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THE STROMATA, OR
MISCELLANIES: BOOK VI (Chap. I to Chap. X)
THE sixth and also the seventh Miscellany of gnostic notes, in
accordance with the true philosophy, having delineated as well as
possible the ethical argument conveyed in them, and having exhibited
what the Gnostic is in his life, proceed to show the philosophers
that he is by no means impious, as they suppose, but that he alone
is truly pious, by a compendious exhibition of the Gnostic's form of
religion, as far as it is possible, without danger, to commit it to
writing in a book of reference. For the Lord enjoined "to labour for
the meat which endureth to eternity." And the prophet says,"
Blessed is he that soweth into all waters, whose ox and ass
tread," [that is,] the people, from the Law and from the
Gentiles, gathered into one faith.
"Now the weak eateth herbs," according to the noble apostle. The
Instructor, divided by us into three books, has already exhibited
the training and nurture up from the state of childhood, that is,
the course of life which from elementary instruction grows by faith;
and in the case of those enrolled in the number of men, prepares
beforehand the soul, endued with virtue, for the reception of
gnostic knowledge. The Greeks, then, clearly learning, from what
shall be said by us in these pages, that in profanely persecuting
the Godloving man, they themselves act impiously; then, as the notes
advance, in accordance with the style of the Miscellanies, we must
solve the difficulties raised both by Greeks and Barbarians with
respect to the coming of the Lord.
In a meadow the flowers blooming variously, and in a park the
plantations of fruittrees, are not separated according to their
species from those of other kinds. If some, culling varieties, have
Composed learned collections, Meadows, and Helicons, and Honeycombs,
and Robes; then, with the things which come to recollection by
haphazard, and are expurgated neither in order nor expression, but
purposely scattered, the form of the Miscellanies is promiscuously
variegated like a meadow. And such being the case, my notes shall
serve as kindling sparks; and in the case of him, who is fit for
knowledge, if he chance to fall in with them, research made with
exertion will turn out to his benefit and advantage. For it is fight
that labour should precede not only food but also, much more
knowledge, in the case of those that are advancing to the eternal
and blessed salvation by the "strait and narrow way," which is truly
Our knowledge, and our spiritual garden, is the Saviour Himself;
into whom we are planted, being transferred and transplanted, from
our old life, into the good land. And transplanting contributes to
fruitfulness. The Lord, then, into whom we have been transplanted,
is the Light i and the true Knowledge.
Now knowledge is otherwise spoken of in a twofold sense: that,
commonly so called, which appears in all men (similarly also
comprehension and apprehension), universally, in the knowledge of
individual objects; in which not only the rational powers, but
equally the irrational, share, which I would never term knowledge,
inasmuch as the apprehension of things through the senses comes
naturally. But that which par excellence is termed knowledge, bears
the impress of judgment and reason, in the exercise of which there
will be rational cognitions alone, applying purely to objects of
thought, and resulting from the bare energy of the soul. "He is a
good man," says David, "who pities" (those ruined through error),
"and lends" (from the communication of the word of truth) not at
haphazard, for "he will dispense his words in judgment:" with
profound calculation, "he hath dispersed, he hath given to the
CHAP. II.THE SUBJECT OF PLAGIARISMS RESUMED. THE GREEKS
PLAGIARIZED FROM ONE ANOTHER.
Before handling the point proposed, we must, by way of preface, add
to the close of the fifth book what is wanting. For since we have
shown that the symbolical style was ancient, and was employed not
only by our prophets, but also by the majority of the ancient
Greeks, and by not a few of the rest of the Gentile Barbarians, it
was requisite to proceed to the mysteries of the initiated. I
postpone the elucidation of these till we advance to the confutation
of what is said by the Greeks on first principles; for we shall show
that the mysteries belong to the same branch of speculation. And
having proved that the declaration of Hellenic thought is
illuminated all round by the truth, bestowed on us in the
Scriptures, taking it according to the sense, we have proved, not to
say what is invidious, that the theft of the truth passed to them.
Come, and let us adduce the Greeks as witnesses against themselves
to the theft. For, inasmuch as they pilfer from one another, they
establish the fact that they are thieves; and although against their
will, they are detected, clandestinely appropriating to those of
their own race the truth which belongs to us. For if they do not
keep their hands from each other, they will hardly do it from our
authors. I shall say nothing of philosophic dogmas, since the very
persons who are the authors of the divisions into sects, confess in
writing, so as not to be convicted of ingratitude, that they have
received from Socrates the most important of their dogmas. But after
availing myself of a few testimonies of men most talked of, and of
repute among the Greeks, and exposing their plagiarizing style, and
selecting them from various periods, I shall turn to what follows.
Orpheus, then, having composed the line:--
"Since nothing else is more shameless and wretched than woman,"
Homer plainly says:--
"Since nothing else is more dreadful and shameless than a woman."
And Musaeus having written:--
"Since art is greatly superior to strength,"
"By art rather than strength is the woodcutter greatly superior."
Again, Musaeus having composed the lines:--
"And as the fruitful field produceth leaves,
And on the ash trees some fade, others grow,
So whirls the race of man its leaf," 
"Some of the leaves the wind strews on the ground.
The budding wood bears some; in time of spring,
They come. So springs one race of men, and one departs."
Again, Homer having said:--
"It is unholy to exult over dead men,"
Archilochus and Cratinus write, the former:--
"It is not noble at dead men to sneer;"
and Cratinus in the Lacones:--
"For men 'tis dreadful to exult
Much o'er the stalwart dead."
Again, Archilochus, transferring that Homeric line:--
"I erred, nor say I nay:-- instead of many"
"I erred, and this mischief hath somehow seized another."
As certainly also that line:--
"Evenhanded war the slayer slays."
He also, altering, has given forth thus:--
"I will do it.
For Mars to men in truth is evenhanded."
Also, translating the following:--
"The issues of victory among men depend on the gods,"
he openly encourages youth, in the following iambic:--
"Victory's issues on the gods depend."
Again, Homer having said:--
"With feet unwashed sleeping on the ground," 
Euripides writes in Erechteus:--
"Upon the plain spread with no couch they sleep Nor m the streams of
water lave their feet."
Archilochus having likewise said:--
"But one with this and one with that His heart delights?"
in correspondence with the Homeric line:--
"For one in these deeds, one in those delights,"
Euripides says in OEneus:--
"But one in these ways, one in those, has more delight."
And I have heard Aeschylus saying:--
"He who is happy ought to stay at home;
There should he also stay, who speeds not well."
And Euripides, too, shouting the like on the stage:--
"Happy the man who, prosperous, stays at home."
Menander, too, on comedy, saying:--
"He ought at home to stay, and free remain, Or be no longer rightly
Again, Theognis having said:--
"The exile has no comrade dear and true,"
Euripides has written:--
"Far from the poor flies every friend."
And Epicharmus, saying:--
"Daughter, woe worth the day
Thee who art old I marry to a youth; "
"For the young husband takes some other girl, And for another
husband longs the wife,"
"'Tis bad to yoke an old wife to a youth;
For he desires to share another's bed,
And she, by him deserted, mischief plots."
Euripides having, besides, said in the Medea:--
"For no good do a bad man's gifts,"
Sophocles in Ajax Flagellifer utters this iambic:--
"For foes' gifts are no gifts, nor any boon."
Solon having written:--
"For surfeit insolence begets,
When store of wealth attends."
Theognis writes in the same way:--
"For surfeit insolence begets,
When store of wealth attends the bad."
Whence also Thucydides, in the Histories, says:-- "Many men, to whom
in a great degree, and in a short time, unlookedfor prosperity
comes, are wont to turn to insolence." And Philistus likewise
imitates the same sentiment, expressing himself thus:-- "And the
many things which turn out prosperously to men, in accordance with
reason, have an incredibly dangerous s tendency to misfortune. For
those who meet with unlooked success beyond their expectations, are
for the most part wont to turn to insolence." Again, Euripides
"For children sprung of parents who have led
A hard and toilsome life, superior are;"
Critias writes: "For I begin with a man's origin: how far the best
and strongest in body will he be, if his father exercises himself,
and eats in a hardy way, anti subjects his body to toilsome labour;
and if the mother of the future child be strong in body, and give
Again, Homer having said of the Hephaestusmade shield:--
"Upon it earth and heaven and sea he made,
And Ocean's rivers' mighty strength portrayed,"
Pherecydes of Syros says:-- "Zas makes a cloak large and beautiful,
and works on it earth and Ogenus, and the palace of Ogenus."
And Homer having said:--
"Shame, which greatly hurts a man or he!ps,"
Euripides writes in Erechtheus:--
"Of shame I find it hard to judge;
'Tis needed.' 'Tis at times a great mischief."
Take, by way of parallel, such plagiarisms as the following, from
those who flourished together, and were rivals of each other. From
the Orestes of Euripides:--
"Dear charm of sleep, aid in disease."
From the Eriphyle of Sophocies:--
"Hie thee to sleep, healer of that disease."
And from the Antigone of Sophocles:--
"Bastardy is opprobrious in name; but the nature is equal;"
And from the Aleuades of Sophocles:--
"Each good thing has its nature equal."
Again, in the Otimenus of Euripides:--
"For him who toils, God helps;"
And in the Minos of Sophocles;
"To those who act not, fortune is no ally;"
And from the Alexander of Euripides:--
"But time will show; and learning, by that test, I shall know
whether thou art good or bad;"
And from the Hipponos of Sophocles:--
"Besides, conceal thou nought; since Time,
That sees all, hears all, all things will unfold."
But let us similarly run over the following; for Eumelus having
composed the line,
"Of Memory and Olympian Zeus the daughters nine,"
Solon thus begins the elegy:--
"Of Memory and Olympian Zeus the children bright."
Again, Euripides, paraphrasing the Homeric line:--
"What, whence art thou? Thy city and thy parents, where?"
employs the following iambics in Aegeus:--
"What country shall we say that thou hast left
To roam in exile, what thy land--the bound
Of thine own native soil? Who thee begat?
And of what father dost thou call thyself the son?"
And what? Theognis having said:--
"Wine largely drunk is bad; but if one use
It with discretion, 'tis not bad, but good,"--
does not Panyasis write?
"Above the gods' best gift to men ranks wine,
In measure drunk; but in excess the worst."
Hesiod, too, saying:--
"But for the fire to thee I'll give a plague,
For all men to delight themselves withal,"--
"And for the fire
Another fire greater and unconquerable,
Sprung up in the shape of women"
And in addition, Homer, saying:--
"There is no satiating the greedy paunch,
Baneful, which many plagues has caused to men."
Euripides says :--
"Dire need and baneful paunch me overcome;
From which all evils come."
Besides, Callias the comic poet having written:--
"With madmen, all men must be mad, they say,"--
Menander, in the Poloumenoi, expresses himself similarly, saying:--
"The presence of wisdom is not always suitable:
One sometimes must with others play the fool."
And Antimachus of Teos having said:--
"From gifts, to mortals many ills arise,"--
Augias composed the line:--
"For gifts men's mind and acts deceive."
And Hesiod having said:--
"Than a good wife, no man a better thing
Ere gained; than a bad wife, a worse,"--
"A better prize than a good wife no man
Ere gained, than a bad one nought worse."
Again, Epicharmas having said :--
"As destined Ion to live, and yet not long,
Think of thyself."--
"Why? seeing the wealth we have uncertain is,
Why don't we live as free from care, as pleasant
As we may?"
Similarly also, the comic poet Diphilus having said:--
"The life of men is prone to change,"--
"No man of mortal mould his life has passed
From suffering free. Nor to the end again
Has continued prosperous."
Similarly speaks to thee Plato, writing of man as a creature
subject to change. Again, Euripides having said:--
"Oh life to mortal men of trouble full,
How slippery in everything art thou I
Now grow'st thou, and thou now decay'st away.
And there is set no limit, no, not one,
For mortals of their course to make an end,
Except when Death's remorseless final end
Comes, sent from Zeus,"--
"There is no life which has not its own ills,
Pains, cares, thefts, and anxieties, disease;
And Death, as a physician, coming, gives
Rest to their victims in his quiet sleep."
Furthermore, Euripides having said:--
"Many are fortune's shapes,
And many things contrary to expectation the gods perform,"--
The tragic poet Theodectes similarly writes:--
"The instability of mortals' fates."
And Bacchylides having said :--
"To few alone of mortals is it given
To reach hoary age, being prosperous all the while,
And not meet with calamities,"--
Moschion, the comic poet, writes:--
"But he of all men is most blest,
Who leads throughout an equal life."
And you will find that, Theognis having said:--
"For no advantage to a mall grown old
A young wife is, who will not, as a ship
The helm, obey,"--
Aristophanes, the comic poet, writes:--
"An old man to a young wife suits but ill."
For Anacreon, having written:--
"Luxurious love I sing,
With flowery garlands graced,
He is of gods the king,
He mortal men subdues?--
Euripides writes :--
"For love not only men attacks,
And women; but disturbs
The souls of gods above, and to the sea
But not to protract the discourse further, in our anxiety to show
the propensity of the Greeks to plagiarism in expressions and
dogmas, allow us to adduce the express testimony of Hippias, the
sophist of Elea, who discourses on the point in hand, and speaks
thus: "Of these things some perchance are said by Orpheus, some
briefly by Musaeus; some in one place, others in other places; some
by Hesiod, some by Homer, some by the rest of the poets; and some in
prose compositions, some by Greeks, some by Barbarians. And I from
all these, placing together the things of most importance and of
kindred character, will make the present discourse new and varied."
And in order that we may see that philosophy and history, and even
rhetoric, are not free of a like reproach, it is right to adduce a
few instances from them. For Alcmaeon of Crotona having said, "It is
easier to guard against a man who is an enemy than a friend,"
Sophocles wrote in the Antigone :--
"For what sore more grievous than a bad friend?"
And Xenophon said: "No man can injure enemies in any way other than
by appearing to be a friend."
And Euripides having said in Telephus:--
"Shall we Greeks be slaves to Barbarians? "--
Thrasymachus, in the oration for the Larissaeans, says: "Shall we be
slaves to Archelaus--Greeks to a Barbarian?"
And Orpheus having said:--
"Water is the change for soul, and death for water;
From water is earth, and what comes from earth is again water,
And from that, soul, which changes the whole ether;"
and Heraclitus, putting together the expressions from these lines,
"It is death for souls to become water, and death for water to
become earth; and from earth comes water, and from water soul."
And Athamas the Pythagorean having said, "Thus was produced the
beginning of the universe; and there are four roots--fire, water,
air, earth: for from these is the origination of what is
produced,"--Empedocles of Agrigentum wrote :--
"The four roots of all things first do thou hear--
Fire, water, earth, and ether's boundless height:
For of these all that was, is, shall be, comes."
And Plato having said,"Wherefore also the gods, knowing men, release
sooner from life those they value most,"
"Whom the gods love, dies young."
And Euripides having written in the OEnomaus:--
"We judge of things obscure from what we see;"
and in the Phoenix:--
"By signs the obscure is fairly grasped?--
Hyperides says, "But we must investigate things unseen by learning
from signs and probabilities." And Isocrates having said, "We must
conjecture the future by the past," Andocides does not shrink from
saying, "For we must make use of what has happened previously as
signs in reference to what is to be." Besides, Theognis having said
"The evil of counterfeit silver and gold is not intolerable,
O Cyrnus, and to a wise man is not difficult of detection; But if
the mind of a friend is hidden in his breast,
If he is false, and has a treacherous heart within,
This is the basest thing for mortals, caused by God,
And of all things the hardest to detect,"--
Euripides writes :--
"Oh Zeus, why hast thou given to men clear tests
Of spurious gold, while on the body grows
No mark sufficing to discover clear
The wicked man?"
Hyperides himself also says, "There is no feature of the mind
impressed on the countenance Of men."
Again, Stasinus having composed the line:--
"Fool, who, having slain the father, leaves the children,"--
Xenophon says, "For I seem to myself to have acted in like
manner, as if one who killed the father should spare his children."
And Sophocles having written in the Antigone:--
"Mother and father being in Hades now,
No brother ever can to me spring forth?"--
Herodotus says, "Mother and father being no more, I shall not have
another brother." In addition to these, Theopompus having written:--
"Twice children are old men in very truth;"
And before him Sophocles in Peleus:--
"Peleus, the son of Aeacus, I, sole housekeeper,
Guide, old as he is now, and train again,
For the aged man is once again a child,"--
Antipho the orator says, "For the nursing of the old is like the
nursing of children." Also the philosopher Plato says, "The old man
then, as seems, will be twice a child." Further, Thucydides having
said, "We alone bore the brunt at Marathon,"--Demosthenes said, "By
those who bore the brunt at Marathon." Nor will I omit the
following. Cratinus having said "The preparation perchance you
Andocides the orator says, "The preparation, gentlemen of the jury,
and the eagerness of our enemies, almost all of you know." Similarly
also Nicias, in the speech on the deposit, against Ly-sias, says,
"The preparation and the eagerness of the adversaries, ye see, O
gentlemen of the jury." After him Aeschines says, "You see the
preparation, O men of Athens, and the line of battle." Again,
Demosthenes having said, "What zeal and what canvassing, O men of
Athens, have been employed in this contest, I think almost all of
you are aware;" and Philinus similarly, "What zeal, what forming of
the line of battle, gentlemen of the jury, have taken place in this
contest, I think not one of you is ignorant." Isocrates, again,
having said, "As if she were related to his wealth, not him," Lysias
says in the Orphics, "And he was plainly related not to the persons,
but to the money." Since Homer also having written:--
"O friend, if in this war, by taking flight,
We should from age and death exemption win,
I would not fight among the first myself,
Nor would I send thee to the glorious fray;
But now--for myriad fates of death attend
In any case, which man may not escape
Or shun--come on. To some one we shall bring
Renown, or some one shall to us,"
Theopompus writes, "For if, by avoiding the present danger, we were
to pass the rest of our time in security, to show love of life would
not be wonderful. But now, so many fatalities are incident to life,
that death in battle seems preferable." And what? Child the sophist
having uttered the apophthegm, "Become surety, and mischief is at
hand," did not Epicharmus utter the same sentiment in other terms,
when he said, "Suretyship is the daughter of mischief, and loss that
of suretyship?" Further, Hippocrates the physician having
written, "You must look to time, and locality, and age, and
disease," Euripides says in Hexameters :--
"Those who the healing art would practise well,
Must study people's modes of life, and note
The soil, and the diseases so consider."
Homer again, having written:--
"I say no mortal man can doom escape,"--
Archinus says, "All men are bound to die either sooner or later;"
and Demosthenes, "To all men death is the end of life, though one
should keep himself shut up in a coop."
And Herodotus, again, having said, in his discourse about Glaucus
the Spartan, that the Pythian said, "In the case of the Deity, to
say and to do are equivalent," Aristophanes said :--
"For to think and to do are equivalent."
And before him, Parmenides of Elea said:--
"For thinking and being are the same."
And Plato having said, "And we shall show, not absurdly perhaps,
that the beginning of love is sight; and hope diminishes the
passion, memory nourishes it, and intercourse preserves it;" does
not Philemon the comic poet write :--
"First all see, then admire;
Then gaze, then come to hope;
And thus arises love?"
Further, Demosthenes having said, "For to all of us death is a
debt," and so forth, Phanocles writes in Loves, or The Beautiful:--
"But from the Fates' unbroken thread escape
Is none for those that feed on earth."
You will also find that Plato having said, "For the first sprout of
each plant, having got a fair start, according to the virtue of its
own nature, is most powerful in inducing the appropriate end;" the
historian writes, "Further, it is not natural for one of the wild
plants to become cultivated, after they have passed the earlier
period of growth;" and the following of Empedocles:--
"For I already have been boy and girl,
And bush, and bird, and mute fish in the sea,"--
Euripides transcribes in Chrysippus:--
"But nothing dies
Of things that are; but being dissolved,
One from the other,
Shows another form."
And Plato having said, in the Republic, that women were common,
Euripides writes in the Protesilaus:--
"For common, then, is woman's bed."
Further, Euripides having written :--
"For to the temperate enough sufficient is "--
Epicurus expressly says, "Sufficiency is the greatest riches of
Again, Aristophanes having written :--
"Life thou securely shalt enjoy, being just
And free from turmoil, and from fear live well,"--
Epicurus says, "The greatest fruit of righteousness is
Let these species, then, of Greek plagiarism of sentiments, being
such, stand as sufficient for a clear specimen to him who is capable
And not only have they been detected pirating and paraphrasing
thoughts and expressions, as will be shown; but they will also be
convicted of the possession of what is entirely stolen. For stealing
entirely what is the production of others they have published it as
their own; as Eugamon of Cyrene did the entire book on the
Thesprotians from Musaeus, and Pisander of Camirus the Heraclea of
Pisinus of Lindus, and Panyasis of Halicarnassus, the capture of
OEchalia from Cleophilus of Samos.
You will also find that Homer, the great poet, took from Orpheus,
from the Disappearance of Dionysus, those words and what follows
"As a man trains a luxuriant shoot of olive."
And in the Theogony, it is said by Orpheus of Kronos:--
"He lay, his thick neck bent aside; and him
All-conquering Sleep had seized."
These Homer transferrred to the Cyclops. And Hesiod writes of
"Gladly to hear, what the immortals have assigned
To men, the brave from cowards clearly marks;"
and so forth, taking it word for word from the poet Musaeus.
And Aristophanes the comic poet has, in the first of the
Thesmophoriazusoe, transferred the words from the Empiprameni of
Cratinus. And Plato the comic poet, and Aristophanes in Doedalus,
steal from one another. Cocalus, composed by Araros, the son of
Aristophanes, was by the comic poet Philemon altered, and made into
the comedy called Hypobolimoens.
Eumelus and Acusilaus the historiographers changed the contents of
Hesiod into prose, and published them as their own. Gorgias of
Leontium and Eudemus of Naxus, the historians, stole from
Melesagoras. And, besides, there is Bion of Proconnesus, who
epitomized and transcribed the writings of the ancient Cadmus, and
Archilochus, and Aristotle, and Leandrus, and Hellanicus, and
Hecataeus, and Androtion, and Philochorus. Dieuchidas of Megara
transferred the beginning of his treatise from the Deucalion of
Hellanicus. I pass over in silence Heraclitus of Ephesus, who took a
very great deal from Orpheus.
From Pythagoras Plato derived the immortality of the soul; and he
from the Egyptians. And many of the Platonists composed books, in
which they show that the Stoics, as we said in the beginning, and
Aristotle, took the most and principal of their dogmas from Plato.
Epicurus also pilfered his leading dogmas from Democritus. Let these
things then be so. For life would fail me, were I to undertake to go
over the subject in detail, to expose the selfish plagiarism of the
Greeks, and how they claim the discovery of the best of their
doctrines, which they have received from us.
CHAP. III.--PLAGIARISM BY THE GREEKS OF THE MIRACLES RELATED IN
THE SACRED BOOKS OF THE HEBREWS.
And now they are convicted not only of borrowing doctrines from the
Barbarians, but also of relating as prodigies of Hellenic mythology
the marvels found in our records, wrought through divine power from
above, by those who led holy lives, while devoting attention to us.
And we shall ask at them whether those things which they relate are
true or false. But they will not say that they are false; for they
will not with their will condemn themselves of the very great
silliness of composing falsehoods, but of necessity admit them to be
true. And how will the prodigies enacted by Moses and the other
prophets any longer appear to them incredible? For the Almighty God,
in His care for all men, turns some to salvation by commands, some
by threats, some by miraculous signs, some by gentle promises.
Well, the Greeks, when once a drought had wasted Greece for a
protracted period, and a dearth of the fruits of the earth ensued,
it is said, those that survived of them, having, because of the
famine, come as suppliants to Delphi, asked the Pythian priestess
how they should be released from the calamity. She announced that
the only help in their distress was, that they should avail
themselves of the prayers of Aeacus. Prevailed on by them, Aeacus,
ascending the Hellenic hill, and stretching out pure hands to
heaven, and invoking the commons God, besought him to pity wasted
Greece. And as he prayed, thunder sounded, out of the usual course
of things, and the whole surrounding atmosphere was covered with
clouds. And impetuous and continued rains, bursting down, filled the
whole region. The result was a copious and rich fertility wrought by
the husbandry of the prayers of Aeacus.
"And Samuel called on the LORD," it is said, "and the LORD gave
forth His voice, and rain in the day of harvest." Do you see that
"He who sendeth His rain on the just and on the unjust" by the
subject powers is the one God? And the whole of our Scripture is
full of instances of God, in reference to the prayers of the just,
hearing and performing each one of their petitions.
Again, the Greeks relate, that in the case of a failure once of the
Etesian winds, Aristaeus once sacrificed in Ceus to Isthmian Zeus.
For there was great devastation, everything being burnt up with the
heat in consequence of the winds which had been wont to refresh the
productions of the earth, not blowing, and he easily called them
And at Delphi, on the expedition of Xerxes against Greece, the
Pythian priestess having made answer:--
"O Delphians, pray the winds, and it will be better,"--
they having erected an altar and performed sacrifice to the winds,
had them as their helpers. For, blowing violently around Cape
Sepias, they shivered the whole preparations of the Persian
expedition. Empedocles of Agrigentum was called "Checker of Winds."
Accordingly it is said, that when, on a time, a wind blew from the
mountain of Agrigentum, heavy and pestiferous for the inhabitants,
and the cause also of barrenness to their wives, he made the wind to
cease. Wherefore he himself writes in the lines:--
"Thou shalt the might of the unwearied winds make still,
Which rushing to the earth spoil mortals' crops,
And at thy will bring back the avenging blasts."
And they say that he was followed by some that used divinations, and
some that had been long vexed by sore diseases. They plainly,
then, believed in the performance of cures, and signs and wonders,
from our Scriptures. For if certain powers move the winds and
dispense showers, let them hear the psalmist: "How amiable are; thy
tabernacles, O LORD of hosts!" This is the Lord of powers, and
principalities, and authorities, of whom Moses speaks; so that we
may be with Him. "And ye shall circumcise your hard heart, and shall
not harden your neck any more. For He is Lord of lords and God of
gods, the great God and strong," unit so forth. And Isaiah says,
"Lift your eyes to the height, and see who hath produced all these
And some say that plagues, and hail-storms, and tempests, and the
like, are wont to take place, not alone in consequence of material
disturbance, but also through anger of demons and bad angels. For
instance, they say that the Magi at Cleone, watching the phenomena
of the skies, when the clouds are about to discharge hail, avert the
threatening of wrath by incantations and sacrifices. And if at any
time there is the want of an animal, they are satisfied with
bleeding their own finger for a sacrifice. The prophetess Diotima,
by the Athenians offering sacrifice previous to the pestilence,
effected a delay of the plague for ten years. The sacrifices, too,
of Epimenides of Crete, put off the Persian war for an equal period.
And it is considered to be all the same whether we call these
spirits gods or angels. And those skilled in the matter of
consecrating statues, in many of the temples have erected tombs of
the dead, calling the souls of these Daemons, and teaching them to
be wor-shipped by men; as having, in consequence of the purity of
their life, by the divine foreknowledge, received the power of
wandering about the space around the earth in order to minister to
men. For they knew that some souls were by nature kept in the body.
But of these, as the work proceeds, in the treatise on the angels,
we shall discourse.
Democritus, who predicted many things from observation of celestial
phenomena, was called "Wisdom" (<greek>Sofia</greek>). On his
meeting a cordial reception from his brother Damasus, he predicted
that there would be much rain, judging from certain stars. Some,
accordingly, convinced by him, gathered their crops; for being in
summer-time, they were stir on the threshing-floor. But others lost
all, unexpected and heavy showers having burst down.
How then shall the Greeks any longer disbelieve the divine
appearance on Mount Sinai, when the fire burned, consuming none of
the things that grew on the mount; and the sound of trampets issued
forth, breathed without instruments? For that which is called the
descent on the mount of God is the advent of divine power, pervading
the whole world, and proclaiming "the light that is
For such is the allegory, according to the Scripture. But the fire
was seen, as Aristobulus says, while the whole multitude,
amounting to not less than a million, besides those under age, were
congregated around the mountain, the circuit of the mount not being
less than five days' journey. Over the whole place of the vision the
burning fire was seen by them all encamped as it were around; so
that the descent was not local. For God is everywhere.
Now the compilers of narratives say that in the island of Britain s
there is a cave situated under a mountain, and a chasm on its
summit; and that, accordingly, when the wind falls into the cave,
and rushes into the bosom of the cleft, a sound is heard like
cymbals clashing musically. And often in the woods, when the leaves
are moved by a sudden gust of wind, a sound is emitted like the song
Those also who composed the Persics relate that in the uplands, in
the country of the Magi, three mountains are situated on an extended
plain, and that those who travel through the locality, on coming to
the first mountain, hear a confused sound as of several myriads
shouting, as if in battle array; and on reaching the middle one,
they hear a clamour louder and more distinct; and at the end hear
people singing a paean, as if victorious. And the cause, in my
opinion, of the whole sound, is the smoothness and cavernous
character of the localities; and the air, entering in, being sent
back and going to the same point, sounds with considerable force.
Let these things be so. But it is possible for God Almighty, even
without a medium, to produce a voice and vision through the ear,
showing that His greatness has a natural order beyond what is
customary, in order to the conversion of the hitherto unbelieving
soul, and the reception of the commandment given. But there being a
cloud and a lofty mountain, how is it not possible to hear a
different sound, the wind moving by the active cause? Wherefore also
the prophet says, "Ye heard the voice of words, and saw no
similitude." You see how the Lord's voice, the Word, without
shape, the power of the Word, the luminous word of the Lord, the
truth from heaven, from above, coming to the assembly of the Church,
wrought by the luminous immediate ministry.
CHAP. IV.--THE GREEKS DREW MANY OF THEIR PHILOSOPHICAL TENETS
FROM THE EGYPTIAN AND INDIAN GYMNOSOPHISTS.
We shall find another testimony in confirmation, in the fact that
the best of the philosophers, having appropriated their most
excellent dogmas from us, boast, as it were, of certain of the
tenets which pertain to each sect being culled from other
Barbarians, chiefly from the Egyptians--both other tenets, and that
especially of the transmigration of the soul. For the Egyptians
pursue a philosophy of their own. This is principally shown by their
sacred ceremonial. For first advances the Singer, bearing some one
of the symbols of music. For they say that he must learn two of the
books of Hermes, the one of which contains the hymns of the gods,
the second the regulations for the king's life. And after the Singer
advances the Astrologer, with a horologe in his hand, and a palm,
the symbols of astrology. He must have the astrological books of
Hermes, which are four in number, always in his mouth. Of these, one
is about the order of the fixed stars that are visible, and another
about the conjunctions and luminous appearances of the sun and moon;
and the rest respecting their risings. Next in order advances the
sacred Scribe, with wings on his head, and in his hand a book and
rule, in which were writing ink and the reed, with which they write.
And he must be acquainted with what are called hieroglyphics, and
know about cosmography and geography, the position of the sun and
moon, and about the five planets; also the description of Egypt, and
the chart of the Nile; and the description of the equipment of the
priests and of the places consecrated to them, and about the
measures and the things in use in the sacred rites. Then the
Stole-keeper follows those previously mentioned, with the cubit of
justice and the cup for libations. He is acquainted with all points
called Paedeutic(relating to training) and
Moschophatic(sacrificial). There are also ten books which relate to
the honour paid by them to their gods, and containing the Egyptian
worship; as that relating to sacrifices, first-fruits, hymns,
prayers, processions, festivals, and the like. And behind all walks
the Prophet, with the water-vase carried openly in his arms; who is
followed by those who carry the issue of loaves. He, as being the
governor of the temple, learns the ten books called "Hieratic;" and
they contain all about the laws, and the gods, and the whole of the
training of the priests. For the Prophet is, among the Egyptians,
also over the distribution of the revenues. There are then forty-two
books of Hermes indispensably necessary; of which the six-and-thirty
containing the whole philosophy of the Egyptians are learned by the
forementioned personages; and the other six, which are medical, by
the Pastophoroi(image-bearers),--treating of the structure of the
body, and of diseases, and instruments, and medicines, and about the
eyes, and the last about women. Such are the customs of the
Egyptians, to speak briefly.
The philosophy of the Indians, too, has been celebrated. Alexander
of Macedon, having taken ten of the Indian Gymnosophists, that
seemed the best and most sententious, proposed to them problems,
threatening to put to death him that did not answer to the purpose;
ordering one, who was the eldest of them, to decide.
The first, then, being asked whether he thought that the living were
more in number than the dead, said, The living; for that the dead
were not. The second, on being asked Whether the sea or the land
maintained larger beasts, said, The land; for the sea was part of
it. And the third being asked which was the most cunning of animals?
The one, which has not hitherto been known, man. And the fourth
being interrogated, For what reason they had made Sabba, who was
their prince, revolt, answered, Because they wished him to live well
rather than die ill. And the fifth being asked, Whether he thought
that day or night was first, said, One day. For puzzling questions
must have puzzling answers. And the sixth being posed with the
query, How shall one be loved most? By being most powerful; in order
that he may not be timid. And the seventh being asked, How any one
of men could become God? said, If he do what it is impossible for
man to do. And the eighth being asked, Which is the stronger, life
or death? said, Life, which bears such ills. And the ninth being
interrogated, Up to what point it is good for a man to live? said,
Till he does not think that to die is better than to live. And on
Alexander ordering the tenth to say something, for he was judge, he
said, "One spake worse than another." And on Alexander saying, Shall
you not, then, die first, having given such a judgment? he said, And
how, O king, wilt thou prove true, after saying that thou wouldest
kill first the first man that answered very badly?
And that the Greeks are called pilferers of all manner of writing,
is, as I think, sufficiently demonstrated by abundant proofs.
CHAP. V.- THE GREEKS HAD SOME KNOWLEDGE OF THE TRUE GOD.
And that the men of highest repute among the Greeks knew God, not by
positive knowledge, but by indirect expression, Peter says in the
Preaching: "Know then that there is one God, who made the beginning
of all things, and holds the power of the end; and is the Invisible,
who sees all things; incapable of being contained, who contains all
things; needing nothing, whom all things need, and by whom they are;
incomprehensible, everlasting, unmade, who made all things by the
'Word of His power,' that is, according to the gnostic scripture,
Then he adds: "Worship this God not as the Greeks,"--signifying
plainly, that the excellent among the Greeks worshipped the same God
as we, but that they had not learned by perfect knowledge that which
was delivered by the Son. "Do not then worship," he did not say, the
God whom the Greeks worship, but "as the Greeks,"-- changing the
manner of the worship of God, not announcing another God. What,
then, the expression "not as the Greeks" means, Peter himself shall
explain, as he adds: "Since they are carried away by ignorance, and
know not God" (as we do, according to the perfect knowledge); "hut
giving shape to the things of which He gave them the power for
use--stocks and stones, brass and iron, gold and
silver--matter;--and setting up the things which are slaves for use
and possession, worship them. And what God hath given to them for
food--the fowls of the air, and the fish of the sea, and the
creeping things of the earth, and the wild beasts with the
four-footed cattle of the field, weasels and mice, cats and dogs and
apes, and their own proper food--they sacrifice as sacrifices to
mortals; and offering dead things to the dead, as to gods, are
unthankful to God, denying His existence by these things." And that
it is said, that we and the Greeks know the same God, though not in
the same way, he will infer thus: "Neither worship as the Jews; for
they, thinking that they only know God, do not know Him, adoring as
they do angels and archangels, the month and the moon. And if the
moon be not visible, they do not hold the Sabbath, which is called
the first; nor do they hold the new moon, nor the feast of
unleavened bread, nor the feast, nor the great day." Then he
gives the finishing stroke to the question: "So that do ye also,
learning holily and righteously what we deliver to you; keep them,
worshipping God in a new way, by Christ." For we find in the
Scriptures, as the Lord says: "Behold, I make with you a new
covenant, not as I made with your fathers in Mount Horeb." He
made a new covenant with us; for what belonged to the Greeks and
Jews is old. But we, who worship Him in a new way, in the third
form, are Christians. For clearly, as I think, he showed that the
one and only God was known by the Greeks in a Gentile way, by the
Jews Judaically, and in a new and spiritual way by us.
And further, that the same God that furnished both the Covenants was
the giver of Greek philosophy to the Greeks, by which the Almighty
is glorified among the Greeks, he shows. And it is clear from this.
Accordingly, then, from the Hellenic training, and also from that of
the law are gathered into the one race of the saved people those who
accept faith: not that the three peoples are separated by time, so
that one might suppose three natures, but trained in different
Covenants of the one Lord, by the word of the one Lord. For that, as
God wished to save the Jews by giving to them prophets, so also by
raising up prophets of their own in their own tongue, as they were
able to receive God's beneficence, He distinguished the most
excellent of the Greeks from the common herd, in addition to
"Peter's Preaching," the Apostle Paul will show, saying: "Take also
the Hellenic books, read the Sibyl, how it is shown that God is one,
and how the future is indicated. And taking Hystaspes, read, and you
will find much more luminously and distinctly the Son of God
described, and how many kings shall draw up their forces against
Christ, hating Him and those that bear His name, and His faithful
ones, and His patience, and His coming." Then in one word he asks
us, "Whose is the world, and all that is in the world ? Are they not
God's ? " Wherefore Peter says, that the Lord said to the
apostles: "If any one of Israel then, wishes to repent, and by my
name to believe in God, his sins shall be forgiven him, after twelve
years. Go forth into the world, that no one may say, We have not
CHAP. VI.--THE GOSPEL WAS PREACHED TO JEWS AND GENTILES IN
But as the proclamation [of the Gospel] has come now at the fit
time, so also at the fit time were the Law and the Prophets given to
the Barbarians, and Philosophy to the Greeks, to fit their ears for
the Gospel. "Therefore," says the Lord who delivered Israel, "in an
acceptable time have I heard thee, and in a day of salvation have I
helped thee. And I have given thee for a Covenant to the nations;
that thou mightest inhabit the earth, and receive the inheritance of
the wilderness; saying to those that are in bonds, Come forth; and
to those that are in darkness, Show yourselves." For if the
"prisoners" are the Jews, of whom the Lord said, "Come forth, ye
that will, from your bonds," --meaning the voluntary bound, and who
have taken on them "the burdens grievous to be borne" by human
injunction--it is plain that "those in darkness" are they who have
the ruling faculty of the soul buried in idolatry.
For to those who were righteous according to the law, faith was
wanting. Wherefore also the Lord, in healing them, said, "Thy faith
hath saved thee." But to those that were righteous according to
philosophy, not only faith in the Lord, but also the abandonment of
idolatry, were necessary. Straightway, on the revelation of the
truth, they also repented of their previous conduct.
Wherefore the Lord preached the Gospel to those in Hades.
Accordingly the Scripture says, "Hades says to Destruction, We have
not seen His form, but we have heard His voice." It is not
plainly the place, which, the words above say, heard the voice, but
those who have been put in Hades, and have abandoned themselves to
destruction, as persons who have thrown themselves voluntarily from
a ship into the sea. They, then, are those that hear the divine
power and voice. For who in his senses can suppose the souls of the
righteous and those of sinners in the same condemnation, charging
Providence with injustice?
But how? Do not [the Scriptures] show that. the Lord preached the
Gospel to those that perished in the flood, or rather had been
chained, and to those kept "in ward and guard"? And it has been
shown also, in the second book of the Stromata, that the
apostles, following the Lord, preached the Gospel to those in Hades.
For it was requisite, in my opinion, that as here, so also there,
the best of the disciples should be imitators of the Master; so that
He should bring to repentance those belonging to the Hebrews, and
they the Gentiles; that is, those who had lived in righteousness
according to the Law and Philosophy, who had ended life not
perfectly, but sinfully. For it was suitable to the divine
administration, that those possessed of greater worth in
righteousness, and whose life had been pre-eminent, on repenting of
their transgressions, though found in another place, yet being
confessedly of the number of the people of God Almighty, should be
saved, each one according to his individual knowledge.
And, as I think, the Saviour also exerts His might because it is His
work to save; which accordingly He also did by drawing to salvation
those who became willing, by the preaching [of the Gospel], to
believe on Him, wherever they were. If, then, the Lord descended to
Hades for no other end but to preach the Gospel, as He did descend;
it was either to preach the Gospel to all or to the Hebrews only.
If, accordingly, to all, then all who believe shall be saved,
although they may be of the Gentiles, on making their profession
there; since God's punishments are saving and disciplinary, leading
to conversion, and choosing rather the repentance thorn the death of
a sinner; and especially since souls, although darkened by
passions, when released from their bodies, are able to perceive more
clearly, because of their being no longer obstructed by the paltry
If, then, He preached only to the Jews, who wanted the knowledge and
faith of the Saviour, it is plain that, since God is no respecter of
persons, the apostles also, as here, so there preached the Gospel to
those of the heathen who were ready for conversion. And it is well
said by the Shepherd, "They went down with them therefore into the
water, and again ascended. But these descended alive, and again
ascended alive. But those who had fallen asleep, descended dead, but
ascended alive." Further the Gospel says, "that many bodies of
those that slept arose," --plainly as having been translated to a
better state. There took place, then, a universal movement and
translation through the economy of the Saviour.
One righteous man, then, differs not, as righteous, from another
righteous man, whether he be of the Law or a Greek. For God is not
only Lord of the Jews, but of all men, and more nearly the Father of
those who know Him. For if to live well and according to the law is
to live, also to live rationally according to the law is to live;
and those who lived rightly before the Law were classed under
faith, and judged to be righteous,--it is evident that those,
too, who were outside of the Law, having lived rightly, in
consequence of the peculiar' nature of the voice, though they are
in Hades and in ward, on hearing the voice of the Lord, whether
that of His own person or that acting through His apostles, with all
speed turned and believed. For we remember that the Lord is "the
power of God," and power can never be weak.
So I think it is demonstrated that the God being good, and the Lord
powerful, they save with a righteousness and equality which extend
to all that turn to Him, whether here or elsewhere. For it is not
here alone that the active power of God is beforehand, but it is
everywhere and is always at work. Accordingly, in the Preaching of
Peter, the Lord says to the disciples after the resurrection, "I
have chosen you twelve disciples, judging you worthy of me," whom
the Lord wished to be apostles, having judged them faithful, sending
them into the world to the men on the earth, that they may know that
there is one God, showing clearly what would take place by the faith
of Christ; that they who heard and believed should be saved; and
that those who believed not, after having heard, should bear
witness, not having the excuse to allege, We have not heard.
What then? Did not the same dispensation obtain in Hades, so that
even there, all the souls, on hearing the proclamation, might either
exhibit repentance, or confess that their punishment was just,
because they believed not? And it were the exercise of no ordinary
arbitrariness, for those who had departed before the advent of the
Lord (not having the Gospel preached to them, and having afforded no
ground from themselves, in consequence of believing or not) to
obtain either salvation or punishment. For it is not right that
these should be condemned without trial, and that those alone who
lived after the advent should have the advantage of the divine
righteousness. But to all rational souls it was said from above,
"Whatever one of you has done in ignorance, without clearly knowing
God, if, on becoming conscious, he repent, all his sins will be
forgiven him." "For, behold," it is said, "I have set before
your face death and life, that ye may choose life." '' God says
that He set, not that He made both, in order to the comparison of
choice. And in another Scripture He says, "If ye hear Me, and be
willing, ye shall eat the good of the land. But if ye hear Me not,
and are not willing, the sword shall devour you: for the mouth of
the LORD hath spoken these things."
Again, David expressly (or rather the Lord in the person of the
saint, and the same from the foundation of the world is each one who
at different periods is saved, and shall be saved by faith) says,
"My heart was glad, and my tongue rejoiced, and my flesh shall still
rest in hope. For Thou shalt not leave my soul in hell, nor wilt
Thou give Thine holy one to see corruption. Thou hast made known to
me the paths of life, Thou wilt make me full of joy in Thy
presence." As, then, the people was precious to the Lord, so
also is the entire holy people; he also who is converted from the
Gentiles, who was prophesied under the name of proselyte, along with
the Jew. For rightly the Scripture says, that "the ox and the bear
shall come together." For the Jew is designated by the ox, from
the animal under the yoke being reckoned clean, according to the
law; for the ox both parts the hoof and chews the cud. And the
Gentile is designated by the bear, which is an unclean and wild
beast. And this animal brings forth a shapeless lump of flesh, which
it shapes into the likeness of a beast solely by its tongue. For he
who is convened from among the Gentiles is formed from a beastlike
life to gentleness by the word; and, when once tamed, is made clean,
just as the ox. For example, the prophet says, "The sirens, and the
daughters of the sparrows, and all the beasts of the field, shall
bless me." Of the number of unclean animals, the wild beasts of
the field are known to be, that is, of the world; since those who
are wild in respect of faith, and polluted in life, and not purified
by the righteousness which is according to the law, are called wild
beasts. But changed from wild beasts by the faith of the Lord, they
become men of God, advancing from the wish to change to the fact.
For some the Lord exhorts, and to those who have already made the
attempt he stretches forth His hand, and draws them up. "For the
Lord dreads not the face of any one, nor will He regard greatness;
for He hath made small and great, and cares alike for all." And
David says, "For the heathen are fixed in the destruction they have
caused; their foot is taken in the snare which they hid." s "But the
LORD was a refuge to the poor, a help in season also in
affliction." Those, then, that were in affliction had the Gospel
seasonably proclaimed. And therefore it said, "Declare among the
heathen his pursuits," that they may not be judged unjustly.
If, then, He preached the Gospel to those in the flesh that they
might not be condemned unjustly, how is it conceivable that He did
not for the same cause preach the Gospel to those who had departed
this life before His advent? "For the righteous LORD loveth
righteousness: His countenance beholdeth uprightness." "But he
that loveth wickedness hateth his own soul."
If, then, in the deluge all sinful flesh perished, punishment having
been inflicted on them for correction, we must first believe that
the will of God, which is disciplinary and beneficent, saves
those who turn to Him. Then, too, the more subtle substance, the
soul, could never receive any injury from the grosser element of
water, its subtle and simple nature rendering it impalpable, called
as it is incorporeal. But whatever is gross, made so in consequence
of sin, this is cast away along with the carnal spirit which lusts
against the soul.
Now also Valentinus, the Coryphaeus of those who herald community,
in his book on The Intercourse of Friends, writes in these words:
"Many of the things that are written, though in common hooks, are
found written in the church of God. For those sayings which proceed
from the heart are vain. For the law written in the heart is the
People of the Beloved --loved and loving Him." For whether it be
the Jewish writings or those of the philosophers that he calls "the
Common Books," he makes the truth common. And Isidore," at once son
and disciple to Basilides, in the first hook of the Expositions of
the Prophet Parchor, writes also in these words: "The Attics say
that certain things were intimated to Socrates, in consequence of a
daemon attending on him. And Aristotle says that all men are
provided with daemons, that attend on them during the time they are
in the body,-having taken this piece of prophetic instruction and
transferred it to his own books, without acknowledging whence he had
abstracted this statement." And again, in the second book of his
work, he thus writes: "And let no one think that what we say is
peculiar to the elect, was said before by any philosophers. For it
is not a discovery of theirs. For having appropriated it from our
prophets, they attributed it to him who is wise according to them."
Again, in the same: "For to me it appears that those who profess to
philosophize, do so that they may learn what is the winged oak,'"
and the variegated robe on it, all of which Pherecydes has employed
as theological allegories, having taken them from the prophecy of
CHAP. VII.--WHAT TRUE PHILOSOPHY IS, AND WHENCE SO CALLED.
As we have long ago pointed out, what we propose as our subject is
not the discipline which obtains in each sect, but that which is
really philosophy, strictly systematic Wisdom, which furnishes
acquaintance with the things which pertain to life. And we define
Wisdom to be certain knowledge, being a sure and irrefragable
apprehension of things divine and human, comprehending the present,
past, and future, which the Lord hath taught us, both by His advent
and by the prophets. And it is irrefragable by reason, inasmuch as
it has been communicated. And so it is wholly true according to
[God's] intention, as being known through means of the Son. And in
one aspect it is eternal, and in another it becomes useful in time.
Partly it is one and the same, partly many and indifferent--partly
without any movement of passion, partly with passionate
desire--partly perfect, partly incomplete.
This wisdom, then--rectitude of soul and of reason, and purity of
life--is the object of the desire of philosophy, which is kindly and
lovingly disposed towards wisdom, and does everything to attain it.
Now those are called philosophers, among us, who love Wisdom, the
Creator and Teacher of all things, that is, the knowledge of the Son
of God; and among the Greeks, those who undertake arguments on
virtue. Philosophy, then, consists of such dogmas found in each sect
(I mean those of philosophy) as cannot be impugned, with a
corresponding life, collected into one selection; and these, stolen
from the Barbarian God-given grace, have been adorned by Greek
speech. For some they have borrowed, and others they have
misunderstood. And in the case of others, what they have spoken, in
consequence of being moved, they have not yet perfectly worked out;
and others by human conjecture and reasoning, in which also they
stumble. And they think that they have hit the truth perfectly; but
as we understand them, only partially. They know, then, nothing more
than this world. And it is just like geometry, which treats of
measures and magnitudes and forms, by delineation on plane-surfaces;
and just as painting appears to take in the whole field of view in
the scenes represented. But it gives a false description of the
view, according to the rules of the art, employing the signs that
result from the incidents of the lines of vision. By this means, the
higher and lower points in the view, and those between, are
preserved; and some objects seem to appear in the foreground, and
others in the background, and others to appear in some other way, on
the smooth and level surface. So also the philosophers copy the
truth, after the manner of painting. And always in the case of each
one of them, their self-love is the cause of all their mistakes.
Wherefore one ought not, in the desire for the glory that terminates
in men, to be animated by self-love; but loving God, to become
really holy with wisdom. If, then, one treats what is particular as
universal, and regards that, which serves, as the Lord, he misses
the truth, not understanding what was spoken by David by way of
confession: "I have eaten earth [ashes] like bread." Now,
self-love and self-conceit are, in his view, earth and error. But if
so, science and knowledge are derived from instruction. And if there
is instruction, you must seek for the master. Cleanthes claims Zeno,
and Metrodorus Epicurus, and Theophrastus Aristotle, and Plato
Socrates. But if I Come to Pythagoras, and Pherecydes, and Thales,
and the first wise men, I come to a stand in my search for their
teacher. Should you say the Egyptians, the Indians, the Babylonians,
and the Magi themselves, I will not stop from asking their teacher.
And I lead you up to the first generation of men; and from that
point I begin to investigate Who is their teacher. No one of men;
for they had not yet learned. Nor yet any of the angels: for in the
way that angels, in virtue of being angels, speak, men do not hear;
nor, as we have ears, have they a tongue to correspond; nor would
any one attribute to the angels organs of speech, lips I mean, and
the parts contiguous, throat, and windpipe, and chest, breath and
air to vibrate, And God is far from calling aloud in the
unapproachable sanctity, separated as He is from even the
And we also have already heard that angels learned the truth, and
their rulers over them; for they had a beginning. It remains,
then, for us, ascending to seek their teacher. And since the
unoriginated Being is one, the Omnipotent God; one, too, is the
First-begotten, "by whom all things were made, and without whom not
one thing ever was made." "For one, in truth, is God, who formed
the beginning of all things;" pointing out "the first-begotten Son,"
Peter writes, accurately comprehending the statement, "In the
beginning God made the heaven and the earth." And He is called
Wisdom by all the prophets. This is He who is the Teacher of all
created beings, the Fellow-counsellor of God, who foreknew all
things; and He from above, from the first foundation of the world,
"in many ways and many times," trains and perfects; whence it is
rightly said, "Call no man your teacher on earth."
You see whence the true philosophy has its handles; though the Law
be the image and shadow of the truth: for the Law is the shadow of
the truth. But the self-love of the Greeks proclaims certain men as
their teachers. As, then, the whole family runs back to God the
Creator; so also all the teaching of good things, which
justifies, does to the Lord, and leads and contributes to this.
But if from any creature they received in any way whatever the seeds
of the Truth, they did not nourish them; but committing them to a
barren and reinless soil, they choked them with weeds, as the
Pharisees revolted from the Law, by introducing human
teachings,--the cause of these being not the Teacher, but those who
choose to disobey. But those of them who believed the Lord's advent
and the plain teaching of the Scriptures, attain to the knowledge of
the law; as also those addicted to philosophy, by the teaching of
the Lord, are introduced into the knowledge of the true philosophy:
"For the oracles of the Lord are pure oracles, melted in the fire,
tried in the earth, purified seven times." Just as silver
often purified, so is the just man brought to the test, becoming the
Lord's coin and receiving the royal image. Or, since Solomon also
calls the "tongue of the righteous man gold that has been subjected
to fire," intimating that the doctrine which has been proved, and
is wise, is to be praised and received, whenever it is amply tried
by the earth: that is, when the gnostic soul is in manifold ways
sanctified, through withdrawal from earthy fires. And the body in
which it dwells is purified, being appropriated to the pureness of a
holy temple. But the first purification which takes place in the
body, the soul being first, is abstinence from evil things, which
some consider perfection, and is, in truth, the perfection of the
common believer--Jew and Greek. But in the case of the Gnostic,
after that which is reckoned perfection in others, his righteousness
advances to activity in well-doing. And in whomsoever the increased
force of righteousness advances to the doing of good, in his case
perfection abides in the fixed habit of well-doing after the
likeness of God. For those who are the seed of Abraham, and besides
servants of God, are "the called;" and the sons of Jacob are the
elect--they who have tripped up the energy of wickedness.
If; then, we assert that Christ Himself is Wisdom, and that it was
His working which showed itself in the prophets, by which the
gnostic tradition may be learned, as He Himself taught the apostles
during His presence; then it follows that the grinds, which is the
knowledge and apprehension of things present, future, and past,
which is sure and reliable, as being imparted and revealed by the
Son of God, is wisdom.
And if, too, the end of the wise man is contemplation, that of those
who are still philosophers aims at it, but never attains it, unless
by the process of learning it receives the prophetic utterance which
has been made known, by which it grasps both the present, the
future, and the past--how they are, were, and shall be.
And the gnosis itself is that which has descended by transmission to
a few, having been imparted unwritten by the apostles. Hence, then,
knowledge or wisdom ought to be exercised up to the eternal and
unchangeable habit of contemplation.
CHAP. VIII.--PHILOSOPHY IS KNOWLEDGE GIVEN BY GOD.
For Paul too, in the Epistles, plainly does not disparage
philosophy; but deems it unworthy of the man who has attained to the
elevation of the Gnostic, any more to go back to the Hellenic
"philosophy," figuratively calling it '' the rudiments of this
world," as being most rudimentary, and a preparatory training for
the truth. Wherefore also, writing to the Hebrews, who were
declining again from faith to the law, he says," Have ye not need
again of one to teach you which are the first principles of the
oracles of God, and are become such as have need of milk, and not of
strong meat?" So also to the Colossians, who were Greek converts,
"Beware lest any man spoil you by philosophy and vain deceit, after
the tradition of men, after the rudiments of this world, and not
after Christ,"--enticing them again to return to philosophy, the
And should one say that it was through human understanding that
philosophy was discovered by the Greeks, still I find the Scriptures
saying that understanding is sent by God. The psalmist, accordingly,
considers understanding as the greatest free gift, and beseeches,
saying," I am Thy servant; give me understanding."s And does not
David, while asking the abundant experience of knowledge, write,
"Teach me gentleness, and discipline, and knowledge: for I have
believed in Thy commandments?" He confessed the covenants to be
of the highest authority, and that they were given to the more
excellent. Accordingly the psalm again says of God, "He hath not
done thus to any nation; and He hath not shown His judgments to
them." The expression "He hath not done so" shows that He hath
done, but not "thus." The "thus," then, is put comparatively, with
reference to pre-eminence, which obtains in our case. The prophet
might have said simply, "He hath not done," without the "thus."
Further, Peter in the Acts says, "Of a truth, I perceive that God is
no respecter of persons; but in every nation he that feareth Him,
and worketh righteousness, is accepted by Him."
The absence of respect of persons in God is not then in time, but
from eternity. Nor had His beneficence a beginning; nor any more is
it limited to places or persons. For His beneficence is not confined
to parts. "Open ye the gates of righteousness," it is said;
"entering into them, I will confess to the LORD. This is the gate of
the LORD. The righteous shall enter by it." Explaining the
prophet's saying, Barnabas adds, "There being many gates open, that
which is in righteousness is the gate which is in Christ, by which
all who enter are blessed." Bordering on the same meaning is also
the following prophetic utterance: "The LORD is on many waters;"
not the different covenants alone, but the modes of teaching, those
among the Greek and those among the Barbarians, conducing to
righteousness. And already clearly David, bearing testimony to the
truth, sings, "Let sinners be turned into Hades, and all the nations
that forget God." They forget, plainly, Him whom they formerly
remembered, and dismiss Him whom they knew previous to forgetting
Him. There was then a dim knowledge of God also among the nations.
So much for those points.
Now the Gnostic must be erudite. And since the Greeks say that
Protagoras having led the way, the opposing of one argument by
another was invented, it is fitting that something be said with
reference to arguments of this sort. For Scripture says, "He that
says much, shall also hear in his turn." And who shall understand
a parable of the Lord, but the wise, the intelligent, and he that
loves his Lord? Let such a man be faithful; let him be capable of
uttering his knowledge; let him be wise in the discrimination of
words; let him be dexterous in action; let him be pure. "The greater
he seems to be, the more humble should he be," says Clement in the
Epistle to the Corinthians,--"such an one as is capable of complying
with the precept, 'And some pluck from the fire, and on others have
compassion, making a difference,'"
The pruning-hook is made, certainly, principally for pruning; but
with it we separate twigs that have got intertwined, cut the thorns
which grow along with the vines, which it is not very easy to reach.
And all these things have a reference to pruning. Again, man is made
principally for the knowledge of God; but he also measures land,
practises agriculture, and philosophizes; of which pursuits, one
conduces to life, another to living well, a third to the study of
the things which are capable of demonstration. Further, let those
who say that philosophy took its rise from the devil know this, that
the Scripture says that "the devil is transformed into an angel of
light." When about to do what? Plainly, when about to prophesy.
But if he prophesies as an angel of light, he will speak what is
true. And if he prophesies what is angelical, and of the light, then
he prophesies what is beneficial when he is transformed according to
the likeness of the operation, though he be different with respect
to the matter of apostasy. For how could he deceive any one, without
drawing the lover of knowledge into fellowship, and so drawing him
afterwards into falsehood? Especially he will be found to know the
truth, if not so as to comprehend it, yet so as not to be
unacquainted with it.
Philosophy is not then false, though the thief and the liar speak
truth, through a transformation of operation. Nor is sentence of
condemnation to be pronounced ignorantly against what is said, on
account of him who says it (which also is to be kept in view, in the
case of those who are now alleged to prophesy); but what is said
must be looked at, to see if it keep by the truth.
And in general terms, we shall not err in alleging that all things
necessary and profitable for life came to us from God, and that
philosophy more especially was given to the Greeks, as a covenant
peculiar to them--being, as it is, a stepping-stone to the
philosophy which is according to Christ--although those who applied
themselves to the philosophy of the Greeks shut their ears
voluntarily to the truth, despising the voice of Barbarians, or also
dreading the danger suspended over the believer, by the laws of the
And as in the Barbarian philosophy, so also in the Hellenic, "tares
were sown" by the proper husbandman of the tares; whence also
heresies grew up among us along with the productive wheat; and those
who in the Hellenic philosophy preach the impiety and voluptuousness
of Epicurus, and whatever other tenets are disseminated contrary to
right reason, exist among the Greeks as spurious fruits of the
divinely bestowed husbandry. This voluptuous and selfish philosophy
the apostle calls "the wisdom of this world;" in consequence of its
teaching the things of this world and about it alone, and its
consequent subjection, as far as respects ascendancy, to those who
rule here. Wherefore also this fragmentary philosophy is very
elementary, while truly perfect science deals with intellectual
objects, which are beyond the sphere of the world, and with the
objects still more spiritual than those which "eye saw not, and ear
heard not, nor did it enter into the heart of men," till the Teacher
told the account of them to us; unveiling the holy of holies; and in
ascending order, things still holier than these, to those who are
truly and not spuriously heirs of the Lord's adoption. For we now
dare aver (for here is the faith that is characterized by
knowledge) that such an one knows all things, and comprehends all
things in the exercise of sure apprehension, respecting matters
difficult for us, and really pertaining to the true gnosis such
as were James, Peter, John, Paul, and the rest of the apostles. For
prophecy is full of knowledge (gnosis), inasmuch as it was given by
the Lord, and again explained by the Lord to the apostles. And is
not knowledge (gnosis) an attribute of the rational soul, which
trains itself for this, that by knowledge it may become entitled to
immortality? For both are powers of the soul both knowledge and
impulse. And impulse is found to be a movement after an assent. For
he who has an impulse towards an action, first receives the
knowledge of the action, and secondly the impulse. Let us further
devote our attention to this. For since learning is older than
action; (for naturally, he who does what he wishes to do learns it
first; and knowledge comes from learning, and impulse follows
knowledge; after which comes action;) knowledge turns out the
beginning and author of all rational action. So that rightly the
peculiar nature of the rational soul is characterized by this alone;
for in reality impulse, like knowledge, is excited by existing
objects. And knowledge (gnosis) is essentially a contemplation of
existences on the part of the soul, either of a certain thing or of
certain things, and when perfected, of all together. Although some
say that the wise man is persuaded that there are some things
incomprehensible, in such wise as to have respecting them a kind of
comprehension, inasmuch as he comprehends that things
incomprehensible are incomprehensible; which is common, and pertains
to those who are capable of perceiving little. For such a man
affirms that there are some things incomprehensible.
But that Gnostic of whom I speak, himself comprehends what seems to
be incomprehensible to others; believing that nothing is
incomprehensible to the Son of God, whence nothing incapable of
being taught. For He who suffered out of His love for us, would have
suppressed no element of knowledge requisite for our instruction.
Accordingly this faith becomes sure demonstration; since truth
follows what has been delivered by God. But if one desires extensive
knowledge, "he knows things ancient, and conjectures things future;
he understands knotty sayings, and the solutions of enigmas. The
disciple of wisdom foreknows signs and omens, and the issues of
seasons and of times."
CHAP. IX.--THE GNOSTIC FREE OF ALL PERTURBATIONS OF THE SOUL.
The Gnostic is such, that he is subject only to the affections that
exist for the maintenance of the body, such as hunger, thirst, and
the like. But in the case of the Saviour, it were ludicrous [to
suppose] that the body, as a body, demanded the necessary aids in
order to its duration. For He ate, not for the sake of the body,
which was kept together by a holy energy, but in order that it might
not enter into the minds of those who were with Him to entertain a
different opinion of Him; in like manner as certainly some
afterwards supposed that He appeared in a phantasmal shape
(<greek>dokhsei</greek>). But He was entirely impassible
(<greek>apaqhg</greek>); inaccessible to any movement of
feeling--either pleasure or pain. While the apostles, having most
gnostically mastered, through the Lord's teaching, angel and fear,
and lust, were not liable even to such of the movements of feeling,
as seem good, courage, zeal, joy, desire, through a steady condition
of mind, not changing a whit; but ever continuing unvarying in a
state of training after the resurrection of the Lord.
And should it be granted that the affections specified above, when
produced rationally, are good, yet they are nevertheless
inadmissible in the case of the perfect man, who is incapable of
exercising courage: for neither does he meet what inspires fear, as
he regards none of the things that occur in life as to be dreaded;
nor can aught dislodge him from this--the love he has towards God.
Nor does he need cheerfulness of mind; for he does not fall into
pain, being persuaded that all things happen well. Nor is he angry;
for there is nothing to move him to anger, seeing he ever loves God,
and is entirely turned towards Him alone, and therefore hates none
of God's creatures. No more does he envy; for nothing is wanting to
him, that is requisite to assimilation, in order that he may be
excellent and good. Nor does he consequently love any one with this
common affection, but loves the Creator in the creatures. Nor,
consequently, does he fall into any desire and eagerness; nor does
he want, as far as respects his soul, aught appertaining to others,
now that he associates through love with the Beloved One, to whom he
is allied by free choice, and by the habit which results from
training, approaches closer to Him, and is blessed through the
abundance of good things. So that on these accounts he is compelled
to become like his Teacher in impassibility. For the Word of God is
intellectual, according as the image of mind is seen 'in man alone.
Thus also the good man is godlike in form and semblance as respects
his soul. And, on the other hand, God is like man. For the
distinctive form of each one is the mind by which we are
characterized. Consequently, also, those who sin against man are
unholy and impious. For it were ridiculous to say that the gnostic
and perfect man must not eradicate anger and courage, inasmuch as
without these he will not struggle against circumstances, or abide
what is terrible. But if we take from him desire; he will be quite
overwhelmed by troubles, and therefore depart from this life very
basely. Unless possessed of it, as some suppose, he will not
conceive a desire for what is like the excellent and the good. If,
then, all alliance with what is good is accompanied with desire,
how, it is said, does he remain impassible who desires what is
But these people know not, as appears, the divinity of love. For
love is not desire on the part of him who loves; but is a relation
of affection, restoring the Gnostic to the unity of the
faith,--independent of time and place. But he who by love is already
in the midst of that in which he is destined to be, and has
anticipated hope by knowledge, does not desire anything, having, as
far as possible, the very thing desired. Accordingly, as to be
expected, he continues in the exercise of gnostic love, in the one
Nor will he, therefore, eagerly desire to be assimilated to what is
beautiful, possessing, as he does, beauty by love. What more need of
courage and of desire to him, who has obtained the affinity to the
impassible God which arises from love, and by love has enrolled
himself among the friends of God?
We must therefore rescue the gnostic and perfect man from all
passion of the soul. For knowledge (gnosis) produces practice, and
practice habit or disposition; and such a state as this produces
impassibility, not moderation of passion. And the complete
eradication of desire reaps as its fruit impassibility. But the
Gnostic does not share either in those affections that are commonly
celebrated as good, that is, the good things of the affections which
are allied to the passions: such, I mean, as gladness, which is
allied to pleasure; and dejection, for this is conjoined with pain;
and caution, for it is subject to fear. Nor yet does he share in
high spirit, for it takes its place alongside of wrath; although
some say that these are no longer evil, but already good. For it is
impossible that he who has been once made perfect by love, and
feasts eternally and insatiably on the boundless joy of
contemplation, should delight in small and grovelling things. For
what rational cause remains any more to the man who has gained "the
light inaccessible," for revering to the good things of the
world? Although not yet true as to time and place, yet by that
gnostic love through which the inheritance and perfect restitution
follow, the giver of the reward makes good by deeds what the
Gnostic, by gnostic choice, had grasped by anticipation through
For by going away to the Lord, for the love he bears Him, though his
tabernacle be visible on earth, he does not withdraw himself from
life. For that is not permitted to him. But he has withdrawn his
soul from the passions. For that is granted to him. And on the other
hand he lives, having put to death his lusts, and no longer makes
use of the body, but allows it the use of necessaries, that he may
not give cause for dissolution.
How, then, has he any more need of fortitude, who is not in the
midst of dangers, being not present, but already wholly with the
object of love? And what necessity for self-restraint to him who has
not need of it? For to have such desires, as require self-restraint
in order to their control, is characteristic of one who is not yet
pure, but subject to passion. Now, fortitude is assumed by reason of
fear and cowardice. For it were no longer seemly that the friend of
God, whom "God hath fore-ordained before the foundation of the
world" to be enrolled in the highest "adoption," should fall into
pleasures or fears, and be occupied in the repression of the
passions. For I venture to assert, that as he is predestinated
through what he shall do, and what he shall obtain, so also has he
predestinated himself by reason of what he knew and whom he loved;
not having the future indistinct, as the multitude live,
conjecturing it, but having grasped by gnostic faith what is hidden
from others. And through love, the future is for him already
present. For he has believed, through prophecy and the advent, on
God who lies not. And what he believes he possesses, and keeps hold
of the promise. And He who hath promised is truth. And through the
trustworthiness of Him who has promised, he has firmly laid hold of
the end of the promise by knowledge. And he, who knows the sure
comprehension of the future which there is in the circumstances, in
which he is placed, by love goes to meet the future. So he, that is
persuaded that he will obtain the things that are really good, will
not pray to obtain what is here, but that he may always cling to the
faith which hits the mark and succeeds. And besides, he will pray
that as many as possible may become like him, to the glory of God,
which is perfected through knowledge. For he who is made like the
Saviour is also devoted to saving; performing unerringly the
commandments as far as the human nature may admit of the image. And
this is to worship God by deeds and knowledge of the true
righteousness. The Lord will not wait for the voice of this man in
prayer. "Ask," He says, "and I will do it; think, and I will
For, in fine, it is impossible that the immutable should assume
firmness and consistency in the mutable. But the ruling faculty
being in perpetual change, and therefore unstable, the force of
habit is not maintained. For how can he who is perpetually changed
by external occurrences mad accidents, ever possess habit and
disposition, and in a word, grasp of scientific knowledge
(<greek>episthmh</greek>)? Further, also, the philosophers regard
the virtues as habits, dispositions, and sciences. And as knowledge
(gnosis) is not born with men, but is acquired, and the acquiring
of it in its elements demands application, and training, and
progress; and then from incessant practice it passes into a habit;
so, when perfected in the mystic habit, it abides, being infallible
through love. For not only has he apprehended the first Cause, and
the Cause produced by it, and is sure about them, possessing firmly
firm and irrefragable and immoveable reasons; but also respecting
what is good and what is evil, and respecting all production, and to
speak comprehensively, respecting all about Which the Lord has
spoken, he has learned, from the truth itself, the most exact truth
from the foundation of the world to the end. Not preferring to the
truth itself what appears plausible, or, according to Hellenic
reasoning, necessary; but what has been spoken by the Lord he
accepts as clear and evident, though concealed from others; and he
has already received the knowledge of all things. And the oracles we
possess give their utterances respecting what exists, as it is; and
respecting what is future, as it shall be; and respecting what is
past, as it was.
In scientific matters, as being alone possessed of scientific
knowledge, he will hold the pre-eminence, and will discourse on the
discussion respecting the good, ever intent on intellectual objects,
tracing out his procedure in human affairs from the archetypes
above; as navigators direct the ship according to the star; prepared
to hold himself in readiness for every suitable action; accustomed
to despise all difficulties and dangers when it is necessary to
undergo them; never doing anything precipitate or incongruous either
to himself or the common weal; fore-seeing; and inflexible by
pleasures both of waking hours and of dreams. For, accustomed to
spare living and frugality, he is moderate, active, mad grave;
requiring few necessaries for life; occupying himself with nothing
superfluous. But desiring not even these things as chief, but by
reason of fellowship in life, as necessary for his sojourn in life,
as far as necessary.
CHAP. X.--THE GNOSTIC AVAILS HIMSELF OF THE HELP OF ALL HUMAN
For to him knowledge (gnosis) is the principal thing. Consequently,
therefore, he applies to the subjects that are a training for
knowledge, taking from each branch of study its contribution to the
truth. Prosecuting, then, the proportion of harmonies in music; and
in arithmetic noting the increasing and decreasing of numbers, and
their relations to one another, and how the most of things fall
under some proportion of numbers; studying geometry, which is
abstract essence, he perceives a continuous distance, and an
immutable essence which is different from these bodies. And by
astronomy, again, raised from the earth in his mind, he is elevated
along with heaven, and will revolve with its revolution; studying
ever divine things, and their harmony with each other; from which
Abraham starting, ascended to the knowledge of Him who created them.
Further, the Gnostic will avail himself of dialectics, fixing on the
distinction of genera into species, and will master the
distinction of existences, till he come to what are primary and
But the multitude are frightened at the Hellenic philosophy, as
children are at masks, being afraid lest it lead them astray. But if
the faith (for I cannot call it knowledge) which they possess be
such as to be dissolved by plausible speech, let it be by all means
dissolved, and let them confess that they will not retain the
truth. For truth is immoveable; but false opinion dissolves. We
choose, for instance, one purple by comparison with another purple.
So that, if one confesses that he has not a heart that has been made
right, he has not the table of the money-changers or the test of
words. And how can he be any longer a money-changer, who is not
able to prove and distinguish spurious coin, even offhand?
Now David cried, "The righteous shall not be shaken for ever;"
neither, consequently, by deceptive speech nor by erring pleasure.
Whence he shall never be shaken from his own heritage. "He shall not
be afraid of evil tidings; " consequently neither of unfounded
calumny, nor of the false opinion around him. No more will he dread
cunning words, who is capable of distinguishing them, or of
answering rightly to questions asked. Such a bulwark are dialectics,
that truth cannot be trampled under foot by the Sophists. "For it
behoves those who praise in the holy name of the Lord," according to
the prophet, "to rejoice in heart, seeking, the Lord. Seek then Him,
and be strong. Seek His face continually in every way." "For,
having spoken at sundry times and in divers manners," it is not
in one way only that He is known.
It is, then, not by availing himself of these as virtues that our
Gnostic will be deeply learned. But by using them as helps in
distinguishing what is common and what is peculiar, he will admit
the truth. For the cause of all error and false opinion, is
inability to distinguish in what respect things are common, and in
what respects they differ. For unless, in things that are distinct,
one closely watch speech, he will inadvertently confound what is
common and what is peculiar And where this takes place, he must of
necessity fall into pathless tracts and error.
The distinction of names and things also in the Scriptures
themselves produces great light in men's souls. For it is necessary
to understand expressions which signify several things, and several
expressions when they signify one thing. The result of which is
accurate answering. But it is necessary to avoid the great futility
which occupies itself in irrelevant matters; since the Gnostic
avails himself of branches of learning as auxiliary preparatory
exercises, in order to the accurate communication of the truth, as
far as attainable and with as little distraction as possible, and
for defence against reasonings that plot for the extinction of the
truth. He will not then be deficient in what contributes to
proficiency in the curriculum of studies and the Hellenic
philosophy; but not principally, but necessarily, secondarily, and
on account of circumstances. For what those labouring in heresies
use wickedly, the Gnostic will use tightly.
Therefore the truth that appears in the Hellenic philosophy, being
partial, the real truth, like the sun glancing on the colours both
white and black, shows what like each of them is. So also it exposes
all sophistical plausibility. Rightly, then, was it proclaimed also
by the Greeks:--
"Truth the queen is the beginning of great virtue."