23. If you give a grape to him when hungry, a must-cake, an onion, a thistle,149 a cucumber, a fig, will he know that his hunger can be appeased by all these, or of what kind each should be to be fit for eating?150 If you made a very great fire, or surrounded him with venomous creatures, will he not go through the midst of flames, vipers, tarantulae,151 without knowing that they are dangerous, and ignorant even of fear? But again, if you set before him garments and furniture, both for city and country life, will he indeed be able to distinguish152 for what each is fitted? to discharge what service they are adapted? Will he declare for what purposes of dress the stragula153 was made, the coif,154 zone,155 fillet, cushion, handkerchief, cloak, veil, napkin, furs,156 shoe, sandal, boot? What, if you go on to ask what a wheel is, or a sledge,157 a winnowing-fan, jar, tub, an oil-mill, ploughshare, or sieve, a mill-stone, plough-tail, or light hoe; a carved seat, a needle, a strigil, a layer, an open seat, a ladle, a platter, a candlestick, a goblet, a broom, a cup, a bag; a lyre, pipe, silver, brass, gold,158 a book, a rod, a roll,159 and the rest of the equipment by which the life of man is surrounded and maintained? Will he not in such circumstances, as we said, like an ox160 or an ass, a pig, or any beast more senseless, look161 at these indeed, observing their various shapes, but162 not knowing what they all are, and ignorant of the purpose for which they are kept? If he were in any way compelled to utter a sound, would he not with gaping mouth shout something indistinctly, as the dumb usually do?
24. Why, O Plato, do you in the Meno163 put to a young slave certain questions relating to the doctrines of number, and strive to prove by his answers that what we learn we do not learn, but that we merely call back to memory those things which we knew in former times? Now, if he answers you correctly, – for it would not be becoming that we should refuse credit to what you say, – he is led to do so not by his real knowledge,164 but by his intelligence; and it results from his having some acquaintance with numbers, through using them every day, that when questioned he follows your meaning, and that the very process of multiplication always prompts him. But if you are really assured that the souls of men are immortal and endowed with knowledge when they fly hither, cease to question that youth whom you see to be ignorant165 and accustomed to the ways of men;166 call to you that man of forty years, and ask of him, not anything out of the way or obscure about triangles, about squares, not what a cube is, or a second power,167 the ratio of nine to eight, or finally, of four to three; but ask him that with which all are acquainted – what twice two are, or twice three. We wish to see, we wish to know, what answer he gives when questioned – whether he solves the desired problem. In such a case will he perceive, although his ears are open, whether you are saying anything, or asking anything, or requiring some answer from him? and will he not stand like a stock, or the Marpesian rock,168 as the saying is, dumb and speechless, not understanding or knowing even this – whether you are talking with him or with another, conversing with another or with him;169 whether that is intelligible speech which you utter, or merely a cry having no meaning, but drawn out and protracted to no purpose?
25. What say you, O men, who assign to yourselves too much of an excellence not your own? Is this the learned soul which you describe, immortal, perfect, divine, holding the fourth place under God the Lord of the universe, and under the kindred spirits,170 and proceeding from the fountains of life?171 This is that precious being man, endowed172 with the loftiest powers of reason, who is said to be a microcosm, and to be made and formed after the fashion of the whole universe, superior, as has been seen, to no brute, more senseless than stock or stone; for he is unacquainted with men, and always lives, loiters idly in the still deserts although he were rich,173 lived years without number, and never escaped from the bonds of the body. But when he goes to school, you say, and is instructed by the teaching of masters, he is made wise, learned, and lays aside the ignorance which till now clung to him. And an ass, and an ox as well, if compelled by constant practice, learn to plough and grind; a horse, to submit to the yoke, and obey the reins in running;174 a camel, to kneel down when being either loaded or unloaded; a dove, when set free, to fly back to its master’s house; a dog, on finding game, to check and repress its barking; a parrot, too, to articulate words; and a crow to utter names.
26. But when I hear the soul spoken of as something extraordinary, as akin and very nigh to God, and as coming hither knowing all about past times, I would have it teach, not learn; and not go back to the rudiments, as the saying is, after being advanced in knowledge, but hold fast the truths it has learned when it enters its earthly body.175 For unless it were so, how could it be discerned whether the soul recalls to memory or learns for the first time that which it hears; seeing that it is much easier to believe that it learns what it is unacquainted with, than that it has forgot what it knew but a little before, and that its power of recalling former things is lost through the interposition of the body? And what becomes of the doctrine that souls, being bodiless, do not have substance? For that which is not connected with176 any bodily form is not hampered by the opposition of another, nor can anything be led177 to destroy that which cannot be touched by what is set against it. For as a proportion established in bodies remains unaffected and secure, though it be lost to sight in a thousand cases; so must souls, if they are not material, as is asserted, retain their knowledge178 of the past, however thoroughly they may have been enclosed in bodies.179 Moreover, the same reasoning not only shows that they are not incorporeal, but deprives them of all180 immortality even, and refers them to the limits within which life is usually closed. For whatever is led by some inducement to change and alter itself, so that it cannot retain its natural state, must of necessity be considered essentially passive. But that which is liable and exposed to suffering, is declared to be corruptible by that very capacity of suffering.
27. So then, if souls lose all their knowledge on being lettered with the body, they must experience something of such a nature that it makes them become blindly forgetful.181 For they cannot, without becoming subject to anything whatever, either lay aside their knowledge while they maintain their natural state, or without change in themselves pass into a different state. Nay, we rather think that what is one, immortal, simple, in whatever it may be, must always retain its own nature, and that it neither should nor could be subject to anything, if indeed it purposes to endure and abide within the limits of true immortality. For all suffering is a passage for death and destruction, a way leading to the grave, and bringing an end of life which may not be escaped from; and if souls are liable to it, and yield to its influence and assaults, they indeed have life given to them only for present use, not as a secured possession,182 although some come to other conclusions, and put faith in their own arguments with regard to so important a matter.
28. And yet, that we may not be as ignorant when we leave you as before, let us hear from you183 how you say that the soul, on being enwrapt in an earthly body, has no recollection of the past; while, after being actually placed in the body itself, and rendered almost senseless by union with it, it holds tenaciously and faithfully the things which many years before, eighty if you choose to say so, or even more, it either did, or suffered, or said, or heard. For if, through being hampered by the body, it does not remember those things which it knew long ago, and before it came into this world,184 there is more reason that it should forget those things which it has done from time to time since being shut up in the body, than those which it did before entering it,185 while not yet connected with men. For the same body which186 deprives of memory the soul which enters it,187 should cause what is done within itself also to be wholly forgotten; for one cause cannot bring about two results, and these opposed to each other, so as to make some things to be forgotten, and allow others to be remembered by him who did them. But if souls, as you call them, are prevented and hindered by their fleshly members from recalling their former knowledge,188 how do they remember what has been arranged189 in these very bodies, and know that they are spirits, and have no bodily substance, being exalted by their condition as immortal beings?190 how do they know what rank they hold in the universe, in what order they have been set apart from other beings? how they have come to these, the lowest parts of the universe? what properties they acquired, and from what circles,191 in gliding along towards these regions? How, I say, do they know that they were very learned, and have lost their knowledge by the hindrance which their bodies afford them? For of this very thing also they should have been ignorant, whether their union with the body had brought any stain upon them; for to know what you were, and what to-day you are not, is no sign that you have lost your memory,192 but a proof and evidence that it is quite sound.193
29. Now, since it is so, cease, I pray you, cease to rate trifling and unimportant things at immense values. Cease to place man in the upper ranks, since he is of the lowest; and in the highest orders, seeing that his person only is taken account of,194 that he is needy, poverty-stricken in his house and dwelling,195 and was never entitled to be declared of illustrious descent. For while, as just men and upholders of righteousness, you should have subdued pride and arrogance, by the evils196 of which we are all uplifted and puffed up with empty vanity; you not only hold that these evils arise naturally, but – and this is much worse – you have also added causes by which vice should increase, and wickedness remain incorrigible. For what man is there, although of a disposition which ever shuns what is of bad repute and shameful, who, when he hears it said by very wise men that the soul is immortal, and not subject to the decrees of the fates,197 would not throw himself headlong into all kinds of vice, and fearlessly198 engage in and set about unlawful things? who would not, in short, gratify his desires in all things demanded by his unbridled lust, strengthened even further by its security and freedom from punishment?199 For what will hinder him from doing so? The fear of a power above and divine judgment? And how shall he be overcome by any fear or dread who has been persuaded that he is immortal, just as the supreme God Himself, and that no sentence can be pronounced upon him by God, seeing that there is the same immortality in both, and that the one immortal being cannot be troubled by the other, which is only its equal?200
30. But will he not be terrified by201 the punishments in Hades, of which we have heard, assuming also, as they do, many forms of torture? And who202 will be so senseless and ignorant of consequences,203 as to believe that to imperishable spirits either the darkness of Tartarus, or rivers of fire, or marshes with miry abysses, or wheels sent whirling through the air,204 can in any wise do harm? For that which is beyond reach, and not subject to the laws of destruction, though it be surrounded by all the flames of the raging streams, be rolled in the mire, overwhelmed by the fall of overhanging rocks and by the overthrow of huge mountains, must remain safe and untouched without suffering any deadly harm.
Moreover, that conviction not only leads on to wickedness, from the very freedom to sin which it suggests, but even takes away the ground of philosophy itself, and asserts that it is vain to undertake its study, because of the difficulty of the work, which leads to no result. For if it is true that souls know no end, and are ever205 advancing with all generations, what danger is there in giving themselves up to the pleasures of sense – despising and neglecting the virtues by regard to which life is more stinted in its pleasures, and becomes less attractive – and in letting loose their boundless lust to range eagerly and unchecked through206 all kinds of debauchery? Is it the danger of being worn out by such pleasures, and corrupted by vicious effeminacy? And how can that be corrupted which is immortal, which always exists, and is subject to no suffering? Is it the danger of being polluted by foul and base deeds? And how can that be defiled which has no corporeal substance; or where can corruption seat itself, where there is no place on which the mark of this very corruption should fasten?
But again, if souls draw near to the gates of death,207 as is laid down in the doctrine of Epicurus, in this case, too, there is no sufficient reason why philosophy should be sought out, even if it is true that by it208 souls are cleansed and made pure from all uncleanness.209 For if they all210 die, and even in the body211 the feeling characteristic of life perishes, and is lost;212 it is not only a very great mistake, but shows stupid blindness, to curb innate desires, to restrict your mode of life within narrow limits, not yield to your inclinations, and do what our passions have demanded and urged, since no rewards await you for so great toil when the day of death comes, and you shall be freed from the bonds of the body.
31. A certain neutral character, then, and undecided and doubtful nature of the soul, has made room for philosophy, and found out a reason for its being sought after: while, that is, that fellow213 is full of dread because of evil deeds of which he is guilty; another conceives great hopes if he shall do no evil, and pass his life in obedience to214 duty and justice. Thence it is that among learned men, and men endowed with excellent abilities, there is strife as to the nature of the soul, and some say that it is subject to death, and cannot take upon itself the divine substance; while others maintain that it is immortal, and cannot sink under the power of death.215 But this is brought about by the law of the soul’s neutral character:216 because, on the one hand, arguments present themselves to the one party by which it is found that the soul217 is capable of suffering, and perishable; and, on the other hand, are not wanting to their opponents, by which it is shown that the soul is divine and immortal.
32. Since these things are so, and we have been taught by the greatest teacher that souls are set not far from the gaping218 jaws of death; that they can, nevertheless, have their lives prolonged by the favour and kindness of the Supreme Ruler if only they try and study to know Him, – for the knowledge of Him is a kind of vital leaven219 and cement to bind together that which would otherwise fly apart, – let them,220 then, laying aside their savage and barbarous nature, return to gentler ways, that they may be able to be ready for that which shall be given.221 What reason is there that we should be considered by you brutish, as it were, and stupid, if we have yielded and given ourselves up to God our deliverer, because of these fears? We often seek out remedies for wounds and the poisoned bites of serpents, and defend ourselves by means of thin plates222 sold by Psylli223 or Marsi, and other hucksters224 and impostors; and that we may not be inconvenienced by cold or intense heat,225 we provide with anxious and careful diligence coverings in226 houses and clothing.
33. Seeing that the fear of death, that is, the ruin of our souls, menaces227 us, in what are we not acting, as we all are wont, from a sense of what will be to our advantage,228 in that we hold Him fast who assures us that He will be our deliverer from such danger, embrace Him, and entrust our souls to His care,229 if only that230 interchange is right? You rest the salvation of your souls on yourselves, and are assured that by your own exertions alone231 you become gods; but we, on the contrary hold out no hope to ourselves from our own weakness, for we see that our nature has no strength, and is overcome by its own passions in every strife for anything.232 You think that, as soon as you pass away, freed from the bonds of your fleshly members, you will find wings233 with which you may rise to heaven and soar to the stars. We shun such presumption. and do not think234 that it is in our power to reach the abodes235 above, since we have no certainty as to this even, whether we deserve to receive life and be freed from the law of death. You suppose that without the aid of others236 you will return to the master’s palace as if to your own home, no one hindering you; but we, on the contrary, neither have any expectation that this can be unless by the will of the Lord of all, nor think that so much power and licence are given to any man.
34. Since this is the case, what, pray, is so unfair as that we should be looked on by you as silly in that readiness of belief at which you scoff, while we see that you both have like beliefs, and entertain the same hopes? If we are thought deserving of ridicule because we hold out to ourselves such a hope, the same ridicule awaits you too, who claim for yourselves the hope of immortality. If you hold and follow a rational course, grant to us also a share in it. If Plato in the Phaedrus,237 or another of this band of philosophers, had promised these joys to us – that is, a way to escape death, or were able to provide it and bring us to the end which he had promised,238 it would have been fitting that we should seek to honour him from whom we look for so great a gift and favour. Now, since Christ has not only promised it, but also shown by His virtues, which were so great, that it can be made good, what strange thing do we do, and on what grounds are we charged with folly, if we bow down and worship His name239 and majesty from whom we expect to receive both these blessings, that we may at once escape a death of suffering, and be enriched with eternal life?240
35. But, say my opponents, if souls are mortal and241 of neutral character, how can they from their neutral properties become immortal? If we should say that we do not know this, and only believe it because said by242 One mightier than we, when will our readiness of belief seem mistaken if we believe243 that to the almighty King nothing is hard, nothing difficult, and that244 what is impossible to us is possible to Him and at His command?245 For is there anything which may withstand His will, or does it not follow246 of necessity that what He has willed must be done? Are we to infer from our distinctions what either can or cannot be done; and are we not to consider that our reason is as mortal as we ourselves are, and is of no importance with the Supreme? And yet, O ye who do not believe that the soul is of a neutral character, and that it is held on the line midway between life and death, are not all whatever whom fancy supposes to exist, gods, angels, daemons, or whatever else is their name, themselves too of a neutral character, and liable to change247 in the uncertainty of their future?248 For if we all agree that there is one Father of all, who alone is immortal and unbegotten, and if nothing at all is found before Him which could be named,249 it follows as a consequence that all these whom the imagination of men believes to be gods, have been either begotten by Him or produced at His bidding. Are they250 produced and begotten? they are also later in order and time: if later in order and time, they must have an origin, and beginning of birth and life; but that which has an entrance into and beginning of life in its first stages, it of necessity follows, should have an end also.
36. But the gods are said to be immortal. Not by nature, then, but by the good-will and favour of God their Father. In the same way, then, in which the boon251 of immortality is God’s gift to these who were assuredly produced,252 will He deign to confer eternal life upon souls also, although fell death seems able to cut them off and blot them out of existence in utter annihilation.253 The divine Plato, many of whose thoughts are worthy of God, and not such as the vulgar hold, in that discussion and treatise entitled the Timaeus, says that the gods and the world are corruptible by nature, and in no wise beyond the reach of death, but that their being is ever maintained254 by the will of God, their King and Prince;255 for that that even which has been duly clasped and bound together by the surest bands is preserved only by God’s goodness; and that by no other than256 by Him who bound their elements together can they both be dissolved if necessary, and have the command given which preserves their being.257 If this is the case, then, and it is not fitting to think or believe otherwise, why do you wonder that we speak of the soul as neutral in its character, when Plato says that it is so even with the deities,258 but that their life is kept up by God’s259 grace, without break or end? For if by chance you knew it not, and because of its novelty it was unknown to you before, now, though late, receive and learn from Him who knows and has made it known, Christ, that souls are not the children of the Supreme Ruler, and did not begin to be self-conscious, and to be spoken of in their own special character after being created by Him;260 but that some other is their parent, far enough removed from the chief in rank and power, of His court, however, and distinguished by His high and exalted birthright.
37. But if souls were, as is said, the Lord’s children, and begotten by261 the Supreme Power, nothing would have been wanting to make them perfect, as they would have been born with the most perfect excellence: they would all have had one mind, and been of one accord; they would always dwell in the royal palace; and would not, passing by the seats of bliss in which they had learned and kept in mind the noblest teachings, rashly seek these regions of earth, that262 they might live enclosed in gloomy bodies amid phlegm and blood, among these bags of filth and most disgusting263 vessels of urine. But, an opponent will say, it was necessary that these parts too should be peopled, and therefore Almighty God sent souls hither to form some colonies, as it were. And of what use are men to the world, and on account of what are they necessary,264 so that they may not be believed to have been destined to live here and be the tenants of an earthly body for no purpose? They have a share, my opponent says, in perfecting the completeness of this immense mass, and without their addition this whole universe is incomplete and imperfect. What then? If there were not men, would the world cease to discharge its functions? would the stars not go through their changes? would there not be summers and winters? would the blasts of the winds be lulled? and from the clouds gathered and hanging overhead would not the showers come down upon the earth to temper droughts? But now265 all things must go on in their own courses, and not give up following the arrangement established by nature, even if there should be no name of man heard in the world, and this earth should be still with the silence of an unpeopled desert. How then is it alleged that it was necessary that an inhabitant should be given to these regions, since it is clear that by man comes nothing to aid in perfecting the world, and that all his exertions regard his private convenience always, and never cease to aim at his own advantage?
38. For, to begin with what is important, what advantage is it to the world that the mightiest kings are here? What, that there are tyrants, lords, and other innumerable and very illustrious powers? What, that there are generals of the greatest experience in war, skilled in taking cities; soldiers steady and utterly invincible in battles of cavalry, or in fighting hand to hand on foot? What, that there are orators, grammarians, poets, writers, logicians, musicians, ballet-dancers, mimics, actors, singers, trumpeters, flute and reed players? What, that there are runners, boxers, charioteers, vaulters,266 walkers on stilts, rope-dancers, jugglers? What, that there are dealers in salt fish, salters, fishmongers, perfumers, goldsmiths, bird-catchers, weavers of winnowing fans and baskets of rushes? What, that there are fullers, workers in wool, embroiderers, cooks, confectioners, dealers in mules, pimps, butchers, harlots? What, that there are other kinds of dealers? What do the other kinds of professors and arts, for the enumeration of which all life would be too short, contribute to the plan and constitution267 of the world, that we should believe268 that it could not have been founded without men, and would not attain its completeness without the addition of269 a wretched and useless being’s exertion?270
39. But perhaps, some one will urge, the Ruler of the world sent hither souls sprung from Himself for this purpose – a very rash thing for a man to say271 – that they which had been divine272 with Him, not coming into contact with the body and earthly limits,273 should be buried in the germs of men, spring from the womb, burst into and keep up the silliest wailings, draw the breasts in sucking, besmear and bedaub themselves with their own filth, then be hushed by the swaying274 of the frightened nurse and by the sound of rattles.275 Did He send souls hither for this reason, that they which had been but now sincere and of blameless virtue should learn as276 men to feign, to dissemble, to lie, to cheat,277 to deceive, to entrap with a flatterer’s abjectness; to conceal one thing in the heart,278 express another in the countenance; to ensnare, to beguile279 the ignorant with crafty devices, to seek out poisons by means of numberless arts suggested by bad feelings, and to be fashioned280 with deceitful changeableness to suit circumstances? Was it for this He sent souls, that, living till then in calm and undisturbed tranquillity, they might find in281 their bodies causes by which to become fierce and savage, cherish hatred and enmity, make war upon each other, subdue and overthrow states; load themselves with, and give themselves up to the yoke of slavery; and finally, be put the one in the other’s power, having changed the condition282 in which they were born? Was it for this He sent souls, that, being made unmindful of the truth, and forgetful of what God was, they should make supplication to images which cannot move; address as superhuman deities pieces of wood, brass, and stones; ask aid of them283 with the blood of slain animals; make no mention of Himself: nay more, that some of them should doubt their own existence, or deny altogether that anything exists? Was it for this He sent souls, that they which in their own abodes had been of one mind, equals in intellect and knowledge, after that they put on mortal forms, should be divided by differences of opinion; should have different views as to what is just, useful, and right; should contend about the objects of desire and aversion; should define the highest good and greatest evil differently; that, in seeking to know the truth of things, they should be hindered by their obscurity; and, as if bereft of eyesight, should see nothing clearly,284 and, wandering from the truth,285 should be led through uncertain bypaths of fancy?
40. Was it for this He sent souls hither, that while the other creatures are fed by what springs up spontaneously, and is produced without being sown, and do not seek for themselves the protection or covering of houses or garments, they should be under the sad necessity286 of building houses for themselves at very great expense and with never-ending toils, preparing coverings for their limbs, making different kinds of furniture for the wants287 of daily life, borrowing help for288 their weakness from the dumb creatures; using violence to the earth that it might not give forth its own herbs, but might send up the fruits required; and when they had put forth all their strength289 in subduing the earth, should be compelled to lose the hope with which they had laboured290 through blight, hail, drought; and at last forced by291 hunger to throw themselves on human bodies; and when set free, to be parted from their human forms by a wasting sickness? Was it for this that they which, while they abode with Him, had never had any longing for property, should have become exceedingly covetous, and with insatiable craving be inflamed to an eager desire of possessing; that they should dig up lofty mountains, and turn the unknown bowels of the earth into materials, and to purposes of a different kind; should force their way to remote nations at the risk of life, and, in exchanging goods always catch at a high price for what they sell, and a low one292 for what they buy, take interest at greedy and excessive rates, and add to the number of their sleepless nights spent in reckoning up thousands293 wrung from the life-blood of wretched men; should be ever extending the limits of their possessions, and, though they were to make whole provinces one estate, should weary the forum with suits for one tree, for one furrow; should hate rancorously their friends and brethren?
41. Was it for this He sent souls, that they which shortly before had been gentle and ignorant of what it is to be moved by fierce passions, should build for themselves markets and amphitheatres, places of blood and open wickedness, in the one of which they should see men devoured and torn in pieces by wild beasts, and themselves slay others for no demerit but to please and gratify the spectators,294 and should spend those very days on which such wicked deeds were done in general enjoyment, and keep holiday with festive gaiety; while in the other, again, they should tear asunder the flesh of wretched animals, some snatch one part, others another, as dogs and vultures do, should grind them with their teeth, and give to their utterly insatiable295 maw, and that, surrounded by296 faces so fierce and savage, those should bewail their lot whom the straits of poverty withheld from such repasts;297 that their life should be298 happy and prosperous while such barbarous doings defiled their mouths and face? Was it for this He sent souls, that, forgetting their importance and dignity as divine, they should acquire gems, precious stones, pearls, at the expense of their purity; should entwine their necks with these, pierce the tips of their ears, bind299 their foreheads with fillets, seek for cosmetics300 to deck their bodies,301 darken their eyes with henna; nor, though in the forms of men, blush to curl their hair with crisping-pins, to make the skin of the body smooth, to walk with bare knees, and with every other kind of wantonness, both to lay aside the strength of their manhood, and to grow in effeminacy to a woman’s habits and luxury?
42. Was it for this He sent souls, that some should infest the highways and roads,302 others ensnare the unwary, forge303 false wills, prepare poisoned draughts; that they should break open houses by night, tamper with slaves, steal and drive away, not act uprightly, and betray their trust perfidiously; that they should strike out delicate dainties for the palate; that in cooking fowls they should know how to catch the fat as it drips; that they should make cracknels and sausages,304 force-meats, tit-bits, Lucanian sausages, with these305 a sow’s udder and iced306 puddings? Was it for this He sent souls, that beings307 of a sacred and august race should here practise singing and piping; that they should swell out their cheeks in blowing the flute; that they should take the lead in singing impure songs, and raising the loud din of the castanets,308 by which another crowd of souls should be led in their wantonness to abandon themselves to clumsy motions, to dance and sing, form rings of dancers, and finally, raising their haunches and hips, float along with a tremulous motion of the loins?
Was it for this He sent souls, that in men they should become impure, in women harlots, players on the triangle309 and psaltery; that they should prostitute their bodies for hire, should abandon themselves to the lust of all,310 ready in the brothels, to be met with in the stews,311 ready to submit to anything, prepared to do violence to their mouth even?312
43. What say you, O offspring and descendants of the Supreme Deity? Did these souls, then, wise, and sprung from the first causes, become acquainted with such forms of baseness, crime, and bad feeling? and were they ordered to dwell here,313 and be clothed with the garment of the human body, in order that they might engage in, might practise these evil deeds, and that very frequently? And is there a man with any sense of reason who thinks that the world was established because of them, and not rather that it was set up as a seat and home, in which every kind of wickedness should be committed daily, all evil deeds be done, plots, impostures, frauds, covetousness, robberies, violence, impiety, all that is presumptuous, indecent, base, disgraceful,314 and all the other evil deeds which men devise over all the earth with guilty purpose, and contrive for each other’s ruin?
44. But, you say, they came of their own accord not sent315 by their lord. And 316 where was the Almighty Creator, where the authority of His royal and exalted place,317 to prevent their departure, and not suffer them to fall into dangerous pleasures? For if He knew that by change of place they would become base – and, as the arranger of all things,318 He must have known-or that anything would reach them from without which would make them forget their greatness and moral dignity, – a thousand times would I beg of Him to pardon my words, – the cause of all is no other than Himself, since He allowed them to have freedom to wander319 who He foresaw would not abide by their state of innocence; and thus it is brought about that it does not matter whether they came of their own accord, or obeyed His command, since in not preventing what should have been prevented, by His inaction He made the guilt His own, and permitted it before it was done by neglecting to withhold them from action.
45. But let this monstrous and impious fancy be put320 far from us, that Almighty God, the creator and framer, the author321 of things great and invisible, should be believed to have begotten souls so fickle, with no seriousness, firmness, and steadiness, prone to vice, inclining to all kinds of sins; and while He knew that they were such and of this character, to have bid322 them enter into bodies, imprisoned in which,323 they should live exposed to the storms and tempests of fortune every day, and now do mean things, now submit to lewd treatment; that they might perish by shipwreck, accidents, destructive conflagrations; that poverty might oppress some, beggary, others; that some might be torn in pieces by wild beasts, others perish by the venom of flies;324 that some might limp in walking, others lose their sight, others be stiff with cramped325 joints; in fine, that they should be exposed to all the diseases which the wretched and pitiable human race endures with agony caused by326 different sufferings; then that, forgetting that they have one origin, one father and head, they should shake to their foundations and violate the rights of kinship, should overthrow their cities, lay waste their lands as enemies, enslave the free, do violence to maidens and to other men’s wives, hate each other, envy the joys and good fortune of others; and further, all malign, carp at, and tear each other to pieces with fiercely biting teeth.
46. But, to say the same things again and again,327 let this belief, so monstrous and impious, be put far from us, that God, who preserves328 all things, the origin of the virtues and chief in329 benevolence, and, to exalt Him with human praise, most wise, just, making all things perfect, and that permanently,330 either made anything which was imperfect and not quite correct,331 or was the cause of misery or danger to any being, or arranged, commanded, and enjoined the very acts in which man’s life is passed and employed to flow from His arrangement. These things are unworthy of332 Him, and weaken the force of His greatness; and so far from His being believed to be their author, whoever imagines that man is sprung from Him is guilty of blasphemous impiety, man, a being miserable and wretched, who is sorry that he exists, hates and laments his state, and understands that he was produced for no other reason than lest evils should not have something333 through which to spread themselves, and that there might always be wretched ones by whose agonies some unseen and cruel power,334 adverse to men, should be gratified.
47. But, you say, if God is not the parent and father of souls, by what sire have they been begotten, and how have they been produced? If you wish to hear unvarnished statements not spun out with vain ostentation of words, we, too,335 admit that we are ignorant of this, do not know it;336 and we hold that, to know so great a matter, is not only beyond the reach of our weakness and frailty, but beyond that also of all the powers which are in the world, and which have usurped the place of deities in men’s belief. But are we bound to show whose they are, because we deny that they are God’s? That by no means337 follows necessarily; for if we were to deny that flies, beetles, and bugs, dormice, weevils, and moths,338 are made by the Almighty King, we should not be required in consequence to say who made and formed them; for without incurring any censure, we may not know who, indeed, gave them being, and yet assert that not by the Supreme339 Deity were creatures produced so useless, so needless, so purposeless,340 nay more, at times even hurtful, and causing unavoidable injuries.
48. Here, too, in like manner, when we deny that souls are the offspring of God Supreme, it does not necessarily follow that we are bound to declare from what parent they have sprung, and by what causes they have been produced. For who prevents us from being either ignorant of the source from which they issued and came, or aware that they are not God’s descendants? By what method, you say, in what way? Because it is most true and certain341 that, as has been pretty frequently said, nothing is effected, made, determined by the Supreme, except that which it is right and fitting should be done; except that which is complete and entire, and wholly perfect in its342 integrity. But further, we see that men, that is, these very souls – for what are men but souls bound to bodies? – themselves show by perversely falling into343 vice, times without number, that they belong to no patrician race, but have sprung from insignificant families. For we see some harsh, vicious, presumptuous, rash, reckless, blinded, false, dissemblers, liars, proud, overbearing, covetous, greedy, lustful, fickle, weak, and unable to observe their own precepts; but they would assuredly not be so, if their original goodness defended344 them, and they traced their honourable descent from the head of the universe.
49. But, you will say, there are good men also in the world, – wise, upright, of faultless and purest morals. We raise no question as to whether there ever were any such, in whom this very integrity which is spoken of was in nothing imperfect. Even if they are very honourable men, and have been worthy of praise, have reached the utmost height of perfection, and their life has never wavered and sunk into sin, yet we would have you tell us how many there are, or have been, that we may judge from their number whether a comparison345 has been made which is just and evenly balanced.346 One, two, three, four, ten, twenty, a hundred, yet are they at least limited in number, and it may be within the reach of names.347 But it is fitting that the human race should be rated and weighed, not by a very few good men, but by all the rest as well. For the part is in the whole, not the whole in a part; and that which is the whole should draw to it its parts, not the whole be brought to its parts. For what if you were to say that a man, robbed of the use of all his limbs, and shrieking in bitter agony,348 was quite well, because in349 one little nail he suffered no pain? or that the earth is made of gold, because in one hillock there are a few small grains from which, when dissolved, gold is produced, and wonder excited at it when formed into a lump?350 The whole mass shows the nature of an element, not particles fine as air; nor does the sea become forthwith sweet, if you cast or throw into it a few drops of less bitter water, for that small quantity is swallowed up in its immense mass; and it must be esteemed, not merely of little importance, but even of none, because, being scattered throughout all, it is lost and cut off in the immensity of the vast body of water.
149 Carduus, no doubt the esculent thistle, a kind of artichoke.
150 So, according to an emendation in LB., esui, adopted by Orelli and others, instead of the MS reading et sui.
151 There has been much discussion as to whether the solifuga or solipuga here spoken of is an ant or spider.
152 The MS reads discriminare, discernere, with the latter word, however, marked as spurious.
153 A kind of rug.
155 Strophium, passing round the breast, by some regarded as a kind of corset.
156 Mastruca, a garment made of the skins of the muflone, a Sardinian wild sheep.
157 Tribula, for rubbing out the corn.
158 Aurum is omitted in all edd., except those of LB., Hild., and Oehler.
159 Liber, a roll of parchment or papyrus, as opposed to the preceding codex, a book of pages.
160 The MS reads vobis unintelligibly, corrected by Meursius bovis.
161 So Orelli and modern edd.; but Crusius gives as the MS reading conspici-etur (not -et), as given by Ursinus, and commonly received – “Will he not … be seen?”
162 The MS and first five edd. read et – “and,” changed in LB. to sed.
163 In this dialogue (st. p. 81) Socrates brings forward the doctrine of reminiscence as giving a reasonable ground for the pursuit of knowledge, and then proceeds to give a practical illustration of it by leading an uneducated slave to solve a mathematical problem by means of question and answer.
164 Lit., “his knowledge of things.”
165 So the MS and edd., reading i-gnarum rerum, except LB., which by merely omitting the i gives the more natural meaning, “acquainted with the things,” etc.
166 Lit., “established in the limits of humanity.”
167 i.e., a square numerically or algebraically. The MS, both Roman edd., and Canterus read di-bus aut dynam-us, the former word being defended by Meursius as equivalent to binio, “a doubling,” – a sense, however, in which it does not occur. In the other edd., cubus aut dynamis has been received from the margin of Ursinus.
168 Aeneid, vi. 472.
169 This clause is with reason rejected by Meursius as a gloss.
170 Founded on Plato’s words (Phaedrus, st. p. 247), τῷ δ ̓ (i.e. Zeus) επεται στρατιὰ θεῶν τε καὶ δαιμόνων, the doctrine became prevalent that under the supreme God were lesser gods made by Him, beneath whom again were daemons, while men stood next. To this Orelli supposes that Arnobius here refers.
171 The vessels in which, according to Plato (Timaeus, st. p. 41), the Supreme Being mixed the vital essence of all being. Cf. c. 52.
172 Lit., “and endowed.”
173 The text and meaning are both rather doubtful, and the edd. vary exceedingly. The reading of Orelli, demoretur iners, valeat in aere quamvis, has been translated as most akin to the MS, with which, according to Oehler, it agrees, although Orelli himself gives the MS reading as aer-io.
174 Lit., “acknowledge turnings in the course.”
175 Lit., “but retaining its own things, bind itself in earthly bodies.”
176 Lit., “of.”
177 So the MS and edd., reading sua-de-ri, for which Oehler reads very neatly sua de vi – “can anything of its own power destroy,” etc.
178 Lit., “not suffer forgetfulness.”
179 Lit., “however the most solid unions of bodies may have bound them round.”
180 So the edd., reading privat immortalitate has omni, for which, according to Hildebrand, the MS reads -tatem has omnis – “all these of immortality.”
181 Lit., “put on the blindness of oblivion.”
182 Cf. Lucretius, iii. 969, where life is thus spoken of.
183 The MS reads ne videamu-s, changed in both Roman edd. into -amur – “that we may not be seen by you (as ignorant), how say you,” etc. Gelenius proposed the reading of the text, audiamus, which has been received by Canterus and Orelli. It is clear from the next words – quemadmodum dicitis – that in this case the verb must be treated as a kind of interjection, “How say you, let us hear.” LB. reads, to much the same purpose, scire avemus, “we desire to know.”
184 Lit., “before man.”
185 Lit., “placed outside.”
186 Quod enim.
187 Rebus ingressis.
188 So read by Orelli, artes suas antiquas, omitting atque, which, he says, follows in the MS. It is read after suas, however, in the first ed., and those of Gelenius, Canterus, Hildebrand; and according to Oehler, it is so given in the MS, “its own and ancient.” Oberthür would supply res – “its own arts and ancient things.”
189 So the MS, reading constitut-a, followed by all edd. except those of Ursinus, Hildebrand, and Oehler, who read -ae, “how do they remember when established in the bodies,” which is certainly more in accordance with the context.
190 Lit., “of immortality.”
191 Cf. 1Co_16:1-24, p. 440.
192 Lit., “of a lost memory.”
193 Lit., “of (a memory) preserved.”
194 Capite cum censeatur.
195 Lit., “poor in hearth, and of a poor hut.”
196 So the MS, reading malis, for which Ursinus suggested alis, “on the wings of which.”
197 i.e., to death.
198 The MS reads securus, intrepidus – “heedless, fearless;” the former word, however, being marked as a gloss. It is rejected in all edd., except LB.
199 Lit., “by the freedom of impunity.”
200 Lit., “the one (immortality) … in respect of the equality of condition of the other” – nec in alterius (immortalitatis) altera (immortalitata) possit aequalitate conditionis vexari; the reference being clearly to the immediately preceding clause, with which it is so closely connected logically and grammatically. Orelli, however, would supply anima, ἀπὸ τοῦ κοινοῦ, as he puts it, of which nothing need be said. Meursius, with customary boldness, emends nec vi alterius altera, “nor by the power of one can the other,” etc.
201 So the ellipse is usually supplied, but it seems simpler and is more natural thus: “But punishments (have been) spoken of” (memoratae), etc.
202 So MS and Oehler, for which the edd. read ec quis, “will any one.”
203 Lit., “the consequences of things,”
204 Lit., “the moving of wheels whirling.”
205 Lit., “in the unbroken course of ages” – perpetuitate aevorum.
206 Lit., “and to scatter the unbridled eagerness of boundless lust through,” etc.
207 Lucretius (iii. 417 sqq.) teaches at great length that the soul and mind are mortal, on the ground that they consist of atoms smaller than those of vapour, so that, like it, on the breaking of their case, they will be scattered abroad; next, on the ground of the analogy between them and the body in regard to disease, suffering, etc.; of their ignorance of the past, and want of developed qualities; and finally, on the ground of the adaptation of the soul to the body, as of a fish to the sea, so that life under other conditions would be impossible.
208 The MS and first four edd. read has, “that these souls,” etc.; in the other edd., hac is received as above from the margin of Ursinus.
209 Cf. Plato, Phaedo (st. p. 64, sq.), where death is spoken of as only a carrying further of that separation of the soul from the pleasures and imperfections of the body which the philosopher strives to effect in this life.
210 Lit., “in common.”
212 This refers to the second argument of Lucretius noticed above.
213 i.e., the abandoned and dissolute immortal spoken of in last chapter.
214 Lit., “with.”
215 Lit., “degenerate into mortal nature.”
216 Arnobius seems in this chapter to refer to the doctrine of the Stoics, that the soul must be material, because unless body and soul were of one substance, there could be no common feeling or mutual affection (so Cleanthes in Nemes. de Nat. Hom., ii. p. 33); and to that held by some of them, that only the souls of the wise remained after death, and these only till the conflagration (Stob., Ecl. Phys., p. 372) which awaits the world, and ends the Stoic great year or cycle. Others, however, held that the souls of the wise became daemons and demigods (Diog., Laert., vii. 157 and 151).
217 Lit., “they” – eas.
218 Lit., “from the gapings and,” etc.
219 There may be here some echo of the words (Joh_17:3), “This is eternal life, that they may know Thee, the only true God,” etc.; but there is certainly not sufficient similarity to found a direct reference on, as has been done by Orelli and others.
220 i.e., souls.
221 This passage presents no difficulty in itself, its sense being obviously that, as by God’s grace life is given to those who serve Him, we must strive to fit ourselves to receive His blessing. The last words, however, have seemed to some fraught with mystery, and have been explained by Heraldus at some length as a veiled or confused reference to the Lord’s Supper, as following upon baptism and baptismal regeneration, which, he supposes, are referred to in the preceding words, “laying aside,” etc. [It is not, however, the language of a mere catechumen.]
222 These “thin plates,” laminae, Orelli has suggested, were amulets worn as a charm against serpents.
223 MS Phyllis.
224 So the edd., reading instit-oribus for the MS instit-ut-oribus, “makers.”
225 Lit., “that colds and violent suns may not,” etc.
226 Lit., “of.”
227 Lit., “is set before.”
228 So the MS, first ed., Gelenius, Canterus, Hildebrand, reading ex commodi sensu, for which all the other edd., following Ursinus and Meursius, read ex communi – “from common sense,” i.e., wisely.
229 Perhaps, as Orelli evidently understands it, “prefer Him to our own souls” – animis praeponimus.
230 So Oehler, reading ea for the MS ut, omitted in all edd.
231 Lit., “by your own and internal exertion.”
232 Lit., “of things.”
233 Lit., “wings will be at hand.”
234 The MS reads di-cimus, “say;” corrected du, as above.
235 The first four edd. read res, “things above,” for which Stewechius reads, as above, sedes.
237 Here, as in c. 7, p. 436, n. 43, the edd. read Phaedone, with the exception of the first ed., LB., Hildebrand, and Oehler, who follow the MS as above.
238 Lit., “to the end of promising.”
239 Meursius suggests numini, “deity,” on which it may be well to remark once for all, that nomen and numen are in innumerable places interchanged in one or other of the edd. The change, however, is usually of so little moment, that no further notice will be taken of it.
240 So the MS, according to Rigaltius and Hildebrand, reading vitae aeternitate, while Crusius asserts that the MS gives vita et – “with life and eternity.”
241 The MS reading is, mortalis est qualitatis. The first five edd. merely drop est – “of mortal, of neutral,” etc.; LB. and the others read, es et, as above.
242 Lit., “heard from.”
243 So the MS, according to Crusius, the edd. reading cred-id-imus – “have believed.”
244 Lit., “if we believe that.”
245 So the MS, reading ad modum obsecutionis paratum – “prepared to the mode of compliance;” for which the edd. read adm. executioni – “quite prepared for performing,” except Hildebrand, who gives adm. obsecutioni – “for obedience.”
246 So the MS, according to Crusius, but all edd. read sequ-a-tur (for i) – “Is there anything which He has willed which it does not follow,” etc.
247 So all edd., reading mutabiles, except the two Roman edd. and Oehler, who gives, as the reading of the MS, nu. – “tottering.”
248 Lit., “in the doubtful condition of their lot.”
249 Lit., “which may have been of a name.”
250 LB., followed by the later edd., inserted si, “if they are,” which is certainly more consistent with the rest of the sentence.
251 The MS reading is utterly corrupt and meaningless – immortalitatis largiter est donum dei certa prolatis. Gelenius, followed by Canterus, Oberthür, and Orelli, emended largi-tio … certe, as above. The two Roman edd. read, -tatem largitus … certam – “bestowed, assured immortality as God’s gift on,” etc.
252 i.e., who must therefore have received it if they have it at all.
253 Lit., “out, reduced to nothing with annihilation, not to be returned from.”
254 Lit., “they are held in a lasting bond,” i.e., of being.
255 Plato makes the supreme God, creator of the inferior deities, assure these lesser gods that their created nature being in itself subject to dissolution, His will is a surer ground on which to rely for immortality, than the substance or mode of their own being (Timaeus, st. p. 41; translated by Cicero, de Univ., xi., and criticised de Nat. Deor., i. 8 and iii. 12).
256 The MS and both Roman edd. read neque ullo ab-olitio-nis unintelligibly, for which Gelenius proposed nexusque abolitione – “and by the destruction of the bond;” but the much more suitable reading in the margin of Ursinus, translated above, ullo ab alio nis-i, has been adopted by later edd.
257 Lit., “be gifted with a saving order.” So the MS, reading salutari iussione, followed by both Rom. edd.; LB. and Orelli read vinctione – “bond;” Gelenius, Canterus, Elmenh., and Oberthür, m-issione – “dismissal.”
258 Lit., “that to the gods themselves the natures are intermediate.”
259 Lit., “supreme” – principali.
260 Cf. i. 48. On this passage Orelli quotes Irenaeus, i. 21, where are enumerated several gnostic theories of the creation of the world and men by angels, who are themselves created by the “one unknown Father.” Arnobius is thought, both by Orelli and others, to share in these opinions, and in this discussion to hint at them, but obscurely, lest his cosmology should be confounded by the Gentiles with their own polytheistic system. It seems much more natural to suppose that we have here the indefinite statement of opinions not thoroughly digested.
261 Lit., “a generation of.”
262 Canterus, Elmenhorst, Oberthür, and Orelli omit ut, which is retained as above by the rest.
263 Lit., “obscene.”
264 Elmenhorst endeavours to show that Arnobius coincides in this argument with the Epicureans, by quoting Lucr. v. 165 sqq. and Lact. vii. 5, where the Epicurean argument is brought forward, What profit has God in man, that He should have created him? In doing this, it seems not to have been observed that the question asked by Arnobius is a very different one: What place has man in the world, that God should be supposed to have sent him to fill it?
265 i.e., so far from this being the case.
266 i.e., from one horse to another – desultores.
267 Rationibus et constitutionibus.
268 Lit., “it should be believed.”
269 Lit., “unless there were joined.”
270 So the MS, reading contentio, which Orelli would understand as meaning “contents,” which may be correct. LB. reads conditio – “condition,” ineptly; and Ursinus in the margin, completio – “the filling up.”
271 So the later edd., from the margin of Ursinus, reading quod temeritatis est maximae for the MS quem – “whom it shows the greatest rashness to speak of.”
272 Lit., “goddesses.”
273 So Gelenius (acc. to Orelli), reading as in the margin of Ursinus, terrenae circumscriptiones, for the unintelligible reading of the MS, temerariae, retained in both Roman edd., Canterus, and (acc. to Oehler) Gelenius. LB. reads metariae – “a limiting by boundaries.”
274 Lit., “motions.”
275 Cf. Lucr., v. 229 sq. The same idea comes up again in iv. 21.
276 Lit., “in.”
277 According to Hildebrand, the MS reads dissimular-ent circumscribere, so that, by merely dropping nt, he reads, “to dissemble and cheat;” but according to Crispus, iri is found in the MS between these two words, so that by prefixing m Sabaeus in the first ed. read m-ent-iri as above, followed by all other edd.
278 Lit., “to roll … in the mind.”
279 Rigaltius and Hildebrand regard decipere as a gloss.
280 So the MS, reading formari, followed by Hildebrand and Oehler; but all the other edd. give the active form, -are.
281 Lit., “from.”
282 The condition, i.e., of freedom.
283 LB., seemingly received by Orelli, though not inserted into his text, reads poscerent eos for the MS -entur, which Hildebrand modifies -ent ea as above.
284 Lit., “certain.”
285 Lit., “by error.”
286 Lit., “the sad necessity should be laid upon them, that,” etc.
287 Lit., “for the want of daily things,” diurnorum egestati, for which Stewechius would read diurna egestate – “from daily necessity.”
288 Lit., “of.”
289 Lit., “poured forth all their blood.”
290 Lit., “of their labour.”
291 Lit., “at last by force of.”
292 So the MS and edd., reading vilitatem, for which Meursius proposed very needlessly utilitatem – “and at an advantage.”
293 So, adhering very closely to the MS, which gives e-t sanguine supputandis augere-t insomnia milibus, the t of e-t being omitted and n inserted by all. The first five edd read, -tandi se angerent insania: millibus – “harass themselves with the madness of reckoning; by miles should extend,” etc., – the only change in Heraldus and Orelli being a return to insomnia – “harass with sleeplessness,” etc.
294 So restored by Cujacius, followed by LB. and Orelli, reading in grat-i-am (MS wants i) voluptatemque, while the first five edd. merely drop -que – “to the grateful pleasure,” etc.
295 Lit., “most cruel.”
296 Lit., “among,” in oris, the MS reading, and that of the first four edd., for which the others have received from the margin of Ursinus moribus – “(indulging) in so fierce and savage customs.”
297 Lit., “tables.”
298 Lit., “they should live.”
299 Lit., “lessen.”
300 In the MS this clause follows the words “loss of their purity,” where it is very much in the way. Orelli has followed Heraldus in disposing of it as above, while LB. inserts it after “tips of their ears.” The rest adhere to the arrangement of the MS, Ursinus suggesting instead of his – “with these,” catenis – “with chains;” Heraldus, linis – “with strings (of pearls);” Stewechius, taeniis – “with fillets.”
301 So LB. and Orelli, reading con-fic-iendis corporibus for the MS con-sp-iendis, for which the others read -spic-, “to win attention.” A conjecture by Oudendorp, brought forward by Orelli, is worthy of notice – con-spu-endis, “to cover,” i.e., so as to hide defects.
302 Lit., “passages of ways.”
303 Lit., “substitute.”
304 So the later edd., reading botulos; the MS and early edd. give boletos – “mushrooms.”
305 For his, Heinsius proposes hiris – “with the intestines.”
306 Lit., “in a frozen condition.” As to the meaning of this there is difference of opinion: some supposing that it means, as above, preserved by means of ice, or at least frozen; while others interpret figuratively, “as hard as ice.” [Our Scottish translators have used their local word, “iced haggises:” I have put puddings instead, which gives us, at least, an idea of something edible. To an American, what is iced conveys the idea of a drink. The budinarius, heretofore noted, probably made these iced saucisses.]
307 Lit., “things” – res.
308 Scabilla were a kind of rattles or castanets moved by the feet.
309 Sambuca, not corresponding to the modern triangle, but a stringed instrument of that shape. Its notes were shrill and disagreeable, and those who played on it of indifferent character.
310 So the MS and first four edd., reading virilitatem sui populo publicarent. Meursius emended utilitatem – “made common the use,” etc.; and Orelli, from the margin of Ursinus, vilitatem – “their vileness.”
311 The MS reads in fornicibus obvi-t-ae, which, dropping the t, is the reading translated, and was received by Elmenhorst, LB., and Hildebrand, from the margin of Ursinus. The other edd insert nc before t – “bound.”
312 The translation does not attempt to bring out the force of the words ad oris stuprum paratae, which are read by Orelli after Ursinus and Gelensius. The text is so corrupt, and the subject so obscene, that a bare reference to the practice may be sufficient.
313 The MS reads, habitare atque habitare juss-e-r-unt. All edd. omit the first two words, the first ed. without further change; but the active verb is clearly out of place, and therefore all other edd. read jussae sunt, as above. Oehler, however, from habitare omitted by the others, would emend aditare, “to approach,” – a conjecture with very little to recommend it.
314 These are all substantives in the original.
315 So the MS, reading non missione – “not by the sending;” but, unaccountably enough, all edd. except Hildebrand and Oehler read jussione – “not by the command.”
316 So the MS.
317 Lit., “royal sublimity.”
318 Lit., “causes.”
319 The MS and both Roman edd. read abscondere – “to hide,” for which the other edd. read, as above, abscedere, from the margin of Ursinus.
320 Lit., “go.”
321 By Hildebrand and Oehler, procreator is with reason regarded as a gloss.
322 The MS, both Roman edd., and Hildebrand read jussisset; but this would throw the sentence into confusion, and the other edd. therefore drop t.
323 LB., Hildebrand, and Oehler read quorum indu-c-tae carceribus – “led into the prisons of which,” all other edd. omitting c as above. According to Oehler, the MS has the former reading.
324 The MS and both Roman edd. read in-f-ernarum paterentut aliae laniatus muscularum, which has no meaning, and is little improved by Gelenius changing ut into ur, as no one knows what “infernal flies” are. LB. and Orelli, adopting a reading in the margin of Ursinus, change intern. into ferarum, and join musc. with the words which follow as above. Another reading, also suggested by Ursinus, seems preferable, however, internorum … musculorum – “suffer rendings (i.e., spasms) of the inner muscles.”
325 Lit., “bound.”
326 Lit., “dilaceration of.”
327 Lit., “again and more frequently.”
328 Lit., “the salvation of.”
329 Lit., “height of.”
330 Lit., “things perfect, and preserving the measure of their completeness;” i.e., continuing so.
331 So the MS, LB., Oberthür, and Oehler, reading claudum et quod minus esset a recto. All other edd. read eminus – “at a distance from the right.”
332 Lit., “less than.”
333 Lit., “material.”
334 Lit., “some power latent and cruelty.”
335 So the MS and all edd.; but Orelli would change item into iterum, not seeing that the reference is to the indicated preference of his opponents for the simple truth.
336 Nescire Hildebrand, with good reason, considers a gloss.
337 Nihil for the MS mihi, which makes nonsense of the sentence.
338 This somewhat wide-spread opinion found an amusing counterpart in the doctrines of Rorarius (mentioned by Bayle, Dict. Phil.), who affirmed that the lower animals are gifted with reason and speech, as we are.
339 Lit., “superior.”
340 Lit., “tending to no reasons.”
341 Omni vero verissimum est certoque certissimum – the superlative for the comparative.
342 Lit., “finished with the perfection of.”
343 Lit., “by perversity” – s-c-aevitate, the reading of the MS, LB., Orelli, Hild., and Oehler, all others omitting c – “by the rage;” except Stewechius, who reads servitute – “slavery.”
344 Or, perhaps, “the goodness of the Supreme planted” – generositas eos adsereret principalis.
345 Lit., “opposition;” i.e., “the setting of one party against the other.”
346 Lit., “weighed with balancing of equality.”
347 Lit., “bounded by the comprehensions of names;” i.e., possibly, “the good are certainly few enough to be numbered, perhaps even to be named.”
348 So LB., reading ex cruciatibus for the MS scruc.
349 Lit., “of.”
350 Lit., “admiration is sought for by the putting together” – congregatione.