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Tiresias: The Ancient Mediterranean Religions Source Database



1396
Athenagoras, Apology Or Embassy For The Christians, 22


nanBut perhaps these things are poetic vagary, and there is some natural explanation of them, such as this by Empedocles: - Let Jove be fire, and Juno source of life, With Pluto and Nêstis, who bathes with tears The human founts. If, then, Zeus is fire, and Hera the earth, and Aïdoneus the air, and Nê stis water, and these are elements - fire, water, air - none of them is a god, neither Zeus, nor Hera, nor Aïdoneus; for from matter separated into parts by God is their constitution and origin:- Fire, water, earth, and the air's gentle height, And harmony with these. Here are things which without harmony cannot abide; which would be brought to ruin by strife: how then can any one say that they are gods? Friendship, according to Empedocles, has an aptitude to govern, things that are compounded are governed, and that which is apt to govern has the dominion; so that if we make the power of the governed and the governing one and the same, we shall be, unawares to ourselves, putting perishable and fluctuating and changeable matter on an equality with the uncreated, and eternal, and ever self-accordant God. Zeus is, according to the Stoics, the fervid part of nature; Hera is the air (ἀήρ)- the very name, if it be joined to itself, signifying this; Poseidon is what is drunk (water, πόσις). But these things are by different persons explained of natural objects in different ways. Some call Zeus twofold masculine-feminine air; others the season which brings about mild weather, on which account it was that he alone escaped from Kronos. But to the Stoics it may be said, If you acknowledge one God, the supreme and uncreated and eternal One, and as many compound bodies as there are changes of matter, and say that the Spirit of God, which pervades matter, obtains according to its variations a diversity of names, the forms of matter will become the body of God; but when the elements are destroyed in the conflagration, the names will necessarily perish along with the forms, the Spirit of God alone remaining. Who, then, can believe that those bodies, of which the variation according to matter is allied to corruption, are gods? But to those who say that Kronos is time, and Rhea the earth, and that she becomes pregnant by Kronos, and brings forth, whence she is regarded as the mother of all; and that he begets and devours his offspring; and that the mutilation is the intercourse of the male with the female, which cuts off the seed and casts it into the womb, and generates a human being, who has in himself the sexual desire, which is Aphrodité; and that the madness of Kronos is the turn of season, which destroys animate and inanimate things; and that the bonds and Tartarus are time, which is changed by seasons and disappears - to such persons we say, If Kronos is time, he changes; if a season, he turns about; if darkness, or frost, or the moist part of nature, none of these is abiding; but the Deity is immortal, and immoveable, and unalterable: so that neither is Kronos nor his image God. As regards Zeus again: If he is air, born of Kronos, of which the male part is called Zeus and the female Hera (whence both sister and wife), he is subject to change; if a season, he turns about: but the Deity neither changes nor shifts about. But why should I trespass on your patience by saying more, when you know so well what has been said by each of those who have resolved these things into nature, or what various writers have thought concerning nature, or what they say concerning Athênâ, whom they affirm to be the wisdom (φρόνησις) pervading all things; and concerning Isis, whom they call the birth of all time (φύσις αἰῶνος), from whom all have sprung, and by whom all exist; or concerning Osiris, on whose murder by Typhon his brother Isis with her son Orus sought after his limbs, and finding them honoured them with a sepulchre, which sepulchre is to this day called the tomb of Osiris? For while they wander up and down about the forms of matter, they miss to find the God who can only be beheld by the reason, while they deify the elements and their several parts, applying different names to them at different times: calling the sowing of the grain, for instance, Osiris (hence they say, that in the mysteries, on the finding of the members of his body, or the fruits, Isis is thus addressed: We have found, we wish you joy), the fruit of the vine Dionysus, the vine itself Semelé, the heat of the sun the thunderbolt. And yet, in fact, they who refer the fables to actual gods, do anything rather than add to their divine character; for they do not perceive, that by the very defense they make for the gods, they confirm the things which are alleged concerning them. What have Europa, and the bull, and the swan, and Leda, to do with the earth and air, that the abominable intercourse of Zeus with them should be taken for the intercourse of the earth and air? But missing to discover the greatness of God, and not being able to rise on high with their reason (for they have no affinity for the heavenly place), they pine away among the forms of matter, and rooted to the earth, deify the changes of the elements: just as if any one should put the ship he sailed in the place of the steersman. But as the ship, although equipped with everything, is of no use if it have not a steersman, so neither are the elements, though arranged in perfect order, of any service apart from the providence of God. For the ship will not sail of itself; and the elements without their Framer will not move.


nanBut perhaps these things are poetic vagary, and there is some natural explanation of them, such as this by Empedocles: —Let Jove be fire, and Juno source of life,With Pluto and Nêstis, who bathes with tearsThe human founts.If, then, Zeus is fire, and Hera the earth, and Aïdoneus the air, and Nê stis water, and these are elements — fire, water, air — none of them is a god, neither Zeus, nor Hera, nor Aïdoneus; for from matter separated into parts by God is their constitution and origin:—Fire, water, earth, and the air's gentle height,And harmony with these.Here are things which without harmony cannot abide; which would be brought to ruin by strife: how then can any one say that they are gods? Friendship, according to Empedocles, has an aptitude to govern, things that are compounded are governed, and that which is apt to govern has the dominion; so that if we make the power of the governed and the governing one and the same, we shall be, unawares to ourselves, putting perishable and fluctuating and changeable matter on an equality with the uncreated, and eternal, and ever self-accordant God. Zeus is, according to the Stoics, the fervid part of nature; Hera is the air (ἀήρ)— the very name, if it be joined to itself, signifying this; Poseidon is what is drunk (water, πόσις). But these things are by different persons explained of natural objects in different ways. Some call Zeus twofold masculine-feminine air; others the season which brings about mild weather, on which account it was that he alone escaped from Kronos. But to the Stoics it may be said, If you acknowledge one God, the supreme and uncreated and eternal One, and as many compound bodies as there are changes of matter, and say that the Spirit of God, which pervades matter, obtains according to its variations a diversity of names, the forms of matter will become the body of God; but when the elements are destroyed in the conflagration, the names will necessarily perish along with the forms, the Spirit of God alone remaining. Who, then, can believe that those bodies, of which the variation according to matter is allied to corruption, are gods? But to those who say that Kronos is time, and Rhea the earth, and that she becomes pregnant by Kronos, and brings forth, whence she is regarded as the mother of all; and that he begets and devours his offspring; and that the mutilation is the intercourse of the male with the female, which cuts off the seed and casts it into the womb, and generates a human being, who has in himself the sexual desire, which is Aphrodité; and that the madness of Kronos is the turn of season, which destroys animate and inanimate things; and that the bonds and Tartarus are time, which is changed by seasons and disappears — to such persons we say, If Kronos is time, he changes; if a season, he turns about; if darkness, or frost, or the moist part of nature, none of these is abiding; but the Deity is immortal, and immoveable, and unalterable: so that neither is Kronos nor his image God. As regards Zeus again: If he is air, born of Kronos, of which the male part is called Zeus and the female Hera (whence both sister and wife), he is subject to change; if a season, he turns about: but the Deity neither changes nor shifts about. But why should I trespass on your patience by saying more, when you know so well what has been said by each of those who have resolved these things into nature, or what various writers have thought concerning nature, or what they say concerning Athênâ, whom they affirm to be the wisdom (φρόνησις) pervading all things; and concerning Isis, whom they call the birth of all time (φύσις αἰῶνος), from whom all have sprung, and by whom all exist; or concerning Osiris, on whose murder by Typhon his brother Isis with her son Orus sought after his limbs, and finding them honoured them with a sepulchre, which sepulchre is to this day called the tomb of Osiris? For while they wander up and down about the forms of matter, they miss to find the God who can only be beheld by the reason, while they deify the elements and their several parts, applying different names to them at different times: calling the sowing of the grain, for instance, Osiris (hence they say, that in the mysteries, on the finding of the members of his body, or the fruits, Isis is thus addressed: We have found, we wish you joy), the fruit of the vine Dionysus, the vine itself Semelé, the heat of the sun the thunderbolt. And yet, in fact, they who refer the fables to actual gods, do anything rather than add to their divine character; for they do not perceive, that by the very defense they make for the gods, they confirm the things which are alleged concerning them. What have Europa, and the bull, and the swan, and Leda, to do with the earth and air, that the abominable intercourse of Zeus with them should be taken for the intercourse of the earth and air? But missing to discover the greatness of God, and not being able to rise on high with their reason (for they have no affinity for the heavenly place), they pine away among the forms of matter, and rooted to the earth, deify the changes of the elements: just as if any one should put the ship he sailed in the place of the steersman. But as the ship, although equipped with everything, is of no use if it have not a steersman, so neither are the elements, though arranged in perfect order, of any service apart from the providence of God. For the ship will not sail of itself; and the elements without their Framer will not move.


Intertexts (texts cited often on the same page as the searched text):

13 results
1. Philo of Alexandria, On The Decalogue, 53-57, 52 (1st cent. BCE - 1st cent. CE)

2. Philo of Alexandria, On The Contemplative Life, 8 (1st cent. BCE - 1st cent. CE)

8. for as for the customs of the Egyptians, it is not creditable even to mention them, for they have introduced irrational beasts, and those not merely such as are domestic and tame, but even the most ferocious of wild beasts to share the honours of the gods, taking some out of each of the elements beneath the moon, as the lion from among the animals which live on the earth, the crocodile from among those which live in the water, the kite from such as traverse the air, and the Egyptian iris.
3. Strabo, Geography, 10.3.23 (1st cent. BCE - 1st cent. BCE)

10.3.23. I have been led on to discuss these people rather at length, although I am not in the least fond of myths, because the facts in their case border on the province of theology. And theology as a whole must examine early opinions and myths, since the ancients expressed enigmatically the physical notions which they entertained concerning the facts and always added the mythical element to their accounts. Now it is not easy to solve with accuracy all the enigmas, but if the multitude of myths be set before us, some agreeing and others contradicting one another, one might be able more readily to conjecture out of them what the truth is. For instance, men probably speak in their myths about the mountain-roaming of religious zealots and of gods themselves, and about their religious frenzies, for the same reason that they are prompted to believe that the gods dwell in the skies and show forethought, among their other interests, for prognostication by signs. Now seeking for metals, and hunting, and searching for the things that are useful for the purposes of life, are manifestly closely related to mountain-roaming, whereas juggling and magic are closely related to religious frenzies, worship, and divination. And such also is devotion to the arts, in particular to the Dionysiac and Orphic arts. But enough on this subject.
4. Plutarch, On Isis And Osiris, None (1st cent. CE - 2nd cent. CE)

367c. and advances the land, that the deep waters gradually recede and, as the bottom gains in height by reason of the alluvial deposits, the water of the sea runs off from these. We also note that Pharos, which Homer knew as distant aday's sail from Egypt, is now a part of it; not that the island has extended its area by rising, or has come nearer to the land, but the sea that separated them was obliged to retire before the river, as the river reshaped the land and made it to increase. The fact is that all this is somewhat like the doctrines promulgated by the Stoics about the gods; for they say that the creative and fostering spirit is Dionysus, the truculent and destructive is Heracles, the receptive is Ammon, that which pervades the Earth and its products is Demeter and the Daughter, and that which pervades the Sea is Poseidon.
5. Athenagoras, Apology Or Embassy For The Christians, 22.4 (2nd cent. CE - 2nd cent. CE)

10. That we are not atheists, therefore, seeing that we acknowledge one God, uncreated, eternal, invisible, impassible, incomprehensible, illimitable, who is apprehended by the understanding only and the reason, who is encompassed by light, and beauty, and spirit, and power ineffable, by whom the universe has been created through His Logos, and set in order, and is kept in being - I have sufficiently demonstrated. [I say His Logos], for we acknowledge also a Son of God. Nor let any one think it ridiculous that God should have a Son. For though the poets, in their fictions, represent the gods as no better than men, our mode of thinking is not the same as theirs, concerning either God the Father or the Son. But the Son of God is the Logos of the Father, in idea and in operation; for after the pattern of Him and by Him were all things made, the Father and the Son being one. And, the Son being in the Father and the Father in the Son, in oneness and power of spirit, the understanding and reason (νοῦς καὶ λόγος) of the Father is the Son of God. But if, in your surpassing intelligence, it occurs to you to inquire what is meant by the Son, I will state briefly that He is the first product of the Father, not as having been brought into existence (for from the beginning, God, who is the eternal mind [νοῦς], had the Logos in Himself, being from eternity instinct with Logos [λογικός]); but inasmuch as He came forth to be the idea and energizing power of all material things, which lay like a nature without attributes, and an inactive earth, the grosser particles being mixed up with the lighter. The prophetic Spirit also agrees with our statements. The Lord, it says, made me, the beginning of His ways to His works. Proverbs 8:22 The Holy Spirit Himself also, which operates in the prophets, we assert to be an effluence of God, flowing from Him, and returning back again like a beam of the sun. Who, then, would not be astonished to hear men who speak of God the Father, and of God the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, and who declare both their power in union and their distinction in order, called atheists? Nor is our teaching in what relates to the divine nature confined to these points; but we recognise also a multitude of angels and ministers, whom God the Maker and Framer of the world distributed and appointed to their several posts by His Logos, to occupy themselves about the elements, and the heavens, and the world, and the things in it, and the goodly ordering of them all.
6. Clement of Alexandria, Exhortation To The Greeks, 6 (2nd cent. CE - 3rd cent. CE)

7. Clement of Alexandria, Miscellanies, (2nd cent. CE - 3rd cent. CE)

8. Justin, First Apology, 9.1 (2nd cent. CE - 2nd cent. CE)

9. Justin, Second Apology, 5.3-5.5 (2nd cent. CE - 2nd cent. CE)

10. Tatian, Oration To The Greeks, 8.6, 10.1 (2nd cent. CE - 2nd cent. CE)

11. Diogenes Laertius, Lives of The Philosophers, 7.147 (3rd cent. CE - 3rd cent. CE)

7.147. The deity, say they, is a living being, immortal, rational, perfect or intelligent in happiness, admitting nothing evil, taking providential care of the world and all that therein is, but he is not of human shape. He is, however, the artificer of the universe and, as it were, the father of all, both in general and in that particular part of him which is all-pervading, and which is called many names according to its various powers. They give the name Dia (Δία) because all things are due to (διά) him; Zeus (Ζῆνα) in so far as he is the cause of life (ζῆν) or pervades all life; the name Athena is given, because the ruling part of the divinity extends to the aether; the name Hera marks its extension to the air; he is called Hephaestus since it spreads to the creative fire; Poseidon, since it stretches to the sea; Demeter, since it reaches to the earth. Similarly men have given the deity his other titles, fastening, as best they can, on some one or other of his peculiar attributes.
12. Origen, Against Celsus, 1.17, 4.17 (3rd cent. CE - 3rd cent. CE)

1.17. In what follows, Celsus, assailing the Mosaic history, finds fault with those who give it a tropical and allegorical signification. And here one might say to this great man, who inscribed upon his own work the title of a True Discourse, Why, good sir, do you make it a boast to have it recorded that the gods should engage in such adventures as are described by your learned poets and philosophers, and be guilty of abominable intrigues, and of engaging in wars against their own fathers, and of cutting off their secret parts, and should dare to commit and to suffer such enormities; while Moses, who gives no such accounts respecting God, nor even regarding the holy angels, and who relates deeds of far less atrocity regarding men (for in his writings no one ever ventured to commit such crimes as Kronos did against Uranus, or Zeus against his father, or that of the father of men and gods, who had intercourse with his own daughter), should be considered as having deceived those who were placed under his laws, and to have led them into error? And here Celsus seems to me to act somewhat as Thrasymachus the Platonic philosopher did, when he would not allow Socrates to answer regarding justice, as he wished, but said, Take care not to say that utility is justice, or duty, or anything of that kind. For in like manner Celsus assails (as he thinks) the Mosaic histories, and finds fault with those who understand them allegorically, at the same time bestowing also some praise upon those who do so, to the effect that they are more impartial (than those who do not); and thus, as it were, he prevents by his cavils those who are able to show the true state of the case from offering such a defense as they would wish to offer. 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.
13. Orphic Hymns., Fragments, 89



Subjects of this text:

subject book bibliographic info
alexandria deJauregui, Orphism and Christianity in Late Antiquity (2010), 170
allegory/allegorization Malherbe et al., Light from the Gentiles: Hellenistic Philosophy and Early Christianity: Collected Essays of Abraham J (2014) 853
apologists, generally Esler, The Early Christian World (2000) 540
apologists (christian), and pagan sacrifice Petropoulou, Animal Sacrifice in Ancient Greek Religion, Judaism, and Christianity, 100 BC to AD 200 (2012) 249
aristides, aelius Taylor and Hay, Philo of Alexandria: On the Contemplative Life: Introduction, Translation and Commentary (2020) 119
athenagoras, theology Esler, The Early Christian World (2000) 540
athenagoras Malherbe et al., Light from the Gentiles: Hellenistic Philosophy and Early Christianity: Collected Essays of Abraham J (2014) 853; Taylor and Hay, Philo of Alexandria: On the Contemplative Life: Introduction, Translation and Commentary (2020) 119
celsus Malherbe et al., Light from the Gentiles: Hellenistic Philosophy and Early Christianity: Collected Essays of Abraham J (2014) 853; deJauregui, Orphism and Christianity in Late Antiquity (2010), 242
chaeremon the stoic, on the egyptian priests Taylor and Hay, Philo of Alexandria: On the Contemplative Life: Introduction, Translation and Commentary (2020) 119
christianity, and greek/pagan religion Petropoulou, Animal Sacrifice in Ancient Greek Religion, Judaism, and Christianity, 100 BC to AD 200 (2012) 249
clement of alexandria Malherbe et al., Light from the Gentiles: Hellenistic Philosophy and Early Christianity: Collected Essays of Abraham J (2014) 853
daemons Petropoulou, Animal Sacrifice in Ancient Greek Religion, Judaism, and Christianity, 100 BC to AD 200 (2012) 249
demeter deJauregui, Orphism and Christianity in Late Antiquity (2010), 170, 242
derveni papyrus deJauregui, Orphism and Christianity in Late Antiquity (2010), 170
dionysus deJauregui, Orphism and Christianity in Late Antiquity (2010), 170
eleusis deJauregui, Orphism and Christianity in Late Antiquity (2010), 170
empedocles Malherbe et al., Light from the Gentiles: Hellenistic Philosophy and Early Christianity: Collected Essays of Abraham J (2014) 853; deJauregui, Orphism and Christianity in Late Antiquity (2010), 242
hieronymus and hellanicus, (theogony) deJauregui, Orphism and Christianity in Late Antiquity (2010), 170
maximus of tyre Malherbe et al., Light from the Gentiles: Hellenistic Philosophy and Early Christianity: Collected Essays of Abraham J (2014) 853
morality, athenagoras Esler, The Early Christian World (2000) 540
orpheus Malherbe et al., Light from the Gentiles: Hellenistic Philosophy and Early Christianity: Collected Essays of Abraham J (2014) 853
persephone / core deJauregui, Orphism and Christianity in Late Antiquity (2010), 170
phanes / protogonos deJauregui, Orphism and Christianity in Late Antiquity (2010), 242
philosopher Malherbe et al., Light from the Gentiles: Hellenistic Philosophy and Early Christianity: Collected Essays of Abraham J (2014) 853
plato Malherbe et al., Light from the Gentiles: Hellenistic Philosophy and Early Christianity: Collected Essays of Abraham J (2014) 853
platonism Malherbe et al., Light from the Gentiles: Hellenistic Philosophy and Early Christianity: Collected Essays of Abraham J (2014) 853
poetry Malherbe et al., Light from the Gentiles: Hellenistic Philosophy and Early Christianity: Collected Essays of Abraham J (2014) 853
polemic' Malherbe et al., Light from the Gentiles: Hellenistic Philosophy and Early Christianity: Collected Essays of Abraham J (2014) 853
pythagoras Malherbe et al., Light from the Gentiles: Hellenistic Philosophy and Early Christianity: Collected Essays of Abraham J (2014) 853
pythagoras / (neo-)pythagoreanism deJauregui, Orphism and Christianity in Late Antiquity (2010), 242
pythagoreanism Malherbe et al., Light from the Gentiles: Hellenistic Philosophy and Early Christianity: Collected Essays of Abraham J (2014) 853
reincarnation deJauregui, Orphism and Christianity in Late Antiquity (2010), 242
rhapsodies deJauregui, Orphism and Christianity in Late Antiquity (2010), 170, 242
stoicism, allegorization Malherbe et al., Light from the Gentiles: Hellenistic Philosophy and Early Christianity: Collected Essays of Abraham J (2014) 853
stoicism Malherbe et al., Light from the Gentiles: Hellenistic Philosophy and Early Christianity: Collected Essays of Abraham J (2014) 853; deJauregui, Orphism and Christianity in Late Antiquity (2010), 170, 242
symbola / synthemata deJauregui, Orphism and Christianity in Late Antiquity (2010), 242
tatian Petropoulou, Animal Sacrifice in Ancient Greek Religion, Judaism, and Christianity, 100 BC to AD 200 (2012) 249
theogonies deJauregui, Orphism and Christianity in Late Antiquity (2010), 170
zeus deJauregui, Orphism and Christianity in Late Antiquity (2010), 170, 242