An Untold Number of Gods and the Path to Eternal Fame

Pliny the Elder, Natural History 2.5 16–18

“This is the reason it is possible to estimate a greater number of divinities than there are humans: individuals make a number of gods equal to their number by adopting their own Junos and Genii. Indeed, some peoples have animals, even horrible ones, for gods and many others too shameful to report, such as swearing by rotten food or other similar things.

Believing in marriage among the gods but without anyone being born from them for such a great span of time or that some are always old and graying while others are eternally young even children, or that some gods are dark-colored, winged, crippled born from eggs, or dying and living on alternating days, these beliefs are like childhood delusions. But it is beyond every kind of shame to imagine adultery among them, then strife and hatred, and that there are powers of thieves and criminals. “God” is a person helping another person; this is the path to eternal fame.”

quamobrem maior caelitum populus etiam quam hominum intellegi potest, cum singuli quoque ex semetipsis totidem deos faciant Iunones Geniosque adoptando sibi, gentes vero quaedam animalia et aliqua etiam obscena pro dis habeant ac multa dictu magis pudenda, per fetidos cibos et alia similia iurantes. matrimonia quidem inter deos credi tantoque aevo ex eis neminem nasci, et alios esse grandaevos semper canosque, alios iuvenes atque pueros, atricolores, aligeros, claudos, ovo editos et alternis diebus viventes morientesque, puerilium prope deliramentorum est; sed super omnem inpudentiam adulteria inter ipsos fingi, mox iurgia et odia, atque etiam furtorum esse et scelerum numina. deus est mortali iuvare mortalem, et haec ad aeternam gloriam via.

File:Pliny the Elder, Natural History, Florence, Plut. 82.4.jpg
Pliny the Elder, Natural History in ms. Florence, Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana, Plut. 82.4, fol. 3r.

“Do Not Acquit this Man”

Publilius Syrus, 296

“Acquitting the guilty convicts the judge.”

Iudex damnatur cum nocens absolvitur.

Dinarchus, Against Aristogiton 107; 105

“Will you really acquit this damned man who never did you anything good from his first public act but instead has done every evil he could?”

τὸν δὲ κατάρατον τοῦτον, ὃς ἀγαθὸν μὲν ὑμᾶς οὐδεπώποτε πεποίηκεν ἐξ οὗ πρὸς τὴν πόλιν προσελήλυθε, κακὸν δ᾿ ὅ τι δυνατός ἐστιν, ἀφήσετε;

“You have to believe, by god, that he will be no better in the future after getting this judgment from you and will never stop taking bribes against you if you acquit him.”

οὐ γὰρ δὴ μὰ τὸν Ἡρακλέα βελτίω γενήσεσθαι αὐτὸν προσδοκᾶτε συγγνώμης νυνὶ τυγχάνοντα παρ᾿ ὑμῶν, οὐδὲ τὸ λοιπὸν ἀφέξεσθαι τοῦ λαμβάνειν χρήματα καθ᾿ ὑμῶν, ἐὰν νῦν ἀφῆτε αὐτόν.

Seneca, Moral Epistles 97.3

“The crime was less offensive than the acquittal.”

Minus crimine quam absolutione peccatum est

Demosthenes, On the False Legation

“For your reputation, for your religion, for your safety, for every advantage you have, do not acquit this man—no, exact vengeance upon him to make him an example to everyone, to our citizens and to the rest of the world.”

οὔτε γὰρ πρὸς δόξαν οὔτε πρὸς εὐσέβειαν οὔτε πρὸς ἀσφάλειαν οὔτε πρὸς ἄλλ᾿ οὐδὲν ὑμῖν συμφέρει τοῦτον ἀφεῖναι, ἀλλὰ τιμωρησαμένους παράδειγμα ποιῆσαι πᾶσι, καὶ τοῖς πολίταις καὶ τοῖς ἄλλοις Ἕλλησιν.

Quintilian, 7.4

“This is a domestic problem, in which sometimes it is enough to claim that there was only one crime, or it was just a mistake, or less severe than is claim for an acquittal”

Est enim domestica disceptatio, in qua et semel peccasse et per errorem et levius quam obiciatur absolutioni nonnumquam sufficit.

Dinarchus, Against Demosthenes 29

“Do not acquit this man, citizens, do not acquit and leave unpunished someone who has signed off on the misfortunes of this state and the world, a man who has been caught in corruption against the state….”

μὴ ἀφῆτε, ἄνδρες Ἀθηναῖοι, μὴ ἀφῆτε τὸν ἐπὶ τοῖς τῆς πόλεως καὶ τῶν ἄλλων Ἑλλήνων ἀτυχήμασιν ἐπιγεγραμμένον ἀτιμώρητον, εἰλημμένον ἐπ᾿ αὐτοφώρῳ δῶρα ἔχοντα κατὰ τῆς πόλεως

Lysias, Against Nicomachus 30

“Today you need to change your minds about what you have done. You need to refuse to keep being abused by these people. Don’t reproach those who have done wrong in private! Do not acquit the guilty when it is in your power to punish them.”

νῦν τοίνυν ὑμῖν μεταμελησάτω τῶν πεπραγμένων, καὶ μὴ ὑπὸ τούτων ἀεὶ κακῶς πάσχοντες ἀνέχεσθε, μηδὲ ἰδίᾳ μὲν ὀνειδίζετε τοῖς ἀδικοῦσιν, ἐπειδὰν δ᾿ ἐξῇ δίκην παρ᾿ αὐτῶν λαμβάνειν, ἀποψηφίζεσθε.

Andocides, Against Alcibiades 25

“I will show from the very facts he uses that he is more fit for death than acquittal. I will explain it to you.”

ἐξ αὐτῶν δὲ τούτων ἐπιδείξω αὐτὸν ἐπιτηδειότερον τεθνάναι μᾶλλον ἢ σῴζεσθαι. διηγήσομαι δ᾿ ὑμῖν.

Lysias, Against the Corn-Dealers 17

“You need to understand that it is impossible for you to acquit. If you ignore the charge when they admit that they are conspiring against the traders, then you will seem to make a judgment against the importers. If they were making up any other kind of defense, no one would criticize a vote to acquit since you can choose to believe whatever side you want. But, as things are now, you can’t imagine you are doing something amazing if you acquit unpunished those who admit that they broke the law!”

Ἐνθυμεῖσθαι δὲ χρὴ ὅτι ἀδύνατον ὑμῖν ἐστιν ἀποψηφίσασθαι. εἰ γὰρ ἀπογνώσεσθε ὁμολογούντων αὐτῶν ἐπὶ τοὺς ἐμπόρους συνίστασθαι, δόξεθ᾿ ὑμεῖς ἐπιβουλεύειν τοῖς εἰσπλέουσιν. εἰ μὲν γὰρ ἄλλην τινὰ ἀπολογίαν ἐποιοῦντο, οὐδεὶς ἂν εἶχε τοῖς ἀποψηφισαμένοις ἐπιτιμᾶν· ἐφ᾿ ὑμῖν γὰρ ὁποτέροις βούλεσθε πιστεύειν· νῦν δὲ πῶς οὐ δεινὰ ἂν δόξαιτε ποιεῖν, εἰ τοὺς ὁμολογοῦντας παρανομεῖν ἀζημίους ἀφήσετε;

acquit

An Untold Number of Gods and the Path to Eternal Fame

Pliny the Elder, Natural History 2.5 16–18

“This is the reason it is possible to estimate a greater number of divinities than there are humans: individuals make a number of gods equal to their number by adopting their own Junos and Genii. Indeed, some peoples have animals, even horrible ones, for gods and many others too shameful to report, such as swearing by rotten food or other similar things.

Believing in marriage among the gods but without anyone being born from them for such a great span of time or that some are always old and graying while others are eternally young even children, or that some gods are dark-colored, winged, crippled born from eggs, or dying and living on alternating days, these beliefs are like childhood delusions. But it is beyond every kind of shame to imagine adultery among them, then strife and hatred, and that there are powers of thieves and criminals. “God” is a person helping another person; this is the path to eternal fame.”

quamobrem maior caelitum populus etiam quam hominum intellegi potest, cum singuli quoque ex semetipsis totidem deos faciant Iunones Geniosque adoptando sibi, gentes vero quaedam animalia et aliqua etiam obscena pro dis habeant ac multa dictu magis pudenda, per fetidos cibos et alia similia iurantes. matrimonia quidem inter deos credi tantoque aevo ex eis neminem nasci, et alios esse grandaevos semper canosque, alios iuvenes atque pueros, atricolores, aligeros, claudos, ovo editos et alternis diebus viventes morientesque, puerilium prope deliramentorum est; sed super omnem inpudentiam adulteria inter ipsos fingi, mox iurgia et odia, atque etiam furtorum esse et scelerum numina. deus est mortali iuvare mortalem, et haec ad aeternam gloriam via.

File:Pliny the Elder, Natural History, Florence, Plut. 82.4.jpg
Pliny the Elder, Natural History in ms. Florence, Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana, Plut. 82.4, fol. 3r.

Problem of Evil, What About the Problem of Good?

Boethius, Consolation 1.90-95

“For what advantage is there of speaking about those falsely attributed works in which I am said to have agitated for Roman freedom? Their fakeness would have been obvious if it had been allowed for me to use the confession of those informers of mine, since this has the most potent influence in all of this business.

What freedom remains to be hoped for? If only some remained! I would have then responded in that phrase of Canius. When Caligula accused him of being aware of a conspiracy underway against him, Canius is reported to have said, “If I had known of it, you would not.”

Sorrow has so thoroughly weakened my senses in this matter that I complain that evil men have attempted to do evil, but I am in fact surprised that they have accomplished what they hoped to. For, while it is perhaps our special weakness as humans to desire to do the worse thing, it is nearly monstrous that whatever a criminal mind can conceive of he can do while God looks on.

This is why it is not surprising that one of your friends asked “If there is really a God, where does evil come from? Ah, but where is good from if there is not?”

Nam de compositis falso litteris quibus libertatem arguor sperasse Romanam quid attinet dicere? Quarum fraus aperta patuisset, si nobis ipsorum confessione delatorum, quod in omnibus negotiis maximas vires habet, uti licuisset. Nam quae sperari reliqua libertas potest? Atque utinam posset ulla! Respondissem  Canii verbo, qui cum a Gaio Caesare Germanici filio conscius contra se factae coniurationis fuisse diceretur: ‘Si ego,’ inquit, ‘scissem, tu nescisses.’ Qua in re non ita sensus nostros maeror hebetavit ut impios scelerata contra virtutem querar molitos, sed quae speraverint effecisse vehementer admiror. Nam deteriora velle nostri fuerit fortasse defectus, posse contra innocentiam, quae sceleratus quisque conceperit inspectante deo, monstri simile est. Unde haud iniuria tuorum quidam familiarium quaesivit: ‘Si quidem deus,’ inquit, ‘est, unde mala? Bona vero unde, si non est?’

Boethius, Consolatio Philosophiae, f.24 (289 x 218 mm), 15th century, Alexander Turnbull Library, MSR-19 (5986125942).jpg
Boethius, Consolatio Philosophiae, f.24 Alexander Turnbull Library, By National Library NZ on The Commons – 

Cosmopolitanism and Hate

Democritus, fr. 247

“The whole earth is open to the wise person, for the entire universe is the country of a good soul.”

ἀνδρὶ σοφῷ πᾶσα γῆ βατή, ψυχῆς γὰρ ἀγαθῆς πατρὶς ὁ ξύμπας κόσμος.

Philostratus, Heroicus 8

“Hate is fear’s kin.”

συγγενὲς γὰρ φόβῳ μῖσος

Dicta Catonis 21

“High things fall because of hate; but minor things are raised up by love.”

Alta cadunt odiis, parva extolluntur amore

Diogenes Laertius, 6.63, on Diogenes the Cynic (4th Century BCE)

“When asked where he was from, he said “I am a world-citizen.”

ἐρωτηθεὶς πόθεν εἴη, “κοσμοπολίτης,” ἔφη.

Tacitus, Agricola 42

“It is central to human nature to hate someone you have harmed.”

proprium humani ingenii est odisse quem laeseris

Epictetus, Dissertationes 1.9.1

“If what is said about the kinship of humans and god by the philosopher is true, what is left for all people other than that advice of Socrates never to say when someone asks where you are from that you are Athenian or Corinthian but that you are a citizen of the world?”

εἰ ταῦτά ἐστιν ἀληθῆ τὰ περὶ τῆς συγγενείας τοῦ θεοῦ καὶ ἀνθρώπων λεγόμενα ὑπὸ τῶν φιλοσόφων, τί ἄλλο ἀπολείπεται τοῖς ἀνθρώποις ἢ τὸ τοῦ Σωκράτους, μηδέποτε πρὸς τὸν πυθόμενον ποδαπός ἐστιν εἰπεῖν ὅτι Ἀθηναῖος ἢ Κορίνθιος, ἀλλ᾽ ὅτι κόσμιος;

Cicero, Tusculan Disputations 5.108

“Socrates, when he was asked what state was his, used to say “the world”. For he judged himself an inhabitant and citizen of the whole world.”

Socrates cum rogaretur, cuiatem se esse diceret, Mundanum, inquit. Totius enim mundi se incolam et civem arbitrabatur.”

Seneca, De vita beata, 20.5

“I know that my country is the world and that the gods are guardians, those judges of my deeds and words above and beyond me.”

Patriam meam esse mundum sciam et praesides deos, hos supra circaque me stare factorum dictorumque censores.

Plutarch, De Exilio 600e7-601b5

“This is the character of your current exile from your customary country. For we have no country by nature, just as we have neither home, nor field, nor blacksmith’s, nor doctor’s office, as Aristôn said. But each of these things develops or, rather, is named and called so by the man inhabiting or using it.

For a human being, as Plato says, “is not earthly born and immovable but comes from heaven” just as if the head raises the body up straight from its root stretching towards the sky. So Herakles said well “Am I Argive or Theban? I do not claim / one—every citadel in Greece is my homeland”. But Socrates put it better saying “I am neither Athenian nor Greek, but a citizen of the world,” as someone might claim to be Rhodian or Korinthian, because he did not lock himself within Sounion, Tainaros, or the Keraunian mountains.

As [Euripides] puts it: “Do you see the boundless light above / and the earth opening below with damp embrace?” These are the boundaries of our countries and no man is an exile, foreigner or stranger where there is fire, water, air; where we find the same rulers, overseers, and presidents: the same sun, moon, and star at day’s break; where the same laws exist for all under one order and single government: the summer and winter solstices, the Pleiades and Arcturus, the seasons of planting and harvesting that rise and set for us all; and where there is one king and ruler, god, who knows the beginning, middle and end of everything; who travels through all, guiding it with a straight force. Justice is his attendant as an avenger for those who transgress divine law. We all by nature follow this law in treating all people as our fellow citizens.

Οἷόν ἐστιν ἡ νῦν σοι παροῦσα μετάστασις ἐκ τῆς νομιζομένης πατρίδος. φύσει γὰρ οὐκ ἔστι πατρίς, ὥσπερ οὐδ’ οἶκος οὐδ’ ἀγρὸς οὐδὲ χαλκεῖον, ὡς ᾿Αρίστων (St. V.

Fr. I 371) ἔλεγεν, οὐδ’ ἰατρεῖον· ἀλλὰ γίνεται μᾶλλον δ’ ὀνομάζεται καὶ καλεῖται τούτων ἕκαστον ἀεὶ πρὸς τὸν οἰκοῦντα καὶ χρώμενον. ὁ γὰρ ἄνθρωπος, ᾗ φησιν ὁ

Πλάτων (Tim. 90a), ‘φυτὸν οὐκ ἔγγειον’ οὐδ’ ἀκίνητον  ‘ἀλλ’ οὐράνιόν’ ἐστιν, ὥσπερ ἐκ ῥίζης τὸ σῶμα τῆς κεφαλῆς ὀρθὸν ἱστάσης πρὸς τὸν οὐρανὸν ἀνεστραμμένον. ὅθεν εὖ μὲν ὁ ῾Ηρακλῆς εἶπεν (Trag. adesp. 392)

‘᾿Αργεῖος ἢ Θηβαῖος· οὐ γὰρ εὔχομαι
μιᾶς· ἅπας μοι πύργος ῾Ελλήνων πατρίς.’

ὁ δὲ Σωκράτης βέλτιον, οὐκ ᾿Αθηναῖος οὐδ’ ῞Ελλην ἀλλὰ κόσμιος εἶναι φήσας, ὡς ἄν τις ῾Ρόδιος εἶπεν ἢ Κορίν-θιος, | ὅτι μηδὲ Σουνίῳ μηδὲ Ταινάρῳ μηδὲ τοῖς Κεραυνίοις ἐνέκλεισεν ἑαυτόν.

‘ὁρᾷς τὸν ὑψοῦ τόνδ’ ἄπειρον αἰθέρα,
καὶ γῆν πέριξ ἔχονθ’ ὑγραῖς <ἐν> ἀγκάλαις;’ (Eur. fr. 941, 1. 2)

οὗτοι τῆς πατρίδος ἡμῶν ὅροι [εἰσί], καὶ οὐδεὶς οὔτε φυγὰς ἐν τούτοις οὔτε ξένος οὔτ’ ἀλλοδαπός, ὅπου τὸ αὐτὸ πῦρ ὕδωρ ἀήρ, ἄρχοντες οἱ αὐτοὶ καὶ διοικηταὶ καὶπρυτάνεις ἥλιος σελήνη φωσφόρος· οἱ αὐτοὶ νόμοι πᾶσι, ὑφ’ ἑνὸς προστάγματος καὶ μιᾶς ἡγεμονίας τροπαὶ βόρειοι τροπαὶ νότιοι ἰσημερίαι Πλειὰς ᾿Αρκτοῦρος ὧραι σπόρων ὧραι φυτειῶν· εἷς δὲ βασιλεὺς καὶ ἄρχων· ‘θεὸς ἀρχήν τε καὶ μέσα καὶ τελευτὴν ἔχων τοῦ παντὸς εὐθείᾳ περαίνει κατὰ φύσιν περιπορευόμενος· τῷ δ’ ἕπεται Δίκη τῶν ἀπολειπομένων τοῦ θείου νόμου τιμωρός’ (Plat. Legg. 716a),ᾗ χρώμεθα πάντες ἄνθρωποι φύσει πρὸς πάντας ἀνθρώπους ὥσπερ πολίτας.

Proclus Life of Homer, 99.14

“Because of that, some people say Homer is from Kolophon, others say Smyrna, while there are those who say he is from Iêtê or Kumê. Generally, every city is fashioned as his, his is why he may be truly called a citizen of the world.”

μετὰ πολλῆς ἀδείας ἕκαστος οἷς ἠβούλετο ἐχαρίσατο. καὶ διὰ τοῦτο οἱ μὲν Κολοφώνιον αὐτὸν ἀνηγόρευσαν, οἱ δὲ Χῖον, οἱ δὲ Σμυρναῖον, οἱ δὲ ᾿Ιήτην, ἄλλοι δὲ Κυμαῖον· καὶ καθόλου πᾶσα πόλις ἀντιποιεῖται τἀνδρός, ὅθεν εἰκότως ἂν κοσμοπολίτης λέγοιτο.

Cicero, Tusculan Disputations 5.25-6

“All these diseases of the soul develop from a special fear of those things which people fear and then hate. They define a disease of the soul, moreover, as a vehement belief about a thing which is not desired even though it is anticipated powerfully, a belief which is constant and deeply held.”

quae omnes aegrotationes animi ex quodam metu nascuntur earum rerum, quas fugiunt et oderunt. Definiunt autem animi aegrotationem opinationem vehementem de re non expetenda, tamquam valde expetenda sit, inhaerentem et penitus insitam.

Velleius Paterculus, History of Rome 2.16.4

“Gradually, then, by granting citizenship to those who had not carried arms or had put them down rather late, the population was rebuilt as Pompeius, Sulla and Marius restored the flagging and sputtering power of the Roman people.”

Paulatim deinde recipiendo in civitatem, qui arma aut non ceperant aut deposuerant maturius, vires refectae sunt, Pompeio Sullaque et Mano fluentem procumbentemque rem populi Romani restituentibus.

Aristotle, Rhetoric 1395a 33

“[I do not] commend the saying “nothing in excess” because one must hate evil men to the extreme”

“οὐδὲ τὸ μηδὲν ἄγαν· δεῖ γὰρ τούς γε κακοὺς ἄγαν μισεῖν”.

μισητής: misêtês, “hater”

μισογυνής: misogunês, “woman-hating”

μισοβάβαρος: misobarbaros, “hatred of foreigners”

μισοβασιλεύς: misobasileus, “king-hating”

μισόκοσμος: misokosmos, “universe-hating”

μισόνυμφος: misonumphos, “marriage-hating”

μισόπαις: misopais, “child-hating”

μισοπόλεμος: misopolemos, “war-hating”

μισόπτωχος: misoptôkhos, “hating-the-poor”

μισόσοφος: misosophos, “wisdom-hating”

μισοσώματος: misosômatos, “body-hating”

μισόφιλος: misophilos, “friend-hating”

μισοφιλόλογος: misophilologos, “literature-hating”

μισοπώγων: misopôgôn, “beard-hating”

Hate

Some Brief Words on How to Live

Cornelius Nepos, Atticus 25.11

“It is difficult to explain everything and not really necessary. But I do want to make this one thing clear, that his generosity was not offered at advantageous moments or with specific calculation. This can be evaluated from the events and times themselves, because he never ministered to those in power but always rushed to help those in need.”

Difficile est omnia persequi et non necessarium. Illud unum intellegi volumus, illius liberalitatem neque temporariam neque callidam fuisse. Id ex ipsis rebus ac temporibus iudicari potest, quod non florentibus se venditavit, sed afflictis semper succurrit

Marcus Aurelius, Meditations 6.47

“So one thing is worth much: to keep on living with truth and justice and in good will even among liars and unjust men”

Ἓν ὧδε πολλοῦ ἄξιον, τὸ μετ᾿ ἀληθείας καὶ δικαιοσύνης εὐμενῆ τοῖς ψεύσταις καὶ ἀδίκοις διαβιοῦν.

Image result for medieval hellmouth
Hellmouth from ‘The Hours of Catherine of Cleves (c. 1440)

Better citation from twitter:

Some Brief Words on How to Live

Cornelius Nepos, Atticus 25.11

“It is difficult to explain everything and not really necessary. But I do want to make this one thing clear, that his generosity was not offered at advantageous moments or with specific calculation. This can be evaluated from the events and times themselves, because he never ministered to those in power but always rushed to help those in need.”

Difficile est omnia persequi et non necessarium. Illud unum intellegi volumus, illius liberalitatem neque temporariam neque callidam fuisse. Id ex ipsis rebus ac temporibus iudicari potest, quod non florentibus se venditavit, sed afflictis semper succurrit; qui quidem Serviliam,

 

Marcus Aurelius, Meditations 6.47

“So one thing is worth much: to keep on living with truth and justice and in good will even among liars and unjust men”

Ἓν ὧδε πολλοῦ ἄξιον, τὸ μετ᾿ ἀληθείας καὶ δικαιοσύνης εὐμενῆ τοῖς ψεύσταις καὶ ἀδίκοις διαβιοῦν.

Image result for medieval hellmouth
Hellmouth from ‘The Hours of Catherine of Cleves (c. 1440)

Better citation from twitter: