Hippolytus (Cont.)The Refutation of All Heresies. (Cont.)

Book VI.


The following are the contents of the sixth book of the Refutation of all Heresies: – 

What the opinions are that are attempted (to be established) by Simon, and that his doctrine derives its force from the (lucubrations) of magicians and poets.

What are the opinions propounded by Valentinus, and that his system is not constructed out of the Scriptures, but out of the Platonic and Pythagorean tenets.

And what are the opinions of Secundus, and Ptolemaeus, and Heracleon, as persons also who themselves advanced the same doctrines as the philosophers among the Greeks, but enunciated them in different phraseology.

And what are the suppositions put forward by Marcus and Colarbasus, and that some of them devoted their attention to magical arts and the Pythagorean numbers.


Chap. I.1 – The Ophites the Progenitors of Subsequent Heresies.

Whatever opinions, then, were entertained by those who derived the first principles (of their doctrine) from the serpent, and in process of time2 deliberately3 brought forward into public notice their tenets, we have explained in the book preceding this, (and) which is the fifth of the Refutation of Heresies. But now also I shall not be silent as regards the opinions of (heresiarchs) who follow these (Ophites in succession); nay, not one (speculation) will I leave unrefuted, if it is possible to remember all (their tenets), and the secret orgies of these (heretics) which one may fairly style orgies, – for they who propagate such audacious opinions are not far distant from the anger (of God), – that I may avail myself of the assistance of etymology.


Chap. II. – Simon Magus.

It seems, then, expedient likewise to explain now the opinions of Simon,4 a native of Gitta, a village of Samaria; and we shall also prove that his successors, taking a starting-point from him, have endeavoured (to establish) similar opinions under a change of name. This Simon being an adept in sorceries, both making a mockery of many, partly according to the art of Thrasymedes, in the manner in which we have explained above, (in book iv. of The Refutation) and partly also by the assistance of demons perpetrating his villainy, attempted to deify himself. (But) the man was a (mere) cheat, and full of folly, and the Apostles reproved him in the Acts. (Act_8:9-24) With much greater wisdom and moderation than Simon, did Apsethus the Libyan, inflamed with a similar wish, endeavour to have himself considered a god in Libya, And inasmuch as his legendary system does not present any wide divergence from the inordinate desire of that silly Simon, it seems expedient to furnish an explanation of it, as one worthy of the attempt made by this man.


Chap. III. – Story of Apsethus the Libyan.

Apsethus5 the Libyan inordinately longed to become a god; but when, after repeated intrigues, he altogether failed to accomplish his desire, he nevertheless wished to appear to have become a god; and he did at all events appear, as time wore on, to have in reality become a god. For the foolish Libyans were accustomed to sacrifice unto him as to some divine power, supposing that they were yielding credence to a voice that came down from above, from heaven. For, collecting into one and the same cage a great number of birds, – parrots, – he shut them up. Now there are very many parrots throughout Libya, and very distinctly these imitate the human voice. This man, having for a time nourished the birds, was in the habit of teaching them to say, “Apsethus is a god.” After, however, the birds had practised this for a long period, and were accustomed to the utterance of that which he thought, when said, would make it supposed that Apsethus was a god, then, opening the habitation (of the birds), he let forth the parrots, each in a different direction. While the birds, however, were on the wing, their sound went out into all Libya, and the expressions of these reached as far as the Hellenic country. And thus the Libyans, being astonished at the voice of the birds, and not perceiving the knavery perpetrated by Apsethus, held Apsethus to be a god. Some one, however, of the Greeks, by accurate examination, perceiving the trick of the supposed god, by means of those same parrots not only refutes, but also utterly destroys, that boastful and tiresome fellow. Now the Greek, by confining many of the parrots, taught them anew to say, “Apsethus, having caged us, compelled us to say, Apsethus is a god.” But having heard of the recantation of the parrots, the Libyans, coming together, all unanimously decided on burning Apsethus.


Chap. IV. – Simon’s Forced Interpretation of Scripture; Plagiarizes from Heraclitus and Aristotle; Simon’s System of Sensible and Intelligible Existences.

In this way we must think concerning Simon the magician, so that we may compare him unto the Libyan, far sooner than unto Him who, though made man,6 was in reality God. If, however, the assertion of this likeness is in itself accurate, and the sorcerer was the subject of a passion similar to Apsethus, let us endeavour to teach anew the parrots of Simon, that Christ, who stood, stands, and will stand, (that is, was, is, and is to come,) was not Simon. But (Jesus) was man, offspring of the seed of a woman, born of blood and the will of the flesh, as also the rest (of humanity). And that these things are so, we shall easily prove as the discussion proceeds.

Now Simon, both foolishly and knavishly paraphrasing the law of Moses, makes his statements (in the manner following): For when Moses asserts that “God is a burning and consuming fire,” (Deu_4:24) taking what is said by Moses not in its correct sense, he affirms that fire is the originating principle of the universe. (But Simon) does not consider what the statement is which is made, namely, that it is not that God is a fire, but a burning and consuming fire, (thereby) not only putting a violent sense upon the actual law of Moses, but even plagiarizing from Heraclitus the Obscure. And Simon denominates the originating principle of the universe an indefinite power, expressing himself thus: “This is the treatise of a revelation of (the) voice and name (recognisable) by means of intellectual apprehension of the Great Indefinite Power. Wherefore it will be sealed, (and) kept secret, (and) hid, (and) will repose in the habitation, at the foundation of which lies the root of all things.” And he asserts that this man who is born of blood is (the aforesaid) habitation, and that in him resides an indefinite power, which he affirms to be the root of the universe.

Now the indefinite power which is fire, constitutes, according to Simon, not any uncompounded (essence, in conformity with the opinion of those who) assert that the four elements are simple, and who have (therefore) likewise imagined that fire, (which is one of the four,) is simple. But (this is far from being the case): for there is, (he maintains,) a certain twofold nature of fire;7 and of this twofold (nature) he denominates one part a something secret, and another a something manifest, and that the secret are hidden in the manifest portions of the fire, and that the manifest portions of the fire derive their being from its secret (portions). This, however, is what Aristotle denominates by (the expressions) “potentiality” and “energy,” or (what) Plato (styles) “intelligible” and “sensible.” And the manifest portion of the fire comprises all things in itself, whatsoever any one might discern, or even whatever objects of the visible creation8 he may happen to overlook. But the entire secret (portion of the fire) which one may discern is cognised by intellect, and evades the power of the senses; or one fails to observe it, from want of a capacity for that particular sort of perception. In general, however, inasmuch as all existing things fall under the categories, namely, of what are objects of Sense, and what are objects of Intellect, and as for the denomination of these (Simon) employs the terms secret and manifest; it may, (I say, in general,) be affirmed that the fire, (I mean) the super-celestial (fire), is a treasure, as it were a large tree, just such a one as in a dream was seen by Nabuchodonosor, (Dan_4:10-12) out of which all flesh is nourished. And the manifest portion of the fire he regards as the stem, the branches, the leaves, (and) the external rind which overlaps them. All these (appendages), he says, of the Great Tree being kindled, are made to disappear by reason of the blaze of the all-devouring fire. The fruit, however, of the tree, when it is fully grown, and has received its own form, is deposited in a granary, not (flung) into the fire. For, he says, the fruit has been produced for the purpose of being laid in the storehouse, whereas the chaff that it may be delivered over to the fire. (Mat_3:12; Luk_3:17) (Now the chaff) is stem, (and is) generated not for its own sake, but for that of the fruit.


Chap. V. – Simon Appeals to Scripture in Support of His System.

And this, he says, is what has been written in Scripture: “For the vineyard of the Lord of Sabaoth is the house of Israel, and the man of Judah is His beloved plant.” If, however, the man of Judah (is) the beloved plant, it has been proved, he says, that there is not any other tree but that man. But concerning the secretion and dissolution of this (tree), Scripture, he says, has spoken sufficiently. And as regards instruction for those who have been fashioned after the image (of him), that statement is enough which is made (in Scripture), that “all flesh is grass, and all the glory of flesh, as it were, a flower of grass. The grass withereth, and its flower falleth; but the word of the Lord abideth for ever.” (1Pe_1:24) The word of the Lord, he says, is that word which is produced in the mouth, and (is) a Logos, but nowhere else exists there a place of generation.


Chap. VI. – Simon’s System Expounded in the Work, Great Announcement; Follows Empedocles.

Now, to express myself briefly, inasmuch as the fire is of this description, according to Simon, and since all things are visible and invisible, (and) in like manner resonant and not resonant, numerable and not subjects of numeration; he denominates in the Great Announcement a perfect intelligible (entity), after such a mode, that each of those things which, existing indefinitely, may be infinitely comprehended, both speaks, and understands, and acts in such a manner as Empedocles9 speaks of: – 

“For earth, indeed, by earth we see, and water by water,

And air divine by air, and fire fierce by fire,

And love by love, and also strife by gloomy strife.”


Chap. VII. – Simon’s System of a Threefold Emanation by Pairs.

For, he says, he is in the habit of considering that all these portions of the fire, both visible and invisible, are possessed of perception and a share of intelligence.10 The world, therefore, that which is generated, was produced from the unbegotten fire. It began, however, to exist, he says, according to the following manner. He who was begotten from the principle of that fire took six roots, and those primary ones, of the originating principle of generation. And, he says that the roots were made from the fire in pairs, which roots he terms “Mind” and “Intelligence,” “Voice” and “Name,” “Ratiocination” and “Reflection.” And that in these six roots resides simultaneously the entire indefinite power potentially, (however) not actually. And this indefinite power, he says, is he who stood, stands, and will stand. Wherefore, whensoever he may be made into an image, inasmuch as he exists in the six powers, he will exist (there) substantially, potentially, quantitively, (and) completely. (And he will be a power) one and the same with the unbegotten and indefinite power, and not labouring under any greater deficiency than that unbegotten and unalterable (and) indefinite power. If, however, he may continue only potentially in the six powers, and has not been formed into an image, he vanishes, he says, and is destroyed in such a way as the grammatical or geometrical capacity in man’s soul. For when the capacity takes unto itself an art, a light of existent things is produced; but when (the capacity) does not take unto itself (an art), unskilfulness and ignorance are the results; and just as when (the power) was non-existent, it perishes along with the expiring man.


Chap. VIII. – Further Progression of This Threefold Emanation; Co-Existence with the Double Triad of a Seventh Existence.

And of those six powers,11 and of the seventh which co-exists with them, the first pair, Mind and Intelligence, he calls Heaven and Earth. And that one of these, being of male sex, beholds from above and takes care of his partner, but that the earth receives below the rational fruits, akin to the earth, which are borne down from the heaven. On this account, he says, the Logos, frequently looking towards the things that are being generated from Mind and Intelligence, that is, from Heaven and Earth, exclaims, “Hear, O heaven, and give ear, O earth, because the Lord has spoken. I have brought forth children, and exalted them; and these have rejected me.” Now, he who utters these words, he says, is the seventh power – he who stood, stands, and will stand; for he himself is cause of those beauteous objects of creation which Moses commended, and said that they were very good. But Voice and Name (the second of the three pairs) are Sun and Moon; and Ratiocination and Reflection (the third of the three pairs) are Air and Water. And in all these is intermingled and blended, as I have declared, the great, the indefinite, the (self-) existing power.


Chap. IX. – Simon’s Interpretation of the Mosaic Hexaëmeron; His Allegorical Representation of Paradise.

When, therefore, Moses has spoken of “the six days in which God made heaven and earth, and rested on the seventh from all His works,” (Gen_2:2) Simon, in a manner already specified, giving (these and other passages of Scripture) a different application (from the one intended by the holy writers), deifies himself. When, therefore, (the followers of Simon) affirm that there are three days begotten before sun and moon, they speak enigmatically of Mind and Intelligence, that is, Heaven and Earth, and of the seventh power, (I mean) the indefinite one. For these three powers are produced antecedent to all the rest. But when they say, “He begot me prior to all the Ages,” (Pro_8:22-24) such statements, he says, are alleged to hold good concerning the seventh power. Now this seventh power, which was a power existing in the indefinite power, which was produced prior to all the Ages, this is, he says, the seventh power, respecting which Moses utters the following words: “And the Spirit of God was wafted over12 the water;” that is, says (the Simonian), the Spirit which contains all things in itself, and is an image of the indefinite power about which Simon speaks, – ”an image from an incorruptible form, that alone reduces all things into order.” For this power that is wafted over the water, being begotten, he says, from an incorruptible form alone, reduces all things into order. When, therefore, according to these (heretics), there ensued some such arrangement, and (one) similar (to it) of the world, the Deity, he says, proceeded to form man, taking clay from the earth. And He formed him not uncompounded, but twofold, according to (His own) image and likeness. (Gen_2:7) Now the image is the Spirit that is wafted over the water; and whosoever is not fashioned into a figure of this, will perish with the world, inasmuch as he continues only potentially, and does exist actually. This, he says, is what has been spoken, “that we should not be condemned with the world.” (1Co_11:32) If one, however, be made into the figure of (the Spirit), and be generated from an indivisible point, as it has been written in the Announcement, (such a one, albeit) small, will become great. But what is great will continue unto infinite and unalterable duration, as being that which no longer is subject to the conditions of a generated entity.

How then, he says, and in what manner, does God form man? In Paradise; for so it seems to him. Grant Paradise, he says, to be the womb; and that this is a true (assumption) the Scripture will teach, when it utters the words, “I am He who forms thee in thy mother’s womb.” (Jer_1:5) For this also he wishes to have been written so. Moses, he says, resorting to allegory, has declared Paradise to be the womb, if we ought to rely on his statement. If, however, God forms man in his mother’s womb – that is, in Paradise – as I have affirmed, let Paradise be the womb, and Edem the after-birth,13 “a river flowing forth from Edem, for the purpose of irrigating Paradise,” (Gen_2:10) (meaning by this) the navel. This navel, he says, is separated into four principles; for on either side of the navel are situated two arteries, channels of spirit, and two veins channels of blood. But when, he says, the umbilical vessels14 proceed forth from Edem, that is, the caul in which the foetus is enveloped grows into the (foetus) that is being formed in the vicinity of the epigastrium, – (now) all in common denominate this a navel, – these two veins through which the blood flows, and is conveyed from Edem, the after-birth, to what are styled the gates of the liver; (these veins, I say,) nourish the foetus. But the arteries which we have spoken of as being channels of spirit, embrace the bladder on both sides, around the pelvis, and connect it with the great artery, called the aorta, in the vicinity of the dorsal ridge. And in this way the spirit, making its way through the ventricles to the heart, produces a movement of the foetus. For the infant that was formed in Paradise neither receives nourishment through the mouth, nor breathes through the nostrils: for as it lay in the midst of moisture, at its feet was death, if it attempted to breathe; for it would (thus) have been drawn away from moisture, and perished (accordingly). But (one may go further than this); for the entire (foetus) is bound tightly round by a covering styled the caul, and is nourished by a navel, and it receives through the (aorta), in the vicinity of the dorsal ridge, as I have stated, the substance of the spirit.


Chap. X. – Simon’s Explanation of the First Two Books of Moses.

The river, therefore, he says, which proceeds out of Edem is divided into four principles, four channels – that is, into four senses, belonging to the creature that is being born, viz., seeing, smelling, taste, and touch; for the child formed in Paradise has these senses only. This, he says, is the law which Moses appointed; and in reference to this very law, each of his books has been written, as the inscriptions evince. The first book is Genesis. The inscription of the book is, he says, sufficient for a knowledge of the universe. For this is (equivalent in meaning with) generation, (that is,) vision, into which one section of the river is divided. For the world was seen by the power of vision. Again, the inscription of the second book is Exodus. For what has been produced, passing through the Red Sea, must come into the wilderness, – now they say he calls the Red (Sea) blood, – and taste bitter water. For bitter, he says, is the water which is (drunk) after (crossing) the Red Sea; which (water) is a path to be trodden, that leads (us) to a knowledge in (this) life of (our) toilsome and bitter lot. Altered, however, by Moses – that is, by the Logos – that bitter (water) becomes sweet. And that this is so we may hear in common from all who express themselves according to the (sentiments of the) poets: – 

“Dark at the root, like milk, the flower,

Gods call it ‘Moly,’ and hard for mortal men

To dig, but power divine is boundless.”15


Chap. XI. – Simon’s Explanation of the Three Last Books of the Pentateuch.

What is spoken by the Gentiles is sufficient for a knowledge of the universe to those who have ears (capable) of hearing. For whosoever, he says, has tasted this fruit, is not the only one that is changed by Circe into a beast; but also, employing the power of such a fruit, he forms anew and moulds afresh, and re-entices into that primary peculiar character of theirs, those that already have been altered into beasts. But a faithful man, and beloved by that sorceress, is, he says, discovered through that milk-like and divine fruit. In like manner, the third book is Leviticus, which is smelling, or respiration. For the entire of that book is (an account) of sacrifices and offerings. Where, however, there is a sacrifice, a certain savour of the fragrance arises from the sacrifice through the incense-offerings; and in regard of this fragrance (the sense of) smelling is a test. Numbers, the fourth of the books, signifies taste, where the discourse is operative. For, from the fact of its speaking all things, it is denominated by numerical arrangement. But Deuteronomy, he says, is written in reference to the (sense of) touch possessed by the child that is being formed. For as touch, by seizing the things that are seen by the other senses, sums them up and ratifies them, testing what is rough, or warm, or clammy, (or cold); so the fifth book of the law constitutes a summary of the four books preceding this.

All things, therefore, he says, when unbegotten, are in us potentially, not actually, as the grammatical or geometrical (art). If, then, one receives proper instruction and teaching, and (where consequently) what is bitter will be altered into what is sweet, – that is, the spears into pruning-hooks, and the swords into plough-shares, (Isa_2:4) – there will not be chaff and wood begotten for fire, but mature fruit, fully formed, as I said, equal and similar to the unbegotten and indefinite power. If, however, a tree continues alone, not producing fruit fully formed, it is utterly destroyed. For somewhere near, he says, is the axe (which is laid) at the roots of the tree. Every tree, he says, which does not produce good fruit, is hewn down and cast into fire. (Mat_3:10; Luk_3:9)


Chap. XII. – Fire a Primal Principle, According to Simon.

According to Simon, therefore, there exists that which is blessed and incorruptible in a latent condition in every one – (that is,) potentially, not actually; and that this is He who stood, stands,16 and is to stand.17 He has stood above in unbegotten power. He stands below, when in the stream of waters He was begotten in a likeness. He is to stand above, beside the blessed indefinite power, if He be fashioned into an image. For, he says, there are three who have stood; and except there were three Aeons who have stood, the unbegotten one is not adorned. (Now the unbegotten one) is, according to them, wafted over the water, and is re-made, according to the similitude (of an eternal nature), a perfect celestial (being), in no (quality of) intelligence formed inferior to the unbegotten power: that is what they say – I and you, one; you, before me; I, that which is after you. This, he says, is one power divided above (and) below, generating itself, making itself grow, seeking itself, finding itself, being mother of itself, father of itself, sister of itself, spouse of itself, daughter of itself, son of itself, mother, father, a unit, being a root of the entire circle of existence.

And that, he says, the originating principle of the generation of things begotten is from fire, he discerns after some such method as the following. Of all things, (i.e.) of whatsoever there is a generation, the beginning of the desire of the generation is from fire. Wherefore the desire after mutable generation is denominated “to be inflamed.” For when the fire is one, it admits of two conversions. For, he says, blood in the man being both warm and yellow, is converted as a figured flame into seed; but in the woman this same blood is converted into milk. And the conversion of the male becomes generation, but the conversion of the female nourishment for the foetus. This, he says, is “the flaming sword, which turned to guard the way of the tree of life.” (Gen_3:24) For the blood is converted into seed and milk, and this power becomes mother and father – father of those things that are in process of generation, and the augmentation of those things that are being nourished; (and this power is) without further want, (and) self-sufficient. And, he says, the tree of life is guarded, as we have stated, by the brandished flaming sword. And it is the seventh power, that which (is produced) from itself, (and) which contains all (powers, and) which reposes in the six powers. For if the flaming sword be not brandished, that good tree will be destroyed, and perish. If, however, these be converted into seed and milk, the principle that resides in these potentially, and is in possession of a proper position, in which is evolved a principle of souls, (such a principle,) beginning, as it were, from a very small spark, will be altogether magnified, and will increase and become a power indefinite (and) unalterable, (equal and similar) to an unalterable age, which no longer passes into the indefinite age.


Chap. XIII. – His Doctrine of Emanation Further Expanded.

Therefore, according to this reasoning, Simon became confessedly a god to his silly followers, as that Libyan, namely, Apsethus – begotten, no doubt, and subject to passion, when he may exist potentially, but devoid of propensions. (And this too, though born from one having pro-pensions, and uncreated though born) from one that is begotten, when He may be fashioned into a figure, and, becoming perfect, may come forth from two of the primary powers, that is, Heaven and Earth. For Simon expressly speaks of this in the “Revelation” after this manner: “To you, then, I address the things which I speak, and (to you) I write what I write. The writing is this: there are two offshoots from all the Aeons, having neither beginning nor end, from one root. And this is a power, viz., Sige, (who is) invisible (and) incomprehensible. And one of these (offshoots) appears from above, which constitutes a great power, (the creative) Mind of the universe, which manages all things, (and is) a male. The other (offshoot), however, is from below, (and constitutes) a great Intelligence, and is a female which produces all things. From whence, ranged in pairs opposite each other, they undergo conjugal union, and manifest an intermediate interval, namely, an incomprehensible air, which has neither beginning nor end. But in this is a father who sustains all things, and nourishes things that have beginning and end. This is he who stood, stands, and will stand, being an hermaphrodite power according to the pre-existent indefinite power, which has neither beginning nor end. Now this (power) exists in isolation. For Intelligence, (that subsists) in unity, proceeded forth from this (power), (and) became two. And that (father) was one, for having in himself this (power) he was isolated, and, however, He was not primal though pre-existent; but being rendered manifest to himself from himself, he passed into a state of duality. But neither was he denominated father before this (power) would style him father. As, therefore, he himself, bringing forward himself by means of himself, manifested unto himself his own peculiar intelligence, so also the intelligence, when it was manifested, did not exercise the function of creation. But beholding him, she concealed the Father within herself, that is, the power; and it is an hermaphrodite power, and an intelligence. And hence it is that they are ranged in pairs, one opposite the other; for power is in no wise different from intelligence, inasmuch as they are one. For from those things that are above is discovered power; and from those below, intelligence. So it is, therefore, that likewise what is manifested from these, being unity, is discovered (to be) duality, an hermaphrodite having the female in itself. This, (therefore,) is Mind (subsisting) in Intelligence; and these are separable one from the other, (though both taken together) are one, (and) are discovered in a state of duality.” 


Chap. 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.18 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 b 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 Phoenicia, 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 filthy19 fellow, becoming enamoured of this miserable woman called Helen, purchased her (as his slave), and enjoyed her person.20 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 sores, 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.”21 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 so22 – in Judea as ‘Son,’ and in Samaria as ‘Father,’23 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 dissolution24 of the world, for the redemption of his own particular adherents.


Chap. XV. – Simon’s Disciples Adopt the Mysteries; Simon Meets St. Peter at Rome; Account of Simon’s Closing Years.

The disciples, then, of this (Magus), celebrate magical rites, and resort to incantations. And (they profess to) transmit both love-spells and charms, and the demons said to be senders of dreams, for the purpose of distracting whomsoever they please. But they also employ those denominated Paredroi. “And they have an image of Simon (fashioned) into the figure of Jupiter, and (an image) of Helen in the form of Minerva; and they pay adoration to these.” But they call the one Lord and the other Lady. And if any one amongst them, on seeing the images of either Simon or Helen, would call them by name, he is cast off, as being ignorant of the mysteries. This Simon, deceiving many25 in Samaria by his sorceries, was reproved by the Apostles, and was laid under a curse, as it has been written in the Acts. But he afterwards abjured the faith, and attempted these (aforesaid practices). And journeying as far as Rome,26 he fell in with the Apostles; and to him, deceiving many by his sorceries, Peter offered repeated opposition. This man, ultimately repairing to … (and) sitting under a plane tree, continued to give instruction (in his doctrines). And in truth at last, when conviction was imminent, in case he delayed longer, be stated that, if he were buried alive, he would rise the third day. And accordingly, having ordered a trench to be dug by his disciples,27 he directed himself to be interred there. They, then, executed the injunction given; whereas he remained (in that grave) until this day, for he was not the Christ. This constitutes the legendary system advanced by Simon, and from this Valentinus derived a starting-point (for his own doctrine. This doctrine, in point of fact, was the same with the it Simonian, though Valentinus) denominated under different titles: for “Nous,” and “Aletheia,” and “Logos,” and “Zoe,” and “Anthropos,” and “Ecclesia,” and Aeons of Valentinus, are confessedly the six roots of Simon, viz., “Mind” and “Intelligence,” “Voice” and “Name,” “Ratiocination” and “Reflection.” But since it seems to us that we have sufficiently explained Simon’s tissue of legends, let us see what also Valentinus asserts.


Chap. XVI. – Heresy of Valentinus; Derived from Plato and Pythagoras.

The heresy of Valentinus28 is certainly, then, connected with the Pythagorean and Platonic theory. For Plato, in the Timaeus, altogether derives his impressions from Pythagoras, and therefore Timaeus himself is his Pythagorean stranger. Wherefore, it appears expedient that we should commence by reminding (the reader) of a few points of the Pythagorean and Platonic theory, and that (then we should proceed) to declare the opinions of Valentinus.29 For even although in the books previously finished by us with so much pains, are contained the opinions advanced by both Pythagoras and Plato, yet at all events I shall not be acting unreasonably, in now also calling to the recollection of the reader, by means of an epitome, the principal heads of the favourite tenets of these (speculators). And this (recapitulation) will facilitate our knowledge of the doctrines of Valentinus, by means of a nearer comparison, and by similarity of composition (of the two systems). For (Pythagoras and Plato) derived these tenets originally from the Egyptians, and introduced their novel opinions among the Greeks. But (Valentinus took his opinions) from these, because, although he has suppressed the truth regarding his obligations to (the Greek philosophers), and in this way has endeavoured to construct a doctrine, (as it were,) peculiarly his own, yet, in point of fact, he has altered the doctrines of those (thinkers) in names only, and numbers, and has adopted a peculiar terminology (of his own). Valentinus has formed his definitions by measures, in order that he may establish an Hellenic heresy, diversified no doubt, but unstable, and not connected with Christ.


Chap. XVII. – Origin of the Greek Philosophy.

The origin, then, from which Plato derived his theory in the Timaeus, is (the) wisdom of the Egyptians.30 For from this source, by some ancient and prophetical tradition, Solon31 taught his entire system concerning the generation and destruction of the world, as Plato says, to the Greeks, who were (in knowledge) young children, and were acquainted with no theological doctrine of greater antiquity. In order, therefore, that we may trace accurately the arguments by which Valentinus established his tenets, I shall now explain what are the principles of the philosophy of Pythagoras of Samos, – a philosophy (coupled) with that Silence so celebrated by the Greeks. And next in this manner (I shall elucidate) those (opinions) which Valentinus derives from Pythagoras and Plato, but refers with all solenmity of speech to Christ, and before Christ to the Father of the universe, and to Silence conjoined with the Father.


Chap. XVIII. – Pythagoras’ System of Numbers.

Pythagoras, then, declared the originating principle of the universe to be the unbegotten monad, and the generated duad, and the rest of the numbers. And he says that the monad it the father of the duad, and the duad the mother of all things that are being begotten – the begotten one (being mother) of the things that arc begotten. And Zaratas, the pupil of Pythagoras, was in the habit of denominating unity a father, and duality a mother. For the duad has been generated from the monad, according to Pythagoras; and the monad is male and primary, but the duad female (and secondary). And from the duad, again, as Pythagoras states, (are generated) the triad and the succeeding numbers up to ten. For Pythagoras is aware that this is the only perfect number – I mean the decade – for that eleven and twelve are an addition and repetition of the decade; not, however, that what is added32 constitutes the generation of another number. And all solid bodies he generates from incorporeal (essences). For he asserts that an element and principle of both corporeal and incorporeal entities is the point which is indivisible. And from a point, he says, is generated a line, and from a line a surface; and a surface flowing out into a height becomes, he says, a solid body. Whence also the Pythagoreans have a certain object of adjuration, viz., the concord of the four elements. And they swear in these words: – 

“By him who to our head quaternion gives,

A font that has the roots of everlasting nature.”33

Now the quaternion is the originating principle of natural and solid bodies, as the monad of intelligible ones. And that likewise the quaternion generates,34 he says, the perfect number, as in the case of intelligibles (the monad) does the decade, they teach thus. If any, beginning to number, says one, and adds two, then in like manner three, these (together) will be six, and to these (add) moreover four, the entire (sum), in like manner, will be ten. For one, two, three, four, become ten, the perfect number. Thus, he says, the quaternion in every respect imitated the intelligible monad, which was able to generate a perfect number.


Chap. XIX. – Pythagoras’ Duality of Substances; His “Categories.”

There are, then, according to Pythagoras, two worlds: one intelligible, which has the monad for an originating principle; and the other sensible. But of this (latter) is the quaternion having the iota the one tittle, (Mat_5:18) a perfect number. And there likewise is, according to the Pythagoreans, the i, the one tittle, which is chief and most dominant, and enables us to apprehend the substance of those intelligible entities which are capable of being understood through the medium of intellect and of sense. (And in this substance inhere) the nine incorporeal accidents which cannot exist without substance, viz., “quality,” and “quantity,” and “relation,” and “where,” and “when,” and “position,” and “possession,” and “action,” and “passion.” These, then, are the nine accidents (inhering in) substance, and when reckoned with these (substances), contains the perfect number, the i. Wherefore, the universe being divided, as we said, into the intelligible and sensible world, we have also reason from the intelligible (world), in order that by reason we may behold the substance of things that are cognised by intellect, and are incorporeal and divine. But we have, he says, five senses – smelling, seeing, hearing, taste, and touch. Now, by these we arrive at a knowledge of things that are discerned by sense; and so, he says, the sensible is divided from the intelligible world. And that we have for each of these an instrument for attaining knowledge, we perceive from the following consideration. Nothing, he says, of intelligibles can be known to us from sense. For he says neither eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor any whatsoever of the other senses known that (which is cognised by mind). Neither, again, by reason is it possible to arrive at a knowledge of any of the things discernible by sense. But one must see that a thing is white, and taste that it is sweet, and know by hearing that it is musical or out of tune. And whether any odour is fragrant or disagreeable, is the function of smell, not of reason. It is the same with objects of touch; for anything rough, or soft, or warm, or cold, it is not possible to know by hearing, but (far from it), for touch is the judge of such (sensations). Things being thus constituted, the arrangement of things that have been made and are being made is observed to happen in conformity with numerical (combinations). For in the same manner as, commencing from monad, by an addition of monads or triads, and a collection of the succeeding numbers, we make some one very large complex whole of number; (and) then, again, from an amassed number thus formed by addition, we accomplish, by means of a certain subtraction and re-calculation, a solution of the totality of the aggregate numbers; so likewise he asserts that the world, bound by a certain arithmetical and musical chain, was, by its tension and relaxation, and by addition and subtraction, always and for ever preserved in-corrupt.


Chap. XX. – Pythagoras’ Cosmogony; Similar to That of Empedocles.

The Pythagoreans therefore declare their opinion concerning the continuance of the world in some such manner as this: – 

“For heretofore it was and will be; never, I ween,

Of both of these will void the age eternal be.”

“Of these;” but what are they? Discord and Love. Now, in their system, Love forms the world incorruptible (and) eternal, as they suppose. For substance and the world are one. Discord, however, separates and puts asunder, and evinces numerous attempts by subdividing to form the world. It is just as if one severs into small parts, and divides arithmetically, the myriad into thousands, and hundreds, and tens; and drachmae into oboli and small farthings. In this manner, he says, Discord severs the substance of the world into animals, plants, metals and things similar to these. And the fabricator of the generation of all things produced is, according to them, Discord; whereas Love, on the other hand, manages and provides for the universe in such a manner that it enjoys permanence. And conducting together35 into unity the divided and scattered parts of the universe, and leading them forth from their (separate) mode of existence, (Love) unites and adds to the universe, in order that it may enjoy permanence; and it thus constitutes one system. They will not therefore cease, – neither Discord dividing the world, nor Love attaching to the world the divided parts. Of some such description as this, so it appears, is the distribution of the world according to Pythagoras. But Pythagoras says that the stars are fragments from the sun, and that the souls36 of animals are conveyed from the stars; and that these are mortal when they are in the body, just as if buried, as it were, in a tomb: whereas that they rise (out of this world) and become immortal, when we are separated from our bodies. Whence Plato, being asked by some one, “What is philosophy?” replied, “It is a separation of soul from body.”


Chap. XXI. – Other Opinions of Pythagoras.

Pythagoras, then, became a student of these doctrines likewise, in which he speaks both by enigmas and some such expressions as these: “When you depart from your own (tabernacle), return not;37 if, however, (you act) not (thus), the Furies, auxiliaries to justice, will overtake you,” – denominating the body one’s own (tabernacle), and its passions the Furies. When, therefore, he says, you depart, that is, when you go forth from the body, do not earnestly crave for this; but if you are eagerly desirous (for departure), the passions will once more confine you within the body. For these suppose that there is a transition of souls from one body to another, as also Empedocles, adopting the principles of Pythagoras, affirms. For, says he, souls that are lovers of pleasure, as Plato states,38 if, when they are in the condition of suffering incidental to man, they do not evolve theories of philosophy, must pass through all animals and plants (back) again into a human body. And when (the soul) may form a system of speculation thrice in the same body, (he maintains) that it ascends up to the nature of some kindred star. If, however, (the soul) does not philosophize, (it must pass) through the same (succession of changes once more). He affirms, then, that the soul sometimes may become even mortal, if it is overcome by the Furies, that is, the passions (of the body); and immortal, if it succeeds in escaping the Furies, which are the passions. 


Chap. XXII. – The “Sayings” of Pythagoras.

But since also we have chosen to mention the sayings darkly expressed by Pythagoras to his disciples by means of symbols, it seems likewise expedient to remind (the reader) of the rest (of his doctrines. And we touch on this subject) on account also of the heresiarchs, who attempt by some method of this description to converse by means of symbols; and these are not their own, but they have, (in propounding them,) taken advantage of expressions employed by the Pythagoreans.39 Pythagoras then instructs his disciples, addressing them as follows: “Bind up the sack that carries the bedding.” (Now,) inasmuch as they who intend going upon a journey tie their clothes into a wallet, to be ready for the road; so, (in like manner,) he wishes his disciples to be prepared, since every moment death is likely to come upon them by surprise.40 (In this way Pythagoras sought to effect) that (his followers) should labour under no deficiency in the qualifications required in his pupils.41 Wherefore of necessity he was in the habit, with the dawn of day, of instructing the Pythagoreans to encourage one another to bind up the sack that carries the bedding, that is, to be ready for death. “Do not stir fire with a sword;”42 (meaning,) do not, by addressing him, quarrel with an enraged man; for a person in a passion is like fire, whereas the sword is the uttered expression. “Do not trample on a besom;”43 (meaning,) despise not a small matter. “Plant not a palm tree in a house;” (meaning,) foment not discord in a family, for the palm tree is a symbol of battle and slaughter.44 “Eat not from a stool;” (meaning,) do not undertake an ignoble art, in order that you may not be a slave to the body, which is corruptible, but make a livelihood from literature. For it lies within your reach both to nourish the body, and make the soul better.45 “Don’t take a bite out of an uncut loaf;” (meaning,) diminish not thy possessions, but live on the profit (of them), and guard thy substance as an entire loaf.46 “Feed not on beans; (meaning,) accept not the government of a city, for with beans they at that time were accustomed to ballot for their magistrates.47


Chap. XXIII. – Pythagoras’ Astronomic System.

These, then, and such like assertions, the Pythagoreans put forward; and the heretics, imitating these, are supposed by some to utter important truths. The Pythagorean system, however, lays down that the Creator of all alleged existences is the Great Geometrician and Calculator – a sun; and that this one has been fixed in the whole world, just as in the bodies a soul, according to the statement of Plato. For the sun (being of the nature of) fire,48 resembles the soul, but the earth (resembles the) body. And, separated from fire, there would be nothing visible, nor would there be any object of touch without something solid; but not any solid body exists without earth. Whence the Deity, locating air in the midst, fashioned the body of the universe out of fire and earth. And the Sun, he says, calculates and geometrically measures the world in some such manner as the following: The world is a unity cognizable by sense; and concerning this (world) we now make these assertions. But one who is an adept in the science of numbers, and a geometrician, has divided it into twelve parts. And the names of these parts are as follow: Aries, Taurus, Gemini, Cancer, Leo, Virgo, Libra, Scorpio, Sagittarius, Capricorn, Aquarius, Pisces. Again, he divides each of the twelve parts into thirty parts, and these are days of the month. Again, he divides each part of the thirty parts into sixty small divisions, and (each) of these small (divisions) he subdivides into minute portions, and (these again) into portions still more minute. And always doing this, and not intermitting, but collecting from these divided portions (an aggregate), and constituting it a year; and again resolving and dividing the compound, (the sun) completely finishes the great and everlasting world.49





1 [Presuming that all who are disposed to study this work will turn to Dr. Bunsen’s first volume (Hippol.), I have not thought it wise to load these pages with references to his interesting reviewal.]

2 κατὰ τελειωσιν τῶν χρόνων. Thus is Bunsen’s emendation. The textual reading is μείωσιν.

3 ἑκουσίως: Bunsen suggests ἀνοσίως, i.e., profanely.

4 See Irenaeus, Haeres., i. 23; Tertullian, Praescript., c. xlvi.; Epiphanius, Haeres., xxi., Theodoret, Haeret. Fab., i. 1.; St. Augustine, De Haeres., 1. See the apology of Justin Martyr (vol. 1, this series, p. 171.), who says, “There was a Samaritan, Simon, a native of the village called Gitto, who, in the reign of Claudius Caesar, and in your royal city of Rome, did mighty acts of magic, by virtue of the art of the devils operating in him.” Simon’s history and opinion are treated of largely in the Recognitions of Clement. See vol. iii. of the Edinburgh series, pp. 156-271; [vol. 8. of this series].

5 Miller refers us to Apostolius’ Proverb., s.v. ψαφῶν. Schneidewin remarks that Maximus Tyrius relates almost a similar story concerning one Psapho, a Libyan, in his Dissert. (xxxv.), and that Apostolius extracted this account and inserted it in his Cent., xviii. p. 730, ed. Leutsch, mentioning at the same time a similar narrative from Aelian’s Hist., xiv. 30. See Justin, xxi. 4, and Pliny, Nat. Hist., xiv. 30. See Justin. xxi. 4, and Pliny, Nat. Hist., viii. 16.

6 The text here is corrupt. The above is Miller’s emendation. Cruice’s reading may be thus rendered: “So that far sooner we may compare him unto the Libyan, who was a mere man, and not the true God.”

7 The Abbe Cruice considers that Theodoret has made use of this passage. (See Haeret. Fab., i. 1.)

8 Or, τὸν ἀόρατον, the invisible one.

9 Emped., ed. Karst. v. 324.

10 νώματος αἶσαν: Miller has γνώμην ἴσην, which yields but little sense.

11 These powers are thus arranged: – 

1. Mind and Intelligence: termed also, – 1. Heaven and Earth.

2. Voice and Name, termed also, – 2. Sun and Moon.

3. Ratiocination and reflection, termed also, – 3. Air and Water.

12 “Brooded over” (see Gen_1:2)

13 χωρίον (i.e., locality) is the reading in Miller, which Cruice ingeniously alters into χόριον, the caul in which the foetus is enclosed, which is called the “after-birth.”

14 This rendering follows Cruice, who has succeeded in clearing away the obscurity of the passage as given in Miller.

15 Odyssey, x. 304 et seq. [See Butcher and Lang, p. 163.]

16 In the Recognition of Clement we have this passage: “He (Simon) wishes himself to be believed to be an exalted power, which is above God the Creator, and to be thought to be the Christ, and to be called the standing one.” (Ante-Nicene Library, ed. Edinburgh, vol. iii. p. 196).

17 The expression stans (standing) was used by the scholastics as applicable to the divine nature. Interpreted in this manner, the words in the text would be equivalent with “which was, and is, and is to come.” (Rev_1:8). The recognition of Clement explain the term thus: “He (Simon) used this name as implying that he can never be dissolved, asserting that his flesh is so compacted by the power of his divinity, that it can endure to eternity. Hence, therefore, he is called the standing one, as though he cannot fall by any corruption.” (Ante-Nicene Library, vol. iii. p. 196). [To be found in vol. 8. of this series, with the other apocryphal Clementines.]

18 Homer, for instance (See Epiphanius, Haeres., xxi.3).

19 μιαρὸς, Bunsen’s emendation for ψυχρὸς, the reading in Miller and Schneidewin. Some read ψυδὸς, 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.

20 [See Irenaeus, vol. 1. p. 348, and Bunsen’s ideas, p. 50 of his first volume.]

21 This rendering is according to Bunsen’s emendation of the text.

22 Cruice omits the word δεδοκηκέναι, which seems an interpolation. The above rendering adopts the proposed emendation.

23 Bunsen thinks that there is an allusion here to the conversation of our Lord with the woman of Samaria, and if so, that Meander, a disciple of Simon, and not Simon himself, was the author of The Great Announcement, as the heretic did not outlive St. Peter and St. Paul, and therefore died before the period at which St. John’s Gospel was written.

24 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 Irenaeus to turn to Bunsen (p. 51), and to observe his parallels.]

25 The Abbe Cruice considers that the statements made by Origen (Contr. Celsum, lib. i. p. 44, ed. Spenc.), respecting the followers of Simon in respect of number, militates against Origen’s authorship of The Refutation.

26 This rendering follows the text of Schneidewin and Cruice. The Clementine Recognitions (Ante-Nicene Library, ed. Edinb., vol. iii. p. 273) represent Simon Magus as leaving for Rome, and St. Peter resolving to follow him thither. Miller’s text is different; and as emended by him, Hippolytus’ account would harmonize with that given in the Acts. Miller’s text may be thus translated: “And having been laid under a curse, as having been laid under a curse, as has been written in the Acts, he subsequently disapproved of his practices, and made an attempt to journey as far as Rome, but he fell in with the Apostles,” etc. The text of Cruise and Schneidewin seems less forced; while the statement itself – a new witness to this controverted point in ecclesiastical history concerning St. Peter – corroborates Hippolytus’ authorship of The Refutation.

27 Justin Martyr mentions, as an instance of the estimation in which Simon Magus was held among his followers, that a statue was erected to him at Rome. Bunsen considers that the rejection of this fable of Justin Martyr’s, points to the author of The Refutation being a Roman, who would therefore, as he shows himself in the case of the statue, be better informed than the eastern writer of any event occurring in the capital of the West. [Bunsen’s magisterial decision (p. 53) is very amusingly characteristic.] Hippolytus’ silence is a presumption against the existence of such a statue, though it is very possible he might omit to mention it, supposing it to be at Rome. At all events, the very precise statement of Justin Martyr ought not to be rejected on slight or conjectural grounds. [See vol. 1., this series, pp. 171, 172, 182, 187, and 193. But our author relies on Irenaeus, same vol., p. 348. Why reject positive testimony?]

28 Valentinus came from Alexandria to Rome during the pontificate of Hyginus, and established a school there. His desire seems to have been to remain in communion with Rome, which he did for many years, as Tertullian informs us. Epiphanius, however, tells that Valentinus, towards the end of his life, when living in Cyprus, separated entirely from the Church. Irenaeus, book i.; Tertullian on Valentinus, and chap. xxx. of his Praescript.; Clemens Alexandrinus, Strom., iv. 13, vi. 6; Theodoret, Haeret. Fab., i. 7; Epiphanius, Haer., xxi.; St. Augustine, Haer., xi.; Philastrius, Hist. Haeres., c. viii.; Photius, Biblioth., cap. ccxxx.; Clemens Alexandrinus’ Epitome of Theodotus (pp. 789-809, ed. Sylburg). The title is, Ἐκ τῶν Θεοδότου καὶ τῆς ἀνατολικῆς καλουμένης διδασκαλίας, κατὰ τοὺς Οὐαλεντίνου χρόνους ἐπιτομαὶ. See likewise Neander’s Church History, vol. ii. Bohn’s edition.

29 These opinions are mostly given in extracts from Valentinus’ work Sophia, a book of great repute among Gnostics, and not named by Hippolytus, probably as being so well known at the time. the Gospel of Truth, mentioned by Irenaeus used among the Valentinians, is not, however, considered to be from the pen of Valentinus. In the extracts given by Hippolytus from Valentinus, it is important (as in the case of Basilides: see translator’s introduction) to find that he quotes St. John’s Gospel, and St. Paul’s Epistle to the Ephesians. The latter had been pronounced by the Tübingen school as belonging to the period of the Montanistic disputes in the middle of the second century, that is, somewhere about 25-30 years after Valentinus.

30 See Timaeus, c. vii. ed. Bekker.

31 Or, “Solomon,” evidently a mistake.

32 Miller would read for προστιθέμενον, νομιστέον or νομίζει.

33 Respecting these lines, Miller refers us to Fabricus, in Sextum Empiricum, p. 332.

34 The Abbe Cruice adduces a passage from Suidas (on the word ἀριθμός) which contains a similar statement to that furnished by Hippolytus.

35 Or, συνάγει, leads together.

36 The Abbe Cruice considers that the writer of The Refutation did not agree with Pythagoras’ opinion regarding the soul, – a fact that negatives the authorship of Origen, who assented to the Pythagorean psychology. The question concerning the pre-existence of the soul is stated in a passage often quoted, viz., St. Jerome’s Letter to Marcellina (Ep. 82).

37 Cruice thinks that the following words are taken from Heraclitus, and refers to Plutarch, De Exilio, c. xi.

38 Phaedo, vol. i. p. 89, ed. Bekker.

39 These sayings (Symbola Pythagorica) have been collected by, amongst others, Thomas Stanley, and more recently by Gaspar Orellius. The meaning and the form of the proverbs given by Hippolytus do not always correspond with e.g., Jamblichus (the biographer of Pythagoras), Porphyry, and Plutarch. The curious reader can see the Proverbs, in all their variety of readings and explanations, in the edition of L. Gyraldus.

40 This has been explained by Erasmus as a precept enjoining habits of tidiness and modesty.

41 Miller’s text here yields a different but not very intelligible meaning.

42 Horace quotes this proverb (2 Serm., iii. 274) with a somewhat different meaning. Porphyry considers it a precept against irreverent language towards the Deity, the fire being a symbol – for instance, the vestal fire – of the everlasting nature of God. Σκάλευε in Hippolytus is also read, e.g., by Basil, ζαίνοντες, that is, cleaving. This alludes to some ancient game in which fire was struck at and severed.

43 Σάρον. This word also signifies “sweepings” or “refuse.” Some say it means a Chaldean or Babylonian measure. The meaning would then be: Neglect not giving good measure, i.e., practise fair dealing. This agrees with another form of the proverb, reading ζυγόν for σάρον – that is overlook not the balance or scales.

44 Another meaning assigned to this proverb is, “Labour to no purpose.” The palm, it is alleged, when it grows of itself, produces fruit, but sterility ensues upon transplantation. The proverb is also said to mean: Avoid what may seem agreeable, but really is injurious. This alludes to the quality of the wine (see Xenophon’s Anab., ii.), which, pleasant in appearance, produced severe headache in those partaking of it.

45 “Eat not from a stool.” This proverb is also differently read and interpreted. Another form is, “Eat not from a chariot,” of which the import is variously given, as, Do not tamper with your health, because food swallowed in haste, as it must be when one is driving a team of horses, cannot be salutary or nutritive; or, Do not be careless, because one should attend to the business at hand; if that be guiding a chariot, one should not at the same time try to eat his meals.

46 the word “entire” Plutarch adds to this proverb. Its ancient form would seem to inculcate patience and courtesy, as if one should not, when at meals, snap at food before others. As read in Plutarch, it has been also interpreted as a precept to avoid creating dissention, the unbroken bread being a symbol of unity. It like wise has been explained as an injunction against greediness. The loaf was marked by two intersecting lines into four parts, and one was not to devour all of these. (See Horace, 1 Epist., xvii. 49.)

47 This is the generally received import of the proverb. Ancient writers, however, put forward other meanings, connected chiefly with certain effects of beans, e.g., disturbing the mind, and producing melancholy, which Pythagoras is said to have noticed. Horace had no such idea concerning beans (see 2 serm., vi. 63), but evidently alludes to a belief of the magi that disembodied spirits resided in beans. (See Lucian, Micyll.; Plutarch, Περὶ Παίδ. Ἀγωγ., i. 160.) [See p. 12 supra, and compare vol. 2., this series, p. 383, and Elucidation III. p. 403.]

48 The text seems doubtful. Some would read, “The sun is (to be compared with) soul, and the moon with body.”

49 Or, “completes the great year of the world” (see book iv. chap. vii. of The Refutation).