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Chapter II.—The Age of Manichæus, or Manes; His First Disciples; The Two Principles; Manichæan Matter.

So in these matters also, whilst in novelty of opinion each endeavours to show himself first and superior, they brought this philosophy, which is simple, almost to a nullity. Such was he whom they call Manichæus,21972197    Manes, or Manichæus, lived about a.d. 240. He was a Persian by birth, and this accounts for the Parseeism which can be detected in his teaching. He was probably ordained a priest, but was afterwards expelled from the Christian community, and put to death by the Persian government. His tenets spread considerably, and were in early youth embraced by St. Augustine. [See Confess., iii. 6.] a Persian by race, my instructor in whose doctrine was one Papus by name, and after him Thomas, and some others followed them. They say that the man lived when Valerian was emperor, and that he served under Sapor, the king of the Persians, and having offended him in some way, was put to death. Some such report of his character and reputation has come to me from those who were intimately acquainted with him. He laid down two principles, God and Matter. God he called good, and matter he affirmed to be evil. But God excelled more in good than matter in evil. But he calls matter not that which Plato calls it,21982198    Plato, Timæus, 51. which becomes everything when it has received quality and figure, whence he terms it all-embracing—the mother and nurse of all things; nor what Aristotle21992199    In substance, but not in words, Aristotle, Met., Book Λ 4 (1070´ b). calls an element, with which form and privation have to do, but something beside these. For the motion which in individual things is incomposite, this he calls matter. On the side of God are ranged powers, like handmaids, all good; and likewise, on the side of matter are ranged other powers, all evil. Moreover, the bright shining, the light, and the superior, all these are with God; while the 242obscure, and the darkness, and the inferior are with matter. God, too, has desires, but they are all good; and matter, likewise, which are all evil.


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