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56. As for all the other things which are usually dwelt upon in inquiries and discussions—from what parents they have sprung, or by whom they are produced—we neither strive to know,37883788 It must be observed that this sentence is very closely connected with the last words of the preceding chapter, or the meaning may be obscured. The connection may be shown thus: This one thing—that God is author of no evil—we are assured of; but as for all other questions, we neither know, nor care to know, about them. nor care to inquire or examine: we leave all things to their own causes, and do not consider that they have been connected and associated with that which we desire should befall us.37893789 This seems the most natural arrangement; but the edd. punctuate thus: “have been connected and associated with us for that which we desire.” The last part of the sentence is decidedly obscure; but the meaning may perhaps be, that the circumstances of man’s life which absorb so much attention and cause such strife, have no bearing, after all, upon his salvation. For what is there which men of ability do not dare to overthrow, to destroy,37903790 So the ms., reading labefactare dissolvere; the latter word, however, being marked as spurious. from love of contradiction, although that which they attempt to invalidate is unobjectionable37913791 Lit., “pure.” and manifest, and evidently bears the stamp of truth? Or what, again, can they not maintain with plausible arguments, although it may be very manifestly untrue, although it may be a plain and evident falsehood? For when a man has persuaded himself that there is or is not something, he likes to affirm what he thinks, and to show greater subtlety than others, especially if the subject discussed is out of the ordinary track, and by nature abstruse and obscure.37923792 Lit., “hidden and enwrapt in darkness of nature,” abdita et caligine involuta naturæ,—the reading of all edd. except Hild. and Oehler, who follow the ms. abditæ cal.—“enwrapt in darkness of hidden nature.” Some of the wise think that the world was not created, and will never perish;37933793 This has been supposed to refer to Heraclitus, as quoted by Clem. Alex., Stromata, v. p. 469 B., where his words are, “Neither God nor man made the world; but there was always, and is, and will be, an undying flame laying hold of its limits, and destroying them;” on which cf. p. 437. n. 8, supra. Here, of course, fire does not mean that perceived by the senses, but a subtle, all-penetrating energy. some that it is immortal, although they say that it was created and made;37943794 Cf. ch. 52, p. 453. while a third party have chosen to say that it both was created and made, and will perish as other things must.37953795 Lit., “by ordinary necessity.” The Stoics (Diog. Lært., vii. 134) said that the world was made by God working on uncreated matter, and that it was perishable (§ 141), because made through that of which perception could take cognizance. Cf. ch. 31, n. 9, p. 446. And while of these three opinions one only must be true, they nevertheless all find arguments by which at once to uphold their own doctrines, and undermine and overthrow the dogmas of others. Some teach and declare that this same world is composed of four elements, others of two,37963796 Orelli thinks that there is here a confusion of the parts of the world with its elements, because he can nowhere find that any philosopher has fixed the number of the elements either above or below four. The Stoics, however (Diog. Lært., vii. 134), said “that the elements (ἀρχάς of the world are two—the active and passive;” while, of course, the cosmic theories of the early philosophers affirm that the world sprang from one, and it seems clear enough that Arnobius here uses the word “element” in this sense. a third party of one; some say that it is composed of none of these, and that atoms are that from which it is formed,37973797 Lit., “its material.” and its primary origin. And since of these opinions only one is true, but37983798 A conjecture of Meursius adopted by Oehler, merely dropping u from aut—“or,” which is read in the ms. and edd. not one of them certain, here too, in like manner, arguments present themselves to all with which they may both establish the truth of what they say, and show that there are some things false37993799 Lit., “refute falsities placed.” in the others’ opinions. So, too, some utterly deny the existence of the gods; others say that they are lost in doubt as to whether they exist anywhere; others, however, say that they do exist, but do not trouble themselves about human things; nay others maintain that they both take part in the affairs of men, and guide the course of earthly events.38003800 Cf. Cicero, de Nat. Deor., i. 1, 12, 19, 23, etc.
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