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Tiresias: The Ancient Mediterranean Religions Source Database

Clement Of Alexandria, Miscellanies, 1.15.72

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

8 results
1. Hebrew Bible, Exodus, 27-28, 26 (9th cent. BCE - 3rd cent. BCE)

2. Hebrew Bible, Genesis, 21, 16 (9th cent. BCE - 3rd cent. BCE)

3. Philo of Alexandria, That Every Good Person Is Free, 77-91, 76 (1st cent. BCE - 1st cent. CE)

76. These men, in the first place, live in villages, avoiding all cities on account of the habitual lawlessness of those who inhabit them, well knowing that such a moral disease is contracted from associations with wicked men, just as a real disease might be from an impure atmosphere, and that this would stamp an incurable evil on their souls. of these men, some cultivating the earth, and others devoting themselves to those arts which are the result of peace, benefit both themselves and all those who come in contact with them, not storing up treasures of silver and of gold, nor acquiring vast sections of the earth out of a desire for ample revenues, but providing all things which are requisite for the natural purposes of life;
4. Aelian, Varia Historia, 4.17 (2nd cent. CE - 3rd cent. CE)

5. Clement of Alexandria, Miscellanies, 1.5.28, 1.5.31, 1.15.71, 1.15.73, 1.16.75, 1.16.80, 1.22-1.28, 1.23.153, 2.2.5, 5.6.32-5.6.40, 5.11.67 (2nd cent. CE - 3rd cent. CE)

6. Tatian, Oration To The Greeks, 1.1, 30.3, 31.1, 35.2 (2nd cent. CE - 2nd cent. CE)

7. Eusebius of Caesarea, Preparation For The Gospel, 9.7.1, 9.10.1-9.10.5 (3rd cent. CE - 4th cent. CE)

8. Porphyry, On Abstinence, 4.2, 4.4, 4.6-4.14, 4.16-4.17 (3rd cent. CE - 4th cent. CE)

4.2. 2.But we shall begin from the abstinence of certain nations, in the narration of which, what is asserted of the Greeks will first claim our attention, as being the most allied to us, and the most appropriate of all the witnesses that can be adduced. Among those, therefore, that have concisely, and at the same time accurately collected an account of the affairs of the Greeks, is the Peripatetic Dicaearchus 1, who, in narrating the pristine life of the Greeks, says, the ancients, being generated with an alliance to the Gods, were naturally most excellent, and led the best life; so that, when compared to us of the present day, who consist of an adulterated and most vile matter, they were thought to be a golden race; and they slew no animal whatever. The truth of this, he also says, is testified by the poets, who denominate these ancients the golden race, and assert that every good was present with them. The fertile earth for them spontaneous bore of fruits a copious and unenvy'd store; In blissful quiet then, unknown to strife, The worthy with the worthy passed their life 2. |111 Which assertions, indeed Dicaearchus explaining, says, that a life of this kind was under Saturn; if it is proper to consider it as a thing that once existed, and that it is a life which has not been celebrated in vain, and if, laying aside what is extremely fabulous, we may refer it to a physical narration. All things, therefore, are very properly said to have been then spontaneously produced; for men did not procure any thing by labour, because they were unacquainted with the agricultural art, and, in short, had no knowledge of any other art. This very thing, likewise, was the cause of their leading a life of leisure, free from labours and care; and if it is proper to assent to the decision of the most skilful and elegant of physicians, it was also the cause of their being liberated from disease. For there is not any precept of physicians which more contributes to health, than that which exhorts us not to make an abundance of excrement, from which those pristine Greeks always preserved their bodies pure. For they neither assumed such food as was stronger than the nature of the body could bear, but such as could be vanquished by the corporeal nature, nor more than was moderate, on account of the facility of procuring it, but for the most part less than was sufficient, on account of its paucity. Moreover, there were neither any wars among them, nor seditions with each other. For no reward of contention worth mentioning was proposed as an incentive, for the sake of which some one might be induced to engage in such dissensions. So that the principal thing in that life was leisure and rest from necessary occupations, together with health, peace, and friendship. But to those in after times, who, through aspiring after things which greatly exceeded mediocrity, fell into many evils, this pristine life became, as it was reasonable to suppose it would, desirable. The slender and extemporaneous food, however, of these first men, is manifested by the saying which was afterwards proverbially used, enough of the oak; this adage being probably introduced by him who first changed the ancient mode of living. A pastoral life succeeded to this, in which men procured for themselves superfluous possessions, and meddled with animals. For, perceiving that some of them were innoxious, but others malefic and savage, they tamed the former, but attacked the latter. At the same time, together with this life, war was introduced. And these things, says Dicaearchus, are not asserted by us, but by those who have historically discussed a multitude of particulars. For, as possessions were now of such a magnitude as to merit attention, some ambitiously endeavoured to obtain them, by collecting them [for their own use], and calling on others to do the same, but others directed their attention to the preservation of them when collected. Time, therefore, thus gradually proceeding, and men always directing their attention to what |112 appeared to be useful, they at length became conversant with the third, and agricultural form of life. And this is what is said by Dicaearchus, in his narration of the manners of the ancient Greeks, and the blessed life which they then led, to which abstinence from animal food contributed, no less than other things. Hence, at that period there was no war, because injustice was exterminated. But afterwards, together with injustice towards animals, war was introduced among men, and the endeavour to surpass each other in amplitude of possessions. On which account also, the audacity of those is wonderful, who say that abstinence from animals is the mother of injustice, since both history and experience testify, that together with the slaughter of animals, war and injustice were introduced. SPAN 4.4. 4.That he might also in a still greater degree oppose luxury, and take away the ardent endeavour to obtain wealth, he introduced a third, and most beautiful political institution, viz. that of the citizens eating and drinking together publicly; so that they might partake of the same prescribed food in common, and might not be fed at home, reclining on sumptuous couches, and placed before elegant tables, through the hands of artificers and cooks, being fattened in darkness, like voracious animals, and corrupting their bodies, together with their morals, by falling into every kind of luxury and repletion; as such a mode of living would require much sleep, hot baths, and abundant quiet, and such attentions as are paid to the diseased. This indeed was a great thing; but still greater than this, that, as Theophrastus says, he caused wealth to be neglected, and to be of no value through the citizens eating at common tables, and the frugality of their food. For there was no use, nor enjoyment of riches; nor, in short, was there any thing to gratify the sight, or any ostentatious display in the whole apparatus, because both the poor and the rich sat at the same table. Hence it was universally |114 said, that in Sparta alone, Plutus was seen to be blind, and lying like an iimate and immoveable picture. For it was not possible for the citizens, having previously feasted at home, to go to the common tables with appetites already satiated with food. For the rest carefully observed him who did not eat and drink with them, and reviled him, as an intemperate person, and as one who conducted himself effeminately with respect to the common food. Hence these common tables were called phiditia; either as being the causes of friendship and benevolence, as if they were philitia, assuming δ for λ; or as accustoming men (προς ευτελειαν και φειδω) to frugality and a slender diet. But the number of those that assembled at the common table was fifteen, more or less. And each person brought every month, for the purpose of furnishing the table, a medimnus of flour, eight choas 4 of wine, five pounds of cheese, two and a half pounds of figs, and, besides all these, a very little quantity of money. SPAN 4.6. 6.Chaeremon the Stoic, therefore, in his narration of the Egyptian priests, who, he says, were considered by the Egyptians as philosophers, informs us, that they chose temples, as the places in which they might philosophize. For to dwell with the statues of the Gods is a thing allied to the whole desire, by which the soul tends to the contemplation of their divinities. And from the divine veneration indeed, which was paid to them through dwelling in temples, they obtained security, all men honouring these philosophers, as if they were certain sacred animals. They also led a solitary life, as they only mingled with other men in solemn sacrifices and festivals. But at other times the priests were almost inaccessible to any one who wished to converse with them. For it was requisite that he who approached to them should be first purified, and abstain from many things; and this is as it were a common sacred law respecting the Egyptian priests. But these [philosophic priests], |116 having relinquished every other employment, and human labours,7 gave up the whole of their life to the contemplation and worship of divine natures and to divine inspiration; through the latter, indeed, procuring for themselves, honour, security, and piety; but through contemplation, science; and through both, a certain occult exercise of manners, worthy of antiquity8. For to be always conversant with divine knowledge and inspiration, removes those who are so from all avarice, suppresses the passions, and excites to an intellectual life. But they were studious of frugality in their diet and apparel, and also of continence and endurance, and in all things were attentive to justice and equity. They likewise were rendered venerable, through rarely mingling with other men. For during the time of what are called purifications, they scarcely mingled with their nearest kindred, and those of their own order, nor were they to be seen by anyone, unless it was requisite for the necessary purposes of purification. For the sanctuary was inaccessible to those who were not purified, and they dwelt in holy places for the purpose of performing divine works; but at all other times they associated more freely with those who lived like themselves. They did not, however, associate with any one who was not a religious character. But they were always seen near to the Gods, or the statues of the Gods, the latter of which they were beheld either carrying, or preceding in a sacred procession, or disposing in an orderly manner, with modesty and gravity; each of which operations was not the effect of pride, but an indication of some physical reason. Their venerable gravity also was apparent from their manners. For their walking was orderly, and their aspect sedate; and they were so studious of preserving this gravity of countece, that they did not even wink, when at any time they were unwilling to do so; and they seldom laughed, and when they did, their laughter proceeded no farther than to a smile. But they always kept their hands within their garments. Each likewise bore about him a symbol indicative of the order which he was allotted in sacred concerns; for there were many orders of priests. Their diet also was slender and simple. For, with respect to wine, some of them did not at all drink it, but others drank very little of it, on account of its being injurious to the |117 nerves, oppressive to the head, an impediment to invention, and an incentive to venereal desires. In many other things also they conducted themselves with caution; neither using bread at all in purifications, and at those times in which they were not employed in purifying themselves, they were accustomed to eat bread with hyssop, cut into small pieces. For it is said, that hyssop very much purifies the power of bread. But they, for the most part, abstained from oil, the greater number of them entirely; and if at any time they used it with pot-herbs, they took very little of it, and only as much as was sufficient to mitigate the taste of the herbs. SPAN 4.7. 7.It was not lawful for them therefore to meddle with the esculent and potable substances, which were produced out of Egypt, and this contributed much to the exclusion of luxury from these priests. But they abstained from all the fish that was caught in Egypt, and from such quadrupeds as had solid, or many-fissured hoofs, and from such as were not horned; and likewise from all such birds as were carnivorous. Many of them, however, entirely abstained from all animals; and in purifications this abstinence was adopted by all of them, for then they did not even eat an egg. Moreover, they also rejected other things, without being calumniated for so doing. Thus, for instance, of oxen, they rejected the females, and also such of the males as were twins, or were speckled, or of a different colour, or alternately varied in their form, or which were now tamed, as having been already consecrated to labours, and resembled animals that are honoured, or which were the images of any thing [that is divine], or those that had but one eye, or those that verged to a similitude of the human form. There are also innumerable other observations pertaining to the art of those who are called mosxofragistai, or who stamp calves with a seal, and of which books have been composed. But these observations are still more curious respecting birds; as, for instance, that a turtle should not be eaten; for it is said that a hawk frequently dismisses this bird after he has seized it, and preserves its life, as a reward for having had connexion with it. The Egyptian priests, therefore, that they might not ignorantly meddle with a turtle of this kind, avoided the whole species of those birds. And these indeed were certain common religious ceremonies; but there were different ceremonies, which varied according to the class of the priests that used them, and were adapted to the several divinities. But chastity and purifications were common to all the priests. When also the time arrived in which they were to perform something pertaining to the sacred rites of religion, they spent some days in preparatory ceremonies, some indeed forty-two, but others a greater, and |118 others a less number of days; yet never less than seven days; and during this time they abstained from all animals, and likewise from all pot-herbs and leguminous substances, and, above all, from a venereal connexion with women; for they never at any time had connexion with males. They likewise washed themselves with cold water thrice every day; viz. when they rose from their bed, before dinner, and when they betook themselves to sleep. But if they happened to be polluted in their sleep by the emission of the seed, they immediately purified their body in a bath. They also used cold bathing at other times, but not so frequently as on the above occasion. Their bed was woven from the branches of the palm tree, which they call bais; and their bolster was a smooth semi-cylindric piece of wood. But they exercised themselves in the endurance of hunger and thirst, and were accustomed to paucity of food through the whole of their life. SPAN 4.8. 8.This also is a testimony of their continence, that, though they neither exercised themselves in walking or riding, yet they lived free from disease, and were sufficiently strong for the endurance of modern labours. They bore therefore many burdens in the performance of sacred operations, and accomplished many ministrant works, which required more than common strength. But they divided the night into the observation of the celestial bodies, and sometimes devoted a part of it to offices of purification; and they distributed the day into the worship of the Gods, according to which they celebrated them with hymns thrice or four times, viz. in the morning and evening, when the sun is at his meridian altitude, and when he is declining to the west. The rest of their time they devoted to arithmetical and geometrical speculations, always labouring to effect something, and to make some new discovery, and, in short, continually exercising their skill. In winter nights also they were occupied in the same employments, being vigilantly engaged in literary pursuits, as paying no attention to the acquisition of externals, and being liberated from the servitude of that bad master, excessive expense. Hence their unwearied and incessant labour testifies their endurance, but their continence is manifested by their liberation from the desire of external good. To sail from Egypt likewise, [i.e. to quit Egypt,] was considered by them to be one of the most unholy things, in consequence of their being careful to avoid foreign luxury and pursuits; for this appeared to them to be alone lawful to those who were compelled to do so by regal necessities. Indeed, they were very anxious to continue in the observance of the institutes of their country, and those who were found to have violated them, though but in a small degree were expelled [from the college of the priests]. The |119 true method of philosophizing, likewise, was preserved by the prophets, by the hierostolistae 9, and the sacred scribes, and also by the horologi, or calculators of nativities. But the rest of the priests, and of the pastophori 10, curators of temples, and ministers of the Gods, were similarly studious of purity, yet not so accurately, and with such great continence, as the priests of whom we have been speaking. And such are the particulars which are narrated of the Egyptians, by a man who was a lover of truth, and an accurate writer, and who among the Stoics strenuously and solidly philosophized. SPAN 4.9. 9.But the Egyptian priests, through the proficiency which they made by this exercise, and similitude to divinity, knew that divinity does not pervade through man alone, and that soul is not enshrined in man alone on the earth, but that it nearly passes through all animals. On this account, in fashioning the images of the Gods, they assumed every animal, and for this purpose mixed together the human form and the forms of wild beasts, and again the bodies of birds with the body of a man. For a certain deity was represented by them in a human shape as far as to the neck, but the face was that of a bird, or a lion, or of some other animal. And again, another divine resemblance had a human head, but the other parts were those of certain other animals, some of which had an inferior, but others a superior position; through which they manifested, that these [i.e. brutes and men], through the decision of the Gods, communicated with each other, and that tame and savage animals are nurtured together with us, not without the concurrence of a certain divine will. Hence also, a lion is worshipped as a God, and a certain part of Egypt, which is called Nomos, has the surname of Leontopolis [or the city of the lion], and another is denominated Busiris [from an ox], and another Lycopolis [or the city of the wolf]. For they venerated the power of God which extends to all things through animals which are nurtured together, and which each of the Gods imparts. They also reverenced water and fire the most of all the elements, as being the principal causes of our safety. And these things are exhibited by them in temples; for even now, on opening the sanctuary of Serapis, the worship is performed through fire and water; he who sings the hymns making a libation with water, and exhibiting fire, when, standing on the |120 threshold of the temple, he invokes the God in the language of the Egyptians. Venerating, therefore, these elements, they especially reverence those things which largely participate of them, as partaking more abundantly of what is sacred. But after these, they venerate all animals, and in the village Anubis they worship a man, in which place also they sacrifice to him, and victims are there burnt in honour of him on an altar; but he shortly after only eats that which was procured for him as a man. Hence, as it is requisite to abstain from man, so likewise, from other animals. And farther still, the Egyptian priests, from their transcendent wisdom and association with divinity, discovered what animals are more acceptable to the Gods [when dedicated to them] than man. Thus they found that a hawk is dear to the sun, since the whole of its nature consists of blood and spirit. It also commiserates man, and laments over his dead body, and scatters earth on his eyes, in which these priests believe a solar light is resident. They likewise discovered that a hawk lives many years, and that, after it leaves the present life, it possesses a divining power, is most rational and prescient when liberated from the body, and gives perfection to statues, and moves temples. A beetle will be detested by one who is ignorant of and unskilled in divine concerns, but the Egyptians venerate it, as an animated image of the sun. For every beetle is a male, and emitting its genital seed in a muddy place, and having made it spherical, it turns round the seminal sphere in a way similar to that of the sun in the heavens. It likewise receives a period of twenty-eight days, which is a lunar period. In a similar manner, the Egyptians philosophise about the ram, the crocodile, the vulture, and the ibis, and, in short, about every animal; so that, from their wisdom and transcendent knowledge of divine concerns, they came at length to venerate all animals 11. An unlearned man, however, does not even suspect that they, not being borne along with the stream of the vulgar who know nothing, and not walking in the path of ignorance, but passing beyond the illiterate multitude, and that want of knowledge which befalls every one at first, were led to reverence things which are thought by the vulgar to be of no worth. SPAN 4.10. 10.This also, no less than the above-mentioned particulars, induced them to believe, that animals should be reverenced [as images of the Gods], viz. that the soul of every animal, when liberated from the body, was discovered by them to be rational, to be prescient of futurity, to possess an oracular power, and to be effective of every thing which man |121 is capable of accomplishing when separated from the body. Hence they very properly honoured them, and abstained from them as much as possible. Since, however, the cause through which the Egyptians venerated the Gods through animals requires a copious discussion, and which would exceed the limits of the present treatise, what has been unfolded respecting this particular is sufficient for our purpose. Nevertheless, this is not to be omitted, that the Egyptians, when they buried those that were of noble birth, privately took away the belly and placed it in a chest, and together with other things which they performed for the sake of the dead body, they elevated the chest towards the sun, whom they invoked as a witness; an oration for the deceased being at the same time made by one of those to whose care the funeral was committed. But the oration which Euphantus 12 has interpreted from the Egyptian tongue was as follows: "O Sovereign Sun, and all ye Gods who impart life to men, receive me, and deliver me to the eternal Gods as a cohabitant. For I have always piously worshipped those divinities which were pointed out to me by my parents as long as I lived in this age, and have likewise always honoured those who procreated my body. And, with respect to other men, I have never slain any one, nor defrauded any one of what he deposited with me, nor have I committed any other atrocious deed. If, therefore, during my life I have acted erroneously, by eating or drinking things which it is unlawful to eat or drink, I have not erred through myself, but through these," pointing to the chest in which the belly was contained. And having thus spoken, he threw the chest into the river [Nile]; but buried the rest of the body as being pure. After this manner, they thought an apology ought to be made to divinity for what they had eaten and drank, and for the insolent conduct which they had been led to through the belly. SPAN 4.11. 11.But among those who are known by us, the Jews, before they first suffered the subversion of their legal institutes under Antiochus, and afterwards under the Romans, when also the temple in Jerusalem was captured, and became accessible to all men to whom, prior to this event, it was inaccessible, and the city itself was destroyed; - before this took place, the Jews always abstained from many animals, but peculiarly, which they even now do, from swine. At that period, therefore, there were three kinds of philosophers among them. And of one kind, |122 indeed, the Pharisees were the leaders, but of another, the Sadducees, and of the third, which appears to have been the most venerable, the Essenes. The mode of life, therefore, of these third was as follows, as Josephus frequently testifies in many of his writings. For in the second book of his Judaic History, which he has completed in seven books, and in the eighteenth of his Antiquities, which consists of twenty books, and likewise in the second of the two books which he wrote against the Greeks, he speaks of these Essenes, and says, that they are of the race of the Jews, and are in a greater degree than others friendly to one another. They are averse to pleasures, conceiving them to be vicious, but they are of opinion that continence and the not yielding to the passions, constitute virtue. And they despise, indeed, wedlock, but receiving the children of other persons, and instructing them in disciplines while they are yet of a tender age, they consider them as their kindred, and form them to their own manners. And they act in this manner, not for the purpose of subverting marriage, and the succession arising from it, but in order to avoid the lasciviousness of women. They are likewise, despisers of wealth, and the participation of external possessions among them in common is wonderful; nor is any one to be found among them who is richer than the rest. For it is a law with them, that those who wish to belong to their sect, must give up their property to it in common; so that among all of them, there is not to be seen either the abjectness of poverty, or the insolence of wealth; but the possessions of each being mingled with those of the rest, there was one property with all of them, as if they had been brothers. They likewise conceived oil to be a stain to the body, and that if any one, though unwillingly, was anointed, he should [immediately] wipe his body. For it was considered by them as beautiful to be squalid 13, and to be always clothed in white garments. But curators of the common property were elected by votes, indistinctly for the use of all. They have not, however, one city, but in each city many of them dwell together, and those who come among them from other places, if they are of their sect, equally partake with them of their possessions, as if they were their own. Those, likewise, who first perceive these strangers, behave to them as if they were their intimate acquaintance. Hence, when they travel, they take nothing with them for the sake of expenditure. But they neither |123 change their garments nor their shoes, till they are entirely torn, or destroyed by time. They neither buy nor sell anything, but each of them giving what he possesses to him that is in want, receives in return for it what will be useful to him. Nevertheless, each of them freely imparts to others of their sect what they may be in want of, without any remuneration. SPAN 4.12. 12.Moreover, they are peculiarly pious to divinity. For before the sun rises they speak nothing profane, but they pour forth certain prayers to him which they had received from their ancestors, as if beseeching him to rise. Afterwards, they are sent by their curators to the exercise of the several arts in which they are skilled, and having till the fifth hour strenuously laboured in these arts, they are afterwards collected together in one place; and there, being begirt with linen teguments, they wash their bodies with cold water. After this purification, they enter into their own proper habitation, into which no heterodox person is permitted to enter. But they being pure, betake themselves to the dining room, as into a certain sacred fane. In this place, when all of them are seated in silence, the baker places the bread in order, and the cook distributes to each of them one vessel containing one kind of eatables. Prior, however, to their taking the food which is pure and sacred, a priest prays, and it is unlawful for any one prior to the prayer to taste of the food. After dinner, likewise, the priest again prays; so that both when they begin, and when they cease to eat, they venerate divinity. Afterwards, divesting themselves of these garments as sacred, they again betake themselves to their work till the evening; and, returning from thence, they eat and drink in the same manner as before, strangers sitting with them, if they should happen at that time to be present. No clamour or tumult ever defiles the house in which they dwell; but their conversation with each other is performed in an orderly manner; and to those that are out of the house, the silence of those within it appears as if it was some terrific mystery. The cause, however, of this quietness is their constant sobriety, and that with them their meat and drink is measured by what is sufficient [to the wants of nature]. But those who are very desirous of belonging to their sect, are not immediately admitted into it, but they must remain out of it for a year, adopting the same diet, the Essenes giving them a rake, a girdle, and a white garment. And if, during that time, they have given a sufficient proof of their continence, they proceed to a still greater conformity to the institutes of the sect, and use purer water for the purpose of sanctity; though they are not yet permitted to live with the Essenes. For after this exhibition of endurance, their manners are tried for two years more, and he who |124 after this period appears to deserve to associate with them, is admitted into their society. SPAN 4.13. 13.Before, however, he who is admitted touches his common food, he takes a terrible oath, in the first place, that he will piously worship divinity; in the next place, that he will preserve justice towards men, and that he will neither designedly, nor when commanded, injure any one; in the third place; that he will always hate the unjust, but strenuously assist the just; and in the fourth place, that he will act faithfully towards all men, but especially towards the rulers of the land, since no one becomes a ruler without the permission of God; in the fifth place, that if he should be a ruler, he will never employ his power to insolently iniquitous purposes, nor will surpass those that are in subjection to him in his dress, or any other more splendid ornament; in the sixth place, that he will always love the truth, and be hostile to liars; in the seventh place, that he will preserve his hands from theft, and his soul pure from unholy gain 14; and, in the eighth place, that he will conceal nothing from those of his sect, nor divulge any thing to others pertaining to the sect, though some one, in order to compel him, should threaten him with death. In addition to these things, also, they swear, that they will not impart the dogmas of the sect to any one in any other way than that in which they received them; that they will likewise abstain from robbery 15, and preserve the books of their sect with the same care as the names of the angels. Such, therefore, are their oaths. But those among them that act criminally, and are ejected, perish by an evil destiny. For, being bound by their oaths and their customs, they are not capable of receiving food from others; but feeding on herbs, and having their body emaciated by hunger, they perish. Hence the Essenes, commiserating many of these unfortunate men, receive them in their last extremities into their society, thinking that they have suffered sufficiently for their offences in having been punished for them till they were on the brink of the grave. But they give a rake to those who intend to belong to their sect, in order that, when they sit for the purpose of exonerating the belly, they make a trench a foot in depth, and completely cover themselves by their garment, in order that they |125 may not act contumeliously towards the sun by polluting the rays of the God. And so great, indeed, is their simplicity and frugality with respect to diet, that they do not require evacuation till the seventh day after the assumption of food, which day they spend in singing hymns to God, and in resting from labour. But from this exercise they acquire the power of such great endurance, that even when tortured and burnt, and suffering every kind of excruciating pain, they cannot be induced either to blaspheme their legislator, or to eat what they have not been accustomed to. And the truth of this was demonstrated in their war with the Romans. For then they neither flattered their tormentors, nor shed any tears, but smiled in the midst of their torments, and derided those that inflicted them, and cheerfully emitted their souls, as knowing that they should possess them again. For this opinion was firmly established among them, that their bodies were indeed corruptible, and that the matter of which they consisted was not stable, but that their souls were immortal, and would endure for ever, and that, proceeding from the most subtle ether, they were drawn down by a natural flux, and complicated with bodies; but that, when they are no longer detained by the bonds of the flesh, then, as if liberated from a long slavery, they will rejoice, and ascend to the celestial regions. But from this mode of living, and from being thus exercised in truth and piety, there were many among them, as it is reasonable to suppose there would be, who had aforeknowledge of future events, as being conversant from their youth with sacred books, different purifications, and the declarations of the prophets. And such is the order [or sect] of the Essenes among the Jews. SPAN 4.14. 14.All of them, however, were forbidden to eat the flesh of swine, or fish without scales, which the Greeks call cartilaginous; or to eat any animal that has solid hoofs. They were likewise forbidden not only to refrain from eating, but also from killing animals that fled to their houses as supplicants. Nor did the legislator permit them to slay such animals as were parents together with their young; but ordered them to spare, even in a hostile land, and not put to death brutes that assist us in our labours. Nor was the legislator afraid that the race of animals which are not sacrificed, would, through being spared from slaughter, be so increased in multitude as to produce famine among men; for he knew, in the first place, that multiparous animals live but for a short time; and in the next place, that many of them perish, unless attention is paid to them by men. Moreover, he likewise knew that other animals would attack those that increased excessively; of which this is an indication, that we abstain from many animals, such as lizards, worms, |126 flies, serpents, and dogs, and yet, at the same time, we are not afraid of perishing through hunger by abstaining from them, though their increase is abundant. And in the next place, it is not the same thing to eat and to slay an animal. For we destroy many of the above-mentioned animals, but we do not eat any of them. SPAN 4.16. 16.Among the Persians, indeed, those who are wise in divine concerns, and worship divinity, are called Magi; for this is the signification of Magus, in the Persian tongue. But so great and so venerable are these men thought to be by the Persians, that Darius, the son of Hystaspes, had among other things this engraved on his tomb, that he had been the master of the Magi. They are likewise divided into three genera, as we are informed by Eubulus, who wrote the history of Mithra, in a treatise consisting of many books. In this work he says, that the first and most learned class of the Magi neither eat nor slay any thing animated, but adhere to the ancient abstinence from animals. The second class use some animals indeed [for food], but do not slay any that are tame. Nor do those of the third class, similarly with other men, lay their hands on all animals. For the dogma with all of them which ranks as the first is this, that there is a transmigration of souls; and this they also appear to indicate in the mysteries of Mithra. For in these mysteries, obscurely signifying our having something in common with brutes, they are accustomed to call us by the names of different animals. Thus they denominate the males who participate in the same mysteries lions, but the females lionesses, and those who are ministrant to these rites crows. With respect to their fathers also, they adopt the same mode. For these are denominated by them eagles and hawks. And he who is initiated in the Leontic mysteries, is invested with all-various forms of animals 16; of which particulars, Pallas, in his treatise concerning Mithra, assigning the cause, says, that it is the common opinion that these things are to be referred to the circle of the zodiac, but that truly and accurately speaking, they obscurely signify some thing pertaining to human souls, which, according to the Persians, are invested with bodies of all-various forms. For the Latins also, says Eubulus, call some men, in their tongue, boars and scorpions, lizards, and blackbirds. After the same manner likewise the Persians denominate the Gods the demiurgic causes of these: for they call Diana a she-wolf; but the sun, a bull, a lion, a |128 dragon, and a hawk; and Hecate, a horse, a bull, a lioness, and a dog. But most theologists say that the name of Proserpine (της φερεφαττης) is derived from nourishing a ringdove, (παρα το φερβειν την φατταν) for the ringdove is sacred to this Goddess. Hence, also the priests of Maia dedicate to her a ringdove. And Maia is the same with Proserpine, as being obstetric, and a nurse 17. For this Goddess is terrestrial, and so likewise is Ceres. To this Goddess, also a cock is consecrated; and on this account those that are initiated in her mysteries abstain from domestic birds. In the Eleusinian mysteries, likewise, the initiated are ordered to abstain from domestic birds, from fishes and beans, pomegranates and apples; which fruits are as equally defiling to the touch, as a woman recently delivered, and a dead body. But whoever is acquainted with the nature of divinely-luminous appearances knows also on what account it is requisite to abstain from all birds, and especially for him who hastens to be liberated from terrestrial concerns, and to be established with the celestial Gods. Vice, however, as we have frequently said, is sufficiently able to patronize itself, and especially when it pleads its cause among the ignorant. Hence, among those that are moderately vicious, some think that a dehortation of this kind is vain babbling, and, according to the proverb, the nugacity of old women; and others are of opinion that it is superstition. But those who have made greater advances in improbity, are prepared, not only to blaspheme those who exhort to, and demonstrate the propriety of this abstinence, but calumniate purity itself as enchantment and pride. They, however, suffering the punishment of their sins, both from Gods and men, are, in the first place, sufficiently punished by a disposition [i.e. by a depravity] of this kind. We shall, therefore, still farther make mention of another foreign nation, renowned and just, and believed to be pious in divine concerns, and then pass on to other particulars. |129 SPAN 4.17. 17.For the polity of the Indians being distributed into many parts, there is one tribe among them of men divinely wise, whom the Greeks are accustomed to call Gymnosophists 18. But of these there are two sects, over one of which the Bramins preside, but over the other the Samanaeans. The race of the Bramins, however, receive divine wisdom of this kind by succession, in the same manner as the priesthood. But the Samanaeans are elected, and consist of those who wish to possess divine knowledge. And the particulars respecting them are the following, as the Babylonian Bardesanes 19 narrates, who lived in the times of our fathers, and was familiar with those Indians who, together with Damadamis, were sent to Caesar. All the Bramins originate from one stock; for all of them are derived from one father and one mother. But the Samanaeans are not the offspring of one family, being, as we have said, collected from every nation of Indians. A Bramin, however, is not a subject of any government, nor does he contribute any thing together with others to government. And with respect to those that are philosophers, among these some dwell on mountains, and others about the river Ganges. And those that live on mountains feed on autumnal fruits, and on cows' milk coagulated with herbs. But those that reside near the Ganges, live also on autumnal fruits, which are produced in abundance about that river. The land likewise nearly always bears new fruit, together with much rice, which grows spontaneously, and which they use when there is a deficiency of autumnal fruits. But to taste of any other nutriment, or, in short, to touch animal food, is considered by them as equivalent to extreme impurity and impiety. And this is one of their dogmas. They also worship divinity with piety and purity. They spend the day, and the greater part of the night, in hymns and prayers to the Gods; each of them having a cottage to himself, and living, as much as possible, alone. For the Bramins cannot endure to remain with others, nor to speak much; but when this happens to take place, they afterwards withdraw themselves, and do not speak for many days. They likewise frequently fast. But the Samanaeans are, as we have said, elected. When, however, any one is desirous of being enrolled in their order, he proceeds to the rulers of the city; but abandons the city or village that he inhabited, and the wealth and all the other property |130 that he possessed. Having likewise the superfluities of his body cut off, he receives a garment, and departs to the Samanaeans, but does not return either to his wife or children, if he happens to have any, nor does he pay any attention to them, or think that they at all pertain to him. And, with respect to his children indeed, the king provides what is necessary for them, and the relatives provide for the wife. And such is the life of the Samanaeans. But they live out of the city, and spend the whole day in conversation pertaining to divinity. They have also houses and temples, built by the king, in which they are stewards, who receive a certain emolument from the king, for the purpose of supplying those that dwell in them with nutriment. But their food consists of rice, bread, autumnal fruits, and pot-herbs. And when they enter into their house, the sound of a bell being the signal of their entrance, those that are not Samanaeans depart from it, and the Samanaeans begin immediately to pray. But having prayed, again, on the bell sounding as a signal, the servants give to each Samanaean a platter, (for two of them do not eat out of the same dish,) and feed them with rice. And to him who is in want of a variety of food, a pot-herb is added, or some autumnal fruit. But having eaten as much as is requisite, without any delay they proceed to their accustomed employments. All of them likewise are unmarried, and have no possessions: and so much are both these and the Bramins venerated by the other Indians, that the king also visits them, and requests them to pray to and supplicate the Gods, when any calamity befalls the country, or to advise him how to act. SPAN

Subjects of this text:

subject book bibliographic info
aelian Jażdżewska and Doroszewski,Plutarch and his Contemporaries: Sharing the Roman Empire (2024) 403
alexandria Jażdżewska and Doroszewski,Plutarch and his Contemporaries: Sharing the Roman Empire (2024) 401
allegory/-ies Černušková, Kovacs and Plátová, Clement’s Biblical Exegesis: Proceedings of the Second Colloquium on Clement of Alexandria (2016) 21
allēgoria, allegorical exegesis of scripture Černušková, Kovacs and Plátová, Clement’s Biblical Exegesis: Proceedings of the Second Colloquium on Clement of Alexandria (2016) 21
allēgoria, interpretation Černušková, Kovacs and Plátová, Clement’s Biblical Exegesis: Proceedings of the Second Colloquium on Clement of Alexandria (2016) 21
apollo Jażdżewska and Doroszewski,Plutarch and his Contemporaries: Sharing the Roman Empire (2024) 401
assyrians Jażdżewska and Doroszewski,Plutarch and his Contemporaries: Sharing the Roman Empire (2024) 401
barbarians Jażdżewska and Doroszewski,Plutarch and his Contemporaries: Sharing the Roman Empire (2024) 401, 403
body, of the text (scripture) Černušková, Kovacs and Plátová, Clement’s Biblical Exegesis: Proceedings of the Second Colloquium on Clement of Alexandria (2016) 21
brahmans Jażdżewska and Doroszewski,Plutarch and his Contemporaries: Sharing the Roman Empire (2024) 401, 403
chaldeans Jażdżewska and Doroszewski,Plutarch and his Contemporaries: Sharing the Roman Empire (2024) 401, 403
christ Černušková, Kovacs and Plátová, Clement’s Biblical Exegesis: Proceedings of the Second Colloquium on Clement of Alexandria (2016) 21
christians Jażdżewska and Doroszewski,Plutarch and his Contemporaries: Sharing the Roman Empire (2024) 401, 403
clement of alexandria Schliesser et al., Alexandria: Hub of the Hellenistic World (2021) 456
cyprus Schliesser et al., Alexandria: Hub of the Hellenistic World (2021) 456
egyptians Jażdżewska and Doroszewski,Plutarch and his Contemporaries: Sharing the Roman Empire (2024) 401, 403
essenes Jażdżewska and Doroszewski,Plutarch and his Contemporaries: Sharing the Roman Empire (2024) 401, 403
exegesis Černušková, Kovacs and Plátová, Clement’s Biblical Exegesis: Proceedings of the Second Colloquium on Clement of Alexandria (2016) 21
golden age Jażdżewska and Doroszewski,Plutarch and his Contemporaries: Sharing the Roman Empire (2024) 401
greek gods, statues (representation of gods) Schliesser et al., Alexandria: Hub of the Hellenistic World (2021) 456
greeks Jażdżewska and Doroszewski,Plutarch and his Contemporaries: Sharing the Roman Empire (2024) 401
gymnosophists Jażdżewska and Doroszewski,Plutarch and his Contemporaries: Sharing the Roman Empire (2024) 401, 403
hellenistic Jażdżewska and Doroszewski,Plutarch and his Contemporaries: Sharing the Roman Empire (2024) 403
high priest Černušková, Kovacs and Plátová, Clement’s Biblical Exegesis: Proceedings of the Second Colloquium on Clement of Alexandria (2016) 21
jews Jażdżewska and Doroszewski,Plutarch and his Contemporaries: Sharing the Roman Empire (2024) 401, 403
law/law Černušková, Kovacs and Plátová, Clement’s Biblical Exegesis: Proceedings of the Second Colloquium on Clement of Alexandria (2016) 21
lycurgus Jażdżewska and Doroszewski,Plutarch and his Contemporaries: Sharing the Roman Empire (2024) 401
lydians Jażdżewska and Doroszewski,Plutarch and his Contemporaries: Sharing the Roman Empire (2024) 401
magi Jażdżewska and Doroszewski,Plutarch and his Contemporaries: Sharing the Roman Empire (2024) 401, 403
megasthenes Jażdżewska and Doroszewski,Plutarch and his Contemporaries: Sharing the Roman Empire (2024) 401, 403
mosaic law Černušková, Kovacs and Plátová, Clement’s Biblical Exegesis: Proceedings of the Second Colloquium on Clement of Alexandria (2016) 21
moses Černušková, Kovacs and Plátová, Clement’s Biblical Exegesis: Proceedings of the Second Colloquium on Clement of Alexandria (2016) 21
nature' Jażdżewska and Doroszewski,Plutarch and his Contemporaries: Sharing the Roman Empire (2024) 401
philo Černušková, Kovacs and Plátová, Clement’s Biblical Exegesis: Proceedings of the Second Colloquium on Clement of Alexandria (2016) 21
philo of alexandria Jażdżewska and Doroszewski,Plutarch and his Contemporaries: Sharing the Roman Empire (2024) 401, 403
philo the pythagorean Černušková, Kovacs and Plátová, Clement’s Biblical Exegesis: Proceedings of the Second Colloquium on Clement of Alexandria (2016) 21
phoenicians Jażdżewska and Doroszewski,Plutarch and his Contemporaries: Sharing the Roman Empire (2024) 401
plato Jażdżewska and Doroszewski,Plutarch and his Contemporaries: Sharing the Roman Empire (2024) 401
porphyry Jażdżewska and Doroszewski,Plutarch and his Contemporaries: Sharing the Roman Empire (2024) 401, 403
pythagoras Jażdżewska and Doroszewski,Plutarch and his Contemporaries: Sharing the Roman Empire (2024) 403
pythagoreans Jażdżewska and Doroszewski,Plutarch and his Contemporaries: Sharing the Roman Empire (2024) 403
sarapis/serapis Schliesser et al., Alexandria: Hub of the Hellenistic World (2021) 456
scripture Černušková, Kovacs and Plátová, Clement’s Biblical Exegesis: Proceedings of the Second Colloquium on Clement of Alexandria (2016) 21
syrians Jażdżewska and Doroszewski,Plutarch and his Contemporaries: Sharing the Roman Empire (2024) 401
tatian Schliesser et al., Alexandria: Hub of the Hellenistic World (2021) 456
theophrastus Jażdżewska and Doroszewski,Plutarch and his Contemporaries: Sharing the Roman Empire (2024) 403
typos Černušková, Kovacs and Plátová, Clement’s Biblical Exegesis: Proceedings of the Second Colloquium on Clement of Alexandria (2016) 21