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Tiresias: The Ancient Mediterranean Religions Source Database



9698
Porphyry, On The Cave Of The Nymphs, 5


nanIt is necessary, therefore, that souls, whether they are corporeal or incorporeal, while they attract to themselves body, and especially such as are about to be bound to blood and moist bodies, should verge to humidity, and be corporalised, in consequence of being drenched in moisture. Hence the souls of the dead are evocated by the effusion of bile and blood; and souls that are lovers of body, by attracting a moist spirit, condense this humid vehicle like a cloud. For moisture condensed in the air constitutes a cloud. But the pneumatic vehicle being condensed in these souls, becomes visible through an excess of moisture. And among the number of these we must reckon those apparitions of images, which, from a spirit coloured by the influence of imagination, present themselves to mankind. But pure souls are averse from generation; so that, as Heraclitus says, "a dry soul is the wisest." Hence, here also the spirit becomes moist and more aqueous through the desire of generation, the soul thus attracting a humid vapour from verging to generation. Souls, therefore, proceeding |18 into generation are the nymphs called naiades. Hence it is usual to call those that are married nymphs, as being conjoined to generation, and to pour water into baths from fountains, or rivers, or perpetual rills.


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

5 results
1. Dio Chrysostom, Orations, 36.39-36.54 (1st cent. CE

36.39.  "Moreover, there is besides a myth which arouses admiration as sung in secret rites by the Magi, who extol this god of ours as being the perfect and original driver of the most perfect chariot. For the chariot of Helius, they claim, is relatively recent when compared with that of Zeus, though visible to the many because its course is run in full view. Therefore, they say, the chariot of Helius has enjoyed a reputation with all mankind, since the poets, beginning practically with the earliest times, so it would seem, are always telling of its rising and its setting, all in the same manner describing the yoking of the horses and Helius himself mounting his car. 36.41.  And thereafter, so they say, Zoroaster has associated, not with them all, but only with such as are best endowed with regard to the truth, and are best able to understand the god, men whom the Persians have named Magi, that is to say, people who know how to cultivate the divine power, not like the Greeks, who in their ignorance use the term to denote wizards. And all else that those Magi do is in accordance with sacred sayings, and in particular they maintain for Zeus a team of Nisaean horses  â€” and these horses are the finest and largest to be found in Asia — but for Helius they maintain only a single horse. 36.42.  "These Magi narrate their myth, not in the manner of our prophets of the Muses, who merely present each detail with much plausibility, but rather with stubborn insistence upon its truthfulness. For they assert that the universe is constantly being propelled and driven along a single path, as by a charioteer endowed with highest skill and power, and that this movement goes on unceasingly in unceasing cycles of time. And the coursing of Helius and Selenê, according to their account, is the movement of portions of the whole, and for that reason it is more clearly perceived by mankind. And they add that the movement and revolution of the universe as a whole is not perceptible to the majority of mankind, but that, on the contrary, they are ignorant of the magnitude of this contest. 36.43.  "What follows regarding the horses and their driving I really am ashamed to tell in the manner in which the Magi set it forth in their narrative, since they are not very much concerned to secure consistency at all points in their presentation of the picture. In fact, quite possibly I may appear absurd when, in contrast with Greek lays of grace and charm, I chant one that is barbarian; but still I must make the venture. "According to the Magi, that one of the horses which is the highest in the heavens is immeasurably superior in beauty, size, and speed, since it has the outside track and runs the longest course, a horse sacred to Zeus himself. Furthermore, it is a winged creature, brilliant in colour with the brilliance of the purest flame; and in it Helius and Selenê are to be seen as conspicuous signs or marks — like, I fancy, the marks which horses bear here on earth, some crescent-shaped and some of other patterns. 36.44.  And they say that these 'marks' appear to us to be in close array, as it were great sparks of fire darting about in the midst of brilliant light, and yet that each has its own independent motion. Furthermore, the other stars also which are visible through that Horse of Zeus, one and all being natural parts of it, in some instances revolve along with it and have the same motion, and in others follow different tracks. And they add that among men these stars which are associated with the Horse of Zeus have each its own particular name; whereas the rest are treated collectively in groups, distributed so as to form certain figures or patterns. 36.45.  "Well then, the horse that is most brilliant and most spangled with stars and dearest to Zeus himself, being praised by the Magi in their hymns for some such attributes as these, quite properly stands first in sacrifice and worship as being truly first. Next in order after that, in closest contact with the Horse of Zeus, comes one that bears the name of Hera, a horse obedient to the rein and gentle, but far inferior in strength and speed. In colour this horse is of its own nature black, but that portion which receives the light of Helius is regularly bright, whereas where it is in shadow in its revolution it has its own proper colour. 36.46.  Third comes a horse that is sacred to Poseidon, still slower than the second. Regarding this steed the poets have a myth to the effect that its counterpart appeared among men — he whom they call Pegasus, methinks — and they claim that he caused a fountain to burst forth at Corinth by pawing with his hoof. But the fourth is the strangest conception of them all, a horse both firm and immovable, to say nothing of its having no wings, and it is named after Hestia. However, the Magi do not shrink from its portrayal; on the contrary, they state that this steed also is harnessed to the chariot, and yet it remains immovable, champing its adamantine curb. 36.47.  And from all sides the other horses press close to him with their bodies and the pair that are his neighbours swerve toward him abreast, falling upon him, as it were, and crowding him, yet the horse that is farthest off is ever first to round that stationary steed as horses round the turn in the hippodrome."Now for the most part the horses continue in peace and friendship, unharmed by one another. But on one occasion in the past, in the course of a long space of time and many revolutions of the universe, a mighty blast from the first horse fell from on high, and, as might have been expected from such a fiery-tempered steed, inflamed the others, and more especially the last in order; and the fire encompassed not alone its mane, which formed its personal pride, but the whole universe as well. 36.48.  And the Magi say that the Greeks, recording this experience as an isolated occurrence, connect it with the name of Phaethon, since they are unable to criticize the driving of Zeus and are loath to find fault with the coursings of Helius. And so they relate that a younger driver, a mortal son of Helius, desiring a sport that was to prove grievous and disastrous for all mankind, besought his father to let him mount his car and, plunging along in disorderly fashion, consumed with fire everything, both animals and plants, and finally was himself destroyed, being smitten by too power­ful a flame. 36.49.  "Again, when at intervals of several years the horse that is sacred to Poseidon and the Nymphs rebels, having become panic-stricken and agitated beyond his wont, he overwhelms with copious sweat that same steed, since they two are yoke-mates. Accordingly it meets with fate which is the opposite of the disaster previously mentioned, this time being deluged with a mighty flood. And the Magi state that here again the Greeks, through youthful ignorance and faulty memory, record this flood as a single occurrence and claim that Deucalion, who was then king, saved them from complete destruction. 36.50.  "According to the Magi, these rare occurrences are viewed by mankind as taking place for their destruction, and not in accord with reason or as a part of the order of the universe, being unaware that they occur quite properly and in keeping with the plan of the preserver and governor of the world. For in reality it is comparable with what happens when a charioteer punishes one of his horses, pulling hard upon the rein or pricking with the goad; and then the horse prances and is thrown into a panic but straightway settles down to its proper gait. "Well then, this is one kind of driving of which they tell, attended by violence but not involving the complete destruction of the universe. 36.51.  On the other hand, they tell also of a different kind that involves the movement and change of all four horses, one in which they shift among themselves and interchange their forms until all come together into one being, having been overcome by that one which is superior in power. And yet this movement also the Magi dare to liken to the guidance and driving of a chariot, though to do so they need even stranger imagery. For instance, it is as if some magician were to mould horses out of wax, and then, subtracting and scraping off the wax from each, should add a little now to this one and now to that, until finally, having used up all the horses in constructing one from the four, he should fashion a single horse out of all his material. 36.52.  They state, however, that in reality the process to which they refer is not like that of such iimate images, in which the craftsman operates and shifts the material from without, but that instead the transformation is the work of these creatures themselves, just as if they were striving for victory in a contest that is great and real. And they add that the victory and its crown belong of necessity to that horse which is first and best in speed and prowess and general excellence, I mean to that one which we named in the beginning of our account as the special steed of Zeus. 36.53.  For that one, being most valiant of all and fiery by nature, having speedily used up the others — as if, methinks, they were truly made of wax — in no great span of time (though to us it seems endless according to our reckoning) and having appropriated to itself all the substance of them all, appeared much greater and more brilliant than formerly; not through the aid of any other creature, either mortal or immortal, but by itself and its own efforts proving victor in the greatest contest. And, standing tall and proud, rejoicing in its victory, it not only seized the largest possible region but also needed larger space at that time, so great was its strength and its spirit. 36.54.  "Having arrived at that stage in their myth, the Magi are embarrassed in search of a name to describe the nature of the creature of their own invention. For they say that now by this time it is simply the soul of the charioteer and master; or, let us say, merely the intellect and leadership of that soul. (Those, in fact, are the terms we ourselves employ when we honour and reverence the greatest god by noble deeds and pious words).
2. Clement of Alexandria, Excerpts From Theodotus, 74.2 (2nd cent. CE - 3rd cent. CE)

3. Origen, Against Celsus, 6.22 (3rd cent. CE - 3rd cent. CE)

6.22. After this, Celsus, desiring to exhibit his learning in his treatise against us, quotes also certain Persian mysteries, where he says: These things are obscurely hinted at in the accounts of the Persians, and especially in the mysteries of Mithras, which are celebrated among them. For in the latter there is a representation of the two heavenly revolutions - of the movement, viz., of the fixed stars, and of that which take place among the planets, and of the passage of the soul through these. The representation is of the following nature: There is a ladder with lofty gates, and on the top of it an eighth gate. The first gate consists of lead, the second of tin, the third of copper, the fourth of iron, the fifth of a mixture of metals, the sixth of silver, and the seventh of gold. The first gate they assign to Saturn, indicating by the 'lead' the slowness of this star; the second to Venus, comparing her to the splendour and softness of tin; the third to Jupiter, being firm and solid; the fourth to Mercury, for both Mercury and iron are fit to endure all things, and are money-making and laborious; the fifth to Mars, because, being composed of a mixture of metals, it is varied and unequal; the sixth, of silver, to the Moon; the seventh, of gold, to the Sun - thus imitating the different colors of the two latter. He next proceeds to examine the reason of the stars being arranged in this order, which is symbolized by the names of the rest of matter. Musical reasons, moreover, are added or quoted by the Persian theology; and to these, again, he strives to add a second explanation, connected also with musical considerations. But it seems to me, that to quote the language of Celsus upon these matters would be absurd, and similar to what he himself has done, when, in his accusations against Christians and Jews, he quoted, most inappropriately, not only the words of Plato; but, dissatisfied even with these, he adduced in addition the mysteries of the Persian Mithras, and the explanation of them. Now, whatever be the case with regard to these - whether the Persians and those who conduct the mysteries of Mithras give false or true accounts regarding them - why did he select these for quotation, rather than some of the other mysteries, with the explanation of them? For the mysteries of Mithras do not appear to be more famous among the Greeks than those of Eleusis, or than those in Ægina, where individuals are initiated in the rites of Hecate. But if he must introduce barbarian mysteries with their explanation, why not rather those of the Egyptians, which are highly regarded by many, or those of the Cappadocians regarding the Comanian Diana, or those of the Thracians, or even those of the Romans themselves, who initiate the noblest members of their senate? But if he deemed it inappropriate to institute a comparison with any of these, because they furnished no aid in the way of accusing Jews or Christians, why did it not also appear to him inappropriate to adduce the instance of the mysteries of Mithras?
4. Porphyry, On Abstinence, 4.16 (3rd cent. CE - 4th cent. CE)

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
5. Porphyry, On The Cave of The Nymphs, 18, 20, 24, 6, 15 (3rd cent. CE - 4th cent. CE)

15. One particular, however, remains to be explained, and that is the symbol of the olive planted at the top of the cavern, since Homer appears to indicate something very admirable by giving it such a position. For he does not merely say that an olive grows in this place, but that it flourishes on the summit of the cavern. "High at the head a branching olive grows, Beneath, a gloomy grotto s cool recess.." But the growth of the olive in such a situation is not fortuitous, as some one may suspect, but contains the enigma of the cavern. For |37 since the world was not produced rashly and casually, but is the work of divine wisdom and an intellectual nature; hence an olive, the symbol of this wisdom flourishes near the present cavern, which is an image of the world. For the olive is the plant of Minerva, and Minerva is wisdom. But this Goddess being produced from the head of Jupiter, the theologist has discovered an appropriate place for the olive by consecrating it at the summit of the port; signifying by this that the universe is not the effect of a casual event and the work of irrational fortune, but that it is the offspring of an intellectual nature and divine wisdom, which is separated indeed from it (by a difference of essence), but yet is near to it, through being established on the summit of the whole port (i.e., from the dignity and excellence of its nature governing the whole with consummate wisdom). Since, however, an olive is ever-flourishing, it possesses a certain peculiarity in the highest degree adapted to the revolutions of souls in the world, for to such souls this cave (as we have said) is sacred. For in summer the white leaves of the olive tend upwards, but in winter the whiter leaves are bent downward. On |38 this account also in prayers and supplications, men extend the branches of an olive, ominating from this that they shall exchange the sorrowful darkness of danger for the fair light of security and peace. The olive, therefore being naturally ever-flourishing, bears fruit which is the auxiliary of labour (by being its reward, it is sacred to Minerva; supplies the victors in athletic labours with crowns and affords a friendly branch to the suppliant petitioner. Thus, too, the world is governed by an intellectual nature, and is conducted by a wisdom eternal and ever-flourishing; by which the rewards of victory are conferred on the conquerors in the athletic race of life, as the reward of severe toil and patient perseverance. And the Demiurgus who connects and contains the world (in ineffable comprehensions) invigorates miserable and suppliant souls.


Subjects of this text:

subject book bibliographic info
angels Waldner et al., Burial Rituals, Ideas of Afterlife, and the Individual in the Hellenistic World and the Roman Empire (2016) 212
animals, lion Waldner et al., Burial Rituals, Ideas of Afterlife, and the Individual in the Hellenistic World and the Roman Empire (2016) 212
aphrodite Waldner et al., Burial Rituals, Ideas of Afterlife, and the Individual in the Hellenistic World and the Roman Empire (2016) 212
astronomy Waldner et al., Burial Rituals, Ideas of Afterlife, and the Individual in the Hellenistic World and the Roman Empire (2016) 213
babylon Waldner et al., Burial Rituals, Ideas of Afterlife, and the Individual in the Hellenistic World and the Roman Empire (2016) 212
beck, roger Belayche and Massa, Mystery Cults in Visual Representation in Graeco-Roman Antiquity (2021) 110
birds, eagle Waldner et al., Burial Rituals, Ideas of Afterlife, and the Individual in the Hellenistic World and the Roman Empire (2016) 212
birth Waldner et al., Burial Rituals, Ideas of Afterlife, and the Individual in the Hellenistic World and the Roman Empire (2016) 213
cosmos Waldner et al., Burial Rituals, Ideas of Afterlife, and the Individual in the Hellenistic World and the Roman Empire (2016) 213
creation Waldner et al., Burial Rituals, Ideas of Afterlife, and the Individual in the Hellenistic World and the Roman Empire (2016) 213
dualism, gnostic Esler, The Early Christian World (2000) 74
euboulos Waldner et al., Burial Rituals, Ideas of Afterlife, and the Individual in the Hellenistic World and the Roman Empire (2016) 212
fruits, vegetarian food Waldner et al., Burial Rituals, Ideas of Afterlife, and the Individual in the Hellenistic World and the Roman Empire (2016) 212
gnostic traditions Esler, The Early Christian World (2000) 74
helios Waldner et al., Burial Rituals, Ideas of Afterlife, and the Individual in the Hellenistic World and the Roman Empire (2016) 212
kelsos Waldner et al., Burial Rituals, Ideas of Afterlife, and the Individual in the Hellenistic World and the Roman Empire (2016) 212
metempsychosis Waldner et al., Burial Rituals, Ideas of Afterlife, and the Individual in the Hellenistic World and the Roman Empire (2016) 212
mithraea Esler, The Early Christian World (2000) 74
mithraic grades Belayche and Massa, Mystery Cults in Visual Representation in Graeco-Roman Antiquity (2021) 110
mithras, grades Waldner et al., Burial Rituals, Ideas of Afterlife, and the Individual in the Hellenistic World and the Roman Empire (2016) 212
mithras, theology Waldner et al., Burial Rituals, Ideas of Afterlife, and the Individual in the Hellenistic World and the Roman Empire (2016) 212
mithras Belayche and Massa, Mystery Cults in Visual Representation in Graeco-Roman Antiquity (2021) 110
mithrea, dieburg Waldner et al., Burial Rituals, Ideas of Afterlife, and the Individual in the Hellenistic World and the Roman Empire (2016) 212
mysteries, hellenistic Esler, The Early Christian World (2000) 74
mysteries, mithras Esler, The Early Christian World (2000) 74
numenios of apamea Waldner et al., Burial Rituals, Ideas of Afterlife, and the Individual in the Hellenistic World and the Roman Empire (2016) 212
ohrmazd Waldner et al., Burial Rituals, Ideas of Afterlife, and the Individual in the Hellenistic World and the Roman Empire (2016) 213
pallas, author Waldner et al., Burial Rituals, Ideas of Afterlife, and the Individual in the Hellenistic World and the Roman Empire (2016) 212
persia Waldner et al., Burial Rituals, Ideas of Afterlife, and the Individual in the Hellenistic World and the Roman Empire (2016) 212, 213
phaethon Waldner et al., Burial Rituals, Ideas of Afterlife, and the Individual in the Hellenistic World and the Roman Empire (2016) 212, 213
plato, platonic tradition Waldner et al., Burial Rituals, Ideas of Afterlife, and the Individual in the Hellenistic World and the Roman Empire (2016) 212, 213
porphyry Waldner et al., Burial Rituals, Ideas of Afterlife, and the Individual in the Hellenistic World and the Roman Empire (2016) 213
post-mortality belief, belief, mithras context Waldner et al., Burial Rituals, Ideas of Afterlife, and the Individual in the Hellenistic World and the Roman Empire (2016) 212, 213
purity Waldner et al., Burial Rituals, Ideas of Afterlife, and the Individual in the Hellenistic World and the Roman Empire (2016) 212
pythagoras, pythagoreans Waldner et al., Burial Rituals, Ideas of Afterlife, and the Individual in the Hellenistic World and the Roman Empire (2016) 212
religion, hellenistic religions Esler, The Early Christian World (2000) 74
sarcophagi Waldner et al., Burial Rituals, Ideas of Afterlife, and the Individual in the Hellenistic World and the Roman Empire (2016) 212, 213
seth Esler, The Early Christian World (2000) 74
soul' Waldner et al., Burial Rituals, Ideas of Afterlife, and the Individual in the Hellenistic World and the Roman Empire (2016) 212
soul Waldner et al., Burial Rituals, Ideas of Afterlife, and the Individual in the Hellenistic World and the Roman Empire (2016) 213