On Infants’ Early Deaths.1 This treatise is written for Hierius, in Gregory’s old age. It has been thought to be spurious (Oudin, p. 605), because of Fronto Ducæus’ insertion (p. 374) about the Purgatorial Fire. But Tillemont, Semler, and Schroeckh have shown that there are no grounds for this opinion. Anastasius Sinaita mentions it (Quæst. xvi.).
Every essayist and every pamphleteer will have you, most Excellent, to display his eloquence upon; your wondrous qualities will be a broad race-course wherein he may expatiate. A noble and suggestive subject in able hands has indeed a way of making a grander style, lifting it to the height of the great reality. We, however, like an aged horse, will remain outside this proposed race-course, only turning the ear to listen for the contest waged in celebrating your praises, if the sound of any literary car careering in full swing through such wonders may reach us. But though old age may compel a horse to remain away from the race, it may often happen that the din of the trampling racers rouses him into excitement, that he lifts his head with eager looks, that he shows his spirit in his breathings, and prances and paws the ground frequently, though this eagerness is all that is left to him, and time has sapped his powers of going. In the same way our pen remains outside the combat, and age compels it to yield the course to the professors who flourish now; nevertheless its eagerness to join the contest about you survives, and that it can still evince, even though these stylists who flourish now are at the height of their powers2 εἴπερ ἡβῶσιν οἱ κατὰ τοὺς νῦν τοῖς λόγοις ἀκμάζοντες. The Latin translator Laurent. Sifanus, I. U. Doct. (Basle, 1562), must have had a different text to this of the Paris Edit.: “si quidem ita floreret ut qui nunc eloquentiâ vigent.”. But none of this display of my enthusiasm for you has anything to do with sounding your own praises: no style, however nervous and well-balanced, would easily succeed there; so that any one, who attempted to describe that embarrassing yet harmonious mixture of opposites in your character, would inevitably be left far behind your real worth. Nature, indeed, by throwing out the shade of the eyelashes before the glaring rays, brings to the eyes themselves a weaker light, and so the sunlight becomes tolerable to us, mingling as it does, in quantities proportionate to our need, with the shadows which the lashes cast. Just so the grandeur and the greatness of your character, tempered by your modesty and humbleness of mind, instead of blinding the beholder’s eye, makes the sight on the contrary a pleasurable one; wherein this humbleness of mind does not occasion the splendour of the greatness to be dimmed, and its latent force to be overlooked; but the one is to be noticed in the other, the humility of your character in its elevation, and the grandeur reversely in the lowliness. Others must describe all this; and extol, besides, the many-sightedness of your mind. Your intellectual eyes are indeed as numerous, it may perhaps be said, as the hairs of the head; their keen unerring gaze is on everything alike; the distant is foreseen; the near is not unnoticed; they do not wait for experience to teach expedience; they see with Hope’s insight, or else with that of Memory; they scan the present all over; first on one thing, then on another, but without confusing them, your mind works with the same energy and with the amount of attention that is required. Another, too, must record his admiration of the way in which poverty is made rich by you; if indeed any one is to be found in this age of ours who will make that a subject of praise and wonder. Yet surely now, if never before, the love of poverty will through you abound, and your ingotten wealth3 πλινθότης, playing upon πλίνθων just above; a word seemingly peculiar to Gregory. We cannot help thinking here of Plato’s definition of the good man, τετράγωνος ἄνευ ψόγου: though the idea here is that of richness rather than shape. will be envied above the ingots of Crœsus. For whom has sea and land, with all the dower of their natural produce, enriched, as thy rejection of worldly abundance has enriched thee? They wipe the stain from steel and so make it shine like silver: so has the gleam of thy life grown brighter, ever carefully cleansed from the rust of wealth. We leave that to those who can enlarge upon it, and also upon your excellent knowledge of the things in which it is more glorious to gain than to abstain from gain. Grant me, however, leave to say, that you do not despise all acquisitions; that there are some which, though none of your predecessors has been able to clutch, yet you and you alone have seized with both your hands; for, instead of dresses and slaves and money, you have and hold the very souls of men, and store them in the treasure-house of your love. The essayists and pamphleteers, whose glory comes from such laudations, will go into these matters. But our pen, veteran as it now is, is to rouse itself only so far as to go at a foot’s pace through the problem which your wisdom has proposed; namely, this—what we are to think of those who are taken prematurely, the moment of whose birth almost coincides with that of their death. The cultured heathen Plato spoke, in the person of one who had come to life again4 i.e.Er the Armenian. See Plato, Repub. x. §614, &c., much philosophy about the judgment courts in that other world; but he has left this other question a mystery, as ostensibly too great for human conjecture to be employed upon. If, then, there is anything in these lucubrations of ours that is of a nature to clear up the obscurities of this question, you will doubtless welcome the new account of it; if otherwise, you will at all events excuse this in old age, and accept, if nothing else, our wish to afford you some degree of pleasure. History5 An anecdote resembling what follows, but not quite the same, is told of Xerxes in Ælian’s Var. Hist. xii. 40. Erasmus also refers to it in his Adagia. says that Xerxes, that great prince who had made almost every land under the sun into one vast camp, and roused with his own designs the whole world, when he was marching against the Greeks received with delight a poor man’s gift; and that gift was water, and that not in a jar, but carried in the hollow of the palm of his hand. So do you, of your innate generosity, follow his example; to him the will made the gift, and our gift may be found in itself but a poor watery thing. In the case of the wonders in the heavens, a man sees their beauty equally, whether he is trained to watch them, or whether he gazes upwards with an unscientific eye; but the feeling towards them is not the same in the man who comes from philosophy to their contemplation, and in him who has only his senses of perception to commit them to; the latter may be pleased with the sunlight, or deem the beauty of stars worthy of his wonder, or have watched the stages of the moon’s course throughout the month; but the former, who has the soul-insight, and whose training has enlightened him so as to comprehend the phenomena of the heavens, leaves unnoticed all these things which delight the senses of the more unthinking, and looks at the harmony of the whole, inspecting the concert which results even from opposite movements in the circular revolutions; how the inner circles of these turn the contrary way to that in which the fixed stars are carried round6 τῇ ἀπλανεῖ περιφορᾷ. This is of course the Ptolemaic system which had already been in vogue two centuries. Sun, and moon, and all, were “planets” round the earth as a centre: until the 8th sphere, in which the stars were fixed, was reached; and above this was the crystalline sphere, under the primum mobile. Cf. Milton, Par. Lost, iii. 481: “They pass the planets seven, and pass the fix’d:” and see note p. 257.; how those of the heavenly bodies to be observed in these inner circles are variously grouped in their approachments and divergements, their disappearances behind each other and their flank movements, and yet effect always precisely in the same way that notable and never-ending harmony; of which those are conscious who do not overlook the position of the tiniest star, and whose minds, by training domiciled above, pay equal attention to them all. In the same way do you, a precious life to me, watch the Divine economy; leaving those objects which unceasingly occupy the minds of the crowd, wealth, I mean, and luxury7 Reading τρυφὴν. The Paris Edit. has τύφον. and vainglory—things which like sunbeams flashing in their faces dazzle the unthinking—you will not pass without inquiry the seemingly most trivial questions in the world; for you do most carefully scrutinize the inequalities in human lives; not only with regard to wealth and penury, and the differences of position and descent (for you know that they are as nothing, and that they owe their existence not to any intrinsic reality, but to the foolish estimate of those who are struck with nonentities, as if they were actual things; and that if one were only to abstract from somebody who glitters with glory the blind adoration8 τὴν μύησιν. of those who gaze at him, nothing would be left him after all the inflated pride which elates him, even though the whole mass of the world’s riches were buried in his cellars), but it is one of your anxieties to know, amongst the other intentions of each detail of the Divine government, wherefore it is that, while the life of one is lengthened into old age, another has only so far a portion of it as to breathe the air with one gasp, and die. If nothing in this world happens without God, but all is linked to the Divine will, and if the Deity is skilful and prudential, then it follows necessarily that there is some plan in these things bearing the mark of His wisdom, and at the same time of His providential care. A blind unmeaning occurrence can never be the work of God; for it is the property of God, as the Scripture says9 Ps. civ. 24., to “make all things in wisdom.” What wisdom, then, can we trace in the following? A human being enters on the scene of life, draws in the air, beginning the process of living with a cry of pain, pays the tribute of a tear to Nature10 ἐλειτούργησε τὸ δάκρυον, just tastes life’s sorrows, before any of its sweets have been his, before his feelings have gained any strength; still loose in all his joints, tender, pulpy, unset; in a word, before he is even human (if the gift of reason is man’s peculiarity, and he has never had it in him), such an one, with no advantage over the embryo in the womb except that he has seen the air, so short-lived, dies and goes to pieces again; being either exposed or suffocated, or else of his own accord ceasing to live from weakness. What are we to think about him? How are we to feel about such deaths? Will a soul such as that behold its Judge? Will it stand with the rest before the tribunal? Will it undergo its trial for deeds done in life? Will it receive the just recompense by being purged, according to the Gospel utterances, in fire, or refreshed with the dew of blessing11 There is introduced at these words in the text of the Paris Edition the following “Explicatio,” in Greek. “Here it is manifest that the father means by the ‘purging fire’ the torments and agonies suffered by those who having sinned have not completed a worthy and adequate repentance, according to the Gospel parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus. For it is clear that he is thinking of this parable when he says, ‘either purged in fire’ (i.e. the Rich Man), ‘or refreshed with the dew of blessing’ (i.e. Lazarus). But that sentence of the Judgment, ‘They shall go, these into everlasting punishment, but the just into life everlasting,’ has no place as yet in these sufferings.” In other words, the commentator sees here the doctrine of Purgatory, as held by the Roman Church. And when we compare the other passages in Gregory about the “cleansing fire,” especially that De Animâ et Resurrectione, 247 B, we shall see that he contemplates the judgment (“the incorruptible tribunal”) as coming not only after the Resurrection, but also after the chastising process. Not till the Judgment will the moral value of each life be revealed; the chastising is a purely natural process. But then the belief in a Judgment coming after everything rather contradicts the Universalism with which he has been charged, for what necessity would there be for it, if the chastising was successful in every instance? With regard to the nature of this “fire,” it is spiritual or material with him according to the context. The invisible natures will be punished with the one, the visible (i.e. the World) with the other: although this destruction is not always preserved by him. See E. Moeller (on Gregory’s Doctrine on Human Nature), p. 100.? But I do not see how we can imagine that, in the case of such a soul. The word “retribution” implies that something must have been previously given; but he who has not lived at all has been deprived of the material from which to give anything. There being, then, no retribution, there is neither good nor evil left to expect. “Retribution” purports to be the paying back of one of these two qualities; but that which is to be found neither in the category of good nor that of bad is in no category at all; for this antithesis between good and bad is an opposition that admits no middle; and neither will come to him who has not made a beginning with either of them. What therefore falls under neither of these heads may be said not even to have existed. But if some one says that such a life does not only exist, but exists as one of the good ones, and that God gives, though He does not repay, what is good to such, we may ask what sort of reason he advances for this partiality; how is justice apparent in such a view; how will he prove his idea in concordance with the utterances in the Gospels? There (the Master) says, the acquisition of the Kingdom comes to those who are deemed worthy of it, as a matter of exchange. “When ye have done such and such things, then it is right that ye get the Kingdom as a reward.” But in this case there is no act of doing or of willing beforehand, and so what occasion is there for saying that these will receive from God any expected recompense? If one unreservedly accepts a statement such as that, to the effect that any so passing into life will necessarily be classed amongst the good, it will dawn upon him then that not partaking in life at all will be a happier state than living, seeing that in the one case the enjoyment of good is placed beyond a doubt even with barbarian parentage, or a conception from a union not legitimate; but he who has lived the span ordinarily possible to Nature gets the pollution of evil necessarily mingled more or less with his life, or, if he is to be quite outside this contagion, it will be at the price of much painful effort. For virtue is achieved by its seekers not without a struggle; nor is abstinence from the paths of pleasure a painless process to human nature. So that one of two probations must be the inevitable fate of him who has had the longer lease of life; either to combat here on Virtue’s toilsome field, or to suffer there the painful recompense of a life of evil. But in the case of infants prematurely dying there is nothing of that sort; but they pass to the blessed lot at once, if those who take this view of the matter speak true. It follows also necessarily from this that a state of unreason is preferable to having reason, and virtue will thereby be revealed as of no value: if he who has never possessed it suffers no loss, so, as regards the enjoyment of blessedness, the labour to acquire it will be useless folly; the unthinking condition will be the one that comes out best from God’s judgment. For these and such-like reasons you bid me sift the matter, with a view to our getting, by dint of a closely-reasoned inquiry, some firm ground on which to rest our thoughts about it.
ΓΡΗΓΟΡΙΟΥ ΕΠΙΣΚΟΠΟΥ ΝΥΣΣΗΣ ΠΡΟΣ ΙΕΡΙΟΝ ΠΕΡΙ ΤΩΝ ΠΡΟ ΩΡΑΣ ΑΝΑΡΠΑΖΟΜΕΝΩΝ ΝΗΠΙΩΝ Σοὶ μέν, ὦ ἄριστε, πάντες σοφισταί τε καὶ λογογράφοι τὴν τοῦ λέγειν πάντως ἐπιδείξονται δύναμιν, οἷόν τινι σταδίῳ τῷ πλάτει τῶν σῶν θαυμάτων ἐνδιαθέοντες: καὶ γάρ πως οἶδεν μεγαλοφωνότερον ποιεῖν τὸν λόγον γενναία τις καὶ ἀμφιλαφὴς προτεθεῖσα τοῖς δυναμένοις ὑπόθεσις, περὶ ἣν ὑψοῦται ὁ λόγος τῷ μεγέθει τῶν πραγμάτων συνεπαιρόμενος: ἡμεῖς δὲ κατὰ τοὺς γηραιοὺς τῶν ἵππων ἔξω τοῦ σταδίου τῆς ὑποθέσεως μένοντες τὸ οὖς μόνον ταῖς ἐπὶ σοὶ τῶν λόγων ἁμίλλαις διαναστήσομεν, εἴ πού τις καὶ μέχρις ἡμῶν φθάσειεν ἦχος σφοδρῷ τε καὶ συντεταμένῳ τῷ ἅλματι διὰ τῶν σῶν θαυμάτων τὸν λόγον ἐλαύνων. ἐπεὶ δὲ συμβαίνει, κἂν ὑπὸ γήρως ἔξω μένῃ τῶν ἀγώνων ὁ ἵππος, πολλάκις αὐτὸν τῷ κτύπῳ τῶν κατακροαινόντων εἰς προθυμίαν διεγειρόμενον τήν τε κεφαλὴν ἀνέχειν καὶ ὁρᾶν ἐναγώνιον πνέειν τε θυμῶδες καὶ ὑποκινεῖν τοὺς πόδας κοινῇ, πυκνῶς τῷ ἐδάφει τὰς ὁπλὰς ἐπαράσσοντα, ᾧ προθυμία μόνη πρὸς τοὺς ἀγῶνάς ἐστιν, ἡ δὲ τοῦ τρέχειν δύναμις προανηλώθη τῷ χρόνῳ: τὸν αὐτὸν τρόπον καὶ ὁ ἡμέτερος λόγος ἐξαγώνιος μένων διὰ τὸ γῆρας καὶ παραχωρῶν τοῦ σταδίου τοῖς ἀκμαίοις κατὰ τὴν παίδευσιν μόνην σοι δείκνυσι τὴν προθυμίαν τοῦ ἐθέλειν ἂν καὶ ἐπὶ σοῦ ἀγωνίσασθαι, εἴπερ ἡβῴη κατὰ τοὺς νῦν τοῖς λόγοις ἀκμάζοντας. ὅση δέ μοι τῆς προθυμίας ἐστὶν ἡ ἐπίδειξις, οὐκ ἐν τῷ διηγήσασθαί τι τῶν σῶν. τούτου γὰρ μόγις ἂν καὶ ὁ σφριγῶν τε καὶ συντεταμένος τύχοι λόγος, ὡς μὴ πολὺ κατόπιν τῆς ἀξίας ἀπολειφθῆναι, ὁ τὴν ἀμήχανον ταύτην ἁρμονίαν τοῦ ἤθους διερμηνεύων ἐκ τῶν ἐναντίων συγκεκραμένην πως. καθάπερ γὰρ ταῖς τῶν βλεφάρων προβολαῖς τὸ τῶν ἀκτίνων ἄκρατον ἡ φύσις ὑποσκιάζουσα κεκραμένον προσάγει τὸ φέγγος τοῖς ὄμμασιν, ὡς ἂν προσηνὴς ὁ ἥλιος γένοιτο πρὸς τὴν ἐκ τῶν βλεφαρίδων σκιὰν συμμέτρως τῇ χρείᾳ κατακιρνάμενος: οὕτως τὸ σεμνόν τε καὶ μεγαλοφυὲς τοῦ ἤθους τῇ ἐμμέτρῳ ταπεινοφροσύνῃ καταμιγνύμενον οὐκ ἀποστρέφει τὰς ὄψεις τῶν προσορώντων, ἀλλὰ δι' ἡδονῆς βλέπειν παρασκευάζει, ὡς μήτε τῆς σεμνότητος τὴν μαρμαρυγὴν ἀμαυροῦσθαι μήτε διὰ ταπεινότητος καταφρονεῖσθαι τὸ ἐνδιάθετον, ἀλλὰ κατὰ τὸ ἴσον ἐν ἑκατέρῳ θεωρεῖσθαι τὸ ἕτερον, ἔν τε τῷ ὑψηλῷ τὴν κοινότητα καὶ ἐν τῷ ταπεινῷ τὸ ἔμπαλιν τὴν σεμνότητα. ἄλλος ταῦτα διεξερχέσθω καὶ τὸ πολυόμματον τῆς ψυχῆς ἀνυμνείτω, ὡς ἰσάριθμοι ταῖς θριξὶ τάχα τῆς κεφαλῆς οἱ τῆς ψυχῆς ὀφθαλμοί, πανταχόθεν ἐπ' ἴσης ὀξύ τε καὶ ἀπλανὲς δεδορκότες, ὥστε πόρρωθέν τε προϊδεῖν καὶ μὴ ἀγνοεῖν ἐκ τοῦ σύνεγγυς μηδὲ τὴν πεῖραν ἀναμένειν τοῦ λυσιτελοῦντος διδάσκαλον, ἀλλὰ τὸ μὲν τοῖς τῶν ἐλπίδων ὀφθαλμοῖς προορᾶν, τὸ δὲ θεωρεῖν διὰ τῆς μνήμης, ἄλλο δὲ κατὰ τὸ ἐνεστὼς ἐν κύκλῳ περιαθρεῖν, πάντα δὲ κατὰ ταὐτὸν ἐνεργεῖν ἀσυγχύτως πάσαις ταῖς τοιαύταις ἐνεργείαις τὸν νοῦν καταλλήλως ἐπιμερίζοντα. τόν τε σεμνὸν τῆς πενίας πλοῦτον θαυμαζέτω πάλιν ἐκεῖνος, εἴ τις ἔστιν ἐν τῷ καθ' ἡμᾶς βίῳ εἰδὼς τὸ τοιοῦτον ἐν ἐπαίνῳ ποιεῖσθαι καὶ θαύματι. τάχα δὲ εἰ καὶ μὴ πρότερον ἦν, ἀλλὰ νῦν διὰ σὲ καὶ πενίας ἀνθήσει πόθος καὶ πρὸ τῶν πολυταλάντων τοῦ Κροίσου πλίνθων ἡ σὴ λιτότης μακαρισθήσεται. τίνα γὰρ μακαριστὸν οὕτως ἀπέδειξε γῆ τε καὶ θάλασσα, ταῖς ἰδίαις ἑκατέρα προσόδοις δεξιουμένη, ὡς τὸν σὸν βίον ἡ πρὸς τὴν ὑλικὴν περιουσίαν ἀποδιάθεσις; ὡς γὰρ οἱ τοῦ σιδήρου τὸν ἰὸν ἀποξέοντες στιλπνὸν αὐτὸν καὶ ἀργυροειδῆ κατεργάζονται, οὕτως σοὶ φανοτέρα γέγονεν ἡ τοῦ βίου ἀκτὶς ἀεὶ δι' ἐπιμελείας τοῦ ἰοῦ τῶν χρημάτων καθαιρομένη. καὶ ταῦτα παρείσθω τοῖς εἰπεῖν δυναμένοις καὶ ὅτι καλῶς ἐπίστασαι, ἐν τίσιν ἐστὶ τὸ λαβεῖν τοῦ καθαρεῦσαι λήμματος ἐνδοξότερον: δὸς γάρ μοι μετὰ παρρησίας εἰπεῖν, ὅτι οὐ πάντων ὑπερορᾷς τῶν λημμάτων, ἀλλ' ὧν οὔπω τις ἅψασθαι τῶν προλαβόντων δεδύνηται, μόνος περιεδράξω διπλῇ τῇ χειρί: ἀντὶ γὰρ ἐσθῆτός τινος ἢ χρημάτων ἢ ἀνδραπόδων αὐτὰς τῶν ἀνθρώπων τὰς ψυχὰς λαβὼν ἔχεις τῷ θησαυρῷ τῆς ἀγάπης ἐναποθέμενος.
Ταῦτα λογογράφοι καὶ σοφισταὶ διεξίτωσαν, οἷς κόσμος καλῶς τὰ τοιαῦτα γράφειν, ὁ δὲ γηραιὸς ἡμῶν λόγος τοσοῦτον ἑαυτὸν ὑποκινείτω, ὅσον βάδην ἐπεξελθεῖν τῷ προτεθέντι ἡμῖν παρὰ τῆς σῆς σοφίας προβλήματι, τί χρὴ γινώσκειν περὶ τῶν πρὸ ὥρας ἀναρπαζομένων, ἐφ' ὧν μικροῦ δεῖν ἡ γένεσις τῷ θανάτῳ συνάπτεται: ἃ καὶ ὁ σοφὸς ἐν τοῖς ἔξω Πλάτων πολλὰ ἐκ προσώπου τοῦ ἀναβεβιωκότος περὶ τῶν ἐκεῖθεν δικαστηρίων φιλοσοφήσας ἀφῆκεν ἀπόρρητα, ὡς κρείττονα ὄντα δηλαδὴ ἢ ὥστε ὑπὸ λογισμὸν ἀνθρώπων ἐλθεῖν. εἰ μὲν οὖν τι τοιοῦτον ἐν τοῖς ἐξητασμένοις ἐστίν, ὡς λύειν τὰς τοῦ προβλήματος ἀμφιβολίας, δέξῃ δηλαδὴ τὸν εὑρεθέντα λόγον, εἰ δὲ μή, συγγνώσῃ πάντως τῷ γήρᾳ, μόνην τὴν προθυμίαν ἡμῶν εἰς τὸ παρασχεῖν τί σοι τῶν κεχαρισμένων ἀποδεξάμενος. καὶ γὰρ τὸν Ξέρξην, ἐκεῖνον τὸν πᾶσαν τὴν ὑφ' ἡλίῳ μικροῦ δεῖν ἓν στρατόπεδον ποιησάμενον καὶ πᾶσαν ἑαυτῷ συγκινοῦντα τὴν οἰκουμένην, ὅτε κατὰ τῶν Ἑλλήνων ἐστράτευσε, μεθ' ἡδονῆς δέξασθαί φησιν ὁ λόγος πένητός τινος δῶρον. ὕδωρ δὲ τὸ ξένιον ἦν καὶ τοῦτο οὐκ ἐν κεράμῳ φερόμενον, ἀλλ' ἐν τῷ κοίλῳ τῆς τῶν χειρῶν παλάμης περιεχόμενον. οὕτως οὖν καὶ σὺ κατὰ τὴν προσοῦσάν σοι μεγαλοφυΐαν μιμήσῃ πάντως ἐκεῖνον, ᾧ δῶρον ἐγένετο ἡ προαίρεσις, εἴπερ ἡμῶν βραχύ τε καὶ ὑδατῶδες εὑρεθείη τὸ δῶρον.
Ὥσπερ ἐπὶ τῶν οὐρανίων θαυμάτων ὁρᾷ μὲν ἐπ' ἴσης τὰ φαινόμενα κάλλη κἂν πεπαιδευμένος κἂν ἰδιώτης τύχῃ τις ὢν ὁ πρὸς τὸν οὐρανὸν ἀναβλέπων, διανοεῖται δὲ τὰ περὶ αὐτῶν οὐχ ὁμοίως ὅ τε ἀπὸ φιλοσοφίας ὁρμώμενος καὶ ὁ μόναις ταῖς αἰσθήσεσι τὸ φαινόμενον ἐπιτρέπων (οὗτος μὲν γὰρ ἢ ταῖς ἀκτῖσιν ἥδεται τοῦ ἡλίου ἢ τὸ κάλλος τῶν ἄστρων θαύματος ἄξιον κρίνει ἢ τὸν ἀριθμὸν τοῦ σεληναίου δρόμου ἐπὶ τοῦ μηνὸς παρετήρησεν, ὁ δὲ διορατικὸς τὴν ψυχὴν καὶ διὰ παιδεύσεως πρὸς τὴν κατανόησιν τῶν οὐρανίων κεκαθαρμένος, καταλιπὼν ταῦτα δι' ὧν εὐφραίνεται τῶν ἀλογωτέρων ἡ αἴσθησις, πρὸς τὴν τοῦ παντὸς ἁρμονίαν βλέπει καὶ ἐκ τῆς ἐγκυκλίου κινήσεως τὴν ἐκ τῶν ἐναντίων εὐαρμοστίαν ἐπισκοπεῖ: πῶς τῇ ἀπλανεῖ περιφορᾷ οἱ ἐντὸς κύκλοι πρὸς τὸ ἔμπαλιν ἀνελίσσονται, πῶς τὰ ἐν αὐτοῖς θεωρούμενα τῶν ἄστρων πολυειδῶς σχηματίζεται, ἐν προσεγγισμοῖς τε καὶ ἀποστάσεσι καὶ ὑποδρομαῖς τε καὶ ἐκλείψεσι καὶ ταῖς ἐπὶ τὰ πλάγια παραδρομαῖς τὴν ἀδιάλειπτον ἐκείνην ἁρμονίαν ἀεὶ κατὰ τὰ αὐτὰ καὶ ὡσαύτως ἐξεργαζόμενα: οἷς οὐδὲ τοῦ βραχυτάτου τῶν ἄστρων ἡ θέσις ἀθεώρητος περιορᾶται, ἀλλὰ πάντα τὴν ἴσην παρέχει φροντίδα τοῖς διὰ τῆς σοφίας ἐπὶ τὰ ἄνω τὸν νοῦν μετοικίσασι): τὸν αὐτὸν τρόπον καὶ σύ, ὦ τιμία μοι κεφαλή, τὴν ἐν τοῖς οὖσι τοῦ θεοῦ οἰκονομίαν βλέπων, ἀφεὶς ἐκεῖνα περὶ ἃ τῶν πολλῶν ἄσχολός ἐστιν ἡ διάνοια (πλοῦτον λέγω καὶ τῦφον καὶ δόξης ἐπιθυμίαν κενῆς, ἅπερ ἄντικρυς ἀκτίνων δίκην περιαστράπτοντα τοὺς ἀλογωτέρους ἐκπλήττειν εἴωθεν), οὐδὲ τὰ δοκοῦντα μικρότερα τῶν ἐν τοῖς οὖσι θεωρουμένων ἀνεξέταστα καταλείπεις ἀνερευνῶν τε καὶ διασκοπούμενος τὴν ἀνωμαλίαν τῆς ἀνθρωπίνης ζωῆς, οὐ μόνον τὴν κατὰ πλοῦτον καὶ πενίαν θεωρουμένην ἢ τὰς κατὰ τὰ ἀξιώματα καὶ τὰ γένη διαφοράς (οἶδας γὰρ ἀντ' οὐδενὸς εἶναι ταῦτα οἷς τὸ εἶναι οὐ καθ' ὑπόστασιν οἰκείαν ἐστίν, ἀλλ' ἐν τῇ ματαίᾳ ὑπολήψει τῶν τοῖς μὴ οὖσιν ὡς ὑφεστῶσι προσκεχηνότων: εἰ γοῦν τις ἀφέλοιτο τοῦ λαμπρυνομένου τῇ δόξῃ τῶν εἰς αὐτὸν βλεπόντων τὴν οἴησιν, οὐδὲν ὑπολειφθήσεται τῷ μεγαλοφρονοῦντι ἐπὶ τῷ διακένῳ φυσήματι, κἂν πᾶσα τῶν χρημάτων ἡ ὕλη παρ' αὐτῷ κατορωρυγμένη τύχῃ), ἀλλά σοι διὰ φροντίδος ἐστὶ γνῶναι τά τε ἄλλα τῆς θείας οἰκονομίας, πρὸς ὅ τι τῶν γινομένων ἕκαστον βλέπει, καὶ τίνος χάριν τῷ μὲν εἰς γῆρας μακρὸν παρατείνεται ἡ ζωή, ὁ δὲ τοσοῦτον μετέχει τοῦ ζῆν, ὅσον δι' ἀναπνοῆς τὸν ἀέρα σπάσαι καὶ εὐθὺς καταλῆξαι τοῦ βίου. εἰ γὰρ οὐδὲν ἀθεεὶ τῶν ἐν τῷ κόσμῳ γινομένων ἐστί, πάντα δὲ τῆς θείας ἐξῆπται βουλήσεως, σοφὸν δὲ καὶ προνοητικὸν τὸ θεῖον, πάντως τις ἔπεστι καὶ τούτοις λόγος, τῆς σοφίας ἅμα τοῦ θεοῦ καὶ τῆς προνοητικῆς ἐπιμελείας τὰ γνωρίσματα φέρων: τὸ γὰρ εἰκῇ τι καὶ ἀλόγως γινόμενον οὐκ ἂν ἔργον εἴη θεοῦ: θεοῦ γὰρ ἴδιον, καθώς φησιν ἡ γραφή, τὸ Πάντα ἐν σοφίᾳ ποιεῖν. τί οὖν τὸ σοφὸν ἐν ἐκείνῳ; παρῆλθε διὰ γεννήσεως εἰς τὸν βίον ὁ ἄνθρωπος, ἔσπασε τὸν ἀέρα, ἀπὸ οἰμωγῆς τοῦ ζῆν ἤρξατο, ἐλειτούργησε τῇ φύσει τὸ δάκρυον, ἀπήρξατο τῷ βίῳ τῶν θρήνων, πρίν τινος μετασχεῖν τῶν κατὰ τὸν βίον ἡδέων: πρὶν τονωθῆναι τὴν αἴσθησιν, ἔτι λελυμένος τὰς τῶν μελῶν ἁρμονίας, ἁπαλός τε καὶ διακεχυμένος καὶ ἀδιάρθρωτος, καὶ τὸ ὅλον εἰπεῖν πρὶν γενέσθαι ἄνθρωπος (εἴπερ ἀνθρώπου ἴδιον ἡ λογικὴ χάρις ἐστίν, ὁ δὲ οὔπω ἐν ἑαυτῷ τὸν λόγον ἐχώρησεν), οὗτος ὁ μηδὲν πλέον ἔχων τοῦ ἔτι ἐν τῇ μητρῴᾳ νηδύϊ συνεχομένου πλὴν τὸ ἐν ἀέρι γενέσθαι ἐν τούτῳ τῆς ἡλικίας ὢν διὰ θανάτου λύεται ἢ ἐκτεθεὶς ἢ καταπνιγεὶς ἢ κατὰ τὸ αὐτόματον δι' ἀρρωστίας τοῦ ζῆν παυσάμενος: τί χρὴ περὶ αὐτοῦ ἐννοεῖν; πῶς περὶ τῶν οὕτω τετελευτηκότων ἔχειν; ὄψεται ἆρα κἀκείνη ἡ ψυχὴ τὸν κριτήν; παραστήσεται μετὰ τῶν ἄλλων τῷ βήματι; ὑφέξει τῶν βεβιωμένων τὴν κρίσιν; λήψεται τὴν κατ' ἀξίαν ἀντίδοσιν ἢ πυρὶ καθαιρομένη κατὰ τὰς τοῦ εὐαγγελίου φωνὰς ἢ τῇ δρόσῳ τῆς εὐλογίας ἐναναψύχουσα;
Ἀλλ' οὐκ οἶδα, ὅπως χρὴ ταῦτα περὶ τῆς τοιαύτης ἐννοῆσαι ψυχῆς: τὸ γὰρ τῆς ἀντιδόσεως ὄνομα τὸ χρῆναί τι πάντως προπαρασχεθῆναι σημαίνει, τοῦ δὲ μὴ βεβιωκότος ὅλως ἡ ὕλη τοῦ τι παρασχεῖν προαφῄρηται: ἐφ' ὧν δὲ δόσις οὐκ ἔστιν, οὐδὲ ἀντίδοσις κυρίως ὀνομασθήσεται. μὴ οὔσης δὲ τῆς ἀντιδόσεως, οὔτε ἀγαθόν ἐστιν οὔτε κακὸν τὸ κατ' ἐλπίδα προκείμενον: τὸ γὰρ ὄνομα τοῦτο τῶν καθ' ἑκάτερον νοουμένων τὴν ἀμοιβὴν ἐπαγγέλλεται: τὸ δὲ μήτε ἐν ἀγαθῷ μήτε ἐν κακῷ εὑρισκόμενον ἐν οὐδενὶ πάντως ἐστίν: ἄμεσος γὰρ ἡ τῆς τοιαύτης ἀντιθέσεως ἐναντιότης, ἡ τοῦ ἀγαθοῦ καὶ τοῦ κακοῦ λέγω, ὧν οὐθέτερον ἔσται τῷ μὴ θατέρου κατάρξαντι. τὸ οὖν ἐν μηδενὶ ὂν οὐδ' ἂν εἶναί τις εἴποι ὅλως. εἰ δέ τις τὸ τοιοῦτον καὶ εἶναι λέγοι καὶ ἐν ἀγαθοῖς εἶναι, διδόντος, οὐκ ἀποδιδόντος τοῦ θεοῦ τὰ ἀγαθὰ τοῖς τοιούτοις, ποίαν λέγει τῆς ἀποκληρώσεως ταύτης αἰτίαν; ποῦ τὸ δίκαιον συναποδείξει τῷ λόγῳ; πῶς δὲ ταῖς εὐαγγελικαῖς φωναῖς σύμφωνον δείξει τὸ νόημα; ἐκεῖ συναλλαγματικήν τινα τῆς βασιλείας τὴν ἐμπορίαν τοῖς ἀξιουμένοις προσγίνεσθαι λέγει: ἐπειδὴ γὰρ τὸ καὶ τό, φησί, πεποιήκατε, τὴν βασιλείαν ἀντιλαβεῖν ἐστε δίκαιοι. ἐνταῦθα δὲ μηδεμιᾶς μήτε πράξεως μήτε προαιρέσεως ὑπούσης, τίνα καιρὸν ἔχει καὶ τούτοις παρὰ τοῦ θεοῦ γίνεσθαι λέγειν τὸ ἐξ ἀμοιβῆς ἐλπιζόμενον; εἰ δέ τις ἀβασανίστως τὸν τοιοῦτον δέξεται λόγον, ὡς πάντως ἐν ἀγαθοῖς ἐσομένου τοῦ παρελθόντος οὕτως ἐπὶ τὸν βίον, ἐκ τούτου μακαριστότερον ἀναφανήσεται τῆς ζωῆς τὸ μὴ μετέχειν ζωῆς, εἴπερ ἐκείνῳ μὲν ἀναμφίβολος ἡ τῶν ἀγαθῶν μετουσία, κἂν βαρβάρων τύχῃ γονέων καὶ μὴ νενομισμένῳ κυηθῇ γάμῳ, τῷ δὲ βεβιωκότι τὸν χωρητόν τε καὶ νόμιμον τῇ φύσει χρόνον πάντως ἢ πλέον ἢ ἔλαττον ὁ τῆς κακίας μολυσμὸς τῇ ζωῇ καταμίγνυται, ἤ, εἰ μέλλοι παντελῶς τῆς πρὸς τὸ κακὸν κοινωνίας ἐκτὸς εἶναι, πολλῶν αὐτῷ δεῖ ἱδρώτων πρὸς αὐτὸ τοῦτο καὶ πόνων: οὐ γὰρ ἀκμητὶ κατορθοῦται τοῖς μετιοῦσιν ἡ ἀρετὴ οὐδὲ ἄπονός ἐστι τοῖς ἀνθρώποις ἡ τῶν καθ' ἡδονὴν ἀλλοτρίωσις: ὥστε ἑνὶ τῶν ἀνιαρῶν ἐξ ἀμφοτέρων συνενεχθῆναι δεῖν πάντως τὸν μετασχόντα τοῦ χρονιωτέρου βίου, ἢ νῦν τῷ ἐπιπόνῳ τῆς ἀρετῆς ἐναθλοῦντα ἢ τότε διὰ τὴν ἐν κακίᾳ ζωὴν τῇ ἀντιδόσει τῶν ἀλγεινῶν ὀδυνώμενον: ἐπὶ δὲ τῶν ἀώρων τοιοῦτόν ἐστιν οὐδέν, ἀλλ' εὐθὺς ἡ ἀγαθὴ λῆξις τοὺς ἐν ἀωρίᾳ μεταστάντας ἐκδέχεται, εἴπερ ἀληθεύει τῶν οὕτως ὑπειληφότων ὁ λόγος. οὐκοῦν ἐκ τοῦ ἀκολούθου καὶ τοῦ λόγου προτιμοτέρα δειχθήσεται ἡ ἀλογία καὶ ἡ ἀρετὴ οὐδενὸς ἀξία διὰ τούτων ἀναφανήσεται: εἰ γὰρ μηδεμία γέγονε ζημία πρὸς τὴν τῶν ἀγαθῶν μετουσίαν τῷ μὴ μετασχόντι τῆς ἀρετῆς, μάταιον ἂν εἴη τὸ περὶ ταύτην πονεῖν καὶ ἀνόνητον, τῆς ἀλόγου καταστάσεως ἐν τῇ τοῦ θεοῦ κρίσει προτερευούσης.
Ταῦτα σὺ πάντα καὶ τὰ τοιαῦτα διανοούμενος ἐξετάσαι τὸν περὶ τούτου λόγον διεκελεύσω, ὡς ἂν ἡμῖν διὰ τῆς ἀκολούθου ζητήσεως ἐπί τινος βεβαίου νοήματος ἡ περὶ αὐτοῦ ἱδρυθείη διάνοια.