Ante-Nicene Fathers/Volume V/Hippolytus/The Refutation of All Heresies/Book V/Part 10

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Chapter IX.—System of the Peratæ Explained Out of One of Their Own Books.

It seems, then, expedient to set forth a certain one of the books held[1] in repute amongst them, in which the following passage[2] occurs: “I am a voice of arousal from slumber in the age of night. Henceforward I commence to strip the power which is from chaos. The power is that of the lowest depth of mud, which uprears the slime of the incorruptible (and) humid expanse of space. And it is the entire power of the convulsion, which, ever in motion, and presenting the colour of water, whirls things on that are stationary, restrains things tremulous, sets things free as they proceed, lightens[3] things as they abide, removes things on the increase, a faithful steward of the track of the breezes, enjoying the things disgorged from the twelve eyes of the law,[4] (and) manifesting a seal[5] to the power which along with itself distributes the downborne invisible waters, and has been called Thalassa. This power ignorance has been accustomed to denominate Cronus, guarded with chains because he tightly bound the fold of the dense and misty and obscure and murky Tartarus. According to the image of this were produced Cepheus, Prometheus, (and) Japetus. The Power to which has been entrusted Thalassa[6] is hermaphrodite. And it fastens the hissing sound arising from the twelve mouths into twelve pipes, and pours it forth. And the power itself is subtle, and removes the controlling, boisterous, upward motion (of the sea), and seals the tracks of its paths, lest (any antagonistic power) should wage war or introduce any alteration. The tempestuous daughter of this one is a faithful protectress of all sorts of waters. Her name is Chorzar. Ignorance is in the habit of styling this (power) Neptune, according to whose image was produced Glaucus, Melicertes, Ino, Nebroë.[7] He that is encircled with the pyramid of twelve angels,[8] and darkens the gate into the pyramid with various colours, and completes the entire in the sable hues of Night: this one ignorance denominated Cronus.[9] And his ministers were five,—first U, second Aoai, third Uo, fourth Uoab, fifth…Other trustworthy managers (there are) of his province of night and day, who repose in their own power. Ignorance denominated these the erratic stars, from whom depends a corruptible generation. Manager of the rising of the star[10] is Carphacasemeocheir, (and) Eccabbacara (is the same). Ignorance is in the habit of denominating these Curetes chief of the winds; third in order is Ariel, according to whose image was generated Æolus, Briares. And chief of the twelve-houred nocturnal (power) is Soclan, whom ignorance is accustomed to style Osiris; (and) according to the image of this one was born Admetus, Medea, Helen, Æthusa. Chief of the twelve-houred diurnal power is Euno. This is manager of the rising of the star Protocamarus and of the ethereal (region), but ignorance has denominated him Isis. A sign of this one is the Dog-star, according to whose image were born Ptolemæus son of Arsinoe, Didyma, Cleopatra, and Olympias. God’s right-hand power is that which ignorance has denominated Rhea, according to whose image were produced Attis, Mygdon,[11] (and) Œnone. The left-hand power has lordship over sustenance, and ignorance is in the habit of styling this Ceres, (while) her name is Bena; and according to the image of this one were born Celeus, Triptolemus, Misyr, and Praxidica.[12] The right-hand power has lordship over fruits. This one ignorance has denominated Mena, according to whose image were born Bumegas,[13] Ostanes, Mercury Trismegistus, Curites, Petosiris, Zodarium, Berosus, Astrampsuchus, (and) Zoroaster. The left-hand power is (lord) of fire, (and) ignorance has denominated this one Vulcan, according to whose image were born Ericthonius, Achilles, Capaneus, Phaëthon,[14] Meleager, Tydeus, Enceladus, Raphael, Suriel, (and) Omphale.  There are three intermediate powers suspended from air, authors of generation. These ignorance has been in the habit of denominating Fates; and according to the image of these were produced the house of Priam, the house of Laius, Ino, Autonoe, Agave, Athamas, Procne, Danaides, and Peliades. A power (there is) hermaphrodite, always continuing in infancy, never waxing old, cause of beauty, pleasure, maturity, desire, and concupiscence; and ignorance has been accustomed to style this Eros, according to whose image were born Paris, Narcissus, Ganymede, Endymion, Tithonus, Icarius, Leda, Amymone, Thetis, Hesperides, Jason, Leander, (and) Hero.” These are Proastioi up to Æther, for with this title also he inscribes the book.


  1. Hippolytus at the end of this chapter mentions the title of one of their books, Οἱ προάστειοι ἕως αἰθέρος, “The Suburbans up to the Air.” Bunsen suggests Περάται ἕως αἰθέρος, “The Transcendental Etherians.” (See note 1 supra.)
  2. The Abbe Cruice considers that the following system of cosmogony is translated into Greek from some Chaldaic or Syriac work. He recognises in it likewise a Jewish element, to be accounted for from the fact that the Jews during the Babylonish captivity imbibed the principles of the Oriental philosophy. What, therefore, is given by Hippolytus may have a Judaistic origin.
  3. Schneidewin considers the text here corrupt.
  4. The Abbe Cruice observes that the reference here is to the second book of the law (Ex. xv. 27), where mention is made of the twelve fountains of Elim. The Hebrew word (ןיע) stands for both an eye and a fountain. Hence the error by the Greek translator.
  5. i.e., a poetic expression, as Cruice remarks, for closing the seal. (See Job ix. 7.)
  6. Schneidewin refers us to a passage from Berosus, who affirms that this person was styled Thalatta by the Greeks, Thalath by the Chaldeans; another denomination being Omorka, or Omoroka, or Marcaia. The Abbe Cruice, however, sets little value on these names, which, following the judgment of Scaliger, he pronounces spurious. It is unnecessary to remind scholars that the authenticity of Berosus has collapsed under the attacks of modern criticism.
  7. Miller suggests Νεφέλη, Cruice Nebo.
  8. Cruice thinks this may be a figure of the year and of twelve months.
  9. Miller has Κόρην.
  10. Or, “air.”
  11. Miller reads Μυγδώνη, others Μυγδόνη.
  12. Miller has ᾽Απραξία.
  13. Miller suggests Βουζύγης.
  14. Miller reads Φλέγων.