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Chapter IV.—Opinions of Pythagoras and Epicurus.

Then, in regular succession from another starting-point, Pythagoras the Samian, son of Mnesarchus, calls numbers, with their proportions and harmonies, and the elements composed of both, the first principles; and he includes also unity and the indefinite binary.25192519    μονάδα καὶ τὴν ἀόριστον δυάδα. One, or unity, was considered by Pythagoras as the essence of number, and also as God. Two, or the indefinite binary, was the equivalent of evil. So Plutarch, De placit. philosoph., c. 7; from which treatise the above opinions of the various sects are quoted, generally verbatim. Epicurus, an Athenian, the son of Neocles, says that the first principles of the things that exist are bodies perceptible by reason, admitting no vacuity,25202520    ἀμέτοχα κενοῦ: the void being that in which these bodies move, while they themselves are of a different nature from it. unbegotten, indestructible, which can neither be broken, nor admit of any formation of their parts, nor alteration, and are therefore perceptible by reason. Empedocles of Agrigentum, 275 son of Meton, maintained that there were four elements—fire, air, water, earth; and two elementary powers —love and hate,25212521    Or, accord and discord, attraction and repulsion. of which the former is a power of union, the latter of separation. You see, then, the confusion of those who are considered by you to have been wise men, whom you assert to be your teachers of religion: some of them declaring that water is the first principle of all things; others, air, others, fire; and others, some other of these fore-mentioned elements; and all of them employing persuasive arguments for the establishment of their own errors, and attempting to prove their own peculiar dogma to be the most valuable. These things were said by them. How then, ye men of Greece, can it be safe for those who desire to be saved, to fancy that they can learn the true religion from these philosophers, who were neither able so to convince themselves as to prevent sectarian wrangling with one another, and not to appear definitely opposed to one another’s opinions?


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