Translated by John Opsopaus 1

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[2]2 This book contains:

Theology after Zoroaster and Plato; the traditional names of the gods of our Hellenic ancestors have been preserved for the gods recognized by philosophy, but by restoring each of these names from the less philosophical meaning that each has taken in the fictions of poets to the best sense of philosophy;

Ethics according to the same sages, and in addition according to the Stoics;

Politics on the model of that of Lacedaemon [Sparta], by removing on the one hand the excessive rigors that the greater number would not support, and by adding on the other, especially for the use of governors, the philosophy, which establishes the principal merit of the Platonic institutions; [4]

Ritual reduced to simple practices, without superfluity, and yet sufficient;

Natural Science largely according to Aristotle.

This work also touches the principles of logic, Hellenic antiquities, and some points of health. [6]



Book I

  1. 2.The best guides for the search for the true* 

  2. 3.The opposite doctrines of Protagoras and Pyrrho* 

  3. 4.Prayer to the gods of learning* 

  4. 5.General principles on the gods* 

  5. 6.On Zeus the King 

  6. 7.The supercelestial gods 

  7. 8.The gods in the heavens 

  8. 9.The eternity of all gods 

  9. 10.The generation of Poseidon and the other supercelestial gods 

  10. 11.The generation of the gods within the heavens 

  11. 12.The generation of mortal beings 

  12. 13.The generation of human beings [8] 

  13. 14.The diversity of people’s abilities for good or evil 

  14. 15.The permanence of established things 

  15. 16.The best moral constitution 

  16. 17.Individual constitutions 

  17. 18.Inheritances 

  18. 19.Contracts 

  19. 20.Government 

  20. 21.Worship of the gods 

  21. 22.Priests and their way of life 

  22. 23.Purifications 

  23. 24.Judgments 

  24. 25.Burials 

  25. 26.The cult of the dead 

  26. 27.The good that must result from these laws 

  27. 28.Division of being 

  28. 29.The distinction of causes 

  29. 30.The necessity of causes 

  30. 31.The names of the oldest gods 


Book II

  1. 1.The method to follow in the study of the subjects proposed here to be treated 

  2. 2.Preliminary presentation of general ideas [10] 

  3. 3.That there are gods 

  4. 4.The providence of the gods 

  5. 5.That the gods are not authors of evil 

  6. 6.Fate [Heimarmenê4]* 
  7. 7.The multitude of gods 

  8. 8.The differences among the classes of gods 

  9. 9.Divine worship after the Kouretes 

  10. 10.The seven oldest gods, and other supercelestial gods 

  11. 11.The generation of gods who inhabit the heavens 

  12. 12.General demonstration of the three species of the soul 

  13. 13.Different species of stars 

  14. 14.Powers of the seven planets 

  15. 15.The particular movement of each planet 

  16. 16.The common movement of the stars and all the aether [aithêr] 

  17. 17.The soul of the stars 

  18. 18.That there are daimons 

  19. 19.That the daimons are not bad 

  20. 20.Rebuttal of slander against daimons 

  21. 21.Differences among daimons 

  22. 22.The immortality of the human soul 

  23. 23.The creation of mortal beings 

  24. 24.The creation of the mortal substance of human beings 

  25. 25.Sensations and their own characters 

  26. 26.Reasonable action of certain animals* 

  27. 27.The eternity of the All [to Pan] [12] 


Book III

  1. 1.Back to the question of fate 

  2. 2.Return to the question of the immortality of the human soul 

  3. 3.The purpose of life 

  4. 4.Intelligence and its various species 

  5. 5.Education 

  6. 6.The form of government 

  7. 7.Fortitude 

  8. 8.Things that are and those that are not in our power, according to the theory of fortitude 

  9. 9.Various kinds of fortitude 

  10. 10.Self-control 

  11. 11.Measure and symmetry* 

  12. 12.Various species of self-control 

  13. 13.Strength, according to the theory of the various species of self-control 

  14. 14.Prohibition of intercourse between parents and their children* 

  15. 15.The generation of gods, according to the theory of the prohibition of intercourse between parents and their children* 

  16. 16.The union of one man with several women 

  17. 17.The use of public women 

  18. 18.The eating of meat 

  19. 19.The unity of the property in the same household [14] 

  20. 20.Not squandering the property of someone who has died 

  21. 21.The mode of existence 

  22. 22.Zeus: that there exists in him no division, even nominal 

  23. 23.The All and its multiple units 

  24. 24.The difference of goods 

  25. 25.Justice 

  26. 26.Various kinds of justice 

  27. 27.Comparison of the various species of virtue 

  28. 28.The perversity of manners 

  29. 29.Convenience in gifts 

  30. 30.Contributions to be paid to the public treasury 

  31. 31.Judgments* 

  32. 32.Names of the gods* 

  33. 33.Prayer 

  34. 34.Addresses to the gods* 

  35. 35.Hymns to the gods* 

  36. 36.Instruction for the use of addresses and hymns* 

  37. 37.Sacrifices that suit the different gods 

  38. 38.In what circumstances, to which gods, and how to sacrifice 

  39. 39.Predispositions with which one must sacrifice 

  40. 40.Accuracy in religious practices 

  41. 41.To what ends one must pray to the gods 

  42. 42.Oracles 

  43. 43.Epinomis [Appendix]* 


Summary of the Doctrines of Zoroaster and Plato






CHAPTER 1. The Diversity of Opinions Among People on the Most Important Matters

[16] This book deals with laws, institutions, beliefs and practices that can assure people, in private life and in public life, the best, the most beautiful, and the happiest possible fate. Indeed, such is human nature, that people tend before and above all to happiness; it is at once the unique and common end of humanity, and the peculiar aim of each one’s life; it is in order to achieve this that we pursue and practice all other things. All are carried away towards this common goal, but not all go the same way; that is where they separate. Some think to find happiness principally in pleasure; they do everything in view of pleasure alone; they want, as much as possible, to taste it all, in all its forms, of whatever nature, whatever source it comes from. Others place happiness in the possession of riches; the only job of all their life is to get richer and richer. [18] Others run after glory; they have no other ambition than to have the praise and admiration of the crowd. Others, finally, neglect all the rest to consecrate their whole life to goodness and virtue, persuaded that virtue alone can give true happiness.

Virtue itself does not have the same characteristics for all; we see good and evil change according to opinions and usages. Thus, some believe that study and science are of no use to virtue; there are some who scrupulously flee all exercise of mind, some sophist impostors having persuaded them that science is only evil and corruption. Others, on the contrary, regard science as the principle of all virtue; they make every effort to acquire as much knowledge and wisdom as possible. Some devote all their effort to multiplying sacrifices and religious ceremonies, and some condemn all these practices; others admit one and reject others, but with so little agreement between them that the same practices appear to some religious and to the other sacrilegious. Some place in celibacy and in the complete abstinence from sensual pleasures the most beautiful and the most divine life; for others, it is more beautiful and divine to marry and have children. [20] Some make a choice among the foods that people usually eat; they decide that some are forbidden and that it is a crime to eat them, while others are allowed. Others allow complete liberty in this respect; there is no food whose use seems to them to be prohibited as impious; it is in moderation alone that they place the good. Some consent to languish in a repulsive filthiness; others find some merit in cleanliness and seek it. Some extol poverty and indigence; others admit wealth to a certain extent. Some display extreme shamelessness; others respect modesty and the general laws of propriety; they prefer decency to indecency in all things. There are some who, in principle, establish the search for virtue, not for itself, but in view of some reward that the gods would bestow upon them; according to them virtue alone does not suffice for happiness. Some think they ought to seek virtue for itself, and not in the hope of a reward. Others, finally, pursue virtue for itself and for the rewards which the gods bestow on those who practice it.

5 When we see that on these points and still others people behave according to principles so contradictory, so confused, it is clear that if we want to choose for sure the best rule of conduct and not to deviate from the common goal that all pursue, namely happiness, [22] we must not take at random the first road encountered, but first consider carefully what is the best kind of life of all, where true happiness is found, then fix our choice. But before that, it will be necessary to examine what human beings are, what is their nature, and what are their faculties. Without this preliminary study, we could not know what it is better to do, to know what job we should do with our faculties. For it is so with every instrument and every object, that, if we know neither its nature nor its properties, we cannot make proper use of it. Now it is impossible to know what a human really is if we have not begun to study thoroughly the nature of things, if we have not recognized what is the first principle, what is the second, third, and last order, and what is the function proper to each of these beings. It is after having examined them all that one can legitimately study the human being in the midst of them, to find out to which beings it is similar and in which respects, from which ones it differs and to what degree, and what are the elements of which it was formed; finally, given its nature, what is its power. It is after having sufficiently clarified these questions, that we can draw the rules for human life; then we will know what is the best and most useful conduct, and that easily and without difficulty.

¶ But the question of the nature of other beings is not subject to less disagreement. [24] Some think that there are absolutely no gods; others believe that the gods exist, but that they do not watch over human affairs; others, finally, that they watch over human affairs and all things. But among these, some think that gods are the authors of evil as well as good, others that they produce only good and never evil. Some admit that they can let themselves be swayed by the prayers of people and divert things that in their wisdom they thought they should do; the others that the gods are absolutely inflexible, and that, always faithful in their thought in conformity with the decisions of fate, they lead everything to the greatest perfection possible. Some believe that there is only one god, and nothing else seems to them worthy of being respected and honored by people; others recognize several gods united by the community of nature in the same divinity; according to yet others, there is a god par excellence, a supreme god, the first principle of all things, and other gods placed on a second and third rank.

Some think that, excepting the one creator god, everything has been created in time as by a cause, and that everything must one day perish and disappear; others, that the world was created, but that it will endure forever; others, finally, that one part of the world is formed and born while another dissolves and perishes, in never ending succession. Some argue that the universe [to Sympan] is the effect of a cause, but that it was not created in time, and therefore it is eternal and cannot undergo any change from the god who produced it and watches over it, because this god has an immutable nature and never rested, [26] but worked unceasingly, and according to unchanging principles, to the production of the All [to Pan].

Disagreement is not less about human nature. Many think that it is like that of all other mortal beings and animals, that it is no more noble nor more divine; others allow people to raise their hopes to the perfect purity of the divine essence. Some assign to human nature an intermediate place that it must always occupy; they regard it as a mixture of divine and eternal nature with mortal nature.

¶ In the midst of the uncertainty and confusion which obscures these problems, if we do not carefully examine every opinion and cannot distinguish once and for all which side has the best reasons, in order to find the truth and to secure its possession, then we will not know how to regulate our life, we will hesitate on the manner of direction we will embrace, and we will follow at random any party that will present itself. In short, one will become, without suspecting it, of all people perhaps the most miserable, instead of being happy as one hoped for.

CHAPTER 2. The Best Guides in the Search for Truth

What is the manner of proceeding in the examination of these opinions? [28] What guides should be followed in this study? For these subjects have been treated by a throng of poets, sophists, law-givers [νομοθέται], and philosophers. But poets and sophists can be regarded rightly as bad guides in such matters. Poets are very inclined to flattery; they have no other purpose than to please people and to cheapen the truth and the good. And sophists turn in many matters to slight-of-hand [γοητείαν] and seek fame at every turn, and some even raise their claims above human nature. As for the truth, they have no concern; they even seek a thousand expedients to disguise it. Both of them decrease the gods to the human, raise the human to the divine, upset all things, and thus do the greatest harm to those who listen to them. Such are the poets and sophists for the most part. But law-givers and philosophers can do no better than to express some sensible opinion on the subjects that occupy us. In fact, since law-givers always propose the common good, it is unlikely they will deviate from it; and the philosophers, believing that truth is the principal element of happiness, and pursuing it in preference to all treasures, will probably find it better than anyone else. However, as most men are by their nature unable to fully attain knowledge and possession of the greatest things, there are two things to fear: [30] on one hand, that even among philosophers and law-givers there are some who have been too weak to discover the good and the true, and, on the other hand, that we are not mistaken in taking for wise law-givers or philosophers some sophists or some poets who are adept at seizing the ignorant mind of the vulgar.

As for us, here are the guides we choose among the law-givers and the wise. It is first the oldest whose name has come down to us, Zoroaster, who revealed, with the greatest brilliance, to the Medes, the Persians, and to most of the ancient peoples of Asia, the truth about divine things and most other great questions. After him come, among others, Eumolpus, who established among the Athenians the Eleusinian mysteries to teach the doctrine of the immortality of the soul, Minos the law-giver of the Cretans, and Lycurgus of the Spartans. Let us add Iphitus and Numa, the first of which, together with Lycurgus, founded the Olympic Games in honor of Zeus, the greatest of the gods, and the second gave the Romans a great number of laws, many of them relevant to the gods, and especially to religious ceremonies. Among the law-givers, these are the ones we prefer.

Among the other sages we choose, from the Barbarians, the Brahmans of India and the Magi of Media. From the Greeks, among others, especially the Kouretes, whom tradition lists among the most ancient law-givers; it is they who reasserted the doctrine about the existence of the gods of the second and third orders, the immortality of the creations and children of Zeus, and the entire Whole [to Pan], doctrines that had been destroyed in Greece by the Giants, those godless beings who fought against the gods. [32] By the force of invincible reasoning, and by the war which they made against the Giants, the Kouretes triumphed over their adversaries who claimed that everything is mortal, excepting only the creator, the ancient principle of all things. After them we will quote the priests of Zeus at Dodona and the interpreters of his oracles, and several other inspired ones, especially the diviner Polyidos, whom Minos himself cultivated for his wisdom, Teiresias, who gave the Greeks a great deal of high knowledge and who developed with the greatest brilliancy the theory of the ascent of the soul and its endless return to the earth, and Chiron, tutor to a great many heroes of his time, to whom we owe much knowledge and important discoveries.

Let us add the seven sages who flourished with brilliance at the time when Anaxandridas and Ariston reigned in Lacedaemon: Chilon of Sparta, Solon of Athens, Bias of Priene, Thales of Miletus, Cleoboulus of Lindos, Pittacus of Mitylene, and Myson of Chenai.

To all these masters we must add Pythagoras, Plato, and all the distinguished philosophers who arose in their school, and of whom the most illustrious are Parmenides, Timaeus, Plutarch, Plotinus, Porphyry, and Iamblichus.

Since all these agreed on most of the questions, especially the most important, they seem to have expressed the best opinions, according to the more sensible people who succeeded them. We will therefore follow them, without seeking to innovate ourselves on such great subjects and without receiving any of the modern innovations of some sophists. [34] There is this great difference between the sage and the sophist, in that the sages express opinions always in harmony with the older beliefs, so that, even by their antiquity, the true doctrines outweigh the erroneous propositions that have been advanced or still are, while the sophists always aim at the new, the only object of their ambition. It is, indeed, the best way to achieve this vain glory for which they are excited. For us, we will adopt the doctrines and the words of the most sensible people of antiquity. Then, with the aid of reasoning, the most powerful and the most divine of our means of knowing, we will compare as exactly as possible all the systems to judge what is the best opinion in all things.

For the great vice of poets and sophists is never to give any valid reason for the opinions they put forward; it is to a prophetic inspiration from the gods, who no doubt came to visit them, that they both pretend to owe this knowledge. Thus the poets, adorning their words with the charms of expression and rhythm, seduce those who listen to them, and mislead souls who do not know how to distinguish the pleasure of style and harmony from truth or falsity of ideas. For the rest, poets care little about persuading their listeners, it is enough to amuse them, whether they persuade them or not; but there are people on whom they act more than they seek. [36] For the sophists, some employ false reasoning instead of just and true arguments, and thus deceive ignorant minds. Others, the most charlatan of all, pretend to perform certain miracles and seem to accomplish great things by a divine power, but in reality, means, and results, all is imposture. Yet they affect minds that are weak and uncritical, and then their lies, enlarged by later speeches and writings, mislead many others. Lastly, these doctrines are accustomed to be heard repeatedly from infancy, an authority which does the greatest harm to society by accrediting a thousand absurd principles, which have the gravest consequences for the conduct of human life.

On the contrary, well-reasoned arguments clearly teach the truth about the topics under examination and, offering themselves to the discussion of careful criticism, they lead the latter as well as the former to personal knowledge, not borrowed, against those who, deceived by the teachings of sophists, blindly borrow their persuasion from those who let themselves be persuaded before them.

CHAPTER 3. The Opposite Doctrines of Protagoras and Pyrrho

These two doctrines, quite opposite to each other, but equally vain and pernicious, must also be rejected. [38] One [Protagoras] says that everything is true, that the human is the measure of all things, and that what everyone imagines exists for that very reason. The other [Pyrrho] argues that nothing is true, that people are incapable of being judges of anything, and that we must not even believe the testimony of things. Their two propositions are easy to overturn and consequently to refute. If one says that everything is true, one will be forced to grant the truth of the opposite opinion, which is that of most people, namely that not all things are true. If we say that nothing is true, we agree that this affirmation itself is not true. Moreover, most people recognize degrees in knowledge and ignorance; they will seek lessons from scholars and accuse the ignorant of not possessing well enough what they claim to know. Would it be so if people believed that truth is everywhere or nowhere?

Neither can it be said that two contradictory propositions are both true or both false at the same time; it’s an opinion that nobody will entertain. Thus everyone will say that this proposition: “the Universe [to Pan] is eternal,” has for a contradictory this one: “the Universe is not eternal,” and that it cannot be that these two propositions are both true or both false. In all similar cases, only one of the propositions is true and the other is false. Similarly for the future, no one will argue that all facts will necessarily justify their predictions or that all will come to deny them, but everyone knows in advance that some facts will contradict them, while others will agree with them, [40] so that some forecasts will have been true and the others false.

Thus these two doctrines are equally convicted of falsity and absurdity. Nor should we take into account this other opinion, that, if we were able to attain something in the knowledge of truth, it would not be for us, as mortals, to pursue our research into divine matters because of the inferiority of our intelligence and because the gods do not want their nature to be the object of an indiscreet curiosity. Indeed, the gods would not have given us in vain the desire to study their nature, if they had wanted to forbid us this study and to refuse us the faculty to acquire some clear notions of them.

Moreover, it would be equally absurd to believe that we must either have no idea of ​​these things and live like the brutes, or accept at random and without examination all the imaginations that arise, for we would not achieve the happiness we pursue. In fact, even if, by a divine chance, someone, without the help of reason, encountered the truth on these matters, having thus acquired it, they would never possess it surely, and they could not pursue it to enjoy either perfect happiness nor even a little happiness, having neither the reason nor the science necessary to shed light on the most important questions, and ignorant even whether they are happy or not. Because it is not enough to imagine being happy, which can happen even to madmen, [42] it is still necessary to know in what way and how one is happy, what is good for a person and what is bad, and why.

Moreover, divine things do not contain any vice that could compel the gods to hide themselves, and the gods are incapable of a feeling of jealousy that would prevent them from joining with their other benefits that of being known. And although the divine nature is far above human nature, we cannot say that humans are condemned to not know it, because they also have reason and faculties that are not at all foreign to the divine nature. Finally, if the gods have disposed us to seek their nature, it is precisely for us to seek it, to know it, at least in part, and to derive from it the greatest advantages. In fact, taking for principles the ideas and revelations [μαντείαις] concerning the divine nature given by the gods to all people in common, or at least the ideas of the greatest number and the most virtuous, establishing them securely, and then, by rigorous reasoning, drawing from these principles the consequences to which the wise will open the way for us, with the help of the gods, we cannot fail to have the best beliefs concerning everything. It is therefore to the guardian gods of reason that we must, before going further, address our prayers so that they may encourage this work by their inspiration.

CHAPTER 4. Prayer to the Gods of Learning

[44] Come to us, O gods of learning [θεοὶ λόγιοι], whoever you may be, in whatever number you may be, you who preside over science [ἐπιστήμας] and the truth, who distribute them to whomever you please, according to the decrees of the almighty father of all things, King Zeus. Without you, we would be unable to accomplish such a great work. Come guide our reasoning [λόγων], and grant this work to obtain the best possible success, and to be like a treasure always open to those people who want to lead the most beautiful and best conduct in public or private life.

CHAPTER 5. General Principles on the Gods

Here are the beliefs that can best be said to have been transmitted to us by a succession of divine men [θείων ἀνδρῶν]. The gods are all the beings of a higher and happier nature than human nature. They provide for us from their overflowing happiness; no evil can come from them, they are the authors of all good; by an irreversible and immutable fate [εἱμαρμένῃ] they attribute to each the best possible dispensation. There are many gods, but with different degrees of divinity [θεότητι]. One of them, the greatest of all, is the supreme god, King Zeus, who indeed infinitely surpasses them all by his majesty and the excellence of his nature; he has existed from all eternity. [46] He is not born of any other, he is Self-father [αὐτοπάτορα], and, as the only one of all beings that has no other father than himself, he is the father and the eldest creator [δημιουργὸν] of all things; he is supremely essential essence, absolutely one, supremely identical to himself; he is the Good.

The other gods are divided according to divine nature [θεότητι] into the second and third orders, the first of which are the children of Zeus, his creations, and the second are the children of his children, the creations of his creations. These are the instruments by which King Zeus governs all things and especially human affairs; each of them is set over a greater or lesser part of this universe, but all are governed by great Poseidon, the eldest and most powerful of all Zeus’s children, the most beautiful of his creations and the most perfect.

The gods born immediately from Zeus himself are the supercelestial gods; they have a divinity of the second order, free from all connections to bodies and matter; they are essentially pure Forms [εἴδη], immutable intellects [νοῦς], always and in all things acting by the sole force of their own thought. Each of them derives from Zeus himself an essence, an indivisible from the indivisible, but which contains in itself, in a manner at the same time collective and individual, everything under itself of which it is the cause. As to their attributes, all these gods, except Poseidon alone, the oldest of them, receive them from each other, their king and father having established among his children a community [κοινωνίαν] and a reciprocity of benefits, the most beautiful gift that he granted them after participation in his essence. [48] But Poseidon, ruled by Zeus alone, governs all the others. Among the other gods, those are higher who have the fewest superiors and who do more and greater things in the universe; lower are those who do lesser things and who recognize more superiors.

Other divisions are still to be found in this class of gods. According to the most important, it is divided into two great families: first, that of the legitimate6 children of Zeus, whom their father endowed with the faculty of also producing immortal beings. The other gods, who form the illegitimate7 family of the Titans, produce only mortal and perishable beings; they are like the first gods in the community of origin, but they are very inferior to them in power and grandeur.

All these gods are in all respects out of time, because they always remain and are absolutely immutable. Indeed, time is the measure of change, and they have eternity as the measure of their life. For them there is neither past nor future, neither before nor after; for them everything is eternally present. Neither can they be circumscribed by location in space, for it is proper for bodies to be so circumscribed in a place, but they are pure essences without bodies. However, they have their proper place, in the sense that they are classified in a definite order [τάξιν], so that each of them holds the middle between the one who precedes and the one who follows. [50]

So the whole supercelestial realm is shared among these gods, but the main division of this upper world is a division into two parts which correspond to the two families of gods, and are the particular seat of each of them: the legitimate children of Zeus inhabit Olympus, the highest and most pure region of the heavens; the illegitimate race occupies Tartarus, a region inferior to the other.

These two distinct families, that of Olympus and that of Tartarus, form a great and holy group, an intelligible and supercelestial world ordered by King Zeus, an eternal world, rich in all wealth, containing all these second-order gods sufficient and lacking nothing to form a complete set. These gods, separated from each other in the most exact manner, so that each of them is in his attributions the most perfect and self-sufficient as possible, are at the same time united by the community [κοινωνίᾳ] of goods and the bonds of a reciprocal affection. For, while they have an individual character, yet they form a whole, as is appropriate for beings who proceed from the same principle and tend to the same end, namely, their father, their creator [δημιουργὸν], the great Zeus, absolutely one and all-powerful. To him all things are subject and devoted, without struggle, without opposition, without ill-will; but these gods especially accept his domination with good-will [εὐνοίᾳ]. They are united by customary and friendly relations and think the same. On the one hand, they direct the gods that are less powerful and younger than themselves; on the other, they let themselves be guided by the older ones, for in this superior world there reigns in all things a perfect harmony and order. This is the constant state in which all these gods hold each other.

¶ [52] Poseidon and his legitimate siblings, the Olympians, have children who form gods of a third order; these gods inhabit the heavens [εντὸς οὐρανοῦ], they are rational and immortal beings, they have unerring souls and bodies that escape old age and corruption, and their nature cannot admit any harm. Their creators have also divided them into two classes. One is the legitimate and celestial family of the stars [ἄστων], whose souls are of the purest kind, and attain everything by their science [ἐπιστήμῃ], and whose bodies are the most beautiful and active; they are gods who move and wander, but follow regular orbits [περιϊόντας].

Then comes the illegitimate and earthly family of the daimons. Their bodies do not have the same virtue, nor do their souls, which are of an inferior kind and do not attain the science of all things, although they conceive many things by conjecture only, but always with accuracy, because they always can follow in the footsteps of the gods of the higher class and, thanks to these, remain infallible always and in all things. This class is charged with executing the orders of the other gods, and immediately touch on human affairs.

We thus distinguish four classes [γένη] of gods: the first two are supercelestial: one inhabits Olympus, the other Tartarus; the last two inhabit the heavens: one is celestial, the other is terrestrial. All these gods are begotten in the sense that they proceed from one cause and have received existence from another, but they are uncreated and imperishable in time, for they proceed from Zeus, who is eternally active, who is not and has never been confined to mere potentiality [δυνάμεως] without action; that is why they have neither beginning nor end.

[54] In this god [Zeus], essence [οὐσίαν] and action [πρᾶξιν] are identical; there is no distinction between them, for this god is essentially one, never different from himself. In Intellect [νῷ], action is already distinct from essence, but action is continuous, never at rest. Also the creatures that Intellect produces without the concurrence of any being of another class are immortal. In the soul [ψυχῇ], we distinguish in the same way essence and action, but although the soul is active in part, most often it is limited in its action and reduced to the role of pure potentiality. Finally, in the body, besides all this, the essence is divided into form and matter, matter which is not only mutable, but also decomposable and infinitely divisible.

Here is another difference and the most essential among beings. The supercelestial gods are not only uncreated in time but also by their permanence [μένειν], because they are absolutely immutable and eternal, there is nothing in them that has not previously existed, and finally they are generated only subject to a cause. Indeed everything that derives its existence from a cause is generated in that it continues to receive the being of another power [ἴσχον] and is incapable of being sufficient for its own existence. The celestial gods are also begotten with regard to the cause, for in relation to the substance of their soul they are uncreated, since their souls are immutable and therefore eternal. As to the action of the soul and of the nature of the body, they are truly created, for they are subject to movement, to continuous renewal, and to divisible and measurable time.

[56] Indeed, time begins from this soul which governs the heavens; it is first the ever-moving measure of the soul’s action. Then time spreads within the nature of all souls and bodies. It is the “image of eternity,”8 always already past and no longer, about to be and not yet. In the moment it is always and now, but different and always becoming different; it divides time into past and future.

As to place, these same gods may also be circumscribed in a certain part of space, because they are united with bodies, which is why we may call them “celestial,” while the other gods are called “supercelestial” and cannot be located in a body or in any place. In grandeur, the Olympians rise above all other gods, whatever their origin, but in number, they are the most limited. It is the same for the daimons; those who are actually closer to Zeus, who is pure unity, are also less numerous, but those who are more distant are more numerous; thus some are closer, the others farther away from his unity. But above the gods of Olympus and of this universe is placed Poseidon, to whom King Zeus has entrusted the government of all things after him, as to the most powerful, the greatest, the eldest of his children. However, Zeus did not make him equal to himself, because it would be inequitable to place in the same rank as a self-sufficient being one who has his existence through another… [Here the chapter breaks off]


CHAPTER 6. Fate [Heimarmenê]

[64] Are all future things determined and fixed in advance by fate, or are there any things which have not been determined and which occur without order or law, as chance brings them? Without doubt, all things are subject to law; for if some event occurred without being determined by a law, either it would have no cause, and then there would be a fact that would occur without a cause, or the cause which produced it would act without determination, without necessity [ἀνάγκῃ], and then there would be a cause that would not produce its effects necessarily and in a definite way. The two things are equally impossible. But it is still far less possible that the gods change what they have resolved for the future and do something else than what they have decided, determined to change by people’s prayers, by certain gifts, or by some another similar reason. [66] In fact, by denying the necessity and the predetermination of the facts to come, one exposes oneself to denying entirely the gods’ providence [προνοίας] over human affairs, or to accusing them of being the authors of the worse, instead of the best possible, since things that they have decided second must necessarily be worse than the those decided first.

Those who absolutely deny fate therefore fall into one or other of these impieties. But these two suppositions are quite impossible. All future events are fixed from eternity; they are arranged in the best possible order under the authority of Zeus, the sole and supreme master of all things. Alone of all beings, Zeus knows no bounds, since there is nothing that can limit him (for something can be limited only by its own cause), but Zeus is too great to be bounded and remains eternally and perfectly identical to himself. He has for his essence the greatest and most powerful necessity, which is by itself in an absolute manner and does not derive from any different power. For what is necessary is better than what is contingent, and the greatest necessity is to be essentially good. To those who proceed immediately from him, Zeus communicates the same attribute to a lower degree, for the beings he produces are necessarily of the same nature as himself. [68] He determines these things and all the others because of himself, and there is nothing so great or so small that he himself cannot assign its limit, because there is nothing of which he is not the supreme cause.

Moreover, if the future were not fixed, foreknowledge [προεγινώσκετο] would be impossible, both for men and even for the gods; for we cannot know with certainty the indeterminate, of which we cannot say exactly in advance whether it will or will not be. Now, the gods know the future, since it is they who fix it, and they are present in it as the cause even before it has come into existence. They know it only because they determine and produce it, for they cannot know something by being themselves affected by it. Indeed, it is repugnant and impossible to admit that the gods are affected by things of an inferior nature that do not even exist yet. Thus, those who think that the gods exist and who at the same time refuse them the foreknowledge and predetermination [πρόνοιάν τε καὶ εἱμαρμένην] of the things here, are led to deny them knowledge. For they could not know them by being subject to the action of these things [here], since the less perfect cannot act upon the more perfect, nor act upon them, because they would not even be the authors of them. It is necessary, in fact, that what knows be connected with the known thing, either as a participant by undergoing its action, [70] or as a cause by acting on it, all knowledge being impossible in any circumstance other than on a relation between the knowing and the known. And even if the gods were the authors of the things of this world, but not in a determined and necessary way, they would never know what they should do one day, since they could not fix it necessarily and from all eternity in an immutable way.

But the gods know the future, and among people they choose some to whom they make it known to a certain extent. Some people wanted to make use of this forecast of part of the future to try to escape it, but, like others, they discovered the necessary and inevitable determination of fate. It is even the case that, by this forecast of their fates and by their efforts to escape from it, they have brought about their fulfillment, that very thing being in their fate. There is therefore no way to escape or to avert things once decided by Zeus for eternity and fixed by fate.

¶ But, it will be said, if all is determined in advance, if no present or future fact escapes necessity, that is the end of human freedom and divine justice because, on the one hand, people will act under the rule of fate, they will not be masters of themselves, and they will not be free; and on the other hand, the gods will completely renounce punishing the wicked, for they would not be just in punishing them, since their wickedness is destined and involuntary. [72] But people are masters of themselves, not as having no one who governs them, either among other beings, or among the gods themselves, but as having in themselves a single principle that commands, that is to say, the understanding [φρονοῦν], and all the rest [of the faculties] that obey it. It is this unique principle, the best of our nature, that controls all the rest, but nobody would dare to maintain that this understanding itself undergoes no domination. First, it is obviously subject to the impression of external things. Moreover, even if it is true that in different people the understanding is not subjected in the same way to the same influence, it would be no less absurd to think that it does not undergo these influences necessarily, since obviously it depends on the particular character of each individual understanding [φρονοῦντος] and also on its training [ἄσκησιν]. In fact, the same event, coming to act upon several different people, will necessarily produce different impressions on them, for their understanding [φρονοῦν] differs both in nature [φύσιν] and in training. Now, the nature [of the understanding] depends on the gods, and training depends on the prior intention [ἐγγενομένην] of the one who practices it, an intention which cannot be born in a person without the attendance of a god.

[74] Thus, people are masters of themselves by governing their conduct, although this domination is subject to superior domination, and it can be said that they are free and not free. Indeed, it would obviously be a mistake to say that freedom is the opposite of necessity, for slavery would then be called necessity, but slavery presupposes domination in which the slave is subjected in their capacity as slave. But this first necessity, which alone exists absolutely and by itself while all things exist through it, this necessity which we call the absolute Good, Zeus, to what domination will it be subjected? For surely, that which is domination cannot be at the same time slavery. If, on the other hand, slavery is called submission to a superior, and liberty is the liberation from all domination, there will not be one free person, or even one of the gods, except Zeus, for every inferior will be the slave of whoever governs them, and all will be slaves of their common master, Zeus. In this way, the servitude would not be painful or something to flee. In fact, slavery under a good master cannot be unpleasant; more than that, it is profitable and gentle to the slaves themselves, because one experiences only good under a good master.

[76] But if we do not accept this definition of slavery and liberty, if instead we say that these two states consist in being prevented or not from living as we wish, then because everyone wishes to live well and be happy, whoever is happy will at the same time be free, whether they have a master or not, since they live as they wish; the unlucky person, on the contrary, not living as they would have liked, will not be free. Now people can be unhappy only when they are wicked; thus no one wants to be wicked, since no one wants to be unhappy. It is therefore against one’s will and by mistake that one becomes wicked; consequently no wicked person is free, which is the privilege of honest and virtuous people.

If the gods chastise the wicked, the goal they propose to themselves and to which they lead, is not the punishment itself, but the correction of the faults. In fact, it is impossible for people never to err, since they are composed of two natures, one divine, the other mortal. Sometimes they are led by what is divine in themselves to the imitation of this perfection in which they participate; then they are virtuous and happy. But sometimes they carried away by their mortal instincts, and they turn out badly; it is then that the gods come to their aid and seek to correct them by punishments. [78] The gods want the punishments inflicted upon them to deliver them from their wickedness, just as bitter and painful remedies deliver our body from sickness. They intend that people be thereby brought to a better state, and pass from slavery to liberty, when the gods judge that, because of their bad nature, means of sweeter correction cannot reach them. Thus, nothing prevents someone from being punished, although their wickedness is involuntary, since the punishment, far from adding to their ills, gives them a benefit.

In short, there are gods, they watch over people, and they are not the cause of any evil. Finally, according to the inevitable law of fate, they give each one what is best for them. In order not to exceed our limits, we will stop here.

CHAPTER 26. Reasonable Action of Some Animals

[80] The acts of certain animals seem to attest an inspiration of reason [ἐνίοις κατὰ λόγον] such as, among a thousand others, these that are the best known: the government of the bees, the foresight of the ants, and the hunting of the ingenious spider. If they use an individual reason [διάνοιᾳ], then it must be superior, inferior, or equal to that of humans. If these animals had a reason more enlightened than ours, then in all or almost all circumstances they would act better than humans, but it is apparent that most often they remain below us. If this reason were inferior, each of them would not attach itself exclusively to a single work to bring it almost to perfection, for it seems to be the characteristic of an accomplished intelligence superior to human intelligence to always apply to a single work to render it as perfectly as possible. Finally, if their intelligence were equal to human intelligence, they would not concentrate thus on a single work, only to show themselves inferior to human works in everything else. It is evident then that animals obey not an individual reason, but the influence of that soul that governs the heavens and of the separated intelligences [νοῖς χωριστοῖς] that preside over each of these things, and to which that soul attaches each of them.

[82] It is thus not only with animals, but also with inanimate things [ἀναίσθητα]. Among others we may mention the tendrils of the vine and the pumpkin, which, if they do not meet anything with which to hug, remain straight, but if a branch presents itself, roll up at once. By the action of this same soul, the magnet attracts iron, and mercury in contact with gold, or with some other metal of the same kind, attaches to it in a marvelous manner and is uplifted [ἀπαιωροῖτο];9 all similar phenomena must be related to the same cause. It is this soul that embraces our world below, which, by its power, governs all the parts, accomplishes everything according to reason, and brings together those other things that have some affinity.
When Helios and Kronos finished this last mortal creation according to the plans of Poseidon, head of all that exists, then not only was our world [οὐρανὸς] completely finished by Poseidon himself, but also, by the power of King Zeus, this entire creation composed of a multitude of different beings—eternal, temporal, immortal, mortal—formed one complete system as beautiful and as perfect as possible.10 [The remainder of Book II was destroyed.]


CHAPTER 11. Measure and Symmetry

[84] Beauty, of which we have spoken, must be sought in measure [μέτρῳ] and symmetry [συμμέτροις]; it needs a fixed limit, and cannot be either an unmeasurable size or indefinite and constantly increasing. However, this objection may be made: if the greatest existence is at the same time the best, why is it not that which increases indefinitely, but that which remains in measure, that is beautiful and good? It is that it is neither the most in number, nor the most in volume, nor in a word the most in quantity which exists in the highest degree, but rather what is best endowed to last forever, and that which is best able to last forever is unity and what comes closest to it. But the simple is more unified than the compound, the symmetric more than the asymmetric, and the proportionate more than what is not. Indeed, common measure or identity of proportion are precisely what makes a unity of things symmetrical or proportionate. But that which has neither measure nor proportion, either between its own parts, or with the things to which it relates and of which it is itself a part, lacks unity and consequently cannot last forever. [86] Thus, in definite measure are the greater existence, beauty, and goodness, and not in the ever-increasing and indefinite. That is enough on this subject.

CHAPTER 14. Prohibition of Intercourse between Parents and their Children

The use of public women, the eating of meat, the unity of property in a single household, and not squandering the property of someone who has died [τελευτὰς11]: each of these will be considered in the appropriate place, whether some of them are rightly legislated, and for others that are right insofar as they are equally customary among nearly all people, by what reason they are right.12 [86 ctu’d] But first of all we must focus our attention on the prohibition of intercourse between parents and their children. Not to mention the suitability of this law, its universality and its invariability suffice to show that it was the gods who imposed it on people, and since it comes from the gods, it is right. Without doubt, when human laws are in conflict, it is up to us to look for the best of them, but when they all agree, it is not permissible to question the justice of their decision; it is necessary in this unanimity, whatever its object, to recognize the mark of a divine revelation. But the search for motives is a study worthy of the one who wants to have thorough knowledge of the laws, for there are many [laws] whose reason escapes the vulgar. Thus people have always been unanimous in banning intercourse between parents and their children, but very few could say why this opinion is right; this research will not be without interest.

¶ [88] First it will be admitted that the sexual [ἀφροδισίων] act was instituted by the gods to perpetuate the race of mortals and also to give it a kind of immortality. In the second place, on the part of the ones who perform it, this act is the efficient cause that produces beings like themselves. Lastly, these two things, immortality and the procreation of a self-like being, are essentially suited to the gods, for all the gods are immortal, and those who are more powerful than the others produce beings like themselves, immortal like them, or mortal like those here below. Therefore, for this act to be well done, it must be as close as possible to the mode of generation that belongs to the gods; this is an argument that the weakest intelligence must understand and accept.

It is no less evident that the more important an action is, the more we must endeavor to do it well, and we cannot deny the importance of this act which in our mortal nature is the imitation of the immortality of the gods and of their manner of procreation. For it would be a mistake to believe that if we do not perform this act in public, it is because it is something shameful. Indeed, many people do not want to do in public the religious acts that they regard as the holiest; to celebrate their greatest mysteries, they hide themselves from the crowd, fearing that some spectator, for lack of being sufficiently prepared to attend, may make them a laughing stock. Regarding the procreative act, if people do not perform it in public, it is for fear of disturbing those who witness it, because human weakness makes them easy to inflame, if not into desire, at least up to the imagination of such an act, and that for the least pretext. [90] How, then, could it be good for the man who shares his bed with a single woman to expose it to all eyes? The spectators, men or women, having no part in this act, would be agitated if not by desire, at least by the imagination of a pleasure illicit for them. Men would like to share the favors of the same woman; women would like to give themselves up to the same pleasures with the same man, although neither could accomplish this action without crime. Now, the imagination alone of illegitimate actions is wrong, and it would be even more culpable to awaken such desires in others. Such are the reasons that sexual intercourse is hidden.

Another proof that it is not because people regard it as shameful, but that they surround it with mystery, is [provided by] the publicity they give to marriage. They summon to it the most people they can, as if to a grave and solemn act, and make them witnesses of the bridal union, when all know what is the purpose of this union.

Thus the act of which we speak is one of the most important that is given to people to do, and deserves that its accomplishment be as perfect as possible. Indeed, nothing is more shameful than an important act that is badly done. It is one thing to play a simple game badly, but something else not to bring to an important act the care it requires. Then, therefore, as it must be as perfect as possible, it will be necessary, as we have said, that it be an image of the generation of the gods.

CHAPTER 15. The Generation of Gods According to the Principle of the Prohibition of Intercourse Between Parents and their Children

[92] First one must consider the generation of the gods and the way in which they procreate, so that we may understand their generation and see that if the parents had intercourse with their children, they would perform acts contrary to the laws of [divine] procreation. Zeus, the supreme king and ancient father [of the gods], produced without a mother [ἀμήτορας] the gods to whom he gave birth; in fact, there was no being that could contribute as a mother for the production of what he created. Moreover, in the absence of a participation of this kind, matter is absolutely irrelevant to the creation and life of beings who proceed immediately from Zeus. For in every generation the female principle is the one that contributes to material existence, so that the beings to whose production no female principle contributes cannot receive it from without, nor have anything material in themselves. When Zeus makes use of his creations for the generation of new creatures, he uses each as a model [παραδείγματος] and not as a female principle.

Thus he engendered without intermediary, in his own likeness [παραδείγματι], the most powerful of the gods, whom we call Poseidon. All others he has produced through others by creating each of them in the image [εἰκῶ] of the other gods he created, roughly, if we can assimilate this great work to a trivial matter, as images are reproduced and multiplied with the aid of several mirrors. [94] Indeed, the body that is reflected, producing an immediate image of itself, creates at the same time all the other images, which are reproductions of each other.

And if we say that at least we need several different mirrors for this production of images, let us take as another example the unit [μονάδα], which of itself generates all the numbers by adding them successively without needing any other element. However, this production [of numbers] still differs in several respects from that of the supercelestial gods generated by Zeus, in particular because the former proceeds potentially to infinity, while the second is potentially and actually limited to a certain number of beings. Indeed, the unit joins a number as it occurs to form another [number]; it is thus that it itself perpetuates the production of numbers to infinity, since it can always add to the last formed. But Zeus, instead of adding to a being already created, divides it; he brings out from each of them the elements which were implicitly contained in them; he removes one and leaves the other. Thus he effects the creation of new beings. Now, as these divisions proceed by means of opposites without ever having a middle, they cannot repeat themselves to infinity, and must finally cease. Thus Zeus produces a bounded number of beings, and of all these different beings he composes a single system.

Now, that this is the way he engenders the whole class of supercelestial gods, and not using one to create the other, that is what we have to prove, since we have come to talk about the generation of these gods by Zeus. The class of generated substance13 [οὐσίας] is threefold and is not originally divisible into more [than three species]. [96] The first is entirely eternal [αἰώνιον] and always immutable [ἀκίνητον]; it admits neither past nor future, but it exists from all eternity. The second exists in time [ἔχρονον] and is essentially subject to change; yet it is everlasting [ἀΐδιον], has had no beginning, and will never end. The third is both temporal [ἔχρονον] and mortal [θνητὸν]; it has a beginning and an end in time.

As there are three species of substances, there must be three modes of generation, and if the substances differ from each other, this difference must be found also between the modes of generation, because generation must be in relation with substance, and substance with generation. Therefore, if one of the beings belonging to the eternal substance comes from Zeus, who is pre-eternal [προαιώνιος] and who alone of all beings exists by himself, all beings of the same substance will have to proceed also from Zeus alone. For, being entirely eternal, they could not proceed partly from the pre-eternal principle and partly from another, non-pre-eternal principle. Rather, pre-eternal Zeus created all eternal substance himself. He has entrusted to this eternal substance the production of temporal and everlasting substance, and to the latter the production of that which is at once temporal and mortal, so that each substance is produced by the generation that suits it, and each comes out of the source from which it must emerge, namely, from the substance which is immediately superior to it.

If the beings belonging to the eternal substance were all equal to each other, and none of them made superior or inferior to another, all this substance would be from Zeus himself. [98] But nothing of the sort could have happened, and has not happened, for it was necessary first that this substance should contain all the most diverse forms [εἰδῶν] in order to possess the perfection of variety, then that these species were themselves each one and unique [μονογενὲς], and that the system be a community [κοινωνίᾳ] and a kind of whole comprising them all, so that, in each of its parts and as a whole, this substance was as similar as possible to its creator, who exists by himself.

Since things are necessarily so, Zeus begins by generating of himself a single being in his image [εἰκῶ] and makes of it the most noble and the most beautiful of all created substances; then he makes another image of that one, and finally all the others in the image of each other, their perfection always decreasing, as suits images. He is almost like a man who would engender one of his children as similar as possible to himself, and others like that one, and others like them.

But when this takes place for man, it is always because of the strength or weakness of the emitted sperm. Indeed, if this sperm is emitted in all its strength, thanks to a sufficient maturity, it produces a male quite similar to his father; when it is less powerful, its product is female and similar to the father, or male and mother-like, or mother-like and at the same time female, or without resemblance to either the father or the mother, but with some other member of the same family, according to greater or lesser maturity. Or this offspring does not even resemble a parent, but simply a human, or least of all the offspring is not exactly like a human but sometimes turns to another nature when [the father] does not abstain because of an absolute lack of maturity. For generation is not subject to human intention [διανοίας]; [100] no doubt the procreative act depends on his intention, but generation depends on nature, which puts the mortal body in this or that disposition.

But for the perfectly simple nature of Zeus, to generate [γεννᾷν] is not one thing, to create [δημιουργεῖν] another; there are not certain creatures that he generates and some others that he creates; to generate and to create are for him the same thing: he generates by the intelligence that he has of what it is appropriate to generate, and he creates by his nature, which is always to produce. Thus people cannot generate children as they wish, but they can build their homes and create the accessories as they like and when they want. Zeus, on the other hand, whose eternal essence is the identity of will and power [βούλασθαί τε ἅμα καὶ δύνασθαι], produces all the beings that he judges fit to contribute to the perfection of his entire work; at once he creates them and generates them. He makes each being one and unique in its nature [μονογενὲς], for he does not do anything superfluous, and he gives all possible unity to the whole that results from his creation. Now there was no other possible unity here than that of community, and no community is better suited to these things than to be the image of one another, for each thing has its own separate existence, and at the same time there is a certain community between the image [εἰκόνι] and the model [παραδείγματι]. Not only are the species the images of the genera, but they are also images of the other species which issue from the same genus by successive division, and which are always divided into more perfect and less perfect, the less perfect being the image of the more perfect, the temporal essence of the eternal essence, the mortal nature of the immortal nature, the irrational of the rational, and so on.

[102] In this community of [species], the inferior beings possess, as appropriate, whatever attributes [προσόντα] they have from those superior to them, from which comes a new link of affinity [κοινωνεῖν] between the beings, since by their state of subordination, they are intimately connected with those who precede them, as the one who receives must naturally be to the one who gives. In fact, the lower natures must be simultaneously subordinate and not entirely different from those from which they receive anything. Zeus, therefore, by himself gives existence to each of these eternal substances, and those he has produced are used by him only as models for the creation of others, in order to maintain the mutual union of these beings, the images being found in the models and the models in the images by both their resemblance and distinction; each of these beings is necessarily in the relation of effect to cause,14 and all have Zeus for a common cause. He in fact produces, by himself and alone, a single being, then on the model of this one produces another, and according to the latter still another, and so forth, until the completion of the whole, complete system. Having thus given them existence [οὐσίας] (since the creation of the higher [substances] that form the whole eternal substance [οὐσία] belongs to him), he leaves to them the adorning [ἐπικόσμησιν] of the others with their attributes [προσόντων], by which the higher beings must adorn [κοσμησόντων] those below them. The purpose and the end of this community among the gods is to form from their meeting a single system, a single cosmos, the most beautiful possible.

[104] It is thus that our souls are obviously adorned with their attributes by the divine souls which are superior to them, not that they are produced by them, but they emerge from the same source, being like them of an immortal substance [οὐσίας ἀϊδίου]. Now, if it is so with our souls, so must the gods up there receive their existence in the way we have said, so that there is an analogy and a relationship between things on earth and those above, and from things up there to those here below. However, the motherless generation of Zeus’s gods cannot be exactly compared to the generation of people; it has more to do with the generation of other immortal and mortal beings by these same gods and their children.

In fact, the eldest of Zeus’s children, Poseidon, although he is really a Form [εἶδος], he is not the Form of this or that, but he comprehends in himself as genus all the individual Forms, and he is after Zeus the supreme cause of the form of the All [to Pan]; hence he is the supreme male principle [ἀῤῥενωπότατον] of the gods, for he is the male principle which gives beings their specific characters. His image, created like himself by Zeus and the eldest after him, is Hera, who also contains all Forms, but who, however, does not possess power equal to that of Poseidon. For he [Poseidon] possesses in himself all Forms in actuality [ἔργῳ], and is himself in actuality the cause of the form of all the things of the All [to Pan]. She also possesses them all in actuality [ἔργῳ], but does not actually become the cause of the form of anything; she produces only the primary [πρεσβυτάτης] matter which contains all the forms potentially [δυνάμει], not in actuality [ἔργῳ], for in fact, far from containing all of them, it does not possess any.

[106] Thus, this divinity [Hera] is a female principle [θήλειαν] and the first principle of this kind. Such, indeed, is the nature of the female principle: it furnishes to all beings matter and nourishment. Between these two divinities there is nearly the same correlation as between semen and menstrual blood, which both contain, not in actuality but potentially, a being to come. But semen has more to do with the productive force [ἐνεργείας]; it gives rather the form. While menstrual blood, less endowed with the productive force, is rather the matter proper to form the new being. Thus these two divinities actually possess all Forms in common; Poseidon is the actual productive cause of Form, Hera of Μatter.

Thus our comparison, although imperfect and unworthy of divine purity, gives a good account of the mutual relation and the respective action of these two divinities. By their union, they produce immortal beings. The two most powerful children, Helios and Selene, are united together by the same relations, and in the same way that these gods were themselves produced, they in turn produce mortal beings. In fact, Helios gives to these beings the form which he borrows from higher beings, that is to say, from the Tartarean gods; Selene furnishes them with matter specially placed under her influence. Helios is the eldest of the male gods who inhabit the heavens, Selene the eldest of the female.

[108] With these two, for the creation of mortal beings there are, among the eternal gods, Kronos and Aphrodite, who are in the same relations among the gods of Tartarus as are Poseidon and Hera among the gods of Olympus, and who create mortal beings in the same way; Kronos gives each one form, Aphrodite matter. Doubtless, it is not the primary, imperishable matter, but a matter extracted from the eldest bodies and other elements, able like them to assume the forms found in these bodies from which it is extracted, but already acquiring the perishable state, and thus becoming the proper material to form mortal bodies.

But the generation of mortal beings is not confined only to the gods around Helios. There are some of the eternal gods, those called Titans and Tartareans, led by Kronos, who cooperate with them in the generation of mortals, as we know by reasoning. For one might think that Helios, having in his mind [νῷ] the forms of mortal beings still purely intelligible [διανοητά] and not actually existing anywhere, gives birth to each of these beings in the same way that artists [δημιουργοῦντες] have ideas of their artifacts. But we see that the works of artists are not completed in the same way as the natural creations of mortals by Helios. Indeed, we see that all the artifacts of artists advance towards perfection only so long as they are in their hands and they work on them, [110] but if they are abandoned half done, they make no further progress. Ιn short, they never perfect themselves except in proportion to the work the artists give them. In contrast, the creations of nature are not necessarily subject to the advance or retreat of Helios with respect to their development and life. Otherwise, all would be daily or annual, and moreover during the night nothing would progress towards perfection, while we obviously see that plants and fruits develop even during the night.

Now, it cannot be Helios, both advancing and retreating, that leads them to their perfection, for it is not permissible to attribute this effect to the action of his intelligence [νοῦν] separated from his body. In fact, participated intelligences cannot act without their bodies on the other bodies, and, as for all those bodies, to act on the others they need to be in this or that position in relation to those on which they act. It will not be said that these things are perfected by themselves, for no potentiality [δύναμιν] comes to actuality [ἐνέργειαν] without being moved by the action of an earlier force. Hence that which is potentially perfect would never become perfect in actuality if it were not impelled to perfection by another essence that already possesses this perfection in actuality [ἔργῳ]. It is not the heat received from Helios or any other affection absorbed by each mortal thing that could lead them to perfection in the absence of Helios; [112] for what completes must always be prior to what owes it completion, and no modification of any form [εἴδους] or substance [οὐσίας] may be prior to the modified object.

It therefore remains to admit the necessity of certain Forms [εἴδη] which remain by themselves in the supercelestial domain. They are incapable of producing, alone among themselves, whatever is produced here below. Thus, for example, the eldest of them may have produced Helios and Selene and the other immortal beings existing here [within the heavens], but to form here below the beings whose production concerns them, these deities need the help of Helios and the other gods around Helios. However, once the creation is finished, when the object has already taken some structure [σύστασίν τινα], then they can by themselves complete it and preserve it for some time, the more perfect of them probably using this faculty more fully and longer than those who are endowed with a lesser perfection. This is why the perfection and the preservation of mortal things are not in proportion to the approach or retreat of Helios.

Something analogous happens with thrown bodies, for they would not be thrown if nobody threw them; however, once thrown, they continue to move because the air seizes them and bears them for some time by the very effect of its resistance, without the thrower continuing to touch or to move them. Thus, the works of people are preserved as much as nature preserves them, because they are all formed of natural elements, but they can only be completed in proportion to the work that artists devote to each of them, [114] unless some of their parts, needing a certain maturity, be entrusted to the care of nature. But, in general, they advance to perfection only to the extent that we have said, for nothing can take them back and complete them. In fact, with the departure of the artists’ hands, the forms in the artists’ thoughts, which furnished them with models, also depart.

Indeed, there is no form here below that exists by itself; they all exist only in the god Pluto, who presides over every human form and contains in himself all human affairs in their entirety and in each of their parts, while the artists hold them in their minds only one by one and separated from each other. The same is true of mathematical numbers and mathematical magnitudes, both of which exist in a kind of unity [καθ᾽ ἕν τι] in the god Hera, who in fact presides over their infinity, since she presides over matter in general, and which are then received by the human soul in an extended form, shadows and phantoms, in a sense, of divine things [τῶν θείων], but nevertheless capable of leading people to an exact knowledge of them. Such is the way in which the works of people are perfected.

As for the natural substances, which are formed from models [παραδείγματα] that exist by themselves, it is clear that their perfection must not also depend on the approach and the retreat of Helios, because they have for support these models, some more perfect, others less, the former better able to perfect their works, the latter less endowed with this faculty.

[116] Nothing is more rational, in fact, than that the different classes of substances [οὐσίαι αἱ τῶν ὄντων] partake of their proper causes. The first, eternal [αἰώνιος] class is from Zeus alone. The class that follows it, already existing in time [ἔγχρονος] but everlasting [ἀΐδιος], is from his children, who are many but all siblings of each other, since they proceed from Zeus himself, but we specially attribute this creation to Poseidon their chief, as to the architect the construction of a building, and to the general the victory in a battle. The third and last substance [οὐσία], which is both temporal [ἔγχρονος] and mortal, does not owe its origin to gods who are all siblings of each other, but some of the gods who produce it are children of Zeus himself, the others of Poseidon. In general we attribute its generation to Kronos and Helios, the leaders of the gods who produce this kind of substance. But enough is enough about the generation of gods; now let us return to our first subject.

¶ We have shown that gods are divided into males and females, that males provide form to beings that come from them, and that females give matter. It is evident, then, that all the gods must belong by their nature either to the male or the female, because the creative gods must necessarily be for their creations either the cause or the form that specifies them, or else the matter and its properties. Those who are not creative, such as most of those within the heavens, must necessarily have some occupation and cannot remain entirely idle, for absolute rest is not a life. [118] Since each of the gods must have a task to fulfill, this task will have something to do with either the male or female principles. For necessarily they must play an active [δραστικὸν] or passive [παθητικόν] role, and of these two roles, the one obviously suits the male principle, the other the female. Form, which is the cause and the necessary element of the male principle, represents action; Matter, which is the element of the female principle, essentially represents passivity. It is therefore not only the gods who by nature belong either to the male or to the female, but also among all beings those in whom form and action predominate are chiefly attached to the male nature, and those in whom matter and passivity predominate are related to the female; consequently, it would be very difficult to find an ambiguous being balanced between these two natures.

All beings, whoever they may be, thus have a mutual intercourse [κοινωνεῖν] according to their differences; this intercourse, for some, presents only an image of the intercourse between male and female, but for material beings, when they work for the production of other beings, this is intercourse in the proper [sexual] sense of the word. In this intercourse, however, no gods unite with those whom they produce. Indeed, Zeus does not have with Hera, any more than with any other divinity, the intercourse of male with female; he uses her only as a model for the production of the divine beings who need this goddess to contribute as a model for their generation. The same can be said of Poseidon with Selene, or of Helios with Hera … [The remainder of the chapter was destroyed.]

CHAPTER 31. Judgments

[120] Animals act without reason, not according to their own intelligence, but under the direction of the soul that governs our heaven, I mean the soul of Helios, and also under the direction of Kronos and other intellects [νῶν] who are separated [from matter] and governors [of the cosmos]. These, borrowing everything from Helios, who is the principle of generation and life for animals, govern them according to the power which has been given to them, a power that for them is one, but divided among the different beings subject to their action. Thus guided by these more divine beings [θειοτέρων], animals cannot do anything they should not do. (It could not be according to their own intelligence [διανοίας], for they have none; nor could it be by the external influence of these divine intellects, for it is not permissible to suppose this.) It is for this reason that they perform their acts, and in particular that act [procreation], more correctly than people. For people, under the influence of their own intelligence [ἰδίᾳ διανοίᾳ] and fallible opinion, are often mistaken, both in this act and in all the rest, and make use of their faculties sometimes in conformity with nature but needlessly, and sometimes even, which is much more shameful, contrary to nature. But animals cannot commit any similar fault, so that if one of them unites with different species, but similar to own, one must believe that it is due to the physical relations of species to each other.

[122] Moreover, if the ardor of the senses was less strong among people, we would not need such severe legislation. But the gods knew that people are governed by an imagination prone to error, and that some would, therefore, misuse sexual indulgence [ἀφροδισιάζειν], while others would abstain from it entirely, either judging it as wholly impure or as less perfect than abstention; that others, by the misanthropy of their character, would be reluctant to feed a woman and children; that others, finally, being unable to bear losing their children, would prefer not having children to losing the ones they had, instead of relying in this respect on the will of the gods and performing the duty imposed on us to contribute to the propagation of the species and the preservation of the All [to Pan].

The gods, therefore, knowing all this, and that the weakness of the judgment of people would lead to all these errors, as we have examples around us, did not want too many people to abstain from sexual indulgence [ἀφροδισιάζειν] and to fail in the providence by which Zeus maintains a link between mortal and immortal beings through the intermediary of the human species. That is why they have inspired people with such a desire [ἐπιθυμίαν] that it prevails over all the others and is very difficult to triumph over unless it is opposed by the force of a still more powerful dogma.

[124] But they knew that the opinion that one must abstain completely from sexual pleasures [ἀφροδισίων] would, in the end, find few partisans, and that if it entered a few minds, most of the time it would not be strong enough not to yield easily to the incessant persecutions of the most powerful of all desires. But much more than abstinence of sexual pleasures [ἀφροδισίων] the gods [feared their depraved use]15 ........ because people, among the other duties of their nature, must live as citizens, as sociable people, not loners. That is why we punish by death most of those who are degraded by such actions; at the same time we want to deliver them from this miserable state and to save their country [πόλεις] from such shame.

Those who commit acts against nature [παρὰ φύσιν μιαινομένους], for example, those who are convicted of the crime of sodomy [ἀῤῥενομιξίᾳ] or bestiality [θηριομιξίᾳ], or of any of those things that are only found among the most corrupt people, these must be punished by fire, and one must at the same time burn the criminal and his victim, or if he has exercised his brutality on some animal, burn the animal with him. It is also necessary to burn adulterers [μοιξούς], and those men or women who will have led or helped them to commit this crime. As for the adulterous women [μοιχευτρίας], they will have their hair shaved and will be delivered to the inspector of prostitutes [πορνῶν] to be abandoned to prostitution, so that if they could not keep their fidelity to the one to whom they owed it, they serve at least to maintain other women in conjugal fidelity, by offering to the passions of men too inclined to lust a remedy tolerable in the eyes of the law. [126] Likewise burned will be anyone who violates any woman, unless she is a prostitute, even a courtesan [ἑταιροῦσα], if she did not publicly make a profession of her body, and even a prostitute, if she is done violence at the times when nature forbids the approach of this sex [i.e., during menstruation].

All those who are defiled by these crimes, the most infamous of all, will be burned in the enclosures designated to contain their remains, and not in the common cemeteries. For there will be in each place three cemeteries separated by very visible fences: one for the priests, another for the common citizens, a third for these great criminals, and it is also in the latter where will be burned alive the sophist who dares to attack our beliefs. This same punishment is reserved for those guilty of incest with a mother, a sister, or any relative in ascending or descending direct line. If a man is convicted of intercourse with some other relative to a prohibited degree, he will be punished by loss of civil rights [ἀτιμία] until he is sufficiently purified, and in addition, access to sacred things will be forbidden to him. In the cemetery of the impure and infamous will be burned anyone who is judged by the magistrates to be guilty of a murder subject to expiation. If anyone is convicted of intercourse with a virgin girl, or with someone who, without being a virgin or being betrothed to anybody, would still be in guardianship, the culprit will be punished with death, even if this young girl would have given herself voluntarily to him, but burned and buried in the common cemetery, which will also be used as the burial place for one guilty of a murder not subject to expiation. Moreover, rape and adultery will not be punished only when they have been accomplished, [128] but the very attempt will also be punished when it has failed, because for these crimes the attempt is regarded as criminal as the action. As for the man who would feel violently in love with someone who is betrothed or married to another, we want him to go immediately to find the advisor [εξηγητήν] on sacred matters, to reveal to him the illness of his soul and to ask him for a means to purify it or for a restraint [ἀσφάλειαν] against the greater evil that would befall if passion triumphed over his soul. So, approaching the holy places…16

… and therefore punish him with death. But when the crime is not obvious, the accused is judged by a majority of votes, and in that case, it will be right to absolve him not only if he has only the minority of votes against him, but also if they are equally divided.

Add to this chapter on judgments a last article. If a man convicted by the court of one of those crimes which are punished with death, proves that he has previously done some good deeds whose importance or number seems to exceed the magnitude of his fault, he must be considered as being neither incorrigible nor naturally perverse, but as having been the victim of some unfortunate circumstance beyond his nature, for example, of the inadequacy of his education, and then, instead of punishing him by death, it will have to be corrected by a temporary prison term. [130] But this is enough to say on this subject, for if we have left some gap, the lights diffused in the course of this work will suffice, with the help of the gods, to put our magistrates in a condition to perfectly clear up for themselves the points that we have left in the dark.

CHAPTER 32. Names of the Gods

We still have to deal with the religious rituals [ἀγιστειῶν] for the gods, and certainly it is not unimportant whether we worship the gods rightly or not, for if rituals are in harmony with religious beliefs, they can strengthen them, otherwise shake them. Now, if we have any sense, we will easily recognize that the entire conduct of our life and all our actions, whether good or bad, depend on our religious beliefs. This is a subject that we must deal with thoroughly. 

But we must first speak of the names of the gods and prove that we were right in preserving the names of the gods of our ancestors, whose philosophy has made us recognize their existence. We should not designate each god by a periphrasis instead of a name, which would not be easy for many people, nor lay down new names, nor apply to them barbarian names, when we can use those used by our ancestors. However, it will be said, these names have been defiled by the poets who distorted the revelations of philosophy about the gods into false fables, and as such they should never be used. [132] But one cannot say it is the nature of names that once defiled they remain defiled forever; their nature is to be defiled when they are employed in a base and accursed sense, but as soon as they are taken in a pure and healthy sense, they immediately become undefiled for the person using them. Indeed, it would be difficult to find a name so pure that it has never been defiled by anyone. Because one could say that it happened to the very name of God, when some people filled with many crimes have …17

CHAPTER 34. Addresses to the Gods

Thrice each day address the gods: first, either rising exactly at dawn or at daybreak but still rising early, then in the afternoon after engaging in business but before supper, and finally in the evening before bedtime. Further, use the longer addresses on the holidays, but the shorter ones on non-holidays. Moreover, let these be the addresses.18

Morning Address to the Gods

O King Zeus, Being-itself [αὐτοὼν], One-itself [αὐτοὲν], Good-itself [αὐτοαγαθὲ], you are great, great in reality, and supremely great [ὑπέρμεγας]. You have not been produced by anything, you do not proceed from any cause, nothing is or has been before you. For you alone are pre-eternal [προαιώνιος]; alone of all things, you are entirely uncreated [ἀγένητος], while you are the first cause and founder of all that participates in being. Through you and from you everything comes, everything is born, everything is established and maintained in the best possible order, both those that are eternal and supercelestial, and those who live in our heaven and exist in time [ἔγχρονα], some immortal, others mortal and so placed in the last degree of beings. [134] The first [eternal and supercelestial] you yourself create and provide with all benefits, and to the latter [temporal] you give other benefits by means of the various beings born directly from you, and you make sure that they are as perfect as possible, not only in themselves, but the most useful in relation to the order [καταστάσει] of the All [to Pan], which is your supreme goal.

After Zeus, you are also great, O Lord Poseidon, the greatest and firstborn child of the greatest and first father, yet motherless [ἀμῆτορ], the most powerful and most perfect work of your father. You are the leader [ἡγεμὼν] of all others after your father, the second father and second creator of this universe [οὐρανοῦ]. After him and with him are you, O Queen Hera, first daughter of Zeus, wife of Poseidon, mother of the gods in heaven, leader [ἡγεμών] of the procession [προόδου] into multiplicity of inferior beings. And all you in turn, O Olympian gods, motherless [ἀμήτορες] and legitimate [γνήσιοι] children of great Zeus, you together create all the immortal beings in heaven, in common with Poseidon, your leader and eldest brother. Your place is with them, O Lord Pluto [Πλούτων], protector [προστάτα] of our immortal principle.

You too are blessed, O Lord Kronos; among the illegitimate [νόθων] children of Zeus, motherless like all those born of Zeus himself, you are the eldest and preside over all of mortal nature. After him and with him are you all, O Titans, O Tartareans, co-creators [συνδημιουργοί] of portions of this same mortal nature together with Kronos, your leader and eldest brother, although your own substance [οὐσίᾳ] is eternal.

[136] You too are blessed, O Lord Helios, the eldest and most powerful of the legitimate children of Poseidon and Hera. Poseidon, having received from his father Zeus this brother intellect [νοῦν] younger than himself, has himself and with this brother intellect [νοῦ] created a soul [ψυχὴν], but he has created a body with Hera, and especially with her, since this goddess produces matter. [They are] the most beautiful, good, and perfect soul and body of all souls and bodies, and of his creations. Then uniting them to this intellect itself [αὐτῷ τῷ νῷ], and submitting the body to the soul and the soul to the intellect [νῷ], he has formed from this assemblage a sort of common boundary [κοινόν τινα ὅρον] and bond [σύνδεσμον] between both parts, the supercelestial and that within the heavens. You [Helios] are leader [ἡγεμόνα] of all the heavens and creator [δημιουργόν], in common with Kronos, of the entire mortal nature within it.

[138] After Helios and with him, we greet the rest of you, O wanderer Asteres [ἀστέρες, i.e., Planets], you whose origin and composition are similar to those of your leader, your eldest brother. You share with him sovereignty over affairs of mortal nature and also over the race of earthly daimons, according to the division [μέρη] assigned to each of you, as well as [sovereignty] over our souls. After them, we address you, O highest Astra [Fixed Stars], you who were created to contemplate beings with an exact knowledge [ἐπιστήμῃἀκριβεῖ] of all things, and especially to produce the great hymn to Zeus. Lastly, I invoke you, O blessed terrestrial daimons, gods of the last degree, who, serving the other gods, immediately touch our life and nature, but who are, like all gods, infallible and immune to evil.

May all the race of blessed gods favorably and kindly accept this morning prayer. It is you, O gods, who, under the direction of Zeus, administer and watch over human things. It is you who, among other suitable things devised for us, have separated our life into sleep and wakefulness, which is necessary for the preservation of this mortal body for the duration assigned to it. So from that moment when we wake up and leave our bed, grant us to live rightly [καλῶς] and well, that is, in the way that suits you best, as we pass this day, this month, this year, and the rest of our life. You have the right to communicate, without envy, a part of what is yours to whomever it is possible. [140] So grant it to us, who have a nature that is immortal but mixed; and because you have attached us to this mortal part for the fullness and harmony of the All [to Pan], so that there is a boundary and bond between the two parts, yours immortal and completely pure, the other mortal and perishable, at least [grant] that we are not completely dominated by the mortal element. May the ruling and excellent part of our nature, which is akin to yours, follow you as much as possible in everything and everywhere. Μay it dominate and govern our inferior part, and to this end [O gods], support us as far as possible.  Assist us in all the actions, all the works that we undertake, to be directed according to your reason [λόγον] and your wisdom [νόμον], that the mortal and non-rational principle not dominate us, and that we not be removed far from you by being carried away by the erring part of our nature. On the contrary, let us exercise the most authoritative part of our being, the immortal essence akin to yours, to follow you unceasingly, as much as possible, and to draw closer to you, who are always good and happy, to maintain with you, as much as possible, an intimate alliance [κοινωνοῦντες], a familiar communion [οἰκειότατα], adapting each of our actions to be especially fitting to this kinship, so that, as far as possible, we might regulate our mortal nature and, to the extent of our strength and by this communion, fare most happily.19

Above all, grant us, O gods, both now and always, as a first favor, to have an understanding of ​​you; it will be the source of all goods for us. [142] For there can be in us nothing more beautiful nor more divine than thought in general, which is the most divine act of our most divine part, and no use of thought could be more beautiful nor more blessed than that which relates to you and to the great Zeus, since it is impossible, without our knowing Zeus, to get a correct idea [γνῶσινὀρθῶς] of ​​you, nor without our knowing you, to get a correct idea of Zeus. Indeed, one does not comprehend his supreme goodness if one does not consider him as the creator [δημιουργὸν] of you, as good and blessed ones produced from him. For this king of all things, who is supreme goodness itself, wanted to be the principle and the cause of powerful and excellent ones similar to himself, and so he engendered you as the second rank of the gods. Then he gave the highest among you the power to produce a third order of divinities, in order to make you, as much as possible, yet more like him in this respect.

Thus divinity is composed of three divisions [μοῖραν] of which the first, the greatest, and the most august is that of Zeus; the other two emanate from him, this one immediately, that one by the intermediary of the second; thus he made the fullness of benefits. But it is King Zeus, completing this admirable whole, who has made it perfect and one. He composed it of both immortal and mortal beings, the generation of whom he shared with you. Moreover, he crafted a bond [σύνδεσμον] in it between the two parts, your race and the human race.

[144] So you, executors [ἐμποιοῦντες] of the purpose [γνῶμῃ] of Zeus, you have given us a place among beings, you have united an immortal form akin to yours, namely our soul, with a mortal nature, and you have fixed our happiness first in our immortal principle, then in the noble [καλῷ] and in participation in the noble, which you have allowed to come to us, that is, in the imitation of yourselves, in which absolute nobility resides primarily. But the contemplation of beings is for you one of the greatest benefits, so it must also be for us the best of actions and the height of happiness, especially when we raise our thought towards what is greatest and most noble among all beings, that is to say, towards you, and towards Zeus, who commands you and all things, then towards the whole universe [τὸ σύμπαν], and finally to the knowledge of ourselves who are in it. To obtain each of these benefits and all others to which we can aspire, help us, O gods, without whom no good is possible.

But, as the first of all benefits, establish in us the preceding doctrines and others like them, and since you have deigned to instruct us about our origin and the place we occupy in the All [to Pan], keep us free so far as possible, safe from the misfortune and humiliation due to our lower part, and prevent us from being disturbed by whatever happens contrary to our purpose [γνώμην]. For in the first place these things must be nothing to us, since they reach only our mortal nature and not the upper part of our being, which is immortal and in which you have fixed our happiness. [146] And secondly, it is not possible that things are always given to us as we would like them to be, for there would be nothing mortal in us if we did not suffer such accidents, and we would no longer be a compound of two parts, one immortal, the other mortal. And finally, you wanted us to be in [the middle of] the All [to Pan].

Then, to the extent of our condition and what you have given, we must use [what you have given], so grant us to use it with constancy and freedom, which you have provided with this superior reason, as a weapon against such awful things, [a weapon] which we are fortunate to have in each occasion. For we would be foolish to rebel against those more powerful than us; it would be unjust to seek what our masters have not given us instead of being grateful for what is already granted, which certainly is not contemptible. May we never blame you for any of these things, nor desire other than what you have given, but, yielding gently to what is fated, and knowing that you treat us always as favorably as possible, and sharing, among other things, our intelligence [γνώμης] with yours, let us share also in all that you will.

Let us never have any resentment against people, who after all are born to act as they themselves think, and who cannot affect us if we know how to turn our attention to ourselves and know to desire the most appropriate benefits. Let us not recoil before what is noble [καλῶν] and dear to you, in a matter coming down from you, being hindered by fear either of the labor, or of losing some of what is not really our own, or of disapproval from ignorant people.

[148] Strengthen our thinking [φρονοῦν] and most divine part to be powerful [ἔγκρατες] and the master [ἄρχον] of all our other [faculties], as much as it can, regulating the others according to nature [κατὰ φύσιν], the superior over the inferior, so that it imposes limits [ὅρους] on each of them. As for the pleasures of the body, let us cling to them as moderately as possible, insofar as they do not seem to be able to harm the good state of our body and soul, even if they do not contribute to making it the best possible. Let not a deceitful and unnatural pleasure make our soul bad, and perhaps our body too. Let us consider riches, instruments [of these pleasures], only as a means of satisfying the reasonable needs of life, and take care not to allow desire to grow infinitely in us, an inexhaustible source of ills.

As for opinion, let us take into account only that of noble, good people [καλῶν κἀγαθῶν], sure of finding in them witnesses and supporters of noble [καλῶν] actions. For those people who, on the contrary, have only false ideas about the noble and good, let us pay them no attention, and let us seek their esteem only so long as it never distracts from virtue wherever duty is involved. Thus may we never be conquered by a vain opinion harmful to virtue.

[150] Of the bonds and relations which you have established between us and each of those with whom we participate, grant that we preserve them inviolate by rendering to each what is due them by virtue of these [relations], and especially to those with whom we are in community, beginning with the founders of our families, who are for us your own images and whom indeed you have established as the cause of our mortal part. Let us be trusty [χρηστοὶ] in procuring for everyone all the good proper to our relations with each of them, and let us never be voluntary causes of an evil, and never play the role of a destructive, awful, and unsociable being. May we, devoted to the common good of the city and the family of which we are a part, always hold this good before our own, thus following you, O gods born of the great Zeus, the great Good-itself [αὐτοαγαθοῦ], entirely One-itself [αὐτοενὸς], who has created and produced the All [to Pan] in its totality and in its parts: in its parts, each of which is the best and most beautiful possible; in its totality, one and multiple at the same time, itself a consonance [ἡρμοσμένον] with itself, of what has proceeded and perfected itself, to be even better and more beautiful. And you [gods] are ever the causes of good things, both among yourselves and for the other beings that you preside over and govern, for the parts as for the whole, always and everywhere preferring the common good of the whole to the share of each individual.

Let us fulfill your sacred rites [ἀγιστείας] as best as possible and especially as is appropriate to you who, as we know, lack nothing, for [these rites] are a means of molding and impressing our imagination [φανταστικόν], the faculty closest to the divine part of our being, to bring it up to what is noble [καλοῦ] and divine, and at the same time to make it more submissive and obedient to our most divine part [θειοτάτῳ]. [152] Let us make holiness and piety consist in not neglecting anything in the rites [ἀγιστειῶν] consecrated to you, but without exceeding the measure sufficient to mold our imagination. Make us in all things as perfect [τελείους] as possible, and in our actions keep us safe from mistakes [ἀναμαρτήτους] by these laws [νόμοις] and other similar rules [kanosin] useful for life. If we fall into some fault [ἁμαρτηθῇ], swiftly bring us a sufficient correction by setting before our minds a healthier reason, an exact discernment [γνῶμονα] of good and bad [κακῶν], the surest way to cure our soul of mistakes [ἁμάρτημα] and vice [κακίαν]. In this way, allied [οικειούμενοι] with you to the extent of our strength, we will enjoy, as much as we are allowed, the greatest goods that exist in you, where envy can find no place.20

Following you as much as possible in all our conduct, we will be associated with you by the identity of our actions. In our hymns in your honor, we will borrow the holiest images of you from the highest part of our being, and with you, and above you, we will celebrate great Zeus, in the contemplation of whom all who can share in it find the most perfect and most blessed state.

O Zeus, the greatest and most eminent [ἐξαίρετε] of the gods, O Self-father Father [αὐτοπάτορ πάτερ], O eldest creator [δημιουργὲ] of everything, all-powerful [αὐτοκράτορ] and absolute king [αὐτοτελὲς βασιλεῦ], [154] by whom all dominion [βασιλεία] and all power [ἀρχὴ] over all other beings is established, directed, and governed, under you and under your supreme authority, O master [δέσποτα] most sovereign and at the same time most gentle [μειλίχιε], to whom all things are subject in all righteousness and for their own good, if these things are born and if they exist, it is by you, it is also for you, who lack nothing, but who, being supremely good, wanted to make all things as good as possible.

Of all good things, you are the first and the last, so that you do not seek good elsewhere than in yourself, for you are the Good. You are for the blessed the unsparing sponsor of their blessedness. You are the benefactor who lavishes on all beings the greatest goods and those most consistent with the good of the Whole [τῷ ὄλῳ].

All is full of your glory. To thee sing all the classes of gods and regard this worship as the most excellent and most blessed of their acts. To thee also sings Poseidon, your first and most powerful child, who presides over other beings for all good things and above all others. To thee sings Hera his wife, Motherless Mother [ἀμήτωρ μήτηρ] of all the gods within the heavens. Likewise sing all the other Olympian gods. To thee sing Kronos and the Titans, who rule mortals. To thee sings Helios, leader [ἡγεμὼν] of heaven, as well as his siblings and subordinates, the planets [πλανῆτες], and the entire choir of the higher stars [ἄστρων]. To thee sings the entire earthly race of daimons, who are nearest to us, and finally to thee sing we in the last rank, the human species. Each of these [beings sings] according to their power.

[156] We too sing to you, and we beseech you to distribute to us the greatest goods possible. Be propitious [Ἵλαθι] and preserve us [σῶζε]. Govern us in the midst of the All [to Pan] and grant us finally what you have judged is best for us and is, at the same time, fixed from all eternity.

¶ This address must be recited on each of the three days—New Moon, Second, and Third Waxing—that begin the first month [μηνὸς τοῦ νέου], with the part concerning the month and year. On other new moons, [recite it] with only the text21 concerning the month, omitting that about the year. On the other holidays and also on the non-holidays, omit the whole about these two, namely, the month and year.22 Finally, during the non-holidays, shorten the address; after this passage: “so that, as far as possible, we might regulate our mortal nature and, to the extent of our strength and by this communion, fare most happily,” we must skip all the following and resume at: “Following you as much as possible in all our conduct,” and [include] the rest up to the end of the speech.23

Afternoon Addresses

First Afternoon Address to the Gods

O Lord Poseidon, of all the children of most great Zeus, you are the oldest and the most powerful. [158] You were born of the absolutely uncreated self-father [αὐτοπάτορος], and you yourself are not entirely uncreated, since you proceed from a cause, but you surpass all created beings by the greatness and the dignity of your power. Thus your father has entrusted to you the authority over all things, to you who are essentially Form-itself [αὐτοεῖδος], Limit-itself [αὐτοπέρας], Good-itself [αὐτοκαλόν], from whom all beings receive form and limit with the share of beauty [κάλλος] that suits them. You are, after the great Zeus, the father and the oldest creator [δημιουργὸς] of the gods of the third class, of those enclosed within the heavens.

After you comes Queen Hera, born of the same father as you, but inferior to you in dignity as in nature, for it is necessary that in the supercelestial regions where you reign there not be several equal divinities; each one must be of its kind [μονογενὲς], so you each might have similarities par excellence with the One-itself, who has engendered you. It is her [Hera’s] origin and nature to be responsible for presiding over the procession [προόδου], the increase, and the infinite multiplication of things of a lower order. This is because, proceeding originally from you, the most perfect of things created, she created in herself the plurality of beings, and cohabiting with you in a chaste and divine manner, she became the mother of your divine children.

Then, in their order come all the other Olympian gods, your brothers and sisters, the legitimate children of King Zeus; their nature varies, superior in some, inferior in others, but all have received in all things appropriate portions, which they rule under your authority.24
[160] Apollo [has under his law] identity [ταυτότητος]; Artemis, diversity [ἑτερότητος]; Hephaistos, immobility [στάσεως] and remaining the same [τῆς ἐν ταὐτῷ μονῆς]; Dionysos, voluntary movement [αὐτοκινησίας] and attraction [ὁλκῆς] leading upward towards perfection [τῆς τε ἐς τὸ τελεώτερον ἀναγωγῆς]; Athena, movement and impulse caused by something else [τῆς ὑφ᾽ἑτέρων κινήσεώς τε καὶ ὤσεως] and the repulsion of the superfluous [τοῦ τε περιέργου ἀποκρίσεως]; Atlas, the stars [ἄστρων] in general, his legitimate children; Tithonos, in particular, that of the planets [πλανήτων], and Dione, that of the fixed stars [ἀπλανῶν]; Hermes, authority over terrestrial daimons [δαιμόνωντῶν χθονίων], the last class of subordinate deities; Pluto [Πλούτων], over the most elevated part of our being [τῆς ἡμετέρας φύσεως κυριωτέρου μέρους] which constitutes our immortal nature [ἡμῶντοῦ ἀθανάτου]; Rhea, over primitive bodies [σομάτωντῶν πρεσβυτάτων] and elements [στοιχείων] in general; but in particular, Leto presides over the aether [αἰθἐρος] and the heat [θερμοῦ], which separates the elements; Hekate, over the air [ἀέρος] and the cold [ψυχροῦ], which brings them together; Tethys, the water [ὕδατος] and moisture [ὑγροῦ], which makes them fluid [διαῤῥύτου]; Hestia, the earth [γῆς] and the dryness [ξηροῦ], which makes them compact [πηκτοῦ]. All these gods, legitimate and most powerful children of King Zeus, occupy Olympus, that is to say, the summit of the supercelestial region, the holiest of all; it is from there that, according to their attributes, they govern under your direction the mutable universe [συμπάσης], which can be called created because it is the product of a cause and is the object of a creation, continually changing [κίνησιν], but uncreated in time.25

You, subject to King Zeus alone, are the guide and chorus leader [κορυφαίος] of all others; it is you who marks the limit of their action and who orders the All [to Pan]. Thus it is you that we first address, since you attend to our most authoritative and immortal part, the creation under your direction.

We honor you and thank you for the goods you have given us and that you give us. [162] We sing hymns to you, and after you and with you we celebrate your brothers and sisters, the Olympian gods. O you divinities eternal and superior to time, for whom there is neither past nor future, but for whom everything is present and actual, receive favorably and kindly our afternoon address, which we offer from the lowest degree where we, in time and withdrawn from eternity,26 are placed, at this hour when already the greater part of the day has passed, so that, if there is in us some suitable disposition, it is strengthened by the remembrance of you, and that we do not let perish, by the succession of days, months, and years, what is divine in us, but on the contrary, thanks to you, we preserve it imperishable and uncontaminated.

O Lord Poseidon, and you, O Pluto, who watch over us, and all of you Olympians, without you we are not permitted to enjoy any good. Help us to make virtue easy for ourselves, and help us in good deeds, which assure us, too, a share of happiness. All are worthy of your assistance, but above all, those who contemplate and celebrate great Zeus, to whom we turn last, the one who is for us, for you, and for all beings the dispenser of all graces, and the very first chorus-leader [χορηγὸς] for us as rational beings, and who grants, as far as attainable by each of us, the contemplation of his essence, and thus puts the finishing touch on all his benefits.

¶ In this address on non-holidays, after this passage: [164] “but all have received in all things appropriate portions, which they rule under your authority,” we must suppress the following and resume with: “You, subject to King Zeus alone, are the guide and chorus leader of all others,” and continue the speech up to the end.

Second Afternoon Address to the Gods

O Lord Kronos, you are the first of all the Tartarean race of gods, illegitimate children of supreme Zeus; that is why you have received authority over them. With Helios, leader of our heavens, you have been responsible for the creation of mortal nature. Aphrodite, your companion, presides over the transmission of perpetuity [ἀϊδιότητος] into mortal things by succession [διαδοχῇ]. Under you are all those appointed to govern this nature according to the various portions they have received:27
Pan reigns over the whole class of non-rational animals, Demeter [reigns] over plants, and all the others have received different parts, some greater some lesser, of mortal things. Among them is Kore, the god who directs our mortal part. Pluto, who presides over our immortal nature, has carried off this goddess as his wife; thus an Olympian god, in love with a Tartarean goddess, establishes a link [κοινωνίαν] between Tartarus and Olympus by the decrees of Father Zeus.28

[166] And you, O Lord Helios [Sun], [born] of both great Zeus by the divine intellect [νῷ] that is in you, and also of Poseidon by the nature of your soul [ψυχὴν] and body [σῶμα], his oldest and most powerful son, you are the common boundary [ὅρος] between the supercelestial gods and those in the heavens, and you have been established by your father Poseidon as leader of this entire heaven. You and your six siblings and attendants—Selênê [Moon], Eôsphoros [Venus], Stilbôn [Mercury], Phainôn [Saturn], Phaëthôn [Jupiter], and Pyroeis [Mars]—travel around, and you all, together with Kronos and the other Titans, perfect the whole of mortal nature. It is you [Helios] who, in the highest regions of our heavens, conduct this magnificent and numerous choir of celestial bodies [ἄστροις]. Under you also comes the earthly race of daimons appointed to serve the other gods. Finally you preside over our immortal part, and with the help of Kronos and the Titans under him, you form our mortal part, and you preserve us, as much as fated each of us. This is why, after Poseidon and the other Olympian gods, we also worship you and thank you for the goods we have from you.

We pray to those of you who lead us to guide our immortal nature toward the good and beautiful, and so far as possible to render our mortal nature tractable and useful. Grant, O gods, now that we have spent most of the day fulfilling our duties, to take the necessary nourishment for our mortal body with virtue, that is, having obtained it rightly, and with good will for those preparing it and equally for our dinner companions, and with temperance [ἐγκρατῶς]29 and useful for our health, and further, with purity and not feebly [ἀθρύπτως].30 [168] Grant us to use the rest of this day and our life in the best and most beautiful way in our power. Help us at last to contemplate and to sing hymns to King Zeus whenever necessary, but especially at this moment, so that we celebrate him in addresses as worthy as possible.

¶ In this address, on non-holidays, after this passage: “according to the various portions they have received,” we must suppress the following and resume at: “And you, O Lord Helios [Sun]”; then continue up to: “You and your six siblings and attendants.” Take out the names of the six planets and go to: “travel around, and you all, together with Kronos and the other Titans”; continue to the end of the prayer. In days of fasting, nothing must be cut out; we will only delete the passage relating to the meal, since it must take place only later.

Third Afternoon Address to the Gods:
The most important of all, addressed to King Zeus

Being-itself [Ἀθτοὼν], One-itself [αὐτοὲν], Good-itself [αὐτοαγαθὲ], O Zeus, you alone owe existence to no other cause than yourself, [170] you alone are a really essential essence and an absolute unity, not a multiple unity. For neither could several similarly uncreated beings come together in one whole, since they would need another being more powerful to assemble them, nor could one uncreated being merge with others proceeding from himself, because there would be no common nature between this self-existent principle and the beings who, having proceeded from him, would be distinguished from him by this difference. But only you are the unity; you are always and in everything identical to yourself. You are the Good, you are supremely good in yourself, and you have an immeasurable superiority over all other beings, which are [descended] from you and perfected by you. O Father of Fathers, Self-father [αὐτοπάτορ], Demiurge of Demiurges [δημιουργὲδημιουργῶν], Uncreated Creator [γενητῶν ἀγένητε], King of Kings, who rules over all rulers [ἀρχόντων], you alone are absolute master [αὐτοκρἀτωρ] and independent [ἀτελὴς], nothing can be against you, but, commanding all of them, great or small, you fix for each their state and dispense their laws; you direct and set them straight by your most upright and unchanging will [γνώμῃ]. O Master, greatest and highest Master, at the same time most gentle of all masters and lords, to you everything, from the first to the last of beings, is connected as to its original principle to serve in a just servitude [δουλεύει δουλείαν], which is the supreme good for them, for it is through you that they were created and exist, by you and for you who had no need of them, [172] but who wanted to satisfy your supreme goodness by producing all the benefits possible to the most perfect degree possible.31

That is why we celebrate and praise you, all of us, though our lot is the last degree of rational nature; we honor you and offer you the most pious homage in our power, for our every [religious] exercise concerning you is the most blessed of acts. The intelligent and reasonable nature [νοερά τε καὶ λογικὴ φύσις] of the gods celebrates you much better than we do.

For indeed, O God pre-eternal and in all ways uncreated, in the supreme goodness of your judgment [γνώμης], you have not disdained to be both father and creator [δημιουργὸς] of generated gods, some by yourself without a mother, the others through the oldest of those same gods produced from you. For you are the author of the class of beings closest to your nature, both immutable and eternal, and, without the concurrence of infinitely divisible matter, by yourself you are the creator who produced beings existing in themselves, gods more than others like you, the supercelestial gods. None of them is equal to the other, but some are relatively inferior to others, so that each of them, being one in individuality, is thus like you as much as possible, but collectively they form a sufficient number and a great and perfect system, the entire supercelestial order [διάκοσμον], so that each in their individuality might be altogether one in common.

[174] You divided these gods into two families; one is made up of your legitimate children, the Olympian race of gods; the other is the Tartarean race of Titans, your illegitimate children, who share an origin from you, but are limited to a lesser power and dignity. Kronos is the oldest of the Titans and their leader.

The oldest and most powerful of the Olympians, and at the same time of all [the gods], is the great Poseidon, whom you made the most perfect image of yourself possible, the limit of perfection in the entire generation of beings. To make him even more like yourself, you have given him sovereignty and leadership over everything, and moreover the faculty of producing and creating all beings enclosed in the heavens, but by summoning some of his siblings for each of these [creations]. Then, to organize the heavens for you and by your example, and plan to perfect it to contain the most beautiful things, he begets a third nature of gods composed of body and soul in order to more closely preserve and order things.

Now, as [Poseidon] begets them, taking as his model his own and the entire essence around him, entirely separate from matter, he also creates Forms for our heavens and makes it out of them, but Forms in no way separated [from matter]. On the contrary, he unites them to the Matter provided by Hera, his sister and his wife, so that they are images and modeled on those [higher Forms]. He forms a double class. One is entirely inseparable from matter, depending on it; they are the entire non-rational species [εἴδος]. [176] The other one is in no way dependent on [matter] anymore, but on the contrary keeps it dependent, and, although not actually separated; it is potentially separated, and thereby more akin to your supercelestial nature [οὐσίᾳ]; it is the rational soul.

This soul is divided into three species. The first, which [Poseidon] made with scientific knowledge [ἐπιστημονικὸν] of everything, are his legitimate offspring, the race of celestial gods, the stars [ἄστρων]. The second, which does not have scientific knowledge of everything, but has right opinion [ὀρθοδοξαστικὸν] of everything, are his illegitimate [children], the terrestrial race of daimons, the last race of gods, whom [the daimons] must assist. The third does not have a correct opinion of all things, but is fallible, and is not the most perfect of his productions; it is our human soul, which comes immediately after the race of daimons.

As for the other, non-rational substance [εἴδους], [Poseidon] made four principal species of body: fire, air, water, and earth. Choosing the most beautiful of these, the one which contains the least matter with the greatest volume, namely fire, he made vehicles [ὀχήματα] for souls: of its bright and fiery part [he made the vehicle of the souls] of stars [ἄστρων], and of the invisible and aethereal [αἰθερίου] part, [the vehicles] of the souls of daimons and of us. Thus, always uniting a soul to a body, he has composed the three lower classes of immortal and rational living beings [ζώων]. However, he employed his siblings, the other Olympian gods, as assistants, each taking their part in the generation and creation of the immortals here [within our heavens], namely of the three living species [ζώων], and of the four principal [species] of bodies.

[178] Of the stars [ἄστρων], [Poseidon] made one class numerous, motionless, busy contemplating beings and glorifying you. But he also perfected seven planets [πλανητὰ], each corresponding to its particular eternal Idea. First he united each of them to its own Idea or Intelligence [νῷ], and then he combined the eternal intelligence, a soul, and a body into a certain triple nature, which serves as an association [κοινωνίαν] and a bond [σύνδεσμον] between the supercelestial order and the heavens [οὐρανῷ], an admirable relation established by his all-powerful laws. He made the most beautiful and the best of them, Helios, supreme limit of the perfection of the powers [φύσεων] in the heavens. He united him to the most powerful of the participated [μεθεκτῶν] intelligences, and charged him with the government of the whole heaven, because the All [to Pan] must also have its share of mortal nature, so that it is in fact entirely complete.

You entrust the creation of these things to Helios and also to Kronos, the eldest of your illegitimate children. Both, charged with this mission, produce animals and plants of all kinds, and everything akin to them, each helped in this [creation] by his siblings, the one by the Tartareans, the other by the rest of the planets. These latter, in their movement and their revolution, now approaching, now withdrawing, rearranging themselves, thus make mortal creatures, [180] for the other creators of these [mortal creatures], the Tartareans, who abide, are incapable of accomplishing their creation without the partnership of [the planets]. They receive our souls, which Poseidon has made immortal but not quite pure [οὐκέτι δ᾽ἀκηράτους], and they attach them, during the time prescribed for each of us, to a mortal nature and later free them from this place. In this way they construct from these essences, according to your laws and under the orders of their leader Poseidon, a bond between the two parts of the universe [οὐρανῷ], the immortal and the mortal.

Thus, all of the beings created by you are divided into three natural orders: the first, immutable [ἀκινήτου] and eternal [αἰωνίου], of which you yourself are the creator; the second, everlasting [ἀϊδίου], but mutable [κινητοῦ] and temporal [ἐγχρόνου], over the generation of which presides Poseidon, the most powerful of your children; the last finally, inferior and entirely mortal, whose creation Helios and Kronos together administer. You have united these [three] classes, the first to the middle by the system formed by Helios and the other planets, and the middle to the last through the establishment of us and our affairs. You have made a unified and perfect whole [τὸ πᾶν καὶ παντελὲς] holding the fairest things [κάλλιστα], an immortal generation [γεγονὸς], neither earlier nonexistent [οὐκ ὂν] and later suddenly returning whence it came, nor sometime to be destroyed again. At the same time you perpetually preserve an immutable form, for neither could you not do what is most righteous, nor again not remove what is worse than the fairest possible.

[182] In this All [to Pan], you have given to all rational nature a sublime privilege: the faculty of knowing you and contemplating you, which you have granted to us in the last rank [of nature]. So, in concert with all the races of gods, we celebrate you as we are able and under the direction of great Poseidon, who also presides over this act and all that is beautiful [καλῶν].32

You are truly great and immensely great, you who, being the extreme and supreme limit of all dignity, dispense to each of the other gods and of all kinds, the share of dignity that is rightly theirs and best befits the whole. Thus you made us a boundary and bond between the ordained parts, the immortal and the mortal.

This is the place you have chosen to assign to us in the All [to Pan], and for us, as for the gods, you made happiness consist in the good, giving more to some, less to others, always in view of the general harmony. At the same time, you have made it possible for wrongdoers [ἁμαρτάνουσι] to correct themselves, easier for some, more painful for others. Thus you have disposed all for the greater good of each being and for the greater benefit of the entire Whole, delivering all things to an eternal, inevitable fate, and fulfilling all this by the gods to whom you have entrusted this care. So be propitious, save us, and lead us with this All [to Pan], in the manner you have judged is best concerning us and fixed from all eternity.

¶ In this address, in the non-holidays, after this passage: “by producing all the benefits possible to the most perfect degree possible,” we must suppress the following and resume with: “You are truly great and immensely great,” and continue the speech up to the end. ※33

Evening Address to the Gods

[184] O King Zeus, we thank you, first and especially you, for all the benefits we ever have possessed, that we now possess, or that we will ever possess. Being the Good yourself, there is no other good beside you, for you are at once the first and the last for all beings, in a word, the supreme principle of all good things. After [Zeus], it is you, O Poseidon, and all of you gods, who transmit to us the benefits from Zeus; it is you that we thank always and on every occasion for all your gifts,34 but especially for these, the greatest and the most perfect of those we enjoy or can enjoy.

First, you have placed us in the middle, between your immortal nature and mortal nature, and you have honored us as the common boundary and bond of these two parts. You have raised us above all that is mortal by our kinship with you, by participating in your immortality and by this glorious blessedness, which resembles yours, but in a much lesser degree. Again you grant us to be involved [κοινωεῖν] with you in other ways, first of all by our knowledge of you, then by grasping the remaining beings with our reason, sharing this ability [πράξεως] especially characteristic of you, which you have deigned to share with us, and finally, by our knowledge of ourselves, for by this faculty, which you have given us, we are close to you, who especially know yourselves. [186] That is how you have arranged that the best in us be appointed to command all the rest of us.

Besides, you granted that the faculty that comes first after the most superior [κρατίστῳ] in us and dominates all the rest, the imagination [φανταστικὸν], be useful to us for rituals, forming and modeling itself as much as possible on what is best in our superior [κρείττονος] part, to be more obedient to reason and enjoy the noble [καλοῦ] and divine nature.

You have also granted us, through our goodness toward our family and towards the whole human race, to imitate you, who are always the cause of good and never of evil. You have granted that we associate in this civic community with one another, which brings us closer to you, assimilating us as much as possible to you, who are children of the same father, King Zeus, who is Unity-itself [αὐτοενὸς], and you have united and formed the closest possible community. In addition, you grant that the part of our soul that leans on opinion [δόξαν] be ruled by the best part of us, treating as unworthy what is vain according to it, but esteeming in no way slightly what alone is useful to it and somehow advantageous for virtue.

Thus, you did not allow us to be entirely subject to our mortal part, but have granted us, if we understand what is better, the power to govern ourselves by our superior [κρατίστῳ] part, enjoying pleasures when permitted by it, without enjoying them to the point of license, [188] but by imposing upon them order and a proper bound, taking as a measure of [the enjoyment of] these strong needs the reasonable [εὐλόγους] needs of the mortal part, so as to be free, even while remaining here [on earth], and not to regard as terrible what can happen to this mortal part contrary to our intention [γνώμην], when it is your [decision] to remove us from participation [in your happiness], either through the daimons, the subordinate class to you, their masters, or through [the fault of] our family and this human race, either for our purification [καθαρτικῶς] and care [θεραπευτικῶς] in the first case, or in the other by those exhibiting reckless ignorance about the soul. You even often grant that we choose, much more, to seek what must hurt this lower part, to the point of sacrificing it sometimes entirely for the sake of the good [καλοῦ] and for the utility of our superior part, so much have you granted our immortal part to govern the mortal. Such are the great and good gifts with which you have favored us, raising and embellishing our stronger and sovereign part by the reasonings [λογισμῶν] with which you inspire [ἐπιπνεύσητε] us on every occasion.

You have given faculties [ἀφορμὰς] to our mortal part so as to serve our immortal part, to profit from its assistance, and to taste certain pleasures that are proper to us, blameless and without danger for our superior part. [190] Among not a few others, eyes endowed with sight are the most useful of our senses for the observation of many other things and principally for inspection of those celestial bodies by which we learn so many beautiful things, especially the numbering of the days, months, and years, by which we can measure our life so we conduct our affairs with regularity and good order. Likewise, the ears were furnished for hearing, and the mouth for the voice; they are indispensable organs for associating with others by what we each think in our soul, so that our bodies do not completely prevent a commonality of thought. [You have also given us] the sense of smell in our nostrils to enjoy the innocent pleasure of fragrances and to distinguish healthy food from harmful, often from afar even before trying it, according to whether it is pleasant or unpleasant. [You have placed] the sense of taste in our mouth to judge the flavors that are healthy for our nourishment, often with pleasure, as soon as we touch them. All in all, you have granted these faculties [ἀφορμὰς] by which we are able to choose the nourishment of our life, a necessary offering [δασμὸν] to our mortal part, indispensable food for replenishing the matter that, ever changing, comes and goes so long as it is granted us to be preserved by you.

It is still in view of this mortal and perishable [οὐκ ἐς ἀεὶ ἐσόμενον] part that you have granted intercourse of our male and female kinds, so persuasive by pleasure. By this institution the whole of the species is always maintained in the same state by an uninterrupted succession of births, each filling the place of one leaving since a fixed number of souls is allowed, and at the prescribed periods of time you assign them a community of bodies for the same, so you do not lack their service.

[192] In addition, you have granted us to compensate for the insufficiency and weakness of our physical part by the techniques of the arts [τεχνῶν], varied according to their object, and for that you have given us hands, instruments suitable for the preparing so many works of all kinds. You have granted us to use the strength and the particular aptitudes of nonrational animals [ζὠων τῶν ἀλόγων] for our purposes, and to appropriate to ourselves the advantages of their nature.

For all these goods, it is to you, O King Zeus, first and foremost, that we must give thanks, as to the first and most powerful of our benefactors. After him, it is you, O gods, through whom these goods come from Zeus, and we have the most proper and deepest gratitude toward you, by whom, without any obligation and without any hope of return, we have been granted and we are still granted so many benefits, and to you who, good in yourselves [αὐτοαγαθοὶ], so want to spread the greatest abundance of goods, to share them as much as possible. Thanks be to you for all your benefactions in general,35 but especially first and foremost for those by which you bring our soul to the rationality [λὀγον] of virtue and nobility [καλοῦ]. For these are the most excellent of all goods, and you bestow them on the sovereign part of our being; there are none of them that do not come to us from you or through you. For it is you, the first and second [ranks], who [receive] the goods emanating from Zeus, some of them eternal in duration, the others not eternal [αἰώνια] but everlasting [ἀΐδια], and all alike unmixed with evil.

[194] After you and by you, we in our turn receive [the benefits], but [they are] intermittent and no longer perfectly continuous, yet still everlasting because of their perpetual renewal and the immortality of our soul. For you give all your solicitude to this intelligence [φρονοῦντος], our most divine attribute, which binds us to you by a kind of kinship; you are constantly pushing us towards goodness and we are heading in the right way, knowing that we too will fare especially happily and blessedly as long as we are able to follow you and reach your nobility [καλῶν].

But when, yielding to the association [κοινωνίαν] with our mortal part, we move away from you, when we depart from you and don’t think what we should, we fall, as a result of this abandonment, into faults, into error, and into a state both wicked and worthless. You, then, raise us up and straighten us, either immediately by the inspiration of better thinking [λογισμῶν], or by imposing various judgments [δικῶν] if our bad dispositions prevent us from yielding at once to the wisdom [λογισμῶν] that inspires us. In every way you bring us back again to goodness, either while we remain here or depart thither. When you happen to punish us, it is to correct our mistakes and to heal vices, of which it is impossible for us not to have a share because of our mortal part, which you have associated with the other [immortal part], thus mixing in us these disparate parts, mortal and immortal, first of all because it seemed necessary to you for the universal harmony [εὐαρμοστίας], then because in this general society of beings you destined us to roles that are certainly not useless or despicable. We give thanks to you, who punish only for the sake of kindness and our good, and who have created us immortal in our stronger and most sovereign part and provided us everlasting [blessings] by your perpetual renewal.

[196] Hear, O gods, our nightly evening prayer, which we send you. If in this day we have failed and transgressed your laws, or in our past life if we have failed and have not yet corrected our mistakes, grant us deliverance and uprightness again. Prepare us with better judgment [γνώμας] for good deeds, and give us reason [λόγον] to distinguish good from bad decisions [γνώμονα], and cleanse us of the evils attached to us. Grant the growth of the good on each occasion, but with both prompt deliverance and correction of past and present mistakes until one day, after having fulfilled the time that you have assigned to this life, we may come to that other, happier, and more divine life, in which we shall be delivered from the troubles of our mortal body. For if you have bound us to mortality for the sake of the community of the Whole [τῶν ὅλων], you have also assigned us a time after which our divine part returns, and each time its turn comes, it will enter into a life more divine and more in conformity with its nature [ἑαυτῷ]. It will go to celebrate with those who have departed before, will engage more intimately [ἐναργέστερον] with those of you whose nature is closer to ours, will learn from them what it is necessary [to know], and will enjoy in all ways a better and more beautiful lot, so that it is not always filled with the miseries of this mortal [body], but that it also might have a much better and more divine life, surpassing the other [life] in all respects and in particular by its much longer duration.

[198] Since you produce the better from the worse, so far as possible, you are disposed to impart longer lasting [goods], and goods altogether much more than the evils, especially when you grant that we will understand [εἴσεσθαι] much clearer and better everything that concerns us, to remember to the greatest extent each past life, either here or there, and to connect them together in our memory, those [memories] gripped now by a profound forgetting [λήθη] because we have, during the first age of this life, crossed the River Lethe, and during the rest of the time we remain in the gloom of our mortal nature. Moreover, we will then have a clearer foreknowledge of the future, of which now we have but a scant image, which comes to us from the daimons, the race closest to ours, while sleep rids us of the tumult of sensations, or which even is revealed sometimes to those receiving a vision [ὕπαρ] by a certain more divine extension [ἀνάτασιν] of their thinking [γνώμης].

And you, O blessed heroes, whose nature surpassing ours is closest to divinity, you who, during your life among us here, are for us in common the sources of the great benefits that he [Zeus] sends us through the gods, hail to you! And you, our ancestors, our parents, who are images of divinity for us and the immediate origins of our mortal nature, and you also, housemates [σύνοικοι] and comrades [σύντροφοι], clansmen [φράτορες] and other kin [οἰκεῖοι], you who, older or younger, have arrived first in that more divine and blessed life, and you too, companions [ἑταῖροι] and friends [φίλοι], and you, our fellow citizens [πολῖται], especially you who have presided over our common good, and especially you who have lost your life for the freedom of the community with the same belief [ὁμοδόξου], either for the preservation of their existence and well-being, or for the righting of disturbances that are not right: hail to all of you! [200] And when the fate [εἱμαρμένη] from the gods will call us, as they have called you, give us a gracious and kind welcome when we come as friends among our friends.

And all of you daimons, especially those of you who are nearest us, and above you, Pluto, our protector, be kind to us, attend us here below so that we become good and honest [καλοὶ κἀγαθοὶ], and when we go thither at the appointed time, welcome us kindly. All of you, O gods who watch over us, care for us now and always, so we might fare well and nobly [καλῶς], and [this night] grant us the rest necessary for our mortal part in a pure bed, free from any foul [οὐκ εὐαγοῦς] acts. Inspire us kindly while we sleep, guide our soul [ψυχαγωγήσαντες] in a dream to your company, and awaken us whole [ἀμερεῖς] and free of evil [κακῶν τε ἀπαθεῖς], willing to walk in this straight way that will lead us to the good and to all that pleases you. Grant us to do all that is good, and to sing your praises properly, and with you and above you to celebrate great Zeus.

O Self-father [αὐτοπάτορ] Zeus, father and immediate origin of all motherless gods, the supercelestial gods, O eldest demiurge of all that exists, even by mediate procession [τῶν μὲν ἤδη προϊόντων], O truly supreme [αὐτοκράτορ] and sovereign [αὐτοτελὲς] King, who alone and independently hold all the powers under your control, O absolute master of all things [κθριώτατε πάντων δέσποτα], you are truly great and immensely great [ὑπέρμεγας]; all things are full of your power and magnificence. [202] Be propitious, preserve us, govern us with the All [to Pan] according to what you have judged is best for us and what is also fated from all eternity. ※

¶ In this address, on non-holidays, after this passage: “but especially for these, the greatest and the most perfect of those we enjoy or can enjoy,” we must suppress the following and resume with: “but especially first and foremost for those by which you bring our soul to the rationality of virtue and nobility,” and continue the rest up to the end.36

Evening Address to Zeus after the Fast37

[fol. 119] O King Zeus, you are One-itself and entirely uncreated, supremely One and in no way different from yourself. You are the first and last of good things, and in no way different from the Good, but you yourself create the Good and the All [to Pan], produced by a cause from yourself, which is always whole and neither comes to be in time, nor ever will end. You organized a unity out of the many with agreements among them. Furnishing yourself with the best of beings, you made them one in the best way, preserved by you through all eternity. You are perfect in your highest singularity and possess nothing in yourself better or worse than anything else, indeed nothing entirely different, but you yourself [ὄναι αὐτὸς σαυτῷ] completed and perfected this All [to Pan] by filling it with all kinds of Ideas, some higher, some lower, and entirely whole [ὄντως πᾶν].

You begat great Poseidon in the All, the most perfect of your creations and the most similar to you, and you entrusted him with leadership of everything [τῶν ὅλων], nor will he abandon providence for the very uttermost of beings. You bestowed power on him and a similar nature [ὅμοιόν τι σχῆμα] on the others [ὅτῳ ἄλλῳ], and granted him to guide this power and moreover to produce [fol. 119v] whatever you might need from them; in all respects, he manages their tasks well [ἕκαστα αὐτοις τῶν ἔργων]. You set up the entire intellectual [νοητόν] and supercelestial order by yourself, and filled it with all kinds of Ideas indivisible in their essence [ἀμερίστων τὴν ουσίαν], all of them immutable minds [νῶν], all these beings [ὄντα] together and actually in one mental act [νοήσει] of mutual contemplation, in a second divine order of all these gods. You united them under their chorus-leader [κορυφαίῳ] Poseidon into one, most beautiful cosmos, and gave it eternity as its measure of life; you put in it nothing passing, but all things existing forever and remaining as they are.

Also by your arrangement these heavens [οὐρανὸς] are organized under great Poseidon and your other creations [ἔργων], the gods, as an image of your intellectual [νοητοῦ] and eternal order [διακόσμου], and these [heavens] are composed now of mortal and immortal things, so that the All [τὸ σύμπαν] might be completed perfectly for you, containing all things that it was possible to have in creation. Moreover the entire, endless time conferred a measure of life on it and became your image of eternity. It is already past or yet about to be; it does not exist [τὸ μέν οὐκ ἔστι] and exists not yet [τὸ δ’ οὔπω ἔστιν]; it is always in a present moment, which is always becoming one thing after another; it divides past and future time.

In it great Poseidon, obeying you, placed the divine race of stars [στρων], combining the best form of soul with befitting bodies. [fol. 120] Among them he placed great Helios, joining him with the divine mind [νῷ … θείῳ] of those produced in your eternal order, in order to bind in it two substances [οὐσίαιν], eternal and temporal. And he appointed [Helios], the strongest of the gods in the heavens, to be their leader and the creator of all mortal nature with Kronos, its especial [ἰδίᾳ] archon and ruler. He also gave [Helios] six other helpers for these tasks and provided them a similar constitution, but in no way his equal.

Moreover [Helios] does not cease, through day and night, from measuring time for us by his unending cycles, completing each of them together with the revolutions of the entire aether. During the day, light is provided fully and beautifully for the eyes of those above the earth, and during the night for those below the earth, each making way for the other, and by these increases and decreases there is equality in the cosmos, the two depriving and bestowing on each other in turn. The creator of these things organized the month by each meeting of Helios [Sun] and Selene [Moon], who is second to Helios in power. She takes a secondary light from him, and she appears to us each night, as many times and whenever she will come. [Helios] kindly provides the year by his cycles around the zodiac and the ecliptic and [provides] the hours by his coming and going.

[fol. 120v] Your eldest child Poseidon, guiding the creation of these heavens by your laws, placed in it the race of daimons, the last race of gods, standing midway between the stars [ἄστρων] and us. For after these races of gods, by your providence Poseidon himself placed our souls within the vault of heaven as a necessary boundary between, on one hand, everlasting things and the always perpetual [ἐνδελεχέσιν ἀεὶ] goods of the races of gods and, on the other, those entirely subject to death. [Our souls] are also everlasting and enjoy goods resembling those of the gods, not perpetually, but intermittently, as they are lost and restored again, for you needed such a species [εἴδους] in the All [to Pan] so that it might be finished complete and sufficiently perfect. Moreover, it is one, each part joined to another, not full of various separated kinds, but gradually changing little by little, each sharing with those in between them. Such are our souls, assembled by you, which became entangled with these mortal bodies. The separated mortal and immortal parts were brought together in us and bound together into one, so that these two natures would not be separated, but there would be some mixture of the mortal with the immortal things nearest them, through a discontinuous participation [τὴν οὐκ ἐνδελεχῆ μετουσίαν] in good things, at some times clothed in a body and at other times set free and living by itself [καθ’ αὑτὸ βιοῦντος], and thus always withdrawing by turns through the whole of unlimited time, so that there is only such a conjunction as there is [οἷόν τ’ ἦν].

[fol. 121] By means of Poseidon and your blessed children, the gods, you have placed us here in the All, wherefore let us be pleased with our position, and let us be completely grateful to you for such as we are and for every other benefit of any kind that you have given us or might give us from time to time, and most especially for the share of divinity that you have given us. Since we make mistakes because of this position, in each instance you have assigned a correction and actions [πράξεις] to raise us up and bring us close to divinity.

And now, on this day when we celebrate again the boundary between the departing month and the new one arising, when the two gods draw together, and in addition [πρὸς δέ] [the boundary] between the completed year and that beginning, precisely when Helios turns during the winter38 and during this day of Selene’s conjunction, when she grows again from being smallest, on this very day they have made a certain examination [ἐπίσκεψίν] of us and our lives and judged the mistakes we have made [ἡμαρτημένων], how we have fallen short [ἐλλελειμμένων], and the wrongs we have committed [πεπλημμελημένων]. From these we beg our deliverance and correction.39

Having accepted our evening prayer, our kneeling, and our all-day fast, which we have established for ourselves as symbols of our love for you and as a service that is especially proper, but also most useful for those serving, release us from the evils that come to us through thoughtlessness [ἀφροσύνην], and in their place grant us what is good, making present goods better and granting those that we lack but are proper.

[fol. 121v] You have offered us correct thought [λόγον ὀρθόν] and judgment [γνώμονα] of what is good and bad according to the gods, to whom such things have been entrusted. You are indeed the mightiest purifier of faults and bad souls and the mightiest provider and guardian of what is good. So grant us, with the circuit of days, months, and years, the growth of the good each time, but also prompt deliverance from past and present wrongs, and our restoration to what is proper.

We know happiness and blessedness is granted us through virtue and nobility [καλῷ], until one day, after having fulfilled the time that you have assigned to this life, we may come to that other, happier, and more divine life, in which we shall be delivered from the troubles of our mortal body. For if you have bound us to mortality for the sake of the community of the Whole [τῶν ὅλων], you have also assigned us a time after which our divine part returns, and each time its turn comes, it will enter into a life more divine and more in conformity with its nature [ἑαυτῷ]. [Our superior part] will celebrate with those of its kind who have already departed, whom we ourselves remember now and hereafter, and will engage more intimately [ἐναργέστερον] with the gods closer to us, will learn from them what it is necessary [to know], and will enjoy an entirely better and more beautiful lot, [fol. 122] so that it is not always filled with the miseries of this mortal [body], but also that it might have a much better and more divine life, surpassing the other in all respects and especially by its much longer duration; seeing that you produce the better from the worse, so far as possible, you are disposed to impart longer lasting [goods], and goods altogether much more than evils.

But, O Master [ὦ δέσποτα], grant us when we arrive there, O Master of Everything [δέσποτα τῶν ἁπάντων], to mingle with the gracious and kindly heroes there, whose nature above ours is closest to divinity, those who, during their lives among us here, were for all of us in common the sources of the great goods you sent to our ancestors [προγόνοις] and parents [γονεῦσι], who are images of you and the gods, and also to our housemates [συνοίκοις], comrades [συντρόφοις], kin whomsoever [οἱστισινοῦν φράτορσιν], who happen to have arrived in that more divine and blessed life, and also to companions [ἑταίροις], all fellow citizens [φίλοις πᾶσι πολιτῶν], and others presiding over our common good, and especially to those who lost their life for the freedom of the community with the same doctrine [ὁμοδόξου], either for the preservation of their existence and well-being, or for the correction of incorrect disturbances; you have united us with the fair-and-good [καλοῖς κἀγαθοῖς] among them, and granted us to celebrate and to encompass [γυρίζειν] everything under our protector [προστάτῃ], Pluto, and the other gods in charge of us. [122v] The most beautiful and most divine of the feasts and festivals that there are [τὴν τῶν τε ὄντων] is the manifest contemplation of you, the eldest cause of all.

In the present, may you grant us to be released from erring [ἡμαρτημένων], first purified of guilt [καθαρούς τε καθαρῶς] and acceptable to you and your gods, which is a religious service [ἱερουργίαν] that you perform [ἁγιστεῦσαι], and afterwards may you bring about that we eat our modest meal and go to sleep in an undefiled [ἀμόλυντόν] bed, which is indispensable for the preservation of our mortal [body] for the duration you have assigned it. And may you send us dreams from [the gods] for the sake of meetings [συμβησομένων] with us, guiding our souls [ψυχαγωγηθέντας], and raising us out of evils without suffering, to celebrate your holy festivals in a holy way [ὁσίους ὁσίως σοι ἑορτάσαι], and to pass through this month and year at which we have arrived and40 our remaining life as blamelessly as possible and thereby especially dear to you, and also to accomplish other good things, both honoring the gods, your children, as is fitting, through whom, so far as it concerns you, human affairs are arranged, and then celebrating you as first principle [ἀρχηγέτην] of everything.

O Self-father [αὐτοπάτορ] Zeus, father and immediate origin of all motherless, supercelestial gods, O eldest demiurge of all things, both directly and by means of those born of you, O truly supreme [αὐτοκράτορ] and sovereign king [αὐτοτελὲς βασιλεῦ], who alone and independently hold all the powers under your control, O absolute master of all things [κυριώτατε τῶν πάντων δέσποτα], [123] you are great, truly great, and immensely great [ὑπέρμεγας]. All things are full of your power and magnificence. Be propitious, preserve us, govern us with the All [to Pan] according to what you have judged is best for us and what is also fated from all eternity.

¶ Go through this address on all Old-and-New [Moons] and fasts, and, except in the first month [μηνὸς νέου], remove the part about the beginning and end of the year [text at fol. 121.11–13] and in addition this part: “this month and year at which we have arrived and” [text at fol. 122v.12], the text about the year [τὴν τοῦ ἐνιαύτου φάσιν]. On the two fasts of the last month that are before Old-and-New, remove the whole earlier part concerning the boundary day of the two months [text at fol. 121.9–18].

¶ Let these addresses to the gods be sufficient. Of the afternoon ones, the most authoritative is the third, which is to King Zeus, after which is this Evening Address to Zeus after the Fast; [then] either the morning [one], or the daily evening, or the first of the afternoon; thereafter the second afternoon.

CHAPTER 35. Hymns to the Gods

Hymn 1. First Perennial Hymn, to Zeus

[202] Zeus, Father, thou Self-father, eldest Demiurge,

All-father, King, the highest and most great of all,

All-powerful, the One-itself, the Good-itself,

and Being-itself, who made all things since endless time,

the greatest by thyself, the rest by other gods,

all with perfection, to the uttermost degree;

be kind, protect us, lead us, as in everything,

by thine illustrious children. You entrust them with

our destinies, fulfilled as just they ought to be.

Hymn 2. Second Perennial Hymn, to the Gods

O noble children of All-father, Being, Zên,

you govern us with justice under his command;

so let us never fail to have you as our guides,

obeying laws that are both right and dear to you,

as best we can, the only laws to rule us well. [204]

And you, O gods, direct us, straightening our minds,

which you have made with nature similar to yours.

Moreover grant to us good order in our lives,

but most of all, with you to celebrate great Zeus.

Hymn 3. First Monthly Hymn, to Zeus

Great Zeus, Self-father, Ianos, the Progenitor

of all receiving being and receiving birth,

in truth performed not one of these things thoughtlessly;

but just as he exists, so do the other gods,

whom, never idle, he made sim’lar to himself;

and never less than is his pow’r, he does it well

and properly, because his nature is the Good.

O Zeus, we hail thee, guarding all and reigning; hail,

most blessed; hail thee gracious giver of all goods.

Hymn 4. Second Monthly Hymn, to Poseidon

O Lord Poseidon, thou art firstborn son of Zeus,

in splendor and in strength excelling everything,

for everything received its origin from Zeus.

With might you make and master, second to your sire,

preeminent, as great as is infinity,

because of all that is, alone is he unborn,

and by thy sire's command was granted thee to make [206]

the widespread heavens where we have been placed by thee.

O Father, always kind and gentle be to us.

Hymn 5. Third Monthly Hymn, to Hera

August One, goddess Hera, daughter of great Zeus,

O thou whose husband is Poseidon, thou who art

most fair, the mother of the gods within the sky,

the cause of matter, and the seat for species, and

dispenser of all powers, and among the rest

what leads us into excellence and all that’s fair;

you grasp the laws for everything from which

the multitude eternally comes forth; you grant

us to live well; to virtue bring us graciously.

Hymn 6. Fourth Monthly Hymn, to the Gods of Olympus

Poseidon, King, the best and greatest child of Zeus,

who also governs all things from thy father born,

and Hera, holy wife of him and noble queen,

Apollo, Artemis, Hephaistos, Bacchus, and

Athena too, you seven gods are mightier

than all the rest save him, the mightiest on high.

You other gods who dwell upon Olympus peak,

ancestors of immortal souls, including us,

be ye propitious and be gracious unto us. [208]

Hymn 7. Fifth Monthly Hymn, to Apollo

O Lord Apollo, chief and leader of each kind’s

identity, who guides all things to unity,

who doth subject the One itself, a multitude

and a polyphony, beneath one harmony,

from concord you impart both prudence to our souls,

and justice, qualities most beautiful to have,

combined with beauty in our bodies, joined with health.

Moreover always give our souls, O Lord, desire

for things divine and beautiful. O hail, Paián!

Hymn 8. Sixth Monthly Hymn, to Artemis

O Lady Artemis, who rules and who protects

the form of difference, you received as one the Whole,

and then up to the limit you divide each form

in many forms, from forms to individuals,

and from the whole to limbs and joints, and separate

our souls from what is worse with them, and give them strength

and self-control, and to our bodies might and health.

But grant to us, O Queen, to flee from shameful things

and straighten up our lives in every circumstance. [210]

Hymn 9. Seventh Monthly Hymn, to the gods of heaven

O lord of heaven, Helios, be kind to us,

and you, Seléne, holy mistress, be thou kind,

and Phôsphoros [Venus] and Stílbôn [Mercury], of the shining Sun

attendants always, Phaínôn [Saturn] and Phaéthôn [Jupiter] too,

and you Pyróeis [Mars]; all are subject to the Sun,

your lord, whom you assist in his concern for us

that we not suffer need, and so we sing to you

this hymn, to you who are our splendid guardians,

and to the stars sent forth by providence divine.

Hymn 10. Eighth Monthly Hymn, to Athena

Athena, Lady, you who rule and govern form, 

the form that is to matter always bound, and you

who are creator after the wide-ruling one,

Poseidon, who before you holds all form, and you

who are the source of ev’ry motion caused by force,

when anything superfluous becomes attached,

you drive off each and ev’ry one. Whenever we

act foolishly in error, then draw near to us,

O goddess, rouse our hearts to duty with good sense.

Hymn 11. Ninth Monthly Hymn, to Dionysos

O Bacchus, Father, maker of all rational souls,

of the celestials, and of daimons, and of us, [212]

who after great Poseidon art the next in this,

you cause the motion drawing us by love to good,

ascending thereby to the more desirable.

Grant thou whenever we depart each time the good

and holy action by our mindless thought

to lead us quickly wisely to the good again,

nor let us be so mindless of the good too long.

Hymn 12. Tenth Monthly Hymn, to the Titans

Come, let us sing to mortal nature’s demiurge,

to Kronos, Lord, the son of Zeus, and eldest one

of Zeus’s children who are illegitimate,

Tartar’an Titans, whom along with him we sing,

who are in all ways good, from evil far apart,

although they make the mortal and short-lived.

We sing of Aphrodite, Kronos’ sacred wife,

and Pan the lord of beasts, Deméter of the plants,

and Kore of our mortal nature, and the rest.

Hymn 13. Eleventh Monthly Hymn, to Hephaistos

Hephaistos, Lord, you rule the supercelestial gods,

together the Olympians and the Tartareans;

you govern with Poseidon, the wide-ruling one,

and also give to each their station and their seat;

and you’re the cause of rest in this and everything, [214]

and also you provide them everlastingness,

yourself, or by Poseidon’s, your own father’s, will.

Watch over us, and grant especially to us,

who’re born, to firmly stand in noble deeds each time.

Hymn 14. Twelfth Monthly Hymn, to the Daimons

We sing to holy daimons, who are near to us,

to them and also to the other deathless ones,

for they, who serve quite well the gods who’re more divine,

bestow the many benefits on our behalf,

disperse them all, which they receive from Zeus himself,

and which descend to us through all the other gods.

And thus they save us, with some purifying us,

and others elevating or protecting us,

and easily straightening our minds. And so, be kind.

Hymn 15. Thirteenth Monthly Hymn, to all the Gods

O Zeus, supreme, who art the greatest of all gods,

the eldest Demiurge, and the All-father too,

and all you other gods, who are Olympians,

or are Tartareans, or Celestials, or of the Earth;

if we commit some bad mistake or reckless deed,

allow us, purified, to near your blameless state,

and let our lives be blessed; especially you, O Zeus, [216]

who art, above all, the most powerful of all,

who art together both the first and final Good.

Hymn 16. First Sacred Hymn, to Zeus

King Zeus, entirely unborn and Being-itself,

All-father, All-preserver, who all things conceals

within himself, in unity and not apart,

distributes each of them, completely one and whole,

accomplishing the task as fully beautiful

as can be, all in one, from envy wholly free.

But you, O Zeus, and your illustrious children, lead

us with the Whole [tô Holô], as you have judged, aligning all,

and grant that starts are well begun and tasks are done.

Hymn 17. Second Sacred Hymn, to the Gods of Olympus

Oh come and let us celebrate Poseidon, Lord,

who is the eldest of all children born of Zeus,

the strongest and the second from the foremost chief

of every race, of everything that’s near to us

Creator; and with him is also Hera, Queen,

who is the eldest goddess born of Father Zeus;

but also let us celebrate the other gods,

who’re in Olympus, and all co-creators and

protectors of immortal things. Be kind to us. [218]

Hymn 18. Third Sacred Hymn, to all the Gods

Ye gods, who after Zên are all especially good,

completely blameless and yourselves exempt from death,

Poseidon is your chief and leader after Zeus,

O ye above the heavens or within the sky;

illustrious are ye all, and you we celebrate,

because we have a nature that’s akin to yours.

O blessed ones, hail to you, the givers of all goods;

but give to us, with lives not always free of care,

whatever is both fair and good, and set us straight.

Hymn 19. Fourth Sacred Hymn, to all gods inferior to those of Olympus

O Kronos, of the supercelestial Titans Lord,

who governs them, and you who all the heavens rule,

O Helios, and the other Planets following you;

by you two the whole race of mortals is produced,

from both of you, from Kronos and from Helios.

Ye Titans and ye Planets, subject to these two,

are one way or another helpers; hence to you

sing we, who have these many benefits from you,

and with you to the holy Daimons and Fixed Stars. [220]

Hymn 20. Fifth Sacred Hymn, to Pluto

Lord Pluto, thou who art of human nature chief

and guardian, allotted thee by Zeus himself,

and holding everything as one that separately

occurs for us and happens; you protect us well

in all things here, and after when to thee we’re raised;

with thee are Heroes, of a kind surpassing ours,

and also others dear to us, both fair and good;

and Kore, thy good wife and god of Tartarus,

who binds us to the mortal as must be. Be kind.

Hymn 21. Sixth Sacred Hymn, to Zeus

Zeus, Father, powerful, strong acting, cause of good,

All-parent, and by thine own mind transcendent good,

we too are born with shares of goodness from the gods.

By force of our mortality we’re fallible

but ever subject to correction once again.

Bestow on us release from misery of mistakes

by means of thine own children to whom it’s assigned,

approaching near the guiltless having a right mind,

so we may follow thee, who art both gentle, kind. [222]

Hymn 22. First Daily Hymn, sung on the second day

Let me not cease from thanking you, O blessed gods,

for all the benefits I have because of you

or ever will; of them the highest source is Zeus.

And may I not neglect the welfare of my kind,

whatever’s in my power, working willingly

for common good, and know it greatly aids me too.

May I not be the cause of evils such as come

to people, but so far as I am able, good,

so that, becoming more like you, I may be blessed.

Hymn 23. Second Daily Hymn, sung on the third day

O gods, don’t let me savor pleasures to excess,

but put a limit onto them, in case there comes

from them some evil to my body or my soul.

Don’t let me be insatiable for resources,

but measured, and in those things that the body needs

be moderate, so independence I enjoy.

Don’t let me be enslaved to false and empty words,

but let me judge as useful only those of them

that bring divine and genuine excellence. [224]

Hymn 24. Third Daily Hymn, sung on the fourth day

O gods, don’t let these accidents that sometimes strike

my mortal part destroy me, knowing that my soul’s

immortal, separate from the mortal, and divine.

And do not let the troubles that to people come

disturb me while I exercise my liberty,

nor for some evil notion be in thrall to need.

And when it comes to me to bring about some good,

don’t let me spare my mortal part, but let me care

for my immortal soul to always be the best.

Hymn 25. Fourth Daily Hymn, sung on the fifth day

Blest are they who care for their immortal soul

so that it be the best, and for their mortal part

are not concerned, not sparing it if there be need.

Blest are they who when some mortals, acting thoughtlessly,

attack, they never are enslaved to them, but hold

their soul with firmness, rising o’er that wickedness.

Blest are they who do not grieve the bitter luck

that’s heaven-sent, but bear it easily and mark

alone as good what lies in their immortal part. [226]

Hymn 26. Fifth Daily Hymn, sung on the sixth day

Blest they who don’t unwisely cling to speakers’ vain

opinions, but by thinking for themselves pursue

with straight intelligence the virtue that’s ordained.

Blest they who do not to an infinite degree

pursue possessions foolishly, but do define

a measure by the body’s well-determined needs.

Blest they who keep a godly bound to pleasure that

does not invite some evil for the soul or for

the body, but accords with virtue that’s ordained.

Hymn 27. Sixth Daily Hymn, sung on the seventh day

Blest they who are not greedy for themselves, nor by

a fearful folly cause for people evil things,

but always good things, like the blessed gods themselves.

Blest they who do not slight the race’s common good,

especially knowing that the common is the gods’

concern, and therefore they do not abandon it.

Blest they who give the gods their thanks for benefits,

whatever they might have, before all Zên himself,

from whom came first the fair and good in everything.


¶ [228] These hymns in honor of the gods are twenty-seven in all, each of nine verses. They are sung on the meter of the heroic hexameter, which is the most beautiful of all rhythms. For the syllables are either long or short; the short always of one beat, and the long most commonly of two beats, but sometimes of a greater number when sung with words. But the heroic verse uses only two feet, the dactyl and spondee. The dactyl is formed of a long syllable for the downbeat, followed by two short ones for the upbeat; the spondee is formed of a long one for the downbeat and a long one for the upbeat. Thus the equality of these two feet, both beginning with a long syllable and ending on the upbeat, give to this rhythm a majestic character that no other approaches.

CHAPTER 36. Instruction for the use of addresses and hymns

Now that we have made the addresses and hymns known, we must explain how to use them, and first the timing of each address. The Morning Address must be done between bed and breakfast, for those who breakfast, of course, and for others before engaging in their business. The Afternoon Address should be made between the middle of the day and supper time. Last, the evening one between the meal and bedtime, except on days of fasting; [230] on these days it will be done after sunset, and always before the meal. These are the times marked for each address. The places are temples and [locations] that are pure of all human excrement, of all mortal human remains, and of anything that could contain them.

Here is how to proceed with each [address]. First of all for each of them a proclamation is made by the sacred herald [ἱεροκήρθκα, nom. hierokêrux], if there is one regularly instituted by a priest to fulfill this function; otherwise, one will be designated for the occasion, either by the priest, if there is one, or by whoever present is the most respectable by age or otherwise. The proclamation is as follows:

“Hear ye, worshipers of the gods [᾿Ακούετε, οἱ θεοσεβεῖς], now is the time for our morning (or afternoon, or evening) address [προσρήσεως] to the gods. With all our reason [διανοίᾳ], with all our judgment [γνώμῃ], with all our soul [ψυχῇ], let us invoke [προσείπωμεν] all the gods and especially Zeus who reigns over them.”

This proclamation is made on unconsecrated [βεβήλοις] days only once, twice on holidays [ἱερομηνίαις], and three times on New Moon.

Immediately, everyone must look up, kneel on both knees, raise their hands by throwing them back, and then intone: “O gods, be propitious” [῞Ιλεῳ εἴητ’, ὦ θεοί]. At the same time that this invocation is made, we must adore the gods, first those of Olympus, by placing the right hand on the ground and raising at the same time on one of the two knees. The invocation being thus made once and the adoration once, it is then necessary to worship in the same way, but with the left hand, all the other gods by intoning the same formula. [232] In the third place, it is necessary to address Zeus the king while intoning: “Zeus, King, be propitious to us” [Ζεῦ βασιλεῦ, ἵλαθι], and this time prostrating [προσκυνεῖν] on both knees and both hands and touching the head to the ground. This proclamation [πρόσφθεγμα] must be sung three times, and three times followed by the prostration, but all together counts for one prostration [προσκύησιν] only. Every day this [rite] must be used once for each address, but on the holidays it is necessary to repeat the whole thing three times.

Prostration must be led by a priest or by the most distinguished of those present. Moreover, the proclamation [πρόσφθεγμα] to the gods must be in the Hypophrygian mode in the prostration on the right hand, in the Phrygian mode in the prostration of the left hand, and in the Hypodorian mode in that which we make to Zeus.

Then the sacred herald will make a new proclamation in these terms: “Let us listen to the address that will be made,” either the Morning Address to the Gods; or the First or Second [Afternoon Address], or the Third [Afternoon Address] to King Zeus; or the Evening Address to the Gods, or the Evening Address [after the Fast] to Zeus. Everybody will kneel at once, and one who has been appointed by the most important person in the assembly will read for all those present the proper address for the occasion.

¶ The speech or the speeches being finished, the sacred herald makes this new proclamation: “Let us listen to the hymns to the gods,” and we immediately sing the hymns, on non-holidays [βεβήλοις] ordinarily without accompaniment, but on holidays usually with musical accompaniment. On non-holidays one always begins with the monthly hymn, then comes the daily hymn that is appropriate for the ceremony, and thirdly the first perennial hymn to Zeus; each of them must be sung once. [234] But on holidays one begins with the sacred hymn which is appropriate for the ceremony and continues with the monthly hymn, except the first [of the monthly hymns], which must precede all the sacred hymns. Each of the two hymns will be sung twice on the holidays, and thereafter the perennial hymn in honor of Zeus three times. The second perennial hymn, addressed to the gods, is to be sung between the afternoon addresses twice, between the first and the second and between the second and the third, and each time entirely on holidays, but on non-holidays more than half [ὑπερήμισυ]41 are sung in the first interval, and the rest in the second.

When the hymns are sung to music, the two perennial hymns, the first and thirteenth of the monthly, and the first, third, and sixth of the sacred hymns are sung in the Hypodorian [mode], for we assign this mode [ἁρμονίαν] to Zeus the King and all gods collectively, because of its grandeur and because none is better suited to the expression of proud and heroic feelings. The second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth, eighth, ninth, and eleventh of the monthly hymns, and in addition the second of the sacred hymns, are sung in the Hypophrygian [mode], because we attribute to the gods of Olympus the mode that holds the second rank for grandeur and that is apt to express the admiration of beautiful things. The seventh, tenth, and twelfth of the monthly hymns, as well as the fourth of the sacred hymns, are sung in the Phrygian [mode], since we attribute to the gods of a class inferior to the Olympians the mode that for greatness occupies an intermediate rank and is suitable for the expression of gentle and peaceful feelings. [236] Finally the fifth of the sacred hymns, and all the daily hymns when they are sung to music, receive the Dorian, the mode reserved for people and for the gods who preside over human destinies, because of its especially agonistic character and the struggle always inherent in human affairs, due to the missteps [εὐόλισθον] and mistakes [ἁμαρτητὸν] of our nature.

¶ There are thirteen monthly hymns, and the months being of the same number when the year admits an intercalary month, we sing these hymns according to their order, each during the month corresponding to it, beginning the evening preceding the New Moon and ending on the afternoon of Old-and-New. However, when the year is only twelve months long, the twelfth [monthly] hymn is sung with the evening address during Twelfth Month,42 and the thirteenth hymn with the morning and afternoon addresses.

As for the sacred hymns, as they are six in number, and as the full months have just as many holidays, with the exception only of the first and the last month which have more, we sing the first of these hymns on New Moon, the second on Eighth Waxing, the third on Midmonth, the fourth on Eighth Waning, the fifth on the day of the Old Moon and the sixth on the day Old-and-New, observing that for the singing of the hymns each day is supposed to begin the evening preceding the corresponding holiday and to finish in the afternoon of the same day. But when the month is not full, as then the day of Old Moon is missing, the fifth [sacred] hymn is sung the evening before Old-and-New, and the sixth in the morning and afternoon of Old-and-New.

[238] The Second and Third Waxing days of First Month are holidays; on the evening preceding each of these days the hymn of the day is added to the monthly hymn, namely, the first [daily] hymn [i.e. for day 2] on the eve of the second day, and the second [daily] hymn [for day 3] on the eve of the third day, each of them [sung] twice with music, since each evening belongs to the holiday of the following day. In the morning and afternoon of the second and third day, the same hymns are sung and in the same way as on New Moon. During the rest of this first week of First Month, the daily hymn is sung every day with the monthly hymn, only once but with music, although music is not usually used on non-holidays, but only on the holidays, where it is always used unless one lacks musicians.

The hymns are sung in the same way, once and with music, during the last part of the last month, from Seventh to Fourth Departing, and also the day before and the day after three special holidays placed in the body of the year, namely, Eighth Waxing of Fourth Month, Midmonth of Seventh Month, and Eighth Waning of Tenth Month. On these days, though they are not consecrated, we sing the daily hymn of the day once with music.

On the Fourth Departing day of the last month, that is to say, the evening before the holidays that finish it, it is necessary to sing with the monthly hymn the second of the daily hymns [i.e., for day 3], each twice with music. In the morning and afternoon of the Third [Departing] day, the fifth of the sacred hymns are sung before the monthly hymn. The evening preceding the Second [Departing] day, the first of the daily hymns [for day 2] is joined to the monthly hymn, and both are sung twice and with music; [240] in the morning and the afternoon of this Second [Departing] day the same hymns are sung and in the same way as on Old-and-New Moon. The next day, which is that of the Old Moon if the month is full, in the morning and the afternoon the same hymns are sung again, and in the evening the fifth of the sacred hymns, then the monthly hymn.43 If the month is hollow and instead of the Old Moon, which is missing, we celebrate the fast on the Fourth Departing day, the evening before we will sing the third of the daily hymns [for day 4], and on the fourth day will sing the same hymns and in the same way as on Old-and-New Moon.44
It is obvious that the perennial hymn to Zeus must be sung third and last [fol. 132]45 after the others, whenever any hymns are sung. [On non-holidays], those other hymns are sung once and this one [for Zeus] once, but [on holidays], the others twice but this one [for Zeus] three times; and this is the manner of the prostrations, the addresses, and the hymns.

If some laziness afflicts them, more serious people might leave out the addresses entirely and, especially on non-holidays, use just the hymns after the prostrations. Those indeed who are lazier or wholly illiterate [γραμμάτων ἀπείρους] might also omit the hymns and address the gods with prostrations alone. If some human infirmity afflicts someone so they cannot prostrate easily, then singing the plain [or “without music”: ψιλὰ] salutations of the prostrations will suffice for anyone in this situation. Indeed someone may leave out all of this, such as perhaps someone obliged by very scornful people to live piously among those who are very indifferent, and do so as rightly as possible; each one addresses the gods however they want and are able and kisses their upturned right hand when they are done. Alternately, this book of laws might lie open in the temple or some other place; after touching it at the close [of the ceremony], they kiss their hand in this way. These things are for those afflicted with inability or laziness; [fol. 132v] it is for the healthy [ἐντελεῖς] people to take upon themselves to make these addresses to the gods and after the hymns to herald the proclamation:

“Because we have addressed the gods and performed the sacred rites [ἁγιστεύσαντες] according to law, we are indeed redeemed [ἀπολυώμεθα], each of us having become better by our intercourse with them. In everything we do, let us be mindful of Zeus and the gods, so far as our nature may follow. Let us strive, so far as we are able, first for freedom from the worst part of ourselves and from suffering, and thereafter for power over ourselves [ἀρχῆς τῆς κατ’ αὐτοῦ], for independence [αὐταρκείας], and for decency [εὐκοσμίας] according to nature. Let us take care for the preservation of the natural qualities [σχέσεων] of each of us by the restitution of what has been established [καθηκότων], especially so that we might be perfected [or “completed”: τέλεοι]. In all these things and in every way, insofar as we are such [ᾗ ἂν οἷοί τ ̓ ὦμεν], let us follow the gods, and thereby in this way alone let us prepare, as is the ability of each of us, for blessedness to come. But also, because we have reclined on both knees and offered this final prayer, let us be redeemed.”

On non-holidays, however, remove most of it and proclaim:

“Since we have addressed the gods and have been our best [ἀριστεύσαντες] according to law, and since we have reclined on both knees and offered this final prayer, let us be redeemed.”

Then, if perhaps a priest is present, he turns to the laity [λεὼν] and three times raises his upturned hands and adds this prayer,

“May King Zeus and all the gods, who as overseers [ἔφοροι] under Zeus have settled our matters, be kind to all of you.”

After which the laity answer, singing in the Dorian mode, “Be it so! [εἶεν] Be it so! Be it so also for you, divine man [θεῖε ἄνερ]!” [fol. 133] But if no priest is present, the individual who began the adoration [προσκυνήσεως] also adds the prayer, but without raising their hands, in addition saying “us” instead of “you”; and the rest, answering “Be it so! Be it so! Be it so!”, are thus released [απολύεσθαι].

The Order of the Months and Years46

[58] We will follow the order indicated by nature for the months and years, that is to say, we will use lunar months and solar years, by adjusting the latter on the solstices and taking as a starting point the winter solstice, when Helios [Sun], having arrived at his furthest point, begins to approach us. The day called Old-and-New [ἕνηνκαὶ νέαν] is the day when Selene [Moon] will be in conjunction with Helios according to the calculation of the most experienced people in astronomy. The next day, from midnight following the conjunction of these two deities, will be New Moon [νουμηνίαν] or the first of the month, from which we will count all the other days of the month to the number of 30 for the full months, or to 29 for the hollow months, so that the evening of each night always belongs to the day before, and the morning to the present day, midnight being the boundary of the two days.

Here is the way of counting the days of each month: after New Moon we shall have Second Waxing [ἱσταμένου], then the Third, the Fourth, and so on until the Eighth [Waxing]; after the Eighth, will come the Seventh Middle [μεσοῦντος] of the month, then the Sixth, and thus descending to the Second [Middle], which will precede Midmonth [διχομηνίαν]. We will then continue with the Second Waning [φθίνοντος], the Third, and so until the Eighth [Waning], after which will come the Seventh Departing [ἀπιόντος], the Sixth, and so on, down, until the Second [Departing], which will be followed, in the full months by the Old [ἕνην] Moon first and then Old-and-New Moon, or if the month is hollow, immediately by Old-and-New Moon. [60] As for the months, the month following the winter solstice will be the First Month of the year, and the others will be designated only by their rank up to the Twelfth in some years, up to the Thirteenth in others, when Twelfth Month will not reach the winter solstice. For the determination of the solstice, we will use sundials [ἡλιοτροπίοις]47 employed with the greatest possible precision.
¶ [fol. 133v] We celebrate these and only these holidays: The first and most sacred holiday of each month, New Moon, is for Zeus the King. Second, Eighth Waxing is for Poseidon and the Olympian gods. Third, Midmonth is for all the gods below Zeus, and it is second in dignity after New Moon. Fourth, Eighth Waning is for Helios, Kronos, and all the gods below the Olympians. Fifth, Old Moon, is for Pluto alone of the gods, for the heroes altogether, for our friends, and for kinfolk escaping memory. Sixth, Old-and-New, is for inspection of ourselves and our mistakes, deficiencies, and wrongs, and then especially for correcting ourselves. If the month is hollow and Old Moon is missing, celebrate both: for Pluto and memory of the departed, and for inspecting ourselves; its worth I judge to be not less than Midmonth. In First Month [μηνὸς … τοῦ νέου], celebrate holidays also on Second and Third Waxing. The Second is for Hera and the Third for Poseidon. And for the last month, either Twelfth or intercalated [Thirteenth], if it is full then [we celebrate] on Third and Second Waning, but if hollow then on Fourth, Third, and Second [Waning]; [fol. 134] on Third [Waning] instead of Old Moon celebrate Pluto and the memory of those departed, and also on either Second and Old Moon or on Fourth and Second, after which Old-and-New is for inspecting and correcting ourselves.48

CHAPTER 43. Epinomis or Conclusion

[240 ctu’d] What we had proposed at the beginning of this work was accomplished with the help of those among the gods who preside over this kind of work; to them, as well as to Poseidon their leader, we pay homage in this work. It is completed to the extent necessary, ​​for we have shown what is the principle of all things, and among all things what are the natures of the first order immediately attached to the supreme principle, what are those of the second and those of the third and last order, what place humans occupies among them, [242] of what elements they are composed, and according to their nature what kind of life [βίος] suits living happily [εὐδαιμόνως ζῇν]. This [happiness] is the supreme and common goal that all people pursue, but not all seek it in the same kind of life. Where it is to be sought and by what actions, is what we have shown in detail by cogitations [ἐννοιῶν] and axioms [ἀξιωμάτων] that are neither weak nor questionable, but which are based on three fundamental ones. The first is that the principle of all things, that supreme god who, in the language of our fathers, is called Zeus, is supremely good, lacking no perfection and the best possible; the second, that there must be a reciprocal relationship between essences [οὐσίας] and their mode of generation; the third, that the actions [ἔργα] of different beings must have a certain relation [ἀνάλογον] with their essences, and their essences with their actions.

¶ Once these principles are firmly established, the first reveals to us, among other important truths, that the All [to Pan] coexists perpetually [ἀΐδιον] with Zeus, and that this marvelous [All] will remain immutable in its state through all eternity [αἰῶνα], constant in the form that was originally given to it. It would not be possible, indeed, that a god who is the very best would not produce his work and do no good (for what is best must necessarily involve other beings in this goodness as much as possible); [244] and if he creates and produces well, he cannot create with limited power, nor produce work that is inferior to his power or that can ever be or become less perfect than the best possible. For it is evident that if Zeus changed anything in the established order [καθεστηκότων], he would make the All [to Pan] worse, either now or later. Indeed, if the smallest piece of it is changed, either because it does not usually change or because it changes differently than usual, then it is impossible that the whole configuration not change with this piece. For the same configuration cannot be preserved unless all the parts remain the same.

¶ The second axiom enlightens us on the constitution of divine beings. For the essence of all things is divided [into three orders]: [1] into what is always the same and immutable in all respects; [2] then into what changes in time but is everlasting [ἀΐδιον]; [3] third, into mortal nature. Because it is necessary for each essence to have a generation proper and in conformity with its nature, we attribute [1] the first creation to the principle [ἀρχῇ] of all things, Zeus; [2] the second to Poseidon, the leader [κορυφαίῷ] in the first order of essences [οὐσίας], who is helped in different ways by each of his legitimate siblings; [3] the third to the eldest of Zeus’s illegitimate children, Kronos, [246] and to Helios, the most powerful of the legitimate sons of Poseidon, both being assisted in this work, Kronos by all his illegitimate siblings, Helios by all his legitimate siblings, called Planets [Πλανήτων, Planêtôn = Wanderers] because of the irregularity of their movement.

¶ The third axiom reveals to us the nature of humans, namely, that they are a compound of two natures, one animal and mortal, the other immortal and akin to the gods. For, of course, since man performs acts sometimes worthy of the beast [θηριώδεσι], and sometimes similar to those of the gods, it is necessary to assign to these two kinds of actions a substance [οὐσίαν] of their own and connected with them. Some human actions are similar to those of the gods, and these are obviously the most important. Indeed, we cannot say that for the gods there is a more important action than the contemplation of beings [ὄντων], the chief of which is the conception [ἔννοια] of Zeus. But humans obviously have in common with them the contemplation of beings, and they even participate in the conception of Zeus, the last limit to which the gods themselves can reach. Humans, therefore, need a substance [οὐσίας] like that of the gods, which can produce actions like theirs, and that is moreover immortal, since the substance of the gods is immortal, for there cannot be the least resemblance between a mortal nature and an immortal nature, or a comparison between what has only an imperfect and limited capacity to what has an infinite and limitless one. [248] So it is in the actions suitable to their kinship with the gods that we come, after many other capable teachers, to show people their happiness [εὔδαιμον], the aim of our book being to make those who listen to our lessons as happy as a human is allowed to be.

¶ That the human being is a compound of two natures [εἰδοῖν] is a truth we demonstrate by another equally incontestable axiom: that there is not a single being [ὄντων] that goes of its own accord to its destruction; all, on the contrary, make their efforts to support and preserve their existence, as much as it depends on them. Once this principle is established, when we see certain people killing themselves, we understand very clearly that it is not the mortal part of our being which kills itself, but that it is the act of a different part, and the best [κρεῖττον], which cannot perish with the body and which is not subordinate to it, as are all mortal species subject to the bodies to which they are attached and incapable of surviving them when they perish. Because if this part of our being depended on the body, it wouldn’t act against it either to such a degree or in the slightest thing. But having its own essence that subsists by itself, as soon as it has judged that living together with the mortal element would no longer be useful to it (whether it has judged rightly or wrongly, it matters not), it kills that body as being foreign to it and thus frees itself from a companion that seems annoying and inconvenient to it.

¶ [250] We judge this mixture in us of two natures, one mortal and the other immortal, to be made by the gods creating us [θεοῖς τοῖς ἡμῶν δημιουργοῖς] according to the orders of Zeus, with a view to the harmony of the All [to Pan]. They wanted these two elements of the world [οὐρανοῦ], the mortal and the immortal, to unite in human nature, which is placed in the middle of them. Indeed, to be complete [πλῆρες] and whole [παντελὲς], the All had to contain, brought together and welded together, these two elements, the mortal and the immortal; thus instead of being divided and torn apart, it forms one system in reality [ἕν τι τῷ ὄντι σύστημα]. For, just as these many different things can unite thanks to their common boundaries [μεθορίοις], so mortal was bound to immortal in the human, which serves them both as boundary. If in man the mortal always remained united with the immortal, the first would itself be immortalized, made such indeed by this constant union with the immortal, and humans would no longer be the boundary between the two natures, as they should be, but would be arrayed entirely among the immortals. If, on the other hand, the immortal united just once with the mortal and abandoned it the rest of the time, being only a fleeting boundary between immortal and mortal, it would not be an everlasting boundary, nor permanently unite the mortal with the immortal, but connected once and then released from the mortal, the harmony would be dissolved. [252] It therefore remains to say that the immortal is connected partly with the mortal, and it exists partly by itself each time it is released from [the mortal part], which is repeated indefinitely throughout eternity.

¶ These are reputed to be the doctrines [δόγματα] of the wise [σοφοῖς] disciples of Pythagoras, especially, and of Plato. They are from the interpreters [ἐξηγηταῖς] among other peoples, and also indeed from those of our ancestors who received well the sound religious service [θεοσέβειαν] of the Kouretes. They are from Zoroaster and his disciples. It is to him, the most ancient of those in our memory, to whom we attribute them, not supposing, however, that he discovered them, for these true doctrines are co-eternal with the whole heaven, and indeed among people. If they gather sometimes more, sometimes fewer by their strength, at least they always have those of us who behave according to the common ideas [ἐννοιῶν κοινῶν] that the gods have put in our souls. But the fact is that of all those who are remembered, [Zoroaster] is the oldest interpreter of these correct [ὀρθῶν] doctrines; he is said to be more than five thousand years prior to the return of the Heracleidai.

As for Mênês, the lawgiver [νομοθέτην] of the Egyptians, who is claimed to be earlier by more than three thousand years, he cannot be considered as a wise lawgiver and worthy of esteem. He would never have established a religion so charged with useless and bad rites [ἀγιστείας] for the gods, if he had not held to vicious doctrines. [254] If the priests who followed him had doctrines similar to those of Zoroaster, we must not believe that they received them from Mênês, but found them later in their search for wisdom. Yet they could not bring any reform to the rites, because Mênês had imposed a law on them, doubtless useful and beneficial to people who have good legislation, but not to those with bad laws: he had forbidden them from making the slightest change in the laws of the country; thus, while they themselves recognized the true doctrines, they left the multitude to their bad rites.

In addition, some other legislations may have had their good sides—several even were not unrelated to the doctrines of Zoroaster—but they remained far from accurate. Such are the laws of the Indians and the Western Iberians, which date almost from the same period as those of Zoroaster. The name of the lawgiver [νομοθέτου] of the Iberians has not come down to us, and nothing has been preserved from their laws. As for the Indians, part of their legislation still exists, and their lawgiver was called Dionysos. Coming from without, he conquered the Indians, established his empire there, and by the wisdom of his institutions civilized, it is said, the inhabitants. Another Dionysos, the son of Semele, was born much later, but must have been identical to the first in his soul or at least imitating his life; both, in any case, were very unwarlike [ἀστρατωτάτω]. [256] We can almost believe the same thing of the two Herakles, one the son of Amphytrion and Alcmene, the other born earlier in Tyre, who both on the contrary were very warlike [στρατιωτικωτάτω]. Indeed the cycles of time [περιόδους] bring and will always bring similar lives and actions, so that nothing exactly new has happened, nor happens now that has not already happened in form [ἰδέᾳ] and will happen again one day.

Although no people are atheists, yet people have very different opinions on divinity. It is therefore necessary that there be one that is always the same, which is the best, with the others being worse, some closer to or farther from the truth, and some necessarily more remote than all the others. For us, we remain attached to the doctrine that we know best, that of Zoroaster, professed also by Pythagoras and Plato; it exceeds all other doctrines in accuracy, and moreover it is our heritage. We think in this [philosophy] alone is the purest happiness possible to us. As for the other doctrines, the further they depart from ours, the more those who attach themselves to them stray from happiness and get closer to misery, and those who profess the most different opinions from ours are those who fall in the last degree of misery, since they are wallowing in frightful darkness by their ignorance of the most important things.

¶ But, it may be said, some sophists [σοφιστῶν], admired by the crowd, [258] promise to their followers goods greater than those we announce to humankind; they promise an unalloyed immortality not defiled by any mortal mixture, whereas, according to our doctrine, our souls will not cease, whenever their turn [περίοδος] has come, to have again some share of mortality. But first of all, it is wise in general not to prefer those who promise the most, but rather those who deserve the most confidence [εὐφρονοῦντες], and likewise, one should not prefer the doctrines that spread overly great [μείζους] hopes to those more worthy of trust [πιστοτέρων]. There is no profit in persisting in hopes about the most important things that are overly great but vain and ineffectual and in thus being charmed by falsehoods and unhealthy opinions. It is the height of the misfortune [κακοδαιμονίας] to be deceived about the gods and the beliefs [διανοημάτων] most important to people, and to have other opinions [contrary to the truth].

But besides, it would not be astonishing if the destinies we announced to the human race appear to good judges [σκοποῦσιν ὀρθῶς] still preferable to the promises of these sophists. In the first place, they recognize an absolute and complete eternity neither in the whole heaven [ὅλῳ τῷ οὐρανῷ] nor in the human soul, granting beings eternity not in both directions, but in one, that of the future. They argue that heaven [οὐρανὸν] had a beginning in time, and that it will be subject to the same change as human circumstances [πράγμασι]. [260] In order that these things appear more persuasive to their hearers, on the one hand they maintain that human circumstances will not change alone but with the Whole [τῷ ὅλῳ], and on the other hand, they announce that there will be evils for a short time, and that afterwards and ever after [ἄπειρον] God will restore matters to be good. And indeed it would be more persuasive if they said there are evils for an infinite time, after which he restores the good. We, however, by recognizing the human soul is eternally complete, not amputated and lame, thereby treat it better. For it is clear, indeed, that this two-way eternity [ἐπ᾽ἀμφότερα αὕτη ἀϊδιότης] is better and more beautiful than that truncated one, and thus that in this way its eternity is more perfect [τελεώτερον] and beautiful.

But perhaps someone will object that what is past is no more and that one will not have to experience it again, while the future, although not yet, must one day be, and therefore has more existence than what is not, and that the future is in this sense preferable. It is thus, it will be said, that desire neglects the past to turn toward the future as having more existence. Consequently, this two-way eternity is not surpassed by that which embraces the future only through non-being, which is in reality neither greater nor better. But we …


The rest is to seek and never to find, for it was destroyed, they say, by Scholarios.49


Summary of the Doctrines of Zoroaster and Plato

[262] Here are the most necessary principles to know for whoever wants to think wisely.

[I] First, concerning the gods, we must believe that they really exist. One of them is Zeus, the king, the greatest of all and the best possible. He presides over the Whole [τοῖς ὄλοις]; his divinity is of an order quite exceptional [ἐξαίρετος]; he himself is in all respects and altogether uncreated [ἀγένητος]; at the same time he is the father and the first creator [δημιουργὸς] of all beings. His oldest son, begotten without mother [ἀμήτωρ], the second god, is Poseidon. He has received from his father the second place in the government of all things, and in addition the right to produce and create the heavens, but with the help and the ministry of other gods, some of whom are his siblings, these all being motherless [ἀμήτορσι] and supercelestial: the Olympians and the Tartareans. Others are engendered by himself with the help of Hera, the goddess who produces matter; they are the gods who live within the heavens, namely, the celestial race of stars [ἄστρων], and the earthly race of daimons, who are next to us in nature. Poseidon has entrusted to Helios [Sun], his eldest child, the government of heaven and the generation of mortal beings therein, [264] and this indeed with Kronos, brother and head of the Tartarean Titans. A difference between the Olympian gods and the Tartareans is that the Olympians produce and govern all immortal things in the heavens and the Tartareans preside over mortal things here. Thus Kronos is leader of the Tartareans or Titans and presides over every form of mortal. Hera, who among the Olympians is placed second after Poseidon, furnishes for his works the primordial [πρεσβυτάτης], indestructible [ἀνωλέθρου] matter over which she herself presides. As for Poseidon, he governs all kinds of immortals and mortals; he is the leader presiding over everything, and indeed he is himself coordinator of all things. For Zeus alone, by his exceptional divinity, dominates the All [to Pan] exceptionally [ἐξαίρετον].

¶ For the first principle, this is the most exact summary of what to believe. [II] Moreover, these gods look after [προνοοῦσιν] us, some acting [ἐφαπτόμενοι] immediately by themselves, the others through the inferior [gods], but always according to the decrees of Zeus, who rules everything. [III] They are not the cause of any evil, neither for us nor for any beings; on the contrary they are essentially the causes of all good. [266] [IV] In addition, it is according to the law of an immutable fate [εἱμαρμένῃ], inflexible, emanated from Zeus, that they perform all their acts in the best possible way. These are [the principles] concerning the gods.

¶ Concerning the All [to Pan]: [V] First, the All, including the gods of the second and third orders, was created by Zeus, is everlasting [ἀΐδιον], and has had no beginning in time and will have no end. [VI] It is assembled from all the many things into one. [VII] It was created in the most perfect way by the most perfect worker [πεποιηκότι] of all, who left nothing to add. [VIII] In addition, it is always preserved immutable [ἀπαρακίνητον] in its established form. These are [the principles] concerning the All.

¶ Concerning ourselves: [IX] First, our soul, being akin [συγγενὴς] to the gods, remains immortal and everlasting [ἀΐδιος] in the heavens for all time. [X] Always attached [κοινωνήσουσα] to a mortal body, sometimes to one, sometimes to another, it is sent by the gods, for the sake of the harmony of the All, so that the union of mortal and immortal in human nature contributes [συνδέοιτο] to the unity of the All. [XI] Because of this kinship with the gods, we must consider the good [καλὸν] to be the end that suits our life. [268] [XII] Finally, the gods, by fixing the laws of our kind, placed our happiness in the immortal part of our being, which is also the most important.

¶ Here together are the twelve principles, on the gods, on the All, and on our nature, that must be known and accepted if one wants to have exceptional understanding and really to be wise.


Alexandre, C. (ed.) (1858). Pléthon: Traité des Lois, tr. A. Pellissier. Paris: Firmin Didot frères.

Anastos, Milton V. (1948). “Plethon’s Calandar and Liturgy,” Dunbarton Oaks Papers, 4, 183–303.

Hladký, Vojtěch (2014). The Philosophy of Gemistos Plethon: Platonism in Late Byzantium, between Hellenism and Orthodoxy. Farnham & Burlington: Ashgate.

Masai, François (1956). Pléthon et le Platonisme de Mistra. Paris: Société d' Édition “Les Belles Lettres.”

Masai, François (2010). Pléthon et le Platonisme de Mistra. Forlì: Victrix.

Siniossoglou, Niketas. Radical Platonism in Byzantium: Illumination and Utopia in Gemistos Plethon. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2011.

Woodhouse, C. M. (1986). George Gemistos Plethon: The Last of the Hellenes. Oxford: Oxford Univ. Pr.


1 Because there is as yet no complete English translation of Plethon’s Book of Laws, I have prepared this working translation for my interim use. It is no doubt imperfect in many ways, but I have checked it against the partial English translations and paraphrases in Hladký (2014), Woodhouse (1986), and Anastos (1948) and against the French translation by A. Pellissier in Alexandre (1858). I will update it from time to time. Verse translations of the hymns, 19 June 2020. Significant revisions of translation, 7 Jan. 2021, 25 Oct. 2021. Minor revisions, 28 Oct. 2021.

2 Bracketed numbers refer to pages of the Greek text in Alexandre (1858). They are placed at the approximate beginning of the page in the Greek text, but cannot be placed exactly due to differences in Greek and English word order. All the numbers are even because the Greek text is on the even-numbered pages.

3 Chapters surviving in whole or in part are marked with an asterisk.

4 I have used a simplified transliteration of the Greek alphabet: rough breathing = “h”, η = “ê”, υ = “u” or “y”, φ = “ph”, χ = “ch”, ψ = “ps”, ω = “ô”; other letters are transcribed by their cognate Roman letters (e.g., β = “b”, γ = “g”). (This is the system used by the American Library Association and Library of Congress.)

5 There are very few paragraph breaks in the Greek text in Alexandre (1858), and so I have introduced them to improve readability. These symbols indicate a paragraph break in the Greek text.

6 γνήσιος = belonging to the race, born in wedlock, lawful, legitimate. In this context, belonging to the family of Olympian gods.

7 νόθος = bastard, illegitimate, baseborn, spurious. In this context, not of the family of Olympian gods.

8 Cf. Plato, Tim. 37d.

9 That is, the mercury amalgamates with the gold or other metal.

10 Alexandre (1858) incorrectly takes the preceding paragraph to be the beginning of II.27, but it is the last part of II.26 (Masai, 2010, p. 398n8).

11 A correction of τελετὰς in the manuscript.

12 The preceding part of this paragraph is from manuscript Bruxellensis 1871–1877, fol. 66r (ed. F. Masai, 1956) in Hladký (2014), p. 320.

13 Or “essence.”

14 Or: “a difference always being the cause of a difference” (cf. Hladký, 2014, p. 93).

15 The translation here follows Pellissier (p. 125) and Woodhouse’s paraphrase (p. 343).

16 According to Woodhouse (1986, p. 344), the preceding paragraph, which breaks off at this point, is in Plethon’s handwriting (in manuscript Marcianus gr. 406 in Venice), but the following paragraph is in a different handwriting. Since its topic is somewhat different, it might have been copied here from the otherwise lost chapter I.24, which has the same title.

17 The rest of the chapter was destroyed, presumably because it identified God with Zeus (Woodhouse, 1986, p. 345).

18 The preceding paragraph is not in Alexandre’s (1858) text, but is preserved in British Library Manuscript Add. 5424, fol. 101.1–7 (Hladký, 2014, p. 311).

19 Beginning of passage to omit when shortened.

20 End of omitted part when shortened.

21 Alexandre (1858) has ῥῆσιν, whereas MS Add. 5425 (fol. 107.6) has φᾶσιν; the meaning is about the same.

22 In fact, there does not seem to be any “part concerning the month and year” in this address (unlike in the “Evening Address to Zeus After the Fast”). Pellissier (in Alexandre 1858) interprets this to refer to hymns for the month and year, but this does not seem correct to me (since the text has κώλῳ, κῶλον, not ὕμνος). Perhaps Alexandre (1858) omitted this part; we will have to await a better edition.

23 The complete version of the speech takes about 20 min. to recite and 10 min. when shortened.

24 Beginning of omitted part for non-holidays.

25 End of omitted part for non-holidays.

26 Underlined text is from British Library MS. Add. 5424, fol. 108v.1–3 (Hladký, 2014, p. 311) and fills a lacuna in Alexandre (1858).

27 Skip the following on non-holidays.

28 Resume here on non-holidays.

29 E. A. Sophocles, Greek Lexicon of the Roman and Byzantine Periods, s.v. ἐγκρατης (New York: Scribner’s, 1900, p. 417).

30 E. A. Sophocles, Greek Lexicon of the Roman and Byzantine Periods, s.v. ἀθρύπτως (New York: Scribner’s, 1900, p. 89). Maybe “unpretentiously” (cf. Pellissier tr. in Alexandre, p. 167). This sentence is omitted on days of fasting because the meal comes later.

31 Beginning of omitted part when shortened.

32 End of omitted part when shortened.

33 The preceding paragraph, which is omitted in Alexandre (1858), is found in British Library Manuscript Add. 5424, fol. 114v.2–7 (Hladký, 2014, pp. 311–312).

34 Beginning of omitted part when shortened.

35 End of omitted part when shortened.

36 The preceding paragraph, which is omitted in Alexandre (1858), is found in British Library Manuscript Add. 5424, fol. 118v.21–119.3 (Hladký, 2014, p. 312).

37 This address, which is missing from Alexandre (1858), is found in British Library Manuscript Add. 5424, fol. 119.3–123.17 (Hladký, 2014, pp. 312–318).

38 Underlined text is omitted except in the last month of the year.

39 The preceding paragraph is omitted except on Old-and-New-Moon.

40 Underlined text to be omitted except during the last month.

41 Looking at the hymn, I believe this must be the first five verses (cf. Pellissier translation at Alexandre, 1858, p. 235).

42 As explained in Laws III.36, Plethon names the months by their ordinal position, and so I have capitalized them. Similarly, I have capitalized the days, also named after ordinal position.

43 This is the text in both Alexandre (1858), 240.4–7 and MS Add. 5424, fol. 131v.22–24. However, it would seem to be more consistent to use the fifth sacred hymn (which is for Old Moon) in the morning and afternoon and the sixth sacred hymn (for Old-and-New) in the evening.

44 This is the text in both Alexandre (1858), 240.10 and MS Add. 5424, fol. 132.3. However, since Fourth Departing is substituting for Old Moon, it would seem more consistent to sing the hymns from that day (fifth sacred) rather than those of Old-and-New.

45 The following text, up to the next section, “The Order of the Months and Years,” was omitted from Alexandre (1858), but is found in British Library Manuscript Add. 5424, fol. 132.5–133.4 (Hladký, 2014, pp. 318–319).

46 The section title is from British Library Manuscript Add. 5424, fol. 133.4–5 (Hladký, 2014, p. 319).

47 A heliotropion is a sundial or similar instrument for determining solstices and equinoxes.

48 The preceding paragraph, which is absent from Alexandre (1858), is found in British Library Manuscript Add. 5424, fol. 133v.7–134.4 (Hladký, 2014, pp. 319­–20). It replaces four redundant paragraphs from Theodore of Gaza’s On the Months included in Alexandre (1858), pp. 60–62.

49 Alexandre, Pléthon, 261, n. 11. A sad copiest added this line to a Florentine manuscript of Plethon’s fragmentary Book of Laws.

This page is Updated: 2021/10/25.