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13. Meantime, however, O you who wonder and are astonished at the doctrines of the learned, and of philosophy, do you not then think it most unjust to scoff, to jeer at us as though we say foolish and senseless things, when you too are found to say either these or just such things which you laugh at when said and uttered by us? Nor do I address those who, scattered through various bypaths of the schools, have formed this and that insignificant party through diversity of opinion. You, you I address, who zealously follow Mercury,34903490    Hermes Trismegistus. See index. Plato, and Pythagoras, and the rest of you who are of one mind, and walk in unity in the same paths of doctrine. Do you dare to laugh at us because we34913491    So the ms., Elmenh., LB., Hildebrand, and Oehler, reading quod, for which the other edd. read qui—“who.” revere and worship the Creator and Lord34923492    This seems to be the reading intended by the ms., which according to Hild. gives dom, i.e., probably dominum, which Oehler adopts, but all other edd. read deum—“god.” of the universe, and because we commit and entrust our hopes to Him? What does your Plato say in the Theætetus, to mention him especially? Does he not exhort the soul to flee from the earth, and, as much as in it lies, to be continually engaged in thought and meditation about Him?34933493    Arnobius rather exaggerates the force of the passage referred to (st. p. 173), which occurs in the beautiful digression on philosophers. Plato there says that only the philosopher’s body is here on earth, while his mind, holding politics and the ordinary business and amusements of life unworthy of attention, is occupied with what is above and beneath the earth, just as Thales, when he fell into a ditch, was looking at the stars, and not at his steps. Do you dare to laugh at us, because we say that there will be a resurrection of the dead? And this indeed we confess that we say, but maintain that it is understood by you otherwise than we hold it. What says the same Plato in the Politicus? Does he not say that, when the world has begun to rise out of the west and tend towards the east,34943494    In cardinem vergere qui orientis est solis seems to be the reading of all edd.; but according to Crusius the ms. reads vertere—“to turn.” Hildebrand, on the contrary, affirms that instead of t, the ms. gives c. men will again burst forth from the bosom of the earth, aged, grey-haired, bowed down with years; and that when the remoter34953495    i.e., originally earlier. years begin to draw near, they will gradually sink down34963496    So most edd., reading desituros, for which Stewechius suggests desulturos—“leap down;” LB. exituros—“go out.” to the cradles of their infancy, through the same steps by which they now grow to manhood?34973497    Reference is here made to one of the most extraordinary of the Platonic myths (Pol., 269–274), in which the world is represented as not merely material, but as being further possessed of intelligence. It is ever in motion, but not always in the same way. For at one time its motion is directed by a divine governor (τοῦ παντὸς ὁ μὲν κυβερνήτης); but this does not continue, for he withdraws from his task, and thereupon the world loses, or rather gives up its previous bias, and begins to revolve in the opposite direction, causing among other results a reverse development of the phenomena which occurred before, such as Arnobius describes. Arnobius, however, gives too much weight to the myth, as in the introduction it is more than hinted that it may be addressed to the young Socrates, as boys like such stories, and he is not much more than a boy. With it should be contrasted the “great year” of the Stoics, in which the universe fulfilled its course, and then began afresh to pass through the same experience as before (Nemesius, de Nat. Hom., c. 38). Do you dare to laugh at us because we see to the salvation of our souls?—that is, ourselves care for ourselves: for what are we men, but souls shut up in bodies?—You, indeed, do not take every pains for their safety,34983498    LB. makes these words interrogative, but the above arrangement is clearly vindicated by the tenor of the argument: You laugh at our care for our souls’ salvation; and truly you do not see to their safety by such precautions as a virtuous life, but do you not seek that which you think salvation by mystic rites? in that you do not refrain from all vice and passion; about this you are anxious, that you may cleave to your bodies as though inseparably bound to them.34993499    Lit., “fastened with beam” (i.e., large and strong) “nails.”—What mean those mystic rites,35003500    Cf. on the intercessory prayers of the Magi, c. 62, infra. in which you beseech some unknown powers to be favourable to you, and not put any hindrance in your way to impede you when returning to your native seats?


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