THE SIBYLLINE ORACLES.
FRAGMENTS OF THE SIBYLLINE ORACLES.
YE mortal men and fleshly, who are naught,
How quickly are ye puffed up, seeing not
The end of life! Do ye not tremble now
And fear God, him who watches over you,
The one who is most high, the one who knows,
The all-observant witness of all things,
All-nourishing Creator, who has put
In all things his sweet Spirit and has made
Him leader of all mortals? God is one,
Who rules alone, supremely great, unborn,
Almighty and invisible, himself
Alone beholding all things, but not seen
Is he himself by any mortal flesh.
For what flesh is there able to behold
With eyes the heavenly and true God divine,
Who has his habitation in the sky?
Not even before the bright rays of the sun
Can men stand still, men who are mortal born,
Existing but as veins and flesh on bones.
Him who alone is ruler of the world,
Who alone is forever and has been
From everlasting, reverence ye him,
The self-existent unbegotten one
Who rules all things through all time, dealing out
Unto all mortals in a common light
The judgment. And the merited reward
Of evil counseling shall ye receive,
For ceasing the true and eternal God
To glorify, and holy hecatombs
To offer him, ye made your sacrifice
Unto the demons that in Hades dwell.
And ye in self-conceit and madness walk,
And having left the true, straightforward path
Ye went away and roamed about through thorns
And thistles. O ye foolish mortals, cease
Roving in darkness and black night obscure,
And leave the darkness of night, and lay hold
Upon the Light. Lo, he is clear to all
And cannot err; come, do not always chase
Darkness and gloom. Lo, the sweet-looking light
Of the sun shines with a surpassing glow.
Now, treasuring wisdom in your hearts, know ye
That God is one, who sends forth rains and winds,
Earthquakes and lightnings, famines, pestilence,
And mournful cares, and storms of snow, and ice.
But why do I thus speak them one by one?
He guides heaven, rules earth, over Hades reigns.
Now if gods beget offspring and remain
Immortal there had been more gods than men,
And there had never been sufficient room
For mortals to stand.
Now if all that is born must also perish,
It is not possible for God to be
Formed from the thighs of man and from a womb;
But God alone is one and all-supreme,
Who made heaven and the sun and stars and moon,
Fruit-bearing earth and billows of the sea,
And lofty hills and mouth of lasting springs.
He also bringeth forth great multitude
Of creatures that amid the waters live
Innumerable, and the creeping things
That move upon earth he sustains with life,
And dappled, delicate, shrill-twittering birds,
That ply the air shrill-whirring with their wings.
And in the glens of mountains wild be placed
The race of beasts, and to us mortals made
All cattle subject, and the God-formed one
He constituted ruler of all things,
And unto man all variegated things
Made subject, things incomprehensible.
For all these things what mortal flesh can know?
For he himself alone, who made these things
At the beginning, knows, the incorrupt
Eternal Maker, dwelling in the heaven,
Bringing unto the good good recompense
Much more abundant, but awakening wrath
And anger for the evil and unjust,
And war and pestilence, and tearful woes.
O men, why, vainly puffed up, do ye root
Yourselves out? Be ashamed to deify
Polecats and monsters. Is it not a craze
And frenzy, taking sense of mind away,
If gods steal plates and carry off earthen pots?
Instead of dwelling in the golden heaven
In plenty, see them eaten by the moth
And woven over with thick spider-webs!
O fools, that bow to serpents, dogs and cats,
And reverence birds and creeping beasts of earth,
Stone images and statues made with hands,
And stone-heaps by the roads--these ye revere,
And also many other idle things
Which it would even be a shame to tell;
These are the baneful gods of senseless men,
And from their mouth is deadly poison poured.
But of Him is life and eternal light
Imperishable, and he sheds a joy
Sweeter than honey sweet on righteous men,
And to him only do thou bow thy neck,
And among pious lives incline thy way.
Forsaking all these, in a spirit mad
With folly ye did all drain off the cup
Of judgment that was filled full, very pure,
Closely pressed, weighed down, and withal unmixed.
And ye will not wake from your drunken sleep
And come to sober reason, and know God
To be the king who oversees all things.
Therefore on you the flash of gleaming fire
Is coming, ye shall be with torches burned
The livelong day through an eternal age,
At your false useless idols feeling shame.
But they who fear the true eternal God
Inherit life, and they forever dwell
Alike in fertile field of Paradise,
Feasting on sweet bread from the starry heaven.
Hear me, O men, the King eternal reigns.
He only is God, Maker uncontrolled;
He fixed the pattern of the human form,
And did the nature of all mortals mix
Himself, the generator of (all) life.
Whenever he shall come
A smoky fire shall be in mid-night dark.
The Erythræan Sibyl, addressing God, says: Why dost thou, O Lord,
enjoin on me the necessity of prophesying, and not rather take me aloft
from the earth and preserve me unto the most blessed day of thy coming?