The Clementine Homilies vols. 1-7
I Clement, being a Roman citizen, even from my earliest youth was able to live chastely, my mind from my boyhood drawing away the lust that was in me to dejection and distress. For I had a habit of reasoning - how originating I do not know - making frequent cogitations concerning death: When I die, shall I neither exist, nor shall anyone ever have any memory of me, while boundless time bears all things of all men into forgetfulness? and shall I then be without being, or acquaintance with those who are; neither knowing nor being known, neither having been nor being? And has the world ever been made? and was there anything before it was made? For if it has been always, it shall also continue to be; but if it has been made, it shall also be dissolved. And after its dissolution, shall there ever be anything again, unless, perhaps, silence and forgetfulness? Or perhaps something shall be which is not possible now to conceive.
As I pondered without ceasing these and such like questions - I do not know whence arising - I had such bitter grief, that, becoming pale, I wasted away; and, what was most terrible, if at any time I wished to drive away this meditation as unprofitable, my suffering became all the more severe; and I grieved over this, not knowing that I had a fair inmate, even my thought, which was to be to me the cause of a blessed immortality, as I afterwards knew by experience, and gave thanks to God, the Lord of all. For it was by this thought, which at first afflicted me, that I was compelled to come to the search and the finding of things; and then I pitied those whom at first, through ignorance, I ventured to call blessed.
From my boyhood, then, being involved in such reasonings, in order to learn something definite, I used to resort to the schools of the philosophers. But nought else did I see than the setting up and the knocking down of doctrines, and strifes, and seeking for victory, and the arts of syllogisms, and the skill of assumptions; and sometimes one opinion prevailed, - as, for example, that the soul is immortal, and sometimes that it is mortal. If, therefore, at any time the doctrine prevailed that it is immortal, I was glad; and when the doctrine prevailed that it is mortal, I was grieved. And again, I was the more disheartened because I could not establish either doctrine to my satisfaction. However, I perceived that the opinions on subjects under discussion are taken as true or false, according to their defenders, and do not appear as they really are. Perceiving, therefore, now that the acceptance does not depend on the real nature of the subjects discussed, but that opinions are proved to be true or false, according to ability of those who defend them, I was still more than ever at a loss in regard of things. Therefore I groaned from the depth of my soul. For neither was I able to establish anything, nor could I shake off the consideration of such things, though, as I said before, I wished it. For although I frequently charged myself to be at peace, in some way or other thoughts on these subjects, accompanied with a feeling of pleasure, would come into my mind.
And again, living in doubt, I said to myself, why do I labour in vain, when the matter is clear, that if I lose existence when I die, it is not fitting that I should distress myself now while I do exist? Therefore I shall reserve my grief till that day, when, ceasing to exist, I shall not be affected with grief. But if I am to exist, what does it profit me now to distress myself gratuitously? And immediately after this another reasoning assailed me; for I said, shall I not have something worse to suffer then than that which distresses me now, if I have not lived piously; and shall I not be delivered over, according to the doctrines of some philosophers, to Pyriphlegethon and Tartarus, like Sisyphus, or Tityus, or Ixion, or Tantalus, and be punished for ever in hades? But again I replied, saying: But there are no such things as these. Yet again I said: But if there be? Therefore, said I, since the matter is uncertain, the safer plan is for me rather to live piously. But how shall I be able, for the sake of righteousness, to subdue bodily pleasures, looking, as I do, to an uncertain hope? But I am neither fully persuaded what is that righteous thing that is pleasing to God, nor do I know whether the soul is immortal or mortal. Neither can I find any well-established doctrine, nor can I abstain from such debatings.
What, then, am I to do, unless this? I shall go into Egypt, and I shall become friendly with the hierophants of the shrines, and with the prophets; and I shall seek and find a magician, and persuade him with large bribes to effect the calling up of a soul, which is called necromancy, as if I were going to enquire of it concerning some business. And the enquiry shall be for the purpose of learning whether the soul is immortal. But the answer of the soul that it is immortal shall not give me the knowledge from its speaking or my hearing, but only from its being seen; so that, seeing it with my very eyes, I may have a self-sufficient and fit assurance, from the very fact of its appearing, that it exists; and never again shall the uncertain words of hearing be able to overturn the things which the eyes have made their own. However, I submitted this very plan to a certain companion who was a philosopher; and he counseled me not to venture on it, and that on many accounts. "For if," said he, "the soul shall not listen to the magician, you will live with an evil conscience, as having acted against the laws which forbid the doing of these things. But if it shall listen to him, then, besides your living with an evil conscience, I think that matters of piety will not be promoted to you on account of your making this attempt. For they say that the Deity is angry with those who disturb souls after their release from the body." And I, when I heard this, became indeed more backward to undertake such a thing, but I did not abandon my original plan; but I was distressed, as being hindered in the execution of it.
And, not to discuss such matters to you in a long speech, while I was occupied with such reasonings and doings, a certain report, taking its rise in the spring-time, in the reign of Tiberius Caesar, gradually grew everywhere, and ran through the world as truly the good tidings of God, being unable to stifle the counsel of God in silence. Therefore it everywhere became greater and louder, saying that a certain One in Judaea, beginning in the spring season, was preaching to the Jews the kingdom of the invisible God, and saying that whoever of them would reform his way of living should enjoy it. And in order that he might be believed that he uttered these things full of the Godhead, he worked many wonderful miracles and signs by his mere command, as having received power from God. For he made the deaf to hear, the blind to see, the lame to walk, raised up the bowed down, drove away every disease, put to flight every demon; and even scabbed lepers, by only looking on him from a distance, were sent away cured by him; and the dead being brought to him, were raised; and there was nothing which he could not do. And as time advanced, so much the greater, through the arrival of more persons, and the stronger grew - I say not now the report, but - the truth of the thing; for now at length there were meetings in various places for consultation and enquiry as to who he might be that had appeared, and what was his purpose.
And then in the same year, in the autumn season, a certain one, standing in a public place, cried and said, "Men of Rome, listen. The Son of God is come in Judaea, proclaiming eternal life to all who will, if they shall live according to the counsel of the Father, who has sent him. Therefore change your way of life from the worse to the better, from things temporal to things eternal; for know you that there is one God, who is in heaven, whose world you unrighteously dwell in before his righteous eyes. But if you are changed, and live according to his counsel, then, being born into the other world, and becoming eternal, you shall enjoy his unspeakable good things. But if you are unbelieving, your souls, after. The dissolution of the body, shall be thrown into the place of fire, where, being punished eternally, they shall repent of their unprofitable deeds. For everyone, the term of repentance is the present life." I therefore, when I heard these things, was grieved, because no one among so great multitudes, hearing such an announcement, said: I shall go into Judaea, that I may know if this man who tells us these things speaks the truth, that the Son of God has come into Judaea, for the sake of a good and eternal hope, revealing the will of the Father who sent him. For it is no small matter which they say that he preaches: for he asserts that the souls of some, being themselves immortal, shall enjoy eternal good things; and that those of others, being thrown into unquenchable fire, shall be punished for ever.
While I spoke thus concerning others, I also lectured myself, saying, why do I blame others, being myself guilty of the very same crime of heedlessness? But I shall hasten into Judaea, having first arranged my affairs. And when I had thus made up my mind, there occurred a long time of delay, my worldly affairs being difficult to arrange. Therefore, meditating further on the nature of life, that by involving men in hope it lays snares for those who are making haste, yes, and how much time I had been robbed of while tossed by hopes, and that we men die while thus occupied, I left all my affairs as they were, and sped to Portus; and coming to the harbor, and being taken on board a ship, I was born by adverse winds to Alexandria instead of Judaea; and being detained there by stress of weather, I consorted with the philosophers, and told them about the rumor and the sayings of him who had appeared in Rome. And they answered that indeed they knew nothing of him who had appeared in Rome; but concerning him who was born in Judaea, and who was said by the report to be the Son of God, they had heard from many who had come from thence, and had learned respecting all the wonderful things that he did with a word.
And when I said that I wished I could meet with some one of those who had seen him, they immediately brought me to one, saying, "There is one here who not only is acquainted with him, but is also of that country, a Hebrew, by name Barnabas, who says that he himself is one of his disciples; and hereabouts he resides, and readily announces to those who will the terms of his promise." Then I went with them; and when I came, I stood listening to his words with the crowd that stood round him; and I perceived that he was speaking the truth not with dialectic art, but was setting forth simply and without preparation what he had heard and seen the manifested Son of God do and say. And even from the crowd who stood around him he produced many witnesses of the miracles and discourses which he narrated.
But while the multitudes were favourably disposed towards the things that he so artlessly spoke, the philosophers, impelled by their worldly learning, set on laughing at him and making sport of him, rebuking and reproaching him with excessive presumption, making use of the great armory of syllogisms. But he set aside their babbling, and did not enter into their subtle questioning, but without embarrassment went on with what he was saying. And then one of them asked, Therefore it was that a gnat, although it be so small, and has six feet, has wings also; while an elephant, the largest of beasts, is wingless, and has but four feet? But he, after the question had been put, resuming his discourse, which had been interrupted, as though he had answered the question, resumed his original discourse, only making use of this preface after each interruption: We have a commission only to tell you the words and the wondrous doings of him who sent us; and instead of logical demonstration, we present to you many witnesses from amongst yourselves who stand by, whose faces I remember, as living images. These sufficient testimonies it is left to your choice to submit to, or to disbelieve. But I shall not cease to declare to you what is for your profit; for to be silent were to me a loss, and to disbelieve is ruin to you. But indeed I could give answers to your frivolous questions, if you asked them through love of truth. But the reason of the different structure of the gnat and elephant it is not fitting to tell to those who are ignorant of the God of all."
When he said this, they all, as in concert, set up a shout of laughter, trying to silence him and put him out, as a barbarous madman. But I, seeing this, and seized, I do not know how, with enthusiasm, could no longer keep silence with righteous indignation, but boldly cried out, saying, "Well has God ordained that his counsel should be incapable of being received by you, foreseeing you to be unworthy, as appears manifestly to such of those who are now present as have minds capable of judging. For whereas now heralds of his counsel have been sent forth, not making a show of grammatical art, but setting forth his will in simple and inartificial words, so that whosoever hear can understand what is spoken, and not with any invidious feeling, as though unwilling to offer it to all; you come here, and besides your not understanding what is for your advantage, to your own injury you laugh at the truth, which, to your condemnation, consorts with the barbarians, and which you will not entertain when it visits you, by reason of your wickedness and the plainness of its words, in case you be convicted of being merely lovers of words, and not lovers of truth and lovers of wisdom. How long will you be learning to speak, who have not the power of speech? For many sayings of yours are not worth one word. What, then, will your Grecian multitude say, being of one mind, if, as he says, there shall be a judgment? "Why, O God, did you not proclaim to us your counsel?" Shall you not, if you are thought worthy of an answer at all, be told this? "I, knowing before the foundation of the world all characters that were to be, acted towards each one by anticipation according to his deserts without making it known; but wishing to give full assurance to those who have fled to me that this is so, and to explain why from the beginning, and in the first ages, I did not suffer my counsel to be publicly proclaimed; I now, in the end of the world, have sent heralds to proclaim my will, and they are insulted and flouted by those who will not be benefited, and who willfully reject my friendship. Oh, great wrong! The preachers are exposed to danger even to the loss of life, and that by the men who are called to salvation.
"And this wrongful treatment of my heralds would have been against all from the beginning, if from the beginning the unworthy had been called to salvation. For that which is now done wrongfully by these men serves to the vindication of my righteous foreknowledge, that it was well that I did not choose from the beginning to expose uselessly to public contempt the word which is worthy of honour; but determined to suppress it, as being honourable, not indeed from those who were worthy from the beginning - for to them also I imparted it - but from those, and such as those, unworthy, as you see them to be, - those who hate me, and who will not love themselves. And now, give over laughing at this man, and hear me with respect to his announcement, or let anyone of the hearers who pleases answer. And do not bark like vicious dogs, deafening with disorderly clamour the ears of those who would be saved, you unrighteous and God-haters, and perverting the saving method to unbelief. How shall you be able to obtain pardon, who scorn him who is sent to speak to you of the Godhead of God? And this you do towards a man whom you ought to have received on account of his goodwill towards you, even if he did not speak truth."
While I spoke these words, and others to the same effect, there arose a great excitement among the crowd; and some as pitying Barnabas, sympathized with me; but others, being senseless, terribly gnashed their teeth against me. But, as the evening had already come, I took Barnabas by the hand, and by force conducted him, against his will, to my lodging, and constrained him to remain there, in case some one might lay hands on him. And having spent several days, and instructed me briefly in the true doctrine, as well as he could in a few days, he said that he should hasten into Judaea for the observance of the festival, and also because he wished for the future to consort with those of his own nation.
But it plainly appeared to me that he was disconcerted. For when I said to him, "Only set forth to me the words which you have heard of the Man who has appeared, and I will adorn them with my speech, and preach the counsel of God; and if you do so, within a few days I will sail with you, for I greatly desire to go to the land of Judaea, and perhaps I shall dwell with you all my life;" - when he heard this, he answered: "If you wish to enquire into our affairs, and to learn what is for your advantage, sail with me at once. But if you will not, I shall now give you directions to my house, and that of those whom you wish to meet, that when you choose to come you may find us. For I shall set out tomorrow for my home?" And when I saw that he could not be prevailed on, I went with him as far as the harbor; and having learned of him the directions which he had promised to give me for finding the dwellings, I said to him, "If it werenot that tomorrow I am to recover a debt that is due to me, I should immediately set sail with you. But I shall soon overtake you." And having said this, and having given him in charge to those who commanded the ship, I returned grieving, remembering him as an excellent and dear friend.
But having spent same days, and not having been able to recover the whole debt, for the sake of speed I neglected the balance, as being a hindrance, and myself also set sail for Judaea, and in fifteen days arrived at Caesarea Stratonis. And when I had landed, and was seeking for a lodging, I learned that one named Peter, who was the most esteemed disciple of the Man who had appeared in Judaea, and had done signs and wonders, was going to have a verbal controversy next day with Simon, a Samaritan of Gitthi. When I heard this, I begged to be shown his lodging; and as soon as I learned it, I stood before the door. And those who were in the house, seeing me, discussed the question who I was, and whence I had come. And behold, Barnabas came out; and as soon as he saw me he embraced me, rejoicing greatly, and weeping. And he took me by the hand, and conducted me to where Peter was, saying to me, "This is Peter, of whom I told you as being the greatest in the wisdom of God, and I have spoken to him of you continually. Therefore enter freely, for I have told him your excellent qualities, without falsehood; and, at the same time, have disclosed to him your intention, so that he himself also is eager to see you. Therefore I offer him a great gift when by my hands I present you to him." Thus saying, he presented me, and said, "This, Peter, is Clement."
Then the blessed man, springing forward as soon as he heard my name, kissed me; and making me sit down, immediately said, "You acted nobly in entertaining Barnabas, a herald of the truth, to the honour of the living God, being magnanimously not ashamed, nor fearing the resentment of the rude multitude. Blessed shall you be. For as you thus with all honour entertained the ambassador of the truth, so also truth herself shall constitute you, who are a stranger, a citizen of her own city. And thus you shall greatly rejoice, because you have now lent a small favour; I mean the kindness of good words. You shall be heir of blessings which are both eternal and cannot possibly be taken from you. And do not trouble yourself to detail to me your way of life; for the veracious Barnabas has detailed to us everything relating to you, making favourable mention of you almost every day. And in order that I may tell to you briefly, as to a genuine friend, what is in hand, travel with us, unless anything hinders you, partaking of the words of truth which I am going to speak from city to city, as far as rome itself. And if you wish to say anything, speak on."
Then I set forth my purpose from the beginning, and how I had spent myself on difficult questions, and all the things that I disclosed to you at the outset, so that I need not write the same things again. Then I said, "I hold myself in readiness to journey with you; for this, I do not know how, I gladly wish. However, I wish first to be convinced concerning the truth, that I may know whether the soul is mortal or immortal; and whether, if it is eternal, it is to be judged concerning the things which it has done here. Also, whether there is anything that is righteous and well-pleasing to God; and whether the world was made, and for what end it was made; and whether it shall be dissolved; and if it shall be dissolved, whether it shall be made better, or shall not be at all." And not to mention them in detail, I said that I wished to learn these things, and things consequent on these. And to this he answered: "I shall shortly convey to you, Clement, the knowledge of the things that are; and even now listen.
"The will of God has been kept in obscurity in many ways. In the first place, there is evil instruction, wicked association, terrible society, improper discourses, wrongful prejudice. Thereby is error, then fearlessness, unbelief, fornication, covetousness, vainglory; and ten thousand other such evils, filling the world as a quantity of smoke fills a house, have obscured the sight of the men inhabiting the world, and have not suffered them to look up and become acquainted with God the Creator from the delineation of himself which he has given, and to know what is pleasing to him. Therefore it behoves the lovers of truth, crying out inwardly from their breasts, to call for aid, with truth-loving reason, that some one living within the house which is filled with smoke may approach and open the door, so that the light of the sun which is without may be admitted into the house, and the smoke of the fire which is within may be driven out.
"Now the Man who is the helper I call the true Prophet; and he alone is able to enlighten the souls of men, so that with our own eyes we may be able to see the way of eternal salvation. But otherwise it is impossible, as you also know, since you said a little while ago that every doctrine is set up and pulled down, and the same is thought true or false, according to the power of him who advocates it; so that doctrines do not appear as they are, but take the appearance of being or not being truth or falsehood from those who advocate them. On this account the whole business of religion needed a true prophet, that he might tell us things that are, as they are, and how we must believe concerning all things. So that it is first necessary to test the prophet by every prophetic sign, and having ascertained that he is true, thereafter to believe him in everything, and not to sit in judgment on his several sayings, but to receive them as certain, being accepted indeed by seeming faith, yet by sure judgment. For by our initial proof, and by strict enquiry on every side, all things are received with right reason. Therefore before all things it is necessary to seek after the true Prophet, because without him it is impossible that any certainty can come to men."
And, at the same time, he satisfied me by expounding to me who he is, and how he is found, and holding him forth to me as truly to be found, showing that the truth is more manifest to the ear by the discourse of the prophet than things that are seen with the eye; so that I was astonished, and wondered that no one sees those things which are sought after by all, though they lie before him. However, having written this discourse concerning the Prophet by his order, he caused the volume to be despatched to you from Caesarea Stratonis, saying that he had a charge from you to send his discourses and his acts year by year. Thus, on the very first day, beginning only concerning the prophet of the truth, he confirmed me in every respect; and then he spoke thus: "From now on give heed to the discussions that take place between me and those on the other side; and even if I come off at a disadvantage, I am not afraid of your ever doubting of the truth that has been delivered to you, knowing well that I seem to be beaten, but not the doctrine that has been delivered to us by the Prophet. However, I hope not to come off in our enquiries at a disadvantage with men who have understanding - I mean lovers of truth, who are able to know what discourses are specious, artificial, and pleasant, and what are unartificial and simple, trusting only to the truth that is conveyed through them."
When he had thus spoken, I answered: "Now do I thank God; for as I wished to be convinced, so he has kindly granted to me. However, so far as concerns me, be so far without anxiety that I shall never doubt; so much so, that if you yourself should ever wish to remove me from the prophetic doctrine, you should not be able, so well do I know what I have received. And do not think that it is a great thing that I promise you that I shall never doubt; for neither I myself, nor any man who has heard your discourse concerning the Prophet, can ever doubt of the true doctrine, having first heard and understood what is the truth of the prophetic announcement. Therefore have confidence in the God-willed dogma; for every are of wickedness has been conquered. For against prophecy, neither arts of discourses, nor tricks of sophisms, nor syllogisms, nor any other contrivance, can prevail anything; that is, if he who has heard the true Prophet really is desirous of truth, and does not give heed to anything else under pretext of truth. So that, my Lord Peter, be not disconcerted, as though you bad presented the greatest good to a senseless person; for you have presented it to one aware of the favour, and who cannot be seduced from the truth that has been committed to him. For I know that it is one of those things which one wishes to receive quickly, and not to attain slowly. Therefore I know that I should not despise, on account of the quickness with which I have got it, what has been committed to me, what is incomparable, and what alone is safe."
When I had thus spoken, Peter said: "I give thanks to God, both for your salvation and for my satisfaction. For I am truly pleased to know that you apprehend what is the greatness of prophecy. Since, then, as you say, if I myself should ever wish - which God forbid - to transfer you to another doctrine, I shall not be able to persuade you, begin from tomorrow to attend on me in the discussions with the adversaries. And tomorrow I have one with Simon Magus." And having spoken thus, and he himself having partaken of food in private, he ordered me also to partake; and having blessed the food, and having given thanks after being satisfied, and having giving me an account of this matter, he went on to say: "May God grant you in all things to be made like to me, and having been baptised, to partake of the same table with me." And having thus spoken, he enjoined me to go to rest; for now indeed my bodily nature demanded sleep.
Therefore the next day, I Clement, awaking from sleep before dawn, and learning that Peter was astir, and was conversing with his attendants concerning the worship of God (there were sixteen of them, and I have thought good to set forth their names, as I subsequently learned them, that you may also know who they were. The first of them was Zacchaeus, who was once a publican, and Sophonias his brother; Joseph and his foster-brother Michaias; also Thomas and Eliezer the twins; also Aeneas and Lazarus the priests; besides also Elisaeus, and Benjamin the son of Saphrus; as also Rubilus and Zacharias the builders; and Ananias and Haggaeus the Jamminians; and Nicetas and Aquila the friends), - accordingly I went in and saluted him, and at his request sat down.
And he, breaking off the discourse in which he was engaged, assured me, by way of apology, why he had not awakened me that I might hear his discourses, assigning as the reason the discomfort of my voyage. As he wished this to be dispelled, he had allowed me to sleep. "For," said he, "whenever the soul is distracted concerning some bodily want, it does not properly approach the instructions that are presented to it. On this account I am not willing to converse, either with those who are greatly grieving through some calamity, or are immoderately angry, or are turned to the frenzy of love, or are suffering under bodily exhaustion, or are distressed with the cares of life, or are harassed with any other sufferings, whose soul, as I said, being downcast, and sympathizing with the suffering body, occupies also its own intelligence therewith.
"And let it not be said, Is it not, then, proper to present comforts and admonitions to those who are in any bad case? To this I answer, that if, indeed, anyone is able, let him present them; but if not, let him bide his time. For I know that all things have their proper season. Therefore it is proper to ply men with words which strengthen the soul in anticipation of evil; so that, if at any time any evil comes on them, the mind, being forearmed with the right argument, may be able to bear up under that which befalls it: for then the mind knows in the crisis of the struggle to have recourse to him who aided it by good counsel.
"However, I have learned, Clement, how that in Alexandria Barnabas perfectly expounded to you the word respecting prophecy. Was it not so?" I answered, "Yes, and exceeding well." Then Peter: "Therefore it is not necessary now to occupy with the instructions which you know, the time which may serve us for other instructions which you do not know." I replied: "You have said rightly, Peter. But grant this to me, who purpose always to attend on you, continuously to expound to me, a delighted hearer, the doctrine of the Prophet. For, apart from him, as I learned from Barnabas, it is impossible to learn the truth."
And Peter, being greatly pleased with this, answered: "Already has the rectifying process taken its end, as regards you, knowing as you do the greatness of the infallible prophecy, without which it is impossible for anyone to receive that which is supremely profitable. For of many and diverse blessings which are in the things which are or which may be, the most blessed of all - whether it be eternal life, or perpetual health, or a perfect understanding, or light, or joy, or immortality, or whatever else there is or that can be supremely good in the nature of things - cannot be possessed without first knowing things as they are; and this knowledge cannot be otherwise obtained than by first becoming acquainted with the Prophet of the truth.
"Now the Prophet of the truth is he who always knows all things - things past as they were, things present as they are, things future as they shall be; sinless, merciful, alone entrusted with the declaration of the truth. Read, and you shall find that those were deceived who thought that they had found the truth of themselves. For this is peculiar to the Prophet, to declare the truth, even as it is peculiar to the sun to bring the clay. Therefore, as many as have even desired to know the truth, but have not had the good fortune to learn it from him, have not found it, but have died seeking it. For how can he find the truth who seeks it from his own ignorance? And even if he find it, he does not know it, and passes it by as if it were not. Nor yet shall he be able to obtain possession of the truth from another, who, in the same way, promises to him knowledge from ignorance; excepting only the knowledge of morality and things of that sort, which can be known through reason, which affords to everyone the knowledge that he ought not to wrong another, through his not wishing himself to be wronged.
"All therefore who ever sought the truth, trusting to themselves to be able to find it, fell into a snare. This is what both the philosophers of the Greeks, and the more intelligent of the barbarians, have suffered. For, applying themselves to things visible, they have given decisions by conjecture on things not apparent, thinking that that was truth which at any time presented itself to them as such. For, like persons who know the truth, they, still seeking the truth, reject some of the suppositions that are presented to them, and lay hold of others, as if they knew, while they do not know, what things are true and what are false. And they dogmatize concerning truth, even those who are seeking after truth, not knowing that he who seeks truth cannot learn it from his own wandering. For not even, as I said, can he recognise her when she stands by him, since he is unacquainted with her.
"And it is by no means that which is true, but that which is pleasing, which persuades everyone who seeks to learn from himself. Since, therefore, one thing is pleasing to one, and another to another, one thing prevails over one as truth, and another thing over another. But the truth is that which is approved by the Prophet, not that which is pleasant to each individual. For that which is one would be many, if the pleasing were the true; which is impossible. Therefore also the Grecian philologers - rather than philosophers - going about matters by conjectures, have dogmatized much and diversely, thinking that the apt sequence of hypotheses is truth, not knowing that when they have assigned to themselves false beginnings, their conclusion has corresponded with the beginning.
"Therefore a man ought to pass by all else, and commit himself to the Prophet of the truth alone. And we are all able to judge of him, whether he is a prophet, even although we be wholly unlearned, and novices in sophisms, and unskilled in geometry, and uninitiated in music. For God, as caring for all, has made the discovery concerning himself easier to all, in order that neither the barbarians might be powerless, nor the Greeks unable to find him. Therefore the discovery concerning him is easy; and thus it is: -
"If he is a Prophet, and is able to know how the world was made, and the things that are in it, and the things that shall be to the end, if he has foretold us anything, and we have ascertained that it has been perfectly accomplished, we easily believe that the things shall be which he says are to be, from the things that have been already; we believe him, I say, as not only knowing, but foreknowing. To whom then, however limited an understanding he may have, does it not appear, that we ought, with respect to the things that are pleasing to God, to believe beyond all others him who beyond all men knows, even though he has not learned? Therefore, if anyone should be unwilling to concede the power of knowing the truth to such a person - I mean to him who has foreknowledge through the divinity of the Spirit that is in him - conceding the power of knowing to anyone else, is he not void of understanding, in conceding to him who is no prophet, that power of knowing which he would not concede to the Prophet?
"Therefore, before all things, we must test the Prophet with all judgment by means of the prophetic promise; and having ascertained him to be the Prophet, we must undoubtingly follow the other words of his teaching; and having confidence concerning things hoped for, we must conduct ourselves according to the first judgment, knowing that he who tells us these things has not a nature to lie. Therefore, if any of the things that are afterwards spoken by him do not appear to us to be well spoken, we must know that it is not that it has been spoken amiss, but that it is that we have not conceived it aright. For ignorance does not judge knowledge, and so neither is knowledge competent truly to judge foreknowledge; but foreknowledge affords knowledge to the ignorant.
"Hence, O beloved Clement, if you would know the things pertaining to God, you have to learn them from him alone, because he alone knows the truth. For if anyone else knows anything, he has received it from him or from his disciples. And this is his doctrine and true proclamation, that there is one God, whose work the world is; who being altogether righteous, shall certainly at some time render to everyone according to his deeds.
"For there is every necessity, that he who says that God is by his nature righteous, should believe also that the souls of men are immortal: for where would be his justice, when some, having lived piously, have been evil-treated, and sometimes violently cut off, while others who have been wholly impious, and have indulged in luxurious living, have died the common death of men? Since therefore, without all contradiction, God who is good is also just, he shall not otherwise be known to be just, unless the soul after its separation from the body be immortal, so that the wicked man, being in hell, as having here received his good things, may there be punished for his sins; and the good man, who has been punished here for his sins, may then, as in the bosom of the righteous, be constituted an heir of good things. Since therefore God is righteous, it is fully evident to us that there is a judgment, and that souls are immortal.
"But if anyone, according to the opinion of this Simon the Samaritan, will not admit that God is just, to whom then can anyone ascribe justice, or the possibility of it? For if the Root of all have it not, there is every necessity to think that it must be impossible to find it in human nature, which, is, so to speak, the fruit. And if it is to be found in man, how much more in God! But if righteousness can be found nowhere, neither in God nor in man, then neither can unrighteousness. But there is such a thing as righteousness, for unrighteousness takes its name from the existence of righteousness; for it is called unrighteousness, when righteousness is compared with it, and is found to be opposite to it.
"Hence therefore God, teaching men with respect to the truth of existing things, being: himself one, has distinguished all principles into pairs and opposites, himself being one and sole God from the beginning, having made heaven and earth, day and night, light and fire, sun and moon, life and death. But man alone amongst these he made self-controlling, having a fitness to be either righteous or unrighteous. To him also he has varied the figures of combinations, placing before him small things first, and great ones afterwards, such as the world and eternity. But the world that now is, is temporary; that which shall be, is eternal. First is ignorance, then knowledge. So also has he arranged the leaders of prophecy. For, since the present world is female, as a mother bringing forth the souls of her children, but the world to come is male, as a father receiving his children from their mother, therefore in this world there come a succession of prophets, as being sons of the world to come, and having knowledge of men. And if pious men had understood this mystery, they would never have gone astray, but even now they should have known that Simon, who now enthralls all men, is a fellow-worker of error and deceit. Now, the doctrine of the prophetic rule is as follows.
"As in the beginning God, who is one, like a right hand and a left, made the heavens first and then the earth, so also he constituted all the combinations in order; but on men he no more does this, but varies all the combinations. For whereas from him the greater things come first, and the inferior second, we find the opposite in men - the first worse, and the second superior. Therefore from Adam, who was made after the image of God, there sprang first the unrighteous Cain, and then the righteous Abel. Again, from him who amongst you is called Deucalion, two forms of spirits were sent forth, the impure namely, and the pure, first the black raven, and then the white dove. From Abraham also, the patriarchs of our nation, two firsts sprang - Ishmael first, then Isaac, who was blessed of God. And from Isaac himself, in the same way, there were again two - Esau the profane, and Jacob the pious. So, first in birth, as the first born in the world, was the high priest Aaron, then the lawgiver Moses.
"In the same way, the combination with respect to Elias, who was to come, has been willingly put off to another time, having determined to enjoy it conveniently hereafter. Therefore, also, he who was "among those born of woman" came first; then he who was "among the sons of men" came second. It would be possible, following this order, to perceive to what series Simon belongs, who came before me to the Gentiles, and to which I belong who have come after him, and have come in on him as light on darkness, as knowledge on ignorance, as healing on disease. And thus, as the true Prophet has told us, a false prophet must first come from some deceiver; and then, in the same way, after the removal of the holy place, the true Gospel must be secretly sent abroad for the rectification of the heresies that shall be. After this, also, towards the end, Antichrist must first come, and then our Jesus must be revealed to be indeed the Christ; and after this, the eternal light having sprung up, all the things of darkness must disappear.
"Since, then, as I said, some men do not know the rule of combination, thence they do not know who is my precursor Simon. For if he were known, he would not be believed; but now, not being known, he is improperly believed; and though his deeds are those of a hater, he is loved; and though an enemy, he is received as a friend; and though he be death, he is desired as a Saviour; and though fire, he is esteemed as light; and though a deceiver, he is believed as a speaker of truth."
Then I Clement, when I heard this, said, "Who then, please, is this who is such a deceiver? I should like to be informed." Then said Peter: "If you wish to learn, it is in your power to know it from those from whom I also got accurate information on all points respecting him.
"There is amongst us one Justa, a Syro-Phoenician, by race a Canaanite, whose daughter was oppressed with a grievous disease. And she came to our Lord, crying out, and entreating that he would heal her daughter. But He, being asked also by us, said, "It is not lawful to heal the Gentiles, who are like to dogs on account of their using various meats and practices, while the table in the kingdom has been given to the sons of Israel. ' But she, hearing this, and begging to partake like a dog of the crumbs that fall from this table, having changed what she was, by living like the sons of the kingdom, she obtained healing for her daughter, as she asked. For she being a Gentile, and remaining in the same course of life, he would not have healed had she remained a Gentile, on account of its not being lawful to heal her as a Gentile.
"She, therefore, having taken up a way of life according to the law, was, with the daughter who had been healed, driven out from her home by her husband, whose sentiments were opposed to ours. But she, being faithful to her engagements, and being in affluent circumstances, remained a widow herself, but gave her daughter in marriage to a certain man who was attached to the true faith, and who was poor. And, abstaining from marriage for the sake of her daughter, she bought two boys and educated them, and had them in place of sons. And they being educated from their boyhood with Simon Magus, have learned all things concerning him. For such was their friendship, that they were associated with him in all things in which he wished to unite with them.
"These men having fallen in with Zacchaeus, who sojourned here, and having received the word of truth from him, and having repented of their former innovations, and immediately denouncing Simon as being in league with him in all things, as soon as I came to sojourn here, they came to me with their foster-mother, being presented to me by him, Zacchaeus, and ever since they continue with me, enjoying instructions in the truth." When Peter had said this, he sent for them, and charged those who they should accurately relate to me all things concerning Simon. And they, having called God to witness that in nothing they would falsify, proceeded with the relation.
First Aquila began to speak in this way: "Listen, O dearest brother, that you may know accurately everything about this man, whose he is, and what, and whence; and what the things are which he does, and how and why he does them. This Simon is the son of Antonius and Rachel, a Samaritan by race, of the village of Gitthae, which is six schoeni distant from the city. He having disciplined himself greatly in Alexandria, and being very powerful in magic, and being ambitious, wishes to be accounted a certain supreme power, greater even than the God who created the world. And sometimes intimating that he is Christ, he styles himself the Standing One. And this epithet he employs, as intimating that he shall always stand, and as not having any cause of corruption so that his body should fall. And he neither says that the God who created the world is the Supreme, nor does he believe that the dead will be raised. He rejects Jerusalem, and substitutes Mount Gerizzim for it. Instead of our Christ, he proclaims himself. The things of the lair he explains by his own presumption; and he says, indeed, that there is to be a judgment, but he does not expect it. For if he were persuaded that he shall be judged by God, he would not dare be impious towards God himself. Therefore some not knowing that, using religion as a cloak, he spoils the things of the truth, and faithfully believing the hope and the judgment which in some way he says are to be, are ruined.
"But that he came to deal with the doctrines of religion happened on this wise. There was one John, a day-Baptist, who was also, according to the method of combination, the forerunner of our Lord Jesus; and as the Lord had twelve apostles, bearing the number of the twelve months of the sun, so also he, John, had thirty chief men, fulfilling the monthly reckoning of the moon, in which number was a certain woman called Helena, that not even this might be without a dispensational significance. For a woman, being half a man, made up the imperfect number of the triacontad; as also in the case of the moon, whose revolution does not make the complete course of the month. But of these thirty, the first and the most esteemed by John was Simon; and the reason of his not being chief after the death of John was as follows: -
"He being absent in Egypt for the practice of magic, and John being killed, Dositheus desiring the leadership, falsely gave out that Simon was dead, and succeeded to the seat. But Simon, returning not long after, and strenuously holding by the place as his own, when he met with Dositheus did not demand the place, knowing that a man who has attained power beyond his expectations cannot be removed from it. Therefore with pretended friendship he gives himself for a while to the second place, under Dositheus. But taking his place after a few days among the thirty fellow-disciples, he began to malign Dositheus as not delivering the instructions correctly. And this he said that he did, not through unwillingness to deliver them correctly, but through ignorance. And on one occasion, Dositheus, perceiving that this artful accusation of Simon was dissipating the opinion of him with respect to many, so that they did not think that he was the Standing One, came in a rage to the usual place of meeting, and finding Simon, struck him with a staff. But it seemed to pass through the body of Simon as if he had been smoke. Thereupon Dositheus, being confounded, said to him, "If you are the Standing One, I also will worship you. ' Then Simon said that he was; and Dositheus, knowing that he himself was not the Standing One, fell down and worshipped; and associating himself with the twenty-nine chiefs, he raised Simon to his own place of repute; and thus, not many days after, Dositheus himself, while he (Simon) stood, fell down and died.
"But Simon is going about in company with Helena, and even till now, as you see, is stirring up the people. And he says that he has brought down this Helena from the highest heavens to the world; being queen, as the all-bearing being, and wisdom, for whose sake, he says, the Greeks and barbarians fought, having before their eyes but an image of truth; for she, who really is the truth, was then with the chiefest God. Moreover, by cunningly explaining certain things of this sort, made up from Grecian myths, he deceives many; especially as he performs many signal marvels, so that if we did not know that he does these things by magic, we ourselves should also have been deceived. But whereas we were his fellow-laborers at the first, so long as be did such things without doing wrong to the interests of religion; now that he has madly begun to attempt to deceive those who are religious, we have withdrawn from him.
"For he even began to commit murder? as himself disclosed to us, as a friend to friends, that, having separated the soul of a child from its own body by horrid incantations, as his assistant for the exhibition of anything that he pleased, and having drawn the likeness of the boy, he has it set up in the inner room where he sleeps, saying that he once formed the boy of air, by divine arts, and having painted his likeness, he gave him back again to the air. And he explains that he did the deed thus. He says that the first soul of man, being turned into the nature of heat, drew to itself, and sucked in the surrounding air, after the fashion of a gourd; and then that he changed it into water, when it was within the form of the spirit; and he said that he changed into the nature of blood the air that was in it, which could not be poured out on account of the consistency of the spirit, and that he made the blood solidified into flesh; then, the flesh being thus consolidated, that he exhibited a man not made from earth, but from air. And thus, having persuaded himself that he was able to make a new sort of man, he said that he reversed the changes, and again restored him to the air. And when he told this to others, he was believed; but by us who were present at his ceremonies he was religiously disbelieved. Therefore we denounced his impieties, and withdrew from him."
When Aquila had thus spoken, his brother Nicetas said: "It is necessary, Clement our brother, for me to mention what has been left out by Aquila. For, in the first place, God is witness that we assisted him in no impious work, but that we looked on while he worked; and as long as he did harmless things, and exhibited them, we were also pleased. But when, in order to deceive the godly, he said that he did, by means of godhead, the things that were done by magic, we no longer endured him, though he made us many promises, especially that our statues should be thought worthy of a place in the temple, and that we should be thought to be gods, and should be worshipped by the multitude, and should be honoured by kings, and should be thought worthy of public honours, and enriched with boundless wealth.
"These things, and things reckoned greater than these, he promised us, on condition only that we should associate with him, and keep silence as to the wickedness of his undertaking, so that the scheme of his deceit might succeed. But still we would not consent, but even counseled him to desist from such madness, saying to him: "We, O Simon, remembering our friendship towards you from our childhood, and out of affection for you, give you good counsel. Desist from this attempt. You cannot be a God. Fear him who is really God. Know that you are a man, and that the time of your life is short; and though you should get great riches, or even become a king, few things accrue to the short time of your life for enjoyment, and things wickedly gotten soon flee away, and procure everlasting punishment for the adventurer. Therefore we counsel you to fear God, by whom the soul of everyone must be judged for the deeds that he has done here. '
"When he heard this he laughed; and when we asked him why he laughed at us for giving him good counsel, he answered: "I laugh at your foolish supposition, because you believe that the soul of man is immortal. ' Then I said: "We do not wonder, O Simon, at your attempting to deceive us, but we are confounded at the way in which you deceive even yourself. Tell me, O Simon, even if no one else has been fully convinced that the soul is immortal, at all events you and we ought to be so: you as having separated one from a human body, and conversed with it, and laid your commands on it; and we as having been present, and heard your commands, and clearly witnessed the performance of what was ordered. ' Then said Simon: "I know what you mean; but you know nothing of the matters concerning which you reason. ' Then said Nicetas: "If you know, speak; but if you do not know, do not suppose that we can be deceived by your saying that you know, and that we do not. For we are not so childish, that you can sow in us a shrewd suspicion that we should think that you know some unutterable things, and so that you should take and hold us in subjection, by holding us in restraint by means of desire. '
"Then Simon said: "I am aware that you know that I separated a soul from a human body; but I know that you are ignorant that it is not the soul of the dead person that ministers to me, for it does not exist; but a certain demon works, pretending to be the soul. ' Then said Nicetas: "Many incredible things we have heard in our lifetime, but anything more senseless than this speech we do not expect ever to hear. For if a demon pretends to be the soul of the dead person, what is the use of the soul at all, that it should be separated from the body? Were I not we ourselves present and heard you conjuring the soul from the body? And how comes it that, when one is conjured, another who is not conjured obeys, as if it were frightened? And you yourself, when at any time we have asked you why the conferences sometimes cease, did not you say that the soul, having fulfilled the time on earth which it was to have passed in the body, goes to Hades? And you added, that the souls of those who commit suicide are not easily permitted to come, because, having gone home into Hades, they are guarded. '"
Nicetas having thus spoken, Aquila himself in turn said: "This only should I wish to learn of you, simon, whether it is the soul or whether it is a demon that is conjured: what is it afraid of, that it does not despise the conjuration? Then Simon said: "It knows that it should suffer punishment if it were disobedient. ' Then said Aquila: "Therefore, if the soul comes when conjured, there is also a judgment. If, therefore, souls are immortal, assuredly there is also a judgment. As you say, then, that those which are conjured on wicked business are punished if they disobey, how are you not afraid to compel them, when those that are compelled are punished for disobedience? For it is not wonderful that you do not already suffer for your doings, seeing the judgment has not yet come, when you are to suffer the penalty of those deeds which you have compelled others to do, and when that which has been done under compulsion shall be pardoned, as having been out of respect for the oath which led to the evil action. ' And he hearing this was enraged, and threatened death to us if we did not keep silence as to his doings."
Aquila having thus spoken, I Clement enquired: "What, then, are the prodigies that he works?" And they told me that he makes statues walk, and that he rolls himself on the fire, and is not burnt; and sometimes he flies; and he makes loaves of stones; he becomes a serpent; he transforms himself into a goat; he becomes two-faced; he changes himself into gold; he opens lockfast gates; he melts iron; at banquets he produces images of all way of forms. In his house he makes dishes be seen as born of themselves to wait on him, no bearers being seen. I wondered when I heard them speak thus; but many bore witness that they had been present, and had seen such things.
These things having been thus spoken, the excellent Peter himself also proceeded to speak: "You must perceive, brethren. The truth of the rule of conjunction, from which he who departs not cannot be misled. For since, as we have said, we see all things in pairs and contraries, and as the night is first, and then the day; and first ignorance, then knowledge; first disease, then healing, so the things of error come first into our life, then truth supervenes, as the physician on the disease. Therefore immediately, when our God-loved nation was about to be ransomed from the oppression of the Egyptians, first diseases were produced by means of the rod turned into a serpent, which was given to Aaron, and then remedies were superinduced by the prayers of Moses. And now also, when the Gentiles are about to be ransomed from the superstition with respect to idols, wickedness, which reigns over them, has by anticipation sent forth her ally like another serpent, even this Simon whom you see, who works wonders to astonish and deceive, not signs of healing to convert and save. Therefore you ought also from the miracles that are done to judge the doers, what is the character of the performer, and what that of the deed. If he do unprofitable miracles, he is the agent of wickedness; but if he do profitable things, he is a leader of goodness.
"Those, then, are useless signs, which you say that Simon did. But I say that the making statues walk, and rolling himself on burning coals, and becoming a dragon, and being changed into a goat, and flying in the air, and all such things, not being for the healing of man, are of a nature to deceive many. But the miracles of compassionate truth are philanthropic, such as you have heard that the Lord did, and that I after him accomplish by my prayers; at which most of you have been present, some being freed from all kinds of diseases, and some from demons, some having their hands restored, and some their feet, some recovering their eyesight, and some their hearing, and whatever else a man can do, being of a philanthropic spirit."
When Peter had thus spoken, towards dawn Zacchaeus entered and saluted us, and said to Peter: "Simon puts off the enquiry till tomorrow; for today is his Sabbath, which occurs at intervals of eleven days." To him Peter answered: "Say to Simon, whenever you wish; and know you that we are always in readiness to meet you, by divine providence, when you desire." And Zacchaeus hearing this, went out to return the answer.
But he (Peter) saw me disheartened, and asked the reason; and being told that it proceeded from no cause but the postponement of the enquiry, he said: "He who has apprehended that the world is regulated by the good providence of God, O beloved Clement, is not vexed by things howsoever occurring, considering that things take their course advantageously under the providence of the Ruler. Therefore, knowing that he is just, and living with a good conscience, he knows how by right reason to shake off from his soul any annoyance that befalls him, because, when complete, it must come to some unknown good. Now then, let not Simon the magician's postponement of the enquiry grieve you; for perhaps it has happened from the providence of God for your profit. Therefore I shall not scruple to speak to you as being my special friend.
"Some of our people attend feignedly on Simon as companions, as if they were persuaded by his most atheistic error, in order that they may learn his purpose and disclose it to us, so that we may be able to encounter this terrible man on favourable terms. And now I have learned from them what arguments he is going to employ in the discussion. And knowing this, I give thanks to God on the one hand, and I congratulate you on the other, on the postponement of the discussion; for you, being instructed by me before the discussion, of the arguments that are to be used by him for the destruction of the ignorant, will be able to listen without danger of falling.
"For the Scriptures have had joined to them many falsehoods against God on this account. The prophet Moses having by the order of God delivered the law, with the explanations, to certain chosen men, some seventy in number, in order that they also might instruct such of the people as chose, after a little the written law had added to it certain falsehoods contrary to the Law of God, who made the heaven and the earth, and all things in them; the wicked one having dared to work this for some righteous purpose. And this took place in reason and judgment, that those might be convicted who should dare to listen to the things written against God, and those who, through love towards him, should not only disbelieve the things spoken against him, but should not even endure to hear them at all, even if they should happen to be true, judging it much safer to incur danger with respect to religious faith, than to live with an evil conscience on account of blasphemous words.
"Simon, therefore, as I learn, intends to come into public, and to speak of those chapters against God that are added to the Scriptures, for the sake of temptation, that he may seduce as many wretched ones as he can from the love of God. For we do not wish to say in public that these chapters are added to the Bible, since we should thereby perplex the unlearned multitudes, and so accomplish the purpose of this wicked Simon. For they not having yet the power of discerning, would flee from us as impious; or, as if not only the blasphemous chapters were false, they would even withdraw from the word. Therefore we are under a necessity of assenting to the false chapters, and putting questions in return to him concerning them, to draw him into a difficulty, and to give in private an explanation of the chapters that are spoken against God to the well-disposed after a trial of their faith; and of this there is but one way, and that a brief one. It is this.)
"Everything that is spoken or written against God is false. But that we say this truly, not only for the sake of reputation, but for the sake of truth, I shall convince you when my discourse has proceeded a little further. Therefore you, my most beloved Clement, ought not to be sorry at Simon's having interposed a day between this and the discussion. For today, before the discussion, you shall be instructed concerning the chapters added to the Scriptures; and then in the discussion concerning the only one and good God, the Maker also of the world, you ought not to be distracted. But in the discussion you will even wonder how impious men, overlooking the multitudes of things that are spoken in the Scriptures for God, and looking at those that are spoken against him, gladly bring these forward; and thus the hearers, by reason of ignorance, believing the things against God, become outcasts from his kingdom. Therefore you, by advantage of the postponement, learning the mystery of the Scriptures, and gaining the means of not sinning against God, will incomparably rejoice."
Then I Clement, hearing this, said: "Truly I rejoice, and I give thanks to God, who in all things does well. However, he knows that I shall be able to think nothing other than that all things are for God. Therefore do not suppose that I ask questions, as doubting the words concerning God, or those that are to be spoken, but rather that I may learn, and so be able myself to instruct another who is ingenuously willing to learn. Therefore tell me what are the falsehoods added to the Scriptures, and how it comes that they are really false." Then Peter answered: "Even although you had not asked me, I should have gone on in order, and afforded you the exposition of these matters, as I promised. Learn, then, how the Scriptures misrepresent him in many respects, that you may know when you. Happen on them.
"But what I am going to tell you will be sufficient by way of example. But I do not think, my dear Clement, that anyone who possesses ever so little love to God and ingenuousness, will be able to take in, or even to hear, the things that are spoken against him. For how is it that he can have a monarchic soul, and be holy, who supposes that there are many gods, and not one only? But even if there be but one, who will cherish zeal to be holy, that finds in him many defects, since he will hope that the Beginning of all things, by reason of the defects of his own nature, will not visit the crimes of others?
"Therefore, far he it from us to believe that the Lord of all, who made the heaven and the earth, and all things that are in them, shares his government with others, or that he lies. For if he lies, then who speaks truth? Or that he makes experiments as in ignorance; for then who foreknows? And if he deliberates, and changes his purpose, who is perfect in understanding and permanent in design? If he envies, who is above rivalry? If he hardens hearts, who makes wise? If he makes blind and deaf, who has given sight and hearing? If he commits pilfering, who administers justice? If he mocks, who is sincere? If he is weak, who is omnipotent? If he is unjust, who is just? If he makes evil things, who shall make good things? If he does evil, who shall do good?
"But if he desires the fruitful hill, to whom then do all things belong? If he is false, who then is true? If he dwells in a tabernacle, who is without bounds? If he is fond of fat, and sacrifices, and offerings, and drink-offerings, who then is without need, and who is holy, and pure, and perfect? If he is pleased with candles and candlesticks, who then placed the luminaries in heaven? If he dwells in shadow, and darkness, and storm, and smoke, who is the light that brightens the universe? If he comes with trumpets, and shoutings, and darts, and arrows, who is the looked-for tranquillity of all? If he loves war, who then wishes peace? If he makes evil things, who makes good things? If he is without affection, who is a lover of men? If he is not faithful to his promises, who shall be trusted? If he loves the wicked, and adulterers, and murderers, who shall be a just judge? If he changes his mind, who is steadfast? If he chooses evil men, who then takes the part of the good?
"Therefore, Clement, my son, beware of thinking otherwise of God, than that he is the only God, and Lord, and Father, good and righteous, the Creator, patient, merciful, the sustainer, the benefactor, ordaining love of men, counseling purity, immortal and making immortal, incomparable, dwelling in the souls of the good, that cannot be contained and yet is contained, who has fixed the great world as a centre in space, who has spread out the heavens and solidified the earth, who has stored up the water, who has disposed the stars in the sky, who has made the fountains flow in the earth, has produced faults, has raised up mountains, has set bounds to the sea, has ordered winds and blasts, who by the spirit of counsel has kept safely the body comprehended in a boundless sea.
"This is our Judge, to whom we ought to look. And to regulate our own souls, thinking all things in his favour, speaking well of him, persuaded that by his patience he brings to light the obstinacy of all, and is alone good. And He, at the end of all, shall sit as a just Judge on everyone of those who have attempted what they ought not."
When I Clement heard this, I said, "Truly, this is a godliness; truly this is piety." And again I said: "I would learn, therefore, why the Bible has written anything of this sort? For I remember that you said that it was for the conviction of those who should dare to believe anything that was spoken against God. But since you permit us, we venture to ask, at your command: If anyone, most beloved Peter, should choose to say to us, "The Scriptures are true, although to you the things spoken against God seem to be false,' how should we answer him?"
Then Peter answered: "You speak well in your enquiry; for it will be for your safety. Therefore listen: Since there are many things that are spoken by the Scriptures against God, as time presses on account of the evening, ask with respect to anyone matter that you please, and I will explain it, showing that it is false, not only because it is spoken against God, but because it is really false." Then I answered: "I wish to learn how, when the Scriptures say that God is ignorant, you can show that he knows?"
Then Peter answered: "You have presented us with a matter that can easily be answered. However, listen, how God is ignorant of nothing, but even foreknows. But first answer me what I ask of you. He who wrote the Bible, and told how the world was made, and said that God does not foreknow, was he a man or not?" Then I said: "He was a man." Then Peter answered: "How, then, was it possible for him, being a man, to know assuredly how the world was made, and that God does not foreknow?"
Then I, already perceiving the explanation, smiled, and said that he was a prophet. And Peter said: "If, then, he was a prophet, being a man, he was ignorant of nothing, by reason of his having received foreknowledge from God; how then, should He, who gave to man the gift of foreknowledge, being God, himself be ignorant?" And I said: "You have spoken rightly." Then Peter said: "Come with me one step further. It being acknowledged by us that God foreknows all things, there is every necessity that the scriptures are false which say that he is ignorant, and those are true which say that he knows." Then said I: "It must be so."
Then Peter said: "If, therefore, some of the Scriptures are true and some false, with good reason said our Master, "Be good money-changers,' inasmuch as in the Scriptures there are some true sayings and some spurious. And to those who err by reason of the false scriptures he fitly showed the cause of their error, saying, "You do therefore err, not knowing the true things of the Scriptures; for this reason you are ignorant also of the power of God. '" Then said I: "You have spoken very excellently."
Then Peter answered: "Assuredly, with good reason, I neither believe anything against God, nor against the just men recorded in the law, taking for granted that they are impious imaginations. For, as I am persuaded, neither was Adam a transgressor, who was fashioned by the hands of God; nor was Noah drunken, who was found righteous above all the world; nor did Abraham live with three wives at once, who, on account of his sobriety, was thought worthy of a numerous posterity; nor did Jacob associate with four - of whom two were sisters - who was the father of the twelve tribes, and who intimated the coining of the presence of our Master; nor was Moses a murderer, nor did he learn to judge from an idolatrous priest - he who set forth the Law of God to all the world, and for his right judgment has been testified to as a faithful steward.
"But of these and such like things I shall afford you an explanation in due time. But for the rest, since, as you see, the evening has come on us, let what has been said be enough for today. But whenever you wish, and about whatever you wish, ask boldly of us, and we shall gladly explain it at once." Thus having spoken, he rose up. And then, having partaken of food, we turned to sleep, for the night had come on us.
70. Listen to your Bishop
Two days, therefore, having elapsed, and while the third was dawning, I Clement, and the rest of our companions, being roused about the second cock-crowing, in order to the discussion with Simon, found the lamp still alight, and Peter kneeling in prayer. Therefore, having finished his supplication, and turning round, and seeing us in readiness to hear, he said: -
"I wish you to know that those who, according to our arrangement, associate with Simon that they may learn his intentions, and submit them to us, so that we may be able to cope with his variety of wickedness, these men have sent to me, and informed me that Simon today is, as he arranged, prepared to come before all, and show from the Scriptures that he who made the heaven and the earth, and all things in them, is not the Supreme God, but that there is another, unknown and supreme, as being in an unspeakable manner God of gods; and that he sent two gods, one of whom is he who made the world, and the other he who gave the law. And these things he contrives to say, that he may dissipate the right faith of those who would worship the one and only God who made heaven and earth.
"When I heard this, how was I not disheartened! Therefore I wished you also, my brethren, who associate with me, to know that I am beyond measure grieved in my soul, seeing the wicked one awake for the temptation of men, and men wholly indifferent about their own salvation. For to those from amongst the Gentiles who were about being persuaded respecting the earthly images that they are no gods, he has contrived to bring in opinions of many other gods, in order that, if they cease from the "polytheo-mania", they may be deceived to speak otherwise, and even worse than they now do, against the sole government of God, so that they may not yet value the truths connected with that monarchy, and may never be able to obtain mercy. And for the sake of this attempt Simon comes to do battle with us, armed with the false chapters of the Scriptures. And what is more dreadful, he is not afraid to dogmatize thus against the true God from the prophets whom he does not in fact believe.
"And with us, indeed, who have had handed down from our forefathers the worship of the God who made all things, and also the mystery of the books which are able to deceive, he will not prevail; but with those from amongst the Gentiles who have the polytheistic fancy bred in them, and who do not know the falsehoods of the Scriptures, he will prevail much. And not only he; but if any other shall recount to those from among the Gentiles any vain, dreamlike, richly set out story against God, he will be believed, because from their childhood their minds are accustomed to take in things spoken against God. And few there shall be of them, as a few out of a multitude, who through ingenuousness shall not be willing so much as to hear an evil word against the God who made all things. And to these alone from amongst the Gentiles it shall be kindly granted to be saved. Let not anyone of yon, therefore, altogether complain of Simon, or of anyone else; for nothing happens unjustly, since even the falsehoods of Scripture are with good reason presented for a test."
Then I Clement, hearing this, said: "How say you, my Lord, that even the falsehoods of the Scriptures are set forth happily for the proof of men?" And he answered: "The falsehoods of the Scriptures have been permitted to be written for a certain righteous reason, at the demand of evil. And when I say happily, I mean this: In the account of God, the wicked one, not loving God less than the good one, is exceeded by the good in this one thing only, that he, not pardoning those who are impious on account of ignorance, through love towards that which is profound, desires the destruction of the impious; but the good one desires to present them with a remedy. For the good one desires all to be healed by repentance, but saves those only who know God. But those who know him not he does not heal: not that he does not wish to do so, but because it is not lawful to afford to those who, through want of judgment, are like to irrational animals, the good things which have been prepared for the children of the kingdom.
"Such is the nature of the one and only God, who made the world, and who created us, and who has given us all things, that as long as anyone is within the limit of piety, and does not blaspheme his Holy Spirit, through his love towards him he brings the soul to himself by reason of his love towards it. And although it be sinful, it is his nature to save it, after it has been suitably punished for the deeds it has done. But if anyone shall deny him, or in any other way be guilty of impiety against him, and then shall repent, he shall be punished indeed for the sins he has committed against him, but he shall be saved, because he turned and lived. And perhaps excessive piety and supplication shall even be delivered from punishment, ignorance being admitted as a reason for the pardon of sin after repentance. But those who do not repent shall be destroyed by the punishment of fire, even though in all other things they are most holy. But, as I said, at an appointed time a fifth part, being punished with eternal fire, shall be consumed. For they cannot endure for ever who have been impious against the one God.
"But impiety against him is, in the matter of religion, to die saying there is another God, whether superior or inferior, or in any way saying that there is one besides him who really is. For he who truly is, is he whose form the body of man bears; for whose sake the heaven and all the stars, though in their essence superior, submit to serve him who is in essence inferior, on account of the form of the Ruler. So much has God blessed man above all, in order that, loving the Benefactor in proportion to the multitude of his benefits, by means of this love he may be saved for the world to come.
"Therefore the love of men towards God is sufficient for salvation. And this the wicked one knows; and while we are hastening to sow the love towards him which makes immortal in the souls of those who from among the Gentiles are ready to believe in the one and only God, this wicked one, having sufficient armor against the ignorant for their destruction, is in a hurry to sow the supposition of many gods, or at least of one greater, in order that men, conceiving and being persuaded of what is not wisdom, may die, as in the crime of adultery, and be cast out from his kingdom.
"Worthy, therefore, of rejection is everyone who is willing so much as to hear anything against the monarchy of God; but if anyone dares to hear anything against God, as trusting in the Scriptures, let him first of all consider with me that if anyone, as he pleases, form a dogma agreeable to himself, and then carefully search the Scriptures, he will be able to produce many testimonies from them in favour of the dogma that he has formed. How, then, can confidence be placed in them against God, when what every man wishes is found in them?
"Therefore Simon, who is going to discuss in public with us tomorrow, is bold against the monarchy of God, wishing to produce many statements from these Scriptures, to the effect that there are many gods, and a certain one who is not he who made this world, but who is superior to him; and, at the same time, he is going to offer many scriptural proofs. But we also can easily show many passages from those who he who made the world alone is God, and that there is none other besides him But if anyone shall wish to speak otherwise, he also shall be able to produce proofs from them at his pleasure. For the Scriptures say all way of things, that no one of those who enquire ungratefully may find the truth, but simply what he wishes to find, the truth being reserved for the grateful now gratitude is to preserve our love to him who is the cause of our being.
"Therefore it must before all things be known, that nowhere can truth be found unless from a prophet of truth. But he is a true Prophet, who always knows all things, and even the thoughts of all men, who is without sin, as being convinced respecting the judgment of God. Therefore we ought not simply to consider respecting his foreknowledge, but whether his foreknowledge can stand, apart from other cause. For physicians predict certain things, having the pulse of the patient as matter submitted to them; and some predict by means of having fowls, and some by having sacrifices, and others by having many various matters submitted to them; yet these are not prophets.
"But if anyone should say that the foreknowledge shown by these predictions is like to that foreknowledge which is really implanted, he were much deceived. For he only declares such things as being present, and that if he speaks truth. However, even these things are serviceable to me, for they establish that there is such a thing as foreknowledge. But the foreknowledge of the one true Prophet does not only know things present, but stretches out prophecy without limit as far as the world to come, and needs nothing for its interpretation, not prophesying darkly and ambiguously, so that the things spoken would need another prophet for the interpretation of them; but clearly and simply, as our Master and Prophet, by the inborn and ever-flowing Spirit, always knew all things.
"Therefore he confidently made statements respecting things that are to be - I mean sufferings, places, limits. For, being a faultless Prophet, and looking on all things with the boundless eye of his soul, he knows hidden things. But if we should hold, as many do, that even the true Prophet, not always, but sometimes, when he has the Spirit, and through it, foreknows, but when he has it not is ignorant, - if we should suppose thus, we should deceive ourselves and mislead others. For such a matter belongs to those who are madly inspired by the spirit of disorder - to those who are drunken beside the altars, and are gorged with fat.
"For if it were permitted to anyone who will profess prophecy to have it believed in the cases in which he was found false, that then he had not the Holy Spirit of foreknowledge, it will be difficult to convict him of being a false prophet; for among the many things that he speaks, a few come to pass, and then he is believed to have the Spirit, although he speaks the first things last, and the last first; speaks of past events as future, and future as already past; and also without sequence; or things borrowed from others and altered, and some that are lessened, unformed, foolish, ambiguous, improper, obscure, proclaiming all unconscientiousness.
"But our Master did not prophesy after this fashion; but, as I have already said, being a prophet by an inborn and ever-flowing Spirit, and knowing all things at all times, he confidently set forth, plainly as I said before, suffer-lugs, places, appointed times, manners, limits. Accordingly, therefore, prophesying concerning the temple, he said: "Do you see these buildings? Truly I say to you, There shall not be left here one stone on another which shall not be taken away; and this generation shall not pass until the destruction begin. For they shall come, and shall sit here, and shall besiege it, and shall slay your children here." And in the same way he spoke in plain words the things that were immediately to happen, which we can now see with our eyes, in order that the accomplishment might be among those to whom the word was spoken. For the Prophet of truth utters the word of proof in order to the faith of his hearers.
"However, there are many proclaimers of error, having one chief, even the chief of wickedness, just as the Prophet of truth, being one, and being also the chief of piety, shall in his own times have as his prophets all who are found pure. But the chief cause of men being deceived is this, their not understanding beforehand the doctrine of conjunction, which I shall not fail to expound to you in private every day, summarily; for it would be too long to speak in detail. Be therefore to me truth-loving judges of the things that are spoken.
"But I shall begin the statement now. God having made all things, if anyone will not allow to a man, fashioned by his hands, to have possessed his great and Holy Spirit of foreknowledge, how does not he greatly err who attributes it to another born of a spurious stock! And I do not think that he will obtain pardon, though he be misled by spurious scripture to think dreadful things against the Father of all. For he who insults the image and the things belonging to the eternal King, has the sin reckoned as committed against him in whose likeness the image was made. But then, he says, the Divine Spirit left him when he sinned. In that case the Spirit sinned along with him; and how can he escape peril who says this? But perhaps he received the Spirit after he sinned. Then it is given to the unrighteous; and where is justice? But it was afforded to the just and the unjust. This were most unrighteous of all. Thus every falsehood, though it be aided by ten thousand reasonings, must receive its refutation, though after a long time.
"Be not deceived. Our father was ignorant of nothing; since, indeed, even the Law publicly current, though charging him with the crime of ignorance for the sake of the unworthy, sends to him those desirous of knowledge, saying, "Ask your father, and he will tell you; your elders, and they will declare to you. ' This father, these ciders ought to be enquired of. But you have not enquired whose is the time of the kingdom, and whose is the seat of prophecy, though he himself points out himself, saying, The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses' seat; all things whatever they say to you, hear them." Hear them, he said, as entrusted with the key of the kingdom, which is knowledge, which alone can open the gate of life, through which alone is the entrance to eternal life. But truly, he says, they possess the key, but those wishing to enter they do not suffer to do so.
"On this account, I say, he himself, rising from his seat as a father for his children, proclaiming the things which from the beginning were delivered in secret to the worthy, extending mercy even to the Gentiles, and compassionating the souls of all, neglected his own kindred. For He, being thought worthy to be King of the world to come, fights against him who, by predestination, has usurped the kingdom that now is. And the thing which exceedingly grieved him is this, that by those very persons for whom, as for sons, he did battle, he was assailed, on account of their ignorance. And yet he loved even those who hated him, and wept over the unbelieving, and blessed those who slandered him, and prayed for those who were enmity against him. And not only did he o this as a father, but also taught his disciples to do the like, bearing themselves as towards brethren. This did our Father, this did our, Prophet. This is reasonable, that he should be King over his children; that by the affection of a father towards his children, and the engrafted respect of children towards their father, eternal peace might be produced. For when the good man reigns, there is true joy among those who are ruled over, on account of him who rules.
"But give heed to my first discourse of the truth. If anyone do not allow the man fashioned by the hands of God to have had the Holy Spirit of Christ, how is he not guilty of the greatest impiety in allowing another born of an impure stock to have it? But he would act most piously, if he should not allow to another to have it, but should say that he alone has it, who has changed his forms and his names from the beginning of the world, and so reappeared again and again in the world, until coming on his own times, and being anointed with mercy for the works of God, he shall enjoy rest for ever. His honour it is to bear rule and lordship over all things, in air, earth, and waters. But in addition to these, himself having made man, he had breath, the indescribable garment of the soul, that he might be able to be immortal.
"He himself being the only true prophet, fittingly gave names to each animal, according to the merits of its nature, as having made it. For if he gave a name to anyone, that was also the name of that which was made, being given by him who made it. How, them had he still need to partake of a tree, that he might know what is good and what is evil, if he was commanded not to eat of it? But this senseless men believe, who think that a reasonless beast was more powerful than the God who made these things.
"But a companion was created along with him, a female nature, much differing from him, as quality from substance, as the moon from the sun, as fire from light. She, as a female ruling the present world as her like, was entrusted to be the first prophetess, announcing prophecy with all amongst those born of woman? But the other, as the son of man, being a male, prophesies better things to the world to come as a male.
"Let us then understand that there are two kinds of prophecy: the one male; and let it be defined that the first, being the male, has been ranked after the other in the order of advent; but the second, being female, has been appointed to come first in the advent of the pairs. This second, therefore, being amongst those born of woman, as the female superintendent of this present world, wishes to be thought masculine. Therefore, stealing the l seeds of the male, and sowing them with her own seeds of the flesh, she brings forth the fruits - that is, words - as wholly her own. And she promises that she will give the present earthly riches as a dowry, wishing to change the slow for the swift, the small for the greater.
"However, she, not only presuming to say and to hear that there are many gods, but also believing herself to be one, and in hope of king that which she had not a nature to be, and throwing away what she had, and as a female being in her courses at the offering of sacrifices, is stained with blood; and then she pollutes those who touch her. But when she conceives and brings forth temporary kings, she stirs up wars, shedding much blood; and those who desire to learn truth from her, by telling them all things contrary, and presenting many and various services, she keeps them always seeking and finding nothing, until death. For from the beginning a cause of death lies on blind men; for she, prophesying deceit, and ambiguities, and obliquities, deceives those who believe her.
"Hence the ambiguous name which she gave to her first-born son, calling him Cain, which has a capability of interpretation in two ways; for it is interpreted both possession and envy, as signifying that in the future he was to envy either a woman, or possessions, or the love of the parents towards her. But if it be none of these, then it will befall him to be called the possession. For she possessed him first, which also was advantageous to him. For he was a murderer and a liar, and with his sins was not willing to be at peace with respect to the government. Moreover, those who came forth by succession from him were the first adulterers. And there were psalteries, and harps, and forgers of instruments of war. Therefore also the prophecy of his descendants being full of adulterers and of psalteries, secretly by means of pleasures excites to wars.
"But he who amongst the sons Of men had prophecy innate to his soul as belonging to it, expressly, as being a male, indicating the hopes of the world to come, called his own son Abel, which without any ambiguity is translated grief. For he assigns to his sons to grieve over their deceived brethren. He does not deceive them when he promises them comfort in the world to come. When he says that we must pray to one only God, he neither himself speaks of gods, nor does he believe another who speaks of them. He keeps the good which he has, and increases more and more. He hates sacrifices, bloodshed, and libations; he loves the chaste, the pure, the holy. He quenches the fire of altars, represses wars, teaches pious preachers wisdom, purges sins, sanctions marriage, approves temperance, leads all to chastity, makes men generous, prescribes justice, seals those of them who are perfect, publishes the word of peace, prophesies mention of the eternal fire of punishment, constantly announces the kingdom of God, indicates heavenly riches, promises unfading glory, shows the remission of sins by works.
"And what need is there to say more? The male is wholly truth, the female wholly falsehood. But he who is born of the male arid the female, in some things speaks truth, in some falsehood. For the female, surrounding the white seed of the male with her own blood, as with red fire, sustains her own weakness with the extraneous supports of bones, and, pleased with the temporary flower of flesh, and spoiling the strength of the judgment by short pleasures, leads the greater part into fornication, and thus deprives them of the coming excellent Bridegroom. For every person is a bride, whenever, being sown with the true Prophet's whole word of truth, he is enlightened in his understanding.
"Therefore, it is fitting to hear the one only Prophet of the truth, knowing that the word that is sown by another bearing the charge of fornication, is, so to speak, cast out by the Bridegroom from his kingdom. But to those who know the mystery, death is also produced by spiritual adultery. For whenever the soul is sown by others, then it is forsaken by the Spirit, as guilty of fornication or adultery; and so the living body, the life-giving Spirit being withdrawn, is dissolved into dust, and the rightful punishment of sin is suffered at the time of the judgment by the soul, after the dissolution of the body; even as, among men, she who is caught in adultery is first cast out from the house, and then afterwards is condemned to punishment."
While Peter was about to explain fully to us this mystic word, Zacchaeus came, saying: "Now indeed, Peter, is the time for you to go out and engage in the discussion; for a great crowd awaits you, packed together in the court; and in the midst of them stands Simon, like a war-chieftain attended by his spearmen." And Peter, hearing this, ordered me to withdraw for prayer, as not yet having received baptism for salvation, and then said to those who were already perfected: "Let us rise and pray that God, by his unfailing mercies, may help me striving for the salvation of the men whom he has made." And having thus said, and having prayed, he went out into the uncovered portion of the court, which was a large space; and there were many come together for the purpose of seeing him, his pre-eminence having made them more eagerly hasten to hear.
Therefore, standing and seeing all the people gazing on him in profound silence, and Simon the magician standing in the midst, he began to speak thus: "Peace be to all you who are in readiness to give your right hands to the truth of God, which, being his great and incomparable gift in the present world, he who sent us, being an infallible Prophet of that which is supremely profitable, gave us in charge, by way of salutation before our words of instruction, to announce to you, in order that if there be any son of peace among you, peace may take hold of him through our teaching; but if any of you will not receive it, then we, shaking off for a testimony the road-dust of our feet, which we have borne through our toils, and brought to you that you may be saved, will go to the abodes and the cities of others.
"And we tell you truly, it shall be more tolerable in the day of judgment to dwell in the land of Sodom and Gomorrah, than in the place of unbelief. In the first place, because you have not preserved of yourselves what is reasonable; in the second place, because, hearing the things concerning us, you have not come to us; and in the third place, because you have disbelieved us when we have come to you. Therefore, being concerned for you, we pray of our own accord that our peace may come on you. If therefore you will have it, you must readily promise not to do injustice, and generously to bear wrong; which the nature of man would not sustain, unless it first received the knowledge of that which is supremely profitable, which is to know the righteous nature of him who is over all, that he defends and avenges those who are wronged, and does good for ever to the pious.
"Do you, therefore, as thankful servants of God, perceiving of yourselves what is reasonable, take on you the way of life that is pleasing to him, that so, loving him, and being loved of him, you may enjoy good for ever. For to him alone is it most possible to bestow it, who gave being to things that were not, who created the heavens, settled the earth, set bounds to the sea, stored up the things that are in hades, and filled all places with air.
"He alone turned into the four contrary elements the one, first, simple substance. Thus combining them, he made of them myriads of compounds, that, being turned into opposite natures, and mingled, they might effect the pleasure of life from the combination of contraries. In the same way, he alone, having created races of angels and spirits by the fiat of his will, peopled the heavens; as also he decked the visible firmament with stars, to which also he assigned their paths and arranged their courses. He compacted the earth for the production of fruits. He set bounds to the sea, marking out a dwelling-place on the dry land. He stores up the things in hades, designating it as the place of souls; and he filled all places with air, that all living creatures might be able to breathe safely in order that they might live.
"O the great hand of the wise God, which does all in all! For a countless multitude of birds have been made by him, and those various, differing in all respects from one another; I mean in respect of their colours, beaks, talons, looks, senses, voices, and all else. And how many different species of plants, distinguished by boundless variety of colours, qualities, and scents! And how many animals on the land and in the water, of which it were impossible to tell the figures, forms, habitats, colour, food, senses, natures, multitude! Then also the multitude and height of mountains, the varieties of stones, awful caverns, fountains, rivers, marshes, seas, harbors, islands, forests, and all the inhabited world, and places uninhabited!
"And how many things besides are unknown, having eluded the sagacity of men! And of those that are within our comprehension, who of mankind knows the limit? I mean. How the heaven rolls, how the stars are born in their courses, and what forms they have, and the subsistence of their being, and what are their ethereal paths. And whence the blasts of winds are born around, and have different energies; whence the fountains ceaselessly spring, and the rivers, being ever flowing, run down into the sea, and neither is that fountain emptied whence they come, nor do they fill that sea where they come! How far reaches the unfathomable depth of the boundless Tartarus! Upon what the heaven is upborne which encircles all! How the clouds spring from air, and are absorbed into air! What is the nature of thunder and lightning, snow, hail, mist, ice, storms, showers, hanging clouds! And how he makes plants and animals! And these things, with all accuracy, continually perfected in their countless varieties!
"Therefore, if anyone shall accurately scan the whole with reason, he shall find that God has made them for the sake of man. For showers fall for the sake of fruits, that man may partake of them, and that animals may be fed, that they may be useful to men. And the sun shines, that he may turn the air into four seasons, and that each time may afford its peculiar service to man. And the fountains spring, that drink may be given to men. And, moreover, who is Lord over the creatures, so far as is possible? Is it not man, who has received wisdom to till the earth, to sail the sea: to make fishes, birds, and beasts his prey; to investigate the course of the stars, to mine the earth, to sail the sea; to build cities, to define kingdoms, to ordain laws, to execute justice, to know the invisible God, to be cognizant of the names of angels, to drive away demons, to endeavour to cure diseases by medicines, to find charms against poison-darting serpents, to understand antipathies?
But if you are thankful, O man, understanding that God is your benefactor in all things, you may even be immortal, the things that are made for you having continuance through your gratitude. And now you can become incorruptible, if you acknowledge him whom you did not know, if you love him whom you did forsake, if you pray to him alone who is able to punish or to save your booty and soul. Therefore, before all things, consider that no one shares his rule, no one has a name in common with him - that is, is called God. For he alone is both called and is God. Nor is it lawful to think that there is any other, or to call any other by that name. And if anyone should dare do so, eternal punishment of soul is his."
When Peter had thus spoken, simon, at the outside of the crowd, cried aloud: "Why would you lie, and deceive the unlearned multitude standing around you, persuading those who it is unlawful to think that there are gods, and to call them so, when the books that are current among the Jews say that there are many gods? And now I wish, in the presence of all, to discuss with you from these books on the necessity of thinking that there are gods; first showing respecting him whom you call God, that he is not the supreme and omnipotent Being, inasmuch as he is without foreknowledge, imperfect, needy, not good, and underlying many and innumerable grievous passions. Therefore, when this has been shown from the Scriptures, as I say, it follows that there is another, not written of, foreknowing, perfect, without want, good, removed from all grievous passions. But he whom you call the Creator is subject to the opposite evils.
"Therefore also Adam, being made at first after his likeness, is created blind, and is said not to have knowledge of good or evil, and is found a transgressor, and is driven out of paradise, and is punished with death. In the same way also, he who made him, because be sees not in all places, says with reference to the overthrow of Sodom, "Come, and let us go down, and see whether they do according to their cry which comes to me; or if not, that I may know. ' Thus he shows himself ignorant And in his saying respecting Adam, "Let us drive him out, in case he put forth his hand and touch the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever;' in saying In case he is ignorant; and in driving him out in case he should eat and live for ever, he is also envious. And whereas it is written that "God repented that he had made man,' this implies both repentance and ignorance. For this reflection is a view by which one, through ignorance, wishes to enquire into the result of the things which he wills, or it is the act of one repenting on account of the event not being according to his expectation. And whereas it is written, "And the Lord smelled a scent of sweetness,' it is the part of one in need; and his being pleased with the fat of flesh is the part of one who is not good. But his tempting, as it is written, "And God did tempt Abraham,' is the part of one who is wicked, and who is ignorant of the issue of the experiment."
In the same way Simon, by taking many passages from the Scriptures, seemed to show that God is subject to every weakness. And to this Peter said: "Does he who is evil, and wholly wicked, love to accuse himself in the things in which he sins? Answer me this." Then said Simon: "He does not." Then said Peter: "How, then, can God be evil and wicked, seeing that those evil things which have been commonly written regarding him, have been added by his own will!." Then said Simon: "It may be that the charge against him is written by another power, and not according to his choice." Then said Peter: "Let us then, in the first place, enquire into this. If, indeed, he has of his own will accused himself, as you formerly acknowledged, then he is not wicked; but if it is done by another power, it must be enquired and investigated with all energy who has subjected to all evils him who alone is good."
Then said Simon: "You are manifestly avoiding the hearing of the charge from the Scriptures against your God." Then Peter: "You yourself appear to me to be doing this; for he who avoids the order of enquiry, does not wish a true investigation to be made. Hence I, who proceed in an orderly manner, and wish that the writer should first be considered, manifestly want to walk in a straight path." Then Simon: "First confess that if the things written against the Creator are true, he is not above all, since, according to the Scriptures, he is subject to all evil; then afterwards we shall enquire as to the writer." Then said Peter: "That I may not seem to speak against your want of order through unwillingness to enter on the investigation, I answer you. I say that if the things written against God are true, they do not show that God is wicked." Then said Simon: "How can you maintain that?"
Then said Peter: "Because things are written opposite to those sayings which speak evil of him; therefore neither the one nor the other can be confirmed." Then Simon: "How, then, is the truth to be ascertained, of those Scriptures that say he is evil, or of those that say he is good?" Then Peter: "Whatever sayings of the Scriptures are in harmony with the creation that was made by him are true, but whatever are contrary to it are false." Then Simon said: "How can you show that the Scriptures contradict themselves?" And Peter said: "You say that Adam was created blind, which was not so; for he would not have pointed out the tree of the knowledge of good and evil to a blind man, and commanded him not to taste of it." Then said Simon: "He meant that his mind was blind." Then Peter: "How could he be blind in respect of his mind, who, before tasting of the tree, in harmony with him who made him, imposed appropriate names on all the animals?" Then Simon: "If Adam had foreknowledge, how did he not foreknow that the serpent would deceive his wife?" Then Peter: "If Adam had not foreknowledge, how did he give names to the sons of men as they were born with reference to their future doings, calling the first Cain (which is interpreted "envy'), who through envy killed his brother Abel (which is interpreted "grief'); for his parents grieved over him, the first slain?
"But if Adam, being the work of God, had foreknowledge, much more the God who created him. And that is false which is written that God reflected, as if using reasoning on account of ignorance; and that the Lord tempted Abraham, that he might know if he would endure it; and that which is written, "Let us go down, and see if they are doing according to their crywhich comes to me; and if not, that I may know. ' And, not to extend my discourse too far, whatever sayings ascribe ignorance to him, or anything else that is evil, being upset by other sayings which affirm the contrary, are proved to be false. But because he does indeed foreknow, he says to Abraham, "You shall assuredly know that your seed shall be sojourners in a land that is not their own; and they shall enslave them, and shall evil ask them, and humble them four hundred years. But the nation to which they shall be in bondage will I judge, and after that they shall come out here with much property; but you shall depart to your fathers with peace, being nourished in a good old age; and in the fourth generation they shall return here, for the sins of the Amorites are hereto not filled up. '
"But what? Does not Moses pre-intimate the sins of the people, and predict their dispersion among the nations? But if he gave foreknowledge to Moses, how can it be that he had it not himself? But he has it. And if he has it, as we have also shown, it is an extravagant saying that he reflected, and that he repented, and that he went down to see, and whatever else of this sort. Whatever things being fore-known before they come to pass as about to befall, take issue by a wise economy, without repentance.
"But that he is not pleased with sacrifices, is shown by this, that those who lusted after flesh were slain as soon as they tasted it, and were consigned to a tomb, so that it was called the grave of lusts. He then who at the first was displeased with the slaughtering of animals, not wishing them to be slain, did not ordain sacrifices as desiring them; nor from the beginning did he require them. For neither are sacrifices accomplished without the slaughter of animals, nor can the first-fruits be presented. But how is it possible for him to abide in darkness, and smoke, and storm (for this also is written), who created a pure heaven, and created the sun to give light to all, and assigned the invariable order of their revolutions to innumerable stars? Thus, O Simon, the handwriting of God - I mean the heaven - shows the counsels of him who made it to be pure and stable.
"Thus the sayings accusatory of the God who made the heaven are both rendered void by the opposite sayings which are alongside of them, and are refuted by the creation. For they were not written by a prophetic hand. Therefore also they appear opposite to the hand of God, who made all things." Then said Simon: "How can you show this?"
Then said Peter: "The Law of God was given by Moses, without writing, to seventy wise men, to be handed down, that the government might be carried on by succession. But after that Moses was taken up, it was written by some one, but not by Moses. For in the Law itself it is written, "And Moses died; and they buried him near the house of Phogor, and no one knows his sepulcher till this day. ' But how could Moses write that Moses died? And whereas in the time after Moses, about 500 years or thereabouts, it is found lying in the temple which was built, and after about 500 years more it is carried away, and being burnt in the time of Nebuchadnezzar it is destroyed; and thus being written after Moses, and often lost, even this shows the foreknowledge of Moses, because he, foreseeing its disappearance, did not write it; but those who wrote it, being convicted of ignorance through their not foreseeing its disappearance, were not prophets."
Then said Simon: "Since, as you say, we must understand the things concerning God by comparing them with the creation, how is it possible to recognise the other things in the Law which are from the tradition of Moses, and are true, and are mixed up with these falsehoods?" Then Peter said: "A certain verse has been recorded without controversy in the written law, according to the providence of God, so as to show clearly which of the things written are true and which are false." Then said Simon: "which is that? Show it us."
Then Peter said: "I shall tell you immediately. It is written in the first book of the law, towards the end: "A ruler shall not fail from Judah, nor a leader from his thighs, until he come whose it is; and he is the expectation of the nations. ' If, therefore, anyone can apprehend him who came after the failure of ruler and leader from Judah, and who was to be expected by the nations, he will be able by this verse to recognise him as truly having come; and believing his teaching, he will know what of the Scriptures are true and what are false." Then said Simon: "I understand that you speak of your Jesus as him who was prophesied of by the scripture. Therefore let it be granted that it is so. Tell us, then, how he taught you to discriminate the I Scriptures."
Then Peter: "As to the mixture of truth with falsehood, I remember that on one occasion He, finding fault with the Sadducees, said, "Therefore you do err, not knowing the true things of the Scriptures; and on this account you are ignorant of the power of God. ' But if he cast up to their that they knew not the true things of the Scriptures, it is manifest that there are false things in them. And also, inasmuch as he said, "Be prudent money-changers,' it is because there are genuine and spurious words. And whereas he said, "Why do you not perceive that which is reasonable in the Scriptures?' he makes the understanding of him stronger who voluntarily judges soundly.
"And his sending to the scribes and teachers of the existing Scriptures, as to those who knew the true things of the Law that then was, is well known. And also that he said, "I am not come to destroy the law,' and yet that he appeared to be destroying it, is the part of one intimating that the things which he destroyed did not belong to the law. And his saying, "The heaven and the earth shall pass away, but one jot or one tittle shall not pass from the law,' intimated that the things which pass away before the heaven and the earth do not belong to the Law in reality.
"Since, then, while the heaven and the earth still stand, sacrifices have passed away, and kingdoms, and prophecies among those who are born of woman, and such like, as not being ordinances of God; hence therefore he says, "Every plant which the heavenly Father has not planted shall be rooted up. ' Therefore He, being the true Prophet, said, "I am the gate of life; he who enters through me enters into life,' there being no other teaching able to save. Therefore also he cried, and said, "Come to me, all who labour,' that is, who are seeking the truth, and not finding it; and again, "my sheep hear my voice;' and elsewhere, "Seek and find,' since the truth does not lie on the surface.
"But also a witnessing voice was heard from heaven, saying, "This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear him. ' And in addition to this, willing to convict more fully of error the prophets from whom they asserted that they had learned, he proclaimed that they died desiring the truth, but not having learned it, saying, "Many prophets and kings desired to see what you see, and to hear what you hear; and truly I say to you, they neither saw nor heard. ' Still further he said, "I am he concerning whom Moses prophesied, saying, a Prophet shall the Lord our God raise to you of your brethren, like to me: him hear in all things; and whosoever will not hear that Prophet shall die. '
"Therefore it is impossible without his teaching to attain to saving truth, though one seek it for ever where the thing that is sought is not. But it was, and is, in the word of our Jesus. Accordingly, He, knowing the true things of the law, said to the Sadducees, asking on what account Moses permitted to marry seven, "Moses gave you commandments according to your hard-heartedness; for from the beginning it was not so: for he who created man at first, made him male and female. '
"But to those who think, as the Scriptures teach, that God swears, he said, "Let your yes be yes, and no, no; for what is more than these is of the evil one. ' And to those who say that Abraham and Isaac and Jacob are dead, he said, "God is not of the dead, but of the living. ' And to those who suppose that God tempts, as the Scriptures say, he said, "The tempter is the wicked one,' who also tempted himself. To those who suppose that God does not foreknow, he said, "For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things before you ask him. ' And to those who believe, as the Scriptures say, that he does not see all things, he said, "Pray in secret, and your Father, who sees secret things, will reward you. '
"And to those who think that he is not good, as the Scriptures say, he said, "From which of you shall his son ask bread, and he will give him a stone; or shall ask a fish, and he will give him a serpent? If you then, being evil, know to give good gifts to your children, how much more shall your heavenly Father give good things to those who ask him, and to those who do his will!' But to those who affirmed that he was in the temple, he said, "Swear not by heaven, for it is God's throne; nor by the earth, for it is the footstool of his feet. ' And to those who supposed that God is pleased with sacrifices, he said, "God wishes mercy, and not sacrifices' - the knowledge of himself, and not holocausts.
"But to those who are persuaded that he is evil, as the Scriptures say, he said, "Call not me good, for One only is good. ' And again, "Be good and merciful, as your Father in the heavens, who makes the sun rise on good and evil men, and brings rain on just and unjust. ' But to those who were misled to imagine many gods, as the Scriptures say, he said, "Hear, O Israel; the Lord your God is one Lord. '"
Therefore Simon, perceiving that Peter was driving him to use the Scriptures as Jesus taught, was unwilling that the discussion should go into the doctrine concerning God, even although Peter had changed the discussion into question and answer, as Simon himself asked. However, the discussion occupied three days. And while the fourth was dawning, he set off darkling as far as Tyre of Phoenicia. And not many days after, some of the precursors came and said to Peter: "Simon is doing great miracles in Tyre, and disturbing many of the people there; and by many slanders he has made you to be hated."
Peter, hearing this, on the following night assembled the multitude of hearers; and as soon as they were come together, he said: "While I am going forth to the nations which say that there are many gods, to teach and to preach that God is one, who made heaven and earth, and all things that are in them, in order that they may love him and be saved, evil has anticipated me, and by the very law of conjunction has sent Simon before me, in order that these men, if they shall cease to say that there are many gods, disowning those on earth that are called gods, may think that there are many gods in heaven; so that, not feeling the excellency of the monarchy, they may perish with eternal punishment. And what is most dreadful, since true doctrine has incomparable power, he forestalls me with slanders, and persuades them to this, not even at first to receive me; in case he who is the slanderer be convicted of being himself in reality a devil, and the true doctrine be received and believed. Therefore I must quickly catch him up, in case the false accusation, through gaining time, wholly get hold of all men.
"Since, therefore, it is necessary to set apart some one instead of me to fill my place, let us all with one consent pray to God, that he would make manifest who amongst us is the best, that, sitting in the chair of Christ, he may piously rule his Church. Who, then, shall be set apart? For by the counsel of God that man is presented as blessed, "whom his Lord shall appoint over the ministry of his fellow-servants, to give them their meat in their season, not thinking and saying in his heart, my Lord delays his coming, and who shall not begin to beat his fellow-servants, eating and drinking with harlots and drunkards. And the Lord of that servant shall come in an hour when he does not look for him, and in a day when he is not aware, and shall cut him in sunder, and shall assign his unfaithful part with the hypocrites. '
"But if anyone of those present, being able to instruct the ignorance of men, shrink from it, thinking only of his own ease, let him expect to hear this sentence: "O wicked and slothful servant, you ought to have given my money to the exchangers, and I at my coming should have got my own. Cast out the unprofitable servant into the outer darkness. ' And with good reason; "for,' he says, "it is yours, O man, to prove my words, as silver and money are proved among the exchangers. ' Therefore the multitude of the faithful ought to obey some one, that they may live in harmony. For that which tends to the government of one person, in the form of monarchy, enables the subjects to enjoy peace by means of good order; but in case of all, through desire of ruling, being unwilling to submit to one only, they must altogether fall by reason of division.
"But, further, let the things that are happening before your eyes persuade you; how wars are constantly arising through there being now many kings all over the earth. For each one holds the government of another as a pretext for war. But if one were universal superior, he, having no reason why he should make war, would have perpetual peace. In short, therefore, to those who are thought worthy of eternal life, God appoints one universal King in the world that shall then be, that by means of monarchy there may be unfailing peace. It behoves all, therefore, to follow some one as a leader, honouring him as the image of God; and it behoves the leader to be acquainted with the road that enters into the holy city.
"But of those who are present, whom shall I choose but Zacchaeus, to whom also the Lord went in and rested, judging him worthy to be saved?" And having said this, he laid his hand on Zacchaeus, who stood by, and forced him to sit down in his own chair. But Zacchaeus, falling at his feet, begged that he would permit him to decline the rulership; promising, at the same time, and saying, "Whatever it behoves the ruler to do, I will do; only grant me not to have this name; for I am afraid of assuming the name of the rulership, for it teems with bitter envy and danger."
Then Peter said: "If you are afraid of this, do not be called ruler, but the appointed one, the Lord having permitted you to be so called, when he said, "Blessed is that man whom his Lord shall appoint to the ministry of his fellow-servants. ' But if you wish it to be altogether unknown that you have authority of administration, you seem to me to be ignorant that the acknowledged authority of the president has great influence as regards the respect of the multitude. For everyone obeys him who has received authority, having conscience as a great constraint. And are you not well aware that you are not to rule as the rulers of the nations, but as a servant ministering to them, as a father to the oppressed, visiting them as a physician, guarding them as a shepherd, - in short, taking all care for their salvation? And do you think that I am not aware what labours I compel you to undertake, desiring you to be judged by multitudes whom it is impossible for anyone to please? But it is most possible for him who does well to please God. Therefore I ask you to undertake it heartily, by God, by Christ, for the salvation of the brethren, for their ordering, and your own profit.
"And consider this other thing, that in proportion as there is labour and danger in ruling the Church of Christ, so much greater is the reward. And yet again the greater is also the punishment to him who can, and refuses. I wish, therefore, knowing that you are the best instructed of my attendants, to turn to account those noble powers of judging with which you have been entrusted by the Lord, in order that you may be saluted with the well done, good and faithful servant, and not be found fault with, and declared liable to punishment, like him who hid the one talent. But if you will not be appointed a good guardian of the Church, point out another in your stead, more learned and more faithful than yourself. But you cannot do this; for you associated with the Lord, and witnessed his marvellous doings, and learned the administration of the Church.
"And your work is to order what things are proper; and that of the brethren is to submit, and not to disobey. Therefore submitting they shall be saved, but disobeying they shall be punished by the Lord, because the president is entrusted with the place of Christ. Therefore, indeed, honour or contempt shown to the president is handed on to Christ, and from Christ to God. And this I have said, that these brethren may not be ignorant of the danger they incur by disobedience to you, because whosoever disobeys your orders, disobeys Christ; and he who disobeys Christ offends God.
"It is necessary, therefore, that the Church, as a city built on a hill, have an order approved of God, and good government. In particular, let the bishop, as chief, be heard in the things which he speaks; and let the elders give heed that the things ordered be done. Let the deacons, going about, look after the bodies and the souls of the brethren, and report to the bishop. Let all the rest of the brethren bear wrong patiently; but if they wish judgment to be given concerning wrongs done to them, let them be reconciled in presence of the elders; and let the elders report the reconciliation to the bishop.
"And let them inculcate marriage not only on the young, but also on those advanced in years, in case burning lust bring a plague on the Church by reason of whoredom or adultery. For, above every other sin, the wickedness of adultery is hated by God, because it not only destroys the person himself who sins, but those also who eat and associate with him. For it is like the madness of a dog, because it has the nature of communicating its own madness. For the sake of chastity, therefore, let not only the elders, but even all, hasten to accomplish marriage. For the sin of him who commits adultery necessarily comes on all. Therefore, to urge the brethren to be chaste, this is the first charity. For it is the healing of the soul. For the nourishment of the body is rest.
"But if you love your brethren, take nothing from them, but share with them such things as you have. Feed the hungry; give drink to the thirsty; clothe the naked; visit the sick; so far as you can, help those in prison; receive strangers gladly into your own abodes; hate no one. And how you must be pious, your own mind will teach you, judging rightly. But before all else, if indeed I need say it to you, come together frequently, if it were every hour, especially on the appointed days of meeting. For if you do this, you are within a wall of safety. For disorderliness is the beginning of perdition. Let no one therefore forsake the assembly on the ground of envy towards a brother. For if anyone of you forsake the assembly, he shall be regarded as of those who scatter the Church of Christ, and shall be cast out with adulterers. For as an adulterer, under the influence of the spirit that is in him, he separates himself on some pretext, and gives place to the wicked one against himself, - a sheep for the stealing, as one found outside the fold.
"However, hear your bishop, and do not weary of giving all honour to him; knowing that, by showing it to him, it is born to Christ, and from Christ it is born to God; and to him who offers it, is requited manifold. Honour, therefore, the throne of Christ. For you are commanded even to honour the chair of Moses, and that although they who occupy it are accounted sinners. And now I have said enough to you; and I deem it superfluous to say to him how he is to live unblameably, since he is an approved disciple of him who taught me also.
"But, brethren, there are some things that you must not wait to hear, but must consider of yourselves what is reasonable. Zacchaeus alone having given himself up wholly to labour for you, and needing sustenance, and not being able to attend to his own affairs, how can he procure necessary support? Is it not reasonable that you are to take forethought for his living? not waiting for his asking you, for this is the part of a beggar. But he will rather die of hunger than submit to do this. And shall not you incur punishment, not considering that the workman is worthy of his hire? And let no one say: Is, then, the word sold which was freely given? Far be it. For if anyone has the means of living, and takes anything, he sells the word; but if he who has not takes support in order to live - as the Lord also took at supper and among his friends, having nothing, though he alone is the owner of all things - he sins not. Therefore suitably honour elders, catechists, useful deacons, widows who have lived well, orphans as children of the Church. But wherever there is need of any provision for an emergency, contribute all together. Be kind one to another, not shrinking from the endurance of anything whatever for your own salvation."
And having thus spoken, he placed his hand on Zacchaeus, saying, "O you Ruler and Lord of all, Father and God, do you guard the shepherd with the flock. You are the cause, you the power. We are that which is helped; you the helper, the physician, the Saviour, the wall, the life, the hope, the refuge, the joy, the expectation, the rest. In a word, you are all things to us. In order to the eternal attainment of salvation, do you co-operate, preserve, protect. You can do all things. For you are the Ruler of rulers, the Lord of lords, the Governor of kings. Do you give power to the president to loose what ought to be loosed, to bind what ought to be bound. Do you make him wise. Do you, as by his name, protect the Church of your Christ as a fair bride. For your is eternal glory. Praise to the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit to all ages. Amen."
And having thus spoken, he afterwards said: "Whoever of you Wish to be baptised, begin from tomorrow to fast, and have hands laid on you day by day, and enquire about what matters you please. For I mean still to remain with you ten days." And after three days, having begun to baptise, he called me, and Aquila, and Nicetas, and said to us: "As I am going to set out for Tyre after seven days, I wish you to go away this very day, and to lodge secretly with Bernice the Canaanite, the daughter of Justa, and to learn from her, and write accurately to me what Simon is about. For this is of great consequence to me, that I may prepare myself accordingly. Therefore depart immediately in peace." And leaving him baptising, as he commanded, we preceded him to Tyre of Phoenicia.
Thus I Clement, departing from Caesarea Stratonis, together with Nicetas and Aquila, entered into Tyre of Phoenicia; and according to the injunction of Peter, who sent us, we lodged with Bernice, the daughter of Justa the Canaanitess. She received us most joyfully; and striving with much honour towards me, and with affection towards Aquila and Nicetas, and speaking freely as a friend, through joy she treated us courteously, and hospitably urged us to take bodily refreshment. Perceiving, therefore, that she was endeavouring to impose a short delay on us, I said: "You do well, indeed, to busy yourself in fulfilling the part of love; but the fear of our God must take the precedence of this. For, having a combat on hand on behalf of many souls, we are afraid of preferring our own ease before their salvation.
"For we hear that Simon the magician, being worsted at Caesarea in the discussion with our Lord Peter, immediately hastened here, and is doing much mischief. For he is slandering Peter, in opposition to truth, to all the adversaries, and stealing away the souls of the multitude. For he being a magician, calls him a magician; and he being a deceiver, proclaims him as a deceiver. And although in the discussions he was beaten in all points, and fled, yet he says that he was victorious; and he constantly charges those who they ought not to listen to Peter, - as if, indeed, he were anxious that they may not be fascinated by a terrible magician.
"Therefore our Lord Peter, having learned these things, has sent us to be investigators of the things that have been told him; that if they be so, we may write to him and let him know, so that he may come and convict him face to face of the accusations that he has uttered against him. Since, therefore, danger on the part of many souls lies before us, on this account we must neglect bodily rest for a short time; and we would learn truly from you who live here, whether the things which we have heard be true. Now tell us particularly."
But Bernice, being asked, said: "These things are indeed as you have heard; and I will tell you other things respecting this same Simon, which perhaps you do not know. For he astonishes the whole city every day, by making specters and ghosts appear in the midst of the market-place; and when he walks abroad, statues move, and many shadows go before him, which, he says, are souls of the dead. And many who attempted to prove him an impostor he speedily reconciled to him; and afterwards, under pretense of a banquet, having slain an ox, and given them to eat of it, he infected them with various diseases, and subjected them to demons. And in a word, having injured many, and being supposed to be a God, he is both feared and honoured."
"Therefore I do not think that anyone will be able to quench such a fire as has been kindled. For no one doubts his promises; but everyone affirms that this is so. Therefore, in case you should expose yourselves to danger, I advise you not to attempt anything against him until Peter come, who alone shall be able to resist such a power, being the most esteemed disciple of our Lord Jesus Christ. For so much do I fear this man, that if he had not elsewhere been vanquished in disputing with my Lord Peter, I should counsel you to persuade even Peter himself not to attempt to oppose Simon."
Then I said: "If our Lord Peter did not know that he himself alone can prevail against this power, he would not have sent us before him with orders to get information secretly concerning Simon, and to write to him." Then, as evening had come on, we took supper, and went to sleep. But in the morning, one of Bernice's friends came and said that Simon had set sail for Sidon, and that he had left behind him Appion Pleistonices, - a man of Alexandria, a grammarian by profession, whom I knew as being a friend of my father; and a certain astrologer, Annubion the Diospolitan, and Athenodorus the Athenian, attached to the doctrine of Epicurus. And we, having learned these things concerning Simon, in the morning wrote and despatched a letter to Peter, and went to take a walk.
And Appion met us, not only with the two companions just named, but with about thirty other men. And as soon as he saw me, he saluted and kissed me, and said, "This is Clement, of whose noble birth and generous education I have often told you; for he, being related to the family of Tiberius Caesar, and equipped with all Grecian learning, has been seduced by a certain barbarian called Peter to speak and act after the way of the Jews. Therefore I beg of you to strive together with me for the setting of him right. And in your presence I now ask him. Let him tell me, since he thinks that he has devoted himself to piety, whether he is not acting most impiously, in forsaking the customs of his country, and falling away to those of the barbarians."
I answered: "I accept, indeed, your kindly affection towards me, but I take exception to your ignorance. For your affection is kindly, because you wish to continue in those customs which you consider to be good. But your inaccurate knowledge strives to lay a snare for me, under the guise of friendship." Then said Appion: "Does it seem to you to be ignorance, that one should observe the customs of his fathers, and judge after the way of the Greeks?" Then I answered: "It behoves one who desires to be pious not altogether to observe the customs of his fathers; but to observe them if they be pious, and to shake them off if they be impious. For it is possible that one who is the son of an impious father, if he wishes to be pious, should not desire to follow the religion of his father." Then answered Appion: "What then? Do you say that your father was a man of an evil life?" Then said I: "He was not of an evil life, but of an evil opinion." Then Appion: "I should like to know what was his evil apprehension." Then said I: "Because he believed the false and wicked myths of the Greeks." Then Appion asked: "What are these false and evil myths of the Greeks?" Then I said: "The wrong opinion concerning the gods, which, if you will bear with me, you shall hear, with those who are eager to learn.
"Therefore, before beginning our conversation, let us now withdraw into some quieter place, and there I shall converse with you. And the reason why I wish to speak privately is this, because neither the multitude, nor even all the philosophers, approach honestly to the judgment of things as they are. For we know many, even of those who pride themselves on their philosophy, who are vainglorious, or who have put on the philosopher's robe for the sake of gain, and not for the sake of virtue itself; and they, if they do not find that for which they take to philosophy, turn to mockery. Therefore, on account of such as these, let us choose some place fit for private conference."
And a certain one amongst them - a rich man, and possessing a garden of evergreen plants - said: "Since it is very hot, let us retire for a little from the city to my gardens." Accordingly they went forth, and sat down in a place where there were pure streams of cool water, and a green shade of all sorts of trees. There I sat pleasantly, and the others round about me; and they being silent, instead of a verbal request made to me, showed by their eager looks to me that they required the proof of my assertion. And therefore I proceeded to speak thus: -
"There is a certain great difference, O men of Greece, between truth and custom. For truth is found when it is honestly sought; but custom, whatever be the character of the custom received, whether true or false, is strengthened by itself without the exercise of judgment; and he who has received it is neither pleased with it as being true, nor grieved with it as false. For such a person has believed not by judgment, but by prejudice, resting his own hope on the opinion of those who have lived before him on a mere perhaps. And it is not easy to cast off the ancestral garment, though it be shown to himself to be wholly foolish and ridiculous.
"Therefore I say that the whole learning of the Greeks is a most dreadful fabrication of a wicked demon. For they have introduced many gods of their own, and these wicked, and subject to all kinds of passion; so that he who wishes to do the like things may not be ashamed, which belongs to a man, having as an example the wicked and unquiet lives of the mythological gods. And through his not being ashamed, such a person affords no hope of his repenting. And others have introduced fate, which is called genesis, contrary to which no one can suffer or do anything. This, therefore, also is like to the first. For anyone who thinks that no one has anything to do or suffer contrary to genesis easily falls into sin; and having sinned, he does not repent of his impiety, holding it as his apology that he was born on by genesis to do these things. And as he cannot rectify genesis, he has no reason to be ashamed of the sins he commits.
"And others introduce an unforeseeing destiny, as if all things revolved of their own accord, without the superintendence of any master. But thus to think these things is, as we have said, the most grievous of all opinions. For, as if there were no one superintending and fore-judging and distributing to everyone according to his deserving, they easily do everything as they can through fearlessness. Therefore those who have such opinions do not easily, or perhaps do not at all, live virtuously; for they do not foresee the danger which might have the effect of converting them. But the doctrine of the barbarous Jews, as you call them, is most pious, introducing One as the Father and Creator of all this world, by nature good and righteous; good, indeed, as pardoning sins to those who repent; but righteous, as visiting to everyone after repentance according to the worthiness of his doings.
"This doctrine, even if it also be mythical, being pious, would not be without advantage for this life. For everyone, in expectation of being judged by the all-seeing God, receives the greater impulse towards virtue. But if the doctrine be also true, it withdraws him who has lived virtuously from eternal punishment, and endows him with eternal and unspeakable blessings from God.
"But I return to the foremost doctrine of the Greeks, that which states in stories that there are gods many, and subject to all kinds of passions. And not to spend much time on things that are clear, referring to the impious deeds of everyone of those who are called gods, I could not tell all their amours; those of Zeus and Poseidon, of Pluto and Apollo, of Dionysus and Hercules, and of them all singly. And of these you are yourselves not ignorant, and have been taught their manners of life, being instructed in the Grecian learning, that, as competitors with the gods, you might do like things.
"But I shall begin with the most royal Zeus, whose father Kronos, having, as you say, devoured his own children, and having shorn off the members of his father Uranus with a sickle of adamant, showed to those who are zealous for the mysteries of the gods an example of piety towards parents and of love towards children. And Jupiter himself bound his own father, and imprisoned him in Tartarus; and he also punishes the other gods. And for those who wish to do things not to be spoken of, he begot Metis, and devoured her. But Metis was seed; for it is impossible to devour a child. And for an excuse to abusers of themselves with mankind, he carries away Ganymedes. And as a helper of adulterers in their adultery, he is often found an adulterer. And to those who wish to commit incest with sisters, he sets the example in his intercourse with his sisters Hera and Demeter, and the heavenly Aphrodite, whom some call dodona. And to those who wish to commit incest with their daughters, there is a wicked example from his story, in his committing incest with Persephone. But in myriads of instances he acted impiously, that by reason of his excessive wickedness the fable of his being a God might be received by impious men.
"You will hold it reasonable for ignorant men to be moderately indignant at these fancies. But what must we say to the learned, some of whom, professing themselves to be grammarians and sophists, affirm that these acts are worthy of gods? For, being themselves incontinent, they lay hold of this mythical pretext; and as imitators of the gods, they practice improper things with freedom.
"On this account, they who live in the country sin much less than they do, not having been indoctrinated in those things in which they have been indoctrinated who dare do these things, having learned from evil instruction to be impious. For they who from their childhood learn letters by means of such fables, while their soul is yet pliant, engraft the impious deeds of those who are called gods into their own minds; whence, when they are grown up, they ripen fruit, like evil seeds cast into the soul. And what is worst of all, the rooted impurities cannot be easily cut down, when they are perceived to be bitter by them when they have attained to manhood. For everyone is pleased to remain in those habits which he forms in childhood; and thus, since custom is not much less powerful than nature, they become difficult to be converted to those good things which were not sown in their souls from the beginning.
"Therefore it behoves the young not to be satisfied with those corrupting lessons, and those who are in their prime should carefully avoid listening to the mythologies of the Greeks. For lessons about their gods are much worse than ignorance, as we have shown from the case of those dwelling in the country, who sin less through their not having been instructed by Greeks. Truly, such fables of theirs, and spectacles, and books, ought to be shunned, and if it were possible, even their cities. For those who are full of evil learning, even with their breath infect as with madness those who associate with them, with their own passions. And what is worst, whoever is most instructed among them, is so much the more turned from the judgment which is according to nature.
"And some of those amongst them who even profess to be philosophers, assert that such sins are indifferent, and say that those who are indignant at such practices are senseless. For they say that such things are not sins by nature, but have been proscribed by laws made by wise men in early times, through their knowing that men, through the instability of their minds, being greatly agitated on these accounts, wage war with one another; for which reason, wise men have made laws to proscribe such things as sins. But this is a ridiculous supposition. For how can they be other than sins, which are the cause of tumults, and murders, and every confusion? For do not shortcomings of life and many more evils proceed from adultery?
"But why, it is said, if a man is ignorant of his wife's being an adulteress, is he not indignant, enraged, distracted? Why does he not make war? Thus these things are not evil by nature, but the unreasonable opinion of men make them terrible. But I say, that even if these dreadful things do not occur, it is usual for a woman, through association with an adulterer, either to forsake her husband, or if she continue to live with him, to plot against him, or to bestow on the adulterer the goods procured by the labour of her husband; and having conceived by the adulterer while her husband is absent, to attempt the destruction of that which is in her womb, through shame of conviction, and so to become a child-murderer; or even, while destroying it, to be destroyed along with it. But if while her husband is at home she conceives by the adulterer and bears a child, the child when he grows up does not know his father, and thinks that he is his father who is not; and thus he who is not the father, at his death leaves his substance to the child of another. And how many other evils naturally spring from adultery! And the secret evils we do not know. For as the mad dog destroys all that he touches, infecting them with the unseen madness, so also the hidden evil of adultery, though it be not known, effects the cutting off of posterity.
"But let us pass over this now. But this we all know, that universally men are beyond measure enraged on account of it, that wars have been waged, that there have been overthrows of houses, and captures of cities, and myriads of other evils. On this account I betook myself to the holy God and law of the Jews, putting my faith in the well-assured conclusion that the Law has been assigned by the righteous judgment of God, and that the soul must at some time receive according to the desert of its deeds."
When I had thus spoken, Appion broke in on my discourse. "What!" said he; "do not the laws of the Greeks also forbid wickedness, and punish adulterers?" Then said I: "Then the gods of the Greeks, who acted contrary to the laws, deserve punishment. But how shall I be able to restrain myself, if I suppose that the gods themselves first practiced all wickednesses as well as adultery, and did not suffer punishment; whereas they ought the rather to have suffered, as not being slaves to lust? But if they were subject to it, how were they gods?" Then Appion said: "Let us have in our eye not the gods, but the judges; and looking to them, we shall be afraid to sin." Then I said: "This is not fitting, O Appion: for he who has his eye on men will dare to sin, in hope of escaping detection; but he who sets before his soul the all-seeing God, knowing that he cannot escape his notice, will refrain from sinning even in secret."
When Appion heard this, he said: "I knew, ever since I heard that you were consorting with Jews, that you had alienated your judgment. For it has been well said by some one, Evil communications corrupt good manners. '" Then said I: "Therefore good communications correct evil manners." And Appion said: "Today I am fully satisfied to have learned your position; therefore I permitted you to speak first. But tomorrow, in this place, if it is agreeable to you, I will show, in the presence of these friends when they meet, that our gods are neither adulterers, nor murderers, nor corrupters of children, nor guilty of incest with sisters or daughters. But the ancients, wishing that only lovers of learning should know the mysteries, veiled them with those fables of which you have spoken. For they speak physiologically of boiling substance under the name of Zen, and of time under that of Kronos, and of the ever-flowing nature of water under that of Rhea. However, as I have promised, I shall tomorrow exhibit the truth of things, explaining them one by one to you when you come together in the morning." In reply to this I said: "Tomorrow, as you have promised, so do. But now hear something in opposition to what you are going to say.
"If the doings of the gods, being good, have been veiled with evil fables, the wickedness of him who wove the veil is shown to have been great, because he concealed noble things with evil narratives, that no one imitate them. But if they really did things impious, they ought, on the contrary, to have veiled them with good narratives, in case men, regarding them as their superiors, should set about sinning in the same way." As I spoke thus, those present were evidently beginning to be well-disposed towards the words spoken by me; for they repeatedly and earnestly asked me to come on the following day, and departed.
The next day, therefore, in Tyre, as we had agreed, I came to the quiet place, and there I found the rest, with some others also. Then I saluted them. But as I did not see Appion, I asked the reason of his not being present; and some one said that he had been unwell ever since last evening. Then, when I said that it was reasonable that we should immediately set out to visit him, almost all begged me first to discourse to them, and that then we could go to see him. Therefore, as all were of one opinion, I proceeded to say: -
"Yesterday, when I left this, O friends, I confess that, through much anxiety about the discussion that was to take place with Appion, I was not able to get any sleep. And while I was unable to sleep, I remembered a trick that I played on him in Rome. It was this. From my boyhood I Clement was a lover of truth, and a seeker of the things that are profitable for the soul, and spending my time in raising and refuting theories; but being unable to find anything perfect, through distress of mind I fell sick. And while I was confined to bed Appion came to Rome, and being my father's friend, he lodged with me; and hearing that I was in bed, he came to me, as being not unacquainted with medicine, and enquired the cause of my being in bed. But I, being aware that the man exceedingly hated the Jews, as also that he had written many books against them, and that he had formed a friendship with this Simon, not through desire of learning, but because he knew that he was a Samaritan and a hater of the Jews, and that he had come out in opposition to the Jews, therefore he had formed an alliance with him, that he might learn something from him against the Jews;
"I knowing this before concerning Appion, as soon as he asked me the cause of my sickness, answered feignedly, that I was suffering and distressed in my mind after the way of young men. And to this he said, "my son, speak freely as to a father: what is your soul's ailment?' And when I again groaned feignedly, as being ashamed to speak of love, by means of silence and down-looking I conveyed the impression of what I wished to intimate. But he, being persuaded that I was in love with a woman, said: "There is nothing in life which does not admit of help. For indeed I myself, when I was young, being in love with a most accomplished woman, not only thought it impossible to obtain her, but did not even hope ever to address her. And yet, having fallen in with a certain Egyptian who was exceedingly well versed in magic, and having become his friend, I disclosed to him my love, and not only did he assist me in all that I wished, but, honouring me more bountifully, he hesitated not to teach me an incantation by means of which I obtained her; and as soon as I had obtained her, by means of his secret instruction, being persuaded by the generosity of my teacher, I was cured of love.
"Therefore, if you also suffer any such thing in merely human fashion, use freedom with me with all security; for within seven days I shall put you fully in possession of her. ' When I heard this, looking at the object I had in view, I said: "Pardon me that I do not altogether believe in the existence of magic; for I have already tried many who have made many promises, and have deceived me. However, your undertaking influences me, and leads me to hope. But when I think of the matter, I am afraid that the demons are sometimes not subject to the magicians with respect to the things that are commanded them. '
"Then Appion said: "Admit that I know more of these things than you do. However, that you may not think that there is nothing in what you have heard from me in reference to what you have said, I will tell you how the demons are under necessity to obey the magicians in the matters about which they are commanded. For as it is impossible for a soldier to contradict his general, and impossible for the generals themselves to disobey the king - for if anyone oppose those set over him, he is altogether deserving of punishment - so it is impossible for the demons not to serve the angels who are their generals; and when they are adjured by them, they yield trembling, well knowing that if they disobey they shall be fully punished. But the angels also themselves, being adjured by the magicians in the name of their ruler, obey, in case, being found guilty of disobedience, they be destroyed. For unless all things that are living and rational foresaw vengeance from the ruler, confusion would ensue, all revolting against one another. '
"Then said I: "Are those things correct, then, which are spoken by poets and philosophers, that in hades the souls of the wicked are judged and punished for their attempts; such as those of Ixion, and Tantalus, and Tityus, and Sisyphus, and the daughters of Danaus, and as many others as have been impious here? And how, if these things are not so, is it possible that magic can subsist?' Then he having told me that these things are so in hades, I asked him: "Why are not we ourselves afraid of magic, being persuaded of the punishment in hades for adultery? For I do not admit that it is a righteous thing to compel to adultery a woman who is unwilling; but if anyone will engage to persuade her, I am ready for that, besides confessing my thanks. '
"Then Appion said: "Do you not think it is the same thing, whether you obtain her by magic, or by deceiving her with words?' Then said I: "Not altogether the same; for these differ widely from one another. For he who constrains an unwilling woman by the force of magic, subjects himself to the most terrible punishment, as having plotted against a chaste woman; but he who persuades her with words, and puts the choice in her own power and will, does not force her. And I am of opinion, that he who has persuaded a woman will not stiffer so great punishment as he who has forced her. Therefore, if you can persuade her, I shall be thankful to yon when I have obtained her; but otherwise, I had rather die than force her against her will. '
"Then Appion, being really puzzled, said: "What am I to say to you? For at one time, as one perturbed with love, you pray to obtain her; and anon, as if you loved her not, you make more account of your fear than your desire: and you think that if you can persuade her you shall be blameless, as without sin; but obtaining her by the power of magic, you will incur punishment. But do you not know that it is the end of every action that is judged, the fact that it has been committed, and that no account is made of the means by which it has been effected? And if you commit adultery, being enabled by magic, shall you be judged as after doing wickedly; and if by persuasion, shall you be absolved from sin in respect of the adultery?' Then I said: "On account of my love, there is a necessity for me to choose one or other of the means that are available to procure the object of my love; and I shall choose, as far as possible, to cajole her rather than to use magic. But neither is it easy to persuade her by flattery, for the woman is very much of a philosopher. '
"Then Appion said: "I am all the more hopeful to be able to persuade her, as you wish, provided only we be able to converse with her. ' "That,' said I, "is impossible. ' Then Appion asked if it were possible to scud a letter to her. Then I said: "That indeed may be done. ' Then Appion said: "This very night I shall write a paper on encomiums of adultery, which you shall get from me and despatch to her; and I hope that she shall be persuaded, and consent. ' Appion accordingly wrote the paper, and gave it to me; and I thought of it this very night, and I remembered that fortunately I have it by me, along with other papers which I carry about with me." Having thus spoken, I showed the paper to those who were present, and read it to them as they wished to hear it; and having read it, I said: "This, O men, is the instruction of the Greeks, affording a bountiful license to sin without fear. The paper was as follows: -
"Anonymously, on account of the laws of foolish men. At the bidding of Love, the first-born of all, salutation: I know that you are devoted to philosophy, and for the sake of virtue you affect the life of the noble. But who are nobler than the gods among all, and philosophers among men? For these alone know what works are good or evil by nature, and what, not being so, are accounted so by the imposition of laws. Now, then, some have supposed that the action which is called adultery is evil, although it is in every respect good. For it is by the appointment of Eros for the increase of life. And Eros is the eldest of all the gods. For without Eros there can be no mingling or generation either of elements, or gods, or men, or irrational animals, or anything else. For we are all instruments of Eros. He, by means of us, is the fabricator of all that is begotten, the mind inhabiting our souls. Hence it is not when we ourselves wish it, but when we are ordered by him, that we desire to do his will. But if, while we desire according to his will, we attempt to restrain the desire for the sake of what is called chastity, what do we do but the greatest impiety, when we oppose the oldest of all gods and men?
"But let all doors be opened to him, and let all baneful and arbitrary laws be set aside, which have been ordained by fanatical men, who, under the power of senselessness, and not willing to understand what is reasonable, and, moreover, suspecting those who are called adulterers, are with good reason mocked with arbitrary laws by Zeus himself, through Minos and Rhadamanthus. For there is no restraining of Eros dwelling in our souls; for the passion of lovers is not voluntary. Therefore Zeus himself, the giver of these laws, approached myriads of women; and, according to some wise men, he sometimes had intercourse with human beings, as a benefactor for the production of children. But in the case of those to whom he knew that his being unknown would be a favour, he changed his form, in order that he might neither grieve them, nor seem to act in opposition to the laws given by himself. It becomes you, therefore, who are debaters of philosophy, for the sake of a good life, to imitate those who are acknowledged to be the nobler, who have had sexual intercourse ten thousand times.
"And not to spend the time to no purpose in giving more examples, I shall begin with mentioning some embraces of Zeus himself, the father of gods and men. For it is impossible to mention all, on account of their multitude. Hear, therefore, the amours of this great Jupiter, which he concealed by changing his form, on account of the fanaticism of senseless men. For, in the first place, wishing to show to wise men that adultery is no sin, when he was going to marry, being, according to the multitude, knowingly an adulterer, in his first marriage, but not being so in reality, by means, as I said, of a seeming sin be accomplished a sinless marriage. For he married his own sister Hera, assuming the likeness of a cuckoo's wing; and of her were born Hebe and Ilithyia. For he gave birth to Metis without copulation with anyone, as did also Hera to Vulcan.
"Then he committed incest with his sister, who was born of Kronos and Thalasse, after the dismemberment of Kronos, and of whom were born Eros and Cypris, whom they call also Dodone. Then, in the likeness of a satyr, he had intercourse with Antiope the daughter of Nycteus, of whom were born Amphion and Zethus. And he embraced Alcmene, the wife of Amphitryon, in the form of her husband Amphitryon, of whom was born Hercules. And, changed into an eagle, he approached Aegina, the daughter of Asclepius, of whom Aeacus was born. And in the form of a bear he lay with Amalthea the daughter of Phocus; and in a golden shower he fell on Danae, the daughter of Acrisius, of whom sprang Perseus. He became wild as a lion to Callisto the daughter of Lycaon and begot Arcus the second. And with Europa the daughter of Phoenix he had intercourse by means of a bull, of whom sprang Minos, and Rhadamanthus, and Sarpedon; and with Eurymedusa the daughter of Achelous, changing himself into an ant, of whom was born Myrmidon. With a nymph of Hersaeus, in the form of a vulture, from whom sprang the wise men of old in Sicily. He came to Juno the earth-born in Rhodes, and of her were born Pergaeus, Kronius, Kytis. And he deflowered Ossia, taking the likeness of her husband Phoenix, of whom Anchinous was born to him. Of Nemesis the daughter of Thestius, who is also thought to be Leda, he begot Helena, in the form of a swan or goose; and again, in the form of a star, he produced Castor and Polydeuces. With Lamia he was transformed into a hoopoo.
"In the likeness of a shepherd he made Mnemosyne mother of the Muses. Setting himself on fire, he married Semele, the daughter of Cadmus, of whom he begot Dionysus. In the likeness of a dragon he deflowered his daughter Persephone, thought to be the wife of his brother Pluto. He had intercourse with many other women without undergoing any change in his form; for the husbands had no ill-will to him as if it were a sin, but knew well that in associating with their wives he bountifully produced children for them, bestowing on them the Hermeses, the Apollos, the Dionysi, the Endymions, and others whom we have spoken of, most excellent in beauty through his fatherhood.
"And not to spend the time in an endless exposition, you will find numerous unions with Jupiter of all the gods. But senseless men call these doings of the gods adulteries; even of those gods who did not refrain from the abuse of males as disgraceful, but who practiced even this as proper. For instance, Jupiter himself was in love with Ganymede: Poseidon with Pelops; Apollo with Cinyras, Zacyinthus, Hyacinthus, Phorbas, Hylas, Admetus, Cyparissus, Amyclas, Troilus, Branchus the Tymnaean, Parus the Potnian, Orpheus; Dionysus with Laonis, Ampelus, Hymenaeus, Hermaphrodites, Achilles; Asclepius with Hippolytus, and Hephaestus with Peleus; Pan with Daphnis; Hermes with Perseus, Chrysas, Theseus, Odrysus; Hercules with Abderus, Dryops, Jocastus, Philoctetes, Hylas, Polyphemus, Haemon, Chonus, Eurystheus.
"Thus have I in part set before you the amours of all the more noted gods, beloved, that you may know that fanaticism respecting this thing is confined to senseless men. Therefore they are mortal, and spend their lives sadly, because through their zeal they proclaim those things to be evil which the gods esteem as excellent. Therefore for the future you will be blessed, imitating the gods, and not men. For men, seeing you preserving that which is thought to be chastity, on account of what they themselves feel, praise you indeed, but do not help you. But the gods, seeing you like to themselves, will both praise and help.
"For reckon to me how many mistresses they have rewarded, some of whom they have placed among the stars; and of some they have blessed both the children and the associates. Thus Zeus made Callisto a constellation, called the Little Bear, which some also call the Dog's Tail. Poseidon also placed the dolphin in the sky for the sake of Amphitrite; and he gave a place among the stars to Orion the son of Euryale, the daughter of Minos, for the sake of his mother Euryale. And Dionysus made a constellation of the crown of Ariadne, and Zeus invested the eagle which assisted him in the rape of Ganymede, and Ganymede himself with the honour of the Water-pourer. Also he honoured the bull for the sake of Europa; and also having bestowed Castor, and Polydeuces, and Helena on Leda, he made them stars. Also Perseus for the sake of Danae; and Arcus for the sake of Callisto. The virgin who also is Dice, for the sake of Themis; and Heracles for the sake of Alcmene. But I do not enlarge further; for it would be long to tell particularly how many others the gods have blessed for the sake of their many mistresses. In their intercourse with human beings, which senseless men repudiate as evil deeds, not knowing that pleasure is the great advantage among men.
"But why? Do not the celebrated philosophers extol pleasure, and have they not had intercourse with what women they would? Of these the first was that teacher of Greece, of whom Phoebus himself said, "Of all men, Socrates is the wisest." Does not he teach that in a well-regulated state women should be common? and did he not conceal the fair Alcibiades under his philosopher's gown? And the Socratic Antisthenes writes of the necessity of not abandoning what is called adultery. And even his disciple Diogenes, did not he freely associate with Lais, for the hire of carrying her on his shoulders in public? Does not Epicurus extol pleasure? Did not Aristippus anoint himself with perfumes, and devote himself wholly to Aphrodite? Does not Zeno, intimating indifference, say that the deity pervades all things, that it may be known to the intelligent, that with whomsoever a man has intercourse, it is as with himself; and that it is superfluous to forbid what are called adulteries, or intercourse with mother, or daughter, or sister, or children. And Chrysippus, in his erotic epistles, makes mention of the statue in Argos, representing Hera and Zeus in an obscene position.
"I know that to those uninitiated in the truth these things seem dreadful and most base; but not so to the gods and the philosophers of the Greeks, nor to those initiated in the mysteries of Dionysus and Demeter. But above all these, not to waste time in speaking of the lives of all the gods, and all the philosophers, let the two chief be your marks - Zeus the greatest of the gods, and Socrates of philosophic men. And the other things which I have mentioned in this letter, understand and attend to, that you may not grieve your lover; since, if you act contrarily to gods and heroes, you will be judged wicked, and will subject yourself to fitting punishment. But if you offer yourself to every lover, then, as an imitator of the gods, you shall receive benefits from them. For the rest, dearest one, remember what mysteries I have disclosed to you, and inform me by letter of your choice. Fare you well. '
"I therefore, having received this billet from Appion, as though I were really going to send it to a beloved one, pretended as if she had written in answer to it; and the next day, when Appion came, I gave him the reply, as if from her, as follows: -
"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 born 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, 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.
"But those who will not subdue base lusts belie the gods, that, by representing the gods as first doing the things which they do, they may be set free from blame. For if those who are called gods committed adulteries for the sake of begetting children, and not through lasciviousness, why did they also debauch males? But it is said they complimented their mistresses by making them stars. Therefore before this were there no stars, until such time as, by reason of wantonness, the heaven was adorned with stars by adulterers? And how is it that the children of those who have been made stars are punished in hades, - Atlas loaded, Tantalus tortured with thirst, sisyphus pushing a stone, Tityus thrust through the bowels, Ixion continually rolled round a wheel? How is it that these divine lovers made stars of the women whom they defiled, but gave no such grace to these?
"They were not gods, then, but representations of tyrants. For a certain tomb is shown among the Caucasian mountains, not in heaven, but in earth, as that of Kronos, a barbarous man and a devourer of children. Further, the tomb of the lascivious Zeus, so famed in story, who in the same way devoured his own daughter Metis, is to be seen in Crete, and those of Pluto and Poseidon in the Acherusian lake; and that of Helius in Astra, and of Selene in Carrae, of Hermes in hermopolis, of Ares in Thrace, of Aphrodite in Cyprus, of Dionysus in Thebes, and of the rest in other places. At all events, the tombs are shown of those that I have named; for they were men, and in respect of these things, wicked men and magicians. For else they should not have become despots - I mean Zeus, renowned in story, and Dionysus - but that by changing their forms they prevailed over whom they pleased, for whatever purpose they designed.
"But if we must emulate their lives, let us imitate not only their adulteries, but also their banquets. For Kronos devoured his own children, and Zeus in the same way his own daughter. And what must I say? Pelops served as a supper for all the gods. Therefore let us also, before unhallowed marriages, perpetrate a supper like that of the gods; for thus the supper would be worthy of the marriages. But this you would never consent to; no more will I to adultery. Besides this, you threaten me with the anger of Eros as of a powerful God. Eros is not a God, as I conceive him, but a desire occurring from the temperament of the living creature in order to the perpetuation of life, according to the foresight of him who works all things, that the whole race may not fail, but by reason of pleasure another may be produced out of the substance of one who shall die, springing forth by lawful marriage, that he may know to sustain his own father in old age. And this those born from adultery cannot do, not having the nature of affection towards those who have begotten them.
"Since, therefore, the erotic desire occurs for the sake of continuation and legitimate increasing, as I have said, it behoves parents providing for the chastity of their children to anticipate the desire, by imbuing them with instruction by means of chaste books, and to accustom them beforehand by excellent discourses; for custom is a second nature. And in addition to this, frequently to remind them of the punishments appointed by the laws, that, using fear as a bridle, they may not run on in wicked pleasures. And they ought also, before the springing of the desire, to satisfy the natural passion of puberty by marriage, first persuading them not to look on the beauty of another woman.
"For our mind, whenever it is impressed delightfully with the image of a beloved one, always seeing the form as in a mirror, is tormented by the recollection; and if it do not obtain its desire, it contrives ways of obtaining it; but if it do obtain it, it is rather increased, like fire having a supply of wood, and especially when there is no fear impressed on the soul of the lover before the rise of passion. For as water extinguishes fire, so fear is the extinguisher of unreasonable desire. Therefore I, having learned from a certain Jew both to understand and to do the things that are pleasing to God, am not to be entrapped into adultery by your lying fables. But may God help you in your wish and efforts to be chaste, and afford a remedy to your soul burning with love. '
"When Appion heard the pretended answer, he said: "Is it without reason that I hate the Jews? Here now some Jew has fallen in with her, and has converted her to his religion, and persuaded her to chastity, and it is from now on impossible that she ever have intercourse with another man; for these fellows, setting God before them as the universal inspector of actions, are extremely persistent in chastity, as being unable to be concealed from him. '
"When I heard this, I said to Appion: "Now I shall confess the truth to you. I was not enamored of the woman, or of anyone else, my soul being exceedingly spent on other desires, and on the investigation of true doctrines. And till now, although I have examined many doctrines of philosophers, I have inclined to none of them, excepting only that of the Jews, - a certain merchant of theirs having sojourned here in Rome, selling linen clothes, and a fortunate meeting having set simply before me the doctrine of the unity of God. '
"Then Appion, having heard from me the truth, with his unreasonable hatred of the Jews, and neither knowing nor wishing to know what their faith is, being senselessly angry, immediately quitted Rome in silence. And as this is my first meeting with him since then, I naturally expect his anger in consequence. However, I shall ask him in your presence what he has to say concerning those who are called gods, whose lives, fabled to be filled with all passions, are constantly celebrated to the people, in order to their imitation; while, besides their human passions as I have said, their graves are also shown in different places."
The others having heard these things from me, and desiring to learn what would ensue, accompanied me to visit Appion. And we found him bathed, and sitting at a table furnished. Therefore we enquired but little into the matter concerning the gods. But he, understanding, I suppose, our wish, promised that next day he would have something to say about the gods, and appointed to us the same place where he would converse with us. And we, as soon as he had promised, thanked him, and departed, each one to his home.
And on the third day, when I came with my friends to the appointed place in Tyre, I found Appion sitting between Anubion and Athenodorus, and waiting for us, along with many other learned men. But in no way dismayed, I greeted them, and sat down opposite Appion. And in a little he began to speak:
"I wish to start from the following point, and to come with all speed at once to the question. Before you, my son Clement, joined us, my friend Anubion here, and Athenodorus, who yesterday were among those who heard you discourse, were reporting to me what you said of the numerous false accusations I brought against the gods when I was visiting you in Rome, at the time you were shamming love, how I charged them with pederasty, lasciviousness, and numerous incests of all kinds. But, my son, you ought to have known that I was not in earnest when I wrote such things about the gods, but was concealing the truth, from my love to you. That truth, however, if it so please you, you may hear from me now.
"The wisest of the ancients, men who had by hard labour learned all truth, kept the path of knowledge hid from those who were unworthy and had no taste for lessons in divine things. For it is not really true that from Ouranos and his mother Ge were born twelve children, as the myth counts them: six sons, Okeanos, Koios, Krios, Hyperion, Japetos, Kronos; and six daughters, Thea, Themis, Mnemosyne, Demeter, Tethys, and Rhea. Nor that Kronos, with the knife of adamant, mutilated his father Ouranos, as you say, and threw the part into the sea; nor that Aphrodite sprang from the drops of blood which flowed from it; nor that Kronos associated with Rhea, and devoured his first-begotten son Pluto, because a certain saying of Prometheus led him to fear that a child born from him would grow stronger than himself, and spoil him of his kingdom; nor that he devoured in the same way Poseidon, his second child; nor that, when Zeus was born next, his mother Rhea concealed him, and when Kronos asked for him that he might devour him, gave him a stone instead; nor that this, when it was devoured, pressed those who had been previously devoured, and forced them out, so that Pluto, who was devoured first, came out first, and after him Poseidon, and then Zeus; nor that Zeus, as the story goes, preserved by the wit of his mother, ascended into heaven, and spoiled his father of the kingdom; nor that he punished his father's brothers; nor that he came down to lust after mortal women; nor that he associated with his sisters, and daughters, and sisters-in-law, and was guilty of shameful pederasty; nor that he devoured his daughter Metis, in order that from her he might make Athene be born out of his own brain (and from his thigh might bear Dionysos, who is said to have been rent in pieces by the Titans); nor that he held a feast at the marriage of Peleus and Thetis; nor that he excluded Erie (discord) from the marriage; nor that Erie on her part, thus dishonoured, contrived an occasion of quarreling and discord among the feasters; nor that she took a golden apple from the gardens of the Hesperides, and wrote on it "For the fair. ' And then they fable how Hera, and Athena, and Aphrodite, found the apple, and quarreling about it, came to Zeus; and he did not decide it for them, but sent them by Hermes to the shepherd Paris, to be judged of their beauty. But there was no such judging of the goddesses; nor did Paris give the apple to Aphrodite; nor did Aphrodite, being thus honoured, honour him in return, by giving him Helen to wife. For the honour bestowed by the goddess could never have furnished a pretext for a universal war, and that to the ruin of him who was honoured, himself nearly related to the race of Aphrodite. But, my son, as I said, such stories have a peculiar and philosophical meaning, which can be allegorically set forth in such a way that you yourself would listen with wonder." And I said, "I beseech you not to torment me with delay." And he said, "Do not be afraid; for I shall lose no time, but begin at once.
"There was once a time when nothing existed but chaos and a confused mixture of orderless elements, which were as yet simply heaped together. This nature testifies, and great men have been of opinion that it was so. Of these great men I shall bring forward to you him who excelled them all in wisdom, Homer, where he says, with a reference to the original confused mass, "But may you all become water and earth;' implying that from these all things had their origin, and that all things return to their first state, which is chaos, when the watery and earthy substances are separated. And Hesiod in the theogony says, "Assuredly chaos was the very first to come into being. ' Now, by "come into being,' he evidently means that chaos came into being, as having a beginning, and did not always exist, without beginning. And Orpheus likens chaos to an egg, in which was the confused mixture of the primordial elements. This chaos, which Orpheus calls an egg, is taken for granted by Hesiod, having a beginning, produced from infinite matter, and originated in the following way.
"This matter, of four kinds, and endowed with life, was an entire infinite abyss, so to speak, in eternal stream, born about without order, and forming every now and then countless but ineffectual combinations (which therefore it dissolved again from want of order); ripe indeed, but not able to be bound so as to generate a living creature. And once it happened that this infinite sea, which was thus by its own nature driven about with a natural motion, flowed in an orderly manner from the same to the same (back on itself), like a whirlpool, mixing the substances in such a way that from each there flowed down the middle of the universe (as in the funnel of a mould) precisely that which was most useful and suitable for the generation of a living creature. This was carried down by the all-carrying whirlpool, drew to itself the surrounding spirit, and having been so conceived that it was very fertile, formed a separate substance. For just as a bubble is usually formed in water, so everything round about contributed to the conception of this ball-like globe. Then there came forth to the light, after it had been conceived in itself, and was born upwards by the divine spirit which surrounded it, perhaps the greatest thing ever born; a piece of workmanship, so to speak, having life in it which had been conceived from that entire infinite abyss, in shape like an egg, and as swift as a bird.
"Now you must think of Kronos as time (chronos), and Rhea as the flowing (Rheon) of the watery substance. For the whole body of matter was born about for some time, before it brought forth, like an egg, the sphere-like, all-embracing heaven (OUranos), which at first was full of productive marrow, so that it was able to produce out of itself elements and colours of all sorts, while from the one substance and the one colour it produced all kinds of forms. For as a peacock's egg seems to have only one colour, while potentially it has in it all the colours of the animal that is to be, so this living egg, conceived out of infinite matter, when set in motion by the underlying and ever-flowing matter, produces many different forms. For within the circumference a certain living creature, which is both male and female, is formed by the skill of the indwelling divine spirit. This Orpheus calls Phanes, because when it appeared (phanEIs) the universe shone forth from it, with the splendour of that most glorious of the elements, fire, perfected in moisture. Nor is this incredible, since in gloworms nature gives us to see a moist light.
"This egg, then, which was the first substance, growing somewhat hot, was broken by the living creature within, and then there took shape and came forth something; such as Orpheus also speaks of, where he says, "when the capacious egg was broken,' etc. And so by the mighty power of that which appeared (phanEIs) and came forth, the globe attained coherency, and maintained order, while it itself took its seat, so to speak, on the summit of heaven, there in inexpressible mystery diffusing light through endless ages. But the productive matter left inside the globe, separated the substances of all things. For first its lower part, just like the dregs, sank downwards of its own weight; and this they called Pluto from its gravity, and weight, and great quantity (POLU) of underlying matter, styling it the king of Hades and the dead.
"When, then, they say that this primordial substance, although most filthy and rough, was devoured by Kronos, that is, time, this is to be understood in a physical sense, as meaning that it sank downwards. And the water which flowed together after this first sediment, and floated on the surface of the first substance, they called Poseidon. And then what remained, the purest and noblest of all, for it was translucent fire, they called Zeus, from its glowing (zeousa) nature, Now since fire ascends, this was not swallowed, and made to descend by time or Kronos; but, as I said, the fiery substance, since it has life in it, and naturally ascends, flew right up into the air, which from its purity is very intelligent. By his own proper heat, then, Zeus - that is, the glowing substance - draws up what is left in the underlying moisture, that is, that very strong and divine spirit which they called Metis.
"And this, when it had reached the summit of the aether, was devoured by it (moisture being mixed with heat, so to say); and causing in it that ceaseless palpitation, it begot intelligence, which they call Pallas from this palpitating (Pallesthai). And this is artistic wisdom, by which the ethereal artificer worked out the whole world. And from all-pervading Zeus, that is, from this very hot aether, air (Aer) extends all the way to our earth; and this they call Hera. Therefore, because it has come below the aether, which is the purest substance (just as a woman, as regards purity, is inferior), when the two were compared to see which was the better, she was rightly regarded as the sister of Zeus, in respect of her origin from the same substance, but as his spouse, as being inferior like a wife.
"And Hera we understand to be a happy tempering of the atmosphere, and therefore she is very fruitful; but Athena, as they call Pallas, was reckoned a virgin, because on account of the intense heat she could produce nothing. And in a similar fashion Artemis is explained: for her they take as the lowest depth of air, and so they called her a virgin, because she could not bear anything on account of the extreme cold. And that troubled and drunken composition which arises from the upper and lower vapors they called Dionysus, as troubling the intellect. And the water under the earth, which is in nature indeed one, but which flows through all the paths of earth, and is divided into many parts, they called Osiris, as being cut in pieces. And they understand Adonis as favourable seasons, Aphrodite as coition and generation, Demeter as the earth, the Girl (Proserpine) as seeds; and Dionysus some understand as the vine.
"And I must ask you to think of all such stories as embodying some such allegory. Look on Apollo as the wandering Sun (peri-polon), a son of Zeus, who was also called Mithras, as completing the period of a year. And these said transformations of the all-pervading Zeus must be regarded as the numerous changes of the seasons, while his numberless wives you must understand to be years, or generations. For the power which proceeds from the aether and passes through the air unites with all the years and generations in turn, and continually varies them, and so produces or destroys the crops. And ripe fruits are called his children, the barrenness of some seasons being referred to unlawful unions."
While Appion was allegorizing in this way, I became plunged in thought, and seemed not to be following what he was saying. So he interrupted his discourse, and said to me, "If you do not follow what I am saying, why should I speak at all?" And I answered, "Do not suppose that I do not understand what you say. I understand it thoroughly; and that the more that this is not the first time I have heard it. And that you may know that I am not ignorant of these things, I shall epitomize what you have said, and supply in their order, as I have heard them from others, the allegorical interpretations of those stories you have omitted." And Appion said: "Do so."
And I answered: "l shall not at present speak particularly of that living egg, which was conceived by a happy combination out of infinite matter, and from which, when it was broken, the masculo-feminine Phanes leaped forth, as some say. I say little about all that, up to the point when this broken globe attained coherency, there being left in it some of its marrow-like matter; and I shall briefly run over the description of what took place in it by the agency of this matter, with all that followed. For from Kronos and Rhea were born, as you say - that is, by time and matter - first Pluto, who represents the sediment which settled down; and then Poseidon, the liquid substance in the middle, which floated over the heavier body below; and the third child - that is, Zeus - is the aether, and is highest of all. It was not devoured; but as it is a fiery power, and naturally ascends, it flew up as with a bound to the very highest aether.
"And the bonds of Kronos are the binding together of heaven and earth, as I have heard others allegorizing; and his mutilation is the separation and parting of the elements; for they all were severed and separated, according to their respective natures, that each kind might be arranged by itself. And time no longer begets anything; but the things which have been begotten of it, by a law of nature, produce their successors. And the Aphrodite who emerged from the sea is the fruitful substance which arises out of moisture, with which the warm spirit mixing, causes that sexual desire, and perfects the beauty of the world.
"And the marriage banquet, at which Zeus held the feast on the occasion of the marriage of the Nereid Thetis and the beautiful Peleus, has in it this allegory, - that you may know, Appion, that you are not the only one from whom I have heard this sort of thing. The banquet, then, is the world, and the twelve are these heavenly props of the Fates, called the Zodiac. Prometheus is foresight (Prometheia), by which all things arose; Peleus is clay (pelOs), namely, that which was COllected from the earth and mixed with Nereis, or water, to produce man; and from the mixing of the two, that is, water and earth, the first offspring was not begotten, but fashioned complete, and called Achilles, because he never put his lips (cheile) to the breast. Still in the bloom of life, he is slain by an arrow while desiring to have Polyxena, that is, something other than the truth, and foreign (XenE) to it, death stealing on him through a wound in his foot.
"Then Hera, and Athena, and Aphrodite, and Eris, and the apple, and Hermes, and the judgment, and the shepherd, have some such hidden meaning as the following: Hera is dignity; Athena, manliness; Aphrodite, pleasure; Hermes, language, which interprets (HermeneutiKOs) thought; the shepherd Paris, unreasoned and brutish passion. Now if, in the prime of life, reason, that shepherd of the soul, is brutish, does not regard its own advantage, will have nothing to do with manliness and temperance, chooses only pleasure, and gives the prize to lust alone, bargaining that it is to receive in return from lust what, may delight it, - he who thus judges incorrectly will choose pleasure to his own destruction and that of his friends. And Eris is jealous spite; and the golden apples of the Hesperides are perhaps riches, by which occasionally even temperate persons like Hera are seduced, and manly ones like Athena are made jealous, so that they do things which do not become them, and the soul's beauty like Aphrodite is destroyed under the guise of refinement. To speak briefly, in all men riches provoke evil discord.
"And Hercules, who slew the serpent which led and guarded riches, is the true philosophical reason which, free from all wickedness, wanders all over the world, visiting the souls of men, and chastising all it meets, - namely, men like fierce lions, or timid stags, or savage boars, or multiform hydras; and so with all the other fabled labours of Hercules, they all have a hidden reference to moral valour. But these instances must suffice, for all our time would be insufficient if we were to go over each one.
"Now, since these things can be clearly, profitably, and without prejudice to piety, set forth in an open and straightforward manner, I wonder you call those men sensible and wise who concealed them under crooked riddles, and overlaid them with filthy stories, and thus, as if impelled by an evil spirit, deceived almost all men. For either these things are not riddles, but real crimes of the gods, in which case they should not have been exposed to contempt, nor should these their needs have been set before men at all as models; or things falsely attributed to the gods were set forth in an allegory, and then, Appion, they whom you call wise erred, in that, by concealing under unworthy stories things in themselves worthy, they led men to sin, and that not without dishonouring those whom they believed to be gods.
"Therefore do not suppose that they were wise men, but rather evil spirits, who could cover honourable actions with wicked stories, in order that they who wish to imitate their betters may emulate these deeds of so-called gods, which yesterday in my discourse I spoke so freely of, - namely, their parricides, their murders of their children, their incests of all kinds, their shameless adulteries and countless impurities. The most impious of them are those who wish these stories to be believed, in order that they may not be ashamed when they do the like. If they had been disposed to act reverently, they ought, as I said a little ago, even if the gods really did the things which are sting of them, to have veiled their indecencies under more proper stories, and not, on the contrary, as you say they did, when the deeds of the gods were honourable, clothed them in wicked and indecent forms, which, even when interpreted, can only be understood by much labour; and when they were understood by some, they indeed got for their much toil the privilege of not being deceived, which they might have had without the toil, while they who were deceived were utterly ruined. (Those, however, who trace the allegories to a more honourable source I do not object to; as, for instance, those who explain one allegory by saying that it was wisdom which sprang from the head of Zeus.) On the whole, it seems to me more probable that wicked men, robbing the gods of their honour, ventured to promulgate these insulting stories.
"Nor do we find the poetical allegory about any of the gods consistent with itself. To go no further than the fashioning of the universe, the poets now say that nature was the first cause of the whole creation, now that it was mind. For, say they, the first moving and mixture of the elements came from nature, but it was the foresight of mind which arranged them in order. Even when they assert that it was nature which fashioned the universe, being unable absolutely to demonstrate this on account of the traces of design in the work, they inweave the foresight of mind in such a way that they are able to entrap even the wisest. But we say to them: If the world arose from self-moved nature, how did it ever take proportion and shape, which cannot come but from a superintending wisdom, and can be comprehended only by knowledge, which alone can trace such things? If, on the other hand, it is by wisdom that all things subsist and maintain order, how can it be that those things arose from self-moved chance?
"Then those who chose to make dishonourable allegories of divine things - as, for instance, that Metis was devoured by Zeus - have fallen into a dilemma, because they did not see that they who in these stories about the gods indirectly taught physics, denied the very existence of the gods, revolving all kinds of gods into mere allegorical representations of the various substances of the universe. And so it is more likely that the gods these persons celebrate were some sort of wicked magicians, who were in reality wicked men, but by magic assumed different shapes, committed adulteries, and took away life, and thus to the men of old who did not understand magic seemed to be gods by the things they did; and the bodies and tombs of these men are to be seen in many towns.
"For instance, as I have mentioned already, in the Caucasian mountains there is shown the tomb of a certain Kronos, a man, and a fierce monarch who slew his children. And the son of this man, called Zeus, became worse than his father; and having by the power of magic been declared ruler of the universe, he committed many adulteries, and inflicted punishment on his father and uncles, and so died; and the Cretans show his tomb. And in Mesopotamia there lie buried a certain helios at Atir, and a certain Selene at Carrhae. A certain hermes, a man, lies buried in Egypt; Ares in Thrace; Aphrodite in Cyprus; Aesculapius in Epidaurus; and the tombs of many other such persons are to be seen.
"Thus, to right-thinking men, it is clear that they were admitted to be mortals. And their contemporaries, knowing that they were mortal, when they died paid them no more heed; and it was length of you which clothed them with the glory of gods. Nor need you wonder that they who lived in the times of Aesculapius and Hercules were deceived, or the contemporaries of Dionysus or any other of the men of that time, when even Hector in Ilium, and Achilles in the island of Leuce, are worshipped by the inhabitants of those places; and the Opuntines worship Patroclus, and the Rhodians Alexander of Macedon.
"Moreover, among the Egyptians even to the present day, a man is worshipped as a God before his death. And this truly is a small impiety, that the Egyptians give divine honours to a man in his lifetime; but what is of all things most absurd is, that they worship birds and creeping things, and all kinds of beasts. For the mass of men neither think nor do anything with discretion. But look, please, at what is most disgraceful of all: he who is with them the father of gods and men is said by them to have had intercourse with Leda; and many of them set up in public a painting of this, writing above it the name Zeus. To punish this insult, I could wish that they would paint their own present king in such base embraces as they have dared to do with Zeus, and set it up in public, that from the anger of a temporary monarch, and him a mortal, they might learn to render honour where it is due. This I say to you, not as myself already knowing the true God; but I am happy to say that even if I do not know who is God, I think I at least know clearly what God is.
"And first, then, the four original elements cannot be God, because they have a cause. Nor can that mixing be God, nor that compounding, nor that generating, nor that globe which surrounds the visible universe; nor the dregs which flow together in hades, nor the water which floats over them; nor the fiery substance, nor the air which extends from it to our earth. For the four elements, if they lay outside one another, could not have been mixed together so as to generate animal life without some great artificer. If they have always been united, even in this case they are fitted together by an artistic mind to what is required for the limbs and parts of animals, that they may be able to preserve their respective proportions, may have a clearly defined shape, and that all the inward parts may attain the fitting coherency. In the same way also the positions suitable for each are determined, and that very beautifully, by the artificer mind. To be brief, in all other things which a living creature must have, this great being of the world is in no respect wanting.
"Thus we are shut up to the supposition that there is an unbegotten artificer, who brought the elements together, if they were separate; or, if they were together, artistically blended them so as to generate life, and perfected from all one work. For it cannot be that a work which is completely wise can be made without a mind which is greater than it. Nor will it do to say that love is the artificer of all things, or desire, or power, or any such thing. All these are liable to change, and transient in their very nature. Nor can that be God which is moved by another, much less what is altered by time and nature, and can be annihilated."
While I was saying these things to Appion, Peter drew near from Caesarea, and in Tyre the people were flocking together, hurrying to meet him and unite in an expression of gratification at his visit. And Appion withdrew, accompanied by Anubion and Athenodorus only; but the rest of us hurried to meet Peter, and I was the first to greet him at the gate, and I led him towards the inn. When we arrived, we dismissed the people; and when he graciously willed to ask what had taken place, I concealed nothing, but told him of Simon's slanders, and the monstrous shapes he had taken, and all the diseases he had sent after the sacrificial feast, and that some of the sick persons were still there in Tyre, while others had gone on with Simon to Sidon just as I arrived, hoping to be cured by him, but that I had heard that none of them had been cured by him. I also told Peter of the controversy I had with Appion; and he, from his love to me, and desiring to encourage me, praised and blessed me. Then, having supped, he betook himself to the rest the fatigues of his journey rendered so necessary.
And on the fourth day of our stay in Tyre, Peter went out about daybreak, and there met him not a few of the dwellers round about, with very many of the inhabitants of Tyre itself, who cried out, and said, "God through you have mercy on us, God through you heal us!" And Peter stood on a high stone, that all might see him; and having greeted them in a godly manner, thus began: -
"God, who created the heavens and the whole universe, does not want occasion for the salvation of those who would be saved. Therefore let no one, in seeming evils, rashly charge him with unkindness to man. For men do not know the issue of those things which happen to them, no, suspect that the result will be evil; but God knows that they will turn out well. So is it in the case of Simon. He is a power of the left hand of God, and has authority to do harm to those who do not know God, so that he has been able to involve you in diseases; but by these very diseases, which have been permitted to come on you by the good providence of God, you, seeking and finding him who is able to cure, have been compelled to submit to the will of God on the occasion of the cure of the body, and to think of believing, in order that in this way you may have your souls as well as your bodies in a healthy state.
"Now I have been told, that after he had sacrificed an ox he feasted you in the middle of the forum, and that you, being carried away with much wine, made friends with not only the evil demons, but their prince also, and that in this way the most of you were seized by these sicknesses, unwittingly drawing on yourselves with your own hands the sword of destruction. For the demons would never have had power over you, had not you first supped with their prince. For thus from the beginning was a law laid by God, the Creator of all things, on each of the two princes, him of the right hand and him of the left, that neither should have power over anyone whom they might wish to benefit or to hurt, unless first he had sat down at the same table with them. As, then, when you partook of meat offered to idols, you became servants to the prince of evil, in the same way, if you cease from these things, and flee for refuge to God through the good Prince of his right hand, honouring him without sacrifices, by doing whatever he wills, know truly that not only will your bodies be healed, but your souls also will become healthy. For he only, destroying with his left hand, can enliven with his right; he only can both smite and raise the fallen.
"Therefore, as then you were deceived by the forerunner Simon, and so became dead in your souls to God, and were smitten in your bodies; so now, if you repent, as I said, and submit to those things which are well-pleasing to God, you may get new strength to your bodies, and recover your soul's health. And the things which are well-pleasing to God are these: to pray to him, to ask from him, recognising that he is the giver of all things, and gives with discriminating law; to abstain from the table of devils, not to taste dead flesh, not to touch blood; to be washed from all pollution; and the rest in one word, - as the God-fearing Jews have heard, do you also hear, and be of one mind in many bodies; let each man be minded to do to his neighbour those good things he wishes for himself. And you may all find out what is good, by holding some such conversation as the following with yourselves: you would not like to be murdered; do not murder another man: you would not like your wife to be seduced by another; do not you commit adultery: you would not like any of your things to be stolen from you; steal nothing from another. And so understanding by yourselves what is reasonable, and doing it, you will become dear to God, and will obtain healing; otherwise in the life which now is your bodies will be tormented, and in that which is to come your souls will be punished."
After Peter had spent a few days in teaching them in this way, and in healing them, they were baptised. And after that, all sat down together in the market-places in sackcloth and ashes, grieving because of his other wondrous works, and repenting their former sins. And when they of Sidon heard it, they did likewise, and sent to beseech Peter, since they could not come themselves for their diseases. And Peter did not spend many days in Tyre; but when he had instructed all its inhabitants, and freed them from all manners of diseases and had rounded a church, and set over it as bishop one of the elders who were with him, he departed for Sidon. But when Simon heard that Peter was coming, he immediately fled to Beyrout with Appion and his friends.
And as Peter entered Sidon, they brought many in couches, and laid them before him. And he said to them: "Think not, please, that I can do anything to heal you, who am a mortal man, myself subject to many evils. But I shall not refuse to show you the way in which you must be saved. For I have learned from the Prophet of truth the conditions fore-chosen by God before the foundation of the world; that is to say, the evil deeds which if men do he has ordained that they shall be injured by the prince of evil, and in the same way the good deeds for which he has decreed that they who have believed in him as their Physician shall have their bodies made whole, and their souls established in safety.
"Knowing, then, these good and evil deeds, I make known to you so to speak two paths, and I shall show you by which travelers are lost and by which they are saved, being guided of God. The path of the lost, then, is broad and very smooth - it ruins them without troubling them; but the path of the saved is narrow, rugged, and in the end it saves, not without much toil, those who have journeyed through it. And these two paths are presided over by unbelief and faith; and these journey through the path of unbelief, those who have preferred pleasure, on account of which they have forgotten the day of judgment, doing that which is not pleasing to God, and not caring to save their souls by the word, and have not anxiously sought their own good. Truly they do not know that the counsels of God are not like men's counsels; for, in the first place, he knows the thoughts of all men, and all must give an account not only of their actions, but also of their thoughts. And their sin is much less who strive to understand well and fall, than that of those who do not at all strive after good things. Because it has pleased God that he who errs in his knowledge of good, as men count errors, should be saved after being slightly punished. But they who have taken no care at all to know the better way, even though they may have done countless other good deeds, if they have not stood in the service he has himself appointed, come under the charge of indifference, and are severely punished, and utterly destroyed.
"And this is the service he has appointed: To worship him only, and trust only in the Prophet of truth, and to be baptised for the remission of sins, and thus by this pure baptism to be born again to God by saving water; to abstain from the table of devils, that is, from food offered to idols, from dead carcasses, from animals which have been suffocated or caught by wild beasts, and from blood; not to live any longer impurely; to wash after intercourse; that the women on their part should keep the Law of purification; that all should be sober-minded, given to good works, refraining from wrongdoing, looking for eternal life from the all-powerful God, and asking with prayer and continual supplication that they may win it." Such was Peter's counsel to the men of Sidon also. And in few days many repented and believed, and were healed. And Peter having founded a church, and set over it as bishop one of the elders who were with him, left Sidon.
No sooner had he reached Beyrout than an earthquake took place; and the multitude, running to Peter, said, "Help us, for we are afraid we shall all utterly perish." Then Simon ventured, along with Appion and Anubion and Athenodorus, and the rest of his companions, to cry out to the people against Peter in public: "Flee, friends, from this man! he is a magician; trust us, he it was who caused this earthquake: he sent us these diseases to terrify us, as if he were God himself." And many such false charges did Simon and his friends bring against Peter, as one who could do things above human power. But as soon as the people gave him a moment's quiet, Peter with surprising boldness gave a little laugh, and said, "Friends, I admit that I can do, God willing, what these men say; and more than that, I am ready, if you do not believe what I say, to overturn your city from top to bottom."
And the people were afraid, and promised to do whatever he should command. "Let none of you, then," said Peter, "either hold conversation with these sorcerers, or have any thing to do with them." And as soon as the people heard this concise command, they took up sticks, and pursued them until they had driven them wholly out of the town. And they who were sick and possessed with devils came and cast themselves at Peter's feet. And he seeing all this, and anxious to free them from their terror, said to them: -
"Were I able to cause earthquakes, and do all that I wish, I assure you I would not destroy Simon and his friends (for not to destroy men am I sent), but would make him my friend, that he might no longer, by his slanders against my preaching the truth, hinder the salvation of many. But if you believe me, he himself is a magician; he is a slanderer; he is a minister of evil to them who do not know the truth. Therefore he has power to bring diseases on sinners, having the sinners themselves to help him in his power over them. But I am a servant of God the Creator of all things, and a disciple of his Prophet who is at his right hand. Therefore I, being his apostle, preach the truth: to serve a good man I drive away diseases, for I am his second messenger, since first the disease comes, but after that the healing. By that evil-working magician, then, you were stricken with disease because you revolted from God. By me, if you believe on him you shall be cured: and so having had experience that he is able, you may turn to good works, and have your souls saved."
As he said these things, all fell on their knees before his feet. And he, lifting up his hands to heaven, prayed to God, and healed them all by his simple prayer alone. And he remained not many days in Beyrout; but after he had accustomed many to the service of the one God, and had baptised them, and had set over them a bishop from the elders who were with him, he went to Byblus. And when he came there, and learned that Simon had not waited for them for a day, but had gone immediately to Tripolis, he remained there only a few days; and after that he had healed not a few, and exercised them in the Scriptures, he followed in Simon's track to Tripolis, preferring to pursue him rather than flee from him.