The Second Part
Treatise about the Planting of Noah.
I. In the former part of this treatise we have spoken of the art of husbandry as to its genus, dwelling on it at as great a length as the time admitted of; but in this book we will discuss the question of his cultivation of his vineyard with regard to the species as far as it is in our power. For Moses represents the just Noah not only as a husbandman, but also especially as occupied with the cultivation of vines, saying, "Noah began to be a husbandman of the earth; and he planted a vineyard." [Genesis 9:20.] And it is fitting that a man who was about to discuss the whole question of separate plants and manners of cultivation, should first of all acquire an accurate comprehension of the most perfect plants in the universe, and of the great planter and superintendent of them.
He then who is the greatest of all planters and the most perfect in art, is the Ruler of the universe; and his plant is not one which comprises within itself only individual plants, but rather infinite numbers of them springing up like suckers from one root, namely, this world. For after the Creator of the world, reducing that substance, which was in its own nature destitute of order and regularity, into a state of order, and bringing it from a condition of confusion into a distinct system, began to fashion and shape it, he placed the earth and the water in the middle, and the plants of air and fire he drew up from their previously central position to a lofty eminence; and the aether he arranged all round, placing it as a boundary to and preservation of the things within, from which also it seems that the heaven [ouranos, "heaven;" as if derived from horos or houros, "a boundary"] derives its name, causing the earth to be borne upon the water in such a way that it continues dry, which, however, there was reason to fear might be dissolved by water; and this great worker of marvels, moreover, united the air, which was exceedingly cold by its own nature, to fire which is very hot; a most surprising miracle. For how can it be looked upon as anything but a prodigy, for that which would dissolve another thing, to be held together by that which it would dissolve: that is to say, for water to be held together by earth; and again, for that which is the hottest of all things to be placed upon that which is the coldest without its nature being destroyed, that is to say, for fire to be placed upon air? And these are the elements of this most perfect plant; but the very great and all productive plant is this world, of which the aforesaid branches are the main shoots.
II. We must now therefore consider where God placed its foundations, and in fact, what foundation it has on which it is supported, as a statue is on a pedestal; certainly we cannot imagine that any body is left outside and wandering about, since God has worked up and arranged every imaginable material throughout the whole universe. For it was fitting that the most perfect and greatest of all works should be made by the greatest of all makers; and it would not have been the most perfect of works if it had not been filled up by perfect parts, so that this world consists of all earth, and all water, and all air, and all fire, not a single particle, no not the smallest imaginable atom, being omitted.
It follows therefore of necessity, that what is outside must either be a vacuum or nothing at all. If now it is a vacuum, than how can that which is full and solid, and the heaviest of all things, avoid being pressed down by its own weight, since there is no solid thing to hold it up? from which consideration it would appear to be something like a vision, since the mind is always seeking for some corporeal foundation, such as everything which is moved, must of necessity have: and especially the world, inasmuch as it is the greatest of all bodies, and embraces a multitude of other bodies as it sown appropriate parts.
If therefore any one wishes to escape from the difficulties of this question which present themselves in the different doubts thus raised, let him speak freely and say that there is nothing in any material of such power as to be able to support this weight of the world. But it is the eternal law of the everlasting God which is the most supporting and firm foundation of the universe. This it is which, being extended from the center of the borders, and again from the extremities to the center, runs through the whole unsubdued course of nature, collecting all the parts and binding them firmly together; for the father who created them has made it the indissoluble bond of the universe. Very naturally and appropriately therefore, all earth will not be dissolved by all water, which the bosom of the earth contains, nor will fire be extinguished by air, nor again will air be burnt up by fire, since the divine law establishes itself as a boundary to all these elements, like a vowel among consonants, so that the universe may, as it were, be harmonious in concert with the music expressed by letters; persuasion, by its own authority, putting an end to the threatening conflicts of contrary natures.
III. Thus then the plant which bears all things was rooted, and when it was rooted was made strong. But of the particular plants, and those of smaller growth, some were moveable, so as to have their places changed; and some were made so as, without any such change, to stand steadily in the same place. Those then that are affected by motion, inducing change of place, which we call animals, are attached to the most important portions of the universe; the terrestrial animals to the earth, the animals which swim to the water, the winged animals to the air and those which can live in the flame to the fire (which last are said to be most evidently produced in Macedonia), and the stars are attached to the heaven. For those who have studied philosophy pronounce the stars also to be animals, being endowed with intellect and pervading the whole universe; some being planets, and moving by their own intrinsic nature; and others, that is the fixed stars, being borne along with the revolutions of the universe; so that they likewise appear to change their places. But those which are regulated according to a nature devoid of all sensation, which are peculiarly called plants, have no participation in that motion which involves a change of place.
IV. But the Creator made two different races on the earth and in the air. In the air, he made the winged animals capable of being perceived by the external senses, and other powers which can by no means be comprehended in any place by the external senses; and this is the company of incorporeal souls arranged in order, but not in the same classifications. For it is said that some are assigned to mortal bodies, and are again subjected to a change of place according to certain defined periodical revolutions; but that others which have received a more divinely prepared habitation, look down upon the region of the earth, and that in the highest place, near the other itself, the purest souls are placed, which those who have studied philosophy among the Greeks call heroes, but which Moses, by a felicitous appellation, entitles angels; souls which go as ambassadors and messengers of good from the ruler of all things to his subjects, and messengers also to the king respecting those things of which his subjects have heard. To the earth again he assigned two classes, terrestrial animals and plants, wishing that she should be at the same time their mother and their nurse. For, as in the case of woman and every animal of the female sex, fountains of milk spring up in them when they are about to bring forth, in order that they may supply the offspring that is born of them with necessary and suitable food; so in a similar manner God has assigned to the earth, which is the mother of all terrestrial animals, all the different species of plants, in order that the animals produced by the earth may have such food as is akin to them, and not alien from their natures.
And, indeed, God has caused plants to grow with their heads downwards, having fixed their heads in the deepest parts of the earth; and having drawn up the heads of the irrational animals from the earth, he has set them up high on long necks, putting their fore feet under their necks as a kind of foundation. But man has received a pre-eminently superior formation. For of all other animals God has bent the eyes downwards, so that they look upon the ground; but on the other hand, he has raised the eyes of man so that he may behold the heaven, being not a terrestrial but a celestial plant as the old proverb is.
V. But the others who say that our mind is a portion of the ethereal nature, have by this assertion attributed to man a kindred with the air; but the great Moses has not named the species of the rational soul by a title resembling that of any created being, but has pronounced it an image of the divine and invisible being, making it a coin as it were of sterling metal, stamped and impressed with the seal of God, the impression of which is the eternal word. For, says Moses, "God breathed into man's face the breath of life," [Genesis 2:7] so that it follows of necessity, that he that received the breath must be fashioned after the model of him who sent it forth. On which account it is said too, that "Man was made after the image of God," [Genesis 1:27] and not after the image of any created being. It follows, therefore, since the soul of man has been fashioned in accordance with the archetypal word of the great cause of all things, that his body also, having been raised up to the purest portion of the universe -- the heaven, must extend its vision, in order that, by a comparison with what is visible, it may attain to an accurate comprehension of what is invisible.
Since, therefore, it was impossible for any one to perceive the attraction of the mind to the living God, except for those persons alone who were drawn towards him (for that which each person suffers, he alone particularly knows), God has given us the eyes of the body (as an evident and visible image of the invisible eye), which are able to look up to the heaven; for when the eyes, composed of perishable material, have raised themselves to such a height, as to be able from the region of the earth to mount up to heaven which is removed at so great a distance from the earth, and to reach its utmost heights, how great a course in every direction must we suppose to be within the power of the eyes of the soul? which, being endowed with wings from their excessive desire to see the living God clearly, reach up not only to the highest regions of the air, but even pass over the boundaries of the whole world, and hasten towards the Uncreated.
VI. On this account, those persons who are insatiable in their desire for wisdom and knowledge are said in the sacred oracles to be "called up." [Exodus 19:20.] For it is legitimate that those persons should be called up to the Deity who have been inspired by him. For it would be a terrible thing if whirlwinds and hurricanes have power to tear trees up by their roots, and to toss them in the air, and to carry off vessels of many tons' burden, though loaded with cargoes, as if they were the lightest things imaginable, out of the middle of the sea; and if even lakes and rivers are raised on high, when their streams actually leave the bosom of the earth, having been drawn up by the ardent and diversified eddies of the winds: and yet, if the mind, which is intrinsically light, cannot be raised up by the nature of the Divine Spirit, which is able to do everything and to subdue all things below, and cannot be elevated to an exceeding height; and especially the mind of the man who studies philosophy in a genuine manner. For he does not incline downwards to the things dear to the body and to the earth, from which he separates himself, and studies to alienate himself as far as possible but he is borne upwards, being insatiably devoted to sublime, holy, magnificent, and happy natures.
Therefore, also, Moses will be summoned upwards, the steward and guardian of the sacred mysteries of the living God. For we read in the book of Leviticus, "He called Moses up to him." [Exodus 31:2 is the passage alluded to, and not any verse in Leviticus.] Bezeleel also will be summoned up, being thought worthy of the same honors. For him, also, God calls up for the preparation of the sacred furniture and for the care of the sacred works. But he receives only the second honor of this summons, and the all-wise Moses shall have the first place assigned to him. For the former fashions shadows only, like painters do, in which it is not right to form any living thing. For the very name Bezeleel is interpreted to mean, "working in shadows." But Moses does not make shadows, but the task is assigned to him of forming the archetypal natures of things themselves. And in other places, also, the great Cause of all things is accustomed to reveal his secrets to some in a more conspicuous and visible manner, as if in the pure light of the sun, and to others more sparely, as though in the shade.
VII. Having therefore gone through all the larger plants in the universe, let us see in what manner the all-wise God made the trees which exist in the smaller world, that is to say, in man. In the first place, then, taking our body as if it were a field of deep soil, he created the external senses to be in it as so many channels. And after that, he arranged the place of each separate one of them, as if it had been a fruit-bearing and most useful tree, assigning the sense of hearing to the ear, that of sight to the eyes, that of smell to the nostrils, and each of the other senses and faculties to their kindred and appropriate organs. And the divine man bears his testimony to this account of mine, speaking thus in his Psalms, "He that planted the ear, doth he not hear? and he that made the eyes, shall he not see?" [Psalm 94:9.] Moreover, all the different powers which run down as far as the legs and hands, and all the other parts of the body, whether internal or external, are all those of an unimportant kind. But those which are better and more perfect he has rooted in the more central portion; that which is pre-eminently able to bring forth fruit, the dominant portion of the man. These faculties are perception, comprehension, felicity of conjecture, study, memory, habit, disposition, the various species of art, the firmness of knowledge of different things, the apprehension of the speculations of universal virtue in such a way as is never forgotten. Now, no mortal is competent to plant any one of these things himself. But of all of them together there is one architect, the uncreated God, who has not only made them originally, but who also makes them for and implants them in every individual man that is born.
VIII. Now the account of the planting of Paradise is consistent with what has been already said. For it is stated, "God planted a Paradise in Eden, towards the east; and there is placed the man whom he has made." [Genesis 2:8.] Now, to think that it is here meant that God planted vines, or olive trees, or apple trees, or pomegranates, or any trees of such kinds, is mere incurable folly. For why should he have done so? any one may ask. Was it that he might have a pleasant abode to spend his time in? Even the whole world could not be considered a dwelling sufficient for God, the governor of the universe. Would it not appear to be deficient in innumerable other things, so that it could never be looked upon as a place worthily suited to the reception of the great King? True, indeed, it is impiety to think that the Cause of all things can be contained in that which he has caused, especially as even those trees do not invariably bear their annual fruit.
For whose enjoyment and use, then, is it that the Paradise is to produce fruit? For that of no man. For there is absolutely no one at all who is represented as inhabiting the Paradise, since Moses says that God removed the first man who was created out of the earth, by name Adam, from his original place, and placed him here. And, moreover, God has no need of food any more than he has of anything else; for it follows necessarily that he who uses food must first of all stand in need of it. And in the second place, that he must have organs adapted for the reception of it, by means of which he can receive it when it enters him; and then dismiss it from him when he has digested it. But all these things, which are parts of the happiness and blessedness which surround the Great Cause of all things, are inconsistent with the doctrine of those men who represent him as clothed with human form, and influenced by human passions to the utter destruction of all piety and religious feeling -- both great virtues; such notions being contrary to all law and right.
IX. We must therefore have recourse to allegory, which is a favorite with men capable of seeing through it; for the sacred oracles most evidently conduct us towards and instigate us to the pursuit of it. For they say that in the Paradise there were plants in no respect similar to those which exist among us; but they speak of trees of life, trees of immortality, trees of knowledge, of comprehension, of understanding; trees of the knowledge of good and evil. Now these cannot have been trees of the land, but must indisputably have been plants of a rational soil, which was a road to travel along, leading to virtue, and having for its end life and immortality; and another road leading to vice, having for its end the loss of life and immortality, that is to say, death.
Therefore, we must suppose that the bounteous God plants in the soul, as it were, a paradise of virtues and of the actions in accordance with them, which lead it to perfect happiness. On this account, also, he has assigned a most appropriate place to the Paradise, called Eden (and the name Eden, being interpreted, means "delight"), an emblem of the soul, which sees right things, and revels amid the virtues, and exults by reason of the abundance and magnitude of its joy; proposing to itself one source of enjoyment in the place of the innumerable things which are accounted pleasant among men, namely the service of the one wise God. He, then, who had drunk of this unmixed source of joy, and was a follower of and fellow rejoicer with Moses, and not one of the least valued of that body, in his Psalms addressed his own mind, saying, "Delight thou in the Lord." [Psalm 37:4.] Exciting himself and his mind towards heavenly and divine love by these words, and indignantly turning away from the luxury and effeminacy existing among what are called and believed to be human goods; and being hurried away in his whole heart by divine inspiration and fervor, and finding his joy in God alone.
X. And the statement that "the Paradise was in the east," is a proof of what has been here said. For folly is a thing of darkness and setting, and which brings on the night; but wisdom is a most brilliant thing, radiant all around, and in the truest sense of the word, rising. And, as the sun, when it arises, fills the whole circle of the heaven with its light, so in the same manner, when the beams of virtue shine forth, they made the whole place occupied by the mind full of pure light. Therefore the possessions of man have guards and keepers, very fierce beasts, for the repulse of invading and attacking enemies. But the possessions of God have rational natures for their guards. For "there," says Moses, "God placed the man whom he had made;" that is to say, he placed him among the rational virtues alone; therefore the practices and uses of the virtues have received from God this especial honor beyond the souls of other animals. And therefore, also, it is most expressly and plainly declared that God placed that man which is really man in us, namely, the mind, among the most sacred shoots and plants of excellence and virtue. But among those animals which have no share in mind, no one has ever cultivated any plant worth speaking of, since there is not one of them capable by nature of receiving comprehension.
XI. We cannot therefore raise any question as to why it was ordained that all the different species of animals should be collected in the ark which was made at the time of the great deluge, while more were brought into the Paradise. For the ark was an emblem of the body, which of necessity therefore contained all the most tameable and ferocious evils of the passions and vices; but the Paradise contained only the virtues: and the virtues do not receive anything savage or in short anything destitute of reason. And Moses also speaks very carefully, not representing the man who was made after God's own image, but the man who was formed of clay, as the one who was placed in the paradise. For the one who was made after the image of God, and stamped with the truth of God, does, as it appears to me, in no respect differ from the tree which bore as its fruit everlasting life. For they are both imperishable, and have both been thought worthy of the most central position in the dominant part of man. For it is said that "the tree of life is in the midst of the Paradise."
But the other man, he of the composite and more earthly body, who has no justification in uncreated and simple nature, the cultivator of which is the only person who knows how to dwell in the house and in the courts of the Lord. For Jacob is represented "as a plain man dwelling in a house," [Genesis 25:27, where the expression, however, is "dwelling in tents."] having a disposition full of ingenuity, and compounded and made up of all kinds of materials. It was natural therefore to place and firmly root the mind in the middle of the paradise, that is, of the universal world, having in itself faculties which draw it in contrary directions, so that it should be kept in a state of doubt when called upon to discriminate as to what it should choose and what it should avoid, since if it chose the better part it would reap immortality and glory; and if it chose the worse it would meet with reproach and death.
XII. Such then are the trees which the only wise God has planted in rational souls. But Moses, pitying those who were exiled and compelled to quit the paradise of the virtues, addresses a prayer to the absolute authority of God and to his merciful and propitious powers, entreating that in the place from which the earthly mind, Adam, was banished, there a people capable of seeing the truth might be planted. For he says, "Bring them in and plant them in the mountain of thy inheritance which thou dost give them; thou hast made them to sit in thy seat, O Lord; in the sanctuary, O Lord, which they hands have made. The Lord shall be king of ages, for ever and ever." [Exodus 15:17.]
Therefore he had learnt, as plainly as any man that ever lived, that God, having fixed the roots and seeds of everything down in the earth, is the cause also of the greatest of all plants, namely this world, shooting up; which world he here seems to speak of enigmatically in the song which I have just quoted, where he calls it the mountain of his inheritance; since that which is made is the most appropriate possession and inheritance, of him who has made it. Therefore he prays that we may be planted in it, not in order that we may become irrational and unmanageable in our natures; but that, in due obedience to the arrangement of the all-perfect governor, imitating his perpetual and undeviating consistency, we may live a temperate and innocent life. For to be able to live in a strict uniformity with nature, is what the man of old have defined as the end of happiness.
And accordingly what is said afterwards is in strict agreement with what is said before, namely, that the world is the beautiful and properly prepared house of God, appreciable by the external senses; and that he himself made it and that it is not uncreated, as some persons have thought. And he uses the word "sanctuary," as meaning a splendor emitted from holy objects, an imitation of the archetypal model; since those things which are beautiful to the external senses are to the intellectual senses models of what is beautiful.
The expression that "it was prepared by the hands of God," means that it was made by his world-creating powers. But in order that no one may suppose that the Creator had need of any one of the things which he created, he adds the most necessary assertion, "Being King of ages for ever and ever." But a king is in need of nothing, but everything which is subject to him is inevitably in need of the king. And some persons have said that God is and is properly called the inheritance of God, the use and enjoyment of which Moses has now prayed may be afforded to us. For, says he, representing us as children just beginning to learn by means of the doctrines and speculations of wisdom, and not leaving us destitute of the elements of knowledge, plant them in sublime and heavenly reason. For this is the most thoroughly prepared inheritance; the house most completely ready, the abode most entirely suitable, which "thou hast made holy." For, O master, thou art the maker of all good and holy things, as, on the other hand, corruptible creation is of what is evil and profane. Reign thou throughout infinite eternity over the suppliant soul; not leaving it for a single moment without a governor. For an uninterrupted service under them is not only better than freedom, but even than the most extensive dominion.
XIII. In many people perhaps an inquiry may suggest itself as to what is the meaning of the expression, "In the mountain of thy inheritance." It is plain that God bestows inheritance, but perhaps it is not reasonable to think that he receives inheritances, since everything in the world belongs to him. But perhaps this is said of those who are subject to him as their master, according to some special computation of connection; just as kings govern indeed all their subjects, but rule their own servants in a different and peculiar manner, whom they are accustomed to employ as ministers for the care of their bodies and the rest of their manner of life. And again, though they are lords of all the possessions in their whole country, even of those which appear to belong to private individuals, they nevertheless are accounted owners only of those portions which they can entrust to superintendents and overseers, from whom they receive yearly revenues, which properties they often visit for the sake of relaxation and amusement, when they lay aside for a while the heaviest portion of the burden of the cares which arise to them in the administration of public affairs and in the government of their kingdoms; and these possessions are called especially the royal properties.
Moreover all the silver and gold, and other treasures which are stored up in the coffers of their subjects, do all in reality belong more to the rulers than to those who possess them. But nevertheless there are some which are peculiarly called the royal treasures, in which those who are appointed collectors of the produce lay up the revenues which are derived from the country. Do not wonder, therefore, if the company of wise souls is pronounced to be the especial inheritance of the all-powerful God who has authority and dominion over everything, since he sees most acutely of all beings, exercising the irreproachable and unadulterated eye of the mind, which is never shut, but is always wide open and looking intensely into every thing.
XIV. And on this account, indeed, it is said in the greater prayer, "Inquire of thy father, and he will tell thee; of thy elders, and they will reply to thee, when the Most High divided the nations, when he separated the sons of Adam, he fixed the boundaries of the nations, according to the number of the angels of God, and the portion of the Lord himself was his people Israel." [Deuteronomy 32:7.] For, behold, here again, he uses the expression, "the portion and inheritance of God," meaning that disposition which is capable of seeing him, and which sincerely worships him; and he says that the children of the earth, whom he calls the sons of Adam, were scattered and dispersed, and brought together again, and that a company was formed of them, since they were unable to use right reason as their guide. For, in real truth, virtue is the cause of harmony and unity, and the opposite disposition is the cause of dissolution and disagreement. Indeed, it is a proof of what has been said, what happens every year on the day called the day of atonement; for on that day the people are enjoined "to take by lot two goats, one for the Lord, and one to be the scapegoat;" [Deuteronomy 15:6] that is to say, two reasons, the one in accordance with God, the other consistent with creation. He, therefore, who wishes to exalt the Cause of all things will acquire honor to himself; but he who attributes honor to creation will be banished, being driven from the most sacred places, and compelled to fall into inaccessible and wicked gulfs.
XV. Moses, therefore, has such intimate connection with God, that, relying upon this in a very great degree, he is in the habit of using more fervent and energetic expressions and doctrines than are calculated for the ears of us inferior persons; for he not only thinks it fit to speak of God as an inheritor, but even, which is a more startling thing to the comprehension, he calls him the inheritance of others; for to the entire tribe which came to him as a fugitive and a suppliant, he did not think fit to allot only a portion of land, as he did to the other eleven tribes, but he chose that they should receive an especial honor, namely, the priesthood, a possession not of earth, but of heaven. "For thou shalt not be," says God, as Moses represents, "a portion to the tribe of Levi, nor any inheritance among the children of Israel, because the Lord himself is their inheritance." [Deuteronomy 10:9.] And again he speaks in the person of God, in his holy oracles, in this manner: "I am thy portion and inheritance." [Numbers 18:20.] For, in real truth, the mind which is perfectly purified, and which knows all the things of creation, knows and recognizes one only God, the Uncreate, whom it approaches, and by whom it is received. For to whom is it permitted to say, "He alone is my God," except to the man who is attached to none of the objects which are inferior to him? And this is the custom of the Levites; for the name of Levi, being interpreted, means, "He is to me," because different things are honored by different people, but by him only that which is highest and most excellent, the Cause of all things.
XVI. They tell an old story, that some man in ancient times, who had fallen madly in love with the beauty of wisdom, as if it had been the beauty of a most lovely woman, once, when he saw a most sumptuous preparation of unbounded and costly magnificence, looked towards some of his friends, and said, "Behold, O companions, how many things there are of which I have no need!" And yet he had nothing whatever of even necessary things beyond his mere clothes, so that he was not puffed up with the magnitude of his riches, which has been the case with numbers of people; so that, on this account, he spoke arrogantly against pomp and show.
The lawgiver teaches us that we should account those people wise who are not eager to be rich in created things, but who despise all created things in comparison of the friendship of the uncreated God, whom they look upon as the only true wealth, and the boundary of most perfect happiness. Never, then, let those men boast, who have acquired power and sovereignty, as some do, because they have subdued one city, or country, or nation; and others, because they have acquired the dominion over all the countries of the earth, to its furthest borders, and over all Grecian and barbarous nations, and over all the rivers and seas, infinite both in number and magnitude. For if, besides these things, they had made themselves masters (which it is impious even to mention) of that sublime nature which was the only thing that the Creator made free from the bond of slavery and servitude, they would still be looked upon but as private individuals in comparison with the great kings who have received God for their inheritance; for in proportion as that nature which has acquired a possession is better than the possession itself, and the Creator than the thing created, by so much also are they more royal.
XVII. Therefore, some people considered, that they who said that everything was the property of the one good Being, were speaking in an unreasonable manner, looking at the deficiencies and abundance which existed externally, and thinking no one rich who was in want of either money or possessions. But Moses thinks wisdom a thing of such pre-eminent value, and deserving to be so eagerly sought after, that not only the whole world deserves to be his inheritance, but that he even looks upon the Governor of the universe in that light; and these are the doctrines, not of men who are halting between two opinions, but of those who are occupied in a firm and sure faith; since, even now, there are some persons among those who make a show and pretense of piety, who calumniate the literal meaning of this saying, saying that it is neither pious nor safe to speak of God as the inheritance of a man. You say this -- I should say to them -- because ye have come not from genuine passion, but from a suppositious and illegitimate one, to the investigation of things. For you thought it a matter of equal consequence for God to be called the inheritance of possessions, of vineyards, and oliveyards, and such matters, and of wise men; and ye did not perceive that paintings are said to be the inheritance of painters, and, in short, that any art is said to be the inheritance of the artist, not looked at as an earthly possession, but as a heavenly prize; for none of such things are the property of any master, but still they are an advantage to those who possess them: so that you, O sycophants, hear of the living God as an inheritance, not in the sense of being a possession, like those which I have enumerated, but as being the most beneficial and greatest of goods to those who think fit to worship the Cause of all good.
XVIII. Having, therefore, now said what is proper concerning the original planter and the original plant, let us next proceed, in due order, to the consideration of matters of instruction and imitation.
In the first place, then, the wise Abraham is said "to have planted a field at the well of the oath, and to have called upon the name of the everlasting Lord God." [Genesis 21:33.] And here there is no peculiar property of the plants mentioned, but only the magnitude of the place. And they who are in the habit of investigating these matters say, that everything which belongs to God has been very carefully and accurately described, both tree and place, and the fruit of the tree. Accordingly, they say that the tree was the field itself, not like those trees which sprung up out of the ground, but rather to those which grow according to the firmly-rooted mind of the man who loves God: and the place, they say, is the well of the oath, and the fruit, the change of the name of the Lord into that of "The Eternal God."
And it is necessary further to give the probable explanation of each point of the things here mentioned. The field, then, being in length a hundred cubits, and as many in breadth, multiplied together according to the nature and character of a square, is composed of ten thousand superficial cubits; and this is the greatest limit of those numbers which increase from the unit, and also the most perfect: so that the limit is the beginning of numbers, and the end, in those calculations, according to the first combination, is the number ten thousand; in reference to which fact, some persons have not erred greatly, who have compared the limit to the starting-place, and the number ten thousand to the goal, and all the numbers between these two to those who contend in a race; for they, beginning to start from the unit, as from the starting place, come to the number ten thousand as to the goal. Therefore, some persons, departing from these numbers, as from signals, have said that God is the beginning and end of everything, which is a doctrine admirably calculated to engender piety. This doctrine, being implanted in the soul, produces a most beautiful and nutritious fruit, holiness; and the place most suitable for this fruit, is the well which is called the oath, in which there is a report that no water could be found. For, says Moses, "the children of Israel, coming thither, reported to him concerning the well which they had digged: and they said, We found no water; and he called that place, 'The oath.' " [Genesis 26:32.] Let us now consider what is the meaning of this statement.
XIX. Those who investigate the nature of things as they actually exist, and who conduct their examinations of each individual matter in no negligent manner, behave very like those men who dig wells; for they also are seeking springs in an obscure place. And all men have one common desire, to find something to drink. But some men's nature is to be nourished by the food of the soul, and that of others by the food of the body. As, therefore, some of those who have dug wells have often done so without finding water; so likewise those who advance far in knowledge, and who have made great progress in it, are still often unable to attain to the end which they desire. At all events, they say that men of extensive learning often find fault with their terrible ignorance, for they only just know how far they are removed from the truth. And there is a story that some man of old time, when he was admired for his wisdom, said, that it was a fine thing that he should be admired, who only just knew that he knows nothing.
And choose, if you like, any art you please, whether trifling or important, and the man, too, who is most excellent, and most highly thought of in regard of his skill in it, and then consider if the professions held out by the art are equal to the performances of the artist; for if you duly examine the matter, you will find that the performance falls short of the profession, not by a small, but by a vast distance, it being almost impossible for a man to be perfect in any art whatever, which is in continual motion like a fountain, and is constantly pouring forth various species of all kinds of speculations. On this account, it is most appropriately denominated an oath, being the most certain sign of faith, comprehending also the testimony of God: for as he who swears, calls God to be a witness to a matter concerning which a question is raised, so it is not possible to swear so truly about any matter, as to the fact that the perfection of no art whatever can be found in the artist who professes it.
And the same assertion holds good also with respect to all the other powers which exist in us, or very nearly so; for, as they say, that no water was found in the well which had been mentioned, so also neither was there the faculty of seeing in the eyes, or that of hearing in the ears, or that of smelling in the nostrils, or, in short, any one of the senses in its corresponding organ; and similarly in the mind, there was not the faculty of comprehension. For how could it have happened that any one should have made a mistake in what he saw, or in what he heard, or in what he understood, if the comprehensions of each of these faculties had been well established, and if they had had a trustworthy nature of themselves without God implanting accuracy in them?
XX. Having now, therefore, discussed the place sufficiently in which the tree flourishes, let us now, in conclusion, examine also the subject of the fruit: --
Now, what the fruit is, Moses will tell us himself: "For the Lord God everlasting," says he, "called it by its name." [Genesis 21:33.] Therefore the appellations already mentioned reveal the powers existing in the living God; for one title is that of Lord, according to which he governs; and the other is God, according to which he is beneficent. For which reason also, in the account of the creation of the world, according to the most holy Moses, the name of God is always assumed by him: for it was fitting that the power according to which the Creator, when he was bringing his creatures into the world, arranged and adorned them, should be invoked also by that creation. Inasmuch, therefore, as he is a ruler, he has both powers, that, namely, of doing good, and that of doing harm; regulating his conduct on the principle of requiting him who has done anything. But inasmuch as he is a benefactor, he is inclined only to one of these two courses, namely, to do good. And it would be the greatest possible advantage to the soul no longer to feel any doubt about the power of the King for both purposes, but steadily to emancipate itself from the fear, which is suspended over it, on account of the vastness of his authority, and to kindle and keep alive a most firm hope of the acquisition and enjoyment of blessings arising from his being beneficent by deliberate intention.
Now the expression, "everlasting God," is equivalent to, God who bestows gifts, not sometimes giving and sometimes not, but always and incessantly; it is equivalent to, God who does good uninterruptedly; to God who, without intermission, is connecting a flow of benefits, coming one after the other; God, who pours forth blessings upon blessings, who is made up of mercies connected and united; God, who never omits any single opportunity of doing good; God, who is also the Lord, so that he is able to injure.
XXI. This also Jacob, the practicer of virtue, asked at the end of his most holy prayers. For he said, "And the Lord shall be to me as God." Which is equivalent to: He will no longer display towards me the despotic power of his absolute authority, but rather the beneficent influence of his universally propitious and saving power, utterly removing the fear with which he is regarded as a master, and filling the soul with affection and benevolence as felt towards a benefactor. What soul could ever conceive thus that the master and ruler of the universe, without changing anything of his own nature, but remaining in the condition in which he always was, is continually kind and uninterruptedly bounteous? owing to which he is, to those who are happy, the most perfect cause of unlimited and overflowing blessings. And to trust in a king who is not by reason of the magnitude of his authority elated so as to do injury to his subjects, but who, through his love to mankind, prefers that every one should enjoy happiness without fear, is the greatest possible bulwark of prosperity and security.
XXII. What, therefore, we originally undertook we have now nearly fulfilled, namely, to demonstrate that the fact spoken of must be taken to mean the principle which declares God to be the most glorious of all things. The portion of the subject which follows next, is the demonstration that perfection is found in no created thing, but that it does appear in them at times owing to the grace of the great Cause of all things. And the fruit of the tree is, that the graces of God endure for ever and ever, and that they are shed incessantly upon mankind, and never cease. Thus, in truth, the wise man, following the practice of the first and greatest planter, displays his knowledge of husbandry; and the sacred scripture wishes the labors of husbandry to be performed, even by those of us who are not yet perfect, but who are still reckoned among the middle numbers of those things which are accounted duties; for it says, "When you go forth into the land which the Lord your God giveth to you, and when you plant every tree which is good for food, you shall completely purify its uncleanness. For three years it shall be unclean as to its fruit, it shall not be eaten; but in the fourth year, all its fruit shall be holy, being praised by the Lord. And in the fifth year you shall eat the fruit thereof; and everything that it bears shall be useful to you: I am the Lord your God." [Leviticus 19:23.] Therefore it was impossible for the children of Israel, to plant those trees which are eatable, before they arrived in the country which had been given them by God; for he says, "When you go forth into the land, ... and when you plant every tree which is good for food." So that while we are outside of the promised land, we should not be able to cultivate such trees; and this is very natural; for as long as the mind has not entered upon the path of wisdom, but turns aside and wanders out of the road, it cares only for the trees which do not admit of being cultivated or used for food of men -- trees which are barren and useless, and which, though they bear, bear no fruit which is eatable. But when the mind, having entered upon the path of wisdom, marches along with its doctrines, and begins to keep pace with them all, it then cultivates the useful trees, which are capable of bearing eatable fruit, instead of caring for those useless kinds; it cultivates a mastery over, instead of the indulgence of the passions, and knowledge instead of ignorance, and good instead of evil.
Since therefore he who is led into the path of virtue is still at a long distance from the end, it is very naturally laid as an injunction upon the man who plants, to remove the uncleanness of that which is planted. And what this is, we will now consider.
XXIII. These duties which are as it were in the middle, appear to me to be properly looked upon in the same light as those trees, which admit of being cultivated and used for food; for each of them bears most useful fruits, the one for the body, and the other for the soul. But in the middle there must necessarily be many injurious plants springing up with and growing along-side of them, which must be removed in order that the better sorts may not be injured. May I not call the restoration of a deposit a useful plant of the soul? But still this plant requires purification and exceeding attention. What then is the purification? This. Having taken a deposit from a man while he is sober, you must not restore it to him while he is drunk, or intemperate, or mad; for in such a case though he may have received the advantage of having his own back again, he will have no opportunity of being benefited by it. Again. You must not restore a deposit to debtors or to slaves while their creditors or their masters are present; for that is betraying, and not a restoration of a deposit. Nor must you keep faith in small things in the hope merely of gaining confidence, so as to have greater things entrusted to you. For those who fish, and who let down small baits into the sea, with the view of catching larger fish, are not very much to be blamed, as they say that they are providing for the good supply of the market, and in order that they may supply men with unlimited food for every day. But no one should use as a bait, the restoration of a deposit of small value by way of obtaining a larger one, holding forth in his hands, and displaying the deposit of one individual, and that a trifling one, and in his intention appropriating the deposits of every body, and those too of unspeakable value. If, therefore, you remove the uncleanness of your deposit, as of these trees, namely, the inquiries threatened by plotters, the evils arising from want of opportunity and treachery, and all things of similar kinds; you will bring into a state of cultivation and usefulness, that which was on the point of becoming wild.
XXIV. And in the case of the tree of friendship, it is necessary to cut down and eradicate these things which shoot up by the side of it for the sake of preserving the more valuable plant. And the evil plants which spring up alongside are these: the tricky blandishments of courtesans towards their lovers, and the deceitfulness of parasites to those whom they flatter. For one may see those who make a traffic of their personal beauty, clinging to their lovers as if they were excessively fond of them; but they love not them but themselves, and they are eager only for their daily gains. And as for flatterers, sometimes they conceal unspeakable hatred towards those whom they flatter; but still, being slaves to gluttony and intemperance, they are on that account induced to pay court to those who can supply their immoderate appetites. But the tree of science and unadulterated friendship having rejected and discarded these things, will bear fruit of the greatest possible service to those who use it, namely, incorruptible good faith. For good-will is a desire that one's neighbor should enjoy good things for his own sake. But courtesans and flatterers are anxious solely for their own advantage, which is the only motive why they should confer pleasure, the first on their lovers, and the latter on the objects of their flatteries. We must therefore cut down all trickeries and flatteries as evil plants growing up near the tree of friendship.
XXV. The due attention to sacred rites, and good faith in the matter of sacrifices, are the most excellent of trees; but along-side of them an evil grows up, namely, superstition, which it is desirable to eradicate before it has time to blossom. For some persons have fancied the sacrificing of oxen to be piety, and they assign a portion of all that they steal or obtain by denials, or by cheating their creditors, or by plundering, to the altars. Impious wretches that they are, thinking that thus they are paying a price to buy themselves off from suffering punishment for their offenses. But to such persons I would say, O ye men, the tribunal of God is not to be corrupted by bribes; so that those who have guilty minds will be rejected, even if they sacrifice a hundred oxen every day; and those who are innocent will be received, even if they never sacrifice at all. For God delights in altars on which no fire is burned, but which are frequented by virtues, and which do not blaze with great flame, such as those sacrifices do kindle which are offered by impious men, and which are no sacrifices at all, and which serve to remind one of the ignorances and wickedness of each of the sacrificers; for Moses has somewhere spoken of a sacrifice "reminding one of sin." [Numbers 5:15.]
All such things therefore, being the causes of great injury, it is necessary to cut off and eradicate, in obedience to the oracle in which it is enjoined "to remove the uncleanness of the tree which has been planted, bearing eatable fruit." [Leviticus 19:23.]
XXVI. But we, even after we have been instructed, make no progress in learning; but some persons, having a self-taught natural instinct, purify what is good from the evils which surround it, as Jacob did, he who was surnamed the practicer of virtue; for he "peeled the rods, leaving on the white bark, having stripped off all the green;" [Genesis 30:37] in order that the dark and dusky vanity in the middle being taken away in every case, a white appearance might be displayed, which should be produced so as to be akin to it, not by diversified art but by nature; in reference to which it is also commanded in the law which was established in cases of leprosy, that "the man who was not infected with any variation of color, but who was white all over from the head to the extremity of his feet, should be pure." [Leviticus 13:12.] In order that, according to the similitude of the body, those who have discarded the crafty, and unscrupulous, and ambiguous, and uncertain disposition of mind, may embrace the simple, uncolored, unambiguous, plain complexion of truth; therefore, to say that the tree is purified, contains a principle, the assertion of which is founded surely in truth, but to make the same statement with respect to the fruit is saying what is not equally clear or credible; for no cultivator of figs or grapes, or, in sort, of any fruit whatever, purifies them.
XXVII. And again Moses says, "Its fruit shall be impure for three days, it shall not be eaten;" [Leviticus 19:23] as if in fact it were customary for it to be purified for ever. We must, therefore, say that this is one of those expressions which have a concealed meaning, since the words themselves are not quite consistent with it; for the expression is an ambiguous one; for it bears one sense of this kind, the fruit shall remain for three years; and then there is a distinct injunction, "it shall not be eaten before it is purified." But there is also another meaning, "the fruit of the tree shall for three years be unpurified, and while in that state it shall not be eaten." According, then, to the former statement one may understand it in this manner: the three years being taken from time which is divided into three portions; for it is the nature of time to be divided into the past, the present, and the future; therefore the fruit of education will exist, and will endure, and will last unimpaired through all the divisions of time, a statement equivalent to -- it will never receive any corruption, for the nature of good is imperishable.
But the fruit which is not purified shall not be eaten; inasmuch as virtuous reasons, duly purified and rendered sound, nourish the soul, and give vigor to the mind; but the opposite kinds are not nutritious, but bring disease and destruction on the soul.
According to the other meaning, as in the disputes of dialecticians, the word "undemonstrated" is used in a double sense, either of a proposition which it is hard to demonstrate by reason of its difficulty, or of one which is intrinsically so plain as to require no demonstration, and the truth of which is established not by the testimony of any one else, but by its own internal evidence. So also fruit may be understood as not being purified, either when it is so impure as to be difficulty to purify, or when it requires no purification, but is bright, and clear, and pure of itself.
Such now is the fruit of education; being for three years, that is to say for all time, divided as it is into three portions, most completely pure and brilliant, being overshadowed by no injurious thing, and having no need whatever of any washings or purifications, or any thing else whatever which tends to cleansing.
XXVIII. "But in the fourth year," says the scripture, "all the fruit of the tree shall be sacred, being praised by the Lord." [Leviticus 19:25.] The prophetic books appear often to dignify the number four in many places of the exposition of the law, and most especially in the account of the creation of the universe; for the light which is perceptible by the outward senses, and held in honor, being that which throws the most brilliant light both upon itself and upon other things, and upon its own parents the sun and the moon, and upon the most sacred company of the stars, which by their rising and setting fix the boundaries of night and day, and moreover, of months and years, and which have shown the nature of number, to which, also, the greatest good of the soul is attributed, Moses says was created on the fourth day. And now he honors this day in a remarkable degree, assigning the fruit of the trees to God, in accordance with no other time than with the fourth year after they are planted; for this has a principle in it very consistent with nature and with good morals.
At all events it so happens that the roots of the universe, the elements of which the world is composed, are four¨earth, water, air, and fire. Also, that the seasons of the year are equal in number, namely, winter and summer, and those others which are between these two, spring and autumn. And as this is the most ancient of all square numbers, it is found to exist in right angles, as the figure of a square in geometry shows. And right angles are manifest examples of correctness of reason. And right reason is an everlasting fountain of virtues. It follows, therefore, of necessity that the sides of a square must be all equal to one another. And equality is the parent of justice, which is the mistress and ruler of all the virtues, so that it is not proved that this number four is the symbol of equality, and justice, and of all virtue, beyond any other number. And the number four is likewise called "all," because it comprehends in its power the numbers up to ten, and the number ten itself.
XXIX. That is comprehends all the numbers up to itself is manifest to every one; but that it also comprehends the numbers which come after it, is very easily seen by a calculation of numbers, when we have put them together, one, two, three, four, we shall find what we were doubting about; for of one and four, the number five will be found to be composed, and of two and four six are made up; the number seven, again, consists of three and four; again, according to a triple combination of one, and three, and four, the number eight is composed; also of two, and three, and four, the number nine; and the number ten is made of all the numbers together, for one, and two, and three, and four make ten. On this account also, Moses said that in the fourth year all the fruit of the tree shall be holy; for this number has an even, and an entire, and a full, and (as one may almost say) every possible reason in it, because the number ten, of which four is the parent, is the first starting place of all the numbers when put together after the unit; and the number four and the number ten are both also called "all," but the number ten is so called by reason of its operation, this number four with reference to its potentiality.
XXX. And Moses very appropriately says that the fruit of education is not only holy but also praised; for every one of the virtues is a holy thing, but most especially is gratitude holy; but it is impossible to show gratitude to God in a genuine manner, by those means which people in general think the only ones, namely offerings and sacrifices; for the whole world could not be a temple worthy to be raised to his honor, except by means of praises and hymns, and those too must be such as are sung, not by loud voices, but by the invisible and pure mind, which shall raise the shout and song to him. At all events there is an old saying often quoted, originally invented by wise men, but, as is often the case, handed down in succession to future ages, and one which has not escaped our ears, which are always greedy of instruction, and it is to this effect, "When," say they, "the Creator had finished the whole world, he asked of one of his ministers, whether he felt that any thing that was wanting which had not been created of all the things that are in the earth, or in the water, or of all that have received the sublime nature of the air, or the loftiest nature of all the universe, namely, that of the heaven; and he replied, that every thing every where was perfect and complete; but that he wished for one thing only, namely for reason, which should be able duly to praise it all, and which should not so much praise as give an accurate account of the exceeding excellence existing throughout, even in these things which appeared the most unimportant and the most obscure; for he said that an exact account of the works of God was their most complete and adequate panegyric, since they required no addition of external things to set them forth, but were of such a character that the bare plain truth was their most perfect encomium." And when the Father had heard what he said he praised it all, and at no distant time produced a race, which should be capable of receiving all learning, and of composing hymns of praise, producing them from one of the faculties existing around him, the virgin memory, whose name men in general distort and call her Mnemosyne.
XXXI. This is then the purport of that legend of the ancients, and we in accordance with that story say, that it is the most appropriate work of God to confer benefits, and of created beings to show gratitude, since they are unable to give any requital of those benefits beyond gratitude; for whatever he might be inclined to give as a requital for the other things which he has received, will be found to be the private property of him who is the Creator of all things, and not of the nature which offers it. Having learnt therefore that there is only one employment possible for us of all the things that seem to contribute to the honor of God, namely the display of gratitude, let us at all times and in all places study this, with our voice, and with useful writings, and let us never desist composing encomiastic orations and poems, in order that both the Creator and the world may be honored by every description of utterance which can be exhibited in either speaking or singing; the one being, as some has said, the best of all causes, and the other the most perfect of all created things.
XXXII. Since therefore all the fruit of the soul is consecrated in the fourth year and the fourth number; in the fifth year we ourselves shall be allowed the use and enjoyment of it for ourselves; for the scripture says, "In the fifth year ye shall eat the fruit thereof;" since it has been established by a perpetual law of nature, that account shall be taken of the creation after the Creator in every thing; so that even if we are thought worthy of the second place, it must be considered a marvellous thing; and on this account it assigns to us the fruit of the fifth year, because the number five is the number appropriate to the outward sense; and if one must tell the truth, that which nourishes our minds is the outward sense, which by means of our eyes sets before us the distinctive qualities of colors and forms, and by means of our ears presents us with all the various peculiarities of sounds, and with smells by means of the nose, and with tastes through the medium of the mouth, and which enables us to judge of the yielding softness and resisting hardness, or of softness and roughness, or again of heat and cold, by means of the faculty which is dispersed over the whole body, which we usually denominate touch.
XXXIII. But the most correct example of what has been said, is afforded by the sons of Leah, that is of virtue, not all her sons, but the fourth and fifth; for with respect to the fourth, Moses says that, then she ceased to bring forth, [Genesis 29:35] and his name was called Judah, which, being interpreted, is "confession to the Lord," and the fifth she called Issachar, and the name being interpreted, means "reward;" and after she had brought forth in this manner, the soul immediately spoke and related what it had suffered; for says Moses, "She called his name Issachar, which means reward." [Genesis 30:18.] Therefore Judas, the mind which blesses God, and which is without ceasing, devoted to pouring forth hymns of praise and gratitude to him, is himself in truth "the holy and praiseworthy fruit," [Leviticus 19:24] being produced not by the trees of the earth but by a rational and virtuous nature. In reference to which, the nature which brought him forth is said to have desisted from bringing forth, since she knew not which way to turn, when she had come to the limit of perfection; for of all successful actions which are brought forth, the best and most perfect production is a hymn to the Father of the universe; and the fifth son is in no respect different from the enjoyment of the trees planted in the fifth year; for the tiller of the earth after a fashion takes his reward from the trees in the fifth year, and he takes the offspring of the soul, Issachar, who was called the "reward," and very naturally, being brought forth after the grateful Judah; for to a grateful person gratitude is a most sufficient reward. Therefore, the fruits of the trees are called the produce of the owners of the trees; but the fruit of instruction and wisdom is no longer the produce of man, but as Moses says, "of the universal Governor alone;" for after he has spoken of his produce, he adds, "I am the Lord your God," asserting most distinctly that there is one God, whose fruit is the produce of the soul.
And with this assertion, this oracle delivered by one of the prophets is consistent, "Fruit from me has been found by you. What wise man will understand this? Will any intelligent person comprehend it?" [Hosea 14:9.] For it does not belong to every one, but only to the wise man, to understand whose the fruit of the mind is.
XXXIV. Therefore, concerning that most ancient and sacred husbandry, which the Cause of all things uses with reference to the world, that most productive of trees, and concerning that other kind in imitation of it which the virtuous man studies, and concerning the ordinary quaternion of prizes, and the laws and precepts which all tend to the same point, we have now spoken to the best of our power.
Let us now consider the vine-planting of the just Noah which is a species of husbandry. For it is said that "Noah began to be a husbandman of the earth, and he planted a vineyard, and drank of the wine, and got drunk." [Genesis 9:20.] Therefore, the wise man here cultivates with skill and science the tree of drunkenness, though fools enter upon its management in an unartistic and negligent manner, so that it is necessary for us now to speak in a fitting manner about drunkenness; for we shall presently know the power also of that tree which gives rise to it. Afterwards, we will examine with accuracy what has been said by the lawgiver concerning drunkenness, but at present we will examine what determination others have come to on this subject.
XXXV. Now, among many philosophers, this question has been investigated with no slight degree of pains, and the question is proposed in this manner, whether the wise man will get drunk? Therefore, to get drunk is a matter of a twofold nature, one part of it being equivalent to being overcome with wine; the other, to behaving foolishly in one's cups. But of those who have dealt with this proposition, some have said that the wise man never takes too much unmixed wine, and never behaves foolishly; for that the one is an error, and that the other is an efficient cause of error, and that both the one and the other is inconsistent with good conduct. Others again have asserted, that to be overcome with wine is appropriate even to a virtuous man, but that to behave foolishly is inconsistent with his character. For that the wisdom which is in him is sufficient to resist those things which attempt to do him injury, and to destroy the innovations which they seek to produce in the soul, and that wisdom is endued with a power capable of extinguishing the passions, whether they be fanned by the impetuous gale of furious love, or kindled by abundant and heating wine, and that owing to this power it will always be superior to them.
Since also of those who dive beneath a deep river or under the sea, some are destroyed from being ignorant of the art of swimming, but others who are possessed of this knowledge are very speedily saved; and, indeed, a great quantity of wine, inundating the soul like a torrent, sometimes weighs it down and precipitates it to the lowest depth of ignorance, but at other times is unable to part it, because it is supported and borne aloft by saving instruction.
Those again who have not sufficiently observed the greatness of this excess with respect to passion in the wise man, have pressed him down, when he was applying himself to the study of sublime things, from heaven to earth, as those men do who are seeking to catch birds, in order to involve him in disasters similar to their own; but others, seeing the great height of his virtue, have said that a wise man, if he indulges in wine beyond the bounds of moderation, will by all means cease to be master of himself, and will go astray, and will not only let his hands droop out of weakness, like those athletes do who are defeated, but will also droop his neck and his head, and stumble, and fall down, coming to the ground with his whole body.
XXXVI. Having then learnt this beforehand, the wise man will never of his own accord think fit to enter upon a contest of hard drinking, unless there were great things at stake, such as the safety of his country, or the honor of his parents, or the preservation of his children, or of his nearest relations, or in short, the success and prosperity of some important public or private interest. For he would not take a deadly poison unless the occasion compelled him very strongly to depart from life, as it might urge him to depart from his country. And at all events it is plain, that unmixed wine is a poison, which is the cause, if not of death, at least of madness, and why may we not pronounce madness to be death, since by it the most important thing in us dies, namely, the mind? But it appears to me that a man would without the slightest hesitation choose (if a choice was permitted him), that death which separates and disunites the soul and the body as a lesser evil in preference to that greater one -- the alienation of the mind.
On this account, forsooth, men of old time called skill in the art of making wine madness (mainomene), and called the Bacchae who were carried away under the influence of wine, mad women (Mainades), since wine is the cause of madness and folly to those who indulge in it insatiably.
XXXVII. Such then are, as it were, the prefaces of this discussion or investigation. Let us now go on to the other parts of this question which is divided into two heads as is natural; the one view affirming that the wise man will occasionally be drunk, and the other, on the contrary, insisting that he will not get drunk. Now it is well to ruminate the arguments which are adduced in support of the former view, having first of all take our beginning from this point, that of things some are homonymous, and others are only synonymous. And it is admitted that the being homonymous and the being synonymous are two opposite things, because homonymy is predicated of many subjects which have one common name; and synonymy is the application of many different names to one subject. For instance, the name of dog is beyond all question a homonymy, inasmuch as it comprehends many dissimilar things which are signified by that appellation. For there is a terrestrial barking animal called a dog; there is also a marine monster with the same name: there is also the star in heaven, which the poets calls the autumnal star, because it rises at the beginning of autumn, for the sake of ripening the fruits and bringing them to perfection. Moreover, there were the philosophers who came from the cynic school. Aristippus and Diogenes; and other too who chose to practice the same mode of life, an incalculable number of men.
Again there are other appellations which differ from one another, but still signify but one thing, as a shaft, a bolt, and arrow; for all these terms are applied to the weapon which is sent from the string of the bow against the mark; and again there are the words, oar, scull, and blade, to express the instrument used for propelling a vessel, of equal power with sails; for whenever a ship, by reason of a calm or of unfavorable winds cannot use its sails, then, those, whose business it is, sitting down as rowers, and stretching out their oars on each side like wings, compel to it proceed onwards as if borne on wings; and so the vessel being borne on the top of the waves, and rather running over them than cutting through them, hastens along with a speedy voyage, and speedily anchors in a safe harbor. And again, a staff, and a stick, and a cane, are all different appellations of one subject with which we can strike, or support one's self steadily, and on which one can lean, and do many other things besides. And we have enumerated these instances not for the purpose of making a long story, but in order that the matter under investigation may be more clearly understood.
XXXVIII. The ancients called unmixed wine oinos, and also methy. At all events, this latter name is used in very many passages of poetry, so that if those names are accounted synonymous which are applied to one subject, then oinos and methysma, and other words derived from them will differ in nothing but sound, and the being overcome with wine (oinousthai), and the being drunk (methyein), are one and the same thing. And both these words intimate a taking of too much wine, which nevertheless there may be many reasons for a good man not turning away from; and if he be overcome with wine he will also be drunk, being nevertheless not made in any respect the worse by his drunkenness, but remaining the same as if he had simply been well filled with wine.
We have now detailed one of the opinions concerning a wise man getting drunk: and the second is as follows: --
The men of the present day, with the exception of a small portion of them, do not choose in any way to resemble the men of old times; but both in mind and action they show that they are in no respect agreed with them, but that they differ from them widely. For they have made such a revolution as to bring reasons which were sound and healthy into incurable decay and destruction. And in the place of a vigorous and athletic habit, they have brought almost every thing into a state of disease; and in the place of a full, and strong, and sinewy body, they have rendered it weak, inducing an unnatural, and swollen, and sickly habit, filling it up with empty wind alone, which soon bursts by reason of the want of any power to keep it together, when it is extended in the greatest degree. And the actions of created beings, which are most worthy of attention, and which were, as one may say, masculine actions, those also they have made disgraceful feminine instead, and discreditable instead of honorable, so that there are very few persons found, either in deed or in words, inclined to an imitation of the ancient manners.
Therefore, the poets and historians who lived in their time, and all other men who devoted themselves to literary studies, did not confine themselves to soothing and tickling the ears with rhythmical sounds, but, if there was anything broken, so to say, and relaxed in the mind, they roused it up, and whatever there was in it suited to their purpose they improved by initiation into natural philosophy and virtue. But the cooks and confectioners of our time, and those persons who are only artists of superfluous luxury, in the arts of dyeing and making perfumes, are always building up the outward senses with some new color, or shape, or scent, or flavor, so as utterly to destroy the most important part of us, the mind.
XXXIX. And why do I mention these things? In order to show that the men of the present day do not use wine now as the ancients did. For now they drink eagerly without once taking breath, till the body and soul are both wholly relaxed, and they keep on bidding their cup-bearers to bring more wine, and are angry with them if they delay while they are cooling what is called by them the hot drink; and in a vile imitation of the gymnastic contests, they institute a contest among their fellow revellers as to who can drink most wine, in which they do many glorious things to one another, biting one another's ears and noses, and the tips of the fingers of their hands, and any other parts of the body they can get at. Now, these are the contests of revelry while in youth and vigor, and, as one may say, in its prime; but the others are the deeds of that ancient and more old-fashioned sort. For the men of old time began every good action with perfect sacrifices, thinking that in that way the result would be most favorable to them; and even if the occasion required especial promptitude in action, still they did not begin till they had offered prayers and sacrifices. But in all cases waited, thinking that haste was not in every case better than slowness. For speed, which is not accompanied with forethought, is injurious, but slowness, when founded on good hope, is advantageous.
Knowing, therefore, that the use and enjoyment of wine require much care, they did not drink unmixed wine either in great quantities or at all times, but only in moderation and on fitting occasions. For first, of all, they offered up prayers and instituted sacrifices, and then, having propitiated the deity, and having purified their bodies and souls, the former with baths, and the latter with the waters of laws and of right instruction, they then turned their cheerful and rejoicing countenances to more luxurious food, very often not returning home but, walking about in the temples in which they sacrificed, in order that, by keeping in mind their sacrifices, and having a due respect for the place, they might enjoy what should be really a most sacred feast, doing no wrong either in word or deed. And this, indeed, is what they say the word methyein, to be drunk, derives its name from; because, meta to thyein (after sacrificing) it was the custom of the men of old to drink great quantities of wine.
And to whom could the manner of using unmixed wine described above be more appropriate than to wise men to whom the work to be done before drinking, namely, sacrificing, is so appropriate? For one may almost say that no bad man can really perform sacrifices, not even if he were to bring the altar ten thousand oxen every day without intermission; for his most important and indispensable offering, namely his mind, is polluted. And it is impious for polluted things to come near to the altar. This, now, is the second point of view in which this question may be regarded, by which we have shown that it is not inconsistent with the character of the wise man to get drunk.
XL. There is a third way of looking at this subject, which depends chiefly on the exceeding plausibility of an argument derived from etymology. For some persons think that drunkenness (methe) derives its name not merely from the fact of its being admitted after sacrifice, but also because it is the cause of relaxation (methesis) to the soul. But the reason of foolish men is relaxed so as to get strength for many sins; while that of those inclined to be sensible is relaxed, so as to enjoy freedom from care, and cheerfulness, and lightness of heart. For the wise man, when he is intoxicated, becomes more good-humored than when he is sober; so that in this respect we should not be at all wrong in saying that he may get drunk. And besides all this, we must likewise add, that we are not speaking of a stern-looking and sordid kind of wisdom, contracted by profound thought and ill-humor; but, on the other hand, of that wisdom which wears on tranquil and cheerful appearance, being full of joy and happiness, by which men have often been led on to sport and divert themselves in no inelegant manner, indulging in amusements suitable to their dignified and earnest character, just as in a well-tuned lyre one may have a combination uniting, by means of opposite sounds, in one melodious harmony.
At all events, according to the most holy Moses, the end of all wisdom is amusement and mirth, not such mirth as is pursued by foolish people, uncombined with any prudence, but such as is admitted even by those who are already grey, not only through old age alone, but also through deep thinking. Do you not see that he speaks of the man who has drunk deeply of that wisdom which is to be derived from a man's own hearing and learning, and study; not as one who partakes of mirth, but who is actually mirth in itself? This is Isaac, for the name Isaac being interpreted means "laughter," with whose character it is very consistent that he should have been sporting with "perseverance," which the Hebrews call Rebekkah.
XLI. But it is not lawful for a private individual to behold the divine instruction of the soul, but the king may behold it, as one with whom wisdom has dwelt for a very long time, if we may not rather say that it dwells with him all his life. His name is Abimelech, who, looking out through the window with the well-opened and radiant eye of the mind, saw Isaac sporting with Rebekkah his wife. For what employment is more suitable for a wise man than to be sporting, and rejoicing, and diverting himself with perseverance in good things? From which it is plain that he will become intoxicated, since intoxication contributes to good morals, and also produces relaxation and advantage; for unmixed wine seems to increase and render more intense all the natural qualities, whether they be good or the contrary, as many other things do too. For money is to a good man a cause of good things, and to a bad man, as some one has said, it is a cause of bad things. And again, high rank makes the wickedness of a fool more conspicuous, but it renders the virtue of the just man more glorious.
So also unmixed wine, being poured forth in abundance, makes the man who is the slave of his passions, still more subservient to them, but it renders him who has them under control more manageable and amiable. Who, indeed, is there who does not know that of two opposite things, when one kind is suitable to most people, the other kind must of necessity be suited to some? As, for instance, white and black are two opposite colors: if white is suitable both to good and to bad things, then black must also be necessarily equally suitable to both, and not to one of the two alone. And, again, to be sober and to be drunk are two opposite things; accordingly, both bad men and good, as the ancient proverb says, partake of sobriety; therefore, also, drunkenness is suitable to both classes. Therefore the virtuous man will get drunk without losing any of his virtue by it.
XLII. But if, like persons before a court of justice, one must bring forward not only such proofs as are in accordance with the rules of art, but those too which have no connection with art, one of which is proof by testimony, we will then produce many sons of physicians and philosophers of high repute to give evidence, not by words alone, but also by writings. For they have left behind ten thousand commentaries entitled treatises on drunkenness; in which they consider nothing beyond the bare use of wine, without pursuing any investigation with respect to those who are accustomed to behave foolishly in their cups, and in fact omitting every thing which has reference to conduct under the influence of wine; so that it is very plainly confessed in their writings that drunkenness is the same as drinking wine freely. And to drink a superabundant quantity of wine on proper occasions is not unsuitable to a wise man; therefore we shall not be wrong if we say that a wise man may get drunk.
But since no one is ever inscribed on the rolls as a conqueror if he has contended by himself alone, for if he does this he appears only to be fighting with a shadow, and very naturally too; it follows that we must also produce the arguments of those who contend for the opposite side of the question, that by this means a most just judgment may be formed, and that the other side of the question may not be decided against through default. And the first and the most powerful argument is this: if no one in his senses would entrust a secret which he wished to be kept to a drunken man, then a good and wise man will not get drunk. But before we collect all the other arguments in their order, it may be better to reply to each objection separately, in order that we may not appear to be too prolix, and consequently to be troublesome.
Some one then will say in opposition that, according to the argument that has been advanced, the wise man must never have a bilious attack, and never go to sleep, and above all must never die. But he to whom some of these things happens is either an inanimate being or a divine one; but beyond all question he is not a man at all. Imitating this perversion of the arguments, one may apply it equally to a bilious man, or to a sleeping man, or to a dying man; for no one in his senses would tell a secret to a man in any of these conditions, but it would be reasonable for him to tell it to a wise man, for the wise man is never bilious, never goes to sleep, and never dies.