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Discourse VIII.—Thekla.

Chapter I.—Methodius’ Derivation of the Word Virginity:27042704    παρθενία. Wholly Divine; Virtue, in Greek—ἀρετή, Whence So Called.

Well, then, let us first say, beginning from the origin of the name, for what cause this supreme and blessed pursuit was called παρθενία, what it aims at, what power it has, and afterwards, what fruits it gives forth. For almost all have been ignorant of this virtue as being superior to ten thousand other advantages of virtue which we cultivate for the purification and adornment of the soul. For virginity27052705    παρθενία. is divine by the change of one letter,27062706    παρθενίαπαρθεΐα. as she alone makes him who has her, and is initiated by her incorruptible rites like unto God, than which it is impossible to find a greater good, removed, as it is, from pleasure and grief; and the wing of the soul sprinkled by it becomes stronger and lighter, accustomed daily to fly from human desires.

For since the children of the wise have said that our life is a festival, and that we have come to exhibit in the theatre the drama of truth, that is, righteousness, the devil and the demons plotting and striving against us, it is necessary for us to look upwards and to take our flight aloft, and to flee from the blandishments of their tongues, and from their forms tinged with the outward appearance of temperance, more than from the Sirens of Homer. For many, bewitched by the pleasures of error, take their flight downwards, and are weighed down when they come into this life, their nerves being relaxed and unstrung, by means of which the power of the wings of temperance is strengthened, lightening the downward tendency of the corruption of the body. Whence, O Arete, whether thou hast thy name, signifying virtue, 335because thou art worthy of being chosen27072707    αἱρετή. for thyself, or because thou raisest27082708    αἴρειν. and liftest up to heaven, ever going in the purest minds, come, give me thy help in my discourse, which thou hast thyself appointed me to speak.

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