) as they do the black part of the eye, Chemia. They also liken it to the heart, by reason of its great warmth and moisture, and because it is mostly enclosed by and removed towards the left (that is, the southern) part of the earth, as the heart is with respect to a man’s body.

34. They believe also that the sun and moon do not go in chariots, but sail about the world perpetually in certain boats; hinting hereby at their feeding upon and springing first out of moisture. They are likewise of the opinion that Homer (as well as Thales) had been instructed by the Egyptians, which made him affirm water to be the spring and first original of all things; for that Oceanus Edition: current; Page: [95] is the same with Osiris, and Tethys with Isis, so named from τίτθη, a nurse, because she is the mother and nurse of all things. For the Grecians call the emission of the genital humor ἀπουσία, and carnal knowledge συνουσία: they also call a son υἱός, from ὕδωϱ, water, and ὗσαι, to wet; and likewise Bacchus ὕης, the wetter, they looking upon him as the lord of the humid nature, he being no other than Osiris. For Hellanicus hath set him down Hysiris, affirming that he heard him so pronounced by the priests; for so he hath written the name of this God all along in his history, and that, in my opinion, not without good reason, derived as well from his nature as his invention.

35. And that therefore he is one and the same with Bacchus, who should better know than yourself, Dame Clea, who are not only president of the Delphic prophetesses, but have been also, in right of both your parents, devoted to the Osiriac rites? And if, for the sake of others, we shall think ourselves obliged to lay down testimonies for the proof of our present assertion, we shall notwithstanding remit those secrets that must not be revealed to their proper place. But now the things which the priests do publicly at the interment of the Apis, when they carry his body on a raft to be buried, do nothing differ from the procession of Bacchus. For they hang about them the skins of hinds, and carry branches in their hands, and use the same kind of shoutings and gesticulations that the ecstatics do at the inspired dances of Bacchus. For which reason also many of the Greeks make statues of Dionysos Tauromorphos (or Bacchus in the form of a bull). And the Elean women, in their ordinary form of prayer, beseech the God to come to them with his ox’s foot. The Argives also have a Bacchus named Bougenes (or ox-gotten); and they call him up out of the waters by sounding of trumpets, flinging a young lamb into the abyss for him that keeps the door there; and these trumpets Edition: current; Page: [96] they hide within their thyrsi (or green boughs), as Socrates, in his Treatise of Rituals, relates. Likewise the tales about the Titans, and what they call the Mystic Night, have a strange agreement with what they tell us of the discerptions, resurrections, and regenerations of Osiris; as also what relates to their sepulchres. For not only the Egyptians (as hath been already spoken) do show in many several places the chests in which Osiris lies; but the Delphians also believe that the relics of Bacchus are laid up with them just by the oracle-place; and the Hosii (or holy men) perform a secret sacrifice within the temple of Apollo, when the Thyiades rouse the God of the fan (as they call him). Now that the Greeks do not esteem Bacchus as the lord and president of wine only, but also of the whole humid nature, Pindar alone is a sufficient witness, when he saith,

  • May joyous Bacchus send increase of fruit,
  • The chaste autumnal light, to all my trees.

For which cause it is forbidden to such as worship Osiris, either to destroy a fruit-tree or to stop up a well.

36. And they call not only the Nile, but in general every humid, the efflux of Osiris. And a pitcher of water goes always first in their sacred processions, in honor of the God. And they make the figure of a figleaf both for the king and the southern climate, which figleaf is interpreted to mean the watering and fructifying of the universe, for it seems to bear some resemblance in its make to the virilities of a man. Moreover, when they keep the feast of the Pamylia, which is a Phallic or Priapeian one (as was said before), they expose to view and carry about a certain image of a man with a threefold privity; for this God is a first origin, and every first origin doth by its fecundity multiply what proceeds from it. And we are commonly used instead of “many times” to say “thrice,” as “thrice happy,” and,

Edition: current; Page: [97]

As many bonds thrice told, and infinite.*

Unless (by Jove) we are to understand the word treble as spoken by the ancients in a proper sense. For the humid nature, being in the beginning the chief source and origin of the universe, must of consequence produce the three first bodies, — the earth, air, and fire. For the story which is here told by way of surplusage to the tale — how that Typhon threw the privity of Osiris into the river, and that Isis could not find it, and therefore fashioned and prepared the resemblance and effigies of it, and appointed it to be worshipped and carried about in their processions, like as in the Grecian Phallephoria — amounts but to this, to instruct and teach us that the prolific and generative property of this God had moisture for its first matter, and that by means of moisture it came to immix itself with things capable of generation. We have also another story told us by the Egyptians, — how that once Apopis, brother to the Sun, fell at variance with Jupiter and made war upon him; but Jupiter, entering into an alliance with Osiris and by his means overthrowing his enemy in a pitched battle, afterwards adopted him for his son and gave him the name of Dionysus. It is easy to show that this fabular relation borders also upon the verity of physical science. For the Egyptians call the wind Jupiter, with which the parching and fiery property makes war; and though this be not the sun, yet hath it some cognation with the sun. But now moisture, extinguishing the excessiveness of drought, increases and strengthens the exhalations of wet, which give food and vigor to the air.

37. Moreover, the ivy, which the Greeks use to consecrate to Bacchus, is called by the Egyptians chenosiris, which word (as they tell us) signifies in their language Osiris’s tree. Ariston therefore, who wrote of the colony of the Athenians, lighted upon a certain epistle of Alexarchus, Edition: current; Page: [98] in which it is related that Bacchus, the son of Jupiter and Isis, is not called Osiris by the Egyptians, but Arsaphes, which denotes valiant. This is hinted at by Hermaeus also, in his first book about the Egyptians; for he saith, the name of Osiris is to be interpreted stout. I shall now pass by Mnaseas, who joins Bacchus, Osiris, and Serapis together, and makes them the same with Epaphus. I shall also omit Anticlides, who saith that Isis was the daughter of Prometheus, and that she was married to Bacchus. For the fore-mentioned proprieties of their festivals and sacrifices afford us a much more clear evidence than the authorities of writers.

38. They believe likewise that of all the stars, the Sirius (or Dog) is proper to Isis, because it bringeth on the flowing of the Nile. They also pay divine honor to the lion, and adorn the gates of their temples with the yawning mouths of lions, because the Nile then overflows its banks,

When first the mounting sun the Lion meets.*

And as they term the Nile the efflux of Osiris, so they hold and esteem the earth for the body of Isis; and not all of it either, but that part only which the Nile, as it were, leaps over, and thereby impregnates and mixes with it. And by this amorous congress they produce Horus. Now this Horus is that Hora, or sweet season and just temperament of the ambient air, which nourisheth and preserveth all things; and they report him to have been nursed by Latona in the marshy grounds about Buto, because moist and watery land best feeds those exhaled vapors which quench and relax drought and parching heat. But those parts of the country which are outmost and upon the confines and sea-coast they call Nephthys; and therefore they give her the name of Teleutaea (or the outmost) and report her to be married to Typhon. When therefore the Nile Edition: current; Page: [99] is excessive great, and so far passes its ordinary bounds that it approaches to those that inhabit the outmost quarters, they call this Osiris’s accompanying with Nephthys, found out by the springing up of plants thereupon, whereof the melilot is one; which (as the story tells us), being dropped behind and left there, gave Typhon to understand the wrong that had been done to his bed. Which made them say that Isis had a lawful son called Horus, and Nephthys a bastard called Anubis. And indeed they record in the successions of their kings, that Nephthys being married to Typhon was at first barren. Now if they do not mean this of a woman but of a Goddess, they must needs hint that the earth, by reason of its solidity, is in its own nature unfruitful and barren.

39. And the conspiracy and usurpation of Typhon will be the power of the drought, which then prevails and dissipates that generative moisture which both begets the Nile and increases it. And the queen of Ethiopia, that abetted his quarrel, will denote the southern winds that come from Ethiopia. For when these come to overpower the Etesian (or anniversary) winds which drive the clouds towards Ethiopia, and by that means prevent those showers of rain which should augment the Nile from discharging themselves down, Typhon then being rampant scorcheth all, and being wholly master of the Nile, which now through weakness and debility draws in its head and takes a contrary course, he next thrusts him hollow and sunk as he is into the sea. For the story that is told us of the closing up of Osiris in a chest seems to me to be nothing else but an imitation of the withdrawing and disappearing of the water. For which reason they tell us that Osiris was missing upon the month of Athyr; at which time the Etesian winds being wholly ceased, the Nile returns to his channel, and the country looks bare; the night also growing longer, the darkness increases, and so the power of light fades Edition: current; Page: [100] away and is overcome. And as the priests act several other melancholy things upon this occasion, so they cover a gilded cow with a black linen pall, and thus expose her to public view at the mourning of the Goddess, for four days together, beginning at the seventeenth of the month. For the things they mourn for are also four; the first whereof is the falling and recess of the river Nile; the second, because the northern winds are then quite suppressed by the southern overpowering them; the third, because the day is grown shorter than the night; and the last and chiefest of all, the barrenness of the earth, together with the nakedness of the trees, which then cast their leaves. And on the nineteenth day at night they go down to the sea-side, and the priest and sacred livery bring forth the chest, having within it a little golden ark into which they pour fresh and potable water, and all that are there present give a great shout for joy that Osiris is now found. Then they take fertile mould, and stir it about in that water, and when they have mixed with it several very costly odors and spices, they form it into a little image, in fashion like a crescent, and then dress it up in fine clothes and adorn it, intimating hereby that they believe these Gods to be the substance of earth and water.

40. But Isis again recovering Osiris, and rearing up Horus, made strong by exhalations, mists, and clouds, Typhon was indeed reduced, but not executed; for the Goddess who is sovereign over the earth would not suffer the opposite nature to wet to be utterly extinguished, but loosed it and let it go, being desirous the mixture should continue. For it would be impossible for the world to be complete and perfect, if the property of fire should fail and be wanting. And as these things are not spoken by them without a considerable show of reason, so neither have we reason wholly to contemn this other account which they give us; which is, that Typhon in the more ancient Edition: current; Page: [101] times was master of Osiris’s portion. For (say they) Egypt was once all sea. For which reason it is found at this day to have abundance of fish-shells, both in its mines and on its mountains. And besides that, all the springs and wells (which in that country are extreme numerous) have in them a salt and brackish water, as if some remainder of the ancient sea had run thither, to be laid up in store. But in process of time, Horus got the upper hand of Typhon; that is, there happened such an opportunity of sudden and tempestuous showers of rain, that the Nile pushed the sea out, and discovered the champaign land, and afterwards filled it up with continual profusions of mud; all which hath the testimony of sense to confirm it. For we see at this day that, as the river drives down fresh mud and lays new earth unto the old, the sea by degrees gives back and the salt water runs off, as the parts in the bottom gain height by new accessions of mud. We see, moreover, that the Pharos, which Homer observed in his time to be a whole day’s sail from Egypt, is now a part of it; not because it changed its place or came nearer the shore than before, but because, the river still adding to and increasing the main land, the intermediate sea was obliged to retire.

To speak the truth, these things are not far unlike the explications which the Stoics used to give of the Gods. For they also say that the generative and nutritive property of the air is called Bacchus; the striking and dividing property, Hercules; the receptive property, Ammon; that which passes through the earth and fruits, Ceres and Proserpine; and that which passes through the sea, Neptune.

41. But those who join with these physiological accounts certain mathematical matters relating to astronomy suppose Typhon to mean the world of the sun, and Osiris that of the moon; for that the moon, being endued with a prolific and moistening light, is very favorable both to the Edition: current; Page: [102] breeding of animals and the springing up of plants; but the sun, having in it an immoderate and excessive fire, burns and dries up such things as grow up and look green, and by its scorching heat renders a great part of the world wholly uninhabitable, and very often gets the better of the moon. For which reason the Egyptians always call Typhon Seth, which in their language signifies a domineering and compelling power. And they tell us in their mythology, that Hercules is placed in the sun and rides about the world in it, and that Hermes doth the like in the moon. For the operations of the moon seem to resemble reason and to proceed from wisdom, but those of the sun to be like unto strokes effected by violence and mere strength. But the Stoics affirm the sun to be kindled and fed by the sea, and the moon by the waters of springs and pools, which send up a sweet and soft exhalation to it.

42. It is fabled by the Egyptians that Osiris’s death happened upon the seventeenth day of the mouth, at which time it is evident that the moon is at the fullest. For which reason the Pythagoreans call that day Antiphraxis (or disjunction) and utterly abominate the very number. For the middle number seventeen, falling in betwixt the square number sixteen and the oblong parallelogram eighteen (which are the only plane numbers that have their peripheries equal with their areas), disjoins and separates them from each other; and being divided into unequal portions, it makes the sesquioctave proportion (9: 8). Moreover, there are some that affirm Osiris to have lived eight and twenty years; and others again, that he only reigned so long, for that is the just number of the moon’s degrees of light and of the days wherein she performs her circuit. And after they have cleft the tree, at the solemnity they call Osiris’s Burial, they next form it into an ark in fashion like a crescent, because the moon, when it joins the sun, becomes first of that figure and Edition: current; Page: [103] then vanishes away. Likewise the division of Osiris into fourteen parts sets forth unto us symbolically the number of days in which that luminary is decreasing, from the full to the change. Moreover, the day upon which she first appears, after she hath now escaped the solar rays and passed by the sun, they term “imperfect good;” for Osiris is beneficient, and as this name hath many other significations, so what they call “effectuating and beneficent force” is none of the least. Hermaeus also tells us, that his other name of Omphis, when interpreted, denotes a benefactor.

43. They moreover believe that the several risings of the river Nile bear a certain proportion to the variations of light in the moon. For they say that its highest rise, which is at Elephantine, is eight and twenty cubits high, which is the number of its several lights and the measures of its monthly course; and that at Mendes and Xois, which is the lowest of all, it is six cubits high, which answers the half-moon; but that the middlemost rise, which is at Memphis, is (when it is at its just height) fourteen cubits high, which answers the full moon. They also say that the Apis is the living image of Osiris, and that he is begotten when a prolific light darts down from the moon and touches the cow when she is disposed for procreation; for which reason many things in the Apis bear resemblance to the shapes of the moon, it having light colors intermixed with shady ones. Moreover, upon the kalends of the month Phamenoth they keep a certain holiday, by them called Osiris’s ascent into the moon, and they account it the beginning of their spring. Thus they place the power of Osiris in the moon, and affirm him to be there married with Isis. which is generation. For which cause they style the moon the mother of the world, and believe her to have the nature both of male and female, because she is first filled and impregnated by the sun, and then herself sends forth generative principles into the air, and from thence scatters Edition: current; Page: [104] them down upon the earth. For that Typhonian destruction doth not always prevail; but it is very often subdued by generation and fast bound like a prisoner, but afterwards gets up again and makes war upon Horus. Now this Horus is the terrestrial world, which is not wholly exempted from either generation or destruction.

44. But there are some that will have this tale to be a figurative representation of the eclipses. For the moon is under an eclipse at the full, when the sun is in opposition to her, because she then falls into the shadow of the earth, as they say Osiris did into his chest. But she hides and obscures the sun at the new moon, upon the thirtieth day of the month, but doth not extinguish the sun quite, any more than Isis did Typhon. And when Nephthys was delivered of Anubis, Isis owned the child. For Nephthys is that part of the world which is below the earth, and invisible to us; and Isis that which is above the earth, and visible. But that which touches upon both these, and is called the horizon (or bounding circle) and is common to them both, is called Anubis, and resembles in shape the dog, because the dog makes use of his sight by night as well as by day. And therefore Anubis seems to me to have a power among the Egyptians much like to that of Hecate among the Grecians, he being as well terrestrial as Olympic. Some again think Anubis to be Saturn; wherefore, they say, because he produces all things out of himself and breeds them in himself, he had the name of Kyon (which signifies in Greek both a dog and a breeder) Moreover, those that worship the dog have a certain secret meaning that must not be here revealed. And in the more remote and ancient times, the dog had the highest honor paid him in Egypt; but after that Cambyses had slain the Apis and thrown him away contemptuously like a carrion, no animal came near to him except the dog only; upon this he lost his first honor and the right he had of being Edition: current; Page: [105] worshipped above other creatures. There are also some that will have the shadow of the earth, into which they believe the moon to fall when eclipsed, to be called Typhon.

45. Wherefore it seems to me not to be unconsonant to reason to hold that each of them apart is not in the right, but all together are. For it is not drought, nor wind, nor sea, nor darkness, but every part of Nature that is hurtful or destructive, that belongs to Typhon. For we are not to place the first origins of the universe in inanimate bodies, as do Democritus and Epicurus; nor to make one reason, and one forecast overruling and containing all things, the creator of matter without attribute, as the Stoics do; for it is alike impossible for any thing bad to exist where God is the cause of all things, and for any thing good to exist where he is the cause of nothing. For the harmony of the world is (according to Heraclitus) like that of a bow or a harp, alternately tightened and relaxed; and according to Euripides,

  • Nor good nor bad here’s to be found apart;
  • But both immixed in one, for greater art.*

And therefore this most ancient opinion hath been handed down from the theologists and law-givers to the poets and philosophers, it having an original fathered upon none, but having gained a persuasion both strong and indelible, and being everywhere professed and received by barbarians as well as Grecians, — and that not only in vulgar discourses and public fame, but also in their secret mysteries and open sacrifices, — that the world is neither hurried about by wild chance without intelligence, discourse, and direction, nor yet that there is but one reason, which as it were with a rudder or with gentle and easy reins directs it and holds it in; but that on the contrary, there are in it several differing things, and those made up of bad as well as good; Edition: current; Page: [106] or rather (to speak more plainly) that Nature produces nothing here but what is mixed and tempered. Not that there is as it were one store-keeper, who out of two different casks dispenses to us human affairs adulterated and mixed together,* as a host doth his liquors; but by reason of two contrary origins and opposite powers — whereof the one leads to the right hand and in a direct line, and the other turns to the contrary hand and goes athwart — both human life is mixed, and the world (if not all, yet that part which is about the earth and below the moon) is become very unequal and various, and liable to all manner of changes. For if nothing can come without a cause, and if a good thing cannot afford a cause of evil, Nature then must certainly have a peculiar source and origin of evil as well as of good.

46. And this is the opinion of the greatest and wisest part of mankind. For some believe that there are two Gods, as it were two rival workmen, the one whereof they make to be the maker of good things, and the other of bad. And some call the better of these God, and the other Daemon; as doth Zoroaster the Magian whom they report to be five thousand years elder than the Trojan times. This Zoroaster now called the one of these Horomazes, and the other Arimanius; and affirmed, moreover, that the one of them did, of any thing sensible, the most resemble light, and the other darkness and ignorance; but that Mithras was in the middle betwixt them. For which cause the Persians call Mithras the Mediator. And they tell us, that he first taught mankind to make vows and offerings of thanksgiving to the one, and to offer averting and feral sacrifice to the other. For they beat a certain plant called omomi in a mortar, and call upon Pluto and the dark; and then mix it with the blood of a sacrificed wolf, and convey Edition: current; Page: [107] it to a certain place where the sun never shines, and there cast it away. For of plants they believe that some appeartain to the good God, and others again to the evil Daemon; and likewise they think that such animals as dogs, fowls, and urchins belong to the good, but water animals to the bad, for which reason they account him happy that kills most of these.

47. These men moreover tell us a great many romantic things about these Gods, whereof these are some. They say that, Horomazes springing from purest light, and Arimanius on the other hand from pitchy darkness, these two are therefore at war with one another; and that Horomazes made six Gods, whereof the first was the author of benevolence, the second of truth, the third of law and order; and the rest, one of wisdom, another of wealth, and a third of that pleasure which accrues from good actions; and that Arimanius likewise made the like number of contrary Gods to confront them. After this, Horomazes, having first trebled his own magnitude, mounted up aloft, as far above the sun as the sun itself above the earth, and so bespangled the heavens with stars. But one star (called Sirius, or the Dog) he set as a kind of sentinel or scout before all the rest. And after he had made four and twenty Gods more, he placed them all in an egg-shell. But those that were made by Arimanius (being themselves also of the like number) breaking a hole in this beauteous and glazed egg-shell, bad things came by this means to be intermixed with good. But the fatal time is now approaching, in which Arimanius, who by means of this brings plagues and famines upon the earth, must of necessity be himself utterly extinguished and destroyed; at which time, the earth being made plain and level, there will be one life and one society of mankind, made all happy and of one speech. But Theopompus saith, that, according to the opinion of the Magi, each of these Gods subdues and Edition: current; Page: [108] is subdued by turns for the space of three thousand years apiece, and that for three thousand years more they quarrel and fight, and destroy each other’s works; but that at last Pluto shall fail, and mankind shall be happy, and neither need food nor yield a shadow. And that the God who has projected these things shall then for some time take his repose and rest; but yet this time is not so much to him, although it seem so to man, whose sleep is but short.

48. Such then is the mythology of the Magi. But the Chaldaeans say, there are Gods of the planets also, two whereof they style benefics, and two malefics; the other three they pronounce to be common and indifferent. As for the Grecians, their opinions are obvious and well known to every one; to wit, that they make the good part of the world to appertain to Jupiter Olympius, and the hateful part to Pluto; and likewise, that they fable Harmonia to have been begotten by Venus and Mars, the one whereof is rough and quarrelsome, and the other sweet and generative. In the next place consider we the great agreement of the philosophers with these people. For Heraclitus doth in plain and naked terms call war the father, the king, and the lord of all things; and saith that Homer, when he first prayed,

Discord be damned from Gods and human race,*

little thought he was then cursing the origination of all things, they owing their rise to aversation and quarrel. He also saith, that the sun will never exceed his proper bounds; and if he should, that

Tongues, aids of justice, soon will find him out.

Empedocles also calls the benefic principle love and friendship, and very often sweet-looked harmony; and the evil principle

Pernicious enmity and bloody hate.

Edition: current; Page: [109]

The Pythagoreans use a great number of terms as attributes of these two principles; of the good, they use the unit, the terminate, the permanent, the straight, the odd, the square, the equal, the dexter, and the lucid; and again of the bad, the two, the interminate, the fluent, the crooked, the even, the oblong, the unequal, the sinister, and the dark; insomuch that all these are looked upon as principles of generation. But Anaxagoras made but two, the intelligence and the interminate; and Aristotle called the first of these form, and the latter privation. But Plato in many places, as it were shading and veiling over his opinion, names the first of these opposite principles the Same, and the second the Other. But in his book of Laws, when he was now grown old, he affirmed, not in riddles and emblems but in plain and proper words, that the world is not moved by one soul, but perhaps by a great many, but not by fewer than two; the one of which is beneficent, and the other contrary to it and the author of things contrary. He also leaves a certain third nature in the midst between, which is neither without soul nor without reason, nor void of a self-moving power (as some suppose), but rests upon both of the preceding principles, but yet so as still to affect, desire, and pursue the better of them; as I shall make out in the ensuing part of this discourse, in which I design to reconcile the theology of the Egyptians principally with this sort of philosophy.

49. For the frame and constitution of this world is made up of contrary powers, but yet such as are not of such equal strength but that the better is still predominant. But it is impossible for the ill one to be quite extinguished, because much of it is interwoven with the body and much with the soul of the universe, and it always maintains a fierce combat with the better part. And therefore in the soul, intellect and reason, which is the prince and master of all the best things, is Osiris; and in the earth, in the Edition: current; Page: [110] winds, in the waters, in the heaven, and in the stars, what is ranged, fixed, and in a sound constitution (as orderly seasons, due temperament of air, and the revolutions of the stars) is the efflux and appearing image of Osiris. Again, the passionate, Titanic, irrational, and brutal part of the soul is Typhon; and what in the corporeal nature is adventitious, morbid, and tumultuous (as irregular seasons, distemperatures of air, eclipses of the sun, and disappearings of the moon) is, as it were, the incursions and devastations of Typhon. And the name of Seth, by which they call Typhon, declares as much; for it denotes a domineering and compelling power, and also very often an overturning, and again a leaping over. There are also some that say that Bebon was one of Typhon’s companions; but Manetho saith, Typhon himself was called Bebon. Now that name signifies restraining and hindering; as who should say, “while all things march along in a regular course and move steadily toward their natural end, the power of Typhon stands in their way and stops them.”

50. For which reason they assign him the ass, the most brutal and sottish of all the tame beasts, and the crocodile and river-horse, the most savage and fierce of all the wild beasts. Of the ass we have spoken already. They show us at Hermopolis the statue of Typhon, which is a river-horse with a hawk on his back fighting with a serpent; where they set out Typhon by the river-horse, and by the hawk that power and principle which Typhon possesses himself of by violence, and thereupon ceases not to disturb others and to be disturbed himself by his malice. For which reason also, when they are to offer sacrifice upon the seventh day of the month Tybi, at the festival which they call the Arrival of Isis out of Phoenicia, they print the river-horse bound upon their sacred cakes. Besides this, there is a constant custom at the town of Apollo, for every one to eat some part of a crocodile; and having Edition: current; Page: [111] upon a certain set day hunted down as many of them as they are able, they kill them, and throw down their car casses before the temple. And they tell us that Typhon made his escape from Horus in the form of a crocodile; for they make all bad and noxious things — whether animals, plants or passions — to be the works, the members and the motions of Typhon.

51. On the other hand, they represent Osiris by an eye and a sceptre, the one whereof expresses forecast, and the other power. In like manner Homer, when he called the governor and monarch of all the world

Supremest Jove, and mighty Counsellor,*

seems to me to denote his imperial power by supremest, and his well-advisedness and discretion by Counsellor. They also oftentimes describe this God by a hawk, because he exceeds in quickness of sight and velocity in flying, and sustains himself with very little food. He is also said to fly over the bodies of dead men that lie unburied, and to drop down earth upon their eyes. Likewise, when he alights down upon the bank of any river to assuage his thirst, he sets his feathers up on end, and after he hath done drinking, he lets them fall again. Which he plainly doth because he is now safe and escaped from the danger of the crocodile; but if he chances to be catched, his feathers then continue stiff as before. They also show us everywhere Osiris’s statue in the shape of a man, with his private part erect, to betoken unto us his faculty of generation and nutrition; and they dress up his images in a flame-colored robe, esteeming the sun as the body of the power of good, and as the visible image of intelligible substance. Wherefore we have good reason to reject those that ascribe the sun’s globe unto Typhon, to whom appertaineth nothing of a lucid or salutary nature, nor order, nor generation, nor motion attended with measure Edition: current; Page: [112] and proportion, but the clean contrary to them. Neither is that parching drought, which destroys many animals and plants, to be accounted as an effect of the sun, but of those winds and waters which in the earth and air are not tempered according to the season, at which time the principle of the unordered and interminate nature acts at random, and so stifles and suppresses those exhalations that should ascend.

52. Moreover, in the sacred hymns of Osiris they call him up “who lies hidden in the arms of the sun.” And upon the thirtieth day of the month Epiphi they keep a certain festival called the Birthday of the eyes of Horus, when the sun and the moon are in one direct line; as esteeming not only the moon but also the sun to be the eye and light of Horus. Likewise the three and twentieth day of the month Phaophi they make to be the nativity of the staves of the sun, which they observe after the autumnal equinox, intimating hereby that he now wants, as it were, a prop and a stay, as suffering a great diminution both of heat and light by his declining and moving obliquely from us. Besides this, they lead the sacred cow seven times about her temple at the time of the winter solstice. And this going round is called the seeking of Osiris, the Goddess being in great distress for water in winter time. And the reason of her going round so many times is because the sun finishes his passage from the winter to the summer tropic in the seventh month. It is reported also that Horus, the son of Isis, was the first that ever sacrificed to the sun upon the fourth day of the month, as we find it written in a book called the Birthdays of Horus. Moreover, they offer incense to the sun three times every day; resin at his rising, myrrh when it is in the mid-heaven, and that they call Kyphi about the time of his setting. (What each of these means, I shall after wards explain.) Now they are of opinion that the sun is atoned and pacified by all these.

Edition: current; Page: [113]

But to what purpose should I heap together many things of this nature? For there are some that scruple not to say plainly that Osiris is the sun, and that he is called Sirius by the Greeks, although the Egyptians, adding the article to his name, have obscured and brought its sense into question. They also declare Isis to be no other than the moon, and say that such statues of her as are horned were made in imitation of the crescent; and that the black habit in which she so passionately pursues the sun, sets forth her disappearings and eclipses. For which reason they used to invoke the moon in love-concerns; and Eudoxus also saith that Isis presides over love-matters. Now these things have in them a show and semblance of reason; whereas they that would make Typhon to be the sun deserve not to be heard.

53. But we must again resume our proper discourse. Isis is indeed that property of Nature which is feminine and receptive of all production; in which sense she was called the nurse and the all-receiver by Plato, and the Goddess with ten thousand names by the common sort, because being transmuted by reason she receives all manner of shapes and guises. But she hath a natural love to the prime and principal of all beings (which is the good principle), and eagerly affects it and pursues after it; and she shuns and repels her part of the evil one. And although she be indeed both the receptacle and matter of either nature, yet she always of herself inclines to the better of them, and readily gives way to it to generate upon her and to sow its effluxes and resemblances into her; and she rejoices and is very glad when she is impregnated and filled with productions. For generation is the production of an image of the real substance upon matter, and what is generated is an imitation of what is in truth.

54. And therefore not without great consonancy do they fable that the soul of Osiris is eternal and incorruptible, Edition: current; Page: [114] but that his body is often torn in pieces and destroyed by Typhon, and that Isis wanders to and fro to look him out, and when she hath found him, puts him together again. For the permanent being, the mental nature, and the good, is itself above corruption and change; but the sensitive and corporeal part takes off certain images from it, and receives certain proportions, shapes, and resemblances, which, like impressions upon wax, do not continue always, but are swallowed up by the disorderly and tumultuous part, which is chased hither from the upper region and makes war with Horus, who is born of Isis, being the sensible image of the mental world. For which reason he is said to be prosecuted for bastardy by Typhon, as not being pure and sincere, — like his father, the pure absolute reason, unmixed and impassible, — but embased with matter by corporeity. But he gets the better of him, and carries the cause, Hermes (that is, reason) witnessing and proving that Nature produces the world by becoming herself of like form with the mental property. Moreover, the generation of Apollo by Isis and Osiris, while the Gods were yet in Rhea’s womb, hints out unto us that, before this world became visible and was completed by reason, matter, being convinced by Nature that she was imperfect alone, brought forth the first production. For which reason they also say, this deity was born a cripple in the dark, and they call him the elder Horus; for he was not the world, but a kind of a picture and phantom of the world to be afterwards.

55. This Horus is terminate and complete of himself, yet hath he not quite destroyed Typhon, but only taken off his over great activity and brutal force. Whence it is they tell us that at Copto the statue of Horus holds fast in hand the privities of Typhon; and they fable that Mercury took out Typhon’s sinews and used them for harp-strings, to denote unto us that, when reason composed the universe, Edition: current; Page: [115] it made one concord out of many discords, and did not abolish but accomplish* the corruptible faculty. Whence it comes that this power, being weak and feeble in the present state of things, blends and mixes with passible and mutable parts of the world, and so becomes in the earth the causer of concussions and shakings, and in the air of parching droughts and tempestuous winds, as also of hurricanes and thunders. It likewise infects both waters and winds with pestilential diseases, and runs up and insolently rages as high as the very moon, suppressing many times and blackening the lucid part, as the Egyptians believe. They relate that Typhon one while smote Horus’s eye, and another while plucked it out and swallowed it up, and afterwards gave it back to the sun; intimating by the blow the monthly diminution of the moon, and by the blinding of him its eclipse, which the sun cures again by shining presently upon it as soon as it hath escaped from the shadow of the earth.

56. Now the better and more divine nature consists of three; or of the intelligible part, of matter, and of that which is made up of both, which the Greeks call Cosmos (that is trimness) and we the world. Plato therefore uses to name the intelligible part the form, the sample, and the father; and matter the mother, the nurse, and the seat and receptacle of generation; and that again which is made up of both, the offspring and the production. And one would conjecture that the Egyptians called it the most perfect of triangles, because they likened the nature of the universe principally to that; which Plato also in his Commonwealth seems to have made use of to the same purpose, when he forms his nuptial diagram. Now in that triangle the perpendicular consists of three parts, the base of four, and the subtense of five, its square being equal in value Edition: current; Page: [116] with the squares of the two that contain it. We are therefore to take the perpendicular to represent the male property, the base the female, and the subtense that which is produced by them both. We are likewise to look upon Osiris as the first cause, Isis as the faculty of reception, and Horus as the effect. For the number three is the first odd and perfect number, and the number four is a square, having for its side the even number two. The number five also in some respects resembles the father and in some again the mother, being made up of three and two; besides, πάντα (all things) seems to be derived from πάντε (five) and they use πεμπάσασθαι (which is telling five) for counting.* Moreover, the number five makes a square equal to the number of letters used among the Egyptians, as also to the number of years which Apis lived. They are also used to call Horus Min, which signifieth as much as seen; for the world is perceptible to sense and visible. And Isis they sometimes call Muth, and sometimes again Athyri, and sometimes Methyer. And by the first of these names they mean mother, by the second Horus’s mundane house (as Plato calls it, the place and receptacle of generation); but the third is compounded of two words, the one whereof signifies full, and the other the cause; for the matter of the world is full, and it is closely joined with the good and pure and well ordered principle.

57. And it may be, Hesiod also, when he makes the first things of all to be chaos, earth, hell, and love, may be thought to take up no other principles than these, if we apply these names as we have already disposed them, to wit, that of earth to Isis, that of love to Osiris, and that of hell to Typhon; for he seems to lay the chaos under all, as a kind of room or place for the world to lie in. And the subject we are now upon seems in a manner to call for Plato’s tale, which Socrates tells us in the Symposium Edition: current; Page: [117] about the production of Eros (or Love), where he saith, that once on a time Poverty, having a mighty desire of children, laid her down by Plenty’s side as he was asleep, and that she thereupon conceiving by him brought forth Eros, who was of a nature both mixed and various, as coming of a father that was good and wise and had sufficiency of all things, but of a mother that was very needy and poor; and that by reason of her indigence she still hankered after another, and was eagerly importunate for another. For this same Plenty is no other than the first amiable, desirable, complete, and sufficient being; and matter is that which he called Poverty, she being of herself alone destitute of the property of good, but when she is impregnated by it, she still desires and craves for more. Moreover, the world (or Horus) that is produced out of these two, being not eternal, nor impassible, nor incorruptible, but ever a making, does therefore machinate, partly by shifting of accidents and partly by circular motions, to remain still young and never to die.

58. But we must remember that we are not to make use of fables as if they were doctrinal throughout, but only to take that in each of them which we shall judge to make a pertinent resemblance. And therefore, when we treat of matter, we need not (with respect to the sentiments of some philosophers) to conceit in our minds a certain body void of soul and of all quality, and of itself wholly idle and unactive. For we use to call oil the matter of an unguent, and gold the matter of a statue, though they are not destitute of all quality. And we render the very soul and mind of a man as matter to reason, to be dressed up and composed into science and virtue. There have been some also that have made the mind to be a receptacle of forms and a kind of imprimary for things intelligible; and some are of opinion again that the genital humidity in the female sex is no active property nor efficient principle, but only the Edition: current; Page: [118] matter and nutriment of the production. Which when we retain in our memories, we ought to conceive likewise that this Goddess, which always participates of the first God and is ever taken up with the love of those excellencies and charms that are about him, is not by nature opposite to him; but that, as we are used to say of a good natured woman, that, though she be married to a man and constantly enjoys his embraces, yet she hath a fond kind of longing after him, so hath she always a strong inclination to the God, though she be present and round about him, and though she be impregnated with his most prime and pure particles.

59. But where Typhon falls in and touches upon her extreme parts, it is there she appears melancholy, and is said to mourn, and to look for certain relics and pieces of Osiris, and to array them with all diligence; she receiving all things that die and laying them up within herself, as she again brings forth and sends up out of herself all such things as are produced. And those proportions, forms, and effluxes of the God that are in the heaven and stars do indeed continue always the same; but those that are sown abroad into mutable things, as into land, sea, plants, and animals, are resolved, destroyed, and buried, and afterwards show themselves again very often, and come up anew in several different productions. For which reason the fable makes Typhon to be married to Nephthys, and Osiris to have accompanied with her by stealth. For the utmost and most extreme parts of matter, which they call Nephthys and the end, is mostly under the power of the destructive faculty; but the fecund and salutary power dispenses but a feeble and languid seed into those parts, which is all destroyed by Typhon, except only what Isis taking up doth preserve, cherish, and improve.

60. And in general, Typhon is the prevailing power, as both Plato and Aristotle insinuate. Moreover, the generative Edition: current; Page: [119] and salutary part of nature hath its motion towards him, in order to procure being; but the destroying and corruptive part hath its motion from him, in order to procure not-being. For which reason they call the former part Isis, from going (ἴεσθαι) and being borne-along with knowledge, she being a kind of a living and prudent motion. For her name is not of a barbarous original; but, as all the Gods have one name (θεός) in common, and that is derived from the two words, θέων (running) and θεατός (visible); so also this very Goddess is both from motion and science at once called Isis by us and Isis also by the Egyptians. So likewise Plato tells us, that the ancients called οὐσία (being) ἰσία (knowledge), as also that νόησις (intelligence) and φϱόνησις (prudence) had their names given them for being a φοϱά (agitation) and motion of νοῦς (mind), which was then, as it were, ἱέμενος and φεϱόμενος (set in motion and borne-along); and the like he affirmeth of συνιέναι (to understand), that it was as much as to say “to be in commotion.”* Nay he saith, moreover, that they attribute the very names of ἀγαθόν (good) and ἀϱετή (virtue) to the ideas of running (θέω) and of ever-flowing (ἀεὶ ϱ̔έω) which they imply; as likewise, on the other hand again, they used terms opposite to motion by way of reproach; for they called what clogged, tied up, locked up, and confined nature from agitation and motion ϰαϰία (baseness or ill motion), ἀποϱία (difficulty or difficult motion), δειλία (fearfulness or fearful motion) and ἀνία (sorrow or want of motion).

61. But Osiris had his name from ὅσιος and ἱεϱός (pious and sacred) compounded; for he is the common idea of things in heaven and things in the lower world, the former Edition: current; Page: [120] of which the ancients thought fit to style ἱεϱά, and the latter ὅσια. But the principle which discloses things heavenly, and which appertains to things whose motion tends up wards (ἄνω), is called Anubis, and sometimes he is also named Hermanubis, the former name referring to things above, and the latter to things beneath. For which reason they also sacrifice to him two cocks, the one whereof is white and the other of a saffron color, as esteeming the things above to be entire and clear, and the things beneath to be mixed and various. Nor need any one to wonder at the formation of these words from the Grecian tongue; for there are many thousand more of this kind, which, accompanying those who at several times removed out of Greece, do to this very day sojourn and remain among foreigners; some whereof when poetry would bring back into use, it hath been falsely accused of barbarism by those men, who love to call such words strange and outlandish. They say, moreover, that in the so-called books of Hermes there is an account given of the sacred names; and that power which presides over the circulation of the sun is called Horus, and by the Greeks Apollo; and that which is over the winds is by some called Osiris, and by others Serapis, and by others again in the Egyptian tongue Sothi. Now the word Sothi signifies in Greek to breed (ϰύειν) and breeding; and therefore, by an obliquation of the word ϰύειν, the star which they account proper to the Goddess Isis is called in Greek ϰύων, which is as well dog as breeder. And although it be but a fond thing to be over contentious about words, yet I had rather yield to the Egyptians the name of Serapis than that of Osiris, since I account the former to be foreign, and the latter to be Greekish, but believe both to appertain to one God and to one power.

62. And the Egyptian theology seems to favor this opinion. For they oftentimes call Isis by the name of Minerva, which in their language expresseth this sentence, “I Edition: current; Page: [121] came from myself,” and is significative of a motion proceeding from herself. But Typhon is called (as hath been said before) Seth, Bebon, and Smu, which names would insinuate a kind of a forcible restraint, and an opposition or subversion. Moreover, they call the loadstone Horus’s bone, and iron Typhon’s bone, as Manetho relates. For as iron is oftentimes like a thing that is drawn to and follows the loadstone, and oftentimes again flies off and recoils to the opposite part; so the salutary, good, and intelligent motion of the universe doth, as by a gentle persuasion, invert, reduce, and make softer the rugged and Typhonian one; and when again it is restrained and forced back, it returns into itself, and sinks into its former interminateness. Eudoxus also saith that the Egyptian fable of Jupiter is this, that being once unable to go because his legs grew together, he for very shame spent all his time in the wilderness; but that Isis dividing and separating these parts of his body, he came to have the right use of his feet. This fable also hints to us by these words, that the intelligence and reason of the God, which walked before in the unseen and inconspicuous state, came into generation by means of motion.

63. The sistrum likewise (or rattle) doth intimate unto us, that all things ought to be agitated and shook (σείεσθαι), and not to be suffered to rest from their motion, but be as it were roused up and awakened when they begin to grow drowsy and to droop. For they tell us that the sistrum averts and frights away Typhon, insinuating hereby that, as corruption locks up and fixes Nature’s course, so generation again resolves and excites it by means of motion. Moreover, as the sistrum hath its upper part convex, so its circumference contains the four things that are shaken; for that part of the world also which is liable to generation and corruption is contained by the sphere of the moon, but all things are moved and changed in it by means of Edition: current; Page: [122] the four elements, fire, earth, water, and air. And upon the upper part of the circumference of the sistrum, on the outside, they set the effigies of a cat carved with a human face; and again, on the under part, below the four jingling things, they set on one side the face of Isis, and on the other the face of Nephthys; symbolically representing by these two faces generation and death (for these are changes and alterations of the elements), and by the cat representing the moon, because of the different colors, the night-motion and the great fecundity of this animal. For they say that she brings forth first one, then two, and three, and four, and five, and so adds one until she comes to seven; so that she brings eight and twenty in all, which are as many as there are days in each moon; but this looks more like a romance. This is certain, that the pupils of her eyes are observed to fill up and grow large upon the full of the moon, and again, to grow less upon its decrease. And the human face of the cat shows how the changes of the moon are governed by mind and reason.

64. To sum up all then in one word, it is not reasonable to believe that either the water or the sun or the earth or the heaven is Osiris or Isis; nor, again, that the fire or the drought or the sea is Typhon; but if we simply ascribe to Typhon whatever in all these is through excesses or defects intemperate or disorderly, and if on the other hand we reverence and honor what in them all is orderly, good, and beneficial, esteeming them the operations of Isis, and as the image, imitation, and discourse of Osiris, we shall not err. And we shall besides take off the incredulity of Eudoxus, who makes a great question how it comes to pass that neither Ceres hath any part in the care of love affairs (but only Isis), nor Bacchus any power either to increase the Nile or to preside over the dead. For we hold that these Gods are set over the whole share of good in common, and that whatever is either good or amiable Edition: current; Page: [123] in Nature is all owing to these, the one yielding the principles, and the other receiving and dispensing them.

65. By this means we shall be able to deal with the vulgar and more importunate sort also, whether their fancy be to accommodate the things that refer to these Gods to those changes which happen to the ambient air at the several seasons of the year, or to production of fruit and to the times of sowing and earing, affirming that Osiris is then buried when the sown corn is covered over by the earth, and that he revives again and re-appears when it begins to sprout. Which they say is the reason that Isis is reported, upon her finding herself to be with child, to have hung a certain amulet or charm about her upon the sixth day of the month Phaophi, and to have been delivered of Harpocrates about the winter solstice, he being in the first shootings and sprouts very imperfect and tender. And this is the reason (say they) that, when the lentils begin to spring up, they offer him their tops for first-fruits. They also observe the festival of her child-birth after the vernal equinox. For they that hear these things are much taken with them and readily give assent to them, and presently infer their credibility from the obviousness and familiarness of the matter.

66. Nor would this be any great harm either, would they save us these Gods in common, and not make them to be peculiar to the Egyptians, nor confine these names to the river Nile, and only to that one piece of ground which the river Nile waters; nor affirm their fens and their lotuses to be the subject of this mythology, and so deprive the rest of mankind of great and mighty Gods, who have neither a Nile nor a Buto nor a Memphis. As for Isis, all mankind have her, and are well acquainted with her and the other Gods about her; and although they had not anciently learned to call some of them by their Egyptian names, yet they from the very first both knew and honored the power which belongs to every one of them. In the Edition: current; Page: [124] second place, what is yet of greater consequence is, that they take a mighty care and fear lest, before they are aware, they change and dissolve the divine beings into blasts of winds, streams of water, sowings of corn, earings of land, accidents of the earth, and changes of seasons; as those who make Bacchus to be wine and Vulcan to be flame. Cleanthes also somewhere saith that Proserpine (or Persephone) is the breath of air which is carried (φεϱόμενον) through the corn and then dies (φονεύομενον); and again, a certain poet saith of reapers,

Then when the youth the legs of Ceres cut.

For these men seem to me to be nothing wiser than such as would take the sails, the cables, and the anchor of a ship for the pilot; the yarn and the web for the weaver; and the bowl or the mead or the ptisan for the doctor. And they over and above produce in men most dangerous and atheistical opinions, while they give the names of Gods to those natures and things that have in them neither soul nor sense, and that are necessarily destroyed by men who need them and use them.

67. No man can imagine these things can be Gods in themselves. And therefore nothing can be a God to men that is either without soul or under their power. But yet by means of these things we come to think them Gods that use them themselves and bestow them upon us, and that render them perpetual and continual. And those are not some in one country and others in another, nor some Grecians and others barbarians, nor some southern and others northern; but as the sun, moon, land, and sea are common to all men, but yet have different names in different nations, so that one discourse that orders these things, and that one forecast that administers them, and those subordinate powers that are set over every nation in particular, have assigned them by the laws of several countries several kinds of honors and appellations. And those that have Edition: current; Page: [125] been consecrated to their service make use, some of them of darker, and others again of clearer symbols, thereby guiding the understanding to the knowledge of things divine, not without much danger and hazard. For some not being able to reach their true meaning, have slid into down-right superstition; and others again, while they would fly the quagmire of superstition, have fallen unwittingly upon the precipice of atheism.

68. And for this reason we should here make most use of the reasonings from philosophy, which introduce us into the knowledge of things sacred, that so we may think piously of whatever is said or acted in religion; lest — as Theodorus once said that, as he reached forth his discourses in his right hand, some of his auditors received them in their left — so what things the laws have wisely constituted about the sacrifices and festivals we should take otherwise than as they are meant, and thereby fall into most dangerous errors and mistakes. That therefore we are to construe all these things by reference to reason, we may easily perceive by the Egyptians themselves. For upon the nineteenth day of the first month they keep a solemn festival to Hermes, wherein they eat honey and figs, and withal say these words, “Truth is a sweet thing.” And that amulet or charm which they fable Isis to hang about her is, when interpreted into our language, “A true voice.” Nor are we to understand Harpocrates to be either some imperfect or infant God, or a God of pulse (as some will have him), but to be the governor and reducer of the tender, imperfect, and inarticulate discourse which men have about the Gods. For which reason, he hath always his finger upon his mouth, as a symbol of talking little and keeping silence. Likewise, upon the month of Mesore, they present him with certain pulse, and pronounce these words: “The tongue is Fortune, the tongue is God.” And of all the plants that Egypt produces, they say the Persea is the Edition: current; Page: [126] most sacred to the Goddess, because its fruit resembles the heart, and its leaf the tongue. For there is nothing that man possesses that is either more divine, or that hath a greater tendency upon happiness, than discourse, and especially that which relates to the Gods. For which reason they lay a strict charge upon such as go down to the oracle there, to have pious thoughts in their hearts and words of good omen in their mouths. But the greater part act ludicrous things in their processions and festivals, first proclaiming good expressions, and then both speaking and thinking words of most wicked and lewd meaning, and that even of the Gods themselves.

69. How then must we manage ourselves at these tetrical, morose, and mournful sacrifices, if we are neither to omit what the laws prescribe us, nor yet to confound and distract our thoughts about the Gods with vain and uncouth surmises? There are among the Greeks also many things done that are like to those which the Egyptians do at their solemnities, and much about the same time too. For at the Thesmophoria at Athens the women fast sitting upon the bare ground. The Boeotians also remove the shrines of Achaea (or Ceres), terming that day the afflictive holiday, because Ceres was then in great affliction for her daughter’s descent into hell. Now upon this month, about the rising of the Pleiades, is the sowing time; and the Egyptians call it Athyr, the Athenians Pyanepsion; and the Boeotians Damatrios (or the month of Ceres). Moreover Theopompus relates, that those that live towards the sun-setting (or the Hesperii) believe the winter to be Saturn, the summer Venus, and the spring time Proserpine; and that they call them by those names, and maintain all to be produced by Saturn and Venus. But the Phrygians, being of opinion that the Deity sleeps in the winter and wakes in the summer, do, in the manner of ecstatics, in the winter time sing lullabies in honor of his Edition: current; Page: [127] sleeping, and in the summer time certain rousing carols in honor of his waking. In like manner the Paphlagonians say, he is bound and imprisoned in the winter, and walks abroad again in the spring and is at liberty.

70. And the nature of the season gives us suspicion that this tetrical sort of service was occasioned by the absenting of the several sorts of fruits at that time of the year; which yet the ancients did not believe to be Gods, but such gifts of the Gods as were both great and necessary in order to preserve them from a savage and bestial life. And at what time they saw both the fruits that came from trees wholly to disappear and fail, and those also which themselves had sown to be yet but starved and poor, they taking up fresh mould in their hands and laying it about their roots, and committing them a second time to the ground with uncertain hopes of their ever coming to perfection or arriving to maturity, did herein many things that might well resemble people at funerals and mourning for the dead. Moreover, as we use to say of one that hath bought the books of Plato, that he hath bought Plato, and of one that hath taken upon him to act the compositions of Menander, that he hath acted Menander; in like manner they did not stick to call the gifts and creatures of the Gods by the names of the Gods themselves, paying this honor and veneration to them for their necessary use. But those of after times receiving this practice unskilfully and ignorantly, applying the accidents of fruits, and the accesses and recesses of things necessary to human life, unto the Gods, did not only call them the generations and deaths of the Gods, but also believed them such, and so filled themselves with abundance of absurd, wicked, and distempered notions; and this, although they had the absurdity of such a monstrous opinion before their very eyes. And therefore Xenophanes the Colophonian might not only put the Egyptians in mind, if they believed those Edition: current; Page: [128] they worshipped to be Gods, not to lament for them, and if they lamented for them, not to believe them to be Gods; but also that it would be extremely ridiculous at one and the same time to lament for the fruits of the earth, and to pray them to appear again and make themselves ripe, that so they may be over again consumed and lamented for.

71. But now this in its true intention is no such thing. But they make their lamentation for the fruits; and their prayers to the Gods, who are the authors and bestowers of those fruits, that they would be pleased to produce and bring up again other new ones in the place of them that are gone. Wherefore it is an excellent saying among philosophers, that they that have not learned the true sense of words will mistake also in the things; as we see those among the Greeks who have not learned nor accustomed themselves to call the brazen and stone statues and the painted representations of the Gods their images or their honors, but the Gods themselves, are so adventurous as to say that Lachares stripped Minerva, that Dionysius cropped off Apollo’s golden locks, and that Jupiter Capitolinus was burned and destroyed in the civil wars of Rome. They therefore, before they are aware, suck in and receive bad opinions with these improper words. And the Egyptians are not the least guilty herein, with respect to the animals which they worship. For the Grecians both speak and think aright in these matters, when they tell us that the pigeon is sacred to Venus, the serpent to Minerva, the raven to Apollo, and the dog to Diana, as Euripides somewhere speaks:

  • Into a bitch transformed you shall be,
  • And be the image of bright Hecate.

But the greater part of the Egyptians worshipping the very animals themselves, and courting them as Gods, have not only filled their religious worship with matter of scorn Edition: current; Page: [129] and derision (for that would be the least harm that could come of their blockish ignorance); but a dire conception also arises therefrom, which blows up the feeble and simple minded into an extravagance of superstition, and when it lights upon the more subtle and daring tempers, outrages them into atheistical and brutish cogitations. Wherefore it seems not inconsonant here to recount what is probable upon this subject.

72. For that the Gods, being afraid of Typhon, changed themselves into these animals, and did as it were hide themselves in the bodies of ibises, dogs, and hawks, is a foolery beyond all prodigiousness and legend. And that such souls of men departed this life as remain undissolved after death have leave to be reborn into this life by these bodies only, is equally incredible. And of those who would assign some political reason for these things, there are some that affirm that Osiris in his great army, dividing his forces into many parts (which we in Greek call λόχοι and τάξεις), at the same time gave every of them certain ensigns or colors with the shapes of several animals upon them, which in process of time came to be looked upon as sacred, and to be worshipped by the several kindred and clans in that distribution. Others say again, that the kings of after times did, for the greater terror of their enemies, wear about them in their battles the golden and silver heads and upper parts of fierce animals. But there are others that relate that one of these subtle and crafty princes, observing the Egyptians to be of a light and vain disposition and very inclinable to change and innovation. and withal, when sober and unanimous, of an inexpugnable and irrestrainable strength by reason of their mighty numbers, therefore taught them, in their several quarters, a perpetual kind of superstition, to be the ground of endless quarrels and disputes among them. For the various animals which he commanded different cities to observe Edition: current; Page: [130] and reverence being at enmity and war with one another, and desiring one another for food, each party among them being upon the perpetual defence of their proper animals, and highly resenting the wrongs that were offered them, it happened that, being thus drawn into the quarrels of their beasts, they were, before they were aware, engaged in hostilities with one another. For at this very day, the Lycopolitans (or Wolf-town-men) are the only people among the Egyptians that eat the sheep, because the wolf, which they esteem to be a God, doth so too. And in our own times, the Oxyrynchites (or those of Pike-town), because the Cynopolitans (or those of Dog-town) did eat a pike, catched the dogs and slew them, and ate of them as they would do of a sacrifice; and there arising a civil war upon it, in which they did much mischief to one another, they were all at last chastised by the Romans.

73. And whereas there are many that say that the soul of Typhon himself took its flight into these animals, this tale may be looked upon to signify that every irrational and brutal nature appertains to the share of the evil Daemon. And therefore, when they would pacify him and speak him fair, they make their court and addresses to these animals. But if there chance to happen a great and excessive drought which, above what is ordinary at other times, brings along with it either wasting diseases or other monstrous and prodigious calamities, the priests then conduct into a dark place, with great silence and stillness, some of the animals which are honored by them; and they first of all menace and terrify them, and if the mischief still continues, they then consecrate and offer them up, looking upon this as a way of punishing the evil God, or at least as some grand purgation in time of greatest disasters. For, as Manetho relateth, they were used in ancient times to burn live men in the city of Ilithyia, entitling them Typhonian; and then they made wind, and dispersed and Edition: current; Page: [131] scattered their ashes into the air. And this was done publicly, and at one only season of the year, which was the dog-days. But those consecrations of the animals worshipped by them which are made in secret, and at irregular and uncertain times of the year as occasions require, are wholly unknown to the vulgar sort, except only at the time of their burials, at which they produce certain other animals, and in the presence of all spectators throw them into the grave with them, thinking by this means to vex Typhon and to abate the satisfaction he received by their deaths. For it is the Apis, with a few more, that is thought sacred to Osiris; but the far greater part are assigned to Typhon. And if this account of theirs be true, I believe it explains the subject of our enquiry as to such animals as are universally received and have their honors in common amongst them all; and of this kind is the ibis, the hawk, the cynocephalos, and the Apis himself; . . . for so they call the goat which is kept at Mendes.

74. It remains yet behind, that I treat of their beneficialness to man, and of their symbolical use; and some of them participate of some one of these, and others of both. It is most manifest therefore that they worship the ox, the sheep, and the ichneumon for their benefit and use; as the Lemniotes did the lark, for finding out the locusts’ eggs and breaking them, and the Thessalians the storks, because that, as their soil bred abundance of serpents, they at their appearance destroyed them all, for which reason they enacted a law that whoever killed a stork should be banished the country. Moreover the Egyptians honored the asp, the weasel, and the beetle, observing in them certain dark resemblances of the power of the Gods, like those of the sun in drops of water. For there are many that to this day believe that the weasel engenders by the ear, and brings forth by the mouth, and is therein a resemblance of the production of speech; and Edition: current; Page: [132] that the beetle kind also hath no female, but that the males cast out their sperm into a round pellet of earth, which they roll about by thrusting it backwards with their hinder feet, — and this in imitation of the sun, which, while itself moves from west to east, turns the heaven the contrary way. They also compared the asp to a star, for being always young, and for performing its motions with great ease and glibness, and that without the help of organs.

75. Nor had the crocodile his honor given him without a show of probable reason for it; but it is reported to have been produced by a representation of God, it being the only animal that is without tongue. For the divine discourse hath no need of voice, but “marching by still and silent ways, it guides mortal affairs by equal justice.”* Besides, they say he is the only animal that lives in water that hath his eye-sight covered over with a thin and transparent film, descending down from his forehead, so that he sees without being seen himself by others, in which he agrees with the first God. Moreover, in what place soever in the country the female crocodile lays her eggs, that may be certainly concluded to be the utmost extent of the rise of the river Nile for that year. For not being able to lay in the water, and being afraid to lay far from it, they have so exact a knowledge of futurity, that though they enjoy the benefit of the approaching stream at their laying and hatching, they yet preserve their eggs dry and untouched by the water. And they lay sixty in all, and are just as many days a hatching them, and the longest lived of them live as many years; that being the first measure which those that are employed about the heavens make use of. But of those animals that were honored for both reasons, we have already treated of the dog; but now the ibis, besides that he killeth all deadly and poisonous vermin, was also the first that taught men the evacuation of the Edition: current; Page: [133] belly by clysters, she being observed to be after this manner washed and purged by herself. Those also of the priests that are the strictest observers of their sacred rites, when they consecrate water for lustration, use to fetch it from some place where the ibis has been drinking; for she will neither taste nor come near any unwholesome or infectious water. Besides, with her two legs standing at large and her bill, she maketh an equilateral triangle; and the speckledness and mixture of her feathers, where there are black ones about the white, signify the gibbousness of the moon on either side.

76. Nor ought we to think it strange that the Egyptians should affect such poor and slender comparisons, when we find the Grecians themselves, both in their pictures and statues, make use of many such resemblances of the Gods as these are. For example, there was in Crete an image of Jupiter having no ears, for he that is commander and chief over all should hear no one. Phidias also set a serpent by the image of Minerva, and a tortoise by that of Venus at Elis, to show that maids needed a guard upon them, and that silence and keeping at home became married women. In like manner the trident of Neptune is a symbol of the third region of the world, which the sea possesses, situated below that of the heaven and air. For which reason they also gave their names to Amphitrite and the Tritons. The Pythagoreans also honored numbers and geometric figures with the names of Gods. For they called an equilateral triangle Minerva Coryphagenes (or crownborn) and Tritogeneia, because it is equally divided by perpendiculars drawn from the three angles. They likewise called the unit Apollo; the number two, contention and also audaciousness; and the number three, justice; for, wronging and being wronged being two extremes caused by deficiency and excess, justice came by equality in the middle. But that which is called the sacred quaternion, being the Edition: current; Page: [134] number thirty-six, was (according to common fame) the greatest oath among them, and was called by them the world, because it is made up of the first four even numbers and the first four odd numbers summed up together.

77. If therefore the most approved of the philosophers did not think meet to pass over or disesteem any significant symbol of the Divinity which they observed even in things that had neither soul nor body, I believe they regarded yet more those properties of government and conduct which they saw in such natures as had sense, and were endued with soul, with passion, and with moral temper. We are not therefore to content ourselves with worshipping these things, but we must worship God through them, — as being the more clear mirrors of him, and produced by Nature, — so as ever worthily to conceive of them as the instruments or artifices of that God which orders all things. And it is reasonable to believe that no inanimate being can be more excellent than an animate one, nor an insensible than a sensible; no, though one should heap together all the gold and emeralds in the universe. For the property of the Divinity consists not in fine colors, shapes, and slicknesses; but, on the contrary, those natures are of a rank below the very dead, that neither did nor ever can partake of life. But now that Nature which hath life and sees, and which hath the source of her motion from her own self, as also the knowledge of things proper and alien to her, hath certainly derived an efflux and a portion of that prudence which (as Heraclitus speaks) considers how the whole universe is governed. Therefore the Deity is no worse represented in these animals, than in the workmanships of copper and stone, which suffer corruptions and decays as well as they, and are besides naturally void of sense and perception. This then is what I esteem the best account that is given of their adoration of animals.

Edition: current; Page: [135]

78. As to the sacred vestments, that of Isis is party-colored and of different hues; for her power is about matter, which becomes every thing and receives every thing, as light and darkness, day and night, fire and water, life and death, beginning and ending. But that of Osiris has no shade, no variety of colors, but one only simple one, resembling light. For the first principle is untempered, and that which is first and of an intelligible nature is unmixed; which is the reason why, after they have once made use of this garment, they lay it up and keep it close, invisible and not to be touched. But those of Isis are used often. For sensible things, when they are of daily use and familiar to us, afford us many opportunities to display them and to see them in their various mutations; but the apprehension of what is intelligible, sincere, and holy, darting through the soul like a flash of lightning, attends but to some one single glance or glimpse of its object. For which reason both Plato and Aristotle call this part of philosophy by the name of the epoptic or mysterious part, intimating that those who by help of reason have got beyond these fanciful, mixed, and various things mount up to that first, simple, and immaterial being; and when they have certainly reached the pure truth about it, they believe they have at last attained to complete philosophy.

79. And that which the present priests do darkly hint out and insinuate to us, though with much obscurity, great shyness, and precaution, — that this God is the governor and prince of those that are dead, and that he is no other than he who is called by the Greeks Hades and Pluto, — being not taken in its true sense, disturbs the minds of the greater part, while they suspect that the truly holy and good God Osiris lives within and beneath the earth, where the bodies of those who are supposed to have an end lie hid and buried. But he himself is at the remotest distance from the earth imaginable, being unstained and unpolluted, Edition: current; Page: [136] and clean from every substance that is liable to corruption and death. But men’s souls encompassed here with bodies and passions, have no communication with God, except what they can reach to in conception only, by means of philosophy, as by a kind of an obscure dream. But when they are loosed from the body, and removed into the unseen, invisible, impassible, and pure region, this God is then their leader and king; they there as it were hanging on him wholly, and beholding without weariness and passionately affecting that beauty which cannot be expressed or uttered by men. This the Goddess Isis is always caressing, affecting, and enjoying, according to the old tales, and by that means she fills this lower world with all those goodly and excellent things which partake of generation.

80. This then is that account of these things which best suits the nature of the Gods. And if I now must, according to my promise, say something concerning those things they daily offer by way of incense, you are in the first place to understand this, that these people make the greatest account imaginable of all endeavors that relate to health; and more especially in their sacrifices, purgations, and diets, health is no less respected than devotion. For they think it would be an unseemly thing to wait upon that nature that is pure and every way unblemished and untouched, with crazy and diseased minds or bodies. Whereas, therefore, the air that we most use and live in hath not always the same disposition and temperament, but in the night-time grows condense, compresses the body, and contracts the mind into a kind of melancholy and thoughtful habit, it becoming then as it were foggy and dozed, they therefore, as soon as they are up in the morning, burn rosin about them, refreshing and clearing the air by its scattered particles, and fanning up the native spirit of the body, which is now grown languid and dull; this sort of scent having something in it that is very impetuous Edition: current; Page: [137] and striking. And perceiving again at noon-time that the sun hath drawn up by violence a copious and gross exhalation out of the earth, they by censing mix myrrh also with the air; for heat dissolves and dissipates that puddled and slimy vapor which at that time gathers together in the ambient air. And physicians are also found to help pestilential diseases by making great blazes to rarefy the air; but it would be much better rarefied, if they would burn sweet-scented woods, such as cypress, juniper, and pine. And therefore Acron the physician is said to have gained a mighty reputation at Athens, in the time of the great plague, by ordering people to make fires near to the sick; for not a few were benefited by it. Aristotle likewise saith that the odoriferous exhalations of perfumes, flowers, and sweet meadows are no less conducing to health than to pleasure; for that their warmth and delicacy of motion gently relax the brain, which is of its own nature cold and clammy. And if it be true that the Egyptians in their language call myrrh bal, and that the most proper signification of that word is scattering away idle talk, this also adds some testimony to our account of the reason why they burn it.

81. Moreover, that they call Kyphi is a kind of a composition made up of sixteen ingredients, that is, of honey, wine, raisins, cyperus, rosin, myrrh, aspalathus, seseli, mastich, bitumen, nightshade, and dock; to which they add the berries of both the junipers (the one whereof they call the greater, and the other the lesser sort), as also calamus and cardamom. Neither do they put them together slightly or at a random rate; but the sacred books are read to the perfumers all the while they are compounding them. As for the number of the ingredients (sixteen), — although it may appear important, being the square of a square, and making the only square surface which has a periphery equal to its area, — yet I must needs say that Edition: current; Page: [138] this contributes but very little here. But it is the contained species (most of which are of aromatic properties) that send up a sweet fume and an agreeable exhalation, by which the air is changed; and the body, being moved by the breath, sinks into a calm and gentle sleep, and retains a temperament conducive to sleep; and without the disorders of drunkenness, as it were, it loosens and unties, like a sort of knots, the doziness and intenseness of the thoughts by day-time; and the fantastic part and that which is receptive of dreams it wipes like a mirror and renders clearer, with no less efficacy than those strokes of the harp which the Pythagoreans made use of before they went to sleep, to charm and allay the distempered and irrational part of the soul. For we find that strong scents many times call back the failing sense, but sometimes dull and obstruct it, their wasted parts diffusing themselves by their great fineness and subtilty through the whole body; like as some physicians tell us that sleep is produced when the fumes of meat, by creeping gently about the inwards, and as it were groping every part, cause a certain soft titillation.

They also use this Kyphi both for a drink and for a medicinal potion; for when drunk it is found to cleanse the inwards, it being a loosener of the belly. Besides all this, rosin is the creature of the sun, and they gather myrrh as the trees weep it out by moonlight; but now of those ingredients that make up Kyphi, there are some that delight more in the night, as those whose nature it is to be nourished by cool blasts, shades, dews, and humidities. For the light of day is one thing and simple; and Pindar saith, the sun is then seen

Through solitary air.*

But the air of night is a kind of composition; for it is made up of many lights and powers, which, like so many Edition: current; Page: [139] several seeds, flow down from every star into one place. They therefore very pertinently cense the former things by daytime, as being simples and deriving their original from the sun; and the latter at the entrance of the night, they being mixed and of many and different qualities.

Edition: current; Page: [140]



1. These and such like things, O Quintus! when Epicurus had spoken, before any person could return an answer, while we were busy at the farther end of the portico,* he flung away in great haste. However, we could not but in some measure admire at the odd behavior of the man, though without taking any farther notice of it in words; and therefore, after we had gazed a while one upon another, we returned to walk as we were singled out in company before. At this time Patrocleas first breaking silence, How say ye, gentlemen? said he: if you think fitting, why may not we discuss this question of the last proposer as well in his absence as if he were present? To whom Timon replying, Surely, said he, it would but ill become us, if at us he aimed upon his departure, to neglect the arrow sticking in our sides. For Brasidas, as history reports, drawing forth the javelin out of his own body, with the same javelin not only wounded him that threw it, but slew him outright. But as for ourselves, we surely have no need to revenge ourselves on them that pelt us with absurd and fallacious reasonings; but it will be sufficient that we shake them off before our opinion has taken hold of them. Then, said I, which of his sayings is it that has given you the greatest cause to be moved? For the man dragged into his discourse many things confusedly, and nothing in Edition: current; Page: [141] order; but gleaning up and down from this and the other place, as it were in the transports of his wrath and scurrility, he then poured the whole in one torrent of abuse upon the providence of God.

2. To which Patrocleas: The slowness of the Supreme Deity and his procrastination in reference to the punishment of the wicked have long perplexed my thoughts; but now, puzzled by these arguments which he produces, I find myself as it were a stranger to the opinion, and newly beginning again to learn. For a long time I could not with patience hear that expression of Euripides,

  • Does he delay and slowly move;
  • ’Tis but the nature of the Gods above.*

For indeed it becomes not the Supreme Deity to be remiss in any thing, but more especially in the prosecution of the wicked, since they themselves are no way negligent or dilatory in doing mischief, but are always driven on by the most rapid impetuosities of their passions to acts of injustice. For certainly, according to the saying of Thucydides, that revenge which follows injury closest at the heels presently puts a stop to the progress of such as make advantage of successful wickedness. Therefore there is no debt with so much prejudice put off, as that of justice. For it weakens the hopes of the person wronged and renders him comfortless and pensive, but heightens the boldness and daring insolence of the oppressor; whereas, on the other side, those punishments and chastisements that immediately withstand presuming violence not only restrain the committing of future outrages, but more especially bring along with them a particular comfort and satisfaction to the sufferers. Which makes me no less troubled at the saying of Bias, which frequently comes into my mind. For thus he spake once to a notorious reprobate: It is not that I doubt thou wilt suffer the just reward of thy wickedness, Edition: current; Page: [142] but I fear that I myself shall not live to see it. For what did the punishment of Aristocrates avail the Messenians who were killed before it came to pass? He, having betrayed them at the battle of Taphrus yet remained undetected for above twenty years together, and all that while reigned king of the Arcadians, till at length, discovered and apprehended, he received the merited recompense of his treachery. But alas! they whom he had betrayed were all dead at the same time. Or when the Orchomenians had lost their children, their friends, and familiar acquaintance through the treachery of Lyciscus, what consolation was it to them, that many years after a foul distemper seized the traitor, and fed upon his body till it had consumed his putrefied flesh? — who, as often as he dipped and bathed his feet in the river, with horrid oaths and execrations prayed that his members might rot if he had been guilty of treachery or any other villany. Nor was it possible even for the children’s children of the Athenians who had been murdered long before, to behold the bodies of those sacrilegious caitiffs torn out of their graves and transported beyond the confines of their native soil. Whence, in my opinion, Euripides absurdly makes use of these expressions, to divert a man from wickedness:

  • If thou fear’st heav’n, thou fearest it in vain;
  • Justice is not so hasty, foolish man,
  • To pierce thy heart, or with contagious wound
  • Or thee or weaker mortals to confound;
  • But with slow pace and silent feet his doom
  • O’ertakes the sinner, when his time is come.

And I am apt to persuade myself that upon these and no other considerations it is, that wicked men encourage and give themselves the liberty to attempt and commit all manner of impieties, seeing that the fruit which injustice yields is soon ripe, and offers itself early to the gatherer’s hand, whereas punishment comes late, and lagging long behind the pleasure of enjoyment.

Edition: current; Page: [143]

3. After Patrocleas had thus discoursed, Olympicus taking him up, There is this farther, said he, O Patrocleas! which thou shouldst have taken notice of; for how great an inconveniency and absurdity arises besides from these delays and procrastinations of divine justice! For the slowness of its execution takes away the belief of providence; and the wicked, perceiving that calamity does not presently follow at the heels of every enormous crime, but a long time after, look upon their calamity as a misfortune, and calling it chance, not punishment, are nothing at all thereby reformed; troubled indeed they well may be at the dire accident befallen them, but they never repent of the villanies they have committed. For as, in the case of the horse, the lashing and spurring that immediately pursue the transgression correct and reduce him to his duty, but all the tugging at the bit and shouting which are late and out of time seem to be inflicted for some other reason than to teach or instruct, the animal being thereby put to pain without understanding his error; in like manner, were the impieties of enormous transgressors and heinous offenders singly scourged and repressed by immediate severity, it would be most likely* to bring them to a sense of their folly, humble them, and strike them with an awe of the Divine Being, whom they find with a watchful eye beholding the actions and passions of men, and feel to be no dilatory but a speedy avenger of iniquity; whereas that remiss and slow-paced justice (as Euripides describes it) that falls upon the wicked by accident, by reason of its uncertainty, ill-timed delay, and disorderly motion, seems rather to resemble chance than providence. So that I cannot conceive what benefit there is in these millstones of the Gods which are said to grind so late, as thereby Edition: current; Page: [144] celestial punishment is obscured, and the awe of evil doing rendered vain and despicable.

4. These things thus uttered, while I was in a deep meditation of what he had said, Timon interposed. Is it your pleasure, said he, that I shall give the finishing stroke to the difficulties of this knotty question, or shall I first permit him to argue in opposition to what has been propounded already? Nay then, said I, to what purpose is it to let in a third wave to drown the argument, if one be not able to repel or avoid the objections already made?

To begin therefore, as from the Vestal hearth, from that ancient circumspection and reverence which our ancestors, being Academic philosophers also, bare to the Supreme Godhead, we shall utterly decline to speak of that mysterious Being as if we could presume to utter positively any thing concerning it. For though it may be borne withal, for men unskilled in music to talk at random of notes and harmony, or for such as never experienced warfare to discourse of arms and military affairs; yet it would be a bold and daring arrogance in us, that are but mortal men, to dive too far into the incomprehensible mysteries of Deities and Daemons, — just as if persons void of knowledge should undertake to judge of the methods and reason of cunning artists by slight opinions and probable conjectures of their own. And while one that understands nothing of science finds it hard to give a reason why the physician did not let blood before but afterwards, or why he did not bathe his patient yesterday but to-day; it cannot be that it is safe or easy for a mortal to speak otherwise of the Supreme Deity than only this, that he alone it is who knows the most convenient time to apply most proper corrosives for the cure of sin and impiety, and to administer punishments as medicaments to every transgressor, yet being not confined to an equal quality and measure common to all distempers, nor to one and the same time. Now that the Edition: current; Page: [145] medicine of the soul which is called justice is the most transcendent of all sciences, besides ten thousand other witnesses, even Pindar himself testifies, where he gives to God, the ruler and lord of all things, the title of the most perfect artificer, as being the grand author and distributer of Justice, to whom it properly belongs to determine at what time, in what manner, and to what degree to punish every particular offender. And Plato asserts that Minos, being the son of Jupiter, was the disciple of his father to learn this science; intimating thereby that it is impossible for any other than a scholar, bred up in the school of equity, rightly to behave himself in the administration of justice, or to make a true judgment of another whether he does well or no. For the laws which are constituted by men do not always prescribe that which is unquestionable and simply decent, or of which the reason is altogether without exception perspicuous, in regard that some of their ordinances seem to be on purpose ridiculously contrived; particularly those which in Lacedaemon the Ephori ordain at their first entering into the magistracy, that no man suffer the hair of his upper lip to grow, and that they shall be obedient to the laws to the end they may not seem grievous to them. So the Romans, when they asserted the freedom of any one, cast a slender rod upon his body; and when they make their last wills and testaments, some they leave to be their heirs, while to others they sell their estates; which seems to be altogether contrary to reason. But that of Solon is most absurd, who, when a city is up in arms and all in sedition, brands with infamy the person who stands neuter and adheres to neither party. And thus a man that apprehends not the reason of the lawgiver, or the cause why such and such things are so prescribed, might number up several absurdities of many laws. What wonder then, since the actions of men are so difficult to be understood, if it be no less difficult to determine concerning Edition: current; Page: [146] the Gods, wherefore they inflict their punishments upon sinners, sometimes later, sometimes sooner.

5. Nor do I allege these things as a pretence to avoid the dispute, but to secure the pardon which I beg, to the end that our discourse, having a regard (as it were) to some port or refuge, may proceed the more boldly in producing probable circumstances to clear the doubt. But first consider this; that God, according to Plato, when he set himself before the eyes of the whole world as the exemplar of all that was good and holy, granted human virtue, by which man is in some measure rendered like himself, unto those that are able to follow the Deity by imitation. For universal Nature, being at first void of order, received its first impulse to change and to be formed into a world, by being made to resemble and (as it were) partake of that idea and virtue which is in God. And the self-same Plato asserts, that Nature first kindled the sense of seeing within us, to the end that the soul, by the sight and admiration of the heavenly bodies, being accustomed to love and embrace decency and order, might be induced to hate the disorderly motions of wild and raving passions, and avoid levity and rashness and dependence upon chance, as the original of all improbity and vice. For there is no greater benefit that men can enjoy from God, than, by the imitation and pursuit of those perfections and that sanctity which is in him, to be excited to the study of virtue. Therefore God, with forbearance and at leisure, inflicts his punishment upon the wicked; not that he is afraid of committing an error or of repenting should he accelerate his indignation; but to eradicate that brutish and eager desire of revenge that reigns in human breasts, and to teach us that we are not in the heat of fury, or when our anger heaving and palpitating boils up above our understanding, to fall upon those who have done us an injury, like those who seek to gratify a vehement thirst or craving appetite, but that we should, Edition: current; Page: [147] in imitation of this mildness and forbearance, wait with due composure of mind before we proceed to chastisement or correction, till such sufficient time for consideration is taken as shall allow the least possible room for repentance. For, as Socrates observed, it is far the lesser mischief for a man distempered with ebriety and gluttony to drink puddle-water, than, when the mind is disturbed and over-charged with anger and fury, before it be settled and become limpid again, for a man to seek the satiating his revenge upon the body of his friend or kinsman. For it is not the revenge which is the nearest to injury, as Thucydides says, but rather that which is the most remote from it, that observes the most convenient opportunity. For as anger, according to that of Melanthius,

  • Quite from the brain transplants the wit,
  • Vile acts designing to commit;

so reason does that which is just and moderate, laying passion and fury aside. Whence it comes to pass that men, giving ear to human examples, become more mansuete and gentle; as when they hear how Plato, holding his cudgel over his page’s shoulders, as himself relates, paused a good while, correcting his own anger; and how in like manner Archytas, observing the sloth and wilful negligence of his servants in the field, and perceiving his passion to rise at a more than usual rate, did nothing at all; but as he went away, It is your good fortune, said he, that ye have angered me. If then the sayings of men when called to mind, and their actions being told, have such a power to mitigate the roughness and vehemency of wrath, much more becomes it us, beholding God, with whom there is neither dread nor repentance of any thing, deferring nevertheless his punishments to future time and admitting delay, to be cautious and circumspect in these matters, and to deem as a divine part of virtue that mildness and long-suffering of which God affords us an example, while by punishing he reforms Edition: current; Page: [148] some few, but by slowly punishing he helpeth and admonisheth many.

6. In the second place, therefore, let us consider this, that human punishments of injuries regard no more than that the party suffer in his turn, and are satisfied when the offender has suffered according to his merit; and farther they never proceed. Which is the reason that they run after provocations, like dogs that bark in their fury, and immediately pursue the injury as soon as committed. But probable it is that God, whatever distempered soul it be which he prosecutes with his divine justice, observes the motions and inclinations of it, whether they be such as tend to repentance, and allows time for the reformation of those whose wickedness is neither invincible nor incorrigible. For, since he well knows what a proportion of virtue souls carry along with them from himself when they come into the world, and how strong and vigorous their innate and primitive good yet continues, — while wickedness buds forth only preternaturally upon the corruption of bad diet and evil conversation, and even then some souls recover again to perfect cure or an indifferent habitude, — therefore he doth not make haste to inflict his punishments alike upon all. But those that are incurable he presently lops off and deprives of life, deeming it altogether hurtful to others, but most baneful to themselves, to be always wallowing in wickedness. But as for those who may probably be thought to transgress rather out of ignorance of what is virtuous and good, than through choice of what is foul and vicious, he grants them time to turn; but if they remain obdurate, then likewise he inflicts his punishments upon them; for he has no fear lest they should escape.

Now let us consider how oft the characters and lives of men are changed; for which reason, the character is called τϱόπος, as being the changeable part, and also ἦθος, since custom Edition: current; Page: [149] (ἔθος) chiefly prevails in it and rules with the greatest power when it has seized upon it. Therefore I am of opinion, that the ancients reported Cecrops to have had two bodies, not, as some believe, because of a good king he became a merciless and dragon-like tyrant, but rather, on the contrary, for that being at first both cruel and formidable, afterwards he became a most mild and gentle prince. However, if this be uncertain, yet we know both Gelo and Hiero the Sicilians, and Pisistratus the son of Hippocrates, who, having obtained the sovereignty by violence and wickedness, made a virtuous use of their power, and coming unjustly to the throne, became moderate rulers and beneficial to the public. For, by recommending wholesome laws and the exercise of useful tillage to their subjects, they reduced them from idle scoffers and talkative romancers to be modest citizens and industrious good husbands. And as for Gelo, after he had been successful in his war and vanquished the Carthaginians, he refused to grant them the peace which they sued for, unless they would consent to have it inserted in their articles that they would surcease from sacrificing their children to Saturn.

Over Megalopolis Lydiadas was tyrant; but then, even in the time of his tyranny, changing his manners and maxims of government and growing into a hatred of injustice, he restored to the citizens their laws, and fighting for his country against his own and his subjects’ enemies, fell an illustrious victim for his country’s welfare. Now if any one, bearing an antipathy to Miltiades or Cimon, had slain the one tyrannizing in the Chersonese or the other committing incest with his own sister, or had expelled Themistocles out of Athens at what time he lay rioting and revelling in the market-place and affronting all that came near him, according to the sentence afterwards pronounced against Alcibiades, had we not lost Marathon, the Eurymedon, and lovely Artemisium,

Edition: current; Page: [150]
  • Where the Athenian youth
  • The famed foundations of their freedom laid?*

For great and lofty geniuses produce nothing that is mean and little; the innate smartness of their parts will not endure the vigor and activity of their spirits to grow lazy; but they are tossed to and again, as with the waves, by the rolling motions of their own inordinate desire, till at length they arrive to a stable and settled constitution of manners. Therefore, as a person that is unskilful in husbandry would by no means make choice of a piece of ground quite overrun with brakes and weeds, abounding with wild beasts, running streams, and mud; while, to him who hath learnt to understand the nature of the earth, these are certain symptoms of the softness and fertility of the soil; thus great geniuses many times produce many absurd and vile enormities, of which we not enduring the rugged and uneasy vexation, are presently for pruning and lopping off the lawless transgressors. But the more prudent judge, who discerns the abounding goodness and generosity covertly residing in those transcendent geniuses, waits the co-operating age and season for reason and virtue to exert themselves, and gathers the ripe fruit when Nature has matured it. And thus much as to those particulars.

7. Now to come to another part of our discourse, do you not believe that some of the Greeks did very prudently to register that law in Egypt among their own, whereby it is enacted that, if a woman with child be sentenced to die, she shall be reprieved till she be delivered? All the reason in the world, you will say. Then, say I, though a man cannot bring forth children, yet if he be able, by the assistance of Time, to reveal any hidden action or conspiracy, or to discover some concealed mischief, or to be author of some wholesome piece of advice, — or suppose that in time he may produce some necessary and useful invention, — is Edition: current; Page: [151] it not better to delay the punishment and expect the benefit, than hastily to rid him out of the world? It seems so to me, said I. And truly you are in the right, replied Patrocleas; for let us consider, had Dionysius at the beginning of his tyranny suffered according to his merits, never would any of the Greeks have re-inhabited Sicily, laid waste by the Carthaginians. Nor would the Greeks have repossessed Apollonia, nor Anactorium, nor the peninsula of the Leucadians, had not Periander’s execution been delayed for a long time. And if I mistake not, it was to the delay of Cassander’s punishment that the city of Thebes was beholden for her recovery from desolation. But the most of those barbarians who assisted at the sacrilegious plunder of this temple,* following Timoleon into Sicily, after they had vanquished the Carthaginians and dissolved the tyrannical government of that island, wicked as they were, came all to a wicked end. So the Deity makes use of some wicked persons as common executioners to punish the wickedness of others, and then destroys those instruments of his wrath, — which I believe to be true of most tyrants. For as the gall of a hyena and the rennet of a sea-calf — both filthy monsters — contain something in them for the cure of diseases; so when some people deserve a sharp and biting punishment, God, subjecting them to the implacable severity of some certain tyrant or the cruel oppression of some ruler, does not remove either the torment or the trouble, till he has cured and purified the distempered nation. Such a sort of physic was Phalaris to the Agrigentines, and Marius to the Romans. And God expressly foretold the Sicyonians how much their city stood in need of most severe chastisement, when, after they had violently ravished out of the hands of the Cleonaeans Teletias, a young lad who had been crowned at the Pythian games, they tore him limb from limb, as their own Edition: current; Page: [152] fellow-citizen. Therefore Orthagoras the tyrant, and after him Myro and Clisthenes, put an end to the luxury and lasciviousness of the Sicyonians; but the Cleonaeans, not having the good fortune to meet with the same cure, went all to wreck. To this purpose, hear what Homer says:

  • From parent vile by far the better son
  • Did spring, whom various virtues did renown*

And yet we do not find that ever the son of Copreus performed any famous or memorable achievement; but the offspring of Sisyphus, Autolycus, and Phlegyas flourished among the number of the most famous and virtuous princes. Pericles at Athens descended from an accursed family; and Pompey the Great at Rome was the son of Strabo, whose dead body the Roman people, in the height of their hatred conceived against him when alive, cast forth into the street and trampled in the dirt. Where is the absurdity then, — as the husbandman never cuts away the thorn till it injures the asparagus, or as the Libyans never burn the stalks till they have gathered all the ladanum, — if God never extirpates the evil and thorny root of a renowned and royal race before he has gathered from it the mature and proper fruit? For it would have been far better for the Phocians to have lost ten thousand of Iphitus’s horses and oxen, or a far greater sum in gold and silver from the temple of Delphi, than that Ulysses and Aesculapius should not have been born, and those many others who, of wicked and vicious men, became highly virtuous and beneficial to their country.

8. And should we not think it better to inflict deserved punishments in due season and by convenient means, than hastily and rashly when a man is in the heat and hurry of passion? Witness the example of Callippus, who, having stabbed Dio under the pretence of being his friend, was himself soon after slain by Dio’s intimates with Edition: current; Page: [153] the same dagger. Thus again, when Mitius of Argos was slain in a city tumult, the brazen statue which stood in the market-place, soon after, at the time of the public shows, fell down upon the murderer’s head and killed him. What befell Bessus the Paeonian, and Aristo the Oetaean, chief commander of the foreign soldiers, I suppose you understood full well, Patrocleas. Not I, by Jove, said he, but I desire to know. Well then, I say, this Aristo, having with permission of the tyrants carried away the jewels and ornaments belonging to Eriphyle, which lay deposited in this temple, made a present of them to his wife. The punishment of this was that the son, being highly incensed against his mother, for what reason it matters not, set fire to his father’s house, and burned it to the ground, with all the family that were in it.

As for Bessus, it seems he killed his own father, and the murder lay concealed a long time. At length being invited to supper among strangers, after he had so loosened a swallow’s nest with his spear that it fell down, he killed all the young ones. Upon which, being asked by the guests that were present, what injury the swallows had done him that he should commit such an irregular act; Did you not hear, said he, these cursed swallows, how they clamored and made a noise, false witnesses as they were, that I had long ago killed my father? This answer struck the rest of the guests with so much wonder, that, after a due pondering upon his words, they made known the whole story to the king. Upon which, the matter being dived into, Bessus was brought to condign punishment.

9. These things I have alleged, as it was but reason, upon a supposition that there is a forbearance of inflicting punishment upon the wicked. As for what remains, it behooves us to listen to Hesiod, where he asserts, — not like Plato, that punishment is a suffering which accompanies injustice, — but that it is of the same age with it, Edition: current; Page: [154] and arises from the same place and root. For, says he,

  • Bad counsel, so the Gods ordain,
  • Is most of all the adviser’s bane.

And in another place,

  • He that his neighbor’s harm contrives, his art
  • Contrives the mischief ’gainst his own false heart.*

It is reported that the cantharis fly, by a certain kind of contrariety, carries within itself the cure of the wound which it inflicts. On the other side wickedness, at the same time it is committed, engendering its own vexation and torment, not at last, but at the very instant of the injury offered, suffers the reward of the injustice it has done. And as every malefactor who suffers in his body bears his own cross to the place of his execution, so are all the various torments of various wicked actions prepared by wickedness herself. Such a diligent architectress of a miserable and wretched life is wickedness, wherein shame is still accompanied with a thousand terrors and commotions of the mind, incessant repentance, and never-ceasing tumults of the spirits. However, there are some people that differ little or nothing from children, who, many times beholding malefactors upon the stage, in their gilded vestments and short purple cloaks, dancing with crowns upon their heads, admire and look upon them as the most happy persons in the world, till they see them gored and lashed, and flames of fire curling from underneath their sumptuous and gaudy garments. Thus there are many wicked men, surrounded with numerous families, splendid in the pomp of magistracy, and illustrious for the greatness of their power, whose punishments never display themselves till those glorious persons come to be the public spectacles of the people, either slain and lying weltering in their blood, or else standing on the top of the rock, ready to be tumbled headlong down the precipice; which indeed cannot Edition: current; Page: [155] so well be said to be a punishment, as the consummation and perfection of punishment.

Moreover, as Herodicus the Selymbrian, falling into a consumption, the most incurable of all diseases, was the first who intermixed the gymnastic art with the science of physic (as Plato relates), and in so doing did spin out in length a tedious time of dying, as well for himself as for others laboring under the same distemper; in like manner some wicked men who flatter themselves to have escaped the present punishment, not after a longer time, but for a longer time, endure a more lasting, not a slower punishment; not punished with old age, but growing old under the tribulation of tormenting affliction. When I speak of a long time I speak in reference to ourselves. For as to the Gods, every distance and distinction of human life is nothing; and to say “now, and not thirty years ago” is the same thing as to say that such a malefactor should be tormented or hanged in the afternoon and not in the morning; — more especially since a man is but shut up in this life, like a close prisoner in a gaol, from whence it is impossible to make an escape, while yet we feast and banquet, are full of business, receive rewards and honors and sport. Though certainly these are but like the sports of those that play at dice or draughts in the gaol, while the rope all the while hangs over their heads.

10. So that what should hinder me from asserting, that they who are condemned to die and shut up in prison are not truly punished till the executioner has chopped off their heads, or that he who has drunk hemlock, and then walks about and stays till a heaviness seizes his limbs, has suffered no punishment before the extinction of his natural heat and the coagulation of his blood deprive him of his senses, — that is to say, if we deem the last moment of the punishment only to be the punishment, and omit the commotions, terrors, apprehensions, and embitterments of repentance, Edition: current; Page: [156] with which every malefactor and all wicked men are teased upon the committing of any heinous crime? But this is to deny the fish to be taken that has swallowed the hook, before we see it boiled and cut into pieces by the cook; for every offender is within the gripes of the law, so soon as he has committed the crime and has swallowed the sweet bait of injustice, while his conscience within, tearing and gnawing upon his vitals, allows him no rest:

  • Like the swift tunny, frighted from his prey,
  • Rolling and plunging in the angered sea.

For the daring rashness and precipitate boldness of iniquity continue violent and active till the fact be perpetrated; but then the passion, like a surceasing tempest, growing slack and weak, surrenders itself to superstitious fears and terrors. So that Stesichorus may seem to have composed the dream of Clytemnestra, to set forth the event and truth of things:

  • Then seemed a dragon to draw near,
  • With mattery blood all on his head besmeared;
  • Therefrom the king Plisthenides appeared.

For visions in dreams, noon-day apparitions, oracles, descents into hell, and whatever objects else which may be thought to be transmitted from heaven, raise continual tempests and horrors in the very souls of the guilty. Thus it is reported that Apollodorus in a dream beheld himself flayed by the Scythians and then boiled, and that his heart, speaking to him out of the kettle, uttered these words, I am the cause thou sufferest all this. And another time, that he saw his daughters run about him, their bodies burning and all in a flame. Hipparchus also, the son of Pisistratus, had a dream, that the Goddess Venus out of a certain phial flung blood in his face. The favorites of Ptolemy, surnamed the Thunderer, dreamed that they saw their master cited to the judgment-seat by Seleucus, where Edition: current; Page: [157] wolves and vultures were his judges, and then distributing great quantities of flesh among his enemies. Pausanias, in the heat of his lust, sent for Cleonice, a free-born virgin of Byzantium, with an intention to have enjoyed her all night; but when she came, out of a strange sort of jealousy and perturbation for which he could give no reason, he stabbed her. This murder was attended with frightful visions; insomuch that his repose in the night was not only interrupted with the appearance of her shape, but still he thought he heard her uttering these lines:

  • To judgment-seat approach thou near, I say;
  • Wrong dealing is to men most hurtful aye.

After this the apparition still haunting him, he sailed to the oracle of the dead in Heraclea, and by propitiations, charms, and dirges, called up the ghost of the damsel; which, appearing before him, told him in few words, that he should be free from all his affrights and molestations upon his return to Lacedaemon; where he was no sooner arrived, but he died.

11. Therefore, if nothing befalls the soul after the expiration of this life, but death is the end of all reward and punishment, I might infer from thence rather that the Deity is remiss and indulgent in swiftly punishing the wicked and depriving them of life. For if a man shall assert that in the space of this life the wicked are no otherwise affected than by the convincement that crime is a fruitless and barren thing, that produces nothing of good, nothing worthy of esteem, from the many great and terrible combats and agonies of the mind, the consideration of these things altogether subverts the soul. As it is related that Lysimachus, being under the violent constraint of a parching thirst, surrendered up his person and his dominions to the Getae for a little drink; but after he had quenched his draught and found himself a captive, Shame of this wickedness of mine, cried he, that for so small a pleasure have Edition: current; Page: [158] lost so great a kingdom. But it is a difficult thing for a man to resist the natural necessity of mortal passions. Yet when a man, either out of avarice, or ambition of civil honor and power, or to gratify his venereal desires, commits any enormous and heinous crime, after which, the thirst and rage of his passion being allayed, he comes to set before his eyes the ignominious and horrible passions tending to injustice still remaining, but sees nothing useful, nothing necessary, nothing conducible to make his life happy; may it not be probably conjectured that such a person is frequently solicited by these reflections to consider how rashly, either prompted by vain-glory, or for the sake of a lawless and barren pleasure, he has overthrown the noblest and greatest maxims of justice among men, and overflowed his life with shame and trouble? As Simonides jesting was wont to say, that the chest which he kept for money he found always full, but that which he kept for gratitude he found always empty; thus wicked men, contemplating their own wickedness, find it always void altogether and destitute of hope (since pleasure gives but a short and empty delight), but ever weighed down with fears and sorrows, ungrateful remembrances, suspicions of futurity, and distrusts of present accidents. Thus we hear Ino complaining upon the theatre, after her repentance of what she had done:

  • Dear women, tell me, with what face
  • Shall I return to dwell with Athamas,
  • As if it ne’er had been my luckless fate
  • The worst of foul misdeeds to perpetrate?*

Thus is it not reason to believe, that the soul of every wicked man revolves and reasons within itself, how by burying in oblivion former transgressions, and casting from itself the consciousness and the guilt of hitherto committed crimes, to fit frail mortality under her conduct for a new course of life? For there is nothing for a man to confide in, nothing Edition: current; Page: [159] but what vanishes like smoke, nothing durable or constant in whatever impiety proposes to itself, — unless, by Jove, we will allow the unjust and vicious to be sage philosophers, — but wherever eager avarice and voluptuousness, inexorable hatred, enmity, and improbity associate together, there you shall also be sure to find superstition nestling and herding with effeminacy and terror of death, a swift change of the most violent passions, and an arrogant ambition after undeserved honor. Such men as these stand in continual dread of their contemners and backbiters, they fear their applauders, believing themselves injured by their flatteries; and more especially, they are at enmity with bad men, because they are so free to extol those that seem good. However, that which hardens men to mischief soon cankers, grows brittle, and shivers in pieces like bad iron. So that in process of time, coming to understand themselves better and to be more sensible of their miscarriages, they disdain, abhor, and utterly disclaim their former course of life. And when we see how a wicked man who restores a trust or becomes security for his friend, or ambitious of honor contributes more largely to the benefits of his country, is immediately in a condition of repentance and sorry for what he has just done, by reason of the natural inclination of his mind to ramble and change; and how some men, being clapped and hummed upon the theatre, presently fall a weeping, their desire of glory relapsing into covetousness; we surely cannot believe that those which sacrificed the lives of men to the success of their tyrannies and conspiracies, as Apollodorus, or plundered their friends of their treasure and deprived them of their estates, as Glaucus the son of Epicydes, did not repent and abhor themselves, or that they were not sorry for the perpetration of such foul enormities. For my part, if it may be lawful for me to deliver my opinion, I believe there is no occasion either for the Edition: current; Page: [160] Gods or men to inflict their punishment upon the most wicked and sacrilegious offenders; seeing that the course of their own lives is sufficient to chastise their crimes, while they remain under the consternations and torments attending their impiety.

12. And now consider whether my discourse have not enlarged itself too far. To which Timon: Perhaps (said he) it may seem to have been too long, if we consider what remains behind, and the length of time required for the discussion of our other doubts. For now I am going about to put forward the last question, like a new champion, since we have contended already long enough upon the former. Now, as to what we have further to say, we find that Euripides delivers his mind freely, and censures the Gods for imputing the transgressions of forefathers unto their offspring. And I am apt to believe that even they who are most silent among us do the like. For if the offenders themselves have already received their reward, then there is no reason why the innocent should be punished, since it is not equal to punish even criminals twice for the same fact. But if remiss and careless, the Gods, omitting opportunely to inflict their penalties upon the wicked, send down their tardy rigor on the blameless, they do not well to repair their defective slowness by injustice. As it is reported of Aesop, that he came upon a time to Delphi, having brought along with him a great quantity of gold which Croesus had bestowed upon him, on purpose to offer a most magnificent oblation to the Gods, and with a design moreover to distribute among the priests and the people of Delphi four minas apiece. But there happening some disgust and difference between him and the Delphians, he performed his solemnity, but sent back his money to Sardis, not deeming those ungrateful people worthy of his bounty. Upon which the Delphians, laying their heads together, accused him of sacrilege, and Edition: current; Page: [161] then threw him down headlong from a steep and prodigious precipice, which is there, called Hyampia. Upon which it is reported that the Deity, being highly incensed against them for so horrid a murder, brought a famine upon the land, and infested the people with noisome diseases of all sorts; insomuch that they were constrained to make it their business to travel to all the general assemblies and places of public concourse in Greece, making public proclamation wherever they came, that, whoever they were that would demand justice for the death of Aesop, they were prepared to give him satisfaction and to undergo whatever penalty he should require. Three generations afterwards came one Idmon, a Samian, no way of kin or otherwise related to Aesop, but only descended from those who had purchased Aesop in Samos; to whom the Delphians paid those forfeitures which he demanded, and were delivered from all their pressing calamities. And from hence (by report) it was, that the punishment of sacrilegious persons was transferred from the rock Hyampia to that other cliff which bears the name of Nauplia.

Neither is Alexander applauded by those who have the greatest esteem for his memory (of which number are we ourselves), who utterly laid waste the city of Branchidae, putting men, women, and children to the sword, for that their ancestors had long before delivered up the temple of Miletus. In like manner Agathocles, tyrant of Syracuse, when the Corcyraeans requested to know the reason of him, why he depopulated their island, deriding and scoffing at their demand, replied: For no other reason, by Jove, but because your forefathers entertained Ulysses. And when the islanders of Ithaca expostulated with him, asking why his soldiers carried away their sheep; because, said he, when your king came to our island, he put out the eyes of the shepherd himself. And therefore do you not think Apollo more extravagant than all these, for punishing Edition: current; Page: [162] so severely the Pheneatae by stopping up that profound and spacious receptacle of all those floods that now cover their country, upon a bare report that Hercules a thousand years ago took away the prophetic tripod and carried it to Pheneus? — or when he foretold to the Sybarites, that all their calamities should cease, upon condition they appeased the wrath of Leucadian Juno by enduring three ruinous calamities upon their country? Nor is it so long since, that the Locrians surceased to send their virgins to Troy;

  • Who like the meanest slaves, exposed to scorn,
  • Barefoot, with limbs unclad, at earliest morn
  • Minerva’s temple sweep; yet all the while,
  • No privilege has age from weary toil.
  • Nor, when with years decrepit, can they claim
  • The thinnest veil to hide their aged shame;

and all this to punish the lasciviousness of Ajax.

Now where is the reason or justice of all this? Nor is the custom of the Thracians to be approved, who to this day abuse their wives in revenge of their cruelty to Orpheus. And with as little reason are the Barbarians about the river Po to be extolled, who once a year put themselves into mourning for the misfortune of Phaethon. And still more ridiculous than all this it would certainly be, when all those people that lived at the time took no notice of Phaethon’s mischance, that they, who happened to be born five or ten generations after, should be so idle as to take up the custom of going into black and bewailing his downfall. However, in all these things there is nothing to be observed but mere folly; nothing pernicious, nor any thing dangerous. But as for the anger of the Gods, what reason can be given why their wrath should stop and conceal itself upon a sudden, like some certain rivers, and when all things seem to be forgot, should break forth upon others with so much fury, as not to be atoned but with some remarkable calamities?

Edition: current; Page: [163]

13. Upon that, so soon as he had done speaking, not a little afraid lest, if he should begin again, he would run himself into many more and greater absurdities, I asked: Do you believe, sir, all that you have said to be true? Then he: Though all that I have alleged may not be true, yet if only some part may be allowed for truth, do not you think there is the same difficulty still remaining in the question? It may be so, said I. And thus it is with those who labor under a vehement burning fever; for, whether covered with one blanket or many, the heat is still the same or very little different; yet for refreshment’s sake it may be convenient sometimes to lighten the weight of the clothes; and if the patient refuse your courtesy, to let him alone. Yet I must tell you, the greatest part of these examples look like fables and fiction. Call to mind therefore the feast called Theoxenia lately celebrated, and that most noble portion which the public criers proclaim to be received as their due by the offspring of Pindar; and recollect with yourself, how majestic and grateful a mark of grandeur you look upon that to be. Truly, said he, I judge there is no man living who would not be sensible of the curiosity and elegancy of such an honor, displaying antiquity void of tincture and false glitter, after the Greek manner, unless he were such a brute that I may use the words of Pindar himself:

  • Whose coal-black heart, from natural dross unpurged,
  • Had only by cold flames at first been forged.

Therefore I forbear, said I, to mention that proclamation not much unlike to this, usually made in Sparta, — “After the Lesbian singer,” — in honor and memory of the ancient Terpander. But you, on the other side, deem yourself worthy to be preferred above all the rest of the Boeotians, as being of the noble race of the Opheltiadae; and among the Phocians you claim undoubted pre-eminence, for the sake of your ancestor Daiphantus. And, for my Edition: current; Page: [164] part, I must acknowledge that you were one of the first who assisted me, as my second, against the Lycormaeans and Satilaeans, claiming the privilege of wearing crowns and the honor due by the laws of Greece to the descendants from Hercules; at what time I affirmed, that those honors and guerdons ought more especially to be preserved inviolable to the immediate progeny of Hercules, in regard that, though he were so great a benefactor to the Greeks, yet in his lifetime he was not thought worthy of any reward or return of gratitude. You recall to my remembrance, said he, a most noble contest, and worthy the debate of philosophy itself. Dismiss therefore, said I, that vehement humor of yours that excites you to accuse the Gods, nor take it ill, if many times celestial punishment discharges itself upon the offspring of the wicked and vicious; or else be not too much overjoyed or too forward to applaud those honors which are due to nobility of birth. For it becomes us, if we believe that the reward of virtue ought to be extended to posterity, by the same reason to take it for granted that punishment for impieties committed ought not to be stayed and cease any sooner, but that it should run forward at equal pace with the reward, which will in turn requite every man with what is his due. And therefore they that with pleasure behold the race of Cimon highly honored in Athens, but on the other side, fret and fume at the exilement of the posterity of Lachares or Ariston, are too remiss and oscitant, or rather too morose and over quarrelsome with the Deity itself, one while accusing the Divinity if the posterity of an unjust and wicked person seem to prosper in the world, another time no less moody and finding fault if it fall out that the race of the wicked come to be utterly destroyed and extirpated from the earth. And thus, whether the children of the wicked or the children of the just fall under affliction, the case is all one to them; the Gods must suffer alike in their bad opinions.

Edition: current; Page: [165]

14. These, said I, are the preliminaries, which I would have you make use of against those choleric accusers and testy snarlers of whom I have given you warning. But now to take in hand once more, as it were, the first end of the bottom of thread, in this same dark discourse of the Gods, wherein there are so many windings and turnings and gloomy labyrinths, let us by degrees and with caution direct our steps to what is most likely and probable. For, even in those things which fall under our daily practice and management, we are many times at a loss to determine the undoubted and unquestioned truth. For example, what certain reason can be given for that custom amongst us, of ordering the children of parents that die of a consumption or a dropsy to sit with both their feet soaking in the water till the dead body be burnt? For people believe, that thereby the disease is prevented from becoming hereditary, and also that it is a charm to secure those children from it as long as they live. Again, what should be the reason, that if a goat take a piece of sea-holly in her mouth, the whole herd will stand still till the goat-herd come and take it out? Other hidden properties there are, which, by virtue of certain touches and transitions, pass from some bodies into others with incredible swiftness and often to incredible distances. But we are more apt to wonder at distances of time than those of space. And yet there is more reason to wonder, that Athens should be infected with an epidemic contagion taking its rise in Ethiopia, that Pericles should die and Thucydides be smitten with the infection, than that, upon the impiety of the Delphians and Sybarites, delayed vengeance should at length overtake their posterity. For these hidden powers and properties have their sacred connections and correspondences between their utmost endings and their first beginnings; of which although the causes be concealed from us, yet silently they bring to pass their proper effects.

Edition: current; Page: [166]

15. Not but that there is a reason ready at hand for the public punishments showered down from heaven upon particular cities. For a city is a kind of entire thing and continued body, a certain sort of creature, never subject to the changes and alterations of age, nor varying through process of time from one thing to another, but always sympathizing and in unity with itself, and receiving the punishment or reward of whatever it does or has ever acted in common, so long as the community, which makes it a body and binds it together with the mutual bands of human benefit, preserves its unity. For he that goes about of one city to make many, and perhaps an infinite number, by distinguishing the intervals of time, seems to be like a person who would make several of one single man, because he is now grown elderly who before was a young man, and before that a mere stripling. Or rather, it resembles the method of disputing amongst the Epicharmians, the first authors of that manner of arguing called the increaser. For example: he that formerly ran in debt, although he never paid it, owes nothing now, as being become another man; and he that was invited yesterday to supper comes the next night an unbidden guest, for that he is quite another person. And indeed the distinctions of ages cause greater alterations in every one of us than commonly they do in cities. For he that has seen Athens may know it again thirty years after; the present manners, motions, pastimes, serious studies, their familiarities and marks of their displeasure, little or nothing differing from what formerly they were. But after a long absence there is many a man who, meeting his own familiar friend, hardly knows him again, by reason of the great alteration of his countenance and the change of his manners, which are so easily subject to the alterations of language, labor, and employment, all manner of accidents, and mutation of laws, that even they who are most usually conversant with him admire Edition: current; Page: [167] to see the strangeness and novelty of the change; and yet the man is reputed still to be the same from his birth to his decease. In the same manner does a city still remain the same; and for that reason we think it but justice, that a city should as well be obnoxious to the blame and reproach of its ancient inhabitants, as participate the glory of their former puissance and renown; else we shall throw every thing before we know it into the river of Heraclitus, into which (he says) no one can step twice,* since Nature by her changes is ever altering and transforming all things.

16. Now then, if a city be one entire and continued body, the same opinion is to be conceived of a race of men, depending upon one and the same beginning, and carrying along with it a certain power and communion of qualities; in regard that what is begotten cannot be thought to be severed from that which begets it, like a piece of workmanship from the artificer; the one being begotten of the person, the other framed by him. So that what is engendered is a part of the original from whence it sprung, whether meriting honor or deserving punishment. So that, were it not that I might be thought to be too sportive in a serious discourse, I would affirm, that the Athenians were more unjust to the statue of Cassander when they caused it to be melted down and defaced, and that the Syracusans were more rigorous to the dead carcass of Dionysius when they cast it forth of their own confines, than if they had punished their posterity; for that the statue did no way partake of the substance of Cassander, and the soul of Dionysius was absolutely departed from the body deceased. Whereas Nisaeus, Apollocrates, Antipater, Philip, and several others descended from wicked parents, still retained the most principal part of those who begot them, not lazily Edition: current; Page: [168] and sluggishly dormant, but that very part by which they live, are nourished, act and move, and become rational and sensible creatures. Neither is there any thing of absurdity, if, being the offspring of such parents, they should retain many of their bad qualities. In short, therefore, I affirm that, as it is in the practice of physic, that whatever is wholesome and profitable is likewise just, and as he would be accounted ridiculous that should aver it to be an act of injustice to cauterize the thumb for the cure of the sciatica, or when the liver is imposthumated, to scarify the belly, or when the hoofs of laboring oxen are over tender, to anoint the tips of their horns; in the same manner is he to be laughed at who seeks for any other justice in the punishment of vice than the cure and reformation of the offender, and who is angry when medicine is applied to some parts for the cure of others, as when a chirurgeon opens a vein to give his patient ease upon an inflammation of the eyes. For such a one seems to look no farther than what he reaches by his senses, forgetting that a schoolmaster, by chastising one, admonishes all the rest of his scholars, and that a general, condemning only one in ten, reduces all the rest to obedience. And thus there is not only a cure and amendment of one part of the body by another; but many times the very soul itself is inclined to vice or reformation, by the lewdness or virtue of another, and indeed much more readily than one body is affected by another. For, in the case of the body, as it seems natural, the same affections and the same changes must always occur; while the soul, being agitated by fancy and imagination, becomes better or worse, as it is either daring and confident or timorous and mistrustful.

17. While I was yet speaking, Olympicus interrupting me said: You seem by this discourse of yours to infer as if the soul were immortal, which is a supposition of great consequence. It is very true, said I, nor is it any more Edition: current; Page: [169] than what yourselves have granted already; in regard the whole dispute has tended from the beginning to this, that the supreme Deity overlooks us, and deals to every one of us according to our deserts. To which the other: Do you then believe (said he) it follows of necessity that, because the Deity observes our actions and distributes to every one of us according to our merits, therefore our souls should exist and be altogether incorruptible, or else for a certain time survive the body after death? Not so fast, good sir, said I. But can we think that God so little considers his own actions, or is such a waster of his time in trifles, that, if we had nothing of divine within us, nothing that in the least resembled his perfection, nothing permanent and stable, but were only poor creatures, that (according to Homer’s expression) faded and dropped like withered leaves, and in a short time too, yet he should make so great account of us — like women that bestow their pains in making little gardens, no less delightful to them than the gardens of Adonis, in earthen pans and pots — as to create us souls to blossom and flourish only for a day, in a soft and tender body of flesh, without any firm and solid root of life, and then to be blasted and extinguished in a moment upon every slight occasion? And therefore, if you please, not concerning ourselves with other Deities, let us go no farther than the God Apollo, whom here we call our own; see whether it is likely that he, knowing that the souls of the deceased vanish away like clouds and smoke, exhaling from our bodies like a vapor, requires that so many propitiations and such great honors be paid to the dead, and such veneration be given to the deceased, merely to delude and cozen his believers. And therefore, for my part, I will never deny the immortality of the soul, till somebody or other, as they say Hercules did of old, shall be so daring as to come and take away the prophetical tripod, and so quite ruin and destroy the oracle. Edition: current; Page: [170] For as long as many oracles are uttered even in these our days by the Delphic soothsayer, the same in substance which was formerly given to Corax the Naxian, it is impious to declare that the human soul can die.

Then Patrocleas: What oracle was this? Who was that same Corax? For both the answer itself and the person whom you mention are strangers to my remembrance. Certainly, said I, that cannot be; only it was my error which occasioned your ignorance, in making use of the addition to the name instead of the name itself. For it was Calondas, who slew Archilochus in fight, and who was surnamed Corax. He was thereupon ejected by the Pythian priestess, as one who had slain a person devoted to the Muses; but afterwards, humbling himself in prayers and supplications, intermixed with undeniable excuses of the fact, was enjoined by the oracle to repair to the habitation of Tettix, there to expiate his crime by appeasing the ghost of Archilochus. That place was called Taenarus; for there it was, as the report goes, that Tettix the Cretan, coming with a navy, landed, built a city not far from the Psychopompaeum (or place where ghosts are conjured up), and stored it with inhabitants. In like manner, when the Spartans were commanded by the oracle to atone the ghost of Pausanias, they sent for several exorcisers and conjurers out of Italy, who by virtue of their sacrifices chased the apparition out of the temple.

18. Therefore, said I, there is one and the same reason to confirm the providence of God and the immortality of the soul; neither is it possible to admit the one, if you deny the other. Now then, the soul surviving after the decease of the body, the inference is the stronger that it partakes of punishment and reward. For during this mortal life the soul is in continual combat like a wrestler; but after all those conflicts are at an end, she then receives according to her merits. But what the punishments and what Edition: current; Page: [171] the rewards of past transgressions or just and laudable actions are to be while the soul is thus alone by itself, is nothing at all to us that are alive; for either they are altogether concealed from our knowledge, or else we give but little credit to them. But those punishments that reach succeeding posterity, being conspicuous to all that are living at the same time, restrain and curb the inclinations of many wicked persons. Now I have a story that I lately heard, which I might relate to show that there is no punishment more grievous or that touches more to the quick, than for a man to behold his children born of his body suffering for his crimes; and that, if the soul of a wicked and lawless criminal were to look back to earth and behold, not his statues overturned and his dignities reversed, but his own children, his friends, or his nearest kindred ruined and overwhelmed with calamity, such a person, were he to return to life again, would rather choose the refusal of all Jupiter’s honors than abandon himself a second time to his wonted injustice and extravagant desires. This story, I say, I could relate, but that I fear lest you should censure it for a fable. And therefore I deem it much the better way to keep close to what is probable and consentaneous to reason. By no means, replied Olympicus; but proceed, and gratify us with your story also, since it was so kindly offered. Thereupon, when the rest of the company likewise made me the same request, Permit me, said I, in the first place, to pursue the rational part of my discourse, and then, according as it shall seem proper and convenient, if it be a fable, you shall have it as cheap as I heard it.

19. Bion was of opinion that God, in punishing the children of the wicked for the sins of their fathers, seems more irregular than a physician that should administer physic to a son or a grandchild, to cure the distemper of a father or a grandfather. But this comparison does not Edition: current; Page: [172] run cleverly; since the amplification of the similitude agrees only in some things, but in others is altogether defective. For if one man be cured of a disease by physic, the same medicine will not cure another; nor was it ever known that any person troubled with sore eyes or laboring under a fever was ever restored to perfect health by seeing another in the same condition anointed or plastered. But the punishments or executions of malefactors are done publicly in the face of the world, to the end that, justice appearing to be the effect of prudence and reason, some may be restrained by the correction inflicted upon others. So that Bion never rightly apprehended where the comparison answered to our question. For oftentimes it happens, that a man comes to be haunted with a troublesome though not incurable disease, and through sloth and in temperance increases his distemper, and weakens his body to that degree that he occasions his own death. After this, it is true, the son does not fall sick; only he has received from his father’s seed such a habit of body as makes him liable to the same disease; which a good physician or a tender friend or a skilful apothecary or a careful master observing confines him to a strict and spare diet, restrains him from all manner of superfluity, keeps him from all the temptations of delicious fare, wine, and women, and making use of wholesome and proper physic, together with convenient exercise, dissipates and extirpates the original cause of a distemper at the beginning, before it grows to a head and gets a masterless dominion over the body. And is it not our usual practice thus to admonish those that are born of diseased parents, to take timely care of themselves, and not to neglect the malady, but to expel the original nourishment of the inbred evil, as being then easily movable and apt for expulsion? It is very true, cried they. Therefore, said I, we cannot be said to do an absurd thing, but what is absolutely necessary, — nor that Edition: current; Page: [173] which is ridiculous, but what is altogether useful, — while we prescribe to the children of the epileptic, the hypochondriacal, and those that are subject to the gout, such exercises, diet, and remedies as are proper, not so much because they are at that time troubled with the distemper, as to prevent the malady. For a man begotten by an unsound body does not therefore deserve punishment, but rather the preservation of proper physic and good regimen; which if any one call the punishment of fear or effeminacy, because the person is debarred his pleasures and put to some sort of pain by cupping and blistering, we mind not what he says. If then it be of such importance to preserve, by physic and other proper means, the vitiated offspring of another body, foul and corrupted; ought we to suffer the hereditary resemblances of a wicked nature to sprout up and bud in the youthful character, and to wait till they are diffused into all the affections of the mind, and bring forth and ripen the malignant fruit of a mischievous disposition? For such is the expression of Pindar.

20. Or can you believe but that in this particular God is wiser than Hesiod, admonishing and exhorting us in this manner:*

  • Nor mind the pleasures of the genial bed,
  • Returning from th’ interment of the dead;
  • But propagate the race, when heavenly food
  • And feasting with the Gods have warmed the blood;

intimating thereby, that a man was never to attempt the work of generation but in the height of a jocund and merry humor, and when he found himself as it were dissolved into jollity; as if from procreation proceeded the impressions not only of vice or virtue, but of sorrow and joy, and of all other qualities and affections whatever. However, it is not the work of human wisdom (as Hesiod supposes) but of divine providence, to foresee the sympathies Edition: current; Page: [174] and differences of men’s natures, before the malignant infection of their unruly passions come to exert itself, by hurrying their unadvised youth into a thousand villanous miscarriages. For though the cubs of bears and whelps of wolves and apes immediately discover their several inbred qualities and natural conditions without any disguise or artificial concealment, man is nevertheless a creature more refined, who, many times curbed by the shame of transgressing common customs, universal opinion, or the law, conceals the evil that is within him, and imitates only what is laudable and honest. So that he may be thought to have altogether cleansed and rinsed away the stains and imperfections of his vicious disposition, and so cunningly for a long time to have kept his natural corruption wrapped up under the covering of craft and dissimulation, that we are scarce sensible of the fallacy till we feel the stripes or sting of his injustice; believing men to be only then unjust, when they offer wrong to ourselves; lascivious, when we see them abandoning themselves to their lusts; and cowards, when we see them turning their backs upon the enemy; just as if any man should be so idle as to believe a scorpion had no sting until he felt it, or that a viper had no venom until it bit him, — which is a silly conceit. For there is no man that only then becomes wicked when he appears to be so; but, having the seeds and principles of iniquity within him long before, the thief steals when he meets with a fit opportunity, and the tyrant violates the law when he finds himself surrounded with sufficient power. But neither is the nature and disposition of any man concealed from God, as taking upon him with more exactness to scrutinize the soul than the body; nor does he tarry till actual violence or lewdness be committed, to punish the hands of the wrong-doer, the tongue of the profane, or the transgressing members of the lascivious and obscene. For he does not exercise his Edition: current; Page: [175] vengeance on the unjust for any wrong that he has received by his injustice, nor is he angry with the highway robber for any violence done to himself, nor does he abominate the adulterer for defiling his bed; but many times, by way of cure and reformation, he chastises the adulterer, the covetous miser, and the wronger of his neighbors, as physicians endeavor to subdue an epilepsy by preventing the coming of the fits.

21. What shall I say? But even a little before we were offended at the Gods protracting and delaying the punishments of the wicked, and now we are as much displeased that they do not curb and chastise the depravities of an evil disposition before the fact committed; not considering that many times a mischief contrived for future execution may prove more dreadful than a fact already committed, and that dormant villany may be more dangerous than open and apparent iniquity; not being able to apprehend the reason wherefore it is better to bear with the unjust actions of some men, and to prevent the meditating and contrivance of mischief in others. As, in truth, we do not rightly comprehend why some remedies and physical drugs are no way convenient for those that labor under a real disease, yet wholesome and profitable for those that are seemingly in health, but yet perhaps in a worse condition than they who are sick. Whence it comes to pass, that the Gods do not always turn the transgressions of parents upon their children; but if a virtuous son happen to be the offspring of a wicked father, — as often it falls out that a sane child is born of one that is unsound and crazy, — such a one is exempted from the punishment which threatens the whole descent, as having been adopted into a virtuous family. But for a young man that treads in the footsteps of a criminal race, it is but just that he should succeed to the punishment of his ancestor’s iniquity, as one of the debts attached to his inheritance. Edition: current; Page: [176] For neither was Antigonus punished for the crimes of Demetrius; nor (among the ancient heroes) Phyleus for the transgressions of Augeas, nor Nestor for the impiety of Neleus; in regard that, though their parents were wicked, yet they were virtuous themselves. But as for those whose nature has embraced and espoused the vices of their parentage, them holy vengeance prosecutes, pursuing the likeness and resemblance of sin. For as the warts and moles and freckles of parents, not seen upon the children of their own begetting, many times afterwards appear again upon the children of their sons and daughters; and as the Grecian woman that brought forth a blackamore infant, for which she was accused of adultery, proved herself, upon diligent inquiry, to be the offspring of an Ethiopian after four generations; and as among the children of Pytho the Nisibian, — said to be descended from the Sparti, that were the progeny of those men that sprung from the teeth of Cadmus’s dragon, — the youngest of his sons, who lately died, was born with the print of a spear upon his body, the usual mark of that ancient line, which, not having been seen for many revolutions of years before, started up again, as it were, out of the deep, and showed itself the renewed testimonial of the infant’s race; so many times it happens that the first descents and eldest races hide and drown the passions and affections of the mind peculiar to the family, which afterward bud forth again, and display the natural propensity of the succeeding progeny to vice or virtue.

22. Having thus concluded, I held my peace; when Olympicus smiling said: We forbear as yet to give you our approbation, that we may not seem to have forgot the fable; not but that we believe your discourse to have been sufficiently made out by demonstration, only we reserve our opinion till we shall have heard the relation of that likewise. Upon which, I began again after this manner: Edition: current; Page: [177] There was one Thespesius of Soli, the friend and familiar acquaintance of that Protogenes who for some time conversed among us. This gentleman, in his youth leading a debauched and intemperate life, in a short time spent his patrimony, and then for some years became very wicked; but afterwards repenting of his former follies and extravagancies, and pursuing the recovery of his lost estate by all manner of tricks and shifts, did as is usual with dissolute and lascivious youth, who when they have wives of their own never mind them at all, but when they have dismissed them, and find them married to others that watch them with a more vigilant affection, endeavor to corrupt and vitiate them by all the unjust and wicked provocations imaginable. In this humor, abstaining from nothing that was lewd and illegal, so it tended to his gain and profit, he got no great matter of wealth, but procured to himself a world of infamy by his unjust and knavish dealing with all sorts of people. Yet nothing made him more the talk of the country, than the answer which was brought him back from the oracle of Amphilochus. For thither it seems he sent, to inquire of the Deity whether he should live any better the remaining part of his life. To which the oracle returned, that it would be better with him after he was dead. And indeed, not long after, in some measure it so fell out; for he happened to fall from a certain precipice upon his neck, and though he received no wound nor broke any limb, yet the force of the fall beat the breath out of his body. Three days after, being carried forth to be buried, as they were just ready to let him down into the grave, of a sudden he came to himself, and recovering his strength, so altered the whole course of his life, that it was almost incredible to all that knew him. For by the report of the Cilicians, there never was in that age a juster person in common dealings between man and man, more devout and religious as to divine worship, more an enemy Edition: current; Page: [178] to the wicked, nor more constant and faithful to his friends; which was the reason that they who were more conversant with him were desirous to hear from himself the cause of so great an alteration, not believing that so great a reformation could proceed from bare chance; though it was true that it did so, as he himself related to Protogenes and others of his choicest friends.

For when his sense first left his body, it seemed to him as if he had been some pilot flung from the helm by the force of a storm into the midst of the sea. Afterwards, rising up again above water by degrees, so soon as he thought he had fully recovered his breath, he looked about him every way, as if one eye of his soul had been open. But he beheld nothing of those things which he was wont formerly to see, only he saw stars of a vast magnitude, at an immense distance one from the other, and sending forth a light most wonderful for the brightness of its color, which shot itself out in length with an incredible force; on which the soul riding, as it were in a chariot, was most swiftly, yet as gently and smoothly, dandled from one place to another. But omitting the greatest part of the sights which he beheld, he saw, as he said, the souls of such as were newly departed, as they mounted from below, resembling little fiery bubbles, to which the air gave way. Which bubbles afterwards breaking insensibly and by degrees, the soul came forth in the shapes of men and women, light and nimble, as being discharged of all their earthly substance. However, they differed in their motion; for some of them leaped forth with a wonderful swiftness, and mounted up in a direct line; others like so many spindles of spinning-wheels turned round and round, sometimes whisking upwards, sometimes darting downwards, with a confused and mixed agitation, that could hardly be stopped in a very long time.

Of these souls he knew not who the most part were; Edition: current; Page: [179] only perceiving two or three of his acquaintance, he endeavored to approach and discourse them. But they neither heard him speak, neither indeed did they seem to be in their right mind, fluttering and out of their senses, avoiding either to be seen or felt; they frisked up and down at first, alone and apart by themselves, till meeting at length with others in the same condition, they clung together; but still their motions were with the same giddiness and uncertainty as before, without steerage or purpose; and they sent forth inarticulate sounds, like the cries of soldiers in combat, intermixed with the doleful yells of fear and lamentation. Others there were that towered aloft in the upper region of the air, and these looked gay and pleasant, and frequently accosted each other with kindness and respect; but they shunned those troubled souls, and seemed to show discontent by crowding together, and joy and pleasure by expanding and separating from each other. One of these, said he, being the soul of a certain kinsman, — which, because the person died when he was but very young, he did not very well know, — drew near him, and saluted him by the name of Thespesius; at which being in a kind of amazement, and saying his name was not Thespesius but Aridaeus, the spirit replied, ’twas true that formerly he was so called, but that from thenceforth he must be Thespesius, that is to say “divine.” For thou art not in the number of the dead as yet, it said, but by a certain destiny and permission of the Gods, thou art come hither only with thy intellectual faculty, having left the rest of thy soul, like an anchor, in thy body. And that thou mayst be assured of this, observe it for a certain rule, both now and hereafter, that the souls of the deceased neither cast any shadow, neither do they open and shut their eyelids. Thespesius having heard this discourse, was so much the more encouraged to make use of his own reason; and therefore looking round about to prove the truth Edition: current; Page: [180] of what had been told him, he could perceive that there followed him a kind of obscure and shadowlike line, whereas those other souls shone like a round body of perfect light, and were transparent within. And yet there was a very great difference between them too; for that some yielded a smooth, even, and contiguous lustre, all of one color, like the full-moon in her brightest splendor; others were marked with long scales or slender streaks; others were all over spotted and very ugly to look upon, as being covered with black speckles like the skins of vipers; and others were marked by faint scratches.

Moreover, this kinsman of Thespesius (for nothing hinders but that we may call the souls by the names of the persons which they enlivened), proceeding to give a relation of several other things, informed his friend how that Adrastea, the daughter of Jupiter and Necessity, was seated in the highest place of all, to punish all manner of crimes and enormities; and that in the whole number of the wicked and ungodly, there never was any one, whether great or little, high or low, rich or poor, that ever could by force or cunning escape the severe lashes of her rigor. But as there are three sorts of punishments, so there are three several Furies, or female ministers of justice; and to every one of these belongs a peculiar office and degree of punishment. The first of these was called Speedy Punishment, who takes in charge those that are presently to receive bodily punishment in this life, which she manages after a more gentle manner, omitting the correction of many offences which need expiation. But if the cure of impiety require a greater labor, the Deity delivers them after death to Justice. But when Justice has given them over as altogether incurable, then the third and most severe of all Adrastea’s ministers, Erinnys (the Fury), takes them in hand; and after she has chased and coursed them from one place to another, flying, yet not knowing where to Edition: current; Page: [181] fly, for shelter or relief, plagued and tormented with a thousand miseries, she plunges them headlong into an invisible abyss, the hideousness of which no tongue car express.

Now, of all these three sorts, that which is inflicted by punishment in this life resembles the practice among the barbarians. For, as among the Persians, they take off the garments and turbans of those that are to be punished, and tear and whip them before the offender’s faces, while the criminals, with tears and lamentations, beseech the executioners to give over; so corporal punishments, and penalties by mulcts and fines, have no sharpness or severity, nor do they take hold upon the vice itself, but are inflicted for the most part only with regard to appearance and to the outward sense. But if any one comes hither that has escaped punishment while he lived upon earth and before he was well purged from his crimes, Justice takes him to task, naked as he is, with his soul displayed, as having nothing to conceal or veil his impiety; but on all sides and to all men’s eyes and every way exposed, she shows him first to his honest parents, if he had any such, to let them see how degenerate he was and unworthy of his progenitors. But if they were wicked likewise, then are their sufferings rendered yet more terrible by the mutual sight of each other’s miseries, and those for a long time inflicted, till each individual crime has been quite effaced with pains and torments as far surmounting in sharpness and severity all punishments and tortures of the flesh, as what is real and evident surpasses an idle dream. But the weals and stripes that remain after punishment appear more signal in some, in others are less evident.

View there, said he, those various colors of souls. That same black and sordid hue is the tincture of avarice and fraud. That bloody and flame-like dye betokens cruelty, and an imbittered desire of revenge. Where you perceive Edition: current; Page: [182] a bluish color, it is a sign that soul will hardly be cleansed from the impurities of lascivious pleasure and voluptuousness. Lastly, that same dark, violet, and venomous color, resembling the sordid ink which the cuttle fish spews up, proceeds from envy. For as during life the wickedness of the soul, being governed by human passions and itself governing the body, occasions this variety of colors; so here it is the end of expiation and punishment, when these are cleansed away, and the soul recovers her native lustre and becomes clear and spotless. But so long as these remain, there will be some certain returns of the passions, accompanied with little pantings and beatings, as it were of the pulse, in some remiss and languid and quickly extinguished, in others more quick and vehement. Some of these souls, being again and again chastised, recover a due habit and disposition; while others, by the force of ignorance and the enticing show of pleasure, are carried into the bodies of brute beasts. For while some, through the feebleness of their ratiocinating, while their slothfulness will not permit them to contemplate, are impelled by their active principle to seek a new generation; others again, wanting the instrument of intemperance, yet desirous to gratify their desires with the full swing of enjoyment, endeavor to promote their designs by means of the body. But alas! here is nothing but an imperfect shadow and dream of pleasure, that never attains to ability of performance.

Having thus said, the spirit quickly carried Thespesius to a certain place, as it appeared to him, prodigiously spacious; yet so gently and without the least deviation, that he seemed to be borne upon the rays of the light as upon wings. Thus at length he came to a certain gaping chasm, that was fathomless downward, where he found himself deserted by that extraordinary force which brought him thither, and perceived other souls also to be there in Edition: current; Page: [183] the same condition. For hovering upon the wing in flocks together like birds, they kept flying round and round the yawning rift, but durst not enter into it. Now this same cleft withinside resembled the dens of Bacchus, fringed about with the pleasing verdure of various herbs and plants, that yielded a more delightful prospect still of all sorts of flowers, enamelling the green so with a wonderful diversity of colors, and breathing forth at the same time a soft and gentle breeze, which perfumed all the ambient air with odors most surprising, as grateful to the smell as the sweet flavor of wine to those that love it. Insomuch that the souls banqueting upon these fragrancies were almost all dissolved in raptures of mirth and caresses one among another, there being nothing to be heard for some fair distance round about the place, but jollity and laughter, and all the cheerful sounds of joy and harmony, which are usual among people that pass their time in sport and merriment.

The spirit said, moreover, that Bacchus ascended through this overture to heaven, and afterwards returning fetched up Semele the same way; and that it was called the place of oblivion. Wherefore his kinsman would not suffer Thespesius to tarry there any longer, though very unwilling to depart, but took him away by force; informing and instructing him withal, how strangely and how suddenly the mind was subject to be softened and melted by pleasure; that the irrational and corporeal part, being watered and incarnated thereby, revives the memory of the body, and that from this remembrance proceed concupiscence and desire, exciting an appetite for a new generation and entrance into a body — which is named γένεσις as being an inclination towards the earth (ἐπὶ γῆν νεῦσις) — when the soul is weighed down with overmuch moisture.

At length, after he had been carried as far another way as when he was transported to the yawning overture, he Edition: current; Page: [184] thought he beheld a prodigious standing goblet, into which several rivers discharged themselves; among which there was one whiter than snow or the foam of the sea, another resembled the purple color of the rainbow. The tinctures of the rest were various; besides that, they had their several lustres at a distance. But when he drew nearer, the ambient air became more subtile and rarefied, and the colors vanished, so the goblet retained no more of its flourishing beauty except the white. At the same time he saw three Daemons sitting together in a triangular aspect, and blending and mixing the rivers together with certain measures. Thus far, said the guide of Thespesius’s soul, did Orpheus come, when he sought after the soul of his wife; and not well remembering what he had seen, upon his return he raised a false report in the world, that the oracle at Delphi was in common to Night and Apollo, whereas Apollo never had any thing in common with Night. But, said the spirit, this oracle is in common to Night and to the Moon, no way included within earthly bounds, nor having any fixed or certain seat, but always wandering among men in dreams and visions. For from hence it is that all dreams are dispersed, compounded as they are of truth jumbled with falsehood, and sincerity with the various mixtures of craft and delusion. But as for the oracle of Apollo, said the spirit, you neither do see it, neither can you behold it; for the earthly part of the soul is not capable to release or let itself loose, nor is it permitted to reach sublimity, but it swags downward, as being fastened to the body.

And with that, leading Thespesius nearer, the spirit endeavored to show him the light of the Tripod, which, as he said, shooting through the bosom of Themis, fell upon Parnassus; which Thespesius was desirous to see, but could not, in regard the extraordinary brightness of the light dazzled his eyes; only passing by, he heard the shrill voice of a woman speaking in verse and measure, and Edition: current; Page: [185] among other things, as he thought, foretelling the time of his death. This the genius told him was the voice of a Sibyl who, being orbicularly whirled about in the face of the moon, continually sang of future events. Thereupon being desirous to hear more, he was tossed the quite contrary way by the violent motion of the moon, as by the force of rolling waves; so that he could hear but very little, and that very concisely too. Among other things, he heard what was prophesied concerning the mountain Vesuvius, and the future destruction of Dicaearchia by fire; together with a piece of a verse concerning a certain emperor* or great famous chieftain of that age,

  • Who, though so just that no man could accuse,
  • Howe’er his empire should by sickness lose.

After this, they passed on to behold the torments of those that were punished. And indeed at first they met with none but lamentable and dismal sights. For Thespesius, when he least suspected any such thing, and before he was aware, was got among his kindred, his acquaintance, and companions, who, groaning under the horrid pains of their cruel and ignominious punishments, with mournful cries and lamentations called him by his name. At length he saw his father ascending out of a certain abyss, all full of stripes, gashes, and scars; who stretching forth his hands — not permitted to keep silence, but constrained to confess by his tormentors — acknowledged that he had most impiously poisoned several of his guests for the sake of their gold; of which not being detected while he lived upon earth, but being convicted after his decease, he had endured part of his torments already, and now they were haling him where he should suffer more. However, he durst not either entreat or intercede for his father, such was his fear and consternation; and therefore being desirous to retire and be gone, he looked about for his kind and courteous Edition: current; Page: [186] guide; but he had quite left him, so that he saw him no more.

Nevertheless, being pushed forward by other deformed and grim-looked goblins, as if there had been some necessity for him to pass forward, he saw how that the shadows of such as had been notorious malefactors, and had been punished in this world, were not tormented so grievously nor alike to the others, in regard that only the imperfect and irrational part of the soul, which was consequently most subject to passions, was that which made them so industrious in vice. Whereas those who had shrouded a vicious and impious life under the outward profession and a gained opinion of virtue, their tormentors constrained to turn their insides outward with great difficulty and dreadful pain, and to writhe and screw themselves contrary to the course of nature, like the sea scolopenders, which, having swallowed the hook, throw forth their bowels and lick it out again. Others they flayed and scarified, to display their occult hypocrisies and latent impieties, which had possessed and corrupted the principal part of their souls. Other souls, as he said, he also saw, which being twisted two and two, three and three, or more together gnawed and devoured each other, either upon the score of old grudges and former malice they had borne one another, or else in revenge of the injuries and losses they had sustained upon earth.

Moreover, he said, there were certain lakes that lay parallel and equidistant one from the other, the one of boiling gold, another of lead, exceeding cold, and the third of iron, which was very scaly and rugged. By the sides of these lakes stood certain Daemons, that with their instruments, like smiths or founders, put in or drew out the souls of such as had transgressed either through avarice or an eager desire of other men’s goods. For the flame of the golden furnace having rendered these souls of a fiery Edition: current; Page: [187] and transparent color, they plunged them into that of lead; where after they were congealed and hardened into a substance like hail, they were then thrown into the lake of iron, where they became black and deformed, and being broken and crumbled by the roughness of the iron, changed their form; and being thus transformed, they were again thrown into the lake of gold; in all these transmutations enduring most dreadful and horrid torments. But they that suffered the most dire and dismal torture of all were those who, thinking that divine vengeance had no more to say to them, were again seized and dragged to repeated execution; and these were those for whose transgression their children or posterity had suffered. For when any of the souls of those children come hither and meet with any of their parents or ancestors, they fall into a passion, exclaim against them, and show them the marks of what they have endured. On the other side, the souls of the parents endeavor to sneak out of sight and hide themselves; but the others follow them so close at the heels, and load them in such a manner with bitter taunts and reproaches, that not being able to escape, their tormentors presently lay hold of them, and hale them to new tortures, howling and yelling at the very thought of what they have suffered already. And some of these souls of suffering posterity, he said, there were, that swarmed and clung together like bees or bats, and in that posture murmured forth their angry complaints of the miseries and calamities which they had endured for their sakes.

The last things that he saw were the souls of such as were designed for a second life. These were bowed, bent, and transformed into all sorts of creatures by the force of tools and anvils and the strength of workmen appointed for that purpose, that laid on without mercy, bruising the whole limbs of some, breaking others, disjointing others, and pounding some to powder and annihilation, on purpose Edition: current; Page: [188] to render them fit for other lives and manners. Among the rest, he saw the soul of Nero many ways most grievously tortured, but more especially transfixed with iron nails. This soul the workmen took in hand; but when they had forged it into the form of one of Pindar’s vipers, which eats its way to life through the bowels of the female, of a sudden a conspicuous light shone out, and a voice was heard out of the light, which gave order for the transfiguring it again into the shape of some more mild and gentle creature; and so they made it to resemble one of those creatures that usually sing and croak about the sides of ponds and marshes. For indeed he had in some measure been punished for the crimes he had committed; besides, there was some compassion due to him from the Gods, for that he had restored the Grecians to their liberty, a nation the most noble and best beloved of the Gods among all his subjects. And now being about to return, such a terrible dread surprised Thespesius as had almost frighted him out of his wits. For a certain woman, admirable for her form and stature, laying hold of his arm, said to him: Come hither, that thou mayst the better be enabled to retain the remembrance of what thou hast seen. With that she was about to strike him with a small fiery wand, not much unlike to those that painters use; but another woman prevented her. After this, as he thought himself, he was whirled or hurried away with a strong and violent wind, forced as it were through a pipe; and so lighting again into his own body, he awoke and found himself on the brink of his own grave.

Edition: current; Page: [189]


1. Appeals to foreign judicatures first came in request among the Grecians out of their distrust of one another’s justice, they deeming it as requisite to fetch justice from abroad, as any other necessary commodity which was not of their own growth. And is it not even so that philosophers, by reason of dissensions amongst themselves, have in the decision of some questions appealed to the nature of irrational beings, as to a strange city, and have submitted the final determination of such questions to the affections or to the dispositions of brutes, as being unbiassed and not corrupted by bribes? Or else this is the general complaint of human frailty, that while we differ about the most necessary and the greatest things, we consult horses, dogs, and birds, how we should marry, beget children, and bring them up; and, as if the evidence of Nature in ourselves were not to be trusted, we appeal to the dispositions and affections of brute beasts, and testify against the manifold transgressions of our own lives, intimating how at the very first and in the first things we are confounded and disturbed. For Nature conserves the propriety in them pure, unmixed, and simple; but in men, the mixture of ascititious opinions and judgments (as oil is served by the druggists) alters the properties, and does not preserve what is their peculiar. Nor need we wonder if irrational animals Edition: current; Page: [190] follow Nature more than rational; for plants do it more than animals, for they have neither imagination nor passion for what is not according to Nature, but are bound in chains, and ever go that one way that Nature leads them. Brutes do little regard gentleness, wit, or liberty; they have indeed the use of irrational incitements and appetites, which put them upon wandering and running about, — but seldom far, for they seem to lie at the anchor of Nature, who guides them in the right way (as it were) by bit and bridle. But reason, the lord and master in man, finds sometimes one turning, sometimes another; but in all its wanderings leaves no mark or footstep of Nature.

2. But in brutes observe how all things are accommodated to Nature. As to marriages, they tarry not till laws are passed against celibacy and late marriages, as Lycurgus and Solon’s citizens did; they matter not the disgrace of wanting children; nor are they ambitious of the honor of having three children, as many Romans, who marry and get children, not that they may have heirs, but that they may get estates. Again, the male accompanies with the female not at all times, because not pleasure but procreation is his end. Therefore in the spring time, when the fruitful breezes blow and the air is of a pregnant temper, then the female approaches the male, gentle and desirable, wantoning in the sweet smell and peculiar ornament of her body, full of dew and pure grass; and when she perceives she has conceived, she modestly departs, and provides for her bringing forth and for the safety of what she shall be delivered of. What brutes do cannot be sufficiently expressed; in all of them their affection to their young is evident by their providence, patience, and continence. Indeed we call the bee wise, and we celebrate her who “deviseth the yellow honey,” flattering her for glutting us with her sweetness; but the wisdom and art of other creatures, about their bringing forth and the rearing their young, we Edition: current; Page: [191] wholly neglect. For instance, first, the king-fisher, when she has conceived, makes her nest of the prickles of the sea-needle, weaving them one among another, in form of a long oval fishing-net; then she puts it under the dashing of the waters, that being by degrees beaten upon and milled, it may acquire a smooth surface, and become so solid that it cannot easily be divided by either stone or iron. And what is more wonderful, the mouth of the nest is so exactly fitted to the king-fisher, that neither a greater nor a less animal can enter it; and when she is in (as they say) it will not admit the sea-water. The sea-fish called γαλεοί give birth to their young within themselves, let them go abroad to feed, and then take them into their bellies again when they go to sleep. The bear, a most fierce and ugly beast, brings forth her young shapeless and without limbs, but with her tongue, as with a tool, she shapes the members; so that she seems not only to bring forth but to work out her young. And Homer’s lioness, —

  • Thus in the centre of some gloomy wood,
  • With many a step the lioness surrounds
  • Her tawny young, beset by men and hounds;
  • Elate her heart, and rousing all her powers,
  • Dark o’er the fiery balls each hanging eyebrow lowers;*

does she not, I say, look as if she were contriving how to make a bargain with the huntsman for her whelps? For generally the love of their young makes bold creatures timorous, the slothful industrious, and the voracious parsimonious. So Homer’s bird “gives to her young, though with herself it go hard.” She feeds them by starving herself, and when she has taken up her food, she lays it down again, and keeps it down with her bill, lest she should swallow it unawares. In like manner,

  • For tender whelps, when strangers come in sight,
  • The barking bitch prepares herself to fight;
Edition: current; Page: [192]

and fear for her young turns into a second passion. When partridges and their young are pursued, the old suffer the young to fly away before, so contriving it that the fowler may think to catch them. Thus they hover about, run forward a little, then turn again, and so detain the fowler till their young are safe. We daily behold hens, how they cherish their chickens, taking some of them under their spread wings, suffering others of them to run upon their backs, and taking them in again, with a voice expressing kindness and joy. When themselves are concerned, they fly from dogs and serpents; but to defend their chickens, they will venture beyond their strength and fight.

And shall we think that Nature has bred such affections in these creatures, because she is solicitous for the propagation of hens, dogs, and bears, and not that she may by these means make us ashamed? Certainly we must conclude that these creatures, following the duct of nature, are for our example, and that they much upbraid the remorselessness of humanity, of which human nature alone is culpable, in not being capable of gratuitous love, nor knowing how to be a friend without profit. Well therefore might the comedian be admired who said, For reward only man loves man. Epicurus thinks that after this manner children are beloved of their parents, and parents of their children. But if the benefit of speech were allowed to brutes, and if horses, cows, dogs, and birds were brought upon the stage, and the song were changed, and it were said that neither the bitch loved her whelps for gain, nor the mare her foal, nor fowls their chickens, but that they were all beloved gratis and by impulse of nature, then by the affection of all brutes this assertion would be approved as just and true. And is it not a shame, that the procreation of beasts, their birth, pains in birth, and their education, should be by nature and gratis, and yet for these things that man should require usury, rewards, and bribes?

Edition: current; Page: [193]

3. This assertion, as to pure Nature, can never be true, nor ought it to be believed. For, as in wild plants, such as wild vines, figs, and olives, Nature has implanted the principles of cultivated fruit, though crude and imperfect; so she has endowed beasts with a love of their young, though imperfect and not attaining to justice, nor proceeding further than utility. But in man, whom she produced a rational and political being, inclining him to justice, law, religion, building of cities, and friendship, she hath placed the seed of those things that are generous, fair, and fruitful, — that is, the love of their children, — following the first principles which entered into the very constitution of their bodies. For terms and expressions are wanting to declare with what industry Nature — who is skilful, unerring, and not to be surpassed, and (as Erasistratus says) has nothing idle or frivolous — has contrived all things pertaining to the procreation of mankind; and modesty will not permit it. The making and economy of milk sufficiently speak her providence and care. In women what abundance of blood more than serves for necessary uses, which, through languidness and want of spirit, wanders about and disturbs the body; being at other times by Nature in monthly periods discharged by proper canals and passages, for the relief and purgation of the body, and to render the womb like a field fit for the plough and seed, and desirous of it at seasons. But when the womb has caught the seed, and it has taken root (for the navel as Democritus says, grows first, like an anchor to keep the foetus from fluctuating, or as a stay or footstalk to the child), then Nature stops the passages proper for monthly purgations, and keeps the superfluous blood after that for nourishment and to moisten the birth, which now begins to be formed and fashioned, and at the end of a set number of days increases so in the womb, that it must seek another place and other sort of food. Then Nature, more diligent than any husbandman, Edition: current; Page: [194] deriving the blood to other uses, has as it were some subterranean fountains, which receive the affluent liquors; and they receive them not negligently nor without affection, but with a gentle heat and womanish softness they concoct, mollify, and alter them; for in this manner are the breasts internally affected and tempered. And milk is not poured out of them by pipes in a full stream; but the breasts, terminating in flesh that is pervious by small and insensible passages, do afford store of sweet and pleasant sucking to the infant’s mouth. But for all this, such and so many instruments for procreation, such preparation, so great industry and providence, were all to no purpose, unless Nature had inbred in the mothers a love and care of their offspring.

  • Than man more wretched naught takes breath,
  • Not th’ vilest thing that creeps on earth;*

which infallibly holds good of infants new-born. For nothing can be beheld so imperfect, helpless, naked, shapeless, and nasty, as man is just at his birth; to whom alone almost Nature has denied a cleanly passage into the world; and as he is smeared with blood, and daubed with filth, more like to one killed than to one new-born, he could never be touched, taken in arms, kissed, or hugged by any one to whom Nature had not given an inbred affection for him. Therefore other animals have their dugs below their belly, which grow on woman above her breast, that she may the more conveniently kiss, embrace, and cherish her infant; because the end of bringing forth and rearing is not necessity but love.

4. For let us look back to ancient times, to those who first brought forth and who first saw a child born. Upon them certainly no law enjoined any necessity of rearing their offspring, nor could expectation of thanks oblige them to feed their infants, as if it were for usury. Nay, Edition: current; Page: [195] rather, they were angry with their children, and long remembered the injuries they had received from them, as authors of so many dangers and of so much pain and travail to them.

  • As when keen darts the fierce Ilithyiae send;
  • The powers that cause the teeming matron’s throes,
  • Sad mothers of unutterable woes!*

These verses, some say, were not written by Homer, but by some Homeress, who either had been or was then in travail, and felt the very pangs in her bowels. Yet the love implanted by Nature melts and sways the childbed woman. While she is still in a sweat and trembling for pain, she is not averse to her infant; but turns it to her, smiles on it, hugs and kisses it. Though she finds no true sweetness, nor yet profit, however, “she sometimes rocks it in a warm cradle, sometimes she dances it in the cool air, turning one toil into another, resting neither night nor day.”

For what reward or gain was all this? For as little then as now; for the hopes are uncertain and far off. He that plants a vine in the vernal equinox gathers grapes upon it in the autumnal. He that sows wheat at the setting of the Pleiades reaps it at their rising. Cows, mares, and birds bring forth young ready for use. Man’s education is laborious, his increase slow, his virtue lies at a distance; so that most parents die before their children show their virtue. Neocles never saw Themistocles’s victory at Salamis, nor Miltiades the valor of Cimon at Eurymedon; Xanthippus never heard Pericles pleading; nor Aristo Plato philosophizing; nor did the fathers of Euripides and Sophocles know the victories their sons won, though they heard them indeed stammering and learning to talk. It is the mishap of fathers to see the revelling, drinking, and love intrigues of their children; to which purpose that of Evenus is memorable,

Edition: current; Page: [196]
  • Terror or grief unto his father’s heart
  • A son must ever be.

And yet men find no end of rearing of children; they especially who have no need of them. For it is ridiculous to think that rich men, when they have children born to them, sacrifice and rejoice that they may have some to maintain and to bury them. Or is it perhaps that they bring up children for want of heirs, because, forsooth, men cannot be found to accept of another man’s estate? “Sand, dust, and the feathers of all the birds in the world, are not so numerous” as heirs are to other men’s estates. Danaus was the father of fifty daughters; but if he had wanted issue, he might have had many more heirs. The case is far otherwise with children; they make not acknowledgments nor curry favor nor pay their devotions, as expecting the inheritance of due. But you may hear strangers who hang about them that have no heirs, talking like the comedian:

  • O Demos, having after judgment bathed,
  • Drink, eat a morsel, take three oboli.*

And what Euripides said,

  • ’Tis money that procures us friends to choose,
  • And mightiest power o’er all things that men use,

does not universally hold true, but of such only as have no children. To such the rich give banquets, such great men honor, and for such only lawyers plead gratis. “A rich man who has no known heir can do great matters.” Many a man who has had a great number of friends and followers, as soon as he has had a child, has been divested of all his alliances and power. So that children do not augment a man’s power; but their whole power over their parents’ affection is due to Nature, and is shown no less in men than in beasts.

5. But this natural affection, like many other good qualities Edition: current; Page: [197] in men, may be choked and obscured by vices; as when a wild forest is sown with garden-seeds. Can we say that man loves not himself, because some hang themselves, others break their own necks, Oedipus put out his own eyes,* and Hegesias, by his disputation, persuaded many of his auditors to pine themselves to death?

For fatal things in various shapes do walk.

But all these things are disease and craziness of mind, transporting a man out of his own nature; and in this men testify against themselves. For if a sow or a bitch kill the young they have brought forth, men look dejected, are disturbed, sacrifice to the Gods to avert the mischief, and do account it a miracle; because men know that Nature has implanted in all creatures the love of their young, so that they should feed them and not kill them. For as among metals gold, though mixed with much rubbish, will appear; so Nature, even in vicious deeds and affection, declares the love to posterity. For poor people do not rear their children, fearing that, if they should not be well educated, they would prove slavish, clownish, and destitute of all things commendable; since they cannot endure to entail poverty, which they look upon as the worst of all evils or diseases, upon their posterity.

Edition: current; Page: [198]


1. Among the many warm disputes which have often happened between Virtue and Fortune, this concerning the Roman empire is none of the least considerable, whether of them shall have the honor of founding that empire at first, and raising it afterwards to vast power and glory. The victory in this cause will be no small commendation of the conqueror, and will sufficiently vindicate either of the contending parties from the allegations that are usually made against it. For Virtue is accused as unprofitable, though beautiful, and Fortune as unstable, though good; the former as laboring in vain, the latter as deceitful in its gifts. But who can deny but Virtue has been most profitable, if Rome does favor her cause in this contention, since she procured so much good to brave and gallant men; or that Fortune is most constant, if she be victorious in this contest, since she continued her gifts with the Romans for so long a time?

Ion the poet has written somewhere in prose, that Fortune and Wisdom, though they be very much different from one another, are nevertheless the causes of the very same effects. Both of them do advance and adorn men; both do raise them to glory, power, and empire. It were needless to multiply instances by a long enumeration of particulars, when even Nature itself, which produces all things, is by some reputed Fortune, and by others Wisdom. And therefore the present controversy will conciliate Edition: current; Page: [199] great honor and veneration to the city of Rome, since she is thought worthy of the same enquiry which uses to be made concerning the earth and seas, the heavens and the stars, — whether she owes her being to Fortune or to Providence.

2. In which question, I think it may be truly affirmed that, notwithstanding the fierce and lasting wars which have been between Virtue and Fortune, they did both amicably conspire to rear up the structure of her vast empire and power, and join their united endeavors to finish the most beautiful work that ever was of human production. It was the opinion of Plato, that the whole world was composed of fire and earth, as necessary first principles, which being mixed together did render it visible and tangible, — the earth contributing weight and firmness, while the fire gave color, form, and motion to the several parts of matter; but for the tempering and union of these extremes, he thought it necessary that the water and air, being of a middle nature, should mitigate and rebate the contrary force by composition. After the same manner did God and Time, who laid the foundations of Rome, conjoin and mingle Virtue and Fortune together, that by the union of their several powers, they might compose a Vesta, truly sacred and beneficent to all men, which should be a firm stay, an eternal support, and a steady anchor (as Democritus calls it) amidst the fluctuating and uncertain affairs of human life. For as naturalists say, that the world was not framed at first into that beautiful order and structure in which we now behold it, nor would these several bodies that compose it unite and mix so that Nature might receive a common form by their union, but that all things did fluctuate a long while in confusion and crashing, — whilst some bodies were still small and variously moved, and slipped and avoided all seizure and connections, and others which were greater and already Edition: current; Page: [200] compacted, being of contrary natures, did frequently justle and jar one against another, — and that all was full of destruction and confusion and wreck, until such time as the earth, being framed of them both in its due magnitude, was established in its proper place, and by its stability gave occasion to all the other bodies of the universe either to settle upon it or round about it; just so it happened to the greatest kingdoms and empires of men, which were long tossed with various changes and broken in pieces by mutual clashings. And for want of one supreme ruler over all, while all aspired to rule, the world was filled with unspeakable violence, confusion, and revolution in all things, until such time as Rome was raised to its just strength and greatness, which, comprehending under her power many strange nations and even transmarine dominions, did lay the foundation of firmness and stability to the greatest of human affairs; for by this vast compass of one and the same empire, government was secured as in an unmovable circle, resting upon the centre of peace. Whosoever therefore contrived and compassed these great designs must not only have been endowed with all virtues, but likewise have been assisted by Fortune in many things; as will plainly appear from the following discourse.

3. And now methinks I behold, as from a turret, Virtue and Fortune coming to this conference. As to Virtue, her gait is modest, her countenance grave, the blushing color of her face shows her earnest desire of obtaining victory and honor in this contest. Fortune in her hasty pace, leaves her far behind, but she is led and accompanied by many brave and gallant men,

A martial host, ghastly with bloody arms,*

all wounded in the fore part of their bodies, distilling blood mingled with sweat, and they lean upon the bending spoils Edition: current; Page: [201] of their enemies. If you enquire who they are, they answer, We are of the Fabricii, Camilli, and Lucii, and Cincinnati, and Fabii Maximi, and Claudii Marcelli, and the Scipios. I perceive also in the train of Virtue Caius Marius angry with Fortune, and Mucius Scaevola holding out his burning hand and crying with a loud voice, Will ye attribute this to Fortune also? And Marcus Horatius, who behaved himself gallantly at the river Tiber, when he cut the bridge and swam over, being loaded with Tyrrhenian darts, showing his wounded thigh, thus expostulates from out of the deep whirlpit of the river, Was I also thus maimed by mere chance? Such is the company of Virtue, when she comes to the dispute; “a company powerful in arms, terrible to their foes.”

4. But as to Fortune, her gait is hasty, her looks bold, her hope arrogant; and leaving Virtue far behind her, she enters the lists, not, as she is described, with light wings, balancing herself in the air, or lightly tripping with her tiptoes upon the convexity of the globe, as if she were presently to vanish away out of sight. No, she does not appear here in any such doubtful and uncertain posture; but as the Spartans say that Venus, when she passed over the Eurotas, put off her gewgaws and female ornaments, and armed herself with spear and shield for the sake of Lycurgus; so Fortune, having deserted the Persians and Assyrians, did swiftly fly over Macedonia, and quickly threw off her favorite Alexander the Great, and after that, having passed through the countries of Egypt and Syria, and oftentimes by turns supported the Carthaginians, she did at last fly over Tiber to the Palatine Mount, and there she put off her wings, her Mercurial shoes, and left her slippery and deceitful globe. Thus she entered Rome, as one that was to be resident there, and thus she comes to the bar in this controversy. She is no more uncertain, as Pindar describes her; she does not henceforth guide a Edition: current; Page: [202] double helm, but continues constant to the Romans, and therefore may be called the sister of Eunomia and Persuasion, and the daughter of Providence, as Alcman describes her pedigree. This is certain in the opinion of all men, that she holds in her hand the Horn of Plenty, not that which is filled with verdant fruits, but that which pours forth abundance of all things which the earth or the sea, the rivers or the metals, or the harbors afford. Several illustrious and famous men are seen to accompany her, Numa Pompilius from the Sabines, and Priscus from Tarquinii, whom, being foreigners and strangers, Fortune seated on the throne of Romulus. Aemilius Paulus also, bringing back his army from Perseus and the Macedonians, and triumphing in an unbloody and entire victory, does greatly magnify and extol Fortune. The same does Caecilius Metellus, that brave old gentleman surnamed Macedonicus, whose corpse was carried forth to its funeral by his four sons, Quintus Balearicus, Lucius Diadematus, Marcus Metellus, and Caius Caprarius, and his two sons-in-law, — who were all six honorable men, and of consular dignity, — and also by his two grandsons, who were famous for the good offices they did to the commonwealth, both abroad by their heroical actions and at home by the administration of justice. Aemilius Scaurus, from a mean estate and a meaner family, was raised by Fortune to that height of dignity that he was chosen Prince of the Senate. It was Fortune that took Cornelius Sylla out of the bosom of Nicopolis the whore, and exalted him above the Cimbrian triumphs of Marius and the dignity of his seven consulships, giving him at once the powers of a monarch and a dictator; upon which account he adopted himself and all his memorable actions to Fortune, crying out with Oedipus in Sophocles, I think myself the son of Fortune.* In the Roman tongue he was called Felix, the Edition: current; Page: [203] happy; but he writ himself to the Greeks Lucius Cornelius Sylla Venustus, i. e. Beloved of Venus, — which is also the inscription on all his trophies, both those at Chaeronea with us, and those in honor of his victories over Mithridates; and that not without reason, since it is not the Night, as Menander thought, but Fortune, that enjoys the greatest part of Venus.

5. And thus, having made a seasonable beginning in defence of Fortune, we may now call in, for witnesses in this cause, the Romans themselves, who attributed more to Fortune than to Virtue. For the temple of Virtue was but lately built by Scipio Numantinus, a long time after the building of the city. And after that, Marcellus dedicated a temple to Virtue and Honor; and Aemilius Scaurus, who lived in the time of the Cimbrian war, founded another to the Mind, when now, by the subtilties of sophisters and encomiastics of orators, these things began to be mightily extolled. And to this very day there is no temple built to Wisdom, nor to Temperance, Patience, Magnanimity, or Continence. On the contrary, the temples dedicated to Fortune are splendid and ancient, almost as old as the first foundations of Rome itself. The first that built her a temple was Ancus Marcius, born of the sister of Numa, being the third king from Romulus; and he seems to have made Fortune surname to Fortitude, to which she contributes very much for obtaining victory. The Romans built the temple of Feminine Fortune before the time of Camillus, when by the help of the women they turned back Marcius Coriolanus, leading up the Volsci against the city of Rome; for the women being sent ambassadors to him, together with his mother and wife, prevailed with the man to spare the city at that time and to draw off the army of the barbarians. It is said that this statue of Fortune, when it was consecrated, uttered these words: It was piously done, O ye city matrons, to dedicate me by the law Edition: current; Page: [204] of your state. But (which is more remarkable) Furius Camillus, having quenched the flame of the Gallic war, and rescued Rome from the balance and scales in which her price was weighed to them in gold, did not upon this occasion found a temple to Prudence and Fortitude, but to Fame and Presage; which he built hard by the New Way, in that very place where (it is said) Marcus Caedicius walking in the night-time heard a prophetical voice, commanding him shortly to expect a war from the Gauls. And the Fortune whose temple is near the river they call Fortis (that is, stout, or valiant, or manly), as having the power of conquering all things.* And her temple is built in those very gardens which were left by Caesar as a legacy to the people, because they thought that he also was raised to the height of power by the favor of Fortune.

6. And so Caesar himself testified, otherwise I should be ashamed to say such a thing of so great a person. For when he loosed from Brundisium, and embarked in pursuit of Pompey, on the fourth day of January, though it was then the latter end of winter, he passed over the sea in safety by the good conduct of Fortune, which was stronger than the rigor of the season. And when he found Pompey powerful by sea and land, with all his forces lying together, and himself with his small party altogether unable to give him battle, while the army of Antonius and Sabinus lagged behind, he ventured to set forth again in a little bark, unknown either to the master of the vessel or the pilot, who took him for some servant. But when he saw the pilot began to change his purpose of putting out to sea, because of the violence of the waves, Edition: current; Page: [205] which hindered the sailing out at the mouth of the river, he presently plucked off the disguise from his head and showed himself, encouraging the pilot in these words: Put on, brave fellow, and fear nothing, but commit the sails to Fortune, and expose all boldly to the winds; for thou carriest Caesar and Caesar’s fortune. So resolute was Caesar upon this assurance, that Fortune did favor him in his voyages and journeys, his armies and battles; and that it was her province to give calmness to the sea and warmth to a winter season, to give swiftness to the slowest, and vigor to the most sluggish creatures; and (which is more incredible than all this) he believed that Fortune put Pompey to flight, and gave Ptolemy the opportunity of murdering his guest, so that Pompey should fall and Caesar be innocent.

7. What shall I say of his son, the first that had the honor to be surnamed Augustus, who was emperor four and fifty years? Did not he pray the Gods for his grandson, when he sent him forth to battle, to grant him the courage of Scipio, and the wisdom of Pompey, but his own Fortune, as counting her the chief artificer of his wonderful self? It was she that imposed him upon Cicero, Lepidus, Pansa, Hirtius, and Mark Antony, and by their victories and famous exploits, by their navies, battles, and armies, raised him to the greatest height of power and honor, degrading them by whose means he was thus advanced. For it was for him that Cicero governed the state, Lepidus conducted the armies, and Pansa gained the victories. It was for him that Hirtius fell, and Mark Antony committed licentious outrages. Nay, even Cleopatra herself is to be reckoned as part of his good fortune; for on her, as on a dangerous rock, Antony was shipwrecked, although he was so mighty a commander, that Augustus alone might wear the title of Caesar. It is reported of Antony and Augustus, when they lived familiarly together Edition: current; Page: [206] in daily conversation, that Antony was always beaten by Caesar at ball or dice, and in quail or cock fighting. Whereupon a certain friend, who pretended to the art of divination, did freely admonish Antony, and say: “What have you to do, my friend, with this young man? Why don’t you avoid his company? You excel him in glory and largeness of empire, you exceed him in age and experience, having signalized your valor in the wars. But your Genius is afraid of his; your Fortune, which is great by itself, does fawn upon his, and will undoubtedly pass over to him, unless you remove yourself to a great distance.”

8. By these testimonies of men the cause of Fortune is supported; after which I proceed now to other arguments taken from the things themselves, beginning from the first foundations of the city of Rome. And first of all, it cannot be denied that, by the birth and preservation of Romulus, by his education and growth, the foundations of Rome were first laid by Fortune; but then withal it must be acknowledged that Virtue finished the building. As to their origin and birth who first founded and built the city, it looked like a wonderful good Fortune. For it is said that their mother conceived by a God; and as Hercules is said to have been sown in a long night, the natural day being preternaturally prolonged by the sun’s standing still; so it is reported concerning the begetting of Romulus, that the sun was eclipsed at the time, being in conjunction with the moon, as the immortal God Mars was with the mortal Sylvia. The same is said to have happened about the time of his death. For on the seventh of July, called Nonae Capratinae, which is a feast observed to this day with great solemnity, while the sun was under an eclipse, he suddenly vanished out of the sight of men. After their nativity, when the tyrant would have murdered the new-born babes, by the conduct of Fortune, who was concerned for the preservation of their lives, Romulus and Remus fell into Edition: current; Page: [207] the hands of a servant no ways barbarous and cruel, but pitiful and tender-hearted, who laid them on the pleasant green bank of a river, in a place shaded with lowly shrubs, near to that wild fig-tree, to which the name of Ruminalis was afterwards given. There it was that a she-wolf, having lost her young whelps, by chance lighted on them, and being burdened with her swollen dugs, inflamed for want of evacuation, she gladly let out her overheated milk, as if it had been a second birth, and suckled the young children. The woodpecker also, a bird sacred to Mars, came often unto them, and supporting herself upon one claw, she did by turns open both their mouths with the other, and distribute unto each of them convenient gobbets of her own food. This fig-tree was therefore called Ruminalis, from Ruma, the dug, which the wolf lying down there gave to the infants. And from a veneration of this strange chance of Romulus and of every thing resembling it, the inhabitants thereabout would not expose any of their offspring; but they carefully reared and fostered all new births.

Above all things, the hidden craft of Fortune appeared in their education at the city Gabii; for there they were secretly nursed and brought up, and the people knew nothing of their pedigree, that they were the sons of Sylvia and the grandchildren of king Numitor; which seems to be so ordered on purpose to prevent that untimely death which the knowledge of their royal race would occasion, and to give them opportunity of showing themselves hereafter by their famous exploits, and discovering the nobility of their extraction by their heroical actions. And this brings to my mind the saying of that great and wise commander Themistocles to some of the Athenian captains, who, having followed him in the wars with good success, were grown ambitious to be preferred above him. There was an eager contest, said he, between the festival day and Edition: current; Page: [208] the day following, for precedency. Thou, says the following day, art full of tumult and business, but I give men the peaceful opportunity of enjoying themselves. Ay, says the festival, that’s true; but then, I pray you, tell me, if I had not been, where had you been? So, says Themistocles, if I had not preserved my country in the war with the Medes, what use would there be of you now? And after this manner Fortune seems to accost the virtue of Romulus: it is true indeed, your actions are great and famous, by which you have clearly shown that you are descended of the race of the Gods. But see now how far you come behind me. For if I had not relieved the infants in their distress by my bounty and humanity, if I had deserted and betrayed them when they lay naked and exposed, how could you have appeared with such lustre and splendor as now you do? If a she-wolf had not then lighted upon them, inflamed with the abundance and pressure of her milk, which wanted one to give food unto more than any food for herself; if some wild beast had happened to come in her stead, hungry and ravaging for meat; then there had been no such beautiful and stately palaces, temples, theatres, walks, courts, and forum, as now you justly glory of; then your followers had still been shepherds, and your buildings cottages or stables, and they had still lived in subjection to the Albanian, Tyrrhenian, or Latin lords. Certainly the first beginning of all things is of greatest importance, and more especially in building of a city. But it was Fortune that first gave a beginning to Rome, by preserving the founder of it in so many dangers to which he was exposed. For as Virtue made Romulus great, so Fortune preserved him till his virtue did appear.

9. It is confessed by all, that the reign of Numa, which lasted longest, was conducted by a wonderful good fortune. For as to the story of the wise goddess Egeria, one of the Dryades, — that she being in love conversed familiarly with Edition: current; Page: [209] him, and assisted him in laying the platform and cementing the frame of the commonwealth, — it appears to be rather fabulous than true, since there were others that had Goddesses for their wives and are said to have been loved by them, such as Peleus, Anchises, Orion, and Emathion, who, for all that, did not live so pleasantly and free from trouble. But Numa seems to have had good fortune for his domestic companion and colleague in the government, which, receiving the city of Rome into her protection, at such time as she was tossed like a troublesome sea by the wars of neighboring states, and inflamed with intestine feuds, did quickly heal those breaches and allay those storms that threatened her ruin. And as the sea is said to receive the halcyon brood in a tempest, which it preserves and nourishes; so the people of Rome being lately gathered together, after various commotions and tossings, were by Fortune delivered from all wars, diseases, dangers, and terrors, and settled in such a lasting peace, that they had time and leisure to take root in their new soil and grow up securely into a well-compacted city. For as a great ship or galley is not made without many blows, and much force from hammers, nails, wedges, saws, and axes, and being once built, it must rest for some time upon the stocks, until the bands of its structure grow strong and tenacious, and the nails be well fastened which hold its parts together, lest, being launched while it is loose and unsettled, the hulk should be shattered by the concussion of the waves and let in the water, — so the first artificer of Rome, having built the city of rustical men and shepherds, as on strong foundations, was forced to endure hard labor and maintain dangerous wars against those who opposed its first origination and institution; but after it was once framed and compacted by this force, the second artificer, by the benignity of Fortune, gave it so long rest and peace, till all its parts were consolidated and settled in a firm and Edition: current; Page: [210] lasting posture. But if at that time, when the city was newly built, some Porsena had advanced the Etruscan camp and army to the walls, being yet moist and trembling, or some warlike revolter of the Marsian grandees, or some envious and contentious Lucanian, such as in latter times were Mutius or the bold Silo, or the last plague of Sylla’s faction, Telesinus, who with one alarm armed all Italy, — if any of these, I say, had encompassed the philosopher Numa with the sound of trumpets, while he was sacrificing and praying to the Gods, the city being yet unsettled and unfinished, he could never have resisted so great a torrent and tempest, nor increased unto so great numbers of stout and valiant men.

That long time of peace therefore in Numa’s reign did prepare and fortify the Romans against all the wars which happened afterwards; for by its continuance, during the space of forty-three years, the body of the people was confirmed in that athletic habit which they acquired in the war under Romulus, and which generally prevailed henceforward against all their enemies. For in these years they say Rome was not afflicted with famine or pestilence, with barrenness of the earth, or any notable calamity by winter or summer; all which must be attributed, not to human prudence, but to the good conduct of divine Fortune governing for that time. Then the double gate of Janus was shut, which they call the gate of war, because it is always opened in time of war and shut in time of peace. After Numa’s death, it was opened again when the war with the Albans commenced, which was followed with other wars without number in a continued series of time; but after four hundred and eighty years, it was shut again when peace was concluded at the end of the first Punic war, in the consulship of Caius Atilius and Titus Manlius. The next year it was opened again, and the wars lasted until the victory which Augustus obtained at Actium. Edition: current; Page: [211] Then the Roman arms rested but a little while; for the tumults from Cantabria and the wars with the Gauls and Germans breaking in upon them quickly disturbed the peace. These things I have added to explain this argument of the good fortune of Numa.

10. Even those kings which followed him have admired Fortune as the governess and nurse of Rome, and the city supporter, as Pindar saith. For proof of this, we may consider that the temple of Virtue at Rome was but lately built, many years after the beginning of the city, by that Marcellus who took Syracuse.* There is also a temple dedicated to the Mind, or rather to good counsel, called Mens, by Scaurus Aemilius, who lived in the time of the Cimbrian war, when the arms of rhetoric and the sophistry of logic had crept into the city. And even to this day, there are no temples built to Wisdom, Temperance, Patience, and Magnanimity; but the temples of Fortune are very ancient and splendid, adorned with all sorts of honors, and divided amongst the most famous parts and places of Rome. The temple of Manly Fortune was built by Ancus Marcius, the fourth king; which name was therefore given it, because Fortune does contribute very much to valor in obtaining victory. The temple of Feminine Fortune was consecrated by the matrons, when they drove away Marcius Coriolanus at the head of an army marching against Rome, as everybody knows. Moreover, Servius Tullius, who above all the kings did most enlarge the power of the people and adorn the commonwealth, who first established a good order for the giving of suffrages and for the good discipline of the militia, who was the first censor and overseer of men’s lives and sobriety, and is esteemed a most wise and valiant man, — even he threw himself upon Fortune, and owned his kingdom to be derived from her. So great was her kindness to him, that Edition: current; Page: [212] she is thought to have descended into his house by a gateway (which is now called Fenestella) and there to have conversed familiarly with him. Upon which account he built two temples to Fortune, one to that which is called Primogenia in the Capitol, i. e. the first born, as one may expound it; another to that which is called Obsequens, which some interpret as being obsequious to his desires, and others as mild and gentle. I will henceforth leave the Roman names, and endeavor to reckon up and interpret in Greek the meaning of these temples. There is the temple of Private Fortune on the Mount Palatine, and that of Viscous Fortune; which name, though it seems ridiculous, does by a metaphor explain to us the nature of Fortune, that she attracts things at a distance, and retains them when they are brought to contact. At the fountain which is called Mossy the temple of Virgin Fortune is still to be seen; and that of Regardful Fortune in Abescymae. There is an altar also to Fortune of Good Hope in the long narrow street; and near to the altar of Venus Epitalaria (Foot-winged) there is a chapel to Male Fortune.

Infinite are the honors and titles of Fortune, the greater part of which were instituted by Servius, who knew that “Fortune is of great weight — nay, is every thing — in all human affairs,”* and more especially had found by experience that by her favor he was preferred from a captive and hostile nation to be king of the Romans. For when Corniculum was taken by the Romans, the virgin Ocresia being taken at the same time, she for her illustrious beauty and virtue (which the meanness of her fortune could not hide or obscure) was presented to Tanaquil, the consort of King Tarquinius, with whom she served till she was married to one of the retainers whom the Romans call clients; and of them was born Servius. Others tell the story after this manner: that the virgin Ocresia using Edition: current; Page: [213] often to receive the first-fruits and libations from the royal table, which were to be offered in sacrifice, it happened on a time that when, according to the custom, she had thrown them into the fire, upon the sudden expiration of the flame, there appeared to come out of it the genital member of a man. The virgin, being frighted with so strange a sight, told the whole matter to Queen Tanaquil; who, being a wise and understanding woman, judged the vision to be divine, and therefore dressed up the virgin in all her bridal ornaments and attire, and then shut her up in a room together with this apparition. Some attribute this amour to Lar the household God, and others to Vulcan; but whichsoever it was, Ocresia was with child, and gave birth to Servius. And while he was yet an infant, his head was seen to send forth a wonderful brightness, like lightning darted from the skies. But Antias tells this story after a different manner: that when Servius’s wife Getania was dead, he fell into a sleep through grief and dejection of mind, in the presence of his mother, and then his head was seen by the woman encompassed by fire; which, as it was a certain token that he was born of fire, so was a good omen of that unexpected kingdom which he obtained after the death of Tarquin, by the means of Tanaquil. This is so much the more to be wondered at, because he of all kings seems to have been least fitted by Nature and most averse by inclination to monarchical government; since he would have resigned his kingdom and divested himself of regal authority, if he had not been hindered by the oath which it appears he made to Tanaquil when she was dying, that he should continue during his life in kingly power, and never change that form of government which he had received from his ancestors. Thus the reign of Servius was wholly owing to Fortune, because he both received it beside his expectation, and retained it against his will.

11. But lest we should seem to shun the light of bright Edition: current; Page: [214] and evident arguments, and retreat to ancient stories, as to a place of darkness and obscurity, let us now pass over the time of the kings, and go on in our discourse to the most noted actions and famous wars of following times. And first of all it must be confessed that the boldness and courage which are necessary for war do aid and improve military virtue, as Timotheus says; and yet it is manifest to him that will reason aright, that the abundance of success which advanced the Roman Empire to such vast power and greatness is not to be attributed to human strength and counsels, but to a certain divine impulse and a full gale of running Fortune, which carried all before it that hindered the rising glory of the Romans. For now trophies were erected upon trophies, and triumphs hastened to meet one another; before the blood was cold upon their arms, it was washed off with the fresh blood of their falling enemies. Henceforth the victories were not reckoned by the numbers of the slain or the greatness of the spoils, but by the kingdoms that were taken, by the nations that were conquered, by the isles and continents which were added to the vastness of their empire. At one battle Philip was forced to quit all Macedonia, by one stroke Antiochus was beaten out of Asia, by one victory the Carthaginians lost Libya; but which is yet more wonderful, Armenia, the Euxine sea, Syria, Arabia, the Albanians, Iberians, with all the regions as far as Caucasus and the Hyrcanians, were by one man and the success of one expedition reduced under the power of the Roman Empire. The Ocean, which environs the whole earth, beheld him thrice victorious; for he subdued the Numidians in Africa, as far as the southern shores; he conquered Spain, which joined in the madness of Sertorius, as far as the Atlantic Ocean; and he pursued the Albanian kings as far as the Caspian sea. Pompeius Magnus, one and the same man, achieved all those great and stupendous things, by the assistance of that public Fortune which Edition: current; Page: [215] waited upon the Roman arms with success; and after all this, he sank under the weight of his own fatal greatness.

The great Genius of the Romans was not propitious for a day only, or for a little time, like that of the Macedonians; it was not powerful by land only, like that of the Laconians, or by sea only, like that of the Athenians. It was not too slowly sensible of injuries, as that of the Persians, nor too easily pacified, like that of the Colophonians; but from the beginning growing up with the city, the more it increased, the more it enlarged the empire, and constantly aided the Romans with its auspicious influence by sea and land, in peace and war, against all their enemies, whether Greeks or barbarians. It was this Genius which dissipated Hannibal the Carthaginian, when he broke in upon Italy like a torrent, and the people could give no assistance, being torn in pieces by intestine jars. It was this Genius that separated the two armies of the Cimbri and Teutones, that they should not meet at the same time and place; by which means Marius the Roman general encountered each army by itself, and overcame them; which, if they had been joined together, would have overflowed all Italy like a deluge, with three hundred thousand valiant men, invincible in arms. It was the same Genius that hindered Antiochus by other occasions from assisting Philip while he was engaged in war with the Romans; so that Philip was first vanquished while Antiochus was still in danger. It was by the conduct of the same Genius that Mithridates was taken up with the Sarmatic and Bastarnic wars while the Marsians attacked Rome; that jealousy and envy divided Tigranes from Mithridates while the latter was flushed with success; but both of them were joined together in the defeat, that they might perish in the same common ruin.

12. What shall I say more? Has not Fortune relieved the city, when it was reduced to the greatest extremity of Edition: current; Page: [216] danger? When the Gauls encamped about the Capitol and besieged the castle,

And heaped the camp with mountains of the dead,*

did not Fortune and chance discover their secret attack in the night-time, which otherwise had surprised all men? Of which wonderful accident it will not be unseasonable to discourse here a little more largely.

After the great overthrow and slaughter of the Romans at the river Allia, some of those that remained fled hastily to Rome, and communicated their terror and consternation to the people there. Some trussed up their bag and baggage and conveyed themselves into the Capitol, resolving there to wait the event of so dismal a calamity; others flocked in great multitudes to Veii, and there proclaimed Furius Camillus dictator, giving him now in their distress an absolute and unaccountable power, whom before in their pride and prosperity they had condemned and banished, as guilty of robbing the public treasure. But Camillus, to strengthen his title to this authority, which might seem to be given him only for the present necessity, contrary to the law of the state touching the election of such a magistrate, scorned to accept an election from a body of armed soldiers, so lately shattered and beaten, as if the government of the city were dissolved; but sent to acquaint the senators that were in the Capitol, and know if they would approve the election of the soldiers. To accomplish this, there was one C. Pontius, who undertook to carry the news of this decree to those in the Capitol, though it was with great danger of his life; for he was to go through the midst of the enemies, who were entrenched and kept watch about the castle. He came therefore in the night-time to the river Tiber, and by the help of broad corks supporting the weight of his body, he was carried down the stream in a Edition: current; Page: [217] smooth calm water, and safely landed on the other side. From thence he passed through places uninhabited, being conducted by darkness and silence, to the rock of the Capitol; and climbing up through its winding and rough passages, with much labor and difficulty at last he arrived at the summit, where, being received by the watch, he acquainted the senators with what was done by the soldiers, and having received their approbation of the decree of election, he returned again to Camillus. The next day after, one of the barbarians by chance walking about this rock, and seeing in one place the prints of his feet and his falls, in another place the grass trodden down which grew upon the interspersed earth, and the plain marks of his body in its winding ascent through the craggy precipice, went presently and informed the rest of the Gauls of the whole matter. They, finding that a way was shown them by the enemy, resolved to follow his footsteps; and taking the advantage of the dead time of the night, when all were fast asleep, not so much as a watch stirring or a dog barking, they climbed up secretly to the castle.

But Fortune in this case was wonderfully propitious to the Romans, in discovering and preventing such an imminent danger by the voice of the sacred geese, which were maintained about the temple of Juno for the worship of that Goddess. For that animal being wakeful by nature and easily frighted with the least noise, these sacred geese had been so much neglected by reason of the scarcity of provisions which was in the castle, that they were more easily wakened by the approach of the enemy out of their light and hungry sleep. Therefore they presently perceived the Gauls appearing upon the walls, and with a loud voice flew proudly towards them; but being yet more frightened with the sight of their shining armor, they raised a louder gaggling noise, which wakened the Romans; who understanding the design, presently beat back the enemies, and Edition: current; Page: [218] threw them down over the precipices of the rock. Therefore, in remembrance of this wonderful accident, a dog fastened to a cross, and a goose lying in a bed of state upon a rich cushion, are carried about, even to this day, in pompous solemnity. And now who is not astonished that considers how great the misery of the city was at that time, and how great its happiness is now at this day, when he beholds the splendor and riches of its donatives, the emulation of liberal arts that flourish in it, the accession of noble cities and royal crowns to its empire, and the chief products of sea and land, of isles and continents, of rivers and trees, of animals and fields, of mountains and metallic mines, crowding to adorn and beautify this place? Who is not stunned with admiration at the imminent danger which then was, whether ever those things should be or no; and at those poor timorous birds, which first began the deliverance of the city, when all places were filled with fire, darkness, and smoke, with the swords of barbarians and bloody-minded men? What a prodigy of Fortune was it that those great commanders, the Manlii, the Servii, Postumii, and Papirii, so famous for their warlike exploits and for the illustrious families that have descended from them, should be alarmed in this extremity of danger by the silly geese, to fight for their country’s God and their country? And if that be true which Polybius writes in his second book of those Gauls which then possessed Rome, — that they made a peace with Camillus and departed, as soon as they heard the news of the invasion that was made upon their territories by the neighboring barbarians, — then it is past all controversy, that Fortune was the cause of Rome’s preservation by drawing off the enemies to another place, or rather forcing them from Rome beyond all men’s expectation.

13. But why do I dwell upon those things which have nothing of certain or evident truth, since the memories of Edition: current; Page: [219] those times have perished, and the history of them is confused, as Livy tells us? For those things which happened in following ages, being plain and manifest to all, do sufficiently demonstrate the benignity of Fortune to Rome; among which I reckon the death of Alexander to be no small cause of the Romans’ happiness and security. For he, being a man of wonderful success and most famous exploits, of invincible confidence and pride, who shot like a star, with incredible swiftness, from the rising to the setting sun, was meditating to bring the lustre of his arms into Italy. The pretence of this intended expedition was the death of Alexander Molossus, who was killed at Pandosia by the Bruttians and Lucanians; but the true cause was the desire of glory and the emulation of empire, which instigated him to war against all mankind, that he might extend his dominion beyond the bounds of Bacchus and Hercules. He had heard of the Roman power in Italy, terrible as an army in battle array; of the illustrious name and glory which they had acquired by innumerable battles, in which they were flushed with victory; and this was a sufficient provocation to his ambitious spirit to commence a war against them, which could not have been decided without an ocean of blood;* for both armies appeared invincible, both of fearless and undaunted minds; and the Romans then had no fewer than one hundred and thirty thousand stout and valiant men,

  • All expert soldiers, skilled on foot to dare,
  • Or from the bounding courser urge the war.
Edition: current; Page: [220]


1. It is a troublesome and difficult task that philosophy undertakes in going about to cure the disease, or rather itch, of intemperate prating. For that words, which are the sole remedy against it, require attention; but they who are given to prate will hear nobody, as being a sort of people that love to be always talking themselves. So that the principal vice of loquacious persons is this, that their ears are stopped to every thing else but their own impertinencies; which I take to be a wilful deafness in men, controlling and contradicting Nature, that has given us two ears, though but one tongue. Therefore it was that Euripides spoke very right to a certain stupid hearer of his:

  • Impossible it is to fill that brain,
  • That in a moment lets out all again;
  • ’Tis but the words of wisdom to unfold
  • Unto a fool, whose skull will nothing hold.*

More justly and truly might I say to an idle prate-too-fast, or rather concerning such a fellow:

  • In vain I seek to fill thy sieve-like brain,
  • That in a moment lets out all again;
  • Infusing wisdom into such a skull
  • As leaks so fast, it never will be full.

Much more may he be said to spill his instructions over (rather than pour them into) a man, who is always talking to those that do not hear, and never hears when others Edition: current; Page: [221] talk. For so soon as a wise man has uttered any thing, be it never so short, garrulity swallows it forthwith like the sea, and throws it up again threefold, with the violence of a swelling tide. Such was the portico at Olympia, called Heptaphonos, by the reverberation of one single voice causing no less than seven distinct echoes. And in like manner, if the least word light into the ears of an impertinent babbler, presently all the room rings with it, and he makes such a din,

  • That soon the jangling noise untunes the strings
  • Of minds sedately fixt on better things.

Insomuch that we may say, that the conduits and conveyances of their hearing reach not to the souls, but only to their tongues. Therefore it is that other people retain what is spoken to them; whereas, whatever is said to talkative people runs through them as through a cullender; and then they run about from place to place, like empty vessels void of sense or wit, but making a hideous noise.

2. However, in hopes that there is yet some room left to try an experiment for the cure of this distemper, let us begin with this golden sentence to the impertinent prater:

  • Be silent, boy, and thou wilt find i’ th’ end,
  • What benefits on silent lips attend.*

Among these benefits two of the first and chiefest are to hear and to be heard. To neither of which can these talkative companions ever attain; so unhappy they are still to meet with disappointments, though they desire a thing never so much. For as for those other distempers of the soul, such as avarice, ambition, and exorbitant love of pleasure, they have this happiness, to enjoy what they so eagerly covet. But this is that which most afflicts these idle prattlers, that being desirous of nothing more than of company that will hear them prate, they can never meet with it, in regard that all men avoid their society; and Edition: current; Page: [222] whether sitting in a knot together or walking, so soon as they behold a prattler advancing towards them, they presently give warning to each other and adjourn to another place. And as, when there happens a deep silence in any assembly, so that all the company seems to be mute, we say that Mercury is got among them; so when a fool, full of noise and talk, enters into any room where friends and acquaintance are met to discourse or else to feast and be merry, all people are hushed of a sudden, as afraid of giving him any occasion to set his tongue upon the career. But if he once begin to open his mouth, up they rise and away they trip, like seamen foreseeing a sudden storm and rolling of the waves, when they hear “the north wind begin to whistle from some adjoining promontory,” and hastening into harbor. Whence it comes to pass, that he never can meet with any that are willing either to eat or drink or lodge with him in the same room, either upon the road or upon a voyage, unless constrained thereto by necessity. For so importunate he is in all places, that sometimes he will pull you by the coat, sometimes by the beard, and sometimes be hunching your sides, to make you speak. How highly then are to be prized a swift pair of legs, according to the saying of Archilochus! Nay, by Jove, it was the opinion of wise Aristotle himself. For he being perplexed with an egregious prater, and tired out with his absurd stories and idle repetitions of, “And is not this a wonderful thing, Aristotle?” — No wonder at all, said he, is this; but if a man should stand still to hear you prate thus, who had legs to run away, that were a wonder indeed. To another of the same stamp that, after a long tale of a roasted horse, excused himself by saying that he was afraid he had tired him with his prolixity; No, upon my word, quoth the philosopher, for I never minded what you said. On the other side, should it so fall out that there was no avoiding the vexation of one of these chattering fops, Nature Edition: current; Page: [223] has afforded us this happiness, that it is in the power of the soul to lend the outward ears of the body, to endure the brunt of the noise, while she retires to the remoter apartments of the mind, and there employs herself in better and more useful thoughts. By which means those sonorous babblers are at the same time disappointed, as well of auditors, as of people that believe what they say. All men look upon their vain babbling with the same opinion that they have of the seed of people insatiably addicted to the use of women; for as the one is barren and useless for generation, so is the other void of the end of discourse, altogether frivolous and impertinent.

3. And yet there is no member of human bodies that Nature has so strongly enclosed within a double fortification, as the tongue, entrenched within with a barricado of sharp teeth, to the end that, if it refuses to obey and keep silent when reason “presses the glittering reins” within, we should fix our teeth in it till the blood comes, rather than suffer the inordinate and unseasonable din. For, according to the saying of Euripides,

  • Our miseries do not spring
  • From houses wanting locks or bolts,
  • But from unbridled tongues,
  • Ill used by prating fools and dolts.

*And truly, I must tell you, that they who think that houses without doors, and purses without strings, are of no use to their masters, yet at the same time set neither fence nor door before their lips, but suffer a continual torrent of vain and idle discourse to flow through them, like the perpetual flux of water through the mouth of the Pontic sea, seem to me to have the least esteem for human speech of all men in the world. Whence it comes to pass that they never gain belief, which is the end of all discourse. For the main scope and intention of all men that speak is to Edition: current; Page: [224] gain a belief of what they utter with those that hear them; whereas talkative noise-makers are never believed, let them speak never so much truth. For as wheat, when crowded into a musty vessel, is found to exceed in measure, but to be unwholesome for use; so the discourse of a loquacious person swells and enlarges itself with lies and falsehood, but in the mean time it loses all force of persuasion.

4. Then again, there is no man of modesty and civility but would be careful of preserving himself from drunkenness. For anger, as some are of opinion, is the next neighbor to madness, while drunkenness doth dwell in the very same house with it; or rather, drunkenness is madness itself, inferior to it in continuance of time, yet far exceeding it as it is voluntary, since it is a madness of our own choice. Now there is nothing for which drunkenness is so much abominated and decried, as for that it is the cause of inordinate and unlimited babbling and prating.

  • Heated with wine, the man at other times
  • Both wise and grave sings loose and wanton rhymes;
  • He minds not loud indecent laughter then,
  • Nor mimic dancing, scorned by sober men.*

And yet both singing, laughing, and dancing are all but trifles to that which follows, the consequences of which are oft-times fatal:

  • He blurts those secrets forth, which once revealed,
  • Too late he wishes they had been concealed.

This is that which oftentimes proves dangerous, if not terrible, to the discoverer. And who knows but that the poet might here design to resolve a question much disputed among philosophers, — that is to say, what the difference is between being tipsy and stark drunk, — by attributing to the former only mirth and jollity of humor, Edition: current; Page: [225] but branding the latter with the foul reproach of noxious babbling? For, according to the proverb,

  • What the sober heart conceals,
  • That the drunken heart reveals.

Wherefore it is reported of Bias, that sitting very silent at a compotation, drinking only when it came to his turn, and being laughed at by one whose tongue ran at random, who for his silence called him mope and fool, he made this reply: Find me out that fool, said he, that e’er could hold his tongue in his cups.

A citizen of Athens, having invited the king of Persia’s ambassadors to a magnificent feast, at their request gave the same invitation to the most eminent philosophers in the city, to bear them company. Now, when all the rest were propounding of themes, and raising arguments pro and con, and others were maintaining of paradoxes to show their wit and learning, only Zeno sat still, so reserved and mute that the ambassadors took notice of it; and thereupon, after they thought they had opened his heart with two or three lusty brimmers, Pray tell us, Zeno, said they, what report we shall make concerning thee to our master? To whom Zeno: Nothing more, said he, but that there was an old man at Athens that could hold his tongue in the midst of his cups. Such profound and divine mysterious virtues are silence and sobriety; whereas drunkenness is loquacious, void of reason and understanding, and therefore full of jangling and impertinent tautologies. Wherefore the philosophers, when they come to define drunkenness, call it “vain talk over wine.” So that drinking is not condemned, provided a man keep himself within the bounds of silence; only vain and silly discourse makes wine-bibbing to be drunkenness. He then that is drunk talks idly over his wine; but the babbler does it everywhere, — in the market-place, at the theatre, in the public walks, as well by night as by day. If he be a physician, Edition: current; Page: [226] certainly he is more troublesome than the disease; if your companion in a voyage, more insupportable than the qualms occasioned by the tumbling of the sea. If he praise thee, his panegyric is more offensive than the reproaches of another. It is a greater pleasure to converse with vicious men, so they be discreet in their language, than with twaddlers, though never so honest. Therefore Nestor in Sophocles, desirous to appease exasperated Ajax, mildly thus rebuked him:

  • I blame thee not, for though thy words are ill,
  • Thy deeds bespeak thee brave and valiant still.*

But there is not the same excuse to be made for a vain babbling fellow; for the ill government of his tongue corrupts and vitiates all the merits of his actions.

5. Lysias had given to a certain accused criminal an oration of his own writing. He, having read it several times over, came to Lysias very much dejected, and told him that, upon his first perusal of it, it seemed to him to be a most admirable piece; but after he had read it three or four times over, he could see nothing in it but what was very dull and insipid. To whom Lysias, smiling: What, said he, is not once enough to speak it before the judges? And yet do but consider the persuasive eloquence and grace that is in Lysias’s writing, and then I may be bold to affirm,

  • That no man living e’er was favored more
  • By sacred Muse that violet garlands wore.

Certain it is that, of all the commendations that were ever given to Homer, this is the truest, that he alone avoided being irksome to his readers, as one that was always new and still flourishing, as it were in the prime of poetic beauty. And yet in speaking thus of himself,

  • I hate vain repetitions, fondly made,
  • Of what has been already plainly said,
Edition: current; Page: [227]

he shows how careful he is to shun that satiety which, as it were, lies in wait for all speech, alluring the ear from one relation into another, and still recreating the reader with fresh variety, in such a manner that he never thinks himself satisfied. Whereas men that let their tongues run at random rend and tear the ears with their tautologies, like those that, after writing-tables have been newly cleansed and wiped, deface them again with their impertinent scrawls and scratches.

6. And therefore we would have them to remember this in the first place, that, as they who constrain men to guzzle down wine unmixed with water, and to excess, are the occasion that what was bestowed at first on men as a blessing, to excite mirth and rejoice the heart, becomes a mischief, creating sadness and causing drunkenness; so they that make an ill and inconsiderate use of speech, which is the most delightful means of human converse, render it both troublesome and unsociable, molesting those whom they think to gratify, derided by those whose esteem and admiration they covet, and offensive to such whose love and friendship they seek. And therefore, as he may be truly said to be no favorite of Venus, who with the girdle of the Goddess, wherein are all manner of allurements, drives and chases away his familiar acquaintance from his society; so he that vexes others with his loose and extravagant talk may be as truly said to be a rustic, wanting altogether education and breeding.

7. Now then, among all other passions and maladies, some are dangerous, others hateful, and others ridiculous; but in foolish prating all these inconveniences concur. Praters are derided when they make relations of common matters; they are hated for bringing unwelcome tidings; they are in danger for divulging of secrets. Whereas Anarcharsis, being feasted by Solon, was esteemed a wise man, for that, as he lay asleep after the Edition: current; Page: [228] banquet was over, he was seen with his left hand over his privy parts, and his right hand laid upon his mouth; deeming, as indeed he rightly believed, that his tongue required the stronger curb. For though it would be a hard task to reckon up how many men have perished through the venereal intemperance, yet I dare say it would be almost as difficult to tell how many cities and States have been demolished and totally subverted by the inconsiderate blurting out of a secret.

Sylla besieged Athens at a time when it was certain that he could not lie long before the city, by reason that other affairs and troubles called him another way. For on the one side, Mithridates ravaged Asia; on the other, Marius’s party had made themselves masters of Rome. But it happened, that certain old fellows being met together in a barber’s shop, among other discourse, blabbed it out, that the Heptachalcon was ill guarded, and that the city was in great danger of a surprise in that part. Which being overheard and reported to Sylla by certain of his spies, he presently brought all his forces on that side, and about midnight, after a sharp assault, entered the city with his whole army, and it was a thousand to one but that he had laid it in ashes. However, he filled it with the carcasses of the slain, and made the Ceramicus run with blood; being highly incensed against the Athenians, more for their reproachful language than their military opposition. For they had abused both him and his wife Metella, getting up upon the walls and calling him “mulberry strewed with dust meal,” with many other provoking scoffs of the same nature; and merely for a few words — which, as Plato observes, are the lightest things in the world — they drew upon their heads the severest punishment.

The tongue of one man prevented Rome from recovering her freedom by the destruction of Nero. For there was but one night to pass before Nero was to be murdered on Edition: current; Page: [229] the morrow, all things being ready prepared and agreed on for that purpose. But in the mean time it happened that he who had undertaken to execute the act, as he was going to the theatre, seeing one of those poor creatures that were bound and pinioned, just ready to be led before Nero, and hearing the fellow bewail his hard fortune, gathered up close to him, and whispered the poor fellow in the ear: Pray only, honest friend, said he, that thou mayest but escape this day; to-morrow thou shalt give me thanks. Presently the fellow taking hold of this enigmatical speech, and calling to mind the vulgar saying, that he is a fool who lets slip a bird in the hand for a bird in the bush, preferred the surer to the juster way of saving himself, and presently declared to Nero what that man had whispered in his ear. Immediately the whisperer was laid hold of, and hurried away to the place of torture, where by racking, searing, and scourging he was constrained, poor miserable creature, to confess that by force which before he had discovered without any compulsion at all.

8. Zeno, that he might not be compelled by the tortures of his body to betray, against his will, the secrets entrusted in his breast, bit off his tongue, and spit it in the tyrant’s face. Notorious also was the example of Leaena, and signal the reward which she had for being true to her trust and constant in her taciturnity. She was a courtesan with whom Harmodius and Aristogiton were very familiar; and for that reason they had imparted to her the great hopes which they had upon the success of the conspiracy against the tyrants, wherein they were so deeply engaged; while she on the other side, having drunk freely of the noble cup of love, had been initiated into their secrets through the God of Love; and she failed not of her vow. For the two paramours being taken and put to death after they had failed in their enterprise, she was also apprehended and put to the torture, to force out of her a discovery of Edition: current; Page: [230] the rest of the accomplices; but all the torments and extremities they could exercise upon her body could not prevail to make her discover so much as one person; whereby she manifested to the world that the two gentlemen, her friends, had done nothing misbecoming their descent, in having bestowed their affections upon such a woman. For this reason the Athenians, as a monument of her virtue, set up a lioness (which the name Leaena signifies) in brass, without a tongue, just at the entrance into the Acropolis; by the stomachful courage of that beast signifying to posterity the invincible resolution of the woman; and by making it without a tongue, denoting her constancy in keeping the secret with which she was entrusted. For never any word spoken did so much good, as many locked up in silence. Thus at one time or other a man may utter what heretofore has been kept a secret; but when a secret is once blurted forth, it can never be recalled; for it flies abroad, and spreads in a moment far and near. And hence it is that we have men to teach us to speak, but the Gods are they that teach us silence; silence being the first thing commanded upon our first initiation into their divine ceremonies and sacred mysteries. And therefore it is that Homer makes Ulysses, whose eloquence was so charming, to be the most silent of men; and the same virtue he also attributes to his son, to his wife, and also to his nurse. For thus you hear her speaking:

  • Safe, as in hardened steel or sturdy oak,
  • Within my breast these secrets will I lock.

And Ulysses himself, sitting by Penelope before he discovered himself, is thus brought in:

  • His weeping wife with pity he beheld,
  • Although not willing yet to be revealed.
  • He would not move his eyes, but kept them fast,
  • Like horn or steel within his eyebrows placed.*
Edition: current; Page: [231]

So powerfully possessed with continence were both his tongue and lips; and having all the rest of his members so obedient and subject to his reason, he commanded his eye not to weep, his tongue not to speak a word, and his heart neither to pant nor tremble.

  • So was his suffering heart confined
  • To give obedience to his mind;*

his reason penetrating even to those inward motions, and subduing to itself the blood and vital spirits. Such were many of the rest of his followers. For though they were dragged and haled by Polyphemus, and had their heads dashed against the ground, they would not confess a word concerning their lord and master Ulysses, nor discover the long piece of wood that was put in the fire and prepared to put out his eye; but rather suffered themselves to be devoured raw than to disclose any one of their master’s secrets; which was an example of fidelity and reservedness not to be paralleled. Pittacus therefore did very well, who, when the king of Egypt sent him an oblation-beast, and ordered him to take out and set apart the best and worst piece of it, pulled out the tongue and sent to him, as being the instrument of many good things as well as the instrument of the greatest evils in the world.

9. Ino therefore, in Euripides, frankly extolling herself, says:

  • I know both when and where my tongue to hold,
  • And when with safety to be freely bold.

For they that are brought up under a truly generous and royal education learn first to be silent, and then to talk. And therefore King Antigonus, when his son asked him when they should discamp, replied, What! art thou afraid of being the only man that shall not hear the trumpet? So loath was he to trust him with a secret, to whom he was to leave his kingdom; teaching him thereby, when he Edition: current; Page: [232] came to command another day, to be no less wary and sparing of his speech. Metellus also, that old soldier, being asked some such question about the intended march of his army, If I thought, said he, that my shirt were privy to this secret, I would pull it off and throw it into the fire. Eumenes also, when he heard that Craterus was marching with his forces against him, said not a word of it to his best friend, but gave out all along that it was Neoptolemus; for him his soldiers contemned, but they admired Craterus’s fame and virtue; but nobody knew the truth but Eumenes himself. Thereupon joining battle, the victory fell to their side, and they slew Craterus, not knowing whom he was till they found him among the slain. So cunningly did taciturnity manage this combat, and conceal so great an adversary; so that the friends of Eumenes admired rather than reproved him for not telling them beforehand. For indeed, should a man be blamed in such a case, it is better for him to be accused after victory obtained by his distrust, than to be obliged to blame others after an overthrow because he has been too easy to impart his secrets.

10. Nay, what man is he that dares take upon him the freedom to blame another for not keeping the secret which he himself has revealed to him? For if the secret ought not to have been divulged, it was ill done to break it to another; but if, after thou hast let it go from thyself, thou wouldst have another keep it in, surely it is a great argument that thou hast more confidence in another than in thyself; for, if he be like thyself, thou art deservedly lost; if better, then thou art miraculously saved, as having met with a person more faithful to thee than thou art to thy own interest. But thou wilt say, he is my friend. Very good: yet this friend of mine had another, in whom he might confide as much as I did in him; and in like manner his friend another, to the end of the chapter. Edition: current; Page: [233] And thus the secret gains ground, and spreads itself by multiplication of babbling. For as a unit never exceeds its bounds, but always remains one, and is therefore called a unit; but the next is two, which contains the unlimited principle of diversity, — for it straightway departs from out of itself (as it were) and by doubling turns to a plurality, — so speech abiding in the first person’s thoughts may truly be called a secret; but being communicated to another, it presently changes its name into common rumor. This is the reason that Homer gives to words the epithet of winged; for he that lets a bird go out of his hand does not easily catch her again; neither is it possible for a man to recall and cage again in his breast a word let slip from his mouth;* for with light wings it fetches many a compass, and flutters about from one quarter to another in a moment. The course of a ship may well be stayed by cables and anchors, which else would spoon away before a fresh gale of wind; but there is no fast riding or anchorhold for speech, when once let loose as from a harbor; but being whirled away with a sonorous noise and loud echo, it carries off and plunges the unwary babbler into some fatal danger.

  • For soon a little spark of fire, let fly,
  • May kindle Ida’s wood, so thick and high
  • What one man to his seeming friend lets go,
  • Whole cities may with ease enquire and know.

11. The Senate of Rome had been debating among themselves a certain piece of secrecy for several days, which caused the matter to be so much the more suspected and listened after. Whereupon a certain Roman lady, discreet enough in other things, but yet a woman, laid at her husband day and night, and mournfully importuned him what the secret might be. Oaths, you may be sure, she was ready to make, and to curse herself if ever she Edition: current; Page: [234] revealed whatever he should tell; nor was she wanting in tears, and many moist complaints of her being a woman so little to be trusted by a husband. The Roman thus beset, yet willing in some measure to make trial of her fidelity and convince her of her folly, Thou hast overcome me, wife, said he, and now I’ll tell thee a most dreadful and prodigious thing. We were advertised by the priests, that a lark was seen flying in the air, with a golden helmet upon her head and a spear in one of her claws; now we are consulting with the augurs or soothsayers about this portent, whether it be good or bad. But keep it to thyself, for it may be of great concernment for the commonwealth. Having so said, he walked forth toward the market-place. No sooner was he gone, but his wife caught hold of the first of her maids that entered the room, and then striking her breast and tearing her hair, Woe is me, said she, for my poor husband and dearest country! What will become of us? — prompting the maid, as if she were desirous that she should say to her, Why? What is the matter, mistress? Upon which she presently unfolded all that her husband had told her; nay, she forgot not the common burden with which all twattle-baskets conclude their stories; But, hussy, said she, for your life, be sure you say not a word of this to any soul living. The wench was no sooner got out of her mistress’s sight, but meeting with one of her fellow-servants that had little to do, to her she unbosoms herself; she, big with the news, with no less speed runs away to her sweetheart, who was come to give her a visit, and without any more to do tells him all. By this means the story flew about the market-place before the first deviser of it could get thither. Presently one of his acquaintance meeting him asked, Did ye come straight from your house? Without stop or stay, replied the other. And did ye hear nothing? says his friend. Why? quoth the other, Is there any news? Oh! Edition: current; Page: [235] quoth his friend, a lark has been seen flying in the air, with a golden helmet upon her head and a spear in her claw, and the Senate is summoned to consult about it. Upon which the gentleman, smiling: God a mercy, wife, quoth he, for being so nimble! One would have thought I might have got into the market-place before a story so lately told thee; but I see ’twas not to be done. Thereupon meeting with some of the senators, he soon delivered them out of their pain. However, being resolved to take a slight revenge of his wife, making haste home, Wife, said he, thou hast undone me; for it is found out that the great secret I told thee was first divulged out of my house; and now must I be banished from my native country for your wicked gaggling tongue. At first his wife would have denied the matter, and put it off from her husband by telling him there were three hundred more besides himself that heard the thing, and why might not one of those divulge it as well as he? But he bade her never tell him of three hundred more, and told her it was an invention of his own framing to try her and to avoid her importunity. Thus this Roman safely and cautiously made the experiment of his wife’s ability to keep a secret; as when we pour into a cracked and leaky vessel, not wine nor oil, but water only.

But Fulvius, one of Augustus Caesar’s minions and favorites, once heard the emperor deploring the desolation of his family, in regard his two grandchildren by his daughter were both dead, and Postumius, who only remained alive, upon an accusation charged against him was confined to banishment, so that he was forced to set up his wife’s son to succeed him in the empire, yet upon more compassionate thoughts, signifying his determination to recall Postumius from exile. This Fulvius hearing related the whole to his wife, and she to Livia. Livia sharply expostulated the matter with Caesar; wherefore, seeing he Edition: current; Page: [236] had projected the thing so long before, he did not send for his daughter’s son at first, but exposed her to the hatred and revenge of him that he had determined to be his successor. The next morning Fulvius coming into Augustus’s presence, and saluting him with Hail, O Caesar! Caesar retorted upon him, God send thee more wit, Fulvius. He, presently apprehending the meaning of the repartee, made haste home again; and calling for his wife, Caesar understands, said he, that I have discovered his secret counsels, and therefore I am resolved to lay violent hands upon myself. And justly too, said she, thou dost deserve to die, since having lived so long with me, thou didst not know the lavishness of my tongue, and how unable I was to keep a secret. However, suffer me to die first. And with that, snatching the sword out of her husband’s hands, she slew herself before his face.

12. Truly therefore was it said by Philippides the come dian, who being courteously and familiarly asked by King Lysimachus, what he should bestow upon him of all the treasure that he had, made answer, Any thing, O King, but your secrets.

But there is another vice no less mischievous that attends garrulity, called Curiosity. For there are a sort of people that desire to hear a great deal of news, that they may have matter enough to twattle abroad; and these are the most diligent in the world to pry and dive into the secrets of others, that they may enlarge and aggravate their own loquacity with new stories and fooleries. And then they are like children, that neither can endure to hold the ice in their hands nor will let it go; or rather they may be said to lodge other men’s secrets in their bosoms, like so many serpents, which they are not able to keep there long, because they eat their way through. It is said that the fish called the sea-needle and vipers rive asunder and burst themselves when they bring forth; in like manner, secrets, Edition: current; Page: [237] dropping from the mouths of those that cannot contain them, destroy and overthrow the revealers. Seleucus Callinicus, having lost his whole army in a battle fought with the Galatians, threw off his royal diadem, and flew away full speed on a horse with three or four attendants, wandering through by-roads and deserts, till at last he began to faint for want of food. At length coming to a certain countryman’s house, and finding the owner himself within, he asked him for a little bread and water; which the countryman not only readily fetched him, but what else his ground would afford he very liberally and plentifully set before the king and his companions, making them all as heartily welcome as it was possible for him to do. At length, in the midst of their cheer, he knew the king’s face. This overjoyed the man to such a degree, — that he should have the happiness to relieve the king in his necessity, — that he was not able to contain himself or dissemble his knowledge of the king; but after he had rode a little way with him and came to take his leave; Farewell, King Seleucus, said the poor man. But then the king, stretching forth his right hand and pulling his host to his breast, as if he had intended to kiss him, nodded to one of his followers to strike off the countryman’s head with his sword.

E’en while he speaks, his head rolls in the dust.*

Whereas if he could but have held his peace and mastered his tongue for a little while, till the king, as afterwards he did, had recovered his good fortune and grandeur, he had been doubtless better rewarded for his silence than he was for his hospitality. And yet this poor man had some colorable excuse for letting his tongue at liberty; that is to say, his hopes, and the kindness he had done the king.

13. But most of your twattlers, without any cause or pretence at all, destroy themselves; as it happened when Edition: current; Page: [238] certain fellows began to talk pretty freely in a barber’s shop concerning the tyranny of Dionysius, that it was as secure and inexpugnable as a rock of adamant: I wonder, quoth the barber, laughing, that you should talk these things before me concerning Dionysius, whose throat is almost every day under my razor. Which scurrilous freedom of the barber being related to the tyrant, he caused him forthwith to be crucified. And indeed the generality of barbers are a prating generation of men; in regard the most loquacious praters usually resort to their shops, and there sit prattling; from whence the barbers also learn an ill habit of twattling. Pleasant therefore was the answer of Archelaus to the barber who, after he had cast the linen toilet about his shoulders, put this question to him, How shall I trim your majesty; In silence, quoth the king. It was a barber that first reported the news of the great overthrow which the Athenians received in Sicily; for being the first that heard the relation of it in the Piraeus, from a servant of one of those who had escaped out of the battle, he presently left his shop at sixes and sevens, and flew into the city as fast as his heels could carry him,

  • For fear some other should the honor claim
  • Of being first, when he but second came.*

Now you may be sure that the first spreader of this news caused a great hubbub in the city, insomuch that the people, thronging together in the market-place, made diligent enquiry for the first divulger. Presently the barber was brought by head and shoulders to the crowd, and examined; but he could give no account of his author, only one that he never saw or knew in his life before had told him the news. Which so incensed the multitude, that they immediately cried out, To the rack with the traitor, tie the lying rascal neck and heels together. This is a mere story of the rogue’s own making. Who heard it? Who gave Edition: current; Page: [239] any credit to it beside himself? At the same instant the wheel was brought out, and the poor barber stretched upon it, — not to his ease, you may be sure. And then it was, and not before, that the news of the defeat was confirmed by several that had made a hard shift to escape the slaughter. Upon which the people scattered every one to his own home, to make their private lamentation for their particular losses, leaving the unfortunate barber bound fast to the wheel; in which condition he continued till late in the evening, before he was let loose. Nor would this reform the impertinent fool; for no sooner was he at liberty but he would needs be enquiring of the executioner, what news, and what was reported of the manner of Nicias the general’s being slain. So inexpugnable and incorrigible a vice is loquacity, gotten by custom and ill habit, that they cannot leave it off, though they were sure to be hanged.

14. And yet we find that people have the same antipathy against divulgers of bad tidings, as they that drink bitter and distasteful potions have against the cups wherein they drank them. Elegant therefore is the dispute in Sophocles between the messenger and Creon:

  • By what I tell and what you hear,
  • Do I offend your heart or ear?
  • Why so inquisitive to sound
  • My grief, and search the painful wound?
  • My news afflicts thy ears, I find,
  • But ’tis the fact torments thy mind.*

Thus they that bring us bad tidings are as bad as they who are the authors of our misery; and yet there is no restraining or correcting the tongue that will run at random.

It happened that the temple of Minerva in Lacedaemon called Chalcioecus was robbed, and nothing but an earthen pitcher left behind; which caused a great concourse of people, where every one spent his verdict about the empty Edition: current; Page: [240] pitcher. Gentlemen, says one, pray give me leave to tell ye my opinion concerning this pitcher. I am apt to believe, that these sacrilegious villains, before they ventured upon so dangerous an attempt, drank each of them a draught of hemlock juice, and then brought wine along with them in this pitcher; to the end that, if it were their good hap to escape without being apprehended, they might soon dissolve and extinguish the strength and vigor of the venom by the force of the wine unmixed and pure; but if they should be surprised and taken in the fact, that then they might die without feeling any pain under the torture of the rack. Having thus said, the people, observing so much forecast and contrivance in the thing, would not be persuaded that any man could have such ready thoughts upon a bare conjecture, but that he must know it to be so. Thereupon, immediately gathering about him, one asked who he was; another, who knew him; a third, how he came to be so much a philosopher. And at length, they did so sift and canvass and fetch him about, that the fellow confessed himself to be one of those that committed the sacrilege.

And were not they who murdered the poet Ibycus discovered after the same manner, as they sat in the theatre? For as they were sitting there under the open sky to behold the public pastimes, they observed a flock of cranes flying over their heads; upon which they whispered merrily one to another, Look, yonder are the revengers of Ibycus’s death. Which words being overheard by some that sat next them, — in regard that Ibycus had been long missing but could not be found, though diligent search had been made after him, — they presently gave information of what they had heard to the magistrates. By whom being examined and convicted, they suffered condign punishment, though not betrayed by the cranes, but by the incontinency of their own tongues, and by an avenging Edition: current; Page: [241] Erinnys hovering over their heads and constraining them to confess the murder. For as in the body, wounded and diseased members draw to themselves the vicious humors of the neighboring parts; in like manner, the unruly tongues of babblers, infested (as it were) with inflammations where a sort of feverish pulses continually lie beating, will be always drawing to themselves something of the secret and private concerns of other men. And therefore the tongue ought to be environed with reason, as with a rampart perpetually lying before it, like a mound, to stop the overflowing and slippery exuberance of impertinent talk; that we may not seem to be more silly than geese, which, when they take their flight out of Cilicia over the mountain Taurus, which abounds with eagles, are reported to carry every one a good big stone in their bills, instead of a bridle or barricado, to restrain their gaggling. By which means they cross those hideous forests in the night-time undiscovered.

15. Now then if the question should be asked, Which are the worst and most pernicious sort of people? I do not believe there is any man that would omit to name a traitor. By treason it was that Euthycrates covered the uppermost story of his house with Macedonian timber, according to the report of Demosthenes; that Philocrates, having received a good sum of money, spent it upon whores and fish; and that Euphorbus and Philagrus, who betrayed Eretria, were so well rewarded by the king with ample possessions. But a prattler is a sort of traitor that no man needs to hire, for that he offers himself officiously and of his own accord. Nor does he betray to the enemy either horse or walls; but whatever he knows of public or private concerns requiring the greatest secrecy, that he discloses, whether it be in courts of judicature, in conspiracies, or management of state affairs, ’tis all one; he expects not so much as the reward of being thanked for Edition: current; Page: [242] his pains; nay, rather he will return thanks to them that give him audience. And therefore what was said upon a certain spendthrift that rashly and without any discretion wasted his own estate by his lavish prodigality to others,

  • Thou art not liberal; ’tis a disease
  • Of vainly giving, which does thee possess;
  • ’Tis all to please thyself, what thou dost give,*

may well be retorted upon a common prattler:

  • Thou art no friend, nor dost to me impart,
  • For friendship’s sake, the secrets of thy heart;
  • But as thy tongue has neither bolt nor lock,
  • ’Tis thy disease, that thou delight’st to talk.

16. Nor would I have the reader think that what has hitherto been said has been discoursed so much to blame as to cure that vicious and infectious malady of loquaciousness. For though we surmount and vanquish the vices of the mind by judgment and exercise, yet must the judgment precede. For no man will accustom himself to avoid and, as it were, to extirpate out of his soul those vices, unless he first abominate them. Nor can we ever detest those evil habits of the mind as we ought to do, but when we rightly judge by reason’s light of the prejudice they do us, and the ignominy we sustain thereby. For example, we consider and find that these profuse babblers, desirous of being beloved, are universally hated; while they study to gratify, they become troublesome; while they seek to be admired, they are derided. If they aim at profit, they lose all their labor; in short, they injure their friends, advantage their enemies, and undo themselves. And therefore the first remedy and cure for this spreading malady will be this, to reckon up all the shameful infamies and disasters that attend it.

17. The second remedy is to take into serious consideration the practice of the opposite virtue, by always hearing, remembering, and having ready at hand the due praises Edition: current; Page: [243] and encomiums of reservedness and taciturnity, together with the majesty, sanctimony, and mysterious profoundness of silence. Let them consider how much more beloved, how much more admired, how far they are reputed to excel in prudence, who deliver their minds in few words, roundly and sententiously, and contract a great deal of sense within a small compass of speech, than such as fly out into voluminous language, and suffer their tongues to run before their wit. The former are those whom Plato so much praises, and likens unto skilful archers, darting forth their sentences thick and close, as it were crisped and curled one within another. To this same shrewdness of expression Lycurgus accustomed his fellow-citizens from their childhood by the exercise of silence, contracting and thickening their discourse into a compendious delivery. For as the Celtiberians make steel of iron by burying it in the ground, thereby to refine it from the gross and earthy part, so the Laconic way of speech has nothing of bark upon it, but by cutting off all superfluity of words, it becomes steeled and sharpened to pierce the understanding of the hearers. So their consciousness of language, so ready to turn the edge to all manner of questions, became natural by their extraordinary practice of silence. And therefore it would be very expedient for persons so much given to talk, always to have before their eyes the short and pithy sayings of those people, were it only to let them see the force and gravity which they contain. For example: The Lacedaemonians to Philip; Dionysius in Corinth. And when Philip wrote thus to the Spartans: If once I enter into your territories, I will destroy ye all, never to rise again; they answered him with the single word, If. To King Demetrius exclaiming in a great rage, What! have the Spartans sent me but one ambassador? the ambassador nothing terrified replied, Yes; one to one. Certainly they that spoke short and concisely were much admired by the Edition: current; Page: [244] ancients. Therefore the Amphictyons gave order, not that the Iliad or the Odyssey or Pindar’s paeans should be written upon Pythian Apollo’s temple; but Know thyself; Nothing too much; Give sureties, and mischief is at hand. So much did they admire conciseness of speech, comprehending full sense in so much brevity, made solid as it were by the force of a hammer. Does not the Deity himself study compendious utterance in the delivery of his oracles? Is he not therefore called Loxias,* because he avoids rather loquacity than obscurity? Are not they that signify their meaning by certain sings, without words, in great admiration and highly applauded? Thus Heraclitus, being desired by his fellow-citizens to give them his opinion concerning Concord, ascended the public pulpit, and taking a cup of cold water into his hand, first sprinkled it with a little flour, then stirring it with a sprig of pennyroyal, drank it off, and so came down again; intimating thereby, that if men would but be contented with what was next at hand, without longing after dainties and superfluities, it would be an easy thing for cities to live in peace and concord one with another.

Scilurus, king of the Scythians, left fourscore sons behind him; who, when he found the hour of death approaching, ordered them to bring him a bundle of small javelins, and then commanded every one singly to try whether he could break the bundle, as it was, tied up altogether; which when they told him it was impossible for them to do, he drew out the javelins one by one, and brake them all himself with ease; thereby declaring that, so long as they kept together united and in concord, their force would be invincible, but that by disunion and discord they would enfeeble each other, and render their dominion of small continuance.

18. He then, that by often repeating and reflection shall Edition: current; Page: [245] enure himself to such precedents as these, may in time perhaps be more delighted with these short and conclusive apophthegms than with the exorbitances of loose and lavish discourse. For my own part, I must acknowledge that I am not a little ashamed of myself, when I call to mind that same domestic servant of whom I am now going to speak, and consider how great a thing it is to advise before a man speaks, and then to be able to maintain and stick to what he has resolved upon.

Pupius Piso, the rhetorician, being unwilling to be disturbed with much talk, gave orders to his servants to answer to such questions only as he should ask them, and say no more. Then having a design to give an entertainment to Clodius, at that time magistrate, he ordered him to be invited, and provided a splendid banquet for him, as in all probability he could do no less. At the time appointed several other guests appeared, only they waited for Clodius’s coming, who tarried much longer than was expected; so that Piso sent his servant several times to him, to know whether he would be pleased to come to supper or no. Now when it grew late and Piso despaired of his coming, What! said he to his servant, did you call him? Yes, replied the servant. Why then does he not come away? Because he told me he would not come. Why did you not tell me so before? Because, sir, you never asked me the question. This was a Roman servant. But an Athenian servant, while he is digging and delving, will give his master an account of the articles and capitulations in a treaty of peace. So strangely does custom prevail in all things, of which let us now discourse.

19. For there is no curb or bridle that can tame or restrain a libertine tongue; only custom must vanquish that disease. First therefore, when there are many questions propounded in the company where thou art, accustom thyself Edition: current; Page: [246] to silence till all the rest have refused to give an answer. For, as Sophocles observes,

  • Although in racing swiftness is required,
  • In counselling there’s no such haste desired;

no more do speech and answer aim at the same mark with running. For it is the business of a racer to get the start of him that contends with him; but if another man gives a sufficient answer, there needs no more than to commend and approve what he says, and so gain the reputation of a candid person. If not, then to tell wherein the other failed and to supply the defect will neither be unseasonable nor a thing that can justly merit distaste. But above all things, let us take special heed, when another is asked a question, that we do not chop in to prevent his returning an answer. And perhaps it is as little commendable, when a question is asked of another, to put him by, and undertake the solution of what is demanded ourselves. For thereby we seem to intimate that the person to whom the question was put was not able to resolve it, and that the propounder had not discretion sufficient to know of whom to ask it. Besides, such a malapert forwardness in answering is not only indecent, but injurious and affrontive. For he that prevents the person to whom the question is put in returning his answer, would in effect insinuate a What need had you to ask of him? — What can he say to it? — When I am in presence, no man ought to be asked those questions but myself. And yet many times we put questions to some people, not for want of an answer, but only to minister occasion of discourse to provoke them to familiarity, and to have the pleasure of their wit and conversation, as Socrates was wont to challenge Theaetetus and Charmides. Therefore to prevent another in returning his answers, to abstract his ears, and draw off his cogitations from another to himself, is the same thing as to run and salute a man who designs to be saluted by somebody Edition: current; Page: [247] else, or to divert his eyes upon ourselves which were already fixed upon another; considering that if he to whom the question is put refuse to return an answer, it is but decent for a man to contain himself, and by an answer accommodate to the will of the propounder, modestly and respectfully to put in, as if it had been at the request or in the behalf of the other. For they that are asked a question, if they fail in their answer, are justly to be pardoned; but he that voluntarily presumes to answer for another gives distaste, let his answer be never so rational; but if he mistake, he is derided by all the company.

20. The second point of exercise, in reference to our own answering of questions, wherein a man that is given to talk ought to be extremely careful, is first of all not to be over-hasty in his answers to such as provoke him to talk on purpose to make themselves merry and to put an affront upon him. For some there are who, not out of any desire to be satisfied, but merely to pass away the time, study certain questions, and then propound them to persons which they know love to multiply words, on purpose to make themselves sport. Such men therefore ought to take heed how they run headlong and leap into discourse, as if they were glad of the occasion, and to consider the behavior of the propounder and the benefit and usefulness of the question. When we find that the propounder is really desirous to be informed, it is convenient then for a man to bethink himself awhile, and make some pause between the question and the answer; to the end that the proposer, if he pleases to make any additions to his proposal, may have time to do it, and himself a convenient space to consider what answer to make, for fear of running at random and stifling the question before it be fully propounded, or of giving one answer for another for want of considering what he ought to say, — which is the effect of an over-hasty zeal to be talking. True it is, Edition: current; Page: [248] indeed, that the Pythian priestess was wont to give her oracular answers at the very instant, and sometimes before the question was propounded. For that the Deity whom she serves

  • Both understands the mute that cannot speak,
  • And hears the silent e’er his mind he break.*

But it behooves a man that would return a pertinent answer, to stay till he rightly apprehend the sense and understand the intent of him that propounds the question, lest he may happen to make good the proverb,

A rake we called for; they refused a bowl.

Besides, we must subdue this inordinate and insatiate greediness of having all the talk, that it may not seem as if we had some old flux of humors impostumated about the tongue, which we were willing to have lanced and let out by a question. Socrates therefore, though never so thirsty after violent exercise, never would allow himself the liberty to drink, till he had drawn one bucket of water and poured it out upon the ground; to the end he might accustom his sensual appetite to attend reason’s appointment.

21. Now therefore we come to understand that there are three sorts of answers to questions, the necessary, the polite, and the superfluous. For example, if a man should ask whether Socrates in within, the other, if he were in an ill-humor or not disposed to make many words, would answer, Not within; or if he intended to be more Laconic, he would cut off “within,” and reply briefly, No. Thus the Lacedaemonians, when Philip sent them an epistle, to know whether or not they would admit him into their city, vouchsafed him no other answer than only No, fairly written in large letters upon a sheet of paper. Another that would answer more courteously would say: He is not within; he is gone among the bankers; and perhaps he Edition: current; Page: [249] would add, Where he expects some friends. But a superfluous prater, if he chance to have read Antimachus of Colophon, would reply: He is not within; but is gone among the bankers, in expectation to meet certain Ionian friends, who are recommended to him in a letter from Alcibiades, who lives at Miletus with Tissaphernes, one of the great king of Persia’s lieutenant-generals, who formerly assisted the Lacedaemonians, but is now, by the solicitation of Alcibiades, in league with the Athenians; for Alcibiades, being desirous to return to his own country, has prevailed with Tissaphernes to change his mind and join with the Athenians. And thus perhaps you shall have him run on and repeat the whole eighth book of Thucydides, and overwhelm a man with his impertinent discourse, till he has taken Miletus, and banished Alcibiades a second time. Herein therefore ought a man chiefly to restrain the profuseness of his language, by following the footsteps of the question, and circumscribing the answer, as it were, within a circle proportionable to the benefit which the propounder proposes to make of his question. It is reported of Carneades, that before he was well known in the world, while he was disputing in the Gymnasium, the president of the place sent him an admonition to moderate his voice (for he naturally spoke very deep and loud); in answer to which he desired the president to send him a gauge for his voice, when the president not improperly made answer: Let that be the person who disputes with thee. In like manner, the intent of the propounder ought to be the rule and measure of the answer.

22. Moreover, as Socrates was wont to say, that those meats were chiefly to be abstained from which allured men to eat when they were not a-hungry, and those drinks to be refrained that invited men to drink when they were not a-dry; so it would behoove a man that is lavish of his Edition: current; Page: [250] tongue, to be afraid of those discourses and themes wherein he most delights and makes it his business to be most prolix, and whenever he perceives them flowing in upon him, to resist them to the utmost of his power. For example, your martial men are always talking of sieges and battles, and the great poet often introduces Nestor boasting of his own achievements and feats of arms. The same disease is incident to noted pleaders at the bar, and accompanies such as have unexpectedly risen to be the favorites of great princes. For such will be always up with their stories, — how they were introduced at first, how they ascended by degrees, how they got the better in such a case, what arguments they used in such a case, and lastly how they were hummed up and applauded in court. For to say truth, gladness and joy are much more loquacious than the sleeplessness so often feigned in their comedies, rousing up and still refreshing itself with new relations; and therefore they are prone to fall into such stories upon the least occasion given. For not only

  • Where the body most is pained,
  • There the patient lays his hand;

but pleasure also has a voice within itself, and leads the tongue about to be a support to the memory. So lovers spend the greatest part of their time in songs and sonnets, to refresh their memories with the representations of their mistresses; concerning which amours of theirs, when companions are wanting, they frequently discourse with things that are void of life. Thus,

O dearest bed, whereon we wont to rest;

and again,

  • O blessed lamp divine, — for surely thee
  • Bacchis believes some mighty Deity, —
  • Surely the greatest of the Gods thou art,
  • If she so wills who does possess my heart.

And indeed it may well be said, that a loose-tongued fellow is no more, in respect of his discourse, than a white Edition: current; Page: [251] line struck with chalk upon white marble. For in regard there are several subjects of discourse, and many men are more subject to some than to others, it behooves every one to be on his guard especially against these, and to suppress them in such a manner that the delight which they take therein may not decoy them into their beloved prolixity and profuseness of words. The same inclination to overshoot themselves in prattling appears in such as are prone to that kind of discourses wherein they suppose themselves to excel others, either in habit or experience. For such a one, being as well a lover of himself as ambitious of glory,

  • The chiefest part of all the day doth spend,
  • Himself to pass and others to transcend.*

For example, he that reads much endeavors to excel in history; the grammarian, in the artificial couching of words; the traveller is full of his geography. But all these surplusages are to be avoided with great caution, lest men, intoxicated therewith, grow fond of their old infirmities, and return to their former freaks, like beasts that cannot be driven from their haunts. Cyrus therefore, yet a young stripling, was most worthy of admiration, who would never challenge his equals and playfellows to any exercise wherein he excelled, but to such only wherein he knew himself to be inferior; unwilling that they should fret for the loss of the prize which he was sure to win, and loath to lose what he could himself gain from the others’ better skill.

On the other side, the profuse talker is of such a disposition that, if any discourse happen from which he might be able to learn something and inform his ignorance, that he refuses and rejects, nor can you hire him even to hold his tongue; but after his rolling and restless fancy has mustered up some few obsolete and all-to-be-tattered rhapsodies Edition: current; Page: [252] to supply his vanity, out he flings them, as if he were master of all the knowledge in the world. Just like one amongst us who, having read two or three of Ephorus’s books, tired all men’s ears, and spoiled and brake up all the feasts and societies wherever he came, with his continual relations of the battle of Leuctra and the consequences of it; by which means he got himself a nickname, and every one called him Epaminondas.

23. But this is one of the least inconveniences of this infirmity; and indeed we ought to make it one step towards the cure, to turn this violent vein of twattling upon such subjects as those. For such a loquacity is less a nuisance when it superabounds in what belongs to humane literature. It would be well also that the sort of people who are addicted to this vice should accustom themselves to write upon some subject or other, and to dispute of certain questions apart. For Antipater the Stoic, as we may probably conjecture, either not being able or else unwilling to come into dispute with Carneades, vehemently inveighing against the Stoics, declined to meet him fairly in the schools, yet would be always writing answers against him; and because he filled whole volumes full of contradictory arguments, and still opposed him with assertions that only made a noise, he was called Calamoboas, as one that made a great clamor with his pen to no purpose. So it is very probable that such fighting with their own shadows, and exclaiming one against another apart by themselves, driving and restraining them from the multitude, would render them gradually more tolerable and sociable in civil company; as curs, after they have once discharged their fury upon sticks and stones, become less fierce towards men. It would be always of great importance to them to converse with their superiors and elders; for that the awful reverence and respect which they bear to their dignity and gravity may accustom them in time to silence.

Edition: current; Page: [253]

And it would be evermore expedient to intermix and involve with these exercises this manner of ratiocination with ourselves, before we speak, and at the very moment that the words are ready to break out of our mouths: What is this which I would say, that presses so hard to be gone? For what reason would this tongue of mine so fain be talking? What good shall I get by speaking? What mischief shall I incur by holding my peace? For we are not to ease and discharge ourselves of our words, as if they were a heavy burthen that overloaded us; for speech remains as well when uttered as before; but men either speak in behalf of themselves when some necessity compels them, or for the benefit of those that hear them, or else to recreate one another with the delights of converse, on purpose to mitigate and render more savory, as with salt, the toils of our daily employments. But if there be nothing profitable in speaking, nothing necessary to them that hear what is said, nothing of satisfaction or delight, what need is there it should be spoken? For words may be in vain and to no purpose, as well as deeds. But after and above all that has been said, we ought always to bear in remembrance, and always to have at our tongue’s end, that saying of Simonides, that he had often repented him of talking, but never of keeping silent. Then as for exercise, we must believe it to be a matter of great importance, as being that which overcomes and masters all things; considering what watchful care and even toil and labor men will undergo to get rid of an old cough or hiccough. But silence and taciturnity not only never cause a dry throat, as Hippocrates observes, but are altogether free from pain and sorrow.

Edition: current; Page: [254]



1. Flavianus.

Was it not in Helicon, dear Autobulus, that those discourses were held concerning Love, which — whether thou hast already set them down in writing, or still carriest them in thy memory, as having often desired them from thy father — we are now in expectation that thou wilt recite to us, at our importunate request?


I was in Helicon, dear Flavianus, among the Muses, at what time the Thespians performed the Erotic solemnities. For they celebrate every four years certain games and festivals very magnificent and splendid in honor of Cupid, as well as of the Muses.


Know’st thou then what it is we all desire at thy hands, as many as are gathered here together to be thy auditors?


No; but I shall know, when I am once by you informed.


Curtail, we beseech ye, your discourse at present, forbearing the descriptions of meadows and shades, together with the crawling ivy, and whatever else poets are so studious to add to their descriptions, imitating with more curiosity than grace Plato’s Ilissus,* with the chaste tree and the gentle rising hillock covered with green grass.


What needed my relation, dearest Flavianus, such a proem as this? The occasion that gave birth to Edition: current; Page: [255] these discourses of itself (as it were) asks for a chorus, and it requires a theatre; otherwise there is nothing wanting of a complete drama. Therefore let us only beseech Memory, the mother of the Muses, to be propitious and assist us in the discovery of the fable.

2. For a long time before we were born, when our father had newly espoused our mother, an unlucky variance that fell out between their parents caused him to take a journey to Thespiae, with an intention to sacrifice to the God of Love; and he carried my mother also to the feast (for that it properly belonged to her as well to make the feast as to perform the sacrifice), besides several of his familiar acquaintance that accompanied him from his house. Now being arrived at Thespiae, he met with Daphnaeus, the son of Archidamus, who was in love with Lysandra, the daughter of Simon, and who was, above all her suitors, chiefly the most welcome and acceptable to her. There he also found Soclarus, the son of Aristion, who was come from Tithorea; together with Protogenes of Tarsus and Zeuxippus the Lacedaemonian, by whom he had been several times kindly entertained; and he said that most of the chief men among the Boeotians were there also. Thus they stayed for two or three days in the city, entertaining each other with learned discourses, one while in the common wrestling-places, sometimes in the theatres, still keeping company together. After that, avoiding the troublesome contest of the harpers and musicians, — it being found out that all had been settled beforehand by favor and intrigue, — the greatest part brake company, as if they had been discamping out of an enemy’s country, retired to Helicon, and took up their lodgings among the Muses. Thither the next morning came to them Anthemion and Pisias, persons of eminent nobility, and both allied to Baccho, surnamed the Fair, and in some way at difference one with another, by reason of the affection which they Edition: current; Page: [256] severally bore to him. For there was at Thespiae, Is menodora, of an illustrious family, and wealthy withal; and indeed in all other respects discreet and modest; and moreover she had continued a widow no little time, without spot or stain to her reputation, though both young and beautiful.

Now it happened that while this brisk widow was endeavoring to make up a match between Baccho, who was the son of her intimate friend, and a certain just blooming virgin nearly allied to herself, by often talking with the young gentleman and much frequenting his company, she began to feel some sparks of kindness kindled for him in her own breast. Afterwards hearing him highly commended by others, and speaking many things in his praise herself, and finding him beloved by a great number of persons of the best rank, by degrees she fell desperately in love with the youth; nevertheless with a resolution to do nothing unbeseeming her birth and quality, but after public wedlock to acknowledge him as her husband. But as the match seemed impracticable by reason of the distance of their years, so the mother of the young man suspected the nobility and grandeur of her house not to be correspondent to her son’s condition, which rendered him incapable of such a preferment. Moreover, his companions that were wont to go a hunting with him, weighing the difference between his and the age of Ismenodora, filled his head with several scruples, and scaring him with continual frumps and scoffs, more effectually hindered the match than they who labored industriously and seriously to prevent it. And the young man himself felt ashamed at his age to be married to a widow. At last, however, shaking off all others, he applies himself to Pisias and Anthemion for their advice in a matter of so great concernment. The elder of these two, Anthemion, was his cousin, and Pisias the most earnest of his lovers. The latter therefore withstood Edition: current; Page: [257] the match with all his might, and upbraided Anthemion, as one that went about to betray the young man to Ismenodora. On the other side, Anthemion told Pisias, that he did not well to do as he did, having the reputation of a worthy honest man, to imitate those lewd lovers, and endeavor to deprive his friend of a noble house, a rich wife, and other great conveniences, that he might have the pleasure to see him frequently naked in the wrestling-places, fresh and smooth, and a stranger to female sports.

3. However, to prevent the growing of any quarrel between them, through long and passionate disputes, they chose for umpires of the controversy my father and those friends that were with him. And beside them, as if they had been chosen on purpose, Daphnaeus pleaded for Pisias, and for Anthemion, Protogenes; who bitterly inveighing against Ismenodora, O Hercules, cried Daphnaeus, what may we not expect, when Protogenes bids defiance to love? he that all along has spent as well the serious as sportive hours of his life both in love and for love, without regard either to learning or his country; nor like to Laius, who was but five days’ journey distant from home, — for his was a slow sort of love upon the dry land, — whereas your Cupid, Protogenes,

With nimble wings displayed,

crossed the seas from Cilicia to Athens, merely to visit and straggle up and down with lovely boys. And indeed, such at first was the true cause of Protogenes’s peregrination.

4. At which the company falling into a loud laughter; How! said Protogenes, can you believe that I at this time wage war against love, and that I do not rather fight for love against intemperate desire and lascivious wantonness, which, under the shelter of the most honest and fairest names that are, let themselves loose into the most shameful acts of inordinate lust and concupiscence? Then Daphnaeus: Do ye number wedlock and the conjunction of man Edition: current; Page: [258] and wife (than which there is no tie more sacred in this life) among the vile and dishonest actions of the world? Why truly, replied Protogenes, this same bond of wedlock, as being necessary for generation, is not undeservedly perhaps extolled by our grave politicians and lawgivers, and by them recommended to the multitude. But I must tell ye, if you mean true love, there is not a farthing’s worth of it to be found among women. Nor do I believe that either you yourselves, or any other that dote so much as you pretend to do upon women and virgins, love them any otherwise than as flies love milk, or bees love honey-combs; or as cooks and butchers fat up calves and poultry in the dark, not out of any extraordinary affection which they bear to these creatures, but for the gain which they make of them. But as Nature prompts all men to the use of bread and meat with moderation and so far as may suffice the appetite, the excess of which becomes a vice, under the name of gluttony or gormandizing; thus it is natural for men and women to desire the pleasures of mutual enjoyment, but as for that impetuous concupiscence that hurries the greatest part of mankind with so much strength and violence, it is not properly called love. For love that is bred in a young and truly generous heart, by means of friendship, terminates in virtue; whereas all our desires towards women, let them be taken in the best sense he can, serve us only to reap the fruit of pleasure, and to assist us in the fruition of youth and beauty. As Aristippus testified to one that would have put him out of conceit with Lais, for that, as he said, she did not truly love him; no more, said he, am I beloved by pure wine or good fish, and yet I willingly make use of both. For the end of desire is pleasure and enjoyment. But love, having once lost the hopes of friendship, will neither tarry, nor cherish for beauty’s sake that which is irksome, though never so gaudy in the flower of youth, if it bring not forth the fruit of a disposition propense to Edition: current; Page: [259] friendship and virtue. And therefore it is that you hear a certain husband in a tragedy thus talking to his wife:

  • Thou hat’st me? True; — and I thy proud disdain
  • Will brook with patience, careless of the pain,
  • So long as my dishonor gives me gain.

Now I take him to be not at all a more amorous man than this, that can endure, for the sake of his carnal pleasure, and not for gain, the plague of a curst ill-natured shrew, that is always scolding. The first of which love-martyrs Philippides the comedian thus derided in the person of Stratocles the rhetorician:

  • She lowers and growls and turns her tail
  • With, fury so unkind,
  • The wittol blest would think himself,
  • To kiss her coif behind.

Now if this be the passion you talk of which is to be called Love, it is a spurious and effeminate love that sends us to the women’s chambers, as it were to the Cynosarges at Athens. Or rather, as they say there is a sort of generous and true bred mountain eagle, which Homer calls the black eagle and eagle of prey, and then again there is another sort of bastard eagle, that takes fish and birds that are lazy and slow of flight, and wanting food makes a shrill and mournful noise for hunger; thus the true genuine love is that of boys, not flaming with concupiscence, as according to Anacreon the love of maids and virgins does, neither besmeared with odoriferous ointments, nor alluring with smiles and rolling glances; but you shall find him plain and simple and undebauched with pleasures in the schools of the philosophers, or in the wrestling-lists and places of public exercise, smart and generous in the chase of youth, and exhorting to virtue all that he finds to be fit objects of his diligence; whereas that other love, nice and effeminate, and always nestling in the bosoms and beds of women, pursuing soft pleasures, and wasted with unmanly delights, that have no gust of friendship or heavenly ravishment of Edition: current; Page: [260] mind, is to be despised and rejected of all mankind. This indeed Solon did, when he forbade slaves and servants the use of male familiarity and of dry ointment, but granted them the liberty to accompany with women; as looking upon friendship to be laudable and civil, but pleasure to be a vulgar thing and unbecoming a man born free. Whence it appears that to make love to a slave boy is ignoble and unworthy of a freeman; for this is mere mischievous love of copulation, like the affection toward women.

5. Now while Protogenes was desirous to say more, Daphnaeus interrupting him said: Truly you have done well to put us in mind of Solon, and we may make use of him as the judge of a person addicted to love. Hear what he says:

  • Then dote upon the flowery youth of boys,
  • Their fragrant breath admiring and soft thighs.

Add to this of Solon that other of Aeschylus:

  • Ungrateful, for the kisses of my lips,
  • Not to revere the glory of my hips.

These are proper judges of love; but others there are who deride all those that would have lovers inspect thighs and haunches, like so many sacrificers and diviners. And for my part I draw from hence a very strong argument on the behalf of the women. For if male converse, which is altogether against nature, neither extinguishes nor is any ways noxious to amorous affection, much more probable is it that the love of women, which is according to nature, should reach to the consummation of friendship, by virtue of that obsequious beauty which attends it. For I must tell you, Protogenes, the submission of the female to the male was by the ancients expressed by the word χάϱις (grace or favor). For which reason Pindar observes that Vulcan was by Juno brought forth without the graces; and Sappho tells a young virgin, not yet ripe for matrimony,

Edition: current; Page: [261]

A little child thou seem’st, and without grace.

And a certain person puts the question to Hercules,

  • By force or by persuasion did the maid
  • Her favors yield?

But the submission of males to males, whether it be by compulsion and strength, like a violent and forcible rape, or whether it be voluntary, — men suffering themselves weakly and effeminately to be covered by each other, like four-footed beasts, and counterfeiting the act of generation in defiance of nature (as Plato says), — is void of all grace, brutish, and contrary to the end of venereal pleasure. Wherefore I am apt to believe that Solon wrote those lines when he was young, brisk, and full of seed (as Plato phrases it), but when he was grown into years, he sang another note:

  • The sports of Venus, now, are my delight,
  • Or else with Bacchus to carouse;
  • At other times the Muses’ charms invite;
  • These are the chiefest pleasures mankind knows; —

as if he had altered his course of life, and retired from the storms and tempests of pederastic fury into the calms of wedlock and philosophy. Now then, Protogenes, let us but consider the truth of the matter, we shall find the passion of lovers to be the same, whether it be for boys or for women; or if, out of a contentious humor, you will distinguish them, you shall find that this affection for boys does not keep itself within bounds, but like a late-born issue, clandestinely brought forth in the dark and out of season, it strives to expel the truly genuine and legitimate love, which is much the more ancient. For give me leave to tell ye, my dear friend, it is but (as it were) of yesterterday’s standing or of the day before — since young boys began to strip and show themselves naked in the public places of exercise — that this frenzy, getting in by degrees and crowding in there, afterwards by little and little became Edition: current; Page: [262] better fledged and gathered strength of wings in the wrestling-rings, so that now the insolence of it can no longer be so restrained but that still it will be affronting and adulterating conjugal love, which is the coadjutrix of Nature and helps to immortalize mortal mankind, raising up and immediately restoring again by generation our human nature when it has been extinguished by death. But this same Protogenes denies there is any pleasure in male concupiscence, for he is ashamed and afraid to acknowledge it. Therefore there must be some decent pretence for the feeling and handling these adult and lovely youths. And truly he has found out a very clever excuse, alleging it to be for the sake of friendship and virtue. Therefore he rolls himself in the dust, washes with cold water, erects his brows, and outwardly pretends to philosophy and chastity, for fear of the law; but when darkness covers the earth, and all people have betaken themselves to their rest,

Sweet the ripe fruit he finds, its keeper gone.

Now if it be as Protogenes says, that no carnal conjunction attends these masculine familiarities, how can it be love, when Venus is absent; seeing that of all the Goddesses, she it is that Cupid is bound to obey and attend, and that he has no honor or power but what she confers upon him? But if there be a sort of love without Venus, as a man may be drunk without wine by drinking the decoctions of figs or barley, the disturbance of such a love must prove fruitless and to no end, and consequently loathsome and offensive.

6. These things thus said, it was apparent that Pisias found himself touched to the quick, and much concerned for what Daphnaeus had spoken. But after he had been silent awhile, O Hercules, said he, what a strange impudence and levity is this in men, to acknowledge themselves tied to women by their generating parts, like dogs to Edition: current; Page: [263] bitches; by this means expelling and banishing love from the places of exercise, from the public porticos, and from conversing under the open sky and sunshine, to the stews, poniards, philters, and sorceries of lascivious women; for it is not convenient for the chaste either to love or to be beloved. At which words, as my father told me, he took Protogenes by the hand, and repeated to him these verses:

  • Words such as these the Argive courage warm;
  • And the affronted youth provoke to arm.

For surely (he added) the exorbitant language of Pisias gives us good reason to take Daphnaeus’s part, while he introduces over the head of wedlock a society void of love, and utterly a stranger to that same friendship which descends and is inspired from above; which, if real affection and submission be wanting, can hardly be restrained by all the curbs and yokes of shame and fear. Then Pisias: For my part, said he, I give little heed to this argument; for as for Daphnaeus, I find him in the same condition with brass. For as brass is not so easily melted by the fire as by the force of the same melted and liquid metal being poured upon it, which mollifies both alike, and causes them to run and mix together; so it is not the beauty of Lysandra that inflames him, but the conversing along with one that is already inflamed and full of fire, that sets him all in a flame himself; and it is apparent that, unless he makes haste to us, he will suddenly be melted with his own heat. But I perceive, said he, the same thing will befall me which Anthemion has most reason to desire, that I too shall offend the judges; and therefore I shall say no more. Then Anthemion: ’Tis very true indeed, your fear is just; for you ought at the first to have spoken to the purpose, and what was proper to the argument in hand.

7. To this Pisias replied: I am willing enough that Edition: current; Page: [264] every woman should have her lover; but withal, it very much concerns Baccho to have a care how he entangles himself in Ismenodora’s wealth; lest, while we match him with so much grandeur and magnificence, we consume him to nothing, like tin among brass. For I must tell you, it would be a hard matter for so young a stripling as he is, though he should marry a plain and ordinary woman, to keep the upper hand, like wine mixed with water. But we see her already design superiority and command; else why should she refuse so many suitors of great wealth and noble extraction that court her daily, to woo herself a mere boy, that has but newly assumed the robes of manhood and is more fit to go to school than to marry. And therefore those husbands that are wise, without any admonition, out of their own foresight, clip their wives’ wings themselves; that is, they prune away their riches, that prompt them to luxury and vanity, and render them inconstant and foolish. For many times, by the help of these wings, they soar out of their husbands’ reach and fly quite away; or if they stay at home, better it were for a man to be chained with fetters of gold, as they chain their prisoners in Ethiopia, than to be tied to the riches of a wife.

8. However, said Protogenes, he has not hinted to us in the least the hazard we run of inverting absurdly and ridiculously the counsel of Hesiod, whose words are these:

  • Take to thy home a woman for thy bride
  • When in the ripeness of thy manhood’s pride:
  • Thrice ten thy sum of years, the nuptial prime;
  • Nor far fall short, nor far exceed the time.
  • Four years the ripening virgin should consume,
  • And wed the fifth of her expanded bloom.*

Quite contrary to this precept, we are going about to couple a young lad, scarce ripe for marriage, to a lady much older than himself; like those that graft the tender Edition: current; Page: [265] scions of dates and fig-trees upon old stocks, to make them bear fruit before their season. But you will say, The woman is in love up to the ears, and burns with desire. Who is he that will hinder her from masquerading before his doors, from singing her amorous lamentations at his windows, from adorning his statues with chaplets and garlands of flowers, from duelling her rivals, and winning him from them all by feats of arms? For these are acts that demonstrate the height of a passionate affection. Let her knit her brows, refrain all manner of pomp of luxury; let her put on a garb and countenance suitable to such a violent passion. But if bashful and modest, let her sit at home, expecting her suitors and gallants to come and court her there. But who would not fly and abominate a woman that professes love, and loathe the idea of taking one to wife who makes such an impudent incontinence the first step to future nuptials?

9. When Protogenes had thus concluded; Do you not see, Anthemion, saith my father, how they again make common cause against us, enforcing us still to continue our discourse of nuptial love, who deny not ourselves to be the upholders of it, nor ever avoided the being one of that celebrated chorus? Most certainly I do, replied Anthemion; therefore proceed in the defence of conjugal affection; and let us have also your assistance in maintaining the argument about riches, with which Pisias chiefly seems to scare us. ’Tis the least we can do, said my father; for what in the world will not be made a reproach to womankind, should we reject Ismenodora because she is in love and wealthy to boot? Grant that she is imperious as well as rich. What then if she is beautiful and young? What if she is somewhat stately and haughty, by reason of her illustrious birth? There is nothing of crabbedness, nothing scornful, nothing sour, nothing troublesome, in women truly chaste and modest. And yet their very chastity gains Edition: current; Page: [266] them the name of shrews and furies. But you will say, since it may be a man’s misfortune to be so hampered, would it not be better to marry some Thracian Abrotonon or some Milesian Bacchis, whom he can get in the market for money and a handful of nuts? And yet we have known some men that have been miserably henpecked by this sort of underlings. The Samian minstrels and morrisdancers, such as were Aristonica, Oenanthe with her tabor and pipe, and Agathoclia, insulted over the diadems of sovereigns. The Syrian Semiramis was a poor wench, kept by one of Ninus’s slaves, partly as his servant, partly as his harlot, till Ninus, meeting her and taking a fancy to her, at length doted upon her to that degree, that she not only governed him as she pleased herself, but contemned him; so that, finding she had got the absolute mastery over him, she became so bold as to desire him to do her the favor to see her sit but one day upon his throne, with the royal diadem upon her head, dispatching the public business. To which the king consenting, and giving order to all his officers to yield her the same obedience as to himself, at first she was very moderate in her commands, only to make trial of the guards about her; but when she saw that they obeyed her without the least hesitation or murmuring, she commanded them first to lay hold of Ninus himself, then to bind him, at length to kill him. Which being done, she took the government upon herself, and reigned victoriously over all Asia with great splendor and renown.

And was not Belestiche a barbarian courtesan bought in the market, in whose honor the Alexandrians erected temples and altars, with inscriptions to Venus Belestiche as marks of the king’s affection to her? And as for her who is in this very city enshrined in the same temple and honored with the same solemnities as Cupid, and whose gilded statue stands among kings and queens at Delphi, — I would fain know what dowry of hers it was that Edition: current; Page: [267] brought so many lovers into such subjection to her.* But as those great men, through their softness and effeminacy, became a prey to those women; so on the other side, men of low and mean condition, having married women both wealthy and of splendid extraction, neither lowered sail nor abated any thing of their courage and greatness of mind, but lived together with their wives, always honoring them, and keeping that superiority over them which was their right and due. But he that contracts and reduces his wife within a narrow compass, and makes her less, like a ring that is too big for the finger, to prevent her from dropping off, is like to those that dock off their mares’ tails and clip their manes, and then lead them to a river or pond; for it is reported, that when those mares perceive themselves so ill favoredly shorn and disfigured, they lose their natural courage, and will afterwards suffer themselves to be covered by asses.

Now, as it is a base thing to prefer the riches of a woman above her virtue or nobility, so is it as great folly to reject wealth, when accompanied with virtue and illustrious parentage. Antigonus writing to a captain of his, whom he had ordered to fortify the hill Munychia, bade him not only make the collar strong but keep the dog lean; intimating thereby that he should take care to impoverish the Athenians. But there is no necessity for the husband of a rich and beautiful wife to make her poor or to disfigure her; but by self-control and prudence, and by seeming not to admire any thing extravagantly in her, to carry himself so that she may perceive that, as he designs not to be a tyrant, so she must not expect him to be her subject; giving his own character that weight in the balance, that the scale may be turned without offence and for the good of both. Edition: current; Page: [268] Now, as for Ismenodora, her years are fit for marriage, and she is a woman most likely to bear children; nay, I am informed that she is now in her prime. For, continued he, smiling upon Pisias, she is not elder than any of her rivals; neither has she any gray hairs, as some that keep company with Baccho. Now if those people think their converse with the young gentleman no way misbecoming their gravity, what hinders but that she may affect and cherish him better than any young virgin whatever? For I must needs say, it is a difficult matter many times rightly to mix and blend the tempers of young people; in regard it will require some time to make them sensible of several extravagancies which they may commit, until they have laid aside the pride and wantonness which is incident to youth. For many a blustering tempest will happen between the new-married couple before they can be brought to endure the yoke, and draw quietly together, more especially if the God of Love appear among them; and youthful wantonness — like the wind in the absence of the pilot — will disturb and confuse the happiness of the match, while the one has not skill to govern and the other refuses to be governed. Now then, if it be so that nurses are sought for to look after sucking infants, and schoolmasters to teach children; if masters of exercise direct young striplings, and the lover his youth; if the law and the captain-general govern those that are of age, so that no man can be said to be at his own liberty to do what he list; where is the absurdity for a wife, that has wit and discretion and the advantage of years, to govern and direct the life and conversation of a youthful husband, profitable to him as exceeding him in wisdom, and augmenting the pleasure of her society by the sweetness of her disposition and reality of affection? To conclude, said he, we that are Boeotians ourselves ought to reverence Hercules, and not to be offended with those that marry women elder than Edition: current; Page: [269] themselves; knowing, as we do, that even Hercules himself gave his own wife Megara, being then three and thirty years old, to Iolaus his son, being no more than sixteen years of age.

10. While they were in the midst of these discourses, one of Pisias’s companions and friends, as my father reported, came galloping towards them out of the city, whip and spur, to bring the news of a strange and wonderful accident. For Ismenodora, believing that Baccho no way disliked being married to her, but only was deterred by the importunities of his friends that dissuaded him from the match, resolved not to let the young man escape her. To this purpose she sent for certain sparks of her acquaintance, whom she knew to be stout and resolute young gentlemen, and some women that were well-wishers to her amours, and observing the hour that Baccho was wont to pass by her house to the wrestling-place, well attended and decently garbed, one day when he came near the outermost door, anointed as he was for the exercise, with two or three more in the same posture, she met him in the street, and gently twitched his upper coat. This signal being given, her friends rushed forth, and fairly and softly catching him up in his mandilion and doublet, in a huddle together they carried him into the house, and locked the door fast after them. Then came the women also, and pulling off his mandilion, threw about him a costly nuptial garment. The servants likewise, running up and down from one place to another, adorned the posts not only of Ismenodora’s but of Baccho’s house with olive and laurel boughs; and a minstrel likewise was ordered to pipe along the street. The story thus related, the Thespians and strangers some of them laughed, some others were heinously offended, and did what they could to exasperate the presidents of the public exercises. For they have a great command over the young gentlemen, and keep a severe and vigilant eye Edition: current; Page: [270] upon all their actions. And now there was not a word said of the sports that were intended; but all the people, forsaking the theatre, flocked to Ismenodora’s house, discoursing and debating the matter one among another.

11. But when Pisias’s friend, with his horse all foaming and in a sweat, as if he had brought intelligence from the army in time of war, had delivered his news, being hardly able to speak for want of breath, and concluding his story with saying that Ismenodora had ravished Baccho; my father told me, that Zeuxippus fell a laughing, and as he was a great admirer of that poet, repeated the verses of Euripides:

  • Wanton with wealth, fair lady, thou hast done
  • No more than nature teaches every one.

But Pisias, starting up out of his seat, made a great exclamation, crying out: O ye Gods! when will ye put an end to this licentiousness, that will in the end subvert our city? For now all things are running into disorder through violation of the laws; but perhaps it is now looked upon as a slight matter to transgress the law and violate justice, for even the law of nature is transgressed and broken by the insolent anarchy of the female sex. Was ever there any such thing committed in the island of Lemnos? Let us go, said he, let us go and deliver up the wrestling-place and the council house to the women, if the city be so effeminate as to put up with these indignities. Thus Pisias brake from the company in a fury; nor would Protogenes leave him, partly offended at what had happened, and partly to assuage and mollify his friend. But Anthemion: ’Twas a juvenile bold attempt, said he, and a truly Lemnian one — I venture to say so since we are now by ourselves — of a lady warmly in love. To whom Soclarus smiling: Do you then believe, said he, that this was a real ravishment and force, and not rather a stratagem of the young man’s own contrivance (for he has wit at will), to Edition: current; Page: [271] the end he might escape out of the hands of his ruder male lovers into the embraces of a fair and rich widow? Never say so, said Anthemion, nor have such a suspicion of Baccho. For were he not naturally, as he is, of a plain and open temper, he would still never have concealed this thing from me, to whom he has always imparted his secrets, and whom he knew to be always a favorer of Ismenodora’s design. But, according to the saying of Heraclitus, it is a hard matter to withstand love, not anger; for whatever love has a desire to, it will purchase with the hazard of life, fortune, and reputation. Now where is there a more modest and orderly woman in all our city than Ismenodora? When did you ever hear an ill word spoken of her? Or when did ever any thing done in her house give the least suspicion of an ill act? Rather we may say that she seems to be inspired beyond other women with something above human reason.

12. Then Pemptides smiling: Truly, said he, there is a certain disease of the body, which they call sacred; so that it is no wonder if some men give the appellation of sacred and divine to the most raging and vehement passion of the mind. But as in Egypt once I saw two neighbors hotly contending about a serpent which crept before them in the road, while both concluded it to be good luck, and each assumed the happy omen to himself; so seeing some of you at this time haling love into the chambers of men, others into the cabinets of the women, as a divinely transcendent good, I do not wonder, since it is a passion so powerful and greatly esteemed, that it is magnified and held in greatest veneration by those that have most reason to clip its wings and expel and drive it from them. Hitherto therefore I have been silent, perceiving the debate to be rather about a particular concern, than any thing for the public good. But now that Pisias is gone, I would willingly understand from one of you, upon what account Edition: current; Page: [272] it was that they who first discoursed of love were so fond to deify it.

13. So soon as Pemptides had done, and my father was about to say something in answer to his question, another messenger came from the city in Ismenodora’s name, requesting Anthemion to come to her; for that the tumult increased, and the presidents of the games could not agree, while one was of opinion that Baccho was to be demanded and delivered into their hands, and the other thought it an impertinence to meddle with that which nothing concerned them.

Thus Anthemion being gone, my father addressed himself to Pemptides by name, and so entered into the following discourse: You seem to me, sir, to have hit upon a very strange and nice point, or rather, as I may so say, to have endeavored to stir things which are not to be moved, in reference to the opinion which we have of the Gods, while you demand a reason and demonstration of every thing in particular. For it is sufficient to believe according to the faith of our forefathers and the instructions of the country where we have been bred and born, than which we cannot utter or invent a more certain argument;

  • For surely all the wit of human brain
  • This part of knowledge never could attain.*

For this is a foundation and basis common to all piety and religion; of which if the steady rule and decreed maxims be once disordered and shaken, all the rest must totter and become suspected. And no question but you have heard what a clamor was raised against Euripides when he made this beginning of his Melanippe:

  • Jupiter, if his name be so;
  • ’Tis only by hearsay that I know.

But when he exhibited the tragedy a second time, he seems to have had such a confidence in the lofty style and elaborate eloquence of his work, that he thus altered the verse:

Edition: current; Page: [273]
  • Jove, for we own he has received that name
  • From truth alone, and not from common fame.*

What difference then is there between calling in question the name of Jupiter and Minerva, and doubting of the name of Cupid or Love? For it is not of late that Love has challenged altars and sacrifices, neither is he a foreigner started up out of any barbarian superstition, as were the Attae and the Adonii, introduced by I know not what sort of hermaphrodites and idle women. Nor has he clandestinely crept into honors no way becoming him, to avoid the accusation of bastardy and being unduly enrolled in the catalogue of the Gods. But when you hear Empedocles thus saying,

  • And friendship too (observe my song)
  • Is like to these, both broad and long;
  • But this thou must not think to find
  • With eyes of body, but of mind,

you ought to believe all this to be said of Love. For Love is no more visible than any of the rest of the ancient Deities, but apprehended only by opinion and belief; for every one of which if you require a reason and demonstrative argument, by enquiring after every temple and making a sophistical doubt upon every altar, you shall find nothing free from inquisition and malicious slander. For, that I may go no farther, observe but these:

  • I do not Venus see with mortal eyes,
  • The Goddess unto whom we sacrifice;
  • Yet this is she that mighty Cupid bare,
  • Whose offspring all terrestrial beings are.

Therefore Empedocles gives her the epithet of the Giver of Life, and Sophocles calls her Fruitful; both very aptly and pertinently. For indeed the great and wonderful work of generation is properly the work of Venus, where Love is only an assistant when present with Venus; but his absence renders the act itself altogether irksome, dishonorable, Edition: current; Page: [274] harsh, and ungrateful. For the conjunction of man and woman without true affection, like hunger and thirst, terminates in satiety, and produces nothing truly noble or commendable; but when the Goddess by means of Love puts away all loathsome glut of pleasure, she perpetuates delight by a continual supply of friendship and harmony of temper. Therefore Parmenides asserts Love to be the most ancient of all the works of Venus, writing thus in his Cosmogony:

  • Of all the Gods that rule above,
  • She first brought forth the mighty Love.

But Hesiod, in my opinion, seems more philosophically to make Love the eldest of all the Gods, as from whom all the other Deities derive their beginning. Therefore, should we deprive Love of the honors which are decreed him, the ceremonies we ascribe to Venus will be no longer in request. For it is not sufficient to say, that some men reproach Love and load him with contumelies, but abstain from giving her an ill word; for upon the same theatre we hear these scandals fixed upon both:

  • Love, idle of himself, takes up his rest
  • And harbors only in the slothful breast.*

And in another place thus upon Venus:

  • She does not the name of Cypris only own,
  • But by a hundred other names is known:
  • She’s hell on earth, continued violence,
  • And rage subduing all the force of sense.

As indeed we may say of the rest of the Gods, that there is not one that has escaped the scandalous jibes of illiterate scurrility. Look upon Mars, as in a brazen sculpture, possessing the place just opposite to Love, how highly has he been honored, how lowly degraded by men?

  • Swine-snouted Mars, and as a beetle blind, -
  • ’Tis he, fair dames, disorders all mankind.

Homer also gives him the epithets of murderous and Jack-a-both-sides. Edition: current; Page: [275] Moreover, Chrysippus, explaining the name of this Deity, fixes a villanous accusation upon him. For, says he, Ares is derived from ἀναιϱεῖν, which signifies to destroy; thereby affording an occasion for some to give the name of Ares or Mars to that some proneness and perverse inclination of men to wrath and passion, and to quarrel and fight one with another. Others affirm Venus to be nothing but our concupiscence; that Mercury is no more than the faculty of speech; that the Muses are only the names for the arts and sciences; and that Minerva is only a fine word for prudence. And thus you see into what an abyss of atheism we are like to plunge ourselves, while we go about to range and distribute the Gods among the various passions, faculties, and virtues of men.

14. I plainly perceive it, replied Pemptides; for I neither believe it lawful to make the Gods to be passions, nor on the other side, to make the passions to be Deities. To whom my father: Well then, said he, do you believe Mars to be a God, or a passion of ours? To which when Pemptides replied, that he thought Mars to be the Deity that rectified the angry and courageous part of man; my father presently retorted upon him: Why then? said he, shall our passionate part, and those wrathful inclinations within us that provoke us to mischief and bloodshed, have a Deity to overrule and govern them; and will you not allow the same guardianship over our better propensities to love, friendship, society, and peace? Is there a Deity called Enyalius and Stratius that presides and has the superintendence over those that kill and are slain, a Deity that bears rule in matters of arms, all warlike preparations, assaults of cities, and depredations of countries, and distributes rewards as he sees occasion; and shall there be no Deity to be a witness and overseer, a supreme governor and director, of conjugal affection, which terminates in concord and happy society? Nay, Edition: current; Page: [276] do we find that they who make it their sport to hunt wild goats, hares, and deer, are not without their forest Deity to encourage them; and they that make it their business to trepan wolves and bears into snares and pitfalls, pray for good luck to Aristaeus,

  • Who first of all for the wild beasts of prey
  • With gins and snares in secret ambush lay;

and that Hercules, having bent his bow, before he let fly at the bird which he intended to hit, invoked another Deity, as we find in Aeschylus,

  • Hunter Apollo, and to hunters kind,
  • Direct this arrow to the mark designed;*

but for men that hunt the most noble game of love and friendship, is there no God nor so much as one Daemon to assist and prosper so laudable an enterprise? Truly, Daphnaeus, for my part, I cannot believe a man to be a more inconsiderable plant than an oak or mulberry tree or the vine which Homer reverently calls by the name of Hemeris, considering that man in his due season also is endued with a powerful faculty to bud and pleasantly put forth the beauties both of his body and mind.

15. To whom Daphnaeus: In the name of all the Gods, who ever thought otherwise? All those must certainly, replied my father, who believe the care of ploughing, sowing, and planting is an employment becoming the Gods (and have they not for this purpose certain Nymphs attending them, called Dryads,

Who with the trees they cherish live and die? —

and does not

  • The joyous Bacchus send increase of fruit,
  • The chaste autumnal light, to every tree? —

as Pindar sings), and who yet will not allow that the nourishment and growth of children and young people, who in the flower of their age are to be formed and shaped Edition: current; Page: [277] into several varieties of beauty, is under the care and tuition of any Deity; or that there is any Divinity to take care that man, being once born, may be guided and conducted in the true paths of virtue, and to prevent the tender plant from being bowed and bent the wrong way for want of a good instructor, or by the depraved conversation of those with whom he lives. For my part, I look upon it as a heinous piece of indignity and ingratitude thus to say, while we are all the time enjoying the bounty and benignity of God, which he is ready to disperse and diffuse over all, and which never abandons the distresses and needs of mortals. And yet in many of these needs the duty to be performed is rather necessary than pleasant. Thus our being delivered from the mother’s womb is no such delightful thing, as being attended with pain and issues of blood; and yet there is a celestial midwife and overseer that takes particular care of that necessity, which is Lucina. And indeed a man had better never be born, than to be made bad and wicked for want of a good tutor and guardian. Nay, we find that the divine power does not desert us in our sickness, nor after we are dead; there being still some Deity or other who claims some certain peculiar employment or function, even upon those occasions. Among the rest, there is one that helps to convey the souls of such as have ended this life into the other world, and lays them asleep, according to this of the poet:

  • For shady night ne’er brought me forth to play
  • With artful touch upon the tuneful lyre,
  • Nor to be mistress of prophetic fire,
  • Nor pains of rude distempers to allay;
  • But to convey the souls of the deceased
  • Each one to their appointed place of rest.*

Nevertheless these ministerial functions have many difficulties and troubles which attend them; whereas we cannot imagine any employment more holy, any exercise more Edition: current; Page: [278] sacred, or any contention for prize and glory more becoming a Deity, than to direct and assist the lawful endeavors and pursuits of lovers in their prime of years and beauty. There is nothing dishonorable, nothing of forced necessity in this; but gentle persuasion and alluring grace, rendering labor delightful, leads to virtue and friendship, which never attains the true accomplishment of the end it aims at without some divine assistance, nor can have any other conductor and master than Cupid himself, who is the friend and companion of the Muses, the Graces, and Venus his own mother. For, according to Melannippides,

  • Great Love it is, that in the heart of man
  • Sows the sweet harvest of unstained desire;

and he always mingles those things that are sweetest with those that are fairest. What do you say, Zeuxippus? Can we believe it to be otherwise?

16. In truth, I judge it so, replied Zeuxippus; and I think it would be absurd to affirm the contrary. And would it not be absurd indeed, said my father, since there are four sorts of friendships, according to the determination of the ancients, — the first, say they, is natural, the next is that of kindred and relations, the third is that of friends and acquaintance, and last is that of lovers, — if three of these have their several tutelar Deities, under the names of the patron of friendship, the patron of hospitality, and he who knits affection between those of the same race and family; while only amorous affection, as if it were unhallowed and under interdiction, is left without any guardian or protector, which indeed requires the greatest care and government above all the rest? All that you say, replied Zeuxippus, is undeniable.

By the way, replied my father, we may here take notice of what Plato says upon this subject, as pertinent to our discourse. For he says, that there is a certain madness transmitted from the body to the soul, proceeding from a malignant Edition: current; Page: [279] mixture of ill-humors, or a noxious vapor or rather pernicious spirit that possesses the heart; which madness is a rugged and terrible disease. The other is a kind of fury, partaking something of divine inspiration; neither is it engendered within, but is an insufflation from without, and a disturbance of the rational and considerative faculty, deriving its beginning and motion from some stronger power; the common affection of which is called the enthusiastic passion. For as ἔμπνοος signifies filled with breath, and ἔμφϱων denotes replete with prudence; so this commotion of the soul is called enthusiasm (from ἔνϑεος) by reason it participates of a more divine power. Now the prophetic part of enthusiasm derives itself from the inspiration of Apollo possessing the intellect of the soothsayer; but Bacchanal fury proceeds from Father Bacchus.

And with the Corybantes ye shall dance,

says Sophocles. For as for the extravagancies of the priests of Cybele, the mother of the Gods, and those which are called panic terrors and ejaculations, they are all of the same nature with the Bacchanal orgies. There is also a third sort of enthusiasm, proper to the Muses, which, possessing an even tempered and placid soul, excites and rouses up the gifts of poetry and music. But as for that same warlike fury which is called Arimanian, it is well known to descend from the God of War; a sort of fury, wherein there is no grace nor musical sweetness, calling forth tearful Mars, and rousing up the people to discord and tumult.*

There remains yet one sort more of alienation of the understanding in man, the same neither obscure, nor yet altogether calm and quiet; concerning which I would fain ask Pemptides,

  • Which of the Gods it is who shakes the spear
  • That beareth fruit so lovely and so fair.
Edition: current; Page: [280]

But without expecting a resolution of this question, I mean that erotic fury that possesses lovely youths and chaste women, yet a hot and vehement transport. For do we not see how the warrior lays down his arms, and submits to this more prevalent rage?

  • His grooms, o’erjoyed he had the war forsook,
  • His ponderous arms from off his shoulders took;*

and thus having renounced the hazards of battle, he sits down a quiet spectator of other men’s dangers. As for these Bacchanalian motions and frisking of the Corybantes, there is a way to allay those extravagant transports, by changing the measure from the Trochaic and the tone from the Phrygian. And the Pythian prophetess, descending from her tripos and quitting the prophetic exhalation, becomes sedate and calm again. Whereas the fury of love, wherever it seizes either man or woman, sets them in a flame; no music, no appeasing incantations, no changes of place are able to quench or put a stop to it; but being in presence, they love; being absent, they desire; by day they prosecute their importunate visits; by night they serenade at the windows; sober, they are continually calling upon their loves; and when they are fuddled, are always teasing the company with their love songs and madrigals. Neither, as one was pleased to say, are poetical fancies, by reason of their lively expressions, rightly called waking dreams; but the dialogues of persons enamored, discoursing with their absent loves, and dallying, embracing, and expostulating with them as if they were present, much rather deserve this name. For the sight seems to delineate other fancies in the water, that quickly glide away and slip out of the mind; whereas the imaginations of lovers, being as it were enamelled by fire, leave the images of things imprinted in the memory, moving, living, speaking, and remaining for a long time. So that Cato Edition: current; Page: [281] the Roman was wont to say, that the soul of a lover dwelt in the soul of the person beloved, for that there is settled and fixed in the one the form, shape, manners, conversation and actions of the other; by which being led, the lover quickly dispatches a long journey, — as the Cynics say they have found a compendious and direct road to virtue, — and he is carried from love to friendship, as it were with wind and tide, the God of Love assisting his passion. In short then I say, that the enthusiasm of lovers is neither void of divine inspiration, neither is it under the guardianship and conduct of any other Deity but him whose festivals we solemnize, and to whom we offer our oblations. Nevertheless, in regard we measure the excellency of a Deity by his puissance and by the benefit which we receive at his hands, and esteem power and virtue to be the two chiefest and most divine of all human blessings, it may not be unseasonable to consider whether Love be inferior in power to any other of the Gods. For, according to Sophocles,

  • Great is the puissance of the Cyprian Queen,
  • And great the honor which her triumphs win.*

Great is also the dominion of Mars; and indeed we see the power of all the rest of the Gods divided in some measure between these two, — the one being most naturally allied to the beautiful, the other most mighty in the resistance of evil, and both being originally bred in the soul, as Plato says of his ideas.

Now then let us consider, the venereal delight is a thing that may be purchased for a drachm, and there is no man that ever underwent any pain or danger for the sake of venereal enjoyments, unless he were inflamed with the fires of love. Insomuch, that not to mention such courtesans as either Phryne or Lais, we find that the harlot Gnathaenion,

Edition: current; Page: [282]
  • By lanthorn-light, at evening late,
  • Waiting and calling for some mate,

is often passed by and neglected;

  • But if some spirit blow the fire,
  • Kindled by love’s extreme desire,

this makes the pleasure equally esteemed and valued with the treasures of Tantalus and all his vast dominions. So faint and so soon cloyed is venereal desire, unless rendered grateful by the charms and inspiration of love. Which is more evidently confirmed by this; for that many men admit others to partake of their venereal pleasures, prostituting not only their mistresses and concubines, but also their own wives, to the embraces of their friends; as it is reported of the Roman Gabba, who inviting Maecenas to his house, and perceiving him winking and nodding upon his wife, turned away his head upon his pillow, as if he had been asleep, while they dallied together; yet at the same time, when one of the servants came creeping out of the next room, to steal a bottle of wine from the cupboard, presently turning about with his eyes open, Varlet, said he, ’tis only to pleasure Maecenas that I sleep. But this perhaps is not so strange, considering that Gabba was a low buffoon.

At Argos there was a great animosity between Nicostratus and Phayllus, so that they always opposed each other and quarrelled at the council-board. Now when King Philip made a visit to that city, Phayllus bethought himself, that he could not miss the highest preferment the government could afford, if he could but oblige the king with the company of his wife, who was both beautiful and young. Nicostratus, smelling this design, walked to and fro before Phayllus’s house with some of his servants, to observe who went in and out. They had not stayed long, but out came Phayllus’s wife, whom he had dressed up in high shoes, with a mantle and cap after the Macedonian fashion, like one of the king’s pages, in which disguise she secretly Edition: current; Page: [283] passed in to the king’s lodgings. Since then there ever were and still are so many lovers, did you ever know of any one that ever prostituted his particular male friend, though it were to gain the honors ascribed to Jupiter himself? Truly, I believe there never was any such. For why? There never was any one that would pretend to oppose and contend with a tyrant; but there are many rivals and competitors, that will quarrel and fight for boys that are beautiful and in the prime of their years. It is reported of Aristogiton the Athenian, Antileon of Metapontum, and Melanippus of Agrigentum, that they never contested with tyrants, though they wasted and ruined the commonwealth and indulged the impetuosity of their lust, until they found them attempting their own male concubines: then they withstood them with the utmost peril of their lives, as if they had been to defend their temples and their most sacred sanctuaries. Alexander also is said to have sent to Theodorus, the brother of Proteas, in these words: Send me that musical girl that plays and sings so well, and take ten talents for her, unless thou lovest her thyself. Another time, when one of his minions, Antipatridas, came to be jovial with him, and brought a minstrel in his company to complete the mirth, being greatly affected with the girl’s playing and singing, he asked Antipatridas whether he had any extraordinary kindness for her? He answered, that he loved her as his eyes. Then all the plagues of mankind light upon thee, quoth the prince. However, he would not so much as touch the girl.

17. Consider also what vast power love has over martial men and warriors, not slothful, as Euripides* will have it to be, nor unwarlike, nor

Slumbering on a girl’s soft cheek.

For a man that is once inflamed with love wants not Edition: current; Page: [284] Mars himself to be his second, when he is to engage with his enemies; but confiding in the Deity that is within him,

  • Ventures through fire and seas, and blustering storms,
  • While love of friend his daring courage warms;

and breaks through all opposition, if his mistress require any proof of his valor. Therefore we read in Sophocles, that the daughters of Niobe being wounded with arrows to death, one of them, as she lay wallowing in blood, calls out for no other help or succor to assist her in her revenge, but her lover.

  • Where is my love? she cried;
  • Were I but armed with that,
  • I yet would be revenged
  • For my untimely fate.*

You know the reason why Cleomachus the Pharsalian fell in battle. I am a stranger to the story, replied Pemptides, and would willingly therefore hear it. Certainly it is very well worth your knowledge, said my father.

In the heat of the war between the Chalcidians and the Eretrians, Cleomachus went with the Thessalian force to aid the Chalcidians; at what time it was evident that the Chalcidians were the stronger in foot, but they found it a difficult thing to withstand the force of the enemies’ horse. Thereupon they requested Cleomachus, being their confederate and a man signalized for his courage, to give the first onset upon the enemies’ cavalry. Presently the youth whom he most entirely loved being present, he asked him whether he would stay and be a spectator of the combat. To which when the lad gave his consent, and after many tender kisses and embraces had put on his helmet, Cleomachus’s love redoubling his courage, being surrounded with some few of the flower of the Thessalian horse, he charged into the thickest of the enemy and put them to the rout; which the heavy-armed infantry seeing, they betook Edition: current; Page: [285] themselves also to flight, so that the Chalcidians obtained a noble victory. However, Cleomachus was there slain, and the Chalcidians show his monument erected in the market-place, with a fair pillar standing upon it to this day; and whereas they abominated pederasty before, after that they admired and affected it above all other pleasures. Nevertheless, Aristotle tells us that Cleomachus indeed lost his life after the victorious battle which he gained from the Eretrians, but as for that Cleomachus who was thus kissed by his male concubine, that he was of Chalcis in Thrace, and sent to aid the Chalcidians in Euboea. Which is the reason of that same ballad generally sung among them:

  • Fair youths, whose mothers brought you forth
  • Lovely in form, and noble for your birth;
  • Envy not men of courage, prompt in arms,
  • The kind fruition of your tempting charms.
  • For softest love with daring valor reigns
  • In equal honor through Chalcidian plains.

Dionysius the poet, in his poem entitled Causes, informs us that the name of the lover was Anton, and that the youth beloved was called Philistus.

And is it not a custom among you Thebans, Pemptides, for the lover to present the beloved with a complete suit of armor when he is come of age? And Pammenes, a very great soldier but very amorously given, quite altered the method of embattling the heavy-armed infantry, and blames Homer, as one that knew not what belonged to love, for marshalling the several divisions of the Achaeans according to their tribes and clans, and not placing the lover by his beloved, so that the close order which he afterwards describes might have been the consequence, in which

  • Spears lean on spears, on targets targets throng,
  • Helms stuck to helms, and man drove man along;*
Edition: current; Page: [286]

the only way to render a battalion invincible. For men will desert those of the same tribe or family, nay, their very children and parents; but never any enemy could pierce or penetrate between a lover and his darling minion, in whose sight many times when there is no necessity the lover delights to show his courage and contempt of danger; like Thero the Thessalian, who clapping his left hand to the wall, and then drawing his sword, struck off his thumb, thereby challenging his rival to do the same. Or like another, who falling in battle upon his face, as his enemy was about to follow his blow, desired him to stay till he could turn, lest his male concubine should see that he had been wounded in the back.

And therefore we find that the most warlike of nations are most addicted to love, as the Boeotians, Lacedaemonians, and Cretans. And among the most ancient heroes none were more amorous than Meleager, Achilles, Aristomenes, Cimon, and Epaminondas; the latter of which had for his male concubines Asopichus and Caphisodorus, who was slain with him at the battle of Mantinea and lies buried very near him. And when . . . had rendered himself most terrible to the enemy and most resolute, Eucnamus the Amphissean, that first made head against him and slew him, had heroic honors paid him by the Phocians. It would be a task too great to enumerate the amours of Hercules; but among the rest, Iolaus is honored and adored to this day by many, because he is thought to have been the darling of that hero; and upon his tomb it is that lovers plight their troths and make reciprocal vows of their affection. Moreover, Hercules, being skilled in physic, is said to have recovered Alcestis from death’s door in kindness to Admetus, who, as he had a great love for his wife, so was greatly beloved by the hero. For it is said that even Apollo, doting upon Admetus,

Became his slave for a long weary year.

Edition: current; Page: [287]

And here, methinks, we have very opportunely mentioned Alcestis; for although the temper of women has little to do with Mars, Love many times drives them to daring attempts beyond their own nature, even to death. And if there be any credit to be given to the fables of the poets, the stories of Alcestis, Protesilaus, and Eurydice the wife of Orpheus, plainly evince us that Pluto himself obeys no other God but Love. For, as Sophocles says,

  • To others — be their fame or birth whate’er —
  • Nor equity nor favor will he show;
  • But rigorous, and without remorse severe,
  • His downright justice only makes them know;

but to lovers he pays a reverence: to them alone is he neither implacable nor inexorable. And therefore, although it is a very good thing to be initiated into the Eleusinian ceremonies, still I find the condition of those much better in hell who are admitted into the mysteries of love; which I speak as neither altogether confiding in fables, nor altogether misbelieving them. For they speak a great deal of sense, and many times, by a certain kind of divine good hap, hit upon the truth, when they say that lovers are permitted to return from hell to sunlight again; but which way and how, they know not, as wandering from the right path, which Plato, first of all men, by the assistance of philosophy found out. For there are several slender and obscure emanations of truth dispersed among the mythologies of the Egyptians; only they want an acute and experienced huntsman, who is skilled in tracing out great mysteries by small tracks. And therefore let them go.

And now, since we find the power of love to be so great, let us take a little notice of that which we call the benevolence and favor of it towards men; not whether it confers many benefits upon those that are addicted to it, — for that is a thing apparent to all men, — but whether the Edition: current; Page: [288] blessings that men receive by it are more and greater than any other. And here Euripides, notwithstanding that he was a person so amorous as he was, admires the meanest gift it has; for, says he,

  • Love into men poetic fire infuses,
  • Though ne’er before acquainted with the Muses.*

And he might well have said, that love makes a man wise and prudent that was a fool and sottish before, and a coward bold and daring, as we have already shown; as when we heat wood in the fire to make it strong, when before it was weak. In like manner, he that was a sordid miser before, falling once in love, becomes liberal and lofty-minded, his covetous and pinching humor being mollified by love, like iron in the fire, so that he is more pleased with being liberal to the objects of his love, than before delighted to receive from others. For ye all know that Anytus, the son of Anthemion, fell in love with Alcibiades; who, understanding that Anytus had invited several of his friends to a noble and splendid banquet, came into the room in masquerade, and going to the table, after he had taken one half of the silver cups and other plate, went his way. Which when some of the guests took very ill, and told Anytus that the young lad had demeaned himself very rudely and saucily; Not so, said Anytus, but very civilly, since, when it was in his power to have taken all the rest, he was so civil as to leave me some.

18. Pleased with this story, O Hercules, quoth Zeuxippus, how have you almost raced out of mind that hereditary hatred which I had conceived against Anytus, for his ill opinion of Socrates and philosophy, since he was become so gentle and generous in his amours. Be it so, said my father; but let us proceed. Love is of that nature, that it renders those that were severe and morose before both affable and pleasant in their humor. For as

Edition: current; Page: [289]
  • The burning tapers make the house more light,
  • And all things look more glorious to the sight;

so the heat of love renders the soul of man more lively and cheerful. But most men go quite contrary to reason in this particular. For when they behold a glittering light in a house by night, they admire and look upon it as something celestial; but when they see a narrow, pitiful, abject soul of a sudden replenished with understanding, generosity, sense of honor, courtesy, and liberality, they do not believe themselves constrained to say, as Telemachus in Homer,

Surely some God within this house resides.*

For the love of the Graces, tell me, said Daphnaeus, is it not a thing altogether as much savoring of divinity, that a man who contemns all other things, not only his friends and familiar acquaintance, but also the laws, the magistrates, even kings and princes themselves, who fears nothing, is astonished at nothing, cares for nothing, but thinks himself able to defy the “barbed lightning,” yet, so soon as he beholds the object of his burning love,

  • As dunghill cravens, by a sudden blow,
  • Hang their loose wings with little list to crow,

should presently lose all his prowess, and that all his bravery should fail him, as if his heart were quite sunk to the bottom of his body? And it were not impertinent to make mention of Sappho here among the Muses. For the Romans report in their stories that Cacus, the son of Vulcan, vomited fire and flames out of his mouth. And indeed Sappho speaks as if her words were mixed with fire, and in her verses plainly discovers the violent heat of her heart, according to that of Philoxenus,

  • Seeking for cure of love-inflicted wounds,
  • From pleasing numbers and melodious sounds.
Edition: current; Page: [290]

And here, Daphnaeus, if the love of Lysandra have not buried in oblivion your former sportive dalliances, I would desire you to call to mind and oblige us with the repetition of those elegant raptures of Sappho, wherein she tells us how that, when the person beloved by her appeared, her speech forsook her, her body was all over in a sweat; how she grew pale and wan, and was surprised with a sudden trembling and dizziness. To this Daphnaeus consented; and so soon as he had recited the verses, said my father: So Jupiter help me, is not this an apparent seizure of something more than human upon the soul? Can this be other than some celestial rapture of the mind? What do we find equal to it in the Pythian prophetess, when she sits upon the tripod? Where do we find the flutes which are used in the Bacchanalian orgies, or the tabors played upon in the ceremonies of the Mother of the Gods, rouse up such noble transports among that fanatic sort of enthusiasts? Many there are that behold the same body and the same beauty, but the lover only admires and is ravished with it. And what is the reason, do ye think? For we do not perceive or understand it from Menander, when he says:

  • ’Tis the occasion that infects the heart,
  • For only he that’s wounded feels the smart.

But it is the God of Love that gives the occasion, seizing upon some, and letting others go free. What therefore had been more seasonable for me to have spoken before, since it is now chopped into my mouth (as Aeschylus says), I think I will not even now let go, as being a matter of great importance. For it may be, my dear friend, there is not any thing in the world which was not made perceptible by sense, but what gained credit and authority at the first either from fables, or from the law, or else from rational discourse. And therefore poets, lawgivers, and in the third place philosophers, were all along the first that instructed and confirmed us in our opinion of the Gods. Edition: current; Page: [291] For all agree that there are Gods; but concerning their number, their order, their essence and power, they vastly differ one among another. For the philosophers’ Deities are subject neither to age nor diseases, neither do they undergo any labor or pain,

  • Exempted from the noise and hurry
  • Of busy Acherontic ferry.

And therefore they will not admit poetical Deities, like Strife and Prayers;* nor will they acknowledge Fear and Terror to be Gods or the sons of Mars. They also differ from the lawgivers in many things. Thus Xenophanes told the Egyptians not to worship Osiris as a God if they thought him to be mortal, and if they thought him to be a God not to bewail him. Then again, the poets and lawgivers vary from the philosophers, and will not so much as hear them, while they deify certain ideas, numbers, unities, and spirits; such is the wild variety and vast difference of opinions among this sort of people. Therefore, as there were at Athens the three factions of the Parali, Epacrii, and Pedieis, that could never agree but were always at variance one with another, yet when they were assembled, gave their suffrages unanimously for Solon, and chose him with one consent for their peacemaker, governor, and lawgiver, as to whom the highest reward of virtue was, without all doubt or question, due; so the three different sects or factions in reference to the Gods, in giving their opinions some for one and some for another, as being by no means willing to subscribe one to another, are all positive in their consent as to the God of Love. Him the most famous of the poets, and the numerous acclamations of the philosophers and lawgivers, have enrolled in the catalogue of the Gods “with loud praises and harmonious acclaim,” as Alcaeus says of the Mitylenaeans when they chose Pittacus for their prince. So Hesiod, Plato, and Solon bring forth Edition: current; Page: [292] Cupid out of Helicon, and conduct him in pomp and state into the Academy, to be our king, governor, and director, drawn in by friendship and intercourse with all their pairs of horses, — not the friendship which, as Euripides says, is

With fetters bound, but not of brass,*

as if the bonds of love were only the cold and ponderous chains of necessity, made use of as a colorable pretence to excuse and qualify shame, but such friendship as is carried upon winged chariots to the most lovely objects that exist, and to sights more divine than this earth affords. But on this point others have better discoursed.

19. After my father had thus delivered himself; Do you not perceive, said Soclarus, how, being fallen a second time into the same matter, you have as it were by force constrained yourself, and unjustly deprived us — if I may speak what I think — of that same sacred discourse which you were entering into? For as before you gave us a hint concerning Plato and the Egyptians, but passed them over as if it had been done against your will; so you do now again. Now as to what has been notably uttered by Plato, or rather by our Goddesses here (the Muses) through Plato’s mouth, do not trouble yourself to tell us this, even although we should request it. But whereas you have obscurely hinted that the fables of the Egyptians accord with Plato’s opinion concerning love, we know you have too great kindness for us to conceal your knowledge from us; and though it be but a little of those important matters, it shall suffice us. Thereupon the rest of the company declaring their readiness to give attention, my father thus began: The Egyptians, said he, and also the Grecians set up two Deities of love; the one vulgar, the other celestial; to which they add a third, which they believe to be the sun; and as for Venus, they pay her a very great veneration. Edition: current; Page: [293] We ourselves also do find that there is a great affinity and resemblance between the sun and the God of Love. For neither of them is material fire, as some conjecture. All that we acknowledge is only this, that there is a certain soft and generative heat and warmth proceeding from the sun, which affords to the body nourishment, light, and relaxation of cold; whereas that warmth which comes from love works the same effects in the soul. And as the sun breaking forth from the clouds and after a thick fog is much hotter; so love, after passionate anger and jealousies are over, and the beloved one is again reconciled, grows more delightful and fervent. Moreover, as some believe the sun to be kindled and extinguished, they also imagine the same things concerning love, as being mortal and unstable. For neither can a constitution not enured to exercise endure the sun, nor the disposition of an illiterate and ill-tutored soul brook love without trouble and pain; for both are alike distempered and diseased, for which they lay the blame upon the power of the God, and not their own weakness. Herein only there may seem to be some difference between them; for that the sun displays to the sight upon the earth both beauty and deformity at once, but love is a luminary that affords us the view of beautiful objects only, and persuades lovers to cast their eyes only upon what is pleasing and delightful, and with a careless eye to overlook all other things. On the other side, they that attribute the name of Venus to the moon, although they have no convincing proof, still have hit upon a certain similarity. For that the moon is celestial and divine, and the region of mixture between mortal and immortal; but it is weak of itself, obscure and dark without the presence of the sun; as Venus is where love is absent. Therefore more properly and with more probability the moon is likened to Venus, and the sun to Love, rather than to any other of the Gods.

Edition: current; Page: [294]

Nevertheless, we must not therefore say they are all one. For neither are the soul and body the same, but distinct; as the sun is visible, but love is perceptible only by sense. And if it might not be thought too harsh a saying, a man might affirm that the sun and love act contrary to one another. For the sun diverts the understanding from things intelligible to sensible objects, alluring and fascinating the sight with the grace and splendor of his rays, and persuading us to search for other things, and even for truth itself, within and about himself, and nowhere else. And we appear to be passionately in love with the sun, because, as Euripides says,

  • He always on the earth displays
  • The glory of his burning rays,*

for want of our knowledge of another life, or rather, through our forgetfulness of those things which love calls to our remembrance. For as, when we are newly awaked and come into a bright and dazzling light, we forget whatever appeared to the soul in our dreams; so the sun seems to stupefy our recollection and impoison our understanding, when we change from the former life and enter this world, so that in our pleasure and admiration we forget all other considerations besides that of the present life. Though there indeed are the real substances proper for the contemplation of the soul; here, as in sleep, it embraces only dreams, and gazes in admiration and astonishment at what appears to it most beautiful and divine, while

Fallacious charming dreams about it fly;—

it being persuaded that here every thing is goodly and highly to be prized, unless it happens upon some divine and chaste love to be its physician and preserver. This love, entering through the body, becomes a guide to lead the soul from the world below to truth and the fields of truth, Edition: current; Page: [295] where full, pure, deceitless beauty dwells; and leading forth and guiding upward those that now after a long time are eager to embrace and live with such beauty, it stands by them, like a friendly mystagogue at the sacred ceremonies of initiation. But no sooner is the soul sent from thence again, but love is no longer able to make her approaches of herself, but by the body. And therefore as geometricians, when children are not able of themselves to apprehend the intelligible ideas of incorporeal and impassible substance, form and set before their eyes the tangible and visible imitations of spheres, cubes, and dodecahedrons; in like manner celestial love, having framed lovely mirrors to represent lovely objects, — things mortal and passible to represent things divine, and sensible objects to represent those perceptible only to the eye of reason, — shows them to us glittering in the forms, colors, and shape of youth in its prime, and first insensibly moves the memory inflamed by the sight of these objects.

Whence it comes to pass that some, through the stupidity of their friends and acquaintance, endeavoring by force and against reason to extinguish that flame, have enjoyed nothing of true benefit thereby, but only either disquieted themselves with smoke and trouble, or else rushing headlong into obscure and irregular pleasures, obstinately cast themselves away. But as many as by sober and modest ratiocination have sincerely extinguished the raging heat of the fire, and left behind only a warm and glowing heat in the soul, — which causes no violent earthquake, as it was once called, rousing the seed and causing a gliding of atoms compressed by smoothness and titillation, but a wonderful and engendering diffusion, as in a blossoming and well-nourished plant, which opens the pores of obedience and affection, — these, I say, in a short time passing by the bodies of those whom they love, penetrate more inwardly and fall to admire their manners and dispositions; Edition: current; Page: [296] and calling off their eyes from the body, they converse together, and contemplate one another in their discourses and in their actions, provided there be but the least scrip or appearance of beauty in the understanding. If not, they let them go, and turn their affections upon others, like bees that will not fasten upon many plants and flowers, because they cannot gather honey from them. But where they find any footstep, any emanation, any resemblance of a divinity, ravished with delight and admiration as they recall it to memory, they attract it to themselves, and are revived by striving to attain to what is truly amiable, happy, and beloved by all mankind.

20. True it is, that the poets, according to their sportive humor, seem to write many things in merriment concerning this Deity, and to make him the subject of their lascivious songs in the height of their revelling jollity, making but little serious mention of him; whether out of judgment and reason, or being assured of the truth by divine inspiration, is the question. Among the rest, there is one thing which they say very oddly concerning the birth and generation of this God:

  • Young Zephyr, doting on his golden hair,
  • At last the silver-slippered Iris won;
  • And thus embraced, at length she bore a son,
  • Of all the Gods the shrewdest and most fair:*

unless the grammarians have likewise persuaded you, by saying that this fable was invented to set forth the variety and gay diversity of passions that attend on love.

To whom Daphnaeus: To what other end or purpose could it be? Hear me then, said my father; for ’tis no more than what the celestial meteor constrains us to say. The affection of the sight in the case of the rainbow (or Iris) is caused by reflection. For when the sight lights upon a cloud somewhat of a dewy substance, but smooth, Edition: current; Page: [297] and moderately thick withal, and we behold the repercussion of the sunbeams upon it, together with the light and splendor about the sun, it begets an opinion in us that the apparition is in the cloud. In like manner, this same subtle invention of love-sophistry in generous and noble souls causes a repercussion of the memory from objects that here appear and are called beautiful, to the beauty really divine, truly amiable and happy, and by all admired. But most people pursuing and taking hold of the fancied image of this beauty in boys and women, as it were seen in a mirror, reap nothing more assured and certain than a little pleasure mixed with pain. But this seems to be no more than a delirium or dizziness of the vulgar sort, beholding their empty and unsatisfied desires in the clouds, as it were in so many shadows; like children who, thinking to catch the rainbow in their hands, snatch at the apparition that presents itself before their eyes. But a generous and modest lover observes another method; for his contemplations reflect only on that beauty which is divine and perceptible by the understanding; but lighting upon the beauty of a visible body, and making use of it as a kind of organ of the memory, he embraces and loves, and by conversation argumenting his joy and satisfaction still more and more inflames his understanding. But neither do these lovers conversing with bodies rest satisfied in this world with a desire and admiration of this same light; neither when they are arrived at another world after death, do they return hither again as fugitives, to hover about the doors and mansions of new-married people and disturb their dreams with ghosts and visions; which sort of visions really come only from men and women given to pleasure and corporeal delights, who by no means deserve the name and characters of true lovers. Whereas a lover truly chaste and amorous, being got to the true mansion of beauty, and there conversing with it as much as it is lawful Edition: current; Page: [298] for him to do, mounted upon the wings of chaste desire, becomes pure and hallowed; and being initiated into sacred orders, continues dancing and sporting about his Deity, till returning again to the meadows of the Moon and Venus, and there laid asleep, he becomes ready for a new nativity. But these are points too high for the discourse which we have proposed to ourselves.

To return therefore to our purpose; Love, according to Euripides, with all the rest of the Gods, delights

When mortals here his honored name invoke;*

on the other side, he is no less offended when any affront or contempt is put upon him, as he is most kind and benign to those that entertain him with proper respect. For neither does Jupiter surnamed the Hospitable so severely prosecute injuries done to strangers and suppliants, nor is Jupiter Genitalis so rigorous in accomplishing the curses of parents disobeyed, as Love is to listen to the complaints of injured lovers; being the scourger and punisher of-proud, ill-natured, and ill-bred people. For, not to mention Euxynthetus and Leucomantis, at this day in Cyprus called the Peeper, ’tis a hundred to one but you have heard of the punishment inflicted upon Gorgo the Cretan, not much unlike to that of Leucomantis, only that Gorgo was turned into a stone as she looked out of a window to see her love going to his grave. With this Gorgo Asander fell in love, a young gentleman virtuous and nobly descended, but reduced from a flourishing estate to extremity of poverty. However, he did not think so meanly of himself but that, being her kinsman, he courted this Gorgo for a wife, though she had many suitors at the same time by reason of her great fortune; and he so carried this business that, notwithstanding his numerous and wealthy rivals, he had gained the good-will of all her guardians and nearest relations.

Edition: current; Page: [299]

21. Now as for those things which they say are the causes that beget love, they are not peculiar to this or the other sex, but common to both. For it cannot be that those images that enter into amorous persons and whisk about from one part to another, by their various forms moving and tickling the mass of atoms that slide into the seed, can come from young boys, and that the same cannot come from young women. But as to these noble and sacred remembrances with which the soul is winged, recalling that same divine, real, and Olympic beauty, what should hinder but that these may pass from boys and young men, and also from virgins and young women, whenever a disposition chaste and good-natured appears united with bloom of youth and grace of body? For, as a handsome and well-made shoe shows the proportion of the foot (as Ariston says), so they that have judgment in these matters can discern the splendid, upright, and uncorrupted footsteps of a noble and generous soul in beautiful forms and features, and bodies undefiled. For, if a voluptuous person, who when the question was put to him,

  • To which are your hot passions most inclined,
  • Or to the male, or to the female kind?

answered thus,

  • ’Tis the same thing to me
  • Where’er I beauty see,

was thought to have returned a proper and pertinent answer and one that accorded with his passions, is it possible that a noble and generous lover directs his amours not to loveliness and good-nature, but only to the parts that distinguish the sex? For certainly a man that delights in horses will no less value the mettle and swiftness of Podargus, than of Aetha that was Agamemnon’s mare; and he that is a good huntsman does not only delight in dogs, but mixes with his cry the bitches of Crete and Laconia; and shall he that is a lover as well as of civil behavior Edition: current; Page: [300] carry himself with an inequality more to one than to another, and make a distinction, as of garments, between the love of men and women? But some say that beauty is the flower of virtue. Will they then affirm, that the female sex never blossoms nor makes any show of tendency to virtue? It were absurd to think so. Therefore was Aeschylus in the right when he said, that he could never mistake the fire in the eye of a young woman who had once known a man. Now then are those signs and marks of lasciviousness, wantonness, and impudence to be discovered in the visages of women, and shall there be no light shining in their faces for the discovery of modesty and chastity? Nay, shall there be many such signs, and those apparent, and shall they not be able to allure and provoke love? Both are contrary to reason, and dissonant from truth. But every one of these things is common to both sexes, as we have showed.

Now then, Daphnaeus, let us confute the reason that Zeuxippus has but now alleged, by making love to be all one with inordinate desire that hurries the soul to intemperance. Not that it is his opinion, but only what he has frequently heard from men morose and no way addicted to love. Of this class there are some who, marrying poor silly women for the sake of some petty portion, and having nothing to do with them and their money but to make them perpetual drudges in pitiful mechanic employments, are every day brawling and quarrelling with them. Others, more desirous of children than of wives, like cicadae that spill their seed upon squills or some such like herb, discharge their lust in haste upon the next they meet with; and having reaped the fruit they sought for, bid marriage farewell or else regard it not at all, neither caring to love nor to be beloved. And in my opinion, the words στέϱγειν and στέϱγεσθαι, which signify dearly to love and dearly to be beloved again, differing but one letter from Edition: current; Page: [301] στέγειν, which signifies to contain or endure, seem to me to import and denote that mutual kindness called conjugal, which is intermixed by time and custom with necessity. But in that wedlock which love supports and inspires, in the first place, as in Plato’s Commonwealth, there will be no such language as “thine” and “mine.” For properly to speak, there is not community of goods among all friends; but only where two friends, though severed in body, yet have their souls joined and as it were melted together, and neither desire to be two nor believe themselves to be separate persons. And, in the second place, there will be that mutual respect and reverence, which is the chiefest happiness of wedlock. Now as to that respect that comes from without, carrying with it more force of law than voluntary and reciprocal duty, or that comes by fear and shame,

  • And many other curbs, that loose desire
  • And lawless frisks of wanton heat require,*

these are always present with those who are coupled in matrimony. Whereas in love there is so much continency, so much modesty, and so much of loyal affection, that even if it happen upon an intemperate and lascivious soul, it is thereby diverted from all other amours, by cutting off all malapert boldness and bringing down the insolence of imperious pride; instead of which it introduces modest bashfulness, silence, and submission, and adorning it with decent and becoming behavior, makes it for ever after the obedient observer of one lover. Most certainly you have heard of that celebrated and highly courted courtesan Lais, how her beauty inflamed all Greece, or rather how two seas strove for her. This famous beauty, being seized with an ardent affection for Hippolochus the Thessalian, leaving the Acrocorinthus, as the poet describes it,

With sea-green water all encompassed round,

Edition: current; Page: [302]

and privately avoiding the great army (as I may call it) of those that courted her favor, withdrew herself modestly to the enjoyment of him only; but the women, incensed with jealousy and envying her surpassing beauty, dragged her into the temple of Venus, and there stoned her to death; for which reason it is called to this day the temple of Venus the Murderess. We ourselves have known several young damsels, mere slaves, who never would submit to the embraces of their masters, and private men who have disdained the company of queens, when love had the absolute dominion of their hearts. For, as in Rome, when there is a dictator chosen, all other chief magistrates lay down their offices; so all such persons, where love is truly predominant, are immediately free and manumitted from all other lords and masters, and afterwards live like servants in the temple of Love. And indeed a virtuous and generous lady, once linked to her lawful husband by an unfeigned affection, will sooner choose the embraces of bears and dragons, than to be the bed-fellow of any other person whatsoever but her only spouse.

22. Of this although we might produce examples without number, yet among you, that are now joined (as it were) in the same dance and festival with Love,* it will not be from the purpose to relate the story of Camma the Galatian. For she being a woman of transcendent beauty, and married to Sinatus the tetrarch. Synorix, one of the most powerful men in all Galatia, fell desperately in love with her; and that he might enjoy her, murdered her husband Sinatus, since he could not prevail with her either by force or persuasion, while her husband was alive. Thereupon Camma, having no other sanctuary for the preservation of her chastity nor consolation in her affliction, retired to the temple of Diana, where she remained a votaress to Edition: current; Page: [303] the Goddess, not admitting any person so much as to speak to her, though she had many suitors that sought her in wedlock. But when Synorix boldly presumed to put the question to her, she neither seemed to reject his motion, neither did she upbraid him with the crime he had committed; as if he had been induced to perpetrate so vile an act, not out of any malicious intent to Sinatus, but merely out of a pure and ardent love and affection to her. Thereupon he came with greater confidence, and demanded her in marriage. She, on the other side, met him no less cheerfully; and leading him by the hand to the altar of the Goddess, after she had poured forth a small quantity of hydromel well tempered with a rank poison, as it were an atonement offering to the Goddess, she drank off the one half of that which remained herself, and gave the other half to the Galatian. And then, so soon as she saw he had drunk it off, she gave a loud groan, and calling her deceased husband by his name; This day, said she, my most dear and beloved husband, I have long expected, as having lived, deprived of thee, a desolate and comfortless life. But now receive me joyfully; for for thy sake I have revenged myself upon the most wicked among men, willing to have lived with thee, and now no less rejoicing to die with him. Thus Synorix, being carried out of the temple, soon after expired; but Camma, surviving him a day and a night, is reported to have died with an extraordinary resolution and cheerfulness of spirit.

23. Now in regard there have been many such, as well among us as among the barbarians, who can bear with those that reproach Venus that, being coupled and present with Love, she becomes a hindrance of friendship? Whereas any sober and considerate person may rather revile the company of male with male, and justly call it intemperance and lasciviousness,

Edition: current; Page: [304]
  • A vile affront to Nature, no effect
  • Of lovely Venus or of chaste respect.

And therefore, as for those that willingly prostitute their bodies, we look upon them to be the most wicked and flagitious persons in the world, void of fidelity, neither endued with modesty nor any thing of friendship; and but too truly and really, according to Sophocles,

  • They who ne’er had such friends as these,
  • Believe their blessing double;
  • And they that have them, pray the Gods
  • To rid them of the trouble.*

And as for those who, not being by nature lewd and wicked, were circumvented and forced to prostitute themselves, there are no men whom these always look upon with greater suspicion and more perfect hatred than those that deluded and flattered them into so vile an act, and they bitterly revenge themselves when they find an opportunity. For Crateas killed Archelaus, who had rid him in his youth; and Pytholaus slew Alexander of Pherae. Periander tyrant of the Ambraciotes asked his minion, whether he were not yet with child; which the lad took so heinously that he stabbed him.

On the other hand, among women that are married, these are but the beginnings of friendship, as it were, a communicating and imparting of great and sacred mysteries. The pleasure of coition is the least thing; but the honor, the submission to mutual love and fidelity which daily germinates from this, convince us that neither the Delphians raved, who gave the name of Arma (union) to Venus, nor that Homer was in an error, who called the conjunction of man and woman by the name of friendship; but that Solon was a lawgiver the most experienced in conjugal affairs, who decreed that a husband should lie with his wife thrice a month at least, — not for pleasure’s sake, but Edition: current; Page: [305] that, as cities renew their treaties one with another at such a time, so the alliance of matrimony might be renewed by this enjoyment, after the jars which may have arisen in the mean time. But you will say, there are many men in love with women that act amiss and furiously. But are there not more enormities committed by those that are enamored upon boys?

  • So often as these eyes of mine behold
  • That beardless youth, that smooth and lovely boy,
  • I faint and fall; then wish I him to hold
  • Within mine arms, and so to die with joy;
  • And that on tomb were set, where I do lie,
  • An epigram, mine end to testify.

But though there is this raging passion after boys, as well as a dotage upon women, yet can neither be said to be truly love. And therefore it is an absurdity to aver that women are not capable even of other virtues. For why speak of so many signals of their chastity, prudence, justice, and fidelity, when we find others no less eminent for their fortitude, resolution, and magnanimity; after all which, to tax them of being naturally incapable of friendship only — not to mention the other virtues — is a hard case. For they are naturally lovers of their children, affectionate to their husbands; and this same natural affection of theirs, like a fertile soil, as it is capable of friendship, so is no less pliable to persuasion, nor less accompanied with all the graces. But as poetry, adapting to speech the conditements of melody, measure, and rhythm, renders the wholesome and instructive part of it so much the more moving, and the noxious part so much the more apt to corrupt the mind; so, Nature having adorned a woman with the charms of beauty and persuasive language, a lascivious woman makes use of these perfections to please herself and deceive others, but in a modest and sober woman they work wonders towards the gaining and fixing the good will and favor of her husband. Therefore Plato exhorted Xenocrates, otherwise Edition: current; Page: [306] generous and brave, but very morose in his humor, to sacrifice to the Graces; but he would have exhorted a virtuous and modest woman to sacrifice to Love, for his propitious favor to her marriage, in ordering it so that her behavior may prove a sufficient charm to keep her husband at home, . . . and that he may not ramble after other women, and then be forced to exclaim, as in the comedy,

  • Curse to this rage of mine, so given to roam;
  • What a good wife do I abuse at home!

For in wedlock to love is a far greater blessing than to be beloved; since it preserves and keeps people from falling into many errors, nay, all those that corrupt and ruin matrimony.

24. As for those passionate affections which at the beginning of conjugal love raise certain fits, which are somewhat sharp and biting, most fortunate Zeuxippus, I would not have you fear them, like an ulcer or scarification. Though perhaps it would not be amiss, if it should cost you some small wound to be joined to a virtuous woman, like trees that grow together when grafted by incision upon a proper stock. The beginning of conception itself is a kind of exulceration; for there can be no mixture of things that are not affected reciprocally one by the other. The very mathematical rudiments do not a little perplex little children at the first, and philosophy troubles the brains of young beginners; but this corroding humor is not lasting, either to these or to lovers. Insomuch that a man would think that love at first resembled the mixture of two liquors, which, when once they begin to incorporate, by their ebullition discover some little disgusts; for so love at the beginning bubbles up with a kind of effervency, till being settled and purified it acquires a firm and stable constitution. For this indeed is properly that kind of mixture which is called a thorough mixture; whereas the love of other friends, conversing and living Edition: current; Page: [307] together, is like the touches and interweavings of Epicurus’s atoms, subject to raptures and separations, but can never compose such a union as proceeds from love assisting conjugal society. For neither are the pleasures received from any other source so great, nor the benefits conferred on others so lasting, nor is the glory and beauty of any other friendship so noble and desirable,

  • As when the man and wife at board and bed
  • Under one roof a life of concord lead.*

Moreover, it is a thing warranted by law; while Nature shows us that even the Gods themselves stood in need of love for the sake of common procreation. Thus the poets tell us that earth is in love with the showers, and heaven with the earth; and the natural philosophers are of opinion that the sun is in love with the moon, that they copulate every month, and that the moon conceives by virtue of that conjunction. And it would of necessity follow that the earth, which is the common mother of all mankind, of all animals, and of all manner of plants, would one day cease and be extinguished, should that same ardent love and desire infused by the God forsake matter, and matter cease to pursue and lust after the principles and motions of generation.

But that we may not seem to wander too far or spend our time in trifles, you yourselves are not ignorant that these pederasties are by many said to be the most uncertain and least durable things in the world, and that they are derided by those that make use of them, who affirm that the love of boys, like an egg, may be destroyed by a hair; and the lovers themselves are like the wandering Scythians, who, having spent their spring in flowery and verdant pastures, presently dislodge from thence, as out of an enemy’s country. And Bion the Sophister was yet more sharp and satirical, when he called the beards of Edition: current; Page: [308] young and beautiful striplings by the names of Harmodii and Aristogitons (i.e. tyrant-killers), since by that budding show of manhood their lovers are delivered from their pleasant tyranny. But these imputations are not justly charged upon true lovers. Elegant therefore was that which was said by Euripides. For as he was clasping and embracing the fair Agatho, after the down began to sprout forth upon his chin, he cried that the very autumn of lovely youths was pleasing and delightful. But I say more than this, that the love of virtuous women does not decay with the wrinkles that appear upon their faces, but remains and endures to their graves and monuments. Then again, we shall find but few male couples of true lovers, but thousands of men and women conjoined together in wedlock, who have reciprocally and inviolably observed a community of affection and loyalty to the end of their lives. I shall instance only one example, which happened in our time, during the reign of Caesar Vespasian.

25. Julius, who was the first that occasioned the revolt in Galatia, among many other confederates in the rebellion had one Sabinus, a young gentleman of no mean spirit, and for fame and riches inferior to none. But having undertaken a very difficult enterprise, they miscarried; and therefore expecting nothing but death by the hand of justice, some of them killed themselves, others made their escapes as well as they could. As for Sabinus, he had all the opportunities that could be to save himself by flying to the barbarians; but he had married a lady, the best of women, which they called by the name of Empone, as much as to say a heroess. This woman it was not in his power to leave, neither could he carry her conveniently along with him. Having therefore in the country certain vaults or cellars under ground, where he had hid his treasures and movables of greatest value, which were only known to two of his freed bondmen, he dismissed all the Edition: current; Page: [309] rest of his servants, as if he had intended to poison himself. And taking along with him his two faithful and trusty servants, he hid himself in one of the vaults, and sent another of his enfranchised attendants, whose name was Martalius, to tell his wife that her husband had poisoned himself and that the house and his corpse were both burnt together, designing by the lamentation and unfeigned grief of his wife to make the report of his death the more easily believed; which fell out according to his wish. For the lady, so soon as she heard the news, threw herself upon the floor, and continued for three days together without meat or drink, making the most bitter outcries, and bewailing her loss with all the marks of a real and unfeigned anguish; which Sabinus understanding, and fearing her sorrow might prevail with her to lay violent hands upon herself, he ordered the same Martalius to tell her that he was yet alive and lay hid in such a place; however, that she should for a while continue her mourning, and be sure so to counterfeit her grief that she should not be discovered. And indeed in all other things the lady acted her part so well, and managed her passion to that degree, that no woman could do it better. But having still a longing desire to see her husband, she went to him in the night and returned again so privately that nobody took any notice of her. And thus she continued keeping him company for seven months together, that it might be said to differ very little from living in hell itself. Where after she had so strangely disguised Sabinus with a false head of hair, and such odd sort of habit, that it was impossible for him to be known, she carried him to Rome along with her undiscovered to several that met him. But not being able to obtain his pardon, she returned with him back to his den, and for many years lived with him under ground; only between whiles she went to the city, and there showed herself in public to several ladies, her friends Edition: current; Page: [310] and familiar acquaintance. But that which was the most incredible of all things, she so ordered her business that none of the ladies perceived her being with child, though she bathed at the same time with them. For such is the nature of that same ointment wherewith the women anoint their hair to make it of a red-golden color, that by its fatness and oiliness it plumps and swells up the flesh of the body, and brings it up to an embonpoint. So that the lady, no less liberal of her ointment than diligent to chafe and rub her body limb by limb, by the proportionable rising and swelling of her flesh in every part, concealed the swelling of her belly. And when she came to be delivered, she endured the pains of her child-bearing alone by herself, like a lioness, hiding herself in her den with her husband; and there, as I may say, she bred up in private her two male whelps. For at that time she was delivered of two boys, of which there was one who was slain in Egypt; the other, whose name was also Sabinus, was but very lately with us at Delphi.

For this reason Caesar put the lady to death; but dearly paid for the murder by the utter extirpation of his whole posterity, which in a short time after was utterly cut off from the face of the earth. For during his whole reign, there was not a more cruel and savage act committed; neither was there any other spectacle which in all probability the Gods and Daemons more detested, or any from which they more turned away their eyes in abomination of the sight. Besides, she abated the compassion of the spectators by the stoutness of her behavior and the grandeur of her utterance, than which there was nothing that more exasperated Vespasian; when, despairing of her husband’s pardon, she did as it were challenge the emperor to exchange her life for his, telling him withal, that she accounted it a far greater pleasure to live in darkness under ground as she had done, than to reign in splendor like him.

Edition: current; Page: [311]

26. Here, as my father told me, ended the discourse concerning Love in the neighborhood of Thespiae; at what time they saw one of Pisias’s friends, by name Diogenes, coming at a good round pace towards them; to whom when Soclarus, while he was yet at a distance, cried out, No tidings of war, Diogenes, I hope? No, no, said he, that ne’er can be at a wedding; and therefore mend your pace, for the nuptial sacrifice stays only for your coming. All the rest of the company were exceeding glad, only Zeuxippus asked whether Pisias were still angry. On the contrary, said Diogenes, as he before opposed the match, so now he was the first to approve what Ismenodora had done; and at the same time, putting on a garland upon his head and throwing a white nuptial robe about his shoulders, he is to march before all the company through the market-place, to give thanks to the God of Love.

Well done, by Jupiter, come away, come away then, cried my father, that we may laugh and be merry with our friend, and adore the Deity. For there is no doubt that he is propitiously present with his favor and approbation.

Edition: current; Page: [312]



In Haliartus, which is a city of Boeotia, lived a young damsel of surpassing beauty, whose name was Aristoclia, the daughter of Theophanes. This lady was courted by Straton an Orchomenian, and Callisthenes of Haliartus; but Straton was the more wealthy of the two, and more enamored of the virgin. For he had seen her bathing herself in the fountain of Hercyne, which is in Lebadea, against the time that she was to bear the sacred basket in honor of Jupiter the King. But the virgin herself had a greater affection for Callisthenes, for that he was more nearly allied to her. In this case, her father Theophanes, not knowing well what to do (for he was afraid of Straton, who had the advantage both of noble birth and riches above all the rest of the Boeotians), resolved to refer the choice to the oracle of Trophonius. On the other side, Straton (for he was made believe by some of the virgin’s familiar acquaintance that his mistress had the greatest kindness for him) earnestly desired to refer the matter to the election of the virgin herself. But when Theophanes put the question to his daughter in a great assembly of all the friends of all parties, it fell out that the damsel preferred Callisthenes. Thereupon it presently appeared in Straton’s countenance how much he was disgusted at the indignity he had received. However, two days after, he came to Edition: current; Page: [313] Theophanes and Callisthenes, requesting the continuance of their friendship, notwithstanding that some Daemon had envied him the happiness of his intended marriage. They so well approved his proposal, that they invited him to the wedding and the nuptial feast. But he in the mean time having mustered together a great number of his friends, together with a numerous troop of his own servants, whom he secretly dispersed and disposed up and down in places proper for his purpose, watched his opportunity so well that, as the damsel was going down, according to the custom of the country, to the fountain called Cissoessa, there to pay her offerings to the Nymphs before her wedding-day, he and his accomplices rushing out of their ambuscade seized upon the virgin, whom Straton held fast and pulled to himself. On the other side, Callisthenes, with those that were about him, as it is easy to be believed, flew with all speed to her relief; and in this fatal contest, while the one tugged and the other hauled, the unhappy damsel perished. As for Callisthenes, he was never seen any more; whether he laid violent hands upon himself, or whether it were that he left Boeotia as a voluntary exile; for no man could give any account of him afterwards. And as for Straton, he slew himself before the eyes of all upon the dead body of the unfortunate virgin.


A certain great person whose name was Phido, designing to make himself lord of the whole Peloponnesus, and more especially desirous that Argos, being his native country, should be the metropolis of all the rest, resolved to reduce the Corinthians under his subjection. To this purpose he sent to them to demand a levy of a thousand young gentlemen, the most valiant and the chiefest in the Edition: current; Page: [314] prime of their age in the whole city. Accordingly they sent him a thousand young sparks, brisk and gallant, under the leading of Dexander, whom they chose to be their captain. But Phido, designing nothing more than the massacre of these gentlemen, to the end he might the more easily make himself master of Corinth when it should be enfeebled by so great a loss (as being by its situation the chief bulwark to guard the entrance into Peloponnesus), imparted this contrivance of his to several of his confidants, in which number was one whose name was Abro; who, having been formerly acquainted with Dexander, and familiarly entertained by him, discovered the whole conspiracy to his friend in acknowledgment of his kindness. By which means the thousand, before they fell into the ambuscade, retreated and got safe to Corinth. Phido thus disappointed made all the inquiry imaginable, to find out who it was that had betrayed and discovered his design. Which Abro understanding fled to Corinth with his wife and all his family, and settled himself in Melissus, a certain village in the territory of the Corinthians. There he begat a son, whom he named Melissus from the name of the place where he was born. The son of this Melissus was Actaeon, the loveliest and most modest of all the striplings of his age. For which reason there were several that fell in love with him, but none with so much ardor as Archias, being of the race of the Heraclidae, and for wealth and authority the greatest person in all Corinth. This Archias, when he found that no fair means and persuasions would prevail upon the young lad, resolved to ravish him away by force; to which purpose he invited himself to Melissus’s house, as it were to make merry, accompanied with a great number of his friends and servants, and by their assistance he made an attempt to carry away the son by violence. But the father and his friends opposing the rape, and the neighbors coming in to the rescue of the child, poor Edition: current; Page: [315] Actaeon, between the one and the other, was pulled and hauled to death; and Archias with his company departed. Upon this, Melissus carried the murdered body of his son into the market-place of Corinth, and there, exposing him to public view, demanded justice to be done upon the murderers. But finding that the Corinthians only pitied his condition, without taking any farther notice of the matter, he returned home, and waited for the grand assembly of the Greeks at the Isthmus. At what time, getting up to the very top of Neptune’s temple, he exclaimed against the whole race of the Bacchiadae, and after he had made a public relation of the good service which his father Abro had done the Corinthians, he invoked the vengeance of the Gods, and presently threw himself headlong among the rocks. Soon after the Corinthians being plagued with a most terrible drought, upon which ensued a violent famine, they sent to the oracle, to know by what means they might be delivered from their calamity. To whom the Deity made answer, that it was Neptune’s wrath, which would not cease till they had revenged the death of Actaeon, Archias, hearing this (for he was one of those that were sent to the oracle), never returned again to Corinth, but sailing into Sicily, built there the city of Syracuse; where, after he was become the father of two daughters, Ortygia and Syracusa, he was treacherously slain by Telephus, whom he had preternaturally abused in his youth, and who, having the command of a ship, sailed along with him into Sicily.


A certain poor man, Scedasus by name, lived at Leuctra, a small village in the territory of the Thespians, and had two daughters, Hippo and Miletia, or as others say, Theano Edition: current; Page: [316] and Euxippe. This Scedasus was a very good man, and, to the extent of his fortune, very hospitable to strangers. This was the reason that most readily and gladly he entertained two young gentlemen of Sparta, that came to lodge at his house; who, falling in love with the virgins, were yet so overawed by the kindness that Scedasus had showed them, that they durst not make any rude attempt for that time. The next morning therefore they went directly to the city of Delphi, whither they were journeying, where after they had consulted the oracle touching such questions as they had to put, they returned homeward, and travelling through Boeotia, stopped again at Scedasus’s house, who happened at that time not to be at Leuctra. However, his daughters, according to that education to which their father had accustomed them, gave the same entertainment to the strangers as if their father had been at home. But such was the perfidious ingratitude of these guests, that finding the virgins alone, they ravished and by force deflowered the damsels; and, which was worse, perceiving them lamenting to excess the undeserved injury they had received, the ravishers murdered them, and after they had thrown their bodies into a well, went their ways. Soon after Scedasus, returning home, missed both his daughters, but all things else he found safe and in order, as he left them; which put him into such a quandary, that he knew not what to say or do, till instructed by a little bitch, that several times in a day came whining and fawning upon him and then returned to the well, he began to suspect what he found to be true; and so he drew up the dead bodies of his daughters. Moreover, being then informed by his neighbors, that they had seen the two Lacedaemonian gentlemen which he had entertained some time before go into his house, he guessed them to be the persons who had committed the fact, for that they would be always praising the virgins when they lodged there before, Edition: current; Page: [317] and telling their father what happy men they would be that should have the good fortune to marry them. Thereupon away he went to Lacedaemon, with a resolution to make his complaint to the Ephori; but being benighted in the territory of Argos, he put into a public house, where he found another old man of the city of Oreus, in the province of Histiaea; whom when he heard sighing and cursing the Lacedaemonians, Scedasus asked him what injury the Lacedaemonians had done him. In answer to which, the old man gave him this account: I am, said he, a subject to the Lacedaemonians, by whom Aristodemus was sent to Oreus to be governor of that place, where he committed several outrages and savage enormities. Among the rest, being fallen in love with my son, when he could by no fair means procure his consent, he endeavored to carry him away by main force out of the wrestling-place. But the president of the exercises opposing him, with the assistance of several of the young men, Aristodemus was constrained to retire; but the next day, having provided a galley to be in readiness, he ravished away my son, and sailing from Oreus to the opposite continent, endeavored, when he had the boy there, to abuse his body; and because the lad refused to submit to his lust, cut the child’s throat. Upon his return he made a great feast at Oreus, to which he invited all his friends. In the mean while, I being soon informed of the sad accident, presently went and interred the body; and having so done, I made haste to Sparta, and preferred my complain to the Ephori, but they gave no answer, nor took any notice of the matter.

Scedasus, having heard this relation, remained very much dejected, believing he should have no better success. However, in his turn, he gave an account to the stranger of his own sad mischance; which when he had done, the stranger advised him not to complain to the Edition: current; Page: [318] Ephori, but to return to his own country, and crect a monument for his two daughters. But Scedasus, not liking this advice, went to Sparta, made his case known to the Ephori, and demanded justice; who taking no notice of his complaint, away he went to the Kings; but they as little regarding him, he applied himself to every particular citizen, and recommended to them the sadness of his condition. At length, when he saw nothing would do, he ran through the city, stretching forth his hands to the sun and stamping on the ground with his feet, and called upon the Furies to revenge his cause; and when he had done all he could, in the last place slew himself. But afterwards the Lacedaemonians dearly paid for their injustice. For being at that time lords of all Greece, while all the chiefest cities of that spacious region were curbed by their garrisons, Epaminondas the Theban was the first that threw off their yoke, and cut the throats of the garrison that lay in Thebes. Upon which, the Lacedaemonians making war upon the revolters, the Thebans met them at Leuctra, confident of success from the name of the place; for that formerly they had been there delivered from slavery, at what time Amphictyon, being driven into exile by Sthenelus, came to the city of Thebes, and finding them tributaries to the Chalcidians, after he had slain Chalcodon king of the Euboeans, eased them altogether of that burthen. In like manner it happened that the Lacedaemonians were vanquished not far from the monument of Scedasus’s daughters. It is reported also, that before the fight, Pelopidas being then one of the Theban generals, and troubled by reason of some certain signs that seemed to portend some ill event in the battle, Scedasus appeared to him in a dream and bade him be of good courage, for that the Lacedaemonians were come to Leuctra, to receive the just vengeance which they deserved from him and his daughters; only the ghost advised him, the day before he encountered Edition: current; Page: [319] the Lacedaemonians, to sacrifice a white colt, which he should find ready for him close by his daughters’ sepulchre. Whereupon Pelopidas, while the Lacedaemonians yet lay encamped at Tegea, sent certain persons to examine the truth of the matter; and finding by the inhabitants thereabouts that every thing agreed with his dream, he advanced with his army boldly forward, and won the field.


Phocus was a Boeotian by birth (for he was born in the city of Clisas), the father of Callirrhoe, who was a virgin of matchless beauty and modesty, and courted by thirty young gentlemen, the prime of the Boeotian nobility. Phocus therefore, seeing so many suitors about her, still pretended one excuse or other to put off her marriage, afraid lest some force or other should be put upon her. At length, when he could hold out no longer, the gentlemen being offended at his dilatory answers, he desired them to refer it to the Pythian Deity to make the choice. But this the gentlemen took so heinously, that they fell upon Phocus and slew him. In this combustion and tumult, the virgin making her escape fled into the country, and was as soon pursued by the young sparks; but lighting upon certain country people that were piling up their wheat in a barn, by their assistance she saved herself. For the countrymen hid her in the corn, so that they who were in chase of her passed her by. The virgin thus preserved kept herself close till the general assembly of all the Boeotians; and then coming to Coronea, she there sat as a suppliant before the altar of Itonian Minerva, and there gave a full relation of the villany and murder committed by her several suitors, discovering withal the names of the persons, and places of Edition: current; Page: [320] their abode. The Boeotians commiserating the virgin were no less incensed against the young gentlemen; who, having notice of what had passed, fled to Orchomenus, but being shut out by the citizens, made their escape to Hippotae, a village near to Helicon, seated between Thebes and Coronea, where they were received and protected. Thither the Thebans sent to have the murderers of Phocus delivered up; which the inhabitants refusing to do, they marched against the town with a good force of other Boeotians under the leading of Phoedus, then the chief ruler of Thebes. And laying siege to it (for it was a strong place), at last they took it for want of water; and in the first place having apprehended all the murderers, they stoned them to death; then they condemned the inhabitants to perpetual slavery, broke down the walls, ruined the houses, and divided the land between the Thebans and Coroneans. The report goes, that the night before Hippotae was taken, there was a voice heard from Helicon several times uttering these words, I am come; and that when the thirty rivals heard it, they knew it to be the voice of Phocus. It was said, moreover, that the very day the rivals were stoned, the monument of the old man which was erected in Clisas was covered with drops of saffron. And as Phoedus, the governor and general of the Thebans, was upon his march homeward from the siege, news was brought him that his wife had brought him a daughter, which for the good omen’s sake he called by the name of Nicostrate.


Alcippus was a Lacedaemonian by birth, who marrying Damocrita became the father of two daughters. This Alcippus, being a person that always advised the city for Edition: current; Page: [321] the best, and one that was always ready to serve his countrymen upon all occasions, was envied by a contrary faction, that continually accused him to the Ephori as one that endeavored to subvert the ancient laws and constitutions of the city. At length the Ephori banished the husband, who being condemned forsook the city; but when Damocrita and his daughters would fain have followed him, they would not permit them to stir. Moreover, they confiscated his estate, to deprive his daughters of their portions. Nay, more than this, when there were some that courted the daughters for the sake of their father’s virtue, his enemies obtained a decree whereby it was forbid that any man should make love to the young ladies, cunningly alleging that the mother had often prayed to the Gods to favor her daughters with speedy wedlock, to the end they might the sooner bring forth children to be revenged of the injury done their father. Damocrita thus beset, and in a strait on every side, stayed till the general festival, when the women, together with their daughters, servants, and little children, feast in public together; on which day, the wives of the magistrates and persons in dignity feast all night in a spacious hall by themselves. But then it was that Damocrita, with a sword girt about her, and taking her daughters with her, went in the night-time to the temple; and watching her opportunity, when the women were all busy in the great hall performing the mysteries of the solemnity, after all the ways and passages were stopped up, she fetched the wood that was ready prepared for the sacrifices appertaining to the festival, and piled it against the doors of the room, and so set fire to it. All was then in a hurry, and the men came crowding in vain to help their wives; but then it was that Damocrita slew her daughters, and upon their dead bodies herself. Thus the Lacedaemonians, not knowing upon whom to wreak their anger, were forced to be contented with only throwing the dead bodies of the Edition: current; Page: [322] mother and the daughters without the confines of their territories. For which barbarous act of theirs, the Deity being highly offended plagued the Lacedaemonians, as their histories record, with that most dreadful earthquake so remarkable to posterity.

Edition: current; Page: [323]


1. Plato, being desired by the Cyreneans to prescribe to them good laws and to settle their government, refused to do it, saying that it was a hard matter to give them any law whilst they enjoyed so much prosperity, since nothing is so fierce, arrogant, and untamable, as a man that thinks himself to be in a happy condition. Wherefore it is very difficult to give counsel to princes in matters of government; for they fear to receive advice as a thing seeming to command them, lest the force of reason should seem to lessen their power, by obliging it to submit to truth. And they consider not the saying of Theopompus, king of Sparta, who, being the first in that country that joined the Ephori with the Kings, was reproached by his wife, because by this means he would leave the kingdom to his children less than he found it; to whom he replied, that he should render it so much the greater, the firmer it was. For, by holding the reins of government somewhat loose, he avoided envy and danger; nevertheless, since he permitted the stream of his power to flow so freely into other channels, what he gave to them must needs be a loss to himself. Though philosophy possessing a prince as his assistant and keeper, by taking away the dangerous part of fulness of power (as if it were fulness of body), leaves the sound part.

2. But many kings and princes foolishly imitate those unskilful statuaries who think to make their images look Edition: current; Page: [324] great and fierce if they make them much straddling, with distended arms, and open mouth. After the same manner they, by the grave tone of their voice, stern countenance, morose behavior, and living apart from all society, would affect a kind of majestic grandeur, not unlike those statues that without seem to be of an heroic and divine form, but within are filled with nothing but earth, stone and lead; — with this only difference, that the weight of these massy bodies renders them stable and unmovable; whereas unlearned princes, by their internal ignorance, are often shaken and overthrown, and in regard they do not build their power on a true basis and foundation, they fall together with it. For, as it is necessary at first that the rule itself should be right and straight, before those things that are applied to it can be rectified and made like unto it; so a potentate ought in the first place to learn how to govern his own passions and to endue his mind with a tincture of princely virtues, and afterwards to make his subjects conformable to his example. For it is not the property of one that is ready to fall himself to hinder another from tripping, nor of one that is rude and illiterate to instruct the ignorant; neither can a person govern that is under no government. But most men, being deceived by a false opinion, esteem it the chiefest good in ruling to be subject to no authority; and thus the Persian king accounted all his servants and slaves except his wife, whose master he ought more especially to have been.

3. Who then shall have power to govern a prince? The law, without doubt; which (as Pindar saith) is the king of mortal and immortal beings; which is not written without in books nor engraven on wood or stone, but is a clear reason imprinted in the heart, always residing and watching therein, and never suffering the mind to be without government. The king of Persia indeed commanded one of his lords that lay in the same chamber to attend Edition: current; Page: [325] him every morning, and to sound these words in his ears: Arise, O king! and take care of those affairs and duties that Oromasdes requires of thee. But a wise and prudent prince hath such a monitor within his breast as always prompts and admonishes him to the same effect. It was a saying of Polemon, that Love was the minister of the Gods, appointed to take care of the education of youth; but it might be more truly affirmed, that princes are the administrators of the divine power, for the safety and protection of mankind, to distribute part of those goods that God bestows on men, and to reserve part for themselves.

  • Dost thou behold the vast and azure sky,
  • How in its liquid arms the earth doth lie?*

The air indeed disperses the first principles of convenient seeds, but the earth causeth them to spring forth; some grow and thrive by the means of moderate and refreshing showers, some delight in gentle breezes of wind, and some are cherished by the influences of the moon and stars; but it is the sun that perfects and beautifies all, inspiring them with the principle of mutual sympathy and love. Nevertheless, all these so many and so great benefits, that are the effects of the divine munificence and liberality, cannot be enjoyed or duly made use of, without a law, justice, and a prince; for justice is the end of the law, the law is the prince’s work, and the prince is the image of God, that disposeth all things. He doth not stand in need of a Phidias, a Polycletus, or a Myro; but by the practice of virtue makes himself most like the divine nature, and becomes a most delectable object to God and man. For as God hath placed the sun and moon in heaven, as manifest tokens of his power and glory, so the majesty of a prince is resplendent on earth, as he is his representative and vicegerent,

Who doth like God most righteous laws dispense.

Edition: current; Page: [326]

I mean such a one as believes that the likeness of God is found in wisdom and understanding, not in the sceptre, the thunderbolt, or the trident, with which symbols of Deity some have vainly caused themselves to be carved or painted, thereby exposing their egregious folly to the world, in affecting that which they are not able to attain to. For God cannot but be incensed against those that presume to imitate him in producing thunder, lightnings, and sunbeams; but if any strive to emulate his goodness and mercy, being well pleased with their endeavors, he will assist them, and will endue them with his order, justice, truth, and gentleness, than which nothing can be more sacred and pure, — not fire, not light, nor the course of the sun, not the rising and setting of the stars, nor even eternity and immortality itself. For God is not only happy by reason of the duration of his being, but because of the excellency of his virtue; this is properly divine and transcendent, and that is also good which is governed by it.

4. Anaxarchus endeavoring to comfort Alexander, who was very much afflicted for the murder he had committed on the person of Clitus, told him, that justice and right sat as assistants by the throne of Jupiter, so that whatsoever was done by a king might be accounted lawful and just; but by this means he indiscreetly prevented his repentance, and encouraged him to attempt the committing the like crimes again. But if we may be permitted to guess at these matters, Jupiter hath not Justice for an assessor or counsellor, but is himself Justice and Right, and the original and perfection of all laws. Therefore the ancients devised and taught these things, that they might thereby show that even Jupiter himself could not rule well without Justice; for she is (according to Hesiod) a pure and undefiled virgin, and the companion of Modesty, Reverence, Chastity, and Simplicity; hence kings are called “reverent,” for they ought to be most reverent who fear least. Edition: current; Page: [327] But a prince ought to be more afraid of doing than of suffering ill; for the former is the cause of the other; and this is a noble and generous sort of fear, well becoming a prince, to be solicitous lest any harm should befall his subjects unawares:

  • As faithful dogs, surprised with sudden fear,
  • When once they see the savage beasts appear,
  • Not of themselves, but of their flocks take care.*

Epaminondas, when on a certain festival day the Thebans gave themselves up wholly to drinking and carousing, went about alone and viewed the arsenal and the walls of the city, saying, that he was sober and vigilant that others might have liberty to be drunk and to sleep. And Cato at Utica, when he had called together by proclamation all his soldiers that had escaped the slaughter to the seaside, caused them to embark in ships; and having prayed for their prosperous voyage, returned home and killed himself, leaving an example to princes, whom they ought to fear and what they ought to contemn. On the other hand, Clearchus, king of Pontus, creeping into a chest, slept therein like a snake. And Aristodemus lay with his concubine in a bed placed in an upper room over a trap-door, her mother removing the ladder as soon as they were got up, and bringing it again in the morning. How then, think you, did he fear to be seen in the theatre, in the judgment-hall, in the court, or at a feast, who had turned his bed-chamber into a prison? For indeed good princes are possessed with fear for their subjects, but tyrants with fear of them; insomuch that their timorousness increaseth with their power, since the more people they have under their dominion, so much the more objects they see of dread and terror.

5. Neither is it probable or convenient (as some philosophers affirm) that God should be mingled together with Edition: current; Page: [328] matter that is altogether passive, and with things obnoxious to innumerable necessities, chances, and mutations; but to us he seems to be placed somewhere above with the eternal nature that always operates after the same manner; and proceeding (as Plato saith) on sacred foundations, according to nature, he brings his works to perfection. And as he hath placed the sun in the firmament, as a clear image of his most sacred and glorious essence, in which, as in a mirror, he exhibits himself to the contemplation of, wise men; so in like manner, the splendor of justice that appears in some cities is a kind of representation of the divine wisdom, which happy and prudent persons describe by the help of philosophy, conforming themselves to those things which are of a most sublime and excellent nature. It is certain that this disposition of mind cannot be attained but by the doctrine of philosophy; otherwise we shall lie under the same circumstances as Alexander, who seeing Diogenes at Corinth, and being astonished at his ingenuity and majestic gravity, let fall this expression: If I were not Alexander, I would choose to be Diogenes. For being almost oppressed with the weight of his own grandeur and power, which are the impediments of virtue and ease, he seemed to envy the happiness of a threadbare cloak and pouch, with which the Cynic rendered himself as invincible as he could be with all his armor, horses, and pikes. However, he had an opportunity to philosophize and to become Diogenes in his mind, though he remained Alexander in his outward state and condition, and he might more easily be Diogenes, because he was Alexander; forasmuch as to keep the vessel of his prosperous fortune steady, which was tossed with the winds and waves, he stood in need of a good quantity of ballast and of a skilful pilot.

6. Amongst the mean and inferior sort of people, folly mingled with weakness is destitute of an ability to do mischief; Edition: current; Page: [329] and the mind is vexed and distracted by it, as a distempered brain is with troublesome dreams, insomuch that it hath not strength enough to execute what it desires. But power joined with a corrupt and depraved inclination adds the fuel of madness to the fire of the passions. So true is that saying of Dionysius, who declared, that he then chiefly enjoyed his authority, when he speedily performed what he designed. But herein lies the greatest danger, lest he that is able to do all things that he desires should desire those things that he ought not:

The word’s no sooner said, but th’ act is done.*

Vice, being furnished with wheels by power, sets all the faculties of the soul in a violent fermentation; of anger it makes murder, of love adultery, and of covetousness the confiscation of other men’s goods.

The word’s no sooner said, —

but the offender is executed; a suspicion arises, — the accused person is put to death. And as naturalists affirm, that the lightning breaks forth after the thunder as the blood follows the wound, but is seen first, since whilst the ear expects the sound the eye discerns the light; so under some governments the punishments precede the accusation, and the condemnation prevents the proving of the crime. Under such circumstances,

  • No human soul such license can withstand, —
  • As anchors strive in vain to hold in sand,

unless this exorbitant power be restrained and kept within its due bounds by the force of sound reason. Therefore a prince ought to imitate the sun, which being come to its greatest height in the northern signs, moves slowest, whereby he renders his course the more safe.

7. For it is not possible that the vices and faults of persons in authority can be concealed in obscurity. But as Edition: current; Page: [330] people that are troubled with the falling-sickness, if they walk about in a high place, are seized with a giddiness in the head and a dimness in the sight, which are the usual symptoms of that disease; so Fortune, when she hath a little exalted illiterate and foolish men with riches, glory, or authority, suddenly hastens their ruin. And as amongst empty vessels it cannot easily be discerned which are whole and which are leaky, but by the pouring in of any liquor; so corrupt and exulcerated minds, after the infusion of power, are not able to contain it, but immediately overflow with concupiscence, anger, arrogance, and folly. And what need is there of mentioning these particulars, since the least faults and miscarriages of renowned and famous men lie under the lash of slander and calumny? Cimon was accused for being too much addicted to the drinking of wine, Scipio was blamed for delighting in immoderate sleep, and Lucullus for making too liberal and costly entertainments. . . .

Edition: current; Page: [331]


1. The style, O Alexander, of Herodotus, as being simple, free, and easily suiting itself to its subject, has deceived many; but more, a persuasion of his dispositions being equally sincere. For it is not only (as Plato says) an extreme injustice, to make a show of being just when one is not so; but it is also the highest malignity, to pretend to simplicity and mildness and be in the mean time really most malicious. Now since he principally exerts his malice against the Boeotians and Corinthians, though without sparing any other, I think myself obliged to defend our ancestors and the truth against this part of his writings, since those who would detect all his other lies and fictions would have need of many books. But, as Sophocles has it, the face of persuasion is prevalent, especially when delivered in good language, and such as has power to conceal both the other absurdities and the illnature of the writer. King Philip told the Greeks who revolted from him to Titus Quinctius, that they had got a more polished, but a longer-lasting yoke. So the malice of Herodotus is indeed more polite and delicate than that of Theopompus, yet it pinches closer, and makes a more severe impression, — not unlike to those winds which, blowing secretly through narrow chinks, are sharper than those that are more diffused. Now it seems to me very convenient to delineate, as it were, in a rough draught, Edition: current; Page: [332] those signs and marks that distinguish a malicious narration from a candid and unbiassed one, applying afterwards every point we shall examine to such as appertain to them.

2. First then, whoever in relating a story shall use the most odious terms when gentler expressions might do as well, is not to be esteemed impartial, but an enjoyer of his own fancy, in putting the worst construction on things; as if any one, instead of saying Nicias is too much given to superstition, should call him fanatic, or should accuse Cleon of presumption and madness rather than of inconsiderateness in speech.

3. Secondly, when a writer, catching hold of a fault which has no reference to his story, shall draw it into the relation of such affairs as need it not, extending his narrative with circumlocutions, only that he may insert a man’s misfortune, offence, or discommendable action, it is manifest that he delights in speaking evil. Therefore Thucydides would not clearly relate the faults of Cleon, which were very numerous; and as for Hyperbolus the orator, having touched at him in a word and called him an ill man, he let him go. Philistus also passed over all those outrages committed by Dionysius on the barbarians which had no connection with the Grecian affairs. For the excursions and digressions of history are principally allowed for fables and antiquities, and sometimes also for encomiums. But he who makes reproaches and detractions an addition to his discourse seems to incur the tragedian’s curse on the “collector of men’s calamities.”

4. Now the opposite to this is known to every one, as the omitting to relate some good and laudable action, which, though it may seem not to be reprehensible, yet is then done maliciously when the omission happens in a place that is pertinent to the history. For to praise unwillingly is so far from being more civil than to dispraise willingly, that it is perhaps rather more uncivil.

Edition: current; Page: [333]

5. The fourth sign of a partial disposition in writing of history I take to be this: When a matter is related in two or more several manners, and the historian shall embrace the worst. Sophisters indeed are permitted, for the obtaining either of profit or reputation, to undertake the defence of the worst cause; for they neither create any firm belief of the matter, nor yet do they deny that they are often pleased in maintaining paradoxes and making incredible things appear probable. But an historian is then just, when he asserts such things as he knows to be true, and of those that are uncertain reports rather the better than the worse. Nay, there are many writers who wholly omit the worse. Thus Ephorus writes of Themistocles, that he was acquainted with the treason of Pausanias and his negotiations with the King’s lieutenants, but that he neither consented to it, nor hearkened to Pausanias’s proffers of making him partaker of his hopes; and Thucydides left the whole matter out of his story, as judging it to be false.

6. Moreover, in things confessed to have been done, but for doing which the cause and intention is unknown, he who casts his conjectures on the worst side is partial and malicious. Thus do the comedians, who affirm the Peloponnesian war to have been kindled by Pericles for the love of Aspasia or the sake of Phidias, and not through any desire of honor, or ambition of pulling down the Peloponnesian pride and giving place in nothing to the Lacedaemonians. For those who suppose a bad cause for laudable works and commendable actions, endeavoring by calumnies to insinuate sinister suspicions of the actor when they cannot openly discommend the act, — as they that impute the killing of Alexander the tyrant by Theba not to any magnanimity or hatred of vice, but to a certain feminine jealousy and passion, and those that say Cato slew himself for fear Caesar should put him to a more Edition: current; Page: [334] shameful death, — such as these are manifestly in the highest degree envious and malicious.

7. An historical narration is also more or less guilty of malice, according as it relates the manner of the action; as if one should be said to have performed an exploit rather by money than valor, as some affirm of Philip; or else easily and without any labor, as it is said of Alexander; or else not by prudence, but by Fortune, as the enemies of Timotheus painted cities falling into his nets as he lay sleeping. For they undoubtedly diminish the greatness and beauty of the actions, who deny the performers of them to have done them generously, industriously, virtuously, and by themselves.

8. Moreover, those who will directly speak ill of any one incur the reproach of moroseness, rashness, and madness, unless they keep within measure. But they who send forth calumnies obliquely, as if they were shooting arrows out of corners, and then stepping back think to conceal themselves by saying they do not believe what they most earnestly desire to have believed, whilst they disclaim all malice, condemn themselves also of farther disingenuity.

9. Next to these are they who with their reproaches intermix some praises, as did Aristoxenus, who, having termed Socrates unlearned, ignorant, and libidinous, added, Yet was he free from injustice. For, as they who flatter artificially and craftily sometimes mingle light reprehensions with their many and great praises, joining this liberty of speech as a sauce to their flattery; so malice, that it may gain belief to its accusations, adds also praise.

10. We might here also reckon up more notes; but these are sufficient to let us understand the nature and manners of Herodotus.

11. First therefore, — beginning, as the proverb is, with Vesta, — whereas all the Grecians affirm Io, daughter to Edition: current; Page: [335] Inachus, to have been worshipped with divine honor by the barbarians, and by her glory to have left her name to many seas and principal passages, and to have given a source and original to most noble and royal families; this famous author says of her, that she gave herself to certain Phoenician merchants, having been not unwillingly deflowered by a mariner, and fearing lest she should be found by her friends to be with child.* And he belies the Phoenicians as having delivered these things of her, and says that the Persian stories testify of her being carried away by the Phoenicians with other women. Presently after, he gives sentence on the bravest and greatest exploits of Greece, saying that the Trojan war was foolishly undertaken for an ill woman. For it is manifest, says he, that had they not been willing they had never been ravished. Let us then say, that the Gods also acted foolishly, in inflicting their indignation on the Spartans for abusing the daughters of Scedasus the Leuctrian, and in punishing Ajax for the violation of Cassandra. For it is manifest, if we believe Herodotus, that if they had not been willing they had never been defiled. And yet he himself said that Aristomenes was taken alive by the Spartans; and the same afterwards happened to Philopoemen, commander of the Achaeans; and the Carthaginians took Regulus, the consul of the Romans; than whom there are not easily to be found more valiant and warlike men. Nor is it to be wondered, since even leopards and tigers are taken alive by men. But Herodotus blames the poor women that have been abused by violence, and patronizes their ravishers.

12. Nay, he is so favorable to the barbarians, that, acquitting Busiris of those human sacrifices and that slaughter of his guests for which he is accused, and attributing by his testimony to the Egyptians much religion and Edition: current; Page: [336] justice, he endeavors to cast that abominable wickedness and those impious murders on the Grecians. For in his Second Book he says, that Menelaus, having received Helen from Proteus and having been honored by him with many presents, showed himself a most unjust and wicked man; for wanting a fair wind to set sail, he found out an impious device, and having taken two of the inhabitants’ boys, consulted their entrails; for which villany being hated and persecuted, he fled with his ships directly into Libya.* From what Egyptian this story proceeds, I know not. For, on the contrary, many honors are even at this day given by the Egyptians both to Helen and Menelaus.

13. The same Herodotus, that he may still be like himself, says that the Persians learned the defiling of the male sex from the Greeks. And yet how could the Greeks have taught this impurity to the Persians, amongst whom, as is confessed by almost all, boys had been castrated before ever they arrived in the Grecian seas? He writes also, that the Greeks were instructed by the Egyptians in their pomps, solemn festivals, and worship of the twelve Gods; that Melampus also learned of the Egyptians the name of Dionysus (or Bacchus) and taught it the other Greeks; that the mysteries likewise and rites of Ceres were brought out of Egypt by the daughters of Danaus; and that the Egyptians were wont to beat themselves and make great lamentation, but yet he himself would not tell the names of their Deities, but concealed them in silence. As to Hercules and Bacchus, whom the Egyptians named Gods, and the Greeks very aged men, he nowhere feels such scruples and hesitation; although he places also the Egyptian Hercules amongst the Gods of the second rank, and Bacchus amongst those of the third, as having had some beginning of their being and not being eternal, and yet he pronounces those to be Gods; but to the Greek Edition: current; Page: [337] Bacchus and Hercules, as having been mortal and being now demi gods, he thinks we ought to perform anniversary solemnities, but not to sacrifice to them as to Gods. The same also he said of Pan, overthrowing the most venerable and purest sacrifices of the Greeks by the proud vanities and mythologies of the Egyptians.*

14. Nor is this impious enough; but moreover, deriving the pedigree of Hercules from Perseus, he says that Perseus was an Assyrian, as the Persians affirm. “But the leaders” says he, “of the Dorians may appear to be descended in a right line from the Egyptians, reckoning their ancestors from before Danae and Acrisius.” Here he has wholly passed by Epaphus, Io, Iasus, and Argus, being ambitious not only to make the other Herculeses Egyptians and Phoenicians, but to carry this also, whom himself affirms to have been the third, out of Greece to the barbarians. But of the ancient learned writers, neither Homer, nor Hesiod, or Archilochus, nor Pisander, nor Stesichorus, nor Alcman, nor Pindar, makes any mention of the Egyptian or the Phoenician Hercules, but all acknowledge this our own Boeotian and Argive Hercules.

15. Now of the seven sages, whom he calls Sophisters, he affirms Thales to have been a barbarian, descended of the Phoenicians. Speaking ill also of the Gods under the person of Solon, he has these words: “Thou, O Croesus, askest me concerning human affairs, who know that every one of the Deities is envious and tumultuous.”§ Thus attributing to Solon what himself thinks of the Gods, he joins malice to blasphemy. Having made use also of Pittacus in some trivial matters, not worth the mentioning, he has passed over the greatest and gallantest action that was ever done by him. For when the Athenians and Edition: current; Page: [338] Mitylenaeans were at war about Sigaeum, Phrynon, the Athenian general, challenging whoever would come forth to a single combat, Pittacus advanced to meet him, and catching him in a net, slew that stout and giant-like man; for which when the Mitylenaeans offered him great presents, darting his javelin as far as he could out of his hand, he desired only so much ground as he should reach with that throw; and the place is to this day called Pittacium. Now what does Herodotus, when he comes to this? Instead of Pittacus’s valiant act, he tells us the fight of Alcaeus the poet, who throwing away his arms ran out of the battle; by thus not writing of honorable deeds and not passing over such as are dishonorable, he gives his testimony to those who say, that from one and the same malice proceed both envy and a rejoicing at other men’s harms.*

16. After this, he accuses of treason the Alcmaeonidae, who showed themselves generous men, and delivered their country from tyranny. He says, that they received Pisistratus after his banishment and got him called home, on condition he should marry the daughter of Megacles; but the damsel saying to her mother, Do you see, mother, how I am not known by Pisistratus according to nature? the Alcmaeonidae were so offended at this villany, that they expelled the tyrant.

17. Now that the Lacedaemonians might have no less share of his malice than the Athenians, behold how he bespatters Othryadas, the man most admired and honored by them. “He only,” says Herodotus, “remaining alive of the three hundred, and ashamed to return to Sparta, his companions being lost, slew himself on the spot at Thyreae.” For having before said the victory was doubtful on both sides, he here, by making Othryadas ashamed, witnesses that the Lacedaemonians were vanquished. For Edition: current; Page: [339] it was shameful for him to survive, if conquered; but glorious, if conqueror.

18. I pass by now, that having represented Croesus as foolish, vain-glorious, and ridiculous in all things, he makes him, when a prisoner, to have taught and instructed Cyrus, who seems to have excelled all other kings in prudence, virtue, and magnanimity.* Having testified of the same Croesus nothing else that was commendable, but his honoring the Gods with many and great oblations, he shows that very act of his to have been the most impious of all. For he says, that he and his brother Pantoleon contended for the kingdom while their father was yet alive; and that Croesus, having obtained the crown, caused a companion and familiar friend of Pantoleon’s to be torn in pieces in a fulling-mill, and sent presents to the Gods from his estate. Of Deïoces also, the Median, who by virtue and justice obtained the government, he says that he got it not by real but pretended justice.

19. But I let pass the barbarian examples, since he has offered us plenty enough in the Grecian affairs. He says, that the Athenians and most other Ionians were so ashamed of that name that they wholly refused to be called Ionians; and that those who esteemed themselves the noblest among them, and who had set forth from the very Prytaneum of Athens, begat children on barbarian wives whose parents, husbands, and former children they had slain; that the women had therefore made a law among themselves, confirmed it by oath, and delivered it to be kept by their daughters, never to eat with their husbands, nor to call any of them by his name; and that the present Milesians are descended from these women. Having afterwards added that those are true Ionians who celebrate the feast called Apaturia; they all, says he, keep it except the Edition: current; Page: [340] Ephesians and Colophonians.* In this manner does he deprive these two states of their nobility.

20. He says moreover, that the Cumaeans and Mitylenaeans agreed with Cyrus to deliver up to him for a price Pactyas, who had revolted from him. I know not indeed, says he, for how much; since it is not certain what it was. Well done! — not to know what it was, and yet to cast such an infamy on a Grecian city, as if he had an assured knowledge! He says farther, that the Chians took Pactyas, who was brought to them out of the temple of Minerva Poliuchus (or Guardianess of the city), and delivered him up, having received the city Atarneus for their recompense. And yet Charon the Lampsacenian, a more ancient writer, relating this matter concerning Pactyas, charges neither the Mitylenaeans nor the Chians with any such impious action. These are his very words: “Pactyas, hearing that the Persian army drew near, fled first to Mitylene, then to Chios, and there fell into the hands of Cyrus.”

21. Our author in his Third Book, relating the expedition of the Lacedaemonians against the tyrant Polycrates, affirms, that the Samians think and say that the Spartans, to recompense them for their former assistance against the Messenians, both brought back the Samians that were banished, and made war on the tyrant; but that the Lacedaemonians deny this, and say, they undertook this design not to help or deliver the Samians, but to punish them for having taken away a cup sent by them to Croesus, and besides, a breastplate sent them by Amasis. And yet we know that there was not at that time any city so desirous of honor, or such an enemy to tyrants, as Sparta. For what breastplate or cup was the cause of their driving the Cypselidae out of Corinth and Ambracia, Lygdamis out of Edition: current; Page: [341] Naxos, the children of Pisistratus out of Athens, Aeschines out of Sicyon, Symmachus out of Thasus, Aulis out of Phocis, and Aristogenes out of Miletus; and of their overturning the domineering powers of Thessaly, pulling down Aristomedes and Angelus by the help of King Leotychides? — which facts are elsewhere more largely described. Now, if Herodotus says true, they were in the highest degree guilty both of malice and folly, when, denying a most honorable and most just cause of their expedition, they confessed that in remembrance of a former injury, and too highly valuing an inconsiderable matter, they invaded a miserable and afflicted people.

22. Now perhaps he gave the Lacedaemonians this stroke, as directly falling under his pen; but the city of Corinth, which was wholly out of the course of his story, he has dragged in — going out of his way (as they say) to seize upon it — and has bespattered it with a most filthy crime and most shameful calumny. “The Corinthians,” says he, “studiously forwarded this expedition of the Lacedaemonians to Samos, as having themselves also been formerly affronted by the Samians. The matter was this. Periander tyrant of Corinth sent three hundred boys, sons to the principal men of Corcyra, to King Alyattes, to be gelt. These, going ashore in the island of Samos, were by the Samians taught to sit as suppliants in the temple of Diana, where they preserved them, setting before them for their food sesame mixed with honey. This our author calls an affront put by the Samians on the Corinthians, who therefore instigated the Lacedaemonians against them, to wit, because the Samians had saved three hundred children of the Greeks from being unmanned. By attributing this villany to the Corinthians, he makes the city more wicked than the tyrant. He indeed was revenging himself on those of Corcyra who had slain his son; but what had the Corinthians suffered, that they should punish the Samians Edition: current; Page: [342] for putting an obstacle to so great a cruelty and wickedness? — and this, after three generations, reviving the memory of an old quarrel for the sake of that tyranny, which they found so grievous and intolerable that they are still endlessly abolishing all the monuments and marks of it, though long since extinct. Such then was the injury done by the Samians to the Corinthians. Now what a kind of punishment was it the Corinthians would have inflicted on them? Had they been indeed angry with the Samians, they should not have incited the Lacedaemonians, but rather diverted them from their war against Polycrates, that the Samians might not by the tyrant’s overthrow recover liberty, and be freed from their slavery. But (what is most to be observed) why were the Corinthians so offended with the Samians, that desired indeed but were not able to save the Corcyraeans’ children, and yet were not displeased with the Cnidians, who both preserved them and restored them to their friends? Nor indeed have the Corcyraeans any great esteem for the Samians on this account; but of the Cnidians they preserve a grateful memory, having granted them several honors and privileges, and made decrees in their favor. For these, sailing to Samos, drove away Periander’s guards from the temple, and taking the children aboard their ships, carried them safe to Corcyra; as it is recorded by Antenor the Cretan, and by Dionysius the Chalcidian in his foundations. Now that the Spartans undertook not this war on any design of punishing the Samians, but to save them by delivering them from the tyrant, we have the testimony of the Samians themselves. For they affirm that there is in Samos a monument erected at the public charge, and honors there done to Archias a Spartan, who fell fighting valiantly in that quarrel; for which cause also his posterity still keep a familiar and friendly correspondence with the Samians, as Herodotus himself witnesses.

Edition: current; Page: [343]

23. In his Fifth Book, he says, that Clisthenes, one of the best and noblest men in Athens, persuaded the priestess Pythia to be a false prophetess, and always to exhort the Lacedaemonians to free Athens from the tyrants; calumniating this most excellent and just action by the imputation of so great a wickedness and imposture, and taking from Apollo the credit of that true and good prophecy, beseeming even Themis herself, who is also said to have joined with him. He says farther, that Isagoras prostituted his wife to Cleomenes, who came to her.* Then, as his manner is, to gain credit by mixing some praises with his reproaches, he says: Isagoras the son of Tisander was of a noble family, but I cannot tell the original of it; his kinsmen, however, sacrifice to the Carian Jupiter. O this pleasant and cunning scoffer of a writer, who thus disgracefully sends Isagoras to the Carians, as it were to the ravens. As for Aristogiton, he puts him not forth at the back door, but thrusts him directly out of the gate into Phoenicia, saying that he had his original from the Gephyraeans, and that the Gephyraeans were not, as some think, Euboeans or Eretrians, but Phoenicians, as himself has learned by report. And since he cannot altogether take from the Lacedaemonians the glory of having delivered the Athenians from the tyrants, he endeavors to cloud and disgrace that most honorable act by as foul a passion. For he says, they presently repented of it, as not having done well, in that they had been induced by spurious and deceitful oracles to drive the tyrants, who were their allies and had promised to put Athens into their hands, out of their country, and had restored the city to an ungrateful people. He adds, that they were about to send for Hippias from Sigeum, and bring him back to Athens; but that they were opposed by the Corinthians, Sosicles telling them how much the city of Corinth had suffered under the tyranny Edition: current; Page: [344] of Cypselus and Periander.* And yet there was no outrage of Periander’s more abominable and cruel than his sending the three hundred children to be emasculated, for the delivering and saving of whom from that contumely, the Corinthians, he says, were angry and bore a grudge against the Samians, as having put an affront upon them. With so much repugnance and contradiction is that malice of his discourse filled, which on every occasion insinuates itself into his narrations.

24. After this, relating the action of Sardis, he, as much as in him lies, diminishes and discredits the matter; being so audacious as to call the ships which the Athenians sent to the assistance of the Ionians, who had revolted from the King, the beginning of evils, because they endeavored to deliver so many and so great Grecian cities from the barbarians. As to the Eretrians, making mention of them only by the way, he passes over in silence a great, gallant, and memorable action of theirs. For when all Ionia was in a confusion and uproar, and the King’s fleet drew nigh, they, going forth to meet him, overcame in a sea-fight the Cyprians in the Pamphylian Sea. Then turning back and leaving their ships at Ephesus, they invaded Sardis and besieged Artaphernes, who was fled into the castle, that so they might raise the siege of Miletus. And this indeed they effected, causing the enemies to break up their camp and remove thence in a wonderful fright, and then seeing themselves in danger to be oppressed by a multitude, retired. This not only others, but Lysanias of Mallus also in his history of Eretria relates, thinking it convenient, if for no other reason, yet after the taking and destruction of the city, to add this valiant and heroic act. But this writer of ours says, they were defeated, and pursued even to their ships by the barbarians; though Charon the Lampsacenian has no such thing, but writes thus, word for word: “The Edition: current; Page: [345] Athenians set forth with twenty galleys to the assistance of the Ionians, and going to Sardis, took all thereabouts, except the King’s wall; which having done, they returned to Miletus.”

25. In his Sixth Book, our author, discoursing of the Plataeans, — how they gave themselves to the Lacedaemonians, who exhorted them rather to have recourse to the Athenians, who were nearer to them and no bad defenders, — adds, not as a matter of suspicion or opinion, but as a thing certainly known by him, that the Lacedaemonians gave the Plataeans this advice, not so much for any good will, as through a desire to find work for the Athenians by engaging them with the Boeotians.* If then Herodotus is not malicious, the Lacedaemonians must have been both fraudulent and spiteful; and the Athenians fools, in suffering themselves to be thus imposed on; and the Plataeans were brought into play, not for any good-will or respect, but as an occasion of war.

26. He is farther manifestly convinced of belying the Lacedaemonians, when he says that, whilst they expected the full moon, they failed of giving their assistance to the Athenians at Marathon. For they not only made a thousand other excursions and fights at the beginning of the month, without staying for the full moon; but wanted so little of being present at this very battle, which was fought the sixth day of the month Boedromion, that at their coming they found the dead still lying in the field. And yet he has written thus of the full moon: “It was impossible for them to do these things at that present, being unwilling to break the law; for it was the ninth day of the month, and they said, they could not go forth on the ninth day, the orb of the moon being not yet full. And therefore they stayed for the full moon.” But thou, O Herodotus, transferest the full moon from the middle to the beginning of Edition: current; Page: [346] the month, and at the same time confoundest the heavens, days, and all things; and yet thou dost pretend to be the historian of Greece!

And professing to write more particularly and carefully of the affairs of Athens, thou dost not so much as say a word of that solemn procession which the Athenians even at this day send to Agrae, celebrating a feast of thanksgiving to Hecate for their victory. But this helps Herodotus to refel the crime with which he is charged, of having flattered the Athenians for a great sum of money he received of them. For if he had rehearsed these things to them, they would not have omitted or neglected to notice that Philippides, when on the ninth he called the Lacedaemonians to the fight, must have come from it himself, since (as Herodotus says) he went in two days from Athens to Sparta; unless the Athenians sent for their allies to the fight after their enemies were overcome. Indeed Diyllus the Athenian, none of the most contemptible as an historian, says, that he received from Athens a present of ten talents, Anytus proposing the decree. Moreover Herodotus, as many say, has in relating the fight at Marathon derogated from the credit of it, by the number he sets down of the slain. For it is said that the Athenians made a vow to sacrifice so many kids to Diana Agrotera, as they should kill barbarians; but that after the fight, the number of the dead appearing infinite, they appeased the Goddess by making a decree to immolate five hundred to her every year.

27. But letting this pass, let us see what was done after the fight. “The barbarians,” says he, “retiring back with the rest of their ships, and taking the Eretrian slaves out of the island, where they had left them, doubled the point of Sunium, desiring to prevent the Athenians before they could gain the city. The Athenians suspected this to have been done by a plot of the Alcmaeonidae, who by agreement Edition: current; Page: [347] showed a shield to the Persians when they were got into their ships. They therefore doubled the cape of Sunium.”* Let us in this place take no notice of his calling the Eretrians slaves, who showed as much courage and gallantry in this war as any other of the Grecians, and suffered things unworthy their virtue. Nor let us insist much on the calumny with which he defames the Alcmaeonidae, some of whom were both the greatest families and noblest men of the city. But the greatness of the victory itself is overthrown, and the end of that so celebrated action comes to nothing, nor does it seem to have been a fight or any great exploit, but only a light skirmish with the barbarians, as the envious and ill-willers affirm, if they did not after the battle fly away, cutting their cables and giving themselves to the wind, to carry them as far as might be from the Attic coast, but having a shield lifted up to them as a signal of treason, made straight with their fleet for Athens, in hope to surprise it, and having at leisure doubled the point of Sunium, were discovered above the port Phalerum, so that the chief and most illustrious men, despairing to save the city, would have betrayed it. For a little after, acquitting the Alcmaeonidae, he charges others with the treason. “For the shield indeed was shown, nor can it be denied,” says he, as if he had seen it himself. But this could no way be, since the Athenians obtained a solid victory; and if it had been done, it could not have been seen by the barbarians, flying in a hurry amidst wounds and arrows into their ships, and leaving every one the place with all possible speed. But when he again pretends to excuse the Alcmaeonidae of those crimes which he first of all men objected against them, and speaks thus: “I cannot believe that the Alcmaeonidae by agreement would ever have lifted up a shield to the Persians, and have brought the Athenians under the Edition: current; Page: [348] power of the barbarians and Hippias;” I am reminded of a certain proverbial saying, — Stop and be caught, crab, and I’ll let you go. For why art thou so eager to catch him, if thou wilt let him go when he is caught? Thus you first accuse, then apologize; and you write calumnies against illustrious men, which again you refute. And you discredit yourself; for you heard no one but yourself say that the Alcmaeonidae lifted up a shield to the vanquished and flying barbarians. And in those very things which you allege for the Alcmaeonidae, you show yourself a sycophant. For if, as here you write, the Alcmaeonidae were more or no less enemies to tyrants than Callias, the son of Phaenippus and father of Hipponicus, where will you place their conspiracy, of which you write in your First Book, that assisting Pisistratus they brought him back from exile to the tyranny and would not have driven him away till he was accused of unnaturally abusing his wife? Such then are the repugnances of these things; and by his intermixing the praises of Callias, the son of Phaenippus, amidst the crimes and suspicions of the Alcmaeonidae, and joining to him his son Hipponicus, who was (as Herodotus himself says) one of the richest men in Athens, he confesses that he brought in Callias not for any necessity of the story, but to ingratiate himself and gain favor with Hipponicus.

28. Now, whereas all know that the Argives denied not to enter into the common league of the Grecians, though they thought not fit to follow and be under the command of the Lacedaemonians, who were their mortal enemies, and that this was no otherways, our author subjoins a most malicious cause for it, writing thus: “When they saw they were comprised by the Greeks, knowing that the Lacedaemonians would not admit them into a share of the command, they requested it, that they might have a pretence to lie still.” “And of this,” he says, “the Argive Edition: current; Page: [349] ambassadors afterwards put Artaxerxes in mind, when they attended him at Susa, and the King said, he esteemed no city more his friend than Argos.” Then adding, as his manner is, to cover the matter, he says: “Of these things I know nothing certainly; but this I know, that all men have faults, and that the worst things were not done by the Argives; but I must tell such things as are reported, though I am not bound to believe them all; and let this be understood of all my narrations. For it is farther said that the Argives, when they were not able to sustain the war against the Lacedaemonians, called the Persians into Greece, willing to suffer any thing rather than the present trouble.”* Therefore, as himself reports the Ethiopian to have said of the ointment and purple, “Deceitful are the beauties, deceitful the garments of the Persians,” may not any one say also of him, Deceitful are the phrases, deceitful the figures of Herodotus’s speeches; as being perplexed, unsound, and full of ambiguities? For as painters set off and render more eminent the luminous part of their pictures by adding shadows, so he by his denials extends his calumnies, and by his dubious speeches makes his suspicions take deeper impression. If the Argives joined not with the other Greeks, but stood out through an emulation of the Lacedaemonians’ command and valor, it cannot be denied but that they acted in a manner not beseeming their nobility and descent from Hercules. For it had been more honorable for the Argives under the rule of Siphnians and Cythnians to have defended the Grecian liberty, than contending with the Spartans for superiority to have avoided so many and such signal combats. And if it was they who brought the Persians into Greece, because their war against the Lacedaemonians succeeded ill, how came it to pass, that they did not at the coming of Xerxes openly join themselves to the Persians? Or if they would not Edition: current; Page: [350] fight under the King, why did they not, being left at home, make incursions into Laconia, or again attempt Thyreae, or by some other way disturb and infest the Lacedaemonians? For they might have greatly damaged the Grecians, by hindering the Spartans from going with so great an army to Plataea.

29. But in this place indeed he has highly magnified the Athenians and pronounced them the saviors of Greece, doing herein rightly and justly, if he had not intermixed many reproaches with their praises. But now, when he says* that (had it not been for the Athenians) the Lacedaemonians would have been betrayed by the other Greeks, and then, being left alone and having performed great exploits, they would have died generously; or else, having before seen that the Greeks were favoring the Medes, they would have made terms with Xerxes; it is manifest, he speaks not these things to the commendation of the Athenians, but he praises the Athenians that he may speak ill of all the rest. For how can any one now be angry with him for so bitterly and intemperately upbraiding the Thebans and Phocians at every turn, when he charges even those who exposed themselves to all perils for Greece with a treason which was never acted, but which (as he suspects) might have been acted. Nay, of the Lacedaemonians themselves, he makes it doubtful whether they would have fallen in the battle or have yielded to the enemy, distrusting the proofs of their valor which were shown at Thermopylae; — and these indeed were slight!

30. After this, when he declares the shipwreck that befell the King’s fleet, and how, an infinite mass of wealth being cast away, Aminocles the Magnesian, son of Cresines, was greatly enriched by it, having gotten an immense quantity of gold and silver; he could not so much as let this pass without snarling at it. “For this man,” says he, Edition: current; Page: [351] “who had till then been none of the most fortunate, by wrecks became exceeding rich; for the misfortune he had in killing his son much afflicted his mind.”* This indeed is manifest to every one, that he brought this golden treasure and this wealth cast up by the sea into his history, that he might make way for the inserting Aminocles’s killing his son.

31. Now Aristophanes the Boeotian wrote, that Herodotus demanded money of the Thebans but received none, and that going about to discourse and reason with the young men, he was prohibited by the magistrates through their clownishness and hatred of learning; of which there is no other argument. But Herodotus bears witness to Aristophanes, whilst he charges the Thebans with some things falsely, with others ignorantly, and with others as hating them and having a quarrel with them. For he affirms that the Thessalians at first upon necessity inclined to the Persians, in which he says the truth; and prophesying of the other Grecians that they would betray the Lacedaemonians, he added, that they would not do it willingly, but upon necessity, one city being taken after another. But he does not allow the Thebans the same plea of necessity, although they sent to Tempe five hundred men under the command of Mnamias, and to Thermopylae as many as Leonidas desired, who also alone with the Thespians stood by him, the rest leaving him after he was surrounded. But when the barbarian, having possessed himself of the avenues, was got into their confines, and Demaratus the Spartan, favoring in right of hospitality Attaginus, the chief of the oligarchy, had so wrought that he became the King’s friend and familiar, whilst the other Greeks were in their ships, and none came on by Edition: current; Page: [352] land; then at last being forsaken did they accept conditions of peace, to which they were compelled by great necessity. For they had neither the sea and ships at hand, as had the Athenians; nor did they dwell far off, as the Spartans, who inhabited the most remote parts of Greece; but were not above a day and half’s journey from the Persian army, whom they had already with the Spartans and Thespians alone resisted at the entrance of the straits, and were defeated.

But this writer is so equitable, that having said, “The Lacedaemonians, being alone and deserted by their allies, would perhaps have made a composition with Xerxes,” he yet abuses the Thebans, who were driven to the same act by the same necessity. But when he could not wholly obliterate this most great and glorious act of the Thebans, yet went he about to deface it with a most vile imputation and suspicion, writing thus: “The confederates who had been sent returned back, obeying the commands of Leonidas; there remained only with the Lacedaemonians the Thespians and the Thebans: of these, the Thebans stayed against their wills, for Leonidas retained them as hostages; but the Thespians most willingly, as they said they would never depart from Leonidas and those that were with him.”* Does he not here manifestly discover himself to have a peculiar pique and hatred against the Thebans, by the impulse of which he not only falsely and unjustly calumniated the city, but did not so much as take care to render his contradiction probable, or to conceal, at least from a few men, his being conscious of having knowingly contradicted himself? For having before said that Leonidas, perceiving his confederates not to be in good heart nor prepared to undergo danger, wished them to depart, he a little after adds that the Thebans were against their wills detained by him; whereas, if he had believed them inclined to the Persians, he should have driven them away though Edition: current; Page: [353] they had been willing to tarry. For if he thought that those who were not brisk would be useless, to what purpose was it to mix among his soldiers those that were suspected? Nor was the king of the Spartans and general of all Greece so senseless as to think that four hundred armed Thebans could be detained as hostages by his three hundred, especially the enemy being both in his front and rear. For though at first he might have taken them along with him as hostages; it is certainly probable that at last, having no regard for him, they would have gone away from him, and that Leonidas would have more feared his being encompassed by them than by the enemy. Furthermore, would not Leonidas have been ridiculous, to have sent away the other Greeks, as if by staying they should soon after have died, and to have detained the Thebans, that being himself about to die, he might keep them for the Greeks? For if he had indeed carried them along with him for hostages, or rather for slaves, he should not have kept them with those that were at the point of perishing, but have delivered them to the Greeks that went away. There remained but one cause that might be alleged for Leonidas’s unwillingness to let them go, to wit, that they might die with him; and this our historian himself has taken away, writing thus of Leonidas’s ambition: “Leonidas considering these things, and desirous that this glory might redound to the Spartans alone, sent away his confederates rather for this than because they differed in their opinions.”* For it had certainly been the height of folly to keep his enemies against their wills, to be partakers of that glory from which he drove away his confederates. But it is manifest from the effects, that Leonidas suspected not the Thebans of insincerity, but esteemed them to be his steadfast friends. For he marched with his army into Thebes, and at his request obtained that which was never Edition: current; Page: [354] granted to any other, to sleep within the temple of Hercules; and the next morning he related to the Thebans the vision that had appeared to him. For he imagined that he saw the most illustrious and greatest cities of Greece irregularly tost and floating up and down on a very stormy and tempestuous sea; that Thebes, being carried above all the rest, was lifted up on high to heaven, and suddenly after disappeared. And this indeed had a resemblance of those things which long after befell that city.

32. Now Herodotus, in his narration of that fight, hath obscured also the bravest act of Leonidas, saying that they all fell in the straits near the hill.* But the affair was otherwise managed. For when they perceived by night that they were encompassed by the barbarians, they marched straight to the enemies’ camp, and got very near the King’s pavilion, with a resolution to kill him and leave their lives about him. They came then to his tent, killing or putting to flight all they met; but when Xerxes was not found there, seeking him in that vast camp and wandering about, they were at last with much difficulty slain by the barbarians, who surrounded them on every side. What other acts and sayings of the Spartans Herodotus has omitted, we will write in the Life of Leonidas; yet that hinders not but we may here set down also some few. Before Leonidas went forth to that war, the Spartans exhibited to him funeral games, at which the fathers and mothers of those that went along with him were spectators. Leonidas himself, when one said to him, You lead very few with you to the battle, answered, There are many to die there. When his wife, at his departure, asked him what commands he had for her; he, turning to her, said, I command you to marry good men, and bring them good children. After he was enclosed by the enemy at Thermopylae, desiring to save two that were related to him, he Edition: current; Page: [355] gave one of them a letter and sent him away; but he rejected it, saying angrily, I followed you as a soldier, not as a post. The other he commanded on a message to the magistrates of Sparta; but he, answering by his act, took his shield, and stood up in his rank. Who would not have blamed another that should have omitted these things? But he who has collected and recorded the fart of Amasis, the coming of the thief’s asses, and the giving of bottles, and many such like things, cannot seem to have omitted these gallant acts and these remarkable sayings by negligence and oversight, but as bearing ill-will and being unjust to some.

33. He says that the Thebans, being at the first with the Greeks, fought compelled by necessity.* For belike not only Xerxes, but Leonidas also, had whipsters following his camp, by whom the Thebans were scourged and forced against their wills to fight. And what more savage libeller could be found than Herodotus, when he says that they fought upon necessity, who might have gone away and fled, and that they inclined to the Persians, whereas not one came in to help them. After this, he writes that, the rest making to the hill, the Thebans separated themselves from them, lifted up their hands to the barbarian, and coming near, cried with a most true voice, that they had favored the Persians, had given earth and water to the King, that now being forced by necessity they were come to Thermopylae, and that they were innocent of the King’s wound. Having said these things, they obtained quarter; for they had the Thessalians for witnesses of all they said. Behold, how amidst the barbarians’ exclamations, tumults of all sorts, flights and pursuits, their apology was heard, the witnesses examined; and the Thessalians, in the midst of those that were slain and trodden under foot, all being done in a very narrow passage, patronized Edition: current; Page: [356] the Thebans, to wit, because the Thebans had but a little before driven away them, who were possessed of all Greece as far as Thespiae, having conquered them in a battle, and slain their leader Lattamyas! For thus at that time stood matters between the Boeotians and the Thessalians, without any friendship or good-will. But yet how did the Thebans escape, the Thessalians helping them with their testimonies? Some of them, says he, were slain by the barbarians; many of them were by command of Xerxes marked with the royal mark, beginning with their leader Leontiades. Now the captain of the Thebans at Thermopylae was not Leontiades, but Anaxander, as both Aristophanes, out of the Commentaries of the Magistrates, and Nicander the Colophonian have taught us. Nor did any man before Herodotus know that the Thebans were stigmatized by Xerxes; for otherwise this would have been an excellent plea for them against his calumny, and this city might well have gloried in these marks, that Xerxes had punished Leonidas and Leontiades as his greatest enemies, having outraged the body of the one when he was dead, and caused the other to be tormented whilst living. But as to a man who makes the barbarian’s cruelty against Leonidas when dead a sign that he hated him most of all men when living,* and yet says that the Thebans, though favoring the Persians, were stigmatized by them at Thermopylae, and having been thus stigmatized, again cheerfully took their parts at Plataea, it seems to me that such a man — like that Hippoclides who stood on his head upon a table and gesticulated with his legs — would dance away the truth and exclaim, Herodotus cares not for that.

34. In the Eighth Book our author says, that the Greeks being frighted designed to fly from Artemisium into Greece, and that, being requested by the Euboeans to Edition: current; Page: [357] stay a little till they could dispose of their wives and families, they regarded them not, till such time as Themistocles, having taken money of them, divided it between Eurybiades and Adimantus, the captain of the Corinthians, and that then they stayed and had a sea-fight with the barbarians.* Yet Pindar, who was not a citizen of any of the confederate cities, but of one that was suspected to take part with the Medians, having made mention of Artemisium, brake forth into this exclamation: “This is the place where the sons of the Athenians laid the glorious foundation of liberty.” But Herodotus, by whom, as some will have it, Greece is honored, makes that victory a work of bribery and theft, saying that the Greeks, deceived by their captains, who had to that end taken money, fought against their wills. Nor does he here put an end to his malice. All men in a manner confess that, although the Greeks got the better at sea, they nevertheless abandoned Artemisium to the barbarians after they had received the news of the overthrow at Thermopylae. For it was to no purpose for them to stay there and keep the sea, the war being already within Thermopylae, and Xerxes having possessed himself of the avenues. But Herodotus makes the Greeks contriving to fly before they heard any thing of Leonidas’s death. For thus he says: “But they having been ill-treated, and especially the Athenians, half of whose ships were sorely shattered, consulted to take their flight into Greece.” But let him be permitted so to name (or rather reproach) this retreat of theirs before the fight; but having before called it a flight, he both now styles it a flight, and will again a little after term it a flight; so bitterly does he adhere to this word “flight.” “Presently after this,” says he, “there came to the barbarians in the pinnace a man of Hestiaea, who acquainted them with the flight of the Grecians from Artemisium. They, because Edition: current; Page: [358] the thing seemed incredible, kept the messenger in custody, and sent forth some light galleys to discover the truth.”* But what is this you say? That they fled as conquered, whom the enemies after the fight could not believe to have fled, as having got much the better? Is then this a fellow fit to be believed when he writes of any man or city, who in one word deprives Greece of the victory, throws down the trophy, and pronounces the inscriptions they had set up to Diana Proseoa (Eastward-looking) to be nothing but pride and vain boasting? The tenor of the inscription was as follows:

  • When Athens youth had in a naval fight
  • All Asia’s forces on this sea o’erthrown,
  • And all the Persian army put to flight,
  • Than which a greater scarce was ever known,
  • To show how much Diana they respected,
  • This trophy to her honor they erected.

Moreover, not having described any order of the Greeks, nor told us what place every city of theirs held during the sea-fight, he says that in this retreat, which he calls their flight, the Corinthians sailed first and the Athenians last.

35. He indeed ought not to have too much insulted over the Greeks that took part with the Persians, who, being by others thought a Thurian, reckons himself among the Halicarnassians, who, being Dorians by descent, went with their wives and children to the war against the Greeks. But he is so far from giving first an account of the straits they were in who revolted to the Persians, that, having related how the Thessalians sent to the Phocians, who were their mortal enemies, and promised to preserve their country free from all damage if they might receive from them a reward of fifty talents, he writ thus of the Phocians: “For the Phocians were the only people in these quarters who inclined not to the Persians, and that, as far as I upon due consideration can find, for no other reason but because Edition: current; Page: [359] they hated the Thessalians; for if the Thessalians had been affected to the Grecian affairs, I suppose the Phocians would have joined themselves to the Persians.” And yet a little after he will say, that thirteen cities of the Phocians were burned by the barbarians, their country laid waste, and the temple which was in Abae set on fire, and all of both sexes put to the sword, except those that by flight escaped to Parnassus.* Nevertheless, he puts those who suffered all extremities rather than lose their honesty in the same rank with those who most affectionately sided with the Persians. And when he could not blame the Phocians’ actions, he sat at his desk devising false causes and framing suspicions against them, and bidding us judge them not by what they did, but by what they would have done if the Thessalians had not taken the same side, as if they had been shut out from treason because they found the place already occupied by others! Now if any one, going about to excuse the revolt of the Thessalians to the Persians, should say that they would not have done it but for the hatred they bare the Phocians, — whom when they saw joined to the Greeks, they against their inclinations followed the party of the Persians, — would not such a one be thought most shamefully to flatter, and for the sake of others to prevert the truth, by feigning good causes for evil actions? Indeed, I think, he would. Why then would not he be thought openly to calumniate, who says that the Phocians chose the best, not for the love of virtue, but because they saw the Thessalians on the contrary side? For neither does he refer this device to other authors, as he is elsewhere wont to do, but says that himself found it out by conjecture. He should therefore have produced certain arguments, by which he was persuaded that they, who did things like the best, followed the same counsels with the worst. For what he alleges of their enmities is Edition: current; Page: [360] ridiculous. For neither did the difference between the Aeginetans and the Athenians, nor that between the Chalcidians and the Eretrians, nor yet that between the Corinthians and the Megarians, hinder them from fighting together for Greece. Nor did the Macedonians, their most bitter enemies, divert the Thessalians from their friendship with the barbarians, by joining the Persian party themselves. For the common danger did so bury their private grudges, that banishing their other passions, they applied their minds either to honesty for the sake of virtue, or to profit through the impulse of necessity. And indeed, after that necessity which compelled them to obey the Persians was over, they returned again to the Greeks, as Lacrates the Spartan has openly testified of them. And Herodotus, as constrained to it, in his relation of the affairs at Plataea, confessed that the Phocians took part with the Greeks.*

36. Neither ought it to seem strange to any, if he thus bitterly inveighs against the unfortunate; since he reckons amongst enemies and traitors those who were present at the engagement, and together with the other Greeks hazarded their safety. For the Naxians, says he, sent three ships to the assistance of the barbarians; but Democritus, one of their captains, persuaded the others to take the party of the Greeks. So unable he is to praise without dispraising, that if he commends one man he must condemn a whole city or people. But in this there give testimony against him, of the more ancient writers Hellanicus, and of the later Ephorus, one of which says that the Naxians came with six ships to aid the Greeks, and the other with five. And Herodotus convinces himself of having feigned these things. For the writers of the Naxian annals say, that they had before beaten back Megabates, who came to their island with two hundred ships, and after that had put to flight the general Datis, Edition: current; Page: [361] who had set their city on fire. Now if, as Herodotus has elsewhere said, the barbarians burned their city so that the men were glad to save themselves by flying into the mountains, most surely had they just cause rather to send aid to the destroyers of their country than to help the protectors of the common liberty. But that he framed this lie not so much to honor Democritus, as to cast infamy on the Naxians, is manifest from his omitting and wholly passing over in silence the valiant acts then performed by Democritus, of which Simonides gives us an account in this epigram:

  • When as the Greeks at sea the Medes did meet,
  • And had near Salamis a naval fight,
  • Democritus as third led up the fleet,
  • Charging the enemy with all his might;
  • He took five of their ships, and did another,
  • Which they had taken from the Greeks, recover.

37. But why should any one be angry with him about the Naxians? If we have, as some say, antipodes inhabiting the other hemisphere, I believe that they also have heard of Themistocles and his counsel, which he gave to the Greeks, to fight a naval battle before Salamis, after which, the barbarian being overcome, he built in Melite a temple to Diana the Counsellor. This gentle writer, endeavoring, as much as in him lies, to deprive Themistocles of the glory of this, and transfer it to another, writes thus word for word: “Whilst things were thus, Mnesiphilus, an Athenian, asked Themistocles, as he was going aboard his ship, what had been resolved on in council. And being answered, that it was decreed the ships should be brought back to Isthmus, and a battle fought at sea before Peloponnesus; he said, If then they remove the navy from Salamis, you will no longer be fighting for one country; for they will return every one to his own city. Wherefore, if there be any way left, go and endeavor to break this resolution; and, if it be possible, persuade Eurybiades to change his Edition: current; Page: [362] mind and stay here.” Then adding that this advice pleased Themistocles, who, without making any reply, went straight to Eurybiades, he has these very expressions: “And sitting by him he related what he had heard from Mnesiphilus, feigning as if it came from himself, and adding other things.”* You see how he accuses Themistocles of disingenuity in arrogating to himself the counsel of Mnesiphilus.

38. And deriding the Greeks still further, he says, that Themistocles, who was called another Ulysses for his wisdom, was so blind that he could not foresee what was fit to be done; but that Artemisia, who was of the same city with Herodotus, without being taught by any one, but by her own consideration, said thus to Xerxes: “The Greeks will not long be able to hold out against you, but you will scatter them, and they will flee to their own cities; nor is it probable, if you march your army by land to Peloponnesus, that they will sit still, or take care to fight at sea for the Athenians. But if you make haste to give them a naval battle, I fear lest your fleets receiving damage may prove also very prejudicial to your land-forces.” Certainly Herodotus wanted nothing but verses to make Artemisia another Sibyl, so exactly prophesying of things to come. Therefore Xerxes also delivered his sons to her to be carried to Ephesus; for he had (it seems) forgot to bring women with him from Susa, if indeed the boys wanted a train of female attendants.

39. But it is not our design to search into the lies of Herodotus; we only make enquiry into those which he invented to detract from the glory of others. He says: “It is reported by the Athenians that Adimantus, captain of the Corinthians, when the enemies were now ready to join battle, was struck with such fear and astonishment that he fled; not thrusting his ship backward by the stern, or leisurely Edition: current; Page: [363] retreating through those that were engaged, but openly hoisting up his sails, and turning the heads of all his vessels. And about the farther part of the Salaminian coast, he was met by a pinnace, out of which one spake thus to him: Thou indeed, Adimantus, fliest, having betrayed the Grecians; yet they overcome, and according to their desires have the better of their enemies.”* This pinnace was certainly let down from heaven. For what should hinder him from erecting a tragical machine, who by his boasting excelled the tragedians in all other things? Adimantus then crediting him (he adds) “returned to the fleet, when the business was already done.” “This report,” says he, “is believed by the Athenians; but the Corinthians deny it, and say, they were the first at the sea-fight, for which they have the testimony of all the other Greeks.” Such is this man in many other places. He spreads different calumnies and accusations of different men, that he may not fail of making some one appear altogether wicked. And it has succeeded well with him in this place; for if the calumny is believed, the Corinthians — if it is not, the Athenians — are rendered infamous. But in truth the Athenians did not belie the Corinthians, but he hath belied them both. Certainly Thucydides, bringing in an Athenian ambassador contesting with a Corinthian at Sparta, and gloriously boasting of many things about the Persian war and the sea-fight at Salamis, charges not the Corinthians with any crime of treachery or leaving their station. Nor was it likely the Athenians should object any such thing against Corinth, when they saw her engraven in the third place after the Lacedaemonians and themselves on those spoils which, being taken from the barbarians, were consecrated to the Gods. And in Salamis they had permitted them to bury the dead near the city, as being men who had behaved themselves gallantly, and to write over them this elegy:

Edition: current; Page: [364]
  • Well-watered Corinth, stranger, was our home;
  • Salamis, Ajax’s isle, is now our grave;
  • Here Medes and Persians and Phoenician ships
  • We fought and routed, sacred Greece to save.

And their honorary sepulchre at the Isthmus has on it this epitaph:

  • When Greece upon the point of danger stood,
  • We fell, defending her with our life-blood.*

Moreover, on the offerings of Diodorus, one of the Corinthian sea-captains, reserved in the temple of Latona, there is this inscription:

  • Diodorus’s seamen to Latona sent
  • These arms, of hostile Medes the monument.

And as for Adimantus himself, against whom Herodotus frequently inveighs, — saying, that he was the only captain who went about to fly from Artemisium, and would not stay the fight, — behold in how great honor he is:

  • Here Adimantus rests: the same was he,
  • Whose counsels won for Greece the crown of liberty.

For neither is it probable, that such honor would have been shown to a coward and a traitor after his decease; nor would he have dared to give his daughters the names of Nausinica, Acrothinius, and Alexibia, and his son that of Aristeas, if he had not performed some illustrious and memorable action in that fight. Nor is it credible that Herodotus was ignorant of that which could not be unknown even to the meanest Carian, that the Corinthian women alone made that glorious and divine prayer, by which they besought the Goddess Venus to inspire their husbands with a love of fighting against the barbarians. For it was a thing divulged abroad, concerning which Simonides made an epigram to be inscribed on the brazen image set up in that temple of Venus which is said to have been founded by Medea, when she desired the Goddess, as Edition: current; Page: [365] some affirm, to deliver her from loving her husband Jason, or, as others say, to free him from loving Thetis. The tenor of the epigram follows:

  • For those who, fighting on their country’s side,
  • Opposed th’ imperial Mede’s advancing tide,
  • We, votaresses, to Cythera pray’d;
  • Th’ indulgent power vouchsafed her timely aid,
  • And kept the citadel of Hellas free
  • From rude assaults of Persia’s archery.

These things he should rather have written and recorded, than have inserted Aminocles’s killing of his son.

40. After he had abundantly satisfied himself with the accusations brought against Themistocles, — of whom he says that, unknown to the other captains, he incessantly robbed and spoiled the islands, — * he at length openly takes away the crown of victory from the Athenians, and sets it on the head of the Aeginetans, writing thus: “The Greeks having sent the first-fruits of their spoils to Delphi, asked in general of the God, whether he had a sufficient part of the booty and were contented with it. He answered, that he had enough of all the other Greeks, but not of the Aeginetans; for he expected a donary of them, as having won the greatest honor in the battle at Salamis.” See here how he attributes not his fictions to the Scythians, to the Persians, or to the Egyptians, as Aesop did his to the ravens and apes; but using the very person of the Pythian Apollo, he takes from Athens the chief honor of the battle at Salamis. And the second place in honor being given to Themistocles at the Isthmus by all the other captains, — every one of which attributed to himself the first degree of valor, but gave the next to Themistocles, — and the judgment not coming to a determination, when he should have reprehended the ambition of the captains, he said, that all the Greeks weighed anchor from thence Edition: current; Page: [366] through envy, not being willing to give the chief honor of the victory of Themistocles.*

41. In his ninth and last book, having nothing left to vent his malice on but the Lacedaemonians and their glorious action against the barbarians at Plataea, he writes, that the Spartans at first feared lest the Athenians should suffer themselves to be persuaded by Mardonius to forsake the other Greeks; but that now, the Isthmus being fortified, they, supposing all to be safe at Peloponnesus, neglected and slighted the rest, feasting and making merry at home, and deluding and delaying the Athenian ambassadors. How then did there go forth from Sparta to Plataea a thousand and five men, having every one of them with him seven Helots? Or how came it that, exposing themselves to so many dangers, they vanquished and overthrew so many thousand barbarians? Hear now his probable cause of it. “It happened,” says he, “that there was then at Sparta a certain stranger of Tegea, named Chileus, who had some friends amongst the Ephori, between whom and him there was mutual hospitality. He then persuaded them to send forth the army, telling them that the fortification on the Isthmus, by which they had fenced in Peloponnesus, would be of no avail if the Athenians joined themselves with Mardonius.” This counsel then drew Pausanias with his army to Plataea; but if any private business had kept that Chileus at Tegea, Greece had never been victorious.

42. Again, not knowing what to do with the Athenians, he tosses to and fro that city, sometimes extolling it, and sometimes debasing it. He says that, contending for the second place with the Tegeatans they made mention of the Heraclidae, alleged their acts against the Amazons, and the sepulchres of the Peloponnesians that died under the Edition: current; Page: [367] walls of Cadmea, and at last ambitiously brought down their discourse to the battle of Marathon, saying, however, that they would be contented with the command of the left wing.* A little after, he says, Pausanias and the Spartans yielded them the first place, desiring them to fight in the right wing against the Persians and give them the left, who excused themselves as not skilled in fighting against the barbarians. Now it is a ridiculous thing, to be unwilling to fight against an enemy unless one has been used to him. But he says farther, that the other Greeks being led by their captains to encamp in another place, as soon as they were moved, the horse fled with joy towards Plataea, and in their flight came as far as Juno’s temple. In which place indeed he charges them all in general with disobedience, cowardice, and treason. At last he says, that only the Lacedaemonians and the Tegeates fought with the barbarians, and the Athenians with the Thebans; equally defrauding all the other cities of their part in the honor of the victory, whilst he affirms that none of them joined in the fight, but that all of them, sitting still hard by in their arms, betrayed and forsook those who fought for them; that the Phliasians and Megarians indeed, when they heard Pausanias had got the better, came in late, and falling on the Theban horse, were all cut off; that the Corinthians were not at the battle, and that after the victory, by pressing on over the hills, they escaped the Theban cavalry.§ For the Thebans, after the barbarians were overthrown, going before with their horse, affectionately assisted them in their flight; to return them thanks (forsooth) for the marks they had stigmatized them with at Thermopylae! Now what rank the Corinthians had in the fight at Plataea against the barbarians, and how they performed their duty, you may hear from Simonides in these verses:

Edition: current; Page: [368]
  • I’ th’ midst were men, in warlike feats excelling,
  • Who Ephyre, full of springs, inhabited,
  • And who in Corinth, Glaucus’ city, dwelling,
  • Great praise by their great valor merited;
  • Of which they to perpetuate the fame,
  • To th’ Gods of well-wrought gold did offerings frame.

For he wrote not these things, as one that taught at Corinth or that made verses in honor of the city, but only as recording these actions in elegiac verses. But Herodotus, whilst he desires to prevent that objection by which those might convince him of lying who should ask, Whence then are so many mounts, tombs, and monuments of the dead, at which the Plataeans, even to this day, celebrate funeral solemnities in the presence of the Greeks? — has charged, unless I am mistaken, a fouler crime than that of treason on their posterity. For these are his words: “As for the other sepulchres that are seen in Plataea, I have heard that their successors, being ashamed of their progenitors’ absence from this battle, erected every man a monument for posterity’s sake.”* Of this treacherous deserting the battle Herodotus was the only man that ever heard. For if any Greeks withdrew themselves from the battle, they must have deceived Pausanias, Aristides, the Lacedaemonians, and the Athenians. Neither yet did the Athenians exclude the Aeginetans who were their adversaries from the inscription, nor convince the Corinthians of having fled from Salamis before the victory, Greece bearing witness to the contrary. Indeed Cleadas, a Plataean, ten years after the Persian war, to gratify, as Herodotus says, the Aeginetans, erected a mount bearing their name. How came it then to pass that the Athenians and Lacedaemonians, who were so jealous of each other that they were presently after the war ready to go together by the ears about the setting up a trophy, did not yet repel those Greeks who fled in a fear from the battle Edition: current; Page: [369] from having a share in the honor of those that behaved themselves valiantly, but inscribed their names on the trophies and colossuses, and granted them part of the spoils? Lastly they set up an altar, on which was engraven this epigram:

  • The Greeks, by valor having put to flight
  • The Persians and preserved their country’s right,
  • Erected here this altar which you see,
  • To Jove, preserver of their liberty.

Did Cleadas, O Herodotus, or some other, write this also, to oblige the cities by flattery? What need had they then to employ fruitless labor in digging up the earth, to make tombs and erect monuments for posterity’s sake, when they saw their glory consecrated in the most illustrious and greatest donaries? Pausanias indeed, when he was aspiring to the tyranny, set up this inscription in Delphi:

  • Pausanias, of Greeks the general,
  • When he the Medes in fight had overthrown,
  • Offered to Phoebus a memorial
  • Of victory, this monumental stone.

In which he gave the glory to the Greeks, whose general he professed himself to be. Yet the Greeks not enduring but utterly misliking it, the Lacedaemonians, sending to Delphi, caused this to be cut out, and the names of the cities, as it was fit, to be engraven instead of it. Now how is it possible that the Greeks should have been offended that there was no mention made of them in the inscription, if they had been conscious to themselves of deserting the fight? or that the Lacedaemonians would have erased the name of their leader and general, to insert deserters and such as withdrew themselves from the common danger? For it would have been a great indignity, that Sophanes, Aeimnestus, and all the rest who showed their valor in that fight, should calmly suffer even the Cythnians and Melians to be inscribed on the trophies; and that Herodotus, attributing that fight only to three cities, should raze all Edition: current; Page: [370] the rest out of those and other sacred monuments and donaries.

43. There having been then four fights with the barbarians; he says, that the Greeks fled from Artemisium; that, whilst their king and general exposed himself to danger at Thermopylae, the Lacedaemonians sat negligent at home, celebrating the Olympian and Carnean feasts; and discoursing of the action at Salamis, he uses more words about Artemisia than he does in his whole narrative of the naval battle. Lastly, he says, that the Greeks sat still at Plataea, knowing no more of the fight, till it was over, than if it had been a skirmish between mice and frogs (like that which Pigres, Artemisia’s fellow-countryman, merrily and scoffingly described in his poem), and it had been agreed to fight silently, lest they should be heard by others; and that the Lacedaemonians excelled not the barbarians in valor, but only got the better, as fighting against naked and unarmed men. To wit, when Xerxes himself was present, the barbarians were with much difficulty compelled by scourges to fight with the Greeks; but at Plataea, having taken other resolutions, as Herodotus says, “they were no way inferior in courage and strength; but their garments being without armor was prejudicial to them, since being naked they fought against a completely armed enemy.” What then is there left great and memorable to the Grecians of those fights, if the Lacedaemonians fought with unarmed men, and the other Greeks, though present, were ignorant of the battle; if empty monuments are set up everywhere, and tripods and altars full of lying inscriptions are placed before the Gods; if, lastly, Herodotus only knows the truth, and all others that give any account of the Greeks have been deceived by the fame of those glorious actions, as the effect of an admirable prowess? But he is an acute writer, his style is pleasant, there is a certain grace, force, and elegancy in his narrations; Edition: current; Page: [371] and he has, like a musician, pronounced his discourse, though not knowingly, still clearly and elegantly. These things delight, please, and affect all men. But as in roses we must beware of the venomous flies called cantharides; so must we take heed of the calumnies and envy lying hid under smooth and well-couched phrases and expressions, lest we imprudently entertain absurd and false opinions of the most excellent and greatest cities and men of Greece.

Edition: current; Page: [372]



1. Lamprias.

You, O Diadumenus, seem not much to care, if any one thinks that you philosophize against the common notions; since you confess that you contemn also the senses, from whence the most part of these notions in a manner proceed, having for their seat and foundation the belief of such things as appear to us. But I beseech you, with what speed you can, either by reasons, incantations, or some other manner of discourse, to cure me, who come to you full, as I seem to myself, of great and strange perturbations; so much have I been shaken, and into such a perplexity of mind have I been brought, by certain Stoics, in other things indeed very good men and my familiar friends, but most bitterly and hostilely bent against the Academy. These, for some few words modestly spoken by me, have (for I will tell you no lie) rudely and unkindly reprehended me; angrily reputing and branding the ancient philosophers as sophisters and corrupters of students of philosophy, and subverters of regular doctrines; and saying things yet more absurd than these, they fell at last upon the conceptions, into which (they maintained) the Academics had brought a certain confusion and disturbance. At length one of them said, that he thought it was not by fortune, but by the providence of the Gods, that Chrysippus came into the world after Arcesilaus and before Carneades; of which the one was the author of the contumelies Edition: current; Page: [373] and injuries done to custom, and the other flourished most of all the Academics. Chrysippus then, coming between them, by his writings against Arcesilaus, stopped also the way against the eloquence of Carneades, leaving indeed many things to the senses, as provisions against a siege, but wholly taking away the trouble about anticipations and conceptions, directing every one of them and putting it in its proper place; so that they who will again embroil and disquiet matters should accomplish nothing, but be convinced of being malicious and deceitful sophisters. I, having been this morning set on fire by these discourses, want some cooling remedies to extinguish and take away this doubting, as an inflammation, out of my mind.

2. Diadumenus. You perhaps have suffered the same things with some of the vulgar. But if you believe the poets, who say that the ancient city Sipylus was overthrown by the providence of the Gods when they punished Tantalus, believe also the companions of the Stoa saying that Nature, not by chance but by divine providence, brought forth Chrysippus, when she had a mind to turn things upside down and alter the course of life; for which purpose never any man was fitter than he. But as Cato said of Caesar, that never any but he came to the management of public affairs sober and considerately resolved on the ruin of the state; so does this man seem to me with the greatest diligence and eloquence to overturn and demolish custom, as they who magnify the man testify, when they dispute against him concerning the sophism called Pseudomenos (or the Liar). For to say, my best friend, that a conclusion drawn from contrary positions is not manifestly false, and again to say that some arguments having true premises and true inductions may yet moreover have the contrary to their conclusions true, what conception of demonstration or what presumption of faith does it not overthrow? They Edition: current; Page: [374] say, that the polypus in the winter gnaws his own claws; but the logic of Chrysippus, taking away and cutting off its own chiefest parts and principles, — what other notion has it left unsuspected of falsehood? For the superstructures cannot be steady and sure, if the foundations remain not firm but are shaken with so many doubts and troubles. But as those who have dust or dirt upon their bodies, if they touch or rub the filth that is upon them, seem rather to increase than remove it; so some men blame the Academics, and think them guilty of the faults with which they show themselves to be burdened. For who do more pervert the common conceptions than the Stoics? But if you please, let us leave accusing them, and defend ourselves from the things with which they charge us.

3. Lamprias. Methinks, Diadumenus, I am this day become a various and unconstant man. For erewhile I came dejected and trembling, as one that wanted an apology; and now I am changed to an accuser, and desire to enjoy the pleasure of revenge, in seeing them all convicted of philosophizing against the common conceptions and presumptions, from which they think chiefly their doctrine is derived, whence they say that it alone agrees with Nature.


Shall we then first attack those common and celebrated doctrines of theirs which themselves, gently admitting their absurdity, style paradoxes; as that only wise men are kings, that they only are rich and fair, they only citizens and judges? Or shall we send all this to the brokers, as old decayed frippery, and make our enquiry into such things as are most practical and with the greatest earnestness delivered by them?


I indeed like this best. For who is there that is not already full of the arguments brought against those paradoxes?

4. Diadumenus. First then consider this, whether, according to the common conceptions, they can be said to Edition: current; Page: [375] agree with Nature, who think all natural things indifferent, and esteem neither health, vigorousness of body, beauty, nor strength as desirable, commodious, profitable, or any way contributary to the completing of natural perfection; nor believe that their contraries, as maims, pains, disgraces, and diseases, are hurtful or to be shunned? To the latter of these they themselves say that Nature gives us an abhorrence, and an inclination to the former. Which very thing is not a little repugnant to common understanding, that Nature should incline us to such things as are neither good nor available, and avert us from such as are neither ill nor hurtful, and which is more, that she should render this inclination and this aversion so violent, that they who either possess not the one or fall into the other detest their life with good reason, and withdraw themselves out of it.

5. I think also that this is said by them against common sense, that Nature herself is indifferent, and yet that it is good to agree with Nature. For it is not our duty either to follow the law or be persuaded by argument, unless the law and argument be good and honest. And this indeed is the least of their errors. But if, as Chrysippus has written in his First Book concerning Exhortation, a happy life consists only in living according to virtue, other things (as he says) being nothing to us, nor co-operating any ways towards it, Nature is not only indifferent, but foolish also and stupid, in inclining us to such things as belong nothing to us; and we also are fools in thinking felicity to be an agreeing with Nature, which draws us after such things as contribute nothing to happiness. For what can be more agreeable to common sense, than that, as desirable things are requisite to live commodiously, so natural things are necessary that we may live according to Nature? Now these men say not so; but having settled the living according to Nature for their end, do nevertheless hold those things which are according to Nature to be indifferent.

Edition: current; Page: [376]

6. Nor is this less repugnant to common sense, that an intelligent and prudent man should not be equally affected to equal good things, but should put no value on some, and be ready to undergo and suffer any thing for others, though the things themselves are neither greater nor less one than another. For they say, It is the same thing to abstain from the enjoyment of an old woman that has one foot in the grave, and . . . since in both cases we do what duty requires. And yet for this, as a great and glorious thing, they should be ready to die; when as to boast of the other would be shameful and ridiculous. And even Chrysippus himself in his commentary concerning Jupiter, and in the Third Book of the Gods, says, that it were a poor, absurd, and impertinent thing to glory in such acts, as proceeding from virtue, as bearing valiantly the stinging of a wasp, or abstaining chastely from an old woman that lies a dying. Do not they then philosophize against the common conception, who profess nothing to be more commendable than those things which yet themselves are ashamed to praise? For how can that be desirable or to be approved, which is worthy neither of praise nor admiration, but the praisers and admirers of which they esteem absurd and ridiculous?

7. And yet this will (I suppose) appear to you more against common sense, that a wise man should take no care whether he enjoys or not enjoys the greatest good things, but should carry himself after the same manner in these things, as in those that are indifferent and in their management and administration. For all of us, “whoever we are that eat the fruit of the spacious earth,” judge that desirable, good, and profitable, which being present we use, and absent we want and desire. But that which no man thinks worth his concern, either for his profit or delight, is indifferent. For we by no other means distinguish a laborious man from a trifler, who is for the most part also Edition: current; Page: [377] employed in action, but that the one busies himself in useless matters and indifferently, and the other in things commodious and profitable. But these men act quite contrary; for with them, a wise and prudent man, being conversant in many comprehensions and memories of comprehension, esteems few of them to belong to him; and not caring for the rest, he thinks he has neither more or less by remembering that he lately had the comprehension of Dion sneezing or Theon playing at ball. And yet every comprehension in a wise man, and every memory having assurance and firmness, is a great, yea, a very great good. When therefore his health fails, when some organ of his senses is disordered, or when his wealth is lost, is a wise man so careless as to think that none of these things concern him? Or does he, “when sick, give fees to the physicians: for the gaining of riches sail to Leucon, governor in the Bosphorus, or travel to Idanthyrsus, king of the Scythians,” as Chrysippus says? And being deprived of some of his senses, does he not grow weary even of life? How then do they not acknowledge that they philosophize against the common notions, employing so much care and diligence on things indifferent, and recking not whether they have or have not great good things?

8. But this is also yet against the common conceptions, that he who is a man should not rejoice when coming from the greatest evils to the greatest goods. Now their wise men suffer this. Being changed from extreme viciousness to the highest virtue, and at the same time escaping a most miserable life and attaining to a most happy one, he shows no sign of joy, nor does this so great change lift him up or yet move him, being delivered from all infelicity and vice, and coming to a certain sure and firm perfection of virtue. This also is repugnant to common sense, to maintain that the being immutable in one’s judgments and resolutions is the greatest of goods, and yet that he Edition: current; Page: [378] who has attained to the height wants not this, nor cares for it when he has it, nay, many times will not so much as stretch forth a finger for this security and constancy, which nevertheless themselves esteem the sovereign and perfect good. Nor do the Stoics say only these things, but they add also this to them, — that the continuance of time increases not any good thing; but if a man shall be wise but a minute of an hour, he will not be any way inferior in happiness to him who has all his time practised virtue and led his life happily in it. Yet, whilst they thus boldly affirm these things, they on the contrary also say, that a short-lived virtue is nothing worth; “For what advantage would the attainment of wisdom be to him who is immediately to be swallowed up by the waves or tumbled down headlong from a precipice? What would it have benefited Lichas, if being thrown by Hercules, as from a sling into the sea, he had been on a sudden changed from vice to virtue?” These therefore are the positions of men who not only philosophize against the common conceptions but also confound their own, if the having been but a little while endued with virtue is no way short of the highest felicity, and at the same time nothing worth.

9. Nor is this the strangest thing you will find in their doctrine; but their being of opinion that virtue and happiness, when present, are frequently not perceived by him who enjoys them, nor does he discern that, having but a little before been most miserable and foolish, he is of a sudden become wise and happy. For it is not only childish to say that he who is possessed of wisdom is ignorant of this thing alone, that he is wise, and knows not that he is delivered from folly; but, to speak in general, they make goodness to have very little weight or strength, if it does not give so much as a feeling of it when it is present. For according even to them, it is not by nature imperceptible; nay, even Chrysippus in his books of the End Edition: current; Page: [379] expressly says that good is sensible, and demonstrates it also, as he thinks. It remains then, that by its weakness and littleness it flies the sense, when being present it is unknown and concealed from the possessors. It were moreover absurd to imagine that the sight, perceiving those things which are but a little whitish or inclining to white, should not discern such as are white in perfection; or that the touch, feeling those things which are but warm or moderately hot, should be insensible of those that are hot in the highest degree. And yet more absurd it is, that a man who perceives what is commonly according to Nature — as are health and good constitution of body — should yet be ignorant of virtue when it is present, which themselves hold to be most of all and in the highest degree according to Nature. For how can it but be against sense, to conceive the difference between health and sickness, and yet so little to comprehend that between wisdom and folly as to think the one to be present when it is gone, and possessing the other to be ignorant that one has it? Now because there is from the highest progress a change made to felicity and virtue, one of these two things must of necessity follow; either that this progress is not vice and infelicity, or that virtue is not far distant from vice, nor happiness from misery, but that the difference between good and evil is very small and not to be perceived by sense; for otherwise they who have the one for the other could not be ignorant of it.

10. Since then they will not depart from any of these contrarieties, but confess and hold them all, — that those who are proceeding towards virtue are fools and vicious, that those who are become good and wise perceive not this change in themselves, and that there is a great difference between folly and wisdom, — they must surely seem to you wonderfully to preserve an agreement in their doctrines, and yet more so in their actions, when affirming all men Edition: current; Page: [380] who are not wise to be equally wicked, unjust, faithless, and fools, they on the other side abhor and detest some of them, — nay, sometimes to such a degree that they refuse even to speak to them when they meet them, — while others of them they trust with their money, choose to offices, and take for husbands to their daughters. Now if they say these things in jest, let them smooth their brows; but if in earnest and as philosophers, it is against the common notions to reprove and blame all men alike in words, and yet to deal with some of them as moderate persons and with others as very wicked; and exceedingly to admire Chrysippus, to deride Alexinus, and yet to think neither of them more or less mad than the other. “ ’Tis so,” say they; “but as he who is not above a cubit under the superficies of the sea is no less drowned than he who is five hundred fathom deep, so they that are coming towards virtue are no less in vice than those that are farther off. And as blind men are still blind, though they shall perhaps a little after recover their sight; so these that have proceeded towards virtue, till such time as they have attained to it, continue foolish and wicked.” But that they who are in the way towards virtue resemble not the blind, but such as see less clearly, nor are like to those who are drowned, but — those which swim, and that near the harbor, — they themselves testify by their actions. For they would not use counsellors and generals and lawgivers as blind guides, nor would they imitate the works and actions and words and lives of some, if they saw them all equally drowned in folly and wickedness. But leaving this, wonder at the men in this behalf, that they are not taught by their own examples to give up the doctrine that these men are wise being ignorant of it themselves, and neither knowing nor being sensible that they are recovered from being drowned and see the light, and that being gotten above vice, they fetch breath again.

Edition: current; Page: [381]

11. This also is against common sense, that it should be convenient for a man who has all good things, and wants nothing requisite to felicity and happiness, to make away himself; and much more this, that for him who neither has nor ever shall have any good thing, but who is and ever shall be accompanied with all adversities, difficulties, and mishaps, it should not be fitting to quit this life unless some of the indifferent things befall him. These laws are enacted in the Stoa; and by these they incite many wise men to kill themselves, as if they would be thereby more happy; and they restrain many foolish men, as if it were fitting for them to live on in wretchedness. Although the wise man is fortunate, blessed, every way happy, secure, and free from danger; but the vicious and foolish man is “full, as I may say, of evils, so that there is not room to put them in;” and yet they think that continuing in life is fit for the latter, and departing out of it for the former. And not without cause, says Chrysippus, for we are not to measure life by good things or evil, but by those that are according to Nature. In this manner do they maintain custom, and philosophize according to the common conceptions. What do you say? — that he who enters upon a deliberation of life and death has no right to consider

What good or ill in his own house there is;

or to weigh, as in a balance, what things have the greatest sign of serving to felicity or infelicity; but must argue whether he should live or die from those things which are neither profitable nor prejudicial, and follow such principles and sentences as command the choosing of a life full of all things to be avoided, and the shunning of one which wants nothing of all those things that are desirable? For though it is an absurd thing, friend Lamprias, to shun a life in which there is no evil, it is yet more absurd, if any one should leave what is good because he is not possessed Edition: current; Page: [382] of what is indifferent, as these men do who leave present felicity and virtue for want of riches and health which they have not.

Saturnian Jove from Glaucus took his wits,

when he went about to change his suit of golden armor for a brazen one, and to give what was worth a hundred oxen for that which was worth but nine. And yet the brazen armor was no less useful for fight than the golden; whereas beauty and health of body, as the Stoics say, contribute not the least advantage as regards happiness. And yet they seek health in exchange for wisdom. For they say, it would well enough have become Heraclitus and Pherecydes to have parted with their virtue and wisdom, if the one of them could have thereby been freed from his lousy disease, and the other from his dropsy; and if Circe had used two sorts of magical drinks, one to make wise men fools, and the other to make fools wise, Ulysses would rather have drunk that of folly, than have changed his shape for the form of a beast, though having with it wisdom, and consequently also happiness. And, they say, wisdom itself dictates to them these things, exhorting them thus: Let me go, and value not my being lost, if I must be carried about in the shape of an ass. But this, some will say, is an ass-like wisdom which teacheth thus; if indeed to be wise and enjoy felicity is good, and to wear the shape of an ass is indifferent. They say, there is a nation of the Ethiopians where a dog reigns, is called king, and has all regal honors and services done to him; but men execute the offices of magistrates and governors of cities. Do not the Stoics act in the very same manner? They give the name and appearance of good to virtue, saying that it alone is desirable, profitable, and available; but in the mean time they act these things, they philosophize, they live and die, as at the command of things indifferent. Edition: current; Page: [383] And yet none of the Ethiopians kill that dog; but he sits in state, and is revered by all. But these men destroy and corrupt their virtue, that they may obtain health and riches.

12. But the corollary which Chrysippus himself has given for a conclusion to his doctrines seems to free us from the trouble of saying any thing more about it. For there being, says he, in Nature some things good, some things bad, and some things between them both, which we call indifferent; there is no man but would rather have the good than the indifferent, and the indifferent than the bad. And of this we call the Gods to witness, begging of them by our prayers principally the possession of good things, and if that may not be, deliverance from evil; not desiring that which is neither good nor bad instead of good, but willing to have it instead of evil. But this man, changing Nature and inverting its order, removes the middle out of its own place into the last, and brings back the last into the middle, — not unlike to those tyrants who give the first place to the wicked, — and he gives us a law, first to seek the good, and secondly the evil, and lastly to judge that worst which is neither good nor evil; as if any one should place infernal things next to celestial, thrusting the earth and earthly things into Tartarus,

  • Where very far from hence, deep under ground,
  • Lies a vast gulf.*

Having therefore said in his Third Book of Nature, that it is more expedient for a fool to live than not, though he should never attain to wisdom, he adds these words: “For such are the good things of men, that even evil things do in a manner precede other things that are in the middle place; not that these things themselves really precede, but reason, with which we should choose rather to live, though we were to be fools.” Therefore also, Edition: current; Page: [384] though we were to be unjust, wicked, hated of the Gods, and unhappy; for none of these things are absent from those that live foolishly. Is it then convenient rather to live miserably than not to live miserably, and better to be hurt than not hurt, to be unjust than not unjust, to break the laws than not to break them? That is, is it convenient to do things that are not convenient, and a duty to live even against duty? Yes indeed, for it is worse to want sense and reason than to be a fool. What then ails them, that they will not confess that to be evil which is worse than evil? Why do they say that folly alone is to be avoided, if it is not less but rather more convenient to shun that disposition which is not capable of folly?

13. But who can complain of this, that shall remember what he has written in his Second Book of Nature, declaring that vice was not unprofitably made for the universe? But it is meet I should set down his doctrine in his own words, that you may understand in what place those rank vice, and what discourses they hold of it, who accuse Xenocrates and Speusippus for not reckoning health indifferent and riches useless. “Vice,” saith he, “has its limit in reference to other accidents. For it is also in some sort according to the reason of Nature, and (as I may so say) is not wholly useless in respect of the universe; for otherwise there would not be any good.” Is there then no good among the Gods, because there is no evil? And when Jupiter, having resolved all matter into himself, shall be alone, other differences being taken away, will there then be no good, because there will be no evil? But is there melody in a choir though none in it sings faultily, and health in the body though no member is sick; and yet cannot virtue have its existence without vice? But as the poison of a serpent or the gall of an hyena is to be mixed with some medicines, was it also of necessity that there must have been some conjunction of the wickedness Edition: current; Page: [385] of Meletus with the justice of Socrates, and the dissolute demeanor of Cleon with the probity of Pericles? And could not Jupiter have found a means to bring into the world Hercules and Lycurgus, if he had not also made for us Sardanapalus and Phalaris? It is now time for them to say that the consumption was made for the sound constitution of men’s bodies, and the gout for the swiftness of their feet; and that Achilles would not have had a good head of hair if Thersites had not been bald. For what difference is there between such triflers and ravers, and those who say that intemperance was not brought forth unprofitably for continence, nor injustice for justice, so that we must pray to the Gods, there may be always wickedness,

Lies, fawning speeches, and deceitful manners,*

if, when these are taken away, virtue will also vanish and be lost?

14. Or do you desire to understand the greatest sweetness of his eloquence and persuasion? “For,” says he, “as comedies have in them sometimes ridiculous epigrams, which, though bad in themselves, give nevertheless a certain grace to the whole poem; so, though you may blame vice in itself, yet is it not useless to other things.” First then to say that vice was made by the providence of God, as a wanton epigram by the will of the poet, transcends in absurdity all imagination. For this being granted, how will the Gods be rather givers of good than evil? How will wickedness be displeasing to them, and hated by them? And what shall we have to oppose against these ill-sounding sentences of the poets:

  • A cause to men God sends,
  • When to chastise some house his wrath intends;
Edition: current; Page: [386]

and again,

What God those seeds of strife ’twixt them did sow?*

Moreover, a lewd epigram adorns the comedy and contributes to its end, which is to delight the spectators and make them laugh. But Jupiter, who is surnamed fatherly, supreme, just, and (as Pindar has it) the most perfect artist, framing the world, not as a great interlude, full of variety and great learning, but as a common city of Gods and men, living together in concord and happiness with justice and virtue, — what need had he, for the attaining to this excellent end, of thieves, murderers, parricides, and tyrants? For vice entered not as a morris-dance, pleasing and delightful to the Divinity; nor was injustice brought in amongst the affairs of men, to cause mirth and laughter by its raillery and facetiousness, since there is not to be seen in it so much as a dream of that celebrated agreement with Nature. Besides, that foolish epigram is a very small part of the poem, and takes up but a very little place in the comedy; neither do such things abound in it, nor do they corrupt any of those things which seem to have been well done, or spoil their grace. But all human affairs are replete with vice, and the whole life, from the very prologue and beginning to the end, being disordered, depraved, and disturbed, and having no part of it pure or irreprehensible (as these men say), is the most filthy and most unpleasant of all farces.

15. Wherefore I would willingly ask, in what vice is profitable to the universe. Not surely in respect of heavenly things, and such as are divine by nature. For it would be ridiculous to say, that if there had not arisen, or were not amongst men, malice and covetousness and lying, or that if we did not rob, plunder, slander, and murder one another, the sun would not run his appointed course, the world enjoy its seasons and periods of time, or the earth, Edition: current; Page: [387] which is seated in the midst of the universe, afford the principles of the wind and rain. It remains then, that the existence of vice must be profitable for us and our affairs; and that perhaps these men mean. Are we more healthy for being vicious, or do we more abound with necessaries? Or does vice contribute any thing to our beauty and strength? They say, no. But where on earth is virtue to be found? Is it then only a name, and a visionary opinion of night-walking sophisters, and not a reality lying conspicuous to all, like vice, so that we cannot partake of any thing as unprofitable,* . . . but least, O ye Gods! of virtue, for which we were created? Is it not then absurd, that the utensils of the husbandman, mariner, and charioteer should be serviceable and aiding towards his intended end, whilst that which was by God made for virtue destroys and corrupts virtue? But perhaps it is time now to leave this point, and pass to another.

16. Lamprias.

Not for my sake, my dear friend, I beseech you; for I desire to understand, in what manner these men bring in evil things before the good, and vice before virtue.


It is indeed, sir, a thing worth knowing. They babble indeed much; but in conclusion they say that prudence, being the knowledge of good and evil, would be wholly taken away if there were no evil. For as, if there are truths, it is impossible but there must be some lies also near to them; so it stands with reason, that if there are good things, there must also be evil things.


One of these things is not said amiss; and I think also that the other is not unapprehended by me. For I see a difference here: that which is not true must immediately be false; but that is not of necessity evil which is not good; because that between true and false there is no medium, but between good and evil there is the Edition: current; Page: [388] indifferent. Nor is it of necessity that the one must subsist with the other. For Nature may have good without having any need of evil, but only having that which is neither good nor evil. But if there is any thing to be said by you to the former reason, let us hear it.

17. Diadumenus.

Many things indeed are said; but at present we shall make use only of what is most necessary. In the first place, it is a folly to imagine that good and evil have their existence for the sake of prudence. For good and evil being already extant, prudence came afterwards; as the art of physic was invented, there being already things wholesome and unwholesome. For good and evil are not therefore extant that there may be prudence; but the faculty by which we judge good and evil that are already in being is named prudence. As sight is a sense distinguishing white from black; which colors were not therefore made that we might have sight, but we rather wanted sight to discern these things. Secondly, when the world shall be set on fire (as the Stoics will have it), there will then no evil be left, but all will then be prudent and wise. There is therefore prudence, though there is no evil; nor is it of necessity for evil to exist that prudence may have a being. But supposing that prudence must always be a knowledge of good and evil, what inconvenience would it be if, evil being taken away, prudence should no longer subsist; but instead of this we should have another virtue, not being the knowledge of good and evil, but of good only? So, if black should be wholly lost from among the colors, and any one should therefore contend that sight is also lost, for that there is no longer the sense of discerning black and white, what should hinder us from answering him: It is no prejudice to us, if we have not what you call sight, but in lieu of that have another sense and faculty, by which we apprehend colors that are white and not white. For I indeed think that Edition: current; Page: [389] neither our taste would be lost, if bitter things were wanting, nor our feeling, if pain were taken away, nor prudence, if evil had no being; but that these senses would remain, to apprehend things sweet and grateful and those that are not so, and prudence to be the science of things good and not good. But let those who think otherwise take the name to themselves, leaving us the thing.

18. Besides all this, what should hinder but there may be an understanding of evil, and an existence of good? As the Gods, I believe, enjoy health, but understand the fever and pleurisy. Since even we, who, as they say, have abundance of evils but no good, are not yet destitute of the knowledge what prudence, what goodness, and what happiness is. And this also would be wonderful, that if virtue were absent, there should be those who could teach us what it is and give us a comprehension of it, while if vice were not extant, it should be impossible to have any understanding of it. For see what these men persuade us who philosophize against the conceptions, — that by folly indeed we comprehend prudence, but prudence without folly cannot so much as comprehend folly itself.

19. And if Nature had absolutely stood in need of the generation of evil, yet might one or two examples of vice have been sufficient; or if you will, it might have been requisite that ten, a thousand, or ten thousand vicious men should be brought forth, and not that the multitude of vices should be so great as “to exceed in number the sands of the sea, the dust of the earth, and the feathers of all the various kinds of birds in the world,” and yet that there should not be so much all this while as a dream of virtue. Those who in Sparta had the charge of the public halls or eating places called Phiditia, were wont to bring forth two or three Helots drunken and full of wine, that the young men, seeing what drunkenness was, might learn to keep sobriety. But in human life there are many Edition: current; Page: [390] such examples of vice. For there is not any one sober to virtue; but we all stagger up and down, acting shamefully and living miserably. Thus does reason inebriate us, and with so much trouble and madness does it fill us, that we fall in nothing short of those dogs of whom Aesop says, that seeing certain skins swimming on the water, they endeavored to drink the sea up, but burst before they could get at them. For reason also, by which we hope to gain reputation and attain to virtue, does, ere we can reach to it, corrupt and destroy us, being before filled with abundance of heady and bitter vice; — if indeed, as these men say, they who are got even to the uppermost step have no ease, cessation, or breathing from folly and infelicity.

20. But let us see what manner of thing he shows vice to be who says that it was not brought forth unprofitably, and of what use and what a possession he makes it to be to those who have it, writing in his book of right actions, that a wicked man wants nothing, has need of nothing, nothing is useful to him, nothing proper, nothing fit for him. How then is vice useful, with which neither health nor abundance of riches nor advancement in virtue is profitable? Who then does not want these things, of which some are “preferable” and “acceptable,” and therefore highly useful, and others are “according to Nature,” as themselves term them? But (they say) no one has need of them, unless he become wise. Therefore the vicious man does not even stand in need of being made wise. Nor are men hungry and thirsty before they become wise. When thirsty, therefore, they have no need of water, nor when hungry, of bread.

  • Be like to courteous guests, and him
  • Who only fire and shelter asks:

does this man now not need entertainment? Nor had he need of a cloak, who said,

Give Hipponax a cloak, for I’m stiff with cold.

Edition: current; Page: [391]

But will you speak a paradox indeed, both extravagant and singular? Say then that a wise man has need of nothing, that he wants nothing, he is fortunate, he is free from want, he is self-sufficient, blessed, perfect. Now what madness is this, that he to whom nothing is wanting has need of the goods he has, but that the vicious indeed wants many things, and stands in need of nothing. For thus indeed says Chrysippus, that the vicious wants but stands not in need; removing the common notions, like chessmen, backwards and forwards. For all men think that having need precedes wanting, esteeming him who stands in need of things that are not at hand or easy to be got, to want them. For no man wants horns or wings, because no man has need of them. But we say that those want arms and money and clothes who are destitute of them, when they have occasion for them. But these men are so desirous of seeming always to say something against the common notions, that for the love of novelty they often depart from their own opinions, as they do here.

21. But recall yourself to the consideration of what has been said a little above. This is one of their assertions against the common conception, that no vicious man receives any utility. And yet many being instructed profit; many being slaves are made free; many being besieged are delivered, being lame are led by the hand, and being sick are cured. “But possessing all these things, they are never the better, neither do receive benefits, nor have they any benefactors, nor do they slight their benefactors.” Vicious men then are not ungrateful, no more than are wise men. Ingratitude therefore has no being; because the good receiving a benefit fail not to acknowledge it, and the bad are not capable of receiving any. Behold now, what they say to this, — that benefit is ranked among mean or middle things, and that to give and receive utility belongs only to the wise, but the bad also receive a benefit. Edition: current; Page: [392] Then they who partake of the benefit partake not also of its use; and whither a benefit extends, there is nothing useful or commodious. Now what else is there that makes a kind office a benefit, but that the bestower of it is, in some respect, useful to the needy receiver?

22. Lamprias.

But let these things pass. What, I beseech you, is this so highly venerated utility, which preserving as some great and excellent thing for the wise, they permit not so much as the name of it to the vicious?


If (say they) one wise man does but any way prudently stretch out his finger, all the wise men all the world over receive utility by it. This is the work of their amity; in this do the virtues of the wise man terminate by their common utilities. Aristotle then and Xenocrates doted, saying that men receive utility from the Gods, from their parents, from their masters, being ignorant of that wonderful utility which wise men receive from one another, being moved according to virtue, though they neither are together nor yet know it. Yet all men esteem, that laying up, keeping, and bestowing are then useful and profitable, when some benefit or profit is recovered by it. The thriving man buys keys, and diligently keeps his stores,

With’s hand unlocking wealth’s sweet treasury.*

But to store up and to keep with diligence and labor such things as are for no use is not seemly or honorable, but ridiculous. If Ulysses indeed had tied up with the knot which Circe taught him, not the gifts he had received from Alcinous, — tripods, caldrons, cloths, and gold, — but heaping up trash, stones, and such like trumpery, should have thought his employment about such things, and the possession and keeping of them, a happy and blessed work, would any one have imitated this foolish providence Edition: current; Page: [393] and empty care? Yet this is the beauty, gravity, and happiness of the Stoical consent, being nothing else but a gathering together and keeping of useless and indifferent things. For such are things according to Nature, and still more exterior things; if indeed they compare the greatest riches to fringes and golden chamber-pots, and sometimes also, as it happens, to oil-cruets. Then, as those who seem proudly to have affronted and railed at some Gods or demi-gods presently changing their note, fall prostrate and sit humbly on the ground, praising and magnifying the Divinity; so these men, having met with punishment of this arrogancy and vanity, again exercise themselves in these indifferent things and such as pertain nothing to them, crying out with a loud voice that there is but one thing good, specious, and honorable, the storing up of these things and the communication of them, and that it is not meet for those to live who have them not, but to dispatch out of the way and famish themselves, bidding a long farewell to virtue.

They esteem indeed Theognis to have been a man altogether of a base and abject spirit, for saying, as one overfearful in regard to poverty, which is an indifferent thing:

  • From poverty to fly, into the deep
  • Throw thyself, Cyrnus, or from rocks so steep.

Yet they themselves exhort the same thing in prose, and affirm that a man, to free himself from some great disease or exceedingly acute pain, if he have not at hand sword or hemlock, ought to leap into the sea or throw himself headlong from a precipice; neither of which is hurtful, or evil, or incommodious, or makes them who fall into it miserable.

23. With what then, says he, shall I begin? And what shall I take for the principle of duty and matter of virtue, leaving Nature and that which is according to Nature? With what, O good sir, do Aristotle and Theophrastus begin? Edition: current; Page: [394] What beginnings do Xenocrates and Polemo take? Does not also Zeno follow these, who suppose Nature and that which is according to Nature to be the elements of happiness? But they indeed persisted in these things, as desirable, good, and profitable; and joining to them virtue, which employs them and uses every one of them according to its property, thought to complete and consummate a perfect life and one every way absolute, producing that concord which is truly suitable and consonant to Nature. For these men did not fall into confusion, like those who leap up from the ground and presently fall down again upon it, terming the same things acceptable and not desirable, proper and not good, unprofitable and yet useful, nothing to us and yet the principles of duties. But their life was such as their speech, and they exhibited actions suitable and consonant to their sayings. But they who are of the Stoic sect — not unlike to that woman in Archilochus, who deceitfully carried in one hand water, in the other fire — by some doctrines draw nature to them, and by others drive her from them. Or rather, by their deeds and actions they embrace those things which are according to Nature, as good and desirable, but in words and speeches they reject and contemn them, as indifferent and of no use to virtue for the acquiring felicity.

24. Now, forasmuch as all men esteem the sovereign good to be joyous, desirable, happy, of the greatest dignity, self-sufficient, and wanting nothing; compare their good, and see how it agrees with this common conception. Does the stretching out a finger prudently produce this joy? Is a prudent torture a thing desirable? Is he happy, who with reason breaks his neck? Is that of the greatest dignity, which reason often chooses to let go for that which is not good? Is that perfect and self-sufficient, by enjoying which, if they have not also indifferent things, they neither can nor will endure to live? There is also Edition: current; Page: [395] another principle of the Stoics, by which custom is still more injured, taking and plucking from her genuine notions, which are as her legitimate children, and supposing other bastardly, wild, and illegitimate ones in their room, and necessitating her to nourish and cherish the one instead of the other; and that too in those doctrines which concern things good and bad, desirable and avoidable, proper and strange, the energy of which ought to be more clearly distinguished than that of hot and cold, black and white. For the imaginations of these things are brought in by the senses from without; but those have their original bred from the good things which we have within us. But these men entering with their logic upon the topic of felicity, as on the sophism called Pseudomenos, or that named Kyrieuon, have removed no ambiguities, but brought in very many.

25. Indeed, of two good things, of which the one is the end and the other belongs to the end, none is ignorant that the end is the greater and perfecter good. Chrysippus also acknowledges this difference, as is manifest from his Third Book of Good Things. For he dissents from those who make science the end, and sets it down. . . . In his Treatise of Justice, however, he does not think that justice can be safe, if any one supposes pleasure to be the end; but grants it may, if pleasure is not said to be the end, but simply a good. Nor do I think that you need now to hear me repeat his words, since his Third Book of Justice is everywhere to be had. When therefore, O my friend, they elsewhere say that no one good is greater or less than another, and that what is not the end is equal to the end, they contradict not only the common conceptions, but even their own words. Again, if of two evils, the one when it is present renders us worse, and the other hurts us but renders us not worse, it is against common sense not to say that the evil which by its presence renders us worse is Edition: current; Page: [396] greater than that which hurts us but renders us not worse. Now Chrysippus indeed confesses, that there are some fears and sorrows and errors which hurt us, but render us not worse. Read his First Book of Justice against Plato; for in respect of other things, it is worth the while to note the babbling of the man in that place, delivering indifferently all matters and doctrines, as well proper to his own sect as foreign.

26. It is likewise against common sense when he says that there may be two ends or scopes proposed of life, and that all the things we do are not to be referred to one; and yet this is more against common sense, to say that there is an end, and yet that every action is to be referred to another. Nevertheless they must of necessity endure one of these. For if those things which are first according to Nature are not eligible for themselves, but the choice and taking of them agreeably to reason is so, and if every one therefore does all his actions for the acquiring the first things according to Nature, it follows that all things which are done must have their reference to this, that the principal things according to Nature may be obtained. But they think that they who aim and aspire to get these things do not have the things themselves for the end, but that to which they must refer, namely, the choice and not the things. For the end indeed is to choose and receive these things prudently. But the things themselves and the enjoying of them are not the end, but the material object, having its worth only from the choice. For it is my opinion that they both use and write this very expression, to show the difference.


You have exactly related both what they say and in what manner they deliver it.


But observe how it fares with them, as with those that endeavor to leap over their own shadow; for they do not leave behind, but always carry along with Edition: current; Page: [397] them in their speech some absurdity most remote from common sense. For as, if any one should say that he who shoots does all he can, not that he may hit the mark, but that he may do all he can, such a one would rightly be esteemed to speak enigmatically and prodigiously; so these doting dreamers, who contend that the obtaining of natural things is not the end of aiming after natural things, but the taking and choosing them is, and that the desire and endeavor after health is not in every one terminated in the enjoyment of health, but on the contrary, the enjoyment of health is referred to the desire and endeavor after it, and that certain walkings and contentions of speech and suffering incisions and taking of medicines, so they are done by reason, are the end of health, and not health of them, — they, I say, trifle like to those who say, Let us sup, that we may sacrifice, that we may bathe. But this rather changes order and custom, and all things which these men say carry with them the total subversion and confusion of affairs. Thus, we do not desire to take a walk in fit time that we may digest our meat; but we digest our meat that we may take a walk in fit time. Has Nature also made health for the sake of hellebore, instead of producing hellebore for the sake of health? For what is wanting to bring them to the highest degree of speaking paradoxes, but the saying of such things? What difference is there between him who says that health was made for the sake of medicines and not medicines for the sake of health, and him who makes the choice of medicines and their composition and use more desirable than health itself? — or rather who esteems health not at all desirable, but placing the end in the negotiation about these things, prefers desire to enjoyment, and not enjoyment to desire? For to desire, forsooth (they say), is joined the proceeding wisely and discreetly. It is true indeed, we will say, if respect be had to the end, that is, the enjoyment and possession of the things it pursues; Edition: current; Page: [398] but otherwise, it is wholly void of reason, if it does all things for the obtaining of that the enjoyment of which is neither honorable nor happy.

27. Now, since we are fallen upon this discourse, any thing may rather be said to agree with common sense, than that those who have neither received nor have any conception of good do nevertheless desire and pursue it. For you see how Chrysippus drives Ariston into this difficulty, that he should understand an indifference in things inclining neither to good nor to bad, before either good or bad is itself understood; for so indifference will appear to have subsisted even before itself, if the understanding of it cannot be perceived unless good be first understood, while the good is nothing else than this very indifference. Understand now and consider this indifference which the Stoa denies and calls consent, whence and in what manner it gives us the knowledge of good. For if without good the indifference to that which is not good cannot be understood, much less does the knowledge of good things give any intelligence of itself to those who had not before some notion of the good. But as there can be no knowledge of the art of things wholesome and unwholesome in those who have not first some knowledge of the things themselves; so they cannot conceive any notion of the science of good and evil who have not some fore-knowledge of good and evil.


What then is good?


Nothing but prudence.


And what is prudence?


Nothing but the science of good.


There is much then of “Jupiter’s Corinth

(that is, much reasoning in a circle) admitted into their arguments. For I would have you let alone the saying about the turning of the pestle, lest you should seem to mock them; although an accident like to that has insinuated itself into their discourse. For it seems that, to the Edition: current; Page: [399] understanding of good, one has need to understand prudence, and to seek for prudence in the understanding of good, being forced always to pursue the one by the other, and thus failing of both; since to the understanding of each we have need of that which cannot be known without the other be first understood.


But there is yet another way, by which you may perceive not only the perversion but the eversion of their discourse, and the reduction of it entirely to nothing. They hold the essence of good to be the reasonable election of things according to Nature. Now the election is not reasonable which is not directed to some end, as has been said before. What then is this end? Nothing else, say they, but to reason rightly in the election of things according to Nature. First then, the conception of good is lost and gone. For to reason rightly in election is an operation proceeding from an habit of right reasoning; and therefore being constrained to learn this from the end, and the end not without this, we fail of understanding either of them. Besides, which is more, this reasonable election ought in strict justice to be a choice of things good and useful, and co-operating to the end; for how can it be reasonable to choose things which are neither convenient nor honorable nor at all eligible? For be it, as they say, a reasonable election of things having a fitness for the causing felicity; see then to what a beautiful and grave conclusion their discourse brings them. For the end is (it seems), according to them, to reason rightly in the choice of things which are of worth in causing us to reason rightly.


When I hear these words, my friend, what is said seems to me strangely extravagant; and I farther want to know how this happens.


You must then be more attentive; for it is not for every one to understand this riddle. Hear therefore Edition: current; Page: [400] and answer. Is not the end, according to them, to reason rightly in the election of things according to Nature?


So they say.


And are these things according to Nature chosen as good, or as having some fitness or preferences . . . either for this end or for something else?


I think not for any thing else but for this end.


Now then, having discovered the matter, see what befalls them. They hold that the end is to reason rightly in the choice of things which are of worth in causing us to reason rightly, for they say that we neither have nor understand any other essence either of good or of felicity but this precious rectitude of reasoning in the election of things that are of worth. But there are some who think that this is spoken against Antipater, and not against the whole sect; for that he, being pressed by Carneades, fell into these fooleries.

28. But as for those things that are against the common conceptions taught in the Stoa concerning love, they are all of them concerned in the absurdity. They say, that those youths are deformed who are vicious and foolish, and that the wise are fair; and yet that none of these beautiful ones is either beloved or worthy of being beloved. Nor yet is this the worst; but they add, that those who love the deformed ones cease to do so when they are become fair. Now whoever knew such a love as is kindled and has its being at the sight of the body’s deformity joined with that of the soul, and is quenched and decays at the accession of beauty joined with prudence, justice, and temperance? These men are not unlike to those gnats which love to settle on the dregs of wine, or on vinegar, but shun and fly away from potable and pleasant wine. As for that which they call and term an appearance Edition: current; Page: [401] of beauty, saying that it is the inducement of love, — first, it has no probability, for in those who are very foul and highly wicked there cannot be an appearance of beauty, if indeed (as is said) the wickedness of the disposition fills the face with deformity. And secondly, it is absolutely against all common conceptions that the deformed should be worthy of love because he one day will be fair and expects to have beauty, but that when he has obtained it and is become fair and good, he should be beloved of none.


Love, they say, is a certain hunting after a young person who is as yet indeed imperfect, but naturally well-disposed towards virtue.


And what do we now else, O my best friend, but demonstrate that their sect perverts and destroys all our common conceptions with improbable things and unusual expressions? For none would hinder the solicitude of these wise men towards young persons, if it were free from all passionate affection, from being called hunting or love of instruction; but they ought to call love that which all men and women understand and call by this name, like that which Penelope’s suitors in Homer seem to acknowledge,

Who all desired to lie with her;*

or as Jupiter in another place says to Juno,

  • For neither Goddess yet nor mortal dame
  • E’er kindled in my heart so great a flame.

29. Thus casting moral philosophy into these matters, in which all is

A mazy whirl, with nothing sound, and all perplexed,

they contemn and deride all about them, as if themselves were the only men who regulated nature and custom as it ought to be, and who at the same time adapted reason to Edition: current; Page: [402] each man’s peculiar state by means of aversions, desires, appetites, pursuits, and impulses. But custom has received no good from their logic, but, like the ear diseased by vain sounds, is filled with difficulty and obscurity, — of which, if you think good, we will elsewhere begin a new discourse. But now we will run through the chief and principal heads of their natural philosophy, which no less confounds the common conceptions than that other concerning ends.

30. First, this is altogether absurd and against sense, to say that is which is not, and things whch are not are. But above all, that is most absurd which they say of the universe. For, putting round about the circumference of the world an infinite vacuum, they say that the universe is neither a body nor bodiless. It follows then from this that the universe has no being, since with them body only has a being. Since therefore it is the part of that which has a being both to do and suffer, and the universe has no being, it follows that the universe will neither do nor suffer. Neither will it be in a place; for that which takes up place is a body, and the universe is not a body, therefore the universe is nowhere. And since that only rests which continues in one and the same place, the universe rests not, because it takes not up place. Neither yet is it moved, for what is moved must have a place and space to move in. Moreover, what is moved either moves itself, or suffers motion from another. Now, that which is moved by itself has some bents and inclinations proceeding from its gravity or levity; and gravity and levity are either certain habits or faculties or differences of bodies. But the universe is not a body. It follows then of necessity, that the universe is neither heavy nor light, and consequently, that it has not in itself any principle of motion. Nor yet will the universe be moved by any other; for there is nothing else besides the universe. Thus are they necessitated to Edition: current; Page: [403] say as they do, that the universe neither rests nor is moved. Lastly, since according to their opinion it must not be said that the universe is a body, and yet the heaven, the earth, animals, plants, men, and stones are bodies, it follows that that which is no body will have bodies for its parts, and things which have existence will be parts of that which has no existence, and that which is not heavy will have parts that are heavy, and what is not light will have parts that are light; — than which there cannot be any dreams imagined more repugnant to the common conceptions.

Moreover, there is nothing so evident or so agreeing to common sense as this, that what is not animate is inanimate, and what is not inanimate is animate. And yet they overthrow also this evidence, confessing the universe to be neither animate nor inanimate. Besides this, none thinks the universe, of which there is no part wanting, to be imperfect; but they deny the universe to be perfect, saying that what is perfect may be defined, but the universe because of its infiniteness cannot be defined. Therefore, according to them, there is something which is neither perfect nor imperfect. Moreover, the universe is neither a part, since there is nothing greater than it; nor the whole, for the whole (they say) is predicated only of that which is digested into order; but the universe is, through its infiniteness, undetermined and unordered. Moreover, there is no other thing which can be the cause of the universe, there being nothing besides the universe; nor is the universe the cause of other things or even of itself; for its nature suffers it not to act, and a cause is understood by its acting. Suppose now, one should ask all men what they imagine nothing to be, and what notion they have of it. Would they not answer, that it neither is a cause nor has a cause, that it is neither the whole nor a part, that it is neither perfect nor imperfect, that it is neither animate nor inanimate, that it neither is moved nor rests nor subsists, Edition: current; Page: [404] that it is neither corporeal nor incorporeal; and that this and no other thing is meant by nothing? Since then they alone predicate that of the universe which all others do of nothing, it seems plain that they make the universe and nothing to be the same. Time must then be said to be nothing; the same also must be said of predicate, axiom, connection, combination, which terms they use more than any of the other philosophers, yet they say that they have no being. But farther, to say that what is true has no being or subsistence but is comprehended, and that that is comprehensible and credible which no way partakes of the essence of being, — does not this exceed all absurdity?

31. But lest these things should seem to have too much of logical difficulty, let us proceed to such as pertain more to natural philosophy. Since then, as themselves say,

Jove is of all beginning, midst, and end,*

they ought chiefly to have applied themselves to remedy, redress, and reduce to the best order the conceptions concerning the Gods, if there were in them any thing confused or erroneous; or if not, to have left every one in those sentiments which they had from the laws and custom concerning the Divinity:

  • For neither now nor yesterday
  • These deep conceits of God began;
  • Time out of mind they have been aye,
  • But no man knows where, how, or when.

But these men, having begun (as it were) “from Vesta” to disturb the opinions settled and received in every country concerning the Gods, have not (to speak sincerely) left any thing entire and uncorrupted. For what man is there or ever was, except these, who does not believe the Divinity to be immortal and eternal? Or what in the common anticipations Edition: current; Page: [405] is more unanimously chanted forth concerning the Gods than such things as these:

  • There the blest Gods eternally enjoy
  • Their sweet delights;*

and again,

Both Gods immortal, and earth-dwelling men;

and again,

  • Exempt from sickness and old age are they,
  • And free from toil, and have escaped the flood
  • Of roaring Acheron?

One may perhaps light upon some nations so barbarous and savage as not to think there is a God; but there was never found any man who, believing a God, did not at the same time believe him immortal and eternal. Certainly, those who were called Atheists, like Theodorus, Diagoras, and Hippo, durst not say that the Divinity is corruptible, but they did not believe that there is any thing incorruptible; not indeed admitting the subsistence of an incorruptibility, but keeping the idea of a God. But Chrysippus and Cleanthes, having filled (as one may say) heaven, earth, air, and sea with Gods, have not yet made any one of all these Gods immortal or eternal, except Jupiter alone, in whom they consume all the rest; so that it is no more proper for him to consume others than to be consumed himself. For it is alike an infirmity to perish by being resolved into another, and to be saved by being nourished by the resolution of others into himself. Now these are not like other of their absurdities, gathered by argument from their suppositions or drawn by consequence from their doctrines; but they themselves proclaim it aloud in their writings concerning the Gods, Providence, Fate, and Nature, expressly saying that all the other Gods were born, and shall die by the fire, melting away, in their opinion, as if they were of wax or tin. It is indeed as much against Edition: current; Page: [406] common sense that God should be mortal as that man should be immortal; nay, indeed, I do not see what the difference between God and man will be, if God also is a reasonable and corruptible animal. For if they oppose us with this subtle distinction, that man is mortal, and God not mortal but corruptible, see what they get by it. For they will say either that God is at the same time both immortal and corruptible, or else that he neither is mortal nor immortal; the absurdity of which even those cannot exceed who set themselves industriously to devise positions repugnant to common sense. I speak of others; for these men have left no one of the absurdest things unspoken or unattempted.

To these things Cleanthes, contending for the conflagration of the world, says, that the sun will make the moon and all the other stars like to himself, and will change them into himself. Indeed, if the stars, being Gods, should contribute any thing to the sun towards their own destruction by contributing to its conflagration, it would be very ridiculous for us to make prayers to them for our salvation, and to think them the saviors of men, whose nature it is to accelerate their own corruption and dissolution.

32. And yet these men leave nothing unsaid against Epicurus, crying out, Fie, fie upon him, as confounding their presumption concerning God by taking away Providence; for God (they say) is presumed and understood to be not only immortal and happy, but also a lover of men and careful of them and beneficial to them; and herein they say true. Now if they who abolish Providence take away the pre-conception concerning God, what do they who say that the Gods indeed have care of us, but deny them to be helpful to us, and make them not bestowers of good things but of indifferent ones, giving, to wit, not virtue, but wealth, health, children, and such like things, Edition: current; Page: [407] none of which is helpful, profitable, desirable, or available? Or shall we not rather think, that the Epicureans do not take away the conceptions concerning the Gods; but that these Stoics scoff at the Gods and deride them, saying one is a God of fruits, another of marriage, another a physician, and another a diviner, while yet health, issue, and plenty of fruits are not good things, but indifferent things and unprofitable to those who have them?

33. The third point of the conception concerning the Gods is, that the Gods do in nothing so much differ from men as in happiness and virtue. But according to Chrysippus, they have not so much as this difference. For he says that Jupiter does not exceed Dion in virtue, but that Jupiter and Dion, being both wise, are equally aided by one another, when one falls into the motion of the other. For this and none else is the good which the Gods do to men, and likewise men to the Gods when they are wise. For they say, that a man who falls not short in virtue comes not behind them in felicity, and that he who, being tormented with diseases and being maimed in the body, makes himself away, is equally happy with Jupiter the Savior, provided he be but wise. But this man neither is nor ever was upon the earth; but there are infinite millions of men unhappy to the highest degree in the state and government of Jupiter, which is most excellently administered. Now what can be more against sense than that, when Jupiter governs exceedingly well, we should be exceedingly miserable? But if (which it is unlawful even to say) he would wish no longer to be a savior, nor a deliverer, nor a protector, but the contrary to all these glorious appellations, there can no goodness be added to the things that are, either as to their multitude or magnitude, since, as these men say, all men live to the height miserably and wickedly, neither vice receiving addition, nor unhappiness increase.

Edition: current; Page: [408]

34. Nor is this the worst; but they are angry with Menander for saying upon the stage,

  • The chief beginning of men’s miseries
  • Are things exceeding good;

for that this is against sense. And yet they make God, who is good, the beginning of evils. “For matter,” they say, “produced not any evil of itself; for it is without quality, and whatever differences it has, it has received them all from that which moves and forms it.” But that which moves and forms it is the reason dwelling in it, since it is not made to move and form itself. So that of necessity evil, if it come by nothing, must have been produced from that which has no being; but if by some moving principle, from God. But if they think that Jupiter has not the command of his parts nor uses every one of them according to his reason, they speak against common sense, and imagine an animal, many of whose parts are not subservient to his will but use their own operations and actions, to which the whole gives no incitation nor begins their motion. For there is nothing which has life so ill compacted as that, against its will, its feet shall go, its tongue speak, its horns push, or its teeth bite. The most of which things God must of necessity suffer, if the wicked, being parts of him, do against his will lie, cheat, rob, and murder one another. But if, as Chrysippus says, the very least part cannot possibly behave itself otherwise than according to Jupiter’s pleasure, and if every living thing is so framed by Nature as to rest and move according as he inclines it and as he turns, stays, and disposes it,

This saying is more impious than the first.*

For it were more tolerable to say that many parts of Jupiter are, through his weakness and want of power, hurried on to do many absurd things against his nature Edition: current; Page: [409] and will, than that there is not any intemperance or wickedness of which Jupiter is not the cause. Moreover, since they affirm the world to be a city and the stars citizens, if this be so, there must be also tribes-men and magistrates, the sun must be some consul, and the evening star a praetor or mayor of a city. Now I know not whether any one that shall go about to confute such things will not show himself more absurd than those who assert and affirm them.

35. Is it not therefore against sense to say that the seed is more and greater than that which is produced of it? For we see that Nature in all animals and plants, even those that are wild, has taken small, slender, and scarce visible things for principles of generation to the greatest. For it does not only from a grain of wheat produce an earbearing stalk, or a vine from the stone of a grape; but from a small berry or acorn which has escaped being eaten by the bird, kindling and setting generation on fire (as it were) from a little spark, it sends forth the stock of a bush, or the tall body of an oak, palm, or pine tree. Whence also they say that seed is in Greek called σπέϱμα, as it were, the σπείϱασις or the coiling up of a great mass in a little compass; and that Nature has the name of φύσις, as if it were the inflation (ἐμφύσησις) and diffusion of reason and numbers opened and loosened by it. But now, in opposition to this, they maintain that fire is the seed of the world, which shall after the conflagration change into seed the world, which will then have a copious nature from a smaller body and bulk, and possess an infinite space of vacuum filled by its increase; and the world being made, the size again recedes and settles, the matter being after the generation gathered and contracted into itself.

36. You may hear them and read many of their writings, in which they jangle with the Academics, and cry out Edition: current; Page: [410] against them as confounding all things with their doctrine of indistinguishable identity, and as vehemently contending that there is but one quality in two substances. And yet there is no man who understands not this, and would not on the contrary think it wonderful and extremely strange if there should not in all time be found a dove exactly and in all respects like to another dove, a bee to a bee, a grain of wheat to a grain of wheat, or (as the proverb has it) one fig to another. But these things are plainly against common sense which the Stoics say and feign, — that there are in one substance two particular qualities, and that the same substance, which has particularly one quality, when another quality is added, receives and equally conserves them both. For if there may be two, there may be also three, four, and five, and even more than you can name, in one and the same substance; I say not in its different parts, but all alike in the whole, though ever infinite in number. For Chrysippus says, that Jupiter and the world are like to man, as is also Providence to the soul; when therefore the conflagration shall be, Jupiter, who alone of all the Gods is incorruptible, will retire into Providence, and they being together, will both perpetually remain in the one substance of the ether.

37. But leaving now the Gods, and beseeching them to give these Stoics common sense and a common understanding, let us look into their doctrines concerning the elements. It is against the common conceptions that one body should be the place of another, or that a body should penetrate through a body, neither of them containing any vacuity, but the full passing into the full, and that which has no vacuity — but is full and has no place by reason of its continuity — receiving the mixture. But these men, not thrusting one thing into one, nor yet two or three or ten together, but jumbling all the parts of the world, being cut piecemeal, into any one thing which they shall first Edition: current; Page: [411] light on, and saying that the very least which is perceived by sense will contain the greatest that shall come unto it, boldly frame a new doctrine, convicting themselves here, as in many other things, of taking for their suppositions things repugnant to common sense. And presently upon this they are forced to admit into their discourse many monstrous and strange positions, mixing whole bodies with whole; of which this also is one, that three are four. For this others put as an example of those things which cannot be conceived even in thought. But to the Stoics it is a matter of truth, that when one cup of wine is mixed with two of water, if it is not to be lost but the mixture is to be equalized, it must be extended through the whole and be confounded therewith, so as to make that which was one two by the equalization of the mixture. For the one remains, but is extended as much as two, and thus is equal to the double of itself. Now if it happens in the mixture with two to take the measure of two in the diffusion, this is together the measure both of three and four, — of three because one is mixed with two, and of four because, being mixed with two, it has an equal quantity with those with which it is mixed. Now this fine subtility is a consequence of their putting bodies into a body, and so likewise is the unintelligibleness of the manner how one is contained in the other. For it is of necessity that, of bodies passing one into another by mixture, the one should not contain and the other be contained, nor the one receive and the other be received within; for this would not be a mixture, but a contiguity and touching of the superficies, the one entering in, and the other enclosing it without, and the rest of the parts remaining unmixed and pure, and so it would be merely many different things. But there being a necessity, according to their axiom of mixture, that the things which are mixed should be mingled one within the other, and that the same things should together be contained Edition: current; Page: [412] by being within, and by receiving contain the other, and that neither of them could possibly exist again as it was before, it comes to pass that both the subjects of the mixture mutually penetrate each other, and that there is not any part of either remaining separate, but that they are necessarily all filled with each other.

Here now that famous leg of Arcesilaus comes in, with much laughter insulting over their absurdities; for if these mixtures are through the whole, what should hinder but that, a leg being cut off and putrefied and cast into the sea and diffused, not only Antigonus’s fleet (as Arcesilaus said) might sail through it, but also Xerxes’s twelve hundred ships, together with the Grecians’ three hundred galleys, might fight in it? For the progress will not henceforth fail, nor the lesser cease to be in the greater; or else the mixture will be at an end, and the extremity of it, touching where it shall end, will not pass through the whole, but will give over being mingled. But if the mixture is through the whole, the leg will not indeed of itself afford the Greeks room for the sea-fight, for to this there is need of putrefaction and change; but if one glass or but one drop of wine shall fall from hence into the Aegean or Cretan Sea, it will pass into the Ocean or main Atlantic Sea, not lightly touching its superficies, but being spread quite through it in depth, breadth, and length. And this Chrysippus admits, saying immediately in his First Book of Natural Questions, that there is nothing to hinder one drop of wine from being mixed with the whole sea. And that we may not wonder at this, he says that this one drop will by mixtion extend through the whole world; than which I know not any thing that can appear more absurd.

38. And this also is against sense, that there is not in the nature of bodies any thing either supreme or first or last, in which the magnitude of the body may terminate; but that there is always some phenomenon beyond the Edition: current; Page: [413] assumed body, and that this still going on carries the subject to infinity and undeterminateness. For one body cannot be imagined greater or less than another, if both of them may by their parts proceed in infinitum; but the nature of inequality is taken away. For of things that are esteemed unequal, the one falls short in its last parts, and the other goes on and exceeds. Now if there is no inequality, it follows that there is no unevenness nor roughness of bodies; for unevenness is the inequality of the same superficies with itself, and roughness is an unevenness joined with hardness; neither of which is left us by those who terminate no body in its last part, but extend them all by the multitude of their parts unto an infinity. And yet is it not evident that a man consists of more parts than a finger, and the world of more than a man? This indeed all men know and understand, unless they become Stoics; but if they are once Stoics, they on the contrary say and think that a man has no more parts than a finger, nor the world than a man. For division reduces bodies to an infinity; and of infinites neither is more or less or exceeds in multitude, or the parts of the remainder will cease to be divided and to afford a multitude of themselves.


How then do they extricate themselves out of these difficulties?


Surely with very great cunning and courage. For Chrysippus says: “If we are asked, if we have any parts, and how many, and of what and how many parts they consist, we are to use a distinction, making it a position that the whole body is compacted of the head, trunk, and legs, as if that were all which is enquired and doubted of. But if they extend their interrogation to the last parts, no such thing is to be undertaken, but we are to say that they consist not of any certain parts, nor yet of so many, nor of infinite, nor of finite.” And I seem to Edition: current; Page: [414] myself to have used his very words, that you may perceive how he maintains the common notions, forbidding us to think of what or how many parts every body is compacted, and whether of infinite or finite. For if there were any medium between finite and infinite, as the indifferent is between good and evil, he should, by telling us what that is, have solved the difficulty. But if — as that which is not equal is presently understood to be unequal, and that which is not mortal to be immortal — we also understand that which is not finite to be immediately infinite, to say that a body consists of parts neither finite nor infinite is, in my opinion, the same thing as to affirm that an argument is compacted of positions neither true nor false. . . .

39. To this he with a certain youthful rashness adds, that in a pyramid consisting of triangles, the sides inclining to the juncture are unequal, and yet do not exceed one another in that they are greater. Thus does he keep the common notions. For if there is any thing greater and not exceeding, there will be also something less and not deficient, and so also something unequal which neither exceeds nor is deficient; that is, there will be an unequal thing equal, a greater not greater, and a less not less. See it yet farther, in what manner he answered Democritus, enquiring philosophically and properly, if a cone is divided by a plane parallel with its base, what is to be thought of the superficies of its segments, whether they are equal or unequal; for if they are unequal, they will render the cone uneven, receiving many step-like incisions and roughnesses; but if they are equal, the sections will be equal, and the cone will seem to have the same qualities as the cylinder, to wit, to be composed not of unequal but of equal circles; which is most absurd. Here, that he may convince Democritus of ignorance, he says, that the superficies are neither equal or unequal, but that the bodies are unequal, because the superficies are neither equal nor unequal. Edition: current; Page: [415] Indeed to assert this for a law, that bodies are unequal while the superficies are not unequal, is the part of a man who takes to himself a wonderful liberty of writing whatever comes into his head. For reason and manifest evidence, on the contrary, give us to understand, that the superficies of unequal bodies are unequal, and that the bigger the body is, the greater also is the superficies, unless the excess, by which it is the greater, is void of a superficies. For if the superficies of the greater bodies do not exceed those of the less, but sooner fail, a part of that body which has an end will be without an end and infinite. For if he says that he is compelled to this, . . . For those rabbeted incisions, which he suspects in a cone, are made by the inequality of the body, and not of the superficies. It is ridiculous therefore to take the superficies out of the account, and after all to leave the inequality in the bodies themselves. But to persist still in this matter, what is more repugnant to sense than the imagining of such things? For if we admit that one superficies is neither equal nor unequal to another, we may say also of magnitude and of number, that one is neither equal nor unequal to another; and this, not having any thing that we can call or think to be a neuter or medium between equal and unequal. Besides, if there are superficies neither equal nor unequal, what hinders but there may be also circles neither equal nor unequal? For indeed these superficies of conic sections are circles. And if circles, why may not also their diameters be neither equal nor unequal? And if so, why not also angles, triangles, parallelograms, parallelopipeds, and bodies? For if the longitudes are neither equal nor unequal to one another, so will the weight, percussion, and bodies be neither equal nor unequal. How then dare these men inveigh against those who introduce vacuities, and suppose that there are some indivisible atoms, and who say that motion and rest Edition: current; Page: [416] are not inconsistent with each other, when themselves affirm such axioms as these to be false: If any things are not equal to one another, they are unequal to one another; and the same things are not equal and unequal to one another? But when he says that there is something greater and yet not exceeding, it were worth the while to ask, whether these things quadrate with one another. For if they quadrate, how is either the greater? And if they do not quadrate, how can it be but the one must exceed and the other fall short? For if neither of these be, the other both will and will not quadrate with the greater. For those who keep not the common conceptions must of necessity fall into such perplexities.

40. It is moreover against sense to say that nothing touches another; nor is this less absurd, that bodies touch one another, but touch by nothing. For they are necessitated to admit these things, who allow not the least parts of a body, but assume something which is before that which seems to touch, and never cease to proceed still farther. What, therefore, these men principally object to the patrons of those indivisible bodies called atoms is this, that there is neither a touching of the whole by the whole, nor of the parts by the parts; for that the one makes not a touching but a mixture, and that the other is not possible, these individuals having no parts. How then do not they themselves fall into the same inconvenience, leaving no first or last part, whilst they say, that whole bodies mutually touch one another by a term or extremity and not by a part? But this term is not a body; therefore one body shall touch one another by that which is incorporeal, and again shall not touch, that which is incorporeal coming between them. And if it shall touch, the body shall both do and suffer something by that which is incorporeal. For it is the nature of bodies mutually to do and suffer, and to touch. But if the body has a touching by that Edition: current; Page: [417] which is incorporeal, it will have also a contact, and a mixture, and a coalition. Again, in these contacts and mixtures the extremities of the bodies must either remain, or not remain but be corrupted. Now both of these are against sense. For neither do they themselves admit corruptions and generations of incorporeal things; nor can there be a mixture and coalition of bodies retaining their own extremities. For the extremity determines and constitutes the nature of the body; and mixtions, unless the mutual laying of parts by parts are thereby understood, wholly confound all those that are mixed. And, as these men say, we must admit the corruption of extremities in mixtures, and their generation again in the separation of them. But this none can easily understand. Now by what bodies mutually touch each other, by the same they press, thrust, and crush each other. Now that this should be done or suffered by things that are incorporeal, is impossible and not so much as to be imagined. But yet this they would constrain us to conceive. For if a sphere touch a plane by a point, it is manifest that it may be also drawn over the plane upon a point; and if the superficies of it is painted with vermilion, it will imprint a red line on the plane; and if it is fiery hot, it will burn the plane. Now for an incorporeal thing to color, or a body to be burned by that which is incorporeal, is against sense. But if we should imagine an earthen or glassy sphere to fall from on high upon a plane of stone, it were against reason to think it would not be broken, being struck against that which is hard and solid; but it would be more absurd that it should be broken, falling upon an extremity or point that is incorporeal. So that the presumptions concerning things incorporeal and corporeal are wholly disturbed, or rather taken away, by their joining to them many impossibilities.

41. It is also against common sense, that there should Edition: current; Page: [418] be a time future and past, but no time present; and that erewhile and lately subsist, but now is nothing at all. Yet this often befalls the Stoics, who admit not the least time between, nor will allow the present to be indivisible; but whatsoever any one thinks to take and understand as present, one part of that they say to be future, and the other part past; so that there is no part remaining or left of the present time: but of that which is said to be present, one part is distributed to the future, the other to the past. Therefore one of these two things follows: either that, holding there was a time and there will be a time, we must deny there is a time; or we must hold that there is a time present, part of which has already been and part will be, and say that of that which now is, one part is future and the other past; and that of now, one part is before and the other behind; and that now is that which is neither yet now nor any longer now; for that which is past is no longer now, and that which is to come is not yet now. And dividing thus the present, they must needs say of the year and of the day, that part of it was of the year or day past, and part will be of the year or day to come; and that of what is together, there is a part before and a part after. For no less are they perplexed, confounding together these terms, not yet and already and no longer and now and not now. But all other men suppose, esteem, and think erewhile and awhile hence to be different parts of time from now, which is followed by the one and preceded by the other. But Archedemus, saying that now is the beginning and juncture of that which is past and that which is near at hand, has (as it seems) without perceiving it thereby taken away all time. For if now is no time, but only a term or extremity of time, and if every part of time is such as now, all time seems to have no parts, but to be wholly dissolved into terms, joints, and beginnings. But Chrysippus, desiring to show more artifice Edition: current; Page: [419] in his division, in his book of Vacuity and some others, says, that the past and future time are not, but have subsisted (or will subsist), and that the present only is; but in his third, fourth, and fifth books concerning Parts, he asserts, that of the present time one part is past, the other to come. Thus it comes to pass, that he divides subsisting time into non-subsisting parts of a subsisting total, or rather leaves nothing at all of time subsisting, if the present has no part but what is either future or past.

42. These men’s conception therefore of time is not unlike the grasping of water, which, the harder it is held, all the more slides and runs away. As to actions and motions, all evidence is utterly confounded. For if now is divided into past and future, it is of necessity that what is now moved partly has been moved and partly shall be moved, that the end and beginning of motion have been taken away, that nothing of any work has been done first, nor shall any thing be last, the actions being distributed with time. For as they say that of present time, part is past and part to come; so of that which is doing, it will be said that part is done and part shall be done. When therefore had to dine, to write, to walk, a beginning, and when shall they have an end, if every one who is dining has dined and shall dine, and every one who is walking has walked and shall walk? But this is, as it is said, of all absurdities the most absurd, that if he who now lives has already lived and shall live, then to live neither had beginning nor shall have end; but every one of us, as it seems, was born without beginning to live, and shall die without ceasing to live. For if there is no last part, but he who lives has something of the present still remaining for the future, to say “Socrates shall live” will never be false so long as it shall be true to say “Socrates lives;” and so long also will be false to say “Socrates is dead.” So that, if “Socrates shall live” is true in infinite parts of Edition: current; Page: [420] time, it will in no part of time be true to say “Socrates is dead.” And verily what end will there be of a work, and where will you terminate an action, if, as often as it is true to say “This is doing,” it is likewise true to say “This shall be doing”? For he will lie who shall say, there will be an end of Plato’s writing and disputing; since Plato will never give over writing and disputing, if it is never false to say of him who disputes that he shall dispute, and of him who writes that he shall write. Moreover, there will be no part of that which now is, but either has been or is to be, and is either past or future; but of what has been and is to be, of past and future, there is no sense; wherefore there is absolutely no sense of any thing. For we neither see what is past and future, nor do we hear or have any other sense of what has been or is to be. Nothing then, even what is present, is to be perceived by sense, if of the present, part is always future and part past, — if part has been and part is to be.

43. Now they indeed say, that Epicurus does intolerable things and violates the conceptions, in moving all bodies with equal celerity, and admitting none of them to be swifter than another. And yet it is much more intolerable and farther remote from sense, that nothing can be overtaken by another:

  • Not though Adrastus’s swift-footed steed
  • Should chase the tortoise slow,

as the proverb has it. Now this must of necessity fall out, if things move according to prius and posterius, and the intervals through which they pass are (as these men’s tenet is) divisible in infinitum; for if the tortoise is but a furlong before the horse, they who divide this fuilong in infinitum, and move them both according to prius and posterius, will never bring the swiftest to the slowest; the slower always adding some interval divisible into infinite spaces. Now to affirm that, water being poured from Edition: current; Page: [421] a bowl or cup, it will never be all poured out, is it not both against common sense, and a consequence of what these men say? For no man can understand the motion according to prius of things infinitely divisible to be consummated; but leaving always somewhat divisible, it will make all the effusion, all the running and flux of a liquid, motion of a solid, and fall of an heavy thing imperfect.

44. I pass by many absurdities of theirs, touching only such as are against sense. The dispute concerning increase is indeed ancient; for the question, as Chrysippus says, was put by Epicharmus. Now, whereas those of the Academy think that the doubt is not very easy and ready all of a sudden to be cleared, these men have mightily exclaimed against them, and accused them of taking away the presumptions, and yet themselves are so far from preserving the common notions, that they pervert even sense itself. For the discourse is simple, and these men grant the suppositions, — that all particular substances flow and are carried, some of them emitting forth somewhat from themselves, and others receiving things coming from elsewhere; and that the things to which there is made an accession or from which there is a decession by numbers and multitudes, do not remain the same, but become others by the said accessions, the substance receiving a change; and that these changes are not rightly called by custom increasings or diminutions, but it is fitter they should be styled generations and corruptions, because they drive by force from one state to another, whereas to increase and be diminished are passions of a body that is subject and permanent. These things being thus in a manner said and delivered, what would these defenders of evidence and canonical regulators of common conceptions have? Every one of us (they say) is double, twin-like, and composed of a double nature; not as the poets feigned of the Molionidae, that they in some parts grow together Edition: current; Page: [422] and in some parts are separated, — but every one of us has two bodies, having the same color, the same figure, the same weight and place. . . . These things were never before seen by any man; but these men alone have discerned this composition, doubleness, and ambiguity, how every one of us is two subjects, the one substance, the other quality; and the one is in perpetual flux and motion, neither increasing nor being diminished nor remaining altogether; the other remains and increases and is diminished, and suffers all things contrary to the former, with which it is so concorporated, conjoined, and confounded, that it exhibits not any difference to be perceived by sense. Indeed, Lynceus is said to have penetrated stones and oaks with his sight; and a certain man sitting on a watch-tower in Sicily beheld the ships of the Carthaginians setting forth from their harbor, which was a day and a night’s sail from thence. Callicrates and Myrmecides are said to have made chariots that might be covered with the wings of a fly, and to have engraved verses of Homer on a sesame seed. But none ever discerned or discovered this diversity in us; nor have we perceived ourselves to be double, in one part always flowing, and in the other remaining the same from our birth even to our death. But I make the discourse more simple, since they make four subjects in every one, or rather every one of us to be four. But two are sufficient to show their absurdity. For if, when we hear Pentheus in the tragedy affirm that he sees two suns and two cities of Thebes,* we say that he does not see, but that his sight is dazzled, he being transported and troubled in his mind; why do we not bid those farewell, who assert not one city alone, but all men and animals, and all trees, vessels, instruments, and clothes, to be double and composed of two, as men who constrain us to dote rather than to understand? But Edition: current; Page: [423] this feigning other natures of subjects must perhaps be pardoned them; for there appears no other invention by which they can maintain and uphold the augmentations of which they are so fond.

45. But by what cause moved, or for the adorning of what other suppositions, they frame in a manner innumerable differences and forms of bodies in the soul, there is none can say, unless it be that they remove, or rather wholly abdicate and destroy, the common and usual notions, to introduce other foreign and strange ones. For it is very absurd that, making all virtues and vices — and with them all arts, memories, fancies, passions, impulses, and assents — to be bodies, they should affirm that they neither lie nor subsist in any subject, leaving them for a place one only hole, like a prick in the heart, where they crowd the principal part of the soul, enclosed with so many bodies, that a very great number of them lie hid even from those who think they can spare and distinguish them one from another. Nay, that they should not only make them bodies, but also rational creatures, and even a swarm of such creatures, not friendly or gentle, but a multitude maliciously rebellious and revengeful, and should so make of each one of us a park or menagerie or Trojan horse, or whatever else we may call their fancies, — this is the very height of contempt and rebellion against evidence and custom. But they say, that not only the virtues and vices, not only the passions, as anger, envy, grief, and maliciousness, not only comprehensions, fancies, and ignorances, not only arts, as shoemaking and working in brass, are animals; but besides these, also they make even the operations bodies and animals, saying that walking is an animal, as also dancing, supposing, saluting, and railing. The consequence of this is that laughing and weeping are also animals; and if so, then also are coughing, sneezing, groaning, spitting, blowing the nose, and other such like Edition: current; Page: [424] things sufficiently known. Neither have they any cause to take it ill that they are by reason, proceeding leisurely, reduced to this, if they shall call to mind how Chrysippus, in his First Book of Natural Questions, argues thus: “Is not night a body? And are not then the evening, dawning, and midnight bodies? Or is not a day a body? Is not then the first day of the month a body? And the tenth, the fifteenth, and the thirtieth, are they not bodies? Is not a month a body? Summer, autumn, and the year, are they not bodies?”

46. These things they hold against the common conceptions; but those which follow they hold also against their own, engendering that which is most hot by refrigeration, and that which is most subtile by condensation. For the soul, to wit, is a substance most hot and most subtile. But this they make by the refrigeration and condensation of the body, changing, as it were, by induration the spirit, which of vegetative is made animal. Moreover, they say that the sun became animated, his moisture changing into intellectual fire. Behold how the sun is imagined to be engendered by refrigeration! Xenophanes indeed, when one told him that he had seen eels living in hot water, answered, We will boil them then in cold. But if these men engender heat by refrigeration and lightness by condensation, it follows, they must also generate cold things by heat, thick things by dissolution, and heavy things by rarefaction, that so they may keep some proportion in their absurdity.

47. And do they not also determine the substance and generation of conception itself, even against the common conceptions? For conception is a certain imagination, and imagination an impression in the soul. Now the nature of the soul is an exhalation, in which it is difficult for an impression to be made because of its tenuity, and for which it is impossible to keep an impression it may have received. For its nutriment and generation, consisting of moist things, Edition: current; Page: [425] have continual accession and consumption. And the mixture of respiration with the air always makes some new exhalation, which is altered and changed by the flux of the air coming from abroad and again going out. For one may more easily imagine that a stream of running water can retain figures, impressions, and images, than that a spirit can be carried in vapors and humors, and continually mingled with another idle and strange breath from without. But these men so far forget themselves, that, having defined the conceptions to be certain stored-up intelligences, and memoirs to be constant and habitual impressions, and having wholly fixed the sciences, as having stability and firmness, they presently place under them a basis and seat of a slippery substance, easy to be dissipated and in perpetual flux and motion.

48. Now the common conception of an element and principle, naturally imprinted in almost all men, is this, that it is simple, unmixed, and uncompounded. For that is not an element or principle which is mixed; but those things are so of which it is mixed. But these men, making God, who is the principle of all things, to be an intellectual body and a mind seated in matter, pronounce him to be neither simple nor uncompounded, but to be composed of and by another; matter being of itself indeed without reason and void of quality, and yet having simplicity and the property of a principle. If then God is not incorporeal and immaterial, he participates of matter as a principle. For if matter and reason are one and the same thing, they have not rightly defined matter to be reasonless; but if they are different things, then is God constituted of them both, and is not a simple, but compound thing, having to the intellectual taken the corporeal from matter.

49. Moreover, calling these four bodies, earth, water, air, and fire, the first elements, they do (I know not how) make some of them simple and pure, and others compound and Edition: current; Page: [426] mixed. For they hold that earth and water keep together neither themselves nor other things, but preserve their unity by the participation of air and force of fire; but that air and fire do both fortify themselves by their own strength, or being mixed with the other two, give them force, permanence, and subsistence. How then is either earth or water an element, if neither of them is either simple, or first, or self-sufficient, but if each wants somewhat from without to contain and keep it in its being? For they have not left so much as a thought of their substance; but this discourse concerning the earth has much confusion and uncertainty, when they say that it subsists of itself; for if the earth is of itself, how has it need of the air to fix and contain it? But neither the earth nor water can any more be said to be of itself; but the air, drawing together and thickening the matter, has made the earth, and again dissolving and mollifying it, has produced the water. Neither of these then is an element, since something else has contributed being and generation to them both.

50. Moreover, they say that subsistence and matter are subject to qualities, and do so in a manner define them; and again, they make the qualities to be also bodies. But these things have much perplexity. For if qualities have a peculiar substance, for which they both are and are called bodies, they need no other substance; for they have one of their own. But if they have under them in common only that which the Stoics call essence and matter, it is manifest they do but participate of the body; for they are not bodies. But the subject and recipient must of necessity differ from those things which it receives and to which it is subject. But these men see by halves; for they say indeed that matter is void of quality, but they will not call qualities immaterial. Now how can they make a body without quality, who understand no quality without a body? For the reason which joins a body to all quality Edition: current; Page: [427] suffers not the understanding to comprehend any body without some quality. Either, therefore, he who oppugns incorporeal quality seems also to oppugn unqualified matter; or separating the one from the other, he mutually parts them both. As for the reason which some pretend, that matter is called unqualified not because it is void of all quality, but because it has all qualities, it is most of all against sense. For no man calls that unqualified which is capable of every quality, nor that impassible which is by nature always apt to suffer all things, nor that immovable which is moved every way. And this doubt is not solved, that, however matter is always understood with quality, yet it is understood to be another thing and differing from quality.

Edition: current; Page: [428]


1. I first lay this down for an axiom, that there ought to be seen in men’s lives an agreement with their doctrines. For it is not so necessary that the pleader (as Aeschines has it) and the law speak one and the same thing, as that the life of a philosopher be consonant to his speech. For the speech of a philosopher is a law of his own and voluntarily imposed on himself, unless they esteem philosophy to be a game, or an acuteness in disputing invented for the gaining of applause, and not — what it really is — a thing deserving our greatest study.

2. Since then there are in their discourses many things written by Zeno himself, many by Cleanthes, and most of all by Chrysippus, concerning policy, governing, and being governed, concerning judging and pleading, and yet there is not to be found in any of their lives either leading of armies, making of laws, going to parliament, pleading before the judges, fighting for their country, travelling on embassies, or bestowing of public gifts, but they have all, feeding (if I may so say) on rest as on the lotus, led their whole lives, and those not short but very long ones, in foreign countries, amongst disputations, books, and walkings; it is manifest that they have lived rather according to the writings and sayings of others than their own professions, having spent all their days in that repose which Epicurus and Hieronymus so much commend.

Edition: current; Page: [429]

Chrysippus indeed himself, in his Fourth Book of Lives, thinks there is no difference between a scholastic life and a voluptuous one. I will set down here his very words: “They who are of opinion that a scholastic life is from the very beginning most suitable to philosophers seem to me to be in an error, thinking that men ought to follow this for the sake of some recreation or some other thing like to it, and in that manner to spin out the whole course of their life; that is, if it may be explained, to live at ease. For this opinion of theirs is not to be concealed, many of them delivering it clearly, and not a few more