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Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol II:
THEOPHILUS: Chapter XXXVII.—The Testimonies of the Poets.

Early Church Fathers  Index     

Chapter XXXVII.—The Testimonies of the Poets.

And that evil-doers must necessarily be punished in proportion to their deeds, has already been, as it were, oracularly uttered by some of the poets, as a witness both against themselves and against the wicked, declaring that they shall be punished. Æschylus said:—

“He who has done must also suffer.”

And Pindar himself said:—

“It is fit that suffering follow doing.”

So, too, Euripides:—

“The deed rejoiced you—suffering endure;
The taken enemy must needs be pain’d.”

And again:—

“The foe’s pain is the hero’s meed.”

And, similarly, Archilochus:—

“One thing I know, I hold it ever true,
The evil-doer evil shall endure.”

And that God sees all, and that nothing escapes His notice, but that, being long-suffering, He refrains until the time when He is to judge—concerning this, too, Dionysius said:—

“The eye of Justice seeing all,
Yet seemeth not to see.”

And that God’s judgment is to be, and that evils will suddenly overtake the wicked,—this, too, Æschylus declared, saying:—

p. 110
“Swift-footed is the approach of fate,
And none can justice violate,
But feels its stern hand soon or late.
“’Tis with you, though unheard, unseen;
You draw night’s curtain in between,
But even sleep affords no screen.
“’Tis with you if you sleep or wake;
And if abroad your way you take,
Its still, stern watch you cannot break.
“’Twill follow you, or cross your path;
And even night no virtue hath
To hide you from th’ Avenger’s wrath.
“To show the ill the darkness flees;
Then, if sin offers joy or ease,
Oh stop, and think that some one sees!”

And may we not cite Simonides also?—

“To men no evil comes unheralded;
But God with sudden hand transforms all things.”

Euripides again:—

“The wicked and proud man’s prosperity
Is based on sand: his race abideth not;
And time proclaims the wickedness of men.”

Once more Euripides:—

“Not without judgment is the Deity,
But sees when oaths are struck unrighteously,
And when from men unwilling they are wrung.”

And Sophocles:—

“If ills you do, ills also you must bear.”

That God will make inquiry both concerning false swearing and concerning every other wickedness, they themselves have well-nigh predicted. And concerning the conflagration of the world, they have, willingly or unwillingly, spoken in conformity with the prophets, though they were much more recent, and stole these things from the law and the prophets. The poets corroborate the testimony of the prophets.

Next: Chapter XXXVIII.—The Teachings of the Greek Poets and Philosophers Confirmatory of Those of the Hebrew Prophets.

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