But in the morning, after sunrise, I Clement, and Niceta and Aquila, along with Peter, came to the apartment in which my father and mother were sleeping; and finding them still asleep, we sat down before the door, when Peter addressed us in such terms as these:1 “Listen to me, most beloved fellow-servants: I know that you have a great affection for your father; therefore I am afraid that you will urge him too soon to take upon himself the yoke of religion, while he is not yet prepared for it; and to this he may perhaps consent, through his affection for you. Bat this is not to be depended on; for what is done for the sake of men is not worthy of approbation, and soon falls to pieces. Therefore it seems to me, that you should permit him to live for a year according to his own judgment; and during that time he may travel with us, and while we are instructing others he may hear with simplicity; and as he hears, if he has any right purpose of acknowledging the truth, he will himself request that he may take up the yoke of religion; or if he do not please to take it, he may remain a friend. For those who do not take it up heartily, when they begin not to be able to bear it, not only cast off that which they had taken up, but by way of excuse, as it were, for their weakness, they begin to speak evil of the way of religion, and to malign those whom they have not been able to follow or to imitate.”
Chap. II. - A Difficulty.
To this Niceta answered: “My lord Peter, I say nothing against your right and good counsels; but I wish to say one thing, that thereby I may learn something that I do not know. What if my father should die within the year 193 during which you recommend that he should be put off? He will go down to hell helpless, and so be tormented for ever.” Then said Peter: “I embrace your kindly purpose towards your father, and I forgive you in respect of things of which you are ignorant. For do you suppose that, if any one is thought to have lived righteously, he shall forthwith be saved? Do you not think that he must be examined by Him who knows the secrets of men, as to how he has lived righteously, whether perchance according to the rule of the Gentiles, obeying their institutions and laws; or for the sake of the friendship of men; or merely from custom, or any other cause; or from necessity, and not on account of righteousness itself, and for the sake of God? For those who have lived righteously, for the sake of God alone and His righteousness, they shall come to eternal rest, and shall receive the perpetuity of the heavenly kingdom. For salvation is not attained by force, but by liberty; and not through the favour of men, but by the faith of God. Then, besides, you ought to consider that God is prescient, and knows whether this man is one of His. But if He knows that he is not, what shall we do with respect to those things which leave been determined by Him from the beginning? But wherein I can, I give counsel: when he is awake, and we sit down together, then do you, as if you wished to learn something, ask a question about those matters which it is titling for him to learn; and while we speak to one another, he will gain instruction. But yet wait first to see if he himself ask anything; for if he do so, the occasion of discourse will be the fitter. But if he do not ask anything, let us by turns put questions to one another, wishing to learn something, as I have said. Such is my judgment, state what is yours.”
Chap. III. - A Suggestion.
And when we had commended his right counsel, I Clement said: “In all things, the end for the most part looks back upon the beginning, and the issue of things is similar to their commencement. I hope, therefore, with respect to our father also, since God by your means has given a good beginning, that He will bestow also an ending suitable to the beginning, and worthy of Himself. However, I make this suggestion, that if, as you have said, we begin to speak, in presence of my father, as if for the purpose of discussing some subject, or learning something from one another, you, my lord Peter, ought not to occupy the place of one who has anything to learn; for if he see this, he will rather be offended. For he is convinced that you fully know all things, as indeed you do. How then will it be, if he see you pretending ignorance? This, as I have said, will rather hurt him, being ignorant of your design. But if we brothers, while we converse among ourselves, are in any doubt, let a fitting solution be given by you to our inquiry. For if he see even you hesitating and doubting, then truly he will think that no one has knowledge of the truth.”
Chap. IV. - Free Inquiry.
To this Peter answered: “Let us not concern ourselves about this; and if indeed it is fitting that he enter the gate of life, God will afford a fitting opportunity; and there shall be a beginning from God, and not from man. And therefore, as I have said, let him journey with us, and hear our discussions; but because I saw you in haste, therefore I said that opportunity must be sought; and when God shall give it, do you comply with my advice in what I shall say.” While we were thus talking, a boy came to tell us that our father was now awake; and when we were intending to go in to him, he himself came to us, and saluting us with a kiss, after we had sat down again, he said: “Is it permitted to one to ask a question, if he wishes it; or is silence enforced, after the manner of the Pythagoreans?” Then said Peter: “We do not compel those who come to us either to keep silence continually, or to ask questions; but we leave them free to do as they will knowing that he who is anxious about his salvation, if he feels pain in any part of his soul, does not suffer it to be silent. But he who neglects his salvation, no advantage its conferred upon him if he is compelled to ask, excepting this only, that he may seem to be earnest and diligent. Wherefore, if you wish to get any information, ask on.”
Chap. V. - Good and Evil.
Then the old man said: “There is a saying very prevalent among the Greek philosophers, to the effect that there is in reality neither good nor evil in the life of man; but that men call things good or evil as they appear to them, prejudiced by the use and custom of life. For not even murder is really an evil, because it sets the soul free from the bonds of the flesh. Further, they say that even just judges put to death those who commit crimes; but if they knew homicide to be an evil, just men would not do that. Neither do they say that adultery is an evil; for if the husband does not know, or does not care, there is, they say, no evil in it. But neither, say they is theft an evil; for it takes away what one does, not possess from another who has it. And, indeed, it ought to be taken freely and openly; but in that it is done secretly, that is rather a reproof of his inhumanity from whom it is secretly taken. For all men ought to have the common 194 use of all things that are in this world; but through injustice one says that this is his, and another that that is his, and so division is caused among men. In short, a certain man, the wisest among the Greeks,2 knowing that these things are so, says that friends should have all things common. Now, in allthings unquestionably wives are included. He says also that, as the air and the sunshine cannot be divided, so neither ought other things to be divided, which are given in this world to all to be possessed in common, but should be so possessed. But I wished to say this, because I am desirous to turn to well-doing, and I cannot act well unless I first learn what is good; and if I can understand that, I shall thereby perceive what is evil, that is, opposite to good.
Chap. VI. - Peter’s Authority.
“But I should like that one of you, and not Peter, should answer what I have said; for it is not fitting to take words and instruction at his hand, with questions; but when he gives a deliverance on any subject, that should be held without answering again. And therefore let us keep him as an umpire; so that if at any time our discussion does not come to an issue, he may declare what seems good to him, and so give an undoubted end to doubtful matters. And now therefore I could believe, content with his sole opinion, if he expressed any opinion; and this is what I shall do at last. Yet I wish first to see if it is possible by discussion to find what is sought. My wish therefore is, that Clement should begin first, and should show if there is any good or evil in substance or in actions.”
Chap. VII. - Clement’s Argument.
To this I answered: “Since indeed you wish to learn from me if there is any good or evil in nature or in act, or whether it is not rather that men, prejudiced by custom, think some things to be good, and others to be evil, forasmuch as; they have made a division among themselves of common things, which ought, as you say, to be as common as the air and the sunshine; I think that I ought not to bring before you any statements from any other quarter than from those studies in which you are well versed, and which you support, so that what I say you will receive without hesitation. You assign certain boundaries of all the elements and the heavenly bodies, and these, you say, meet in some without hurt, as in marriages; but in others they are hurtfully united, as in adulteries. And you say that some things are general to all, but other things do not belong to all, and are not general. But not to make a long discussion, I shall speak briefly of the matter. The earth which is dry is in need of the addition and admixture of water, that it may be able to produce fruits, without which man cannot live: this is therefore a legitimate conjunction. On the contrary if the cold of hoar-frost be mixed with the earth, or heat with the water, a conjunction of this sort produces corruption; and this, in such things, is adultery.”
Chap. VIII. - Admitted Evils.
Then my father answered: “But as the harmfulness of can inharmonious conjunction of elements or stars is immediately betrayed, so ought also adultery to he immediately shown that it is an evil.” Then I: “First tell me this, whether, as you yourself have confessed, evils are produced from incongruous and inharmonious mixture; and then after that we shall inquire into the other matter.” Then my father said: “The nature of things is as you say, my son.” Then I answered: “Since, then, you wish to learn of these things, see how many things there are which no one doubts to be evils. Do you think that a fever, a fire, sedition, the fall of a house, murder, holds, racks, pains, mournings, and such like, are evils?” Then said my father: “It is true, my son, that these things are evil, and very evil; or, at all events, whoever denies that they are evil, let him suffer them!”
Chap. IX. - Existence of Evil on Astrological Principles.
Then I answered: “Since, therefore, I have to deal with one who is skilled in astrological science,3 I shall treat the matter with you according to that science, that, taking my method from those things with which you are familiar, you may the more readily acquiesce. Listen now, therefore: you confess that those things which we have mentioned are evils, such as fevers, conflagrations, and such like. Now these, according to you, are said to be produced by malignant stars, such as the humid Saturn and the hot Mars; but things contrary to these are produced by benignant stars, such as the temperate Jupiter and the humid Venus. Is it not so?” My father answered: “It is so, my son; and it cannot be otherwise.” Then said I: “Since you say, therefore, that good things are produced by good stars - by Jupiter and Venus, for example - let us see what is the product where any one of the evil stars is mixed with the good, and let us understand that that is evil. For you lay it down that Venus makes marriages, and if she have Jupiter in her configuration 195 she makes the marriages chaste; but if Jupiter he not regarding, and Mars be present, then you pronounce that the marriages are corrupted by adultery.” Then said my father: “It is even so.” Then I answered: “Therefore adultery is an evil, seeing that it is committed through the admixture of evil stars; and, to state it in a word all things that you say that the good stars suffer from the mixture of evil stars, are undoubtedly to be pronounced to be evil. Those stars, therefore, by whose admixture we have said that fevers, configurations, and other such like evils are produced, - those, according to you, work also murders, adulteries, thefts, and also produce haughty and stolid men.”
Chap. X. - How to Make Progress.
Then my father said: “Truly you have shown briefly and incomparably that there are evils in actions; but still I should wish to learn this how God justly judges those who sin, as you say, if Genesis compels them to sin?” Then I answered: “I am afraid to speak anything to you, my father, because it becomes me to hold you in all honour, else I have an answer to give you, if it were becoming.” Then says my father: “Speak what occurs to you, my son; for it is not you, but the method of inquiry, that does the wrong, as a modest woman to an incontinent man, if she is indignant for her safety and her honour.” Then I answered “If we do not hold by the principles that we have acknowledged and confessed, but if those things which have been defined are always loosened by forgetfulness, we shall seem to be weaving Penelope’s web, undoing what we have done. And therefore we ought either not to acquiesce too easily, before we have diligently examined the doctrine propounded; or if we have once acquiesced, and the proposition has been agreed to, then we ought to keep by what has been once determined, that we may go on with our inquiries respecting other matters.” And my father said: “You say well, my son; and I know why yon say this: it is because in the discussion yesterday on natural causes, yon showed that some malignant power, transferring itself into the order of the stars, excites the lusts of men, provoking them in various ways to sin, yet not compelling or producing sins.” To this I answered: “It is well that you remember it; and yet, though you to remember it, you have fallen into error.” Then said my father: “Pardon me, my son; for I have not yet much practice in these things: for indeed your discourses yesterday, by their truth, shut me up to agree with you; yet in my consciousness there are, as it were, some remains Of fevers, which for a little hold me back from faith, as from health. For I am distracted, because I know that many things, yea, almost all things, have befallen me according to genesis.”
Chap. XI. - Test of Astrology.
Then I answered: “I shall therefore tell you, my father, what is the nature of mathematics, and do you act according to what I tell you. Go to a mathematician,4 and tell him first that such and such evils have befallen you at such a time, and that you wish to learn of him whence, or how, or through what stars they have befallen yon. He will no doubt answer you that a malignant Mars or Saturn has ruled your times, or that some one of them has been periodic; or that some one has regarded yon diametrically, or in conjunction, or centrally; or some such answer will he give, adding that in all these some one was not in harmony with the malignant one, or was invisible, or was in the figure, or was beyond the division, or was eclipsed, or was not in contact, or was among the dark stars; and many other like things will he answer, according to his own reasons, and will condescend upon particulars. After him go to another mathematician, and tell him the opposite, that such and such good happened to yon at that time, mentioning to him the same time, and ask him from what parts of your Genesis this good has come to you, and take care, as I said, that the times are the same with those about which you asked concerning evils. And when you have deceived him concerning the times, see what figures he will invent for yon, by which to show that good things ought to have befallen yon at those very times. For it is impossible for those treating of the Genesis of men not to find in every quarter, as they call it, of the heavenly bodies, some stars favourably placed, and some unfavourably; for the circle is equally complete in every part, according to mathematics, admitting of diverse and various causes, from which they can take occasion of saying whatever they please.
Chap. XII. - Astrology Baffled by Free-Will.
“For, as usually happens when Inert see unfavourable dreams, and can make nothing certain out of them, when any event occurs, then they adapt what they saw in the dream to what has occurred; so also is mathematics. For before anything happens, nothing is declared will certainty; but after something has happened, they gather the causes of the event. And thus often, when they have been at fault, and the thing has fallen out otherwise, they take the blame to themselves, saying that it was such and such a star which opposed, and that they did not see it; not 196 knowing that their error does not proceed from their unskilfulness in their art, but from the inconsistency of the whole system. For they do not know what those things are which we indeed desire to do, but in regard to which we do not indulge our desires. But we who have learned the reason of this mystery know the cause, since, having freedoms of will, we sometimes oppose our desires, and sometimes yield to them.5 And therefore the issue of human doings is uncertain, because it depends upon freedom of will. For a mathematician can indeed indicate the desire which a malignant power produces; but whether the acting or the issue of this desire shall be fulfilled or not, no one can know before the accomplishment of the thing, because it depends upon freedom of will. And this is why ignorant astrologers have invented to themselves the talk about climacterics as their refuge in uncertainties, as we showed fully yesterday.
Chap. XIII. - People Admitted.
“If you have anything that you wish to say to this, say on.” Then my father: “Nothing can be more true, my son, than what you have stated.” And while we were thus speaking among ourselves, some one informed us that a great multitude of people were standing outside, having assembled for the purpose of hearing. Then Peter ordered them to be admitted, for the place was large and convenient. And when they had come in, Peter said to us: “If any one of you wishes, let him address the people, and discourse concerning idolatry.” To whom I Clement answered: “Your great benignity and gentleness and patience towards all encourages us, so that we dare speak in your presence, and ask what we please; and therefore, as I said, the gentleness of your disposition invites and encourages all to undertake the precepts of saving doctrine. This I never saw before in any one else, but in you only, with whom there is neither envy nor indignation. Or what do you think?
Chap. XIV. - No Man Has Universal Knowledge.
Then Peter said: “These things come not only from envy or indignation; but sometimes there is a bashfulness in some persons, lest haply (they may not be able to answer fully the questions that may be proposed, and so they avoid the discovery of their want of skill. But no one ought to be ashamed of this, because there is no man who ought to profess that he knows all things; for there is only One who knows all things, even He who also made all things. For if our Master declared that He knew not the day and the hour whose signs even He foretold, and referred the whole to the Father, how shall we account it disgraceful to confess that we are ignorant of some things, since in this we have the example of our Master? But this only we profess, that we know those things which we have learned from the true Prophet; and that those things have been delivered to us by the true Prophet, which He judged to be sufficient for human knowledge.”
Chap. XV. - Clement’s Disclosure.
Then I Clement went on to speak thus: “At Tripolis, when you were disputing against the Gentiles, my lord Peter, I greatly wondered at you, that although you were instructed by your father according to the fashion of the Hebrews and in observances of your own law, and were never polluted by the studies of Greek learning, you argued so magnificently and so incomparably; and that you even touched upon some things concerning the histories of the gods, which are usually declaimed in the theatres. But as I perceived that their fables and blasphemies are not so well known to you, I shall discourse upon these in your hearing, repeating them from the very beginning, if it please you.” Then says Peter: Say on; you do well to assist my preaching.” Then said I: “I shall speak, therefore, because you order me, not by way of teaching you, but of making public what foolish opinions the Gentiles entertain of the gods.”
Chap. XVI. - “Would That All God’s People Were Prophets.”
But when I was about to speak, Niceta, biting his lip, beckoned to me to be silent. And when Peter saw him, he said: “Why would you repress his liberal disposition and noble nature, that you would have him be silent for my honour, which is nothing? Or do you not know, that if all nations, after they have heard from me the preaching of the truth, and have believed, would betake themselves to teaching, they would gain the greater glory for me, if indeed you think me desirous of glory? For what so glorious as to prepare disciples for Christ, not who shall be silent, and shall be saved alone, but who shall speak what they have learned, and shall do good to others? I wish indeed that both you, Niceta, and you, beloved Aquila, would aid me in preaching the word of God, and the rather because those things in which the Gentiles err are well known to you; and not you only, but all who hear me, I wish, as I have said, so to hear and to learn, that they may be able also to teach: for the world needs many helpers, by whom men may be recalled 197 from error.” When he had spoken thus, he said to me: “Go on then, Clement, with what you have begun.”
Chap. XVII. - Gentile Cosmogony.
And I immediately rejoined: “Seeing that when you were disputing at Tripolis, as I said, you discoursed much concerning the gods of the Gentiles profitably and convincingly, I desire to set forth in your presence the ridiculous legends concerning their origin, both that you may not be unacquainted with the falsehood of this vain superstition, and that the hearers who are present may know the disgraceful character of their error. The wise men, then, who are among the Gentiles, say that first of all things was chaos;6 that this, through a long time solidifying its outer parts, made bounds to itself and a sort of foundation, being gathered, as it were, into the manner and form of a huge egg, within which, in the course of a long time, as within the shell of the egg, there was cherished and vivified a certain animal; and that afterwards, that huge globe being broken, there came forth a certain kind of man of double sex, which they call masculo-feminine. This they called Phanetas, from appearing, because when it appeared, they say, then also light shone forth. And from this, they say that there were produced substance, prudence, motion, and coition, and from these the heavens and the earth were made. From the heaven they say that six males were produced, whom they call Titans; and in like manner, from the earth six females, whom they called Titanides. And these are the names of the males who sprang from the heaven: Oceanus, Coeus, Crios, Hyperion, Iapetus, Chronos, who amongst us is called Saturn. In like manner, the names of the females who sprang from the earth are these: Theia, Rhea, Themis, Mnemosyne, Tethys, Hebe.7
Chap. XVIII. - Family of Saturn.
“Of all these, the first-born of the heaven took to wife the first-born of earth; the second the second, and in like manner all the rest. The first male, therefore, who had married the first female, was on her account drawn downwards; but the second female rose upwards, by reason of him to whom she was married; and so each doing in their order, remained in those places which fell to their share by the nuptial lot. From their intercourse they assert that innumerable others sprang. But of these six males, the one who is called Saturn received in marriage Rhea, and having been warned by a certain oracle that he who should be born of her should be more powerful than himself, and should drive him from his kingdom, he determined to devour all the sons that should be born to him. First, then, there is born to him a son called Aides, who amongst us is called Orcus; and him, for the reason we have just stated, he took and devoured. After him he begot a second son, called Neptune; and him he devoured in like manner. Last of all, he begot him whom they call Jupiter; but him his mother Rhea pitying, by stratagem withdrew from his father when he was about to devour him. And first, indeed, that the crying of the child might not be noticed, she made certain Corybantes strike cymbals and drums, that by the deafening sound the crying of the infant might not be heard.
Chap. XIX. - Their Destinies.
“But when he understood from the lessening of her belly that her child was born, he demanded it, that he might devour it; then Rhea presented him with a large stone, and told him that that was what she had brought forth. And he took it, and swallowed it; and the stone, when it was devoured, pushed and drove forth those sons whom he had formerly swallowed. Therefore Orcus, coming forth first, descended, and occupies the lower, that is, the infernal regions. The second, being above him - he whom they call Neptune - is thrust forth upon the waters. The third, who survived by the artifice of his mother Rhea, she put upon a she-goat and sent into heaven.
Chap. XX. - Doings of Jupiter.
“But enough of the old wife’s fables and genealogy of the Gentiles; for it were endless if I should set forth all the generations of those whom they call gods, and their wicked doings. But by way of example, omitting the rest, I shall detail the wicked deeds of him only whom they hold to be the greatest and the chief, and whom they call Jupiter.8 For they say that he possesses heaven, as being superior to the rest; and he, as soon as he grew up, married his own sister, whom they call Juno, in which truly he at once becomes like a beast. Juno bears Vulcan; but, as they relate, Jupiter was not his father. However, by Jupiter himself she became mother of Medea; and Jupiter having received a response that one who should be born of her should be more powerful than himself, and should expel him from his kingdom, took her and devoured her. Again Jupiter produced Minerva from his brain, and Bacchus from his thigh. After this, when he had fallen in love with Thetis, they say 198 that Prometheus informed him that, if he lay with her, he who should be born of her should be more powerful than his father; and for fear of this, he gave her in marriage to one Peleus. Subsequently he had intercourse with Persephone, who was his own daughter by Ceres and by her be begot Dionysius,9 who was torn in pieces by the Titans. But calling to mind, it is said, that perhaps his own father Saturn might beget another son, who might be more powerful than himself, and might expel him from the kingdom, he went to war with his father, along with his brothers the Titans; and having beaten them, he at last threw his father into prison, and cut off his genitals, and threw them into the sea. But the blood which flowed from the wound, being mixed with the waves, and turned into foam by the constant churning, produced her whom they call Aphrodite, and whom with us they call Venus. From his intercourse with her who was thus his own sister, they say that this same Jupiter begot Cypris, who, they say, was the mother of Cupid.
Chap. XXI. - A Black Catalogue.
“Thus much of his incests; I shall now speak of his adulteries. He defiled Europa, the wife of Oceanus, of whom was born Dodonæus; Helen, the wife of Pandion, of whom Musæus; Eurynome, the wife of Asopus, of whom Ogygias; Hermione, the wife of Oceanus, of whom the Graces, Thalia, Euphrosyne, Aglaia; Themis, his own sister, of whom the Hours, Eurynomia, Dice, Irene; Themisto, the daughter of Inachus, of whom Arcas; Idæa, the daughter of Minos, of whom Asterion; Phœnissa, the daughter of Alphion, of whom Eudymion; Io, the daughter of Inachus, of whom Epaphus; Hippodamia and Isione, daughters of Danaus, of whom Hippodamia was the wife of Olenus, and Isione of Orchomenus or Chryses; Carme, the daughter of Phoenix, of whom was born Britomartis, who was an attendant of Diana; Callisto, the daughter of Lycaon, of whom Orcas; Lybee, the daughter of Munantius, of whom Belus; Latona, of whom Apollo and Diana; Leandia, the daughter of Enrymedon, of whom Coron; Lysithea, the daughter of Evenus, of whom Helenus; Hippodamia, the daughter of Bellerophon, of whom Sarpedon; Megaclite, the daughter of Macarius, of whom Thebe and Locrus; Niobe, the daughter of Phoronens, of whom Argus and Pelasgus; Olympias, the daughter of Neoptolemus, of whom Alexander; Pyrrha, the daughter of Prometheus, of whom Helmetheus; Protogenia and Pandora, daughters of Deucalion, of whom he begot Æthelius, and Dorus, and Melera, and Pandorus; Thaicrucia, the daughter of Proteus, of whom was born Nympheus; Salamis, the daughter of Asopus, of whom Saracon; Taygete, Electra, Maia, Plutide, daughters of Atlas, of whom respectively he begot Lacedæmon, Dardanus. Mercury, and Tantalus; Phthia, the daughter of Phoroneus, of whom be begot Achæus; Chonia, the daughter of Aramnus, of whom he begot Lacon; Chalcea, a nymph, of whom was born Olympus; Charidia, a nymph, of whom Alcanus; Chloris, who was the wife of Ampycus, of whom Mopsus was born; Cotonia, the daughter of Lesbus, of whom Polymedes; Hippodamia, the daughter of Anicetus; Chrysogenia, the daughter of Peneus, of whom was born Thissæus.
Chap. XXII. - Vile Transformation of Jupiter.
“‘There are also innumerable adulteries of his, of which no offspring was the result, which it were tedious to enumerate. But amongst those whom we have mentioned, he violated some being transformed, like a magician. In short, he seduced Antiope, the daughter of Nycteus, when turned into a satyr, and of her were born Amphion and Zethus; Alemene, when changed into her husband Amphitryon, and of her was born Hercules; Ægina, the daughter of Asopus, when changed into an eagle, of whom Æacus was born. So also he defiled Ganymede, the son of Dardanus, being changed into an eagle; Manthea, the daughter of Phocus, when changed into a bear, of whom was born Arctos; Danæ, the daughter of Acrisius, being changed into gold, of whom Perseus; Europa, the daughter of Phoenix, changed into a bull, of whom were born Minos, Rhadamanthus, and Sarpedon; Eurymedusa, the daughter of Achelaus, being changed into an ant, of whom Myrmidon; Thalia, the nymph, being changed into a vulture, of whom were born the Palisci, in Sicily; Imandra, the daughter of Geneanus, at Rhodes, being changed into a shower; Cassiopeia, being changed into her husband Phœnix, and of her was born Anchinos; Leda, the daughter of Thestius, being changed into a swan, of whom was born Helen; and again the same, being changed into a star, and of her were born Castor and Pollux; Lamia, being changed into a lapwing; Mnemosyne, being changed into a shepherd, of whom were born the nine Muses; Nemesis, being changed into a goose; the Cadmian Semele, being changed into fire, and of her was born Dionysius. By his own daughter Ceres he begot Persephone, whom also herself he defiled, being changed into a dragon.
Chap. XXIII. - Why a God?
“He also committed adultery with Europa, the wife of his own uncle Oceanus, and with her 199 sister Eurynome, and punished their father; and he committed adultery with Plute, the daughter of his own son Atlas, and condemned Tantalus, whom she bore to him. Of Larisse, the daughter of Orchomenus, he begot Tityon, whom also he consigned to punishment. He carried off Dia, the wife of his own son Ixion, and subjected him to perpetual punishment; and almost all the sons who sprang from his adulteries he put to violent deaths; and indeed the sepulchres of almost all of them are well known. Yea, the sepulchre of this parricide himself, who destroyed his uncles and defiled their wives, who committed whoredom with his sisters, this magician of many transformations, is shown among the Cretans, who, although they know and acknowledge his horrid and incestuous deeds, and tell them to all, yet are not ashamed to confess him to be a god. Whence it seems to me to be wonderful, yea, exceeding wonderful, how he who exceeds all men in wickedness and crimes, has received that holy and good name which is above every name, being called the father of gods and men; unless perhaps he who rejoices in the evils of men has persuaded unhappy souls to confer honour above all others upon him whom he saw to excel all others in crimes, in order that he might allure all to the imitation of his evil deeds.
Chap. XXIV. - Folly of Polytheism.
“But also the sepulchres of his sons, who are regarded amongst these theGentiles as gods, are openly pointed out, one in one place, and another in another: that of Mercury at Hermopolis; that of the Cyprian Venus at Cyprus; that of Mars in Thrace; that of Bacchus at Thebes, where he is said to have been torn in pieces; that of Hercules at Tyre, where he was burnt with fire; that of Æsculapius in Epidaurus. And all these are spoken of, not only as men who have died, but as wicked men who have been punished for their crimes; and yet they are adored as gods by foolish men.10
Chap. XXV. - Dead Men Deified.
“But if they choose to argue, and affirm that these are rather the places of their birth than of their burial or death, the former and ancient doings shall be convicted from those at hand and still recent, since we have shown that they worship those whom they themselves confess to have been men, and to have died, or rather to have been punished; as the Syrians worship Adonis, and the Egyptians Osiris; the Trojans, Hector; Achilles is worshipped at Leuconesus, Patroclus at Pontus, Alexander the Macedonian at Rhodes; and many others are worshipped, one in one place and another in another, whom they do not doubt to have been dead men. Whence it follows that their predecessors also, falling into a like error, conferred divine honour upon dead men, who perhaps had had some power or some skill, and especially if they had stupefied stolid men by magical phantasies.11
Chap. XXVI. - Metamorphoses.
“Hence there has now been added, that the poets also adorn the falsehoods of error by elegance of words, and by sweetness of speech persuade that mortals have been made immortal; yea more, they say that men are changed into stars, and trees, and animals, and flowers, and birds, and fountains, and rivers. And but that it might seem to be a waste of words, I could even enumerate almost all the stars, and trees, and fountains, and rivers, which they assert to have been made of men; yet, by way of example, I shall mention at least one of each class. They say that Andromeda, the daughter of Cepheus, was turned into a star; Daphne, the daughter of the river Lado, into a tree; Hyacinthus, beloved of Apollo, into a flower; Callisto into the constellation which they call Arctos; Progne and Philomela, with Tereus, into birds; that Thysbe in Cilicia was dissolved into a fountain; and Pyramus, at the same place, into a river. And they assert that almost all the stars, trees, fountains, and rivers, flowers, animals, and birds, were at one time human beings.”
Chap. XXVII. - Inconsistency of Polytheists.
But Peter, when he heard this, said: “According to them, then, before men were changed into stars, and the other things which you mention, the heaven was without stars, and the earth without trees and animals; and there were neither fountains, nor rivers, nor birds. And without these, how did those men themselves live, who afterwards were changed into them, since it is evident that, without these things, men could not live upon the earth?” Then I answered: “But they are not even able to observe the worship of their own gods consistently; for every one of those whom they worship has something dedicated to himself, from which his worshippers ought to abstain: as they say the olive is dedicated to Minerva, the she-goat to Jupiter, seeds to Ceres, wine to Bacchus, water to Osiris, the ram to Hammon, the stag to Diana, the fish and the dove to the demon of the Syrians, fire to Vulcan; and to each one, as I have said, is there something specially consecrated, from which the worshippers are bound to abstain, for the honour 200 of those to whom they are consecrated. But were one abstaining from one thing, and another from another, by doing honor to one of the gods, they incur the anger of all the rest; and therefore, if they would conciliate them all, they must abstain from all things for the honour of all, so that, being self-condemned by a just sentence before the day of judgment, they should perish by a most wretched death through starvation.
Chap. XXVIII. - Buttresses of Gentilism.
“But let us return to our purpose. What reason is there, yea, rather, what madness possesses the minds of men, that they worship and adore as a god, a man whom they not only know to be impious, wicked, profane - I mean Jupiter - incestuous, a parricide, an adulterer, but even proclaim him publicly as such in their songs in the theatres? Or if by means of these deeds he has deserved to be a god, then also, when they hear of any murderers, adulterers, parricides incestuous persons, they ought to worship them also as gods. But I cannot understand why they venerate in him what they execrate in others.” Then Peter answered: “Since you say that you cannot understand it, learn of me why they venerate wickedness in him. In the first place, it is that, when they themselves do like deeds, they may know that they shall be acceptable to him, inasmuch as they have but imitated him in his wickedness. In the second place, because the ancients have left these things skilfully composed in their writings, and elegantly engrafted in their verses. And now, by the aid of youthful education, since the knowledge of these things adheres to their tender and simple minds, it cannot without difficulty be torn from them and cast away.”
Chap. XXIX. - Allegories.
When Peter had said this, Niceta answered: “Do not suppose, my lord Peter, but that the learned men of the Gentiles have certain plausible arguments, by which they support those things which seem to be blameworthy and disgraceful. And this I state, not as wishing to confirm their error (for far be it from me that such a thing should ever come into my thought); but yet I know that there are amongst the more intelligent of them certain defences, by which they are accustomed to support and colour over those things which seem to be absurd. And if it please you that I should state some of them - for I am to some extent acquainted with them - I shall do as you order me.” And when Peter had given him leave, Niceta proceeded as follows.
Chap. XXX. - Cosmogony of Orpheus.
“All the literature among the Greeks which is written on the subject of the origin of antiquity, is based upon many authorities, but especially two, Orpheus and Hesiod.12 Now their writings are divided into two parts, in respect of their meaning, - that is the literal and the allegorical; and the vulgar crowd has flocked to the literal, but all the eloquence of the philosophers and learned men is expended in admiration of the allegorical. It is Orpheus, then, who says that at first there was chaos, eternal, unbounded, unproduced, and that from it all things were made. He says that this chaos was neither darkness nor light, neither moist nor dry, neither hot nor cold, but that it was all things mixed together, and was always one unformed mass; yet that at length, as it were after the manner of a huge egg, it brought forth and produced from itself a certain double form, which had been wrought through immense periods of time, and which they call masculo-feminine, a form concrete from the contrary admixture of such diversity; and that this is the principle of all things, which came of pure matter, and which, coming forth, effected a separation of the four elements, and made heaven of the two elements which are first, fire and air, and earth of the others, earth and water; and of these he says that all things now are born and produced by a mutual participation of them. So far Orpheus.
Chap. XXXI. - Hesiod’s Cosmogony.
“But to this Hesiod adds, that after chaos the heaven and the earth were made immediately, from which he says that those eleven were produced (and sometimes also he speaks of them as twelve) of whom he makes six males and five females. And these are the names that he gives to the males: Oceanus, Coeus, Crius, Hyperion, Iapetus, Chronos, who is also called Saturn. Also the names of the females are: Theia, Rhea, Themis, Mnemyosyne, Tethys.13 And these names they thus interpret allegorically. They say that the number is eleven or twelve: that the first is nature itself, which also they would have to be called Rhea, from flowing; and they say that the other ten are her accidents, which also they call qualities; yet they add a twelfth, namely Chronos, who with us is called Saturn, and him they take to be time.14 Therefore they assert that Saturn and Rhea are time and matter; and these, when they are mixed with moisture and dryness, heat and cold, produce all things.
Chap. XXXII. - Allegorical Interpretation.
“She therefore (Rhea, or nature), it is said, produced, as it were, a certain bubble which had been collecting for a long time; and it being 201 gradually collected from the spirit which was in the waters, swelled, and being for some time driven over the surface of matter, from which it had come forth as from a womb, and being hardened by the rigour of cold, and always increasing by additions of ice, at length was broken off and sunk into the deep, and drawn by its own weight, went down to the infernal regions; and because it became invisible it was called Aides, and is also named Oreus or Pluto.15 And since it was sunk from the top to the bottom, it gave place to the moist element to flow together; and the grosser part, which is the earth, was laid bare by the retirement of the waters. They say, therefore, that this freedom of the waters, which was formerly restrained by the presence of the bubble, was called Neptune after the bubble attained the lowest place. After this, when the cold element had been sucked down to the lower regions by the concretion of the icy bubble, and the dry and the moist element had been separated, there being now no hindrance, the warm element rushed by its force and lightness to the upper regions of the air, being borne up by wind and storm. This storm, therefore, which in Greek is called καταιγίς, they called ÆGIS - that is, a she-goat; and the fire which ascended to the upper regions they called Jupiter; wherefore they say that he ascended to Olympus riding on a she-goat.
Chap. XXXIII. - Allegory of Jupiter, Etc.
“Now this Jupiter the Greeks would have to be called from his living, or giving life, but our people from his giving succour.16 They say, therefore, that this is the living substance, which, placed in the upper regions, and drawing all things to itself by the influence of heat, as by the convolution of the brain, and arranging them by the moderation of a certain tempering, is said from his head to have produced wisdom, whom they call Minerva, who was called Ἀθήνη by the Greeks on account of her immortality; who, because the father of all created all things by his wisdom, is also said to have been produced from his head, and from the principal place of all, and is represented as having formed and adorned the whole world by the regulated admixture of the elements.17 Therefore the forms which were impressed upon matter, that the world might be made, because they are constrained by the force of heat, are said to be held together by the energy of Jupiter. And since there are enough of these, and they do not need anything new to be added to them, but each thing is repaired by the produce of its own seed, the hands of Saturn are said to be bound by Jupiter; because, as I have said, time now produces from matter nothing new: but the warmth of seeds restores all things according to their kinds; and no birth of Rhea - that is, no increase of flowing matter - ascends further. And therefore they call that first division of the elements the mutilation of Saturn, because he cannot any more produce a world.
Chap. XXXIV. - Other Allegories.
“And of Venus they give forth an allegory to this effect. When, say they, the sea was put under the air, and when the brightness of the heavens shone more pleasantly, being reflected from the waters, the loveliness of things, which appeared fairer from the waters, was called Venus; and she, it, being united with the air as with her, its, own brother, so as to produce beauty, which might be the object of desire, is said to have given birth to Cupid. In this way, therefore, as we have said, they teach that Chronos, who is Saturn, is allegorically time; Rhea is matter; Aides - that is, Orcus - is the depth of the infernal regions; Neptune is water; Jupiter is air - that is, the element of heat; Venus is the loveliness of things; Cupid is desire, which is in all things, and by which posterity is propagated, or even the reason of things, which gives delight when wisely looked into. Hera - that is, Juno - is said to be that middle air which descends from heaven to earth. To Diana, whom they call Proserpine, they hand over the air below. They say that Apollo is the Sun himself, which goes round the heaven; that Mercury is speech, by which a reason is rendered for everything; that Mars is unrestrained fire, which consumes all things. But not to delay you by enumerating everything, those who have the more abstruse intelligence concerning such things think that they give fair and just reasons, by applying this sort of allegory to every one of their objects of worship.”
Chap. XXXV. - Uselessness of These Allegories.
When Niceta had thus spoken, Aquila answered:18 “Whoever he was that was the author and inventor of these things, he seems to me to have been very impious, since he covered over those things which seem to be pleasant and seemly, and made the ritual of his superstition to consist in base and shameful observances, since those things which are written according to the letter are manifestly unseemly and base; and the whole observance of their religion consists in these, that by such crimes and impieties they may teach men to imitate their gods whom 202 they worship. For in these allegories what profit can there be to them? For although they are framed so as to be decent, yet no use is derived from them for worship, nor for amendment of morals.
Chap. XXXVI. - The Allegories an Afterthought.
“Whence it is the more evident that prudent men, when they saw that the common superstition was so disgraceful, so base, and yet they had not learned any way of correcting it, or any knowledge, endeavoured with what arguments and interpretations they could to veil unseemly things under seemly speech, and not, as they say, to conceal seemly reasons under unseemly fables. For if this were the case, surely their statues and their pictures would never be made with representationsof their vices and crimes. The swan, which committed adultery with Leda, would not be represented, nor the bull which committed adultery with Europa; nor would they turn into a thousand monstrous shapes, him whom they think better than all. And assuredly, if the great and wise men who are amongst them knew that all this is fiction and not truth, would not they charge with impiety and sacrilege those who should exhibit a picture or carve an image of this sort, to the injury of the gods? In short, let them present a king of their own time in the form of an ox, or a goose, or an ant, or a vulture, and let them write the name of their king upon it, and set up such a statue or figure in a public place, and they will soon be made to feel the wrong of their deed, and the greatness of its punishment.
Chap. XXXVII. - Like Gods, Like Worshippers.
“But since those things rather are true which the public baseness testifies, and concealments have been sought and fabricated by prudent men to excuse them by seemly speeches, therefore are they not only not prohibited, but even in the very mysteries figures are produced of Saturn devouring his sons, and of the boy hidden by the cymbals and drums of the Corybantes; and with respect to the mutilation of Saturn, what better proof of its truth could there be, than that even his worshippers are mutilated, by a like miserable fate, in honour of their god? Since then these things are manifestly seen, who shall be found of so little sense, yea, of such stolidity, that he does not perceive that those things are true concerning the unfortunate gods, which their more unfortunate worshippers attest by the wounding and mutilation of their bodies?
Chap. XXXVIII. - Writings of the Poets.
“But if, as they say, these things, so creditably and piously done, are dispensed by so discreditable and impious a ritual, assuredly he is sacrilegious, whoever either gave forth these things at first, or persists in fulfilling them, now that they have unhappily been given forth. And what shall we say of the books of the poets? Ought not they, if they have debased the honourable and pious deeds of the gods with base fables, to be forthwith cast away and thrown into the fire, that they may not persuade the still tender age of boys that Jupiter himself, the chief of the gods, was a parricide towards his parents, incestuous towards his sisters and his daughters, and even impure towards boys; that Venus and Mars were adulterers, and all those things which have been spoken of above? What do you think of this matter, my lord Peter?”
Chap. XXXIX. - All for the Best.
Then he answered: “Be sure, beloved Aquila, that all things are done by the good providence of God, that the cause which was to be contrary to the truth should not only be infirm and weak, but also base. For if the assertion of error had been stronger and more truth-like, any one who had been deceived by it would not easily return to the path of truth. If even now, when so many wicked and disgraceful things are related concerning the gods of the Gentiles, scarce any one forsakes the base error, how much more if there had been in it anything seemly and truth-like? For the mind is with difficulty transferred from those things with which it has been imbued in early youth; and on this account, as I said, it has been effected by divine providence, that the substance of error should be both weak and base. But all other things also divine providence dispenses filly and advantageously, although the method of the divine dispensation, as good, and the best possible, is not clear to us who are ignorant of the causes of things.”
Chap. XL. - Further Information Sought.
When Peter had thus said, I Clement asked Niceta that he would explain to us, for the sake of instruction, some things concerning the allegories of the Gentiles, which he had carefully studied; “for,” said I, “it is useful that when we dispute with the Gentiles, we should not be unacquainted with these things.” Then said Niceta: “If my lord Peter permits me, I can do as you ask me.” Then said Peter: “To-day I have given you leave to speak in opposition to the Gentiles, as you know.” And Niceta said: “Tell me then, Clement, what you would have me speak about.” And I said to him: “Inform us how the Gentiles represent matters concerning the supper of the gods, which they had at the marriage of Peleus and Thetis.19 What do 203 they make of the shepherd Paris, and what of less Juno, Minerva, and Venus, between whom he acted as judge? What of Mercury? and what of the apple, and the other things which follow in order?”
Chap. XLI. - Explanation of Mythology.
Then Niceta: “The affair of the supper of the gods stands in this wise. They say that the banquet is the world, that the order of the gods sitting at table is the position of the heavenly bodies. Those whom Hesiod calls the first children of heaven and earth, of whom six were males and six females, they refer to the number of the twelve signs, which go round all the world. They say that the dishes of the banquet are the reasons and causes of things, sweet and desirable, which in the shape of inferences from the positions of the signs and the courses of the stars, explain how the world is ruled and governed. Yet they say these things exist after the free manner of a banquet, inasmuch as the mind of every one has the option whether he shall taste aught of this sort of knowledge, or whether he shall refrain; and as in a banquet no one is compelled, but every one is at liberty to eat, so also the manner of philosophizing depends upon the choice of the will. They say that discord is the lust of the flesh, which rises up against the purpose of the mind, and hinders the desire of philosophizing; and therefore they say that the thee was that in which the marriage was celebrated. Thus they make Peleus and the nymph Thetis to be the dry and the moist element, by the admixture of which the substance of bodies is composed. They hold that Mercury is speech, by which instruction is conveyed to the mind; that Juno is chastity, Minerva courage, Venus lust, Paris the understanding. If therefore, say they, it happens that there is in a man a barbarous and uncultivated understanding, and ignorant of right judgment, he will despise chastity and courage, and will give the prize, which is the apple, to lust; and thereby, ruin and destruction will come not only upon himself, but also upon his countrymen and the whole race. These things, therefore, it is in their power to compose from whatever matter they please; yet they can be adapted to every man; because if any one has a pastoral and rustic and uncultivated understanding, and does not wish to be instructed, when the heat of his body shall make suggestions concerning the pleasure of lust, straightway he despises the virtues of studies and the blessings of knowledge, and turns his mind to bodily pleasures. And hence it is that implacable wars arise, cities are destroyed, countries fall, even as Paris, by the abduction of Helen, armed the Greeks and the barbarians to their mutual destruction.”
Chap. XLII. - Interpretation of Scripture.
Then Peter, commending his statement, said:20 “Ingenious men, as I perceive, take many verisimilitudes from the things which they read; and therefore great care is to be taken, that when the law of God is read, it be not read according to the understanding of our own mind. For there are many sayings in the divine Scriptures which can be drawn to that sense which every one has preconceived for himself; and this ought not to be done. For you ought not to seek a foreign and extraneous sense, which you have brought from without, which you may confirm from the authority of the Scriptures, but to take the sense of truth from the Scriptures themselves; and therefore it behoves you to learn the meaning of the Scriptures from him who keeps it according to the truth handed down to him from his fathers, so that he can authoritatively declare what he has rightly received. But when one has received an entire and firm rule of truth from the Scriptures, it will not be improper if he contribute to the establishment of true doctrine anything from common education and from lib-oral studies, which, it may be, he has attached himself to in his boyhood; yet so that, when he has learned the truth, he renounce falsehood and pretence.”
Chap. XLIII. - A Word of Exhortation.
And when he had said this, he looked to our father, and said: “You therefore, old man, if indeed you care for your soul’s safety, that when you desire to be separated from the body, it may, in consequence of tills short conversion, find eternal rest, ask about whatever you please, and seek counsel, that you may be able to cast off any doubt that remains in you. For even to young men the thee of life is uncertain; but to old men it is not even uncertain, for there is no doubt that there is but little time remaining to them. And therefore both young and old ought to be very earnest about their conversion and repentance, and to be taken up with the adornment of their souls for the future with the worthiest ornaments, such as the doctrines of truth, the grace of chastity, the splendour of righteousness, the fairness of piety, and all other things with which it becomes a reasonable mind to be adorned. Then, besides, they should break off from unseemly and unbelieving companions, and keep company with the faithful, and frequent those assemblies in which subjects are handled relating to chastity, righteousness and piety; to pray to God always heartily, and to ask of Him those things which ought to be asked of God; to give thanks to Him; to repent truly of their past 204 doings; in some measure also, if possible, by deeds of mercy towards the poor, to help their penitence: for by these means pard