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Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol II:
THEOPHILUS: Chapter VI.—Hesiod on the Origin of the World.

Early Church Fathers  Index     

Chapter VI.—Hesiod on the Origin of the World.

And in a certain way he indeed admits matter [as self-existent] and the creation of the world [without a creator], saying: 556

“First of all things was chaos made, and next
Broad-bosom’d earth’s foundations firm were fixed,
Where safely the immortals dwell for aye,
Who in the snowy-peak’d Olympus stay.
Afterwards gloomy Tartarus had birth
In the recesses of broad-pathwayed earth,
And Love, ev’n among gods most beauteous still,
Who comes all-conquering, bending mind and will,
Delivering from care, and giving then
Wise counsel in the breasts of gods and men.
From chaos Erebus and night were born,
From night and Erebus sprung air and morn.
Earth in her likeness made the starry heaven,
That unto all things shelter might be given,
And that the blessed gods might there repose.
The lofty mountains by her power arose,
For the wood-nymphs she made the pleasant caves,
Begot the sterile sea with all his waves,
Loveless; but when by heaven her love was sought,
Then the deep-eddying ocean forth she brought.”

And saying this, he has not yet explained by whom all this was made. For if chaos existed in the beginning, and matter of some sort, being uncreated, was previously existing, who was it that effected the change on its condition, and gave it a different order and shape? Did matter itself alter its own form and arrange itself into a world (for Jupiter was born, not only long after matter, but long after the world and many men; and so, too, was his father Saturn), or was there some ruling power which made it; I mean, of course, God, who also fashioned it into a world? Besides, he is found in every way to talk nonsense, and to contradict himself. For when he mentions earth, and sky, and sea, he gives us to understand that from these the gods were produced; and from these again [the gods] he declares that certain very dreadful men were sprung,—the race of the Titans and the Cyclopes, and a crowd of giants, and of the Egyptian gods,—or, rather, vain men, as Apollonides, surnamed Horapius, mentions in the book entitled Semenouthi, and in his other histories concerning the worship of the Egyptians and their kings, and the vain labours in which they engaged. 557



[Theog., 116–133. S.]


The Benedictine editor proposes to read these words after the first clause of c. 7. We follow the reading of Wolf and Fell, who understand the pyramids to be referred to.

Next: Chapter VII.—Fabulous Heathen Genealogies.

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