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

Book I. (Cont.)

Chap. XVII. — Aristotle; Duality of Principles; His Categories; His Psychology; His Ethical Doctrines; Origin of the Epithet “Peripatetic.”

Aristotle, who was a pupil of this (Plato), reduced philosophy into an art, and was distinguished rather for his proficiency in logical science, supposing as the elements of all things substance and accident; that there is one substance underlying all things, but nine accidents, — namely, quantity, quality, relation, where, when, possession, posture, action, passion; and that substance is of some such description as God, man, and each of the beings that can fall under a similar denomination. But in regard of accidents, quality is seen in, for instance, white, black; and quantity, for instance two cubits, three cubits; and relation, for instance father, son; and where, for instance at Athens, Megara; and when, for instance during the tenth Olympiad; and possession, for instance to have acquired; and action, for instance to write, and in general to evince any practical powers; and posture, for instance to lie down; and passion, for instance to be struck. He also supposes that some things have means, but that others are without means, as we have declared concerning Plato likewise. And in most points he is in agreement with Plato, except the opinion concerning soul. For Plato affirms it to be immortal, but Aristotle that it involves permanence; and after these things, that this also vanishes in the fifth body,104 which he supposes, along with the other four (elements), — viz., fire, and earth, and water, and air, — to be a something more subtle (than these), of the nature of spirit. Plato therefore says, that the only really good things are those pertaining to the soul, and that they are sufficient for happiness; whereas Aristotle introduces a threefold classification of good things, and asserts that the wise man is not perfect, unless there are present to him both the good things of the body and those extrinsic to it.105 The former are beauty, strength, vigour of the senses, soundness; while the things extrinsic (to the body) are wealth, nobility, glory, power, peace, friendship.106 And the inner qualities of the soul he classifies, as it was the opinion of Plato, under prudence, temperance, justice, fortitude. This (philosopher) also affirms that evils arise according to an opposition of the things that are good, and that they exist beneath the quarter around the moon, but reach no farther beyond the moon; and that the soul of the entire world is immortal, and that the world itself is eternal, but that (the soul) in an individual, as we have before stated, vanishes (in the fifth body). This (speculator), then holding discussions in the Lyceum, drew up from time to time his system of philosophy; but Zeno (held his school) in the porch called Poecilé. And the followers of Zeno obtained their name from the place — that is, from Stoa — (i.e., a porch), being styled Stoics; whereas Aristotle’s followers (were denominated) from their mode of employing themselves while teaching. For since they were accustomed walking about in the Lyceum to pursue their investigations, on this account they were called Peripatetics. These indeed, then, were the doctrines of Aristotle.


Chap. XVIII. — The Stoics; Their Superiority in Logic; Fatalists; Their Doctrine of Conflagrations.

The Stoics themselves also imparted growth to philosophy, in respect of a greater development of the art of syllogism, and included almost everything under definitions, both Chrysippus and Zeno being coincident in opinion on this point. And they likewise supposed God to be the one originating principle of all things, being a body of the utmost refinement, and that His providential care pervaded everything; and these speculators were positive about the existence of fate everywhere, employing some such example as the following: that just as a dog, supposing him attached to a car, if indeed he is disposed to follow, both is drawn,107 or follows voluntarily, making an exercise also of free power, in combination with necessity, that is, fate; but if he may not be disposed to follow, he will altogether be coerced to do so. And the same, of course, holds good in the case of men. For though not willing to follow, they will altogether be compelled to enter upon what has been decreed for them. (The Stoics), however, assert that the soul abides after death,108 but that it is a body, and that such is formed from the refrigeration of the surrounding atmosphere; wherefore, also, that it was called psyche (i.e., soul). And they acknowledge likewise, that there is a transition of souls from one body to another, that is, for those souls for whom this migration has been destined. And they accept the doctrine, that there will be a conflagration, a purification of this world, some say the entire of it, but others a portion, and that (the world) itself is undergoing partial destruction; and this all but corruption, and the generation from it of another world, they term purgation. And they assume the existence of all bodies, and that body does not pass through body,109 but that a refraction110 takes place, and that all things involve plenitude, and that there is no vacuum. The foregoing are the opinions of the Stoics also. 


Chap. XIX. — Epicurus; Adopts the Democritic Atomism; Denial of Divine Providence; the Principle of His Ethical System.

Epicurus, however, advanced an opinion almost contrary to all. He supposed, as originating principles of all things, atoms and vacuity.111 He considered vacuity as the place that would contain the things that will exist, and atoms the matter out of which all things could be formed; and that from the concourse of atoms both the Deity derived existence, and all the elements, and all things inherent in them, as well as animals and other (creatures); so that nothing was generated or existed, unless it be from atoms. And he affirmed that these atoms were composed of extremely small particles, in which there could not exist either a point or a sign, or any division; wherefore also he called them atoms. Acknowledging the Deity to be eternal and incorruptible, he says that God has providential care for nothing, and that there is no such thing at all as providence or fate, but that all things arc made by chance. For that the Deity reposed in the intermundane spaces, (as they) are thus styled by him; for outside the world he determined that there is a certain habitation of God, denominated “the intermundane spaces,” and that the Deity surrendered Himself to pleasure, and took His ease in the midst of supreme happiness; and that neither has He any concerns of business, nor does He devote His attention to them. As a consequence on these opinions, he also propounded his theory concerning wise men, asserting that the end of wisdom is pleasure. Different persons, however, received the term “pleasure” in different acceptations; for some (among the Gentiles112 understood) the passions, but others the satisfaction resulting from virtue. And he concluded that the souls of men are dissolved along with their bodies, just as also they were produced along with them, for that they are blood, and that when this has gone forth or been altered, the entire man perishes; and in keeping with this tenet, (Epicurus maintained) that there are neither trials in Hades, nor tribunals of justice; so that whatsoever any one may commit in this life, that, provided he may escape detection, he is altogether beyond any liability of trial (for it in a future state). In this way, then, Epicurus also formed his opinions.


Chap. XX. — The Academics; Difference of Opinion Among Them.

And another opinion of the philosophers was called that of the Academics,113 on account of those holding their discussions in the Academy, of whom the founder Pyrrho, from whom they were called Pyrrhonean philosophers, first introduced the notion of the incomprehensibility of all things, so as to (be ready to) attempt an argument on either side of a question, but not to assert anything for certain; for that there is nothing of things intelligible or sensible true, but that they appear to men to be so; and that all substance is in a state of flux and change, and never continues in the same (condition). Some followers, then, of the Academics say that one ought not to declare an opinion on the principle of anything, but simply making the attempt to give it up; whereas others subjoined the formulary “not rather”114 (this than that), saying that the fire is not rather fire than anything else. But they did not declare what this is, but what sort it is.115


Chap. XXI. — The Brachmans; Their Mode of Life; Ideas of Deity; Different Sorts Of; Their Ethical Notions.

But there is also with the Indians a sect composed of those philosophizing among the Brachmans. They spend a contented existence, abstain both from living creatures and all cooked food, being satisfied with fruits; and not gathering these from the trees, but carrying off those that have fallen to the earth. They subsist upon them, drinking the water of the river Tazabena.116 But they pass their life naked, affirming that the body has been constituted a covering to the soul by the Deity. These affirm that God is light, not such as one sees, nor such as the sun and fire; but to them the Deity is discourse, not that which finds expression in articulate sounds, but that of the knowledge through which the secret mysteries of nature117 are perceived by the wise. And this light which they say is discourse, their god, they assert that the Brachmans only know on account of their alone rejecting all vanity of opinion which is the sours ultimate covering.118 These despise death, and always in their own peculiar language119 call God by the name which we have mentioned previously, and they send up hymns (to him). But neither are there women among them, nor do they beget children. But they who aim at a life similar to these, after they have crossed over to the country on the opposite side of the river, continue to reside there, returning no more; and these also are called Brachmans. But they do not pass their life similarly, for there are also in the place women, of whom those that dwell there are born, and in turn beget children. And this discourse which120 they name God they assert to be corporeal, and enveloped in a body outside himself, just as if one were wearing a sheep’s skin, but that on divesting himself of body that he would appear clear to the eye. But the Brachmans say that there is a conflict in the body that surrounds them, (and they consider that the body is for them full of conflicts);121 in opposition to which, as if marshalled for battle against enemies, they contend, as we have already explained. And they say that all men are captive to their own congenital struggles, viz., sensuality and inchastity, gluttony, anger, joy, sorrow, concupiscence, and such like. And he who has reared a trophy over these, alone goes to God; wherefore the Brachmans deify Dandamis, to whom Alexander the Macedonian paid a visit, as one who had proved victorious in the bodily conflict. But they bear down on Calanus as having profanely withdrawn from their philosophy. But the Brachmans, putting off the body, like fishes jumping out of water into the pure air, behold the sun.


Chap. XXII. — The Druids; Progenitors of Their System.

And the Celtic Druids investigated to the very highest point the Pythagorean philosophy, after Zamolxis,122 by birth a Thracian,123 a servant of Pythagoras, became to them the originator of this discipline. Now after the death of Pythagoras, Zamolxis, repairing thither, became to them the originator of this philosophy. The Celts esteem these as prophets and seers, on account of their foretelling to them certain (events), from calculations and numbers by the Pythagorean art; on the methods of which very art also we shall not keep silence, since also from these some have presumed to introduce heresies; but the Druids resort to magical rites likewise.


Chap. XXIII. — Hesiod; the Nine Muses; the Hesiodic Cosmogony; the Ancient Speculators, Materialists; Derivative Character of the Heresies from Heathen Philosophy.

But Hesiod the poet asserts himself also that he thus heard from the Muses concerning nature, and that the Muses are the daughters of Jupiter. For when for nine nights and days together, Jupiter, through excess of passion, had uninterruptedly lain with Mnemosyne, that Mnemosyne conceived in one womb those nine Muses, becoming pregnant with one during each night. Having then summoned the nine Muses from Pieria, that is, Olympus, he exhorted them to undergo instruction: — 

“How first both gods and earth were made,124

And rivers, and boundless deep, and ocean’s surge,

And glittering stars, and spacious heaven above;

How they grasped the crown and shared the glory,

And how at first they held the many-valed Olympus.

These (truths), ye Muses, tell me of, saith he,

From first, and next which of them first arose.

Chaos, no doubt, the very first, arose; but next

Wide-stretching Earth, ever the throne secure of all

Immortals, who hold the peaks of white Olympus;

And breezy Tartarus in wide earth’s recess;

And Love, who is most beauteous of the gods immortal,

Chasing care away from all the gods and men,

Quells in breasts the mind and counsel sage.

But Erebus from Chaos and gloomy Night arose;

And, in turn, from Night both Air and Day were born;

But primal Earth, equal to self in sooth begot

The stormy sky to veil it round on every side,

Ever to be for happy gods a throne secure.

And forth she brought the towering hills, the pleasant haunts

Of nymphs who dwell throughout the woody heights.

And also barren Sea begat the surge-tossed

Flood, apart from luscious Love; but next

Embracing Heaven, she Ocean bred with eddies deep,

And Caeus, and Crius, and Hyperian, and Iapetus,

And Thia, and Rhea, and Themis, and Mnemosyne,

And gold-crowned Phoebe, and comely Tethys.

But after these was born last125 the wiley Cronus,

Fiercest of sons; but he abhorred his blooming sire,

And in turn the Cyclops bred, who owned a savage breast.”

And all the rest of the giants from Cronus, Hesiod enumerates, and somewhere afterwards that Jupiter was born of Rhea. All these, then, made the foregoing statements in their doctrine regarding both the nature and generation of the universe. But all, sinking below what is divine, busied themselves concerning the substance of existing things,126 being astonished at the magnitude of creation, and supposing that it constituted the Deity, each speculator selecting in preference a different portion of the world; failing, however, to discern the God and maker of these.

The opinions, therefore, of those who have attempted to frame systems of philosophy among the Greeks, I consider that we have sufficiently explained; and from these the heretics, taking occasion, have endeavoured to establish the tenets that will be after a short time declared. It seems, however, expedient, that first explaining the mystical rites and whatever imaginary doctrines some have laboriously framed concerning the stars, or magnitudes, to declare these; for heretics likewise, taking occasion from them, are considered by the multitude to utter prodigies. Next in order we shall elucidate the feeble opinions advanced by these.


Books II. and III. Are Awanting. 





104 Or, “the fifth body, in which it is supposed to be, along with the other four (elements).” or, “the fifth body, which is supposed to be (composed) of the other four.”

105 Hippolytus expresses himself in the words of Stobaeus, who says (Eclog., ii. 274): “And among reputed external blessings are nobility, wealth, glory, peace, freedom, friendship.”

106 Or, “glory, the confirmed power of friends.”

107 One of the mss elucidates the simile in the text thus: “But he is not disposed, there is absolutely a necessity for his being drawn along. And in like manner men, if they do not follow fate, seem to be free agents, though the reason of (their being) fate holds assuredly valid. If, however, they do not wish to follow, they will absolutely be coerced to enter upon what has been fore-ordained.”

108 Or, “is immortal.” Diogenes Laertius (book vii.) notices, in his section on Zeno, as part of the stoic doctrine, “that the soul abides after death, but that it is perishable.”

109 Or, “through what is incorporeal;” that is, through what is void or empty space.

110 Or, “resurrection;” or, “resistance;” that is, a resisting medium.

111 The atomic theory is, as already mentioned by Hippolytus, of more ancient date than Epicurus’ age, being first broached by Leucippus and Democritus. The fact, however, has, as Cudworth argues, been frequently argued by those who trace the doctrine to no older source than the fonder of the Epicurean philosophy.

112 “Among the Gentiles” seems a mistake. One reading proposed is, “some (intended) our sensuous passions.” The words “among the Gentiles,” the French commentator, the Abbe Cruice, is of opinion, were added by Christian hands, in order to draw a contrast between the virtuous Christian and the vicious pagan.

113 See Diogenes Laertius’ Lives, x. 63 (Bohn’s Library); Plutarch. De Placitis Philosophorum, iv. 3.

114 Diogenes Laertius, Lives, ix. 75; Sextus Empiricus, Hypotyp., i. 188-192.

115 This is what the Academics called “the phenomenon” (Sextus Empiricus, Pyrrh. Hyp., i. 19-22).

116 This is a mistake in the manuscript for Ganges, according to Roeper.

117 Or, “knowledge.” (See Clemens Alexandrinus, Strom., i., xv., lxxii.; Eusebius, Praeparat. Evang. ix. 6.)

118 Athenaeus (Deipn., book ix.) ascribes this opinion to Plate, who, he tells us, “asserted that the soul was so constituted, that it should reject its last covering, that of vanity.”

119 Or, “they name light their god;” or, “they celebrate in their own peculiar language God, whom they name,” etc.

120 The text here would seem rather confused. The above translation agrees with Criuce’s and Schneidewin’s Latin version. I have doubts about its correctness, however, and would render it thus: “… enveloped in a body extrinsic to the divine essence, just as if one wore a sheepskin covering; but that his body, on being divested of this (covering), would appear visible to the naked eye.” Or, “This discourse whom they name God they affirm to be incorporeal, but enveloped in a body outside himself (or his own body) (just as if one carried a covering of sheepskin to have it seen); but having stripped off the body in which he is enveloped, that he no longer appears visible to the naked eye,” (Roeper.) I am not very confident that this exactly conveys the meaning of Roeper’s somewhat obscure Greek paraphrase.

121 The parenthetical words Roeper considers introduced into the text from a marginal note.

122 Or “Zamalxis,” or “Zametris” (see Menagius on Diogenes Laertius. viii. 2).

123 Or, “of Thracian origin.” The words are omitted in two mss.

124 There are several verbal differences from the original in Hippolytus’ version. These may be seen on comparing it with Hesiod’s own text. The particular place which Hesiod occupies in the history of philosophy is pointed out by Aristotle in his Metaphysics. The Stagyrite detects in the Hesiodic cosmogony, in the principle of “love,” the dawn of a recognition of the necessity of an efficient cause to account for the phenomena of nature. It was Aristotle himself, however, who built up the science of causation; and in this respect humanity owes that extraordinary man a deep debt of gratitude.

125 Or “youngest” or “most vigorous.” This is Hesiod’s word, which signifies literally, “fittest for bearing arms” (for service, as we say).

126 “The majority of those who first formed systems of philosophy, consider those that subsist in a form of matter, to be alone the principle of all things.” — Aristotle’s Metaphysics, book i. c. iii. p. 13 (Bohn’s ed.).