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Tiresias: The Ancient Mediterranean Religions Source Database



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Philo Of Alexandria, That Every Good Person Is Free, 92-97


nanBut it is necessary for us (since some persons do not believe that there is any perfect virtue in the multitude, but that whatever in such persons appears like virtue only reaches a certain point of increase and growth), to bring forward as corroborative testimonies the lives of some particular good men who are the most undeniable evidences of freedom.


nanCalanus was an Indian by birth, one of the gymnosophists; he, being looked upon as the man who was possessed of the greatest fortitude of all his contemporaries, and that too, not only by his own countrymen, but also by foreigners, which is the rarest of all things, was greatly admired by some kings of hostile countries, because he had combined virtuous actions with praiseworthy language;


nanaccordingly, Alexander, the king of the Macedonians, wishing to exhibit to Greece the wisdom that was to be found in the territories of the barbarians, as being a sort of faithful copy and representation of an archetypal model, in the first instance invited Calanus to quit his home, and come and take up his abode with him, by which means he said he would acquire the greatest imaginable glory throughout all Asia and all Europe;


nanand when he could not persuade him by fair means, he said to him, "You shall be compelled to follow me." And he replied with great felicity of expression and in a noble spirit; "What then shall I be worth, O Alexander, when you exhibit me to the Greeks, after I have been compelled to do what I do not like?" Now is not this speech, or rather is not this idea, full of real freedom? And moreover in his writings also, which are more durable than his expressions, he has erected, as if on a pillar, indelible signs of his indomitably free disposition;


nanand this is proved by the letter which he sent to the king. CALANUS TO ALEXANDER, GREETING "Your friends are endeavouring to persuade you to apply force and compulsion to the philosophers of the Indians, though not even in their sleep have they beheld our actions; for you will be able indeed to transport our bodies from place to place, but you will not be able to compel our souls to do what they do not like, any more than you would be able to make bricks or timber utter words; we can cause the greatest troubles and the greatest destruction to living bodies; now we are superior to this power; we are burnt even while living, there is no king nor ruler who will ever succeed in compelling us to do what we do not choose to do; and we are in no respect like unto the philosophers of the Greeks, who study speeches to deliver to a public assembly; but our actions do always correspond to our words, and our speeches which are short have a power different from that of our actions, and secure for us freedom and happiness.


nanAt such positive refusals then, and at such brave sentiments, is it not natural for any one to quote that saying of Zeno that, "It would be easier to sink a bladder which was full of wind, than to compel any virtuous man whatever, against his will, to commit any action which he had never intended." For the soul of such a man will never submit, and can never be defeated, since it has been fortified by right reason with solid doctrines. XV.


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

13 results
1. Philo of Alexandria, On The Life of Abraham, 271 (1st cent. BCE - 1st cent. CE)

271. Those men, therefore, who have spent a long life in that existence which is in accordance with the body, apart from all virtue, we must call only long-lived children, having never been instructed in those branches of education which befit grey hairs. But the man who has been a lover of prudence, and wisdom, and faith in God, one may justly denominate an elder, forming his name by a slight change from the first.
2. Philo of Alexandria, On The Contemplative Life, 10, 2, 21, 3-6, 63-64, 7-9, 1 (1st cent. BCE - 1st cent. CE)

1. Having mentioned the Essenes, who in all respects selected for their admiration and for their especial adoption the practical course of life, and who excel in all, or what perhaps may be a less unpopular and invidious thing to say, in most of its parts, I will now proceed, in the regular order of my subject, to speak of those who have embraced the speculative life, and I will say what appears to me to be desirable to be said on the subject, not drawing any fictitious statements from my own head for the sake of improving the appearance of that side of the question which nearly all poets and essayists are much accustomed to do in the scarcity of good actions to extol, but with the greatest simplicity adhering strictly to the truth itself, to which I know well that even the most eloquent men do not keep close in their speeches. Nevertheless we must make the endeavour and labour to attain to this virtue; for it is not right that the greatness of the virtue of the men should be a cause of silence to those who do not think it right that anything which is creditable should be suppressed in silence;
3. Philo of Alexandria, Hypothetica, 11.1, 11.5 (1st cent. BCE - 1st cent. CE)

4. Philo of Alexandria, Who Is The Heir, 97 (1st cent. BCE - 1st cent. CE)

97. for the good which was previously bestowed upon him was the departure from the Chaldaean philosophy, which was occupied about the things of the air, which taught me to suppose that the world was not the work of God, but was God himself; and that good and evil is caused in the case of all existing things, by the motions and fixed periodical revolutions of the stars, and that on these motions the origin of all good and evil depends; and the equable (homaleµ) and regular motion of these bodies in heaven, persuaded those simple men to look upon these things as omens, for the name of the Chaldaeans being interpreted is synonymous with equability (homaloteµs).
5. Philo of Alexandria, That Every Good Person Is Free, 101-104, 108, 73-75, 93-100 (1st cent. BCE - 1st cent. CE)

100. Again, do not you see this same virtuous man himself, that even when he is sold he does not appear to be a servant, but he strikes all who behold him with awe, as not being merely free, but as even being about to prove the master of him who has purchased him?
6. Strabo, Geography, 15.1.59-15.1.60 (1st cent. BCE - 1st cent. BCE)

15.1.59. Megasthenes divides the philosophers again into two kinds, the Brachmanes and the Garmanes. The Brachmanes are held in greater repute, for they agree more exactly in their opinions. Even from the time of their conception in the womb they are under the care and guardianship of learned men, who go to the mother, and seem to perform some incantation for the happiness and welfare of the mother and the unborn child, but in reality they suggest prudent advice, and the mothers who listen to them most willingly are thought to be the most fortunate in their offspring. After the birth of the children, there is a succession of persons who have the care of them, and as they advance in years, masters more able and accomplished succeed.The philosophers live in a grove in front of the city within a moderate-sized enclosure. Their diet is frugal, and they lie upon straw pallets and on skins. They abstain from animal food, and from sexual intercourse with women; their time is occupied in grave discourse, and they communicate with those who are inclined to listen to them; but the hearer is not permitted to speak or cough, or even to spit on the ground; otherwise, he is expelled that very day from their society, on the ground of having no control over himself. After living thirty-seven years in this manner, each individual retires to his own possessions, and lives with less restraint, wearing robes of fine linen, and rings of gold, but without profuseness, upon the hands and in the ears. They eat the flesh of animals, of those particularly which do not assist man in his labour, and abstain from hot and seasoned food. They have as many wives as they please with a view to numerous offspring, for from many wives greater advantages are derived.As they have no slaves, they require more the services, which are at hand, of their children.The Brachmanes do not communicate their philosophy to their wives, for fear they should divulge to the profane, if they became depraved, anything which ought to be concealed or lest they should abandon their husbands in case they became good (philosophers) themselves. For no one who despises alike pleasure and pain, life and death, is willing to be subject to the authority of another; and such is the character of a virtuous man and a virtuous woman.They discourse much on death, for it is their opinion that the present life is the state of one conceived in the womb, and that death to philosophers is birth to a real and a happy life. They therefore discipline themselves much to prepare for death, and maintain that nothing which happens to man is bad or good, for otherwise the same things would not be the occasion of sorrow to some and of joy to others, opinions being merely dreams, nor that the same persons could be affected with sorrow and joy by the same things, on different occasions.With regard to opinions on physical phenomena, they display, says Megasthenes, great simplicity, their actions being better than their reasoning, for their belief is chiefly founded on fables. On many subjects their sentiments are the same as those of the Greeks. According to the Brachmanes, the world was created, and is liable to corruption; it is of a spheroidal figure; the god who made and governs it pervades the whole of it; the principles of all things are different, but the principle of the world's formation was water; in addition to the four elements there is a fifth nature, of which the heavens and the stars are composed; the earth is situated in the centre of the universe. Many other peculiar things they say of the principle of generation and of the soul. They invent fables also, after the manner of Plato, on the immortality of the soul, and on the punishments in Hades, and other things of this kind. This is the account which Megasthenes gives of the Brachmanes. 15.1.60. of the Garmanes, the most honourable, he says, are the Hylobii, who live in the forests, and subsist on leaves and wild fruits: they are clothed with garments made of the bark of trees, and abstain from commerce with women and from wine. The kings hold communication with them by messengers, concerning the causes of things, and through them worship and supplicate the Divinity.Second in honour to the Hylobii, are the physicians, for they apply philosophy to the study of the nature of man. They are of frugal habits, but do not live in the fields, and subsist upon rice and meal, which every one gives when asked, and receive them hospitably. They are able to cause persons to have a numerous offspring, and to have either male or female children, by means of charms. They cure diseases by diet, rather than by medicinal remedies. Among the latter, the most in repute are unguents and cataplasms. All others they suppose partake greatly of a noxious nature.Both this and the other class of persons practise fortitude, as well in supporting active toil as in enduring suffering, so that they will continue a whole day in the same posture, without motion.There are enchanters and diviners, versed in the rites and customs relative to the dead, who go about villages and towns begging. There are others who are more civilized and better informed than these, who inculcate the vulgar opinions concerning Hades, which, according to their ideas, tend to piety and sanctity. Women study philosophy with some of them, but abstain from sexual intercourse.
7. Josephus Flavius, Jewish Antiquities, 18.18, 18.20, 18.259-18.260 (1st cent. CE - 1st cent. CE)

18.18. 5. The doctrine of the Essenes is this: That all things are best ascribed to God. They teach the immortality of souls, and esteem that the rewards of righteousness are to be earnestly striven for; 18.18. Now Antonia was greatly esteemed by Tiberius on all accounts, from the dignity of her relation to him, who had been his brother Drusus’s wife, and from her eminent chastity; for though she was still a young woman, she continued in her widowhood, and refused all other matches, although Augustus had enjoined her to be married to somebody else; yet did she all along preserve her reputation free from reproach. 18.259. Many of these severe things were said by Apion, by which he hoped to provoke Caius to anger at the Jews, as he was likely to be. But Philo, the principal of the Jewish embassage, a man eminent on all accounts, brother to Alexander the alabarch, and one not unskillful in philosophy, was ready to betake himself to make his defense against those accusations;
8. Josephus Flavius, Jewish War, 2 (1st cent. CE - 1st cent. CE)

9. Clement of Alexandria, Miscellanies, 1.15.71 (2nd cent. CE - 3rd cent. CE)

10. Philostratus The Athenian, Life of Apollonius, 4-6, 3 (2nd cent. CE

11. Diogenes Laertius, Lives of The Philosophers, 1.2, 1.5, 1.7, 1.9 (3rd cent. CE - 3rd cent. CE)

12. Eusebius of Caesarea, Ecclesiastical History, 2.5.2-2.5.5, 6.1 (3rd cent. CE - 4th cent. CE)

2.5.2. Josephus also makes mention of these things in the eighteenth book of his Antiquities, in the following words: A sedition having arisen in Alexandria between the Jews that dwell there and the Greeks, three deputies were chosen from each faction and went to Caius. 2.5.3. One of the Alexandrian deputies was Apion, who uttered many slanders against the Jews; among other things saying that they neglected the honors due to Caesar. For while all other subjects of Rome erected altars and temples to Caius, and in all other respects treated him just as they did the gods, they alone considered it disgraceful to honor him with statues and to swear by his name. 2.5.4. And when Apion had uttered many severe charges by which he hoped that Caius would be aroused, as indeed was likely, Philo, the chief of the Jewish embassy, a man celebrated in every respect, a brother of Alexander the Alabarch, and not unskilled in philosophy, was prepared to enter upon a defense in reply to his accusations. 2.5.5. But Caius prevented him and ordered him to leave, and being very angry, it was plain that he meditated some severe measure against them. And Philo departed covered with insult and told the Jews that were with him to be of good courage; for while Caius was raging against them he was in fact already contending with God.
13. Porphyry, On Abstinence, 4.17 (3rd cent. CE - 4th cent. CE)

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
alexandria, conflicts in Moss, Ancient Christian Martyrdom: Diverse Practices, Theologies, and Traditions (2012) 199
alexandria Taylor, The Essenes, the Scrolls, and the Dead Sea (2012) 39
apollonius Taylor and Hay, Philo of Alexandria: On the Contemplative Life: Introduction, Translation and Commentary (2020) 167
aristotle Taylor and Hay, Philo of Alexandria: On the Contemplative Life: Introduction, Translation and Commentary (2020) 167
asceticism Taylor, The Essenes, the Scrolls, and the Dead Sea (2012) 25
assyrians Taylor, The Essenes, the Scrolls, and the Dead Sea (2012) 25
babylonians Taylor, The Essenes, the Scrolls, and the Dead Sea (2012) 25
brahmins Taylor, The Essenes, the Scrolls, and the Dead Sea (2012) 25
buddhism, sarmanae Taylor, The Essenes, the Scrolls, and the Dead Sea (2012) 25
buddhism Taylor, The Essenes, the Scrolls, and the Dead Sea (2012) 25
burchard, c. Taylor, The Essenes, the Scrolls, and the Dead Sea (2012) 25
celts Taylor, The Essenes, the Scrolls, and the Dead Sea (2012) 25
chaeremon Taylor, The Essenes, the Scrolls, and the Dead Sea (2012) 25
chaldeans Taylor, The Essenes, the Scrolls, and the Dead Sea (2012) 25
claudius Taylor, The Essenes, the Scrolls, and the Dead Sea (2012) 39
clement of alexandria Taylor and Hay, Philo of Alexandria: On the Contemplative Life: Introduction, Translation and Commentary (2020) 167
daniel, book of Moss, Ancient Christian Martyrdom: Diverse Practices, Theologies, and Traditions (2012) 199
druids Taylor, The Essenes, the Scrolls, and the Dead Sea (2012) 25
essenes, as a root of christianity Taylor, The Essenes, the Scrolls, and the Dead Sea (2012) 39
eusebius Taylor, The Essenes, the Scrolls, and the Dead Sea (2012) 39
gnostic, terminology Moss, Ancient Christian Martyrdom: Diverse Practices, Theologies, and Traditions (2012) 199
hebrews Moss, Ancient Christian Martyrdom: Diverse Practices, Theologies, and Traditions (2012) 199
india, and gymnosophists Taylor, The Essenes, the Scrolls, and the Dead Sea (2012) 25
josephus, and philos hypothetica Taylor, The Essenes, the Scrolls, and the Dead Sea (2012) 39
josephus Taylor, The Essenes, the Scrolls, and the Dead Sea (2012) 39
mendels, d. Taylor, The Essenes, the Scrolls, and the Dead Sea (2012) 25
moses Taylor, The Essenes, the Scrolls, and the Dead Sea (2012) 39
persia, magi and Taylor, The Essenes, the Scrolls, and the Dead Sea (2012) 25
philo of alexandria, and the philosophical lifestyle Taylor, The Essenes, the Scrolls, and the Dead Sea (2012) 25
philo of alexandria Taylor, The Essenes, the Scrolls, and the Dead Sea (2012) 25, 39
philos essenes Taylor, The Essenes, the Scrolls, and the Dead Sea (2012) 25, 39
porphyry Taylor, The Essenes, the Scrolls, and the Dead Sea (2012) 25, 39
qumran, cemetery site at Taylor, The Essenes, the Scrolls, and the Dead Sea (2012) 25
vienne and lyons, on septimus severus Moss, Ancient Christian Martyrdom: Diverse Practices, Theologies, and Traditions (2012) 199
virtue' Taylor, The Essenes, the Scrolls, and the Dead Sea (2012) 25