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Chapter XXI.—Answer to Appion’s Letter.

“‘I wonder how, when you commend me for wisdom, you write to me as to a fool.  For, wishing to persuade me to your passion, you make use of examples from the mythologies of the gods, that Eros is the eldest of all, as you say, and above all gods and men, not being afraid to blaspheme, that you might corrupt my soul and insult my body.  For Eros is not the leader of the gods,—he, I mean, who has to do with lusts.  For if he lusts willingly, he is himself his own suffering and punishment; and he who should suffer willingly could not be a god.  But if against his will he lust for copulation, and, pervading our souls as through the members of our bodies, is borne into intermeddling with our minds, then he that impels him to love is greater than he.  And again, he who impels him, being himself impelled by another desire, another greater than he is found impelling him.  And thus we come to an endless succession of lovers,10521052    I suspect it should rather be impellers, reading φερόντων for ἐρώντων. which is impossible.  Thus, neither is there an impeller nor an impelled; but it is the lustful passion of the lover himself, which is increased by hope and diminished by despair.

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