Ante-Nicene Christian Library/Recognitions of Clement: Book 10
RECOGNITIONS OF CLEMENT.
UT in the morning, after sunrise, I Clement, and Niceta and Aquila, along with Peter, came to the apartment in which my father and mother were sleeping; and finding them still asleep, we sat down before the door, when Peter addressed us in such terms as these: "Listen to me, most beloved fellow-servants: I know that you have a great affection for your father; therefore I am afraid that you will urge him too soon to take upon himself the yoke of religion, while he is not yet prepared for it; and to this he may perhaps consent, through his affection for you. But this is not to be depended on; for what is done for the sake of men is not worthy of approbation, and soon falls to pieces. Therefore it seems to me, that you should permit him to live for a year according to his own judgment; and during that time he may travel with us, and while we are instructing others he may hear with simplicity; and as he hears, if he has any right purpose of acknowledging the truth, he will himself request that he may take up the yoke of religion; or if he do not please to take it, he may remain a friend. For those who do not take it up heartily, when they begin not to be able to bear it, not only cast off that which they had taken up, but by way of excuse, as it were, for their weakness, they begin to speak evil of the way of religion, and to malign those whom they have not been able to follow or to imitate."
Chap. ii.—A difficulty.
To this Niceta answered: "My lord Peter, I say nothing against your right and good counsels; but I wish to say one thing, that thereby I may learn something that I do not know. What if my father should die within the year during which you recommend that he should be put off? He will go down to hell helpless, and so be tormented for ever." Then said Peter: "I embrace your kindly purpose towards your father, and I forgive you in respect of things of which you are ignorant. For do you suppose that, if any one is thought to have lived righteously, he shall forthwith be saved? Do you not think that he must be examined by Him who knows the secrets of men, as to how he has lived righteously, whether perchance according to the rule of the Gentiles, obeying their institutions and laws; or for the sake of the friendship of men; or merely from custom, or any other cause; or from necessity, and not on account of righteousness itself, and for the sake of God? For those who have lived righteously, for the sake of God alone and His righteousness, they shall come to eternal rest, and shall receive the perpetuity of the heavenly kingdom. For salvation is not attained by force, but by liberty; and not through the favour of men, but by the faith of God. Then, besides, you ought to consider that God is prescient, and knows whether this man is one of His. But if He knows that he is not, what shall we do with respect to those things which have been determined by Him from the beginning? But wherein I can, I give counsel: when he is awake, and we sit down together, then do you, as if you wished to learn something, ask a question about those matters which it is fitting for him to learn; and while we speak to one another, he will gain instruction. But yet wait first to see if he himself ask anything; for if he do so, the occasion of discourse will be the fitter. But if he do not ask anything, let us by turns put questions to one another, wishing to learn something, as I have said. Such is my judgment, state what is yours."
Chap. iii.—A suggestion.
And when we had commended his right counsel, I Clement said: "In all things, the end for the most part looks back upon the beginning, and the issue of things is similar to their commencement. I hope, therefore, with respect to our father also, since God by your means has given a good beginning, that He will bestow also an ending suitable to the beginning, and worthy of Himself. However, I make this suggestion, that if, as you have said, we begin to speak, in presence of my father, as if for the purpose of discussing some subject, or learning something from one another, you, my lord Peter, ought not to occupy the place of one who has anything to learn; for if he see this, he will rather be offended. For he is convinced that you fully know all things, as indeed you do. How then will it be, if he see you pretending ignorance? This, as I have said, will rather hurt him, being ignorant of your design. But if we brothers, while we converse among ourselves, are in any doubt, let a fitting solution be given by you to our inquiry. For if he see even you hesitating and doubting, then truly he will think that no one has knowledge of the truth."
Chap. iv.—Free inquiry.
To this Peter answered: "Let us not concern ourselves about this; and if indeed it is fitting that he enter the gate of life, God will afford a fitting opportunity; and there shall be a beginning from God, and not from man. And therefore, as I have said, let him journey with us, and hear our discussions; but because I saw you in haste, therefore I said that opportunity must be sought; and when God shall give it, do you comply with my advice in what I shall say." While we were thus talking, a boy came to tell us that our father was now awake; and when we were intending to go in to him, he himself came to us, and saluting us with a kiss, after we had sat down again, he said: "Is it permitted to one to ask a question, if he wishes it; or is silence enforced, after the manner of the Pythagoreans?" Then said Peter: "We do not compel those who come to us either to keep silence continually, or to ask questions; but we leave them free to do as they will, knowing that he who is anxious about his salvation, if he feels pain in any part of his soul, does not suffer it to be silent. But he who neglects his salvation, no advantage is conferred upon him if he is compelled to ask, excepting this only, that he may seem to be earnest and diligent. Wherefore, if you wish to get any information, ask on."
Chap. v.—Good and evil.
Then the old man said: "There is a saying very prevalent among the Greek philosophers, to the effect that there is in reality neither good nor evil in the life of man; but that men call things good or evil as they appear to them, prejudiced by the use and custom of life. For not even murder is really an evil, because it sets the soul free from the bonds of the flesh. Further, they say that even just judges put to death those who commit crimes; but if they knew homicide to be an evil, just men would not do that. Neither do they say that adultery is an evil; for if the husband does not know, or does not care, there is, they say, no evil in it. But neither, say they, is theft an evil; for it takes away what one does not possess from another who has it. And, indeed, it ought to be taken freely and openly; but in that it is done secretly, that is rather a reproof of his inhumanity from whom it is secretly taken. For all men ought to have the common use of all things that are in this world; but through injustice one says that this is his, and another that that is his, and so division is caused among men. In short, a certain man, the wisest among the Greeks, knowing that these things are so, says that friends should have all things common. Now, in all things unquestionably wives are included. He says also that, as the air and the sunshine cannot be divided, so neither ought other things to be divided, which are given in this world to all to be possessed in common, but should be so possessed. But I wished to say this, because I am desirous to turn to doing, and I cannot act well unless I first learn what is good; and if I can understand that, I shall thereby perceive what is evil, that is, opposite to good.
Chap. vi.—Peter's authority.
"But I should like that one of you, and not Peter, should answer what I have said; for it is not fitting to take words and instruction at his hand, with questions; but when he gives a deliverance on any subject, that should be held without answering again. And therefore let us keep him as an umpire; so that if at any time our discussion does not come to an issue, he may declare what seems good to him, and so give an undoubted end to doubtful matters. And now therefore I could believe, content with his sole opinion, if he expressed any opinion; and this is what I shall do at last. Yet I wish first to see if it is possible by discussion to find what is sought. My wish therefore is, that Clement should begin first, and should show if there is any good or evil in substance or in actions."
Chap. vii.—Clement's argument.
To this I answered: "Since indeed you wish to learn from me if there is any good or evil in nature or in act, or whether it is not rather that men, prejudiced by custom, think some things to be good, and others to be evil, forasmuch as they have made a division among themselves of common things, which ought, as you say, to be as common as the air and the sunshine; I think that I ought not to bring before you any statements from any other quarter than from those studies in which you are well versed, and which you support, so that what I say you will receive without hesitation. You assign certain boundaries of all the elements and the heavenly bodies, and these, you say, meet in some without hurt, as in marriages; but in others they are hurtfully united, as in adulteries. And you say that some things are general to all, but other things do not belong to all, and are not general. But not to make a long discussion, I shall speak briefly of the matter. The earth which is dry is in need of the addition and admixture of water, that it may be able to produce fruits, without which man cannot live: this is therefore a legitimate conjunction. On the contrary, if the cold of hoar-frost be mixed with the earth, or heat with the water, a conjunction of this sort produces corruption; and this, in such things, is adultery."
Chap. viii.—Admitted evils.
Then my father answered: "But as the harmfulness of an inharmonious conjunction of elements or stars is immediately betrayed, so ought also adultery to be immediately shown that it is an evil." Then I: "First tell me this, whether, as you yourself have confessed, evils are produced from incongruous and inharmonious mixture; and then after that we shall inquire into the other matter." Then my father said: "The nature of things is as you say, my son." Then I answered: "Since, then, you wish to learn of these things, see how many things there are which no one doubts to be evils. Do you not think that a fever, a fire, sedition, the fall of a house, murder, bonds, racks, pains, mournings, and such like, are evils?" Then said my father: "It is true, my son, that these things are evil, and very evil; or, at all events, whoever denies that they are evil, let him suffer them!"
Chap. ix.—Existence of evil on astrological principles.
Then I answered: "Since, therefore, I have to deal with one who is skilled in astrological science, I shall treat the matter with you according to that science, that, taking my method from those things with which you are familiar, you may the more readily acquiesce. Listen now, therefore: you confess that those things which we have mentioned are evils, such as fevers, conflagrations, and such like. Now these, according to you, are said to be produced by malignant stars, such as the humid Saturn and the hot Mars; but things contrary to these are produced by benignant stars, such as the temperate Jupiter and the humid Venus. Is it not so?" My father answered: "It is so, my son; and it cannot be otherwise." Then said I: "Since you say, therefore, that good things are produced by good stars—by Jupiter and Venus, for example—let us see what is the product where any one of the evil stars is mixed with the good, and let us understand that that is evil. For you lay it down that Venus makes marriages, and if she have Jupiter in her configuration she makes the marriages chaste; but if Jupiter be not regarding, and Mars be present, then you pronounce that the marriages are corrupted by adultery." Then said my father: "It is even so." Then I answered: "Therefore adultery is an evil, seeing that it is committed through the admixture of evil stars; and, to state it in a word, all things that you say that the good stars suffer from the mixture of evil stars, are undoubtedly to be pronounced to be evil. Those stars, therefore, by whose admixture we have said that fevers, conflagrations, and other such like evils are produced,—those, according to you, work also murders, adulteries, thefts, and also produce haughty and stolid men."
Chap. x.—How to make progress.
Then my father said: "Truly you have shown briefly and incomparably that there are evils in actions; but still I should wish to learn this, how God justly judges those who sin, as you say, if genesis compels them to sin?" Then I answered: "I am afraid to speak anything to you, my father, because it becomes me to hold you in all honour; else I have an answer to give you, if it were becoming." Then says my father: "Speak what occurs to you, my son; for it is not you, but the method of inquiry, that does the wrong, as a modest woman to an incontinent man, if she is indignant for her safety and her honour." Then I answered: "If we do not hold by the principles that we have acknowledged and confessed, but if those things which have been defined are always loosened by forgetfulness, we shall seem to be weaving Penelope's web, undoing what we have done. And therefore we ought either not to acquiesce too easily, before we have diligently examined the doctrine propounded; or if we have once acquiesced, and the proposition has been agreed to, then we ought to keep by what has been once determined, that we may go on with our inquiries respecting other matters." And my father said: "You say well, my son; and I know why you say this: it is because in the discussion yesterday on natural causes, you showed that some malignant power, transferring itself into the order of the stars, excites the lusts of men, provoking them in various ways to sin, yet not compelling or producing sins." To this I answered: "It is well that you remember it; and yet, though you do remember it, you have fallen into error." Then said my father: "Pardon me, my son; for I have not yet much practice in these things: for indeed your discourses yesterday, by their truth, shut me up to agree with you; yet in my consciousness there are, as it were, some remains of fevers, which for a little hold me back from faith, as from health. For I am distracted, because I know that many things, yea, almost all things, have befallen me according to genesis."
Chap. xi.—Test of astrology.
Then I answered: "I shall therefore tell you, my father, what is the nature of mathematics, and do you act according to what I tell you. Go to a mathematician, and tell him first that such and such evils have befallen you at such a time, and that you wish to learn of him whence, or how, or through what stars they have befallen you. He will no doubt answer you that a malignant Mars or Saturn has ruled your times, or that some one of them has been periodic; or that some one has regarded you diametrically, or in conjunction, or centrally; or some such answer will he give, adding that in all these some one was not in harmony with the malignant one, or was invisible, or was in the figure, or was beyond the division, or was eclipsed, or was hot in contact, or was among the dark stars; and many other like things will he answer, according to his own reasons, and will condescend upon particulars. After him go to another mathematician, and tell him the opposite, that such and such good happened to you at that time, mentioning to him the same time, and ask him from what parts of your genesis this good has come to you, and take care, as I said, that the times are the same with those about which you asked concerning evils. And when you have deceived him concerning the times, see what figures he will invent for you, by which to show that good things ought to have befallen you at those very times. For it is impossible for those treating of the genesis of men not to find in every quarter, as they call it, of the heavenly bodies, some stars favourably placed, and some unfavourably; for the circle is equally complete in every part, according to mathematics, admitting of diverse and various causes, from which they can take occasion of saying whatever they please.
Chap. xii.—Astrology baffled by free-will.
"For, as usually happens when men see unfavourable dreams, and can make nothing certain out of them, when any event occurs, then they adapt what they saw in the dream to what has occurred; so also is mathematics. For before anything happens, nothing is declared with certainty; but after something has happened, they gather the causes of the event. And thus often, when they have been at fault, and the thing has fallen out otherwise, they take the blame to themselves, saying that it was such and such a star which opposed, and that they did not see it; not knowing that their error does not proceed from their unskilfulness in their art, but from the inconsistency of the whole system. For they do not know what those things are which we indeed desire to do, but in regard to which we do not indulge our desires. But we who have learned the reason of this mystery know the cause, since, having freedom of will, we sometimes oppose our desires, and sometimes yield to them. And therefore the issue of human doings is uncertain, because it depends upon freedom of will. For a mathematician can indeed indicate the desire which a malignant power produces; but whether the acting or the issue of this desire shall be fulfilled or not, no one can know before the accomplishment of the thing, because it depends upon freedom of will. And this is why ignorant astrologers have invented to themselves the talk about climacterics as their refuge in uncertainties, as we showed fully yesterday.
Chap. xiii.—People admitted.
"If you have anything that you wish to say to this, say on." Then my father: "Nothing can be more true, my son, than what you have stated." And while we were thus speaking among ourselves, some one informed us that a great multitude of people were standing outside, having assembled for the purpose of hearing. Then Peter ordered them to be admitted, for the place was large and convenient. And when they had come in, Peter said to us: "If any one of you wishes, let him address the people, and discourse concerning idolatry." To whom I Clement answered: "Your great benignity and gentleness and patience towards all encourages us, so that we dare speak in your presence, and ask what we please; and therefore, as I said, the gentleness of your disposition invites and encourages all to undertake the precepts of saving doctrine. This I never saw before in any one else, but in you only, with whom there is neither envy nor indignation. Or what do you think?"
Chap. xiv.—No man has universal knowledge.
Then Peter said: "These things come not only from envy or indignation; but sometimes there is a bashfulness in some persons, lest haply they may not be able to answer fully the questions that may be proposed, and so they avoid the discovery of their want of skill. But no one ought to be ashamed of this, because there is no man who ought to profess that he knows all things; for there is only One who knows all things, even He who also made all things. For if our Master declared that He knew not the day and the hour whose signs even He foretold, and referred the whole to the Father, how shall we account it disgraceful to confess that we are ignorant of some things, since in this we have the example of our Master? But this only we profess, that we know those things which we have learned from the true Prophet; and that those things have been delivered to us by the true Prophet, which He judged to be sufficient for human knowledge."
Chap. xv.—Clement's discourse.
Then I Clement went on to speak thus: "At Tripolis, when you were disputing against the Gentiles, my lord Peter, I greatly wondered at you, that although you were instructed by your father according to the fashion of the Hebrews and in observances of your own law, and were never polluted by the studies of Greek learning, you argued so magnificently and so incomparably; and that you even touched upon some things concerning the histories of the gods, which are usually declaimed in the theatres. But as I perceived that their fables and blasphemies are not so well known to you, I shall discourse upon these in your hearing, repeating them from the very beginning, if it please you." Then says Peter: "Say on; you do well to assist my preaching." Then said I: "I shall speak, therefore, because you order me, not by way of teaching you, but of making public what foolish opinions the Gentiles entertain of the gods."
Chap. xvi.—"Would that all God's people were prophets."
But when I was about to speak, Niceta, biting his lip, beckoned to me to be silent. And when Peter saw him, he said: "Why would you repress his liberal disposition and noble nature, that you would have him be silent for my honour, which is nothing? Or do you not know, that if all nations, after they have heard from me the preaching of the truth, and have believed, would betake themselves to teaching, they would gain the greater glory for me, if indeed you think me desirous of glory? For what so glorious as to prepare disciples for Christ, not who shall be silent, and shall be saved alone, but who shall speak what they have learned, and shall do good to others? I wish indeed that both you, Niceta, and you, beloved Aquila, would aid me in preaching the word of God, and the rather because those things in which the Gentiles err are well known to you; and not you only, but all who hear me, I wish, as I have said, so to hear and to learn, that they may be able also to teach: for the world needs many helpers, by whom men may be recalled from error." When he had spoken thus, he said to me: "Go on then, Clement, with what you have begun."
Chap. xvii.—Gentile cosmogony.
And I immediately rejoined: "Seeing that when you were disputing at Tripolis, as I said, you discoursed much concerning the gods of the Gentiles profitably and convincingly, I desire to set forth in your presence the ridiculous legends concerning their origin, both that you may not be unacquainted with the falsehood of this vain superstition, and that the hearers who are present may know the disgraceful character of their error. The wise men, then, who are among the Gentiles, say that first of all things was chaos; that this, through a long time solidifying its outer parts, made bounds to itself and a sort of foundation, being gathered, as it were, into the manner and form of a huge egg, within which, in the course of a long time, as within the shell of the egg, there was cherished and vivified a certain animal; and that afterwards, that huge globe being broken, there came forth a certain kind of man of double sex, which they call masculo-feminine. This they called Phanetas, from appearing, because when it appeared, they say, then also light shone forth. And from this, they say that there were produced substance, prudence, motion, and coition, and from these the heavens and the earth were made. From the heaven they say that six males were produced, whom they call Titans; and in like manner, from the earth six females, whom they called Titanides. And these are the names of the males who sprang from the heaven: Oceanus, Cœus, Crios, Hyperion, Iapetus, Chronos, who amongst us is called Saturn. In like manner, the names of the females who sprang from the earth are these: Theia, Rhea, Themis, Mnemosyne, Tethys, Hebe.
Chap. xviii.—Family of Saturn.
"Of all these, the first-born of the heaven took to wife the first-born of earth; the second the second, and in like manner all the rest. The first male, therefore, who had married the first female, was on her account drawn downwards; but the second female rose upwards, by reason of him to whom she was married; and so each doing in their order, remained in those places which fell to their share by the nuptial lot. From their intercourse they assert that innumerable others sprang. But of these six males, the one who is called Saturn received in marriage Rhea, and having been warned by a certain oracle that he who should be born of her should be more powerful than himself, and should drive him from his kingdom, he determined to devour all the sons that should be born to him. First, then, there is born to him a son called Aides, who amongst us is called Orcus; and him, for the reason we have just stated, he took and devoured. After him he begot a second son, called Neptune; and him he devoured in like manner. Last of all, he begot him whom they call Jupiter; but him his mother Rhea pitying, by stratagem withdrew from his father when he was about to devour him. And first, indeed, that the crying of the child might not be noticed, she made certain Corybantes strike cymbals and drums, that by the deafening sound the crying of the infant might not be heard.
Chap. xix.—Their destinies.
"But when he understood from the lessening of her belly that her child was born, he demanded it, that he might devour it; then Rhea presented him with a large stone, and told him that that was what she had brought forth. And he took it, and swallowed it; and the stone, when it was devoured, pushed and drove forth those sons whom he had formerly swallowed. Therefore Orcus, coming forth first, descended, and occupies the lower, that is, the infernal regions. The second, being above him—he whom they call Neptune—is thrust forth upon the waters. The third, who survived by the artifice of his mother Rhea, she put upon a she-goat and sent into heaven.
Chap. xx.—Doings of Jupiter.
"But enough of the old wife's fables and genealogy of the Gentiles; for it were endless if I should set forth all the generations of those whom they call gods, and their wicked doings. But by way of example, omitting the rest, I shall detail the wicked deeds of him only whom they hold to be the greatest and the chief, and whom they call Jupiter. For they say that he possesses heaven, as being superior to the rest; and he, as soon as he grew up, married his own sister, whom they call Juno, in which truly he at once becomes like a beast. Juno bears Vulcan; but, as they relate, Jupiter was not his father. However, by Jupiter himself she became mother of Medea; and Jupiter having received a response that one who should be born of her should be more powerful than himself, and should expel him from his kingdom, took her and devoured her. Again Jupiter produced Minerva from his brain, and Bacchus from his thigh. After this, when he had fallen in love with Thetis, they say that Prometheus informed him that, if he lay with her, he who should be born of her should be more powerful than his father; and for fear of this, he gave her in marriage to one Peleus. Subsequently he had intercourse with Persephone, who was his own daughter by Ceres; and by her he begot Dionysius, who was torn in pieces by the Titans. But calling to mind, it is said, that perhaps his own father Saturn might beget another son, who might be more powerful than himself, and might expel him from the kingdom, he went to war with his father, along with his brothers the Titans; and having beaten them, he at last threw his father into prison, and cut off his genitals, and threw them into the sea. But the blood which flowed from the wound, being mixed with the waves, and turned into foam by the constant churning, produced her whom they call Aphrodite, and whom with us they call Venus. From his intercourse with her who was thus his own sister, they say that this same Jupiter begot Cypris, who, they say, was the mother of Cupid.
Chap. xxi.—A black catalogue.
"Thus much of his incests; I shall now speak of his adulteries. He defiled Europa, the wife of Oceanus, of whom was born Dodonæus; Helen, the wife of Pandion, of whom Musæus; Eurynome, the wife of Asopus, of whom Ogygias; Hermione, the wife of Oceanus, of whom the Graces, Thalia, Euphrosyne, Aglaia; Themis, his own sister, of whom the Hours, Eurynomia, Dice, Irene; Themisto, the daughter of Inachus, of whom Arcas: Idæa, the daughter of Minos, of whom Asterion; Phœnissa, the daughter of Alphion, of whom Endymion; Io, the daughter of Inachus, of whom Epaphus; Hippodamia and Isione, daughters of Danaus, of whom Hippodamia was the wife of Olenus, and Isione of Orchomenus or Chryses; Carme, the daughter of Phœnix, of whom was born Britomartis, who was an attendant of Diana; Callisto, the daughter of Lycaon, of whom Orcas; Lybee, the daughter of Munantius, of whom Belus; Latona, of whom Apollo and Diana; Leandia, the daughter of Eurymedon, of whom Coron; Lysithea, the daughter of Evenus, of whom Helenus; Hippodamia, the daughter of Bellerophon, of whom Sarpedon; Megaclite, the daughter of Macarius, of whom Thebe and Locrus; Niobe, the daughter of Phoroneus, of whom Argus and Pelasgus; Olympias, the daughter of Neoptolemus, of whom Alexander; Pyrrha, the daughter of Prometheus, of whom Helmetheus; Protogenia and Pandora, daughters of Deucalion, of whom he begot Æthelius, and Dorus, and Melera, and Pandorus; Thaicrucia, the daughter of Proteus, of whom was born Nympheus; Salamis, the daughter of Asopus, of whom Saracon; Taygete, Electra, Maia, Plutide, daughters of Atlas, of whom respectively he begot Lacedæmon, Dardanus, Mercury, and Tantalus; Phthia, the daughter of Phoroneus, of whom he begot Achaeus; Chonia, the daughter of Aramnus, of whom he begot Lacon; Chalcea, a nymph, of whom was born Olympus; Charidia, a nymph, of whom Alcanus; Chloris, who was the wife of Ampycus, of whom Mopsus was born; Cotonia, the daughter of Lesbus, of whom Polymedes; Hippodamia, the daughter of Anicetus; Chrysogenia, the daughter of Peneus, of whom was born Thissæus.
Chap. xxii.—Vile transformations of Jupiter.
"There are also innumerable adulteries of his, of which no offspring was the result, which it were tedious to enumerate. But amongst those whom we have mentioned, he violated some being transformed, like a magician. In short, he seduced Antiope, the daughter of Nycteus, when turned into a satyr, and of her were born Amphion and Zethus; Alcmene, when changed into her husband Amphitryon, and of her was born Hercules; Ægina, the daughter of Asopus, when changed into an eagle, of whom Æacus was born. So also he defiled Ganymede, the son of Dardanus, being changed into an eagle; Manthea, the daughter of Phocus, when changed into a bear, of whom was born Arctos; Danaë, the daughter of Acrisius, being changed into gold, of whom Perseus; Europa, the daughter of Phoenix, changed into a bull, of whom were born Minos, Rhadamanthus, and Sarpedon; Eurymedusa, the daughter of Achelaus, being changed into an ant, of whom Myrmidon; Thalia, the nymph, being changed into a vulture, of whom were born the Palisci, in Sicily; Imandra, the daughter of Geneanus, at Rhodes, being changed into a shower; Cassiopeia, being changed into her husband Phœnix, and of her was born Anchinos; Leda, the daughter of Thestius, being changed into a swan, of whom was born Helen; and again the same, being changed into a star, and of her were born Castor and Pollux; Lamia, being changed into a lapwing; Mnemosyne, being changed into a shepherd, of whom were born the nine Muses; Nemesis, being changed into a goose; the Cadmian Semele, being changed into fire, and of her was born Dionysius. By his own daughter Ceres he begot Persephone, whom also herself he defiled, being changed into a dragon.
Chap. xxiii.—Why a god?
"He also committed adultery with Europa, the wife of his own uncle Oceanus, and with her sister Eurynome, and punished their father; and he committed adultery with Piute, the daughter of his own son Atlas, and condemned Tantalus, whom she bore to him. Of Larisse, the daughter of Orchomenus, he begot Tityon, whom also he consigned to punishment. He carried off Dia, the wife of his own son Ixion, and subjected him to perpetual punishment; and almost all the sons who sprang from his adulteries he put to violent deaths; and indeed the sepulchres of almost all of them are well known. Yea, the sepulchre of this parricide himself, who destroyed his uncles and defiled their wives, who committed whoredom with his sisters, this magician of many, transformations, is shown among the Cretans, who, although they know and acknowledge his horrid and incestuous deeds, and tell them to all, yet are not ashamed to confess him to be a god. Whence it seems to me to be wonderful, yea, exceeding wonderful, how he who exceeds all men in wickedness and crimes, has received that holy and good name which is above every name, being called the father of gods and men; unless perhaps he who rejoices in the evils of men has persuaded unhappy souls to confer honour above all others upon him whom he saw to excel all others in crimes, in order that he might allure all to the imitation of his evil deeds.
Chap. xxiv.—Folly of polytheism.
But also the sepulchres of his sons, who are regarded amongst these [the Gentiles] as gods, are openly pointed out, one in one place, and another in another: that of Mercury at Hermopolis; that of the Cyprian Venus at Cyprus; that of Mars in Thrace; that of Bacchus at Thebes, where he is said to have been torn in pieces; that of Hercules at Tyre, where he was burnt with fire; that of Æsculapius in Epidaurus. And all these are spoken of, not only as men who have died, but as wicked men who have been punished for their crimes; and yet they are adored as gods by foolish men.
Chap. xxv.—Dead men deified.
"But if they choose to argue, and affirm that these are rather the places of their birth than of their burial or death, the former and ancient doings shall be convicted from those at hand and still recent, since we have shown that they worship those whom they themselves confess to have been men, and to have died, or rather to have been punished; as the Syrians worship Adonis, and the Egyptians Osiris; the Trojans, Hector; Achilles is worshipped at Leuconesus, Patroclus at Pontus, Alexander the Macedonian at Rhodes; and many others are worshipped, one in one place and another in another, whom they do not doubt to have been dead men. Whence it follows that their predecessors also, falling into a like error, conferred divine honour upon dead men, who perhaps had had some power or some skill, and especially if they had stupified stolid men by magical phantasies.
"Hence there has now been added, that the poets also adorn the falsehoods of error by elegance of words, and by sweetness of speech persuade that mortals have been made immortal; yea more, they say that men are changed into stars, and trees, and animals, and flowers, and birds, and fountains, and rivers. And but that it might seem to be a waste of words, I could even enumerate almost all the stars, and trees, and fountains, and rivers, which they assert to have been made of men; yet, by way of example, I shall mention at least one of each class. They say that Andromeda, the daughter of Cepheus, was turned into a star; Daphne, the daughter of the river Lado, into a tree; Hyacinthus, beloved of Apollo, into a flower; Callisto into the constellation which they call Arctos; Progne and Philomela, with Tereus, into birds; that Thysbe in Cilicia was dissolved into a fountain; and Pyramus, at the same place, into a river. And they assert that almost all the stars, trees, fountains, and rivers, flowers, animals, and birds, were at one time human beings."
Chap. xxvii.—Inconsistency of polytheists.
But Peter, when he heard this, said: "According to them, then, before men were changed into stars, and the other things which you mention, the heaven was without stars, and the earth without trees and animals; and there were neither fountains, nor rivers, nor birds. And without these, how did those men themselves live, who afterwards were changed into them, since it is evident that, without these things, men could not live upon the earth?" Then I answered: "But they are not even able to observe the worship of their own gods consistently; for every one of those whom they worship has something dedicated to himself, from which his worshippers ought to abstain: as they say the olive is dedicated to Minerva, the she-goat to Jupiter, seeds to Ceres, wine to Bacchus, water to Osiris, the ram to Hammon, the stag to Diana, the fish and the dove to the demon of the Syrians, fire to Vulcan; and to each one, as I have said, is there something specially consecrated, from which the worshippers are bound to abstain, for the honour of those to whom they are consecrated. But were one abstaining from one thing, and another from another, by doing honour to one of the gods, they incur the anger of all the rest; and therefore, if they would conciliate them all, they must abstain from all things for the honour of all, so that, being self-condemned by a just sentence before the day of judgment, they should perish by a most wretched death through starvation.
Chap. xxviii.—Buttresses of Gentilism.
"But let us return to our purpose. What reason is there, yea, rather, what madness possesses the minds of men, that they worship and adore as a god, a man whom they not only know to be impious, wicked, profane—I mean Jupiter—incestuous, a parricide, an adulterer, but even proclaim him publicly as such in their songs in the theatres? Or if by means of these deeds he has deserved to be a god, then also, when they hear of any murderers, adulterers, parricides, incestuous persons, they ought to worship them also as gods. But I cannot understand why they venerate in him what they execrate in others." Then Peter answered: "Since you say that you cannot understand it, learn of me why they venerate wickedness in him. In the first place, it is that, when they themselves do like deeds, they may know that they shall be acceptable to him, inasmuch as they have but imitated him in his wickedness. In the second place, because the ancients have left these things skilfully composed in their writings, and elegantly engrafted in their verses. And now, by the aid of youthful education, since the knowledge of these things adheres to their tender and simple minds, it cannot without difficulty be torn from them and cast away."
When Peter had said this, Niceta answered: "Do not suppose, my lord Peter, but that the learned men of the Gentiles have certain plausible arguments, by which they support those things which seem to be blameworthy and disgraceful. And this I state, not as wishing to confirm their error (for far be it from me that such a thing should ever come into my thought); but yet I know that there are amongst the more intelligent of them certain defences, by which they are accustomed to support and colour over those things which seem to be absurd. And if it please you that I should state some of them—for I am to some extent acquainted with them—I shall do as you order me." And when Peter had given him leave, Niceta proceeded as follows.
Chap. xxx.—Cosmogony of Orpheus.
"All the literature among the Greeks which is written on the subject of the origin of antiquity, is based upon many authorities, but especially two, Orpheus and Hesiod. Now their writings are divided into two parts, in respect of their meaning,—that is, the literal and the allegorical; and the vulgar crowd has flocked to the literal, but all the eloquence of the philosophers and learned men is expended in admiration of the allegorical. It is Orpheus, then, who says that at first there was chaos, eternal, unbounded, unproduced, and that from it all things were made. He says that this chaos was neither darkness nor light, neither moist nor dry, neither hot nor cold, but that it was all things mixed together, and was always one unformed mass; yet that at length, as it were after the manner of a huge egg, it brought forth and produced from itself a certain double form, which had been wrought through immense periods of time, and which they call masculo-feminine, a form concrete from the contrary admixture of such diversity; and that this is the principle of all things, which came of pure matter, and which, coming forth, effected a separation of the four elements, and made heaven of the two elements which are first [fire and air], and earth of the others [earth and water]; and of these he says that all things now are born and produced by a mutual participation of them. So far Orpheus.
Chap. xxxi.—Hesiod's cosmogony.
"But to this Hesiod adds, that after chaos the heaven and the earth were made immediately, from which he says that those eleven were produced (and sometimes also he speaks of them as twelve) of whom he makes six males and five females. And these are the names that he gives to the males: Oceanus, Cœus, Crius, Hyperion, lapetus, Chronos, who is also called Saturn. Also the names of the females are: Theia, Rhea, Themis, Mnemosyne, Tethys. And these names they thus interpret allegoric ally. They say that the number is eleven or twelve: that the first is nature itself, which also they would have to be called Rhea, from flowing; and they say that the other ten are her accidents, which also they call qualities; yet they add a twelfth, namely Chronos, who with us is called Saturn, and him they take to be time. Therefore they assert that Saturn and Rhea are time and matter; and these, when they are mixed with moisture and dryness, heat and cold, produce all things.
Chap. xxxii.—Allegorical interpretation.
"She therefore (Rhea, or nature), it is said, produced, as it were, a certain bubble which had been collecting for a long time; and it being gradually collected from the spirit which was in the waters, swelled, and being for some time driven over the surface of matter, from which it had come forth as from a womb, and being hardened by the rigour of cold, and always increasing by additions of ice, at length was broken off and sunk into the deep, and drawn by its own weight, went down to the infernal regions; and because it became invisible it was called Aides, and is also named Orcus or Pluto. And since it was sunk from the top to the bottom, it gave place to the moist element to flow together; and the grosser part, which is the earth, was laid bare by the retirement of the waters. They say, therefore, that this freedom of the waters, which was formerly restrained by the presence of the bubble, was called Neptune after the bubble attained the lowest place. After this, when the cold element had been sucked down to the lower regions by the concretion of the icy bubble, and the dry and the moist element had been separated, there being now no hindrance, the warm element rushed by its force and lightness to the upper regions of the air, being borne up by wind and storm. This storm, therefore, which in Greek is called καταιγίς, they called ægis—that is, a she-goat; and the fire which ascended to the upper regions they called Jupiter; wherefore they say that he ascended to Olympus riding on a she-goat.
Chap. xxxiii.—Allegory of Jupiter, etc.
"Now this Jupiter the Greeks would have to be called from his living, or giving life, but our people from his giving succour. They say, therefore, that this is the living substance, which, placed in the upper regions, and drawing all things to itself by the influence of heat, as by the convolution of the brain, and arranging them by the moderation of a certain tempering, is said from his head to have produced wisdom, whom they call Minerva, who was called Ἀθήνη by the Greeks on account of her immortality; who, because the father of all created all things by his wisdom, is also said to have been produced from his head, and from the principal place of all, and is represented as having formed and adorned the whole world by the regulated admixture of the elements. Therefore the forms which were impressed upon matter, that the world might be made, because they are constrained by the force of heat, are said to be held together by the energy of Jupiter. And since there are enough of these, and they do not need anything new to be added to them, but each thing is repaired by the produce of its own seed, the hands of Saturn are said to be bound by Jupiter; because, as I have said, time now produces from matter nothing new: but the warmth of seeds restores all things according to their kinds; and no birth of Rhea—that is, no increase of flowing matter—ascends further. And therefore they call that first division of the elements the mutilation of Saturn, because he cannot any more produce a world.
Chap. xxxiv.—Other allegories.
"And of Venus they give forth an allegory to this effect. When, say they, the sea was put under the air, and when the brightness of the heavens shone more pleasantly, being reflected from the waters, the loveliness of things, which appeared fairer from the waters, was called Venus; and she [it] being united with the air as with her [its] own brother, so as to produce beauty, which might be the object of desire, is said to have given birth to Cupid. In this way, therefore, as we have said, they teach that Chronos, who is Saturn, is allegorically time; Rhea is matter; Aides—that is, Orcus—is the depth of the infernal regions; Neptune is water; Jupiter is air—that is, the element of heat; Venus is the loveliness of things; Cupid is desire, which is in all things, and by which posterity is propagated, or even the reason of things, which gives delight when wisely looked into. Hera—that is, Juno—is said to be that middle air which descends from heaven to earth. To Diana, whom they call Proserpine, they hand over the air below. They say that Apollo is the Sun himself, which goes round the heaven; that Mercury is speech, by which a reason is rendered for everything; that Mars is unrestrained fire, which consumes all things. But not to delay you by enumerating everything, those who have the more abstruse intelligence concerning such things think that they give fair and just reasons, by applying this sort of allegory to every one of their objects of worship."
Chap. xxxv.—Uselessness of these allegories.
When Niceta had thus spoken, Aquila answered: "Whoever he was that was the author and inventor of these things, he seems to me to have been very impious, since he covered over those things which seem to be pleasant and seemly, and made the ritual of his superstition to consist in base and shameful observances, since those things which are written according to the letter are manifestly unseemly and base; and the whole observance of their religion consists in these, that by such crimes and impieties they may teach men to imitate their gods whom they worship. For in these allegories what profit can there be to them? For although they are framed so as to be decent, yet no use is derived from them for worship, nor for amendment of morals.
Chap. xxxvi.—The allegories an after-thought.
"Whence it is the more evident that prudent men, when they saw that the common superstition was so disgraceful, so base, and yet they had not learned any way of correcting it, or any knowledge, endeavoured with what arguments and interpretations they could to veil unseemly things under seemly speech, and not, as they say, to conceal seemly reasons under unseemly fables. For if this were the case, surely their statues and their pictures would never be made with [representations of] their vices and crimes. The swan, which committed adultery with Leda, would not be represented, nor the bull which committed adultery with Europa; nor would they turn into a thousand monstrous shapes, him whom they think better than all. And assuredly, if the great and wise men who are amongst them knew that all this is fiction and not truth, would not they charge with impiety and sacrilege those who should exhibit a picture or carve an image of this sort, to the injury of the gods? In short, let them present a king of their own time in the form of an ox, or a goose, or an ant, or a vulture, and let them write the name of their king upon it, and set up such a statue or figure in a public place, and they will soon be made to feel the wrong of their deed, and the greatness of its punishment.
Chap. xxxvii.—Like gods, like worshippers.
"But since those things rather are true which the public baseness testifies, and concealments have been sought and fabricated by prudent men to excuse them by seemly speeches, therefore are they not only not prohibited, but even in the very mysteries figures are produced of Saturn devouring his sons, and of the boy hidden by the cymbals and drums of the Corybantes; and with respect to the mutilation of Saturn, what better proof of its truth could there be, than that even his worshippers are mutilated, by a like miserable fate, in honour of their god? Since then these things are manifestly seen, who shall be found of so little sense, yea, of such stolidity, that he does not perceive that those things are true concerning the unfortunate gods, which their more unfortunate worshippers attest by the wounding and mutilation of their bodies?
Chap. xxxviii.—Writings of the poets.
"But if, as they say, these things, so creditably and piously done, are dispensed by so discreditable and impious a ritual, assuredly he is sacrilegious, whoever either gave forth these things at first, or persists in fulfilling them, now that they have unhappily been given forth. And what shall we say of the books of the poets? Ought not they, if they have debased the honourable and pious deeds of the gods with base fables, to be forthwith cast away and thrown into the fire, that they may not persuade the still tender age of boys that Jupiter himself, the chief of the gods, was a parricide towards his parents, incestuous towards his sisters and his daughters, and even impure towards boys; that Venus and Mars were adulterers, and all those things which have been spoken of above? What do you think of this matter, my lord Peter?"
Chap. xxxix.—All for the best.
Then he answered: "Be sure, beloved Aquila, that all things are done by the good providence of God, that the cause which was to be contrary to the truth should not only be infirm and weak, but also base. For if the assertion of error had been stronger and more truth-like, any one who had been deceived by it would not easily return to the path of truth. If even now, when so many wicked and disgraceful things are related concerning the gods of the Gentiles, scarce any one forsakes the base error, how much more if there had been in it anything seemly and truth-like? For the mind is with difficulty transferred from those things with which it has been imbued in early youth; and on this account, as I said, it has been effected by divine providence, that the substance of error should be both weak and base. But all other things also divine providence dispenses fitly and advantageously, although the method of the divine dispensation, as good, and the best possible, is not clear to us who are ignorant of the causes of things."
Chap. xl.—Further information sought.
When Peter had thus said, I Clement asked Niceta that he would explain to us, for the sake of instruction, some things concerning the allegories of the Gentiles, which he had carefully studied; "for," said I, "it is useful that when we dispute with the Gentiles, we should not be unacquainted with these things." Then said Niceta: "If my lord Peter permits me, I can do as you ask me." Then said Peter: "Today I have given you leave to speak in opposition to the Gentiles, as you know." And Niceta said: "Tell me then, Clement, what you would have me speak about." And I said to him: "Inform us how the Gentiles represent matters concerning the supper of the gods, which they had at the marriage of Peleus and Thetis. What do they make of the shepherd Paris, and what of Juno, Minerva, and Venus, between whom he acted as judge? What of Mercury? and what of the apple, and the other things which follow in order?"
Chap. xli.—Explanation of mythology.
Then Niceta: "The affair of the supper of the gods stands in this wise. They say that the banquet is the world, that the order of the gods sitting at table is the position of the heavenly bodies. Those whom Hesiod calls the first children of heaven and earth, of whom six were males and six females, they refer to the number of the twelve signs, which go round all the world. They say that the dishes of the banquet are the reasons and causes of things, sweet and desirable, which in the shape of inferences from the positions of the signs and the courses of the stars, explain how the world is ruled and governed. Yet they say that these things exist after the free manner of a banquet, inasmuch as the mind of every one has the option whether he shall taste aught of this sort of knowledge, or whether he shall refrain; and as in a banquet no one is compelled, but every one is at liberty to eat, so also the manner of philosophizing depends upon the choice of the will. They say that discord is the lust of the flesh, which rises up against the purpose of the mind, and hinders the desire of philosophizing; and therefore they say that the time was that in which the marriage was celebrated. Thus they make Peleus and the nymph Thetis to be the dry and the moist element, by the admixture of which the substance of bodies is composed. They hold that Mercury is speech, by which instruction is conveyed to the mind; that Juno is chastity, Minerva courage, Venus lust, Paris the understanding. If therefore, say they, it happens that there is in a man a barbarous and uncultivated understanding, and ignorant of right judgment, he will despise chastity and courage, and will give the prize, which is the apple, to lust; and thereby ruin and destruction will come not only upon himself, but also upon his countrymen and the whole race. These things, therefore, it is in their power to compose from whatever matter they please; yet they can be adapted to every man; because if any one has a pastoral and rustic and uncultivated understanding, and does not wish to be instructed, when the heat of his body shall make suggestions concerning the pleasure of lust, straightway he despises the virtues of studies and the blessings of knowledge, and turns his mind to bodily pleasures. And hence it is that implacable wars arise, cities are destroyed, countries fall, even as Paris, by the abduction of Helen, armed the Greeks and the barbarians to their mutual destruction."
Chap. xlii.—Interpretation of Scripture.
Then Peter, commending his statement, said: "Ingenious men, as I perceive, take many verisimilitudes from the things which they read; and therefore great care is to be taken, that when the law of God is read, it be not read according to the understanding of our own mind. For there are many sayings in the divine Scriptures which can be drawn to that sense which every one has preconceived for himself; and this ought not to be done. For you ought not to seek a foreign and extraneous sense, which you have brought from without, which you may confirm from the authority of the Scriptures, but to take the sense of truth from the Scriptures themselves; and therefore it behoves you to learn the meaning of the Scriptures from him who keeps it according to the truth handed down to him from his fathers, so that he can authoritatively declare what he has rightly received. But when one has received an entire and firm rule of truth from the Scriptures, it will not be improper if he contribute to the establishment of true doctrine anything from common education and from liberal studies, which, it may be, he has attached himself to in his boyhood; yet so that, when he has learned the truth, he renounce falsehood and pretence."
Chap. xliii.—A word of exhortation.
And when he had said this, he looked to our father, and said: "You therefore, old man, if indeed you care for your soul's safety, that when you desire it to be separated from the body, it may, in consequence of this short conversion, find eternal rest, ask about whatever you please, and seek counsel, that you may be able to cast off any doubt that remains in you. For even to young men the time of life is uncertain; but to old men it is not even uncertain, for there is no doubt that there is but little time remaining to them. And therefore both young and old ought to be very earnest about their conversion and repentance, and to be taken up with the adornment of their souls for the future with the worthiest ornaments, such as the doctrines of truth, the grace of chastity, the splendour of righteousness, the fairness of piety, and all other things with which it becomes a reasonable mind to be adorned. Then, besides, they should break off from unseemly and unbelieving companions, and keep company with the faithful, and frequent those assemblies in which subjects are handled relating to chastity, righteousness, and piety; to pray to God always heartily, and to ask of Him those things which ought to be asked of God; to give thanks to Him; to repent truly of their past doings; in some measure also, if possible, by deeds of mercy towards the poor, to help their penitence: for by these means pardon will be more easily bestowed, and mercy will be sooner shown to the merciful.
"But if he who comes to repentance is of more advanced age, he ought the more to give thanks to God, because, having received the knowledge of the truth, after all the violence of carnal lust has been broken, there awaits him no fight of contest, by which to repress the pleasures of the body rising against the mind. It remains, therefore, that he be exercised in the learning of the truth, and in works of mercy, that he may bring forth fruits worthy of repentance; and that he do not suppose that the proof of conversion is shown by length of time, but by strength of devotion and of purpose. For minds are manifest to God; and He does not take account of times, but of hearts. For He approves if any one, on hearing the preaching of the truth, does not delay, nor spend time in negligence, but immediately, and if I may say so, in the same moment, abhorring the past, begins to desire things to come, and burns with love of the heavenly kingdom.
Chap. xlv.—All ought to repent.
"Wherefore, let no one of you longer dissemble nor look backwards, but willingly approach to the gospel of the kingdom of God. Let not the poor man say, When I shall become rich, then I shall be converted. God does not ask money of you, but a merciful heart and a pious mind. Nor let the rich man delay his conversion by reason of worldly care, while he thinks how he may dispose the abundance of his fruits; nor say within himself, 'What shall I do? where shall I bestow my fruits?' Nor say to his soul, 'Thou hast much goods laid up for many years; feast and rejoice.' For it shall be said to him, 'Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be taken from thee, and whose shall those things be which thou hast provided?' Therefore let every age, every sex, every condition, haste to repentance, that they may obtain eternal life. Let the young be thankful that they put their necks under the yoke of discipline in the very violence of their desires. The old also are themselves praiseworthy, because they change for the fear of God, the custom of a long time in which they have been unhappily occupied.
Chap. xlvi.—The sure word of prophecy.
"Let no one therefore put off. Let no one delay. For what occasion is there for delaying to do well? Or are you afraid, lest, when you have done well, you do not find the reward as you supposed? And what loss will you sustain if you do well without reward? Would not conscience alone be sufficient in this? But if you find as you anticipate, shall you not receive great things for small, and eternal for temporal? But I say this for the sake of the unbelieving. For the things which we preach are as we preach them; because they cannot be otherwise, since they have been promised by the prophetic word.
Chap. xlvii.—"A faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation."
"But if any one desires to learn exactly the truth of our preaching, let him come to hear, and let him ascertain what the true Prophet is; and then at length all doubtfulness will cease in him, unless with obstinate mind he resist those things which he finds to be true. For there are some whose only object it is to gain the victory in any way whatever, and who seek praise for this rather than their salvation. These ought not to have a single word addressed to them, lest both the noble word suffer injury, and condemn to eternal death him who is guilty of the wrong done to it. For what is there in respect of which any one ought to oppose our preaching? or in respect of which the word of our preaching is found to be contrary to the belief of what is true and honourable? It says that the God the Father, the Creator of all, is to be honoured, as also His Son, who alone knows Him and His will, and who alone is to be believed concerning all things which He has enjoined. For He alone is the law and the Lawgiver, and the righteous Judge, whose law decrees that God, the Lord of all, is to be honoured by a sober, chaste, just, and merciful life, and that all hope is to be placed in Him alone.
Chap. xlviii.—Errors of the philosophers.
"But some one will say that precepts of this sort are given by the philosophers also. Nothing of the kind: for they do indeed give commandments concerning justice and sobriety, but they are ignorant that God is the recompenser of good and evil deeds; and therefore their laws and precepts only shun a public accuser, but cannot purify the conscience. For why should one fear to sin in secret, who does not know that there is a witness and a judge of secret things? Besides, the philosophers in their precepts add that even the gods, who are demons, are to be honoured; and this alone, even if in other respects they seemed worthy of approbation, is sufficient to convict them of the most dreadful impiety, and condemn them by their own sentence, since they declare indeed that there is one God, yet command that many be worshipped, by way of humouring human error. But also the philosophers say that God is not angry, not knowing what they say. For anger is evil, when it disturbs the mind, so that it loses right counsel. But that anger which punishes the wicked does not bring disturbance to the mind; but it is one and the same affection, so to speak, which assigned rewards to the good and punishment to the evil; for if He should bestow blessings upon the good and the evil, and confer equal rewards upon the pious and the impious, He would appear to be unjust rather than good.
Chap. xlix.—God's long-suffering.
"But you say, Neither ought God to do evil. You say truly; nor does He. But those who have been created by Him, while they do not believe that they are to be judged, indulging their pleasures, have fallen away from piety and righteousness. But you will say, If it is right to punish the wicked, they ought to be punished immediately when they do wickedly. You indeed do well to make haste; but He who is eternal, and from whom nothing is secret, inasmuch as He is without end, in the same proportion is His patience extended, and He regards not the swiftness of vengeance, but the causes of salvation. For He is not so much pleased with the death as with the conversion of a sinner. Therefore, in short. He has bestowed upon men holy baptism, to which, if any one makes haste to come, and for the future remains without stain, all his sins are thenceforth blotted out, which were committed in the time of his ignorance.
Chap. l.—Philosophers not benefactors of men.
"For what have the philosophers contributed to the life of man, by saying that God is not angry with men? Only to teach them to have no fear of any punishment or judgment, and thereby to take away all restraint from sinners. Or what have they benefited the human race, who have said that there is no God, but that all things happen by chance and accident? What but that men, hearing this, and thinking that there is no judge, no guardian of things, are driven headlong, without fear of any one, to every deed which either rage, or avarice, or lust may dictate. For they truly have much benefited the life of man who have said that nothing can be done apart from genesis; that is, that every one, ascribing the cause of his sin to genesis, might in the midst of his crimes declare himself innocent, while he does not wash out his guilt by repentance, but doubles it by laying the blame upon fate. And what shall I say of those philosophers who have maintained that the gods are to be worshipped, and such gods as were described to you a little while ago? What else was this but to decree that vices, crimes, and base deeds should be worshipped? I am ashamed of you, and I pity you, if you have not yet discovered that these things were unworthy of belief, and impious, and execrable, or if, having discovered and ascertained them to be evil, ye have nevertheless worshipped them as if they were good, yea, even the best.
Chap. li.—Christ the true Prophet.
"Then, besides, of what sort is that which some of the philosophers have presumed to speak even concerning God, though they are mortal, and can only speak by opinion concerning invisible things, or concerning the origin of the world, since they were not present when it was made, or concerning the end of it, or concerning the treatment and judgment of souls in the infernal regions, forgetting that it belongs indeed to a reasonable man to know things present and visible, but that it is the part of prophetic prescience alone to know things past, and things future, and things invisible? These things, therefore, are not to be gathered from conjectures and opinions, in which men are greatly deceived, but from faith in prophetic truth, as this doctrine of ours is. For we speak nothing of ourselves, nor announce things gathered by human judgment; for this were to deceive our hearers. But we preach the things which have been committed and revealed to us by the true Prophet. And concerning His prophetic prescience and power, if any one, as I have said, wishes to receive clear proofs, let him come instantly and be alert to hear, and we shall give evident proofs by which he shall seem not only to hear the power of prophetic prescience with his ears, but even to see it with his eyes and handle it with his hand; and when he has entertained a sure faith concerning Him, he will without any labour take upon him the yoke of righteousness and piety; and so great sweetness will he perceive in it, that not only will he not find fault with any labour being in it, but will even desire something further to be added and imposed upon him."
Chap. lii.—Appion and Anubion.
And when he had said this, and more to the same purpose, and had cured some who were present who were infirm and possessed of demons, he dismissed the crowds, while they gave thanks and praised God, charging them to come to the same place on the following days also for the sake of hearing. And when we were together at home, and were preparing to eat, one entering told us that Appion Pleistonices, with Anubion, were lately come from Antioch, and were lodging with Simon. Then my father, when he heard this, rejoiced, and said to Peter: "If you permit me, I should like to go and salute Appion and Anubion, for they are great friends of mine; and perhaps I shall be able to persuade Anubion to dispute with Clement on the subject of genesis." Then Peter said: "I consent; and I commend you, because you respect your friends. But consider how all things occur to you according to your wish by God's providence; for, behold, not only have [the objects of] proper affection been restored to you by the appointment of God, but also the presence of your friends is arranged for you." Then said my father: "Truly I consider that it is so as you say." And when he had said this, he went away to Anubion.
Chap. liii.—A transformation.
But we, sitting with Peter the whole night, asking questions, and learning of him on many subjects, remained awake through very delight in his teaching and the sweetness of his words; and when it was daybreak, Peter, looking at me and my brothers, said: "I wonder what has befallen your father." And while he was speaking my father came in, and found Peter speaking to us about him. And when he had saluted he began to apologize, and to explain the reason why he had remained abroad. But we, looking at him, were horrified; for we saw on him the face of Simon, yet we heard the voice of our father. And when we shrank from him, and cursed him, my father was astonished at our treating him so harshly and barbarously. Yet Peter was the only one who saw his natural countenance; and he said to us; "Why do you curse your father?" And we, along with our mother, answered him: "He appears to us to be Simon, though he has our father's voice." Then Peter: "You indeed know only his voice, which has not been changed by the sorceries; but to me also his face, which to others appears changed by Simon's art, is known to be that of your father Faustinianus." And looking at my father, he said: "The cause of the dismay of your wife and your sons is this,—the appearance of your countenance does not seem to be as it was, but the face of the detestable Simon appears in you."
Chap. liv.—Excitement in Antioch.
And while he was thus speaking, one of those returned who had gone before to Antioch, and said to Peter: "I wish you to know, my lord Peter, that Simon at Antioch, doing many signs and prodigies in public, has inculcated upon the people nothing but what tends to excite hatred against you, calling you a magician, a sorcerer, a murderer; and to such an extent has he stirred up hatred against you, that they greatly desire, if they can find you anywhere, even to devour your flesh. And therefore we who were sent before, seeing the city greatly moved against you, met together in secret, and considered what ought to be done.
Chap. lv.—A stratagem.
"And when we saw no way of getting out of the difficulty, there came Cornelius the centurion, being sent by Cæsar to the president of Cæsarea on public business. Him we sent for alone, and told him the reason why we were sorrowful, and entreated him that, if he could do anything, he should help us. Then he most readily promised that he would straightway put him to flight, if only we would aid his plans. And when we promised that we would be active in doing everything, he said, 'Cæsar has ordered sorcerers to be sought out and destroyed in the city of Rome and through the provinces, and a great number of them have been already destroyed. I shall therefore give out, through my friends, that I am come to apprehend that magician, and that I am sent by Cæsar for this purpose, that he may be punished with the rest of his fraternity. Let your people, therefore, who are with him in disguise, intimate to him, as if they had heard it from some quarter, that I am sent to apprehend him; and when he hears this, he is sure to take to flight. Or if you think of anything better, tell me. Why need I say more?' It was so done by those of ours who were with him, disguised for the purpose of acting as spies on him. And when Simon learned that this was come upon him, he received the information as a great kindness conferred upon him by them, and took to flight. He therefore departed from Antioch, and, as we have heard, came hither with Athenodorus.
Chap. lvi.—Simon's design in the transformation.
"All we, therefore, who went before you, considered that in the meantime you should not go up to Antioch, till we see if the hatred of you which he has sown among the people be in any degree lessened by his departure." When he who had come from Antioch had imparted this information, Peter, looking to our father, said, "Faustinianus, your countenance has been transformed by Simon Magus, as is evident; for he, thinking that he was being sought for by Cæsar for punishment, has fled in terror, and has placed his own countenance upon you, if haply you might be apprehended instead of him, and put to death, that so he might cause sorrow to your sons." But my father, when he heard this, crying out, said with tears: "You have judged rightly, O Peter: for Anubion also, who is very friendly with me, began to inform me in a certain mysterious way of his plots; but unhappily I did not believe him, because I had done him no harm."
Chap. lvii.—Great grief.
And when all of us, along with my father, were agitated with sorrow and weeping, meantime Anubion came to us, intimating to us that Simon had fled during the night, making for Judæa. But seeing our father lamenting and bewailing himself, and saying, "Wretch that I am, not to believe when I heard that he is a magician! What has befallen wretched me, that on one day, being recognised by my wife and my sons, I have not been able to rejoice with them, but have been rolled back to the former miseries which I endured in my wandering!"—but my mother, tearing her dishevelled hair, bewailed much more bitterly,—we also, confounded at the change of our father's countenance, were, as it were, thunderstruck and beside ourselves, and could not understand what was the matter. But Anubion, seeing us all thus afflicted, stood like one dumb. Then Peter, looking at us his sons, said: "Believe me that this is your very father; wherefore also I charge you that you respect him as your father. For God will afford some opportunity on which he shall be able to put off the countenance of Simon, and to recover the manifest figure of your father—that is, his own."
Chap. lviii.—How it all happened.
Then, turning to my father, he said: "I gave you leave to salute Appion and Anubion, who, you said, were your friends from boyhood, but not that you should speak with Simon." Then my father said: "I confess I have sinned." Then said Anubion: "I also with him beg and entreat of you to pardon the old man—good and noble man as he is. He was unhappily seduced and imposed upon by the magician in question; for I will tell you how the thing was done. When he came to salute us, it happened that at that very time we were standing around him, hearing him tell that he intended to flee away that night, for that he had heard that some persons had come even to this city of Laodicea to apprehend him by command of the emperor, but that he wished to turn all their rage against this Faustinianus, who has lately come hither. And he said to us: "Only you make him sup with us, and I shall compound a certain ointment, with which, when he has supped, he shall anoint his face, and from that time he shall seem to all to have my countenance. But you first anoint your faces with the juice of a certain herb, that you may not be deceived as to the change of his countenance, so that to all except you he shall seem to be Simon.'
Chap. lix.—A scene of mourning.
"And when he said this, I said to him, 'And what advantage will you gain from this deed?' Then Simon said: 'In the first place, that those who are seeking me may lay hold on him, and so give over the search for me. But if he be punished by Cæsar, that his sons may have much sorrow, who forsook me, and fled to Peter, and are now his assistants.' Now I confess to you, Peter, what is true. I did not dare then tell Faustinianus; but neither did Simon give us opportunity of speaking with him in private, and disclosing to him fully Simon's design. Meantime, about the middle of the night, Simon has fled away, making for Judæa. And Athenodorus and Appion have gone to convoy him; but I pretended bodily indisposition, that I might remain at home, and make him return quickly to you, if haply he may in any way be concealed with you, lest, being seized by those who are in quest of Simon, he be brought before Cæsar, and perish without cause. And now, in my anxiety about him, I have come to see him, and to return before those who have gone to convoy Simon come back." And turning to us, Anubion said: "I, Anubion, indeed see the true countenance of your father, because I was previously anointed by Simon himself, as I have told you, that the real face of Faustinianus might appear to my eyes; whence I am astonished and wonder at the art of Simon Magus, because you standing here do not recognise your father." And while my father and mother, and all of us, wept for the things which had befallen, Anubion, moved with compassion, also wept.
Chap. lx.—A counterplot.
Then Peter, moved with compassion, promised that he would restore the face of our father, saying to him: "Listen, Faustinianus: As soon as the error of your transformed countenance shall have conferred some advantage on us, and shall have subserved the designs which we have in view, then I shall restore to you the true form of your countenance; on condition, however, that you first despatch what I shall command you." And when my father promised that he would with all his might fulfil everything that he might charge him with, provided only that he might recover his own countenance, Peter thus began: "You have heard with your own ears, that one of those who had been sent before has returned from Antioch, and told us how Simon, while he was there, stirred up the multitudes against me, and inflamed the whole city into hatred of me, declaring that I am a magician, and a murderer, and a deceiver, so that they are eager, if they see me, even to eat my flesh. Do therefore what I tell you: leave Clement with me, and go before us to Antioch, with your wife, and your sons Faustus and Faustinus. And I shall also send others with you, whom I think fit, who shall observe whatsoever I command them.
Chap. lxi.—A mine dug.
"When therefore you come with them to Antioch, as you will be thought to be Simon, stand in a public place, and proclaim your repentance, and say: 'I Simon declare to you, and confess that all that I said concerning Peter was false: for he is neither a seducer, nor a magician, nor a murderer, nor any of the things that I spoke against him; but I said all these things under the instigation of madness. I therefore entreat you, even I myself, who erewhile gave you causes of hatred against him, that you think no such thing concerning him. But lay aside your hatred; cease from your indignation; because he is truly sent by God for the salvation of the world—a disciple and apostle of the true Prophet. Wherefore I advise, exhort, and charge you that you hear him, and believe him when he preaches to you the truth, lest haply, if you despise him, your very city suddenly perish. But I will tell you why I now make this confession to you. This night an angel of God rebuked me for my wickedness, and scourged me terribly, because I was an enemy to the herald of the truth. Therefore I entreat you, that even if I myself should ever again come to you, and attempt to say anything against Peter, you will not receive nor believe me. For I confess to you, I was a magician, a seducer, a deceiver; but I repent, for it is possible by repentance to blot out former evil deeds.'"
Chap. lxii.—A case of conscience.
When Peter made this intimation to my father, he answered: "I know what you wish; do not trouble yourself further: for I understand and know what I am to undertake when I come to the place." And Peter gave him further instruction, saying: "When therefore you come to the place, and see the people turned by your discourse, and laying aside their hatred, and returning to their longing for me, send and tell me, and I shall come immediately; and when I come, I shall without delay set you free from this strange countenance, and restore to you your own, which is known to all your friends." And having said this, he ordered my brothers to go with him, and at the same time our mother! Matthidia, and some of our friends. But my mother refused to go along with him, and said: "It seems as if I should be an adulteress if I were to associate with the countenance of Simon; but if I be compelled to go along with him, it is at all events impossible that I can lie in the same bed with him; but I do not know if I can consent even to go with him." And when she stoutly refused, Anubion began to exhort her, saying: "Believe me and Peter. But does not even his voice persuade you that he is your husband Faustinianus, whom truly I love not less than you do? And, in short, I also myself shall come with you." And when Anubion had said this, my mother promised that she would go with him.
Chap. lxiii.—A pious fraud.
Then said I: "God arranges our affairs to our liking; for we have with us Anubion an astrologer, with whom, if we come to Antioch, we shall dispute with all earnestness on the subject of genesis." And when our father had set out, after the middle of the night, with those whom Peter had ordered to accompany him, and with Anubion; in the morning, before Peter went to the discussion, those men returned who had convoyed Simon, namely Appion and Athenodorus, and came to us inquiring after my father. But Peter, when he was informed of their coming, ordered them to enter. And when they were seated, they asked, "Where is Faustinianus?" Peter answered: "We do not know; for since the evening that he went to you, no one of his friends has seen him. But yesterday morning Simon came inquiring for him; and because we gave him no answer, I know not what he meant, but he said that he was Faustinianus. But when nobody believed him, he wept and lamented, and threatened that he would destroy himself; and afterwards he went away towards the sea."
Chap. lxiv.—A competition in lying.
When Appion heard this, and those who were with him, they raised a great howling, saying: "Why have you done this? Why did you not receive him?" And when Athenodorus was going to tell me that it was my father Faustinianus himself, Appion prevented him, and said: "We have learned from some one that he has gone with Simon, and that at the entreaty of Faustinianus himself, being unwilling to see his sons, because they are Jews. When therefore we heard this, we came to inquire after him here; but since he is not here, it appears that he must have spoken truly who told us that he has gone with Simon. This, therefore, we tell you." But I Clement, when I understood the designs of Peter, that he wished to make them suppose that the old man would be required at their hands, so that they might be afraid and flee away, I began to aid his design, and said to Appion: "Listen, dear Appion: what we believe to be good, we wish to deliver to our father also; but if he will not receive it, but rather, as you say, flees away through abhorrence of us—it may perhaps be harsh to say so—we care nothing about him." And when I had said this, they departed, cursing my cruelty, and followed the track of Simon, as we learned on the following day.
Chap. lxv.—Success of the plot.
Meantime, while Peter was daily, according to his custom, teaching the poople, and working many miracles and cures, after ten days came one of our people from Antioch, sent by my father, informing us how my father stood in public, accusing Simon, whose face indeed he seemed to wear, and extolling Peter with unmeasured praises, and commending him to all the people, and making them long for him, so that all were changed by his speech, and longed to see him; and that many had come to love Peter so much, that they raged against my father in his character of Simon, and thought of laying hands on him, because he had done such wrong to Peter! "Wherefore," said he, "make haste, lest haply he be murdered; for he sent me with speed to you, being in great fear, to ask you to come without delay, that you may find him alive, and also that you may appear at the favourable moment, when the city is growing in affection towards you." He also told us how, as soon as my father entered the city of Antioch, the whole people were gathered to him, supposing him to be Simon; and he began to make public confession to them all, according to what the restoration of the people demanded: for all, as many as came, both noble and common, both rich and poor, hoping that some prodigies would be wrought by him in his usual way, he addressed thus:
Chap. lxvi.—Truth told by lying lips.
"It is long that the divine patience bears with me, Simon, the most unhappy of men; for whatever you have wondered at in me was done, not by means of truth, but by the lies and tricks of demons, that I might subvert your faith and condemn my own soul. I confess that all things that I said about Peter were lies; for he never was either a magician or a murderer, but has been sent by God for the salvation of you all; and if from this hour you think that he is to be despised, be assured that your very city may suddenly be destroyed. But, [you will ask,] what is the reason that I make this confession to you of my own accord? I was vehemently rebuked by an angel of God this night, and most severely scourged, because I was his enemy. I therefore entreat you, that if from this hour even I myself shall ever open my mouth against him, you will drive me from your sight; for that foul demon, who is an enemy to the salvation of men, speaks against him through my mouth, that you may not attain to life by his means. For what miracle could the magic art show you through me? I made brazen dogs bark, and statues move, men change their appearances, and suddenly vanish from men's sight; and for these things you ought to have cursed the magic art, which bound your souls with devilish fetters, that I might show you a vain miracle, that you might not believe Peter, who cures the sick in the name of Him by whom he is sent, and expels demons, and gives sight to the blind, and restores health to the palsied, and raises the dead."
Chap. lxvii.—Faustinianus is himself again.
Whilst he made these and similar statements, the people began to curse him, and to weep and lament because they had sinned against Peter, believing him to be a magician or wicked man. But the same day, at evening, Faustinianus had his own face restored to him, and the appearance of Simon Magus left him. Now Simon, hearing that his face on Faustinianus had contributed to the glory of Peter, came in haste to anticipate Peter, and intending to cause by his art that his likeness should be taken from Faustinianus, when Christ had already accomplished this according to the word of His apostle. But Niceta and Aquila, seeing their father's face restored after the necessary proclamation, gave thanks to God, and would not suffer him to address the people any more.
Chap. lxviii.—Peter's entry into Antioch.
But Simon began, though secretly, to go amongst his friends and acquaintances, and to malign Peter more than before. Then all spat in his face, and drove him from the city, saying: "You will be chargeable with your own death, if you think of coming hither again, speaking against Peter." These things being known [at Laodicea], Peter ordered the people to meet on the following day; and having ordained one of those who followed him as bishop over them, and others as presbyters, and having baptized multitudes, and restored to health all who were troubled with sicknesses or demons, he stayed there three days longer; and all things being properly arranged, he bade them farewell, and set out from Laodicea, being much longed for by the people of Antioch. And the whole city began to hear, through Niceta and Aquila, that Peter was coming. Then all the people of the city of Antioch, hearing of Peter's arrival, went to meet him, and almost all the old men and the nobles came with ashes sprinkled on their heads, in this way testifying their repentance, because they had listened to the magician Simon, in opposition to his preaching.
Chap. lxix.—Peter's thanksgiving.
Stating these and such like things, they bring to him those distressed with sicknesses, and tormented with demons, paralytics also, and those suffering diverse perils; and there was an infinite number of sick people collected. And when Peter saw that they not only repented of the evil thoughts they had entertained of him through means of Simon, but also that they showed so entire faith in God, that they believed that all who suffered from every sort of ailment could be healed by him, he spread out his hands towards heaven, pouring out prayers with tears, and gave thanks to God, saying: "I bless thee, O Father, worthy of all praise, who hast deigned to fulfil every word and promise of Thy Son, that every creature may know that Thou alone art God in heaven and in earth."
With such sayings, he went up on a height, and ordered all the multitude of sick people to be ranged before him, and addressed them all in these words: "As you see me to be a man like to yourselves, do not suppose that you can recover your health from me, but through Him who, coming down from heaven, has shown to those who believe in Him a perfect medicine for body and soul. Hence let all this people be witnesses to your declaration, that with your whole heart you believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, that they may know that themselves also may be saved by Him." And when all the multitude of the sick with one voice cried out that He is the true God whom Peter preaches, suddenly an overpowering light of the grace of God appeared in the midst of the people; and the paralytics being cured, began to run to Peter's feet, the blind to shout on the recovery of their sight, the lame to give thanks on regaining the power of walking, the sick to rejoice in restored health; some even who were barely alive, being already without consciousness or the power of speech, were raised up; and all the lunatics, and those possessed of demons, were set free.
So great grace of His power did the Holy Spirit show on that day, that all, from the least to the greatest, with one voice confessed the Lord; and not to delay you with many words, within seven days, more than ten thousand men, believing in God, were baptized and consecrated by sanctification: so that Theophilus, who was more exalted than all the men of power in that city, with all eagerness of desire consecrated the great palace of his house under the name of a church, and a chair was placed in it for the Apostle Peter by all the people; and the whole multitude assembling daily to hear the word, believed in the healthful doctrine which was avouched by the efficacy of cures.
Chap. lxxii.—Happy ending.
Then I Clement, with my brothers and our mother, spoke to our father, asking him whether any remnants of unbelief remained in him. And he said: "Come, and you shall see, in the presence of Peter, what an increase of faith has grown in me." Then Faustinianus approached, and fell down at Peter's feet, saying: "The seeds of your word, which the field of my mind has received, are now sprung up, and have so advanced to fruitful maturity, that nothing is wanting but that you separate me from the chaff by that spiritual reaping-hook of yours, and place me in the garner of the Lord, making me partaker of the divine table." Then Peter, with all alacrity grasping his hand, presented him to me Clement, and my brothers, saying: "As God has restored your sons to you, their father, so also your sons restore their father to God." And he proclaimed a fast to all the people, and on the next Lord's day he baptized him; and in the midst of the people, taking occasion from his conversion, he related all his fortunes, so that the whole city received him as an angel, and paid him no less honour than they did to the apostle. [And these things being known, Peter ordered the people to meet on the following day; and having ordained one of his followers as bishop, and others as presbyters, he baptized also a great number of people, and restored to health all who had boon distressed with sicknesses.]
- Allusion is made to Socrates and community of wives, as stated in the Republic of Plato.
- Dionysius appears here and subsequently in the text for Dionysus, the Greek god corresponding to the Latin Bacchus. Some of the other names are more or less corrupt forms.
- Luke xii. 17, 19, 20.
- Ezek. xviii. 33.
- Matt. xi. 30.
- The name is generally written Apion. The meaning of Pleistonices is doubtful, some supposing that it indicates his birthplace, some his father; but generally it is taken as an epithet, and it will then refer to his frequent victories in literary contests.
- This sentence occurs only in one MS.