Ante-Nicene Fathers/Volume V/Hippolytus/The Refutation of All Heresies/Book VI/Part 15
Chapter XIV.—Simon Interprets His System by the Mythological Representation of Helen of Troy; Gives an Account of Himself in Connection with the Trojan Heroine; Immorality of His Followers; Simon’s View of Christ; The Simonists’ Apology for Their Vice.
Simon then, after inventing these (tenets), not only by evil devices interpreted the writings of Moses in whatever way he wished, but even the (works) of the poets. For also he fastens an allegorical meaning on (the story of) the wooden horse and Helen with the torch, and on very many other (accounts), which he transfers to what relates to himself and to Intelligence, and (thus) furnishes a fictitious explanation of them. He said, however, that this (Helen) was the lost sheep. And she, always abiding among women, confounded the powers in the world by reason of her surpassing beauty. Whence, likewise, the Trojan war arose on her account. For in the Helen born at that time resided this Intelligence; and thus, when all the powers were for claiming her (for themselves), sedition and war arose, during which (this chief power) was manifested to nations. And from this circumstance, without doubt, we may believe that Stesichorus, who had through (some) verses reviled her, was deprived of the use of his eyes; and that, again, when he repented and composed recantations, in which he sung (Helen’s) praises, he recovered the power of vision. But the angels and the powers below—who, he says, created the world—caused the transference from one body to another of (Helen’s soul); and subsequently she stood on the roof of a house in Tyre, a city of Phœnicia, and on going down thither (Simon professed to have) found her. For he stated that, principally for the purpose of searching after this (woman), he had arrived (in Tyre), in order that he might rescue her from bondage. And after having thus redeemed her, he was in the habit of conducting her about with himself, alleging that this (girl) was the lost sheep, and affirming himself to be the Power above all things. But the filthy fellow, becoming enamoured of this miserable woman called Helen, purchased her (as his slave), and enjoyed her person. He, (however,) was likewise moved with shame towards his disciples, and concocted this figment.
But, again, those who become followers of this impostor—I mean Simon the sorcerer—indulge in similar practices, and irrationally allege the necessity of promiscuous intercourse. They express themselves in the manner following: “All earth is earth, and there is no difference where any one sows, provided he does sow.” But even they congratulate themselves on account of this indiscriminate intercourse, asserting that this is perfect love, and employing the expressions, “holy of holies,” and “sanctify one another.” For (they would have us believe) that they are not overcome by the supposed vice, for that they have been redeemed. “And (Jesus), by having redeemed Helen in this way,” (Simon says,) “has afforded salvation to men through his own peculiar intelligence. For inasmuch as the angels, by reason of their lust for pre-eminence, improperly managed the world, (Jesus Christ) being transformed, and being assimilated to the rulers and powers and angels, came for the restoration (of things). And so (it was that Jesus) appeared as man, when in reality he was not a man. And (so it was) that likewise he suffered—though not actually undergoing suffering, but appearing to the Jews to do so—in Judea as ‘Son,’ and in Samaria as ‘Father,’ and among the rest of the Gentiles as ‘Holy Spirit.’” And (Simon alleges) that Jesus tolerated being styled by whichever name (of the three just mentioned) men might wish to call him. “And that the prophets, deriving their inspiration from the world-making angels, uttered predictions (concerning him).” Wherefore, (Simon said,) that towards these (prophets) those felt no concern up to the present, who believe on Simon and Helen, and that they do whatsoever they please, as persons free; for they allege that they are saved by grace. For that there is no reason for punishment, even though one shall act wickedly; for such a one is not wicked by nature, but by enactment. “For the angels who created the world made,” he says, “whatever enactments they pleased,” thinking by such (legislative) words to enslave those who listened to them. But, again, they speak of a dissolution of the world, for the redemption of his own particular adherents.
- Homer, for instance (See Epiphanius, Hæres., xxi. 3).
- μιαρὸς, Bunsen’s emendation for ψυχρὸς, the reading in Miller and Schneidewin. Some read ψυδρὸς, i.e., lying; others ψευδόχριστος, i.e., counterfeit Christ. Cruice considers Bunsen’s emendation unnecessary, as ψυχρὸς may be translated “absurd fellow.” The word, literally meaning cold, is applied in a derived sense to persons who were heartless,—an import suitable to Hippolytus’ meaning.
- [See Irenæus, vol. i. p. 348, and Bunsen’s ideas, p. 50 of his first volume.]
- This rendering is according to Bunsen’s emendation of the text.
- Cruice omits the word δεδοκηκέναι, which seems an interpolation. The above rendering adopts the proposed emendation.
- Bunsen thinks that there is an allusion here to the conversation of our Lord with the woman of Samaria, and if so, that Menander, a disciple of Simon, and not Simon himself, was the author of The Great Announcement, as the heretic did not outlive St. Peter and Paul, and therefore died before the period at which St. John’s Gospel was written.
- Miller reads φύσιν, which makes no sense. The rendering above follows Bunsen’s emendation of the text. [Here it is equally interesting to the student of our author or of Irenæus to turn to Bunsen (p. 51), and to observe his parallels.]