Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol I:
Early Church Fathers
JUSTIN MARTYR: Chapter XV.—Testimony of Orpheus to...
Chapter XV.—Testimony of Orpheus to monotheism.
At all events, we must remind you what Orpheus, who was, as one might say, your first teacher of polytheism, latterly addressed to his son Musæus, and to the other legitimate auditors, concerning the one and only God. And he spoke thus:—
“I speak to those who lawfully may hear:
All others, ye profane, now close the doors,
And, O Musæus! hearken thou to me,
Who offspring art of the light-bringing moon:
The words I utter now are true indeed;
And if thou former thoughts of mine hast seen,
Let them not rob thee of the blessed life,
But rather turn the depths of thine own heart
Unto the place where light and knowledge dwell.
Take thou the word divine to guide thy steps,
And walking well in the straight certain path,
Look to the one and universal King—
One, self-begotten, and the only One,
Of whom all things and we ourselves are sprung.
All things are open to His piercing gaze,
While He Himself is still invisible.
Present in all His works, though still unseen,
He gives to mortals evil out of good,
Sending both chilling wars and tearful griefs;
And other than the great King there is none.
The clouds for ever settle round His throne,
And mortal eyeballs in mere mortal eyes
Are weak, to see Jove reigning over all.
He sits established in the brazen heavens
Upon His golden throne; under His feet
He treads the earth, and stretches His right hand
To all the ends of ocean, and around
Tremble the mountain ranges and the streams,
The depths, too, of the blue and hoary sea.”
p. 280 And again, in some other place he says:—
“There is one Zeus alone, one sun, one hell,
One Bacchus; and in all things but one God;
Nor of all these as diverse let me speak.”
And when he swears he says:—
“Now I adjure thee by the highest heaven,
The work of the great God, the only wise;
And I adjure thee by the Fathers voice.
Which first He uttered when He stablished
The whole world by His counsel.”
What does he mean by “I adjure thee by the Fathers voice, which first He uttered?” It is the Word of God which he here names “the voice,” by whom heaven and earth and the whole creation were made, as the divine prophecies of the holy men teach us; and these he himself also paid some attention to in Egypt, and understood that all creation was made by the Word of God; and therefore, after he says, “I adjure thee by the Fathers voice, which first He uttered,” he adds this besides, “when by His counsel He established the whole world.” Here he calls the Word “voice,” for the sake of the poetical metre. And that this is so, is manifest from the fact, that a little further on, where the metre permits him, he names it “Word.” For he said:—
“Take thou the Word
divine to guide thy steps.”
Next: Chapter XVI.—Testimony of the Sibyl.