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Tiresias: The Ancient Mediterranean Religions Source Database



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Philo Of Alexandria, On The Decalogue, 142


nanLast of all, the divine legislator prohibits covetousness, knowing that desire is a thing fond of revolution and of plotting against others; for all the passions of the soul are formidable, exciting and agitating it contrary to nature, and not permitting it to remain in a healthy state, but of all such passions the worst is desire. On which account each of the other passions, coming in from without and attacking the soul from external points, appears to be involuntary; but this desire alone derives its origin from ourselves, and is wholly voluntary.


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1. Cicero, On The Nature of The Gods, 2.34, 2.39 (2nd cent. BCE - 1st cent. BCE)

2.34. Upon the animals she bestowed sensation and motion, and an appetite or impulse to approach things wholesome and retire from things harmful. For man she amplified her gift by the addition of reason, whereby the appetites might be controlled, and alternately indulged and held in check. But the fourth and highest grade is that of beings born by nature good and wise, and endowed from the outset with the innate attributes of right reason and consistency; this must be held to be above the level of man: it is the attribute of god, that is, of the world, which must needs possess that perfect and absolute reason of which I spoke. 2.39. but no being is more perfect than the world, and nothing is better than virtue; therefore virtue is an essential attribute of the world. Again, man's nature is not perfect, yet virtue may be realized in man; how much more readily then in the world! therefore the world possesses virtue. Therefore it is wise, and consequently divine. "Having thus perceived the divinity of the world, we must also assign the same divinity to the stars, which are formed from the most mobile and the purest part of the aether, and are not compounded of any other element besides; they are of a fiery heat and translucent throughout. Hence they too have the fullest right to be pronounced to be living beings endowed with sensation and intelligence.
2. Cicero, On Duties, 1.106-1.113 (2nd cent. BCE - 1st cent. BCE)

1.106. Ex quo intellegitur corporis voluptatem non satis esse dignam hominis praestantia, eamque contemni et reici oportere; sin sit quispiam, qui aliquid tribuat voluptati, diligenter ei tenendum esse eius fruendae modum. Itaque victus cultusque corporis ad valetudinem referatur et ad vires, non ad voluptatem. Atque etiam si considerare volumus, quae sit in natura excellentia et dignitas, intellegemus, quam sit turpe diffluere luxuria et delicate ac molliter vivere quamque honestum parce, continenter, severe, sobrie. 1.107. Intellegendum etiam cst duabus quasi nos a natura indutos esse personis; quarum una communis est ex eo, quod omnes participes sumus rationis praestantiaeque eius, qua antecellimus bestiis, a qua omne honestum decorumque trahitur, et ex qua ratio inveniendi officii exquiritur, altera autem, quae proprie singulis est tributa. Ut enim in corporibus magnae dissimilitudines sunt (alios videmus velocitate ad cursum, alios viribus ad luctandum valere, itemque in formis aliis dignitatem inesse, aliis venustatem), sic in animis exsistunt maiores etiam varietates. 1.108. Erat in L. Crasso, in L. Philippo multus lepos, maior etiam magisque de industria in C. Caesare L. filio; at isdem temporibus in M. Scauro et in M. Druso adulescente singularis severitas, in C. Laelio multa hilaritas, in eius familiari Scipione ambitio maior, vita tristior. De Graecis autem dulcem et facetum festivique sermonis atque in omni oratione simulatorem, quem ei)/rwna Graeci nominarunt, Socratem accepimus, contra Pythagoram et Periclem summam auctoritatem consecutos sine ulla hilaritate. Callidum Hannibalem ex Poenorum, ex nostris ducibus Q. Maximum accepimus, facile celare, tacere, dissimulare, insidiari, praeripere hostium consilia. In quo genere Graeci Themistoclem et Pheraeum Iasonem ceteris anteponunt; in primisque versutum et callidum factum Solonis, qui, quo et tutior eius vita esset et plus aliquanto rei publicae prodesset, furere se simulavit. 1.109. Sunt his alii multum dispares, simplices et aperti. qui nihil ex occulto, nihil de insidiis agendum putant, veritatis cultores, fraudis inimici, itemque alii, qui quidvis perpetiantur, cuivis deserviant, dum, quod velint, consequantur, ut Sullam et M. Crassum videbamus. Quo in genere versutissimum et patientissimum Lacedaemonium Lysandrum accepimus, contraque Callicratidam, qui praefectus classis proximus post Lysandrum fuit; itemque in sermonibus alium quemque, quamvis praepotens sit, efficere, ut unus de multis esse videatur; quod in Catulo, et in patre et in filio, itemque in Q. Mucio ° Mancia vidimus. Audivi ex maioribus natu hoc idem fuisse in P. Scipione Nasica, contraque patrem eius, illum qui Ti. Gracchi conatus perditos vindicavit, nullam comitatem habuisse sermonis ne Xenocratem quidem, severissimum philosophorum, ob eamque rem ipsam magnum et clarum fuisse. Innumerabiles aliae dissimilitudines sunt naturae morumque, minime tamen vituperandorum. 1.110. Admodum autem tenenda sunt sua cuique non vitiosa, sed tamen propria, quo facilius decorum illud, quod quaerimus, retineatur. Sic enim est faciendum, ut contra universam naturam nihil contendamus, ea tamen conservata propriam nostram sequamur, ut, etiamsi sint alia graviora atque meliora, tamen nos studia nostra nostrae naturae regula metiamur; neque enim attinet naturae repugnare nec quicquam sequi, quod assequi non queas. Ex quo magis emergit, quale sit decorum illud, ideo quia nihil decet invita Minerva, ut aiunt, id est adversante et repugte natura. 1.111. Omnino si quicquam est decorum, nihil est profecto magis quam aequabilitas cum universae vitae, tum singularum actionum, quam conservare non possis, si aliorum naturam imitans omittas tuam. Ut enim sermone eo debemus uti, qui innatus est nobis, ne, ut quidam, Graeca verba inculcantes iure optimo rideamur, sic in actiones omnemque vitam nullam discrepantiam conferre debemus. 1.112. Atque haec differentia naturarum tantam habet vim, ut non numquam mortem sibi ipse consciscere alius debeat, alius in eadem causa non debeat. Num enim alia in causa M. Cato fuit, alia ceteri, qui se in Africa Caesari tradiderunt? Atqui ceteris forsitan vitio datum esset, si se interemissent, propterea quod lenior eorum vita et mores fuerant faciliores, Catoni cum incredibilem tribuisset natura gravitatem eamque ipse perpetua constantia roboravisset semperque in proposito susceptoque consilio permansisset, moriendum potius quam tyranni vultus aspiciendus fuit. 1.113. Quam multa passus est Ulixes in illo errore diuturno, cum et mulieribus, si Circe et Calypso mulieres appellandae sunt, inserviret et in omni sermone omnibus affabilem et iucundum esse se vellet! domi vero etiam contumelias servorun ancillarumque pertulit, ut ad id aliquando, quod cupiebat, veniret. At Aiax, quo animo traditur, milies oppetere mortem quam illa perpeti maluisset. Quae contemplantes expendere oportebit, quid quisque habeat sui, eaque moderari nee velle experiri, quam se aliena deceant; id enim maxime quemque decet, quod est cuiusque maxime suum. 1.106.  From this we see that sensual pleasure is quite unworthy of the dignity of man and that we ought to despise it and cast it from us; but if someone should be found who sets some value upon sensual gratification, he must keep strictly within the limits of moderate indulgence. One's physical comforts and wants, therefore, should be ordered according to the demands of health and strength, not according to the calls of pleasure. And if we will only bear in mind the superiority and dignity of our nature, we shall realize how wrong it is to abandon ourselves to excess and to live in luxury and voluptuousness, and how right it is to live in thrift, self-denial, simplicity, and sobriety. 1.107.  We must realize also that we are invested by Nature with two characters, as it were: one of these is universal, arising from the fact of our being all alike endowed with reason and with that superiority which lifts us above the brute. From this all morality and propriety are derived, and upon it depends the rational method of ascertaining our duty. The other character is the one that is assigned to individuals in particular. In the matter of physical endowment there are great differences: some, we see, excel in speed for the race, others in strength for wrestling; so in point of personal appearance, some have stateliness, others comeliness. 1.108.  Diversities of character are greater still. Lucius Crassus and Lucius Philippus had a large fund of wit; Gaius Caesar, Lucius's son, had a still richer fund and employed it with more studied purpose. Contemporary with them, Marcus Scaurus and Marcus Drusus, the younger, were examples of unusual seriousness; Gaius Laelius, of unbounded jollity; while his intimate friend, Scipio, cherished more serious ideals and lived a more austere life. Among the Greeks, history tells us, Socrates was fascinating and witty, a genial conversationalist; he was what the Greeks call εἴρων in every conversation, pretending to need information and professing admiration for the wisdom of his companion. Pythagoras and Pericles, on the other hand, reached the heights of influence and power without any seasoning of mirthfulness. We read that Hannibal, among the Carthaginian generals, and Quintus Maximus, among our own, were shrewd and ready at concealing their plans, covering up their tracks, disguising their movements, laying stratagems, forestalling the enemy's designs. In these qualities the Greeks rank Themistocles and Jason of Pherae above all others. Especially crafty and shrewd was the device of Solon, who, to make his own life safer and at the same time to do a considerably larger service for his country, feigned insanity. 1.109.  Then there are others, quite different from these, straightforward and open, who think that nothing should be done by underhand means or treachery. They are lovers of truth, haters of fraud. There are others still who will stoop to anything, truckle to anybody, if only they may gain their ends. Such, we saw, were Sulla and Marcus Crassus. The most crafty and most persevering man of this type was Lysander of Sparta, we are told; of the opposite type was Callicratidas, who succeeded Lysander as admiral of the fleet. So we find that another, no matter how eminent he may be, will condescend in social intercourse to make himself appear but a very ordinary person. Such graciousness of manner we have seen in the case of Catulus — both father and son — and also of Quintus Mucius Mancia. I have heard from my elders that Publius Scipio Nasica was another master of this art; but his father, on the other hand — the man who punished Tiberius Gracchus for his nefarious undertakings — had no such gracious manner in social intercourse [. . .], and because of that very fact he rose to greatness and fame. Countless other dissimilarities exist in natures and characters, and they are not in the least to be criticized. 1.110.  Everybody, however, must resolutely hold fast to his own peculiar gifts, in so far as they are peculiar only and not vicious, in order that propriety, which is the object of our inquiry, may the more easily be secured. For we must so act as not to oppose the universal laws of human nature, but, while safeguarding those, to follow the bent of our own particular nature; and even if other careers should be better and nobler, we may still regulate our own pursuits by the standard of our own nature. For it is of no avail to fight against one's nature or to aim at what is impossible of attainment. From this fact the nature of that propriety defined above comes into still clearer light, inasmuch as nothing is proper that "goes against the grain," as the saying is — that is, if it is in direct opposition to one's natural genius. 1.111.  If there is any such thing as propriety at all, it can be nothing more than uniform consistency in the course of our life as a whole and all its individual actions. And this uniform consistency one could not maintain by copying the personal traits of others and eliminating one's own. For as we ought to employ our mother-tongue, lest, like certain people who are continually dragging in Greek words, we draw well-deserved ridicule upon ourselves, so we ought not to introduce anything foreign into our actions or our life in general. 1.112.  Indeed, such diversity of character carries with it so great significance that suicide may be for one man a duty, for another [under the same circumstances] a crime. Did Marcus Cato find himself in one predicament, and were the others, who surrendered to Caesar in Africa, in another? And yet, perhaps, they would have been condemned, if they had taken their lives; for their mode of life had been less austere and their characters more pliable. But Cato had been endowed by nature with an austerity beyond belief, and he himself had strengthened it by unswerving consistency and had remained ever true to his purpose and fixed resolve; and it was for him to die rather than to look upon the face of a tyrant. 1.113.  How much Ulysses endured on those long wanderings, when he submitted to the service even of women (if Circe and Calypso may be called women) and strove in every word to be courteous and complaisant to all! And, arrived at home, he brooked even the insults of his men-servants and maidservants, in order to attain in the end the object of his desire. But Ajax, with the temper he is represented as having, would have chosen to meet death a thousand times rather than suffer such indignities! If we take this into consideration, we shall see that it is each man's duty to weigh well what are his own peculiar traits of character, to regulate these properly, and not to wish to try how another man's would suit him. For the more peculiarly his own a man's character is, the better it fits him.
3. Cicero, Republic, 3.33 (2nd cent. BCE - 1st cent. BCE)

3.33. Lactant. Div. Inst. 6.8.6 Est quidem vera lex recta ratio naturae congruens, diffusa in omnes, constans, sempiterna, quae vocet ad officium iubendo, vetando a fraude deterreat; quae tamen neque probos frustra iubet aut vetat nec improbos iubendo aut vetando movet. Huic legi nec obrogari fas est neque derogari ex hac aliquid licet neque tota abrogari potest, nec vero aut per senatum aut per populum solvi hac lege possumus, neque est quaerendus explanator aut interpres eius alius, nec erit alia lex Romae, alia Athenis, alia nunc, alia posthac, sed et omnes gentes et omni tempore una lex et sempiterna et immutabilis continebit, unusque erit communis quasi magister et imperator omnium deus, ille legis huius inventor, disceptator, lator; cui qui non parebit, ipse se fugiet ac naturam hominis aspernatus hoc ipso luet maximas poenas, etiamsi cetera supplicia, quae putantur, effugerit.
4. Philo of Alexandria, On The Confusion of Tongues, 46 (1st cent. BCE - 1st cent. CE)

46. For when he sees war stirred up in the midst of tranquil peace, so as to be continued and incessant among all men, both public and private, not existing only among nations and countries, and cities and villages, but also in every house, and between each particular individual; who is there who does not reproach and admonish and seek to correct the foolish men whom he sees, and not by day only, but also by night, his soul being unable to remain tranquil by reason of the hatred of wickedness implanted in his nature?
5. Philo of Alexandria, On The Decalogue, 122, 149-150, 153, 173-174, 121 (1st cent. BCE - 1st cent. CE)

6. Philo of Alexandria, On Giants, 30 (1st cent. BCE - 1st cent. CE)

30. But there is nothing which is so great a hindrance to its growth as the fleshly nature. For that, as if it were the principal and most solid foundation of folly and ignorance, is laid down firmly, and then each of the aforenamed evils is built up upon it.
7. Philo of Alexandria, On The Change of Names, 197 (1st cent. BCE - 1st cent. CE)

197. men who weary the ears of those who hear them by everlastingly dwelling on such subjects as these; wisdom is a necessary good; folly is pernicious; temperance is desirable; intemperance is hateful; courage is a thing proper to be cultivated; cowardice must be avoided; justice is advantageous; injustice is disadvantageous; holiness is honourable; unholiness is shameful; piety towards the gods is praiseworthy; impiety is blameable; that which is most akin to the nature of man is to design, and to act, and to speak virtuously; that which is most alien from his nature is to do the contrary of all these things.
8. Philo of Alexandria, On The Special Laws, 3.9, 4.81, 4.100-4.131 (1st cent. BCE - 1st cent. CE)

3.9. Therefore, even that pleasure which is in accordance with nature is often open to blame, when any one indulges in it immoderately and insatiably, as men who are unappeasably voracious in respect of eating, even if they take no kind of forbidden or unwholesome food; and as men who are madly devoted to association with women, and who commit themselves to an immoderate degree not with other men's wives, but with their own. 4.81. for when a person perceives this passion of covetousness after having started up rapidly, then resting for a short time, either with a view to spread out its alluring toils, or because it has learnt to entertain a hope of succeeding in its object, he then retires to a longer distance uttering reproaches against it; but the passion itself, being left behind and coming too late to succeed, struggles, bearing a Tantalus-like punishment in its miserable future; for it is said that Tantalus, when he desired to obtain any liquor to drink, was not able to do so, as the water retreated from his lips, {14}{the story of Tantalus is told in Homer, Od. 11.581 (as it is translated by Pope 4.100. Moreover, Moses has not granted an unlimited possession and use of all other animals to those who partake in his sacred constitution, but he has forbidden with all his might all animals, whether of the land, or of the water, or that fly through the air, which are most fleshy and fat, and calculated to excite treacherous pleasure, well knowing that such, attracting as with a bait that most slavish of all the outward senses, namely, taste, produce insatiability, an incurable evil to both souls and bodies, for insatiability produces indigestion, which is the origin and source of all diseases and weaknesses. 4.101. Now of land animals, the swine is confessed to be the nicest of all meats by those who eat it, and of all aquatic animals the most delicate are the fish which have no scales; and Moses is above all other men skilful in training and inuring persons of a good natural disposition to the practice of virtue by frugality and abstinence, endeavouring to remove costly luxury from their characters 4.102. at the same time not approving of unnecessary rigour, like the lawgiver of Lacedaemon, nor undue effeminacy, like the man who taught the Ionians and the Sybarites lessons of luxury and license, but keeping a middle path between the two courses, so that he has relaxed what was over strict, and tightened what was too loose, mingling the excesses which are found at each extremity with moderation, which lies between the two, so as to produce an irreproachable harmony and consistency of life, on which account he has laid down not carelessly, but with minute particularity, what we are to use and what to avoid. 4.103. One might very likely suppose it to be just that those beasts which feed upon human flesh should receive at the hands of men similar treatment to that which they inflict on men, but Moses has ordained that we should abstain from the enjoyment of all such things, and with a due consideration of what is becoming to the gentle soul, he proposes a most gentle and most pleasant banquet; for though it is proper that those who inflict evils should suffer similar calamities themselves, yet it may not be becoming to those whom they ill treated to retaliate, lest without being aware of it they become brutalized by anger, which is a savage passion; 4.104. and he takes such care to guard against this, that being desirous to banish as far as possible all desire for those animals abovementioned, he forbids with all his energy the eating of any carnivorous animal at all, selecting the herbivorous animals out of those kinds which are domesticated, since they are tame by nature, feeding on that gentle food which is supplied by the earth, and having no disposition to plot evil against anything.WHAT QUADRUPEDS ARE CLEANXVIII. 4.105. The animals which are clean and lawful to be used as food are ten in number; the heifer, the lamb, the goat, the stag, the antelope, the buffalo, the roebuck, the pygarga, the wildox, and the chamois, {19}{#de 14:4.} for he always adheres to that arithmetical subtilty which, as he originally devised it with the minutest accuracy possible, he extends to all existing things, so that he establishes no ordices, whether important or unimportant, without taking and as it were adapting this number to it as closely connected with the regulations which he is ordaining. Now of all the numbers beginning from the unit, the most perfect is the number ten, and as Moses says, it is the most sacred of all and a holy number, and by it he now limits the races of animals that are clean, wishing to assign the use of them to all those who partake of the constitution which he is establishing. 4.106. And he gives two tests and criteria of the ten animals thus Enumerated{20}{#le 11:3.} by two signs, first, that they must part the hoof, secondly, that they must chew the cud; for those which do neither, or only one of these things, are unclean. And these signs are both of them symbols of instruction and of the most scientific learning, by which the better is separated from the worse, so that all confusion between them is prevented; 4.107. for as the animal which chews the cud, while it is masticating its food draws it down its throat, and then by slow degrees kneads and softens it, and then after this process again sends it down into the belly, in the same manner the man who is being instructed, having received the doctrines and speculations of wisdom in at his ears from his instructor, derives a considerable amount of learning from him, but still is not able to hold it firmly and to embrace it all at once, until he has resolved over in his mind everything which he has heard by the continued exercise of his memory (and this exercise of memory is the cement which connects idea 4.108. But as it seems the firm conception of such ideas is of no advantage to him unless he is able to discriminate between and to distinguish which of contrary things it is right to choose and which to avoid, of which the parting of the hoof is the symbol; since the course of life is twofold, the one road leading to wickedness and the other to virtue, and since we ought to renounce the one and never to forsake the other.WHAT BEASTS ARE NOT CLEANXIX. 4.109. For this reason all animals with solid hoofs, and all with many toes are spoken of by implication as unclean; the one because, being so, they imply that the nature of good and evil is one and the same; which is just as if one were to say that the nature of a concave and a convex surface, or of a road up hill and down hill, was the same. And the other, because it shows that there are many roads, though, indeed, they have no right to be called roads at all, which lead the life of man to deceit; for it is not easy among a variety of paths to choose that which is the most desirable and the most excellent.WHAT AQUATIC ANIMALS ARE CLEANXX. 4.110. Having laid down these definitions with respect to land animals, he proceeds to describe what aquatic creatures are clean and lawful to be used for food; distinguishing them also by two characteristics as having fins or Scales.{21}{#le 11:9.} For those which have neither one nor the other, and those which have only one of the two, he rejects and Prohibits.{22}{#de 14:10.} And he must state the cause, which is not destitute of sense and propriety; 4.111. for all those creatures which are destitute of both, or even of one of the two, are sucked down by the current, not being able to resist the force of the stream; but those which have both these characteristics can stem the water, and oppose it in front, and strive against it as against an adversary, and struggle with invincible good will and courage, so that if they are pushed they push in their turn; and if they are pursued they turn upon their foe and pursue it in their turn, making themselves broad roads in a pathless district, so as to have an easy passage to and fro. 4.112. Now both these things are symbols; the former of a soul devoted to pleasure, and the latter of one which loves perseverance and temperance. For the road which leads to pleasure is a down-hill one and very easy, being rather an absorbing gulf than a path. But the path which leads to temperance is up hill and laborious, but above all other roads advantageous. And the one leads men downwards, and prevents those who travel by it from retracing their steps until they have arrived at the very lowest bottom, but the other leads to heaven; making those who do not weary before they reach it immortal, if they are only able to endure its rugged and difficult ascent.ABOUT Reptile 4.113. And adhering to the same general idea the lawgiver asserts that those reptiles which have no feet, and which crawl onwards, dragging themselves along the ground on their bellies, or those which have four legs, or many feet, are all unclean as far as regards their being eaten. And here, again, when he mentions reptiles he intimates under a figurative form of expression those who are devoted to their bellies, gorging themselves like cormorants, and who are continually offering up tribute to their miserable belly, tribute, that is, of strong wine, and confections, and fish, and, in short, all the superfluous delicacies which the skill and labour of bakers and confectioners are able to devise, inventing all sorts of rare viands, to stimulate and set on fire the insatiable and unappeasable appetites of man. And when he speaks of animals with four legs and many feet, he intends to designate the miserable slaves not of one single passion, appetite, but of all the passions; the genera of which were four in number; but in their subordinate species they are innumerable. Therefore, the despotism of one is very grievous, but that of many is most terrible, and as it seems intolerable. 4.114. Again, in the case of those reptiles who have legs above their feet, so that they are able to take leaps from the ground, those Moses speaks of as clean; as, for instance, the different kinds of locusts, and that animal called the serpentfighter, here again intimating by figurative expressions the manners and habits of the rational soul. For the weight of the body being naturally heavy, drags down with it those who are but of small wisdom, strangling it and pressing it down by the weight of the flesh. 4.115. But blessed are they to whose lot it has fallen, inasmuch as they have been well and solidly instructed in the rules of sound education, to resist successfully the power of mere strength, so as to be able, by reason of what they have learnt, to spring up from the earth and all low things, to the air and the periodical revolutions of the heaven, the very sight of which is to be admired and earnestly striven for by those who come to it of their own accord with no indolence or indifference.CONCERNING FLYING Creature 4.116. Having, therefore, in his ordices already gone through all the different kinds of land animals and of those who live in the water, and having distinguished them in his code of laws as accurately as it was possible, Moses begins to investigate the remaining class of animals in the air; the innumerable kinds of flying creatures, rejecting all those which prey upon one another or upon man, all carnivorous birds, in short, all animals which are venomous, and all which have any power of plotting against others. 4.117. But doves, and pigeons, and turtle-doves, and all the flocks of cranes, and geese, and birds of that kind, he numbers in the class of domestic, and tame, and eatable creatures, allowing every one who chooses to partake of them with impunity. 4.118. Thus, in each of the parts of the universe, earth, water, and air, he refuses some kinds of each description of animal, whether terrestrial, or aquatic, or a'rial, to our use; and thus, taking as it were fuel from the fire, he causes the extinction of appetite.CONCERNING CARCASSES AND BODIES WHICH HAVE BEEN TORN BY WILDBEASTSXXIII. 4.119. Moreover, Moses Commands{25}{#le 5:2.} that no man shall take of any dead carcass, or of any body which has been torn by wild beasts; partly because it is not fitting that man should share a feast with untameable beasts, so as to become almost a fellow reveller in their carnivorous festivals; and partly because perhaps it is injurious and likely to cause disease if the juice of the dead body becomes mingled with the blood, and perhaps, also, because it is proper to preserve that which has been pre-occupied and seized beforehand by death untouched, having a respect to the necessities of nature by which it has been seized. 4.120. Now many of the lawgivers both among the Greeks and barbarians, praise those who are skilful in hunting, and who seldom fail in their pursuit or miss their aim, and who pride themselves on their successful hunts, especially when they divide the limbs of the animals which they have caught with the huntsmen and the hounds, as being not only brave hunters but men of very sociable dispositions. But any one who was a sound interpreter of the sacred constitution and code of laws would very naturally blame them, since the lawgiver of that code has expressly forbidden any enjoyment of carcasses or of bodies torn by beasts for the reasons before mentioned. 4.121. But if any one of those persons who devote themselves wholly to meditations on and to the practice of virtue were suddenly to become fond of gymnastic exercises and of hunting, looking upon hunting as a sort of prelude to and representation of the wars and dangers that have to be encountered against the enemy, then, whenever such a man is successful in his sport, he ought to give the beasts which he has slain to his dogs as a feast for them, and as a reward or wages for their successful boldness and their irreproachable alliance. But he ought not himself to touch them, inasmuch as he has been previously taught in the case of irrational animals, what sentiments he ought to entertain, respecting his enemies. For he ought to carry on war against them, not for the sake of unrighteous gain like those who make a dishonest traffic of all their actions, but either in revenge for some calamities which he has previously suffered at their hands, or with a view toward some which he expects to suffer. 4.122. But some men, with open mouths, carry even the excessive luxury and boundless intemperance of Sardanapalus to such an indefinite and unlimited extent, being wholly absorbed in the invention of senseless pleasures, that they prepare sacrifices which ought never be offered, strangling their victims, and stifling the essence of life, {26}{#le 17:11.} which they ought to let depart free and unrestrained, burying the blood, as it were, in the body. For it ought to have been sufficient for them to enjoy the flesh by itself, without touching any of those parts which have an connection with the soul or life. 4.123. On which account Moses, in another passage, establishes a law concerning blood, that one may not eat the blood nor the Fat.{27}{#le 3:17.} The blood, for the reason which I have already mentioned, that it is the essence of the life; not of the mental and rational life, but of that which exists in accordance with the outward senses, to which it is owing that both we and irrational animals also have a common existence.CONCERNING THE SOUL OR LIFE OF MANXXIV. For the essence of the soul of man is the breath of God, especially if we follow the account of Moses, who, in his history of the creation of the world, says that God breathed into the first man, the founder of our race, the breath of life; breathing it into the principal part of his body, namely the face, where the outward senses are established, the body-guards of the mind, as if it were the great king. And that which was thus breathed into his face was manifestly the breath of the air, or whatever else there may be which is even more excellent than the breath of the air, as being a ray emitted from the blessed and thricehappy nature of God. 4.124. But Moses commanded men to abstain from eating fat, because it is gross. And again, he gave us this injunction, in order to inculcate temperance and a zeal for an austere life: for some things we easily abandon, and without any hesitation; though we do not willingly encounter any anxieties or labours for the sake of the acquisition of virtue. 4.125. For which reason these two parts are to be taken out of every victim and burnt with fire, as a kind of first fruits, namely, the fat and the blood; the one being poured upon the altar as a libation; and the other as a fuel to the flame, being applied instead of oil, by reason of its fatness, to the consecrated and holy flame. 4.126. The lawgiver blames some persons of his time as gluttons, and as believing that the mere indulgence of luxury is the happiest of all possible conditions, not being content to live in this manner only in cities in which there were abundant supplies and stores of all kinds of necessary things, but carrying their effeminacy even into pathless and untrodden deserts, and choosing in them also to have markets for fish and meat, and all things which can contribute to an easy life: 4.127. then, when a scarcity arose, they assembled together and raised an outcry, and looked miserable, and with shameless audacity impeached their ruler, and did not desist from creating disturbances till they obtained what they desired; and they obtained it to their destruction, for two reasons: first of all, that it might be shown that all things are possible to God, who can find a way in the most difficult and apparently hopeless circumstances; and secondly, that punishment might fall on those who were intemperate in their gluttonous appetites, and obstinate resisters of holiness. 4.128. For a vast cloud being Raised{28}{#ex 16:13.} out of the sea showered down quails about the time of sunrise, and the camp and all the district around it for a day's journey for a well-girt active man was overshadowed all about with the Birds.{29}{#nu 11:31.} And the height of the flight of the birds was distant from the ground a height of about two cubits, in order that they might be easily caught. 4.129. It would have been natural therefore for them, being amazed at the marvellous nature of the prodigy which they beheld, to be satisfied with the sight, and being filled with piety to nourish their souls on that, and to abstain from eating flesh; but these men, on the contrary, stirred up their desires even more than before, and pursued these birds as the greatest good imaginable, and catching hold of them with both their hands filled their bosoms; then, having stored them up in their tents, they sallied forth to catch others, for immoderate covetousness has no limit. And when they had collected every description of food they devoured it insatiably, being about, vain-minded generation that they were, to perish by their own fulness; 4.130. and indeed at no distant time they did perish by the purging of their bile, {30}{#nu 11:20.} so that the place itself derived its name from the calamity which fell upon them, for it was called the graves of their lust, {31}{see #Nu 11:34: "And he called the name of that place Kibroth-hattaavah, because there they buried the people that lusted."} than which there is not in the soul, as the scripture teaches, us, any greater evil. 4.131. For which reason Moses says with great beauty in his recommendations, "Let not every man do that which seemeth good to his own Eyes,"{32}{#de 11:8.} which is equivalent to saying, let not any one gratify his own desire, but let each person seek to please God, and the world, and nature, and wise men, repudiating self-love, if he would become a good and virtuous man.XXV.
9. Philo of Alexandria, Allegorical Interpretation, 3.77, 3.88-3.89 (1st cent. BCE - 1st cent. CE)



Subjects of this text:

subject book bibliographic info
adultery, jewish Hubbard, A Companion to Greek and Roman Sexualities (2014) 542
chaeremon the stoic, on the egyptian priests Taylor and Hay, Philo of Alexandria: On the Contemplative Life: Introduction, Translation and Commentary (2020) 114
chaeremon the stoic Taylor and Hay, Philo of Alexandria: On the Contemplative Life: Introduction, Translation and Commentary (2020) 114
desire Wilson, Philo of Alexandria: On Virtues: Introduction, Translation, and Commentary (2010) 251
evil Martens, One God, One Law: Philo of Alexandria on the Mosaic and Greco-Roman Law (2003) 71
god, representations of, creator Rogers, God and the Idols: Representations of God in 1 Corinthians 8-10 (2016) 99, 102
human nature Martens, One God, One Law: Philo of Alexandria on the Mosaic and Greco-Roman Law (2003) 71
humanity Wilson, Philo of Alexandria: On Virtues: Introduction, Translation, and Commentary (2010) 251
jubilee Wilson, Philo of Alexandria: On Virtues: Introduction, Translation, and Commentary (2010) 251
law, jewish Hubbard, A Companion to Greek and Roman Sexualities (2014) 542
mosaic law, for ordinary people Martens, One God, One Law: Philo of Alexandria on the Mosaic and Greco-Roman Law (2003) 71
moses Rogers, God and the Idols: Representations of God in 1 Corinthians 8-10 (2016) 102
passions Wilson, Philo of Alexandria: On Virtues: Introduction, Translation, and Commentary (2010) 251
pederasty, and judaism' Hubbard, A Companion to Greek and Roman Sexualities (2014) 542
physis, as nature of things and persons Martens, One God, One Law: Philo of Alexandria on the Mosaic and Greco-Roman Law (2003) 71
poor, the Wilson, Philo of Alexandria: On Virtues: Introduction, Translation, and Commentary (2010) 251
poverty Wilson, Philo of Alexandria: On Virtues: Introduction, Translation, and Commentary (2010) 251
sabbatical Wilson, Philo of Alexandria: On Virtues: Introduction, Translation, and Commentary (2010) 251