|« Prev||Drunkenness||Next »|
I. (1) What has been said by other philosophers about drunkenness we have to the best of our ability recorded in the treatise before this present one. But now let us consider what is the opinion of the lawgiver, who was in all respects great and wise, on this subject; (2) for in many places of his history of the giving of the law he mentions wine, and the plant which produces wine, namely the vine; and he commands some persons to drink it, but some he does not permit to do so; and at time he gives contrary directions to the same people, ordering them sometimes to drink and some times to abstain. These therefore are the persons who have taken the great vow, to whom it is expressly forbidden to drink unmixed wine, being the priests who are engaged in offering sacrifices. But those who drink wine are numerous beyond all calculation, and among them are all those who are especially praised by the lawgiver for their virtue. (3) But before we begin to talk of these subjects we will examine with accuracy some points that concern this argument, and, as I at least imagine they are these.
II. (4) Moses looks upon an unmixed wine as a symbol not of one thing only but of many, namely of trifling, and playing the fool, and of all kinds of insensibility and of insatiable greediness, and of a covetousness which is hard to be pleased, and of a cheerfulness which comprehends many other objects, and of a nakedness which is apparent in all the things now mentioned, such as that which he says Noah, when drunk, displayed himself in. Wine, then, is said to produce all these effects. (5) But great numbers of persons who, because they never touch unmixed wine, look upon themselves as sober, are involved in the same accusation. And one may see some of them acting in a foolish and senseless manner, and others possessed by complete insensibility; and others again who are never satisfied, but are always thirsting for what cannot be obtained, because of their want of knowledge; others, on the other hand rejoicing and exulting; and others in good truth naked. (6) The cause now of behaving foolishly is a mischievous ignorance; I mean by this expression, not an ignorance of such things as are matters of instruction but an alienation from, and dislike of knowledge. The cause again of insensibility is a treacherous and mutilated ignorance. The cause of insatiability is a most grievous appetite for the indulgence of the passions of the soul. The cause of cheerfulness is at once the acquisition and the employment of virtue. Of nakedness there are many causes—an ignorance of such things as are opposite to one another; complete innocence and simplicity of manners; truth, which strips off all the coverings of such things as are concealed, on the one side revealing virtue to our eyes, and on the other side, in its turn, uncovering vice; (7) for no one can possibly put off both these things at one time, nor can he either strip them both off together. But when any one discards the one, he must of necessity take up and clothe himself with the other. (8) For as the old story tells us, God, when he had combined pleasure and pain, two things naturally at variance, under one head, gave to us an outward sense capable of appreciating them both, not at the same moment, but at different times, fixing the period of the return of one to be simultaneous with the moment of the flight of the other. Thus from one root of the dominant principle, the two shoots of virtue and vice sprang up, neither blossoming nor bearing fruit at the same time; (9) for when the one loses its leaves and fades away, then the other begins to shoot, and blossom, and look green, so that one might fancy that the one withered through dissatisfaction at the blooming appearance of the other. It is with reference to this that Moses represents in a most natural manner the departure of Jacob to be contemporaneous with the arrival of Esau; "For it came to pass," says he, "that as Jacob went out his brother Esau came In."482482 Gen 27:30. (10) As long, indeed, as prudence dwells in and makes his abode in the soul, so long every companion of folly is discarded and banished to a distance; but when prudence departs then folly rejoices and enters, since its enemy and adversary, for whose sake it was driven away and banished, is no longer inhabiting the same place as before.
III. (11) We have now then said enough by way of preface to this treatise. We will proceed to adduce the proofs of all that we have said, beginning first of all to establish the first point. We said, then, that ignorance was the cause of man's behaving foolishly and misconducting himself, just as a great quantity of unmixed wine is to great numbers of foolish persons; (12) for ignorance is the primary evil of all the errors of the soul, if we must tell the truth, from which, as from a spring, all the actions of life do flow, never producing to any one, one single stream of wholesome or drinkable water, but only brackish water, the cause of disease and destruction to all who use it. (13) Thus, at all events, the lawgiver is very indignant with all uninstructed and unmanageable persons, more than he is with any other description of people whatever. And a proof of this is this: who are they who are united in alliance not so much by study as by nature, whether among men or among the other kinds of animals? No one; not even a madman would say that any beings were so closely united as parents and children; for even by the mere untaught instinct of nature the parent always cares for his offspring, and in every case endeavours to provide for its safety and durability.
IV. (14) Those, then, who are the natural protectors of others, Moses represents as having crossed over to the ranks of enemies, making those accusers who would naturally have been advocates, I mean the father and mother, in order that the children may be destroyed by those by whom above all others it was natural they should be saved; "For if," says he, "any man's son be disobedient, or contentious, not obeying the voice of his father and of his mother, and if they reprove him and he does not listen to them, then his father and his mother shall take him, and shall bring him before the elders of the city, and shall bring him to the gate of that place, and shall say to the men of their city, This our son is disobedient and contentious, and does not obey our voice, but spends his time in revelling and drunkenness. And the men of that city shall stone him, and you shall destroy that wicked one from among You."483483 Deut 21:18. (15) Therefore, here the accusations are four in number—disobedience, and contentiousness, and love of revelling, and drunkenness; and the last of these is the greatest, deriving its growth from the first, namely, from disobedience; for when the soul begins to be restive it advances onward through contention and quarrelsomeness, and arrives at last at the furthest boundary, drunkenness, the cause of alienation of mind and folly. But it is requisite to see the force of each of all these accusations, beginning with the first in order.
V. (16) It is then confessed by all most undeniably, that it is both honourable and advantageous to yield and to become obedient to virtue, so that on the other hand to be disobedient to it must be disgraceful and in no moderate degree disadvantageous. And to be contentious and obstinate is a quality which comprehends every extravagance of evil; for the man who is disobedient is less wicked than he who is contentious, since the one only disregards what he is commanded to do, but the other also exerts himself to do the contrary. (17) Come, now, let us investigate the true nature of these things. Since the law commands, for instance, that men should honour their parents, he who does not honour them is disobedient; but he who dishonours them is contentious. And again, since it is a righteous action to preserve one's country, we must call the man who admits of hesitation in the pursuit of the object disobedient, but the man who is prepared moreover to betray it we must pronounce perverse and contentious. (18) Again, he who, when requested to requite a favour, contradicts the man who says that he ought to consider himself a debtor, is disobedient; but he who, in addition to making no return, is so carried away by contentiousness that he endeavours to do the person what harm he can, commits unredeemable wickedness. And further, he who never approaches, nor practises sacrifices, or any of the other observances required by piety, disobeys the commandments which the law usually ordains in such matters; but he who resists and turns aside to the opposite disposition, impiety, is a wicked man and a minister of impiety.
VI. (19) Such a man as this was he who said, "Who is there whom I am to obey?" and again, "I do not know the Lord."484484 Exod 5:2. For by his first expression he states that there is no such thing as a Deity; and by the second question he means, that even if there is such a being, still he will not recognize him, which arises from a deficiency in his providence; for if he were possessed of providence he would be recognized. (20) Now to bring contributions and supplies in aid of an entertainment with a view to a participation in that best of all possessions, prudence, is praiseworthy and advantageous. But to do so with a view to the worst of all objects, folly, is disadvantageous and blameable; (21) therefore, the contributions for the most excellent object are the desire of virtue, the imitation of good men, continued care, laborious practice, incessant and unwearied labours; the contributions for the opposite object are relaxation, indifference, luxury, effeminacy, and a complete desertion of what is right. (22) And we may see those who every day descend into the arena to contend in drinking much wine, and practising this quality every day, and striving to gain the victory in greediness and voracity, bringing their contributions as though they had some desirable object in view, and injuring themselves in every thing, in their property, and their bodies, and their souls; for by contributing their property they diminish their substance; and they break down and enervate the powers of their bodies by their luxurious way of life, and as for their souls, inundating them with immoderate food like a swollen torrent, they compel that to sink down to the lowest depth. (23) For the same manner all those, who bring contributions for the destruction of learning, injure the most important thing in them, namely, their mind, cutting off every thing that might save itâprudence, and temperance, and courage, and justice; on which account he seems to me himself to use a compound word, symbolokopoÂ̄n, for the more manifest manifestation of his meaning, because they who bring forward attempts at virtue as their offering and contribution, wound and lacerate, and cut to pieces, obedient and learningloving souls to the extent of their utter destruction.
VII. (24) Therefore the wise Abraham is said to have returned again from the slaughter of Chedorlaomer, and of the kings who were with Him.485485 Gen 14:17. And on the other hand, Amalek is said to have cut to pieces the rear of the company of the meditator of virtue,486486 Deut 25:18. in strict accordance with the truth of nature; for what is contrary to one is also hostile to the other, and such things are always meditating the destruction of one another. (25) But one may especially blame a man who contributes offerings on this account, because such an one has not only determined to do wrong, but also to cooperate with others in doing wrong, thinking fit in some things to be the leader himself, and in others to follow the leadership of others; so that, erring both by nature and through what he has learnt, he leaves himself no good hope of safety, and this, too, though the law has expressly said that one must "not follow a multitude to do Evil;"487487 Exod 23:2. (26) for, in truth, evil is a very manifold and very fertile thing in the souls of men, but good is but a contracted and rare thing. Again it is a most useful recommendation, not to join with many persons to do evil, but to unite with a few whose chief practice is to do justly.
VIII. (27) The fourth and greatest of the accusations, is that of drunkenness, not slight but excessive drunkenness. For devotion to crime is equivalent to devotion to swelling up, and kindling, and inflaming the poison which is the great cause of folly, namely ignorance, a thing which can never be extinguished, but which is at all times and in every case raising a conflagration and fury in the soul. (28) Very naturally, therefore, justice will follow which purifies every evil disposition of the mind, for it is said, "Thou shalt utterly get rid of the wicked man," not out of the city, or out of the country, or out of the nation, but "out of Yourselves."488488 Deut 21:21. For there are many faulty and blameable thoughts lurking in us, and taking up their abode in the recesses of our hearts, which, since they are incurable, it is necessary to eradicate and destroy. (29) Therefore it is just that this disobedient and contentious man, who is always advancing plausible reasons as a sort of offering and contribution on his part towards the destruction of what is good, and who is inflamed with strong wine, and raging in a drunken manner against virtue, and being absurdly excited to his own injury by wine, should have his allies for his accusers, his own father and mother, since he ought to receive every possible reproof and chastisement from those who can be saved; (30) but of the father and mother the appellations are common, but their powers are different. At all events we shall speak with justice, if we say that the Creator of the universe is also the father of his creation; and that the mother was the knowledge of the Creator with whom God uniting, not as a man unites, became the father of creation. And this knowledge having received the seed of God, when the day of her travail arrived, brought forth her only and well-beloved son, perceptible by the external senses, namely this world. (31) Accordingly wisdom is represented by some one of the beings of the divine company as speaking of herself in this manner: "God created me as the first of his works, and before the beginning of time did he establish me." For it was necessary that all the things which came under the head of the creation must be younger than the mother and nurse of the whole universe.
IX. (32) Who then is able to encounter the accusation of these parents? No one can withstand even their moderate threats, or their very slightest reproach; for neither is any one able to contain the immeasurable multitude of their gifts, perhaps even the whole world is not; but like a shallow channel, when the great fountain of the bounties of God flows into it, it will be very speedily filled so as to overtop its bounds and overflow; but if we are unable to receive his benefits, how shall we endure his chastising powers when they come upon us? (33) But these parents of the universe must be taken out of the present discussion; and for the present let us consider their pupils and acquaintances who have had assigned to them the care and superintendence of such souls as are not unwilling to learn and illiterate. Therefore we say that the father is masculine and perfect right reason, and that the mother is that middle and encyclical course of study, and instruction, and learning, which it is honourable and advantageous to obey as a child obeys his parents. (34) The recommendation then of the father, that is of right reason, is to follow and obey reason, pursuing naked and undisguised truth; and the injunction of learning, the mother that is, is to obey the just customs, which ancient men who embraced opinion, as if it were truth, have established in cities, and nations, and countries. (35) Now these parents have four classes of children. First of all comes that class which is obedient to them both, the second is that which attends to neither, being the opposite of the former one. Of the others, each is half perfect. For the one is exceedingly attached to its father, and attends to him, but disregards its mother and her injunctions. The other again appears to be attached to its mother, and obeys her in everything, but pays but little attention to its father. The first class, therefore, will carry off the prize of victory as superior to all the others; the second, which is the contrary of it, will meet with defeat and destruction at the same time; and as to each of the others they will claim, one the second prize, and the other the third. The one which is obedient to its father being the second in honour, and the one which obeys its mother being the third.
X. (36) Now of the soul attached to its mother, yielding to the opinions of the many and constantly changing its appearance in accordance with the various forms arising from the manifold and different ways of life, after the manner of the Egyptian Proteus, who was able to assume the likeness of anything in the whole world, and to conceal his real form so as to render it entirely invisible, the most visible image is Jothor, a compound of pride, who evidently represents a city and constitution of men from all quarters, and of all nations, carried away by vain opinions. (37) For after the wise Moses had invited the whole people of the soul to observe piety and to pay the honour due to God, and had taught them the commandments and the most sacred laws, (for he says, "When there is a controversy among them and they come to me, I will decide between them all, and I will bring together to them the commandments of God and his Law.")489489 Exod 18:16. then Jothor, wise in his own conceit, uninitiated in the divine blessings, but having principally lived among human and corruptible things, harangues the people, and proposes laws contrary to those of nature, having regard only to opinion, while those other laws are all referrible to the standard of reality and truth. (38) And indeed the prophet, pitying this man and commiserating his exceeding error, thinks it fitting to endeavour to teach him better things, and to persuade him to change his ways, and to forsake vain opinions and steadily to follow the truth. (39) For says he, "We after having cut up and eradicated the vain pride of the mind, will leave our abodes and depart to the place of knowledge, which we shall gain possession of by the divine oracles and their agreement of the result with them. Come now with us, and we will do thee Good."490490 Num 10:29. For so doing you will get rid of that most pernicious thing, false opinion, and you will acquire that most advantageous thing, truth. (40) But he, being as it were subdued by enchantment in this way, will neglect what is said, and will by no means follow any kind of knowledge whatever, but will retire and will run off to his own individual and empty pride. For it is said in the scripture that he replied to him, "I will not go, except to my own country and to my own race;" that is to say, to his kindred infidelity imbued with false opinions, since he had not learnt that true faith which is dear to men.
XI. (41) For, when desiring to make a display of his piety, he says, "Now I know that God is a great Lord in comparison of all Gods,"491491 Exod 18:11. he accuses himself of impiety in the eyes of all men who are competent to form a judgment; for they will say to him, (42) "Dost thou now know, O impious man, the power of the Ruler of the universe? but before this thou didst not know it. For was there anything which thou hast ever fallen in with of more antiquity or power than God? And are not the virtues of their parents known to the children before anything else in the world? And was not the Ruler of the universe the creator and the father of it? So that if you now say that you know it, you do not know it now, because you did not know it from the beginning of the creation." (43) And you are not the less convicted of false pretences, when you profess to compare things that cannot be compared, and say that you now recognise the greatness and pre-eminence of God in comparison of all other gods. For if thou hadst in real truth known the living God, you would never have supposed that there was any other god endued with independent authority; (44) for as the sun, when he has arisen, hides the stars, pouring forth his own light altogether over our sight, so also when the beams of the light-giving God, unmingled as they are, and entirely pure, and visible at the greatest distance, shone upon the eye of the soul, being comprehensible only by the intellect, then the eye of the soul can see nothing else; for the knowledge of the living God having beamed upon it, out-dazzles everything else, so that even those things which are most brilliant by their own intrinsic light appear to be dark in comparison. (45) Therefore he would never have ventured to compare the true and faithful God to those falsely named gods, if he had really known him; but ignorance of the one God has caused him to entertain a belief of many as gods, who have in reality no existence at all.
XII. (46) Now this same opinion is entertained by every one who, having thoroughly comprehended the affairs of the soul, looks with astonishment on the affairs of the body and on the things external to the body, diversified as they are with different colours and forms, in order to deceive the outward sense, which is easily worked upon. (47) Such a man as this the lawgiver calls labour, who, not perceiving the true laws of nature, falsely assents to those which are in force among men, saying, "It is not the custom in our country to give the younger daughter in marriage before the Elder."492492 Gen 29:26. (48) For he thinks that it behoves him to adhere to the classification arising from the consideration of time, according to which, that which is oldest is entitled to priority, and after that, that which is the younger is admitted to a participation in their joint rights. But the practiser in wisdom, knowing that natures are not subject to time, desires what is younger first, and what is older afterwards. And moral reason agrees with him in this matter, for it is necessary for those who practise anything, first of all to come to the more recent learning, in order that after that, they may be able to derive advantage from that which is more perfect. (49) And, on this account, the lovers of virtue and excellence do not approach the doors of the older philosophy before they have become familiar with these younger parts of it, grammar, and geometry, and the whole range of encyclical learning; for these subordinate branches do always attend upon those, who with sincerity and purity of purpose court wisdom. (50) But he acts cunningly in opposition to these principles, wishing us to take to ourselves the elder sister first, not in order that we may have her in a lasting manner, but that being attracted by the allurements of the younger, we may hereafter relax in our desire for the elder one.
XIII. (51) And we may almost say that this has happened to many of those who have used out of the way roads to learning; for still, as one may say, men coming from their very swaddling clothes to the most perfect study and way of life, philosophy, not thinking it fit to be utterly ignorant of encyclical learning, have still determined to apply themselves to them late and unwillingly. And then, descending from the older and more important kinds of learning to the contemplation of the inferior and younger branches, they have grown old among them so as no longer to be able to return to those pursuits with which they began. (52) It is on this account, I imagine, that he says, "Accomplish her seven years," which is equivalent to: let not the good of the soul be unaccomplished by you; but let it have an end and a due completion, in order that you may meet with the younger classification of good things, of which personal beauty, and glory, and riches, and such things as these make up the sum. (53) But he does not promise to accomplish them, but only agrees to fulfil them; that is to say, studying never to omit anything which may conduce to its growth and fulness, but in every instance labouring to get the better of all his difficulties, even though there may be innumerable impediments hindering and drawing him in the opposite direction. (54) And the scripture here appears to me to show very plainly, that customs are regarded by men more than by women, as is clear by the words of Rachel, who admires only those things which are perceptible by the outward senses; for she says to her father, "Be not angry, my lord, that I am unable to rise up before thee in thy presence, because the custom of women is upon Me."493493 Gen 31:35. (55) Therefore it is especially the conduct of women to pay regard to customs; for, indeed, that is the habit of the weaker and more feminine soul; while the nature of men, and of that reason which is really vigorous and masculine, is to be guided by nature.
XIV. (56) But I marvel at the sincerity and truth of the soul which, in its conversation, confesses that it is unable to rise up against apparent good things, and nevertheless admires and honours every one of them, and all but prefers them to itself. (57) Since who of us does resist wealth, and who of us enters the lists against glory? And who despises honour or authority, who, I may say, of almost all those who are still stained by vain opinions? No one whatever. (58) But as long as we have none of these things we talk loudly and proudly, as if we were men of small wants, and companions of frugality, which renders life all-sufficient for itself, and just, and suitable for free and nobly born men. But when there is hope of any of the things which I have enumerated, or when only the slightest breeze of such hope blows upon us, then we are found out, for we at once yield, and submit, and are unable to hold out or resist; and being betrayed by the outward senses, which are so dear to us, we abandon the whole alliance of the soul, and we desert not in a concealed manner, but openly and undisguisedly. And perhaps this is not more than is reasonable to expect. (59) For the customs of women are still predominant in us, while we are not as yet able to wash them off, or to rise and cross over to the hearth of the men's chamber, as is related of the mind which loved virtue, by name Sarah; (60) for she is represented in the sacred oracles as having ceased to be influenced by the customs of women,494494 Gen 18:11. when she was about to be in travail and to bring forth the self-taught offspring, being by name Isaac. (61) And she is said not to have had a mother, having received the inheritance of relationship from her father only, and not from her mother, having no share in the female race; for some one has said somewhere, "And yet, in truth, she is my sister, the daughter of my father, but not the daughter of my Mother."495495 Gen 20:12. For she is not formed of the material perceptible by the outward senses, which is always in a state of formation or of dissolution, which is called the mother, and nurse and bringer up of created things; among which, first of all, the tree of wisdom sprang up, but rather of the cause and father of all. (62) She, therefore, having emerged out of the whole corporeal world, and exulting from the joy which is in God, laughs at the pursuits of men, which are conversant about either war or peace.
XV. (63) We, then, being overcome by the unmanly and women-like association with the outward senses, and the passions, and the objects of the outward senses, are not able to stand up in opposition to anything that is apparent. But are dragged on, some of us, in spite of ourselves, and others of us willingly, by everything which comes across us; (64) and if our army, not being able to execute the commands of the father, were to yield, it would nevertheless have for an ally its mother, moderate learning, which enacts in different cities such laws as are in common use, and appear to be just, and establishes different institutions in different countries. (65) But there are some persons who, neglecting the precepts of their mothers, adhere with all their might to the injunctions of their fathers, whom right reason has thought worthy of the greatest honour, namely, of the priesthood; and if we go through their actions, by which they have obtained this honour, we shall perhaps incur the ridicule of many, who are deceived by the first appearances which present themselves to them, and who do not perceive those powers which are invisible and kept in the shade. (66) For those who have applied themselves to prayers and sacrifices, and the whole body of ceremonies connected with the temple, are, what seems a most paradoxical thing, homicides, fratricides, murderers of those persons who are nearest and dearest to them, though they ought to be pure, and sprung from the pure, having no connection with any pollution, intentionally incurred, nay, not even unintentionally. (67) For it is said, "Each of you slay his brother, and each of you slay his neighbour, and each of you slay his nearest relations. And the sons of Levi did as Moses had spoken; and there fell of the people in that day about three thousand Men."496496 Exod 32:27. And those who had slain such a vast multitude he praises, saying, "Ye have this day, each of you, filled your hands to the Lord in your son, or your brother, so that blessing shall be given to you."
XVI. (68) What, then, are we to say, but that such men are caught by the common customs of men, having, as their accuser, their mother, who lives according to the laws of the state, and acts like a demagogue, namely, custom: but that the others preserve the laws of nature, having, for their ally, their father, namely, right reason; (69) for it is not the case, as some persons think, that the priests slay men, rational animals, compounded of soul and body, but they only eradicate from their minds all those things which are akin to and dear to the flesh, thinking it seemly for those who have become ministers of the only wise God, to alienate themselves form all the things of creation, and to look upon all such things as enemies and thoroughly hostile. (70) On this account it is, that we shall slay a brother, not a man, but the body, which is brother to the soul; that is to say, we shall separate that which is devoted to the passions and mortal, from that which is devoted to virtue and divine. And, again, we shall slay a neighbour, not a man, but a company and a band; for such a company is, at the same time, akin to, and hostile to, the soul, laying baits and spreading snares for it, in order that being inundated by the objects of the outward senses, which overflow it, it may never emerge and look up to heaven, so as to embrace the beautiful and God-like natures. And we shall also slay those nearest to us: but that which is nearest to the mind is uttered speech, inserting false opinions among reasonable and natural plausibilities and probabilities, to the destruction of that best of all possessions, truth.
XVII. (71) Why, then, are we not also to repel this being, too, who is a sophist and a polluted person, condemning him to the death which is suited to him, namely, silence (for silence is the death of speech), in order that the mind may be no longer led away by its sophisms, but being completely emancipated from all the pleasures which are according to the body, "the brother," and being alienated from, and having shaken off the yoke of, all the trickeries according to "the neighbour," and the neighbouring outward senses, and from the sophistries in accordance with the "nearest" speech, may be able, in all purity, to apply itself to all the proper objects of the intellect. (72) This is he "who says to his father and to his mother," his mortal parents, "I have not seen you," ever since I have beheld the things of God, who "does not recognize his sons," ever since he has become an acquaintance of wisdom, who "disowns his Brethren,"497497 Deut 33:9. ever since he has ceased to be disowned by God, and has been thought worthy of perfect salvation. (73) This is he who "took as coadjutor," that is to say, who searched for and sought out the things of corruptible creation, of which the chief happiness is laid up in eating and drinking, and who went, Moses says, "to the chimney," which was burning and flaming with the excesses of wickedness, and which could never be extinguished, namely, the life of man, and who, after that, was able even to pierce the woman through her belly,498498 Num 25:8. because she appeared to be the cause of bringing forth, being, in real truth, rather the patient than the agent, and even every "man," and every reasoning which follows the opinion which attributes passions to the essence of God, who is the cause of all things.
XVIII. (74) Will not this person be justly looked upon as a murderer, by many who are influenced by the customs which have so much weight among women? But with God, the ruler and father of the universe, he will be thought worthy of infinite praises and panegyrics, and of rewards which can never be taken away; and the rewards are great, and akin to one another, being peace and the priesthood: (75) for it was an illustrious achievement, after having put to flight the almost invincible troops of men who live according to the common fashion, and having put down the civil war of the appetites in the soul, to establish a peace firmly; and for this great exploit to receive nothing else, not riches, not glory, not honour, not authority, not beauty, not strength, not any of the advantages of the body, nor, on the other hand, earth or heaven, or all the world, but that most important and valuable of all things, the rank of the priesthood, the office of serving and paying honour to Him who is in truth the only being worthy of honour and service; this is an admirable thing, an object worthy of contention. (76) And I was not wrong when I called those rewards, brothers to one another, but I said so, knowing that he cannot be made a true priest who is still serving in human and mortal warfare, in which vain opinions are the officers of the companies; and that he cannot be a peaceful man, who does not in sincerity cultivate and serve, with all simplicity, the only Being who has no share in warfare, and everlasting peace.
XIX. (77) Such are the persons who honour their father, and the things belonging to their father, but who pay but little regard to their mother and to things that belong to her. But Moses represents the man who is at variance with both his father and his mother, and brings them forward as saying, "I know not the Lord; and I will not let Israel Go."499499 Exod 5:2. For he appears to put himself in opposition to those divine things, which are established in accordance with divine reason, and also to those which are established with reference to created beings, by means of education, and to be throwing everything into confusion in every direction. (78) And there are even now—for the human race has not as yet entirely purified itself from unmixed wickedness—there are still persons who have absolutely determined to do nothing which has any bearing on piety or on human society, but who, on the contrary, are the companions of impiety and atheism, and treacherous towards their equals. (79) And these men go about, being the greatest imaginable pests of their cities, out of curiosity and a love of interfering, mixing themselves up with, or rather, if one must tell the truth, throwing into confusion all kinds of affairs, both public and private, men who ought to have put up prayers and offered sacrifices to avert (as if it had been a great disease) famine, or pestilence, or any other evil inflicted by God; for these calamities are great evils to those on whom they fall; in reference to which Moses sings their destruction, when they have been destroyed by their own allies, and swallowed up by their own opinions, as if by the waves of a stormy sea.
XX. (80) Let us now, therefore, proceeding in regular order, speak of the enemies of these persons, men who honour instruction and right reason, among whom are those who are attached to the virtue of one of their parents, being half-perfect companions; these men are the most excellent guardians of the laws which the father, that is to say, right reason, established, and faithful stewards of the customs which education, their mother, instituted; (81) and they were instructed by right reason, their father, to honour the Father of the universe, and not to neglect the customs and laws established by education, their mother, and considered by all men to be founded in justice. (82) When, therefore, Jacob, the practiser of virtue, and the man who entered into the lists of, and was a candidate for, the prizes of virtue, was inclined to give his ears in exchange for his eyes, and words for actions, and improvements for perfection, as the bounteous God was willing to give eyes to his mind, in order that he might for the future clearly see what hitherto he had only comprehended by hearing (for the eyes are more trustworthy than the ears), the oracle sounded in his ears, "Thy name shall not be called Jacob; but Israel shall thy name be, because thou hast prevailed with God and with men, with Power."500500 Gen 32:28. Jacob then is the name of learning and or improvement, that is to say of those powers which depend upon learning, and Israel is the name of perfection, for the name being interpreted means "the sight of God;" (83) and what can be more perfect among all the virtues than the sight of the only living God? Accordingly he who hath seen this good things is confessed to be good by both his parents, having attained to strength in God and power both before the Lord and before men. (84) And it appears to me to be very well said in the book of Proverbs, "Men who see what is right before God and before Men."501501 Prov 3:4. Since it is by the aid of both these that men attain to the complete possession of good. For when you have been taught to observe the laws of your Father,502502 Prov 4:3. and not to disregard the injunctions of your mother, you will be able to say with confidence and pride, "For I also was born a son, subject to my father, and beloved before the face of my "mother."
XXI. But, I should say to this man, were you not fated to be loved, if you kept the laws established among mortals out of a desire for fellowship, and if you paid due respect to the ordinances of the uncreate God out of a love for, and a desire to exhibit piety? (85) Therefore Moses, the divine prophet of God, in his description of the building of the temple, shows the perfection of the temple in both points; for it is not without due consideration for us that he covers the ark both within and without with gold, or that he gives two robes to the chief priest, or that he builds two altars, one outside the tabernacle for the victims, and the other inside for the burning incense; but he does this, wishing by these emblems to exhibit the virtues of each species; (86) for it is fitting that the wise man should be adorned both with the invisible excellences existing within in the soul, and also with those external ones which are outwardly visible, and with prudence which is more valuable than gold. And whenever it departs from human studies, worshipping the living God alone, it puts on the simple unvaried robe of truth, which no mortal thing can ever touch, for it is made of linen material, a material not produced from any being whose nature it is to die. But whenever it passes over to mix in political affairs, then it lays aside the man's robe and assumes the other embroidered one of a most admirable beauty to look at; for life being a thing of great variety and of great changes, requires the diversified wisdom of the pilot who is to hold the helm; (87) and he will appear in the outer conspicuous altar of life to exercise abundant prudence with respect to the skin, and flesh, and blood, and everything relating to the body, in order not to offend the common multitude which gives the second place in honour to the good things of the body in close proximity to the good things of the soul; and at the inner altar he will use bloodless, fleshless, incorporeal things, things proceeding from reasoning alone, which are compared to frankincense and other burnt spices; for as these fill the nostrils, so do those fill the whole region of the soul with fragrance.
XXII. (88) We must also not be ignorant that wisdom, being the art of arts, appears to vary according to its different materials, but it shows its true species without alteration to those who have acute sight, and who are not carried away by the burden of the body with which they are surrounded: but who see the impression which is stamped upon it by art itself. (89) They say that Phidias, the celebrated statuary, made statues of brass, and of ivory, and of gold, and of other different materials, and that in all these works he displayed one and the same art, so that not only good judges, but even those who had no pretensions to the title, recognized the artist from his works. (90) For, as in the case of twins, nature having often employed the same character, has produced similitudes very slightly indeed differing from one another; in the same manner perfect art, being the imitation and copy of nature, when it has taken different materials, fashions and stamps the same appearance on all, so that the works produced by her are in the highest possible degree kindred, and brother-like, and twins. (91) And the power which exists in the wise man will show the same result: for when it is occupied with the affairs of the living God it is called piety and holiness: but when it employs itself upon the heaven, and the things in heaven, it is natural philosophy; and when it devotes itself to the investigation of the air, and of the different circumstances attending its variations and changes, whether taking place in the uniform yearly revolutions of the seasons, or in the partial periods of months and days, it is then called meteorology. It is called moral philosophy when it busies itself about the rectification of human morals; and this moral philosophy is divided into several subordinate species; that namely of politics, when occupied about state affairs; economy, when applied to the management of a household; when it is devoted to the subject of banquets and entertainments, it is then convivial philosophy. Again, that power which concerns itself about the government of men, is royal; that which is conversant with commands and prohibitions, is legislative. (92) For all these different powers the wise man of many names and many celebrities does truly contain within himself, namely, piety, holiness, natural philosophy, meteorology, moral philosophy, political knowledge, economy, royal power, legislative wisdom, and innumerable other faculties; and in every one of them he will be seen to wear one and the same appearance.
XXIII. (93) But now that we have discussed the four different classes of children, we must beware not to overlook this, which may be the most excellent proof of this partition and division of the chapter; for when a child is elated and puffed up by folly, his parents accuse him in this manner, saying, "This is our Son,"503503 Deut 21:19. pointing to the disobedient and stiff-necked youth; (94) for by the demonstration "this," they show that they have other sons likewise, some of whom obey one of them, and others of whom obey them both, being well-disposed reasonings, of whom Reuben is an example; others again, who are fond of hearing and learning, of whom Simeon is a specimen, for his name, being interpreted, means "hearing;" others, people who fly to and become suppliants of God, this is the company of the Levites; others singing a song of gratitude, not so much with a loud voice as with the mind, of whom Judah is the leaders; others, who have been thought worthy of rewards and presents, on account of their voluntary acquisition of virtue through labour, like Issachar; others, persons who have abandoned the Chaldaean meteorological speculations, and passed over to the contemplation of the uncreate God, like Abraham; some, who have attained to self-taught and spontaneous virtue, like Isaac; some, full of wisdom and strength, and beloved by God, like the most perfect Moses.
XXIV. (95) Very naturally, therefore, the sacred law commands the disobedient and contentious man—who brings contributions of evil, that is to say, who joins together and heaps up sin upon sin, great crimes on little ones, fresh guilt upon ancient, intentional upon involuntary misdeeds; and who, like a person inflamed by wine, is always intoxicated and drunk, and raging with ceaseless and unrestrained drunkenness, during the whole of his life—to be stoned; because he has drunk of the unmixed and abundant cup of folly, and because he has destroyed the injunctions of right reason, his father, and the legitimate expositions of his mother's instruction. And though he had an example of excellence and virtue in his brothers, who were approved of by his parents, he did not imitate their virtue, but, on the contrary, he thought fit to go to an additional length in his transgressions, so as to make a god of the body, and to make a god of Typhus, who is especially honoured among the Egyptians, the emblem of whom was the figure of a golden bull; around which his mad worshippers establish dances, and sing, and prelude, not with such melodies as are redolent of wine and revelry, like the sweet songs sung at feasts and entertainments, but a really melancholy and mournful lamentation, like men intoxicated, who have relaxed and quite destroyed the tone and energy of the soul. (96) For it is said, that when Joshua heard the people crying out he said to Moses, "There is the sound of war in the camp. And he said, It is not the voice of man beginning to exert themselves in battle, nor is it the voice of men betaking themselves to flight, but it is the voice of men beginning revelry and drunkenness that I hear: and when he came near to the camp he saw the calf and the Dances."504504 Exod 32:17. And the enigmatical meaning, which is concealed under these figurative expressions, we will explain to the best of our ability.
XXV. (97) Our own affairs are at one time in a state of tranquillity, and at another they behave as it were with unseasonable impetuosity and loud cries; and their tranquillity is profound peace, and their condition, when in an opposite state, is interminable war; (98) and the witness to this fact is one who has experienced its truth, and who cannot lie; for having heard the voice of the people crying out, he says to the manager and superintendent of the affairs, "There is a sound of war in the tent;" for as long as the irrational impulses were not stirred up, and had not raised any outcry in us, our minds were established with some firmness; but when they began to fill the place of the soul with all sorts of voices and sounds, calling together and awakening the passions, they created a civil sedition and war in the camp. (99) Very naturally, for where else should there be strife, and battle, and contention, and all the other deeds of interminable war, except in the life according to the body, which he, speaking allegorically, calls the camp? This life the mind is accustomed to leave, when under the influence of God it approaches the living God, contemplating the incorporeal appearances; (100) "for Moses," says the scripture, "having taken his own tent, fixed it outside the camp," and that too not near it, but a long way off, and at a great distance from the camp. And by these statements he tells us, figuratively, that the wise man is but a sojourner, and a person who leaves war and goes over to peace, and who passes from the mortal and disturbed camp to the undisturbed and peaceful and divine life of rational and happy souls.
XXVI. (101) And he says in another passage that, "When I have gone out of the city I will stretch forth my hands unto the Lord, and the voices shall Cease."505505 Exod 9:29. Think not here that he who is speaking is a man, a contexture, or composition, or combination of soul and body, or whatever else you may choose to call this concrete animal; but rather the purest and most unalloyed mind, which, while contained in the city of the body and of mortal life is cramped and confined, and like a man who is bound in prison confesses plainly that he is unable to relish the free air. But as soon as it has escaped from this city, then being released, as to its thoughts and imaginations, as prisoners are loosened as to their hands and feet, it will put forth its energies in their free, and emancipated, and unrestrained strength, so that the commands of the passions will be at once put an end to. (102) Are not the outcries of pleasure very loud with which she is accustomed to deliver such commands as please her? And is not the voice of appetite unwearied when she pours forth her bitter threats against those who do not serve her? And so again all the other passions have a voice of loud and varied sound. (103) But even, if each one of the passions were to exert the ten thousand mouths and voices, and all the power of making an uproar spoken of by poets, it would not be able to perplex the ears of the perfect man, after he has already passed from them, and determined no longer to dwell in the same city with them.
XXVII. (104) But the sacred Scriptures agree with the man who can speak from experience, when he says that in the camp of the body all the sounds of war were heard, the tranquillity dear to peace having been driven to a distance. For he does not say that it is not such a shout of war, but that it is not such a shout as some persons think the cry of men who have conquered or who have been conquered to be, but rather such an one as would proceed from men heavy and overwhelmed with wine. (105) For the expression, "It is not the voice of men beginning to exert themselves in battle," is equivalent to the words, "of men who have got the better in war," for exertion in battle is the cause of victory. Thus he represents the wise Abraham, after the destruction of the nine kings, that is, of the four passions and the five powers of the outward senses, which were all set in motion in a manner contrary to nature, preluding with a hymn of gratitude, and saying, "I will stretch forth my hand to the most high God, who made heaven and earth; that I will not take from a thread even to a shoelatchet of any thing that is Thine,"506506 Gen 14:22. (106) And he means, as it appears to me, by this expression, everything in the world, the heaven, the earth, the water, the air, and all animals, and all plants. For to every one of them, he who directs all the energies of his soul towards God, and who looks to him alone as the only source form which he can hope for advantage, may fitly say—I will take nothing that is yours; I will not receive from the sun the light of day, nor by night will I receive light from the moon or from the other stars, nor rain from the air and from the clouds, nor meat and drink from the earth and from the water, nor the power of sight from the eyes, nor the faculty of hearing from the ears, nor that of smelling from the nostrils, nor from the palate in the mouth the sense of taste, nor the faculty of speaking from the tongue, nor the power of giving and taking from the hands, nor that of approaching and of retreating from the feet, nor that of breathing from the lungs, nor that of digesting from the liver, nor from the other internal organs of the body the power of exciting the energies which belong to them, nor the yearly produce from trees and seeds; but I will look upon every thing as proceeding from the only wise God, who extends his own beneficial powers in every direction, and who by their agency benefits me.
XXVIII. (107) He then who can thus look upon the living God, and who thus comprehends the nature of the cause of all things, honours the things of which he is the cause in a secondary degree to himself; while at the same time he confesses their importance though without flattering them. And this confession is most just: I will receive nothing from you, but everything from God, to whom all things belong, though perhaps the benefits may be bestowed through the medium of you; for ye are instruments to minister to his everlasting graces. (108) But man, who is devoid of any consideration, who is blinded as to his mind, by which alone the living God is comprehensible, does, by means of that mind, never see anything anywhere, but sees all the bodies which are in the world by his own outward senses, which he looks upon as the causes of all things which exist. (109) On which account, beginning to make gods for himself, he has filled the world with images and statues, and innumerable other representations, made out of all kinds of different materials, fashioned by painters and statuaries, whom the lawgiver banished to a distance form his state, proposing both publicly and privately great rewards and surpassing honours to them, by which conduct he has brought about a contrary result to that which he intended, namely, impiety instead of religion. (110) For the worship of many gods in the souls of ignorant people is mere impiety; and they who deify mortal things neglect the honour due to God; who are not content with making images of the sun and of the moon to the extent of their inclination, and of all the earth, and of all the water, but they even gave beasts and plants devoid of reason a share in those honours, which belonged of right only to immortal beings. And he, reproving them, began a song of victory as has here been shown.
XXIX. (111) And Moses indeed, in the same manner, when he saw the king of Egypt,507507 Exod 14:7. that arrogant man with his six hundred chariots, that is to say, with the six carefully arranged motions of the organic body, and with the governors who were appointed to manage them, who, while none of all created things are by nature calculated to stand still, think nevertheless that they may look upon everything as solidly settled and admitting of no alteration; when he, I say, saw that this king had met with the punishment due to his impiety, and that the people, who were practisers of virtue, had escaped from the attacks of their enemies, and had been saved by mighty power beyond their expectation, he then sang a hymn to God as a just and true judge, beginning a hymn in a manner most becoming and most exactly suited to the events that had happened, because the horse and his rider he had thrown into the Sea;"508508 Exod 15:4. having utterly destroyed that mind which rode upon the irrational impulses of that four-footed and restive animal, passion, and had become an ally, and defender, and protector of the seeing soul, so as to bestow upon it complete safety. (112) And the same prophet begins a song to the well, not only for the destruction of the passions, but also because he has had strength given to him to acquire the most valuable of all possessions, namely incomparable wisdom, which he compares to a well; for it is deep, and not superficial, giving forth a sweet stream to souls who thirst for goodness and virtue, a drink at once most necessary and most sweet. (113) But it is not entrusted to any person who is not initiated in wisdom to dig this well, but only to kings, on which account it is said, "Kings hewed it out of Stone."509509 Num 21:18. For it is the office of mighty rulers to investigate and to establish wisdom, not meaning those who with their arms have subdued sea and land, but those who with the powers of the soul have fought against and subdued its diversified, and mingled, and confused multitude.
XXX. (114) Now the pupils and followers of these persons are those who say, "Thy sons have taken the sum of the men of war who are under our charge, and there is not one of them who has refused, but each man has brought his gift to the Lord of that which he has Found."510510 Num 31:49. (115) For these men are likely again to prelude with a song of triumph, being eager to attain to perfect and dominant powers. For they say that the man who has taken the sum of the whole, has also taken the greatest number of the reasons of courage, which are by nature inclined to war, being arrayed in opposition to two squadrons, one of which is led by cowardice, which is difficult to overtake, and the other by frantic temerity and rashness; and neither of them has any share in sound wisdom. (116) And it is very admirably said that no one refused, by way of intimating a participation in perfect and complete courage; just as the lyre and any other musical instrument is out of tune, if there is one single discordant note in it; but is in tune when the strings are all harmonious and pour forth the same symphony at one touch. In the same manner also, the instrument of the soul is out of tune when it is either strained by rashness and urged on to a degree of exceeding sharpness, or relaxed by cowardice in an immoderate degree, so as to be let down and become very flat. But it is in tune when all the tones of courage and of every virtue are well united and combined together, and so produce one well-arranged melody. (117) And it is a great proof of good tune and of skilful management to bring his due gift to God; and this is to honour the living God in a becoming manner, by means of confessing most distinctly that this whole universe is his gift to us; (118) for he says in, strictest accordance with natural truth, "the man has brought the gift which he found." But every one of us, the moment that he is born, finds the great gift of God, namely the universal world, which he has given to him, and to the most excellent parts of Him.511511this passage is certainly corrupt. Markland thinks that some words at least have been lost.
XXXI. (119) There are also particular gifts which it is suitable both to God to give, and to men to receive. And these must be the virtues and the energies in accordance with them, at the discovery of which, being almost without any connexion with time, by reason of the surpassing rapidity of the giver which he is accustomed to exhibit in his gifts, every one is full of admiration, even those to whom nothing else in the world appears great. (120) On which account also, the question is put, "How didst thou find it so quickly, O my Son?"512512 Gen 27:20. the questioner marvelling at the promptness of the virtuous disposition; and he who has received the benefit answers felicitously, "Because the Lord God gave it to me." For the gifts and explanations of men are slow, but those of God are most rapid, outstripping the motion of even the most speedy time. (121) Therefore those who by their strength and courage have become chiefs and leaders of the chorus which raises the song of triumph and of gratitude, are those who have been already mentioned; but those who, by reason of having been put to flight, and of their weakness, are companions of the song of lamentation which is raised on occasion of defeat, are men whom one ought to look upon as cowards, rather than to pity; like those who have a body labouring under some natural defect, to whom any ordinary occasion of sickness is a great hindrance to their cure. (122) But some persons have succumbed contrary to their inclinations, not because the energies of their souls are more effeminate, but because they have been overwhelmed by the more vigorous strength of their adversaries; and imitating those who are willing slaves, they have voluntarily cast themselves down before either masters, though they were freemen by birth; on which account being unable to be sold they have, which is the most incredible of all things, bought masters for themselves and so become slaves, doing the very same thing with those who are insatiably eager for drunkenness with wine; (123) for they also of their own free will and without any compulsion, drink unmixed wine, so that of their own accord they eradicate sobriety from their souls, and choose folly; for, says the scripture, "I hear the voice of those who are beginning revelry and drunkenness;" that is to say, of men who are exhibiting a madness which is not involuntary, but who injure themselves with a voluntary and deliberate frenzy.
XXXII. (124) And every one who comes near the camp sees the calf and the dances, and he himself also is soon infected. For we fall in with Typhus and the revellers of Typhus, whenever we deliberately purpose to come near to the camp of the body; since those who are fond of contemplation and are eager to see incorporeal objects, as being persons who practise obstinacy from pride, are accustomed to dwell at a distance from the body. (125) Do then therefore pray to God never to begin revelry or drunkenness, that is to say, never intentionally to set forth in the road which leads to ignorance and folly; for unintentional errors are as light again as deliberate sins, inasmuch as they are not weighed down by the irresistible conviction of conscience. (126) And when your prayers have been accomplished, you will no longer be able to remain in ignorance or out of office, but you will acquire the most important of all offices, namely, the priesthood. For it is almost the only occupation of the priests and ministers of God to offer abstemious sacrifices, abstaining in the firmness of their minds from wine and from every other cause of folly. (127) For, says the scripture, "The Lord spoke unto Aaron, saying, Wine and strong drink shalt thou not drink, neither thou nor thy sons after thee, when ye come into the tabernacle of the testimony, or when ye approach the altar of sacrifice, so that ye may not die. This shall be an everlasting law for all your generations to distinguish between what is sacred and what is profane, and between what is pure and what is Impure."513513 Lev 10:8. (128) But Aaron is the priest, and the interpretation of his name is "mountainous;" reasoning occupying itself with sublime and lofty objects, not on account of the superabundant excess of the arrogance of empty pride, but by reason of the magnitude of its virtue, which, elevating the thoughts beyond even heaven, suffers it not to contemplate anything that is lowly. And no one who is disposed in this manner will ever voluntarily touch unmixed wine or any other medicine of folly, (129) for it is inevitable that he must either make one in the solemn procession and enter the tabernacle, being about to Perform514514there is some corruption in the Greek text here. the rites which may not be seen, or else, that approaching the altar he must offer sacrifices of gratitude for all the public and private blessings which have been showered upon him; and these things require sobriety and great presence of mind.
XXXIII. (130) Therefore, any one may here rightly admire the expressions in which the command is conveyed. For how can it be anything but admirable for people, while sober and masters of themselves, to apply themselves to prayers and to the offering of sacrifices? just as on the other hand it is ridiculous for men to do so when relaxed both in body and soul by wine; (131) unless indeed as often as servants, and sons, and subjects, are about to approach masters, and parents, and sovereigns, they take care to be sober in order not to offend in either word or deed, lest if they in any respect act as if contemptuous of their rank, they should be punished, or to speak in the most moderate manner, should at least suffer ridicule; and yet any one when about to become the minister of the Ruler and father of the universe, is not then to show himself superior to meat, and drink, and sleep, and all the vulgar necessities of nature, but is to turn aside to luxury and effeminacy, and imitate the life of the intemperate, had having his eyes weighed down with wine, and his head shaking, and bending his neck to one side, and belching from intemperance, and being weak and tottering in his whole body, is in that condition to approach the sacred purifications, and altars, and sacrifices. No: such a man may not without impiety even behold the sacred flame at a distance. (132) But, if indeed one is to understand these things as said not of the tabernacle or altar of sacrifice which are visible, and which are made of inanimate and perishable materials, but of those objects of speculation which are invisible and perceptible only by the intellect, of which these other things are only the images perceptible by the outwards senses; he will all the more marvel at the explanation. (133) For since the Creator has in every instance made one thing a model and another a copy of that model, he has made the archetypal pattern of virtue for the seal, and then he has on this stamped an impression from it very closely resembling the stamp. Therefore, the archetypal seal is the incorporeal idea being a thing as to its intrinsic nature an object of the outward senses, but yet not actually coming within the sphere of their operations. Just as if there is a piece of wood floating in the deepest part of the Atlantic sea, a person may say that the nature of wood is to be burned, but that that particular piece never will be burnt because of the way in which it is saturated with salt water.
XXXIV. (134) Let us then look upon the tabernacle and the altar as ideas, the one being the idea of incorporeal virtue, and the other as the emblem of an image of it, which is perceptible by the outward senses. Now it is easy to see the altar and the things which are on it, for they have all their preparations out of doors, and are consumed by unquenchable fire, so as to shine not by day alone, but also by night; (135) but the tabernacle and all things that are therein are invisible, not only because these are placed in the innermost recesses and in the most holy shrines, but also because God has affixed according to the injunctions of the law, the inevitable punishment of death, not only to any one who touches them, but to any one who through the superfluous curiosity of his eyes beholds them. The only exception is, if any one is perfect and faultless, unpolluted by any error whether it be great or small, having a nature entirely even and full, and in all respects most perfect; (136) for to such a man it is permitted once in each year to enter in and behold what is invisible to others, since in him alone of all men the winged and heavenly love of incorruptible and incorporeal good things abides. (137) When, therefore, any one being smitten by the idea is influenced by the seal which gives an impression of the particular virtues, perceiving, and comprehending, and admiring the most God-like beauty of that idea which he is approaching, as having received the impression of that seal, then a forgetfulness of ignorance and folly is at once engendered in him, accompanied by a simultaneous recollection of instruction and learning. (138) On which account the scripture says, "Wine and strong drink thou shalt not drink, neither thou nor thy sons after thee," when ye enter into the tabernacle of the testimony or approach the altar of sacrifice; and he goes through all these details not more by way of prohibition than of explaining his intention. In truth, for one who was issuing prohibitions, it was appropriate to say, Drink not wine when you are performing sacrifice; but for one who is declaring his opinion, it is more suitable to say, Ye shall not drink. For it is impossible for a man to admit ignorance, which is the cause of intoxication and of ignorance of the soul, if he be one who studies the generic and specific virtues and devotes himself to the pursuit of them. (139) And he very often speaks of the tabernacle of testimony, in truth, inasmuch as God is the witness of virtue, to whom it is honourable and expedient to attend, or inasmuch as it is virtue which implants steadiness in our souls, eradicating ambiguous, and doubtful, and hesitating, and vacillating reasonings out of them by force, and revealing truth in life as in a court of justice.
XXXV. (140) And the scripture says that, "he shall not die who offers abstemious sacrifices;" since ignorance brings death, and education and instruction bring immortality. For as in our own bodies disease is the cause of dissolution, and health of preservation; so in the same manner in our souls also, that which saves is prudence, for this is a kind of good health of the mind; and that which destroys is folly, which inflicts an incurable disease. (141) And he expressly declares his opinion, and pronounces this last to be an everlasting Evil.515515 Lev 10:9. For he considers that there is an undying law set up and established in the nature of the universe embracing these principles, that instruction is a salutary and saving thing, but that ignorance is the cause of disease and destruction. (142) He also besides delivers this further statement, that the laws which are established in accordance with truth are at once everlasting; since right reason, which is law, is not perishable. For also, on the other hand, the contrary thing, namely lawlessness, is a thing of brief existence, and by its own intrinsic nature easily destructible, as it is confessed to be by all persons of sound sense. (143) And it is an especial property of law and of instruction to distinguish what is profane from what is holy, and what is unclean from what is clean; as, on the other hand, it is the effect of lawlessness and ignorance to combine things that are at variance with one another by force, and to throw everything into disorder and confusion.
XXXVI. On this account the greatest of the kings and prophets, Samuel, as the sacred scriptures tell us, drank no wine or intoxicating liquors to the day of his death;516516 1Sam 1:14. for he is enrolled among the ranks of the divine army which he will never leave in consequence of the prudence of the wise captain. (144) But Samuel was perhaps in reality a man, but he is looked upon not as a compound animal, but as mind rejoicing only in the service and ministrations of God. For the name Samuel, being interpreted, means "appointed to God;" because he looked upon all such actions as are done in accordance with vain and empty opinions to be shameful irregularity. (145) He was born of a human mother, whose name when interpreted means "grace." For without divine grace it is impossible either to abandon the ranks of mortal things, or to remain steadily and constantly with those which are imperishable. (146) But whatever soul is filled with grace is at once in a state of exultation, and delight, and dancing; for it becomes full of triumph, so that it would appear to many of the uninitiated to be intoxicated, and agitated, and to be beside itself. On which account it was said to it by a young boy, and that not by one only but by every one who was old enough for juvenile sauciness and for a readiness to mock at what is good, "How long will you be drunk? Put an end to your wine-bibbing." (147) For in the case of those who are under the influence of divine inspiration, not only is the soul accustomed to be excited, and as it were to become frenzied, but also the body is accustomed to become reddish and of a fiery complexion, the joy which is internally diffused and which is exulting, secretly spreading its affections even to the exterior parts, by which many foolish people are deceived, and have fancied that sober persons were intoxicated. (148) And yet indeed those sober people are in a manner intoxicated, having drunk deep of all good things, and having received pledges from perfect virtue. But those are intoxicated with that drunkenness which proceeds form wine, who pass their whole lives without ever having tasted wisdom, though they have a continued hunger and desire for it. (149) Very naturally therefore is answer made to the man who acts with the impetuosity of youth, and thinks to produce laughter at the venerable and austere mode of life of prudence, "My good man I am a hard woman, a severe day, and I drink no wine or strong drink, and I pour out my soul before the Lord." Very great is the freedom of speech of that soul which is filled with the graces of God. (150) In the first place it calls itself a severe day, having regard to the boy who is mocking it; for by him and by every fool the road which leads to virtue is looked upon as rough and difficult to travel and most painful, as one of the old poets testifies, saying:—
Vice one may take in troops with ease,
But in fair virtue's front
Immortal God has stationed toil,
And care, and sweat, to bar the road.
Long is the road and steep,
And rough at first, which leads the steps
Or mortal men thereto;
But when you reach the height, the path
Is easy which before was hard,
And swift the onward course.
XXXVII. (151) After this the soul goes on to deny that it drinks wine or strong drink, boasting in its being continually sober throughout the whole of its life. For to have the reasoning powers really free, and unfettered, and pure, and intoxicated by no passion, was really a very important and admirable thing. (152) And from this it results that the mind which is filled with unmixed sobriety is of itself a complete and entire libation, and is offered as such to and consecrated to God. For what is the meaning of the expression, "I will pour out my soul before the Lord," but "I will consecrate it entirely to him?" Having broken all the chains by which it was formerly bound, which all the empty anxieties of mortal life fastened around it, and having led it forth and emancipated it from them, he has stretched, and extended, and diffused it to such a degree that it reaches even the extreme boundaries of the universe, and is borne onwards to the beautiful and glorious sight of the uncreate God. (153) Therefore this company is one of sober persons who have made instruction their guide; but the former one is a company of drunkards, whose leader is ignorance.
XXXVIII. (154) But since intoxication does not only display folly, which is the child of ignorance, but also utter insensibility; and since, again, wine is the cause of that insensibility which affects the body, while the cause of the insensibility of the soul is the ignorance of those things with which it is proper and natural to be acquainted; we must now say a few words about ignorance, reminding the reader of only the most important particulars relating to it. (155) To which, then, of the passions which affect the body shall we compare that passion in the soul which is called ignorance? To the deprivation of the organs of the external senses? Therefore all those, who have been injured in their eyes or ears, are no longer able to see or hear at all, but have no acquaintance with day or light, which are the only objects for the sake of which, if we are to tell the plain truth, life is really desirable, but dwell in lasting darkness and everlasting night, being made insensible to everything whether of small or great importance; men whom ordinary conversation naturally is accustomed to call infirm. (156) For even if all the other faculties of the rest of the body, should attain to the very extreme limit of strength and vigour, still, if they are tripped up, as it were, and deprived of their foundation by the deprivation of the eyes and ears, they will meet with a great fall, so as never again to be able to rise; for the things which support man and keep him erect are in name, indeed, the feet, but in reality the powers of hearing and seeing; and the man who possesses them in their complete integrity is awake and stands upright, but he who is deprived of them falls and will be utterly destroyed. (157) And ignorance does produce completely similar effects on the soul, depriving it of its faculties of seeing and of hearing, and allowing neither light nor reason to enter into it, lest the one should instruct it and the other should exhibit the truth to it. But shedding upon it dense darkness and abundant folly, it renders the most beautiful soul a deaf, and dumb, and lifeless stone.
XXXIX. (158) For knowledge, which is the opposite of ignorance, may be called, in a manner, the eyes and ears of the soul; for it applies the mind to what is said, and fixes its eyes upon things as they exist, and cannot endure to form a false judgment of anything which it either sees or hears. But it examines and carefully surveys every object which is worthy of being seen or heard, and even if it be necessary to sail or to travel over sea and land, it will traverse them to its furthest boundaries that it may see anything more important, or hear anything more modern; (159) for the love of knowledge admits of no hesitation or delay, it is an enemy to sleep and a friend to waking. Therefore, continually rousing up, and awakening, and sharpening the intellect, it compels it to roam about in every direction, where instruction is to be obtained, inspiring it with an avidity for hearing, and infusing into it an insatiable thirst for learning. (160) Therefore knowledge causes hearing and seeing, by means of which faculties success and rectitude of conduct are arrived at; for he who sees and hears, knowing what is expedient, chooses that, and rejecting the contrary is benefited by his knowledge. But ignorance causes to the soul a mutilation more grievous than the mutilation of the body, and is the cause of many errors, since it is unable to derive any assistance from without, either by foreseeing anything, or by any acuteness of hearing. Therefore, owing to its exceeding desolateness of condition, it is left utterly undefended and unprotected, and is exposed to the plots of all kinds of men and to dangers from all kinds of events. (161) Let us, then, never drink unmixed wine in such quantities as to cause insensibility to our outward senses, nor let us alienate ourselves to such a degree from knowledge as to diffuse ignorance, that vast and dense darkness, over our souls.
XL. (162) But there are two kinds of ignorance, one simple, being complete insensibility; and the other of a twofold nature, when a man is not only enveloped in ignorance, but also thinks that he knows what he never has known, being elated with an ungrounded opinion of his knowledge. (163) The former evil is the lighter one, for it is the cause of lighter offences, and of what we may perhaps call involuntary errors; but the second is of more importance, for it is the parent of great evils, and not only of unintentional but also of deliberate offences. (164) These are the offences of which Lot, the father of daughters, appears to me to be especially guilty, not being able to nourish a masculine and perfect plant in his soul; for he had two daughters by his wife, who was afterwards turned to stone, whom, using an appropriate appellation, one may call habit, a nature at variance with truth, and always, whenever any one tries to lead it on, lagging behind and looking round upon its ancient and customary ways, and remaining in the midst of them like a lifeless pillar. (165) Of these daughters of his the elder may be called Counsel, and the younger may be named Assent, for assent follows upon taking counsel; but no one after he has assented still takes counsel. Accordingly the mind, when it has taken its seat in its council chamber, begins to put its daughters in motion; and with the elder one, namely, Counsel, it begins to consider and investigate everything; and with the younger one, Assent, it begins easily to assent to the circumstances that arise, and to embrace what is hostile as though it were friendly, if they only present ever so slight an attraction of pleasure from this source. (166) But sober reasoning does not admit these things, but only that reasoning does so which is overcome with wine, and, as it were, drunk.
XLI. On which account it is said, "They made their father drink Wine,"517517 Gen 19:33. That is to say, they brought complete insensibility on the mind, so that it fancied itself competent by its own abilities to judge what was expedient, and to assent to all sorts of apparent facts, as if they really had solid truth in them; human nature being by no means and under no circumstances competent either to ascertain the truth by consideration, or to choose real truth and advantage, or to reject what is false and the cause of injury; (167) for the great darkness which is spread over all existing bodies and things does not permit one to see the real nature of each thing, but even if any one, under the influence of immoderate curiosity or of real love of learning, wishes to emerge from ignorance and to obtain a closer view, he, like people wholly deprived of sight, stumbling over what is before his feet, will fall, and so get behind hand before he can lay hold of anything; or else, snatching at something with his hands, he will make uncertain guesses, having only conjecture in the place of truth. (168) For even if education, holding a torch to the mind, conducts it on his way, kindling its own peculiar light, it would still, with reference to the perception of existing things, do harm rather than good; for a slight light is naturally liable to be extinguished by dense darkness, and when the light is extinguished all power of seeing is useless. (169) Accordingly we must, on these accounts, remind the man who gives himself airs by reason of his power of deliberating, or of wisely choosing one kind of objects and avoiding others, that if the same unalterable perceptions of the same things always occurred to us, it might perhaps be requisite to admire the two faculties of judging which are implanted in us by nature, namely, the outward senses and the intellect, as unerring and incorruptible, and never to doubt or hesitate about anything, but trusting in every first appearance to choose one kind of thing and to reject the contrary kind. (170) But since we are found to be influenced in different manners by the same things at different times, we should have nothing positive to assert about anything, inasmuch as what appears has no settled or stationary existence, but is subject to various, and multiform, and ever-recurring changes.
XLII. For it follows of necessity, since the imagination is unstable, that the judgment formed by it must be unstable likewise; (171) and there are many reasons for this. In the first place, the differences which exist in animals are not in one particular only, but are unspeakable in point of number, extending through every part, having reference both to their creation and to the way in which they are furnished with their different faculties, and to their way of being supported and their habits, and to the manner in which they choose and avoid different things, and to the energies and motions of the outward senses, and to the peculiar properties of the endless passions affecting both the soul and body. (172) For without mentioning those animals which have the faculty of judgment, consider also some of those which are the objects of judgment, such as the chameleon and the polypus; for they say that the former of these animals changes his complexion so as to resemble the soils over which he is accustomed to creep, and that the other is like the rocks of the sea-shore to which it clings, nature herself, perhaps, being their saviour, and endowing them with a quality to protect them from being caught, namely, with that of changing to all kinds of complexions, as a defence against evil. (173) Again, have you never perceived the neck of the dove changing colour so as to assume a countless variety of hues in the rays of the sun? is it not by turns red, and purple and fiery coloured, and cinereous, and again pale, and ruddy, and every other variety of colour, the very names of which it is not easy to enumerate? (174) They say indeed that among the Scythians, among that tribe which is called the Geloni, most marvellous things happen, rarely indeed, but nevertheless it does happen; namely that there is a beast seen which is called the tarandus, not much less than an ox in size, and exceedingly like a stag in the character of his face. The story goes that this animal continually changes his coat according to the place in which he is, or the trees which he is near, and that in short he always resembles whatever he is near, so that through the similarity of his colour he escapes the notice of those who fall in with him, and that it is owing to this, rather than to any vigour of body, that he is hard to catch. (175) Now these facts and others which resemble them are visible proofs of our inability to comprehend everything.
XLIII. In the next place, not only are there all these variations with respect to animals, but there are also innumerable changes and varieties in men, and great differences between one man and another. (176) For not only do they form different opinions respecting the same things at different times, but different men also judge in different manners, some looking on things as pleasures, which others on the contrary regard as annoyances. For the things with which some persons are sometimes vexed, others delight in, and on the contrary the things, which some persons are eager to acquire and look upon as pleasant and suitable, those very same things others reject and drive to a distance as unsuitable and ill-omened. (177) At all events I have before now often seen in the theatre, when I have been there, some persons influenced by a melody of those who were exhibiting on the stage, whether dramatists or musicians, as to be excited and to join in the music, uttering encomiums without intending it; and I have seen others at the same time so unmoved that you would think there was not the least difference between them and the inanimate seats on which they were sitting; and others again so disgusted that they have even gone away and quitted the spectacle, stopping their ears with their hands, lest some atom of a sound being left behind and still sounding in them should inflict annoyance on their morose and unpleasable souls. (178) And yet why do I say this? Every single individual among us (which is the most surprising thing of all) is subject to infinite changes and variations both in body and soul, and sometimes chooses and sometimes rejects things which are subject to no changes themselves, but which by their intrinsic nature do always remain in the same condition. (179) For the same fancies do not strike the same men when they are well and when they are ill, nor when they are awake and when they are asleep, nor when they are young and when they are old. And a man who is standing still often conceives different ideas from those which he entertains when he is in motion; and also when he is courageous, or when he is alarmed; again when he is grieved, or when he is delighted, and when he is in love, he feels differently from what he does when he is full of hatred. (180) And why need I be prolix and deep dwelling on these points? For in short every motion of both body and soul, whether in accordance with nature or in opposition to nature, is the cause of a great variation and change respecting the appearances which present themselves to us; from which all sorts of inconsistent and opposite dreams arise to occupy our minds.
XLIV. (181) And that is not the least influential cause of the instability of one's perceptions which arises from the position of the objects, from their distance, and from the places by which they are each of them surrounded. (182) Do we not see that the fishes in the sea, when they stretch out their fins and swim about, do always appear larger than their real natural size? And oars too, even though they are very straight, look as if they were broken when they are under water; and things at a great distance display false appearances to our eyes, and in this way do frequently deceive the mind. (183) For at times inanimate objects have been imagined to be alive, and on the contrary living animals have been considered to be lifeless; sometimes again stationary things appear to be in motion, and things in motion appear to be standing still: even things which are approaching towards us do sometimes appear to be retreating from us, and things which are going away do on the other hand appear to be approaching. At times very short things seem to be exceedingly long, and things which have many angles appear to be circular. There is also an infinite number of other things of which a false impression is given though they are open to the sight, which however no man in his senses would subscribe to as certain.
XLV. (184) What again are we to say of the quantities occurring in things compounded? For it is through the admixture of a greater or a lesser quantity that great injury or good is often done, as in many other instances, so most especially in the case of medicines compounded by medical science. (185) For quantity in such compounds is measured by fixed limits and rules, and it is not safe either to stop short before one has reached them, nor to advance beyond them. For if too little be applied, it relaxes, and if too much, it strains the natural powers; and each extremity is mischievous, the one from its impotence being capable of producing any effect at all, and the other by reason of its exceeding strength being necessarily hurtful. Again it is very plain with reference to smoothness, and roughness, and thickness, and close compression, or on the other hand leanness and slackness, how very much influence all these differences have in respect of doing good or harm. (186) Nor indeed is any one ignorant that scarcely anything whatever of existing things, if you consider it in itself and by itself, is accurately understood; but by comparing it with its opposite, then we arrive at a knowledge of its true nature. As for instance, we comprehend what is meant by little by placing it in juxta-position with what is great; we understand what dry is by comparing it with wet, cold by comparing it with heat, light by comparing it with heavy, black by contrasting it with white, weak by contrasting it with strong, and few by comparing it with many. In the same way also, in whatever is referred to virtue or to vice, (187) what is advantageous is recognised by a comparison with what is injurious, what is beautiful by a comparison with what is unseemly, what is just and generally good, by placing it in juxta-position with what is unjust and bad. And, indeed, if any one considers everything that there is in the world, he will be able to arrive at a proper estimate of its character, by taking it in the same manner; for each separate thing is by itself incomprehensible, but by a comparison with another thing, is easy to understand it. (188) Now, that which is unable to bear witness to itself, but which stands in need of the advocacy of something else, is not to be trusted or thought steady. So that in this way those men are convicted who say that they have no difficulty in assenting to or denying propositions about anything. (189) And why need we wonder? For any one who advances far into matters, and who contemplates them in an unmixed state will know this, that nothing is ever presented to our view according to its real plain nature, but that everything has the most various possible mixtures and combinations.
XLVI. (190) Some one will say, We at once comprehend colours. How so? Do we not do so by means of the external things, air and light, and also by the moisture which exists in our eyes themselves? And in what way are sweet and bitter comprehended? Is it apart from the moisture in our mouths? And as to all the flavours which are in accordance with, or at variance with nature, are not they in the same case? What, again, are we to say of the smells arising from perfumes which are burnt? Do they exhibit plain unmixed simple natures, or rather qualities compounded of themselves and of the air, and sometimes also of the fire which consumes their bodies, and also of the faculty existing in our own nostrils? (191) From all this we collect the inference that we have neither any proper comprehension of colours, not only of the combination which consists of the objects submitted to our view and of light; nor of smells, but only of the mixture which consists of that which flows from substances and the all-receiving air; nor of tastes, but only of the union which arises from the tasteable object presented to us, and the moist substance in our mouths.
XLVII. (192) Since, then, this is the state of affairs with respect to these matters, it is worth while to appreciate correctly the simplicity, or rashness, or impudence of those who pretend to be able with ease to form an opinion, so as to assent to or deny what is stated with respect to anything whatever. For if the simple faculties are wanting, but the mingled powers and those which are formed by contributions from many sources are within sight, and if it is impossible for those which are invisible to be seen, and if we are unable to comprehend separately the character of all the component parts which are united to make up each faculty, then what remains except that we must think it necessary to suspend our judgment? (193) And then, too, do not those facts which are diffused over nearly the whole world, and which have caused both to Greeks and barbarians such erroneous judgments, exhort us not to be too ready in giving our credence to what is not seen? And what are these facts? Surely they are the instructions which we have received from our childhood, and our national customs and ancient laws, of which it is admitted that there is not a single one which is of equal force among all people; but it is notorious that they vary according to the different countries, and nations, and cities, aye, and even still more, in every village and private house, and even with respect to men, and women, and infant children, in almost every point. (194) At all events, what are accounted disgraceful actions among us, are by others looked upon as honourable; what we think becoming, others call unseemly; what we pronounce just, others renounce as iniquitous; others think our holy actions impious, our lawful deeds lawless: and further, what we think praiseworthy, they find fault with; what we think worthy of all honour, is, in the eyes of others, deserving of punishment; and, in fact, they think most things to be of a contrary character to what we think. (195) And why need I be prolix and dwell further on this subject, when I am called off by other more important points? If then, any one, leaving out of the question all other more remarkable subjects of speculation, were to choose to devote his time to an investigation of the subject here proposed, namely, to examine the education, and customs, and laws of every different nation, and country, and place, and city; of all subjects and rulers; of all men, whether renowned or inglorious, whether free or slaves, whether ignorant or endowed with knowledge, he would spend not one day or two, nor a month, nor even a year, but his whole life, even though he were to reach a great age, in the investigation; and he would nevertheless still leave a vast number of subjects unexamined, uninvestigated, and unmentioned, without perceiving it. (196) Therefore, since there are some persons and things removed from other persons and things, not by a short distance only, but since they are utterly different, it then follows of necessity that the perceptions which occur to men of different things must also differ, and that their opinions must be at variance with one another.
XLVIII. (197) And since this is the case, who is so foolish and ridiculous as to affirm positively that such and such a thing is just, or wise, or honourable, or expedient? For whatever this man defines as such, some one else, who from his childhood, has learnt a contrary lesson, will be sure to deny. (198) But I am not surprised if a confused and mixed multitude, being the inglorious slave of customs and laws, however introduced and established, accustomed from its very cradle to obey them as if they were masters and tyrants, having their souls beaten and buffeted, as it were, and utterly unable to conceive any lofty or magnanimous thoughts, believes at once every tradition which is represented to it, and leaving its mind without any proper training, assents to and denies propositions without examination and without deliberation. But even if the multitude of those who are called philosophers, pretending that they are really seeking for certainty and accuracy in things, being divided into ranks and companies, come to discordant, and often even to diametrically opposite decisions, and that too, not about some one accidental matter, but about almost everything, whether great or small, with respect to which any discussion can arise. (199) For when some persons affirm that the world is infinite, while others pronounce it to be confined within limits; or while some look upon the world as uncreated, and others assert that it is created; or when some persons look upon it as destitute of any ruler and superintendent, attributing to it a motion, deprived of reason, and proceeding on some independent internal impulse, while others think that there is a care of and providence, which looks over the whole and its parts of marvellous power and wisdom, God ruling and governing the whole, in a manner free from all stumbling, and full of protection. How is it possible for any one to affirm that the comprehension of such objects as are brought before them, is the same in all men? (200) And again, the imaginations which are occupied with the consideration of what is good, are not they compelled to suspend their judgment rather than to agree? While some think that it is only what is good that is beautiful, and treasure that up in the soul, and others divide it into numbers of minute particles, and extend it as far as the body and external circumstances. (201) These men affirm that such pieces of prosperity as are granted by fortune, are the body-guards of the body, namely strength and good health, and that the integrity and sound condition of the organs of the external senses, and all things of that kind, are the guards of that princess, the soul; for since the nature of good is divided according to three divisions, the third and outermost is the champion and defender of the second and yielding one, and the second in its turn is a great bulwark and protection to the first; (202) and about these very things, and about the different ways of life, and about the ends to which all actions ought to be referred, and about ten thousand other things which logical, and moral, and natural philosophy comprehends, there have been an unspeakable number of discussions, as to which, up to the present time, there is no agreement whatever among all these philosophers who have examined into such subject.
XLIX. (203) Is it not then strictly in accordance with nature that while its two daughters, Counsel and Assent, were agreed together, and sleeping together, the mind is introduced as embarrassed by an ignorance of all knowledge? for we read in the scripture, "They knew not when they lay down, or when they rose Up."518518 Gen 19:35. (204) For it was not likely that in his state he could clearly and distinctly comprehend either sleep or waking, or a stationary position or motion; but when he appears to have come to an opinion in the best manner, then above all other times is he found to be most foolish, since his affairs then come to an end, by no means resembling that which was expected; (205) and whenever he has decided on assenting to some things as true, then he incurs a reproach and condemnation for his facility in adopting opinions, those things which he previously believed as most certain now appearing untrustworthy and uncertain; so that, as matters are in the habit of turning out contrary to what was expected, the safest course appears to be to suspend one's judgment.
L. (206) Having now discussed these matters sufficiently, let us turn to what follows the points already examined. We said, then, that under the name of drunkenness was signified that covetousness and greediness, which has often greatly injured many persons, and the votaries of which one may see, even though they may be amply filled in all the channels of their bodies, still unsatisfied and empty as to their desires. (207) These men, if, being distended by the abundance of the things which they have devoured, they nevertheless get breath again for a short time, like wrestlers who are tired, soon descend again to the same contest. (208) Moreover, the king of the Egyptian country, that is of the body, appearing to the minister of drunkenness, his cupbearer, to be angry with him; again at no great distance of time is represented in the sacred scriptures as reconciled to him remembering that passion which breaks down the appetites in the day of his perishable creation, not in the imperishable light of the uncreated luminary; for it is said that it was Pharaoh's birthday,519519 Gen 40:20. when he sent for the chief butler out of his prison, that he might appear at his banquet; (209) for it is a peculiar characteristic of the man who is devoted to the passions, to think created and perishable things beautiful, because he is enveloped in night and dense darkness, as to the knowledge of imperishable things. On which account he embraces drunkenness as the beginning of all pleasures, and its minister the cupbearer.
LI. (210) Now there are three companions of and servants of the intemperate and incontinent soul, the chief baker, the chief cook, and the chief butler, whom the admirable Moses mentions in these words, "And Pharaoh was angry with the two eunuchs, with the chief butler, and with the chief baker, and he put them in prison with the chief cook;" and the chief cook is eunuch; for he says in another place, "And Joseph was brought down to Egypt, and a eunuch became his master, Pharaoh's chief Cook,"520520 Gen 39:1. (211) and again, they sold Joseph to Pharaoh's eunuch, the chief cook;521521 Gen 37:36. and why is it that the aforesaid offices are absolutely committed to one who is neither man nor woman? Is it because men are by nature calculated to sow seed, and woman to receive it, and that the meeting of the two together is the cause of the generation, and also of the duration of all animals? But it belongs to an unproductive and barren soil, or one may rather say to one which has been made a eunuch, to delight in costly meats and drinks, and in superfluous extravagant preparations of delicacies, since it is unable to reality either to scatter the masculine seeds of virtue, or to receive and nourish them after they have been shed upon it; but, like a rough and stony field, only to destroy those things which ought to have lived for ever. (212) And it is laid down as a doctrine of the most general applicability and usefulness, that every author of pleasure is unproductive of wisdom, being neither male nor female, because it is incompetent either to give or to receive the seeds which have a tendency to incorruptibility, but is able only to study the most disgraceful habits of life, to destroy what ought to be indestructible, and to extinguish the torches of wisdom, which ought to be enduring and inextinguishable. (213) None of such persons does Moses permit to come into the assembly of God; for he says that, "A man who is bruised or castrated shall not enter into the assembly of the Lord."522522 Deut 23:1.
LII. For what advantage is there, from the hearing of the sacred scriptures, to a man who is destitute of wisdom, whose faith has been eradicated, and who is unable to preserve that deposit of doctrines most advantageous to all human life? (214) Now, there are three persons who contribute to the conviviality of the human race, —the chief baker, the cup-bearer, and the maker of delicacies: very naturally, since we desire the use and enjoyment of three things—meat, confections, and drink. But some men only desire that indispensable food which we use of necessity for the sake of our health, and in order to avoid living in an illiberal manner. Others again desire immoderate and exceedingly extravagant luxuries, which, breaking through the appetites, and weighing down, and overwhelming the channels of the body by their number, usually become the parents of all sorts of terrible diseases. (215) Those, therefore, who are inexperienced in pleasure and the indulgence of the appetites and diseases, like the common people in cities, living a life free alike from hatred and from annoyances, as frugal people, have no need of all kinds of various ministers of refined skill, being contented with ordinary cooks, and cup-bearers, and confectioners. (216) But they who think that the most important and royal object of life is to live pleasantly, and who refer everything, whether of great or small importance, to this object, desire to avail themselves of the services of chief cooks and chief cupbearers, and chief confectioners, that is to say, of men possessed of the highest degree of skill in the arts which they profess. (217) For those who are skilful in the making of confections and luxuries invent the most various possible kinds of cheese-cakes, and honey cakes, and of innumerable other sweetmeats, varying from one another, not merely in the difference of their material, but also in the manner in which they are made, and in their shape, in such a way as not only to please the taste, but also to beguile the eye. (218) And again, the contrivances displayed in the examination of different kinds of wine to produce some, the effect of which shall speedily go off, and which shall not produce headache, but, on the contrary, shall be devoid of any tendency to heat the blood, and shall be very fragrant, admitting either a copious or a scanty admixture with water, according as the object is to have a strong and powerful draught, or a gentle and imperceptible one. And all the other devices and inventions of cup-bearers all come to the same end of art. (219) And to cook up and prepare fish, and birds, and similar viands, in every variety of manner, and to make all other kinds of sweetmeats and delicacies, we have plausible confectioners of exceeding skill; and there are thousands of other luxuries which they are clever at contriving, besides those which they have heard of or seen made by others, having devised them themselves out of their continued care and attention to be the object of making life luxurious, and effeminate, and not worth living.
LIII. (220) But all these men have been now spoken of as eunuchs, being utterly barren of wisdom. But the mind, with which the king of the belly makes a treaty and agreement, was the cupbearer; for by its own nature, the human race is very fond of wine, and this is the sole thing of which it is immeasurably insatiable, since there is no one who is impossible to be satisfied with sleep, and eating, and carnal enjoyments, and things like these; but nearly every one is insatiably fond of wine, and especially those who are occupied with serious business; (221) for after they have drunk they are still thirsty, and they begin drinking at first out of small cups, then, as they proceed, they tell their servants to bring them wine in larger goblets, and when they are pretty full and getting riotous, being no longer able to restrain themselves, they take bowls and goblets of all the largest sizes that they can get, and drink the wine unmixed in huge draughts, until they are either overcome by deep sleep, being no longer able to govern themselves, or till what they have poured into themselves is vomited out again through repletion. (222) But even then, nevertheless, the insatiable desire which exists within them continues to rage as though it were still under the influence of hunger. "For their wine is of the vine of Sodom," as Moses says, "and their tenderils are from Gomorrah; their grapes are grapes of gall, and their branches are bitter branches. The rage of dragons is their wine, and the incurable fury of Serpents."523523 Deut 32:32. The interpretation of the name Sodom is "barrenness and blindness." But Moses here compares those who are the slaves of greediness for wine and general gluttony, and of other most disgraceful pleasures to a vine, and to the different products of the vine; (223) and the enigmatical meaning which he conceals under this allegory is this:—There is no plant of true joy naturally implanted in the soul of the bad man; inasmuch as it has no healthy roots, but only such as are burnt and reduced to ashes, since, instead of water, Heaven has poured upon it the fire of lightning which cannot be quenched, God having adjudged that as fitting punishment for the impious. But there is implanted in it the plant of excessive desire, barren of all good things, and destitute of anything deserving of regard or contemplation, which he here compares to a vine. Not meaning that one which is the parent of eatable fruit, but that one which produces bitterness, and wickedness, and ungodly cunning; and which is most fertile in anger, and fury, and the most savage dispositions; biting the soul like an asp or a viper, inflicting envenomed wounds, utterly incurable. (224) For which wounds, however, we pray that a relief may be found by propitiating the all-merciful God, in order that he may destroy this wild vine, and may condemn the eunuchs and all persons who are barren of virtue to everlasting punishment; and that, instead of them he may implant in our souls the valuable trees of right instruction, and may bestow upon us noble and masculine reason as its fruit, such as is able to bear within it good actions by way of seed, and is able to increase the virtues, and is calculated to maintain and preserve for ever the entire connection and system of happiness.
|« Prev||Drunkenness||Next »|
►Proofing disabled for this book
► Printer-friendly version