When This is All Over, It Will Happen Again

Nemesius, De natura Hominis 37

“The stoics say that once the planets return into the same sign and location where each one was at the beginning when the universe first arose, in that appointed circuit of time there is a burning and purging of existence and everything returns necessarily to the same order. Each of the stars that travels again ends up indistinguishable from how they were in the previous cycle.

They say that Socrates will be there again along with Plato and each of the people with them and their friends, and their fellow citizens. They will experience the same things, do the same things, and try their hand at the same things; and every city, village, and field will be the same. This re-creation of everything happens not once but often

In the boundless space, the things turn out the same without this completion. The gods, because they do not submit to that destruction and have become away from just one cycle, know everything that is going to happen in subsequent eras from a single turn. There’s nothing different in what happens from before but everything is indistinguishable down to the smallest detail.”

 

οἱ δὲ Στωϊκοί φασιν ἀποκαθισταμένους τοὺς πλανήτας εἰς τὸ αὐτὸ σημεῖον κατά τε μῆκος καὶ πλάτος ἔνθα τὴν ἀρχὴν ἕκαστος ἦν ὅτε τὸ πρῶτον ὁ κόσμος συνέστη, ἐν ῥηταῖς χρόνων περιόδοις ἐκπύρωσιν καὶ φθορὰν τῶν ὄντων ἀπεργάζεσθαι, καὶ πάλιν ἐξ ὑπαρχῆς εἰς τὸ αὐτὸ τὸν κόσμον ἀποκαθίστασθαι, καὶ τῶν ἀστέρων ὁμοίως πάλιν φερομένων ἕκαστα τῶν ἐν τῇ προτέρᾳ περιόδῳ γενομένων ἀπαραλλάκτως ἀποτελεῖσθαι.

ἔσεσθαι γὰρ πάλιν Σωκράτην καὶ Πλάτωνα καὶ ἕκαστον τῶν ἀνθρώπων σὺν τοῖς αὐτοῖς καὶ φίλοις καὶ πολίταις, καὶ τὰ αὐτὰ πείσεσθαι, καὶ τοῖς αὐτοῖς συντεύξεσθαι καὶ τὰ αὐτὰ μεταχειριεῖσθαι, καὶ πᾶσαν πόλιν καὶ κώμην καὶ ἀγρὸν ὁμοίως ἀποκαθίστασθαι· γίνεσθαι δὲ τὴν ἀποκατάστασιν τοῦ παντὸς οὐχ ἅπαξ ἀλλὰ πολλάκις·

μᾶλλον δὲ εἰς ἄπειρον, καὶ ἀτελευτήτως τὰ αὐτὰ ἀποκαθίστασθαι· τοὺς δὲ θεοὺς τοὺς μὴ ὑποκειμένους τῇ φθορᾷ ταύτῃ, παρακολουθήσαντας μιᾷ περιόδῳ γινώσκειν ἐκ ταύ- πάντα τὰ μέλλοντα ἔσεσθαι ἐν ταῖς ἑξῆς περιόδοις·  οὐδὲν γὰρ ξένον ἔσεσθαι παρὰ τὰ γενόμενα πρότερον, ἀλλὰ πάντα ὡσαύτως ἀπαραλλάκτως ἄχρι καὶ τῶν ἐλαχίστων.

or

The Truth Beyond Mortal Minds

Stobaeus 2.1.1

“Concerning those who interpret divine matters, the truth of these thoughts in reality is beyond comprehension for mortals.”

Περὶ τῶν τὰ θεῖα ἑρμηνευόντων, καὶ ὡς εἴη ἀνθρώποις ἀκατάληπτος ἡ τῶν νοητῶν κατὰ τὴν οὐσίαν ἀλήθεια.

Plato, Timaeus 71e-72a

“In remembering the missive of their father, those who made us when he ordered them to make a mortal race as good as they were able, purified the base part of us in such a way by establishing the power of divination so that we might approach the truth. A sufficient sign that god granted the power of divination to balance human foolishness is this: no one approaches inspired and true divination when they are in their right mind but only when his intelligence is compromised in sleep or sickness or set aside by some divine possession.

Instead, when someone is rational they need to reconsider and remember what was said in a dream or vision under the influence of divination and the nature of divine inspiration, to analyze however many visions were seen and to use reason to figure out what they mean for good or for ill in the future, the past, or the present. It is not the job of someone who is in a manic state still to judge what is seen or what they said. It was well insisted in ancient times that to know one’s own matters and one’s self is proper only to the rational mind.”

Μεμνημένοι γὰρ τῆς τοῦ πατρὸς ἐπιστολῆς οἱ ξυστήσαντες ἡμᾶς, ὅτε τὸ θνητὸν ἐπέστελλε γένος ὡς ἄριστον εἰς δύναμιν ποιεῖν, οὕτω δὴ κατορθοῦντες καὶ τὸ φαῦλον ἡμῶν, ἵνα ἀληθείας πῃ προσάπτοιτο, κατέστησαν ἐν τούτῳ τὸ μαντεῖον. ἱκανὸν δὲ σημεῖον ὡς μαντικὴν ἀφροσύνῃ θεὸς ἀνθρωπίνῃ δέδωκεν· οὐδεὶς γὰρ ἔννους ἐφάπτεται μαντικῆς ἐνθέου καὶ ἀληθοῦς, ἀλλ᾿ ἢ καθ᾿ ὕπνον τὴν τῆς φρονήσεως πεδηθεὶς δύναμιν ἢ διὰ νόσον ἢ διά τινα ἐνθουσιασμὸν παραλλάξας. ἀλλὰ ξυννοῆσαι μὲν ἔμφρονος τά τε ῥηθέντα ἀναμνησθέντα ὄναρ ἢ ὕπαρ ὑπὸ τῆς μαντικῆς τε καὶ ἐνθουσιαστικῆς φύσεως, καὶ ὅσα ἂν φαντάσματα ὀφθῇ, πάντα λογισμῷ διελέσθαι, ὅπῃ τι σημαίνει καὶ ὅτῳ μέλλοντος ἢ παρελθόντος ἢ παρόντος κακοῦ ἢ ἀγαθοῦ· τοῦ δὲ μανέντος ἔτι τε ἐν τούτῳ μένοντος οὐκ ἔργον τὰ φανέντα καὶ φωνηθέντα ὑφ᾿ ἑαυτοῦ κρίνειν, ἀλλ᾿ εὖ καὶ πάλαι λέγεται τὸ πράττειν καὶ γνῶναι τά τε αὑτοῦ καὶ ἑαυτὸν σώφρονι μόνῳ προσήκειν.

Porphyry, Ad Marcella 24

“Let four elements rule chiefly when it comes to god: belief, truth, desire, and hope. For it is right to believe that the only safety is cleaving to god and having faith that must be eager to learn the truth about him and knowing how to desire what is known and once desired to nourish the mind on good hopes throughout your life. For good people supersede base ones thanks to good hopes. Hence, let these elements and this many rule.”

Τέσσαρα στοιχεῖα μάλιστα κεκρατύνθω περὶ θεοῦ· πίστις, ἀλήθεια, ἔρως, ἐλπίς. πιστεῦσαι γὰρ δεῖ ὅτι μόνη σωτηρία ἡ πρὸς τὸν θεὸν ἐπιστροφή, καὶ πιστεύσαντα ὡς ἔνι μάλιστα σπουδάσαι τἀληθῆ γνῶναι περὶ αὐτοῦ, καὶ γνόντα ἐρασθῆναι τοῦ γνωσθέντος, ἐρασθέντα δὲ ἐλπίσιν ἀγαθαῖς τρέφειν τὴν ψυχὴν διὰ τοῦ βίου. ἐλπίσι γὰρ ἀγαθαῖς οἱ ἀγαθοὶ τῶν φαύλων ὑπερέχουσι. στοιχεῖα μὲν οὖν ταῦτα καὶ τοσαῦτα κεκρατύνθω.

Iamblichus, Protrepticus 42.2

“If a human being, then, is some kind of a simple creature and its essence is structured according to reason and thought, then it has no other work than the most precise truth alone and telling the truth about reality. But if a human being is a composite of many abilities, it is clear that it will function because it is created from more, always it is the best of these actions, for instance the health of a doctor or the preservation provided by a ship’s captain.”

εἰ μὲν οὖν ἁπλοῦν τι ζῷόν ἐστιν ὁ ἄνθρωπος καὶ κατὰ λόγον καὶ νοῦν τέτακται αὐτοῦ ἡ οὐσία, οὐκ ἄλλο ἐστὶν αὐτοῦ ἔργον ἢ μόνη ἡ ἀκριβεστάτη ἀλή-
θεια καὶ τὸ περὶ τῶν ὄντων ἀληθεύειν· εἰ δ’ ἐστὶν ἐκ πλειόνων δυνάμεων συμπεφυκός, δῆλόν ἐστιν ὡς ἀφ’ οὗ πλείω πέφυκεν ἀποτελεῖσθαι, ἀεὶ τούτων τὸ βέλτιστον ἔργον ἐστίν, οἷον ἰατρικοῦ ὑγεία καὶ κυβερνήτου σωτηρία. βέλτιον δὲ οὐδὲν ἔχομεν λέγειν ἔργον

The Delphic Priestess, Romeyn de Hooghe, 1687

“Where Is the Soul From?” And Other Casual Conversation Starters

Or, Philo just gets me…

Philo, On the Cherubim  32 (115)

“Where did the soul come from and where will it go? For how much time will it be our companion? Are we capable of saying that its nature is? When did we receive it? Was it before we were born? But, we did not exist then. Was it after death? But, then, we will not be as we are now, conjoined to bodies, but we will rush towards rebirth, among the bodiless, without characteristics, without connections.

And even now as we live we are ruled rather than ruling and we are known rather than knowing. The soul knows us even if we do not know it. It issues orders which we necessarily obey just as slaves obey their mistress. And whenever it wants, it will demand from the judge a divorce from us and it will depart, leaving behind a home bereft of life. If we try to force it to stay, it will escape. Its nature is so fine, that it provides nowhere for the body to cling to.”

πόθεν δὲ ἦλθεν ἡ ψυχή, ποῖ δὲ χωρήσει, πόσον δὲ χρόνον ἡμῖν ὁμοδίαιτος ἔσται; τίς δέ ἐστι τὴν οὐσίαν ἔχομεν εἰπεῖν; πότε δὲ καὶ ἐκτησάμεθα αὐτήν; πρὸ γενέσεως; ἀλλ᾿ οὐχ ὑπήρχομεν· μετὰ τὸν θάνατον; ἀλλ᾿ οὐκ ἐσόμεθα οἱ μετὰ σωμάτων σύγκριτοι ποιοί, ἀλλ᾿ εἰς παλιγγενεσίαν ὁρμήσομεν οἱ μετὰ ἀσωμάτων ἀσύγκριτοι ἄποιοί.

ἀλλὰ νῦν ὅτε ζῶμεν κρατούμεθα μᾶλλον ἢ | ἄρχομεν καὶ γνωριζόμεθα μᾶλλον ἢ γνωρίζομεν· οἶδε γὰρ ἡμᾶς οὐ γνωριζομένη πρὸς ἡμῶν καὶ ἐπιτάγματα ἐπιτάττει, οἷς ἐξ ἀνάγκης ὑπηρετοῦμεν ὡς οἰκέται δεσποίνῃ· ἀπόλειψίν τε ὅταν ἐθέλῃ πρὸς τὸν ἄρχοντα χρηματίσασα μεταναστήσεται ἔρημον καταλιποῦσα ζωῆς τὸν ἡμέτερον οἶκον, κἂν ἐπιμένειν βιαζώμεθα, διαλύσεται· λεπτομερὴς γὰρ αὐτῆς ἡ φύσις, ὡς μηδεμίαν ἐμπαρέχειν λαβὴν σώματι.

The dead man before God.A demon attempts to steal his soul, but is attacked by St Michael the Archangel. 15th c. The Book of Rohan Hours.
The Book of Rohan Hours

Apollo’s Esteem for Human Beings

Schol. BT ad. Il. 21.465

“Whenever the poet turns his gaze to divine nature, then he holds human affairs in contempt.”

ὅταν δὲ ἀποβλέψῃ εἰς τὴν θείαν φύσιν ὁ ποιητής, τότε τὰ ἀνθρώπινα πράγματα ἐξευτελίζει. b(BCE3)T

Iliad 5.440-442

“Think, son of Tydeus, step off, don’t wish to think
Equal to the gods, since not at all similar are the races
Of immortal gods and humans who walk on the ground.”

φράζεο Τυδεΐδη καὶ χάζεο, μηδὲ θεοῖσιν
ἶσ’ ἔθελε φρονέειν, ἐπεὶ οὔ ποτε φῦλον ὁμοῖον
ἀθανάτων τε θεῶν χαμαὶ ἐρχομένων τ’ ἀνθρώπων.

Iliad 21.461-465

“Then lord Apollo the far-shooter answered,
“Earthshaker, you would not think that I would be prudent
If indeed I fought with you over mortals,
Wretched men who are like the leaves now flourish
Until they grow full, eat the fruit of fields,
And then they diminish until they die…”

Τὸν δ’ αὖτε προσέειπεν ἄναξ ἑκάεργος ᾿Απόλλων·
ἐννοσίγαι’ οὐκ ἄν με σαόφρονα μυθήσαιο
ἔμμεναι, εἰ δὴ σοί γε βροτῶν ἕνεκα πτολεμίξω
δειλῶν, οἳ φύλλοισιν ἐοικότες ἄλλοτε μέν τε
ζαφλεγέες τελέθουσιν ἀρούρης καρπὸν ἔδοντες,
ἄλλοτε δὲ φθινύθουσιν ἀκήριοι…

 

Image result for Ancient greek vase apollo

Your Gods Hate You: Clement’s Critique of the Greek Pantheon

Clement of Alexandria, Exhortation to the Greeks III

“Seriously, then, let us add this too: your gods are inhuman and people-hating demons who do not only delight in the madness of humanity but even revel in the slaughter of humans. They gather their incitements for pleasure first in the armed conflicts in stadia and then in the countless arguments in war so that they might be especially able to sate their thirst for human gore. Already they have demanded human sacrifices in cities and nations, falling upon them like plagues. This is why Aristomenes the Messenian killed three hundred men for Zeus of Ithôme, because he believed that these types and numbers of hekatombs bring good outcomes.”

Φέρε δὴ οὖν καὶ τοῦτο προσθῶμεν, ὡς ἀπάνθρωποι καὶ μισάνθρωποι δαίμονες εἶεν ὑμῶν οἱ θεοὶ καὶ οὐχὶ μόνον ἐπιχαίροντες τῇ φρενοβλαβείᾳ τῶν ἀνθρώπων, πρὸς δὲ καὶ ἀνθρωποκτονίας ἀπολαύοντες· νυνὶ μὲν τὰς ἐν σταδίοις ἐνόπλους φιλονεικίας, νυνὶ δὲ τὰς ἐν πολέμοις ἀναρίθμους φιλοτιμίας ἀφορμὰς σφίσιν ἡδονῆς ποριζόμενοι, ὅπως ὅτι μάλιστα ἔχοιεν ἀνθρωπείων ἀνέδην ἐμφορεῖσθαι φόνων· ἤδη δὲ κατὰ πόλεις καὶ ἔθνη, οἱονεὶ λοιμοὶ ἐπισκήψαντες, σπονδὰς ἀπῄτησαν ἀνημέρους. Ἀριστομένης γοῦν ὁ Μεσσήνιος τῷ Ἰθωμήτῃ Διὶ τριακοσίους ἀπέσφαξεν, τοσαύτας ὁμοῦ καὶ τοιαύτας καλλιερεῖν οἰόμενος ἑκατόμβας·

Image result for ancient greek gods vase slaughter

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.

“Where Is the Soul From?” And Other Casual Conversation Starters

Or, Philo just gets me…

Philo, On the Cherubim  32 (115)

“Where did the soul come from and where will it go? For how much time will it be our companion? Are we capable of saying that its nature is? When did we receive it? Was it before we were born? But, we did not exist then. Was it after death? But, then, we will not be as we are now, conjoined to bodies, but we will rush towards rebirth, among the bodiless, without characteristics, without connections.

And even now as we live we are ruled rather than ruling and we are known rather than knowing. The soul knows us even if we do not know it. It issues orders which we necessarily obey just as slaves obey their mistress. And whenever it wants, it will demand from the judge a divorce from us and it will depart, leaving behind a home bereft of life. If we try to force it to stay, it will escape. Its nature is so fine, that it provides nowhere for the body to cling to.”

πόθεν δὲ ἦλθεν ἡ ψυχή, ποῖ δὲ χωρήσει, πόσον δὲ χρόνον ἡμῖν ὁμοδίαιτος ἔσται; τίς δέ ἐστι τὴν οὐσίαν ἔχομεν εἰπεῖν; πότε δὲ καὶ ἐκτησάμεθα αὐτήν; πρὸ γενέσεως; ἀλλ᾿ οὐχ ὑπήρχομεν· μετὰ τὸν θάνατον; ἀλλ᾿ οὐκ ἐσόμεθα οἱ μετὰ σωμάτων σύγκριτοι ποιοί, ἀλλ᾿ εἰς παλιγγενεσίαν ὁρμήσομεν οἱ μετὰ ἀσωμάτων ἀσύγκριτοι ἄποιοί.

ἀλλὰ νῦν ὅτε ζῶμεν κρατούμεθα μᾶλλον ἢ | ἄρχομεν καὶ γνωριζόμεθα μᾶλλον ἢ γνωρίζομεν· οἶδε γὰρ ἡμᾶς οὐ γνωριζομένη πρὸς ἡμῶν καὶ ἐπιτάγματα ἐπιτάττει, οἷς ἐξ ἀνάγκης ὑπηρετοῦμεν ὡς οἰκέται δεσποίνῃ· ἀπόλειψίν τε ὅταν ἐθέλῃ πρὸς τὸν ἄρχοντα χρηματίσασα μεταναστήσεται ἔρημον καταλιποῦσα ζωῆς τὸν ἡμέτερον οἶκον, κἂν ἐπιμένειν βιαζώμεθα, διαλύσεται· λεπτομερὴς γὰρ αὐτῆς ἡ φύσις, ὡς μηδεμίαν ἐμπαρέχειν λαβὴν σώματι.

The dead man before God.A demon attempts to steal his soul, but is attacked by St Michael the Archangel. 15th c. The Book of Rohan Hours.
The Book of Rohan Hours

The Truth Beyond Mortal Minds

Here’s a recent piece on Greek concepts of the truth from The Conversation. It is part of a series developed with WBUR’s On Point, called “In Search of Truth” (here’s the first episode)

Stobaeus 2.1.1

“Concerning those who interpret divine matters, the truth of these thoughts in reality is beyond comprehension for mortals.”

Περὶ τῶν τὰ θεῖα ἑρμηνευόντων, καὶ ὡς εἴη ἀνθρώποις ἀκατάληπτος ἡ τῶν νοητῶν κατὰ τὴν οὐσίαν ἀλήθεια.

Plato, Timaeus 71e-72a

“In remembering the missive of their father, those who made us when he ordered them to make a mortal race as good as they were able, purified the base part of us in such a way by establishing the power of divination so that we might approach the truth. A sufficient sign that god granted the power of divination to balance human foolishness is this: no one approaches inspired and true divination when they are in their right mind but only when his intelligence is compromised in sleep or sickness or set aside by some divine possession.

Instead, when someone is rational they need to reconsider and remember what was said in a dream or vision under the influence of divination and the nature of divine inspiration, to analyze however many visions were seen and to use reason to figure out what they mean for good or for ill in the future, the past, or the present. It is not the job of someone who is in a manic state still to judge what is seen or what they said. It was well insisted in ancient times that to know one’s own matters and one’s self is proper only to the rational mind.”

Μεμνημένοι γὰρ τῆς τοῦ πατρὸς ἐπιστολῆς οἱ ξυστήσαντες ἡμᾶς, ὅτε τὸ θνητὸν ἐπέστελλε γένος ὡς ἄριστον εἰς δύναμιν ποιεῖν, οὕτω δὴ κατορθοῦντες καὶ τὸ φαῦλον ἡμῶν, ἵνα ἀληθείας πῃ προσάπτοιτο, κατέστησαν ἐν τούτῳ τὸ μαντεῖον. ἱκανὸν δὲ σημεῖον ὡς μαντικὴν ἀφροσύνῃ θεὸς ἀνθρωπίνῃ δέδωκεν· οὐδεὶς γὰρ ἔννους ἐφάπτεται μαντικῆς ἐνθέου καὶ ἀληθοῦς, ἀλλ᾿ ἢ καθ᾿ ὕπνον τὴν τῆς φρονήσεως πεδηθεὶς δύναμιν ἢ διὰ νόσον ἢ διά τινα ἐνθουσιασμὸν παραλλάξας. ἀλλὰ ξυννοῆσαι μὲν ἔμφρονος τά τε ῥηθέντα ἀναμνησθέντα ὄναρ ἢ ὕπαρ ὑπὸ τῆς μαντικῆς τε καὶ ἐνθουσιαστικῆς φύσεως, καὶ ὅσα ἂν φαντάσματα ὀφθῇ, πάντα λογισμῷ διελέσθαι, ὅπῃ τι σημαίνει καὶ ὅτῳ μέλλοντος ἢ παρελθόντος ἢ παρόντος κακοῦ ἢ ἀγαθοῦ· τοῦ δὲ μανέντος ἔτι τε ἐν τούτῳ μένοντος οὐκ ἔργον τὰ φανέντα καὶ φωνηθέντα ὑφ᾿ ἑαυτοῦ κρίνειν, ἀλλ᾿ εὖ καὶ πάλαι λέγεται τὸ πράττειν καὶ γνῶναι τά τε αὑτοῦ καὶ ἑαυτὸν σώφρονι μόνῳ προσήκειν.

Porphyry, Ad Marcella 24

“Let four elements rule chiefly when it comes to god: belief, truth, desire, and hope. For it is right to believe that the only safety is cleaving to god and having faith that must be eager to learn the truth about him and knowing how to desire what is known and once desired to nourish the mind on good hopes throughout your life. For good people supersede base ones thanks to good hopes. Hence, let these elements and this many rule.”

Τέσσαρα στοιχεῖα μάλιστα κεκρατύνθω περὶ θεοῦ· πίστις, ἀλήθεια, ἔρως, ἐλπίς. πιστεῦσαι γὰρ δεῖ ὅτι μόνη σωτηρία ἡ πρὸς τὸν θεὸν ἐπιστροφή, καὶ πιστεύσαντα ὡς ἔνι μάλιστα σπουδάσαι τἀληθῆ γνῶναι περὶ αὐτοῦ, καὶ γνόντα ἐρασθῆναι τοῦ γνωσθέντος, ἐρασθέντα δὲ ἐλπίσιν ἀγαθαῖς τρέφειν τὴν ψυχὴν διὰ τοῦ βίου. ἐλπίσι γὰρ ἀγαθαῖς οἱ ἀγαθοὶ τῶν φαύλων ὑπερέχουσι. στοιχεῖα μὲν οὖν ταῦτα καὶ τοσαῦτα κεκρατύνθω.

Iamblichus, Protrepticus 42.2

“If a human being, then, is some kind of a simple creature and its essence is structured according to reason and thought, then it has no other work than the most precise truth alone and telling the truth about reality. But if a human being is a composite of many abilities, it is clear that it will function because it is created from more, always it is the best of these actions, for instance the health of a doctor or the preservation provided by a ship’s captain.”

εἰ μὲν οὖν ἁπλοῦν τι ζῷόν ἐστιν ὁ ἄνθρωπος καὶ κατὰ λόγον καὶ νοῦν τέτακται αὐτοῦ ἡ οὐσία, οὐκ ἄλλο ἐστὶν αὐτοῦ ἔργον ἢ μόνη ἡ ἀκριβεστάτη ἀλή-
θεια καὶ τὸ περὶ τῶν ὄντων ἀληθεύειν· εἰ δ’ ἐστὶν ἐκ πλειόνων δυνάμεων συμπεφυκός, δῆλόν ἐστιν ὡς ἀφ’ οὗ πλείω πέφυκεν ἀποτελεῖσθαι, ἀεὶ τούτων τὸ βέλτιστον ἔργον ἐστίν, οἷον ἰατρικοῦ ὑγεία καὶ κυβερνήτου σωτηρία. βέλτιον δὲ οὐδὲν ἔχομεν λέγειν ἔργον

The Delphic Priestess, Romeyn de Hooghe, 1687

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.

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.