Eusebius of Caesarea: Praeparatio Evangelica (Preparation for the Gospel). Tr. E.H. Gifford (1903) -- Book 14
I. Preface concerning the subject of the Book p 717 a
II. On the mutual contradiction and conflict of the philosophers p 717 d
III. On the harmony of the Hebrew writers p 719 b
IV. How Plato has accused his predecessors. From the Theaetetus p 720 d
V. On the first successors of Plato. From Numenius the Pythagorean p 737 b
VI. On Arcesilaus, the founder of the second Academy. From the same p 730 b
VII. Of Lacydes, the successor of Arcesilaus. From the same p 734 a
VIII. Of Carneades, the founder of the third Academy. From the same p 737 b
IX. Of Philo, who succeeded Cleitomachus, the successor of Carneades. From the same p 739 b
X. That among the Greek philosophers there are conjectures, and logomachies, and much error. From Porphyry's Epistle to Nectenabo and other sources p 741 b
XI. Concerning geometry, and astronomy, and syllogisms. From Xenophon's Memorabilia p 743 b
XII. Concerning the professors of Natural Science. From the same, in the Epistle to Aeschines p 745 a
XIII. On gymnastic and music. From Plato's Republic p 746 a
XIV. Opinions of philosophers on First Principles. From Plutarch p 747 d
XV. On the doctrine of Anaxagoras. From Plato p 750 d
XVI. Opinions of philosophers concerning gods. From Plutarch p 753 b
XVII. Against the School of Xenophanes and Parmenides, who rejected the senses. From the eighth Book of Aristocles On philosophy p 756 b
XVIII. Against the followers of Pyrrhon, called Sceptics or Ephectics, who declared that nothing can be clearly apprehended. From Aristocles p 758 c
XIX. Against the philosophers of the School of Aristippus, who say that only feelings can be apprehended, and that of other things there is no apprehension. From the same p 764 c
XX. Against the School of Metrodorus and Protagoras, who say that the senses alone are to be trusted. From the same p. 766 b
XXI. Against the Epicureans,who define the good as pleasure. From the same p. 768 d
XXII. Further against those who define the good as pleasure. From the Philebus of Plato p. 770 b
XXIII. Against the Epicureans, who deny a Providence, and refer the universe to corporeal atoms. From Dionysius, Bishop of Alexandria, On Nature p. 772 d
XXIV. From human examples. From the same p. 773 d
XXV. From the constitution of the universe. From the same p. 774 d
XXVI. From the nature of man. From the same p 778 c
XXVII. That to God there is no toil in working. From the same p 781 a
PREFACE CONCERNING THE SUBJECT OF THE BOOK.
HAVING described in the preceding Book all that there was to say and to hear about the philosophy of Plato and his agreement with the Hebrew oracles, for which we are struck with admiration of him, and on the other hand concerning his dissent from them, for which no man of good sense could approve him, I will now pass on to the remaining sects of those who have been famed for philosophy among the Greeks.
And in their case again I shall set their lapse from the truth before the eyes of my readers, not in. my own person nor of my own authority, but as before by the testimony of the very words of Greek authors: not indeed from dislike to any of them personally, since I confess that I have a great admiration for them, when I compare the persons with the rest of mankind as men.
But when I compare them with the sacred writers and prophets of the Hebrews, and with God who through them has both uttered predictions of things to come and exhibited marvellous works, nay more, has laid the foundations of instruction in religious learning and true doctrines, I no longer think that any one ought with reason to blame us, if we prefer God before men, and truth itself before human reasonings and conjectures.
All this I have striven to prove in the argument of this present Preparation, as at once an answer and a defence against those who shall inquire, what beauty or majesty we have seen in the writings of the Barbarians, that we have decided to prefer them to our ancestral and noble philosophy, that, I mean, of the Greeks. However, it is time now to let our proof proceed by way of facts.
Now, I think, we ought before all things to begin from the first foundation of philosophy among the Greeks, and to learn concerning the so-called physical philosophers before the time of Plato, who they were, and what sort of men their philosophy found as champions of its system; then we must pass on to the successors of Plato, and learn who they also were, and survey their mutual disputations, and review also the dissensions of the other sects, and the oppositions of their opinions, wherein I shall exhibit the noble combatants like boxers eagerly exchanging blows as on a stage before the spectators.
Let us, for instance, at once observe how, on the one hand, Plato used to scoff at the earliest philosophers who preceded him, and how others scoffed at Plato's friends and successors: and again in turn how Plato's disciples used to criticize the wise doctrines of Aristotle's fertile thought: and how those who boasted of Aristotle and the Peripatetic School used to prove that the views of those who preferred the opposite sect were nonsense.
You will also see the clever and precise doctrines of the subtlety of the Stoics ridiculed in turn by others, and all the philosophers on all sides struggling against their: neighbours, and most bravely joining in battle and wrestling, so that even with hands and tongue, or rather with pen and ink, they raise strongholds of war against each other, striking, as it were, and being struck by the spears and various weapons of their wordy war.
And in this strife of athletes our arena will include, in addition to those already mentioned, men stripped of all truth, who have taken up arms in opposition to all the dogmatic philosophers alike; I mean the Pyrrhonists, who declared that in man's world there is nothing comprehensible; and those who said with Aristippus that the feelings were the sole objects of perception, and then again those who with Metrodorus and Protagoras said that we ought to believe only the sensations of the body.
Over against these we shall at the same time strip for the combat the schools of Xenophanes and Parmenides, who arrayed themselves on the opposite side and annihilated the senses.
Neither shall we omit the champions of pleasure, but shall enroll their leader Epicurus also with those already mentioned. But against all alike we shall use their own weapons to set forth their confutation.
Also of all the so-called physicists alike I shall drag out to light both the discrepancies of their doctrines and the futility of their eager studies; not at all as a hater of the Greeks or of reason, far from it, but to remove all cause of slanderous accusation, that we have preferred the Hebrew oracles from having forsooth been very little acquainted with Hellenic culture.
THE Hebrews on their part from long time of old and, so to say, from the very first origin of man, having found the true and religious philosophy have carefully preserved this undefiled to succeeding generations, son from sire having received and guarded a treasure of true doctrines, so that no one dared to take away from or add to what had been once for all determined.
So neither has Moses the all-wise, who has been shown by our former discourse to have been older than all the Greeks, but last in time of all the ancient Hebrews, ever thought of disturbing and changing any of the doctrines held by his forefathers concerning dogmatic theology, except so far as to found for the people under his charge a certain conduct of life towards each other, and a code of laws for a kind of moderate republic.
Nor have the prophets after him, who flourished for countless periods of years, ever ventured to utter a word of discord either against each other, or against the opinions held by Moses and the elders beloved of God.
Nay not even has our Christian School, which derives its origin from them, and by a divinely inspired power has filled alike all Greece and Barbarian lands, introduced anything at variance with the earlier doctrines; or perhaps one should rather say that not only in the doctrines of theology but also in the mode of life Christianity prescribes the same course as the godly Hebrews before Moses.
Our doctrines then thus described, and testified to by all authors, first middle and last, with one mind and one voice, confirm with unanimous vote the certainty of that which is both the true religion and philosophy, and are filling the whole world, and growing afresh and flourishing every day, as if they had but just established their first prime: and neither legal ordinances, nor hostile plots, nor the oft-sharpened weapons of enemies have exhibited a power superior to the excellence of the reasons which we followed.
But now let us observe what strength has ever been exhibited by the doctrines of the philosophy of the Greeks, tossed as they were in shallow waters; and first of them all let us send down into the battle those who are called physicists. As then these are said to have flourished before Plato, we may learn, from Plato himself how they were at variance one with another; for he exposes the feud of Protagoras, Heracleitus, and Empedocles against Parmenides and his school.
For Protagoras, who had been a disciple of Democritus, incurred the reputation of atheism: he is said, at least, to have used an introduction of the following kind in his book Concerning the gods:1 'As to gods I neither know that they exist, nor that they do not exist, nor of what nature they are.' And Democritus said 2 that 'the first elements of the universe were vacuum and plenum,' and the plenum he called 'being' and 'solid,' but the vacuum 'not-being.' Wherefore he also says that 'being' no more exists than 'not-being'; and that 'the things which partake of "being" have from eternity a continuous and swift motion in the vacuum.'
But Heracleitus said 3 that fire was the first principle of all things, out of which they all come, and into which they are resolved. For all things are change, and there is a time determined for the resolution of them all into fire, and for their production out of it.
These philosophers then said that all things are in motion; but Parmenides, who was by birth an Eleatic, held the doctrine that 'the all is one,' and that it subsists without beginning and without motion, and is spherical in shape. And Melissus, who was a disciple of Parmenides, held the same opinions with Parmenides. So now listen to what Plato relates with regard to these men in the Theaetetus:4
[PLATO] 'AND so from drift and motion and mixture of one with another, all things are "becoming," though we forsooth speak of them as "being," not using a right term. 5 For nothing ever "is," but is always "becoming." And on this point grant that, except Parmenides, all the wise men in succession were agreed, Protagoras, and Heracleitus, and Empedocles, and the chief poets in either kind of poetry, Epicharmus in Comedy, and Homer in Tragedy, who, when he calls
"Oceanus sire and Tethys mother of gods," 6
says that all things are the offspring of flux and motion. Do you not think that this is what he means?
'I think so.
'Who then could any longer escape derision, if he disputed against so great an army with Homer for their leader? '
Then afterwards proceeding in his argument he further says: 7
'One must come then to closer quarters, as the argument in defence of Protagoras enjoined, and by sounding this floating essence observe whether it gives a true or a false note. At all events there has been no small conflict about it with no few disputants.
Far indeed from being small, it is making great advance in Ionia. For the disciples of Heracleitus take a very vigorous lead in this argument.
'So much the more then, my dear Theodorus, are we bound to examine it, and that from its first principle, as they themselves suggest.
'Yes, by all means: for in fact, Socrates, about these Heracleitean doctrines, or, as you call them, Homeric and still older, it is no more possible to argue with the men themselves at Ephesus who pretend to be experts than with men in a frenzy. For in absolute accordance with his writings they are always adrift, and as to dwelling upon an argument and a question, and quietly answering and asking in turn, they have less than no power at all; or rather the expression "not even nothing" is preferable in view of the absence of even the least quietness in the men. But if you ask any of them a question, they pull out as from a quiver dark little phrases which they shoot off at you, and if you try to get an explanation of what this means, you will presently be struck with another new-fangled phrase, and will never come to any conclusion at all with any of them, no, nor yet they themselves with one another; but they watch most carefully not to allow anything to be settled either in argument, or in their own souls, thinking, I suppose, that it would be something stationary; and with that they are altogether at war, and drive it out everywhere to the utmost of their power.
'Perhaps, Theodorus, you have seen the men fighting, but have never been in their company when at peace; for they are no friends of yours. But, I suppose, they explain doctrines of this peaceful kind at leisure to their disciples, whomsoever they wish to make like themselves.
'Disciples, my good Sir! Such people do not become disciples one of another, but they grow up of themselves, inspired each of them from any chance source, and the one thinking that the other knows nothing. From these men therefore, as I was going to say, you can never get a reason, either willingly or unwillingly; but we must take the matter over ourselves and examine it like a mathematical proposition.
'Yes, you speak with discretion. As to the proposition then, have we not received it from the ancients, who concealed it from the multitude in poetry, that Oceanus and Tethys, the origin of all things, are flowing streams, and that nothing is at rest; and now from their successors, who in their superior wisdom openly declare it, in order that even their cobblers may hear and learn their wisdom, and may cease from foolishly supposing that some things are at rest and others in motion, and when they have learned that all are in motion, may honour them?
'But I nearly forgot, Theodorus, that others set forth the opposite doctrine to this, namely,
"That only is unmoved, whose name is All," 8
and all other assertions which men like Melissus and Parmenides, in opposition to all these doctrines, stoutly maintain, that all is one and stands self-contained, having no place in which to move.
'How then, my friend, are we to deal with all these? For going on little by little we have unconsciously fallen between both armies, and unless we can in some way defend ourselves and retreat, we shall pay the penalty, just like those who play across a line in the palaestra, when they are caught hold of by both sides and dragged in opposite directions.'
This is what Plato says in the Theaetetus. Passing next to the Sophist, he speaks again concerning the physical philosophers his predecessors as follows: 9
'It seems to me that Parmenides, and every one who has ever yet adventured upon a trial of determining the number and nature of things existent, have discoursed to us in an easy strain. How? Each seems to me to be relating a sort of fable to us, as if we were children. One says that existences are three, and some of them are sometimes warring in a manner with one another, and then becoming friends again they exhibit marriages, and births, and rearing of offspring: another says that they are two, moist and dry, or hot and cold, and he makes them dwell together and marries them. But all the Eleatic tribe in our part, beginning with Xenophanes and still earlier, assume that all things so-called are one, and so proceed with their fables. But certain Ionian and Sicilian Muses afterwards conceived that it is safer to combine both principles, and say that "being" is both many and one, and is held together by enmity and friendship. For it is ever separating and being united, as the more strong-minded Muses assert; but the weaker relax the perpetual continuance of these conditions, and say that in turn the universe is now one and friendly under the influence of Aphrodite, and then many and at war with itself through some discordance. But whether in all this any of them has spoken truly or not, it would be hard and offensive to find fault in such important matters with famous men of antiquity.'
Then after a few sentences he adds: 10
'Well then, though we have not discussed all those who give precise definitions about "being" and "not-being," nevertheless let it suffice: and on the other hand let us look at those who speak otherwise, in order that we may see from them all that it is by no means easier to say what "being" is than what "not-being" is.
'We must proceed then to consider these also.
'Moreover it seems that among them there is, as it were, a kind of war of the Giants, through their disputing with one another about the nature of "being."
'One side are for dragging all things down from heaven and from the invisible to earth, actually grasping rocks and oaks in their hands. For they lay hold of everything of this kind, and stoutly maintain, that "being" belongs only to that which admits some kind of contact and handling, defining body and "being" as the same, and should any one else say that a thing without body has "being," they utterly despise him, and will not listen to anything else.
'Truly they are terrible men that you speak of: for I too ere now have met with many of them.
'For this reason those who dispute against them defend themselves very cautiously from some high place in an unseen world, contending that certain intelligible and incorporeal "forms" are the true "being." But the corporeal atoms of the other side, and that which they call the truth, these shatter in pieces by their arguments, and call them a floating kind of "becoming," instead of "being." And between the two armies, O Theaetetus, there is always a mighty battle joined on these subjects.
So far, then, has Plato censured the physical philosophers who preceded him. And the kind of opinion which he himself was for introducing on the matters in question we have declared in the preceding Books, when we were showing his agreement with the Hebrew doctrines and with the teaching of Moses in regard to 'Being.'
But come, let us examine in our argument Plato's own successors also. It is said that Plato, haying established his School in the Academy, was the first called an Academic, and was the founder of the so-called Academic philosophy. And after Plato Speusippus, the son of Plato's sister Potone, succeeded to the School, then Xenocrates, and afterwards Polemon.
And these, it is said, began from his own hearth at once to undo the teaching of Plato, distorting what had been clear to the master by introducing foreign doctrines, so that you might expect the power of those marvellous dialogues to be extinguished at no distant time, and the transmission of the doctrines to come to an end at once on the founder's death: for a conflict and schism having hereupon begun from them, and never ceasing up to the present time, there are none who delight to emulate the doctrines which the Master loved, except perchance one or two in all our lifetime, or some others very few in number, and themselves not altogether free from false sophistry; since even the earlier successors of Plato have been blamed for such tendencies.
Polemon's successor, it is said, was Arcesilaus, and report says that he forsook the doctrines of Plato, and established a sort of alien and, as it is called, second Academy. For he declared that we ought to suspend judgement about all things, for all are incomprehensible, and the arguments on either side equal each other in force, also that the senses and reason in general are untrustworthy. He used, for instance, to praise this saying of Hesiod,
'The gods have spread a veil o'er human thought.' 11
He used also to try to make some paradoxical novelties. After Arcesilaus, Carneades and Cleitomachus are said to have abandoned the opinion of their predecessors, and become the authors of a third Academy.12 'And some add also a fourth, that of the followers of Philo and Charmides: while some reckon even a fifth, that of the disciples of Antiochus.'
Such were the successors of Plato himself: and as to their character take and read the statements of Numenius the Pythagorean, which he has set down in the first Book of his work entitled Of the revolt of the Academics against Plato, to the following effect. 13
[NUMENIUS] 'FOR the time then of Speusippus, sister's son to Plato, and Xenocrates the successor of Speusippus, and Polemon who succeeded Xenocrates in the School, the character of the doctrine always continued nearly the same, so far as concerned this much belauded suspension of judgement which was not yet introduced, and some other things perchance of this kind. For in other respects they did not abide by the original tradition, but partly weakened it in many ways, and partly distorted it: and beginning from his time, sooner or later they diverged purposely or unconsciously, and partly from some other cause perhaps other than rivalry.
'And though for the sake of Xenocrates I do not wish to say anything disparaging, nevertheless I am more anxious to defend Plato. For in fact it grieves me that they did not do and suffer everything to maintain in "every way an entire agreement with Plato on all points. Yet Plato deserved this at their hands, for though not superior to Pythagoras the Great, yet neither perhaps was he inferior to him; and it was by closely following and reverencing him that the friends of Pythagoras became the chief causes of his great reputation.
'And the Epicureans, having observed this, though they were wrong, were never seen on any point to have opposed the doctrines of Epicurus in any way; but by acknowledging that they held the same opinions with a learned sage they naturally for this reason gained the title themselves: and with the later Epicureans it was for the most part a fixed rule never to express any opposition either to one another or to Epicurus on any point worth mentioning: but innovation is with them a transgression or rather an impiety, and is condemned. And for this reason no one even dares to differ, but from their constant agreement among themselves their doctrines are quietly held in perfect peace. Thus the School of Epicurus is like some true republic, perfectly free from sedition, with one mind in common and one consent; from which cause they were, and are, and seemingly will be zealous disciples.
'But the Stoic sect is torn by factions, which began with their founders, and have not ceased even yet. They delight in refuting one another with angry arguments, one party among them having still remained steadfast, and others having changed. So their founders are like extreme oligarchs, who by quarrelling among themselves have caused those who came after to censure freely both their predecessors and each other, as still being more Stoical one party than the other, and especially those who showed themselves more captious in technicalities; for these were the very men who, surpassing the others in meddlesomeness and petty quibbles, were the more quick to find fault.
'Long before these, however, there was the same feeling in those who drew their doctrines from Socrates in different directions, Aristippus in his own way, and Antisthenes in his, and elsewhere the Megarians and Eretrians in ways of their own, and others with them.
'And the cause was, that as Socrates assumed three gods, and philosophized before them in the strains appropriate to each, his hearers did not understand this, but thought that he spoke all at random, and according to the breath of fortune which at any moment prevailed, sometimes one, sometimes another, as it chanced to blow.
'But Plato had been a Pythagorean, and knew that Socrates for the same reason took such sayings from no other source than that, and had known what he was saying; and so he too wrapped up his subjects in a manner that was neither usual nor plain to understand; and after conducting them each in the way that he thought fit, and disguising them so as to be half seen and half unseen, he wrote in safety, but himself gave occasion to the subsequent dissension, and distraction of his doctrines, not indeed from jealousy nor yet from ill will----but I am unwilling to speak unfavourable words of men of earlier times.
'But now that we have learned this, we ought rather to apply our judgement to a different point, and as we proposed at the commencement to distinguish Plato from Aristotle and Zeno, so now again separating him from the Academy, if God help us, we will allow him to be in and of himself a Pythagorean. Since now being torn in pieces more furiously than any Pentheus deserved, he suffers limb by limb, but is by no means transformed from his whole self and retransformed.
'As a man therefore who stood midway between Pythagoras and Socrates he reduced the sternness of the former to benevolence, and the wit and playfulness of the latter he raised from irony to dignity and gravity, and by making just this mixture of Socrates and Pythagoras he showed himself more affable than the one and more grave than the other.
'This, however, is not at all what I was going to discuss, my present inquiry having no concern herewith: but I will pass on to what I had intended, lest I should be thrown out of the way that leads thither, or else I seem likely to run away altogether.
'Arcesilaus and Zeno became disciples of Polemon, for I am going to mention them again at last. Of Zeno I remember to have said that he attended Xenocrates and then Polemon, and afterwards became a Cynic in the School of Crates: but now let him be accounted to have also derived something from Stilpo and those Heracleitean discourses.
'For since as fellow disciples of Polemon Arcesilaus and Zeno were emulous of each other, the one of them took as his allies in their mutual contest Heracleitus, and Stilpo, and also Crates, among whom he was made by Stilpo a disputant, by Heracleitus austere, and by Crates cynical: but the other, Arcesilaus, has Theophrastus, and Crantor the Piatonist, and Diodorus, and then Pyrrho, and of these Crantor made him persuasive, Diodorus sophistical, and Pyrrho versatile, and reckless, and nothing at all.
'And this was the meaning of a certain hexameter verse often applied to him in an insulting parody:
"Plato before, and Pyrrho behind, in the midst Diodorus." 14
But Timon says that he was also taught and equipped by Menedemus in the art of disputation, if at least it is of him that he says:
"With Menedemus' lead beneath his breast
He runs apace to Pyrrho's mass of flesh,
Or Diodorus' dialectic craft." 15
'So by interweaving the reasonings and scepticism of Pyrrho with the subtleties of Diodorus, who was skilled in dialectics, he arrayed a kind of mouthy chatter in Plato's forcible language, and would say and unsay, and roll over from this side and from that, and from either side, whichever it might chance, retracting his own words, obscure, and contradictory withal, and venturesome, and knowing nothing, as he said himself, so candid as he was: and then somehow he would turn out like those who did know, after having exhibited himself in all kinds of characters by the sketchiness of his discourses.'
'THERE was no less uncertainty about Arcesilaus than about Tydides in Homer,16 when you could not know on which side he was, whether associated with Trojans or with Achaeans. For to keep to one argument and ever say the same thing, was not possible for him, nor indeed did he ever think such a course by any means worthy of a clever man. So he went by the name of a
"Keen sophist, slayer of men unskilled in fence."
'For by preparation and study in the delusive show of his arguments he used to stupefy and juggle like the Empusae, and could neither know anything himself nor let others know: he spread terror and confusion, and in carrying off the prize for sophistries and deceitful arguments, he rejoiced over his disgrace, and prided himself wonderfully on not knowing either what is base or noble, or what is good or bad, but after saying whichever came into his thoughts, he would change again and upset his argument in many more ways than he had constructed it.
'So he would cut himself and be cut in pieces like a hydra, neither side being distinguished from the other, and without regard to decency; nevertheless he pleased his hearers, who while they listened saw also that he was good-looking: he was most pleasing therefore both to hear and to see, after they grew accustomed to accept from him arguments proceeding from a beautiful face and mouth, besides the kindliness which shone in his eyes.
'Now this description must not be taken loosely, but from the beginning such was his character. For having associated in boyhood with Theophrastus, a man of gentle and amorous disposition, Arcesilaus being beautiful and still in the bloom of youth gained the love of Crantor the Academic, and attached himself to him; and being not without natural ability, he let it run its swift and easy course, and fired by love of disputation he gained help from Diodorus in those elegant and artfully studied plausibilities, and also attended the School of Pyrrho (now Pyrrho had begun somewhere or other from the School of Democritus),----so Arcesilaus, equipped from this source, adhered, except in name, to Pyrrho, as one who overthrew all things.
'Mnaseas at least, and Philomelus, and Timon, the Sceptics, call him a Sceptic, as they were themselves, because he also overthrew truth and falsehood and probability.
'Therefore, although on account of his Pyrrhonistic doctrines he might have been called a Pyrrhonist, yet from respect for his lover he submitted to be still called an Academic. He was therefore a Pyrrhonist, except in name: but an Academic he was not, except in being so called. For I do not believe what Diocles of Cnidos asserts in his Diatribae so-entitled, that through fear of the followers of Theodorus, and of the Sophist Bion, who used to assail the philosophers, and shrank from no means of refuting them, Arcesilaus took precautions, in order to avoid trouble, by never appearing to suggest any dogma, but used to put forward the "suspense of judgement" as a protection, like the black juice which the cuttle-fishes throw out. This then I do not believe.
'Those, however, who started from this School, Arcesilaus and Zeno, with such auxiliary forces of arguments helping both sides in the war, forgot the origin from, which they had started in the School of Polemon:
"And parting, formed in order of attack." 17
Bucklers and lances, and the furious might
Of mail-clad warriors; bossy shield on shield
Clattered in conflict; loud the clamour rose." 18
"Buckler to buckler pressed, and helm to helm,
And man to man." 19
"Man struggling hand to hand with man." 20
"Then rose too mingled shouts and groans of man,
Slaying and slain "; 21
the Stoics being the slain; for they could not strike the Academics, because they could not discover in what part they were most liable to be beaten. But beaten they would be, and their foundation shaken, if they were to have neither principle nor starting-point for the battle. Now the principle was to prove that they did not express the thoughts of Plato; and their starting-point was lost, if they altered the definition concerning the conceptual presentation by the removal of a single word.
'It is not now the proper time for me to show this, but I will mention it again, when I arrive exactly at this point. When, however, they had come to open variance, it was not that the two struck at each other, but only Arcesilaus at Zeno. For Zeno in his fighting had a certain solemnity and heaviness, not more effective than the oratory of Cephisodorus: for he, Cephisodorus, when he saw his own teacher Isocrates attacked by Aristotle, though he was ignorant and unacquainted with Aristotle, yet from perceiving that the works of Plato were highly esteemed, supposed that Aristotle's philosophy agreed with Plato's, and in trying to make war upon Aristotle struck at Plato, and having drawn his first accusation from the "Ideas," ended by attacking his other doctrines, of which he knew nothing himself, but guessed the received opinions concerning them by the way in which they are usually described.
'However, this Cephisodorus instead of fighting the man with whom he was at war, fought with the one against whom he wished not to make war. But if Zeno himself after getting rid of Arcesilaus, had abstained also from making war upon Plato, he would have shown himself, in my judgement, an excellent philosopher, in so keeping the peace. But if he acted with a knowledge perhaps of the doctrines of Arcesilaus, though in ignorance of Plato, to judge from what he wrote against him, he is convicted of taking an inconsistent course, in not striking the one whom he knew, and insulting most foully and disgracefully the man whom he had no right to assail, and treating him far worse than he should have treated a dog.
'However, he certainly showed a high spirit in his disregard of Arcesilaus: for either through ignorance of his doctrines, or through fear of the Stoics, he turned aside "the mighty jaws of bitter war" 22 against Plato. But of Zeno's vile and utterly shameless revolts against Plato I shall speak again, if I can spare time from philosophy. I hope, however, never to have so much time to spare, at least for this purpose, unless it be in sport.
'So, when Arcesilaus saw that Zeno was a professional rival, and worth conquering, he shrank from nothing in trying to overthrow the arguments set forth by him.
'Now of the other points on which he was at war with him, I perhaps am not able to speak, or even if I were able, there would be no need to mention them now: but as Zeno was the first inventor of the following doctrine, and as he, Arcesilaus, saw that both itself and its name were famous at Athens, I mean, the conceptual presentation, he employed every device against it. But the other being in the weaker position could suffer no injury by keeping quiet, and so disregarded Arcesilaus, against whom he would have had much to say, but was unwilling, or rather perhaps there was some other cause; but Plato being no longer among the living he proceeded to fight with his shadow, and tried to cry him down by uttering all kinds of vulgar buffoonery, thinking that neither could Plato defend himself, nor would any one else care to avenge him: or if Arcesilaus should care to do so, he thought that at all events he should be a gainer by diverting the attack of Arcesilaus from himself. He knew also that Agathocles of Syracuse had practised this artifice upon the Carthaginians.
'The Stoics listened in amazement. For their Muse was not even then learned nor productive of such graces as those by which Arcesilaus talked them down, knocking off this argument, cutting away that, and tripping up others, and so succeeded in persuading them. When therefore those against whom he argued were worsted, and those in whose midst he was speaking were astounded, the men of that day were somehow convinced that neither speech was anything, nor feeling, nor any single work however small, nor on the contrary would anything ever have seemed useless, except what so seemed in the opinion of Arcesilaus of Pitane. But he, as we said, held no opinion, nor made any more definite statement than that all these were little phrases and bugbears.'
'Now there is a pleasant story about Lacydes which I wish to tell you. Lacydes was rather stingy, and in a manner the proverbial Economist; for this man, who was in such general good repute, used to open his storeroom himself and shut it himself. And he would take out what things he wanted, and do all other such, work with his own hands, not at all as approving self-dependence, nor as being in any poverty, nor in want of servants, for he certainly had servants such as they were: but the reason you are at liberty to guess.
'However, I will go on to tell the pretty story which I promised. For while acting as his own steward he thought that he ought not to carry the key about on his own person, but he used after locking up to hide the key in a certain hollow writing-case: and after sealing this with a ring, he used to roll the ring down through the keyhole and leave it inside the house, so that afterwards when he came back, and opened with the key, he would be able to pick up the ring, and lock up again, and then to seal, and then to throw the ring back again inside through the keyhole.
So the servants having discovered this clever trick, whenever Lacydes went out for a walk or anywhere else, they too would open the storeroom, and then, after eating this and drinking up that according to their desire, and carrying other things away, they went through this same round, they shut up, and sealed, and the ring they let down through the keyhole into the house, laughing heartily at their master.
'So Lacydes, when he had left his vessels full and found them empty, was puzzled by what occurred; and when he heard that the doctrine of incomprehensibility was taught in the philosophy of Arcesilaus, he thought that this was the very thing that was occurring in regard to his storeroom. And from this beginning he took to studying with Arcesilaus the philosophy that we can neither see nor hear anything clear or sound; and having once drawn one of his companions into the house, he began to argue with him on "the suspense of judgement" with extraordinary Tehemence, as it seemed, and said, This indeed I can state to you as an indisputable fact, haying learned it from my own case, not from questioning any other.
'And then he began and described the whole misfortune which had happened to him about the storeroom. What then, said he, could Zeno now say against "incomprehensibility" thus in all points proved manifest to me in such circumstances as these? For as I locked it up with my own hands, sealed it myself, and myself threw the ring inside, and when I came again and opened it, saw the ring inside but not my other property, how can I fail to be justly incredulous of all things? For I shall not dare for my part to say that any one came and stole the things, as there was the ring inside.
'Then his hearer, who was an insolent fellow, having heard out the whole story as well as he could listen, being scarce able hitherto to contain himself, burst out into a very broad laugh, and still laughing and chuckling tried between whiles to refute his silly notion. So beginning from that time Lacydes no longer used to throw the ring inside, and ceased to use in argument the "incomprehensibility" of his storeroom, but began to comprehend his losses, and found that he had been philosophizing over them in vain.
'Nevertheless his servants were impudent knaves, and not to be caught with one band, but just such as the slaves you see in comedy, a Geta or a Dacus, loud-tongued in Dacian chatter; and after they had listened to the Stoics' sophisms, or had learned them in some other way, went straight at the venture, and used to take off his seal, and sometimes they would substitute another instead of it, but sometimes they did not even this, because they thought it would be all incomprehensible to him, whether this way or any other.
'So when he came in, he used to examine, and when he saw the writing-case unsealed, or, though sealed, yet with a different seal, he was very angry: but when they said that it was sealed, for they could themselves see his own seal, he would begin a subtle argument and demonstration. And when they were beaten by his demonstration, and said that, if the seal was not there, perhaps he had himself forgotten and not sealed it up, Yes, certainly, he said, he remembered that he had himself sealed it up, and began to prove it, and argue all round, and thinking that they were making sport of him, he would make violent complaints against them with many oaths.
'But they suspected his attacks, and began to think that he was making sport of them; since Lacydes, who was a philosopher, had decided that he could have no opinion, and therefore no memory, for memory is a kind of opinion; a short time ago at least they had heard him, they said, speak thus to his friends.
'But when he overthrew their attempts and used language not at all Academic, they would go themselves to the school of some Stoic, and learn anew what they ought to say, and with that preparation would meet sophistry with sophistry, and show themselves rivals of the Academic school in the art of thievery; Then he would find fault with the Stoics; but his servants would put aside his accusations by alleging "incomprehensibility" with no little jeering.
'So discussions went on there on all points, and arguments and counter-arguments; and in the meanwhile there was not a single thing left, no vessel, nor anything that was put in the vess.el, nor any other things that make up the furnishing of a house.
'And Lacydes for a while was at a loss, seeing that the support of his own doctrines was of no help to him; and thinking that, if he could not convict them, everything he had would be upset, he fell into perplexity, and began to cry out upon his neighbours and upon the gods, Oh! Oh! and Alas! Alas! and By all the gods, and By the goddesses, and all the other artless affirmations of men who in cases of distrust take to strong language----all these were uttered with loud shouting and asseveration.
'But at last, since he had a battle of contradiction in the house, the master, doubtless, took to playing the Stoic with his servants, and when the servants insisted, on the Academic doctrines, in order that they might have no more trouble, he became a constant stay-at-home, sitting before his storeroom. And when he could do no good, he began to suspect what his philosophy was coming to, and opened his mind. Of these things, my boys, said he, we talk in our discussions one way, but we live in another.'
This is what he tells about Lacydes. But the man found many hearers, one of whom, Aristippus of Cyrene, was distinguished. But of all his disciples his successor in the School was Evander, and those who came after him.
After these Carneades took up the teaching and established a third Academy. In argument he employed the same method as Arcesilaus, for, like him, he too practised the mode of attacking both sides, and used to upset all the arguments used by the others: but in the principle of 'suspension of judgement' alone he differed from him, saying that it was impossible for a mortal man to suspend judgement upon all matters, and there was a difference between 'uncertain' and 'incomprehensible,' and though all things were incomprehensible, not all were uncertain. But this Carneades was also acquainted with the Stoic doctrines, and by his contentious opposition to them grew more famous, by aiming not at the truth but at what seemed plausible to the multitude: whence he also gave the Stoics much displeasure. So Numenius writes about him as follows:
'CARNEADES having succeeded to the leadership disregarded the teacher whose doctrines he ought to have defended, both those which were unassailable and those which had been assailed, and referring everything back to Arcesilaus, whether good or bad, renewed the battle after a long interval.'
And afterwards he adds:
'So this man also would bring forward and take back, and gather to the battle contradictions and subtle twists in various ways, and be full both of denials and affirmations, and contradictions on both sides: and if ever there was need of marvellous statements, he would rise up as violent as a river in, flood, overflowing with rapid stream everything on this side and on that, and would fall upon his hearers and drag them along with him in a tumult.
'While therefore he swept off all others he himself remained infallible, an advantage not enjoyed by Arcesilaus: for while he used with his quackery to come round his frenzied companions, he was unconscious of having first deluded himself in this, that he had not been guided by sensation, but convinced of the truth of his reasoning in the overthrow of all things at once.
'But Carneades after Arcesilaus must have been evil upon evil, as he made not even the smallest concession, unless his opponents were likely to be disconcerted by it, in accordance with what he called his positive and negative presentations from probability, that this individual thing was an animal or was not an animal.
'So after such a concession, just as wild beasts who recoil throw themselves all the more violently upon the spear-points, he too after giving in would make a more powerful assault. And when he had stood his ground and was successful, then at once he would voluntarily disregard his previous opinion, and make no mention of it.
'For while granting that there are both truth and falsehood in all things, as if he were co-operating in the method of inquiry, he would give a hold like a clever wrestler and thereby get the advantage. For after granting each side according to the turn of the scale in probability, he said that neither was comprehended with certainty.
'He was in fact a more clever freebooter and conjurer than Arcesilaus. For together with something true he would take a falsehood like it, and with a conceptual presentation a concept similar to it, and after weighing them till the scales were even, he would admit the existence neither of the truth nor of the falsehood, or no more of the one than of the other, or more only from probability.
'So dreams followed dreams, because the false presentations were like the true, as in passing from an egg of wax to the real egg.
'The evil results therefore were the more numerous. And nevertheless Carneades fascinated and enslaved men's souls; as an undetected cozener, and an open freebooter, he could conquer whether by craft or by force even those who were very thoroughly equipped.
'In fact every opinion of Carneades was victorious, and never any other, since those with whom he was at war were less powerful as speakers.
'Antipater, for instance, who was his contemporary, was intending to write something in rivalry; in face, however, of the arguments which Carneades kept pouring forth day by day, he never made it public, neither in the Schools, nor in the public walks, nor even spoke nor uttered a sound, nor, it is said, did any one ever hear from him a single syllable: but he kept threatening written replies, and hiding in a corner wrote books which he bequeathed to posterity, that are powerless now, and were more powerless then against a man like Carneades, who showed himself eminently great, and was so considered by the men of that time.
'But nevertheless, although from his jealousy of the Stoics he stirred up confusion in public, he would himself in secret with his own friends agree, and speak candidly, and affirm, as much as any other ordinary person.'
Then next he adds:
'Mentor was a disciple of Carneades at first, yet not his successor: for while still living Carneades found him familiar with his mistress, and not merely from a probable presentation, nor as failing to comprehend, but most fully believing his own eyes, and with a clear comprehension, rejected him from his School. So he departed and became his opponent in sophistry, and his rival in art, refuting the "incomprehensibility" which he taught in his discourses.'
Again he adds:
'But Carneades, as teaching a self-contradictory philosophy, used to pride himself upon his falsehoods, and hide the truths beneath them. So he used his falsehoods as curtains, and hiding within spoke the truth in a somewhat knavish way. Thus he suffered from the same fault as beans, of which the empty ones float on the water and rise highest, while the good ones lie below and are unseen,'
This is what is said about Carneades. In the School Cleitomachus is appointed his successor, and after him Philon, of whom Numenius makes mention as follows:
'So then this Philon on first succeeding to the School was beside himself with joy, and by way of making a grateful return used to worship and extol the doctrines of Cleitomachus, and
"arm himself in gleaming brass" 23
against the Stoics.
'But as time went on, and their doctrine of "suspense" was going out of fashion from familiarity, he was not at all consistent in thought with himself, but began to be converted by the clear evidence and acknowledgement of his misfortunes. Having therefore already much clearness of perception, he was very desirous, you may be sure, to find some who would refute him, that he might not appear to be turning his back and running away of his own accord.
'A disciple of Philon was Antiochus, who founded a different Academy: at least he attended the School of Mnesarchus the Stoic, and adopted the contrary opinions to his teacher Philon, and fastened countless strange doctrines upon the Academy.'
These anecdotes and thousands like these are recorded of the successors of Plato. It is time, however, to take up our subject anew, and examine the opinions, alike false and contradictory, of the physical philosophers, men who wandered over the wide earth, and had set the highest value on the discovery of truth, and been familiar with the opinions of all the ancients, and carefully studied the exact nature of the theology which existed among all, Phoenicians and Egyptians and the Greeks themselves, in much earlier times. It is worth while then to hear from themselves what was the fruit they found from their labours, that so we may learn whether any worthy notion of God had come down to them from the men of an older time.
For the superstition of polytheism was formerly prevalent from ancient times among the nations, and shrines, and temples, and mysteries of the gods were everywhere customarily maintained, both in city and country districts. So then there was no need even of human philosophy, if indeed the knowledge of things divine had preoccupied the ground: nor was there any necessity for the wise to invent novelties, if forsooth the doctrines of their forefathers were right, nor any cause for factions and dissensions among the noble philosophers, if the ancestral opinion about their gods had been tested and proved to be harmonious and true.
Or what need was there to war and fight with one another, or run about and wander up and down the long course, and filch the learning of the Barbarians, when they ought to have been staying at home, and learning all from the gods, if forsooth there were any gods, or to learn from the writers on religion the true and infallible statements of the matters investigated in philosophy, about which they spent infinite toil and contention, yet fell far short of discovering the truth?
Why too need they have ventured to make novel inquiries about gods or to quarrel and pummel one another, if forsooth a safe and sure discovery of gods and a true knowledge of religion was contained in sacred rites and mysteries and the rest of the theology of the most ancient races, when they might have cultivated that very religion undisturbed and in harmonious agreement?
But then if it should be found that these men had learned no truth about God from their predecessors, but had set themselves to the examination of nature by their own devices, and used conjectures rather than clear conception, why should they any longer refuse to acknowledge that the ancient theology of the nations offered nothing beyond the account which has been rendered in the books preceding this?
Now that the philosophy of the Greeks was a product of human conjectures and much disputation and error, but not of any exact conception, you may learn from Porphyry's Epistle to Anebo the Egyptian, when you hear him acknowledge this very fact in these words: 24
[PORPHYRY] 'I WILL begin my friendship with you by an inquiry concerning the gods and good demons and the philosophical doctrines relating to them, subjects upon which very much has been said by Greek philosophers also, the greater part, however, of their statements having only conjecture for the foundation of their credibility.'
And lower down he adds again: 25
'For among us there is much verbal controversy, as we derive the notion of "the good" by conjecture from human reasonings: and those who have formed plans of communication with the higher nature, have exercised their wisdom in vain, if this branch of the subject has been disregarded in the investigation.'
Moreover in what he wrote Against Boethus, On the Soul, the same author makes the following confession in writing, word for word:---- 26
'The evidence of our thoughts and that of history unquestionably establish the immortality of the soul: but the arguments brought forward by philosophers in demonstration of it seem easy to be overthrown through the ingenious arguments of the Eristics on every subject. For what argument in philosophy could not be disputed by men of a different opinion, when some of them thought fit to suspend judgement even about matters that seemed to be manifest?'
Also in the work which he entitled Of the Philosophy derived from Oracles he expressly acknowledges that the Greeks have been in error, and calls his own god as a witness, saying that even Apollo had proclaimed this by oracles, and had testified to the discovery of the truth by the Barbarians rather than by the Greeks, and moreover had even mentioned the Hebrews in the testimony which he bore.
In fact, after quoting the oracle he has immediately made use of these concluding words: 27
'Have you heard how much pains have been taken that a man may offer the sacrifices of purification for the body, to say nothing of finding the salvation of the soul? For the road to the gods is bound with brass, and steep, and rough, and in it Barbarians found many paths, but Greeks went astray, while those who already held it even ruined it; but the discovery was ascribed by the testimony of the god to Egyptians, Phoenicians, and Chaldeans (for these are Assyrians), to Lydians, and to Hebrews.'
This is the statement of the philosopher, or rather of his god. Is it right then after this to blame us, because forsooth we forsook the Greeks who had gone astray and chose the doctrines of the Hebrews, who had received such testimony for comprehension of the truth?
And what are we to expect to learn from philosophers? Or what hope is there of assistance from them, if indeed their statements for the most part derive the first principles of their proof from conjectures and probabilities? And what is the benefit of disputation, if forsooth all the arguments of the philosophers are easily overthrown, because of the sophistical use of language on all subjects? For these are the statements heard just now not from us, but from themselves.
Wherefore it seems to me that not unreasonably but rightly and with well-proved judgement, we have despised teaching of such a character, and have welcomed the doctrines of the Hebrews, not because they have received testimony from the demon, but because they are shown to partake of the excellence and power of divine inspiration.
In order, however, that you may learn by actual facts the disputations of the wonderful philosophers, and their dissensions about first principles, and about gods, and the constitution of the universe, I will set out their own words before you a little later.
But first we must notice another point; for they go about boasting everywhere of their mathematical sciences and saying that it is altogether necessary for those who are going to attempt the comprehension of truth to pursue the study of astronomy, arithmetic, geometry, music,----the very things which were proved to have come to them from Barbarians,----for that without these a man cannot be accomplished in learning and philosophy, nay, cannot even touch the truth of things, unless the knowledge of these sciences has been previously impressed upon his soul. And then, priding themselves upon their learning in the subjects which I have mentioned, they think that they are lifted up on high and almost walking upon the very ether, as though forsooth they carried God Himself about with them in their arithmetic; and because we do not pursue the like studies, they think us no better than cattle, and say that we cannot in this way know God, nor anything grand. Come then, let us first set straight what is wrong in this, by holding out true reason as a light before them.
And that will show thousands of Greeks and thousands of Barbarian races also, of whom the former with the help of the aforesaid sciences recognized neither God, nor virtuous life, nor anything at all that is excellent and profitable, while the latter without all these sciences have been eminent in religion and philosophy. For instance, you may learn what sort of opinions were held on these subjects by one so celebrated among them all as Socrates, if you give credit to what Xenophon narrates in the Memorabilia as follows: 28
[XENOPHON] 'HE also used to teach how far it was necessary for a well-educated man to be acquainted with each subject. For example, he said that he ought to learn geometry so far as to be able, if ever it should be necessary, rightly to measure land either in taking or giving possession, or in allotting it, or marking out work. And this, he said, was so easy to learn that one who gave his mind to the measuring could know at once how much land there was, and go away acquainted with the mode of measuring it.
'But of learning geometry so far as to reach those unintelligible diagrams he disapproved, for he said he did not see of what use these were, although he was not unacquainted with them. But they were enough, he said, to exhaust a man's lifetime, and hindered him from many other useful branches of learning.
'He bade them also become acquainted with astronomy, but this also only so far as to be able to know the time of night, or of the month, or of the year, for the sake of travelling, or voyaging, or keeping watch, and to be able to make use of the indications relating to all other things that are to be done either in the night, or in the month, or year, by knowing the different seasons for the works before mentioned. These also, he said, were easy to learn from nocturnal hunters, and pilots, and many others, whose business it is to know these things.
'But he strongly dissuaded from learning astronomy to such an extent as to know the bodies which are not in the same orbit, and the planets and comets, and to waste time in investigating their distances from the earth, and their periods, and the causes of them. For he said that in these matters he did not see any benefit, and yet even in these he was not uninstructed. But he said of these also that they were enough to wear out a man's lifetime, and to hinder him from many useful pursuits.
'And he wholly dissuaded one from anxiously inquiring in what way the heavenly bodies are each contrived by God; for he neither thought that these things could be discovered by mankind, nor did he believe that the gods would be pleased with the man who sought to know what they had not been willing to make clear. But he said that the man who troubled himself about these things would be in danger even of going as mad as Anaxagoras was, who prided himself very highly upon explaining the contrivances of the gods.
'For when he used to say that fire and the sun were the same, he ignored the fact that though men easily discern, the fire, yet they cannot look upon the sun; and by being exposed to the sunshine they have their complexions darkened, but not so by fire. Also he was ignorant that of plants which spring out of the earth none can make good growth without the light of the sun, while all perish when heated by fire. And in saying that the sun was a fiery stone he was ignorant also of this fact, that while a stone set in the fire neither shines nor lasts long, the sun continues all the time to be the brightest of all things.
'He also used to bid us learn to count; but here also as in everything else he bade us guard against useless trouble: yet as far as it was useful he would himself help his companions in examining and discussing all things.'
So writes Xenophon in the Memorabilia. And in the Epistle to Aeschines the same author writes as follows concerning Plato, and those who boast of their physiology of the universe: 29
'THAT the things of the gods are beyond us is manifest to every one; but it is sufficient to worship them to the best of our power. What their nature is it is neither easy to discover nor lawful to inquire. For it pertains not to slaves to know the nature or conduct of their masters, beyond what their service requires. And what is of most importance, in proportion as we ought to admire one who spends labour upon the interests of mankind, so to those who strive to get fame from many inopportune and vain attempts it brings the more trouble. For when, 0 Aeschines, has any one ever heard Socrates talking about the heaven, or encouraging any one to learn about geometrical lines for correction of morals? As to music we know that he understood it only by ear; but he was constantly telling them on every occasion what was noble, and what manliness was, and justice, and other virtues: he used in fact to call the interests of mankind absolute good; and all things else, he used to say, were either impossible to be achieved by men, or were akin to fables, playthings of Sophists in their supercilious discussions. And he did not merely say these things without practising them. But to write of his doings to you who know them, although not likely to be unpleasing, takes time, and I have recorded them elsewhere. When refuted therefore let them cease, or betake themselves to what is reasonable, these men who were not pleased with Socrates, to whose wisdom the god bare witness while he was yet alive, and they who put him to death found no expiation in repentance. And so-----what a noble thing----they fell in love with Egypt, and the prodigious wisdom of Pythagoras, men whose excess and inconstancy towards Socrates was proved by their love of tyranny, and exchange of frugal living for a table of Sicilian luxury to serve their boundless appetite.'
So speaks Xenophon, with a hint at Plato.30 But Plato in the Republic relates that concerning gymnastics and music Socrates spake as follows:31
[PLATO] 'WHAT then, O Glaucon, would be a learning likely to draw the soul from the transient to the real? But while I am speaking there comes into my mind this point: did we not say surely that these guardians while yet young must be athletes in war? Yes, we said so. The learning then which we are seeking must have this quality in addition to the former. What quality? It must be of some use to men of war. It certainly must, if possible. They were to be educated, we said before, in gymnastic and music. It was so, said he. And gymnastic, I suppose, since it presides over growth and decay of the body, is concerned with generation and corruption. That is evident. This then cannot be the study for which we are seeking. It cannot. Can then music, so far as we previously discussed it? Nay, said he, that, if you remember, was the counterpart of gymnastic, as training our guardians by the influences of habit, by harmony imparting not science but a kind of harmoniousness, and by rhythm a rhythmical movement, and as having in its words certain other moral tendencies akin to these, whether the subjects of its discourse were fabulous or partly true; but it contained no instruction tending to such an end as you are now seeking.
'You remind me very correctly, said I; for music certainly contained nothing of the kind. But what can there be of this character, my excellent Glaucon? For, I think, we regarded all the arts as mechanical. Of course.'
Then further on he adds: 32
'We must never let those whom we are to educate attempt any imperfect form of science that has not reached the point that all ought to attain, as we were saying just now about astronomy. Or do you not know that they treat harmony also in this way? For while they measure and compare with each other the notes and concords that are merely heard, they labour, like the astronomers, on a useless task.
'Yes, by heaven! said he, and it is ludicrous to see how they name certain condensed intervals, and lay their ears on one side, as if trying to catch a note from their neighbours; and some of them say that they can still hear an intermediate sound, and that this is the very smallest interval which should be used in measuring, while others doubt this and say that they now sound alike, and both set their ears before their mind.
'You mean, said I, those good men who are always teasing and torturing the strings, and screwing them up on the pegs. But that the metaphor may not be extended too far about the beats given by the plectrum, and the assent, and dissent, and petulance of the strings, I drop the metaphor, and say that I do not mean these men, but those others whom we said just now that we would consult about harmony. For they do the same as the astronomers; they investigate the numerical relations in the harmonies which fall upon the ears, but they do not rise to problems, to examine what numbers are harmonious, and what not, and the reason in either case.'
But now let this suffice in the way of preface to our defence that we have not without right judgement neglected the useless learning of such subjects as these. Let us then make at once a new beginning and examine the mutual contradictions in doctrine of the aforesaid physical philosophers. Now Plutarch has collected together the opinions of all the Platonists and Pythagoreans alike, and of the still earlier physical philosophers as they were called, and again of the more recent Peripatetics, and Stoics, and Epicureans, and written them in a work which he entitled Of the Physical Doctrines approved by Philosophers, from which I shall make the following quotations: 33
[PLUTARCH] 'THALES of Miletus, one of the seven sages, declared water to be the first principle of all things. This man is thought to have been the founder of philosophy, and from him the Ionic sect derived its name; for it had many successions. After studying philosophy in Egypt he came as an elderly man to Miletus. He says that all things come from water, and are all resolved into water. And he forms his conjecture first from the fact that seed, which is watery, is the first principle of all animal life; thus it is probable that all things have their origin from moisture. His second argument is that all plants derive nourishment and fruitfulness from moisture, and when deprived of it wither away. And the third, that the very fire of the sun, and of the stars, and the world itself are nourished by the evaporations of the waters. For this reason Homer also suggests this notion concerning water,
"Ocean, which is the origin of all." 34
This is what Thales says.
'But Anaximander of Miletus says that the first principle of all things is the infinite, for from this all are produced, and into this all pass away; for which reason also infinite worlds are generated, and pass away again into that from which they spring. So he says the reason why the infinite exists is that the subsisting creation may not be deficient in any point. But he also is at fault in not saying what the infinite is, whether it is air, or water, or earth, or any other corporeal elements; he is wrong therefore in declaring the matter while excluding the efficient cause. For the infinite is nothing else than matter, and matter cannot have an actual existence, unless the efficient cause underlie it.
'Anaximenes of Miletus declared that the air is the first principle of all things, for from this all are produced, and into it they are resolved again. For example, our soul, he says, is air, for it holds us together; and the whole world too is encompassed by air and breath, and air and breath are used as synonyms. But he too is wrong in thinking that living beings consist of simple homogeneous air and breath; for it is impossible that the matter can exist as sole principle of things, but we must assume the efficient cause also. As for instance silver suffices not for the production of the drinking-cup, unless there be the efficient cause, that is the silversmith; the case is similar with copper and various kinds of wood, and all other matter.
'Heracleitus and Hippasus of Metapontum say that fire is the principle of all things: for from fire, they say, all things are produced and all end in fire: and all things in the world are created as it gradually cools down. For first the coarsest part of it is pressed together and becomes earth; then the earth being resolved by the natural force of the fire is turned into water, and being vaporised becomes air. And again the world and all the bodies in it are consumed in a conflagration by fire. Fire therefore is the first principle, because all things come from it, and the end, inasmuch as they are all resolved into it.
'Democritus, who was followed long after by Epicurus, said that the first principles of all things are bodies indivisible, but conceivable by reason, with no admixture of vacuum, uncreated, imperishable, not capable of being broken, nor of receiving shape from their parts, nor of being altered in quality, but perceptible by reason only; that they move, however, in the vacuum, and through the vacuum, and that both the vacuum itself is infinite and the bodies infinite. And the bodies possess these three properties, shape, magnitude, and weight. Democritus, however, said two, magnitude and shape; but Epicurus added to them a third, namely weight. For he said the bodies must be moved by the impulse of the weight, since otherwise they will not be moved at all. The shapes of the atoms are limitable, not infinite: for there are none either hook-shaped, nor trident-shaped, nor ring-shaped. For these shapes are easily broken, whereas the atoms are impassive and cannot be broken; but they have their proper shapes, which are conceivable by reason. And the "atom" is so called, not because it is extremely small, but because it cannot be divided, being impassive, and free from admixture of vacuum: so that if a man says "atom" he means unbreakable, impassive, unmixed with vacuum. And that the atom exists is manifest: for there are also elements (stoixei=a), and living beings that are empty, and there is the Monad.
'Empedocles, son of Meton, of Agrigentum, says that there are four elements, fire, air, water, earth, and, two original forces, love and hate, of which the one tends to unite, and the other to separate. And this is how he speaks:
"Learn first four roots of all things that exist:
Bright Zeus, life-giving Hera, and the god
Of realms unseen, and Nestis, who with tears
Bedews the fountain-head of mortal life." 35
For by "Zeus" he means the seething heat and the ether; and by "life-giving Hera," the air; the earth by Aidoneus, and by Nestis and "the fountain-head of mortal life," the seed, as it were, and the water.'
So great is the dissonance of the first physical philosophers: such too is their opinion concerning first principles, assuming, as they did, no god, no maker, no artificer, nor any cause of the universe, nor yet gods, nor incorporeal powers, no intelligent natures, no rational essences, nor anything at all beyond the reach of the senses, in their first principles.
In fact Anaxagoras alone is mentioned as the first of the Greeks who declared in his discourses about first principles that mind is the cause of all things. They say at least that this philosopher had a great admiration for natural science beyond all who were before him: for the sake of it certainly he left his own district a mere sheepwalk, and was the first of the Greeks who stated clearly the doctrine of first principles. For he not only pronounced, like those before him, on the essence of all things, but also on the cause which set it in motion.
'"For in the beginning," he said, "all things were mingled together in confusion: but mind came in, and brought them out of confusion into order.'"
One cannot but wonder how this man, having been the first among Greeks who taught concerning God in this fashion, was thought by the Athenians to be an atheist, because he regarded not the sun but the Maker of the sun as God, and barely escaped being stoned to death.
But it is said that even he did not keep the doctrine safe and sound: for though he made mind preside over all things, he did not go on to render his physical system concerning the existing world accordant with mind and reason. Hear in fact how in Plato's dialogue Of the Soul Socrates blames him in the following passage: 36
[PLATO] 'BUT once when I heard a man reading out of a book, as he said, of Anaxagoras, and saying that it is mind that sets all in order, and is the cause of all, I was delighted with this cause, and it seemed to me in a certain manner right that mind should be the cause of all things, and I thought, if this is so, mind in its ordering all things must arrange each in such a way that all may be best.
'If therefore any one should wish to find the cause of each thing, how it comes into being or perishes or exists, what he must find out about it is this, how it is best for it either to be, or to do or suffer anything else. According to this theory then a man ought to consider nothing else, whether in regard to himself or others, except what is best and most perfect: then the same man must necessarily know also the worse; for the knowledge concerning them is the same.
'Reasoning thus then I rejoiced to think that I had found in Anaxagoras a teacher of the cause of existing things after my own mind, and that he would tell me in the first place whether the earth is flat or round, and, after he had told me, would further explain the cause and the necessity, stating which is the better, and that it is better for it to be of such shape: and if he should say that it is in the centre, I thought that he would go on to explain that it is better for it to be in the centre: and if he should prove all this to me, I was prepared to desire no other kind of cause beyond that.
'Moreover I was prepared to make the like inquiries concerning sun and moon and the other heavenly bodies as to their relative swiftness, and turning-points and other conditions, how it is better for each of them thus to act and be acted upon as they are. For I could never have thought that when he asserted that they were ordered by mind he would ascribe any other cause to them, except that it was best for them to be just as they are.
'I thought therefore that in assigning its cause to each of them severally, and to all in common, he would further explain what was best for each and what was the common good of all. And I would not have sold my expectations for a great deal, but I seized the books very eagerly, and began to read as fast as I could, in order that I might know as soon as possible what was best and what worse. How glorious then the hope, my friend, from which I was driven away, when, as I went on reading, I saw a man making no use of mind, nor alleging any (real) causes for the ordering of things, but treating as causes a parcel of airs and ethers and waters, and many other absurdities.
'And he seemed to me to be very much in the same case as if one were to say that whatever Socrates does he does by mind, and then, on attempting to state the causes of each of my actions, should say first of all that the reasons of my sitting here now are these, that my body is composed of bones and muscles, and the bones are hard and have joints separate one from another, while the muscles are capable of contraction and relaxation, surrounding the bones as do also the flesh and skin which hold them together. When therefore the bones are lifted in their sockets, the muscles by their relaxation and contraction make me able, I suppose, now to bend my limbs, and this is the cause why I am sitting here with my knees bent.
Again, with regard to my conversing with you, it is as if he were to state other causes, such as these, a set of sounds, and airs, and hearings, and ten thousand other things of this kind, but should neglect to mention the true causes, namely, that since the Athenians thought it better to condemn me, for that reason I too in my turn have thought it better to sit here, and more just to remain and undergo my sentence, whatever they may have ordered.
'For, by the Dog! I think these muscles and these bones would long ago have been near Megara or Boeotia, carried thither by their opinion of what is best, did I not think it more just and more noble to undergo any sentence which the state may appoint, instead of taking to flight like a runaway.
'But to call such things as these causes is extremely absurd: if however any one were to say that without having such things, bones and muscles and all else that I have, I should not be able to do what I thought right, he would speak truly; but to say that these are the causes of my doing what I do, and that I do so by mind, but not by choice of what is best, would be a great and extreme carelessness of speech.'
Then he adds: 37
'And for this reason one man by surrounding the earth with a vortex makes it to be kept steady forsooth by the heaven, while another sets the air as a support to the earth as if it were a broad kneading-trough. But the power by which things are now set in the best possible way for them to have been placed, this they neither investigate, nor think that there is any superhuman force in it, but imagine that they might at some time discover an Atlas stronger and more immortal than this, and more capable of holding all things together, and suppose that "the good and binding" does in reality bind and hold together nothing at all.'
So much says Socrates of the opinion of Anaxagoras. Now Anaxagoras was succeeded by Archelaus both in the school and in opinion, and Socrates is said to have been a disciple of Archelaus. Other physical philosophers, however, as Xenophanes and Pythagoras, who nourished at the same time with Anaxagoras, discussed the imperishable nature of God and the immortality of the soul. And from these afterwards arose the sects of Greek philosophy, some of whom followed these, and some followed others, and certain of them also invented opinions of their own. Again then Plutarch writes of their suppositions concerning gods in this same manner: 38
[PLUTARCH] 'SOME of the philosophers, as Diagoras of Melos, and Theodoras of Cyrene, and Euemerus of Tegea, altogether deny that there are any gods'. There is an allusion also to Euemerus in the Iambic poems of Callimachus of Cyrene. Euripides also, the tragic poet, though he was loth to withdraw the veil through fear of the Areopagus, yet gave a glimpse of this. For he brought Sisyphus forward as the patron of this opinion, and advocated his judgement.'
After these he brings in Anaxagoras again, stating that he was the first who formed right thoughts about God. And this is how he speaks: 39
'But Anaxagoras says that in the beginning the bodies were motionless, but the mind of God distributed them in order, and produced the generations of the universe. Plato, however, supposed that the primordial bodies were not motionless, but were moving in a disorderly way: wherefore, says he, God having ordained that order is better than disorder, made an orderly distribution of them.'
To which he adds:
'They therefore are both in error, because they represented God as having regard to human affairs, and arranging the world for this purpose: for the living Being which is blessed and immortal, supplied with all good things, and incapable of any misfortune, being wholly occupied with the maintenance of its own happiness and immortality, has no regard for human affairs. But he would be a miserable being if he carried burdens like a labourer or artisan, and was full of cares about the constitution of the world.
'And again the god of whom they speak either was not existing throughout that former age when the primary bodies were motionless, or when they were moving in disorderly fashion, or else he was either asleep, or awake, or neither of these. We can neither admit the first, for every god is eternal; nor the second, for if God was sleeping from eternity He was dead; for an eternal sleep is death. But surely God is incapable of sleep; for the immortality of God and that which is akin to death are far apart.
'If then God was awake, either He was in want of something to complete His happiness, or He was complete in blessedness. And neither according to the first case is God blessed, for that which is wanting in happiness is not blessed: nor according to the second case; for being deficient in nothing, any actions He might attempt must be void of purpose. And if God exists, and if human affairs are administered by His care, how conies it that the counterfeit is prosperous, and the worthy suffers adversity?
'For Agamemnon, who was both
"A valiant warrior and a virtuous king," 40
was overpowered and treacherously murdered by an adulterer and adulteress. Also his kinsman Hercules, after purging away many of the plagues by which human life is infested, was treacherously murdered with a poisoned robe by Deianira.
'Thales held that god is the mind of the world; Anaximander that the stars are celestial gods; Democritus that god is like a sphere amid fire, which is the soul of the world.
'Pythagoras held that of first principles the monad is god: and the good, which is the nature of the One, is the mind itself. But the unlimited duad is a daemon and the evil, and it is surrounded by the multitude of matter and the visible world.'
Now after these, hear what were the opinions held by those of more recent time: 41
'Socrates and Plato held that (God is) the One, the single self-existent nature, the monadic, the real Being, the good: and all this variety of names points immediately to mind. God therefore is mind, a separate species, that is to say what is purely immaterial and unconnected with anything passible.
'Aristotle held that the Most High God is a separate species, and rides upon the sphere of the universe, which is an etherial body, the fifth essence so-called by him. And when this had been divided into spheres, which though connected in their nature are separated by reason, he thinks that each of the spheres is a living being compounded of body and soul, of which the body is etherial, and moves in a circular orbit, while the soul, being itself motionless reason, is actually the cause of the motion.
'The Stoics set forth an intelligent god, an artistic fire, proceeding methodically to generate a world, which comprises all the seminal laws, in accordance with which things are severally produced according to fate: also a spirit, which pervades the whole world, but receives different names according to the changes of the matter through which it has passed.
'They regard as a god the world, and the stars, and the earth, but mind which is highest of all they place in the ether.
'Epicurus held that the gods are of human shape, but all to be discerned by reason because of the fineness of the particles in the nature of their forms. The same philosopher added four other natures generically imperishable, namely the atoms, the vacuum, the infinite, the similarities, which are called homoeomeriae and elements.'
Such are the dissensions and blasphemies concerning God of the physical philosophers, among whom, as is proved by this narrative, Pythagoras, and Anaxa-goras, and Plato, and Socrates were the first who made mind and God preside over the world. These then are shown to have been in their times very children, as compared with the times at which the remotest events in Hebrew antiquity are fixed by history.
Accordingly among all the Greeks, and those who long ago introduced the polytheistic superstition among both the Phoenicians and Egyptians, the knowledge of the God of the universe was not very ancient, but the first of the Greeks to publish it were Anaxagoras and his school. Moreover the doctrines of the polytheistic superstition prevailed over all nations; but they contained, as it seems, not the true theology, but that which the Egyptians and Phoenicians, as was testified, were the very first to establish.
And this was a theology which by no means treated of gods, nor of any divine powers, but of men who had already been long lying among the dead, as was shown long since by our word of truth. Come then, let us take up our argument again. Since among the physical philosophers some were for bringing all things down to the senses, while others drew all in the contrary direction, as Xenophanes of Colophon, and Parmenides the Eleatic, who made nought of the senses, asserting that there could be no comprehension of things sensible, and that we must therefore trust to reason alone, let us examine the objections which have been urged against them.
[ARISTOCLES] 42 'BUT there came others uttering language opposed to these. For they think we ought to put down the senses and their presentations, and trust only to reason. For such were formerly the statements of Xenophanes and Parmenides and Zenon and Melissus, and afterwards of Stilpo and the Megarics. Whence these maintain that "being" is one, and that the "other" does not exist, and that nothing is generated, and nothing perishes, nor is moved at all.
'The fuller argument then against these we shall learn in our course of philosophy; at present, however, we must say as much as this. We should argue, that though reason is the most divine of our faculties, yet nevertheless we have need also of sense, just as we have of the body. And it is evidently the nature of sense also to be true: for it is not possible that the sentient subject should not be in some way affected, and being affected he must know the affection: therefore sensation also is a kind of knowledge.
'Moreover if sensation is a kind of affection, and everything that is affected is affected by something, that which acts must certainly be other than that which is acted on. So that first there would be the so-called "other," as for instance, the colour and the sound; and then the existing thing will not be one: nor moreover will it be motionless, for sensation is a motion.
'And in this way every one wishes to have his senses in a natural state, inasmuch as he trusts, I suppose, to sound senses rather than to diseased. With good reason therefore a strong love of our senses is infused in us. No one certainly, unless mad, would choose ever to lose a single sense, that so he might gain all other good things.
'Those then who found fault with the senses, if at least they were persualded that it was useless to have them, ought to have said just what Pandarus says in Homer about his own bow,
"Then may a stranger's sword cut off my head,
If with these hands I shatter not and burn
The bow that thus hath failed me at my need," 43
and immediately after to have destroyed all their senses: for thus one would have believed them as teaching by deed that they had no need of them.
'But now this is the very greatest absurdity; for though in their words they declare their senses to be useless, in their deeds they continue to make the fullest use of them.
'Melissus in fact wishing to show why none of these things which are apparent and visible really exists, demonstrates it by the phenomena themselves. He says in fact: "For if earth exists, and water, and air, and fire, and iron, and gold, and the living and the dead, and black and white, and all the other things which men say are real, and if we see and hear rightly, then 'being' also ought to be such as it at first seemed to us to be, and not to change, nor become other, but each, thing ought always to be just such as it is. But now we say that we see, and hear, and understand aright: yet it seems to us that the hot becomes cold, and the cold hot, and the hard soft, and the soft hard."
'But when he used to say these and many other such things one might very reasonably have asked him, Well then, was it not by sensation you learned that what is hot now becomes cold afterwards? And in like manner concerning the other instances. For just as I said, it would be found that he abolishes and convicts the senses because he most fully believes them.
'But in fact the arguments of this kind have already been subjected to nearly sufficient correction: they have certainly become obsolete, as if they had never been uttered at all. Now indeed we may say boldly that those philosophers take the right course who adopt both the senses and the reason for acquiring the knowledge of things.'
Such then were the followers of Xenophanes, who is said to have flourished at the same time with Pythagoras and Anaxagoras. Now a hearer of Xenophanes was Parmenides, and of Parmenides Melissus, of him Zeno, of him Leucippus, of him Democritus, of him Protagoras and Nessas, and of Nessas Metrodorus, of him Diogenes, of him Anaxarchus, and a disciple of Anaxarchus was Pyrrho, from whom arose the school of those who were surnamed Sceptics. And as these also laid it down that no conception of anything was possible either by sense or by reason, but suspended their judgement in all cases, we may learn how they were refuted by those who held an opposite opinion, from the book before mentioned, speaking word for word as follows: 44
"BEFORE all things it is necessary to make a thorough examination of our own knowledge; for if it is our nature to know nothing there is no further need to inquire about other things.
'Some then there were even of the ancients who spoke this language, and who have been opposed by Aristotle. Pyrrho indeed, of Elis, spoke strongly in this sense, but has not himself left anything in writing. But his disciple Timon says that the man who means to be happy must look to these three things: first, what are the natural qualities of things; secondly, in what way we should be disposed towards them; and lastly, what advantage there will be to those who are so disposed.
'The things themselves then, he professes to show, are equally indifferent, and unstable, and indeterminate, and therefore neither our senses nor our opinions are either true or false. For this reason then we must not trust them, but be without opinions, and without bias, and without wavering, saying of every single thing that it no more is than is not, or both is and is not, or neither is nor is not.
'To those indeed who are thus disposed the result, Timon says, will be first speechlessness, and then imperturbability, but Aene-sidemus says pleasure.
'These then are the chief points of their arguments: and now let us consider whether they are right in what they say. Since therefore they say that all things are equally indifferent, and bid us for this reason attach ourselves to none, nor hold any opinion, I think one may reasonably ask them, whether those who think things differ are in error or not. For if they are in error, surely they cannot be right in their supposition. So they will be compelled to say that there are some who have false opinions about things, and they themselves therefore must be those who speak the truth: and so there must be truth and falsehood. But if we the many are not in error in thinking that things differ, what do they mean by rebuking us? For they must be in error themselves in maintaining that they do not differ.
'Moreover if we should even grant to them that all things are equally indifferent, it is evident that even they themselves would not differ from the multitude. What then would their wisdom, be? And why does Timon abuse all other persons, and sing the praises of Pyrrho only?
'Yet, further, if all things are equally indifferent and we ought therefore to have no opinion, there would be no difference even in these cases, I mean in the differing or not differing, and the having or not having an opinion. For why should things of this kind be rather than not be? Or, as Timon says, why "yes," and why "no," and why the very "Why?" itself? It is manifest therefore that inquiry is done away: so let them cease from troubling. For at present there is no method in their madness, while, in the very act of admonishing us to have no opinion, they at the same time bid us to form an opinion, and in saying that men ought to make no statement they make a statement themselves: and though they require you to agree with no one, they command you to believe themselves: and then though they say they know nothing, they reprove us all, as if they knew very well.
'And those who assert that all things are uncertain must do one of two things, either be silent, or speak and state something. If then they should hold their peace, it is evident that against such there would be no argument. But if they should make a statement, anyhow and by all means they must say that something either is or is not, just as they certainly now say that all things are to all men matters not of knowledge but of customary opinion, and that nothing can be known.
'The man therefore who maintains this either makes the matter clear, and it is possible to understand it as spoken, or it is impossible. But if he does not make it clear, there can be absolutely no arguing in this case either with such a man. But if he should make his meaning clear, he must certainly either state what is indefinite or what is definite: and if indefinite, neither in this case would there be any arguing with him, for of the indefinite there can be no knowledge. But if the statements, or any one of them whatever, be definite, the man who states this defines something and decides. How then can all things be unknowable and indeterminate? But should he say that the same thing both is and is not, in the first place the same thing will be both true and false, and next he will both say a thing and not say it, and by use of speech will destroy speech, and moreover, while acknowledging that he speaks falsely, says that we ought to believe him.
'Now it is worth inquiring whence they learned what they say, that all things are uncertain. For they ought to know beforehand what certainty is: thus at all events they would be able to say that things have not this quality of certainty. First they ought to know affirmation, and then negation. But if they are ignorant of the nature of certainty, neither can they know what uncertainty is.
'When indeed Aenesidemus in his Outline goes through the nine moods (in all of which he has attempted to prove the uncertainty of things), which are we to say, that he speaks with knowledge of them or without knowledge? For he says that there is a difference in animals, and in ourselves, and in states, and in the modes of life, and customs, and laws: he says also that our senses are feeble, and that the external hindrances to knwoledge are many, such as distances, magnitudes, and motions: and further, the difference of condition in men young and old, and waking and sleeping, and healthy and sick: and nothing that we perceive is simple and unmixed; for all things are confused, and spoken in a relative sense.
'But when he was making these and other such fine speeches, one would have liked, I say, to ask hirn whether he was stating with full knowledge that this is the condition of things, or without knowledge. For if he did not know, how could we believe him? But if he knew, he was vastly silly for declaring at the same time that all things are uncertain, and yet saying that he knew so much.
'Moreover whenever they go through such details, they are only making a sort of induction, showing what is the nature of the phenomena and of the particulars: and a process of this kind both is, and is called, a proof. If therefore they assent to it, it is evident that they form an opinion: and if they disbelieve it, neither should we choose to give heed to them.
'Timon moreover in the Python relates a story at great length, how he met Pyrrho walking towards Delphi past the temple of Amphiaraus, and what they talked about to each other. Might not then any one who stood beside him while writing this reasonably say, Why trouble yourself, poor fellow, in writing this, and relating what you do not know? For why rather did you meet him than not meet him, and talk with him rather than not talk?
'And this same wonderful Pyrrho, did he know the reason why he was walking to see the Pythian games? Or was he wandering, like a madman, along the road? And when he began to find fault with mankind and their ignorance, are we to say that he spoke truth or not, and that Timon was affected in a certain way and agreed with his sayings, or did not heed them? For if he was not persuaded, how did he pass from a choral dancer to a philosopher, and continue to be an admirer of Pyrrho? But if he agreed with what was said, he must be an absurd person for taking to philosophy himself but forbidding us to do so.
'And one must simply wonder what is the meaning to them of Timon's lampoons and railings against all men, and the tedious Rudiments of Aenesidemus and all the like multitude of words. For if they have written these with an idea that they would render us better, and therefore think it right to confute us all, that so we may cease to talk nonsense, it is evidently their wish that we should know the truth, and assume that things are such as Pyrrho maintains. So if we were to be persuaded by them we should change from worse to better, by forming the more advantageous judgements, and approving those who gave the better advice.
'How then could things possibly be equally indifferent and indeterminate? And how could we avoid giving assent and forming opinions? And if there is no use in arguments, why do they trouble us? Or why does Timon say,
"No other mortal could with Pyrrho vie"? 45
For one would not admire Pyrrho any more than the notorious Coroebus or Meletides, who are thought to excel in stupidity.
'We ought, however, to take also the following matters into consideration. For what sort of citizen, or judge, or counsellor, or friend, or, in a word, what sort of man would such an one be? Or what evil deeds would not he dare, who held that nothing is really evil, or disgraceful, or just or unjust? For one could not say even this, that such men are afraid of the laws and their penalties; for how should they, seeing that, as they themselves say, they are incapable of feeling or of trouble?
'Timon indeed even says this of Pyrrho:
''O what a man I knew, void of conceit,
Daunted by none, who whether known to fame
Or nameless o'er the fickle nations rule,
This way and that weighed down by passion's force,
Opinion false, and legislation vain." 46
'When, however, they utter this wise saw, that one ought to live in accordance with nature and with customs, and yet not to assent to anything, they are too silly. For they require one to assent to this at least, if to nothing else, and to assume that it is so. But why ought one, rather than ought not, to follow nature and customs, if forsooth we know nothing, and have no means whereby to judge?
'It is altogether a silly thing, when they say, that just as cathartic drugs purge out themselves together with the excrements, in like manner the argument which maintains that all things are uncertain together with everything else destroys itself also. For supposing it to refute itself, they who use it must talk nonsense. It were better therefore for them to hold their peace, and not open their mouth at all,
'But in truth there is no similarity between the cathartic drug and their argument. For the drug is secreted and does not remain in the body: the argument, however, must be there in men's souls, as being always the same and gaining their belief, for it can be only this that makes them incapable of assent.
'But that it is not possible for a man to have no opinions, one may learn in the following manner. For it is impossible that he who perceives by sense does not perceive: now perception by sense is a kind of knowledge. And that he also believes his sensation is evident to all: for when he wishes to see more exactly, he wipes his eyes, and comes nearer, and shades them.
'Moreover we know that we feel pleasure and pain: for it is not possible for one who is being burned or cut to be ignorant of it. And who would not say that acts of memory surely and of recollection are accompanied by an assumption? But what need one say about common concepts, that such a thing is a man, and again concerning sciences and arts? For there would be none of these, were it not our nature to make assumptions. But for my part I pass over all other arguments. Whether, however, we believe, or whether we disbelieve the arguments used by them, in every way it is an absolute necessity to form an opinion.
'It is manifest then that it is impossible to study philosophy in this fashion; and that it is also unnatural and contrary to the laws, we may perceive as follows. For if on the other hand things were in reality of this kind, what would remain but that we must live as if asleep, in a random and senseless fashion? So that our lawgivers, and generals, and educators must all be talking nonsense. To me, however, it seems that all the rest of mankind are living in a natural way, but only those who talk this nonsense are puffed up with conceit, or rather are gone stark mad.
'Not least, however, one may learn this from the following case. Antigonus, for instance, of Carystus, who lived about the same times and wrote their biography, says that Pyrrho being pursued by a dog escaped up a tree, and, when laughed at by those who stood by, said that it was difficult to put off the man. And when his sister Philiste was to offer a sacrifice, and then one of her friends promised what was necessary for the sacrifice and did not provide it, but Pyrrho bought it, and was angry, upon his friend saying that his acts were not in accord with his words nor worthy of his impassivity, he replied, In the case of a woman certainly we ought not to make proof of it. Nevertheless his friend might fairly have answered, If there is any good in these arguments of yours, your impassivity is useless in the case even of a woman, or a dog, and in all cases.
'But it is right to ascertain both who they were that admired him, and whom he himself admired. Pyrrho then was a disciple of one Anaxarchus, and was at first a painter, and not very successful at that; next, after reading the books of Democritus, he neither found anything useful there nor wrote anything good himself, but spake evil of all, both gods and men. But afterwards wrapping himself up in this conceit, and calling himself free from conceit, he left nothing in writing.
'A disciple of his was Timon of Phlius, who at first was a dancer in the chorus at the theatres, but having afterwards fallen in with Pyrrho he composed offensive and vulgar parodies, in which he has reviled all who ever studied philosophy. For this was the man who wrote the Silli, and said:
"Mankind how poor and base, born but to eat,
Your life made up of shame, and strife, and woe." 47
''Men are but bags with vain opinions filled." 48
'When nobody took notice of them any more than if they had never been born, a certain Aenesidemus began just yesterday to stir up this nonsense again at Alexandria in Egypt. And these are just the men who were thought to be the mightiest of those who had trodden this path.
'It is evident then that no one in his right mind would approve such a sect, or course of argument, or whatever and however any one likes to call it. For I think for my part that we ought not to call it philosophy at all, since it destroys the very first principles of philosophy.'
These then are the arguments against those who are supposed to follow Pyrrho in philosophy. And near akin to them would be the answers to be urged against those who follow Aristippus of Cyrene, in saying that only the feelings are conceptional. Now Aristippus was a companion of Socrates, and was the founder of the so-called Cyrenaic sect, from which Epicurus has taken occasion for his exposition of man's proper end. Aristippus was extremely luxurious in his mode of life, and fond of pleasure; he did not, however, openly discourse on the end, but virtually used to say that the substance of happiness lay in pleasures. For by always making pleasure the subject of his discourses he led those who attended him to suspect him of meaning that to live pleasantly was the end of man.
Among his other hearers was his own daughter Arete, who having borne a son named him Aristippus, and he from having been introduced by her to philosophical studies was called his mother's pupil (mhtrodi/daktoj). He quite plainly defined the end to be the life of pleasure, ranking as pleasure that which lies in motion. For he said that there are three states affecting our temperament: one, in which we feel pain, like a storm at sea; another, in which we feel pleasure, that may be likened to a gentle undulation, for pleasure is a gentle movement, comparable to a favourable breeze; and the third is an intermediate state, in which we feel neither pain nor pleasure, which is similar to a calm. So of these feelings only, he said, we have the sensation. Now against this sect the following objections have been urged (by Aristocles). 49
'NEXT in order will be those who say that the feelings alone are conceptional, and this was asserted by some of the Cyrenaics. For they, as if oppressed by a kind of torpor, maintained that they knew nothing at all unless some one standing by struck and pricked them; for when burned or cut, they said, they knew that they felt something, but whether what burned them was fire, or what cut them iron, they could not tell.
'Men then who talk thus one might immediately ask, whether they at all events know this that they suffer and feel something. For if they do not know, neither could they say that they know only the feeling: if on the other hand they know, the feelings cannot be the only things conceptional. For "I am being burned" was a statement, and not a feeling.
'Moreover these three things must necessarily subsist together, the suffering itself, and that which causes it, and that which suffers. The man therefore who perceives the suffering must certainly by sensation feel the sufferer. For surely he will not know that some one is being warmed, it may be, without knowing whether it is himself or his neighbour; and whether now or last year, and whether at Athens or in Egypt, whether alive or dead, and moreover whether a man or a stone.
'Therefore he will also know by what he suffers: for men know one another, and roads, and cities, and their food. Artisans again know their own tools, and physicians and sailors prognosticate what is going to happen, and dogs discover the tracks of wild beasts.
'Moreover the man who suffers anything certainly perceives it either as something affecting himself or as another's suffering. Whence therefore will he be able to say that this is pleasure, and that pain? Or that he felt something by taste, or sight, or hearing? And by tasting with his tongue, and seeing with his eyes, and hearing with his ears? Or how do they know that it is right to choose this, and avoid that? But supposing them to know none of these things, they will have no impulse nor desire; and so would not be living beings. For they are ridiculous, whenever they say that these things have happened to them, but that they do not know how or in what manner. For such as these could not even say whether they are human beings, nor whether they are alive, nor, therefore, whether they say and declare anything.
'What discussion then can there be with such men as these? One may wonder, however, if they know not whether they are upon earth or in heaven; and wonder still more, if they do not know, though they profess to study this kind of philosophy, whether four are more than three, and how many one and two make. For being what they are they cannot even say how many fingers they have on their hands, nor whether each of them is one or more.
'So they would not even know their own name, nor their country, nor Aristippus: neither therefore whom they love or hate, nor what things they desire. Nor, if they were to laugh or cry, would they be able to say, that is laughable, and that painful. It is evident therefore that we do not even know what we are now saying. Such men therefore as these would be no better than gnats or flies, though even those animals know what is natural and unnatural.'
Although there are endless arguments that one might use against men in this state of mind, yet these are sufficient. The next thing is to join them in examining those who have taken the opposite road, and decided that we ought to believe the bodily senses in everything, among whom are Metrodorus of Chios, and Protagoras of Abdera.
Metrodorus then was said to have been a hearer of Democritus, and to have declared 'plenum' and 'vacuum' to be first principles, of which the former was 'being,' and the latter 'not-being.' So in writing about nature he employed an introduction of this kind,50 'None of us knows anything, not even this, whether we know or do not know': an introduction which gave a mischievous impulse to Pyrrho who came afterwards. Then he went on to say that 'all things are just what any one may think them.'
And as to Protagoras it is reported that he was called an atheist. In fact he, too, in writing about the gods used this sort of introduction: 51
'So as to gods I know not either that they exist, nor what their nature is: for there are many things that hinder me from knowing each of these points.'
This man the Athenians punished by banishment, and burned his books publicly in the middle of the marketplace. Since then these men asserted that we must believe our senses only, let us look at the arguments urged against them (by Aristocles). 52
'Now there have been men who maintained that we must believe only sense and its presentations. Some indeed say that even Homer intimates this kind of doctrine by declaring that Ocean is the first principle, as though all things were in flux. But of those known to us, Metrodorus of Chios seems to make the same statement; Protagoras of Abdera not only seems, but expressly states this.
'For he said that "the Man is the measure of all things, of existing things, that they exist, of non-existent things, that they do not exist: for as things appear to each person, such they also are; and of the rest we can affirm nothing positively."
'Now in answer to them one may say what Plato says in the Theaetetus:53 in the first place, why in the world, if such forsooth is the nature of things, did he assert that "the Man" is the measure of truth and not a pig or a dog-headed ape? But next, how did they mean that themselves were wise, if forsooth every one is the measure of truth to himself? Or how do they refute other men, if that which appears to each is true? And how is it that we are ignorant of some things, though we often perceive them by sensation, just as when we hear barbarians speaking?
'Moreover the man who has seen anything, and then remembers it, knows it, though he is no longer sensible of it. And if he should shut one eye and see with the other, he will evidently be both knowing and not knowing the same thing.
'And in addition to this, if that which appears to each is also true, but what they say does not appear true to us, it must also be true that the Man is not the measure of all things.
'Moreover artists are superior to the unskilled, and experts to the inexperienced, and for this reason a pilot, or a physician, or a general foresees better what is about to happen.
'These men too absolutely destroy the degrees of the more or less, and the necessary and contingent, and the natural and unnatural. And thus the same thing would both be and not be; for nothing hinders the same thing from appearing to some to be, and to others not to be. And the same thing would be both a man and a block: for sometimes the same thing appears to one a man and to another a block.
'Every speech too would be true, but also for this reason false: and counsellors and judges would not have anything to do. And what is most terrible, the same persons will be both good and bad, and vice and virtue the same thing. Many other instances also of this kind one might mention; but in fact there is no need of more arguments against those who think that they have no mind nor reason.'
Then next he adds:
'But since there are even now some who say that every sensation and every presentation is true, let us say a few words about them also. For these seem to be afraid lest, if they should say that some sensations are false, they should not have their criterion and their canon sure and trustworthy: but they fail to see that, if this be so, they should lose no time in declaring that all opinions also are true; for it is natural to us to judge by them also of many things: and nevertheless they maintain that some opinions are true and some false.
'And then if one were to examine he would see that none even of the other criteria are always and thoroughly free from error; as for instance I mean a balance, or a turning-lathe, or anything of this kind: but each of them in one condition is sound and in another bad; and when men use it in this way, it tells true, but in that way tells false. Moreover if every sensation were true, they ought not to differ so much. For they are different when near and far off, and in the sick and the strong, and in the skilled and unskilled, and prudent and senseless. And of course it would be altogether absurd to say that the sensations of the mad are true, and of those who see amiss, and hear amiss. For the statement that he who sees amiss either sees or does not see would be silly: for one would answer, that he sees indeed, but not aright.
'When, however, they say that sensation being devoid of reason neither adds anything nor takes away, it is evident that they fail to see the obstacles: for in the case of the oar in the water, and in pictures, and numberless other things, it is the sense that deceives. Wherefore in such cases we all lay the blame not on our mind, but on the presentation: for the argument refutes itself when it maintains that every presentation is true. For at all events it declares the falsity of ours, which causes us to think that not every presentation is true. The result then for them is to say that every presentation is both true and false.
'And they are altogether wrong in maintaining that things really are just such as they may seem to us: for on the contrary they appear such as they are by nature, and we do not make them to be so, but are ourselves affected in a certain way by them. Since if we were to imagine puppies or young kids, as painters and sculptors do, it would be ridiculous to assert straightway that they existed, and therefore to represent them to ourselves as standing ready at hand.'
From what has been said then it is evident that they do not speak rightly who assert that every sensation and every presentation is true. But in fact, though this is so, Epicurus again, starting from the School of Aristippus, made all things depend on pleasure and sense, defining the feelings alone to be conceptional, and pleasure the end of all good.
Now some say that Epicurus had no teacher, but read the writings of the ancients; others say that he was a hearer of Xenocrates, and afterwards of Nausiphanes also, who had been a disciple of Pyrrho. Let us see then what are the arguments which have been urged against him also. 54
[ARISTOCLES] 'SINCE knowledge is of two kinds, the one of things external, and the other of what we can choose or avoid, some say that as the principle and criterion of choosing and avoiding we have pleasure and pain: at least the Epicureans now still say something of this kind: it is necessary therefore to consider these points also.
'For my part then I am so far from saying that feeling is the principle and canon of things good and evil, that I think a criterion is needed for feeling itself. For though it proves its own existence, something else is wanted to judge of its nature. For though the sensation tells whether the feeling is our own or another's, it is reason that tells whether it is to be chosen or avoided.
'They say indeed that they do not themselves welcome every pleasure, and shun every pain. And this is a very natural result. For the criteria prove both themselves and the things which they judge: feeling, however, proves itself only. And that this is so, they bear witness themselves. For although they maintain that every pleasure is a good and every pain an evil, nevertheless they do not say that we ought always to choose the former and avoid the latter, for they are measured by quantity and not by quality.
'It is evident therefore that nothing else than reason, judges the quantity: for it is reason that gives the judgement, "It is better to endure this or that pain that so we may enjoy greater pleasures," and this, "It is expedient to abstain from this or that pleasure, in order that we may not suffer more grievous pains," and all cases of this kind.
'On the whole, sensations and presentations seem to be, as it were, mirrors and images of things: but feelings and pleasures and pains to be changes and alterations in ourselves. And thus in sensation and in forming presentations we look to the external objects, but in experiencing pleasure and pain we turn our attention to ourselves only. For our sensations are caused by the external objects, and as their character may be, such also are the presentations which they produce: but our feelings take this or that character because of ourselves, and according to our state.
'Wherefore these appear sometimes pleasant and sometimes unpleasant, and sometimes more and sometimes less. And this being so, we shall find, if we should choose to examine, that the best assumptions of the principles of knowledge are made by those who take into consideration both the senses and the mind.
'While the senses are like the toils and nets and other hunting implements of this kind, the mind and the reason are like the hounds that track and pursue the prey. Better philosophers, however, than even these we must consider those to be who neither make use of their senses at random, nor associate their feelings in the discernment of truth. Else it would be a monstrous thing for beings endowed with man's nature to forsake the most divine judgement of the mind and entrust themselves to irrational pleasures and pains.'
So much, from the writings of Aristocles.
[PLATO] 55 'Let us then judge each of the three separately in relation to Pleasure and to Mind: for we must see to which of these two we are to assign each of them as more akin.
'You are speaking of Beauty, and Truth, and Moderation?
'Yes: but take Truth first, Protarchus, and then look at three things, Mind, and Truth, and Pleasure, and after taking long time for deliberation make answer to yourself whether Pleasure or Mind is more akin to Truth.
'But what need of time? For I think they differ widely. Pleasure is of all things most full of false pretensions; and in the pleasures of love, the greatest as they are thought, even perjury, as they say, is forgiven by the gods, its votaries being regarded, like children, as possessing not even the smallest share of Reason; while Reason is either the same thing as Truth, or of all things most like it and most true.
'Will you not then next consider Moderation in the same way, whether Pleasure possesses more of it than Wisdom, or Wisdom more than Pleasure?
'An easy question this again that you propose. For I think one would find nothing in the world of a more immoderate nature than Pleasure and delight, nor any single thing more full of moderation than Reason and Science.
'You say well; yet go on to speak of the third point. Has Reason a larger share of Beauty than Pleasure has, so that Reason is more beautiful than Pleasure, or the contrary?
'Is it not the fact, Socrates, that no one ever yet whether waking or dreaming either saw or imagined Wisdom and Reason to be unseemly in any way or in any case, either past, present, or to come?
'But surely when we see any one indulging in Pleasures, and those too the greatest, the sight either of the ridicule or of the extreme disgrace that follows upon them makes us ashamed ourselves, and we put them out of sight and conceal them as much as possible, consigning all such things to night, as unfit for the light to look upon.
'In every way then, Protarchus, you will assert, both by messengers to the absent and by word of mouth to those present, that Pleasure is not the first of possessions nor yet the second, but the first is concerned with Measure, and Moderation, and opportuneness, and whatever qualities of this kind must be regarded as having acquired the eternal nature.
'So it appears from what you now say.
'The second is concerned with Symmetry and Beauty and Perfection and Sufficiency, and all qualities which are of this family.
'It seems so, certainly.
'If then, as I foretell, you assume as the third class mind and wisdom, you will not go far astray from the truth.
'Shall we not say then that the fourth class, in addition to these three, are what we assumed to belong to the soul itself, sciences, and arts, and right opinions as they were called, inasmuch as they are more akin to the good than to Pleasure?
'In the fifth place then pleasures which we assumed in our definition to be unmixed with pain, and called them pure cognitions of the soul itself, but consequent on the sensations.
'And, as Orpheus says,
"In the sixth age still the sweet voice of song." 56
But our discourse also seems to have been brought to an end at the sixth trial. And nothing is left for us after this except to put the crown as it were upon what we have said.
'Yes, that is proper.
'Come then, as the third libation to Zeus Soter, let us with solemn asseveration go over the same argument.
'Philebus proposed to us that the good is pleasure universally and absolutely.
'By the third libation, Socrates, it seems that you meant just now that we must take up again the argument from the beginning.
'Yes. But let us listen to what follows. On my part when I perceived what I have now been stating, and was indignant at the argument employed by Philebus, and not by him only but often by thousands of others, I said that Mind was far nobler than Pleasure, and better for human life.
'It was so.
'Yes, but, suspecting that there were many other good things, I said that if any of these should be found better than both the former, I would fight it out for the second prize on the side of Mind against Pleasure, and Pleasure would be deprived even of the second prize.
'You did indeed say so.
'And presently it was most satisfactorily shown that neither of these was sufficient.
'So in this argument both Reason and Pleasure had been entirely set aside, as being neither of them the absolute good, since they lacked sufficiency, and the power of adequacy and perfection.
'But something else having been found better than either of them, Mind has now again been shown to be ten thousand times closer and more akin than Pleasure to the nature of the conqueror.
'So then the power of Pleasure will be fifth in the award, as our argument has now declared.
'It seems so.
'But not first, no, not even if all oxen and horses and other beasts together should assert it by their pursuit of enjoyment, though the multitude believing them, as soothsayers believe birds, judge pleasures to be most powerful to give us a happy life, and think that the lusts of animals are more valid witnesses than the words of those who from time to time have prophesied by inspiration of the philosophic Muse.
'Now at last, Socrates, we all say that you have spoken most truly.'
So writes Plato. But I am also going to set before you a few passages of Dionysius, a bishop who professed the Christian philosophy, from his work On Nature, in answer to Epicurus. And do thou take and read his own words, which are as follows: 57
[DIONYSIUS OF ALEXANDRIA] 'Is the universe one connected whole, as it seems to us and to the wisest of the Greeks, such as Plato and Pythagoras and the Stoics and Heracleitus? Or two, as some one may have supposed, or even many and infinite in number, as it seemed to some others, who by many aberrations of thought and various applications of terms have attempted minutely to divide the substance of the universe, and suppose it to be infinite, and uncreated, and undesigned.
'For some who gave the name "atoms" to certain imperishable and most minute bodies infinite in number, and assumed a void space of boundless extent, say that these atoms being borne on at random in the void, and accidentally colliding with each other through an irregular drift, become entangled, because they are of many shapes and catch hold of each other, and thus produce the world and all things in it, or rather worlds infinite in number.
'Epicurus and Democritus were of this opinion: but they disagreed in so far as the former supposed all atoms to be extremely small and therefore imperceptible, while Democritus supposed that there were also some very large atoms. Both, however, affirm that there are atoms, and that they are so called because of their impenetrable hardness.
'But others change the name of the atoms, and say that they are bodies which have no parts, but are themselves parts of the universe, out of which in their indivisible state all things are composed, and into which they are resolved. And they say that it was Diodorus who invented the name (ta_ a)merh~) of these bodies without parts. But Heracleides, it is said, gave them a different Dame, and called them "weights," and from him Asclepiades the physician inherited the name.'
After these statements he proceeds to overthrow the doctrine by many arguments, but especially by those which follow: 58
'How are we to bear with them when they assert that the wise and therefore beautiful works of creation are accidental coincidences? Works, of which each as it came into being by itself, and likewise all of them taken together, were seen to be good by Him who commanded them to be made. For the Scripture says, "And God saw all things that He had made, and behold, they were very good." 59
'Nay, they will not even be taught by the small and familiar examples lying at their feet, from which they might learn that no useful and beneficial work is made without a special purpose, or by mere accident, but is perfected by handiwork for its proper service: but when it begins to fall off and become useless and unserviceable, then it is dissolved and dispersed in an indefinite and casual way, inasmuch as the wisdom by whose care it was constructed no longer manages nor directs it.
'For a cloak is not woven by the warp being arranged without a weaver, or the woof intertwined of its own accord; but if it be worn out, the tattered rags are cast away. A house too or a city is built up not by receiving some stones self-deposited at the foundations, and others jumping up to the higher courses, but the builder brings the well-fitted stones and lays them in their place: but when the building is overthrown, however it may occur, each stone falls down and is lost.
'Also while a ship is being built, the keel does not lay itself, and the mast set itself up amidships, and each of the other timbers of itself take any chance position;60 nor do the so-called hundred pieces of the wagon fit themselves together each in any vacant place it finds: but the carpenter in either case brings them together fitly.
'But should the ship go to pieces at sea, or the wagon in its course on land, the timbers are scattered wherever it may chance, in the one case by the waves, and in the other by the violent driving. Thus it would befit them to say that their atoms, as remaining idle, and not made by hands, and of no use, are driven at random. Be it for them to see the invisible atoms, and understand the unintelligible, unlike him who confesses that this had been manifested to him by God saying to God Himself, "Mine eyes did see Thy unperfected work." 61
'But when they say that even what they assert to be finely-woven textures made out of atoms are wrought by them spontaneously without wisdom and without perception, who can endure to hear of the atoms as workmen, though they are inferior in wisdom even to the spider which spins its web out of itself?'
'OR who can endure to hear that this great house, which consists of heaven and earth, and, because of the great and manifold wisdom displayed upon it, is called the Cosmos, has been set in order by atoms drifting with no order at all, and that disorder has thus become order?
'Or how believe that movements and courses well regulated are produced from an irregular drift? Or that the all-harmonious quiring of the heavenly bodies derives its concord from tuneless and inharmonious instruments?
'Also if there be but one and the same substance of all atoms, and the same imperishable nature, excepting, as they say, their magnitudes and shapes, how is it that some bodies are divine, and incorruptible, and eternal, or at least, as they would say, secular according to him who so named them, both visible and invisible, visible as the sun, and moon, and stars, and earth and water, and invisible as gods, and daemons, and souls? For that these exist, they cannot, even if they would, deny.
'And the most long-lived are animals and plants; animals, in the class of birds, as they say, eagles, and ravens, and the phoenix; and among land animals, stags, and elephants, and serpents; but among aquatic animals, whales: and among trees, palms, and oaks, and perseae; and of trees some are evergreen, of which some one who had counted them said there were fourteen, and some flower for a season, and shed their leaves: but the greatest part both of plants and animals die early and are short-lived, and man among them, as a certain holy Scripture said of him, "Man that is born of a woman hath but a short time to live." 62
'But they will say that variations in the bonds which connect the atoms are the causes of the difference in duration. For some things are said to be packed close and fastened tightly together by them, so that they have become close textures extremely difficult to unloose, while in others the combination of the atoms has been weak and loose in a greater or less degree, so that either quickly or after a long time they separate from their orderly arrangement: and some things are made up of atoms of a certain nature shaped in a certain way, and others of different kinds of atoms differently arranged.
'Who is it then that distinguishes the classes, and collects them, and spreads them abroad, and arranges some in this way for a sun, and others in that way to produce the moon, and brings together the several kinds according to their fitness for the light of each separate star? For neither would the solar atoms, of such a number and kind as they are, and in such wise united, ever have condescended to the formation of a moon, nor would the combinations of the lunar atoms ever have become a sun. Nay, nor would Arcturus, bright though he is, ever boast of possessing the atoms of the morning star, nor the Pleiades those of Orion. For it was a fine distinction drawn by Paul when he said, "There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars: for one star differeth from another star in glory." 63
'And if their combination, as of things without life, took place unconsciously, they required a skilful artificer: and if their conjunction was involuntary and of necessity, as in things without reason, then some wise leader of the flock presided over their gathering. But if they have been willingly confined to the performance of a voluntary work, some marvellous architect took the lead in apportioning their work; or acted as a general who, loving order, does not leave his army in confusion and all mixed up together, but arranges the cavalry in one place, and the heavy-armed infantry separately, and the javelin-men by themselves, and the archers apart, and the slingers in the proper place, that those of like arms might fight side by side.
'But if they think this example a jest because I make a comparison between large bodies and very small, we will turn to the very smallest.'
Then he adds next to this:
'But if there were neither word, nor choice, nor order of a ruler laid upon them, but they by themselves directing themselves through the great throng of the stream, and passing out through the great tumult of their collisions, were brought together like to like not by the guidance of God, as the poet says,64 but ran together and gathered in groups recognizing their own kin, then wonderful surely would be this democracy of the atoms, friends welcoming and embracing one another, and hastening to settle in one common home; while some of them rounded themselves off of their own accord into that mighty luminary the sun, in order to make day, and others flamed up into many pyramids perhaps of stars, in order to crown the whole heaven; while others are ranged around, perchance to make it firm, and throw an arch over the ether for the luminaries to ascend, and that the confederacies of the common atoms may choose their own abodes, and portion out the heaven into habitations and stations for themselves.'
Then after some other passages he says:
'But these improvident men, so far from discerning what is invisible, do not see even what is plainly visible. For they seem not even to observe the regular risings and settings either of the other bodies, or the most conspicuous, those of the sun, nor to make use of the aids bestowed through them upon mankind, the day lighted up for work, and the night overshadowing for rest. For "man," says the Scripture, "will go forth to his work and to his labour until the evening." 65
'Nay, they do not even observe that other revolution of the sun, in which he completes determinate times and convenient seasons and solstices recurring in undeviating order, being guided by the atoms of which he consists. But though these miserable men, the righteous, however, as they believe, be unwilling to admit it, yet "Great is the Lord that made him, and at His word he hasteneth his course." 66
'For do atoms, O ye blind, bring you winter and rains, that the earth may send up food for you and all the living creatures thereon? And do they lead on the summer, that ye may also receive the fruits of the trees for enjoyment? And why then do ye not worship the atoms, and offer sacrifice to the guardians of your fruits? Ungrateful surely, for not consecrating to them even small first-fruits of the abundant gifts which ye receive from them.'
And after a short interval he says:
'But the stars, that mixed democracy of many tribes, constituted by the wandering atoms ever scattering themselves abroad, marked off regions for themselves by agreement, just as if they had instituted a colony or a community, without any founder or master presiding over them; and the border-laws towards neighbouring nations they faithfully and peacefully observe, not encroaching beyond the boundaries which they have occupied from the beginning, just as if they had laws established by these royal atoms.
'Yet these do not rule over them: for how could they, that are non-existent? But listen to the oracles of God:67 "In the judgement of the Lord are His works from the beginning; and from the making of them He disposed the parts thereof. He garnished His works for ever, and the beginnings of them unto their generations."'
And after a few sentences he says:
'Or what phalanx ever marched across the level ground in such good order, none running on ahead, none falling out of rank, none blocking the way, nor lagging behind his company, as in even ranks and shield to shield the stars move ever onward, that continuous, undivided, unconfused, unhindered host?
'Nevertheless, by inclinations and sidelong deviations, certain obscure changes of their course occur. And yet those who have given attention to these matters always watch for the right times and foresee the places from which they each rise. Let then the anatomists of the atoms, and dividers of the indivisible, and compounders of the uncompounded, and definers of the infinite, tell us whence comes the simultaneous circular revolution and periodical return of the heavenly bodies, wherein it is not merely one single conglomeration of atoms that has been thus casually hurled out as from a sling, but all this great circular choir moving evenly in rhythm, and whirling round together. And whence comes it, that this vast multitude of fellow travellers without arrangement, without purpose, and without knowledge of each other, have returned together? Rightly did the prophet class it among things impossible and unexampled that even two strangers should run together: "Shall two," he says, "walk together at all, except they have known each other?'" 68
After speaking thus, and adding numberless other remarks to these, he next discusses the question at length by arguments drawn from the particular elements of the universe, and from the living beings of all kinds included in them, and moreover from the nature of man. And by adding yet a few of these arguments to those which have been mentioned, I shall bring the present subject to an end.
'ALSO, they neither understand themselves nor their own circumstances. For if any of the founders of this impious doctrine reconsidered who and whence he is, he would come to his senses as feeling conscious of himself, and would say, not to the atoms, but to his Father and Maker, "Thy hands fashioned me, and made me," 69 and like that writer he would have described still further the wonderful manner of his formation: "Hast Thou not poured me out as milk, and curdled me like cheese? Clothed me with skin and flesh, and knit me together with bones and sinews? Thou hast granted me life and favour, and Thy guardianship hath preserved my spirit." 70
'For how many and of what sort were the atoms which the father of Epicurus poured forth from himself, when he was begetting Epicurus? And when deposited in his mother's womb, how did they coalesce, and take shape, and form, and motion, and growth? And how did that small drop, after calling together the atoms of Epicurus in abundance, make some of them into skin and flesh for a covering, and how was it raised erect by others turned into bone, and by others bound together with a contexture of sinews?
'And how did it adapt the many other limbs, and organs, and entrails, and instruments of sense, some within and some without, by which the body was quickened into life? For among these no idle nor useless part was added, no, not even the meanest, neither hair, nor nails, but all contribute, some to the benefit of the constitution, and others to the beauty of the appearance.
'For Providence is careful not only of usefulness, but also of beauty. For while the hair of the head is a protection and a covering for all, the beard is a comely ornament for the philosopher. The nature also of the whole human body Providence composed of parts, all of which were necessary, and invested all the members with their mutual connexion, and measured out from the whole their due supply.
'As to the most important of these members, it is evident even to the simple from their experience what force they have: there is the supreme power of the head, and around the brain, as enthroned in the citadel, is the attendant guard of the senses: the eyes going on in advance, the ears bringing back reports, the taste, as it were, collecting provisions, the smell tracing out and examining, and the touch arranging everything that is subject to it. (For at present we shall only run over in a summary manner a few of the works of the all-wise Providence, intending soon, if God permit, to complete the task more carefully, when we are directing our efforts against him who is thought more learned.)
'Then there is the ministry of the hands, by which all kinds of workmanship and inventive arts are perfected, separately endowed with their particular facilities for co-operation in one and the same work, the strength of the shoulders in . bearing burdens, the grasp of the fingers, the joints of the elbows both turning inward towards the body and bending outwards, that they may be able both to draw things in and thrust them off. The service of the feet, by which the whole terrestrial creation comes under our power, the land to tread on, the sea to sail, the rivers to cross, and communication of all things with all. The belly, a store-room of food, meting out from itself in due measure the provisions for all the members associated with it, and ejecting what is superfluous: and all the other parts whereby the administration of the human constitution has been manifestly contrived, and of which the wise and foolish alike possess the use but not the knowledge.
'For the wise refer the administration to whatever deity they suppose to be most perfect in all knowledge and most beneficent towards themselves, being convinced that it is the work of superior wisdom and power truly divine; while the others inconsiderately refer the most marvellous work of beauty to a chance meeting and coincidence of the atoms.
'Now though the still more effectual consideration of these subjects, and the arrangement of the internal parts of the body, have been accurately investigated by physicians, who in their astonishment made a god of nature, yet let us hereafter make a re-examination as well as we may be able, even though it be superficial.
'Now in a general and summary way I ask who made this whole tabernacle such as it is, lofty, erect, of fine proportion, keenly sensitive, graceful in motion, strong in action, fit for every kind of work? The irrational multitude of atoms, say they. Why, they could not come together and mould an image of clay, nor polish a statue of marble, nor produce by casting an idol of silver or gold; but men have been the inventors of arts and manufactures of these materials for representing the body.
'And if representations and pictures could not be made without intelligence, how can the real originals of the same have been spontaneous accidents?
'Whence too have soul, and mind, and reason been implanted in the philosopher? Did he beg them from the atoms which have no soul, nor mind, nor reason, and did each of them inspire him with some thought and doctrine?
'And was the wisdom of man brought to perfection by the atoms, in the same way as Hesiod's fable says that Pandora was by the gods? 71 Will the Greeks also cease to say that all poetry, and all music, and astronomy, and geometry, and the other sciences are inventions and instructions of the gods, and have the Atomic Muses alone been skilful and wise in all things? For the race of gods constructed by Epicurus out of atoms is banished from their infinite worlds of order, and driven out into the infinite chaos.'
'BUT to work, and to administer, to do good and to show forethought, and all such actions are burdensome perhaps to the idle and foolish, and to the feeble and wicked, among whom Epicurus enrolled himself by entertaining such thoughts of the gods; but to the earnest, and able, and wise, and prudent, such as philosophers ought to be (how much more the gods?), not only are these things not unpleasant and arduous, but even most delightful, and above all else most welcome; for to them carelessness and delay in performing any good action is judged to be a disgrace, as a poet admonishes them with his advice:
"Nor aught until the morrow to delay," 72
and with the threat in addition:
"He who puts off his work
Must ever wrestle with malignant fates." 73
'We too are more solemnly instructed by a prophet, who says that virtuous actions are truly worthy of God, and that he who cares little for them is accursed: for he says, "Cursed be he that doeth the works of the Lord carelessly." 74
'Then too those who have not learned an art, and can only pursue it imperfectly because the effort is unusual and the work unpractised, find a weariness in their attempts: but those who are making progress, and still more those who are perfect, delight in the easy accomplishment of their pursuits, and would rather choose to complete what they usually practise, and to finish their work, than to possess all the things which men reckon good.
'For instance, Democritus himself, as the story goes, used to say that he would rather discover one single law of causation than receive the kingdom of Persia, and this, although he was vainly seeking causes where no cause was, as one who started from a false principle and an erroneous hypothesis, and did not discern the root and the necessity common to the nature of all things, but regarded the contemplation of senseless and random contingencies as the highest wisdom, and set up chance as the mistress and queen of things universal and things divine, and declared that all things took place in accordance therewith, but banished it from the life of man, and convicted those who worshipped it as senseless. For example, in the beginning of his Suggestions he says: "Men formed an image of chance as an excuse for their own folly: for chance is by nature antagonistic to judgement: and this worst enemy of wisdom they said ruled over it; or rather they utterly overthrow and annihilate this latter, and set up the other in its place: for they praise not wisdom as fortunate, but fortune as most wise." 75
'Whereas therefore the masters of those works which are beneficial to life take pride in the help which they render to their fellow men, and desire praise and fame for the works in which they labour for their good, some in providing food, others as pilots, some as physicians, and some as statesmen, philosophers proudly boast of their efforts to instruct mankind.
'Or will Epicurus or Democritus dare to say that they distress themselves by their pursuit of philosophy? Nay, there is no other gladness of heart that they would prefer to this. For even though they think that good consists in pleasure, yet they will be ashamed to say that philosophy is not more pleasant to them.
'But as to the gods of whom their poets sing as "Givers of good things," 76 these philosophers with mocking reverence say, The gods are neither givers nor partakers of any good things. In what way then do they show evidence of the existence of gods, if they neither see them present and doing something, as those who in admiration of the sun and moon and stars said that they were called gods (qeou&j) because of their running (qeein), nor assign to them any work of creation or arrangement, that they might call them gods from setting (qei=nai), that is making (for in this respect in truth the Creator and Artificer of the universe alone is God), nor exhibit any administration, or judgement, or favour of theirs towards mankind, that we should owe them fear or honour, and therefore worship them?
'Or did Epicurus peep out from the world, and pass beyond the compass of the heavens, or go out through some secret gates known only to himself, and behold the gods dwelling in the void, and deem them and their abundant luxury blessed? And did he thence become a devotee of pleasure, and an admirer of their life in the void, and so exhort all who are to be made like unto those gods to participate in this blessing, commending as a happy banqueting hall for them, not heaven or Olympus, as the poets did, but the void, and setting before them their ambrosia made out of the atoms, and pledging them in nectar from the same?
'And moreover he inserts in his own books countless oaths and adjurations addressed to those who are nothing to us, swearing continually "No, by Zeus," and "Yes, by Zeus," and adjuring his readers and opponents in argument "in the name of the gods," having, I suppose, no fear himself of perjury nor trying to frighten them, but uttering this as an empty, and false, and idle, and unmeaning appendage to his speeches, just as he might hawk and spit, and turn his face, and wave his hand. Such an unintelligible and empty piece of acting on his part was his mentioning the name of the gods.
'This however was evident, that after the death of Socrates he was afraid of the Athenians, and that he might not seem to be what he really was, an atheist, he played the charlatan and painted for them some empty shadows of unsubstantial gods. For he neither looked up to heaven with eyes of intelligence, that he might hear the clear voice from above, which the attentive observer did hear, and testified that "The heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament showeth the work of His hands," 77 nor did he with his understanding look upon the ground, for he would have learned that "The earth is full of the mercy of the Lord," 78 and that "The earth is the Lord's, and the fullness thereof." 79 For the Scripture says, "After this also the Lord looked upon the earth, and filled it with His blessings. With the soul of every living thing He covered the face thereof."' 80
'And if they are not utterly blind, let them survey the vast and varied multitude of living beings, land and water animals, and birds, and let them take note how true has been the testimony of the Lord in the judgement which He passed on all His works, "And all appeared good according to His command." ' 81
These arguments I have culled from a large number framed against Epicurus by Dionysius, the bishop, our contemporary. But now it is time to pass on to Aristotle, and to the sect of the Stoic philosophers, and to review the remaining opinions of the wonderful sect of physicists, that so we may present to the censorious our defence for having withdrawn from them also.
[Footnotes placed at the end and numbered]
1. 720 b 10 Diogenes Laertius, ix. c. 8, § 51
2. 720 c 1 Aristotle, Metaphysics, A 4
3. 720 c 7 Bywater, Heracl. Rell. Fr. xxii
4. 720 d 9 Plato, Theaetetus, p. 152 D
5. 723 a Viger's edition, from which this notation is taken, passes at once from 720 to 733
6. 723 a 7 Hom. Il. xiv. 201
7. 723 b 8 Plato, Theaetetus, 179 C
8. 724 c 5 Parmenides, Fr. i. 1. 98 (Mullach, i. p. 124)
9. 724 d 9 Plato, Sophist, 242 C
10. 724 b 11 ibid. 245 E
11. 720 d 9 Hesiod, Works and Days, I. 42
12. 720 d 11 Sextus Empiricus, Pyrrh. Hyp. i. 2 20
13. 727 b 1 Numenius, The revolt of the Academics against Plato, a Fragment preserved by Eusebius
14. 729 d 4 Cf. Hom. Il. vi. 181
15. 729 d 8 Timon, Fr. 1. 72 (Mullach, i. p. 90) Diogenes Laertius, iv. c. 6
16. 730 b 3 Cf. Hom. Il. v. 85
17. 731 d 1 Hom. Il. xii. 86 (Lord Derby)
18. 731 d 2 ibid. iv. 447-449
19. 731 d 6 Hom. Il. xiii. 131
20. 731 d 8 ibid. iv. 471
21. 732 a 1 ibid. iv. 450
22. d 7 Hom. Il. x, 8
23. 739 c 1 Hom. Il. vii. 206
24. 741 a 1 Porphyry, Epistle to Anebo, § I
25. 741 b 7 ibid. § 47
26. 741 c 8 Porphyry, Against Boethus, On the Soul
27. d 14 Porphyry, Of the Philosophy derived from Oracles
28. 743 b 3 Xenophon, Memorabilia of Socrates, iv. c. 7
29. 745 a 1 Ps.-Xenophon, Epistle to Aeschines
30. d 4 See Plato, Republic, 404 C
31. 746 a 1 ibid. 521 D
32. 746 d 5 ibid. 530 E
33. 747 d 2 Plutarch, De Placitis Philosophorum, p. 875
34. 748 b 3 Hom. Il. xiv. 246
35. 749 d 12 Empedocles, On Nature, 1. 59 (Mullach, i. p. 2)
36. 750 d 1 Plato, Phaedo, p. 97 B
37. 752 d 4 Plato, Phaedo, 99 B
38. 753 b 2 Plutarch, De Placitis Philosophorum, p. 880
39. 753 e 9 ibid. p. 881
40. 754 c 1 Hom Il. iii. 179
41. d 7 Plutarch, De Placitis Philosophorum, i. 7 (Diels, Doxogr. p. 304)
42. 758 b 1 Aristocles, a Fragment preserved by Eusebius
43. 757 a 4 Hom. Il. v. 314-216 (Lord Derby)
44. 758 c 1 Aristocles, a Fragment preserved by Eusebius
45. 761 d 1 Timon, Fragments, 1. 126 (Mullach, i. p. 95)
46. 761 d 13 ibid. 1. 123
47. 763 c 6 Timon, Fragments, l. 12
48. c 9 ibid. 1. 14
49. 764 c 1 Aristocles, Fragment 4
50. 765 d 12 Diogenes Laertius, ix. 10
51. 766 a 6 ibid. ix. 51
52. 766 b 1 Aristocles, Fragment 5
53. 766 d 1 Plato, Theaetetus, 161 C, 166 C
54. 768 d 4 Aristocles, Fr. 6
55. 770 b 1 Plato, Philebus, 65 B
56. 771 c 7 Hermann, Orphica, Fr. xiii
57. 772 d 1 Dionysius of Alexandria, a Fragment preserved by Eusebius
58. 773 d 1 Dionysius of Alexandria, a Fragment preserved by Eusebius, § 2
59. 773 d 6 Gen. i. 31
60. 774 b 3 Cf. Hesiod, Works and Days, 454
61. 774 c 6 Ps. cxxxix. 16
62. 775 c 5 Job xiv. 1
63. 776 a 4 1 Cor. xv. 41
64. 776 c 7 Homer, Od. xvii. 218
65. 777 a 7 Ps. ciii. 23
66. 777 b 5 Ecclesiasticus xliii. 5
67. 777 d 5 ibid. xvi. 26, 27
68. 778 b 6 Amos iii. 3
69. 778 d 3 Job x. 8, Ps. cxix. 73
70. 778 d 5 Job x. 10
71. 780 d 7 Hesiod, Works and Days, 60 ff.
72. 781 c 3 Hesiod, ibid. 408
73. 781 c 5 Hesiod, ibid. 411
74. 781 c 9 Jer. xlviii. 10
75. 782 a 6 Democritus, Ethical Fragments, l.14 (Mullach, i. p. 340)
76. 782 c 6 Homer, Od. viii. 325
77. 783 d 1 Ps. xix. 1
78. d 4 Ps. xxxii. 5
79. d 5 Ps. xxiv. 1
80. d 6 Ecclesiasticus xvi. 29, 30
81. d 13 Cf. Gen. i. 31
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