gnostics and religions (a)

The Gnostics and Their Remains

In the mid-19th century, eighty years before the chance discovery of a treasure trove of Gnostic manuscripts in a dump in Egypt, C.W. King collected what was known about the Gnostics in this book. At that time there were only three sources of information on Gnosticism: polemics against them by early Christian writers, the Pistis Sophia, and a jumble of confusing images and cryptic inscriptions on Roman-era gems and amulets.

In spite of all of the missing jigsaw pieces, King managed to assemble a picture of the Gnostics which is still cited today as authoritative. Rather than one monolithic group, the Gnostics had very diverse beliefs. Some thought that Jesus was a man, while others thought that he was a God, and some believed that he became a God only after he was baptized. Some believed in a struggle between good and evil, others were non-dualistic. Most had widely-varying intricate systems of intermediaries between the ultimate deity and humanity. On the face of it, this looks polytheistic, but instead was an attempt to solve the problem of how a perfect God could create an imperfect world. Many of these Aeons later became the demons and angels of Medieval and Renaissance magic.

King seeks links to Gnostic symbols and beliefs far afield, from India, to the Templars, Rosicrucians and Illuminati. He discusses Mithra and Serapis worship, and gives many examples of Roman and Greek magical spells and talismans. He discusses the fudged birthdate of Jesus, Masons’ marks, and Simon Magus. The book is a fascinating tour of hidden knowledge.

J. B. Hare, 5/28/2006


THAT nothing upon the subject of Gnosticism should have hitherto been attempted in our language except by Dr. Walsh in his very meagre sketch (long since out of print), seemed to me a sufficient excuse for my undertaking the same task upon a more comprehensive scale, as well as upon different principles. Dr. Walsh’s performance, entitled ‘An Essay on Coins, Medals, and Gems, as illustrating the progress of Christianity in the Early Ages,’ is little more than an abridgment of some popular Church History for the period comprehended within its scope, illustrated from the very scanty store of monuments at his command; whilst his explanations are, like the source supplying them, based upon grounds altogether fallacious, and, even to the beginner, obviously unsatisfactory.

Taking for granted, upon the bare word of their opponents, that the various Teachers of the Gnosis were mere heretics, that is, perverters of the regular (!) Christian doctrine which they had at first embraced as a divine revelation, he, like his guides, did not trouble himself any further to investigate the true origin of their systems, but was content with roughly sketching their most prominent features; whilst in explaining their extant productions, he refers all, however diverse in nature, to the same school, and interprets them according to his own preconceived and baseless views of their character.

On such a plan as this, neither the doctrines nor the monuments they have bequeathed to us in such profusion are susceptible of even a plausible explanation, much less of one capable of satisfying an unprejudiced and inquiring mind. The method, therefore, of treating the subject which I have followed in the present work is to begin by reviewing the great religious systems of the East, flourishing at the time of the promulgation

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of Christianity in those regions, with the influence of these systems upon the modes of thought and expression of both the missionaries of the new creed and their opponents; and lastly to establish, upon the testimony of the Apostle to the Gentiles himself, the previous existence of the germs of Gnosticism in the cities that were the scene of his most important labours.

In my sketch of these older systems I have done little more than condense Matter’s admirable introduction to his ‘Histoire Critique du Gnosticisme’; but from that point forward have carried on my investigations according to a theory to which that writer once alludes approvingly, although, from some unaccountable reason, he has neglected to follow it out to its legitimate consequences. Restricting himself to describing in his lucid and elegant style the speculations of the several heresiarchs, and seeking no further back than the Zendavesta and Kabbala for the storehouses whence they all must have drawn their first principles, he falls into the grave error of representing their doctrines as novel, and the pure inventions of the persons that preached them.

That the seeds of the Gnosis were originally of Indian growth, carried so far westward by the influence of that Buddhistic movement which had previously overspread all the East, from Thibet to Ceylon, was the great truth faintly discerned by Matter, but which became evident to me upon acquiring even a slight acquaintance with the chief doctrines of Indian theosophy. To display this in the most incontrovertible manner, the two systems, each in its highest form of development–that of Valentinus, and that of the Nepalese Buddhists–are described and confronted for the sake of establishing their original identity: and throughout these pages innumerable other points of affinity will be found noticed as they present themselves. Actual historical proof of the same fact will also be adduced, establishing the important circumstance (but hitherto entirely unnoticed, or disregarded) that Buddhism had already been planted in the dominions of the Seleucidæ and the Ptolemies at least as early as the times of the generation following the establishment of those dynasties, and was provided for in treaties made between those Grecian princes and the great

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[paragraph continues]Hindoo promoter of the religion. In the history of the Church it is most certain that almost every notion that was subsequently denounced as heretical can be traced up to Indian speculative philosophy as its genuine fountain-head: how much that was allowed to pass current for orthodox had really flowed from the same source, it is neither expedient nor decorous now to inquire.

In order to obtain a clear view of the principal forms of Gnosticism, as well as to escape relying upon second-hand information (in this case more than elsewhere untrustworthy), I commenced the collecting materials for the present work by carefully perusing the vast ‘Panarion’ of Epiphanius–a laborious undertaking, but well repaid by the vivid picture he presents of the inner state of society under the Lower Empire, and of the war even at that late period so fiercely waged between Reason and Faith. The ‘Panarion’ is a connected history of the Gnosis in all its developments during the first three centuries–the author quoting Irenæus for the earlier ages; for the later his account is of the highest value, having been derived from personal experience, Epiphanius having in his youth belonged to the Marcosian sect. After his days nothing new sprung up in the field of Religious philosophy, before so diversified with the vigorous and more curious flowers (or weeds) of the Gnosis; the civil now combining with the ecclesiastical power to cut down and root out all such daring and irregular growths of the human mind.

Since the first publication of this treatise I have become acquainted with and minutely studied two authorities of the greatest importance for the true understanding of Gnosticism–the one for its philosophy; the other for its tangible remains. ‘The Refutation of all Heresies,’ of Hippolytus, written two centuries before the ‘Panarion,’ gives a view of the chief schools of the Gnosis, drawn up with the utmost intelligence united with the most charming candour; qualities sadly to seek in the other ecclesiastical historians. The Pistis-Sophia,’ the only Gnostic Gospel preserved, throws a light upon the terminology and machinery of the religion that, before its discovery and publication was perfectly unattainable. Both

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these treatises are of recent discovery, and consequently their assistance was lost to the previous historians of Gnosticism. I have therefore availed myself largely of these invaluable resources, which will be found doing good service in almost every section of the present work.

After considering the class of speculations that owed their birth to India, next in importance for her contributions to the opinions, still more to the monuments before us, conies Egypt with her primeval creed, although exhibited in its Romanized and latest phase; and whose productions are too often confounded with the true offspring of the Gnosis. These remains are here discriminated; their distinctive characters are pointed out; and they are arranged under several heads, according as their object was religious or medicinal. In the consideration of these remains, Bellermann’s classification has been chiefly followed; according to which the truly Gnostic are regarded as those only that exhibit the figure of the Pantheus, Abraxas, the actual invention of Basilides, and which gives its name to the class. The second, Abraxoids, includes the types borrowed from different religions by the other Gnostic teachers. The third, Abraxaster, consists of such as in their nature are purely astrological, and intended for talismans; deriving their virtues from the stars. In the first of these classes much space has been devoted to the ingenious creation of the Alexandrine philosopher, the pantheistic image of the supreme Abraxas; whose title has hitherto been improperly applied to monuments some of which are anterior in date to his embodiment in a visible form; whilst others spring from nations entirely unconnected with his worship. Of this eidolon of the personage thereby typified, of the meaning of his name and titles, much information has been collected, and presented here in a connected form for the benefit of those interested in learning what can on safe grounds be established in elucidation of these abtruse questions.

Mithraicism, under whose kindly and congenial shelter so much of Occidental Christianity grew up unmolested, is reviewed in its due order, and the causes explained of an alliance at first sight so inexplicable. With this subject are connected the singular resemblance between the ceremonial of the two, and the transfer

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of so much that was Mithraic into the practice of the orthodox; and many curious memorials will be found described bearing witness to the reality of this adaptation.

After the Mithraic, the religion of Serapis comes to be considered; a worship which, besides being the last of the Heathen forms to fall before the power of Christianity, had previously contributed, as largely as the Mithraic, to the constitution of the later Gnosticism. It is in truth a great mistake, the confining the name of “Gnostic” (as is commonly done) to the sectaries who, boasting of their “superior lights,” declared that they were the only real Christians (as did the Ophites), and that too in virtue of a creed professedly of their own devising. Such Gnostics indeed were Christians by their own showing, and regarded all who differed from them as heretics: but at the same time they based their arguments upon the tenets of Pagan religions; very far from regarding the latter as the empty fabrications of demons, which was the persuasion of the orthodox. But although they accepted these ancient Ethnic legends, it was only because through the help of their “knowledge” they were enabled to discern the truth enveloped within these seemingly profane traditions. But the followers of Mithras and of Serapis had in reality, and long before them, a Gnosis of their own, communicated in their Mysteries to the initiated few; and they opposed to the predictions of orthodox and Gnostic alike claims and pretensions lofty as their own. The Emperor Hadrian, a most diligent inquirer into things above man’s nature, got himself initiated into one mystery after another; nevertheless we shall find him writing from Alexandria that the worship of Christ and of Serapis was in that city one and the same, and moreover the sole religion of that immense population. Consequently, those initiated into the true secrets of the old religion must have recognised the fact that their deity, whether the Sun or the Soul of the Universe, was nothing but a type of the One, the Saviour recently revealed to them: or else it would appear (which tells equally for our argument) that the new converts, in order to escape persecution, enjoyed their own faith under the covert of the national worship, which was susceptible of a spiritual interpretation quite cognate to their own ideas,

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and indeed enshrouding the same. As for the worshippers of Mithras, their whole elaborate system of sacraments and degrees of initiation had no other object than the securing of spiritual enlightenment and spiritual blessings. The foundation being the pure teaching of Zoroaster, its holders were prepared gladly to accept any higher revelation, and to discover that the greater mystery had been foreshadowed in the types and ceremonies of the former one. In this way a man might continue a Mithraicist and yet accept all the doctrines of Christianity, as the priests of that religion in their last days assured the incredulous Augustine.

After thus pointing out the various elements which the Apostles of the Gnosis worked up so ingeniously into one harmonious whole, incorporating therewith so much of the Christian scheme as fitted to the rest, we come prepared to the examination of the Symbols and Terminology by which these ideas were communicated to the members of the sect who had attained to theArcanum; the composite images or sigils “having a voice for the intelligent, which the vulgar crowd heareth not.”

Astrology justly claims for her own a large share of the relics popularly called Gnostic; for Gnosticism, from the beginning, had linked its own speculations to those of the Magians’ national science, and borrowed as a vehicle for its own peculiar ideas the machinery of the latter–its Astral Genii, Decani, and Myriageneses. And this truth was seen by the earliest writers upon Gnosticism, for Hippolytus proves conclusively, at much length, that the system of the Peratae (a branch of the Ophites) was nothing more than a barefaced plagiarism from the rules of Astrology. Under this head I have endeavoured to separate the purely Astrological talismans from those to which the illuminati, their makers, had given a more spiritual sense. “Astrology, not Christ, is the author of their religion,” says Hippolytus of the sects founded by Euphrates and Celbes; and proceeds to give extracts from their writings, held in the highest esteem at the time, which amply bear out his assertion.

Next pour in, a multitudinous swarm, the stones covered over with long strings of bare inscriptions, genuine offspring of the Kabbala, that betray the handiwork of the idol-hating Jewish

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dreamers of Alexandria–spells even then ascribed to Solomon, and which secured the favour “Of those demons that are found
In fire, air, flood, or under ground;
Whose power hath a true consent
With planet or with element.”

One object I have kept steadily in view throughout the whole of this investigation–to show how the productions of the different schools are to be distinguished from each other; and to this particular attention has been given in describing the numerous remains proceeding from the several sources just enumerated, that are collected in the accompanying plates, and thus in some degree to remedy the confusion that reigns at present in the whole department. My predecessor, Matter, busied himself only with the doctrines, making use of the monuments merely in illustration of his remarks; but as my own labours are properly designed to be subsidiary to his invaluable treatise, I refer the reader to him for the more complete elucidation of thephilosophy of Gnosticism, and give my full attention to its archæological side, which he has too cursorily glanced at, and for which nothing has been done of any importance since the publications of Chiflet and Montfaucon.

Last to be considered comes the Gnosis in its final and grandest manifestation, the composite religion of Manes: with its wonderful revival and diffusion over Mediæval Europe; and its supposed connexion with the downfall of the Templars, of which catastrophe the history and causes are here briefly sketched; although to form a satisfactory judgment on the merits of the case is about the hardest problem history can offer. With their scandal and their fate is coupled the most singular phenomenon of modern times–the preservation by their professed descendants, the Freemasons, of so much symbolism that appears to be indisputably Gnostic in its origin. For this, however (unfortunately for the lovers of mystery), a very matter of fact but doubtless sufficient cause can be assigned, and by valid arguments established: when the solution of the enigma irresistibly brings to mind Æsop’s apologue of the “Fox and the Mask,” and his exclamation of disappointment after he had at

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last mustered up sufficient courage to examine the interior of the awe-inspiring and venerable head. This section is illustrated by all the information I have been able to glean from different sources upon the curious subject of Masons’ Marks–which, yet existing and in common use amongst our own craftsmen and equally so amongst the Hindoos in daily religious observance, can be traced back through Gothic retention, and Gnostic usage, through old Greek and Etruscan art, to their ultimate source; and which attest more convincingly than anything else what region gave birth to the theosophy making such liberal use of the samesiglæ in Roman times. To assist inquirers into this point I have been careful to give references to all the published lists of these Marks that have come to my knowledge; which same rule I have observed as regards other monographs upon the several various questions discussed in the following pages. In this way the shortcomings of myself can be supplied by those desirous of fuller information: for I am well aware that my own best qualification for attempting an arduous investigation like the present, extending over so many and unconnected branches of learning, lies in a larger practical experience of the monuments themselves, tangible and literary, than was possessed by those who have hitherto attempted it. And as it is a most true adage, “Dans le pays des aveugles le borgne est roi,” there is some probability of my labours proving both novel and interesting to many, who desire to know something authentic upon the much-talked-of but little understood subject of Gnosticism.

Related to this religion by their nature are talismans and amulets in general; for Gnostic symbols and Gnostic formulæ gave their virtue to many of the class: being borrowed either directly from the Gnosis, or from the older creeds out of which the latter was constructed. Their employment, and the notions generating them, have been here described; showing the derivation of many of the mediæval examples from the Gnostic class; and by following out the same principle it has been attempted to find a key to their cabalistic legends, which may fit them better than any hitherto offered by their interpreters–symbols andemblems being with them those conveying the idea of death,

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which last indeed has of all others furnished the richest store of such imagery; for thereby the human mind endeavoured to familiarise itself with the thought of mortality, and by embellishing the idea tried to reconcile itself to the inevitable. This being a topic of universal interest, to say nothing of its very important relations to Art, my collections connected therewith have been somewhat extensive, and embrace many particulars neglected by Lessing in his curious essay entitled ‘Wie die Alten den Tod gebildet.’

With respect to the illustrations of this book, many doubtless will be surprised as well as disappointed at finding them derived entirely from monuments of such small apparent importance as engraved stones; and, thinking this part incomplete on that account, may accuse the author of negligence in not having had recourse to other evidences of a more public character. But the limitation is in truth the necessary result of the nature of the things discussed in this inquiry. Secret Societies, especially the one whose maxim was (as Clemens records) that truly wise one– “Learn to know all, but keep thyself unknown;”

erect no monuments to attract public attention. They deal but in symbols, to be privately circulated amongst their members inpasswords known only to the illuminati; or else they embody their doctrines in mystic drawings, like the Ophite “Diagramma”; or upon papyri long since committed to the flames. The man of taste, but not an antiquary, will certainly exclaim against the rudeness of the drawing in my illustrations; but the truth is that, rude as they look, they in most cases flatter their originals, the extreme barbarism of which it was often found impossible to reproduce with any hope of leaving the meaning recognisable. Be it remembered that “Gratia non habitat, non hoc Cyllenius antro.”

Pallas no longer, as in the earlier ages of the art, guided the engraver’s hand, but Siva and Bhavani (ill-disguised as Hermes and Isis) suggested the designs; or else he was inspired by the Typhonian monsters which imagined the Genii of Astrology. The religion of Fear, under its various manifestations, now

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reigned supreme, having banished the beauteous sensuous machinery of the old Greek Nature-worship, into which nothing that was malignant or hideous was ever suffered to intrude. The virtue of the talisman lay in the type it carried; and in its own material substance the manner of the exhibition of the potent sigil was altogether unregarded. One of the most learned men this University has ever produced once remarked to me that the Gnostic theories reminded him of the visions that float through the brain of a madman–not of a fool. Circumstances following gave a melancholy force to this acute and accurate distinction. Let any imaginative person read my extracts from the “Revelation” of Marcus, with all its crazy ingenuity in deducing the nature of the Deity from the properties of numerals; above all, his exemplification of Infinity by the perpetual multiplication of the letters contained in other letters making up a name–he will speedily find his brain begin to whirl, and be reminded of similar phantoms of numerals recurring in endless series, and the equally endless attempts to sum them up in order to obtain repose, that fill the head when suffering from the first approaches of fever before actual delirium pushes memory from her seat. Or, again, when the febrile disturbance of the brain is yet slighter, one will sometimes awake out of a dream with a fleeting sensation of inexpressible happiness arising from the immediate attainment of Omniscience in virtue of something that has just been revealed to him; but too soon he finds that ineffable something has fled for ever, all that is left of it being the faint recollection that it was contained in a numeral. And one of the most striking points in the revelation of the ‘Seherin von Prevorst,’ so religiously recorded by Justinus Kerner (and which proves that all the wondrous narrative was not imposture), is her declaration that she could see the entire history of each year as it closed, with every event, however trifling, clear and distinct before her mind, all comprehended within the form of a single numeral; and her assertion upon these grounds that at the Judgment-Day the whole past life of every man will thus be pictured in a single moment before his mind’s eye.

About half the number of the drawings for these illustrations

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were done by myself from the most interesting specimens that came under my notice in the course of several years, so that I am able to vouch for their scrupulous fidelity. Afterwards, when the sudden failure of my sight prevented my carrying on the drawings, the kindness of the then owner of most of the originals came to my assistance and furnished the remainder. Most of them in fact were taken from the large and unpublished set contained in the ancient Praun Cabinet (formed three centuries ago), now unfortunately broken up. The Gnostic stones, however–73 in number–have been since that time purchased for the British Museum, where they will be found conveniently arranged for consultation, in the Egyptian Room, which contains the works in terra-cotta. This my collection of drawings was in truth the occasion of the present work; for after making out a detailed description of each specimen, it became easy to put the mass of materials I had collected for their elucidation into a form available for supporting my explanations by showing the grounds on which they were based: and in this way the work has grown up by gradual accretion to its present dimensions. The theme offers so boundless a variety of interesting subjects for research, one suggesting another in endless succession, that it can only be compared to Marcus’ own exposition of the infinite composition of the Ineffable Name (quoted above), and would alone supply materials for a whole library of distinct treatises upon its various subdivisions.

In those few instances where the better style of the original deserved reproduction by a more artistic hand, I have had recourse to the services of Mr. R. B. Utting, who has executed the woodcuts with a spirit as well as an accuracy that leave nothing to be desired.

(to be continued)

by Charles William King / [1887]

source http://www.sacred-texts

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1 “Φθέγξομαι οίς θέμις εστί, θύρας δ’ επίθεσθε, βέβηλοι” σοφίας θεολόγου νοήματα δεικνύς, οίς τόν θεόν καί τού θεού τάς δυνάμεις διά εικόνων συμφύλων αισθήσει εμήνυσαν άνδρες τά αφανή φανεροίς αποτυπώσαντες πλάσμασι, τοίς καθάπερ εκ βίβλων τών αγαλμάτων αναλέγειν τά περί θεών μεμαθηκόσι γράμματα. Θαυμαστόν δέ ουδέν ξύλα καί λίθους ηγείσθαι τά ξόανα τούς αμαθεστάτους, καθά δή καί τών γραμμάτων οι ανόητοι λίθους μέν ορώσι τας στήλας, ξίλα δέ τάς δέλτους, εξυφασμένην δέ πάπυρον τάς βίβλους.
2 Φωτοειδούς δέ όντος τού θείου καί εν πυρός αιθερίου περιχύσει διάγοντος, αφανούς τε τυγχάνοντος αισθήσει περί θνητόν βίον ασχόλω, διά μέν τής διαυγούς ύλης, οίον κρυστάλλου ή Παρίου λίθου ή καί ελέφαντος, εις τήν τού φωτός αυτού έννοιαν ενήγον: διά δέ τής τού χρυσού, εις τήν τού πυρός διανόησιν καί τό αμίαντον αυτού, ότι χρυσός ου μιαίνεται. Πολλοί δέ αυ καί μέλανι λίθω τό αφανές αυτού τής ουσίας εδήλωσαν. Καί ανθρωποειδείς μέν απετύπουν τούς θεούς, ότι λογικόν τό θείον, καλούς δέ, ότι κάλλος εν εκείνοις ακήρατον: διαφόροις δέ σχήμασι καί ηλικίαις, καθέδραις τε καί στάσεσι καί αμφιάσεσι, καί τούς μέν άρρενας, τάς δέ θηλείας, καί παρθένους καί εφήβους ή γάμου πείραν ειληφότας, εις παράστασιν αυτών τής διαφοράς. Όθεν πάν τό λευκόν τοίς ουρανίοις θεοίς απένειμαν: σφαιράν τε καί τά σφαιρικά πάντα, ιδίως τε κόσμω καί ηλίω καί σελήνη, έσθ’ ΄όπου δέ καί τύχη καί ελπίδι: κύκλον δέ καί τά κυκλικά αιώνι καί τή κατά τόν ουρανόν κινήσει, ταίς τε εν αυτώ ζώναις καί τοίς κύκλοις: κύκλων δέ τμήματα τοίς σχηματισμοίς τής σελήνης: πυραμίδας δέ καί οβελίσκους τή πυρός ουσία καί διά τούτο τοίς Ολυμπίοις θεοίς: ώσπερ αυ κώνον μέν ηλίω, γή δέ κύλινδρον, σπορά δέ καί γενέσει φάλητα καί τό τρίγωνον σχήμα διά τό μόριον τής θηλείας.
3 Όρα δέ τήν τών Ελλήνων σοφίαν ουτωσί διασκοπούμενος. Τον γάρ Δία τόν νούν τού κόσμου υπολαμβάνοντες, ός τά εν αυτώ εδημιούργησεν έχων τόν κόσμον, εν μέν ταίς θεολογίαις ταύτη περί αυτού παραδεδώκασιν οι τά Ορφέως ειπόντες:
Ζεύς πρώτος γένετο, Ζεύς ύστατος αργικέραυνος,
Ζεύς κεφαλή, Ζεύς μέσσα, Διός δ’ εκ πάντα τέτυκται.
Ζεύς άρσην γένετο, Ζεύς άμβροτος έπλετο νύμφη.
Ζεύς πυθμήν γαίης τε καί ουρανού αστερόεντος,
Ζεύς βασιλεύς, Ζεύς αυτός απάντων αρχιγένεθλος.
Έν κράτος, είςς δαίμων γένετο, μέγας αρχός απάντων,
έν δέ δέμας βασίλειον, εν ώ τάδε πάντα κυκλείται,
πύρ καί ύδωρ καί γαία καί αιθήρ, νύξ τε καί ήμαρ,
καί Μήτις πρώτος γενέτωρ καί Έρως πολυτερπής:
πάντα γάρ εν Ζηνός μεγάλω τάδε σώματι κείται.
Τού δή τοι κεφαλή μέν ιδείν καί καλά πρόσωπα
ουρανός αιγλήεις, όν χρύσεαι αμφίς έθειραι
άστρων μαμαρέων περικαλλέες ηερέθονται,
ταύρεα δ’ αμφοτέρωθε δύο χρύσεια κέρατα,
αντολίη τε δύσις τε, θεών οδοί ουρανιώνων,
όμματα δ’ ηέλιος τε καί αντιόωσα σελήνη.
Νούς δέ <οι> αψευδής, βασιλήϊος, άφθιτος αιθήρ,
ώ δή πάντα κλύει καί φράζεται: ουδέ τίς εστιν
αυδή, ουδ’ ενοπή, ουδέ κτύπος, ουδέ μέν όσσα
ή λήθει Διός ούας υπερμενέος Κρονίωνος.
Ώδε μέν αθανάτην κεφαλήν έχει ηδέ νόημα.
Σώμα δέ οι περιφεγγές, απείριτον, αστυφέλικτον,
άτρομον, οβριμόγυιον, υπερμενές ώδε τέτυκται:
ώμοι μέν καί στέρνα καί ευρέα νώτα θεοίο
αήρ ευρυβίης: πτέρυγες δέ οι εξεφύοντο
τής επί πάντα ποτάθ’: ιερή δέ οι έπλετο νηδύς
γαία τε παμμήτωρ ορέων τ’ αιπεινά κάρηνα:
μέσση δέ ζώνη βαρυηχέος οίδμα θαλάσσης
καί πόντου: πυμάτη δέ βάσις χθονός ένδοξε ρίζαι
τάρταρα τ’ ευρώεντα καί έσχατα πείρατα γαίης.
Πάντα δ’ αποκρύψας αύθις φάος ες πολυγηθές
μέλλεν από κραδίης προφέρειν πάλι, θέσκελα ρέζων.
Ζεύς ούν ο πάς κόσμος, ζώον εκ ζώων, και θεός εν θεών:
Ζεύς δέ καθό νούς αφ’ ού προφέρει πάντα καί δημιουργεί τοίς νοήμασι.
Τών δή θεολόγων τά περί τού θεού τούτον εξηγησαμένων τόν τρόπον, εικόνα μέν τοιαύτην δημιουργείν οίαν ο λόγος εμήνυσεν, ουθ’ οίον τε ήν, ούτ’ εί τίς επενόησε, τό ζωτικόν και νοερόν καί προνοητικόν διά τής σφαίρας εδείκνυεν. Ανθρωπόμορφον δέ τού Διός τό δείκηλον πεποιήκασιν, ότι νούς ήν καθ’ όν εδημιούργει, καί λόγοις σπερματικοίς απετελεί τά πάντα. Κάθηται δέ, τό εδραίον τής δυνάμεως αινιττόμενος: γυμνά δέ έχει τά άνω, ότι φανός εν τοίς νοεροίς καί τοίς ουρανίοις τού κόσμου μέρεσίν εστί: σκέπεται δέ αυτώ τά πρόσθια, ότι αφανής τοίς κάτω κεκρυμμένοις. Έχει δέ τή μέν λαιά τό σκήπτρον, καθ’ ό μάλιστα τών τού σώματος μερών τό ηγεμονικώτατόν τε καί νοερώτατον υποικουρεί σπλάγχνον, η καρδία: βασιλεύς γάρ τού κόσμου ο δημιουργικός νούς: προτείνει δέ τή δεξιά ή αετόν, ότι κρατεί τών αεροπόρων θεών ως τών ματαρσίων ορνέων ο αετός, ή νίκην, ότι νενίκηκεν αυτός πάντα.
4 Τήν δέ Ήραν σύνοικον τώ Διί πεποιήκασιν, τήν αιθέριον καί αέριον δύναμιν Ήραν προσειπόντες. Έστι γάρ ο αιθήρ αήρ ο λεπτομερέστατος.
5 Καί τού μέν παντός αέρος η δύναμις Ήρα τούνομα από τού αέρος κεκλημένη: τού δέ υπό σελήνην φωτιζομένου καί σκοτιζομένου αέρος η Λητώ σύμβολον: ληθώ γάρ αυτήν είναι διά τήν κατά τόν ύπνον αναισθησίαν: καί ότι ψυχαίς υπό σελήνην γενομέναις λήθη ξυνομαρτεί τού θείου: διά τούτο δέ καί μήτηρ Απόλλωνός τε καί Αρτέμιδος τών αιτίων φωτισμού τή νυκτί.
6 Καί τό μέν ηγεμονικόν τής χθονίας δυνάμεως Εστία κέκληται, ής άγαλμα παρθενικόν εφ’ εστίας πυρός ιδρυμένον: καθό δέ γόνιμος η δύναμις, σημαίνουσιν αυτήν γυναικός είδει προμάστου. Τήν δέ Ρέαν προσείπον τήν τής πετρώδους καί ορείου γής δύναμιν, τήν δέ Δήμητραν τήν τής πεδινής καί γονίμου. Η Δημήτηρ δέ τά άλλα κατά τά αυτά έχει τή Ρέα, διενήνοχε δέ ότι αυτή κυεί τήν Κόρην εκ Διός, τουτέστι τόν κόρον εκ τών φρυγανωδών σπερμάτων. Διό καί κατέστεπται τό βρέτας αυτής τοίς στάχυσι, μήκωνές τε περί αυτήν τής πολυγονίας σύμβολον.
7 Επεί δέ καί τών εις γήν βαλλομένων σπερμάτων ήν τις δύναμις, ήν ήλιος περί τό κάτω ημισφαίριον ιών έλκει κατά τάς χειμερίους τροπάς, Κόρη μέν η δύναμις η σπερματούχος, Πλούτων δέ ο υπό γήν ιών ήλιος καί τόν αφανή περινοστών κόσμον κατά τάς χειμερίους τροπάς. Ός αρπάζειν λέγεται τήν Κόρην, ήν ποθεί η Δημήτηρ κρυπτομένην υπό γήν.
Τών δέ ακροδρύων καί όλως τών φυτευτικών η δύναμις Διόνυσος ονομάζεται.
Όρα δε και τούτων τάς εικόνας. Σύμβολα γάρ η Κόρη φέρει τάς προβολάς τών κατά τούς καρπούς υπέρ τήν γήν εκφύσεων: ο δέ Διόνυσος κοινά μέν πρός τήν Κόρην έχει τά κέρατα, έστι δέ θηλύμορφος, μηνύων τήν περί τήν γένεσιν τών ακροδρύων αρρενόθηλυν δύναμιν. Πλούτων δέ ο Κόρης άρπαξ κυνήν μέν έχει τού αφανούς πόλου σύμβολον, τό δέ σκήπτρον τό κολοβόν σημείον τής τών κάτω βασιλείας.
Ο δέ κύων αυτού δηλοί τήν κύησιν τών καρπών εις τρία διηρημένην, εις τήν καταβολήν καί τήν υποδοχήν καί τήν ανάδοσιν: ου γάρ παρά τό τάς κήρας έχειν βοράν, ό δηλοί τάς ψυχάς, κέκληται κύων, αλλά παρά τό κύειν, ή χορηγός ο Πλούτων, όταν αρπάση τήν Κόρην.
Άττις δέ καί Άδωνις τή τών καρπών εισιν αναλογία προσήκοντες. Αλλ’ ο μέν Άττις τών κατά τό έαρ προφαινομένων ανθεών, καί πρίν τελεσιογονήσαι διαρρεόντων: όθεν καί τήν τών αιδοίων αποκοπήν αυτώ προσανέθεσαν, μή φθασάντων ελθείν τών καρπών εις τήν σπερματικήν τελείωσιν: ο δέ Άδωνις τής τών τελείων καρπών εκτομής σύμβολον.
Ο δέ Σειληνός σύμβολον τής πνευματικής κινήσεως, ουκ ολίγα συμβαλλομένης τώ παντί. Σύμβολα δέ εστι τό μέν φάλανθον καί στιλπνόν κατά τήν κεφαλήν τής ουρανίου περιφοράς, η δέ περικειμένη κόμη τοίς κάτω μέρεσιν αυτού, υπόδειγμα τής προσγείου περί τόν αέρα παχύτητος.
Επεί δέ καί τής μαντικής δυνάμεώς τις μέτοχος ήν δύναμις, Θέμις μέν κέκληται η δύναμις, τώ τά τεθειμένα καί εκάστω κείμενα λέγειν.
Διά δή πάντων τούτων η περίγειος δύναμις εξηγήσεως τυχούσα, θρησκεύεται: ως μέν παρθένος καί Εστία, η κεντροφόρος: ως δέ τοκάς, η τροφός: ως δέ Ρέα, η πετροποιός και όρειος: ως δέ Δημήτηρ, η χλοηφόρος: ως δέ Θέμις, η χρησμωδός: τού είς αυτήν κατιόντος σπερματικού λόγου εις τόν Πρίαπον εκτετυπωμένου: ού τό μέν περί τούς κηρούς καρπούς Κόρη, τό δέ κατά τούς υγρούς καί τά ακρόδρυα Διόνυσος καλείται: τής μέν Κόρης υπό Πλούτωνος τού υπό γήν ιόντος ηλίου αρπαζομένης κατά τόν σπόρον, τού δέ Διονύσου κατά τά πάθη τής δυνάμεως υπό γήν μέν νεωτέρας καί καλλιγόνης βλαστάνειν αρχομένου, επιμάχου δέ τής κατά τήν άνθην δυνάμεως σύμβολον τόν Άττιν εχούσης, τής δέ κατά τήν τελεσιουργίαν εκτομής, τόν Άδωνιν: καί τής μέν πνευματικής διά πάντων δυνάμεως εις Σειληνόν αναπλαττομένης, τής δέ εις έκστασιν απ’ αυτών παραγωγής εις Βάκχην: ώσπερ αύ τής εις τά αφροδίσια ερεθιζούσης ορμής διά τών Σατύρων. Διά δή τούτων τών συμβόλων η περίγειος εκκαλύπτεται δύναμις.
8 Τήν δέ υδροποιόν όλην δύναμιν Ωκεανόν προσείπον, το σύμβολον αυτής Τηθύν ονομάσαντες. Τής δέ όλης η μέν τών ποτίμων πεποιημένη, Αχελώος αυτοίς κέκληται, η δέ τών θαλασσίων Ποσειδών, πάλιν τής θαλασσοποιού, καθό γεννητική, Αμφιτρίτης ούσης. Καί αι μέν τών γλυκέων υδάτων μερικαί δυνάμεις Νύμφαι, αι δέ τών θαλασσίων Νηρηίδες κέκληνται.
Τού δ’ αύ πυρός τήν δύναμιν προσειπόντες Ήφαιστον, ανθρωποειδές μέν αυτού τό άγαλμα πεποιήκασι: πίλον δέ περιέθεσαν κυάνεον τής ουρανίου σύμβολον περιφοράς, ένθα τού πυρός τό αρχοειδές τε καί ακραιφνέστατον: τό δέ εις γήν κατενεχθέν εξ ουρανού πύρ ατονώτερον, δεόμενόν τε στηρίγματος καί βάσεως τής εφ’ ύλης: διό χωλεύει, ύλης δεόμενον εις υπέρεισμα.
Καί ηλίου δέ τήν τοιάνδε δύναμιν υπολαβόντες, Απόλλωνα προσείπον από τής τών ακτίνων αυτού πάλσεως.
Εννέα δέ επάδουσαι αυτώ Μούσαι, ή τε υποσελήνιος σφαίρα καί επτά τών πλανητών καί μία τής απλανούς.
Περιέθεσαν δέ αυτώ τήν δάφνην: τούτο μέν ότι πυρός πλήρες τό φυτόν καί διά τούτο απεχθές δαίμοσι: τούτο δέ ότι λάλον καιόμενον, εις παράστασιν τού προφητεύειν τόν θεόν.
Καθό δέ απαλεξίκακος εστι τών επιγείων ο ήλιος, Ηρακλέα αυτόν προσείπον εκ τού κλάσθαι πρός τόν αέρα,
απ’ ανατολής εις δύσιν ιόντα. Δώδεκα δ’ άθλους εκμοχθείν εμυθολόγησαν, τής κατά τόν ουρανόν διαιρέσεως τών ζωδίων τό σύμβολον επιφημίσαντες. Ρόπαλον δέ αυτώ και λεοντήν περιέθεσαν, τό μέν τής ανωμαλίας μήνυμα, τό δέ τής κατά τό ζώδιον εμφανιστικόν ισχύος.
Τής δέ σωστικής αυτού δυνάμεως Ασκληπιός τό σύμβολον: ώ τό μέν βάκτρον δεδώκασι, τής τών καμνόντων υπερείσεως καί αναστάσεως, ο δέ όφις περισπειράται, τής περί τό σώμα καί τήν ψυχήν σωτηρίας φέρων σημείον, πνευματικώτατον γάρ τό ζώον εστι καί τήν ασθένειαν τού σώματος αποδύεται: δοκεί δέ καί ιατρικώτατον είναι. Τής γάρ οξυδορκίας εύρε τό φάρμακον καί μυθεύεται τής αναβιώσεως ειδέναι τινά βοτάνην.
Τής δ’ αύ χορευτικής τε καί εγκυκλίου κινήσεως, καθ’ ήν τούς καρπούς πεπαίνει, η πυρός δύναμις Διόνυσος κέκληται, ετέρως <ή> η τών υγροποιών καρπών δύναμις, ή παρά το δινείν, ή διανύειν τόν ήλιον τήν κατά τόν ουρανόν περιφοράν. Ήι δέ περί τάς ώρας τού κόσμου περιπολεί καί χρόνων εστί ποιητικός καί καιρών ο ήλιος, Ώρος κατά τούτο κέκληται. Τής δ’ αύ γεωργικής αυτού δυνάμεως καθ’ ήν αι δόσεις τού πλούτου, σύμβολον ο Πλούτων. Ομοίως μέντοι καί φθαρτικήν έχει δύναμιν, διό τω Πλούτωνι συνοικίζουσι τόν Σάραπιν: τού μέν δεδυκότος υπό γήν φωτός τόν πορφυρούν χιτώνα ποιούμενοι σύμβολον, τό δέ ηκρωτηριασμένον σκήπτρον τής κάτω δυνάμεως, τό τε σχήμα τής χειρός τού μεταχωρείν εις τό αφανές.
Ο δέ Κέρβερος τρικέφαλος μέν, ότι τρείς αι άνω χώραι ηλίου, ανατολή, μεσημβρία, δύσις.
Τήν δέ σελήνην παρά τό σέλας υπολαβόντες, Άρτεμιν προσηγόρευσαν, οίον αερότεμιν. Λοχεία τε η Άρτεμις, καίπερ ούσα παρθένος, ότι η τής νουμηνίας δύναμις προσθετική εις τό τίκτειν. Όπερ δέ Απόλλων εν ηλίω, τούτο Αθηνά εν σελήνη: έστι γάρ τής φρονήσεως σύμβολον.
Αθρηνά τις ούσα. Εκάτη δέ η σελήνη πάλιν, τής περί αυτήν μετασχηματίσεως καί κατά τούς σχηματισμούς δυνάμεως. Διό τρίμορφος η δύναμις, τής μέν νουμηνίας φέρουσα τήν λευχείμονα καί χρυσοσάνδαλον καί τάς λαμπάδας ημμένας: ο δέ κάλαθος, όν επί τοίς μετεώροις φέρει, τής τών καρπών κατεργασίας, ούς ανατρέφει κατά τήν τού φωτός παραύξησιν: τής δ’ αύ πανσελήνου η χαλκοσάνδαλος σύμβολον. Ή καί εκ μέν του κλάδου τής δάφνης λάβοι άν τις αυτής τό έμπυρον: εκ δέ τού μήκωνος τό γόνιμον καί τό πλήθος τών εικοικιζομένων εις αυτήν ψυχών, ώσπερ εις πόλιν, ότι πόλεως ο μήκων σύμβολον.
Και Ειλείθυια δέ η αυτή, τής γεννητικής δυνάμεως σύμβολον. Τόξα δέ φέρει καθάπερ η Άρτεμις, διά τήν τών ωδίνων οξύτητα.
Πάλιν δ’ αύ αι Μοίραι επί τάς δυνάμεις αυτής αναφέρονται, η μέν Κλωθώ επί τήν γεννητικήν, Λάχεσις δέ επί τήν θρεπτικήν, Άτροπον δέ η κατά τό απαραίτητον τού θεού.
Συνοικίζουσι δέ αυτή καί τήν τών καρπών γεννητικήν δύναμιν, ήπερ εστί Δημήτηρ, δύναμιν εμποιούσαν αυτή: καί έστι συνεκτική τής Κόρης η σελήνη. Προσοικίζουσι δέ καί τόν Διόνυσον διά τε τήν τών κεράτων έκφυσιν καί διά τόν τών νεφών τόπον τόν υποκείμενον τοίς κάτω μέρεσι.
Τήν δέ τού Κρόνου δύναμιν νωχελή καί βραδείαν καί ψυχράν κατείδον: διό τήν τού χρόνου δύναμιν αυτώ προσανέθεσαν, αποτυπούσί τε αυτόν εστώτα, πολιόν, πρός έμφασιν τού γηράσκειν τόν χρόνον.
Τών δέ καιρών σύμβολα οι Κούρητες, τόν χρόνον βουκολούντες, ότι διά τών καιρών ο χρόνος παροδεύει.
Τών δέ Ωρών αι μέν ολυμπιάδες εισί τού ηλίου, αί καί ανοίγουσι τάς κατά τόν αέρα πύλας: αι δέ επιχθόνιοι, τής Δήμητρος: καί τόν κάλαθον έχουσι τόν μέν τών ανθέων, σύμβολον τού έαρος: τόν δέ τών σταχύων, τού θέρους.
Τού δέ Άρεος τήν δύναμιν καταλαβόντες διάπυρον, πολέμων ποιητικήν και αιματουργόν, βλάπτειν τε καί ωφελείν δυναμένην εποίησαν.
Τόν δέ τής Αφροδίτης αστέρα τηρήσαντες γενεσιουργόν, επιθυμίας τε καί γονής αίτιον, γυναίκα μέν ανέπλασαν διά τήν γένεσιν, ωραίαν δέ ότι καί Έσπερος, ός κάλλιστος εν ουρανώ ίσταται αστήρ.
Καί Έρωτα μέν παρέστησαν διά τήν επιθυμίαν: σκέπειν σέ μαστούς καί τό μόριον, ότι γονής αιτία η δύναμις καί εκθρέψεως: είναι δέ από θαλάττης, στοιχείου διύγρου καί θερμού καί πολλά κινουμένου καί διά τήν συγκίνησιν αφριώντος, τό σπερματικόν αινιττόμενοι.
Τού δέ λόγου τού πάντων ποιητικού τε καί ερμηνευτικού ο Ερμής παραστατικός. Ο δέ εντεταμένος Ερμής δηλοί τήν ευτονίαν: δείκνυσι δέ καί τόν σπερματικόν λόγον τόν διήκοντα διά πάντων.
Λοιπόν δέ σύνθετος λόγος ο μέν εν ηλίω Ερμής, Εκάτη δέ ο εν σελήνη, Ερμόπαν δέ ο εν τώ παντί. Κατά πάντων γάρ ο ποιητικός και σπερματικός. Σύνθετος δέ καί οίον μεξέλλην καί παρ’ Αιγυπτίοις ο Ερμάνουβις.
Επεί δέ καί τής ερώσης ήν δυνάμεως ο λόγος, ταύτης ο Έρως παραστατικός: διό παίς μέν τού Ερμού ο Έρως, νήπιος δέ διά τάς αιφνιδίους περί τάς επιθυμίας εμπτώσεις αυτού.
Τού δέ παντός τόν Πάνα σύμβολον έθεντο: τά μέν κέρατα δόντες σύμβολα ηλίου καί σελήνης: τήν δέ νεβρίδα τών κατ’ ουρανόν αστέρων, ή τής τού παντός ποικιλίας.
10 Τον δημιουργόν, όν Κνήφ οι Αιγύπτιοι προσαγορεύουσιν, ανθρωποειδή, τήν δέ χροιάν εκ κυανού μέλανος έχοντα, κρατούντα ζώνην και σκήπτρον, επί δέ τής κεφαλής πτερόν βασίλειον περικείμενον, ότι λόγος δυσεύρετος καί εγκεκρυμμένος καί ου φανός, καί ότι ζωοποιός, καί ότι βασιλεύς, καί ότι νοερώς κινείται: διό η τού πτερού φύσις εν τή κεφαλή κείται. Τόν δέ θεόν τούτον εκ τού στόματος προίεσθαί φασιν ωόν, εξ ού γεννάσθαι θεόν όν αυτοί προσαγορεύουσι Φθά, οι δέ Έλληνες Ήφαιστον: εμρηνεύουσιν δέ το ωόν τόν κόσμον. Αφιέρωται δέ τώ θεώ τούτο πρόβατον διά τό τούς παλαιούς γαλακτοποτείν.
Αυτού δέ τού κόσμου τό δείκηλον τοιόνδε ανέπλασαν: ανθρωποειδές εστιν άγαλμα, τούς μέν πόδας συμβεβηκότας έχον, άνωθεν δέ μέχρι ποδών ποικίλον ιμάτιον περιβεβλημένον: επί δέ τής κεφαλής σφαίραν έχει χρυσήν, διά τό μή μεταβαίνειν, καί διά τήν τών άστρων ποικίλην φύσιν, καί ότι σφαιροειδής ο κόσμος.
Ήλιον δέ σημαίνουσι ποτέ μέν δι’ ανθρώπου επιβεβηκότος πλοίον, τού πλοίου επί κροκοδείλου κειμένου. Δηλοί δέ τό μέν πλοίον τή εν υγρώ κίνησιν: ο δέ κροκόδειλος πότιμον ύδωρ, εν ώ φέρεται ο ήλιος. Εσημαίνετο τοίνυν ο ήλιος δι’ αέρος υγρού καί γλυκέος τήν περιπόλησιν ποιείσθαι.
Τής δέ ουρανίας γής καί τής χθονίας τήν δύναμιν Ίσιν προσείπον διά τήν ισότητα, αφ’ ής τό δίκαιον: ουρανίαν δέ τήν σελήνην, χθονίαν δέ τήν καρποφόρον εν ή κατοικούμεν, λέγουσι.
Τό δέ αυτό δύναται Δημήτηρ παρ’ Έλλησι καί Ίσις παρ’ Αιγυπτίοις: καί πάλιν Κόρη παρ’ Έλλησι καί Διόνυσος, καί Ίσις καί Όσιρις παρ’ Αιγυπτίοις. Αύτη δέ τρέφουσα καί αίρουσα τά επί γής: ο δέ Όσιρις παρ’ Αιγυπτίοις τήν κάρπιμον παρίστησι δύναμιν, ήν θρήνοις απομειλίσσονται εις γήν αφανιζομένην εν τώ σπόρω, καί υφ’ ημών καταναλισκομένην εις τροφάς.
Λαμβάνεται δέ καί αντί τής ποταμίας τού Νείλου δυνάμεως. Αλλ’ όταν μέν τήν χθονίαν γήν σημαίνωσιν, Όσιρις η κάρπιμος λαμβάνεται δύναμις: όταν δέ τήν ουρανίαν, Όσιρίς εστιν ο Νείλος, όν εξ ουρανού καταφέρεσθαι οίονται. Πενθούσι δέ καί τούτον, απομειλισσόμενοι τήν δύναμιν λήγουσαν καί αναλισκομένην. Η δέ εν τοίς μύθοις μισγομένη τώ Οσίριδι Ίσις η Αιγυπτία εστί γή: διόπερ ισούται καί κυεί καί ποιεί τούς καρπούς: διό ανήρ τής Ίσιδος Όσιρις καί αδελφός καί υιός παραδέδοται.
Κατά δέ τήν Ελεφαντίνην πόλιν τετίμηται άγαλμα, πεπλασμένον μέν, αλλ’ ανδρείκελον καί καθήμενον, κυανούν τε τήν χρόαν, κεφαλήν δέ κριού κεκτημένον καί βασίλειον, κέρατα τράγεια έχον, οίς έπεστι κύκλος δισκοειδής. Κάθηται δέ παρακειμένου κεραμέου αγγείου, εφ’ ού άνθρωπον αναπλάσσει. Δηλοί δέ από μέν τού κριού πρόσωπον έχειν καί αιγός κέρατα τήν εν κριώ σύνοδον ηλίου καί σελήνης: τό δέ εκ κυάνου χρώμα, ότι υδραγωγός εν συνόδω η σελήνη.
Τό δέ δεύτερον φώς τής σελήνης εν Απόλλωνος πόλει καθιέρωται: έστι δέ τούτου σύμβολον ιερακοπρόσωπος άνθρωπος, ζιβύνη χειρούμενος Τυφώνα ιπποποτάμω εικασμένον. Λευκόν δέ τή χρόα τό άγαλμα, τής μέν λευκότητος τό φωτίζεσθαι τήν σελήνην παραστησάσης, τού δέ ιερακείου προσώπου τό αφ’ ηλίου φωτίζεσθαι καί πνεύμα λαμβάνειν: τόν γάρ ιέρακα ηλίω αφιερούσι, φωτός δέ καί πνεύματος ιέραξ αυτοίς σύμβολον διά τε τήν οξυκινησίαν καί τό πρός ύψος ανατρέχειν, ένθα τό φώς. Ο δέ ιπποπόταμος τόν δυτικόν δηλοί παρά τό καταπίνειν εις εαυτόν τούς περιπολούντας. Θεός δέ τιμάται εν τή πόλει ταύτη ο Ώρος.
Η δέ τής Ειλειθυίας πόλις τό τρίτον φώς θεραπεύει. Τό δέ ξόανον τετύπωται εις γύπα πετομένην, ής τό πτέρωμα εκ σπουδαίων συνέστηκε λίθων. Σημαίνει δέ τό μέν γυποειδές αυτής τήν γεννητικήν πνευμάτων σελήνην.
Εκ γάρ τού πνεύματος οίονται συλλαμβάνειν τήν γύπα, θηλείας πάσας αποφαινόμενοι.
Εν δέ τοίς κατ’ Ελευσίνα μυστηρίοις ο μέν ιεροφάντης
εις εικόνα τού δημιουργού ενσκευάζεται, δαδούχος δέ εις τήν ηλίου, καί ο μέν επί βωμώ εις τήν σελήνης, ο δέ ιεροκήρυξ Ερμού.
Καί άνθρωπος δέ παρ’ Αιγυπτίοις εν τοίς ιεροίς παρείληπται. Άναβις γάρ εστι κώμη Αιγύπτου, εν ή θεραπεύεται άνθρωπος, καί θύεται τούτω, καί επί τών βωμών τά ιερεία κάεται: ο δέ μετ’ ολίγον φάγοι άν τά ως ανθρώπω αυτώ παρεσκευασμένα.
Ότι δέ ουδέ τά ζώα θεούς ηγούνται, εικόνας δέ εποιούντο καί σύμβολα ταύτα θεών, δηλοί τό πολλαχού βούς αναχθέντας θεοίς εν ταίς ιερομηνίαις καί ταίς πρός τούς θεούς θρησκείαις βουθυτείν. Ηλίω μέν γάρ καί σελήνη βούς ανιέρωσαν.
Άλλ’ ό γέ ηλίω ανακείμενος εν Ηλίου πόλει καλούμενος Μνεύις βοών εστι μέγιστος σφόδρα μέλας, μάλιστα ότι καί ο ήλιος ο πολύς μελαίνει τά ανθρώπεια σώματα.
Έχει δέ τήν ουράν παρά τούς άλλους βούς καί τό πάν σώμα ανάτριχον, καθάπερ ο ήλιος τόν εναντίον τώ πόλω ποιείται δρόμον: τούς τε όρχεις μεγίστους, επειδήπερ ο περί τά αφροδίσια ίμερος γίνεται υπό θερμότητος, ό τε ήλιος σπερμαίνειν λέγεται τήν φύσιν.
Σελήνη δέ ταύρον ανέθεσαν, όν Άπιν επονομάζουσι, μέλανα μέν καί αυτόν υπέρ τούς άλλους, φέροντα δέ σημεία ηλίου καί σελήνης, ότι καί τής σελήνης τό φώς εξ ηλίου: ηλίου δέ σημείον τό μέλαν τού σώματος καί ο υπό τή γλώττη κάνθαρος, σελήνης δέ σύμβολον τό τε διχότομον καί αμφίκυρτον.


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Political reforms in the Lives of Lycurgus and Numa:divine revelation or political lie?1

This paper aims to analyze the political importance of divine inspiration for Spartan and Roman  political reforms carried out by Lycurgus (c. 650 BC?) and by Numa Pompilius (715-673 BC).
In the former case, the constitution is supposed to have been transmitted to Lycurgus by the Delphic oracle and consequently it was called Rhetra, a “ceremonial utterance” or an “agreement” (Lyc. 6). Similarly, in the Life of the Roman counterpart, the goddess Egeria (Num. 4.2) inspires the second king of Rome to carry out a profound religious reform. In fact, this is not a specific feature of these Lives, since several other lawgivers were credited with divine assistance, such as Minos, Zaleucus or Zoroaster. The discussion of this issue is designed to reveal the argument that may lie behind these legends: divine inspiration or an artificial way of legitimating the lawgiver’s power? In fact, despite all the effort made in order to sacralise these ancient political institutions, Plutarch himself seems to accept the latter theory. This strategy can be seen as a kind of political lie which had previously been accepted by Plato as an instrument for legitimizing constitutional reforms (R. 389b).

In the synkrisis of Lycurgus and Numa, Plutarch stated four reasons to justify the placing of these two lives in parallel: “their wise moderation (σωφροσύνη),
their piety (εὐσέβεια), their ability for governing (τὸ πολιτικόν) and educating (τὸ παιδευτικόν), and the fact that they both derive their laws from a divine source (τῶν θεῶν … λαβεῖν)”. While these first three features are related to their characters, the fourth concerns their political activity: both reforms were credited with divine assistance. Both reforms were intended to resolve a stasis:
in the former, people “felt that their kings were such in name and station merely” (4.5) and in the second, “it is indeed true that it was the pleasure of all to have a king, but they wrangled and quarreled”. Each lawgiver would establish eunomia for his community; nevertheless, while Spartan eunomia would last 500 years (Lyc. 29.6), the peace of Numa would last only until his death. However, such profound reforms would not have been accepted by people without divine sanction, even though they consist of positive laws, rules
and institutions that are postulated by men among men, a matter of convention.
This paper focuses upon the Plutarchean argument that lies behind the legitimacy of the political reforms carried out by Lycurgus and Numa, the argument that they were undertaken in order to achieve the best interests (τὸ βέλτιστον) of the state. Plutarch insisted that the ruler had to be the best of craftsmen and the maker of lawfulness and justice, as well as being the educator who would discipline an unstable people (Praec. ger. reip. 814A-C).

I. Divine assistance, a topos in the legends of Greek lawgivers In central Italy, the first lawgivers were actually gods – Janus and Saturnus,Picus and Faunus – as B. Liou-Galle 2000: 177 stated: “ces rois anciens représentent à leur manière le passage du monde sauvage à la civilization”2.
Accounts of the lives of early lawgivers of Greece, such as Zaleucus, Charondas,
Lycurgus, and Solon, have always been filled with a rich mixture of myth and invention. In 1893, Julius Beloch, based on the general Indo-European belief in the divine origin of law, argued that Zaleucus and Charondas were personifications of sun gods. In a similar way, Eduard Meyer and Wilamowitz identified “Lyko-orgos” with the ubiquitous figure of the Arcadian wolf-god Zeus Lykaios and the Arcadian light-God Lykaon. Thus, the cult of Lycurgus (like the cults of Helen, Menelaus…) was a relic of the ancient Laconian
religion that had survived the early invasions.
The scarce historical data about early Greek lawgivers has led to a process of “infiguration”, as Cornford3 put it, when “facts shift into legend,and legend into myth”. Thus, as A. Szegedy-Maszad 1978: 210 has pointed out: “This concept of infiguration allows us to treat the stories as a genre,unified and controlled by certain conventions.” In fact, this scholar identified some topoi that became attached to the names of great legislators: firstly, the state’s progress from initial anomia to eunomia; secondly, the main methods of acquiring instruction, i.e. extensive travel and study with a great philosopher;
thirdly, when the lawgiver is selected to establish order, he must apply all the knowledge he has acquired on his travels as well as his acquaintance with philosophers. In addition, some of the lawgivers were credited with divine assistance4. The material provided by this tradition can be summarized in this schema: at an initial stage, there is a crisis in the state and a man rises due to his virtue, education and experience; secondly, there is an intermediate stage, when the crisis is suspended; finally comes the last phase, when the code is firmly established and the lawgiver departs5.

This pattern is one that we can see in Lycurgus and Numa. Lycurgus had  traveled in Crete, Egypt and maybe Libya and Iberia to study their various forms of government, making the acquaintance of distinguished men like the poet and lawgiver Thaletas; Numa had lived in the country, far away from the city, and passed his days with a δαίμων, the goddess Egeria, and might have been a pupil of Pythagoras6. Besides, both legitimise their reforms through a divine source, the former with Apollo’s blessing and the latter with Egeria’s wisdom.
Despite all the energy expended in order to make sacred the first Spartan institutions and Roman religious reforms, Plutarch sought to rationalize this notion of divine inspiration as a source of law:
ἆρα οὖν ἄξιόν ἐστι, ταῦτα συγχωροῦντας ἐπὶ τούτων, ἀπιστεῖν εἰ Ζαλεύκῳ
καὶ Μίνῳ καὶ Ζωροάστρῃ καὶ Νομᾷ καὶ Λυκούργῳ βασιλείας κυβερνῶσι καὶ
πολιτείας διακοσμοῦσιν εἰς τὸ αὐτὸ ἐφοίτα τὸ δαιμόνιον.
Is it worth while, then, if we concede these instances of divine favour, to
disbelieve that Zaleucus, Minos, Zoroaster, Numa, and Lycurgus, who piloted
kingdoms and formulated constitutions, had audiences with the Deity?
(Num. 4.7)7
οὐδὲ γὰρ ἅτερος λόγος ἔχει τι φαῦλον, ὃν περὶ Λυκούργου καὶ Νομᾶ
καὶ τοιούτων ἄλλων ἀνδρῶν λέγουσιν, ὡς δυσκάθεκτα καὶ δυσάρεστα
πλήθη χειρούμενοι καὶ μεγάλας ἐπιφέροντες ταῖς πολιτείαις καινοτομίας,
προσεποιήσαντο τὴν ἀπὸ τοῦ θεοῦ δόξαν, αὐτοῖς ἐκείνοις πρὸς οὓς
ἐσχηματίζοντο σωτήριον οὖσαν.
Indeed there is no absurdity in the other account which is given of Lycurgus and Numa and their like, namely, that since they were managing headstrong and captious multitudes, and introducing great innovations in modes of government,they pretended to get a sanction from the god, which sanction was the salvation of the very ones against whom it was contrived. [emphasis added] (Num. 4.7-8)

At this point, Plutarch was seeking to justify this legend about Egeria and its traditional credibility, as well as other divine inspirations of earlier constitutions. According to Plutarch, if it is hard to believe in Numa’s celestial marriage, it is equally doubtful that lawgivers who managed to resolve a stasis would not have attributed their political measures to a divine source. From this very point we therefore understand how Plutarch takes this divine inspiration– as something that was probably an invention, one that was necessary in order to carry through the planned political reform. Despite Plutarch’s disapproval of δεισιδαιμονία, “an emotion engendered from false reason” (de superst. 165C) or “the most impotent and helpless is superstitious fear” (de superst. 165E), some
scholars such as A. Pérez Jiménez 1987, 1996, D. Babut 1969: 428 and T.Duff 2005: 131, have already explored the approval of political manipulation through superstition in order to achieve a greater end8. Besides the frequent use of superstition, especially in Numa’s case (cf. A. Wardmann 1974: 88-89),we will argue that the well-known Platonic instrument, the noble lie, is behind these political reforms of both lawgivers. In fact, if we take a look at the lives of Lycurgus and Numa, we will see that political artifice is present from the very beginning.

I.1 Lycurgus, “beloved of the gods, and rather a god than a man” (Lyc. 4.5) Lycurgus, “the best example of a lawmaker” (De lat. viv. 1128F) as Plutarch describes him elsewhere, after his travels returns to his people, who sees in him “a nature fitted to lead” (φύσιν ἡγεμονικην), and a “power to make men follow him” (δύναμιν ἀνθρώπων ἀγωγὸν οὖσαν). The first answer from the Delphic oracle legitimised him as a legislator and promised him a “constitution, which should be the best of all”. Blessed with Apollo’s approval9, Lycurgus ordered thirty of the chiefs to strike terror into those of the opposite party, and therefore
both kings (Charilaus and Archelaus) accepted the new political institution:

the Gerousia (κατάστασις τῶν γερόντων), which would function like a “ballast for the ship of the state” (ἰσορροπήσασα τὴν ἀσφαλεστάτην τάξιν ἔσχε καὶ κατάστασιν), avoiding democracy and tyranny. Having established this first institution, there would be a second oracle from Delphi, which was the socalled “rhetra”. This oracle established that the people should be divided into groups, some into phylai and obai; the council of the elders (gerousia) was also confirmed, including the two kings (archagetai)”. Although the people could not initiate a motion, they had the power to accept or reject the proposals of the Gerousia. Later, however, when the people perverted this political mechanism, senators and kings made a proposal which would increase their power: they could dissolve the session when the people did not ratify the vote so as not to prejudice the best interests (τὸ βέλτιστον) of the state. Would Apollo, the first author of this constitution, allow this correction?

Plutarch answered that both kings “were actually able to persuade the city that the god
authorized this addition to the rhetra” (ἔπεισαν δὲ καὶ αὐτοὶ τὴν πόλιν ὡς τοῦ  θεοῦ ταῦτα προστάσσοντος: 6.5). However, none of these changes would be more definitive than the educational reform, “which he regarded as the greatest and noblest task of the law-giver” (14.1). According to Plutarch (21.1), the contents of law would be revealed during this public education, by examples of social behaviour, poetry and music, whose “themes were serious and edifying”.
In fact, it is very suggestive that Lycurgus’ first measure to initiate his political reform would be the invitation of the Cretan poet Thaletas, who was also a Cretan lawgiver, as J. D. Lewis 2007: 50 states, “he is said to have brought certain norms of justice to Crete through his poetry and his music, perhaps using choral lyric poetry with dance to promote aristocratic norms”. Only a highly regulated and demanding educational system for both sexes, from birth  until adulthood and even older, would obviate the need for written laws: the law would have its origin in each Spartiate, but also in each free woman; each one should sanction the practice and guarantee the endurance of the law. In fact, one rhetra had forbidden the writing of the laws (13.1). We may regard this process as a way to naturalize a political program in order to become a matter of custom, which is traditionally stronger than positive law: the rhetra  should become an ἐθισμός (29.1) and take its place among those hallowed by age10. Furthermore, we might suggest another political motivation to justify the preference for unwritten law, because if it is not written, it can change whenever political power desired11. In fact, that would happen, when senators
and both kings changed the voting process; this therefore became another strategy to secure the lasting success of a reform.
When the primitive lawgiver saw that his main institutions were firmly fixed and that his civil policy had grown enough to preserve itself, he rejoiced  at seeing his “cosmos come into being and have its first motion”, just as the Platonic demiurge (τὸν θεόν)12. Then, in order to make his system of laws immortal, Lycurgus reveals once again his ἀνθρώπινη προνοία, “as far as human forethought could accomplish the task” (ὡς ἀνυστὸν ἐξ ἀνθρωπίνης προνοίας:
32.2): he assembled the whole people to tell them that the εὐδαιμονία of the city depended on their respect for those institutions, which should remain unchangeable until his return. Thus, the shape of the Spartan constitutional cosmos would depend on the observance of this original archetype.
Finally, there came the third and last inquiry to Apollo, who gave the final ratification of the Lycurgean constitution. The lawgiver would never return home and his civil policy would last for five hundred years13. Thus the people were misled one more time.

(to be continued)

Ália Rosa Rodrigues
Universidade de Coimbra


1 An earlier version of this paper was given in Coimbra (Nomos, Kosmos and Dike in Plutarch,2011). I am grateful to the audience for their interesting comments and suggestions. I wish to thank to Professor Christopher Pelling for reading an earlier version of this text and for offering many valuable remarks as well as for having improved the English text. I’m also grateful to the scholar Anton Powell and Professor Delfim Leão for theirs readings and helpful suggestions.

2 On this matter, see the chapter of B. Liou-Galle 2000.

3 Thucydides Mythistoricus. London, 1907 (repr. New York 1969); apud A. Szegedy-Maszad  1978: 210.

4 See A. Szegedy-Maszad 1978: 204-205.

5 This reflects a dynamic of physis: one is born, grows up, and declines. The biological model is applied to the forms of government succession by Polybius (6. 8.10). See also J. Romilly 1991: 9-12.

6 On this matter, see R. M. Ogilvie 1978: 89. On the Pythagorean tradition in Rome and
its influence on the legend of Numa, see Ferrero 1955: 109-174 and Marino 1999.

7 All translations are from The Loeb Classical Library with some modifications.

8 Fab. 4.4-5.1; Dion 24.1-10; Non posse suav. 1101D. Contra M. Cerezo 1996: 162-163
argues that the description of people’s manipulation through superstition by Numa Pompilius represents an aggressive criticism against this kind of political practice.

9 On the way in which Plutarch and his erudite circle saw Apollo in the first (and second)
century A.D., see A. G. Nikolaidis 2009.

10 One of the most distinguishing features of natural right/custom consists in the fact that
it is unwritten, but inscribed in the memory of the community and revealed by its practices and social sanctions. Concerning the superiority of custom unwritten law over the positive law, we  can mention Antigone’s well-known discourse in the discussion with Creon, symbol of legality of the state (vv. 495-508). We do not intend to discuss here the complex semantic sphere of agraphoi nomoi. On this matter, see J. Romilly 1971. On the traditional idea of the divine origin of justice from Hesiod onwards, see the text of F. Becchi in this volume.

11 M. Flower 2002: passim demonstrated that many traditional Spartan features were actually invented in order to legitimise specific political reforms, such as: the ban on the
ownership of precious metals by a group hostile to Lysander (p. 193), the whole concept
of inalienable and indivisible lots of equal size (p. 196), the abolition of debts (p. 197) were
invented by the King Agis, the general ban on foreign travel (ibidem) which is mentioned by several fourth-century sources (Xenophon, Isocrates, Plato and Aristotle), but there more specific restrictions are elsewhere unattested and finally the re-evaluation the role played by Sphaerus, a friend and advisor to King Cleomenes, in reinventing the agoge (pp. 199-200),among others.

12 Cf. Pl., Ti. 37c, principle of autonomy, καθ’αὑτὸν.
13 Modern scholarship is increasingly convinced that Sparta did change profoundly over
the four centuries (6th-3th BC), culturally as well as demographically. See A. Powell 2010: 87,129 n. 5.

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Ο Άγιος Ιωάννης Βατάτζης και η ελληνική συνείδησή του

Σε πολλούς μελετητές προξενεί εντύπωση η ονομασία «βασιλεύς Ρωμαίων», την οποία χρησιμοποιούσαν οι αυτοκράτορες της Κωνσταντινουπόλεως και η ορολογία «Ρωμανία», την οποία συναντούμε σε πολλά έγγραφα της εποχής ως ονομασία του κράτους. Είναι γεγονός ότι η ονομασία «Βυζαντινή Αυτοκρατορία» είναι μεταγενέστερη και δημιουργήθηκε το 1562 από τον Γερμανό ιστορικό Ιερώνυμο Βολφ. Σήμερα την χρησιμοποιούμε για να γινόμαστε κατανοητοί  στους πολλούς. Όμως από σεβασμό προς τις ιστορικές πηγές πρέπει να εξηγούμε στους νεωτέρους ότι οι όροι Ρωμαίος και Ρωμανία αναφέρονται στη Νέα Ρώμη-Κωνσταντινούπολη και όχι στην Παλαιά Ρώμη. Άλλωστε στο βυζαντινό κράτος η παιδεία βασιζόταν στον Όμηρο και ουδέποτε εδιδάχθη το λατινικό έπος του Βιργιλίου, η Αινειάδα, που αναφέρεται στην πρεσβυτέρα Ρώμη. Η ελληνική συνείδηση ήταν διαδεδομένη μεταξύ αρχόντων και αρχομένων στο βυζαντινό κράτος ιδίως μετά τον 7ο αιώνα, αν και το κράτος ήταν πολυεθνικό και το συνδετικό στοιχείο ήταν η Ορθοδοξία. Από τα ονόματα Ρωμαίος και Ρωμανία προήλθε και ο όρος Ρωμηός, ο οποίος στην νεώτερη ιστορία μας σημαίνει υπό ευρεία έννοια κάθε Ορθόδοξο και υπό στενή έννοια τον Έλληνα.
             Για να ξεκαθαρίσουμε το θέμα της ελληνικής συνειδήσεως των Βυζαντινών Αυτοκρατόρων, ιδιαιτέρως δε κατά τους τελευταίους αιώνες, καλόν είναι να μελετήσουμε ένα εκπληκτικό κείμενο ελληνορθοδόξου αξιοπρεπείας και πατριωτικής παρρησίας γραμμένο από τον Αυτοκράτορα της Νικαίας Ιωάννη Γ  Δούκα Βατάτζη και απευθυνόμενο στον Πάπα Γρηγόριο Θ . Όπως γνωρίζουμε μετά την Δ  Σταυροφορία  και την επιβολή της Λατινοκρατίας στον χώρο του Ελληνισμού (1204) η αυτοκρατορία της Νικαίας με έδρα τη Νίκαια της Μικράς Ασίας υπήρξε ένα από τα ελεύθερα ελληνικά κράτη απ’ όπου προήλθε και η εκδίωξη των Φράγκων από την Κωνσταντινούπολη το 1261. Ο Ιωάννης Βατάτζης βασίλευσε από το 1222 έως το 1254 διαδεχόμενος τον πεθερό του Θεόδωρο Λάσκαρι, τον ποιητή του Μεγάλου Παρακλητικού Κανόνος προς την Υπεραγίαν Θεοτόκον. Ο Ιωάννης Βατάτζης γεννήθηκε το 1193 στο Διδυμότειχο της Θράκης και σήμερα τιμάται από την Ιερά Μητρόπολη Διδυμοτείχου, Ορεστιάδος και Σουφλίου ως τοπικός Άγιος (4 Νοεμβρίου, ημέρα του θανάτου του το 1254). Λόγω της βαθυτάτης πίστεώς του και της φιλανθρώπου και ελεήμονος πολιτείας του κατετάγη μετά την κοίμησή του στο αγιολόγιο της Εκκλησίας μας και ονομάσθηκε Άγιος Ιωάννης Βατάτζης ο Ελεήμων. Ως Αυτοκράτωρ της Νικαίας ο Ιωάννης Βατάτζης εργάσθηκε για την ανακατάληψη των ελληνικών εδαφών και πολέμησε κατά των Φράγκων Σταυροφόρων και κατά των Τούρκων του Ικονίου. Καλλιέργησε την μελέτη των ελληνικών γραμμάτων, είχε δε και ο ίδιος στερεά κλασσική παιδεία και ελληνική συνείδηση.
               Το συγκλονιστικό κείμενο, το οποίο διαφωτίζει την ελληνική και ορθόδοξη συνείδηση των «Ρωμαίων βασιλέων», διασώζει ο αείμνηστος καθηγητής της Ιστορίας Απόστολος Βακαλόπουλος (1) και έχει τίτλο «Του αοιδίμου βασιλέως κυρού Ιωάννου του Δούκα προς τον τε (γράφε ίσως τον τότε) Πάπαν Γρηγόριον». Ο Βακαλόπουλος γράφει στον Πρόλογό του: «Η παρατιθέμενη επιστολή του Ιωάννου Γ. Βατάτζη (1222-1254) προς τον πάπα Γρηγόριο Θ  (1227-1241) είναι πολύ χαρακτηριστική για τις ιδέες που επικρατούν στους βασιλείς της Νίκαιας μετά το 1204. Έντονη είναι η ελληνολατρία και η εθνική ελληνική συνείδησή τους, που βαθμιαία ταυτίζεται με την Ορθοδοξία. …. Εδώ παρατηρούμε καθαρά πως γεννιούνται και δρουν οι πολιτικές εκείνες αντιλήψεις, που αποβλέπουν στην απελευθέρωση των σκλαβωμένων ελληνικών χωρών, και οι οποίες προσαρμοσμένες επιζούν επί Τουρκοκρατίας μέσα σε νέες συνθήκες. Και τελικά πως διαμορφώνουν το περιεχόμενο της λεγόμενης Μεγάλης Ιδέας».

             Το κείμενο ξεκινά με την έκπληξη του Βατάτζη πως τόλμησε ο Πάπας να του ζητήσει να παύσει να διεκδικεί την Κωνσταντινούπολη από τον Φράγκο ηγεμόνα , ο οποίος την  κατέχει από το 1204. Γράφει με ελληνική αξιοπρέπεια και διπλωματική ειρωνεία ο Βατάτζης, αφού προσδιορίσει στη αρχή ποιός είναι ο γράφων: «Ιωάννης εν Χριστώ τω Θεώ πιστός βασιλεύς και αυτοκράτωρ Ρωμαίων ο Δούκας τω αγιωτάτω πάπα της πρεσβυτέρας Ρώμης Γρηγορίω σωτηρίας και ευχών αίτησιν». Αποδίδουμε στην νεοελληνική ορισμένα από τα κυριώτερα σημεία της επιστολής: «Εγώ ως βασιλεύς θεωρώ άτοπα τα όσα μου γράφεις και δεν ήθελα να πιστεύσω ότι είναι δικό σου το γράμμα, αλλά αποτέλεσμα της απελπισίας κάποιου που βρίσκεται κοντά σου, και ο οποίος έχει την ψυχή του γεμάτη κακότητα και αυθάδεια. Η αγιότητά σου κοσμείται από φρόνηση και διαφέρει από τους πολλούς ως προς την σωστή κρίση. Γι’ αυτό δυσκολεύθηκα πολύ να πιστεύσω ότι είναι δικό σου το γράμμα αν και έχει σταλεί προς εμέ.» Αξίζει να θαυμάσουμε την έλλειψη δουλικότητος του Βατάτζη προς τον Πάπα αν και την εποχή εκείνη οι Έλληνες της Νικαίας ήσαν οι αδύναμοι και ο Πάπας ήταν η υπερδύναμη τηρουμένων των αναλογιών.
              Και συνεχίζει ο Ιωάννης Βατάτζης διατρανώνοντας την εθνική συνείδησή του: «Γράφεις στο γράμμα σου ότι στο δικό μας γένος των Ελλήνων η σοφία βασιλεύει…… Ότι, λοιπόν, από το δικό μας γένος άνθησε η σοφία και τα αγαθά της και διεδόθησαν στους άλλους λαούς, αυτό είναι αληθινό. Αλλά πως συμβαίνει να αγνοείς, η αν δεν το αγνοείς πως και το απεσιώπησες, ότι μαζί με την βασιλεύουσα Πόλη και η βασιλεία σε αυτόν τον κόσμο κληροδοτήθηκε στο δικό μας γένος από τον Μέγα Κωνσταντίνο, ο οποίος εδέχθη την κλήση από τον Χριστό και κυβέρνησε με σεμνότητα και τιμιότητα; Υπάρχει μήπως κανείς που αγνοεί ότι η κληρονομιά της δικής του διαδοχής (σ.σ. του Μ. Κωνσταντίνου) πέρασε στο δικό μας γένος και εμείς είμαστε οι κληρονόμοι και διάδοχοί του; Απαιτείς να μην αγνοούμε τα προνόμιά σου. Και εμείς έχουμε την αντίστοιχη απαίτηση να δεις και να αναγνωρίσεις το δίκαιό μας όσον αφορά την εξουσία μας στο κράτος της Κωνσταντινουπόλεως, το οποίο  αρχίζει από των χρόνων του Μεγάλου Κωνσταντίνου και … έζησε επί χίλια χρόνια ώστε έφθασε μέχρι και την δική μας βασιλεία. Οι γενάρχες της βασιλείας μου, από τις οικογένειες των Δουκών και των Κομνηνών, για να μην αναφέρω τους άλλους, κατάγονται από ελληνικά γένη. Αυτοί λοιπόν οι ομοεθνείς μου επί πολλούς αιώνες κατείχαν την εξουσία στην Κωνσταντινούπολη. Και αυτούς η Εκκλησία της Ρώμης και οι προϊστάμενοί της τους αποκαλούσαν Αυτοκράτορες Ρωμαίων… Διαβεβαιούμε δε την αγιότητά σου και όλους τους Χριστιανούς ότι ουδέποτε θα παύσουμε να αγωνιζόμαστε και να πολεμούμε κατά των κατακτητών της Κωνσταντινουπόλεως. Θα ασεβούσαμε  και προς  τους νόμους της φύσεως και προς τους θεσμούς της πατρίδος και προς τους τάφους των πατέρων μας και προς τους ιερούς ναούς του Θεού, εάν δεν αγωνιζόμασταν γι’ αυτά με όλη μας την δύναμη… Έχουμε μαζί μας τον δίκαιο Θεό, ο οποίος βοηθεί τους αδικουμένους και αντιτάσσεται στους αδικούντας…».
          Ένας «βασιλεύς Ρωμαίων», ο Ιωάννης Βατάτζης μας άφησε ένα εξαιρετικό γραπτό μνημείο ελληνορθόδοξης αυτοσυνειδησίας. Τέτοια κείμενα αξίζει να διδάσκουμε στους νέους μας. Ας έχουμε την ευλογία του ευλαβούς Χριστιανού και πατριώτο  Αγίου Ιωάννου Γ Δούκα Βατάτζη.

Κωνσταντίνος Χολέβας, Πολιτικός Επιστήμων

(1) Απ. Βακαλοπούλου, Πηγές Ιστορίας του (2)Νέου Ελληνισμού, Α´  τόμος, Θεσσαλονίκη 1965, σελ. 50-53.

Το Συναξάρι του Βατάτζη ως Αγίου έχει συγγράψει ο Άγιος Νικόδημος ο Αγιορείτης στον δίτομο Συναξαριστή του. Ο ίδιος συνέθεσε και την Ακολουθία του Αγίου Ιωάννου Βατάτζη. Στο Διδυμότειχο υπάρχει καινούργιος Ιερός Ναός στο όνομα του Αγίου Αυτοκράτορος και η Ιερά Μητρόπολις Διδυμοτείχου, Ορεστιάδος και Σουφλίου οργανώνει κάθε χρόνο τα «Βατάτζεια»  με επίκεντρο την εορτή του Αγίου στις 4 Νοεμβρίου.


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(being continued from 30/10/2016)

Shams of Tabriz Tomb in Konya, Turkey

Shams left the world with no less than three tombs claiming to be his final resting place. There is a Shams of Tabriz tomb in Konya. This should point that Shams was killed soon after he left the house of Mevlana, and was secretly buried not far away. To be rediscovered in the last century by the director of the Mevlana Museum.

Shams of Tabriz Tomb in Khoy, Iran

Another tomb of Shams of Tabrizi is to be found in Khoy, Iran. Here most scholars point to the long standing tradition that Shams was not killed, but beated the hell out of his attackers before returning to his birthplace, where he died and was buried near the so called Shams Minaret. According Shahram Nazeri, the winner of France’s Chevalier de la Légion d’honneur medal will the tomb of Shams Tabrizi in Khoy become a second Konya in the future, and that this will have a positive influence on the culture of Iran.

Nazeri said this during a ceremony on November 3, 2007 in Khoy. Next to the Sams Minaret he was honoured by the Iranian House of Cinema with the Medal of Shams and The Golden Key of the Tomb of Shams of Tabriz in Khoy.

Shams of Tabriz Tomb in Multan, Pakistan

With all the evidence of tradition, the historical dated oldest Tomb of Shams Tabrizi is to be found in Multan, Pakistan.

Sufipath to Konya (Iconium), Turkey


Konya was an important stage on the road to Jerusalem and Mecca. It became a goal on its own since great poet and mystic Mevlana Rumi came to Konya and after his death in 1273 his grave became worlds most visited sufi-shrine in the world.

On the day a sufi-moslim was granted for the first time in the history the special roman catholic blessing of a bishop before making the Way of St. James, drs. Veyis Güngör spoke: People have no idea that a greater collection of old pilgrimage routes which cover all Europe not end in Santiago in northern Spain. The majority had Rome and Jerusalem as their destination. As all the overland-routes passed to Konya, the first Dutch pilgrim was recorded there in the year 1005. On this Tuesday 10 April 2007, now Sedat Çakir received that special blessing, we know it is time that people should know about the pendant Sufi Camino.

Voorzien van een boodschap van bisschop Punt voor de moslims gaat Sedat Çakir op weg naar Santiago de Compostela.
Bishop Punt of Amsterdam-Haarlem
after he blessed Sufi Sedat Çakir

European longest-distance path

After the first pesident of the Turkish republic ordered the closing of all the Dergahs, Tekkes and sanctuaries in 1925, it was quite for a while along the Sifipath. But like the Camino the Santiago, interest in history grew with the years, and long-distance walking was no longer done by lack of other means of transport.

Annemieke Telkamp of MokumTV: So, we asked Mohamed el-Fers to continue the research he did for his Mevlana-biography on those old Pilgrimtracks and create a guide with practical advice for these walks and reveal the deeper aspects of the old Sufitrails.

Mohamed El-Fers: Since I introduced the idea to reconstruct those old Sufitracks at the 3rd Mevlanacongress at Konya-university, much of it is still work in progess. But as did the Camino the Santiago for Spain, the Sufipath can do for Turkey. The rehabilitation and improvement of historical destinations! The Way to Santiago gave rural Spain the hard sought diversification and made it a world brand in historical and cultural tourism.

The routes of the Sufi long-distance path make, if possible, use of existing national and local trails such as the GR (Grande Randonnée) footpaths, a network of long-distance footpaths in Europe.

Veyis Güngör: But the Turkish Ministry of Culture and Tourism gives impetus to revive the old historic paths and restauration of existing civilisation ruins. It encourage people to restore and rebuild so called Open House Museums in which etnographic characterics of the region are displayed.

Mohamed el-Fers: To design and implement the trails I first have to thank all those people that knew stories and tracks they will share. And where would I be without the help of Aziz Aslantekin (Klas TV), Veyis Güngör (UETD) and Sedat Çakir (WVI) for their help. and not to forget Murat Kirbacoglu, who took GPS readings.

Each day involves a walk from 5km up to ca. 25km. But the Sufipath as hiking-trail can make other leaps, as there are boats or public transport to cover less spiritual surroundings.

From Zwarte Haan to

The European part of the Sufipath make up part of the longer walking routes which cross several countries, e.g. the Via Frisia from Zwarte Haan in the Netherlands to Santiago de Compostela in Spain. The Via Frisia, local known as Jabikspaad, is the farest tributary to the Sufipath at this time. Zwarte Haan – Konya is Europes longest long distance walk.

The Sufi Way

In Turkey: everybody his turn…

Turkey’s first long-distance footpaths were the Sufitrails, a wide network of tekkes (cloisters) and sanctuaries around The Mother of all Tekkes in Konya. As Konya was regarded as the capital of Rum (Rome), they named Mevlana “Rumi” (lit. “from Rome”), even he never visited the Papal Citystate.

The area held its name Rum also in Islamic times. Konya was capital of the Seljuk Sultanate of Rum. This was where Mevlana lived most of his life, and composed one of the crowning glories of Persian literature which profoundly affected the culture of the area.

After he died in 1273 CE, his followers and his son Sultan Walad founded the Mawlawiyah Sufi Order, also known as the Order of the Whirling Dervishes, famous for its Sufi dance known as the samah ceremony. Mevlana his shrine became worlds most visited sufiplace of pilgrimage and the Anatolian city of Konya turned into an “Islamic Vatican”. It is recommended that you walk the Turkish parts of the route in spring or autumn; February-May or September-November.


  • European Capital of Culture Magic Citywalk
    Sufi Traces of Istanbul

Bekroonde reisgids IstanbulGo now to ISTANBUL and this “stand-alone” walk through the Capital of the Caliphate. This trail for Istanbul only will be included in the 2010 edition of the cityguideIstanbul by Mohamed el-Fers and presented during the opening of the year 2010, when Istanbul is European Capital of Culture.
It was suggested to include the trail to the Hamzakoy Mevlevihane of Gelibolu (p205) as logic extention of this Istanbul Sufi Trace.

The Rumi Way (European Sufipath)

As the long-distance footpath leading from Europe to Istanbul is known as the Sufipath, the Rumi Way has to be understood as the “European Way”, or better “From Europe” as all of it, exept for the track from Istanbul to Gelibolu, run on Asian soil.

  • From Istanbul to Galipoli
    Istanbul – Silivri – Tekirdag – Gelibolu

The Hamzakoy Mevlevihane said to be once the richest Mevlanaconvent in the world. It was located in the Gelibolu’s Hoca Hamza area on the Gallipoli peninsula in the European part of Turkey. Today the town is well-known for sardine canning.
It was the center of the Ottoman Kaptanpaşa Eyalet. But this are killingfields. The Bulgarian Army threatened Gelibolu during the First_Balkan War and advanced to Bolayır in 1912. On 25 April 1915 a joint British Empire and French attack was mounted to capture the Ottoman capital of Istanbul. The attempt failed on the Gallipoli peninsula and was ended on 9 January 1916, with heavy casualties on both sides. Between 1920-1922 the town was occupied by Greeks and the first president of the Turkish Republic turned the Mevlevihane of Gelibolu into a military hospital.

  • From Gelibolu to Afyon
    Gelibolu – Lapseki – Can – Balikesir – Usak – Banaz – Afyon

In the small harbour the ferryboat leaves for Cardak (3 km) or Lapseki (4,6 km) on the Asian side. Most likely the Derwish would head for the Karahisar Mevlevihane of Afyon, the number 2 convent after Konya.

Afyon, Turkish for opium, is located on an intersection which connects north to south, west to east and had its Karahisar Mevlevihane on these crossroads.

A castle on the black rock dominates te city. The top of this rock has been fortified since 1350 BC and was occupied by Phrygians, Lydians, Persians, Byzantines and Seljuk Turks. In the Castle are various worship places. During the period of Seljukian Sultan Alaaddin Keykubad, a small mosque was added and a palace was constructed near the castle. The castle was much fought over during the Crusades and was finally conquered by the Ottoman Sultan Beyazid I in 1392 but was lost after the invasion of Timur Lenk in 1402. It was recaptured in 1428 or 1429.

The area thrived during the Ottoman Empire. As the centre of opium production Afyon became a wealthy city with the typical Ottoman urban mixture of Jews, Armenians, Greeks and Turks. Afyon became famous for the production of kaymak, a rich cream, produced by cattle that are fed the left-over opium plants. That changed in the late 1960s when under USA lead international pressure the opiumfields were burnt and production ceased.
Nowadays Afyon is known for its large cement factory. Beside some well-established roadside restaurants on the intersection of the routes from Ankara to İzmir and from Istanbul to Antalya it is also an important railroad junction between İzmir, Konya, Ankara and Istanbul. Beside these restaurants it has little in the way of cultural amenities. The Turkish Parliament officially changed its name Afyon to Afyonkarahisar (Black Fortress of Opium) in 2004, as production of opium for pharmaceutical purposes is still the most important activity in the region. Afyon produces more than a third of the world’s legally grown opium. Since 2006 Afyonkarahisar is twinned with the town of Hamm in Germany. As Hamm’s architectonic Highlight since 1984 is an elephant-shaped building, Afyon now has a large statue of a Hamm elephant.

  • From Afyon to Konya
    Afyon – Cay – Aksehir – Tekkekoy – Derbent – Selahattin – Konya

Afyon, Cay, Camozu Akşehir, Reis, Karaağa, Tekkekoy, Başkoy, Balki, Asagicgil, Yassioren, Derbent, Güneykoy, Selahattin, Ulumuhsine. After 3km left to Kücükmuhsine, after 800m right to Saraykoy and Konya.


SOURCE  www.mevlana800

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Τι σχέση έχει το Ικόνιο

με το Κατ’ Εικόνα…

Εκεί που ο Αννακός έζησε 300 χρόνια !

«Γενομένου δε του Κατακλυσμού επί Δευκαλίωνος… Ζεύς εκέλευσε τω Προμηθεί και τη Αθηνά…

είδωλα αναπλάσαι εκ του πηλού!»

Ποιητική επεξεργασία του λήμματος: Τελέσιλλα–ΗΛΙΟΔΡΟΜΙΟΝ

Χάρτης της Λυκαονίας, του 1903, πρωτεύουσα της οποίας είναι το Ικόνιο.

Αφού επιμένεις, θα σου πω την Ιστορία…

Να την ακούσεις, με τα μάτια… ανοιχτά!

Για σένα, ίσως είναι μια μυθιστορία…

Μα η ψυχή σου θα γνωρίσει τελικά!

Ζούσε λοιπόν έτη πολλά, 300 λένε και παραπάνω,

κάποιος εκεί στο «Ικόνιο», προς το βουνό του Ταύρου.

Έτσι ονομαζότανε η οροσειρά εκείνη, που Φρύγες 

και Λυκάονες κι άλλες φυλές δικές μας, 

τριγύρω κατοικούσανε… Ναι, στη Μικρά Ασία… 

«Κόνυα» μετά το είπανε οι Τούρκοι… μας το πήραν…

κι έδιωξαν τους αυτόχθονες, στο Πέραμα τους στείλαν

κι ίδρυσαν το Νέο Ικόνιο, στην Αττική τη γαία…

Όμως για να γυρίσουμε πίσω στην Ιστορία,

που ο Στέφανος Βυζάντιος στα «Εθνικά» αφηγείται,

ο άνδρας λεγόταν Αννακός και είδε τρεις Αιώνες!

Άλλο και τούτο, θα μου πεις… Απίστευτο μου κάνει…

Σήμερα ούτε στα εκατό ο άνθρωπος δεν φτάνει,

τότε… θα πει πως ζούσανε χρόνια πολλά, μα πάλι…

Τόσα πολλά; Παράδοξο, μα και σ’ αυτούς… Παράξενο εφάνη!

Τόσο… που στο Μαντείο πήγανε, λέγεται οι δικοί του,

ως πού θα φτάσει ερωτούν… Καημό κι αυτοί που είχαν…

Ως πότε θα ζει ο Αννακός… Άκου για τι απορούσαν!

Χρησμός τους δόθηκε βαρύς κι οι ίδιοι αναμειχθήκαν.

«Σαν θα τελειώσει η ζήση του… Όλοι τους θα χαθούνε»!

Κι αρχίσανε τα κλάματα οι Φρύγες και θρηνούσαν

από τα πριν τον έκλαιγαν, μαζί μ’ αυτόν και κείνους…

Τόσο πολύ το κλάμα τους, τόσο παροιμιώδες,

πού  ‘μεινε πια να λέγεται, ως μια δημώδης φράση:

«Το κλάμα ‘κείνο που ‘πεσε επί Αννακού, θυμάσαι;»,

λέγαν αυτοί, όπως κι εμείς… «το κλάμα της αρκούδας», 

που ρίχνει… αχ… όποιος θρηνεί, πολύ και επισύρει

απ’ όσους γύρω τον ακούν, οίκτο καλέ… συμπόνοια.

Αυτά και άλλα… Θαυμαστά, στα «Εθνικά» θα βρείτε,

Μύθους, Ονόματα, Χρησμούς, Θεούς στα Ιερά τους, 

μα κι όλη την Ιστορία μας, σε Πόλεις μοιρασμένη…

Κι ήρθε… για να γυρίσουμε, πίσω ξανά στον Λόγο…

η Ώρα που προσμένανε, που ‘χε ο Θεός σημάνει.

Έγινε λέει… Κατακλυσμός – Νώε, δεν αναφέρει –

του Δευκαλίωνος καιρός, ήτανε καθώς λέγει…

Και χάθηκε ο Αννακός, οι Φρύγες… Όλ’ οι ανθρώποι!

Νερά παντού, πότισ’ η γη, καθάρισε και λάμπει, 

τα περιττά… πάει, φύγανε… κι έμειν’ η Αγνότητά της!

Το χώμα ζωογονήθηκε, έτοιμο να βλαστήσει, 

νέοι καιροί, νέους καρπούς… θα φανερώσ’ η Φύση!

Κάποτε… πάει και το Νερό, άρχισε να στραγγίζει

η Γη αναξηράνθηκε κι ο Ζεύς τότε κελεύει,

από πηλό ανάπλαση ειδώλων για να γίνει, 

τον Προμηθέα όρισε, την Αθηνά αντάμα 

στο έργο τούτο ποιητές… Αναδημιουργία!

Για νά ‘ναι τούτη φυσική, Καλεί και τους Ανέμους,

όλοι μαζί να πνεύσουνε, Ζωή να εμφυσήσουν,

στο τέλος πια τα είδωλα… ζώντα να καταστήσουν!

Έτσι λοιπόν και έγινε… «Διός ετελείωτο Βουλή»…

Έκτοτε δε εις ανάμνησιν, τούτου του γεγονότος, 

«Εικόνιον» ονόμασαν, την πόλη που ιδρύσαν,

οι Νέοι Άνθρωποι μετά, το θαύμα αυτό… τιμώντας!

«ΕΙΚΟΝΙΟΝ»… αληθινά, του πρέπ’ η ονομασία, 

αφού εκεί, στη Νέα Αρχή, γίναν μορφές οι εικόνες!

Κι ας έφτασε με τον καιρό, με “ιώτα” να αρχίζει…

Αυτά συμβαίνουν… Έτσι απλά… Η γλώσσα ταξειδεύει

μέσα στον χρόνο κι αλλαγές, μη μας παραξενεύουν.

Ζώσα είναι η γλώσσα μας… Μα… από παλιά, η ίδια, 

σαν ζωντανή υπόκειται, σε πάθη… μα αντέχει, 

κρατιέτ’ απ’ την Ουσία της, τη Θεϊκή Πηγή της!

Έτσι κι εμείς στο σήμερα… Ελληνικά μιλούμε,

όπως κι αυτός ο Ικονιεύς, ο Αννακός… Θυμάσαι;

Αυτός που ‘ταν η αφορμή… τούτης της Ιστορίας, 

που είπαμε, ο Βυζάντιος στα «ΕΘΝΙΚΑ» διασώζει

και το ΗΛΙΟΔΡΟΜΙΟΝ σε σένα φανερώνει, 

μέσ’ απ’ την Έκδοση αυτή, που Θησαυρό θυμίζει…

Και για του λόγου τ’ αληθές,  

«ΙΚΟΝΙΟΝ»… το λήμμα, 

διάβασε στο πρωτότυπο 

και το βιβλίο ψάξε, 

αν θες μια πληροφόρηση, 

αυθεντική να είναι…

Ιδού το πλήρες λήμμα στο αρχαίο λεξικό:

«Ἰκόνιον, πόλις Λυκαονίας πρὸς τοῖς ὅροις τοῦ Ταύρου. φασὶ δ’ ὅτι ἦν τις Ἀννακός, ὃς ἔζησεν ὑπὲρ τὰ τριακόσια ἔτη. τοὺς δὲ πέριξ μαντεύσασθαι, ἕως τίνος βιώσεσθαι. ἐδόθη δὲ χρησμός, ὅτι τούτου τελευτήσαντος πάντες διαφθαρήσονται. οἱ δὲ Φρύγες ἀκούσαντες ἐθρήνουν σφοδρῶς. ὅθεν καὶ παροιμία «τὸ ἐπὶ Ἀννακοῦ κλαύσειν» ἐπὶ τῶν λίαν οἰκτιζομένων. γενομένου δὲ τοῦ κατακλυσμοῦ ἐπὶ Δευκαλίωνος πάντες διεφθάρησαν. ἀναξηρανθείσης δὲ τῆς γῆς ὁ Ζεὺς ἐκέλευσε τῷ Προμηθεῖ καὶ τῇ Ἀθηνᾷ εἴδωλα ἀναπλάσαι ἐκ τοῦ πηλοῦ, καὶ προσκαλεσάμενος τοὺς ἀνέμους ἐμφυσῆσαι πᾶσιν ἐκέλευσε καὶ ζῶντα ἀποτελέσαι. διὰ οὖν τὰς εἰκόνας ἐκεῖ διαγραφῆναι Ἰκόνιον κληθῆναι. καὶ ἔδει διὰ διφθόγγου [Εἰκόνιον]. ὁ πολίτης Ἰκονιεύς.»


εκδόσεις ΗΛΙΟΔΡΟΜΙΟΝ, Αθήνα 2015.

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26. Now, if on a stage, such as a public assembly essentially is, where there is the amplest room for fiction and half-truths, truth nevertheless prevails if it be but fairly laid open and brought into the light of day, what ought to happen in the case of friendship, which rests entirely on truthfulness? Friendship, in which, unless you both see and shew an open breast, to use a common expression, you can neither trust nor be certain of anything – no, not even of mutual affection, since you cannot be sure of its sincerity. However, this flattery, injurious as it is, can hurt no one but the man who takes it in and likes it. And it follows that the man to open his ears widest to flatterers is he who first flatters himself and is fondest of himself. I grant you that Virtue naturally loves herself; for she knows herself and perceives how worthy of love she is. But I am not now speaking of absolute virtue, but of the belief men have that they possess virtue. The fact is that fewer people are endowed with virtue than wish to be thought to be so. It is such people that take delight in flattery. When they are addressed in language expressly adapted to flatter their vanity, they look upon such empty persiflage as a testimony to the truth of their own praises. It is not then properly friendship at all when the one will not listen to the truth, and the other is prepared to lie. Nor would the servility of parasites in comedy have seemed humorous to us had there been no such things as braggart captains. “Is Thais really much obliged to me?” It would have been quite enough to answer “Much,” but he must needs say “Immensely.” Your servile flatterer always exaggerates what his victim wishes to be put strongly. Wherefore, though it is with those who catch at and invite it that this flattering falsehood is especially powerful, yet men even of solider and steadier character must be warned to be on the watch against being taken in by cunningly disguised flattery. An open flatterer any one can detect, unless he is an absolute fool: the covert insinuation of the cunning and the sly is what we have to be studiously on our guard against. His detection is not by any means the easiest thing in the world, for he often covers his servility under the guise of contradiction, and flatters by pretending to dispute, and then at last giving in and allowing himself to be beaten, that the person hoodwinked may think himself to have been the clearer-sighted. Now what can be more degrading than to be thus hoodwinked? You must be on your guard against this happening to you, like the man in the Heiress:

How have I been befooled! no drivelling dotards On any stage were e’er so played upon.

For even on the stage we have no grosser representation of folly than that of short-sighted and credulous old men. But somehow or other I have strayed away from the friendship of the perfect, that is, of the “wise” (meaning, of course, such “wisdom” as human nature is capable of), to the subject of vulgar, unsubstantial friendships. Let us then return to our original theme, and at length bring that, too, to a conclusion.

27. Well, then, Fannius and Mucius, I repeat what I said before. It is virtue, virtue, which both creates and preserves friendship. On it depends harmony of interest, permanence, fidelity. When Virtue has reared her head and shewn the light of her countenance, and seen and recognised the same light in another, she gravitates towards it, and in her turn welcomes that which the other has to shew; and from it springs up a flame which you may call love or friendship as you please. Both words are from the same root in Latin; and love is just the cleaving to him whom you love without the prompting of need or any view to advantage – though this latter blossoms spontaneously on friendship, little as you may have looked for it. It is with such warmth of feeling that I cherished Lucius Paulus, Marcus Cato, Gaius Gallus, Publius Nasica, Tiberius Gracchus, my dear Scipio’s father-in-law. It shines with even greater warmth when men are of the same age, as in the case of Scipio and Lucius Furius, Publius Rupilius, Spurius Mummius, and myself. En revanche, in my old age I find comfort in the affection of young men, as in the case of yourselves and Quintus Tubero: nay more, I delight in the intimacy of such a very young man as Publius Rutilius and Aulus Verginius. And since the law of our nature and of our life is that a new generation is for ever springing up, the most desirable thing is that along with your contemporaries, with whom you started in the race, you may also reach what is to us the goal. But in view of the instability and perishableness of mortal things, we should be continually on the look-out for some to love and by whom to be loved; for if we lose affection and kindliness from our life, we lose all that gives it charm. For me, indeed, though torn away by a sudden stroke, Scipio still lives and ever will live. For it was the virtue of the man that I loved, and that has not suffered death. And it is not my eyes only, because I had all my life a personal experience of it, that never lose sight of it: it will shine to posterity also with undimmed glory. No one will ever cherish a nobler ambition or a loftier hope without thinking his memory and his image the best to put before his eyes. I declare that of all the blessings which either fortune or nature has bestowed upon me I know none to compare with Scipio’s friendship. In it I found sympathy in public, counsel in private business; in it too a means of spending my leisure with unalloyed delight. Never, to the best of my knowledge, did I offend him even in the most trivial point; never did I hear a word from him I could have wished unsaid. We had one house, one table, one style of living; and not only were we together on foreign service, but in our tours also and country sojourns. Why speak of our eagerness to be ever gaining some knowledge, to be ever learning something, on which we spent all our leisure hours far from the gaze of the world? If the recollection and memory of these things had perished with the man, I could not possibly have endured the regret for one so closely united with me in life and affection. But these things have not perished; they are rather fed and strengthened by reflexion and memory. Even supposing me to have been entirely bereft of them, still my time of life of itself brings me no small consolation: for I cannot have much longer now to bear this regret; and everything that is brief ought to be endurable, however severe.

This is all I had to say on friendship. One piece of advice on parting. Make up your minds to this: Virtue (without which friendship is impossible) is first; but next to it, and to it alone, the greatest of all things is Friendship.


Source:© Paul Halsall, August 1998
Translation by Evelyn S. Shuckburgh
Letters of Marcus Tullius Cicero, with his treatises on friendship and old age; translated by E. S. Shuckburgh. And Letters of Gaius Plinius Caecilius Secundus, translated by William Melmoth, rev. by… New York, P. F. Collier [c1909]. Series title: The Harvard classics v.9.
Cicero, Marcus Tullius: Laelius; a dialogue on friendship, by M. Tullius Cicero; ed., with notes, vocabulary, and biographical index by E. S. Shuckburgh … New ed. rev. and enl., for use in American colleges, by Henry Clark Johnson … New York,
London, Macmillan and co., 1913. Series title: Elementary classics.
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