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§ 179. Hermias.


Ερμείου φιλοσόφου Διασυρμὸς τῶν ἔξω φιλοσόφων, Hermiae Philosophi Gentilium Philosophorum Irrisio, ten chapters. Ed. princeps with Lat. vers. Base!, 1553, Zurich, 1560. Worth added it to his Tatian, Oxf. 1700. In Otto and Maranus (Migne, vi. Col. 1167–1180).

Donaldson, III. 179–181.


Under the name of the "philosopher" Hermias (Ἑρμείας or Ἑρμίας) otherwise entirely unknown to us, we have a "Mockery of Heathen Philosophers," which, with the light arms of wit and sarcasm, endeavors to prove from the history of philosophy, by exposing the contradictions of the various systems, the truth of Paul’s declaration, that the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. He derives the false philosophy from the demons. He first takes up the conflicting heathen notions about the soul, and then about the origin of the world, and ridicules them. The following is a specimen from the discussion of the first topic:

"I confess I am vexed by the reflux of things. For now I am immortal, and I rejoice; but now again I become mortal, and I weep; but straightway I am dissolved into atoms. I become water, and I become air: I become fire: then after a little I am neither air nor fire: one makes me a wild beast, one makes me a fish. Again, then, I have dolphins for my brothers. But when I see myself, I fear my body, and I no longer know how to call it, whether man, or dog, or wolf, or bull, or bird, or serpent, or dragon, or chimaera. I am changed by the philosophers into all the wild beasts, into those that live on land and on water, into those that are winged, many-shaped, wild, tame, speechless, and gifted with speech, rational and irrational. I swim, fly, creep, run, sit; and there is Empedocles too, who makes me a bush."

The work is small and unimportant.13841384    Hase aptly calls it "eine oberflächlich witzige Belustigung über paradoxe Philosopheme."384 Some put it down to the third or fourth century; but the writer calls himself a "philosopher" (though be misrepresents his profession), has in view a situation of the church like that under Marcus Aurelius, and presents many points of resemblance with the older Apologists and with Lucian who likewise ridiculed the philosophers with keen wit, but from the infidel heathen standpoint. Hence we may well assign him to the later part of the second century.



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