Ante-Nicene Fathers/Volume IX/Origen on Matthew/Origen's Commentary on Matthew/Book XIII/Chapter 6
6. Influence of the Moon and Stars on Men.
Let us now, then, give heed to the very letter of the passage, and first let us inquire, how he who has been cast into darkness and repressed by an impure and deaf and dumb spirit is said to be a “lunatic,” and for what reason the expression to be a “lunatic” derives its name from the great light in heaven which is next to the sun, which God appointed “to rule over the night.” Let physicians then, discuss the physiology of the matter, inasmuch as they think that there is no impure spirit in the case, but a bodily disorder, and inquiring into the nature of things let them say, that the moist humours which are in the head are moved by a certain sympathy which they have with the light of the moon, which has a moist nature; but as for us, who also believe the Gospel that this sickness is viewed as having been effected by an impure dumb and deaf spirit in those who suffer from it, and who see that those, who are accustomed like the magicians of the Egyptians to promise a cure in regard to such, seem sometimes to be successful in their case, we will say that, perhaps, with the view of slandering the creation of God, in order that “unrighteousness may be spoken loftily, and that they may set their mouth against the heaven,” this impure spirit watches certain configurations of the moon, and so makes it appear from observation of men suffering at such and such a phase of the moon, that the cause of so great an evil is not the dumb and deaf demon, but the great light in heaven which was appointed “to rule by night,” and which has no power to originate such a disorder among men. But they all “speak unrighteousness loftily,” as many as say, that the cause of all the disorders which exist on the earth, whether of such generally or of each in detail, arises from the disposition of the stars; and such have truly “set their mouth against the heaven,” when they say that some of the stars have a malevolent, and others a benevolent influence; since no star was formed by the God of the universe to work evil, according to Jeremiah as it is written in the Lamentations, “Out of the mouth of the Lord shall come things noble and that which is good.” And it is probable that as this impure spirit, producing what is called lunacy, observes the phases of the moon, that it may work on him who for certain causes has been committed to it, and who has not made himself worthy of the guardianship of angels, so also there are other spirits and demons who work at certain phases of the rest of the stars; so that not the moon only, but the rest of the stars also may be calumniated by those “who speak unrighteousness loftily.” It is worth while, then, to listen to the casters of nativities, who refer the origin of every form of madness and every demoniacal possession to the phases of the moon. That those, then, who suffer from what is called lunacy sometimes fall into the water is evident, and that they also fall into the fire, less frequently indeed, yet it does happen; and it is evident that this disorder is very difficult to cure, so that those who have the power to cure demoniacs sometimes fail in respect of this, and sometimes with fastings and supplications and more toils, succeed. But you will inquire whether there are such disorders in spirits as well as in men; so that some of them speak, but some of them are speechless, and some of them hear, but some are deaf; for as in them will be found the cause of their being impure, so also, because of their freedom of will, are they condemned to be speechless and deaf; for some men will suffer such condemnation if the prayer of the prophet, as spoken by the Holy Spirit, shall be given heed to, in which it is said of certain sinners, “Let the lying lips be put to silence.” And so, perhaps, those who make a bad use of their hearing, and admit the hearing of vanities, will be rendered deaf by Him who said, “Who hath made the stone-deaf and the deaf,” so that they may no longer lend an ear to vain things.
- Gen. i. 16.
- Ps. lxxiii. 8, 9.
- Lam. iii. 38. Origen reads τὰ καλὰ instead of τὰ κακὰ.
- Ps. xxxi. 18.
- Exod. iv. 11.