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Tiresias: The Ancient Mediterranean Religions Source Database



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Arnobius, Against The Gentiles, 5.19
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1. Hesiod, Theogony, 454-500, 889-900, 453 (8th cent. BCE - 7th cent. BCE)

453. of her fear father, and Zeus gave her fame
2. Aristophanes, Frogs, 324 (5th cent. BCE - 4th cent. BCE)

3. Herodotus, Histories, 2.81 (5th cent. BCE - 5th cent. BCE)

2.81. They wear linen tunics with fringes hanging about the legs, called “calasiris,” and loose white woolen mantles over these. But nothing woolen is brought into temples, or buried with them: that is impious. ,They agree in this with practices called Orphic and Bacchic, but in fact Egyptian and Pythagorean: for it is impious, too, for one partaking of these rites to be buried in woolen wrappings. There is a sacred legend about this.
4. Philochorus, Fragments, None (4th cent. BCE - 3rd cent. BCE)

5. Diodorus Siculus, Historical Library, 1.23.6, 1.96, 4.25.3, 5.75.4 (1st cent. BCE - 1st cent. BCE)

1.23.6.  The fatherhood of the child he attributed to Zeus, in this way magnifying Osiris and averting slander from his violated daughter; and this is the reason why the tale was given out among the Greeks to the effect that Semelê, the daughter of Cadmus, was the mother of Osiris by Zeus. Now at a later time Orpheus, who was held in high regard among the Greeks for his singing, initiatory rites, and instructions on things divine, was entertained as a guest by the descendants of Cadmus and accorded unusual honours in Thebes. 1.96. 1.  But now that we have examined these matters, we must enumerate what Greeks, who have won fame for their wisdom and learning, visited Egypt in ancient times, in order to become acquainted with its customs and learning.,2.  For the priests of Egypt recount from the records of their sacred books that they were visited in early times by Orpheus, Musaeus, Melampus, and Daedalus, also by the poet Homer and Lycurgus of Sparta, later by Solon of Athens and the philosopher Plato, and that there also came Pythagoras of Samos and the mathematician Eudoxus, as well as Democritus of Abdera and Oenopides of Chios.,3.  As evidence for the visits of all these men they point in some cases to their statues and in others to places or buildings which bear their names, and they offer proofs from the branch of learning which each one of these men pursued, arguing that all the things for which they were admired among the Greeks were transferred from Egypt.,4.  Orpheus, for instance, brought from Egypt most of his mystic ceremonies, the orgiastic rites that accompanied his wanderings, and his fabulous account of his experiences in Hades.,5.  For the rite of Osiris is the same as that of Dionysus and that of Isis very similar to that of Demeter, the names alone having been interchanged; and the punishments in Hades of the unrighteous, the Fields of the Righteous, and the fantastic conceptions, current among the many, which are figments of the imagination — all these were introduced by Orpheus in imitation of the Egyptian funeral customs.,6.  Hermes, for instance, the Conductor of Souls, according to the ancient Egyptian custom, brings up the body of the Apis to a certain point and then gives it over to one who wears the mask of Cerberus. And after Orpheus had introduced this notion among the Greeks, Homer followed it when he wrote: Cyllenian Hermes then did summon forth The suitors's souls, holding his wand in hand. And again a little further on he says: They passed Oceanus' streams, the Gleaming Rock, The Portals of the Sun, the Land of Dreams; And now they reached the Meadow of Asphodel, Where dwell the Souls, the shades of men outworn.,7.  Now he calls the river "Oceanus" because in their language the Egyptians speak of the Nile as Oceanus; the "Portals of the Sun" (Heliopulai) is his name for the city of Heliopolis; and "Meadows," the mythical dwelling of the dead, is his term for the place near the lake which is called Acherousia, which is near Memphis, and around it are fairest meadows, of a marsh-land and lotus and reeds. The same explanation also serves for the statement that the dwelling of the dead is in these regions, since the most and the largest tombs of the Egyptians are situated there, the dead being ferried across both the river and Lake Acherousia and their bodies laid in the vaults situated there.,8.  The other myths about Hades, current among the Greeks, also agree with the customs which are practised even now in Egypt. For the boat which receives the bodies is called baris, and the passenger's fee is given to the boatman, who in the Egyptian tongue is called charon.,9.  And near these regions, they say, are also the "Shades," which is a temple of Hecate, and "portals" of Cocytus and Lethe, which are covered at intervals with bands of bronze. There are, moreover, other portals, namely, those of Truth, and near them stands a headless statue of Justice. 4.25.3.  And after he had devoted his entire time to his education and had learned whatever the myths had to say about the gods, he journeyed to Egypt, where he further increased his knowledge and so became the greatest man among the Greeks both for his knowledge of the gods and for their rites, as well as for his poems and songs. 5.75.4.  As for Dionysus, the myths state that he discovered the vine and its cultivation, and also how to make wine and to store away many of the autumn fruits and thus to provide mankind with the use of them as food over a long time. This god was born in Crete, men say, of Zeus and Persephonê, and Orpheus has handed down the tradition in the initiatory rites that he was torn in pieces by the Titans. And the fact is that there have been several who bore the name Dionysus, regarding whom we have given a detailed account at greater length in connection with the more appropriate period of time.
6. Strabo, Geography, 10.3.10 (1st cent. BCE - 1st cent. BCE)

10.3.10. And on this account Plato, and even before his time the Pythagoreians, called philosophy music; and they say that the universe is constituted in accordance with harmony, assuming that every form of music is the work of the gods. And in this sense, also, the Muses are goddesses, and Apollo is leader of the Muses, and poetry as a whole is laudatory of the gods. And by the same course of reasoning they also attribute to music the upbuilding of morals, believing that everything which tends to correct the mind is close to the gods. Now most of the Greeks assigned to Dionysus, Apollo, Hecate, the Muses, and above all to Demeter, everything of an orgiastic or Bacchic or choral nature, as well as the mystic element in initiations; and they give the name Iacchus not only to Dionysus but also to the leader-in-chief of the mysteries, who is the genius of Demeter. And branch-bearing, choral dancing, and initiations are common elements in the worship of these gods. As for the Muses and Apollo, the Muses preside over the choruses, whereas Apollo presides both over these and the rites of divination. But all educated men, and especially the musicians, are ministers of the Muses; and both these and those who have to do with divination are ministers of Apollo; and the initiated and torch-bearers and hierophants, of Demeter; and the Sileni and Satyri and Bacchae, and also the Lenae and Thyiae and Mimallones and Naides and Nymphae and the beings called Tityri, of Dionysus.
7. Vergil, Aeneis, 7.385-7.405 (1st cent. BCE - 1st cent. BCE)

7.385. But nay! Though flung forth from their native land 7.386. I o'er the waves, with enmity unstayed 7.387. dared give them chase, and on that exiled few 7.388. hurled the whole sea. I smote the sons of Troy 7.389. with ocean's power and heaven's. But what availed 7.390. Syrtes, or Scylla, or Charybdis' waves? 7.391. The Trojans are in Tiber ; and abide 7.392. within their prayed-for land delectable 7.393. afe from the seas and me! Mars once had power 7.394. the monstrous Lapithae to slay; and Jove 7.395. to Dian's honor and revenge gave o'er 7.396. the land of Calydon. What crime so foul 7.397. was wrought by Lapithae or Calydon? 7.398. But I, Jove's wife and Queen, who in my woes 7.399. have ventured each bold stroke my power could find 7.400. and every shift essayed,—behold me now 7.401. outdone by this Aeneas! If so weak 7.402. my own prerogative of godhead be 7.403. let me seek strength in war, come whence it will! 7.404. If Heaven I may not move, on Hell I call. 7.405. To bar him from his Latin throne exceeds
8. Josephus Flavius, Against Apion, 2.91-2.96 (1st cent. CE - 1st cent. CE)

2.91. Apion becomes other men’s prophet upon this occasion, and says, that “Antiochus found in our temple a bed and a man lying upon it, with a small table before him, full of dainties, from the [fishes of the] sea, and the fowls of the dry land; that this man was amazed at these dainties thus set before him; 2.92. that he immediately adored the king, upon his coming in, as hoping that he would afford him all possible assistance; that he fell down upon his knees, and stretched out to him his right hand, and begged to be released: and that when the king bade him sit down, and tell him who he was, and why he dwelt there, and what was the meaning of those various sorts of food that were set before him, the man made a lamentable complaint, and with sighs, and tears in his eyes, gave him this account of the distress he was in: 2.93. and said that he was a Greek, and that as he went over this province, in order to get his living, he was seized upon by foreigners, on a sudden, and brought to this temple, and shut up therein, and was seen by nobody, but was fattened by these curious provisions thus set before him: 2.94. and that truly at the first such unexpected advantages seemed to him matter of great joy; that, after a while they brought a suspicion upon him, and at length astonishment, what their meaning should be; that at last he inquired of the servants that came to him, and was by them informed that it was in order to the fulfilling a law of the Jews, which they must not tell him, that he was thus fed; and that they did the same at a set time every year: 2.95. that they used to catch a Greek foreigner, and fat him thus up every year, and then lead him to a certain wood, and kill him, and sacrifice with their accustomed solemnities, and taste of his entrails, and take an oath upon this sacrificing a Greek, that they would ever be at enmity with the Greeks; and that then they threw the remaining parts of the miserable wretch into a certain pit.” 2.96. Apion adds farther, that “the man said there were but a few days to come ere he was to be slain, and implored Antiochus that, out of the reverence he bore to the Grecian gods, he would disappoint the snares the Jews laid for his blood, and would deliver him from the miseries with which he was encompassed.”
9. Plutarch, Mark Antony, 25-29, 31-32, 34-35, 37, 53-54, 56-57, 60, 75, 24 (1st cent. CE - 2nd cent. CE)

10. Plutarch, Consolation To His Wife, None (1st cent. CE - 2nd cent. CE)

611d. when they reach the point where the want is no longer felt; and your Timoxena has been deprived of little, for what she knew was little, and her pleasure was in little things; and as for those things of which she had acquired no perception, which she had never conceived, and to which she had never given thought, how could she be said to be deprived of them? Furthermore, Iknow that you are kept from believing the statements of that other set, who win many to their way of thinking when they say that nothing is in any way evil or painful to "what has undergone dissolution," by the teaching of our fathers and by the mystic formulas of Dionysiac rites, the knowledge of which we who are participants share with each other. Consider then that the soul, which is imperishable
11. Plutarch, On The E At Delphi, None (1st cent. CE - 2nd cent. CE)

12. Plutarch, On Isis And Osiris, None (1st cent. CE - 2nd cent. CE)

35. That Osiris is identical with Dionysus who could more fittingly know than yourself, Clea ? For you are ii t the head of the inspired maidens of Delphi, and have been consecrated by your father and mother in the holy rites of Osiris. If, however, for the benefit of others it is needful to adduce proofs of this identity, let us leave undisturbed what may not be told, but the public ceremonies which the priests perform in the burial of the Apis, when they convey his body on an improvised bier, do not in any way come short of a Bacchic procession; for they fasten skins of fawns about themselves, and carry Bacchic wands and indulge in shoutings and movements exactly as do those who are under the spell of the Dionysiac ecstasies. Cf. Diodorus, i. 11. For the same reason many of the Greeks make statues of Dionysus in the form of a bull A partial list in Roscher, Lexikon d. gr. u. röm. Mythologie, i. 1149. ; and the women of Elis invoke him, praying that the god may come with the hoof of a bull Cf. Moralia, 299 a, where the invocation is given at greater length; also Edmonds, Lyra Graeca, iii. p. 510 (L.C.L.). ; and the epithet applied to Dionysus among the Argives is Son of the Bull. They call him up out of the water by the sound of trumpets, Cf. Moralia, 671 e. at the same time casting into the depths a lamb as an offering to the Keeper of the Gate. The trumpets they conceal in Bacchic wands, as Socrates Müller, Frag. Hist. Graec. iv. p. 498, Socrates, no. 5. has stated in his treatise on The Holy Ones. Furthermore, the tales regarding the Titans and the rites celebrated by night agree with the accounts of the dismemberment of Osiris and his revivification and regenesis. Similar agreement is found too in the tales about their sepulchres. The Egyptians, as has already been stated, 358 a and 359 a, supra . point out tombs of Osiris in many places, and the people of Delphi believe that the remains of Dionysus rest with them close beside the oracle; and the Holy Ones offer a secret sacrifice in the shrine of Apollo whenever the devotees of Dionysus That is, the inspired maidens, mentioned at the beginning of the chapter. wake the God of the Mystic Basket. Callimachus, Hymn to Demeter (vi.), 127; Anth. Pal. vi. 165; Virgil, Georg. i. 166. To show that the Greeks regard Dionysus as the lord and master not only of wine, but of the nature of every sort of moisture, it is enough that Pindar Frag. 153 (Christ). Plutarch quotes the line also in Moralia, 745 a and 757 f. be our witness, when he says May gladsome Dionysus swell the fruit upon the trees, The hallowed splendour of harvest-time. For this reason all who reverence Osiris are prohibited from destroying a cultivated tree or blocking up a spring of water. 35. That Osiris is identical with Dionysus who could more fittingly know than yourself, Clea? For you are at the head of the inspired maidens of Delphi, and have been consecrated by your father and mother in the holy rites of Osiris. If, however, for the benefit of others it is needful to adduce proofs of this identity, let us leave undisturbed what may not be told, but the public ceremonies which the priests perform in the burial of the Apis, when they convey his body on an improvised bier, do not in any way come short of a Bacchic procession; for they fasten skins of fawns about themselves, and carry Bacchic wands and indulge in shoutings and movements exactly as do those who are under the spell of the Dionysiac ecstasies. For the same reason many of the Greeks make statues of Dionysus in the form of a bull; and the women of Elis invoke him, praying that the god may come with the hoof of a bull; and the epithet applied to Dionysus among the Argives is "Son of the Bull." They call him up out of the water by the sound of trumpets, at the same time casting into the depths a lamb as an offering to the Keeper of the Gate. The trumpets they conceal in Bacchic wands, as Socrates has stated in his treatise on The Holy Ones. Furthermore, the tales regarding the Titans and the rites celebrated by night agree with the accounts of the dismemberment of Osiris and his revivification and regenesis. Similar agreement is found too in the tales about their sepulchres. The Egyptians, as has already been stated, point out tombs of Osiris in many places, and the people of Delphi believe that the remains of Dionysus rest with them close beside the oracle; and the Holy Ones offer a secret sacrifice in the shrine of Apollo whenever the devotees of Dionysus wake the God of the Mystic Basket. To show that the Greeks regard Dionysus as the lord and master not only of wine, but of the nature of every sort of moisture, it is enough that Pindar be our witness, when he says May gladsome Dionysus swell the fruit upon the trees, The hallowed splendour of harvest time. For this reason all who reverence Osiris are prohibited from destroying a cultivated tree or blocking up a spring of water.
13. Clement of Alexandria, Exhortation To The Greeks, 2.17-2.19, 2.17.2 (2nd cent. CE - 3rd cent. CE)

14. Hippolytus, Refutation of All Heresies, 5.19.19-5.19.21 (2nd cent. CE - 3rd cent. CE)

15. Justin, Dialogue With Trypho, 70, 69 (2nd cent. CE - 2nd cent. CE)

69. The devil, since he emulates the truth, has invented fables about Bacchus, Hercules, and Æsculapius Justin: Be well assured, then, Trypho, that I am established in the knowledge of and faith in the Scriptures by those counterfeits which he who is called the devil is said to have performed among the Greeks; just as some were wrought by the Magi in Egypt, and others by the false prophets in Elijah's days. For when they tell that Bacchus, son of Jupiter, was begotten by [Jupiter's] intercourse with Semele, and that he was the discoverer of the vine; and when they relate, that being torn in pieces, and having died, he rose again, and ascended to heaven; and when they introduce wine into his mysteries, do I not perceive that [the devil] has imitated the prophecy announced by the patriarch Jacob, and recorded by Moses? And when they tell that Hercules was strong, and travelled over all the world, and was begotten by Jove of Alcmene, and ascended to heaven when he died, do I not perceive that the Scripture which speaks of Christ, 'strong as a giant to run his race,' has been in like manner imitated? And when he [the devil] brings forward Æsculapius as the raiser of the dead and healer of all diseases, may I not say that in this matter likewise he has imitated the prophecies about Christ? But since I have not quoted to you such Scripture as tells that Christ will do these things, I must necessarily remind you of one such: from which you can understand, how that to those destitute of a knowledge of God, I mean the Gentiles, who, 'having eyes, saw not, and having a heart, understood not,' worshipping the images of wood, [how even to them] Scripture prophesied that they would renounce these [vanities], and hope in this Christ. It is thus written: Rejoice, thirsty wilderness: let the wilderness be glad, and blossom as the lily: the deserts of the Jordan shall both blossom and be glad: and the glory of Lebanon was given to it, and the honour of Carmel. And my people shall see the exaltation of the Lord, and the glory of God. Be strong, you careless hands and enfeebled knees. Be comforted, you faint in soul: be strong, fear not. Behold, our God gives, and will give, retributive judgment. He shall come and save us. Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall hear. Then the lame shall leap as an hart, and the tongue of the stammerers shall be distinct: for water has broken forth in the wilderness, and a valley in the thirsty land; and the parched ground shall become pools, and a spring of water shall [rise up] in the thirsty land. Isaiah 35:1-7 The spring of living water which gushed forth from God in the land destitute of the knowledge of God, namely the land of the Gentiles, was this Christ, who also appeared in your nation, and healed those who were maimed, and deaf, and lame in body from their birth, causing them to leap, to hear, and to see, by His word. And having raised the dead, and causing them to live, by His deeds He compelled the men who lived at that time to recognise Him. But though they saw such works, they asserted it was magical art. For they dared to call Him a magician, and a deceiver of the people. Yet He wrought such works, and persuaded those who were [destined to] believe in Him; for even if any one be labouring under a defect of body, yet be an observer of the doctrines delivered by Him, He shall raise him up at His second advent perfectly sound, after He has made him immortal, and incorruptible, and free from grief.
16. Lucian, The Dance, 39 (2nd cent. CE - 2nd cent. CE)

17. Pausanias, Description of Greece, 8.37.5, 9.27.2, 9.30.12, 10.4.3, 10.32.2, 10.32.7 (2nd cent. CE - 2nd cent. CE)

8.37.5. By the image of the Mistress stands Anytus, represented as a man in armour. Those about the sanctuary say that the Mistress was brought up by Anytus, who was one of the Titans, as they are called. The first to introduce Titans into poetry was Homer, See Hom. Il. 14.279 . representing them as gods down in what is called Tartarus; the lines are in the passage about Hera's oath. From Homer the name of the Titans was taken by Onomacritus, who in the orgies he composed for Dionysus made the Titans the authors of the god's sufferings. 9.27.2. Most men consider Love to be the youngest of the gods and the son of Aphrodite. But Olen the Lycian, who composed the oldest Greek hymns, says in a hymn to Eileithyia that she was the mother of Love. Later than Olen, both Pamphos and Orpheus wrote hexameter verse, and composed poems on Love, in order that they might be among those sung by the Lycomidae to accompany the ritual. I read them after conversation with a Torchbearer. of these things I will make no further mention. Hesiod, Hes. Th. 116 foll. or he who wrote the Theogony fathered on Hesiod, writes, I know, that Chaos was born first, and after Chaos, Earth, Tartarus and Love. 9.30.12. Whoever has devoted himself to the study of poetry knows that the hymns of Orpheus are all very short, and that the total number of them is not great. The Lycomidae know them and chant them over the ritual of the mysteries. For poetic beauty they may be said to come next to the hymns of Homer, while they have been even more honored by the gods. 10.4.3. The former passage, in which Homer speaks of the beautiful dancing-floors of Panopeus, I could not understand until I was taught by the women whom the Athenians call Thyiads. The Thyiads are Attic women, who with the Delphian women go to Parnassus every other year and celebrate orgies in honor of Dionysus. It is the custom for these Thyiads to hold dances at places, including Panopeus, along the road from Athens . The epithet Homer applies to Panopeus is thought to refer to the dance of the Thyiads. 10.32.2. On the way from Delphi to the summit of Parnassus, about sixty stades distant from Delphi, there is a bronze image. The ascent to the Corycian cave is easier for an active walker than it is for mules or horses. I mentioned a little earlier in my narrative See Paus. 10.6.3 . that this cave was named after a nymph called Corycia, and of all the caves I have ever seen this seemed to me the best worth seeing. 10.32.7. But the Corycian cave exceeds in size those I have mentioned, and it is possible to make one's way through the greater part of it even without lights. The roof stands at a sufficient height from the floor, and water, rising in part from springs but still more dripping from the roof, has made clearly visible the marks of drops on the floor throughout the cave. The dwellers around Parnassus believe it to be sacred to the Corycian nymphs, and especially to Pan. From the Corycian cave it is difficult even for an active walker to reach the heights of Parnassus . The heights are above the clouds, and the Thyiad women rave there in honor of Dionysus and Apollo.
18. Tertullian, Apology, 7.1 (2nd cent. CE - 3rd cent. CE)

19. Origen, Against Celsus, 2.55, 4.17, 7.9-7.11, 7.53 (3rd cent. CE - 3rd cent. CE)

2.55. The Jew continues his address to those of his countrymen who are converts, as follows: Come now, let us grant to you that the prediction was actually uttered. Yet how many others are there who practise such juggling tricks, in order to deceive their simple hearers, and who make gain by their deception?- as was the case, they say, with Zamolxis in Scythia, the slave of Pythagoras; and with Pythagoras himself in Italy; and with Rhampsinitus in Egypt (the latter of whom, they say, played at dice with Demeter in Hades, and returned to the upper world with a golden napkin which he had received from her as a gift); and also with Orpheus among the Odrysians, and Protesilaus in Thessaly, and Hercules at Cape T narus, and Theseus. But the question is, whether any one who was really dead ever rose with a veritable body. Or do you imagine the statements of others not only to be myths, but to have the appearance of such, while you have discovered a becoming and credible termination to your drama in the voice from the cross, when he breathed his last, and in the earthquake and the darkness? That while alive he was of no assistance to himself, but that when dead he rose again, and showed the marks of his punishment, and how his hands were pierced with nails: who beheld this? A half-frantic woman, as you state, and some other one, perhaps, of those who were engaged in the same system of delusion, who had either dreamed so, owing to a peculiar state of mind, or under the influence of a wandering imagination had formed to himself an appearance according to his own wishes, which has been the case with numberless individuals; or, which is most probable, one who desired to impress others with this portent, and by such a falsehood to furnish an occasion to impostors like himself. Now, since it is a Jew who makes these statements, we shall conduct the defense of our Jesus as if we were replying to a Jew, still continuing the comparison derived from the accounts regarding Moses, and saying to him: How many others are there who practise similar juggling tricks to those of Moses, in order to deceive their silly hearers, and who make gain by their deception? Now this objection would be more appropriate in the mouth of one who did not believe in Moses (as we might quote the instances of Zamolxis and Pythagoras, who were engaged in such juggling tricks) than in that of a Jew, who is not very learned in the histories of the Greeks. An Egyptian, moreover, who did not believe the miracles of Moses, might credibly adduce the instance of Rhampsinitus, saying that it was far more credible that he had descended to Hades, and had played at dice with Demeter, and that after stealing from her a golden napkin he exhibited it as a sign of his having been in Hades, and of his having returned thence, than that Moses should have recorded that he entered into the darkness, where God was, and that he alone, above all others, drew near to God. For the following is his statement: Moses alone shall come near the Lord; but the rest shall not come near. We, then, who are the disciples of Jesus, say to the Jew who urges these objections: While assailing our belief in Jesus, defend yourself, and answer the Egyptian and the Greek objectors: what will you say to those charges which you brought against our Jesus, but which also might be brought against Moses first? And if you should make a vigorous effort to defend Moses, as indeed his history does admit of a clear and powerful defense, you will unconsciously, in your support of Moses, be an unwilling assistant in establishing the greater divinity of Jesus. 4.17. But will not those narratives, especially when they are understood in their proper sense, appear far more worthy of respect than the story that Dionysus was deceived by the Titans, and expelled from the throne of Jupiter, and torn in pieces by them, and his remains being afterwards put together again, he returned as it were once more to life, and ascended to heaven? Or are the Greeks at liberty to refer such stories to the doctrine of the soul, and to interpret them figuratively, while the door of a consistent explanation, and one everywhere in accord and harmony with the writings of the Divine Spirit, who had His abode in pure souls, is closed against us? Celsus, then, is altogether ignorant of the purpose of our writings, and it is therefore upon his own acceptation of them that he casts discredit, and not upon their real meaning; whereas, if he had reflected on what is appropriate to a soul which is to enjoy an everlasting life, and on the opinion which we are to form of its essence and principles, he would not so have ridiculed the entrance of the immortal into a mortal body, which took place not according to the metempsychosis of Plato, but agreeably to another and higher view of things. And he would have observed one descent, distinguished by its great benevolence, undertaken to convert (as the Scripture mystically terms them) the lost sheep of the house of Israel, which had strayed down from the mountains, and to which the Shepherd is said in certain parables to have gone down, leaving on the mountains those which had not strayed. 7.9. But as Celsus promises to give an account of the manner in which prophecies are delivered in Phœnicia and Palestine, speaking as though it were a matter with which he had a full and personal acquaintance, let us see what he has to say on the subject. First he lays it down that there are several kinds of prophecies, but he does not specify what they are; indeed, he could not do so, and the statement is a piece of pure ostentation. However, let us see what he considers the most perfect kind of prophecy among these nations. There are many, he says, who, although of no name, with the greatest facility and on the slightest occasion, whether within or without temples, assume the motions and gestures of inspired persons; while others do it in cities or among armies, for the purpose of attracting attention and exciting surprise. These are accustomed to say, each for himself, 'I am God; I am the Son of God; or, I am the Divine Spirit; I have come because the world is perishing, and you, O men, are perishing for your iniquities. But I wish to save you, and you shall see me returning again with heavenly power. Blessed is he who now does me homage. On all the rest I will send down eternal fire, both on cities and on countries. And those who know not the punishments which await them shall repent and grieve in vain; while those who are faithful to me I will preserve eternally.' Then he goes on to say: To these promises are added strange, fanatical, and quite unintelligible words, of which no rational person can find the meaning: for so dark are they, as to have no meaning at all; but they give occasion to every fool or impostor to apply them to suit his own purposes. 7.10. But if he were dealing honestly in his accusations, he ought to have given the exact terms of the prophecies, whether those in which the speaker is introduced as claiming to be God Almighty, or those in which the Son of God speaks, or finally those under the name of the Holy Spirit. For thus he might have endeavoured to overthrow these assertions, and have shown that there was no divine inspiration in those words which urged men to forsake their sins, which condemned the past and foretold the future. For the prophecies were recorded and preserved by men living at the time, that those who came after might read and admire them as the oracles of God, and that they might profit not only by the warnings and admonitions, but also by the predictions, which, being shown by events to have proceeded from the Spirit of God, bind men to the practice of piety as set forth in the law and the prophets. The prophets have therefore, as God commanded them, declared with all plainness those things which it was desirable that the hearers should understand at once for the regulation of their conduct; while in regard to deeper and more mysterious subjects, which lay beyond the reach of the common understanding, they set them forth in the form of enigmas and allegories, or of what are called dark sayings, parables, or similitudes. And this plan they have followed, that those who are ready to shun no labour and spare no pains in their endeavours after truth and virtue might search into their meaning, and having found it, might apply it as reason requires. But Celsus, ever vigorous in his denunciations, as though he were angry at his inability to understand the language of the prophets, scoffs at them thus: To these grand promises are added strange, fanatical, and quite unintelligible words, of which no rational person can find the meaning; for so dark are they as to have no meaning at all; but they give occasion to every fool or impostor to apply them so as to suit his own purposes. This statement of Celsus seems ingeniously designed to dissuade readers from attempting any inquiry or careful search into their meaning. And in this he is not unlike certain persons, who said to a man whom a prophet had visited to announce future events, Wherefore came this mad fellow to you? 7.11. I am convinced, indeed, that much better arguments could be adduced than any I have been able to bring forward, to show the falsehood of these allegations of Celsus, and to set forth the divine inspiration of the prophecies; but we have according to our ability, in our commentaries on Isaiah, Ezekiel, and some of the twelve minor prophets, explained literally and in detail what he calls those fanatical and utterly unintelligible passages. And if God give us grace in the time that He appoints for us, to advance in the knowledge of His word, we shall continue our investigation into the parts which remain, or into such at least as we are able to make plain. And other persons of intelligence who wish to study Scripture may also find out its meaning for themselves; for although there are many places in which the meaning is not obvious, yet there are none where, as Celsus affirms, there is no sense at all. Neither is it true that any fool or impostor can explain the passages so as to make them suit his own purposes. For it belongs only to those who are wise in the truth of Christ (and to all them it does belong) to unfold the connection and meaning of even the obscure parts of prophecy, comparing spiritual things with spiritual, and interpreting each passage according to the usage of Scripture writers. And Celsus is not to be believed when he says that he has heard such men prophesy; for no prophets bearing any resemblance to the ancient prophets have appeared in the time of Celsus. If there had been any, those who heard and admired them would have followed the example of the ancients, and have recorded the prophecies in writing. And it seems quite clear that Celsus is speaking falsely, when he says that those prophets whom he had heard, on being pressed by him, confessed their true motives, and acknowledged that the ambiguous words they used really meant nothing. He ought to have given the names of those whom he says he had heard, if he had any to give, so that those who were competent to judge might decide whether his allegations were true or false. 7.53. After these remarks of Celsus, which we have done our best to refute, he goes on to address us thus: Seeing you are so eager for some novelty, how much better it would have been if you had chosen as the object of your zealous homage some one of those who died a glorious death, and whose divinity might have received the support of some myth to perpetuate his memory! Why, if you were not satisfied with Hercules or Æsculapius, and other heroes of antiquity, you had Orpheus, who was confessedly a divinely inspired man, who died a violent death. But perhaps some others have taken him up before you. You may then take Anaxarchus, who, when cast into a mortar, and beaten most barbarously, showed a noble contempt for his suffering, and said, 'Beat, beat the shell of Anaxarchus, for himself you do not beat,'- a speech surely of a spirit truly divine. But others were before you in following his interpretation of the laws of nature. Might you not, then, take Epictetus, who, when his master was twisting his leg, said, smiling and. unmoved, 'You will break my leg;' and when it was broken, he added, 'Did I not tell you that you would break it?' What saying equal to these did your god utter under suffering? If you had said even of the Sibyl, whose authority some of you acknowledge, that she was a child of God, you would have said something more reasonable. But you have had the presumption to include in her writings many impious things, and set up as a god one who ended a most infamous life by a most miserable death. How much more suitable than he would have been Jonah in the whale's belly, or Daniel delivered from the wild beasts, or any of a still more portentous kind!
20. Macrobius, Saturnalia, 1.18.6, 1.18.22 (4th cent. CE - 5th cent. CE)

21. Macrobius, Saturnalia, 1.18.6, 1.18.22 (4th cent. CE - 5th cent. CE)

22. Servius, In Vergilii Georgicon Libros, 1.166 (4th cent. CE - 5th cent. CE)

23. Proclus, Hymni, 7.11-7.15 (5th cent. CE - 5th cent. CE)

24. Orphic Hymns., Fragments, 311



Subjects of this text:

subject book bibliographic info
allegory deJauregui, Orphism and Christianity in Late Antiquity (2010), 249
antithesis Malherbe et al., Light from the Gentiles: Hellenistic Philosophy and Early Christianity: Collected Essays of Abraham J (2014) 552
apollo, apollonian, apolline Bernabe et al., Redefining Dionysos (2013) 111
apology Despotis and Lohr, Religious and Philosophical Conversion in the Ancient Mediterranean Traditions (2022) 134
archaic Bernabe et al., Redefining Dionysos (2013) 111
archegetes ἀρχηγέτης Bernabe et al., Redefining Dionysos (2013) 111
athens, athenian Bernabe et al., Redefining Dionysos (2013) 111
attica, attic Bernabe et al., Redefining Dionysos (2013) 111
avarice, and wealth Malherbe et al., Light from the Gentiles: Hellenistic Philosophy and Early Christianity: Collected Essays of Abraham J (2014) 527
awakening, dionysos Bernabe et al., Redefining Dionysos (2013) 111
baubo deJauregui, Orphism and Christianity in Late Antiquity (2010), 153
belief and faith Despotis and Lohr, Religious and Philosophical Conversion in the Ancient Mediterranean Traditions (2022) 134
cave, corycian Bernabe et al., Redefining Dionysos (2013) 111
cave Bernabe et al., Redefining Dionysos (2013) 111
celsus deJauregui, Orphism and Christianity in Late Antiquity (2010), 249, 330
christ/christianity Gorain, Language in the Confessions of Augustine (2019) 230
cognitive aspect Despotis and Lohr, Religious and Philosophical Conversion in the Ancient Mediterranean Traditions (2022) 134
conversion, moral Despotis and Lohr, Religious and Philosophical Conversion in the Ancient Mediterranean Traditions (2022) 134
corycia, corycian Bernabe et al., Redefining Dionysos (2013) 111
cult, cultic acts for specific cults, the corresponding god or place Bernabe et al., Redefining Dionysos (2013) 111
cymbals ῥόπτρον Bernabe et al., Redefining Dionysos (2013) 111
cynics/cynicism Malherbe et al., Light from the Gentiles: Hellenistic Philosophy and Early Christianity: Collected Essays of Abraham J (2014) 552
delphi, delphian, delphic Bernabe et al., Redefining Dionysos (2013) 111
demeter deJauregui, Orphism and Christianity in Late Antiquity (2010), 153
dio chrysostom Malherbe et al., Light from the Gentiles: Hellenistic Philosophy and Early Christianity: Collected Essays of Abraham J (2014) 527
dionysos, awakening Bernabe et al., Redefining Dionysos (2013) 111
dionysos, dionysos liknites Bernabe et al., Redefining Dionysos (2013) 111
dionysos, rebirth Bernabe et al., Redefining Dionysos (2013) 111
dionysos, tomb Bernabe et al., Redefining Dionysos (2013) 111
dionysos Bernabe et al., Redefining Dionysos (2013) 111
dionysus, heart of Graf and Johnston, Ritual texts for the afterlife: Orpheus and the Bacchic Gold Tablets (2007) 199
dionysus deJauregui, Orphism and Christianity in Late Antiquity (2010), 67, 153, 162, 249, 266, 330
dismemberment Bernabe et al., Redefining Dionysos (2013) 111
divine Despotis and Lohr, Religious and Philosophical Conversion in the Ancient Mediterranean Traditions (2022) 134
eleusis deJauregui, Orphism and Christianity in Late Antiquity (2010), 162, 266
empedocles deJauregui, Orphism and Christianity in Late Antiquity (2010), 162
epistle, pastorals Malherbe et al., Light from the Gentiles: Hellenistic Philosophy and Early Christianity: Collected Essays of Abraham J (2014) 527, 552
eschatology Malherbe et al., Light from the Gentiles: Hellenistic Philosophy and Early Christianity: Collected Essays of Abraham J (2014) 527, 552
euhemerism deJauregui, Orphism and Christianity in Late Antiquity (2010), 249, 330
exhortation, paraenesis Despotis and Lohr, Religious and Philosophical Conversion in the Ancient Mediterranean Traditions (2022) 134
festival, festivity, festive Bernabe et al., Redefining Dionysos (2013) 111
gnostic/ gnosticism deJauregui, Orphism and Christianity in Late Antiquity (2010), 162
greed Malherbe et al., Light from the Gentiles: Hellenistic Philosophy and Early Christianity: Collected Essays of Abraham J (2014) 527
hedonism Malherbe et al., Light from the Gentiles: Hellenistic Philosophy and Early Christianity: Collected Essays of Abraham J (2014) 552
heresy Malherbe et al., Light from the Gentiles: Hellenistic Philosophy and Early Christianity: Collected Essays of Abraham J (2014) 552
herois, heroides Bernabe et al., Redefining Dionysos (2013) 111
hope Malherbe et al., Light from the Gentiles: Hellenistic Philosophy and Early Christianity: Collected Essays of Abraham J (2014) 552
iacchos ἴακχος Bernabe et al., Redefining Dionysos (2013) 111
iconography deJauregui, Orphism and Christianity in Late Antiquity (2010), 330
india Gorain, Language in the Confessions of Augustine (2019) 230
instruction Malherbe et al., Light from the Gentiles: Hellenistic Philosophy and Early Christianity: Collected Essays of Abraham J (2014) 552
jews Despotis and Lohr, Religious and Philosophical Conversion in the Ancient Mediterranean Traditions (2022) 134
judaism, hellenistic Malherbe et al., Light from the Gentiles: Hellenistic Philosophy and Early Christianity: Collected Essays of Abraham J (2014) 552
lactantius Gorain, Language in the Confessions of Augustine (2019) 230
lenaia Bernabe et al., Redefining Dionysos (2013) 111
liknon λίκνον Bernabe et al., Redefining Dionysos (2013) 111
maenadism deJauregui, Orphism and Christianity in Late Antiquity (2010), 67, 266
magic deJauregui, Orphism and Christianity in Late Antiquity (2010), 266
mark antony Gorain, Language in the Confessions of Augustine (2019) 230
metaphor Malherbe et al., Light from the Gentiles: Hellenistic Philosophy and Early Christianity: Collected Essays of Abraham J (2014) 527, 552
music deJauregui, Orphism and Christianity in Late Antiquity (2010), 266
mysteries, mystery cults Bernabe et al., Redefining Dionysos (2013) 111
mysteries, phlyan Graf and Johnston, Ritual texts for the afterlife: Orpheus and the Bacchic Gold Tablets (2007) 199
mystes μύστης Bernabe et al., Redefining Dionysos (2013) 111
mystic, mystical Bernabe et al., Redefining Dionysos (2013) 111
myth, mythical Bernabe et al., Redefining Dionysos (2013) 111
nymph Bernabe et al., Redefining Dionysos (2013) 111
omophagy deJauregui, Orphism and Christianity in Late Antiquity (2010), 266
orgiasmos ὀργιασμός Bernabe et al., Redefining Dionysos (2013) 111
orpheus / david / christ deJauregui, Orphism and Christianity in Late Antiquity (2010), 249
orphism, orphic Bernabe et al., Redefining Dionysos (2013) 111
orphism/orphic Despotis and Lohr, Religious and Philosophical Conversion in the Ancient Mediterranean Traditions (2022) 134
ovid Gorain, Language in the Confessions of Augustine (2019) 230
paganism deJauregui, Orphism and Christianity in Late Antiquity (2010), 266
panorphism / orpheoscepticism deJauregui, Orphism and Christianity in Late Antiquity (2010), 153
parnassus, parnassian Bernabe et al., Redefining Dionysos (2013) 111
pastoral epistles Malherbe et al., Light from the Gentiles: Hellenistic Philosophy and Early Christianity: Collected Essays of Abraham J (2014) 527, 552
pastorals Malherbe et al., Light from the Gentiles: Hellenistic Philosophy and Early Christianity: Collected Essays of Abraham J (2014) 527, 552
pelagianism deJauregui, Orphism and Christianity in Late Antiquity (2010), 249
philosopher Malherbe et al., Light from the Gentiles: Hellenistic Philosophy and Early Christianity: Collected Essays of Abraham J (2014) 527
plagiarism deJauregui, Orphism and Christianity in Late Antiquity (2010), 249
pleasure Malherbe et al., Light from the Gentiles: Hellenistic Philosophy and Early Christianity: Collected Essays of Abraham J (2014) 552
pliny the elder Gorain, Language in the Confessions of Augustine (2019) 230
plutarch Malherbe et al., Light from the Gentiles: Hellenistic Philosophy and Early Christianity: Collected Essays of Abraham J (2014) 527
proverb Malherbe et al., Light from the Gentiles: Hellenistic Philosophy and Early Christianity: Collected Essays of Abraham J (2014) 527
ptolemies deJauregui, Orphism and Christianity in Late Antiquity (2010), 67
rejection Despotis and Lohr, Religious and Philosophical Conversion in the Ancient Mediterranean Traditions (2022) 134
resurrection deJauregui, Orphism and Christianity in Late Antiquity (2010), 249, 330
rhapsodies deJauregui, Orphism and Christianity in Late Antiquity (2010), 162, 249
rich Malherbe et al., Light from the Gentiles: Hellenistic Philosophy and Early Christianity: Collected Essays of Abraham J (2014) 552
rite, ritual Bernabe et al., Redefining Dionysos (2013) 111
rites deJauregui, Orphism and Christianity in Late Antiquity (2010), 67, 153, 162, 266
rome deJauregui, Orphism and Christianity in Late Antiquity (2010), 67
rose, h. j. Graf and Johnston, Ritual texts for the afterlife: Orpheus and the Bacchic Gold Tablets (2007) 199
sacrifice, sacrificial Bernabe et al., Redefining Dionysos (2013) 111
satyrs Bernabe et al., Redefining Dionysos (2013) 111
semele Bernabe et al., Redefining Dionysos (2013) 111
seneca Malherbe et al., Light from the Gentiles: Hellenistic Philosophy and Early Christianity: Collected Essays of Abraham J (2014) 527
sethians deJauregui, Orphism and Christianity in Late Antiquity (2010), 162
sonship deJauregui, Orphism and Christianity in Late Antiquity (2010), 249, 330
soteriology, in pastorals Malherbe et al., Light from the Gentiles: Hellenistic Philosophy and Early Christianity: Collected Essays of Abraham J (2014) 552
sparagmós σπαραγμός Bernabe et al., Redefining Dionysos (2013) 111
stoicism Malherbe et al., Light from the Gentiles: Hellenistic Philosophy and Early Christianity: Collected Essays of Abraham J (2014) 527
teacher, false Malherbe et al., Light from the Gentiles: Hellenistic Philosophy and Early Christianity: Collected Essays of Abraham J (2014) 527
temple Bernabe et al., Redefining Dionysos (2013) 111
tertullian Gorain, Language in the Confessions of Augustine (2019) 230
thyiads, thyiades Bernabe et al., Redefining Dionysos (2013) 111
titans deJauregui, Orphism and Christianity in Late Antiquity (2010), 67, 162, 249
trieteric festivals Bernabe et al., Redefining Dionysos (2013) 111
triumph Gorain, Language in the Confessions of Augustine (2019) 230
tympanon τύμπανον Bernabe et al., Redefining Dionysos (2013) 111
varro Gorain, Language in the Confessions of Augustine (2019) 230
wealth Malherbe et al., Light from the Gentiles: Hellenistic Philosophy and Early Christianity: Collected Essays of Abraham J (2014) 527, 552
woman' Bernabe et al., Redefining Dionysos (2013) 111
zeus, gestates dionysus in his thigh Graf and Johnston, Ritual texts for the afterlife: Orpheus and the Bacchic Gold Tablets (2007) 199
zeus deJauregui, Orphism and Christianity in Late Antiquity (2010), 67, 153, 162, 249, 266, 330