Now, as the Greeks represent the gods as possessing human forms, so also do they as possessing human passions. And as each of them p. 529 depict their forms similar to themselves, as Xenophanes says, “Ethiopians as black and apes, the Thracians ruddy and tawny;” so also they assimilate their souls to those who form them: the Barbarians, for instance, who make them savage and wild; and the Greeks, who make them more civilized, yet subject to passion.
Wherefore it stands to reason, that the ideas entertained of God by wicked men must be bad, and those by good men most excellent. And therefore he who is in soul truly kingly and gnostic, being likewise pious and free from superstition, is persuaded that He who alone is God is honourable, venerable, august, beneficent, the doer of good, the author of all good things, but not the cause of evil. And respecting the Hellenic superstition we have, as I think, shown enough in the book entitled by us The Exhortation, availing ourselves abundantly of the history bearing on the point. There is no need, then, again to make a long story of what has already been clearly stated. But in as far as necessity requires to be pointed out on coming to the topic, suffice it to adduce a few out of many considerations in proof of the impiety of those who make the Divinity resemble the worst men. For either those Gods of theirs are injured by men, and are shown to be inferior to men on being injured by us; or, if not so, how is it that they are incensed at those by whom they are not injured, like a testy old wife roused to wrath?
As they say that Artemis was enraged at the Ætolians on account of Œneus. 3539 For how, being a goddess, did she not consider that he had neglected to sacrifice, not through contempt, but out of inadvertence, or under the idea that he had sacrificed?
And Latona, 3540 arguing her case with Athene, on account of the latter being incensed at her for having brought forth in the temple, says:—“Man-slaying spoils
It is natural, then, that having a superstitious dread of those irascible [gods], they imagine that all events are signs and causes of evils. If a mouse bore through an altar built of clay, and for want of something else gnaw through an oil flask; if a cock that is being fattened crow in the evening, they determine this to be a sign of something.“A. Good luck be mine, ye honoured gods!
It was a clever remark of Antiphon, who (when one regarded it as an ill omen that the sow had eaten her pigs), on seeing her emaciated through the niggardliness of the person that kept her, said, Congratulate yourself on the omen that, being so hungry, she did not eat your own children.
Diogenes accordingly remarked well to one who wondered at finding a serpent coiled round a pestle: “Dont wonder; for it would have been more surprising if you had seen the pestle coiled round the serpent, and the serpent straight.”“And many birds beneath the sunbeams walk.”
There are many, too, that dread inscriptions set up. Very cleverly Diogenes, on finding in the house of a bad man the inscription, “Hercules, for victory famed, dwells here; let nothing bad enter,” remarked, “And how shall the master of the house go in?”
The same people, who worship every stick and greasy stone, as the saying is, dreads tufts of tawny wool, and lumps of salt, and torches, and squills, and sulphur, bewitched by sorcerers, in certain impure rites of expiation. But God, the true God, recognises as holy only the character of the righteous man,—as unholy, wrong and wickedness.
You may see the eggs, 3542 taken from those who have been purified, hatched if subjected to the necessary warmth. But this could not take p. 530 place if they had had transferred to them the sins of the man that had undergone purification. Accordingly the comic poet Diphilus facetiously writes, in comedy, of sorcerers, in the following words:—“Purifying Prœtus daughters, and their father
For well Menander remarks: 3543 —“Had you, O Phidias, any real ill,
Now also we say that it is requisite to purify the soul from corrupt and bad doctrines by right reason; and so thereafter to the recollection of the principal heads of doctrine. Since also before the communication of the mysteries they think it right to apply certain purifications to those who are to be initiated; so it is requisite for men to abandon impious opinion, and thus turn to the true tradition.
©st-takla.org : Saint Takla Haymanout Website: General Portal for the Coptic Orthodox Church Faith, Egypt / Contact us at:
Bible | Daily Readings | Agbeya | Books | Lyrics | Gallery | Media | Links | Contact us