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CHAPTER XXIII

[PORPHYRY] 'But it is not without reason that we suspect the wicked daemons to be subject to Sarapis, nor from being persuaded only by the symbols, but because all the sacrifices for propitiating or averting their influence are offered to Pluto, as we showed in the first book. But this god is the same as Pluto, and for this reason especially rules over the daemons, and grants tokens for driving them away.

'It was he then who made known to his suppliants how they gain access to men in the likeness of animals of all kinds; whence among the Egyptians also, and the Phoenicians, and generally among those who are wise in divine things, thongs are violently cracked in the temples, and animals are dashed against the ground before worshipping the gods, the priests thus driving away these daemons by giving them the breath or blood of animals, and by the beating of the air, in order that on their departure the presence of the god may be granted.

'Every house also is full of them, and on this account, when they are going to call down the gods, they purify the house first, and cast these daemons out. Our bodies also are full of them, for they especially delight in certain kinds of food. So when we are eating they approach and sit close to our body; and this is the reason of the purifications, not chiefly on account of the gods, but in order that these evil daemons may depart. But most of all they delight in blood and in impure meats, and enjoy these by entering into those who use them.

'For universally the vehemence of the desire towards anything, and the impulse of the lust of the spirit, is intensified from no other cause than their presence: and they also force men to fall into inarticulate noises and flatulence by sharing the same enjoyment with them.

'For where there is a drawing in of much breath, either because the stomach has been inflated by indulgence, or because eagerness from the intensity of pleasure breathes much out and draws in much of the outer air, let this be a clear proof to you of the presence of such spirits there. So far human nature ventures to investigate the snares that are set about it: for when the deity enters in, the breathing is much increased.'

So much then concerning the wicked daemons, the ruler of whom he says is Sarapis. But the same author also teaches us that Hecate rules them, speaking thus: 47

'Are not these perhaps they over whom Sarapis rules, and whose symbol is the three-headed dog, that is the wicked daemon in the three elements, water, earth, air: these are restrained by the god, who has them under his hand. But Hecate also rules them, as holding the threefold, elements together.'

And again he says: 48

'After quoting yet one oracle, composed by Hecate herself, I will bring my account of her to an end.

'Lo! here the virgin, who in changing forms Runs forth o'er highest heaven, with bovine face, Three-headed, ruthless, arm'd with shafts of gold, Chaste Phoebe, Ilithyia, light of men; Of nature's elements the triple sign, In ether manifest in forms of fire, Upon the air in shining car I sit, While earth in leash holds my black brood of whelps.'

After these verses the author plainly states who the whelps are; namely, that they are the wicked daemons, of whom we have just ceased speaking. So much then for these statements. But by still more evidence let us go on to confirm our argument, that those who are by the many regarded as gods are in reality wicked daemons, bringing with them no good at all.


[Footnotes moved to end and numbered]

1.136 d 3 Diogenianus, a Fragment preserved by Eusebius only

2.Rom. iv. 17

3.142 b 1 Heb. i. 14

4.143 c 4 Porphyry, Of the Philosophy to be derived from Oracles, a fragment preserved by Eusebius only

5.144 b 1 Porphyry, l. c.

6.144 d 5 See below, p. 147 d 1

7.149 b 2 Porphyry, On Abstinence from Animal Food, ii. 34. Cf. Eus. Dem. Ev. p. 105 a

8.150 b 1 Apollonius of Tyana in Philostratus. Cf. Eus. Dem. Ev. p. 105 b

9.151 a 1 Porphyry, l. c., ii. 7. Cf. 29 b 2

10.b 7 Porphyry, l. c., ii. 11

11.c 2 ibid. ii. 12

12.d 9 ibid. ii. 13

13.152 d 11 Porphyry, l. c., ii. 13

14.d 15 ibid. ii. 24

15.152 c 5 ibid, ii. 27

16.c 7 'Empedocles ap Sturz. 312 ' (Gaisford)

17.c 11 Porphyry, l. c., ii. 60

18.d 10 ibid. ii. 62

19.153 c 1 Porphyry, l. c., ii. 36

20.c 6 ibid. ii. 58

21.155 b 1 Porphyry, l. c., ii. 54

22.d 3 ibid. ii. 55

23.c 5 Porphyry, l. c., ii. 27

24.d 3 Philo Byblius, Phoenician History, i. Cf. p. 40 c 1

25.157 a 9 Clement of Alexandria, Protrept. c iii

26.158 b 3 Hom. Il. iii. 33 (Lord Derby's translation)

27.158 c 12 Dionysius of Halicarnassus, i. 23

28.160 b 2 Dion. Hal. i. 38

29.161 a 3 Diod. Sic. xx. 14

30.c 3 Ps. cvi. 37

31.d 3 Ps. xcvi. 5

32.d 4 I Cor. x. 20

33.105 a 3 Hesiod, Works and Days, 250 ; cf. p. 233 d

34.166 b 2 Porphyry, Abstinence, ii. 43; cf. Theodoret, Gr. Aff. Cur. 138, 22

35.167 a 1 Porphyry, ibid. ii. 52

36.168 b 2 Porphyry, Fragment, preserved by Eusebius

37.169 d 7 Is. lxi. 1

38.170 a 1 Is. xlii. 7

39.d 10 2 Cor. vi. 16 ; cf. Lev. xxvi. 12

40.171 c 1 Porphyry, Abstinence, ii. 38

41.172 b 1 ibid. ii. 40

42.d 4 ibid. ii. 41

43.173 a 10 Porphyry, Abstinence, ii. 41

44.b 1 ibid. ii. 42

45.b 6 Hom. Il. ix. 496

46.174 b 1 Porphyry, Of the Philosophy to be derived from Oracles, a Fragment preserved by Eusebius.

47.175 b 6 Porphyry, ibid.

48.c 2 ibid.


This text was transcribed by Roger Pearse, Ipswich, UK, 2003.


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