Eusebius of Caesarea: Praeparatio Evangelica (Preparation for the Gospel). Tr. E.H. Gifford (1903) -- Book 6
|Preface||p. 236 a|
|I. The seeming prophecies of the daemons in the oracles are conjectures from the course of the stars, like those made by men.||p. 236 d|
|II. They destroy our free will by asserting that our purposes are set in motion by Fate||p. 238 b|
|III. They were not able even to defend their own consecrated shrines when struck by lightning||p. 238 d|
|IV. They say that the decrees of Fate may be annulled by magic||p. 240 d|
|V. They utter lying prophecies||p. 241 c|
|VI. Refutation of the argument in defence of Fate||p. 242 a|
|VII. How their philosophers refuted the opinions even of their gods concerning Fate by truer reasoning. From Oenomaus||p. 255 b|
|VIII. On the same subject. From Diogenianus||p. 262 a|
|IX. On the same subject. From Alexander Aphrodisiensis||p. 268 a|
|X. How the argument for Fate is refuted from Mathematical science. From Bardesanes||p. 273 b|
|XI. How refuted also from the interpretation and testimony of the Divine Scriptures. From Origen||p. 281 a|
In the books which we have already completed we have sufficiently exposed the character of the oracles; and the divine power of our Saviour has exhibited in the teaching of His Gospel an excellence worthy of God and at the same time beneficial to man; for by it alone, and by no other teaching, deliverance from the daemoniacal phantoms, which had from the beginning over shadowed and afflicted the whole life of man, was secured for all.
Now let us examine their false doctrines about fate, and so restore the true account of the same subject, in order that the daemons who have been supposed to inspire the oracles may be shown not only by the wickedness of their system, but also by the error and falsity of their opinions, to be worthless and impotent. Consider therefore whether it will not occur to you also that the account of them is inconsistent with divine power, both from what I shall set before you in refutation of their doctrine concerning fate, and from the very manner in which they are said to perform their divinations.
For it is not said that they have gained the knowledge of future events beforehand by any superior power, but that they guess what is coming from observation of the motion of the stars, just as men do. Thus, it is said, they have no power either to help, or to effect anything at all, except what is in accordance with fate. And the evidence of this shall be that self-same daemons' advocate, who in his book entitled Of the Philosophy to be derived from Oracles, speaks word for word as follows:
[PORPHYRY] 1 'The gods, if they speak with a knowledge of things determined by fate, declare that their utterances are derived from the course of the stars, and almost all the truthful gods acknowledge this.'
Then a little farther down he says:
'Apollo was asked of what sex a woman's child would be, and by the stars he said it would be female, having learned this from the time of conception: and thus he speaks:
"The shoot springs forth from earth, whose thirsty meads
All freshening moisture from their mother drain,
While life still stirs within her its due time.
No boy she bears, 'tis but a feeble girl;
The Moon with Venus watched the chaste embrace
That brings thee soon, O friend, a female child."
'See how from the time of conception, because the Moon was then approaching Venus, he said that a girl would be born. Moreover from those signs they foretell diseases; for listen:
"A baneful poison ravages his breast
And pours its cruel pangs o'er all the lung,"----
'and so on: to which he adds:
"So wrought the purpose of the Fates, which urged
Their deadly strife, to slay thee by disease,
Since Saturn treads on high his baneful path."
'And after some other verses:
"But the Destroyer, hastening on to meet
The star of Saturn, forced thee to conclude
Life's fated day, and robbed thy soul of hope.
For this thy godlike father's sacred heart
Warned thee to shun the baneful god of war."'
These things show that their divination is not from any divine power in them, but from observation of the stars according to mathematical principles; so that in this they differ nothing from other men, nor show any work of a higher or more divine nature. But see how they also destroy our free-will, by referring not only external events and things independent of us, but also our own purposes, to the course of the stars.
[PORPHYRY] 2 'Thus also Apollo spake concerning a certain man, explaining at the same time whence came his eagerness for war:
"In Mars he hath a vehement natal star,
Which drives him on, yet not unto the tomb:
For Jupiter's decree foretold it thus,
And soon shall give him glory from the war."
'And again on another man:
"Saturn's long hair outspread and cruel rays
Saddened the hapless boy's tempestuous life."'
So great a horror of Fate have these brave gods, as to confess that they cannot even defend their own temples when struck by lightning! Much hope there must be then for men to get help by prayer from those who are not even able to help themselves! Of what use is it henceforth to be pious, and to worship and serve the gods, who can give no help at all even to themselves? Hear, however, what the oracle says:
[PORPHYRY] 3 'Thus even shrines and temples have their destinies, and Apollo's own temple had been destined to be struck by lightning, as he says:
"Offspring of Erichthonius' godlike race,
Boldly ye come mine oracle to ask
When shall this fairest shrine be laid in dust.
Hear then this utterance of the voice divine,
That issues from the laurel-shaded cave.
When high in air the warring winds resound,
And storms embattled meet with thundering crash,
While the wide world lies wrapped in silent frost,
And the imprisoned air no outlet finds,
A blazing torch falls, where it will, to earth.
Whereat the wild beasts on the mountain tops
Flee in swift terror to their dens, nor stay
To scan with trembling eyes Jove's fallen bolt.
Shrines of the blessed, trees of stateliest growth,
Steep mountain peaks, fair ships upon the sea
All shattered lie beneath those wings of fire.
Fair Amphitrite too, Poseidon's bride,
Cleft by that awful stroke shrinks moaning back.
Ye therefore, though by mighty pain oppressed,
Bear with brave souls the counsels of the Fates
That know no change: for whatsoe'er the lot
Their whirling spindles twine, his awful brow
Zeus nods on high to fix the changeless doom.
Thus in long ages past this fairest shrine
By fiery bolts from heaven was doomed to fall."'
If therefore by the spindles of the Fates even the shrines of the venerable gods and their holy temples are conquered by 'wings of fire,' what hope can be left for mortal men to escape from their destiny? If, moreover, there is no help from the gods, but one must in any case
'Bear with brave soul the counsels of the Fates
That know no change,'
what is the meaning, some one may say, of our useless zeal concerning the gods?
Or what need to assign a portion 'of libation and burnt-offering,' and the honour thereof, to those who are not worthy even of these things, if they have no power to help us at all? For then we ought not to ascribe the bestowal of good things to them, but to that (destiny) which they confessed to be the cause of the evil.
For if anything either good or the reverse is destined for men, it will of necessity occur, and, whether the gods will or not, it will come to pass. We ought therefore to worship Necessity only, and care little, or rather nothing, for the gods, as being able neither to annoy nor to benefit us.
But then if He, who is God over all, is sole ruler of the Fates, and sole Lord over them also----for, as the Oracle says:
'Whate'er the lot
Their whirling spindles twine, his awful brow
Zeus nods on high, to fix the changeless doom'----
why then dost thou not put aside all else, and confess that the universal Monarch and the Lord of Fate is the only God, and only Giver of good, and Saviour? Seeing that for Him alone it is easy to turn and change even what you call
'The counsels of the Fates
That know no change:'
so that the man who has been consecrated to the all-ruling God, and worships only Him, is enslaved neither to necessity nor to fate, but. as being free and released from every bond, follows without hindrance the divine dispensations of salvation. Such is the path which true reason shows: but see by what means this author, the contrary, that the decrees of fate are dissolved.
[PORPHYRY] 4 'For when a certain man prayed that he might be visited by a god, the god said that he was unfit because he was bound down by nature, and on this account suggested certain expiatory sacrifices, and added:
"A blast of daemon power with gathered force
The fortunes of thy race hath overrun,
Which thou must scape by magic arts like these."
'Hereby it is clearly shown that the use of magic in loosing the bonds of fate was a gift from the gods, in order to avert it by any means.'
It is Porphyry who tells you this, not I. But how was it, that he who advised to loose the bonds of fate by magic arts, though he was himself a god, did not annul the destiny of his own temple to be burned by lightning? And how can we fail to see what is the character of him who encourages the use of magic, and not of philosophy? Besides all this the same author confesses that the gods speak falsely.
[PORPHYRY] 5 'But further, the exact knowledge of the course of the stars, and the consequences dependent on them, is unattainable by men, and not by them only, but also by some of the daemons. Hence when consulted they speak falsely on many matters.'
To this again he adds:
'Also, they say, it is the surrounding atmosphere that compels the oracles to be falsified, and not that the deities present willingly add the falsehood. For they often declare beforehand that they are going to speak falsely: but the inquirers persist, and compel them to speak, because of their folly. Apollo, for instance, once upon a time, when the condition of the atmosphere was, as we stated, unfavourable, said:
"Cease from these words of power, lest I speak false."
'And that what I was saying is true, will be shown by the oracles.
'For example, one of the gods when invoked made answer:
"To tell the constellations' sacred course
This day befits not; all prophetic power
Lies bound and fettered in the silent stars."'
And he adds:
'It is shown therefore whence the falsehood often arises.'
Is there not now an end of all doubt in your judgement, that there was nothing divine at all in the responses of the gods? For how could the divine ever speak falsely, being in nature most truthful, since surely the divine is truthful? And how could a good daemon ever deceive the inquirers by false statements? Or how could that which is 'fettered' by the course of the stars be superior to man?
Nay, a mortal man who paid any little regard to virtue would never lie, but would choose rather to reverence the truth; nor would he lay the blame of a lie upon any necessity of fate or course of the stars. But even if any one were to bring fire or sword against his body, to compel him to pervert the word of truth, yet even against this he would reply in freedom's tone:
'Come fire, come sword;
Burn, and scorch up this flesh, and gorge thyself
With my dark blood : for sooner shall the stars
Sink down to earth, and earth rise up to heav'n,
Than fawning word shall meet thee from my lips.' 6
But the deluding and deceitful daemon makes pretences and cajoles the senseless, in order that whenever he should fail of foretelling what was to come, he might provide himself an excuse for his blunder in fate.
So when the daemon had by his oracular answers made everything depend on fate, and had taken away the freedom arising from self-determined action, and subjugated this also to necessity, see into what a deadly pit of evil doctrines he has plunged those who believe him.
For if we must refer not only external events, but also the desires founded upon reason, to the stars and fate, and if human judgements are extorted by some inexorable necessity, there will be an end of your philosophy, an end also of religion: nor is there, as we thought, any praise of virtue for the good, nor any friendship with God, nor any worthy fruit of self-denying toils, if universal causation has been usurped by necessity and fate.
So then it is not right to blame those who offend in the affairs of life, nor yet the impious and the most infamous, nor even to admire the virtuous; but on this principle, as I said, there will be an end also of the great glory of philosophy, if it is made dependent not on voluntary study and discipline, but on necessity imposed by the stars.
See then into what an abyss of evil doctrines these wonderful gods have cast men down, and observe how this doctrine urges on and encourages to recklessness, and injustice, and countless other evils, bringing about an entire overthrow of the whole life.
If, for example, a man were at once to give credit to the marvellous responses of the gods, that truthfulness or falsehood, and the will to start upon an expedition or any other business, or the unwillingness to undertake such matters, was no work of ours but of inexorable fate, would he not choose to be careless and indolent in all matters that could not be performed without labour and pains and exertion on our own part?
For if he thought that this or that would take place by fate, whether we took trouble and care about it or not, would he not certainly wish to choose the easier course, and give himself, up to carelessness, since the result to be attained would be brought to pass by fate and necessity?
Hence one may hear the multitude say, This will be accomplished, if it is destined for me, and why need I give myself trouble?
For if he who set out on an expedition, did this not from his own choice, but from being driven by external necessity, so also evidently would the man who set himself to robbery and plundering graves and all other practices whether impious and lawless or orderly and prudent: for this would be a consequence of the doctrine of fate.
How then would the man who believed that he was undertaking these practices not of his own will, but under external necessity, be likely to give heed to one who admonished him and taught him not to give himself over abjectly to the practices before mentioned?
For he would say to his monitor, as has been said by some before our time, Why, sir, do you admonish me? For this of course does not rest with me, to change my purpose, since fate has determined it beforehand. What need then to exert myself for things which I shall not be able even to desire, unless this also is my destiny. And if it is so destined, I shall desire it even without your teaching, being led thereto by fate. Why then do you trouble yourself to no purpose? But if you mean to say that your exhortation and teaching is also brought about by necessity, to exhort and persuade me thus, yet even in this case what need to be so earnest? For the exhortation is idle and useless. Since if it is so fated, I shall be diligent; and if it is not so fated, the result will be that we both take trouble in vain.
Must not the man who holds this opinion rather give up indolently and say to himself, Come, let me not care to toil, nor trouble myself to no purpose: for that which, is fated will of necessity come to pass? But if a man is diligent about anything, or teaches or encourages himself or another, either to obey or to disobey, and to sin or not to sin, and to rebuke sinners, and to praise them that do well, is it not clearly proved that he has left us the reality of our power and free-will, and simply attaches to it the name of fate; just as if any one were to call by the name of evil that natural goodness, by the presence of which the living being is best governed?
In the same way (since we plainly feel ourselves compelled by no external cause in chastening our sons, and scourging our domestics when they have done amiss, and in wishing or not wishing this or that, but feel that we make such movements quite independently by our own power) he would be wrong who said that these things are done according to fate, with a view to paralyse our own exertions and the exhortations and admonitions given to others, which we see to be the chief sources of success in human affairs.
Moreover this doctrine would overthrow laws, which are made for the sake of their usefulness to man. For what need is there to command or forbid those who are constrained by a necessity of a different kind? Nor will it be right to punish offenders, since for the same reason they have done no wrong, nor to award honours to the doers of the noblest deeds, though these customs of reward and punishment have severally been a chief cause of checking injustice and of readiness to do good.
But further, this opinion would overthrow piety towards the deity, if, fettered as we are by the necessities of fate, neither God Himself, nor the ministers of these oracular gods give us any help either in answer to our prayers or for our piety.
And would it not be most shameless and impudent to say that we are moved like lifeless puppets pulled by strings this way and that by some external power, to will of necessity to do this or that, and to choose other things against our will? For we plainly feel ourselves desiring this or that by our own impulse and motion, and again we take ourselves to task for carelessness, and feel that we succeed or not from this cause, and suffer no compulsion from any external source, but choose some things by voluntary determination, and shun and decline others of our own deliberate purpose.
So evident therefore is the argument for free-will that, in the same way as the feeling of pain and pleasure, and seeing and hearing this or that, is perceived not by reasoning but by actual sensation, so we consciously feel ourselves moving of ourselves and of our own purpose, and choosing some things and rejecting others; thus the freedom and independence of the rational and intelligent nature in us is in any case justly to be acknowledged.
And although the mass of mankind are perplexed by countless things happening to us contrary to our purpose, we must in this case distinguish the nature of the circumstances in which we are placed, and take into consideration the law by which things not in our own power come to pass. For thus the cause of these events also will be attributed to no irrational fate, but to another law, dependent on the providence of the universe. Let us then examine the problem carefully.
That both the existence and the government of all things depend as a whole on the providence of God, the statutes of true religion plainly declare.
But then the several events being caused according to their particular kind, some by habit, some by nature, some by impulse and impression, and others by reasoning and our own judgement and purpose, and some again produced according to a primary law, and others according to effects contingent upon the primary occurrences, render the arrangement of the whole complex and intricate, the author of the universe having allotted to each class of beings a proper and distinct constitution of nature.
Though it would be difficult, therefore, for any one to examine fully the principle of all the rest, yet that of freewill he may more easily learn in the following manner. Man is not a thing of one simple kind, nor consisting of one nature only, but is composed of two opposites, body and soul, the former attached contingently as an instrument to the soul, but the intelligent essence subsisting in accordance with its primary law, and of these the one is irrational and the other rational, and the one perishable but the other imperishable, and the one mortal but the other immortal; so that we have a body of the same kind as brute beasts, but a soul akin to the rational and immortal nature. In this case then surely it is natural, that this double product, inasmuch as it partakes of a double nature, should regulate its life in a twofold and diverse manner, at one time serving the bodily nature, and at another welcoming with the diviner part its proper liberty. Thus the same man is both a slave and free, having had such a combination of soul and body allotted to him by God, for reasons known to Himself.
If therefore any one were to subject the natural functions either of the body or of the soul to necessity as their cause, calling it 'fate,' he would miss the proper name. For if there were some irresistible necessity of fate, and if many of the functions which by nature belong to the body and the soul are thereby impeded, and if ten thousand other external things combine by some accident in attaching themselves contrary to nature to both soul and body, how can fate and nature be the same thing?
For if they say that fate is unalterable, and that nothing d can happen contrary to it (because necessity is inexorable), and if, as I said, many things happen both to soul and body contrary to their natural functions, a man would not use right names, if he said that fate and nature are the same.
So then of our inward experiences part must depend upon reasoning and the choice that is in our own power, such as are the natural functions of the soul, and part on the nature of the body, and another part must be incidental to them, I mean to soul and body, but effects due by nature to others: yet no one could rightly detach either the free-will of the soul, or the natural action of the body, nor yet the contingency of external things from Him who is their Author.
For God Himself, the God of the universe, has been shown to be the Creator both of things in our own power and of things dependent on nature, and of things accidental. For the declaration of the divine Scripture, 'He spake, and they were made: he commanded and they were created,' 7 must be understood universally of all things.
So then if, at any time when we form certain purposes, other things happen contrary to our intention, we must remind ourselves, that this is owing, as we said, to that twofold and heterogeneous character of the combination in us, I mean of soul and body, in consequence of which the essence of the soul, which is of an intelligent and rational nature, in a body which is by nature childish, shares the position of an irrational being contrary to its own nature: and the mind, which is naturally wise, often in consequence of some accident becomes silly, from being distraught by excessive ailments, say, of the body.
Oftentimes too old age, having in the course of nature overtaken the body, deprives the understanding of the right judgements of its prime, by blunting the rational power of the intelligent soul contrary to nature.
Injuries again and pains and mutilations, which have happened to the body contrary to its nature, accidentally overcome the free-will of the soul, when it gives in to the pains because of its connexion with the body: so that an inevitable bond is found to have been thrown in the way of the freedom of the soul, at one time by the nature of the body, at another by accidents coming from without.
Nevertheless the power of our free-will has, as we said, reached such a pitch of courage and strength, as to dare in many cases to encounter and oppose the bodily nature and the accidents from without.
The bodily nature invites the man to amorous desire, but the soul having bridled the passion by sound reason becomes master of the bodily nature. And again the one, necessitating hunger and thirst and cold and feelings of this kind, invites to the remedies and satisfactions which are in accordance with nature; but the will being persuaded by sound reasons, and having voluntarily embraced certain ascetic counsels, by many days' fasting and endurance beats off the natural desire of the body, choosing and preferring this course by excellence of reason.
Then again the one naturally delights in all pleasures, and in the easy movement of the body: but the will from a desire of virtue welcomes the life of labour and hardship.
But there are also some who have turned to evil, and 'changed the natural use into that which is against nature, . . . men with men working unseemliness.' 8
Thus then reason does not give way in all things to nature, but conquers in many, as also it is conquered; and the man now leads, and now is himself led, so that in some cases even prematurely he hastens by violent hands to release himself from the body, whenever he judges life to be unprofitable for him. If then his whole contest were with the proper nature of the body only, this would be tolerable: but since God has planted his civil and social life in the midst of a multitude, so that he is made to pass his time among wild beasts and venomous reptiles, and amid fire and water and the surrounding air, and the perverted and diverse natures in all these, his conflict and resistance is naturally not only against his own bodily nature intimately connected with him, but also against the countless accidents from without, in the midst of which he who leads this mortal life must live, so that he has to hold out bravely against these also.
Ere now, for instance, many such and such kinds of food, and such and such temperatures of the atmosphere, and sudden frosts, and burning heats, and very many other things, though moving naturally according to certain laws proper to them, yet by falling accidentally upon us, have caused no common disturbance of our independence because of the connexion with the body; for our bodily nature cannot withstand the assaults from without, but is overpowered and conquered by the external circumstances which occur according to their proper nature.
Again, we pass our lives in company with a multitude of men who share the same nature with us, and, acting on their individual right, take away our independence by the free exercise of their own choice: therefore in this way again we shall naturally be subject to the purposes of others, when their independent power thus in a manner makes use of us, either against the body or in regard to the soul.
For as our bodily nature is often overpowered by things which assail it from without, so sometimes our will also, being disturbed by a thousand external wills, is induced by its own independent decision to give itself up to the external forces; and sometimes is rendered better, and sometimes worse: since bad company is apt to corrupt, just as on the contrary the intercourse of honourable men makes us better. For 'evil communications corrupt good manners,' 9 just as the company of the good saves and improves.
And though the rational faculty of the soul is carried this way and that by the arguments of those who encounter it from without, yet the proper virtue of the rational essence gains strength again, and proves its power to be truly divine and godlike, when by holding out against all external circumstances, and gaining the victory over them all by a free spirit, without abating aught of its own virtue, it is prepared for the study of philosophy. When however it is careless, it is affected by the evil with the worst results, just as also it is improved by careful attention from without.
What need after this to say, that 'both fruitfulness and barrenness in souls and bodies' 10 such as these, brought about by some accident in a manner proper to the government of the world and right and good for the whole, work a vast amount of disturbance of every kind to individual portions, and especially to our independence.
But over all existing things universally, both those that occur through us and our causation, and those that come accidentally from without, and those that are due to the operations of nature, there rules one almighty and all-powerful providence of God that extends through all, which also arranges most things by diviner laws inexpressible by us, guiding the whole in due obedience to the rein, and changing many even of natural consequences to suit the occasion, and working and co-operating with our wills, and at other times assigning their proper place to external circumstances.
When these things have been divided in this manner into three classes, those which depend on ourselves, those which take place according to natural law, and those which are accidental, and when all are summed up in one law which proceeds from the counsel of God, there will be no room for the doctrine of fate.
Thus we shall have found that the source of evil, about which many have doubted, has place in nothing natural, neither in bodies, nor in spiritual substances, much less in things that occur accidentally from without: it will be found, I say, solely in the self-determined motion of the soul, and in this, not when following the course of nature it walks in the straight road, but when it departs from the king's highway, and turns by its own decision into the course contrary to nature, being its own master.
For the soul having obtained this excellent gift from God is free and master of itself, having assumed the determination of its own motion: but the divine law united with it by nature, like a beacon and a star, calls to it with a voice from within and says, 'Thou shalt walk in the king's highway, thou shalt not turn aside to the right hand nor to the left,' teaching us that 'the king's highway' is the path in accordance with right reason. 11
For the Creator of all implanted in every soul this natural law as a helper and defender in its actions; and while by His law He showed it the right way, by the self-determined freedom bestowed on it He declared the choice of the better course to be deserving of praise and approbation, and of greater honours and rewards for its good deeds, because it performed them not under compulsion but by its own independent decision, though it had the power of choosing the opposite: so that, on the other hand, that soul which chose the worst acts was deserving of blame and punishment, as having 'proprio motu' transgressed the law of nature, and given birth to a source and fount of wickedness, and used itself basely not from any external necessity but of free determination and judgement. 'The chooser then is answerable, God is not to blame.' 12 For God made neither nature nor yet the substance of the soul evil: since a good Being may not create anything but what is good. Everything, then, that is according to nature is good: and every rational soul possesses by nature the good gift of free-will, which has been given for choosing what is good.
But when it acts wickedly, it is not nature that should be blamed: since evil comes to it not by nature but against nature, being a matter of choice but not an effect of nature. For when one who had power to choose the good, instead of choosing this, voluntarily rejected the better part and claimed the worse, what room for excuse could be left to him after becoming the cause of his own disease, and disregarding the innate law which was, as it were, his preserver and healer?
The man then who pays no regard to all these considerations, but thinks everything dependent upon necessity and the course of the stars, and asserts that the causes of the perversity of men's offences proceed not from us but from the power that moves all things----must he not be introducing an unholy and impious argument?
For if either he should suppose the course of the world to be automatic and undesigned, he would be convicted at once as an atheist, besides being blind to the all-wise harmony and arrangement of the universe revolving in its eternal motion with beauty and order. If on the other hand he shall confess that God's providence is the guiding and moving force which presides over all and administers all by a law of perfect wisdom, even thus he will not have escaped from the absurdity of impiety; since as to the sins committed among men he acquits the offenders of having committed any of their wrong deeds of their own determination, but attributes the cause of the evils to the general providence, miscalling it necessity and fate, and saying that it is the cause of all the foul and infamous deeds and cruelty and bloodguiltiness among men.
And who could be more impious than the man who represents the God of the universe, the very Maker and Creator of this world, as by compulsion forcing one man, who is unwilling to commit an impiety, to do so, and to be an atheist of necessity, and a blasphemer against God Himself; and forcing another, whom He constituted by nature a male, to bear the woman's part contrary to nature, not of his own will but under compulsion from Him; and a third to become a murderer not of his own determination but driven by a necessity from God; so that he cannot reasonably blame the offenders, but must either believe that these are no sins at all, or declare God to be the author of all evils?
For whether God Himself, being present with all things, and seeing all and hearing all, compels men to act thus, or Himself constituted the course of the universe and the motion of the stars such as we see it, to effect and to compel such actions, He who arranged such an instrument, and contrived the net for ensnaring the prey, must Himself be also the one to blame for those who are caught therein.
Whether therefore by Himself alone, or else by some necessity contrived by Himself, He entangles the unwilling in these evils. Himself and no other must be the author of all evil; and it could no longer be justly said that man was prone to sin, but the doer thereof was God. And what statement could be more impious than this?
He then who brings in fate, directly thrusts out God and God's providence, just as he who makes God ruler over all must overthrow the argument concerning fate. For either God and fate must be the same thing, or different the one from the other: the same thing, however, they cannot be.
For if they say that fate is a certain chain of causes which has come down unbroken and unchanged from the course of the heavenly bodies, must there not be prior to fate the corporeal elements out of which even the heavenly bodies are composed, and of which heavenly bodies one would naturally say that fate is some accidental conjunction?
But how could that which is accidental to the elements be the same thing with the God who is over all, if indeed the elements are considered lifeless and irrational in their proper nature, while God apart from bodies is essential life and wisdom, bestowing the benefit of His creative work both upon the particular elements and on the arrangement of the universe?
God, therefore, and fate are not the same thing. But then if they are different, which is the stronger? Why, nothing is nobler, nothing more mighty than God. Therefore He will conquer and prevail over the bad; else, by yielding to fate when it does evil, He would draw the blame upon Himself, because being able to restrain the evil-working necessity He did not restrain it, but let it loose for the ruin and destruction of all things; or rather He wrought this Himself, if He is to be represented as Maker and Creator of all things even of fate itself.
But supposing Him to take no account of the administration of the world, there would again rise up the atheists' voice, against which we ought to shut our ears, since the Divine providence and power display themselves manifestly both in the universal effects of perfect wisdom and skill, and in the indubitable evidences in ourselves of the free and self-governing power of the rational soul.
For in accordance with this power, though ten thousand obstacles from without by some accident oppose both the body's nature and the independent efforts of our will, nevertheless the freedom of virtue in the soul holds out against all, showing that the choice of the good, so far as in us lies, is irresistible and invincible.
And this the present time of our Saviour's teaching has proved by actual facts. For to show that these are not mere sounds and empty words, you have the opportunity of witnessing the conflict of the godly, and of observing those who by voluntary choice have accepted the sufferings of the contest for religion: sufferings of which countless multitudes both of Greeks and Barbarians throughout the whole world inhabited by man have given proof, by gladly enduring all bodily outrages, and going through every kind of torture with a cheerful countenance, and finally accepting with a glad welcome the release of the soul from the body in many various forms.
Yet surely in this case no reason would permit us to name fate as the cause. For where, pray, did the course of the stars ever in the world's history bring forth such champions of piety? Or at what time before our Saviour's teaching was sown broadcast among all men, has human life exhibited such a conflict throughout the whole world inhabited by man?
Or where has all time produced a school of doctrines such as these, able to overthrow superstitious error, and to teach all men, both Greeks and Barbarians, the knowledge of the One God over all?
And to whom among the celebrated sages of all time, Barbarian or Greek, was there ever vouchsafed such a fate as this, to make the doctrine proposed by him give light to the whole world, and be known even to the ends of the earth, and to win the reputation of a God among those devoted to him?
But if these things were not in the beginning, nor have ever happened, nor been heard of, then the cause of them was not a chain of causes and a necessity. For there would have been nothing to hinder others also from receiving long ago the same nativity and fate by the same revolution and cycle of the stars.
From what kind of fate then has our Saviour God appeared and been proclaimed throughout the whole world, while those who were of old esteemed gods among both Greeks and Barbarians have been overthrown, and not otherwise overthrown than by the teaching of the new God?
And what sort of fate announced to all men that God is the Creator of all things, and compelled them to affirm that there is no such thing as fate? And how did fate force men both to say and to think that fate itself does not exist? And what of those who for the sake of our Saviour's pious teaching have for a long time past endured all kinds of conflicts, and are even yet carrying on the struggle?
They found therefore one and the same destiny, to be brought into subjection under one system and doctrine, and to display one mind and will, and the same virtue of soul, to accept one and the same kind of life, to love the same doctrine, and to endure contentedly the same sufferings for their steadfast piety.
But what sound reason would allow us to say this, that young and old together, of every age, and of either sex, men of barbarous nature, slaves and free, learned and uneducated, not born in a corner of the earth nor under these same stars with us, but throughout the whole world inhabited by man, have been forced by a necessity of fate to prefer a certain doctrine to all the customs of their forefathers, and to welcome death for the religion of the One God over all, and to be thoroughly instructed in the teaching concerning the immortality of the soul, and to prefer a philosophy that consists not in words but in deeds?
For these are the things that even a blind man could clearly see to be the proper effects of no necessity, but of learning and instruction, being manifest proofs of voluntary purpose and free-will.
There would be countless other arguments to prove the proposition, most of which I shall omit, and for my part be contented with what I have stated; but I will leave you to consider your own reading of your venerable philosophers, that so you may learn how much wiser and better than your oracular deities was the man who convicted their wonderful responses of falsehood, and castigated the Pythian god himself for his answers concerning fate. So listen again to him who entitled his own writing, 'The detection of impostors,' and note with what a fine vigorous spirit he corrects the error of the multitude, and indeed of Apollo himself, by what he writes as follows word for word:
[OENOMAUS] 13 'To think then that thou should'st sit in Delphi unable, even should'st thou wish it, to keep silence! So Apollo, the son of Zeus, now wishes, not because he wishes, but because he is ordained by necessity to wish! But since I have been led on, I know not how, into this argument, I am inclined to pass over all the rest, and inquire into a matter that is appropriate and well worth inquiry. For, so far as it depends on the philosophers, there has been lost out of human life, whether one likes to call it a rudder, or ballast, or foundation----there has been lost the governing power of our life, which we suppose to be absolute over the highest necessity; but Democritus, unless I am mistaken, and Chrysippus think to prove the noblest of man's faculties, according to the former, a slave, and according to the latter, half-enslaved. Their argument, however, is worth no more than a man can claim for the things of man: but if deity also now makes war upon us, good heavens, what will become of us?'
'But that is not likely nor just, if at least we may conjecture from these responses following:
"Hated of all thy neighbours, belov'd of the blessed Immortals,
Sit thou still, with thy lance drawn inward, patiently watching."
'"What then? says the Argive; if I should so wish, is it in my power, and can I, if it shall please me, sit still, patiently watching?" "It is in thy power," thou would'st say, "and thou canst; or how should I have enjoined this on thee?"
"Carystus, heir of noble Cheiron's race,
Forsake thy native Pelion, and seek
Euboea's cape: there thou art doomed to found
A sacred home. But haste, and tarry not." 14
'Is there then anything really dependent on man, O Apollo, and have I power to will to "forsake Pelion"? Yet surely I used to hear from many wise men, that if it is fated for me to "seek Euboea's cape," and "found a sacred home," I shall both come thither and settle, whether thou tell me or not, and whether I should will it or not. If, however, there is any need for me too to will what necessity forces me to will even if I should he unwilling----but thou, O Apollo, art more worthy to be believed, and so I am inclined to give heed rather to thee:
"Tell thou the Parians, Telesicles,
I bid thee found in the Aerian isle
A city fair to view."
'Yes, surely' (some one will perhaps say in vain conceit, or to confute thee), 'I shall tell them, even if thou bid me not: for so it is fated: and the "Aerian isle" is Thasos, and the Parians will come to it, when my son Archilochus shall have explained to them, that this island was formerly called Aeria. I suppose therefore that thou, being terrible in taking vengeance, wilt not bear with him, so ungrateful and audacious as he is, since if thou hadst not chosen to inform him, he would never have given the message, nor would his son Archilochus have led the colony of Parians, nor would the Parians have inhabited Thasos.
'I know not therefore whether thou sayest these things without knowing what thou sayest. But since we seem to be at leisure to hold even a long conversation, and since the subject is of no slight importance, tell me this, for perhaps a few points out of many are sufficient.
'Are we, I and thou, anything? You will say, Yes. But whence do we know this? Whereby did we determine that we do know it? Is it not the fact that nothing else is so satisfactory a proof (of our existence) as our conscious sensation and apprehension of ourselves?
' What again? How did we ever find out that we are animals ? And how that among animals we are, as I should say, men, and among men one an impostor, and another an exposer of impostors; but as thou would'st say, the one a man, the other a god, and the one a prophet, the other a false accuser? And let it be as thou sayest, if I be proved wrong.
'But how do we know that we are conversing at the present moment? What sayest thou? Did we not rightly judge our apprehension of ourselves by that which is most immediate, the fact itself? Evidently so. For we found nothing else either higher than it, or prior to it, or more trustworthy.
'For if this is not to be so, then let not hereafter one named Alcmaeon come to thee at Delphi, after he has slain his mother, and been driven from home, and is longing to return home. For he knows not either whether he himself is anything at all, nor whether he is driven from home, nor whether he is longing for home. But even if Alcmaeon is mad, and imagines things that do not exist, yet the Pythian god at least is not mad. And thou must not speak to him thus:
"How to return to thy home thou seek'st, son of Amphiaraus."
'For even thou knowest not yet whether any son of Amphiaraus is consulting thee, nor whether thou, the consulted, art anything at all, and able to answer concerning the matters on which he consults thee.
'Neither therefore let Chrysippus, the author of the semi-slavery, whatever that exactly is, attend in the Porch, nor think that those drivellers will attend there to listen to him, the Nobody: neither let him take his stand and struggle about nothing against Arcesilaus present in person, and Epicurus not present.
'For what Arcesilaus is, and what Epicurus, or what the Porch is, or what the young men, or what the Nobody, he neither knows nor can know; for he knows not even, what comes far earlier, whether he himself is anything.
'But neither will you gods nor Democritus endure that any one should talk thus: for there is no more trustworthy criterion than that of which I speak; nor if there seem to be any others, could they be made equal to this, or, if made equal, could not surpass it.
'So then, some one may say, since thou, O Democritus, and thou, O Chrysippus, and thou, O prophet, are indignant if any one should wish to deny your consciousness of yourselves----for of those many books of yours it is no longer possible to deny the existence----come, let us also be indignant on the other side.
'How, pray? Is this self-consciousness to be the most trustworthy and primary evidence wherever it pleases you? but where it pleases you not, is there some occult power, Fate, or Destiny, to tyrannize over it?----a power having for each of you a different meaning, proceeding according to one from god, and according to another from those minute bodies which are carried down, and tossed up, and twirled round, and broken up, and separated, and combined by necessity?
'For lo! the manner of our self-consciousness is the same in which we are also conscious of our voluntary or enforced actions. And we are not unconscious of the great difference between walking and being carried, or between choosing and being compelled.
'But do you ask the reasons for which I bring these matters into the discussion? Because thou, O prophet, hast failed to perceive things over which we have power, and thou that knowest all things seemest not to know these which are fast moored to our own will.
'And it was evident that this would be the source of no little trouble: for he who knows not the source, which was the cause of the consequences, would be likely, I suppose, to know the consequences themselves!
'Evidently then he was an impudent prophet who foretold to Laius 15 that his son would kill him: for the son surely would be master of his own will, and neither any Apollo, nor any higher than he, would be able by any power to attain to a knowledge of things which neither exist at present, nor need ever come into existence.
'For surely the most ridiculous of all things is this, the mixture and combination of the two notions, that there is something in men's own power, and that there is nevertheless a fixed chain of causation. For, as the wiser sort say, it is like the account in Euripides.
'For that Laius should choose to beget a child, was in the power of Laius himself, and this had escaped the notice of Apollo: but after he had begotten a son, there lay upon him an inevitable necessity of dying by his son's hand. In this way therefore the necessity dependent on the future event supplied to the prophet his presentiment of what would take place.
'But I suppose the son also, as well as the father, was master of his own will: and as the latter had the power of begetting or not, so the son had the power of slaying or not. Now this is the character of all your oracular answers: and this was that which the Apollo of Euripides said:
"And all thy house shall wade through streams of blood:" 16
'namely, that the son shall be blinded by his own hand, on account of the marriage with his mother and of the sovereignty to which he succeeded for his solution of the riddle; and that his sons shall fall by mutual slaughter, because of the banishment of the one from the kingdom, and the ambition of the other, and the marriage of the exile at Argos, and the expedition of seven ridiculous chieftains, and the battle: and since these things were separately dependent on many causes and powers, how could it be possible for thee to understand, or for the chain of causes to bind them together?
'For if on the contrary Oedipus being his own master had not wished to reign, or, having wished and accomplished this, had not chosen to marry Jocasta, or after marrying had not been puffed up with pride, nor been desponding and disagreeable, how could the several events have been brought to pass? How could he have torn out his eyes? Or how could he have cursed his sons with the curse described by Euripides and thee?
'In what way too could the events which followed these have taken place, if there were no causes existing before thou could'st tell anything about the future? And again, if the sons had agreed and reigned together, or if they had made an arrangement to reign by turns and adhered to the terms settled; or if he who was banished had determined to go off not to Argos but to Libya or to the Perrhaebi; or if after having arrived at Argos he had decided to be a salt-fish-monger, and not to take a rich wife but some poor workwoman or huckstress; or if Adrastus had not given him his daughter, or if he had given her, but Polynices had b not desired to return home; or if, though desiring it, he had restrained himself; or if Adrastus had given no heed to his request for alliance in war; or if neither Amphiaraus nor Tydeus nor the several other commanders of divisions would follow Adrastus; or if, though they followed, Polynices on arriving had not fought with his brother, but either had reigned together with him by agreement, or, if he refused, had retired, being persuaded by what Euripides says:
"How foolishly thou com'st thine home to sack;" 17
'or if, not this one, but the other had listened to those other Euripidean subtleties:
"Are sun and night content to serve man's need,
And wilt thou bear no equal in the house?" 18
'how in any such case could they have joined battle, "and all the house of Laius waded through blood"?
'However, these things, you will say, have come to pass. They have come to pass: but by what way didst thou attain to the knowledge of them? Dost thou not see how frequently the whole action of the play has been broken through by the power which lies in us who perform the action? And so I will take whatever supposed case thou wilt, and cut across that chain of yours, and show that it is impossible.
'Yet thou wilt say that thou knowest the last links of the supposed case. Yes, but the whole case has been regulated by the force of our interruption of the chain.
'Or perhaps thou dost not understand what I mean? Yet in every supposed case, O prophet, there are the living beings often making either few or many fresh beginnings therein. And these beginnings having cut across the events preceding them always themselves bring others on: and these latter may proceed as long as no other beginning supervenes from any source, commanding the events which come after it to conform not to those which went before but to itself.
'Now such afresh beginning may be either an ass, or a dog, or a flea. For surely, by Apollo! thou wilt not rob even the flea of his free will: but the flea will act upon a certain impulse of his own, and being sometimes mixed up with human affairs will make himself the commencement of some new course; and thou art unconsciously consulting this kind of animal.
"Trachis, the home of godlike Heracles,
Thou hast destroyed, O Locrian ; and on thee
Zeus hath sent curses, and shall yet send more."
'What sayest thou? Had it not then been destined by you gods to be destroyed? And why are we mortals to blame, and not that necessity of yours? Thou doest not justice, O Apollo, nor art right in laying the punishment upon us who do no wrong.
'And this Zeus of yours, I mean the necessity of your necessity, why does he take vengeance upon us, and not upon himself (if he must punish some one), for having shown the necessity to be of such a character? And why too does he threaten us? Or why, as if we were the masters of this event, do we suffer famine for it? Moreover it will either be rebuilt by us, or not; and whichever it may be, this has been fixed by fate.
'Cease therefore from thy wrath, O Zeus, the lord of famine: for that which has been destined will be, and that is what thy chain has been appointed to do: and we are nothing compared to it. And thou too cease, Apollo, from uttering vain oracles: for just that which will be, will be, even though thou keep silence. And what is to be done to us, O Zeus and Apollo, who are not at all the causes of your enactment of law, enactment, that is, of necessity. Or what have we to do with your threatened curses, which yourselves deserve to bear for what we were compelled by necessity to do? "Oeteans, rush not in blind frenzy on."
'Why, Apollo, we are not "rushing on," but are being driven, and not by "blind frenzy," but by that necessity of yours.
'And how is it, O Apollo, that thou praisest that famous Lycurgus, who was not virtuous either willingly or by choice, but unwillingly? That is if a man can be virtuous unwillingly. But what ye do now is just as if one were to praise and honour those who are beautiful in body, but to blame and punish the ugly.
'For the wicked might justly say to you, You did not permit us, O ye gods, to become virtuous; and not only so, but you even forced us to be wicked. And as to the virtuous, if they walk about with their elbows stuck out, one will not permit it, but will say to them, O Chrysippus and Cleanthes and the rest of your band, since you have been made to be virtuous, I give praise to virtue, but no praise to you in whom virtue resides.
'Nay, even Epicurus, against whom you, Chrysippus, so often railed, I acquit of the charges, so far at least as you can judge. For how is he to blame, who was not of his own accord luxurious or unjust, as you so often reproached him?
"Well ordered lives the gods approving view,
And welcome holy offerings of the just."
'Now it seems to me that you gods would not say this, unless you were persuaded that men seek the objects of their pursuit not involuntarily but with a will: and after what has been already proved, no sophist either divine or human will dare to say that whatever men will is ordained by fate: or else we shall no longer use reasoning with him, but take a stout strap, as for an unruly boy, and curry his ribs right well.'
Thus did Oenomaus inveigh, against the soothsayer. And if you do not like this kind of argument, yet take and read the extracts from the other philosophers concerning fate, which are fit to overthrow not only the oracles that have already been quoted, but also generally all the other contrivances in defence of the dogma.
For since not only unlearned and simple persons, but also many who prided themselves greatly upon education and philosophy, have e'er now been dragged into agreement with the dogma, I think it absolutely necessary to set forth the mutual contradictions of the philosophers themselves, for an accurate examination of the problem. First then I will quote for you from Diogenianus the arguments concerning fate, which he urged against Chrysippus as follows:
[DIOGENIANUS] 19 'In addition to all this it is worth while to quote also the opinions of Chrysippus the Stoic on this subject. For in his first book Of Fate wishing to show that all things are comprehended under necessity and fate, he employs among certain other testimonies the following expressions in the poet Homer:
"For me the hateful doom of death,
E'en from my birth assigned, too soon hath yawn'd," 20
"Though the time shall come
For him to suffer all such things as fate
Decreed, when first his thread of life was spun;" 21
'and again :
"His fate I say no mortal e'er hath shunned." 22
'But he does not observe that the expressions elsewhere used by the Poet are directly opposed to these, I mean those which Chrysippus himself employs in his Second Book, when he wishes to prove that there are also many things caused by us, as for example:
"They by their own presumptuous folly died", 23
"Perverse mankind, whose wills, created free,
Charge all their woes on absolute decree;
All to the dooming gods their guilt translate,
And follies are miscalled the crimes of fate." 24
'For these expressions and such as these are opposed to the idea that all things take place according to fate. Nor indeed was he able to perceive even this, that Homer by no means bears witness to his dogma even in those former verses. For it will be found from them that he suggests not that all things are brought to pass according to fate, but rather that certain things occur according thereto.
'For the passage----
"For me the hateful doom of death,
E'en from my birth assigned, too soon hath yawned "----
'could not mean that all things occur according to fate, but only just that he was soon to die: for most truly it is fated that every being born into life must die.
'Moreover the passage----
"Though the time shall come
For him to suffer all such things as fate
Decreed, when first his thread of life was spun "----
'has the same meaning. For it does not say that all things which are to befall him hereafter will occur according to fate, but that certajn things will occur to him according to necessity. For what else than this is signified by the distinction "such things as"? And many things, though not all, are laid upon us according to necessity.
'Again, the verse----
"His fate I say no mortal e'er hath shunned"----
'is a very good statement. For who could possibly escape things that of necessity occur to every living being? So that Chrysippus, far from having Homer voting with him in the opinion that all things take place according to fate, would have him as an opponent; since the latter has often and plainly stated that many things occur through our causation, but can nowhere be found to say expressly that all things occur according to necessity.
'And inasmuch as a poet does not promise us the true nature of real things, but imitates all kinds of human passions, and dispositions, and opinions, it would be suitable for him often to make contrary statements: but it would not befit a philosopher to make contrary statements, nor to use the testimony of a poet for this purpose.'
After other matters, he says, also:
'But Chrysippus thinks that he brings another strong proof of the presence of fate in all things, in the adoption of names of this kind. For he says that destiny (πεπρωμενην) is a certain arrangement determined (πεπερασμενην) and concluded, and that fate (ειμαρμενην) is a kind of bond woven (ειρομενην) either out of the will of Zeus, or of any other cause.
' Moreover the goddesses of fate (Μοιρας) have been so called from some one of them having been assigned (μεμερισθαι) and allotted to each of us. In the same way he says that the word το χρεων ("the debt") is used, meaning the portion that falls to our share and is due to us according to fate. And the number of the Fates suggests the three periods in which all things revolve, and by which they are fulfilled.
'Lachesis is so called from casting lots (λαγχανειν) for each man's destiny: Atropos from the unchanging (ατρεπτον) and unalterable character of the distribution; and Clotho from all things being twisted together (συγκλεκωσθαι) and woven, and from their having only one appointed solution. For by this and the like silly talk he thinks that he proves the necessity present in all things.
'But it occurs to me to wonder if in speaking thus he was not conscious of his own nonsensical talk. For let it be granted that men entertained these notions when they imposed the names that have been set forth, according to his own etymologies, and supposed that fate had bound all things fast, and that the causes which had been from eternity predetermined were immutable in all real existences and all passing events.
'What then, Chrysippus? do you follow all the opinions of mankind, and does not one of them appear to you to be mistaken on any point, and are all men capable of seeing the truth?
'How then say you that there is no man who does not seem to you as mad as Orestes and Alcmaeon, except the wise? And there have been, say you, only one or two wise, and the rest for their folly have been equally mad with those whom I have named?
'And how do you refute the errors of those opinions of theirs about riches, for example, and fame, and sovereignty, and pleasure in general, things which most men have thought good? How say you, too, that the established laws and the constitutions of states have all been wrong? Or why did you write such a multitude of books, if on no point mankind held mistaken opinions?
'For we must not say that, when they hold the same opinions with you, they judge rightly, but when they differ, are mad.
'For in the first place even you do not call yourself wise, much less do we, that we should make their concurrence with your opinion a criterion of their good judgement at any time; and further, even if this were true, why should you say that they are all equally mad, instead of commending them, in as far as they appeared to be of the same opinions with you, for having got hold of a right opinion, and considering them to be wrong, in as far as they dissented from you?
'Not even thus, however, was it natural to suppose that their opinion is an adequate evidence of the truth; and every one would acknowledge, not that he is mad, as you think, but that he is far removed from wisdom.
'It will be ridiculous therefore for you to use these men, whom vou would declare to be no better than yourself in understanding, as bearing witness by their imposition of the names, unless indeed it has happened that those who originally gave these names were wise men----a thing which you cannot possibly prove.
'However, let it be granted to you that this is so, and that those names are given with their significations as you wish, and that this circumstance has not been a result of false opinions: where then do they indicate that all things without exception are in accordance with fate, and not rather these only, if any, with which fate is concerned.
'For the number of the Fates, and their names, and Clotho's spindle, and the thread wound upon it, and the ball of this thread, and all other such things mentioned in that story, indicate the immutability and eternal fitness of the causes in all things which are bound by necessity to take place thus, and all which are hindered from being otherwise.
'And there would be many things of this nature; but others are not so; and to some of these latter men ascribed gods as rulers and creators, and of some they supposed us to be ourselves the causes, and of others again nature, and of others fortune: and of this last they wished to indicate the changefulness and instability, and its turning now this way and now that; and to show this kind of casualty in affairs by an image, they represented Fortune as standing on a globe.
'Or are not even these opinions held among mankind? For if at times men confuse the causes, and think that those things which are the results of fate or fortune proceed from a divine power, and that the things of which we are the cause depend on fate, yet surely it is manifest to every one that they think there are all these causes in things.
'So the result is that neither the notions adopted by mankind, nor the imposition of such names as have been mentioned, bear testimony to the opinion of Chrysippus.'
To this he next adds:
'Such are some of the proofs that he has used in his first book Concerning Fate, but in the second he tries to solve the absurdities that seem to follow from the statement that all things are subjected to necessity, the same absurdities which we set forth at the beginning: for example, that it destroys the earnest desire on our own part in regard to censure, and praise, and exhortation, and all things which appear to be consequent upon our own causation.
'In the second book then he says it is evident that many things do originate with us, but nevertheless even these are connected by fate with the general arrangement of the whole.
'And he has employed certain examples of the following kind. That a man's cloak should not be lost, was fated, he says, not absolutely but with the condition of its being carefully kept: and that this or that man should be saved from the hands of the enemy, with the condition of his fleeing from the enemy: and the birth of children, with the willingness to cohabit with a wife.
'For just as it would be absurd, says he, if, upon some one's saying that Hegesarchus the boxer would come off from the fight without a single scratch, a man were to recommend Hegesarchus to fight with his hands down, because it was fated that he was to come off untouched, whereas he who made the assertion said so because of the man's superabundant caution against being hit; so it is also in all other cases.
'For many things cannot take place without the addition of our willing them, and bringing into play the most intense earnestness and zeal concerning them, because it was fated, he says, that they were to take place with this condition.
'Here then again one may wonder at the man's want of discernment and consideration, both of the sensible evidences and of the inconsequence of his own arguments. For I imagine that just as what we call sweet is the direct opposite of what is called bitter, and black of white, and hot of cold, so what depends on us is the direct opposite of what depends on fate; if at least it is assumed that one calls the effects of fate whatever things take place absolutely whether we will or no, and effects of our action whatever things come to their fulfilment from our diligence and energy, or fail of fulfilment in consequence of our carelessness and indolence.
'If therefore my diligence in guarding the cloak be the cause of its being saved, and a man's will to consort with his wife the cause of the children being born, and the will to flee from his enemies the cause of his escape from being killed by them, and the fighting bravely against his antagonist and guarding against the blows from his hands the cause of his coming off from the contest without a scratch, how is the dependence on fate to be maintained here? For if these results follow from fate, they cannot be said to follow from our will: but if from us, then evidently not from fate, because these cannot concur one with the other.
'But, says he, they will follow from our will, that will however having been included in fate. But how included (I should say), if at least both the guarding the cloak and the not guarding it proceeded from my free will? For thus it is evident that its preservation also would be in my power.
'Also from the very distinction which Chrysippus makes, it becomes evident that our causation is freed from fate. For, says he, it is fated that the cloak be preserved, if thou guard it: and that there will be children, if also thou shouldst will it; but otherwise none of these things would have to take place. But in the case of things predetermined by fate we should never employ these pretended conditions.
'So we do not say that every man will die, if so and so should happen, and that he will not die if it should not happen, but simply that he will die, whatsoever may be done to prevent his dying at all; nor do we say that a certain man will be incapable of feeling pain, even if he do this or that; but that every man is capable of feeling pain, whether he wish it or not: and so of all other things which are fated to be in this way and no other.
'So that if it is necessary that this or that should take place, if we should wish it, but otherwise not, it is manifest that our wishing or not wishing was not previously constrained by any other cause, but was in our own power.
'And if this was not subject to necessity, it is evident also that the occurrence of this or that was not eternally predetermined, unless even the very wish to guard the cloak, or the unwillingness, was a consequence of some fate and the effect of some external necessary cause.
'But in this latter case the power of our free will is utterly destroyed, and the cause of the cloak being saved or being lost would no longer be in me; wherefore also I should reasonably be free from blame if it were lost (for its loss was due to some other cause), and on the other hand I should deserve no praise if it were saved, because even this was not my doing. But you were as positive with your argument as if you could make all sure.'
So far the writer before mentioned. But to this let us subjoin also our extracts from the writings of Alexander of Aphrodisias, a man very illustrious in philosophical studies, who also himself in his book On Fate used such statements as follow to overthrow the dogma.
[ALEXANDER APHRODISIENSIS] 25 'The causes of events are divided into four kinds, as the divine Aristotle has shown: for of causes some are efficient, and some material; there is also among them the formal cause; and besides these three there is the final cause, for the sake of which the thing is done.
'So many are the different kinds of causes: for whatever is a cause of anything will be found to be included under one of these classes. For although all events do not require so many causes, yet those which require the most do not exceed the said number.
'But the difference between them will be more easy to recognize, if it be seen in some example of what occurs. Let us then show the distinction of causes in the case of a statue. Now as the "efficient cause" of the statue there is the artist who made it, whom we call the sculptor: and as "matter," the bronze substance, or stone, or whatever that may be which is shaped by the artist according to his art: for this also is a cause of the production and existence of the statue.
'Again, the form also, which is produced in this substance by the artist, is itself a cause of the statue: wherefore the form is either a man throwing a quoit, or a javelin, or it is of some other definite shape.
'These, however, are not the only causes of the production of the statue, but the end for the sake of which it has been made----that is either the honour of some person, or piety towards a god----is inferior to none of the causes of its production. For without a cause the statue would not have been made at all.
'Since therefore the causes are so many, and their mutual differences easily recognized, we might justly reckon fate among the efficient causes, as bearing a relation to its own effects analogous to the art which creates the statue.
'This being so, it would follow that we should direct our argument to efficient causes: for thus it will be known whether we ought to regard fate as the cause of all things that are done, or to make room also for some other things besides this as being efficient causes of certain things.
'Now Aristotle, in making his classification of all things that are done, says that some of them are done for the sake of something, the doer of them having before him a certain aim and end of what is done; and others for the sake of nothing, namely all such as are not done in consequence of any purpose of the doer, nor have reference to any definite end, being such as, for instance, either holding fast a straw or twisting it about, and either stroking or pulling one's hair, and all actions of this kind.
'For that these things are done is well known; but they are without the final cause which is the purpose to be gained. Of things therefore which are done in this way, without aim or object, there can be no reasonable classification.
'But of those things which have reference to something, and are done for the sake of something, some take place according to nature, others according to reason. For those which have nature as the cause of their production advance according to certain numbers and definite order to some end, on reaching which they cease to be produced----unless any obstacle hinder them in their natural course to this appointed end.
'Also those things which are done according to reason have some end; for nothing done according to reason is done at random, but they all have reference to some end.
'Now things which are done according to reason are all such as are produced by the doers reasoning about them, and contriving in what way they may be done. In this way are produced all things which are done according to the rules of art, and those which result from a deliberate purpose.
'And these differ from the products of nature, because these latter have both their origin and the causes of the special character with which they are produced in themselves (for their nature is of this special character); and because they are produced in a certain order, although the nature which is their efficient cause does not employ any reasoning about them, in the same way as do the arts.
'But the results of art and of deliberate purpose have the origin of their movement and their efficient cause from without, and not in themselves, and the maker's calculation concerning them guides their production.
'A third class among things done for some end, namely those that are believed to result from chance or spontaneous action, and which differ from those that are primarily done with some purpose in this way, that in the latter case the means which precede the end are employed for the sake of the end, while in the former cases the actions preceding the end are done for some other end, but while so done for another purpose there occurs to them as an end that which is said to be spontaneous and accidental.
'Now these things being so, and all things that are done having been distributed into these four kinds, it follows upon this that we should see among which of the efficient causes we must set fate.
'Is it among those things which are done for no purpose? Or is this altogether unreasonable? For we always use the name fate in regard to some end, and say that this has been brought about in accordance with fate. Wherefore we must necessarily set fate among the things which have a final cause.'
After making these distinctions word for word, the aforesaid author next establishes them more at length, and shows that fate is nothing else than the consequences of natural law; because in actions performed according to our reasoning and according to art the necessity of fate is not discerned.
But he affirms that many natural consequences are hindered from occurring, and that these cases are called contrary to nature, just as in the operations of art there are many things said to be contrary to art. If then any things at all are done contrary to natural law, they must also be done contrary to fate, since the decrees of fate are nothing else than the laws of nature.
[ALEXANDER APHRODISIENSIS] 26 'We see, for instance,' he says, 'that the body, from being thus or thus constituted by nature, is liable to diseases and death according to its natural constitution: not, however, in all cases alike, nor of necessity. For oftentimes careful treatment, and changes in the mode of life, and the directions of physicians, and the counsels of the gods avail to drive off a condition of this kind.
'In the same way in the case of the soul also one might find, contrary to the natural condition, preferences and practices and modes of life different in each of those who were improving from discipline and studies, and better counsels. . . .
'For example, when the physiognomist once said some absurd things about Socrates the philosopher, very far removed from his chosen course of life, and was being derided for it by the companions of Socrates, Socrates said that Zopyrus had made no mistake: for he would have been of such a character, as far as it depended on his nature, had he not become better than his nature through the discipline of philosophy.'
Such are the effects of nature, which, he says, differ not at all from those of fate. 27
'But the results of chance are of the following kind, when a thing has been done for one purpose, and there occurs not that for which it was done, but something else which was not even expected at first. For when a man, in digging for another purpose, and not to find treasure, has lighted upon a treasure, he has found it, he says, by chance. Also when a man has gone into the market for some other purpose, and falls in with his b debtor with money in his hand, and receives what is due to him, men say he has recovered his money by chance. Also when the horse, in hope of food or for some other purpose, has escaped from those who were holding him, but is met in his flight and course by falling into the hands of his masters, he is said by some to have been saved accidentally. Under such conditions these cannot be the results of fate.
'There are also some causes undiscoverable by human reason, which are believed to occur in consequence of certain antipathies, the real cause of their occurrence being unknown. Such are the effects which certain amulets have been presumed to produce, though they have no reasonable and probable cause to produce these effects: incantations also, and certain conjurings of this kind. For the cause of these things is acknowledged by all men to be obscure: for which reason they call them αναιτιολογετα, things of which the cause cannot be explained.
'And there are besides these many things which occur contingently, and whichever way it happens, and neither can these be according to fate.
'By contingent events are meant those wherein it was possible that they might not happen, as is also made clear by the very expression, "whichever way it happens": 28 as for example, the moving of one's own limbs, and the casual turning of the neck, and stretching out a finger, and lifting the eyebrows, or that one who is sitting should stand up, and one who is moving should become still, and one who is talking become silent; and in thousands of cases one would find that there existed a power capable of the opposite effects, and these cases cannot depend on fate: for the things which depend on fate do not admit the opposite of their actual condition.
'Moreover, a man's power of deliberation is not given to him without purpose: yet he would have this power of deliberation to no purpose, if he performed his actions from necessity. But it evidently appears that man alone has from nature this advantage over the other animals, that he does not follow the impressions of sense as they do, but has in his reason a judge of the circumstances which befall him: and by using this, if the things presented by sense are, on examination, such as they at first appeared, he assents to the impression, and so will pursue them: but if they appear to be different, he no longer abides by his previous conception, after reason has proved the representations false, in consequence of his deliberating upon them.29
'At any rate we deliberate only about things which we have power to do: and whenever we act without having deliberated, we often repent and blame ourselves for our want of consideration: and further, if we see others acting inconsiderately, we charge them with doing wrong, and bid them consult such and such advisers, as knowing that such actions are in our own power.30
'That their argument about fate is false, is sufficiently testified by the fact that even its champions themselves are not able to conform to their own statements. For they profess to exhort and to teach, and they advise men to learn and to be educated, and they reprove and punish those who do things that are not right, as sinning of their own will.31 Moreover, they leave behind them very many books, by which they expect the young to be educated. They would have ceased, therefore, from being so eager in their arguments if they had observed that (in their books) they claim forgiveness for involuntary offenders, but say that voluntary transgressors deserve punishment, implying evidently that to offend or not lies in their own power.32
'Thus even according to their own account the necessity arising from fate is abolished, and it is established that free-will is ours by nature, with the limitation that there are also very many things not in our own power, as the effects of natural laws, and the accidents of fortune, though even these are contrary to the doctrine of fate, as we have previously shown.'
These statements we have abridged out of a great many, because in the opinions expressed on our side the argument in favour of free-will is of great length: and with this doctrine the utterances of the philosophers which we have quoted concurred, confirming by their testimony our sacred Scriptures, and convicting of falsehood the opinions concerning fate not only of the multitude of mankind but also of the wonderful oracular gods. And some of these extracts were sarcastically aimed against the famous answers of oracles, and some were objections urged against the wonderful philosophers by their own associates. Now therefore it is time to examine also the arguments of the astrologers against the Chaldean sect, of those, I mean, who profess this mischievous charlatanism as a learned study. And my proofs on this subject I shall present to you from one who is by birth a Syrian, and has pursued his inquiries to the highest point of Chaldean science. The man's name is Bardesanes, and in his Dialogues with his companions it is recorded that he spake as follows:
[BARDESANES] 33 'It is by natural law that man is begotten, is nourished, reaches maturity, begets children, eats, drinks, and sleeps, grows old and dies: and this is the case of every man and of every irrational animal.
'And as to the other living creatures, which have only an animal soul, and are begotten wholly by sexual intercourse, they are almost wholly borne along in the course of nature. A lion is carnivorous, and takes revenge if he be injured: and therefore all lions are carnivorous and take revenge. Ewe lambs eat grass, and touch no flesh, and if injured take no revenge: and every lamb's character is the same.
'A scorpion eats earth, and injures those who have not injured him, striking with a venomous sting: and all scorpions have the same evil disposition. An ant knows by nature the advent of winter, and by toiling through the whole summer stores up food for itself: and all ants work in like manner.
'A bee makes honey, and also feeds upon it: and all bees follow the same husbandry. And I might have set before you many kinds of animals, which being unable to depart from their own nature might have caused you much wonderment. But I thought I had given sufficient proof from the examples set forth, that all other animals according to the community or diversity of nature given to each are borne along pleasantly by necessity.
'But men alone, having as their special privilege the mind, and the reason which proceeds from it, in what they have in common follow nature, as I said before, but as to their special gift are not governed by nature.
'For they do not all even eat the same food: some feed like lions, and others like lambs: they have not one fashion of raiment: there is not one custom, nor one law of civil society among them, nor one impulse of desire for things: but each man chooses a life for himself according to his own will, not imitating his neighbour, except in what he chooses.
'For his freedom is subject to no slavery, and if ever he shall voluntarily be a slave, this also is a part of his freedom, that he is able to be a voluntary slave.
'How many of mankind, and especially among the Alans, eat raw flesh, like wild beasts, without tasting bread, and not because they have it not, but because they are not willing! Others, like tame animals, taste no flesh: some eat only fish; while others never taste fish, not even if they be starving. Some drink water, some drink wine, and some drink strong liquor.
'And in short there is a great difference among mankind in food and drink, as they differ even in the eating of vegetables and fruits. Moreover some, like scorpions and like asps, injure without having been injured; and some, like other animals, revenge themselves when injured: and others ravage like wolves, and steal like weasels; while others, like lambs and goats, are pursued by men of like feelings with themselves, and do no injury to those who injure them. Some also are called good, and some bad, and some just.
'Whence we may understand that man is not altogether led by nature (for of what kind shall we say his nature is?): but is borne one way according to nature, and another way according to will. Wherefore he incurs praise and blame and condemnation in matters dependent on will: but in matters dependent on nature he has immunity from blame, not out of pity, but from reason.'
And afterwards he says: 34
'Men enacted different laws in each country, some written, and some unwritten: of which I shall mention some, according to what I know and remember, beginning from the beginning of the world.
'Among the Seres it is law that none should murder, nor fornicate, nor steal, nor worship graven images: and in that very great country you cannot see a temple, nor a harlot, nor a reputed adulteress, no thief dragged off to justice, no homicide, no murdered man.
'For among them no man's free-will was compelled by the fiery planet Mars in mid-heaven to kill a man with the sword, nor by the conjunction of Venus with Mars to consort with another man's wife, though of course Mars was in mid-heaven every day, and Serians were being born every day and every hour.
'Among the Indians and Bactrians there are many thousands of those called Brahmans, who according to the tradition of their forefathers and of their laws neither commit murder, nor worship images, nor taste animal food, nor are ever intoxicated, as they never taste wine or strong drink, have no communication with evil, but devote themselves to God; whereas the other Indians are guilty of murder and fornication and drunkenness, and worship images, and in almost everything follow the course of fate.
'But in the same clime of India there is a certain tribe of Indians who hunt down the strangers that fall in their way, and sacrifice and eat them; and neither the beneficent stars have hindered them from blood-guiltiness and unlawful marriages, nor have the maleficent compelled the Brahmans to do evil.
'Among the Persians it was lawful to marry their daughters, and sisters, and mothers: and these unholy marriages the Persians practised not only in that country and that clime, but also any of them who migrated from Persia, those who are called Magusaei continue to practise the same iniquity, handing down the same laws and customs to their children in succession.
'And of these there are still many in Media and in Egypt, and in Phrygia, and in Galatia. Yet surely Venus was not found in the regions and houses of Saturn, with Mars in close company with Saturn, at the nativities of all of them.
'Among the Geli it is customary for the women to till the ground, and build houses, and do all the labour, and to consort with whom they will, and not be blamed by the men; nor is any called an adulteress, because they are all hard workers, and consort with all, and especially with strangers.35
'The Gelan women neither perfume themselves nor wear dyed garments, but are all barefooted, although the Gelan men adorn themselves with soft clothing, and various colours, and wear gold ornaments and perfume themselves, and this not from any effeminacy in other respects, for they are brave, and very warlike, and much given to hunting.
'And it was not the lot of all the Gelan women to find Venus an evil influence in Capricornus or in Aquarius, nor of all their men to have the Paphian goddess with Mars in Aries, where the Chaldean students say that those who are both brave and luxurious are born.
'Among the Bactrians the women use every kind of distinguished ornament and every kind of perfume, and receive more attendance than the men from handmaidens and young pages: they promenade on horseback with great show, and adorn their horses with much gold and precious stones: nor are they chaste, but consort promiscuously with their slaves and with strangers, having immunity in this respect, and are not blamed by their husbands, over whom they in a manner domineer.
'Yet surely the laughter-loving Aphrodite is not in her own regions in mid-heaven with Zeus and Ares at every birth of the women in Bactria. But in Arabia and Osrhoene, not only are adulteresses put to death, but even those who are suspected are not let off without punishment.
'Among the Parthians and Armenians murderers are put to death, sometimes by the judges, and sometimes by the blood-relations of the murdered. And if any man murder his wife, or a childless brother, or an unmarried sister, or a son or daughter, he is not accused by any one, the law being such in those countries; but among the Greeks and Romans the murderers of their kinsmen and relations are subjected to greater punishment.
'Among the Atri he who steals anything worth an obol is stoned, among the Bactrians he who steals trifles is spit upon, among the Romans he is severely beaten: for such are their laws.
' From the river Euphrates, and as far as the Ocean towards the East, he who is reviled as a murderer, or a thief, is not at all indignant: but he who is reviled for sodomy avenges himself even to the death: among the Greeks, however, even their wise men are not blamed for having favourites.
'In the same East those who suffer outrage, if it become known, are put to death by brothers, or fathers, or kinsmen, and are not thought worthy of burial in open day.
'Among the Gauls the young men give themselves in marriage openly, not regarding this as a matter of reproach, because of the law among them. Yet it cannot possibly have been the lot of all in Gaul who thus impiously suffer outrage to have the morning-star with Mercury setting in the houses of Saturn and regions of Mars at their nativities.
'In Britain many men have the same wife: but in Parthia many wives have one husband, and they are all chaste and obedient to him according to the law.
'The Amazons are all without husbands, but like the brute creatures once in the year about the vernal equinox they pass beyond their own frontiers and consort with men of the neighbouring countries, counting this a sort of festival: and conceiving by them they return home, and according to the law of nature necessarily bear children at one season, and the males who are born they expose, but rear the females: and they are warlike, and attentive to gymnastic exercises.
'Mercury in conjunction with Venus in the houses of Mercury makes modellers, and painters, and bankers; but in the houses of Venus perfumers, or singing-masters, and actors of dramatic poems.
'Among the Taïni and Saraceni, and in the inland part of Libya, also among the Moors, and among the Nomads by the mouth of the Ocean, and in the further part of Germany, and in the inland region of Sarmatia, and in Scythia, and in all the nations on the north of the Pontus, and in all Alania, and Albania, and Otene, and Saunia, and in Chryse, there is not a banker to be seen, nor modeller, nor painter, nor architect, nor geometer, nor singing-master, nor actor of dramatic poems; but the character proceeding from the operation of Mercury and Venus is wanting in that whole circuit of the world.
'The Medes all cast out the still-breathing corpses to the dogs whom they carefully rear: yet they have not all of them Mars with the Moon in Cancer beneath the earth at their birth in the daytime.
'The Indians burn their dead, and with them burn their wives with their own consent: and surely all the Indian women who are burnt alive have not the Sun with Mars, in Leo, or in the region of Mars, beneath the earth at their birth in the night.
'Most of the Germans die by strangulation, and surely the majority of Germans have not the Moon and the hour of their birth intercepted by Saturn and Mars.
'There are men born in every nation, every day, and with every kind of nativity: but law and custom prevail in each division of mankind because of man's free-will. Thus their nativity does not compel the Seres to murder against their will, or the Brahmans to eat flesh, or the Persians to abstain from unlawful marriages, or the Indians to cease to be burned, or the Medes to cease from being eaten by dogs, or the Parthians to give up polygamy, or the women in Mesopotamia to be unchaste, or the Greeks to cease from practising athletic exercises with their bodies naked, or the Romans to cease to rule, or the Gauls to cease from effeminacy, or the other barbarous nations to converse with those whom the Greeks call Muses. But as I said before, each nation and each man uses his own freedom as he will and when he will, and is also a slave of his nativity and the nature which clothes him with flesh, sometimes according to his will, and sometimes contrary to his will. For everywhere and in every nation there are rich and poor, rulers and ruled, healthy and sickly, each according to the lot of his nativity.
'These arguments, O Bardesanes, said I, have entirely persuaded me. But the astrologers say that this earth is divided into seven zones, and that one of the seven stars rules each zone; and that the different laws have not been enacted by men for themselves, but the will of each ruling star prevails in his own region, and is regarded by those under his rule as law.
'He replied: This answer of theirs, O Philip, is not true. For although the earth is divided into seven zones, yet nevertheless we find many differences of laws in the same division. For there are neither seven laws corresponding to the seven stars, nor twelve corresponding to the signs of the zodiac, nor thirty-six corresponding to the decani, but numberless laws.
'You ought also to remember what I said before, that in the same clime and same region of India there are Indians who are cannibals, and there are those who abstain from animal food; also that the Magusaei marry their daughters not only in Persia, but also in every nation where they may dwell, observing the laws of their forefathers, and the initiatory rites of their mysteries.
'Also, we gave a list of many barbarous nations living in the South and West and East and North, that is in different climes, who have no share in the science of Hermes.
'How many wise men, think you, have set aside badly constituted laws? And how many laws have been abolished from being impracticable? How many kings after gaining power over nations have changed the laws that were before their time and established their own? Yet none of the stars had lost its proper clime.
'Yesterday the Romans having become masters of Arabia changed the laws of the barbarians. For one free-will follows another free-will. But I will now set forth for you a fact which might convince even the incredulous.
'The Jews who received a law through Moses all shed the blood of their male children by circumcising them on the eighth day, not waiting for the appearance of a star, nor respecting the influence of clime, nor yielding to any law of a foreign country: but whether they are in Syria, or Gaul, or Italy, or Greece, or Parthia, or wherever they may be, they perform this rite.
'And this is not dependent on nativity, for all Jews cannot have the same natal stars. Moreover every seventh day, wherever they may be, they abstain from all work, and neither travel nor use fire: nor does his nativity compel a Jew either to build or to demolish a house, to work, to buy or to sell on the sabbath day, although on that same day Jews beget and are begotten, and sicken and die: for these are things not dependent on freewill.
'In Syria and Osrhoene many used to mutilate themselves in honour of Rhea: hereupon king Abgar at one stroke commanded that those who cut off the genital organs should also have their hands cut off, and from thenceforth no one in Osrhoene mutilated himself.
'And what shall we say concerning the sect of the Christians? For we who hold those opinions have arisen in multitudes in different climes, in every nation and region, and though many in number, are called by one name.
'And neither in Parthia do the Christians, Parthians though they are, practise polygamy, nor do those in Media cast their dead to dogs, nor do those in Persia, though they are Persians, marry their daughters, nor among the Bactrians and the Gauls do they form unnatural unions, nor do those in Egypt worship Apis or the dog, the he-goat, or the cat. But wherever they are, they are neither overcome by ill-constituted laws and customs, nor does their nativity, regulated by their ruling stars, compel them to practise the evils forbidden by their teacher, but they submit to sickness and poverty and sufferings and reputed infamies.
'For as the free man of our idea is not compelled to be a slave, and, even if he be compelled, resists those who compel him, so also the man whom we regard as a slave cannot easily escape from his subjection.
'For if we could do all things, we ourselves should be the all, even as, if we could do nothing, we should be instruments, as I said before, of others, and not masters of ourselves. But with God's approval all things are possible and irresistible; for nothing can resist His will. For even the things which seem to resist, resist only because He is kind, and allows each nature to have its own privilege, and its freedom of will.'
So far the Syrian. And when I have mentioned one thing more, I will conclude the discussion. For since we have made sufficient extracts from the non-Christian writings, whilst those from the sacred Scriptures are still wanting, and since these are what we most need for The Preparation of the Evangelic Demonstration, it would be well to examine these also, that our argument may be deficient in none of the considerations proper to the question before us. From this source I shall also make our present subject clear to you.
You would not, however, be able to understand the bare letter of the sacred oracles, since in most points they are obscurely expressed. And therefore I shall set before you their interpreter: and if you are not envious of stronger minds, you know perhaps the man, who to this present time still takes rank in the companies of Christ by the works which he has bequeathed, nor indeed is unknown even to those without for the zeal which he has displayed in their studies also. Consider then how many and how excellent determinations on the subject before us the admirable Origen has given in his Commentaries on Genesis, and how he traced out the argument concerning Fate.
[ORIGEN] 36 'One of the things most necessary to resolve is the statement that the lights, which are no other than the sun and moon and stars, are given "for signs"; not only because the nations who are alien to the faith of Christ stumble upon the topic of Fate, since all things upon earth, and the circumstances of each individual man, perhaps of brute animals also, are supposed by them to occur by the combination of the so-called wandering stars with those, in the zodiac; but also because many of those who are supposed to have received the faith are distracted by the doubt whether all human affairs are not ruled by necessity, so that it is impossible for them to take place otherwise than as the stars, according to their different configurations, bring them to fulfilment.
'Now the consequence for those who hold these doctrines is that they utterly destroy our free-will, and therefore also both praise and blame, and commendable, or on the other hand blame-able actions.
'But if this is the case, there is an end of the proclaimed judgement of God, and of threatenings against sinners that they shall be punished; also, on the other hand, of the privileges and beatitudes promised to those who have devoted themselves to the better life: for none of these things will any longer have a good d reason for their occurrence.
'Also if any one would look at the consequences to himself of the doctrines he holds, (he would see that) both his faith will be vain, and Christ's advent of no avail, and all the dispensation of law and prophets, and the labours of the Apostles to establish the churches of God through Christ.
'Unless perchance Christ Himself having, according to these so daring thinkers, been subjected to the necessity arising from the motion of the stars by the birth which He assumed, both did and suffered all, because those extraordinary powers were bestowed on Him not by God the Father of all things, but by the stars. From which arguments, atheistical and impious as they are, it follows also that believers must be said to believe in God because led to do so by the stars.
'But we would ask of them with what purpose God made such a world, that some of the dwellers therein being men should take the place of women, not having been in any way themselves the cause of the outrage, while others placed in the condition of wild beasts, by the course of the world having made them such, because God had so arranged the whole, give themselves over to most cruel and utterly inhuman practices, such as murder and piracy?
'And what must we say of the things which occur among men and of the sins committed by them, countless as they are, when they are acquitted of all blame by the champions of these grand doctrines, who ascribe to God the cause of all things evil and blameable?
'But if some of them, as if apologizing for God, say that the good God is another who has not the government of any of these things, and impute such evils as these to the Demiurge of the world----in the first place they will not even thus be able to prove what they wish, that He is just. For how could He, who according to them is the author of so much evil, be reasonably called just?
'And in the second place we must inquire what they will ever say about themselves? Are they subject to the course of the stars, or are they freed from it, and in their life have no influence wrought upon them from that source? For if they shall say that they are subject to the stars, it is evident that the stars granted them the power of perceiving this, and the Demiurge by the motion of the universe will have suggested the doctrine concerning the higher god whom they have invented; and this they do not wish.
'But if they shall answer that they are exempt from the laws of the Demiurge which depend upon the stars, in order that their statement may not be a denial incapable of proof, let them endeavour to convince us more irresistibly, by showing the difference between a mind subject to nativity and fate, and another free from them. For it is evident to those who know men of this kind that, when required to give them an explanation, they will be quite unable to do so.
'In addition to what has been said, prayers also are superfluous, being employed in vain. For if it has been fixed by necessity that this or that should happen, and if the stars do this, and nothing can take place contrary to their mutual combination, we are unreasonable in asking God to grant us this or that.
'But why need I prolong the discussion, by proving the impiety of the trite topic concerning fate so hackneyed by the multitude without examination? For what I have already said is sufficient for an outline.
'Let us, however, remember from what point we have come upon our present subject, while examining the passage "Let the lights be for signs." 37 They who learn the truth on any matters have either been eyewitnesses of the facts, and so give a faithful description of this or that circumstance, because they saw what was done and suffered by the actors and sufferers, or else they learn this or that from having heard the report of those who were in no way the causes of what happened.
'But let us at present exclude from our argument the possibility that the actors or sufferers, by relating what they have done or suffered, bring one who has not been present to a knowledge of the facts.
'If therefore the man, who is informed by one who is in no way the cause of the events, that this or that has occurred or will occur to certain persons, fails to distinguish that an informant concerning something that has occurred or will occur is in no way the cause of the matter being of this or that character, he will suppose that the man who has represented to him that this or that has taken place, or this or that will take place, has himself done or will do the things of which he informs him, but will evidently be mistaken in his supposition.
'Just as if any one having met with a prophetic book which foreshowed the story of the traitor Judas, after learning what was to take place should think, on seeing it fulfilled, that the book was the cause that this or that happened afterwards, because he had learned from the book what would be afterwards done by Judas; or again should suppose that the cause was not the book but the man who wrote it at first, or he who inspired him, say, to speak, namely God.
'But just as in the case of the prophecies concerning Judas the very expressions when examined show that God was not the author of Judas' betrayal, but only foreshowed it because He foreknew what acts would follow from this man's wickedness through his own fault; so if any one were to plunge deep into the question of the foreknowledge of all things by God, and by those in whom He imprinted, as it were, the language of his own foreknowledge, he would understand that neither He who foreknew was in any way the cause of the things foreknown, nor the instruments which received the impressions of the words of the foreknowledge of Him who foreknew.
'That God indeed knows long before that every thing which is to be will happen, is evident, even apart from Scripture, from the very idea of God to the man who understands the excellence of the power of the Divine mind.
'But if it is necessary to prove this from Scripture also, the prophecies are full of examples of this kind, and so also is the description by Susanna of God as knowing all things before they come to pass, where she speaks as follows: "O God, the Eternal, the discerner of secrets, that knowest all things before they be, Thou understandest that these have borne false witness against me." 38
'And most clearly in the third Book of Kings both the name of the king who waste reign and his deeds were recorded many years before they came to pass, being predicted as follows: "And Jeroboam ordained a feast in the eighth month, on the fifteenth day of the month, like unto the feast that is in the land of Judah: and he went up unto the altar that is in Bethel, to sacrifice unto the calves that he had made." 39 Then after a few words: "And behold, there came a man of God out of Judah by the word of the LORD unto Bethel, and Jeroboam was standing upon his altar to burn incense. And he cried against the altar by the word of the LORD, and said, O altar, altar, thus saith the LORD: Behold a son is to be born unto the house of David, Josiah by name; and upon thee shall he sacrifice the priests of the high places that burn incense upon thee, and men's bones shall he burn upon thee. And he gave a sign in that day, saying, This is the sign which the LORD hath spoken, saying, Behold, the altar shall be rent, and the ashes that are thereon shall be poured out."
'And after a few words it is shown, that "both the altar was rent, and the ashes poured out from the altar according to the sign which the man of God had given by the word of the LORD."
'Isaiah also came long before the captivity in Babylon, and some time after that captivity came Cyrus the king of the Persians who assisted in the building of the temple in the times of Ezra; and in Isaiah there is the following prophecy concerning Cyrus by name: "Thus saith the LORD God to Cyrus mine anointed, whose right hand I have holden, that nations should obey before him, and I will break the strength of kings, I will open doors before him, and cities shall not be shut. I will go before thee, and make mountains plain, I will break in pieces doors of brass, and shatter bars of iron: and I will give thee treasures of darkness, hidden unseen treasures will I open to thee, that thou mayest know that I am the LORD God, which call thee by thy name, the God of Israel. For Jacob my servant's sake, and Israel my chosen, I will call thee by my name, and will accept thee." 40
'From this passage it is clearly shown that, for the sake of the people whose benefactor Cyrus had been, though he knew not the religion of the Hebrews, God granted to him the rule over many nations. And these facts one may learn also from the Greeks who recorded the history of Cyrus the subject of the prophecy.
'Moreover in Daniel, in the time of the Babylonian monarchs, there are shown to Nebuchadnezzar the kingdoms that should come after him. And they are shown by the image, in which the kingdom of Babylon is called gold, the Persian silver, the Macedonian brass, and the Roman iron. 41
'Again in the same prophet the events concerning Darius and Alexander, and the four successors of Alexander king of Macedon, and Ptolemy, the ruler of Egypt, who was surnamed Lagos, are thus foretold: "Behold, an he-goat came from the west over the face of the whole earth: ... and the goat had a horn between his eyes. And he came to the ram that had the horns, which I saw standing before the river, and ran upon him in the fury of his power. And I saw him come close unto the ram, and he was moved with choler against him, and smote the ram, and brake both his horns, and there was no power in the ram to stand before him, and he cast him upon the ground, and trampled upon him, and there was none to deliver the ram out of his hand. And the he-goat magnified himself exceedingly. And when he was grown strong, his great horn was broken, and there came up from beneath it other horns towards the four winds of heaven, and out of one of them came forth one strong horn, and waxed exceeding great toward the south and toward the west." 42
'And why need I mention the prophecies concerning Christ, as for instance the place of His birth, Bethlehem, and the place where He was brought up, Nazareth, and the flight into Egypt, and the miracles which He wrought, and how he was betrayed by Judas who had been called to be an Apostle? For all these are signs of God's foreknowledge.
'Moreover the Saviour Himself says, "When ye shall see Jerusalem compassed by armies, then ye shall know that her desolation is at hand." 43 For He foretold what afterwards happened, the final destruction of Jerusalem.
'Since then we have given proofs concerning God's foreknowledge, it will not be inopportune, in order to explain how the stars are for signs, to observe that the motion of the stars is so ordered, that the so-called planets follow a course opposite to the fixed stars, in order that from the configuration of the stars signs of all things that happen concerning each individual man, and generally, may be made known: I do not say "known" by men, for the power of truly understanding from the motion of the stars the case of each one of those who are doing or suffering whatever it may be, is far too great for man: but "known" by the powers which for many reasons must necessarily know these things, as we shall show to the best of our power in what follows.
'But from certain observations, or even from the teaching of angels who had transgressed their own order, and to afflict our race taught something about these things, men got to understand them, and then thought that those stars from which they supposed themselves to receive the signs were the causes of those things which the Scripture says that they signify. And these very matters we will immediately discuss in a summary way, but very carefully, according to the best of our ability.
'We will therefore propose for consideration the following questions:
'(1) How our freedom is preserved, if God foreknows from eternity the things which are supposed to be done by every man?
'(2) In what way the stars are not efficient causes of human affairs, but only signs of the same?
'(3) That men cannot have exact knowledge of these affairs, but the signs are set forth by powers greater than man's.
'(4) What is the cause of God's having appointed the signs for the information of those powers? This shall be the fourth subject of inquiry.
'Let us look then at that first question, about which many of the Greeks were scrupulous, because they thought that all things are made subject to necessity, and that our freedom can in no way be maintained, if God foreknows future events: for so they rashly accepted an impious dogma, rather than admit that which, as they say, gives glory to God, but destroys our freedom, and therefore destroys praise and blame, the merit of virtues and the culpability of vices.
'And they say, if God knew from eternity that this or that man would be unjust and would commit certain acts of injustice, and if God's knowledge is infallible, then the man foreseen to be of such a character will certainly be unjust, as he will commit these acts of injustice, and it is impossible that he should not do injustice: and if it is impossible that he should not do injustice, his doing injustice is compelled by necessity, and it will be impossible that he should do anything else than that which God foreknew. But if it is impossible for him to do anything else, and if no man is to be blamed for not doing an impossibility, we have no right to blame the unjust.
'From the unjust man and deeds of injustice they pass on to the other kinds of sin, and then on the other hand to what are considered good deeds; and it follows, they say, upon God's having foreknown the future that our free-will cannot possibly be maintained.
'In answer to whom we have to say that, when God was contemplating the beginning of His creation, since nothing takes place without a cause, he travelled over in His mind every future event, and saw that, when this has occurred, that follows, and if this consequence occurs, that third thing follows: and when this third is settled, that other will occur; and thus having travelled on to the end of all things, he knows the things that will be, though He does not at all cause the occurrence of everything that He knows.
'For just as, if a man should see another to be rash through ignorance, and through his rashness to be thoughtlessly walking on a slippery road, and should perceive that he will slip and fall, he does not become the cause of the other's slipping; so we must consider that God, having foreseen of what character each man will be, discerns also the causes of this his future character, and that he will commit these sins, or perform those good deeds.
'And if we must speak freely, we shall not say that foreknowledge is the cause of events (for God does not meddle with the man whom He has foreknown to be about to sin, at the time of his sinning): but we shall say something more strange and yet true, that the future event is the cause that the foreknowledge of it is of such a character. For it does not take place because it has been known, but it has been known because it was about to take place.
'We must however make a distinction. For if any one interprets the expression, "It will certainly be," as if there were a necessity that what is foreknown must take place, we do not grant him this: for we shall not say that, since it was foreknown that Judas would become a traitor, there was an absolute necessity for Judas to become a traitor. In fact in the prophecies concerning Judas there are reproaches and accusations of Judas recorded, which prove to every one his culpability. But blame would not have attached to him, if he was of necessity a traitor, and if it was not possible for him to be like the other apostles.
'Now see if this is not made clear by the express statements which we will bring forward, running thus: "Nor let there be any to have compassion on his fatherless children,... because that he remembered not to show mercy, but persecuted the poor and needy man, and the broken in heart, to slay them. Yea, he loved cursing, and it shall come unto him: and he delighted not in blessing, and it shall be far from him." 44
'If, however, any one shall explain the expression, "It will certainly be," by saying that though certain events will be in accordance with its indication, yet that it was possible also for it to have been otherwise, this we admit as true. For though it is "not possible that God should lie," 45 yet it is possible, concerning things that may either happen or not happen, that He should know either that they will happen or that they will not happen.
'But we will state this more clearly in the following way. If it is possible for Judas to be an Apostle like Peter, it is possible for God to perceive concerning Judas that he will continue an Apostle like Peter: if it is possible for Judas to become a traitor, it is possible for God to know concerning him that he will be a traitor.
'But if Judas will be a traitor, and God has foreknowledge of the two contingencies before mentioned, of which only one can possibly be realized, then as He foreknows the truth, He will foreknow that Judas will become a traitor: it being at the same time possible that the object of His knowledge might also come to pass in the other way. And God's knowledge would say, "though it is possible for this man to do this, yet the contrary also is possible; but whereas both are possible, I know that this he will do."
'For though God might say, "It is not possible that this or that man should fly," He cannot say in like manner, in giving an oracle, for instance, concerning any one, that it is not possible for this man to act temperately. For there is absolutely no power in the man of flying at all, but there is a power of acting temperately, and of acting intemperately.
'And as he possesses both these powers, the man who gives no heed to words of exhortation and discipline gives himself over to the worse power; but he who has sought the truth and purposed to live according to it, gives himself over to the better power. The one does not seek for what is true, because he inclines towards pleasure: but the other inquires concerning the truth, because he is persuaded by the general opinions of mankind and by words of exhortation.
'Again, the one chooses pleasure, not because he has no power to resist it, but because he makes no effort; while the other despises it, because he sees the indecency that there is often in it.
'To show, however, that God's foreknowledge imposes no necessity on those concerning whom He has conceived such knowledge, will add to what I have already said the following argument, that in many places of the Scriptures God commands the prophets to preach repentance, without claiming for Himself the knowledge, whether those who hear will return or will continue in their sins: as in Jeremiah it is said, "It may be they will hearken and will repent." 46
'For it is not from ignorance whether they will hear or not that God Says, "It may be they will hearken and will repent"; but He shows, as it were, from the expression, that there was the even balance of the things that might happen, lest His foreknowledge, if previously announced, should make the hearers to fall, by presenting an idea of necessity, as though it were not in their own power to return; and thus His foreknowledge should itself become, as it were, the cause of their sins: or again, lest those who, from ignorance of the good foreknown, are able in their conflict and resistance against vice to live a life of virtue, should because of the foreknowledge relax in their efforts and cease to take a vigorous stand against sin, from expecting that what had been foretold would certainly come to pass. For in this way also the foreknowledge of the good to come would be a kind of hindrance.
'So then God, in arranging all things in the world beneficially, with good reason made us blind to future events. For the knowledge thereof would have made us give up the contest against vice, and from appearing to have been clearly perceived would have weakened us and made us to cease from the struggle against sin, and so to become more readily subjected to it.
'At the same time also the fact that there had come to this or that man the foreknowledge that he would in any case be good, would be at variance with his becoming noble and good. For in addition to our natural qualities there is need of great earnestness and exertion in order to become noble and good: but the previous acquisition of the knowledge that one will in any case be noble and good gradually relaxes the endeavour. Wherefore it is to our advantage that we know not whether we shall be good or bad.
'But since we have said that God made us blind to future events, see whether we can explain a certain disputed expression from Exodus, "Who made man dumb or deaf, or seeing, or blind? Is it not I, the Lord?",47 in this way, that He may be seen to have made the same man both blind and seeing, seeing in reference to things present, but blind to things to come. For it is not necessary on the present occasion to explain the words dumb and deaf.
'That very many things, however, which are not in our power, are causes of many things which are in our power, we will ourselves admit: and if they, I mean the things which are not in our power, did not take place, certain of the things which are in our power could not be done. But of the things in our power this or that is done in consequence of these antecedents which are not in our power, it being possible upon the same antecedents also to do other things than those which we do.
'And if any one claims that our free-will is independent of everything, so that we do not choose a certain course in consequence of this or that having happened to us, he forgets that he is a part of the world, and encompassed by association with mankind and with his surroundings.
'However, I think it has been fairly proved in a summary manner, that God's foreknowledge does not in any way necessitate the foreknown events. So now, come, let us also contend for the fact that the stars are in no way the causes, but only the signs, of what happens among mankind.
'Now it is clear that if this or that configuration of the stars were supposed to be an efficient cause of certain things that happen to the man (for this be the present subject of inquiry), the configuration which there may have been, say, to-day affecting this man, cannot be thought to have been the cause of the past circumstances affecting another or others: for every efficient cause is prior to its effect.
'But as far as we can judge from the doctrines of those who profess such arts, things prior to the configuration are supposed to be foretold concerning the men.
'For they profess that in some such manner as follows, when they have learned the hour of this or that man's birth, they can discover how each of the planets was situated vertically either to this or that degree of the sign of the zodiac, or of the minute divisions therein, and what star of the zodiac was on the eastern horizon, and what on the western, and what on the Meridian, and what on the Anti-Meridian.
'And when they have settled the places of the stars, which they think they have figured for themselves, as having had such a configuration at the moment of a certain man's nativity, then by the time of his birth they search out not only future events, but also the past, and things that had happened before the birth and before the generation of the man in question, concerning his father, of what country he is, rich or poor, whole in body or maimed, good or bad in moral disposition, of large possessions or of none, of this or that occupation. The same also concerning his mother, and elder brothers, if there happen to be any.
'Now let us admit at present that they discover the true place (of the stars), although on this very point we shall afterwards show that it is not so: let us inquire therefore of those who suppose that human affairs are brought under necessity by the stars, in what way the configuration of to-day, which is of a certain kind, can possibly have been the cause of earlier events.
'For if this is impossible, in proportion as the truth is disccovered concerning the time of the earlier events, it is clear that the stars moving thus in the heaven cannot have caused the past events which took place before they were in this position. But if so, perhaps one who admits that they tell true, from observing what is said about future events, will say that they tell true not because the stars cause the events but only because they signify them.
'But if any one assert that though the stars are not the cause of the past events, yet other configurations have been the causes of their production, and that the present configuration has only indicated them, but that nevertheless things to come are foreshown from the present configuration of a certain person's nativity; let him prove the difference between being able to show that some things have been discerned with truth from the stars as efficient causes, but other things merely from their indications.
'And if they are not able to assign the difference, they will candidly agree that none of the things which concern mankind are caused by the stars, but as we have said before are only indicated, if so it be; which is the same as if one learned both past and present events not from the stars, but from the mind of God, by some prophetic utterance.
'For just as we before showed that the argument on behalf of our free-will is not at all impaired by God's knowing what every man will do, so neither do the signs which God appointed to give indications hinder our free-will. But like a book which contains future events in the language of prophecy, it is possible that the whole heaven, being as it were a book of God, may contain the things to come.
'Wherefore in the Prayer of Joseph we may understand in this way what is said by Jacob, "For I read in the tablets of heaven all things that shall happen to you and to your sons." 48 Perhaps also the saying, "The heaven shall be rolled together as a scroll," 49 shows that the lessons therein contained significant of the things to come will be accomplished and, so to say, fulfilled, just as the prophecies are said to have been fulfilled by having come to pass.
'And thus the heavenly bodies will have been for signs, according to the expression which says, "Let them be for signs." 50 But Jeremiah, to recall us to ourselves, and to take away the fear consequent upon the things supposed to be indicated by the stars, and perhaps suspected also of proceeding from them, says, "Be not dismayed at the signs from heaven." 51
'Let us look at a second attempt to show how the stars cannot possibly be efficient causes, but, if anything, significations. For it is possible to learn the fortunes of one man from an infinite number of nativities (but this we state as a hypothesis, granting the possibility that a knowledge of them may be attained by men): for to take an instance, whether such a man will suffer so and so, and will die by falling among robbers and being slain, this, says the astrologer, we may learn both from his own nativity, and, if he happen to have several brothers, from the nativity of each of them.
'For they think that the nativity of each includes that a brother will die by robbers, and in like manner the nativity of the father, and that of the mother, and of his wife, and of his sons, and of his servants, and of his best friends; perhaps also of the very men who are to kill him.
'How then, to grant them this, is it possible that the man whose fortune is involved in so many nativities should come under the configuration of the stars in this nativity rather than in the others? For the assertion that the configuration in this or that man's particular nativity has been the cause of these events, but that the configuration in the nativity of these others has not been the cause but only the indication, is incredible.
'And it is silly to say that the nativity of all included in each an efficient cause of this man's being killed, so that in fifty nativities (I am speaking according to the hypothesis) it was contained that this or that man was to be killed. Nor do I know how they will be able to maintain that, though the configuration at the nativity of nearly all men in Judaea was such that they received circumcision on the eighth day, were mutilated, and ulcerated, and likely to suffer inflammation and wounds, and at their very entrance into life were in need of physicians, yet that of the Ishmaelites in Arabia was such that they were all circumcised when thirteen years old. For this is stated in history concerning them.
'And again that of certain tribes among the Aethiopians the knee-caps are cut away, and one of the breasts of the Amazons. For how do the stars produce these effects in these nations? I think that, if we were to give our attention to it, we should not be able even to fix anything true to say concerning them.
'As there are so many modes of prognostication current, I do not understand how men ran upon the difficulty of saying that the methods of augury and of sacrifice do not contain the efficient cause, but only give signs, and yet do not say the same of the study of the stars and casting of nativities.
'For if events are known (to grant that they are known), and if they are produced from the same source from which the knowledge is derived, why are the events to be caused by the stars rather than by the birds, and why by the birds rather than by the entrails of the sacrifices, or by the shooting stars? These reasons, however, will at present suffice for overthrowing the opinion that the stars are efficient causes of human affairs.
'But as to the assumption which we have allowed, because it did not damage our argument, that it is possible for men to understand the celestial configurations, and the signs, and the things signified, let us now examine whether this is true.
'It is said then by those who are clever in such matters, that the man who is to ascertain truly the results of the science of nativities must know not only in which of the twelve signs of the zodiac the planet is, but also in what degree of the sign, and in what minute, and the more exact say, in what second; and this they say he must do in the case of each of the planets, examining their relative position to the fixed stars.
'Again on the Eastern horizon it will be necessary, they say, to see not only what sign was thereon, but also the degree, and the minute, or the second.
'Since then the hour comprises, to speak broadly, half a sign of the zodiac, how is it possible for any one to find the minute, if he has not the proportionate division of the hours? How, for instance, know that a certain man is born at the fourth hour, and at the half-hour, and quarter, and eighth, and sixteenth, and thirty-secondth part of the hour?
'For they say that the indications (given by the planets) vary greatly in consequence of the ignorance not only of the entire hour, but even of the exact division of it. For example, in the birth of twins the interval is often a very small part of an hour, and there occur many differences in the incidents and actions in their cases, because, as the astrologers say, of the relative position of the stars, and because the subdivision of the zodiacal sign which was on the horizon was not ascertained by those who are supposed to have observed the hour.
'For it is impossible for any one to say that the interval between the birth of this child and of that is the thirtieth part of an hour. Let us, however, grant them the point concerning their calculation of the hour. Now there is a current theorem, which shows that the Ecliptic moves like the planets from West to East one degree in a hundred years, and that this in the long course of time alters the position of the signs, the calculated sign being one, and the visible figure, as it were, another. And the results, they say, are found not from the visible figure, but from the calculated sign, and this cannot possibly be ascertained.
'But let this also be granted, that the calculated sign is ascertained, or that from the visible sign the true can be ascertained. Yet they will themselves acknowledge that they are not able entirely to preserve the conjunction, as they call it, of the planets which happen to be in these configurations, when, for instance, the malign indication from a certain planet is obscured, because it is overlooked by this other of more benign power, and to such or such a degree obscured: or frequently again when the obscuration of the malign planet by the aspect of the more benign is impeded, from the fact that another has entered into the configuration in a certain way, so as to be significant of misfortune.'
'I think too that any one who has given attention to these subjects must despair of the comprehension of them as being in no way accessible to man, but reaching only, if at all, to an indication. And if any one has had experience of the facts, the liability of those who talk, or even of those who have written, on the subject to failure in their conjectures, will be better known to him, than their supposed ability to succeed.
'For instance, Isaiah, seeing that these things cannot be discovered by man, says to the daughter of the Chaldeans, who beyond all men made the greatest profession of this art, "Let now the astrologers of the sky stand up and save thee,... let them announce to thee what shall come upon thee." 52 For hereby we are taught that those who are entirely devoted to the study of these matters are unable to foreshow what the Lord has purposed to bring upon each nation.'
So far the author mentioned. But in fact this whole discussion of ours is summed up in two chief points, that those who have been supposed in each city to give oracular responses are not gods, and that they are not even good daemons, but are on the contrary a class of jugglers, cheats, and deceivers, who for the destruction and perversion of true religion have put forward, besides all other delusion among mankind, especially this delusion about Fate.
And since no one from the beginning except Jesus our Saviour has ransomed the whole human race from this delusion, we have had good reason for dealing seriously with all the present subjects in the commencement of the Preparation for the Gospel, in order that we might learn by facts from what ancestors we are sprung, and by what kind of delusion they were formerly possessed, and from how manifold and great blindness and ungodliness both we ourselves and all men living have emerged, and have found the cure for that long and inveterate daemoniacal activity in the saving doctrine of the Gospel only.
[Footnotes numbered and placed at the end]
1. 236 d 3 Porphyry, On the Philosophy to be derived from Oracles.
2. 238 b 1 Porphyry, ibid.
3. 238 d 2 Porphyry, On the Philosophy to be derived from Oracles.
4. 240 d 4 Porphyry, On the Philosophy to be derived from Oracles.
5. 241 c 1 Porphyry, ibid.
6. 242 c 2 Euripides, Syleus Fr., cf Eur. Phoen. 521
7. 247 a 3 Ps. cxlviii. 5
8. 248 a 4 Rom. i. 26, 27
9. 249 a 6 Menander, i Cor. xv. 33
10. 249 b 9 cf Plato, Rep. 546 A
11. 250 a 11 Num. xx. 17
12. c 6 Plato, Rep. x. 617 E
13. 255 b 1 Oenomaus, The Selection of Impostors
14. c 9 Herodotus, vii. 148
15. 258 a 9 Euripides, Phoenissae, 19
16. c 9 Euripides, Phoenissae, 20
17. 259 c 1 Euripides, Phoenissae, 570
18. c 4 ibid. 541
19. 262 a 1 Diogenianus, Answers to Chrysippus
20. a 6 Hom. Il. xxiii. 78
21. b 2 Il. xx. 127
22. b 6 Il. vi. 488
23. c 3 Od. i. 7
24. c 5 Od. i. 32 (Pope)
25. 268 a 1 Alexander Aphrodisiensis, On Fate, c. iii. p. 8 (Bruns 1882)
26. 270 c 7 Alex. Aphrod. c. vi. p. 16
27. 271 a 4 ibid. c. viii
28. d 2 Alex. Aphrod. c. ix
29. d 11 ibid. c. xi, much altered and abridged
30. 272 b 3 ibid. c. xii. p. 42
31. 272 c 1 Alex. Aphrod. c. xviii. p. 62
32. c 7 ibid. c. xix. p. 64
33. 273 b 4 Bardesanes, On Fate. A fragment preserved in Greek only by Eusebius
34. 274 d 10 Bardesanes. Compare Clementine Recognitions, ix. c. 19
35. 275 d 7 Cf. Clem. Recogn. ix. c. 22
36. 281 a 3 Origen, On Genesis, tom, iii; Philocalia, c. xxiii
37. 283 a 9 Gen. i. 14
38. 284 b 2 Susanna, 42
39. b 7 I Kings xii. 32
40. d 12 Isa. xlv. 1
41. 285 b 6 Dan. ii. 39
42. c 4 Dan. viii. 5
43. 286 a 3 Luke xxi. 20
44. 288 b 4 Ps. cix. 12, 16
45. c 5 Heb. vi. 18
46. 289 b 11 Jer. xxvi. 3
47. 290 b 2 Exod. iv. 11
48. 292 b 1 Prayer of Joseph; see Schurer, Jewish People, Div. II. vol. iii. p. 127 f.
49. c 1 Isa. xxxiv. 4
50. c 6 Gen. i. 14
51. d 1 Jer. x. 2
52. 295 c 7 Isa. xlvii. 13
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