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Argument V.—Here Gregory Interweaves the Narrative of His Former Life. His Birth of Heathen Parents is Stated. In the Fourteenth Year of His Age He Loses His Father. He is Dedicated to the Study of Eloquence and Law. By a Wonderful Leading of Providence, He is Brought to Origen.

For my earliest upbringing from the time of my birth onwards was under the hand of my parents; and the manner of life in my father’s house was one of error,180180    τὰ πάτρια ἔθη τὰ πεπλανημένα. and of a kind from which no one, I imagine, expected that we should be delivered; nor had I myself the hope, boy as I was, and without understanding, and under a superstitious father.181181    [The force of the original is not opprobrious.] Then followed the loss of my father, and my orphanhood, which182182    Reading ἣ δή. Others give ἢ δή; others, ἤδη; and the conjecture ἢ ἡβη, “or my youth,” is also made. perchance was also the beginning of the knowledge of the truth to me. For then it was that I was brought over first to the word of salvation and truth, in what manner I cannot tell, by constraint rather than by voluntary choice. For what power of decision had I then, who was but fourteen years of age? Yet from this very time this sacred Word began somehow to visit me, just at the period when the reason common to all men attained its full function in me; yea, then for the first time did it visit me. And though I thought but little of this in that olden time, yet now at least, as I ponder it, I consider that no small token of the holy and marvellous providence exercised over me is discernible in this concurrence, which was so distinctly marked in the matter of my years, and which provided that all those deeds of error which preceded that age might be ascribed to youth and want of understanding, and that the Holy Word might not be imparted vainly to a soul yet ungifted with the full power of reason; and which secured at the same time that when the soul now became endowed with that power, though not gifted with the divine and pure reason,183183    λόγου. it might not be devoid at least of that fear which is accordant with this reason, but that the human and the divine reason184184    Word. might begin to act in me at once and together,—the one giving help with a power to me at least inexplicable,185185    The text, however, gives ἀλέκτρῳ. though proper to itself, and the other receiving help. And when I reflect on this, I am filled at once with gladness and with terror, while I rejoice indeed in the leading of providence, and yet am also awed by the fear lest, after being privileged with such blessings, I should still in any way fail of the end. But indeed I know not how my discourse has dwelt so long on this matter, desirous as I am to give an account of the wonderful arrangement (of God’s providence) in the course that brought me to this man, and anxious as nevertheless I formerly was to pass with few words to the matters which follow in their order, not certainly imagining that I could render to him who thus dealt with me that tribute of praise, or gratitude, or piety which is due to him (for, were we to designate our discourse in such terms, while yet we said nothing worthy of the theme, we might seem chargeable with arrogance), but simply with the view of offering what may be called a plain narrative or confession, or whatever other humble title may be given it. It seemed good to the only one of my parents who survived to care for me—my mother, namely—that, being already under instruction in those other branches in which boys not ignobly born and nurtured are usually trained, I should attend also a teacher of public speaking, in the hope that I too should become a public speaker. And accordingly I did attend such a teacher; and those who could judge in that department then declared that I should in a short period be a public speaker. I for my own part know not how to pronounce on that, neither 26should I desire to do so; for there was no apparent ground for that gift then, nor was there as yet any foundation for those forces186186    αἰτιῶν, causes. which were capable of bringing me to it. But that divine conductor and true curator, ever so watchful, when my friends were not thinking of such a step, and when I was not myself desirous of it, came and suggested (an extension of my studies) to one of my teachers under whose charge I had been put, with a view to instruction in the Roman tongue, not in the expectation that I was to reach the completest mastery of that tongue, but only that I might not be absolutely ignorant of it; and this person happened also to be not altogether unversed in laws. Putting the idea, therefore, into this teacher’s mind,187187    Reading τούῳ ἐπὶ νοῦν βαλών. he set me to learn in a thorough way the laws of the Romans by his help. And that man took up this charge zealously with me; and I, on my side, gave myself to it—more, however, to gratify the man, than as being myself an admirer of the study. And when he got me as his pupil, he began to teach me with all enthusiasm. And he said one thing, which has proved to me the truest of all his sayings, to wit, that my education in the laws would be my greatest viaticum188188    ἐφόδιον.—for thus he phrased it—whether I aspired to be one of the public speakers who contend in the courts of justice, or preferred to belong to a different order. Thus did he express himself, intending his word to bear simply on things human; but to me it seems that he was moved to that utterance by a diviner impulse than he himself supposed. For when, willingly or unwillingly, I was becoming well instructed in these laws, at once bonds, as it were, were cast upon my movements, and cause and occasion for my journeying to these parts arose from the city Berytus, which is a city not far distant189189    The text is ἀποχέουσα. Hœschelius gives ἀπέχουσα. from this territory, somewhat Latinized,190190    ῾Ρωμαϊκωτέρα πῶς. and credited with being a school for these legal studies. And this revered man coming from Egypt, from the city of Alexandria, where previously he happened to have his home, was moved by other circumstances to change his residence to this place, as if with the express object of meeting us. And for my part, I cannot explain the reasons of these incidents, and I shall willingly pass them by. This however is certain, that as yet no necessary occasion for my coming to this place and meeting with this man was afforded by my purpose to learn our laws, since I had it in my power also to repair to the city of Rome itself.191191    The text is, οὐδὲν οὅτως ἀναγκαῖον ἦν ὅσον ἐπὶ τοῖς νόμοις ἡμῶν, δυνατὸν ὂν καὶ ἐπὶ τὴν ῾Ρωμαίων ἀποδημῆσαι πόλιν. Bengel takes ὅσον as παρέλκον. Migne renders, nullam ei fuisse necessitatem huc veniendi, discendi leges causa, siquidem Romam posset proficisci. Sirmondus makes it, nulla causa adeo necessaria erat qua possem per leges nostras ad Romanorum civitatem proficisci. How, then, was this effected? The then governor of Palestine suddenly took possession of a friend of mine, namely my sister’s husband, and separated him from his wife, and carried him off here against his will, in order to secure his help, and have him associated with him in the labours of the government of the country; for he was a person skilled in law, and perhaps is still so employed. After he had gone with him, however, he had the good fortune in no long time to have his wife sent for, and to receive her again, from whom, against his will, and to his grievance, he had been separated. And thus he chanced also to draw us along with her to that same place. For when we were minded to travel, I know not where, but certainly to any other place rather than this, a soldier suddenly came upon the scene, bearing a letter of instructions for us to escort and protect our sister in her restoration to her husband, and to offer ourselves also as companion to her on the journey; in which we had the opportunity of doing a favour to our relative, and most of all to our sister (so that she might not have to address herself to the journey either in any unbecoming manner, or with any great fear or hesitation), while at the same time our other friends and connections thought well of it, and made it out to promise no slight advantage, as we could thus visit the city of Berytus, and carry out there with all diligence192192    The text gives ἐκπονήσαντες. Casaubon reads ἐκποιήσοντες. our studies in the laws. Thus all things moved me thither,—my sense of duty193193    εὔλογον. to my sister, my own studies, and over and above these, the soldier (for it is right also to mention this), who had with him a larger supply of public vehicles than the case demanded, and more cheques194194    σύμβολα. than could be required for our sister alone. These were the apparent reasons for our journey; but the secret and yet truer reasons were these,—our opportunity of fellowship with this man, our instruction through that man’s means195195    δί αὐτοῦ. Bengel understands this to refer to the soldier. in the truth196196    The text is, την ἀληθῆ δι᾽ αὐτοῦ περὶ τὰ τοῦ λόγου μαθήματα. Bengel takes this as an ellipsis, like τὴν ἑαυτοῦ, τὴν ἐμὴν μίαν, and similar phrases, γνώμην or ὁδόν, or some such word, being supplied. Casaubon conjectures καὶ ἀληθῆ, for which Bengel would prefer τα ἀληθῆ. concerning the Word, and the profit of our soul for its salvation. These were the real causes that brought us here, blind and ignorant, as we were, as to the way of securing our salvation. Wherefore it was not that soldier, but a certain divine companion and beneficent conductor and guardian, ever leading us in safety through the whole of this present life, as through a long journey, that carried us past other places, and Berytus in especial, which city at that time we seemed most bent on reaching, 27and brought us hither and settled us here, disposing and directing all things, until by any means he might bind us in a connection with this man who was to be the author of the greater part of our blessings. And he who came in such wise, that divine angel, gave over this charge197197    οἰκονομίαν. to him, and did, if I may so speak, perchance take his rest here, not indeed under the pressure of labour or exhaustion of any kind (for the generation of those divine ministers knows no weariness), but as having committed us to the hand of a man who would fully discharge the whole work of care and guardianship within his power.


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