Julian the Apostate, " Julian the Emperor" (1888). Oration upon the Sovereign Sun. Addressed to Sallust.
IT is my opinion that the present subject interests all:
"Whatever breathes, and moves upon the earth,"
all that are endowed with existence, with a rational soul, and with a mind: but that above all others it interests myself, inasmuch as I am a votary ( o)pado_j) of the Sun. Of which fact I possess the most certain evidences in my own case; but one instance, which it is allowable to adduce, is the following:----From my earliest infancy I was possessed with a strange longing for the solar rays, so that when, as a boy, I cast my eyes upon the ethereal splendour, my soul felt seized and carried up out of itself. And not merely was it my delight to gaze upon the solar brightness, but at night also whenever I walked out in clear weather, disregarding all else, I used to fix my eyes upon the beauty of the heavens; so that I neither paid attention to what was said to me, nor took any notice of what was going on. On this account, people used to think me too much given to such pursuits, and far too inquisitive for my age: and they even suspected me, long before my beard was grown, of practising divination by means of the heavenly bodies. And. yet at that time no book on the subject had fallen into my hands, and I was |220 utterly ignorant of what that science meant. But what use is it to quote these matters, when I have still stranger things to mention; if I should mention what I at that time thought about the gods? But let oblivion rest upon that epoch of darkness! How the radiance of heaven, diffused all round me, used to lift up my soul to its own contemplation! to such a degree that I discovered for myself that the moon's motion was in the opposite direction to that of the rest of the system, long before I met with any works giving the philosophy of such matters. What I have said must be taken as evidence of this. And truly do I envy the felicity of that man who, being endowed with a body sprung from a holy and prophetic seed, is able to unlock the treasures of philosophy: but neither do I undervalue that state and condition to which I have myself attained through the favour of heaven, in that I have drawn my birth from the family to which it has given the empire, and possession of the world.
My own belief is, if philosophers be entitled to any credit, that the Sun is the common parent of all men, to use a comprehensive term. It is a true proverb, "Man begets man, and so does the Sun:" but souls that luminary showers down upon earth, both out of himself, and out of the other gods: which souls show to what end they were propagated by the kind of life that they pursue. But well is it for that man who, from the third generation backwards, and a long succession of years, has been dedicated to the service of this god; yet neither is that person's condition to be despised who, feeling in his own nature that he is a servant of this deity, alone, or with few on his side, shall have devoted himself to his worship. 1
Come then, and let us celebrate in the best way we can the anniversary festival, 2 which the imperial city is |221 keeping by sacrifices, with unusual splendour. And yet I feel how difficult it is for the human mind even to form a conception of that Sun who is not visible to the sense, if our notion of Him is to be derived from the Sun that is visible; but to express the same in language, however inadequately, is, perhaps, beyond the capability of man! To fitly explain His glory, I am very well aware, is a thing impossible; in lauding it, however, mediocrity seems the highest point to which human eloquence is able to attain. Nevertheless in that attempt may Hermes, presiding over all knowledge, be our guide, together with the Muses and Apollo leader of their quire, for to him belongs my theme; and may they grant me to deliver such things concerning the immortal gods as shall be acceptable and well-pleasing to themselves. What plan, therefore, of setting forth His praises shall we pursue? shall we treat of His nature and origin, His powers and influences, both those that be manifest to all, and those occult; or of the distribution of blessings which He showers down so largely upon all worlds; and by so doing, perchance, we shall not be unsuccessful in the kind of praise that is most acceptable unto Him? From this point therefore let us start.
That divine and all-beauteous World, which from the highest vault of Heaven down to the lowest Earth is held together by the immutable providence of God, and which has existed from all eternity, without creation, and shall be eternal for all time to come, and which is not regulated by anything, except approximately by the Fifth Body 3 (of which the principle is the solar light) placed, as it were, on the second step below the world of intelligence; and finally by the means of the "Sovereign of all things, around whom all things stand." 4 This Being, whether |222 properly to be called "That which is above comprehension," or the "Type of things existing," or "The One," (inasmuch as Unity appears to be the most ancient of all things), or "The Good," as Plato regularly designates Him, This, then, is the Single Principle of all things, and which serves to the universe as a model of indescribable beauty, perfection, unity, and power. And after the pattern of the primary substance that dwells within the Principle, He hath sent forth out of Himself, and like in all things unto Himself, the Sun, a mighty god, made up of equal parts of intelligible and creative causes. And this is the sense of the divine Plato, where he writes, "You may say (replied I) that I mean the offspring of the Good, whom the Good has produced, similar to itself; in order that, what the Good is in the region of intelligence, and as regards things only appreciable by the mind, its offspring should be the same in the region that is visible, and in the things that are appreciable by the sight." For this reason I believe that the light of the Sun bears the same relation to things visible as Truth does to things intelligible. But this Whole, 5 inasmuch as it emanates from the Model and "Idea" of the primal and supreme Good, and exists from all eternity around his immutable being, has received sovereignty also over the gods appreciable by the intellect alone, and communicates to them the same good things, (because they belong to the world of intelligence), as are poured down from the Supreme Good upon the other objects of Intelligence. For to these latter, the Supreme Good is the source, as I believe, of beauty, perfection, existence, and union; holding them together and illuminating them by its own virtue which is the "Idea" of the Good. The same things, therefore, does the Sun communicate to things intelligible, over whom he was appointed by the Good to reign and to command: although these were |223 created and began to exist at the same moment with himself. And this, I think, was done, in order that a certain principle which possessed the "Idea" or pattern of the Good, and exercised the principle of Good towards the intelligible gods, should direct all things according to intelligence. And in the third place, this visible disk of the Sun is, in an equal degree, the source of life and preservation to things visible, the objects of sense; and everything which we have said flows down from the Great Deity upon the intelligible gods, the same doth this other visible deity communicate to the objects of sense. Of all this there are clear proofs, if you choose to investigate things non-apparent by the means of things that are visible. For example, first take his light----is it not an incorporeal and divine image of what is transparent in its action? and the very quality that we term " transparence," what else is it, to speak generally, but the property that goes with all the elements, and is their approximate form? and which is neither corporeal, nor composite, and does not destroy the natural properties of the body with which it goes. For this reason it is wrong to call heat a property of it, 6 or cold its opposite; or to hardness, softness, or any other distinction perceptible by the touch, nor, again, must we attribute to it either scent or taste. For the quality in question is the object of the sight alone, which is brought into play by the instrumentality of light. But light is a form of this, as it were of a material substance, diffused through bodies. But of that light which is incorporeal, the most perfect part and as it were the flower, 7 are the solar rays. The Phoenicians who from their sagacity and learning possess great insight into things divine, hold the doctrine that this universally diffused radiance is a part of the "Soul of the Stars." This opinion is consistent with sound reason: if we consider the light that is without body, we shall |224 perceive that of such light the source cannot be a body, but rather the simple action of a mind, which spreads itself by means of illumination as far as its proper seat; to which the middle region of the heavens is contiguous, from which place it shines forth with all its vigour and fills the heavenly orbs, illuminating at the same time the whole universe with its divine and pure radiance. The effects that redound from this Power upon the gods themselves, have been already slightly touched upon, and I will shortly return to the subject. When we see things, this action has the name of "Sight," but the effect is of no value unless it obtains the influence and assistance of the light. For can anything be the object of sight, unless it be first brought under it, like the raw material to the workman, that it may receive its form? In the same manner, the things that are by their nature objects of the sight, unless they be brought together with light before the instruments of seeing, cease altogether to be objects of sight. Since, therefore, both to the seers, in order that they may see, and to the objects seen, in order that they may be visible, this god gives the powers, it follows that he constitutes by his own action both sight and the objects of sight. "Perfections" consist of Form and Essence; this definition, however, may be too abstruse. But a fact patent to all, learned equally with unlearned, philosophers and uneducated, is the influence which this deity possesses in the world at his rising and at his setting; how he produces day and night, and how he manifestly transforms and regulates the state of this creation----an influence assignable to no one of the other planets. From these considerations ought we not to draw conclusions respecting matters more beyond the reach of man: that is to say, respecting the existence of those beings that are divine, and objects of the intellect alone, who exist invisible above the heavens, and derive their fulness from that "Type" of Good, Him whom all the host of the stars follow, and whose nod that whole family (of deities), whom he governs by his providence, |225 fail not to obey. For the planets round about him (the Sun), as though he were their king, lead on their dance, at appointed distances from him pursue their orbits with the utmost harmony; they make, as it were, pauses; they move backwards and forwards (terms by which those skilled in astronomy denote these properties of the stars); and then, in proportion to her distance from the Sun, how doth the Moon increase or wane!----things patent to all. And such being the case, is it not reasonable to suppose that a more ancient system, corresponding to this visible arrangement of Nature, exists in the case of the deities who are only conceivable by the mind? From all this, therefore, we must gather the powerful and perfecting truth, that the object which enables things to see that are endowed with the sense of sight, the same object renders these things perfect by means of his own light, whilst the creative and productive power arises from his changes as he moves around the universe: and that capacity for embracing all things at once is the effect of what is so apparent in his movements; namely, the harmony of all in one and the same thing. The Centre-point comes from himself 8 as being central; whilst the circumstance of his being placed for king amongst the objects of intellect is the result of his station amongst the planets. If we perceived these, or other similar properties, to exist in any other of the visible deities, certainly we should award him the first place amongst them. If, however, he should have nothing in common with them, except this power of doing good, which he communicates unto all, then we ought to acquiesce in the reasoning of the Egyptian priests, who raise altars to the Sun conjointly with Jupiter; nay, rather we should assent to Apollo himself (long before them), who sits on the same throne with Jove, and whose words are,
"One Jove, one Pluto, one Sun is Serapis."
From which we must conclude that the sovereignty of the |226 Sun and of Jupiter amongst the deities that are objects of intellect is held in common, or rather is one and the same. For this reason Plato seems to me to be right in calling Pluto a provident ( fro&nimoj) deity. The same god we also name "Serapis," that is, 9Ai+dhj, "Invisible," clearly because he is the object of the intellect alone: up to whom (it is said) that the souls ascend of such as have led the best, and most righteous lives. We must not suppose him (Pluto) 9 the terrible being that Fable describes him; but a mild and benevolent one, who completely frees souls from the trammels of Birth; far from nailing them down to new bodies, and punishing and exacting retribution from souls already released from the body: but on the contrary, he directs them in their upward course, and carries them aloft to the Intelligible World. This doctrine is far from being of modern origin; those most ancient poets, Homer and Hesiod, are already possessed thereof----whether they conceived it through their own sagacity, or whether, like prophets, they derived the truth from some supernatural source, must be concluded from the fact itself. For the one in describing the genealogy of the Sun makes him out to be the offspring of Hyperion and Thea; by which account he almost directly declares that he is the son of the supernal and all-surpassing Godhead: for what else can we |227 understand by the title "Hyperion"? 10 And as for "Thea," what does that imply except the most divine of all things? For we must not suppose any corporeal conjunction or marriage in the case----all which are merely the sportive fables of Poetry; but must hold the father and the producer of that Being as something most divine and super-eminent. Of such a nature is He who is above all things, around whom, and by reason of whom, all things do subsist. But Homer calls him by his father's name, "Hyperion," in order to show that he is independent, and not subjected to any constraint. 11 For Jupiter, as the poet tells, orders about the other gods according to his will and pleasure, as being their master; but when this deity declares that he will retire from Olympus on account of the impious deed of the companions of Ulysses, Jupiter swears:----
"I would drag thee with the sea and earth together."
Yet he does not threaten him with chains or personal violence: and promises to avenge him upon the authors of the sacrilege, and begs him to continue to give light to the gods. Now what else did Homer signify by this fable but that this deity, besides being totally independent, possesses also the power of perfecting? For wherefore do the other gods stand in need of him, unless that he, by infusing into their substance and essence the illumination of his mystic radiance, he may communicate to them the power of effecting all the good things that we have already mentioned? 12
"Imperial Juno sent the unwearied Sun
To Ocean his unwilling course to run." |228
has no other significance than that, in consequence of darkness being spread over the earth, men supposed it to be night before its time. And of the same goddess we read in another passage of this poet:----
"Darkness profound great Juno sent before."
But let us now dismiss these poetical fictions; because with what is divine they have mingled much of human alloy; and let us now consider what the deity has declared concerning himself and the other gods.
The region surrounding the Earth has its existence in virtue of birth. From whom then does it receive its eternity and imperishability, if not from him who holds all things together within defined limits, for it is impossible that the nature of bodies (material) should be without a limit, inasmuch as they cannot dispense with a Final Cause, nor exist through themselves. For if things should be created out of what previously existed, whilst nothing is again refunded into that same source----the material for such creation would in time come to an end. But this deity, as he revolves with a defined and regular motion, by kindling this nature, stimulates and renews the same, whilst by his receding to a distance he weakens and destroys it, or else animates its nature by impressing motion upon it, and transfusing life out of himself; whilst when he deserts the same objects, and turns his influence in another direction, he occasions the destruction of the things that are destroyed----the good effects that emanate from the same source are equally diffused upon the earth. Different regions become partakers in these benefits in different ways; so that neither their production comes to an end, nor does the Deity confer his blessings upon the recipient world with any degree of variation. For where the substance is the same, so is the action thereof, in the case of Divine Powers; especially with him who is king of them all, namely, the Sun; of whom the motion is the most simple amongst all the |229 bodies that move in a contrary direction to the world, which fact that most excellent philosopher, Aristotle, adduces to prove the superiority of that luminary to the others.
But, further, the other intelligible Powers exercise a by no means imperceptible influence upon our earth----but what of that, for we do not exclude them when we give the first rank to the deity in question? In fact, we endeavour to draw conclusions from things evident concerning things that are abstruse and not apparent. For which reason, in the same way as the Sun perfects the influence and virtue which descend upon the earth from the other powers, and modifies and applies the same to himself, or rather to the universe, so have we good grounds to infer the existence of a similar arrangement and co-partnership of the same powers in the things that are not apparent to the sense----namely, that the influence of the Sun holds the chief place amongst these also, whilst the rest act in concert with him. But as we have laid it down that he holds the middle place amongst the intelligible Powers (which are themselves intermediate), I pray the Sovereign Sun himself to grant me ability to explain the nature of the station that he holds amongst those in whose middle he is placed! By the term "middle" we are to understand not what is so defined in the case of things contrary to each other, as "equi-distant from the extremes," as orange and dark brown in the case of colours; lukewarm, in that of hot and cold, and other things of the sort; but the power that collects and unites into one things dispersed, like the "Harmony" of Empedocles, from which he completely excludes all discord and contention. What, then, are the things that the Sun unites into one, and in the midst of which he holds his station, as we have defined it? The answer is, the Sensible Powers that revolve around him as their centre, and the Immaterial and Intelligible Powers that are with the "Good," whose essence also is intelligible and divine, and multiplied in a manner of their own, without either passion or accession. |230
In this manner, therefore, the intelligible and excellent substance of the sovereign Sun does not consist of any. thing made up out of extremes, but is perfect in itself, and free from all admixture with other Powers, whether visible or invisible, whether intelligible or sensible. This is my definition of the sense in which "middle station" ought to be understood; but if we are to investigate particularly this central station of his nature, in its relation to first and last, although the subject be not an easy one to explain, nevertheless let us endeavour to treat it to the best of our ability.
The one absolutely, the Intelligible, the ever Preexisting, comprehending all the universe together within the One----nay, more, is not the whole world One living thing----all and everywhere full of life and soul, perfect and made up out of parts likewise perfect? Now of this double unity the most perfect part (I mean of the Unity in the Intelligible World that comprehends all things in One, and of the Unity encompassing the Sensible World, that brings together all things into a single and perfect nature) is the perfection of the sovereign Sun, which is central and single, and placed in the middle of the intermediate Powers. But coming after this, there exists a certain connection in the Intelligible World with the Power that orders and arranges all things in one. Does not the essence of the Fifth Body, which is turned, as it were by a lathe, in a circle, move around the heavens, and is that which holds together all the parts, and binds them to one another, uniting what is naturally united 13 amongst them and also those parts that mutually affect each other. 14 These two essences, which are the causes of mutual attraction and of union (whereof the one manifests itself in the |231 Intelligible, the other in the Sensible creation) does the Sun thus concentrate into one. Of the former he imitates this power of embracing and containing all things in the Intelligible creation, inasmuch as he proceeds from that source; whilst he governs the latter, that which is perceptible in the world of Sense. Perhaps, therefore, the self-existent principle, which existed first in the Intelligible creation, and lastly in the Visible bodies of the heavens, is owner of the intermediate, self-created essence of the sovereign Sun, from which primal creative essence there descends upon the visible world the radiance which illuminates the universe.
And again, to consider the subject in another light, One indeed is the Creator of all things, but many are the creative powers revolving in the heavens; we must, therefore, place the influence of the Sun as intermediate with respect to each single operation affecting the earth. Moreover, the principle productive of Life is vastly superabundant in the Intelligible World; our world, also, is evidently full of generative life. It is therefore clear that the life-producing power of the sovereign Sun is intermediate between these two, since the phenomena of Nature bear testimony to the fact; for some kinds of things the Sun brings to perfection, others of them he brings to pass, others he regulates, others he excites, and there exists nothing that, without the creative influence of the Sun, comes to light and is born. And, furthermore, if we consider the Sun's unpolluted, pure, and immaterial essence----where nothing from without approaches, and nothing of a different nature has part; but which is full of its own undefiled purity; and also his nature in the universe, as regards the Body that revolves in a circle about the planets which are all free from admixture, must be homogeneous in the extreme and composed of an undefiled and divine body. We shall from all these considerations lay down that the essence of the sovereign Sun, being pure and unmixed, is intermediate between the two----the |232 immaterial Purity in the Intelligible World, and that part existing in the Visible World which is undefiled and without mixture as regards birth and corruption, and of pure homogeneousness. A very weighty argument is this----namely, that neither does the light which descends from thence, chiefly upon the world, mix itself with anything, nor admit of dirtiness or pollution, but remains entirely, and in all things that are, free from defilement, admixture, and suffering. Besides, we must pay attention to the other kinds of phenomena, both to the Intelligible, and yet more to the Sensible----whatever are connected with matter, or will manifest themselves in relation to our subject. Here, again, the Intelligible is the centre of the species that lie around the mighty Sun, through whose means the species connected with Matter are benefited, inasmuch as they would be unable either to exist, or to subsist, unless they be helped by him as regards their existence. Besides, is not he the author of the separation of Species and of the combination of Matter? He not merely allows himself to be mentally conceived, but to be an object of the sight, for the distribution of his rays over the whole world, and the unity of his light, demonstrate the creative and separating powers of his mode of action. And as there are still numerous visible benefits connected with the essence of this deity, which surround that which is intermediate between the Intelligible and the Sensible powers, let. us pass on to his final and visible conclusion. The first degree of his, contains as it were the model and the substance for a pattern to the Solar Angels who are stationed around the lowest world. After this comes that which is generative of things perceptible to Sense: of which the more refined part contains the source of heaven and the stars, whilst the inferior part superintends generation, containing from all eternity within itself the ungenerated essence of generation. To explain, however, everything relating to the nature of this deity, is beyond the power of man, even though the god himself should |233 grant him the ability to understand it: in a case where it seems, to me at least, impossible even mentally to conceive all its extent. And now that we have discussed so much, we must put as it were a seal upon this subject; and to stay a while and pass on to other points no less requiring examination. What then is this seal; and what comprises everything, as it were in a summary of the conception concerning the nature of the god? May He Himself inspire our understanding when we attempt briefly to explain the source out of which he proceeded; and what he is himself; and with what effects he fills the visibla world. It must therefore be laid down that the sovereign Sun proceeded from the One God,----One out of the one Intelligible world; he is stationed in the middle of the Intelligible Powers, according to the strictest sense of "middle position;" bringing the last with the first into a union both harmonious and loving, and which fastens together the things that were divided: containing within himself the means of perfecting, of cementing together, of generative life, and of the uniform existence, and to the world of Sense, the author of all kinds of good; not merely adorning and cheering it with the radiance wherewith he himself illumines the same, but also by making subordinate to himself the existence of the Solar Angels; and containing within himself the unbegotten Cause of things begotten; and moreover, prior to this, the unfading, unchanging source of things eternal.
All, therefore, that was fitting to be said touching the nature of this deity (although very much has been passed over in silence) has now been stated at some length. But since the multitude of his qualities, and the beauty of his effects have been passed in review, it remains for us to glance at the superabundance of the theories that have been started concerning the nature of this god, because as divine objects, when they come forth into the light, are naturally multiplied, owing to the excess and the fecundity of the life that is in the same. But what, I |234 beseech you, shall we do when we strip ourselves to swim a sea without a shore, having hardly, and much, to our content, recovered our breath after the discourse already pronounced? Nevertheless let us trust in the god and take courage, and make an attempt to handle the subject.
As a general rule, all that has been hitherto advanced respecting the nature of this deity, must be understood to refer to his properties: for the nature of the god is not one thing, and his influence another: and truly, besides these two, his energy a third thing: seeing that all things which he wills, these he is, he can, and he works. For neither doth he will that which he is not; nor is he without strength to do that which he wills; nor doth he will that which he cannot effect. Now this is very different in the case of men, for theirs is a double nature mixed up in one, that of soul and body; the former divine, the latter full of darkness and obscurity: hence naturally arise warfare and discord between the two. For this reason Aristotle remarks that neither our pleasures, nor our pains harmonize with each other within us: for the one part of our nature being in opposition to the other parts, pain is the result. But with the deities there is nothing of the kind, for their essence is that which is good, and that too uninterruptedly, not sometimes one thing, sometimes another. In the first place, therefore, as we stated when attempting to describe his being, it must be borne in mind that we lay this down as regards his qualities and his effects, since in matters of this kind the discussion has a natural tendency to contradict itself. Everything, therefore, that we are going to consider under the title of qualities and energies, all these must be regarded as existence, and as effects. For there are Powers of kindred nature with the Sun, crowning the unpolluted being of that god, multiplying themselves around him in the world, though existing in uniformity. Listen, therefore, to what those say who do not look up to heaven, like so many horses or oxen, or any other irrational or |235 untaught animal, but who investigate the unseen through the medium of the visible Nature. Besides, if agreeable to you, let us consider his supra-mundane powers and energies, and as they are infinite in number, take a few of them for subjects of discussion. The first of his powers is that by which bringing together into one and the same thing the whole intelligible existence through its whole extent, that is to say, the extremities thereof, he converts it into One: a thing which is clearly discernible in the case of the visible world, how that fire and earth being wrapped together, air and water, which are in the middle, form the bond between the extremes: this fact we may reasonably take as a guide in the case of the nature of bodies that is beyond the reach of Sense. That which possesses the final cause of generation is not itself generation; so must we consider it as the law that, in the former case, the extreme causes, entirely separated from bodies, 15 by means of certain intermediate agencies are by the sovereign Sun brought together, and made one around him: with him, too, concurs the creative power of Jupiter. On this account, as we have already stated, in Cyprus certain temples are founded and dedicated to them both conjointly. Nay, we call Apollo himself to bear witness to this statement (who certainly ought to know more about his own nature than anyone else), for he is co-existent with the Sun, and communicates to him both the unmixed character of things Intelligible, and the stability of his being, and the unchangeableness of his energy. Nay, more, this deity, as is evident, by no means separates from the Sun the discriminating operation of Dionysos; for he ever makes it subordinate to the latter; and, by declaring him (the Sun) "partner of his throne," he becomes to us the interpreter of the most beautiful thoughts by means of that deity. But how many are the final causes of union, the most beautiful, which this deity contains within |236 himself? The Sun, that is, Apollo, is "Leader of the Muses;" and inasmuch as he completes our life with good order, he produces in the world Aesculapius; for even before the world was, he had the latter by his side.
But were one to discuss the numerous other qualities belonging to this god, he would never arrive to the end of them. But we must content ourselves with considering his property of separation (which also is prior to all bodies and is also prior to all visible energy); whence we must conclude that the sovereign power is one and the same of the Sun and Jupiter; but that the singleness of thoughts, coupled with divinity and unchangeableness, we must adjudge to Apollo: whilst the separative power of creation together with the power that directs this separation, belongs to Dionysos, whilst the quality of the finest harmony and intelligible unification we have already defined as belonging to the power of the "Leader of the Muses;" whilst that which makes complete the harmony of all life, we suppose the prerogative of Aesculapius. 16
Thus much then for his powers that are prior to the creation of the world, but his operation, which is of the same order with them, over the visible world, consists in the fully carrying out of what is good. For since he is the legitimate offspring of the Good, having received from Him the good portion entire, he distributes it amongst all the Intelligible deities, imparting to them their good-working and perfect nature. This, then, is one of his operations. And the second operation of this god is the most exact distribution of Intelligible Beauty amongst the intelligible incorporeal species. For the generative principle which is visible in Nature (that which aims at generating in the Beautiful, and at |237 bringing forth its birth), must necessarily be directed and preceded by that Being who performs the same function in the Intelligible Beauty, with full power and without intermission, that is, not to do so at one time, and at another to do the contrary; or now to be generating, and then without generation: inasmuch as all things that here below are occasionally beautiful, are so permanently in the Intelligible world. We must, therefore, hold that the generative final cause belonging to the Sun in the visible creation is preceded by the uncreated offspring existing in the intelligible and eternal Beauty, which offspring this deity contains, having also stationed it round about himself: to which likewise he imparts his perfect Intelligence, in the same manner as he imparts sight to the eyes by means of his own light: so, in the same way, by means of that Intelligible pattern which he holds out (one far more conspicuous, in truth, than his celestial radiance) doth he, as I think, furnish all the Intelligible Powers with the capacity to understand and to be understood. Another operation, equally worthy of our admiration, besides those just described, is discoverable with respect to that sovereign of the universe, the Sun----namely, that more benignant Fate which grants birth to angels, to genii, to heroes, and to those souls out of the common run, all which abide by the guidance of their Pattern and Type, without giving themselves over to the tendency of their bodies.
Now, therefore, the pre-mundane existence, the properties, the operations, in celebrating the sovereign Sun, as far as our ability extended to extol his divinity, all these we have rehearsed with the utmost care. But since, as the saying goes, the eyes are more to be trusted than the ears (although they be less to be relied on, and more feeble than the intellect), let us now make an attempt to speak concerning his visible operation, after first soliciting from him a moderate degree of success in such attempt.
The visible world has, as I have said, subsisted around |238 him from all eternity: and the Light also which surrounds the world has also its place from all eternity, 17 not intermittently, nor in different degrees at different times, but constantly and in an equable manner. But whosoever will attempt to estimate, as far as thought goes, this external Nature, by the measure of Time, he will very easily discover respecting the Sun, Sovereign of all things, of how many blessings he is, from all eternity, the author to the world. I am aware that the great Plato himself, and after him, a man posterior to him in date, though not in mind, I mean Iamblichus of Chalcis (who initiated us into other branches of philosophy, and also into this by means of his discourses), did both of them as far as hypothesis goes, take for granted the fact of a Creation and assumed the universe to have been, in a certain sense, the Work of Time, in order that the most important of the effects produced by this Power, may be reduced into a shape for examination. But for myself, so far inferior in force to those philosophers, such a liberty must not be taken in any way; since it is certainly unsafe to assume, even as far as bare hypothesis, any temporal creation in the case of the world; as also the illustrious hero Iamblichus was of opinion. 18 Nevertheless, as this deity himself proceeds from an Eternal Cause, or, rather, has produced all things from all eternity, by his divine volition, and with ineffable velocity, and with power not to be surpassed, having begotten all things simultaneously in Time that now is, he hath allotted to himself the middle space of heaven, as it were, for his more peculiar station, in order that he may equally from all sides distribute his |239 benefits upon the gods that come forth below him, and together with him; that he may direct the Seven, 19 and also the eighth revolution of the heavens. This ninth operation I assume to be the Generation eternally revolving in an uninterrupted course of production and destruction. As for the planets as they dance around him, it is evident that they have for the law of their movement in relation to this god, some such harmony as that just described to regulate their figures; and the entire heaven, making its parts everywhere harmonize with him, is filled with spirits emanating out of the Sun. For this god is ruler of five orbits in the heavens, and whilst traversing three out of these orbits, he produces in three the Graces, themselves three in number, the remaining circles form the Scales to the Balance of supreme Necessity. I am, perhaps, speaking unintelligibly to the Greeks 20 (just as if it were right only to speak of things commonplace and familiar to them), yet this point is not, as one might suppose, altogether strange to them. For what, I pray you tell me, are your Dioscuri, ye very wise people that take most things upon credit, without any examination? Are they not called "alternate day-keepers" because it is not lawful for both of them to be visible on the same day? It is clear that you hear of this both yesterday and to-day. 21 In the next place, in the name of these same Dioscuri, let us mentally assume this very circumstance as applicable to a nature and an operation of a different kind, in order that what we are speaking about may not be unintelligible: yet, however much we investigate it, we shall not arrive at any exact result. For it is not true, what some suppose to be stated by theologians, that the two hemispheres of the universe possess a kind of Reason ( lo&gon); for in what |240 way each of them is "alternate" 22 it is not easy even to conceive, inasmuch as each day the increase in their visible appearance takes place by insensible degrees. Let us now examine the points in which we shall probably be thought by some people to be introducing a novelty. Those beings may properly be designated as "alternate day-keepers," 23 whichsoever possess an equal portion of time out of the Sun's passage over the earth, in one and the same month. Let anyone now see whether this "alternate day-keeping" does not apply to the other cycles, as well as to the tropical. Someone will reply that the case is not the same, because the former are always visible; and for those inhabiting opposite sides of the globe, the one tropical cycle is visible to the one half, the second to the other; whereas in the case of the latter (cycles) those who behold the one, do not behold the other by any manner of means. But not to waste time by dwelling too long upon the same subject; the Sun, by performing his returns (solstices) in the manner known to all, becomes the parent of the Seasons: but did he never desert the poles at all, he would be the "Oceanos," that Ruler of the double substance. Perhaps what we are saying is somewhat unintelligible? Homer has said the same thing before us:----
"Ocean, to all things made the source of life."
What, both of mortal, and (as he would say) "of the blessed gods"? Yea, verily, for of all things nothing exists that is not by its substance the offspring of ocean. 24 But why will you have me tell this to the vulgar? Although better to have been shrouded in silence, it |241 nevertheless has been spoken; at all events I declare it, although all men will not readily receive the same.
The solar disk moves over the space which has no stars, and is much more elevated than the fixed region; in this way he will not occupy the centre of the planets, but rather of the "Three Motions," as they are called in the hypotheses taught in the Mysteries, if, indeed, such things are rightly to be termed "hypotheses," or rather ought they not to be called "articles of faith" ( do&gmata), but what relates to the spheres, "hypotheses"? For those so assert who have heard the same from the gods, or else from, some mighty daemons; whereas the others [natural philosophers] make up a theory that is plausible from its agreement with visible phenomena. The latter, indeed, it is but fair to praise; but whoso thinks it better to believe in the former [the teaching of the Mysteries] him do I both in jest and in earnest admire, and always have admired. Such therefore are their statements upon these points. Besides those I have mentioned, there exist a vast number of Powers in the confines of the heavens; they have been discovered by those persons who do not contemplate the heavens carelessly and after the manner of brute beasts; for the Sun cutting the three circles in four places, by reason of the communication with each of them of the zodiacal circle, again distributes this zodiac amongst the powers of twelve deities, and this again is subdivided into three, so as to make six-and-thirty. Hence, I think, there extends as far as ourselves downwards from heaven above, a triple descent of the Graces; that is to say, from the circles which this god intersects in his course in four places, and so sends down the fourfold splendour of the Seasons, which in truth occupy the turning-points of the times. In fact, the Graces in their representations upon earth imitate the figure of a circle, 25 whilst the "Giver of the Graces" |242 ( xaridothj) is Dionysos, who has been shown to reign conjointly with the Sun in the same place. Wherefore should I mention to you Horus, and the other names of gods, all of them belonging in reality to the Sun? For we men have gained our notion of the god from the works which the same god actually works----he that hath made the universal heaven perfect through his Intelligible blessings, and given to the same a share of his Intelligible beauty. And beginning from that point, himself wholly and partially by the giving of good men, 26 ..... for they superintend every motion as far as the extremest limits of the universe. And Nature and Soul, and all that at any time exists, all these, and in all places, does he bring to perfection; and after having marshalled so vast a host of deities into one governing unity, he has given to them Athene, or Providence; who, mythology says, sprung forth out of the head of Jupiter; but whom we assert to have been projected entire out of the entire Sovereign Sun, for she was contained within him, in this particular dissenting from the legend, in that we do not hold her to have sprung out of the topmost part, but all entire, and out of the entire god. For in other respects, inasmuch as we consider Jupiter to be one and the same with the Sun, we are agreed with the antique tradition. And in calling Athene "Providence," we are making no innovation, if indeed we rightly understand the line: ----
" He came to Pytho and the blue-eyed Prescience."
In this way, then, was Athene, or Providence, regarded by the ancients also, as partner of the throne with Apollo, |243 the latter considered as no other than the San. Perhaps Homer uttered this by divine command, for he was, as is commonly said, "possessed by a god," and he has actually spoken like a prophet in many places in his poem: ----
"Honours, that Phoebus and Athene gain.''
From Jupiter, that is to say, who is the same with the Sun, in the same way as the sovereign Apollo is a partner with the Sun by means of the singleness of their conceptions. So, indeed, must we believe that Athene, having received her own being from him (and who is also his perfect Intelligence), binds together the other deities, with the Sun into unity, without confusion of person with the Sun, sovereign of the universe; and that she regulates and distributes the streams of unpolluted and pure Life from the topmost vault 27 of heaven, through the seven cycles, as far as the region of the Moon, which last, as being the most remote of the bodies moving in cycles, this goddess 28 has filled by the agency of her thought; empowered by which the Moon not merely contemplates the Intelligible things that be above the heavens, but regulates the Matter that is below her, and eliminates therefrom whatever is brutish, turbulent, and disorderly. Unto men Athene gives good things----namely, wisdom, understanding, and the creative arts; and she dwells in their citadels, I suppose, as being the founder of civil government through the communication of her own wisdom. Now for a few words about Aphrodite, whom the Phoenician theologians agree in making co-operate in the work of creation with the last-mentioned goddess----and I |244 believe they are right. She, then, is the mingling together of the celestial deities, and of the harmony of the same, for the purposes of love and unification. For she being near to the Sun, and running her course together with him, and approaching close to him, she fills the heavens with a good temperament, she imparts to the earth the generative power, whilst she herself provides for the perpetuity of generation of animals, of which generation the Sovereign Sun contains the final efficient cause. She, however, is joint cause with him, enthralling our souls by the aid of pleasure, whilst she sheds down from the aether upon the earth her rays so delightful and pure, more lustrous than gold itself.
And yet, again, I wish to mete out a little more of the theology of the Phoenicians----whether to good purpose my argument will discover as it goes on. Those who inhabit Edessa, a place consecrated to the Sun, from time immemorial, place on the same throne with him two gods called "Monimos" and "Azizos." By these names are understood (as Iamblichus says, from whom I have borrowed these few things out of his abundance) by "Monimos" Mercury, by "Azizos" Mars, the assessor of the Sun, who also diffuses, as a channel, many blessings upon the region encompassing the earth.
The operations therefore of this deity as regards the heavens are of the number above stated, and are effected by the aforesaid agencies, reaching as far as the extremest boundaries of the earth. But all that he operates in the region above the Moon it would be too tedious to recount in full. Nevertheless, these also must be told in a summary way: I am aware that I have already alluded to them when I recommended you to view things unseen through the medium of natural phenomena, in the question of the nature of the gods. My subject now demands that in this sequence I should express my opinions upon these points.
In the same manner therefore as we have laid it down |245 that the Sun holds the supremacy in the Intelligible world, having round about his own being, in one species, a vast multitude of gods (supposing him to have the same in the Sensible world), all of which move along their everlasting and most felicitous course in a circle, so do we prove him to be Leader and Lord, imparting to and filling the whole heaven, as he does, with his own splendour, likewise with infinite other blessings that be invisible to us: whilst the benefits commenced by the other deities are brought to perfection by him; nay, more, before this, these gods themselves were rendered perfect through his spontaneous and divine operation. And similarly it is to be believed that certain deities, held together by the Sovereign Sun, are stationed about the region belonging to Birth, 29 who govern the fourfold nature of the elements, and dwell, in company with the three superior species, round about the souls around which these same elements are fixed. And to the disembodied souls themselves of how many blessings is not He the source! by his holding forth to them the means of examining themselves, by his correcting them with his justice, and purifying them with his brilliancy. Is it not He that stirs up and fans the flame of all Nature, by imparting unto her the faculty of generation? Nay more, to the disembodied natures also He is truly the cause of their progress towards perfection, for Man is generalled by Man and the Sun, as Aristotle hath it. The same opinion it behoves us to hold respecting the Sovereign Sun, in the case of all other things, whatever be the operations. And what! doth not this deity produce the rain, the winds, and all that takes place in the upper regions, by making use of the double effect of evaporation, as it were for his raw material? For by his heating the earth he draws up the vapour and |246 fumes; out of which are generated not only atmospheric changes, but all the effects, both small and great, that go on under the earth.
But why do I dwell upon the same things when it is in my power to advance towards the end, after having sung all the benefits that the Sun hath bestowed upon mankind? For we spring out of him, and are nourished from him. Furthermore, his more transcendental operations----all the service he renders unto souls, by releasing them from the body, and carrying them up to the Beings that are cognate to the Divinity, whilst he lends them for vehicle of their safe return to their birthplace, the subtile and elastic part of the divine light----all this may be celebrated by others as it deserves: but by us it must rather be believed in than demonstrated. Such things, however, as by their nature are patent to all people, these we must not be too lazy to set forth. Heaven, says Plato, was our first teacher of Philosophy; for from thence we got the notion of the nature of Numbers. The same Plato adds Day and Night, in the first place [to the list of teachers; and secondly we gain the same notions] from the light of the Moon, the which is lent to this deity from the Sun. After this we advance still further in this power of comprehension, everywhere having for our aim an exact agreement with the teaching of this deity. As the same philosopher somewhere observes "that our race being full of trouble, the gods out of compassion have given to us Bacchus and the Muses for allies." 30 Now it has been proved by us already that the Sun is the common leader of these deities, since he is sung of as the sire of Bacchus; and likewise is the "Leader of the Muses." And the Apollo who is joint-ruler with him, hath he not given forth his Oracles in all |247 parts of the earth? He has given to men inspired wisdom; he has adorned states with religious and political institutions.
This god has civilized, by the agency of the Greek colonies, the greatest part of the habitable globe; he has prepared it the more readily to submit to the Romans----a race possessing not merely a Grecian origin, but also Greek, and who have established and maintained a creed as regards the gods that is thoroughly Greek from, beginning to end; and who, besides all this, have founded a form of government in no way inferior to that of the best regulated states----even if of all the governments that have ever been tried, it be not the very best; from all which circumstances, I think I have myself recognized the Roman state as being Greek both in its origin and in its government. Furthermore, I make known unto thee how He hath provided for the bodily health of us all, by having produced Aesculapius, the Preserver of the universe; and how he hath communicated to us virtue of every kind, by sending down Aphrodite in company with Athene for our guardian; having made it all but a law that no one should use copulation except for the end of generating his like. For this reason truly, according to his revolutions and seasons, do the various vegetable and animal races feel themselves stirred towards the generation of their kind. What need is there to magnify the glory of his rays, and of his light? A night without moon, and without stars, how terrible is it! Let anyone reflect on this, in order that he may estimate how great a blessing is the light we derive from the Sun! Although he affords the same light continuously, and not shared with Night, in the suitable regions reckoning upwards from the Moon, yet doth he grant men a respite from their toil through the intervention of the Night. But there would be no end to the discourse were one to attempt to enumerate everything of this sort, inasmuch as there is no blessing in life that we have not received |248 from this deity----either complete, and directly from him, or else indirectly coming from him, but perfected by the means of the other Powers. Our patron is he----for the Capitol in our metropolis is occupied not merely by Jupiter, conjointly with Venus and Minerva----that Jupiter, who is hymned as the "Universal Sire"----but by Apollo likewise upon the Palatine Hill, Apollo himself ----a name thus common to all, and belonging by right to them. But how we universally and everywhere belong to him, as the sons of Romulus and of Aeneas, though I have much to say, I will but mention a few, and the best-known facts. Aeneas sprung from Venus, who is the agent of and akin to, the Sun. The actual founder of our city, tradition has delivered down to be the son of Mars, confirming the improbable tale by the miracle that followed his birth; for a she-wolf gave suck to the child, according to report. That Mars, called "Azizos" by the natives of Edessa in Syria, is the harbinger of the Sun, though I am aware of the fact and have already named, I shall for the present pass it by. For what reason is the wolf the attribute of Mars, rather than of the Sun? And yet they say that his annual revolution is called "Lycobas," Wolfs-walk, after this god; and not only Homer so denominates it, but also other well-known poets; as, moreover, the god himself, for he says at the end of a response
"The twelvemonth's ancient Lycobas, in dance."
Do you wish me then to adduce to you a stronger proof that the founder of our city was not merely sent down from (the planet) Mars, but that perhaps to the creation of his body aid was lent by some martial and generous daemon----the one that, according to the legend, visited Sylvia as she was carrying the lustral water to her goddess. And to make a general observation, the soul of the god Quirinus came down from the Sun. For in the same manner as the exact conjunction of those bodies which assign sovereignty, namely, the Sun and Moon, brought him down |249 upon earth, so did it carry up again to heaven that soul which it carried back again from earth; when it eliminated the mortal part of his body by the fire of lightning. And thus manifestly, the goddess who is the creator of terrestrial phenomena, and who is in a special sense subordinate to the Sun, took back again that Quirinus who was sent down upon earth through the agency of Minerva ----Providence; for she carried him back, as he flew upwards from earth, unto the Sun, sovereign of the Universe. Do you wish me to adduce respecting the same matter the institution of King Numa? The fire derived from the Sun is preserved unextinguished by virgins, agreeing with the different Seasons in number; which latter in truth guard the fire that was produced by the Moon, around the earth, by the influence of the Sun. I have yet a stronger proof to mention of this deity's existence; the actual working of the most divine sovereign. The months, by all mankind so to speak, are reckoned from the Moon; we alone, and the Egyptians, count the days of the year according to the motions of the Sun. If after this I were to mention that we worship Mithras, and celebrate quadrennial games, I should be speaking of more recent institutions; it is better therefore to confine myself to those of more ancient date in what I am going to add. The beginning of the annual cycle different nations calculate in different ways; some taking for it the vernal equinox; others the middle point of Summer; others again the end of Autumn. In all this they celebrate the most conspicuous blessings of the deity: in the first, the opening of the favourable season for work, when the earth blossoms and rejoices, with all the crops just springing up. The seas do then become fit for navigation; and the never-smiling and sulky face of Winter is transformed into a more cheerful aspect. The second sort have done this honour to Midsummer Day, as having it then in their power to rejoice securely over the success of their crops: the seed-crops being by this time got in, and the |250 fruit-crops already ripe, and the produce still hanging on the trees now drawing to maturity. The third, yet more acute than they, have established for the end of the year the most complete maturity and decay of all productions; for this cause do they hold their annual festivals when the Autumn is now drawing to an end. But our ancestors, from the time of that most religious King Numa, paying special honour to the god in question, cast aside the common practice, and as they were of superior understanding, they recognized this deity, and settled to hold the New Year's festival in the present season, at what time the Sun returns to us, leaving the extreme distance of the meridian, and bending his course around Capricorn as his goal, moves from the South towards the North; being about to give us our share of his annual blessings. And that they have thus fixed the time of the New Year's festival out of an accurate understanding of the case, may be easily discerned from the following circumstance----they did not fix the festival upon the actual day when the Sun makes the turn [but on the day] 31 when it is apparent to all that he is making his progress from the South towards the North. For not yet known to them was the subtlety of those rules which the Chaldaeans and Egyptians invented, but which Hipparchus and Ptolemy brought to perfection; but they trusted to their senses, and followed the guidance of natural phenomena. And in this way, as I have said, the matter was discovered to be of such a nature by those who came after them. Immediately after the last month, which is Saturn's, and previous to the festival in question, we celebrate the most solemn of our Games, dedicating it to the honour of the "Invincible Sun," during which it is not lawful for anything cruel |251 (although necessary), which the previous month presented in its Shows, should be perpetrated on this occasion. The Saturnalia, 32 being the concluding festival, are closely followed in cyclic order by the Festival of the Sun; the which I hope that the Powers above will grant me frequently to chaunt, and to celebrate; and above all others may the Sovereign Sun, lord of the universe! He who proceeding from all eternity in the generative being of the Good, stationed as the central one amidst the central intelligible deities, and replenishing them all with concord, infinite beauty, generative superabundance, and perfect intelligence, and with all blessings collectively without limit of time; and in time present illuminating his station which moves as the centre of all the heavens, his own possession from all eternity! Whilst he imparts his own beauty to every phenomenon of Nature, and fills the universal heaven with as many deities as he contains intelligibly within himself; whilst they multiply round about him without separation, and dwell together with him in unity of species! And nevertheless the region below the Moon he embraces by the agency of his perpetual generation, and the benefits flowing out of the Cyclic Body; providing for the entire family of Man, and, especially, for our commonwealth; in the same way as he hath from all eternity created our own soul, having appointed it for minister unto himself. 33 May He therefore grant unto me that which I have just now prayed for; and moreover to the whole of my empire may He with his good will supply and guard all possible continuance! And to ourselves may He grant success both in religious and secular affairs, so long as He may concede us life! |252 And grant us to live, and to govern in life, as long as it is well-pleasing to himself, best for us, and expedient to the public interests of the Romans! 34
Thus much, my dear Sallust, upon the threefold operation of the deity have I ventured to write for you, in about three nights' space, having gone over the subject in my memory as far as it was possible: since what I had previously written to you "upon the Saturnalia" 35 did not prove entirely labour thrown away. But on the same subject you will obtain more complete and more abstruse information by consulting the works upon it composed by the divine Iamblichus: you will find there the extreme limit of human wisdom attained. May the mighty Sun grant me to attain to no less knowledge of himself, and to teach it publicly to all, and privately to such as are worthy to receive it: and as long as the god grants this to us, let us consult in common his well-beloved Iamblichus; out of whose abundance a few things, that have come into my mind, I have here set down. That no other person will treat of this subject more perfectly than he has done, I am well aware; not even though he should expend much additional labour in making new discoveries in the research; for in all probability he will go astray from the most correct conception of the nature of the god. It were perhaps an idle attempt (if I were writing this discourse for the sake of giving instruction) for me to treat of it at all after what that philosopher has done; but inasmuch as it is my wish only to compose a hymn of thanksgiving in honour of the god, I have deemed it quite sufficient 36 to discourse to the best of my ability concerning his nature. I do not think I have wasted words to no |253 purpose: the maxim, "Sacrifice to the immortal gods according to thy means," I accept as applying not merely to burnt-offerings, but also to our praises addressed unto the gods. I pray for the third time, in return for this my good intention, the Sun lord of the universe to be propitious to me, and to bestow on me a virtuous life, a more perfect understanding, and a superhuman intellect, and a very easy release from the trammels of life at the time appointed: and after that release, an ascension up to himself, and an abiding place with him, if possible, for all time to come; or if that be too great a recompense for my past life, many and long-continued 37 revolutions around his presence!
[Footnotes renumbered and moved to the end]
9. 1 Julian seems here to have in his mind Plutarch's observation on the true nature of Osiris as identified with Pluto ("De Iside et Osiride," lxxix.): "It disturbs the mind of the vulgar when they get the notion that the sacred and truly holy Osiris dwells in the earth, and under the earth, where are hidden the corpses of such as seem to have come to an end. . . . But the souls of men here below, enveloped in bodies and in passions, have no participation in that deity except in as far as they grasp him by conception, like some indistinct dream, through the medium of philosophy. But when they are set free and migrate to the Formless, Invisible, Impassible, and Good, then doth this god become Leader and King to them; they hang, as it were, upon him, and contemplate without ever being satiated, and long for, that Beauty which can neither be spoken nor described."
16. 1 The Sun and Apollo are one deity in two, but certain powers belong to him when entitled "Dionysos," others when "Musagetes," others again when "Aesculapius." This deity or Natural Power, has the same influence in the universe as the planet Jupiter.
18. 2 Iamblichus, though for the convenience of discussion he assumed a temporal creation, nevertheless thought such assumption a very dangerous one, and not to be attempted by any not passed-masters in philosophy----evidently fearing the advantage such an admission would afford to the Christian side.
25. 1 The Graces, clasping each other round the neck, stand in the form of a circle. Julian, after the fashion of theologians, taking words in the sense they will bear, not in that for which they are meant, makes Bacchus' old title, "joy-giver," as god of wine, take the transcendental meaning of "Giver of the Graces," supposing the god the Solar Power.
27. 1 The Egyptian Neith is regularly depicted as forming, by her own body, bent from one end of the horizon to the other, the actual vault of heaven. In the primitive Nature-worship she represented the visible heavens. The Alexandrian Platonists extracted from the type the re fined doctrine set forth in the text.
31. 1 a)lla_ must have dropped out of the text; for Julian argues that New Year's Day was not fixed at the real solstice, December 21, but at a later day, when the change in the Sun's motion was clearly perceptible to these simple rustics.
37. 1 Before the same soul is again re-united with Matter, and imprisoned in the body: exemption from such thraldom being a reward doled out in measure proportioned to merit during its last probation on earth.