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Argument XI.—Origen is the First and the Only One that Exhorts Gregory to Add to His Acquirements the Study of Philosophy, and Offers Him in a Certain Manner an Example in Himself. Of Justice, Prudence, Temperance, and Fortitude. The Maxim, Know Thyself.

He was also the first and only man that urged me to study the philosophy of the Greeks, and persuaded me by his own moral example both to hear and to hold by the doctrine of morals, while as yet I had by no means been won over to that, so far as other philosophers were concerned (I again acknowledge it),—not rightly so, indeed, but unhappily, as I may say without exaggeration, for me. I did not, however, associate with many at first, but only with some few who professed to be teachers, though, in good sooth, they all established their philosophy only so far as words went.222222    ἀλλὰ γὰρ πᾶσι μέχρι ῥημάτων τὸ φιλοσοφεῖν στήσασιν. This man, however, was the first that induced me to philosophize by his words, as he pointed the exhortation by deeds before he gave it in words, and did not merely recite well-studied sentences; nay, he did not deem it right to speak on the subject at all, but with a sincere mind, and one bent on striving ardently after the practical accomplishment of the things expressed, and he endeavoured all the while to show himself in character like the man whom he describes in his discourses as the person who shall lead a noble life, and he ever exhibited (in himself), I would say, the pattern of the wise man. But as our discourse at the outset proposed to deal with the truth, and not with vain-glorious language,223223    The text is, ἀλλ᾽ ἐπεὶ ἀλήθειαν ἡμῖν, οὐ κομψείαν ἐπηγγείλατο ὁ λόγος ἄνωθεν. The Latin rendering is, sed quia veritatem nobis, non pompam et ornatum promisit oratio in exordio. I shall not speak of him now as the exemplar of the wise man. And yet, if I chose to speak thus of him, I should not be far astray from the truth.224224    The text is, καίτοι γε εἰπεῖν ἐθέλων εἶναι τε ἀληθές. Bengal takes the τε as pleonastic, or as an error for the article, τ᾽ ἀληθές. The εἶναι in ἐθέλων εἶναι he takes to be the use of the infinitive which occurs in such phrases as τὴν πρώτην εἶναι, initio, ἑκὼν εἶναι, libenter, τὸ δὲ νῦν εἶναι, nunc vero, etc.; and, giving ἐθέλων the sense of μέλλων, makes the whole = And yet I shall speak truth. Nevertheless, I pass that by at present. I shall not speak of him as a perfect pattern, but as one who vehemently desires to imitate the perfect pattern, and strives after it with zeal and earnestness, even beyond the capacity of men, if I may so express myself; and who labours, moreover, also to make us, who are so different,225225    The text is, καὶ ἡμᾶς ἑτέρους. The phrase may be, as it is given above, a delicate expression of difference, or it may perhaps be an elegant redundancy, like the French à nous autres. Others read, καὶ ἡμᾶς καὶ ἑτέρους. of like character with himself, not mere masters and apprehenders of the bald doctrines concerning the impulses of the soul, but masters and apprehenders of these impulses themselves. For he pressed226226    The reading in the text gives, οὐ λόγων ἐγκρατεῖς καὶ ἐπιστήμονας τῶν περὶ ὁρμῶν, τῶν δὲ ὁρμῶν αὐτῶν· ἐπὶ τὰ ἔργα καὶ λόγους ἄγχων, etc. Others would arrange the whole passage differently, thus: περὶ ὁρμῶν, τῶν δὲ ὁρμῶν αὐτῶν ἐπὶ τὰ ἔργα καὶ τοὺς λόγους ἄγχων.  Καὶ, etc. Hence Sirmondus renders it, a motibus ipsis ad opera etiam sermones, reading also ἄγων apparently. Rhodomanus gives, impulsionum ipsarum ad opera et verba ignavi et negligentes, reading evidently ἀργῶν. Bengel solves the difficulty by taking the first clause as equivalent to οὐ λόγων ἐγκρατεῖς καὶ ἐπιοτήμοναςαὐτῶν τῶν ὁρμῶν ἐγκρατεῖς καὶ ἐπιστήμονας. We have adopted this as the most evident sense. Thus ἄγχων is retained unchanged, and is taken as a parallel to the following participle ἐπιφέρων, and as bearing, therefore, a meaning something like that of ἀναγκάζων. See Bengel’s note in Migne. us on both to deed and to doctrine, and carried us along by that same view and method,227227    θεωρίᾳ. not merely into a small section of each virtue, but rather into the whole, if mayhap we were able to take it in. And he constrained us also, if I may so speak, to practise righteousness on the ground of the personal action of the soul itself,228228    διὰ τὴν ἰδιοπραγίαν τῆς ψυχῆς, perhaps just “the private life.” which he persuaded us to study, drawing us off from the officious anxieties of life, and from the turbulence of the forum, and raising us to the nobler vocation of looking into ourselves, and dealing with the things that concern ourselves in truth. Now, that this is to practise righteousness, and that this is the true righteousness, some also of our ancient philosophers have asserted (expressing it as the personal action, I think), and have affirmed that this is more profitable for blessedness, both to the men themselves and to those who are with them,229229    ἑαυτοῖς τε καὶ τοῖς προσιοῦσιν. if indeed it belongs to this virtue to recompense according 33to desert, and to assign to each his own. For what else could be supposed to be so proper to the soul? Or what could be so worthy of it, as to exercise a care over itself, not gazing outwards, or busying itself with alien matters, or, to speak shortly, doing the worst injustice to itself, but turning its attention inwardly upon itself, rendering its own due to itself, and acting thereby righteously?230230    The text is, τὸ πρὸς ἑαυτὴν εἶναι. Migne proposes either to read ἑαυτούς, or to supply τὴν ψυχήν. To practise righteousness after this fashion, therefore, he impressed upon us, if I may so speak, by a sort of force. And he educated us to prudence none the less,—teaching to be at home with ourselves, and to desire and endeavour to know ourselves, which indeed is the most excellent achievement of philosophy, the thing that is ascribed also to the most prophetic of spirits231231    ὃ δὴ καὶ δαιμόνων τῷ μαντικωτάτῳ ἀνατίθεται. as the highest argument of wisdom—the precept, Know thyself. And that this is the genuine function of prudence, and that such is the heavenly prudence, is affirmed well by the ancients; for in this there is one virtue common to God and to man; while the soul is exercised in beholding itself as in a mirror, and reflects the divine mind in itself, if it is worthy of such a relation, and traces out a certain inexpressible method for the attaining of a kind of apotheosis. And in correspondence with this come also the virtues of temperance and fortitude: temperance, indeed, in conserving this very prudence which must be in the soul that knows itself, if that is ever its lot (for this temperance, again, surely means just a sound prudence):232232    σωφροσύνην, σώαν τινὰ φρόνησιν, an etymological play. and fortitude, in keeping stedfastly by all the duties233233    ἐπιτηδεύσεσιν. which have been spoken of, without falling away from them, either voluntarily or under any force, and in keeping and holding by all that has been laid down. For he teaches that this virtue acts also as a kind of preserver, maintainer, and guardian.


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