Ante-Nicene Fathers/Volume III/Apologetic/A Treatise on the Soul/Chapter XXXI
Chapter XXXI.—Further Exposure of Transmigration, Its Inextricable Embarrassment.
Again, if this recovery of life from the dead take place at all, individuals must of course resume their own individuality. Therefore the souls which animated each several body must needs have returned separately to their several bodies. Now, whenever two, or three, or five souls are re-enclosed (as they constantly are) in one womb, it will not amount in such cases to life from the dead, because there is not the separate restitution which individuals ought to have; although at this rate, (no doubt,) the law of the primeval creation is signally kept, by the production still of several souls out of only one! Then, again, if souls depart at different ages of human life, how is it that they come back again at one uniform age? For all men are imbued with an infant soul at their birth. But how happens it that a man who dies in old age returns to life as an infant? If the soul, whilst disembodied, decreases thus by retrogression of its age, how much more reasonable would it be, that it should resume its life with a richer progress in all attainments of life after the lapse of a thousand years! At all events, it should return with the age it had attained at its death, that it might resume the precise life which it had relinquished. But even if, at this rate, they should reappear the same evermore in their revolving cycles, it would be proper for them to bring back with them, if not the selfsame forms of body, at least their original peculiarities of character, taste, and disposition, because it would be hardly possible for them to be regarded as the same, if they were deficient in those characteristics by means of which their identity should be proved. (You, however, meet me with this question): How can you possibly know, you ask, whether all is not a secret process? may not the work of a thousand years take from you the power of recognition, since they return unknown to you? But I am quite certain that such is not the case, for you yourself present Pythagoras to me as (the restored) Euphorbus. Now look at Euphorbus: he was evidently possessed of a military and warlike soul, as is proved by the very renown of the sacred shields. As for Pythagoras, however, he was such a recluse, and so unwarlike, that he shrank from the military exploits of which Greece was then so full, and preferred to devote himself, in the quiet retreat of Italy, to the study of geometry, and astrology, and music—the very opposite to Euphorbus in taste and disposition. Then, again, the Pyrrhus (whom he represented) spent his time in catching fish; but Pythagoras, on the contrary, would never touch fish, abstaining from even the taste of them as from animal food. Moreover, Æthalides and Hermotimus had included the bean amongst the common esculents at meals, while Pythagoras taught his disciples not even to pass through a plot which was cultivated with beans. I ask, then, how the same souls are resumed, which can offer no proof of their identity, either by their disposition, or habits, or living? And now, after all, (we find that) only four souls are mentioned as recovering life out of all the multitudes of Greece. But limiting ourselves merely to Greece, as if no transmigrations of souls and resumptions of bodies occurred, and that every day, in every nation, and amongst all ages, ranks, and sexes, how is it that Pythagoras alone experiences these changes into one personality and another? Why should not I too undergo them? Or if it be a privilege monopolized by philosophers—and Greek philosophers only, as if Scythians and Indians had no philosophers—how is it that Epicurus had no recollection that he had been once another man, nor Chrysippus, nor Zeno, nor indeed Plato himself, whom we might perhaps have supposed to have been Nestor, from his honeyed eloquence?
- Signatur. Rigaltius reads “singulatur,” after the Codex Agobard., as meaning, “The single origin of the human race is in principle maintained,” etc.