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Chapter VI.

But no; the Pythian, so much admired among the Greeks, judged no wise man, nay, no man at 614all, worthy of the divine possession, as they call it.  And among women he did not choose a virgin, or one recommended by her wisdom, or by her attainments in philosophy; but he selects a common woman.  Perhaps the better class of men were too good to become the subjects of the inspiration.  Besides, if he were a god, he should have employed his prophetic power as a bait, so to speak, with which he might draw men to a change of life, and to the practice of virtue.  But history nowhere makes mention of anything of the kind.  For if the oracle did call Socrates the wisest of all men, it takes from the value of that eulogy by what is said in regard to Euripides and Sophocles.  The words are:—

“Sophocles is wise, and Euripides is wiser,

But wiser than all men is Socrates.”46864686    Suidas in Σοφός.

As, then, he gives the designation “wise” to the tragic poets, it is not on account of his philosophy that he holds up Socrates to veneration, or because of his love of truth and virtue.  It is poor praise of Socrates to say that he prefers him to men who for a paltry reward compete upon the stage, and who by their representations excite the spectators at one time to tears and grief, and at another to unseemly laughter (for such is the intention of the satyric drama).  And perhaps it was not so much in regard to his philosophy that he called Socrates the wisest of all men, as on account of the victims which he sacrificed to him and the other demons.  For it seems that the demons pay more regard in distributing their favours to the sacrifices which are offered them than to deeds of virtue.  Accordingly, Homer, the best of the poets, who describes what usually took place, when, wishing to show us what most influenced the demons to grant an answer to the wishes of their votaries, introduces Chryses, who, for a few garlands and the thighs of bulls and goats, obtained an answer to his prayers for his daughter Chryseis, so that the Greeks were driven by a pestilence to restore her back to him.  And I remember reading in the book of a certain Pythagorean, when writing on the hidden meanings in that poet, that the prayer of Chryses to Apollo, and the plague which Apollo afterwards sent upon the Greeks, are proofs that Homer knew of certain evil demons who delight in the smoke of sacrifices, and who, to reward those who offer them, grant in answer to their prayers the destruction of others.  “He,” that is, Jupiter, “who rules over wintry Dodona, where his prophets have ever unwashed feet, and sleep upon the ground,”46874687    Homer, Iliad, xvi. 234, etc. has rejected the male sex, and, as Celsus observes, employs the women of Dodona for the prophetic office.  Granting that there are oracles similar to these, as that at Clarus, another in Branchidæ, another in the temple of Jupiter Ammon, or anywhere else; yet how shall it be proved that these are gods, and not demons?


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