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Chapter LXXXVII.

Let it be granted, however, that there are other prophylactics against poisons known to animals:  what does that avail to prove that it is not nature, but reason, which leads to the discovery of such things among them?  For if reason were the discoverer, this one thing (or, if you will, one or two more things) would not be (exclusive40294029    αποτεταγμένως. of all others) the sole discovery 536made by serpents, and some other thing the sole discovery of the eagle, and so on with the rest of the animals; but as many discoveries would have been made amongst them as among men.  But now it is manifest from the determinate inclination of the nature of each animal towards certain kinds of help, that they possess neither wisdom nor reason, but a natural constitutional tendency implanted by the Logos40304030    ὑπὸ τοῦ Λόγου γεγενημένη. towards such things in order to ensure the preservation of the animal.  And, indeed, if I wished to join issue with Celsus in these matters, I might quote the words of Solomon from the book of Proverbs, which run thus:  “There be four things which are little upon the earth, but these are wiser than the wise:  The ants are a people not strong, yet they prepare their meat in the summer; the conies40314031    χοιρογρύλλιοι.  Heb. סינִּפַשְׁ. are but a feeble folk, yet make they their houses in the rocks; the locusts have no king, yet go they forth in order at one command; and the spotted lizard,40324032    ἀσκαλαβώτης. though leaning upon its hands, and being easily captured, dwelleth in kings’ fortresses.”40334033    Cf. Prov. xxx. 24–28.  I do not quote these words, however, as taking them in their literal signification, but, agreeably to the title of the book (for it is inscribed “Proverbs”), I investigate them as containing a secret meaning.  For it is the custom of these writers (of Scripture) to distribute into many classes those writings which express one sense when taken literally,40344034    αὐτόθεν. but which convey a different signification as their hidden meaning; and one of these kinds of writing is “Proverbs.”  And for this reason, in our Gospels too, is our Saviour described as saying:  “These things have I spoken to you in proverbs, but the time cometh when I shall no more speak unto you in proverbs.”40354035    John xvi. 25.  It is not, then, the visible ants which are “wiser even than the wise,” but they who are indicated as such under the “proverbial” style of expression.  And such must be our conclusion regarding the rest of the animal creation, although Celsus regards the books of the Jews and Christians as exceedingly simple and commonplace,40364036    ιδιωτικά. and imagines that those who give them an allegorical interpretation do violence to the meaning of the writers.  By what we have said, then, let it appear that Celsus calumniates us in vain, and let his assertions that serpents and eagles are wiser than men also receive their refutation.


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