Plutarch, de Defectu oraculorum. Translated by Philemon Holland (1603), The Philosphie, commonlie called The Morals, pp. 1320-1359.
Of the Oracles
that have ceased
to give answere.
THe spirit of errour hath endeavoured alwaies and assaied the best he can, to mainteine his power and cominion in the world, having after the revolt and fall of Adam beene furnished with instruments of all sorts, to tyrannize over his slaves. In which number we are to range the oracles and predictions of certaine idoles erected in many places by his instigation; by meanes whereof, this sworne enemy to the glory of the true God, hath much prevailed. But when it pleased our heavenly father to give us his sonne for to be our Saviour, who descending from heaven to earth, tooke upon him our humane nature, wherein he susteined the paine and punishment due for our sinnes, to deliver us out of hell, and by vertue of his merits, to give us entrance into the kingdome of heaven, the trueth of his grace bing published and made knowen in the world by the preaching of the Apostles and their faithfull successours ; the Divell and his angels, who had in many parts and places of the world abused and deceived poore idolaters, were forced to acknowledge their Sovereigne, and to keepe silence and suffer him to speake unto those whom he meant to call unto salvation, or els to make them unexcusable, if they refused to heare his voice. This cessation of the Oracles put the priests and sacrificers of the Painims to great trouble and woonderfull perplexitie, in the time of the Romane Emperours: whiles some imputed the cause to this, others to that. But our authour in this Treatise discourseth upon this question, shewing thereby, how great and lamentable is the blindnesse of mans reason and wisedome, when it thinketh to atteine unto the secrets of God. For all the speeches of Philosophers, whom he bringeth in heere as interlocutors, are meere tales and fables devised for the nonce, which every Christian man of any meane judgement will at the first sight condemne. Yet thus much good there is in this discourse, that the Epicureans are here taxed and condemned in sundry passages. As touching the contents of this conference, the occasion thereof ariseth from the speech of Demetrius and Cleombrotus, who were come unto the Temple of Apollo: for the one of them having rehearsed a woonder as touching the Temple of Jupiter Ammon, mooveth thereby a farther desire of disputation: but before they enter into it, they continue still the former speech, of the course and motion of the Sunne. Afterwards, they come to the maine point, namely, Why all the Oracles of Greece (excepting that onely of Lebadia) ceased? To which demand, Planetiades a Cynique Philosopher answereth, That the wickednesse of men is the cause thereof. Ammonius contrariwise attributeth all unto the warres which had consumed the Pilgrims that used to resort unto the said Oracles. Lamprias proposeth one opinion, and Cleombrotus inferring another of his, fall into a discourse and common place as touching Dæmons, whom he verily raungeth between gods and men, disputing of their nature, according to the Philosophie of the Greeks. Then he proveth, that these Dæmons have the charge of the Oracles, but by reason that they departed out of one countrey into another, or died, these Oracles gave over. To this purpose he telleth a notable tale as touching the death of the great Pan, concluding thus, that seeing Dæmons be mortall, we ought not to woonder at the cessation of Oracles. After this, Ammonius confuteth the Epicureans, who holde, That there be no Dæmons. And upon the confirmation of the former positions, they enter together into the examination of the opinions of the Epicureans and Platonists, concerning the number of the worlds, to wit, whether they be many or infinit? growing to this resolution after long dispute, that there be many, and namely, to the number of five. Which done, Demetrius reviving the principall questin, moveth also a new one, Why the Dæmons have this power to speake by Oracles? Unto which there be many and divers answeres made, which determine all in one Treatise according to the Platonists Philospohie, of the principall, efficient and finall cause, of those things that are effected by reason, and particularly of divinations and predictions: for which, he maketh to concurre, the Earth, the Sunne, Exhalations, Dæmons, and the Soule of man. Now all the intention and drift of Plutarch groweth to this point, that the earth being incited and moved by a naturall vertue, and that which is proper unto it, and in no wise divine and perdurable, hath brought forth certaine powers of divination: that these inspirations breathing and arising out of the earth, have touched the understandings of men with such efficacy, as that they have caused them to foresee future things afarre off and long ere they hapned; yea, and have addressed and framed them to give answere both in verse and prose. Item, that like as there be certeine grounds and lands more fertile one than the other, or producing some particular things according to the divers and peculiar proprietie of ech: there be also certeine places and tracts of the world endued with this temperature, which both ingender and also incite these Enthusiaque and divining spirits. Furthermore, that this puissance is meere divine indeed; howbeit, not perpetuall, eternall, unmoveable, nor that which is for ever perdurable: but by processe and succeßion of time, doth diminish and decay by little and little, untill at length through age it consume to nothing. Semblably, that this great number of spirits are not engendred incessantly, neither proceed they forward or retire backe continually; but this vertue of the earth moveth of it selfe in certeine revolutions, and by that meanes is enchased and puffed up: and after that in time it hath gathered abundance of new vapours, it filleth the caves and holes so full untill they discharge & send them up againe. Whereupon it commeth to passe, that the exhalations stirred in the said caves, and desirous to issue forth, after that they have beene beaten backe againe, violently assaile the foundations, and stirre the temples built upon them, in such sort, as being shaken as it were by earthquakes, more or lesse in one place than another, according to the ouvertures and passages made for the exhalation, they finde issue through the streights, breake forth with forcible violence, and so produce these Oracles. In summe, the intention and minde of Plutarch is to prove, that the beginning, progresse and end of these Oracles proceed all from naturall causes, to wit, the exhalations of the earth. Wherein he is fouly and grossly deceived, considering that such Oracles in Greece have beene inspired by the divell, who hath kept an open shop there of imposture, deceits, and the most horrible seducements that can be devised. For mine owne part, I impute this whole discourse of Plutarch unto the ignorance of the true God, the very mother of this dispight,which bringeth forth this present treatise, saved by the Pagans, for to darken the resplendent light of that great King of the world and his trueth: which hath discussed and brought to nothing all the subtill devices of Satan, who triumphed over all Greece by the meanes of his Oracles. Thus after large discourses upon these matters, Pluatarch concludeth the whole disputation: the conclusion whereof he enricheth with an accident that befel unto the Prophetesse of Delphi; where a man may evidently see the imposture and fraud of divels and of malicious spirits (and those be the Dæmons which Plutarch would designe) and their horrible tyranny over men destitute of Gods grace.
have ceased to give answers.
Here goeth a tale, my friend Terentius Priscus, that in times past certeine Eagles or els Swannes, flying from the utmost ends of the earth opposit one unto the other, toward the mids thereof encountered & met together at the very place where the temple of Apollo Pythius was built, even that which is called Omphalos, that is to say, the Navill. And that afterwards, Epimenides the Phæstian being desirous to know whether this fable was true, sought unto the Oracle for to be resolved: but having received from the god a doubtfull and uncerteine answere; by reason thereof, made these verses:
Now sure in mids of land or sea, there is no Navill such; Or if there be, the gods it know: men must not see so much.
And verily the god Apollo chastised and punished him well enough, for being so curious as to search into the triall or proofe of an old received tale, as if it had beene some antique picture. But true it is, that in our daies, a little before the solemnity of the Pythique games, which were held during the magistracy of Callistratus, there were two devout & holy personages, who comming from the contrary ends of the earth, met together in the city of Delphi: the one was Demetrius the Grammarian, who came from as farre as 1 Britaine, minding to returne unto Tarsus in Cilicia, the city of his nativity; and the other, Cleombrotus the Lacedæmonian, who had travelled and wandered long time in Aegypt within the Troglodytique province, and sailed a good way up into the Red sea, not for any traffique or negotiation of merchandise, but onely as a traveller that desired to see the world and to learne new fashions abroad. For having wherewith sufficiently to mainteine himselfe, and not caring to gather more than might serve his owne turne, he emploied that time which he had, this waies, and gathered together a certeine history, as the subject, matter and ground of that Philosophy, which proposed for the end thereof (as he himselfe said) Theologie. This man having not long before beene at the temple and Oracle of Jupiter Ammon, made semblance as if he woondered not much at any thing that he saw there; only he reported unto us a strange thing, worth the observation, and better to be considered of, which he learned of the Priests there, as touching the burning lampe that never goeth out: for by their saying, every yeere it spendeth lesse oile than other. Whereby they gather certeinly (quoth he) the inequality of the yeeres, whereby the latter is evermore shorter than the former: for great probability there is, that seeing lesse oile is consumed, the time also is in proportion so much lesse. Now when all the company the present made a woonder hereat, Demetrius among the rest made a very jest of it, and said it was a meere mockery to search into the knowledge of matters so high, by such slight and small presumptions: for this was not, as Alcæus said, to paint a lion by measure of his claw or paw, but to move and alter heaven, and earth, and all the world, by the conjecture onely of a weike and lampe; yea, and to overthrow at once all the Mathematicall sciences. It is neither so nor so, good sir, quoth Cleombrotus; for neither the one nor the other will trouble these men. For first, they will never yeeld and give pace unto the Mathematicians in the certitude of their proofs; for sooner may the Mathematicians misreckon the time, and misse in their calculation and accounts, in such long motions and evolutions so farre remote and distant, than they faile in the measure of the oile which they obsere continuallly and marke most precisely, in regard of that which they see so strange and against all discourse of reason. Againe, not to grant and allow (ô Demetrius) that petie things may many times serve for signes and arguments of great and important matters, would hinder and prejudice many arts, considering that it is as much as to take away the proofs from many demonstrations, conclusions and predictions. And verily, even that you are Grammarians, will seeme to verifie and avow one point which is not of the least consequence: namely, that those heroique princes and Worthies, who were at the Trojane warre, used to shave their haire, and keepe their skin smooth with the rasour; because forsooth in reading of Homer you meet with some place where he maketh mention barely of the rasour. Semblably, that in those daies men used to put forth their money upon usury, for that in one passage the said Poet writeth thus:
Whereas my debt is neither new nor small: But as daies come and goe, it 2 growes withall.
Meaning by the verbe ὀφελλεοῖς, that his debt did grow unto him by the interest for use. Furthermore, because ever and anon the same Homer attributeth unto the night, the epithet θοὴ, which signifieth Quicke and sharpe; you Grammarians are much affected to this word, saying: He understandeth thereby, that the shadow of the earth being round, groweth point-wise or sharp at the end, in maner of a cone or pyramis. And what is he, who standing upon this point, that small things may not be the proofes and signes of greater matters; will approove this argument in Physicke: namely, that when there is a multitude of spiders seene, it doeth prognosticate a pestilent Summer: or in the Spring season, when the leaves of the olive tree resemble the crowes-feet? Who (I say) will ever abide to take the measure of the Sunnes body, by clepsydres or water-dials, with a gallon or pinte of water? or that a tyle-formed tablet, making a sharpe angle by the plumbe, enclining upon a plaine superficies, should shew the just measure of the elevation of pole from the Horizon, which alwaies is to be seene in our Hemisphære? Loe, what the priests and prophets in those parts may alledge and say. And therefore we ought to produce some other reasons against them, in case we would mainteine the course of the Sunne to be constant and unvariable, as we hold heere in these countries. And not of the Sunne onely, (cried out with a loud voice Ammonius the Philosopher, who was then in place) but also of the whole heaven, which by this reckoning commeth in question. For if it be granted, that the yeeres decrease: the race of the Sunne which he runneth betweene the one Tropique and the other, must of necessity be cut shorter, and taketh not so great a part of the Horizon, as the Mathematicians set downe; but that it becommeth shorter, and lesse according as the Southern or Meridionall parts be contracted, and gather alwaies toward the Septentrionall and Northerne. Whereupon it will ensue that our Summer will be shorter, and the temperature of the aire by consequence colder; by reason that the Sunne turneth more inwardly, and describeth greater paralelles, or equidistant circles, than those be about the Tropicks, at the longest and shortest daies of the yeere. Moreover, this would follow heereupon, that the Gnomons in the dials at Syene in Aegypt, will be no more shadowlesse at the Summer Tropicke or Solstice: and many of the fixed starres will runne under one another, and be hudled pell-mell together. And if they shall say, that when other starres hold their owne, and keepe their ordinary courses, the Sunne onely observeth no order in his motions, they cannot alledge any cause that should so much as hasten his motion alone among so many others as there be, but they shall trouble and disquiet most of those things were are seene evidently above: and namely, those generally which happen unto the Moone in regard of the Sunne. So that we shall have no need of those, who observe the measures of oile, for to proove the diversitie of the yeeres; because the eclipses both of the Moone and Sun will sufficiently shew if there be any at all, for that the Sun shall many times meet with the Moone, and the Moone reciprocally fall as often within the shadow of the earth: so as we shall need no more to display and discover the vanity and falsitie of this reason. Yea, but I my selfe (quoth Cleombrotus) have seene the said measure of oile, for they shewed many of them unto me; and that of this present yeere when I was with them, appeered to be much lesse than those in yeeres past. So that Ammonius made answer in this wise: And how is it that other men who adore the inextinguible fires, who keepe and preserve the same religiously for the space of an infinit number of yeeres, one after another, could not as well perceive and observe so much? And say that a man should admit this report of yours to be true, as touching the measures of the oile: were it not much better to ascribe the cause thereof unto some coldnesse or moisture of the aire; or rather contrariwise to some drinesse and heat, by reason whereof, the fire in the lampe being enfeebled is not able to spend so much nutriment, and therefore hath no need thereof? For I have heard it many times affirmed by some: That in Winter the fire burneth much better, as being more stronger & more fortified, by reason that the heat thereof is drawen in, more united and driven closer by the exterior colde: whereas great heats and droughts doe weaken the strength thereof, so as it becommeth faint, loose, and rawe without any great vehemencie and vigour; nay, if a man kindle it against the Sunne-shine, the operation of it is lesse, hardly catcheth it hold of the wood or fewell, and more slowly consumeth it the same. But most of all, a man may lay the cause upon the oile it selfe; for it goeth not against reason to say, that in old time the oile was of lesse nutriment, and stood more upon the waterish substance than now it doth, as pressed out of olives which grew upon yoong trees: but afterwards being better concocted, and riper in the fruit, comming of plants more perfect and fully growen in the same quantity, was more effectuall, and able longer to nourish and mainteine the fire. Thus you see how a man may salve and save that supposition of the Ammonian priests, though it seeme very strange and woonderfully extravagant. After that Ammonius had finished his speech: Nay rather (quoth I) Cleombrotus, I beseech you tell us somewhat of the oracle: for there hath gone a great name, time out of minde of the deity resident there; but now it seemeth the reputation thereof is cleane gone. And when Cleombrotus made no answer heereto, but held downe his head, and cast his eies upon the ground: There is no neede (quoth Demetrius) to demaund or make any question of the oracles there, when as we see the oracles in these parts to faile, or rather indeed (all save one or two) brought to nothing. This rather would be enquired into, what the cause should be, that generally they all doe cease? For to what purpose should we speake of others, considering that Bœotia it selfe, which heeretofore in old time resounded and rung againe with oracles; now is quite voide of them, as if the springs and fountaines were dried up, and a great siccitie and drought of oracles had come over the whole land? For there is not at this day, goe throughout all Bœoatia, (unlesse it be onely in Lebadia) one place where a man may, would he never so faine, draw any divination, what need soever he hath of any oracle: for all other parts are either mute, or altogether desolate and forlorne. And yet in the time of the Medes warre, the oracle of Ptous Apollo was in great request, and that of Amphiaraus was in no lesse reputation; for both the one and the other was sought unto. And in that of Ptous Apollo when the priest or prophet who served in the oracle, used the Aeolian language, and made answer unto those who were sent thither from the Barbarians, insomuch as none of the assistants understood one word: this Enthusiasme or divine inspiration, covertly gave thereby thus much to understand, that these oracles perteined nothing unto the Barbarians, neither were they permitted to have the ordinary Greeke language at their command. As for that of Amphiaraus, the servant who was thither sent, falling a sleepe within the sanctuarie, thought as he dreamed, that he saw and heard the minister of the god, as if with his word and voice he seemed at the first to drive him out, and command him to depart foorth of the temple, saying, that his god was not there; but afterwards to thrust him away with both his hands: but in the end, seeing that he staid still, tooke up a great stone, and therewith smot him upon the head. And verily all this answered just to that which afterwards befell, and was a very prediction and denunciation of a future accident: for Mardonius was vanquished not by the kind himselfe, but by the Tutour and lieutenant of the king of Lacedæmon, who at that time had the conduct and command of the Greeks armie; yea and with a stone felled to the ground, according as the Lydian servant aforesaid imagined in his sleepe that he was smitten with a stone. There flourished likewise about the same time the Oracle of Tegyræ, where the report goeth that the god Apollo himselfe was borne: and verily two rivers there are that runne neere one to the other, whereof the one some at this day call Phœnix, that is to say, the date tree; the other Elæa, that is to say, the olive tree. At this Oracle, during the time of the Medes warre, when the prophet Echecrates there served, god Apollo answered by his mouth, that the Greeks should have the honour of the victory in this warre, and continue superior. Also in the time of the Peloponnesiaque warre, when the Delians were driven out of their Island, there was brought unto them an answer from the Oracle at Delphi; by vertue whereof, commanded they were, to search and seeke out the place where Apollo was borne, and there to performe certeine sacrifices: whereat, when they marvelled, and in great perplexity demaunded againe, whether Apollo were borne any where else, but among them? the prophetesse Pythia added moreover & said: That a crow should tell them the place. Whereupon these deputies who were sent unto the Oracle, in their returne homeward chanced to passe through the city Chæronea, where they heard their hostesse in wose house they lodged, talking with some passengers and guests (who were going to Tegyræ) as touching the Oracle; and when they departed and tooke their leave, they saluted her, and bad her farewell in these termes: Adieu dame Corone, for that was the womans name, which signifieth as much as Crow. By this meanes they understood the meaning of the foresaid Oracle or answer of Pythia: and so when they had sacrificed at Tegyræ, not long after they were restored and returned unto their native countrey. Moreover, there were other apparitions besides of Oracles, more fresh and later, than those which we have alledged; but now they are altogether ceased: so that it were not amisse, considering that we are met neere unto Apollo Pythius, for to enquire into the cause of this so great change & alteration. As we thus communed & talked together, we were now by this time gone out of the temple, so farre as to the very gates of the Gnidian hall: and when we were entred into it, we found those friends of ours sitting there within, whom we desired to meet withall, and who attended our comming. Now when all the rest were at leisure, and had nothing else to doe (being at such a time of the day) but either to annoint their bodies, or else to looke upon the champions and wrestlers, who there exercised themselves; Demetrius after a smiling maner began and said:
What? were I best to tell some lie, Or make report of truth shall I?
It seemeth as farre as I can perceive, that you have in hand no matter of great consequence: for I saw you sitting at your ease, and it appeareth by your cheerefull and pleasant looks, that you have no busie thoughts hammering in your heads. True it is indeed (quoth Heracleo the Megarian:) for we are not in serious argument & disputation about the verbe βάλλω, whether in the Future tense it should lose one of the two Lamdaes? neither reason we about these two comparatives χεῖρον and βέλτιον (that is to say, Worse and better) of what Positives they should come? nor of what Primitives these two Superlatives χείριστον & βέλτιστον (that is to say, Worst and best) be derived? For these questions & such like, are those that make men knit and bend their browes: but of all other matters we may reason and Philosophize well enough and quietly, without making any furrowes in our forheads, and looking with an austere and soure countenance for the matter upon the companie present with us. Why then (quoth Demetrius) admit and receive us into your societie, and together with us, enterteine the question also, which erewhile was moved among us, being as it is, meet for this place, and in regard of god Apollo, pertinent unto us all as many as we be: but I beseech you of all loves, let us have no frowning nor knitting of browes whiles we reason upon the point. Now when we were set intermingled one with another, and that Demetrius had propounded the foresaid question, immediately Didymus the Cynique Philosopher, surnamed Planetiades, started up, and stood upon his feete; and after he had stamped with his staffe twice or thrice upon the floore, cried out in this maner: O God! Come you hether with this question indeed, as if it were a matter so hard to be decided, and had need of some long and deepe inquisition? for a great marvell no doubt it is, if seeing so much sinne and wickednesse is spred over the face of the whole world at this day, not onely shame and just indignation and Nemesis (according as Hesiodus prophesied before) have abandoned mans life; but also the providence of God being dislodged and carying away with it all the Oracles that be, is cleane departed and gone for ever? But contrariwise I will put foorth unto you another matter to be debated of: namely, how it comes to passe, that they have not rather already given over every one? and why Hercules is not come againe, or some other of the gods, and hath not long since plucked up and caried away the three-footed table and all, being so full ordinarily of shamefull, vilanous and impious demands, proposed there daily to Apollo? whiles some preferre matters unto him as a Sophister, to trie what he can say; others aske him concerning treasure hidden; some againe would be resolved of succession in heritages, and of incestuous and unlawfull marriages? Insomuch as now Pythagoras is manifestly convinced of errour and lesing, who said, that men were then best, and excelled in goodnesse, when they presented themselves before the gods: for such things as it would well beseeme to hide and conceale in the presence onely of some ancient personage (I meane the foule maladies and passions of the soule) the same they discover and lay abroad naked before Apollo. And as he would have gone forward still, and prosecuted this theame, both Heracleon plucked him by the cloke, and I also (who of all the company was most familiar & inward with him) Peace (quoth I) my good friend Planetiades, and cease to provoke Apollo against you: for a cholericke and testie god he is, and not milde and gracious; but according as Pindarus said very well:
Misdeem'd he is, and thought amisse: To bee Most kinde to men, and full of lenitie.
And were he either the Sunne, or the lord and father of the Sunne, or a substance beyond all visible natures, it is not like and probable, that he would disdaine to speake any more unto men at this day living, of whose generation, nativity, and nourishment, being, and understanding, he is the cause and author: neither is it credible, that the divine providence, which is a good, kinde, and tender mother, produceth and preserveth all things for our use, should shew herselfe to be malicious, in this matter onely of divination and prophesie; and upon an old grudge and rankor, to bereave us of that which at first she gave us, as if forsooth even then when Oracles were rife in all parts of the world, there was not in so mightie a multitude of men, the greater number of wicked. And therefore may Pythicke truce (as they say) for the while with vice and wickednesse, which you are ever woont to chastice and rebuke in all your speeches, and come and sit downe heere by us againe, that together with us you may search out some other cause of this generall eclipse and cessation of Oracles, which now is in question: but withall remember that you keepe this god Apollo propitious, and moove him not to wrath and displeasure.
But these words of mine wrought so with Planetiades, that without any word replying, out of the dores he went his waies. Now when the company sat still for a prety while in great silence, Ammonius at length directing his speech to me: I beseech you (quoth he) Lamprias, take better heed unto that which we doe, and looke more neerely into the matter of this our disputation, to the end that we cleere not the god altogether, and make him to be no cause at all that the Oracles doe cease. For he who attributeth this cessation unto any other cause than the will and ordinance of God, giveth us occasion to suspect him also, that he thinketh they never were nor be at this present by his disposition, but rather by some other meanes: for no other cause and puissance there is, more noble, more mighty, or more excellent, which might be able to destroy and abolish divination, if it were the worke of God. And as touching the discourse that Planetiades made, it pleaseth me never a whit: neither can I approove thereof, as well for other causes, as for that he admitteth a certaine inequality and inconstance in the god. For one while he maketh him to detest and abhorre vice, and another while to allow and accept thereof: much like unto some king or tyrant rather, who at one gate driveth out wicked persons, and receiving them in at another doth negotiate with them. But seeing it is so, that the greatest worke which can be, sufficient in it selfe, nothing superfluous, but fully accomplished every way is most beseeming the dignity and majesty of the gods, let this principle be supposed and laied for a ground, and then a man in mine opinion may very well say, that of this generall defect and common scarcity of men, which civill seditions and warres before time have brought generally into the world, Greece hath felt the greatest part: insomuch as at this very day, hardly is all Greece able to make three thousand men for the warres, which are no more in number than one city in times past (to wit, Megara) set forth and sent to the battell of Platæa: and therefore, whereas the god Apollo in this our age hath left many oracles, which in ancient time were much frequented, if one should inferre heereupon and say, that this argueth no other thing but that Greece is now much depopulate & dispeopled, in comparison of that which it was in old time, I would like well of his invention, and furnish him sufficiently with matter to discourse upon. For what would it boot, and what good would come of it, if there were now an Oracle at Tegyræ as sometime there was, or about Ptoum? whereas all the day long a man shall paradventure meet with one, and that is alll, keeping and feeding cattell there. And verily it is found written in histories, that this very place of the Oracle where now we are, which of all others in Greece is for antiquity right antient, and for reputation most noble and renowmed, was in times past for a great while desert and unfrequented; nay unaccessable altogether, in regard of a most venimous and dangerous beast, even a dragon which haunted it. But those who write this, doe not collect heereupon the cessation of the Oracle aright, but argue cleane contrary: for it was the solitude and infrequency of the place that brought the dragon thither, rather than the dragon that caused the said desert solitarinesse. But afterwards when it pleased God, that Greece was fortified againe and replenished with many cities, and this place well peopled and frequented, they used two Prophetesses, who one after the other in their course descended into the cave and there sat; yea and a third there was besides chosen, as a suffragane or assistant to sit by them and helpe if need were: but now there is but one Prophetesse in all, and yet we complaine not; for she onely is sufficient for all commers that have any occasion to use the Oracle. And therefore we are in no wise to blame or accuse the god: for that divination and spirit of prophesie which remaineth there at this day, is sufficient for all, and sendeth all suiters away well contented, as having their full dispatch and answere for whatsoever they demand. Like as therefore Agamemnon in Homer had nine Heraults or Criers about him, and yet hardly with them could he containe and keepe in order the assembly of the Greeks being so frequent as it then was; but now within these few daies you shall see heere the voice of one man alone able to resound over the whole Theater, and to reach unto all the people there contained: even so, we must thinke, that this divination and spirit of prophesy in those daies used many organs and voices to speake unto the people, being a greater multitude than now there be. And therefore we should on the other side rather wonder, if God would suffer to run in vaine like waste water, this propheticall divination: or to resound againe, like as the desert rockes in the wide fields and mountaines ring with the resonance and ecchoes of heard-mens hollaing, and beasts bellowing. When Ammonius had thus said, and I held my peace, Cleombrotus addressing his speech unto me: And grant you indeed (quoth he) thus much, that it is the god Apollo, who is the author and overthrower also of these Oracles? Not so, answered I, for I maintaine and hold, that God was never the cause of abolishing any Oracle or divination whatsoever: but contrariwise, like as where he produceth and prepareth many other things for one use and behoofe, nature bringeth in the corruption and utter privation of some; or to say more truely, matter being it selfe privation, or subject thereto, avoideth many times and dissolveth that which a more excellent cause hath composed: even so I suppose there be some other causes, which darken and abolish the vertue of divination, considering that God bestoweth upon men many faire & goodly gifts, but nothing perdurable & immortall: in such sort as the very workes of the gods do die, but not themselves, according as Sophocles saith. And verily the Philosophers and naturalists, who are well exercised in the knowledge of nature and the primitive matter, ought indeed to search into the substance, property and puissance of Oracles, but to reserve the originall and principall cause for God, as very meet and requisit it is that it should so be. For very foolish and childish it is that the god himselfe, like unto those spirits speaking within the bellies of possessed folkes, such as in old time they called Engastrimythi, and Euryclees, and be now termed Pythons, entred into the bodies of Prophets, spake by their mouthes, and used their tongues and voices as organs and instruments of speech: for he that thus intermedleth God among the occasions and necessities of men, maketh no spare as he ought of his majesty, neither carieth he that respect as is meet, to the preservation of the dignity and greatnesse of his power and vertue. Then Cleombrotus: You say very well and truely (quoth he:) but for as much as it is a difficult matter to comprise and define in what maner, and how farre forth, and to what point we ought to employ this divine providence: in my conceit, they who are of this minde, that simply God is cause of nothing at all in the world, and they againe, that make him wholly the authour of all things, hold not a meane and indifferent course, but both of them misse the very point of decent mediocrity. Certes as they say passing well, who hold that Plato having invented and devised that element or subject, upon which grow and be engendred qualities, the which one while is called the primitive matter, and otherwhile nature, delivered Philosophers from may great difficulties: even so me thinks, they who ordained a certaine kinde by themselves of Dæmons betweene god and men, have assoiled many more doubts and greater ambiguities by finding out that bond and linke (as it were) which joineth us and them together in society: Were it the opinion that came from the ancient Magi and Zoroasties, or rather a Thracian doctrine delivered by Orpheus; or els an Aegyptian or Phyrgian tradition, as we may conjecture by seeing the sacrifices both in the one countrey and the other: wherein, among other holy and divine ceremonies, it seemeth there were certeine dolefull ceremonies of mourning and sorrow intermingled, savouring of mortality. And verily of the Greeks, Homer hath used these two names indifferently, terming the Gods Dæmons, and the Dæmons likewise Gods. But Hesiodus was the first who purely & distinctly hath set downe foure kinds of reasonable natures, to wit, the Gods: then the Dæmons, and those many in number and all good: the Heroes and Men; for the Demi-gods are ranged in the number of those Heroicke worthies. But others hold, that there is a transmutation aswell of bodies as soules: and like as we may we may observe, that of earth is ingendred water, of water aire, and of aire fire, whiles the nature of the substance still mounteth on high: even so the better soules are changed, first from men to Heroes or Demi-gods, and afterwards from them to Dæmons, and Dæmons some few after long time, being well refined and purified by vertue, came to participte the divination of the gods. Yet unto some it befalleth, that being not able to holde and conteine, they suffer themselves to slide and fall into mortall bodies againe, where they lead an obscure and darke life, like unto a smoaky vapour. As for Hesiodus, he thinketh verily, that even the Dæmons also, after certeine revolutions of time, shall die: for speaking in the person of one of their Nymphs called Naiades, covertly and under ænigmaticall termes he designeth their time, in this wise:
Nine 3 ages of men 4 in their flower, doth live The 5 railing Crow: foure times the Stag surmount The life of Crowes: to Ravens doth nature give A threefold age of Stags, by true account: One Phœnix lives as long as Ravens nine: But you faire Nymphes, the daughters verily Of mighty Jove and of nature divine, The Phœnix yeeres ten fold do multiply.
But they that understand not well, what the Poet meaneth by this word γενεὰ, make the totall sum of this time to amount unto an exceeding great number of yeeres. For in trueth it is but one yeere and no more. And so by that reckening, the whole ariseth in all to nine thousand seven hundred and twenty yeeres just; which is the very life of the Dæmons. And many Mathematicians there be, by whose computation it is lesse. But more than so Pindarus would not have it, when he saith, that the Nymphs age is limited equall to trees; whereupon they be named Hamadryades, as one would say, living and dying with Okes. As he was about to say more, Demetrius interrupted his speech, and taking the words out of his mouth: How is it possible, quoth he, ô Cleombrotus, that you should make good and mainteine, that the Poet called the age of man, a yeere onely and no more? for it is not the space either of his flower and best time, nor of his olde age, according as some reade it in Hesiodus : for as one reads ἡβῶντον, that is to say, flourishing; so, another readeth γηρῶντον, that is to say, aged. Now they that would have it to be ἡβῶντον, put downe for the age of man, thirty yeeres, according to the opinion of Heraclitus, which is the very time that a father hath begotten a sonne able to beget another of his owne: but such as follow the reading that hath γηρῶντον, attribute unto the age of man an hundred and eight yeeres, saying that foure and fifty is the just moity or one halfe of a mans life: which number is composed of an unitie; the two first plaines, two squares, and two cubiques: which numbers Plato also took to the procreation of the soule which he describeth. But it seemeth veriliy, that Hesiodus by these words covertly did signifie that generall conflagration of the world; at what time, it is very probable, that the Nymphs together with all humors and liquid matters shall perish:
Those Nymphs I meane, which many a tree and plant In forrests faire and goodly groves do hant, Or neere to springs and river streames are seene, Or keepe about the medowes gay and greene.
Then Cleombrotus: I have heard many (quoth he) talke hereof, and I perceive very wel how this conflagration which the Stoicks have devised, as it hath crept into the Poems of Heraclitus and Orpheus, and so perverted their verses: so it hath seized upon and caught hold of Hesiodus, and given a perverse interpretation of him aswell as of others. But neither can I endure to admit this consummation and end of the world, which they talke of, nor any such impossible matters; and namely, those speeches as touching the life of the Crow and the Stag or Hinde, which yeeres, if they were summed together, would grow to an excessive number. Moreover, a yere conteining in it the beginning and the end of all things which the seasons thereof doe produce, and the earth bring forth, may in mine opinion not impertinently be called γενεὰ, tht is to say, the age of men: for even your selves confesse, that Hesiodus in one passage called mans life γενεὰ. How say you, is it not so? Then Demetrius avowed as much. This also (quoth Cleombrotus) is as certeine, that both the measure, and also the things which be measured, are called by one and the same names: as it appeareth by Cotyla, Chœnix, Amphora, and Medimnus. Like as therefore we name Unitie, a number, which indeed of all numbers is the least measure and beginning onely of them: semblably, Hesiodus termed Yeere the age of man, for that with it principally we measure his age, and so communicate that word with the thing that it measureth: as for those numbers which they make, there is no singulrity at all or matter of importance in them as touching the renowmed numbers indeed. But the number of 9720 hath a speciall ground and beginning, as being composed of the foure first numbers arising in order from one: and the same, added together or multipled by foure every way arise to fortie. Now if 6 these be reduced into triangles five times, they make the just summe of the number before named. But as touching these matters, what need I to contend with Demetrius? for whether there be meant thereby a longer time or a shorter, a certeine or uncerteine, wherein Hesiodus wuld have the soule of a Dæmon to change, or the life of a Demi god or Heros to end, it skilleth not; for he prooveth neverthelesse that which he would, and that by the evidence of most ancient and wise witnesses, that there be certeine natures neuter and meane (as it were) situate in the confines betweene gods and men, and the same subject to mortall passions, and apt to receive necessarie changes and mutations: which natures according to the traditions & examples of our forefathers, meet it is that we call Dæmons, and honour them accordingly. And to this purpose, Xenocrates one of the familiar friends of Plato, was woont to bring in the demonstration and example of triangles, which agreed very well to the present matter in hand: for that triangle which had 7 three sides and angles equall, he compared unto the nature divine and immortall; that which had 8 all sides unequall, unto the humane and mortall nature; and that which had 9 two sides equall and one unequall, unto the nature of the Dæmons: for the first is every way equall, the second on every side unequall, and the last in some sort equall and in other unequall; like unto the nature of the Dæmons, having humane passions and affections, yet withall, the divine power of some god. But nature herselfe hath proposed unto us sensible figures and similitudes visible above; of gods verily the Sunne and other starres; but of mortall men, sudden lights and flashes in the night, blazing comets, and shooting of starres: for unto such Euripides compared them, when he said:
Who was ere while and lately in the floure Of his fresh youth, all sudden in an houre, Became extinct (as starre which seemes to fall From skie) and into aire sent breath and all.
Now for a mixt body, representing the nature of Dæmons or Angels, there is the Moone: which they seeing to be so subject to growing and decreasing, yea and to perishing altogether, and departing out of sight, thought to accord very well, and to be sortable unto the mutability of the Dæmons kinde. For which cause, some have called her a terrestriall starre; others an Olympian or celestiall earth; and there be againe who have named her The heritage and possession of Prosperpina, both heavenly and earthly. Like as therefore, if one tooke the aire out of the world, and remooved it from betweene the Moone and the earth, he should dissolve the continuation, coherence and composition of the whole universall frame, by leaving a voide and emptie place in the middes, without any bond to joine and linke the extremes together: even so, they who admit not the nation and kind of the Dæmons, abolish all communication, convers and conference betweene gods and men, considering they take away that nature which serveth as a truchman, interpreter, and minister betweene both, as Plato said: or rather they would drive us to confound and huddle together, yea and to jumble all in one, if we came to intermingle the divine nature and deity among humane passions and actions, and so plucke it out of heaven, for to make it intermeddle in the negocies and affaires of men; like as they saie, the wives of Thessalie draw downe the Moone from heaven. Which devise & fiction hath taken roote, and is beleeved among women, by reason that Aglaonica, the daughter of Agetor (by report) being a wise dame, and well seene in Astrologie, made semblance and perswaded the vulgar sort, that in every ecclipse of the Moone, she used alwaies some charmes and enchantments; by vertue whereof, she fetched the Moone out of heaven. As for us, give we no eare and credit unto them, who say, there be some Oracles and divinations without a deity, or that the gods regard not sacrifices, divine services, and other sacred ceremonies, exhibited unto them: neither on the other side let us beleeve, that God is present to intermeddle or employ himselfe in person, but betaking and referring that charge unto the ministers of the gods, as it is meet and just; like as if they were deputies, officers, and secretaries: let us constantly hold, that those be the Dæmons which are their espies and escouts, going too and fro throughout all parts, some to oversee and direct the sacrifices, and sacred rites and ceremonies performed to the gods: others to chastice and punish the enormous and outragious offences and wrongs committed by men: and others there are besides, of whom the Poet Hesiodus speaketh most reverently, saying:
Pure, holy, and syncere they be, the Donors of good things: This honour is allotted them, beseeming noble kings.
Giving us by the way thus much to understand, that to doe good and be beneficiall is a roiall office and function: for a difference there is, and sundry degrees there be in the gifts and vertues of Dæmons, like as among men. For in some of them there remaine still certaine small reliques (and the same verie feeble and scarce sensible) of that passionate and sensitive part of the soule which is not reasonable, even as a very excrement and superfluitie left behind of the rest: but in others againe, there abideth a great deale, and the same hardly to be extinguished, whereof we may see lively the works and evident tokens in many places, disseminate in some sacrifices, feasts and ceremonies celebrated unto them; yea, and in the tales reported by them. Howbeit, as touching the mysteries and sacred services (by which & through which a man may more cleerely perceive than by any other meanes whatsoever, the true nature of the gods) I will not speake a word: let them lie close and hidden still for me, as Herodotus saith. But as for certeine festivall solemnities and sacrifices, which are held as dismall, unfortunate and heavy daies; when sometimes they use to eat raw flesh, and teare humane bodies piece-meale; or otherwhile to fast and knocke their brests; and in many places utter most filthy and beastly words during the sacrifices:
Wagging their heads in frantick wise, With strange allarmes and hideous cries.
I will never beleeve that this is done for any of the gods: but will say rather, it is to avert the ire and appease the furie of some maligne divels. Neither carieth it any likelihood and probability, that ever any god would require men to be sacrificed unto them, as they were in old time: or stand well pleased with any such sacrifices. Neither was it for nought that kings and great captaines gave their owne children thus to be slaine; yea, and with their owne hands killed them for sacrifice: but we are to beleeve that it was to turne away and divert the rankor and wrath of some perverse spirits and malicious fiends, or to satisfie such hurtfull divels; yea, and to fulfill the violent, furious and tyrannicall lusts of some, who either could not, or would not enjoy them with their bodies, or by their bodies. But like as Hercules besieged the city of Oechalia, for a virgins sake who was within: even so these powerfull and outragious fiends, demaunding some humane soule clad and compassed within a body, to be given unto them, and yet not able to fulfill their lust by the body, bring pestilence, famine, dearth, and sterility of the ground upon cities, raise wars and civill dissentions, untill such time as they come to have and enjoy that which they loved: and some doe cleane contrary; as it was my hap to observe in Candie, (where I abode a long time) how they celebrated a certaine monstrous feast, in which they made shew of an headlesse mans image, saying it was Molus, the father of Meriones: for having forced or defloured a Nymph, he was afterwards found without an head. Moreover, what ravishment soever, what wandring voiages, what occultations, flights, banishments, ministeries and services of the gods be reported and sung in fables or hymnes, certes they be all of them no passions and accidents that befell to gods indeed, but to some Dæmons, whose fortunes were recorded in memoriall of their vertue & puissance: neither meant the Poet Aeschylus (a god) when he said:
Apollo chast, who now is fled, And out of heaven banished;
Nor Admetus in Sophocles:
My chaunting cocke that crowes so shrill, Hath raised him and brought to mill.
Also the Divines and Theologians of Delphi, are in greater error, and farre from the truth, who thinke, that sometimes in this place, there was a combat betweene Apollo and a dragon, about the hold and possession of this Oracle. They are to blame also, who suffer Poets and Oratours, striving one against another in their Theatres, to act or relate such matters; as if of purpose and expresly they contradicted and condemned those things which themselves performe in their most sacred solemnities. Heereat, when Philippus woondered much (for the Historiographer of that name was present in this companie) & demanded withall, what divine rites and ceremonies they might be, which were contradicted and testified against by these who contended in the Theaters? Mary even those (quoth Cleombrotus) which concerne this very Oracle of Delphi, and by which this citie not long since hath admitted and received into the sacred profession of holy mysteries, all the Greeks without Thermopylæ, and excluded those that dwell as farre as the vale of Tempe. For the tabernacle or cotage heere of boughes (which is erected and set up every ninth yeere, within the court-yard of this temple) is not a representation of the dragons cave or denne, but rather of some tyrants or kings house: as also the assault or surprise thereof in great silence, by the way called Dolonia. Likewise, that a little after they bring thither a boy who hath both father and mother living, with torches light burning: and when they have set the said tabernacle or tent on fire, and overthrowne the table, runne away as hard as they can through the dores of the temple, and never looke behinde them. And finally, the wanderings of this boy in divers places, and his servile ministeries, together with the expiatory sacrifices and ceremonies about Tempe, move suspicion that there should be represented thereby some notorious outrage, and audacious fact perpetrated there in old time. For it were a meere mockery (my friend Philippus) to say, that Apollo for killing the dragon, fled as farre as to the utmost coasts and marches of Greece, for to be purified and assoiled: also, that he offered thereron certeine expiatorie libations and effusions, and performed all such duties and services which men doe, when they would appease the wrath and indignation of such Dæmons and curst fiends, whom we call Alastoras and Palamnæos, as one would say, The revengers of such enormities and crimes as could not be forgotten, and those who bare still in minde some old sinnes, and pursued the same. As for that tale, which I my selfe of late have heard as touching this flight and banishment, it is woonderfull strange and prodigious: but if it conteine some trueth among, we must not thinke, that it was a small and ordinary matter that befell in those daies about the said Oracle. But for feare I might be thought as Empedocles sometimes said:
To stitch the heads of sundry tales together, And goe in divers pathes I know not whether:
Suffer me I beseech you to make a convenient end heere of my light discourses. For now are wee just come so farre, as we may also be bold after many others to affirme and pronounce, that seeing the Dæmons ordained for the presidence and superintendance of prophesies and Oracles doe faile, of necessity these Oracles also and divinations must cease with them; and when they be fled and gone, or change their residence, it cannot chuse but the former places must loose their propheticall power and vertue: also, that when after long time they be returned thither, the said places will begin againe to speake and sound, like unto instruments of musicke; namely, if they be present who have the skill to handle and use them accordingly. After that Cleombrotus had thus discoursed: There is not (quoth Heracleon) any one of this companie that is a prophane miscreant and infidell, not professed in our religion, or who holdeth any opinions as touching the gods, discordant from us. Howbeit, let us take heed our selves ô Philippus, lest ere we be aware, we doe not in our discourse & disputation put downe some erroneous suppositions and such as may make great ground workes of impiety. You say very well (quoth Philip) but what point is it of all those that Cleombrotus hath put downe, that is so offensive and scandalizeth you most? Then Heracleon: That they be not gods indeed who are the presidents of Oracles (because we ought to beleeve of them, that they be exempt from all terrestrial affaires) but that they be Dæmons rather, or the angels and ministers of the gods; in my conceit is no bad nor impertinent supposall: but all at once & abruptly, by occasion of Empedocles his verses, to attribute unto these Dæmons crimes, plagues, calamities, transgressions, inquietudes and errours sent from the gods above, and in the end to make them for to die, as mortall men; this I take to be somewhat presumptuously spoken, and to smell of barbarous audacity. Then Cleombrotus asked Philippus, who this yong man was, and from whence he came? And when he had heard his name and his country, he answered in this wise: We are not ignorant our selves (ô Heracleon) that we are fallen into a speech savoring somewhat of absurdity: but a man cannot possibly discourse of great matters, without he lay as great foundations at the beginning, for to proceed unto probability and prove his opinion. And as for your selfe, you are not aware, how you overthrow even that which you grant: for confesse you doe, that there be Dæmons; but when you will needs mainaine that they be neither lewd nor mortall, you cannot make it good that they be at all. For wherein I pray you doe they differ from gods,in case they be in substance incorruptible, and in vertue impassible, or not subject to sinne? Heereupon Heracleon, when he had mused within himselfe not saying a word, and studied what answere to make, Cleombrotus went on and said, It is not Empedocles alone who hath given out there were evill Dæmons, but Plato also himselfe, Xenocrates also and Chrysippus; yea and Democritus when he wished and praied that he might meet with lucky images, both knew and gave us (no doubt) thereby to understand, that he thought there were others of them crooked and shrewd, and such as were badly affected and had evill intentions. But as touching the death of such, and how they are mortall, I have heard it reported by a man who was no foole nor a vaine lying person: and that was Epitherses the father of Aemilianus the oratour, whom some of you (I dare well say) have heard to plead & declaime. This Epitherses was my fellow-citizen and had beene my schoolemaster in grammar, and this narration he related: That minding upon a time to make a voiage by sea into Italy, he was embarqued in a ship fraught with much marchandize and having many passengers beside aboord. Now when it drew toward the evening, they hapned (as he said) to be calmed about the Isles Echinades; by occasion whereof their ship hulled with the tides untill at length it was brought neere unto the Islands Paxæ, whiles most of the passengers were awake, and many of them still drinking after supper; but then, all on a sudden there was heard a voice from one of the Islands of Paxæ, calling alound unto one Thamus; insomuch as there was not one of all our company but he wondred thereat. Now this Thamus was a Pilot and an Aegyptian borne: but knowen he was not to many of them in the ship by that name. At the two first calles, he made no answere; but at the third time he obeied the voice, and answered: Here I am. Then he who spake, strained his voice and said unto him: When thou art come to 10 Palodes, publish thou and make it knowen: That the Great Pan is Dead. And as Epitherses made report unto us, as many as heard this voice were wonderfully amazed thereat, and entred into a discourse and disputation about the point, whether it were best to doe according to this commandement, or rather to let it passe and not curiously to meddle withall; but neglect it? As for Thamus, of this minde he was and resolved: If the winde served, to saile by the place quietly and say nothing; but if the windes were laid and that their ensued a calme, to crie and pronounce with a loud voice that which he heard. Well, when they were come to Palodes aforesaid the winde was downe and they were becalmed, so as the sea was very still without waves. Whereupon Thamus looking from the poupe of the ship toward the land, pronounced with a loud voice that which he had heard, and said: The great Pan is Dead. He had no sooner spoken the word but there was heard a mighty noise, not of one but of many together, who seemed to groane and lament, and withall to make a great wonder. And as it falleth commonly out when as many be present, the newes thereof was soone spred and divulged through the city of Rome, in such as Tiberius Cæsar the emperour sent for Thamus: and Tiberius verily gave so good credit unto his wordes, that he searched with all diligence who that Pan might be. Now the great clerks and learned men (of whom he had many about him) gave their conjecture that it might be he, who was the sonne of Mercurie by Penelope. And verily Philippus had some of the companie present to beare witnesse with him, such as had been Aemilianus scholars and heard as much. Then Demetrius made report, that many little desert and desolate Isles there were lying dispersed and scattering in the sea about Britaine, like unto those which the Greeks call Sporades; whereof some were named the Isles of Dæmons, and Heroes or Demi-gods: also that himselfe by commission and commandement from the emperour, sailed toward the neerest of those desert Isles for to know and see somewhat; which he found to have very few inhabitants, and those all were by the Britaines, held for sacrosainct and inviolable. Now within a while after he was arrived thither, the aire and weather was mightily troubled, many portentous signes were given by terrible tempests and stormes, with extraordinary windes, thunders, lightnings, and firie impressions: but after that these tempests were ceased, the Islanders assured him, that one of those Dæmons or Demi-gods (who surmounted the nature of man) was departed. For like as a lampe (say they) or candle, so long as it burneth light offendeth no bodie; but when it is put out or goeth forth, it maketh a stinke offensive unto many about it; even so, these great Soules whiles they shine and give light, be milde, gracious, and harmelesse; but when they come to be extinct or to perish, they raise (even as at that present) outragious tempests, yea and oftentimes infect the aire with contagious and pestilent maladies. They reported moreover, that in one of those Ilands Briareus kept Saturne prisoner in a sound sleepe (for that was the devise to hold him captive) about whoe person there were many other Dæmons of his traine and his servitours. Cleombrotus then taking occasion for to speake: I am able my selfe also (quoth he) to alledge many such examples if I list; but it may suffice for this present matter in hand, that this is nothing contrary nor opposit unto that which by us hath beene delivered. And verily we know full well, that the Stoicks hold the same opinion not onely of Dæmons that we doe, but also of the gods: that there being so great a multitude of them, yet there is but one alone immortall and eternall; whereas all the rest had their beginning by nativity and shall have an end by death. And as for the scoffes, scornes, and mockeries that the Epicureans make, we ought not to regard them, nor be affraid of them: for so audacious they are, that they use the same even in the divine providence, terming it a very fable and oldwives tale. But we contrariwise hold, that their infinity of worldes is a fable indeed: as also to say, that among those innumerable worlds, there is not so much as one governed by reason or the providence of God; but that all things were first made and afterwards maintained by meere chance and fortune. Certes, if it be lawfull to laugh, and that we must needs make game in matters of Philosophy, we should rather mocke those who bring into their disputations of naturall questions, I wot not what deafe, blinde, dumbe and inanimate images; remaining I know not where, and continuing in appearance infinit revolutions of yeeres, wandring round about and going to and fro: which say they, issue and flowe from bodies partly yet living, and partly from those who long agoe were dead, burnt, yea and rotten and putrified to nothing. These men (I say) we should doe well to laugh at, who draw such ridiculous toies and vaine shadowes as these, into the serious disputations of nature.
Meanwhile forsooth, offended they are and angry, if a man should say there be Dæmons: and that not onely in nature but in reason also it standeth with good congruity, they should continue and endure a long time. These speeches thus passed, Ammonius began in this wise: 11 Cleombrotus in mine opinion (quoth he) hath spoken very well: and what should impeach us, but that we may admit and receive his sentence, being so grave as it is, and most beseeming a Philosopher? For reject it once, we shall be forced to reject also and denie many things which are, and usually happen, whereof no certeine cause and reason can be delivered: and if it be admitted, it drawth after it no traine and consequence of any impossibility whatsoever, nor of that which is not subsistent. But as touching that one point, which I have heard the Epicureans alledge against Empedocles, and the Dæmons which he bringeth in, namely: That they cannot possibly be happy and long lived, being evill and sinfull as they are, for that vice by nature is blind, and of it selfe falleth ordinarily headlong into perils and inconveniences which destroy the life; this is a very sottish opposition: for by the same reason they must confesse, that Epicurus was worse than Gorgias the Sophister; and Metrodorus, than Alexis the Comicall Poet: for this Poet lived twce as long as Metrodorus; and that Sophister, longer than Epicurus, by a third part of his age. For it is in another respect, that we say Vertue is puissant, and vice feeble, not in regard of the lasting continuance or dissolution of the bodie: for we see, that of beasts there be many dull, slow and blockish of spirit; many also by nature libidinous, unruly and disordered, which live longer than those that are full of wit, wily, wary and wise. And therefore they conclude not aright, in saying, that the divine nature enjoieth immortality, by taking heed and avoiding those things that be noisome and mischievous. For it behooved, in the divine nature which is blessed and happy, to have set downe an impossibility of being subject to all corruption and alteration, and that it standeth in no need of care and labour to mainteine the said nature. But peradventure it seemeth not to stand with good maners and civility, to dispute thus against those that are not present to make answere for themselves: it were meet therefore, that Cleombrotus would resume and take in hand that speech againe, which he gave over and laied aside of late, as touching the departure and translation of these Dæmons from one place to another. Then Cleombrotus: Yes mary, quoth he: but I would marvell, if this discourse of mine would not seeme unto you much more absurd than the former delivered already: and yet it seemeth to be grounded upon naturall reason, and Plato himselfe hath made the overture thereto, not absolutely pronouncing and affirming so much; but after the maner of a doubtfull opinion and under covert words, casting out a certeine wary conjecture tending that way, although among other Philosophers it hath beene disclaimed and cried out against. But forasmuch as there is set a cup on the boord, full of reasons and tales mingled together, and for that a man shall hardly meet in any place againe with more courteous and gratious hearers, among whom he may passe and put away such narrations, as pieces of forren coine, and strange money: I will not thinke much to gratifie you thus farre foorth, as to acquaint you with a narration that I heard a stranger and a Barbarian relate: whom (after many a journey made to and fro for to finde him out, and much money given by me for to heare where he was) I met with at length by good hap, neere unto the Red sea. His maner was to speake and converse with men but once in the yeere; all the rest of his time (as he said himselfe) he spent among the Nymphs, Nomades and Dæmons. Well, with much adoe I light upon him, I communed with him, and he used me courteously. The fairest man he was to see to, of all that ever I set eie on: neither was he subject to any disease: once every moneth he fed upon a medicinable and biter fruit of a certeine herbe: and this was the fare he lived upon. A good linguist he was, and used to speake many languages; but with me he talked commonly in Greeke, after the Doricke dialect. His speech differed not much from song and meeter: and whensoever he opened his mouth for to speake, there issued forth of it so sweet and fragrant a breath, that all the place about was filled therewith and smelled most pleasantly. As for his other learning and knowledge, yea, the skill of all histories, he had the same all the yere long: but as touching the gift of divination, he was inspired therewith one day every yeere, and no more; and then he went downe to the sea side and prophesied of things to come: and thither resorted unto him the Princes and great Lords of that countrey, yea and Secretaries of forren kings, who there attended his comming at a day prefixed: which done, he returned. This personage then attributed unto Dæmons the spirit of divination and prophesie: most pleasure took he in hearing and speaking of Delphi: and looke whatsoever we hold here as touching Bacchus, what adventures befel unto him, & what sacrifices are performed by us in his honour, he had bene enformed therof, and knew all well enough, saying withall: That as these were great accidents, that hapned to Dæmons; so likewise was that, which men reported of the serpent Python: whom he that slew, was neither banished for nine yeres, nor fled into the valley of Tempe, but was chased out of this world, and went into another; from whence (after nine revolutions of the great yeeres) being returned all purified and Phœbus indeed, that is to say, cleere and bright, he recovered the superintendance of the Delphic Oracle, which during that while was left to the custodie of Themis. The same was the case (said he) of Titons and Typhons. For he affirmed, they were the battels of Dæmons against Dæmons: the flights and banishments also of those who were vanquished: or rather the punishments inflicted by the gods upon as many as had committed such outrages as Typhon had done against Osiris, and Saturne against 12 Cœlus or the heaven: whose honours were the more obscure or abolshed altogether, by rason that themselves were translated into another world. For I understand and heare, that the Solymians who border hard upon the Lycians, highly honoured Saturne when the time was: but after that he having slaine their princes, Arsalus, Dryus and Trosobius, fled & departed into some other countrey (for whither he went they knew not) they made no more any reckoning of him ; but Arsalus and the other, they termed by the name of Sceleroi, that is to say, severe gods: and in trueth, the Lycians at this day, aswell in publicke as private, utter and recite the forme of all their curses and execrations in their names.
Many other semblable examples a man may draw out of Theologicall writings, as touching the gods. Now if we call some of these Dæmons by the usuall and ordinary names of the gods, we ought not to marvell thereat (quoth this stranger unto me:) for looke unto which of the gods they do reteine, upon whom they depend, and by whose meanes they have honour and puissance; by their names they love to be called: like as heere among us men, one is called Jovius of Jupiter; another, Palladius or Athenæus of Minerva; a third, Apollonius of Apollo; or Dionysius and Hermæus of Bacchus and Mercurie. And verily, some there be who although they be named thus at aventure, yet answer very fitly to such denominations; but many have gotten the denomination of the gods, which agree not unto them, but are transposed wrong and misgiven. Herewith Cleombrotus paused: and the speech that he had delivered seemed very strange unto all the company. Then Heracleon demanded of him, whether this doctrine concerned Plato? and how it was, that Plato had given the overture and beginning of such matter? You doe well (quoth Cleombrotus) to put me in minde heereof, and to reduce it into my memory. First and formost therefore, he condemneth evermore the infinity of worlds: mary about the just and precise number of them he doubteth: and howsoever he seemes to yeeld a probability and apparence of trueth unto those who have set downe five, and attributed to every element one; yet himselfe sticketh still to one, which seemeth indeed to be the peculiar opinion of Plato: wheras other Philosophers also have alwaies mightily feared to admit a multitude of worlds; as if necessarie it were, that those who staied not by the meanes of matter in one, but went out of it once, could not chuse but fall presently into this indeterminate and troublesome infinity. But this your stranger, (quoth I) determined he nothing of this multitude of worlds, otherwise than Plato did? or all the whiles that you conversed with him, did you never move the question thereof unto him, to know what his opinion was thereof? Thinke you (quoth Cleombrotus) that I failed herein, and was not (howsoever otherwise I behaved my selfe) a diligent scholar and affectionate auditor of his in these matters, especially seeing he was so affable, and shewed himselfe so courteous unto me? But as touching this point, he said: That neither the number of the worlds was infinit, nor yet true it was, that there were no more but one, or five in all: for there were 183, and those ordeined and ranged in a forme triangular; of which triangle, every side conteined threescore worlds; and of the three remaining still, every corner thereof had one: that they were so ordered, as one touched and interteined another round, in maner of those who are in a ring dance: that the plaine within the triangle, is as it were the foundation and altar common to all the worlds, which is called The Plaine or Field of Trueth: and within it lie immovable the designes, reasons, formes, ideæ and examples of all things that ever were or shall be: and about them is eternity, wherof time is a portion, which as a riveret, runneth from thence to those things that are done in time. Now the sight and contemplation of these things was presented unto the soules of men, if they lived well in this world, and that but once in ten thousand yeeres: as for our mysteries heere beneath, and all our best and most sacred ceremonies, they were but a dreame in comparison of that spectacle and holy ceremonies. Moreover, he said: That for the good things there, and for to enjoy the sight of those beauties, men emploied their study in Philosophy here: or els all their paines taken was but in vaine, and their travel lost. And verily (quoth he) I heard him discourse of these matters plainly and without any art, no otherwise than if it had beene some religion wherein I was to be professed, in which he instructed me without using any proofe and demonstration of his doctrine. Then I (turning to Demetrius) called unto him, and asked what were the words that the woers of Penelope spake, when they beheld with admiration Ulysses handling his bow? And when Demetrius had prompted unto me the verse out of Homer: Surely (quoth I) it comes into my minde to say the very same of this stranger:
Surely, this fellow, as I weene, Some 13 prying spie or theefe hath beene,
not of bowes, as he said of Ulysses, but of sentences, resolutions and discourses of Philosophie: he hath beene conversant, I say, no doubt in all maner of literature: and I warrant you, no stranger nor Barbarian borne, but a Grecian, thorowly furnished with all knowledge and doctrine of the Gereks. And verily, this number of the worlds whereof he talketh, bewraieth not an Aegyptian nor an Indian, but savoureth of some Dorian out of Sicilie, and namely, of Petron, borne in the city of Himera, who wrote a little booke of this argument; which I have not read my selfe, neither doe I know whether it be now extant: but Hippys the Rhegine (of whom Phanias the Eressian maketh mention) writeth, that this was the opinion and doctrine of Petron; namely, that there were 183 worlds, which raught one another in order and traine: but what he meant by this Reaching one another in order and traine, he declared not; neither annexed he any other probble reason thereof. Then Demetrius: And what likelihood or probability (quoth he) may there be in such matters, considering that Plato himselfe alledging no argument or conjecture that carieth with it any shew of trueth and reason, hath by that meanes overthrowen that opinion? And yet (quoth Heracleon) we have heard you Grammarians say, that Homer was the first authour of this opinion, as if he divided the universall frame of All into five worlds; to wit, Heaven, Water, Aire, Earth, and Olympus: of which, he leaveth two to be common, namely, Earth, to All beneath; and Olympus, to All above: but the three in the middes betweene them, hee attributeth unto three gods. Semblably, it seemeth that Plato allotting unto the principall parts and members of the said universall nature, the first formes and most excellent figures of the bodies, called them five worlds; to wit, of the Earth, the Water, the Aire, the Fire, and finally, of that which comprehendeth the other; and that hee called the forme of Dodecaedron, that is to say, with twelve bases or faces, which amply extendeth it selfe, is very capable and mooveable, as being a figure proper and meet for the animall motions and revolutions of the soules. What need we at this present (quoth Demetrius) to meddle with Homer? wee have had fables enough already, if that be good. As for Plato, hee is farre enough off from naming those five different substances of the world, five worlds: considering that even in that very place where he disputeth against those who maintein an infinit number of worlds, he affirmeth there is but one created by God, and beloved by him, as his onely begotten childe, composed of all nature, having one entier bodie, sufficient in it selfe, and standing in need of nothing else. Whereupon a man may very well woonder and thinke it strange, that having himselfe delivered a trueth, he should give occasion to others thereby, to take hold of a false opinion, and wherein there is no apparence of reason. For, if he had not stucke hard to this unity of the world, in some sort he might have laid the foundation for those who hold them to be infinit: but that he should precisely affirme there were five, and neither more nor fewer, is exceeding absurd, and farre from all probabilitie; unlesse haply, you (quoth he, casting his eie upon me) can say somewhat to this point. How now (quoth I then) are you minded thus to leave your first disputation of Oracles, as if it were fully finished and ended, and to enter upon another matter of such difficulty? Nay (quoth Demetrius) we will not passe it over so; but this here that presenteth it selfe now, and taketh us as it were by the hand, we cannot put by: for we will not dwell long upon it, but onely touch it so, and handle it by the way, as that we may finde out some probability, and then will we presently returne unto our former question proposed in the beginning. First and formost therefore, I say: The reasons which permit us not to allow an infinit number of worlds, impeach us not, but that we admit more than one. For as well in many worlds as in one, there may be divination, there may be providence, and the least intercurrence of fortune: but the most part of the greatest and principall things shall have and take their generations, changes and mutations ordinarily: which cannot possibly be in that infinity of worlds. Over and besides, more consonant it is to reason, and accordeth better with the nature of God, to say, that the world is not created by him, one onely and solitary; for being (as he is) perfectly and absolutely good, there is no vertue wanting in him, and least of all others that which concerneth justice and amity; which as they be of themselves most beautifull, so they are best befitting the gods. Now such is the nature of God, that he hath nothing either unprofitable or in vaine and without use: and therefore needs there must be beside and without him, other gods and other worlds, unto whom and which he may extend those sociall vertues that he hath. For neither in regard of himselfe, nor of any part of him, needeth he to use, justice, gracious favour and bounty, but unto others. So that it is not likely that this world floteth and mooveth without a friend, without a neighbour, and without any societie and communication, in a vast and infinit voidnesse; especially seeing we behold how nature encloseth, environeth, and comprehendeth all things, in their severall genders and distinct kinds, as it were within vessels or the husks and covertures of their seeds. For looke throughout the universall nature, there is nothing to be found one in number, but it hath the notion and reason of the essence and being thereof, common to others: neither hath any thing such and such a denomination, but beside the common notion it is by some particular qualities distinct from others of the same kind. Now the world is not called so in common: then must it be such in particular: and qualified it is in particular, and distinguished by certeine differences, from other worlds of the same kinde, and yet hath a peculiar forme of the owne. Moreover, considering there is in the whole world, neither man alone, nor horse, nor starre, ne yet God or Dæmon solitarie: what should hinder us to say, that nature admitteth not one onely world, but hath many? Now if any man shall object unto me and say, that in nature there is but one earth, or one sea: I answer, that he is much deceived and overseene, in not perceiving the evidence that is of similare parts: for we divide the earth into parts similare, that is to say, of the semblable and the same denomination, like as we doe the sea also; for all the parts of the earth are called earth, and of the sea likewise: but no part of the world is world, for that is composed of divers and different natures. For as touching that inconvenience which some especially feare, who spend all matter within one world, lest forsooth if there remained any thing without, it should trouble the composition and frame thereof, by the jurres and resistances that it would make: surely there is no such cause why they should feare; for when there be many worlds, and ech of them particularly having one definit and determinate measure and limit of their substance and matter, no part thereof will be without order and good disposition, nothing will remaine superfluous, as an excrement without, to hinder or impeach; for that the reason which belongeth to ech world, being able to rule and governe the matter that is allotted thereto, will not suffer any thing to goe out of course and order, and wandring to and fro, for to hit and run upon another world; nor likewise that from another ought should come for to rush upon it because in nature there is nothing in quantity infinit & inordinate, nor in motion without reason & order. But say there should happly be some deflux or effluence that passeth from one world to another, the same is a brotherly sweet and amiable communication, and such as very well agreeth to all: much like unto the lights of starres, and the influences of their temperatures, which are the cause that they themselves doe joy in beholding one another with a kinde and favourable aspect; yea and yeeld unto the gods, which in every starre be many (and those good) meanes to intertaine and embrace one another most friendly. For in all this, verily, there is nothing impossible, nothing fabulous nor contrary unto reason: unlesse paradventure some there be who hwill suspect and feare the reason and sentence of Aristotle, as consonant unto nature. For if as he saith, every body hath a proper and naturall place of the owne; by reason thereof necessarily it must be, that the earth from all parts should tend toward the midst, and the water afterwards upon it, serving (by meanes of their weight and ponderosity) in stead of a foundation to other elements of a lighter substance. And therefore (quoth he) if there were many worlds, it would fall out oftentimes that the earth should be found situate above aire and fire, and as often under them: likewise the aire and fire sometime under, otherwhiles in their naturall places, and againe in others contrary to their nature. Which being impossible, as he thinketh, it must follow of necessity, that there be neither two nor more worlds, but one alone, to wit, this which we visibly see composed of all sorts of substance, and disposed according to nature, as is meet and convenient for diversity of bodies. But in all this there is more apparent probability than verity indeed. For the better proofe heereof, consider I pray you my good friend Demetrius, that when he saith, among simple bodies some bend directly to the midst, that is to say downward: others from the midst that is to say upward: and a third sort move round about the midst and circularly: in what respect taketh he the midst? Certaine it is, not in regard of voidnesse, for there is no such thing in nature, even by his owne opinion: againe, according unto those that admit it, middle can it have none, no more than first or last: For these be ends and extremities: and that which is infinite must consequently be also without an end. But suppose, that some one of them should enforce us to admit a middle in that voidnesse, impossible it is to conceive and magnifie the difference in motions of bodies toward it: because there is not in that voidnesse any puissance attractive of bodies; nor yet within the same bodies, any deliberation or inclination and affection to tend from all sides to this middle. But no lesse impossible is it to apprehend, that of bodies having no soule any should moove of themselves to an incorporall place, and having no difference of situation; than it is that the same should draw them or give them any motion or inclination to it. It remaineth then, that this middle ought to be understood not locally but corporally, that is to say not in regard of place, but of body. For, seeing this world is an union, or masse compounded of many bodies different and unlike conjoigned together; it must needs be, that their diversities engender motions discrepant and differing one from the other: which appeereth by this; that every of these bodies changing substance, change their place also withall. For the subtilization and rarefaction distributeth round about the matter which ariseth from the midst and ascendeth on high: contrariwise, condensation and constipation depresseth and driveth it downeward to the middle. But of this point, we need not discourse any more in this place. For what cause soever a man shall suppose to produce such passions and mutations, the same shall containe in it a severall world: for that each of them hath an earth and sea of the owne, each one hath her owne proper middle, as also passions and alterations of bodies, together with a nature and power which preserveth and maintaineth every one in their place and being. For that which is without, whether it have nothing at all, or else an infinite voidnesse, middle can it affoord none, as we have said before: but there being many worldes, each of them hath a proper middle apart; in such sort, as in every one there shall be motions proper unto bodies, some falling downe to the midst, others mounting aloft from the midst, others mooving round about the midst, according as they themselves doe distinguish motions. And he who would have, that there being many middles, weighty bodies from all parts should tend unto one alone; may very well be compared unto him, who would have the blood of many men to run from all parts into one vaine: likewise that all their braines should be contained within one and the same membraine or pannicle; supposing it a great inconvenience and absurdity, if of naturall bodies all that are solide be not in one and the same place, and the rare also in another. Absurd is he that thus saith; and no lesse foolish were the other, who thinketh much and is offended, if the whole should have all parts, in their order, range and situation naturall. For it were a very grosse absurdity for a man to say, there were a world, which had the Moone in it so situate, as if a man should carry his braine in his heeles, and his heart in the temples of his head: but there were no absurdity nor inconvenience, if in setting downe many distinct worldes and those separate one from another, a man should distinguish withall and separate their parts. For in every one of them, the earth, the sea, and the skie, shall be so placed and situate in their naturall seats, as it is meet and appertaineth: and each of those worlds shall have superior, inferiour, circular, and a centre in the midst; not in regard of another world nor of that which is without, but in it selfe and in respect of it selfe. And as for the supposition which some make of a stone without the world, it cannot be imagined how possibly it should either rest or moove: for how can it hang still, seeing it is ponderous and waighty? or moove toward the midst of the world as other heavy bodies, considering it is neither part of it, nor counted in the substance thereof?
As concerning that earth which is contained in another world and fast bound, we need not to make doubt and question, how it should not fall downe hither by reason of the weight, nor be plucked away from the whole; seeing as we doe, that it hath a naturall strength to containe every part thereof. For if we shall take high and low, not within and in respect of the world, but without forth, we shall be driven unto the same difficulties and distresses, which Epicurus is fallen into, who maketh his little Atomes or indivisible bodies to move and tend toward those places which are under foot: as if either his voidnesse had feet, or the infinity which he speaketh of, permit a man to imagine either high or low. And therefore some cause there is to marvell at Chrysippus, or rather to enquire and demand what fansie hath come into his head, and mooved him to say, that this world is seated and placed directly in the midst; and that the substance thereof, from all eternity having taken up and occupied the place of the midst, yet neverthelesse is so compact and tied together that it endureth alwaies and is (as one would say) immortalized: for so much hath he written in his fourth booke περὶ Δυνατῶν, that is to say, Of possible things; dreaming (to no purpose) of a middle place in that vast emptinesse: and yet more absurdly attributing unto that middle (which is not, nor hath any subsistence) the cause of the worlds continuance and stabilitie; especially having written thus much many times in other places, that the substance is governed and mainteined partly by the motions tending to the mids, and partly by others from the mids of it. As for other oppositions besides, that the Stoicks make, who is there that feareth them? as namely, when they demand, How it is possible to mainteine one fatall necessity, and one divine providence? and how it can otherwise be, but that there should be many Dies and Zenes, that is to say, Joves and Jupiters, if we grant that there be many worlds? For to begin withall, if it be an inconvenience, to allow many such Joves and Jupiters, their opinions verily be farre more absurd; for they devise an infinit sort of Sunnes, Moones, Apolloes, Dianaes and Neptunes, in innumerable conversions & revolutions of worlds. Moreover, what necessitie is there, to enforce us to avow many Jupiters, if there be many worlds? and not rather, in every one of them a severall god, as a sovereigne governor and ruler of the whole, furnished with all understanding and reason, as he whom we surname the Lord and Father of all things? Or what should hinder, but that all worlds might be subject to the providence & destiny of Jupiter: and he reciprocally have an eie to oversee all, to direct, digest and conduct all, in ministring unto them the principles, beginnings, seeds and reasons of all things that are done and made? For it being so that we do see even here many times, a bodie composed of many other distinct bodies; as for example, the assembly or congregation of a city, an armie, and a daunce; in every one of which bodies there is life, prudence, and intelligence, as Chrysippus thinketh: impossible it is not likewise, that in this universall nature, there should be ten, fifty, yea and a hundred worlds, using all one and the same reason, and correspondent to one beginning. But contrariwise, this order and disposition is best beseeming the gods. For we ought not to make the gods like unto the kings of a swarme of bees, which go not forth, but keepe within the hive; nor to holde them enclosed and imprisoned (as it were) rather, and shut up fast within Matter, as these men do, who would have the gods to be certeine habitudes or dispositions of the aire; and supposing them to be powers of waters and of fire infused and mixed within, make them to arise and be engendred together with the world, and so afterwards, to be burnt likewise within it, not allowing them to be loose and at libertie, like as coatch-men and pilots are; but in maner of statues or images are set fast unto their bases with nailes, and sodered with lead: even so they enclose the gods within bodily matter, and pin them hard thereto; so as being jointed (as it were) sure unto it, they participate therewith all changes and alterations, even to finall corruption and dissolution. Yet is this opinion fare more grave, religious and magnificent, in my conceit: to holde that the gods be of themselves free, and without all command of any other power. And like as the firy light Castor and Pollux succour those who are tossed in a tempest, and by their comming and presence
Allay the surging waves of sea below, And still the blustring winds aloft that blow;
and not sailing themselves, nor partaking the same perils with the mariners, but onely appearing in the aire above, save those that were in danger: even so the gods for their pleasure goe from one world to another, to visit them; and together with nature, rule and governe every one of them. For Jupiter verily in Homer, cast not his eies far from the city of Troy, either into Thracia, or the Nomades and vagrant Scythians along the river Ister ror Danubie: but the true Jupiter indeed hath many faire passages & goodly changes beseeming his majesty out of one world into another, neither looking into the infinit voidnesse without, nor beholding himselfe and nothing els, as some have thought; but considering the deeds of men and of gods, the motions also and revolutions of the starres in their sphæres. For surely, the deity is not offended with variety, nor hateth mutations: but taketh much pleasure therein, as a man may guesse by the circuitions, conversions and changes which appeare in the heaven. I conclude therefore, that the infinitie of worlds is a very senselesse and false conceit, such as in no wise will beare and admit any god, but emploieth fortune and chance in the managing of all things: but contrariwise, the administration and providence of a certeine quantity and determinate number of worlds, seemeth unto me neither in majestie and worthinesse inferior, nor in travell more laborious, than that which is emploied and restreined to the direction of one alone; which is transformed, renewed and metamorphozed (as it were) an infinit sort of times. After I had delivered this speech, I paused and held my peace. Then Philippus, making no long stay: As for me, I will not greatly strive nor stand upon it (quoth he) whether the trueth be so or otherwise: but in case we force God out of the superintendance of one onely world, how is it, that we make him to be Creatour of five worlds, neither more nor lesse? and what the peculiar and speciall reason is of this number to a plurality of worlds, rather than of any other, I would more willingly know, than the occasion or cause, why this Mot [EI] is so consecrated in this Temple. For itis neither a triangular, nor a quadrat, nor a perfect, ne yet a cubique number: neither seemeth it to represent any other elegancie unto those, who love and esteeme such speculations as these.
And as for the argument inferred from the number of elements, which Plato himselfe obscurely and under covert tearmes touched, it is very hard to comprehend; neither doeth it carie and shew any probabilitie, whereby he should be induced to conclude, and draw in a consequence: that like it is, considering in matter there be engendered five sorts of regular bodies, having equall angles, equall sides, and environed with equall superficies; there should semblably of these five bodies, be five worlds made and formed, from the very first beginning. And yet (quoth I) it should seeme, that Theodorus the Solian, expounding the Mathematicks of Plato, handleth this matter not amisse, nor misinterpreteth the place; and thus goeth he to worke: The Pyramis, Octaedron, Dodecaedron, and Icosaedron (which Plato setteth downe for the first bodies) are right beautifull all, both for their proportions, and also for their equalities: neither is there left for nature any other, to devise and forme better than they, or indeed answerable and like unto them. Howbeit, they have not all either the same constitution, nor the like originall: for the least verily and smallest of the five is the Pyramis; the greatest and that which consisteth of most parts, is Dodecaedron; and of the other two behind, the Icosaedron is bigger by two fold and more, than Octaedron, if you compare their number of triangles. And therefore impossible it is, that they should be all made at once of one and the same matter; for the small and subtile, and such as in composition are more simple than the rest, were more pliable no doubt, and obedient unto the hand of workemen, who mooved and formed the matter, and therefore by all consequence sooner made and brought into subsistence, than those which had more parts and a greater masse of bodies: of which, and namely of such as had more laborious making, and a busier composition, is Dodecaedron. Whereupon it followeth necessarily, that the Pyramis onely was the first body, and not any of the other as being by nature created and produced afterwards. But the remedie and meanes to salve and avoid this absurditie also, is to separate and devide the matter into five worlds: for here the Pyramis came foorth first; there the Octaedron, and elsewhere the Icosaedron; and in every of these worlds, out of that which came first into esse, the rest drew their originall, by the concretion of parts, which causeth them all to change into all, according as Plato doth insinuate, discoursing by examples in maner throughout all: but it shall suffice us briefly to learne thus much. For aire is engendred by the extinction of fire: and the same againe being subtilized and rarefied, produceth fire. Now in the seeds of these two, a man may know their passions, and the transmutations of all. The seminary or beginning of fire is the Pyramis, composed of foure & twenty first triangles: but the seminary of the aire is Octaedron, consisting of triangles of the same kind, in number fortie eight. And thus the one element of aire, standeth upon two of fire, composed and conjoined together: and againe, one body or element of the aire, is devided and parted into twaine of fire; which becomming to be thickned and constipate more still in it selfe, turneth into the forme of water; in such sort, as throughout, that which commeth first into light, giveth alwaies a ready and easie generation unto all the rest, by way of change and transmutation: and so, that never remaineth solitary and alone which is first; but as one masse and constitution hath the primitive & antecedent motion in another of originall beginning: so in all there is kept one name and denomination. Now surely (quoth Ammonius) it is stoutly done of Theodorus, and he hath quit himselfe very well, in fetching about this matter so industriously. But I would much marvelll if these presuppositions of his making, do not overthrow and refute one another: for he would have, that these five worlds were not composed all at once together; but that the smallest and most subtile which required least workmanship in the making, came forsooth first: then as a thing consequent, and not repugnant at all, he supposeth that the matter doth not thrust foorth alwaies into essence, that which is most subtile and simple; but that otherwhiles the thickest, the most grosse and heaviest parts, shew first in generation. But over and besides all this, after a supposall made, that there be five primitive bodies or elements, and consequently thereupon five worlds; he applieth not his proofe and probabilitie but unto foure onely. For as touching the cube, he subtracteth and remooveth it quite away, as they doe who play at nine holes, and who trundle little round stones: for that such a square & quadrate body every way is naturally unfit, either to turne into them, or to yeeld them any meanes to turne into it for that the triangles of which they be composed, are not of the same kind: for all the rest do in a common consist of a demi-triangle, as the base; but the proper subject whereof this cube particularly standeth, is the triangle Isosceles, which admitteth no inclination unto a demi-triangle, nor possibly can be incorporate or united to it. Now if it be so, that of those five bodies there be consequently five worlds, & that in ech one of those worlds the beginning of their generation and constitution, is that body which is first produced and brought to light: it would come to passe, that where the cube commeth foorth first for the generation of the rest, none of the other bodies can possibly be there, forasmuch as the nature of it is not to turne or change into any one of them. For I let passe heere to alledge, that the element or principle whereof Dodecaedron is composed, is not that triangle which is called Scalenon, with three unequall sides, but some other as they say, how ever Plato made his Pyramis, Octaedron, and Icosaedron of it: And therefore (quoth Ammonius, smiling thereat) either you must dissolve these objections, or else alledge some new matter as touching the question now presently in hand. Then answered I: For mine owne part alledge I am not able at this time any thing that carieth more probability: but peradventure it were better for a man to yeeld reasons of his owne opinion rather, than of anothers. To begin againe therefore I say, that nature being parted and devided at the first in two parts, the one sensible, mutable, subject to generation and corruption, and varietie in every way; the other spirituall and intelligible, and continuing evermore in one and the same state, it were very strange and absurd my good friends, first to say that the spirituall nature receiveth division, and hath diversity and difference in it: and then to thinke much and grow into heat of cholar and anger, if a man allow not the passible and corporall nature wholly united and concorporate in it selfe, without dividing or separating it into many parts. For more meet it were yet, and reasonable, that natures parmanent and divine should cohere unto themselves inseparably, and avoid as much as is possible all distraction and divulsion: and yet this force and power of The Other, medling also even with these, causeth in spirituall and intellectuall things, greater dissociations and dissimilitudes in forme and essentiall reason, than are the locall distances in those corporall natures. And therefore Plato confuting those who hold this position, that all is one, affirmeth these five grounds and principles of all, to wit, Essence or Being, The same, The other, and after all, Motion, and Station. Admit these five, no marvell is it, if nature of those five bodily elements hath framed proper figures and representations for every one of them, not simple and pure, but so, as every one of them is most participant of each of those properties and puissances. For, plaine and evident it is that the cube is most meet and sortable unto station and repose, in regard of the stability and stedy firmitude of those broad and flat faces which it hath. As for Pyramis who seeth not and acknowledgeth not incontinently in it the nature of fire, ever mooving in those long and slender sides and sharpe angles that it hath. Also the nature of Dodecaedron apt to comprehend all other figures, may seeme properly to be the image representing Ens, or That which is, in respect of all corporall essence. Of the other twaine, Icosaedron resembleth The Other , or Diverse: but Octaedron, hath a principall reference to the forme of The same. And so by this reckoning, the one of them produceth foorth Aire, capable of all substance in one forme; and the other exhibiteth unto us Water, which by temperature may turne into all sorts of qualities. Now if so be that nature requireth in all things and throughout all, an equall and uniforme distribution, very probable it is, that there be also five worlds, and neither more nor fewer, than there be moulds or patterns: to the end that ech example or patterne may hold the first place and principall puissance in ech world, like as they have in the first constitution and composition of bodies. And this may stand in some sort for an answer, and to satisfie him who mervaileth, how we devide that nature which is subject to generation and alteration, into so many kinds: but yet I beseech you, consider and weigh with me more diligently this argument. Certeine it is, that of those two first and supreme principles, I meane Unity, and Binary or Duality; this latter being the element and originall primative of all difformity, disorder and confusion, is called Infinity: but contrariwise the nature of Unitie, determining and limiting the void infinity, which hath no proportion nor termination, reduceth it into a good forme, and maketh it in some sort capable and apt to receive a denomination, which alwaies accompanieth sensible things. And verily these two generall principles shew themselves; first in number, or rather indeed to speake generally, no multitude is called number, untill such time as unitie comming to be imprinted as the forme in matter, cutteth off from indeterminate infinity, that which is superfluous, heere more and there lesse; for then ech multitude becommeth and is made number, when as it is once determined and lmited by unitie: but if a man take unitie away, then the indefinite and indeterminate Dualitie, comming againe in place to confound all, maketh it to be without order, without grace, without number, and without measure. Now considering it is so, that the forme is not the destruction of matter, but rather the figure, ornament and order thereof; it must needs be, that both these principles are within number, from which proceedeth the chiefe dissimilitude and greatest difference. For the indefinite and indeterminate principle, to wit, Duality, is the author and cause of the even number: but the better, to wit, Unitie is the father (as one would say) of the odde number; so as the first even number is two, and the first odde number three, of which is compounded five, by conjunction common to both, but in the owne puissance odde. For it behooved, & necessary it was, in as much as that which is corporall & sensible for composition sake, is divided into many parts by the power and force of The Other, that is to say, of Diversitie, that it should be neither the first even number, nor yet the first uneven or odde, but a third consisting of both: to the end that it might procreate of both principles, to wit, of that which engendreth the even number, and of that which produceth the odde; for it could not be, that the one should be parted from the other, because that both of them have the nature & puissance of a principle. These two principles then being conjoinct together, the better being the mightier, is opposed unto the indeterminate infinitie, which divideth the corporal nature; & so the matter being divided, the unitie interposing it selfe between, impeacheth the universall nature, that it was not divided and parted into two equall portions: but there was a pluralitie of worlds caused by The Other, that is to say, by Diversitie, and difference of that which is infinit and determinate; but this pluralitie was brought into an odde and uneven number, by the vertue and puissance of The same and that which is finite, because the better principle suffred not nature to extend farther than was expedient. For if one had beene pure and simple without mixture, the matter should have had no separation at all; but in as much as it was mixed with Dualitie, which is a divisive nature, it hath received indeed and suffred by this meanes separation and division: howeit, staied it hath in good time, because the odde was the master and superior over the even. This was the reason that our auncients in old time were wont to use the verbe Pempasesthai, when they would signifie to number or to reckon: And I thinke verily that this word πάντα, that is to say, All, was derived from Pente, that is to say, Five, & not without good reason, because that five is compounded of the two first numbers: and when other numbers be multiplied by others, they produce divers numbers; wheras five if it be multiplied by an even number and dubled, bringeth forth Ten, a perfect number; but if by the odde, it representeth it selfe againe. Heere I omit to say, that it is composed of the two first quadrate numbers, to wit of Unity and Foure; and that it is the first number which is equivalent to the two before it,14 in such sort as it compoundeth the fairest triangle of those that have right angle, and is the first number that containeth the sesquialterall proportion. For haply these reasons be not well sutable nor proper unto the discourse of this present matter: but this rather is more convenient to alledge, that in this number, there is a naturall vertue and facultie of dividing, and that nature divideth many things by this number. For even in our owne selves she hath placed five exterior senses, as also five parts of the soule, to wit, naturall, sensitive, concupiscible, irascible, and reasonable: likewise so many fingers in either hand. Also the generall seed is at the most distributed into five portions: for in no history is it found written, that a woman was delivered of more than give children at one birth. The Aegyptians also in their fables doe report, that the goddesse Rhea brought forth five gods and goddesses: signifying heereby under covert words, that of one and the same matter five worldes were procreated. Come to the universall fabricke and frame of nature, the earth is divided into five zones: the heaven also in five circles, two Arctiques, two Tropickes, and one Aequinoctiall in the midst. Moreover five revolutions there be of the Planets or wandring starres: for that the Sunne, Venus and Mercurie run together in one race. Furthermore the very world it selfe is composed harmonically respective to five. Like as even among us our musicall accord and concent consisteth of the positure of five tetrachords, ranged orderly one after another, to wit, of Hypates, Meses, Synnemenæ, Diezeugmenæ, and Hyperboliææ likewise. The intervals likewise in song which we use be five in number, Dresis, Semitonion, Tonus, Triemitonion, and Ditonon. So as, it seemeth that nature taketh more pleasure in making all things according to the number of five, than after a Sphæricall or round forme; as Aristotle writeth. But what is the cause some will say, that Plato hath reduced the number of five worldes to the five primitive figures of regular bodies, saying, that God in ordaining and describing the whole world used the Quinarie construction? and yet afterwards having proposed the doubtfull question of the number of worldes (to wit, whether we should hold, there was but one, or rather that there were five in truth?) he sheweth plainely that his conjecture is grounded upon this very argument. If therefore we ought to apply the probability to his minde and opinion, then of necessity with the diversity of these figures and bodies there must ensue presently a difference also of motions, according as he himselfe teacheth, affirming: Whatsoever is subtilized or thickned, with the alteration of substance changeth withall the place. For so, if of the aire is ingendred fire, namely when the Octaedron is dissolved and parted into Pyramides: and contrariwise aire of fire being being driven close and thrust together into the force of octaedron: it is not possible that it should be in the place where it was afore, but flie and runne into another, as being forced and driven out of the former, and so fight against whatsoever standeth in the way and maketh resistance. And yet more fully and evidently declareth he the same by a similitude and example of such things, as by fannes or such like instruments wereby corne is clensed & shaken out, or winowed and tried from the rest: saying that even so the elements shaking the matter, and likewise shaken by it, went alwaies to bring like to like, and some tooke up this place, others that, before the universall world was of them composed as now it is. The generall matter therefore being in such estate then (as by good likelihood All must needs be where god is away) presently the first five qualities, or rather the first five bodies, having every one of them their proper inclinations and peculiar motions, went apart: not wholly and altogether, nor severed sincerely asunder one from another, for that when all was hudled pell-mell confusedly, such as were surmounted and vanquished, went evermore even against their nature with the mightier and those which conquered. And therefore when some were haled one way, and others caried another way, it hapned that they made as many portions and distinctions in number just as there were diver kindes of those first bodies: the one of fire, and yet the same not pure, but carying the forme of fire: another of a celestial nature, not sincere heaven indeed, but standing much of the skie: a third of earth, and yet not simply and wholy earth, but rather earthly. But principally, there was a communication of aire and water, as we have said heeretofore, for that these went their waies filled with many divers kindes. For it was not God who separated and disposed the substance, but having found it so rashly and confusedly dissipated of it selfe, and ech part caried diversly in so great disorder, he digested and arranged it by Symmetrie and competent proportion. Then, after he had set over every one, Reason as a guardian and governesse, he made as many worldes as there were kindes of those first bodies subsistent. And thus let this discourse for Ammonius sake, be dedicated as it were to the grace and favour of Plato. For mine owne part, I wil never stand so precisely upon this number of worlds: mary of this minde I am rather, that their opinion who hold that there be more worldes than one (howbeit not infinit but determinate) is not more absurd than either of the other, but founded upon as much reason as they: seeing as I doe, that Matter of the owne nature is spred and diffused into many parts, not resting in one, and yet not permitted by reason, to runne in infinitum. And therefore, especially heere (if else where) putting our selves in minde of the Academie and the precepts thereof, let us not be over credulous, but as in a slippery place restraine our assent and beleefe: onely in this point of infinity of worldes, let us stand firme and see we fall not but keepe our selves upright. When I had delivered these reasons abovesaid: Beleeve me (quoth Demetrius) Lamprias giveth us a good and wise admonition, For
The gods, for to deceive us men, devise Right many meanes, not of false Sophistries
as Euripides saith: but of their deeds & works, when we presume and dare pronounce of so high and great matters, as if we knew them certainely. But as the man himselfe said even now, we must recall our speech into the argument which was first proposed. For that which heeretofore hath beene said, namely that the Oracles are become mute and lie still without any validity, because the Dæmons which were wont to governe them, be retired and gone, like as instruments of musicke yeeld no sound and harmonie when the Musicians handle them not: this (I say) giveth occasion to moove another question of greater importance, as touching the cause and power, by which the Dæmons use to make their prophets and prophetesses to be ravished with an Enthusiasme or divine fury and full of fantasticall visions. For it is to no purpose to say, that the Oracles are silent, because they be abandoned and forsaken of the Dæmons; unlesse we be first perswaded, that when they be present and president over them, they set them a worke, and cause them to speake and prophesie. Then Ammonius taking his turne to speake: Thinke you (quoth he) that these Dæmons be called anything els,
Then spirits clad with substance of the aire, Which walke about the earth, now here now there,
as saith Hesiodus? For it seemeth unto me, that looke how one man differeth from another, playing either in a Comedie or a Tragedie: the same difference sheweth in the soule, which is arraied and clothed within a bodie during this life. There is nothing therefore herein, either strange or without apparence of reason, if soules meeting with other soules, imprint in them visions and fansies of future things: like as we also shew many accidents done and past, yea and foretell and prognoticate of such as are to come, not all by lively voice, but some by letters and writings, nay by touching onely and the regard of the eie; unlesse peradventure, you have somewhat els (ô Lamprias) to say against this. For it was not long since told us, that you had much disputation and conference with certeine strangers in Lebadia; but he who related this newes unto us, could not call exactly to minde what talke passed betweene you. Marvell not thereat (quoth I:) for many affaires and occurrents fell out at once betweene, by occasion that the Oacle was open, and a sacrifice solemnized, which caused our speeches to be dispersed, distracted and scattered disorderly. But now (quoth Ammonius) your auditors be at good leasure, willing also to aske questions and to learne, not desirous to contest and contradict in a litigious and quarrelsome humour; before whom you may have good leave to speake what you will, and for that liberty of speech have pradon at their hands and be held excused, as you see. Now when the rest of the company invited and exhorted me likewise, after some pause made and silence for a while, I began againe in this maner: Certes (quoth I,) ô Ammonius, it fortuned so, I wot not how, that even your selfe gave the overture and first occasion of those discourses which then and there were held. For if Dæmons be spirits and soules separate from bodies, and having no fellowship wth them (as your selfe said, following heerein the divine Poet Hesiodus who calleth them:
Pure saincts, heere walking on the earth at large: Of mortall men, who have the care and charge)
why deprive we those spirits and soules which are within the bodies, of this same puissance, whereby the Dæmons are able to foresee and foretell things to come? For it is not like, that the soules acquired any new propriety or power, when they have abvandoned the bodies, wherewith they were not endued before: but thinke we must that they had the same parts and faculties alwaies, although worse I must needs say, when they be mixed with bodies. And some of them verily appeare not at all, but be hidden: others are but obscure and feeble, such as heavily and slowly performe their operations (much like unto those who see through a thicke mist, or moove in some moist and waterish substance) desiring greatly to be cured, and to recover that facultie which is their owne ; to be discharged also and clensed of that which hindreth and defraudeth them of it. For the soule, even while it is bound and tied to the body, hath indeed a power to foresee and know future things: but blinded it is with the terrestriall mixture of corporall substance; for that, like as the Sunne becommeth not then to be cleere, and not afore, when he is past the clouds; but being of himselfe alwaies shining, he seemeth unto us darke and troubled through a mist: even so the soule, getteth not then a new power of divination and prophesie, when she departeth out of the body, as if she were escaped out of a cloud; but having the same before, is dimmed and obscured by the commixtion and confusion with that which is mortall and corruptible. Neither ought we to make a wonder heereat, and thinke it incredible, seeing as we do (if there were nothing else in the soule) how that faculty which we call Memory, is equipollent and answerable in an opposite respect unto the puissance of divination; and considering the great effect thereof, in preserving and keeping things past or rather indeed keeping them whiles they be. For to say truely, of that which is once passed nothing remaineth nor subsisteth in esse, were they actions, wordes, or passions: for all thing be transitory and passe away as soone as they are, because time, in maner of a current or streame, carieth all away before it; but this memorative faculty of the soule catching hold thereof I know now how, and staying it for slipping away, giveth an imagination of essence and being to those things, which in trueth are not. For the Oracle verily which was given to the Thessalians as touching the city Arna, willed them to utter and speake
That which the blinde see cleare, And what the deafe doe heare.
But memory is unto us the hearing of the deafe, and the sight likewise of the blinde; in such sort, as no marvell it is (as I have already said) if our soule in retaining still things which are no more, doth anticipate many of those also, which are not yet. And such objects indeed concerne it rather, and therewith is it affected more. For she bendeth and inclineth towards things that are to come: whereas of such as be already past and come to their end, she is freed and delivered, but onely that she remembreth them. Our soules then having this puissance in them inbred and naturall, though feeble, obscure, and hardly able to expresse and represent their imaginations; yet neverthelesse some of them shew and put them forth many times in dreames and in certaine sacred ceremonies and mysteries: namely, when the body is well purified, or receiveth a fit temperature therefore, or else for that the reasonable and speculative faculty being then freed from the cares of things present, joineth with the unreasonable and imaginative part, and turneth it to thinke upon the future. For I approove not that which Euripides saith:
I hold him for Divinor best, Who in conjectures misseth least
but he verily who is directed by the reasonable and intelligent part of the soule, and followeth the conduct annd leading thereof by all probabilitie. Now that power or facultie of divination (like unto a paire of blanke writing tables, wherein there is nothing written) void of reason and not determinate of it selfe, but onely apt and meet to receive fansies, affections, and presensions, without any discourse of reason, or ratiocination, hitteth upon that which is to come, at what time as it is most remooved from that which is present; and in this exstasie is it transmuted, by a certaine temperature and disposition of the body, which we call Enthusiasme or inspiration. Now such a disposition as this, many times the body of it selfe hath; but the earth putteth foorth and yeeldeth unto men the sources and fountaines of many other powers and faculties: some of which transport them out of their wits, bringing maladies, contagions, and mortalities: others againe be sometime good, kinde, and profitable, as they know full well who make experience thereof. But this spring, this winde, or propheticall spirit of divination, is most divine and holy, whether it arise and breath up alone by it selfe through the aire, or be drawen up with some liquid humour. For comming once to be infused and mixed within the body, it causeth a strange temperature and unusuall disposition in the soules: the property whereof, a right hard matter it is to declare exactly, and expresse certeinly; but a man in reason may atteine thereto by conjecture sundry waies: for by heat and dilatation, it openeth (I wot not what) little holes, by which in all likelihood the imaginative facultie is set on worke about future things; much like as wine which working and boiling in the body fumeth up, and among other motions, it revealeth and discovereth many hidden secrets. For the fury of Bacchus and of drunkennesse, if we may beleeve Euripides, conteineth much divination: when the soule being enchased and enflamed, expelleth all feare, which humane wisdome bringeth in, and by that meanes many times averreth and quencheth the divine inspiration. And heerewithall a man may alledge very well, and not without great reason, that sicitie comming intermingled with heat, subtilizeth the spirit, and maketh it pure, and of the nature of fire (for according to Heraclitus, The soule it selfe is of a dry constitution:) whereas humiditie doth not onely dim the sight, and dull the hearing, but also being mingled with the aire, and touching the superficies of mirrours, dusketh the brightnesse of the one, and taketh away the light of the other. On the contrary side, it is not impossible that by some refrigeration and condensation of this spirit, after the maner of the tincture and hardnesse of iron, this part of the soule which doth prognosticate, should shew it selfe and get a perfect edge. And like as tinne being melted with brasse (which of it selfe is a mettall in the oare, rare, spongious, and full of little holes) doth drive it neerer, and maketh it more massie and solid, and withall, causeth it to looke more bright and resplendent: even so, I see no inconvenience to hinder, but that this propheticall exhalation having some congruence and affinity with the soules, should fill up that which is lax and empty, and drive it close together more inwardly. For many things there be, that have a reference and congruitie one unto the other: thus the beane is sortable unto the purple die; Sal-nitre likewise helpeth much the tincture of a rich scarlet or crimson colour, if it be mixed therewith, according also as Empedocles said:
And with the flower of Saffron red, Fine flax and silke are coloured.
And we have heard you speake (good friend Demetrius) of the river Cydnus, and the sacred cutting knife of Apollo in Tarsus, and namely, how the said river onely clenseth that iron whereof the knife is made, neither is there any other water in the world able to scoure that knife: like as in the city Olympia, they temper the ashes that commeth of the sacrifices, with the water of the river Alpheus, and make thereof a mortar, wherewith they plaister the altar there; but if they assay to doe it with the water of any other river else, it will not sticke to, nor binde one jot. No marvell therefore it is, if the earth sending up out of it many exhalations, these onely are found to transport the soules with an enthusiasme or divine fury, and represent the imaginations and fansies of future things. But without all question and contradiction, the report that goeth of the Oracle in this place, accordeth well to this purpose. For it is said, that this propheticall and divining power heere, shewed it selfe first, by occasion of a certeine heardman, who chanced heere to fall; who thereupon began to cast foorth certaine fanaticall cries and voices, as if he had bene possessed with such a divine inspiration. Whereof the neighbours and those that came about him, at first made no account; but afterwards, when they saw that it fell out so indeed, as he had foretold, they had the man in great admiration: and the greatest clerks and wisest men of all the Delphians, calling to remembrance his name, gave out that it was Coretas. So that, it seemeth to me, that the soule admitteth this temperature and mixtion with this propheticall spirit, as the sight of the eie is affected with the light. For albeit the eie hath naturally a property and power to see, yet the same is not effectuall without the light: even so the soule having this puissance and facultie, to foresee future things, like unto the eie had need of some proper and convenient thing to kindle it as it were, and set an edge upon it. And heereupon it is, that many of our auncients have thought Apollo, and the Sunne, to be one and the same god. They also who know what this beautifull and wise proportion is, and withall doe honour it: looke what reference or respect there is of the body to the soule, of the sight to light, and of the 15 understanding to the trueth; the same force and power they esteemed there is of the Sunnes power unto the nature of Apollo: saying, that he is the issue and geniture proceeding from Apollo who is eternall, and who continually bringeth him foorth. For like as the one kindles, bringeth foorth and stirreth up the visuall power and vertue of the sense: even so doth the other by the propheticall vertue of the soule. They therefore who thought that it was one and the selfe same god, by good right dedicated and consecrated this Oracle unto Apollo, and unto the Earth: judging, that the Sunne it was which wrought that temperature and imprinted this disposition in the earth, whereof arose this propheticall evaporation. And verily as Hesiodus upon good consideration, and with much more reason than some Philosophers, called the Earth:
The ground-worke sure Of all nature:
even so we deeme it to be eternall, immortall, and incorruptible: mary of the vertues and faculties which are in it, we hold that some faile in one place, and others breed a new and engender in another: and great probability there is, that there be transmutations and changes from one place to another, and that such revolutions as these, in the course and processe of long time turne and returne circularly often in it; as a man may conjecture and certeinly collect by such things as manifestly do appeere. For in divers and sundry countries, we see that lakes and whole rivers, yea and many more fountaines and springs of hot waters, have failed and beene quite lost, as being fled out of our sight, and hidden within the earth; but afterwards in the very same places they have in time shewed themselves againe, or else run hard by. And of mettall mines, we know that some have beene spent cleane and emptied; as namely, those of silver about the territory of Attica: sembably the vaines of brasse oare in Eubœa, out of which they forged sometime the best swords, that were hardned with the tincture of cold water: according to which the Poet Aeschylus said:
He took in hand the keene and douty blade, Which of Eubœan steele sometime was made.
The rocke also and quarry in Carystia, it is not long since it gave over to bring foorth certeine bals or bottomes of soft stone, which they use to spin and draw in thed, in maner of flax: for I suppose that some of you have seene towels, napkins, nets, caules, kerchiefes and coiles woven of such thred, which would not burne and consume in the fire; but when they were foule and soiled with occupying, folke flung them into the fire, and tooke them forth againe cleane and faire: but now al this is quite gone, and hardly within the said delfe shall a man meet with some few hairie threds of that matter, running here & there among the hard stones digged out from thence. Now of all these things Aristotle and his sectaries hold: That an exhalation within the earth, is the onely efficient cause, with which of necessity such effects must faile and passe from place to place; as also otherwhiles, breed againe therewith. Semblably are we to thinke of the spirits and exhalations prophetical which issue out of the earth; namely, that they have not a nature immortall, and such as can not age or waxe olde, but subject to change and alteration. For probable it is, that the great gluttes of raine and extraordinary flouds, have extinguished them quite, and that by the terrible fall of thunder-bolts the places were smitten, and they withal dissipated and dispatched: but principally, when the ground hath beene shaken with earthquakes, and thereupon setled downward and fallen in, with trouble and confusion of what soever was below; it cannot chuse but such exhalations conteined within the holow caves of the earth, either changed their place and were driven forth, or utterly were stifled and choked. And so in this place also, there remained and appeered some tokens of that great earth-quake, which overthrew the city and staied the Oracle heere: like as, by report in the city Orchomenos, there was a plague which swept away a number of people; and therewith the Oracle of Tiresias the prophet, failed for ever, & so continueth at this day mute and to no effect. And whether the like befell unto the Oracles that were woont to be in Cilicia, as we heare say, no man can more certeinly enforme us than you Demetrius. Then Demetrius: How things stand now at this present, I wot not; for I have beene a traveller and out of my native country a long time, as yee all know: but when I was in those parts, both that of Mopsus, and also the other of Amphilochus, flourished and were in great respect. And as for the Oracle of Mopsus, I am able to make report unto you of a most strange and woonderfull event thereof, for that I was my selfe present. The Governour of Cilicia is of himselfe doubtfull and wavering, whether there be gods or no? upon infirmity, as I take it, of miscredance and unbeliefe (for otherwise he was a naughty man, a violent oppressour, and scorner of religion.) But having about him certeine Epicureans, who standing much upon this their goodly and beautifull Physiologie forsooth (as they terme it) or else all were marred, scoffe at such things, he sent one of his affranchised or freed servants unto the Oracle of Mopsus indeed, howbeit, making semblance as if he were an espiall, to discover the campe of his enemies: he sent him (I say) with a letter surely sealed, wherin he had written without the privity of any person whatsoever, a question or demaund to be presented unto the Oracle. This messenger, after the order and custome of the place, remaining all night within the sanctuary of the temple, fel there asleepe, and rehearsed the morrow morning what a dreame he had; and namely, that he thought he saw a faire and beautifull man to present himselfe unto him, and say unto him this onely word Blacke, and no more: for presently he went his way out of his sight. Now wee that were there, thought this a foolish and absurd toy, neither wist we what to make of it. But the governour aforesaid was much astonied thereat, and being stricken with a great remorse and pricke of conscience, worshipped Mopsus and held his Oracle most venerable; for opening the letter, he shewed publikely the demaund conteined therein, which went in these words: Shall I sacrifice unto thee a white Bull, or a blacke? insomuch as the very Epicureans themselves who conversed with him, were much abashed and ashamed. So he offred the sacrifice accordingly, and ever afterwards to his dying day honoured Mopsus right devoutly.
Demetrius having thus said, held his peace: but I desirous to conclude this whole disputation with some corollary, turned againe and cast mine eie upon Philippus and Ammonius who sat together. Now they seemed as if they had somewhat to speake unto me, and thereupon I staied my selfe againe. With that, Ammonius: Philip (quoth he) ô Lamprias, hath somewhat yet to say of the question which hath beene all this while debated. For he is of opinion, as many others beside him are, that Apollo is no other god than the Sunne, but even the very same. But the doubt which I moove, is greater and of more important matters. For I wot not how erewhile, in the traine of our discourse, we tooke from the gods all divination and ascribed the same in plaine termes to Dæmons and angels: and now we will seeme to thrust them out againe from hence, and to disseize them of the Oracle and three footed table of which they were possessed; conferring the beginning and principall cause of prophesie, or rather inded the very substance and power it selfe, upon winds, vapours, and exhalations. For even those temperatures, heats, tinctures, and consolidations (if I may so say) which have beene talked of, remove our minde and opinion farther off still from the gods, and put into our heads this imagination and conceit of such a cause, as Euripides deviseth Cyclops to alledge in the Tragœdie bearing his name:
The earth must needs bring forth grasse, this is flat, Will she or nill she, and feed my cattell fatte.
This onely is the difference, because he saith not that he sacrificed his beasts unto the gods, but unto himselfe and his belly, the greatest of all the Dæmons: but we both sacrifice and also powre forth our praiers unto them, for to have their answere from the Oracles: and to what purpose I pray you, if it be true, that our owne soules bring with them a propheticall facultie and vertue of divination, and the cause which doth excite and actuate the same, be some temperature of the aire, or rather of winde? What meanes then, the sacred institutions and creations of these religious prophetesses ordained for the pronouncing of answeres? And what is the reason that they give no answere at all, unlesse the host or sacrifice to be killed, tremble all over even from the very feet, and shake whiles the libaments & effusions of halowed liquors be powred upon it. For it is not enough to wag the head, as other beasts doe which are slaine for sacrifice, but this quaking, panting and shivering must be throughout all the parts of the body, and that with a trembling noise. For if this be wanting, they say the Oracle giveth no answere, neither doe they so much as bring in the religious priestesse Pythia. And yet it were probable that they should both doe and thinke thus, who attribute the greatest part of this propheticall inspiration, either to God or Dæmon. But according as you say, there is no reason or likelihood thereof: for the exhalation that ariseth out of the ground, whether the beast tremble or no, will alwaies be present, cause a ravishment and transportation of the spirit, and evvermore dispose the soule alike, not onely of Pythia, but also of any body else that first commeth or is presented. And thereupon it followeth, that a meere folly it is, to employ one silly woman in the Oracle, and to put her to it (poore soule) to be a votary and live a pure maiden all the daies of her life, sequestred from the company of man. And as for that Coretas, whom the Delphians name to have beene the first that chancing to fall into this chinke or crevasse of the ground, gave the hansell of the vertue and property of the place, in mine opinion he differed nothing at all from other goteheards, or shepheards, nor excelled them one whit: at least wise if this be a truth that is reported of him, and not a meere fable and vaine fiction, as I suppose it is no better. And verily when I consider and discourse in my selfe, how many good things this Oracle hath beene cause of unto the Greeks, as well in their warres and martiall affaires, as in the foundations of cities, in the distresses of famine and pestilence, me thinkes it were a very indignity and unworthy part, to attribute the invention and originall thereof unto meere fortune and chance, and not unto God and divine providence. But upon this point, I would glady, ô Lamprias, (quoth he) have you to dispute and discourse a little: how say you Philippus, may it please you to have patience the while? Most willingly (quoth Philippus) for my part: and so much I may be bold also to promise in the behalfe of all the company, for I see well that the question by you proposed hath moved them all. And as for my selfe (quoth I) ô Philippus, it hath not onely moved, but also abashed and dismaied me, for that in this so notable assembly and conference of so many worthy parsonages, I may seeme above mine age, in bearing my selfe and taking pride in the probability of my words, to overthrow or to call into question any of those things, which truely have beene delivered, or religiously beleeved as touching God and divine matters. But satisfie you I will, and in the defence of myselfe produce for my witnesse and advocate both, Plato. For this Philosopher reprooved old Anaxagoras, in that being to much addicted to naturall causes and entangled with them; following also and pursuing alwaies that which necessarily is effected in the passions and affections of naturall bodies, he overpassed the finall and efficient causes, for which and by which thinges are done, and those are indeed the better causes and principles of greater importance: whereas himelfe either before, or else most of all other Philosophers hath prosecuted them both: attributing unto God the beginning of all things wrought by reason: and not depriving in the meane while the matter of those causes which are necessary unto the worke done: but acknowledging heerein, that the adorning and dispose of all this world sensible, dependeth not upon one simple cause alone, as being pure and uncompound, but was engendred and tooke essence, when matter was coupled and conjoined with reason. That this is so, doe but consider first the workes wrought by the hand of Artisans: as for example (not to goe farther for the matter) that same foot heere and basis so much renowmed, of the standing cup, among other ornaments and oblations of this temple (which Herodotus called, Hypocreteridion) this hath for the materiall cause verily, fire, iron, the mollefying by the meanes of fire, and the tincture or dipping in water, without which this peece of worke could not possibly have bene wrought. But the more principall cause and mistresse indeed, which mooved all this, and did worke by all these, was art and reason applied unto the worke. And verily we see that over such peeces, whether they be pictures or other representations of things, the name of the artificer and workeman is written, as for example:
This picture Polygnotus drew, of Troy won long beforne, Who father had Aglaophon, and was in Thasos borne.
And verily he it was indeed as you see, who painted the destruction of Troy: but without colours ground, confused and mingled one with another, impossible had it beene for him to have exhibited such a picture, so faire and beautifull to the eie as it is. If then some one come now and will needs meddle with the materiall cause, searching into the alterations and mutations thereof, particularizing Sinopre mixed with Ochre, or Cerusse with blacke, doth he impaire or diminish the glory of the painter Polycletus? He also, who discourseth how iron is hardned, and by what meanes mollified: and how being made soft and tender in the fire, it yeeldeth and obaieth them who by beating and knocking drive it out in length and bredth: and afterwards being dipped and plunged into fresh waters still, by the actuall coldnesse of the said water (for that the fire heats had softened and rarefied it before) it is thrust close together and condensate: by meanes whereof it getteth that stiffe, compact and hard temper of steele, which Homer calleth the very force of iron; reserveth he for the workeman any thing lesse heereby, in the principall cause and operation of his worke? I suppose he doth not. For some there be who make proofe and triall of Physicke drogues, and yet I trow they condemne not thereby the skill of Physicke: like as Plato also himselfe, when he saith: That we doe see, because the light of our eie is mixed with the cleerenesse of the Sunne; and heare by the percussion and beating of the aire, doth not deny that we have the facultie of seeing and power of hearing by reason and providence. For in summe, as I have said and doe still averre, whereas all generation proceedeth of two causes, the most ancient Theologians and Poets, vouchsafed to set their minde upon the better onely and that which was more excellent, chaunting evermore this common refraine and foot (as it were) of the song in all things and actions whatsoever:
Jove is the first, the midst, the last; all things of him depend: By him begin they, and proceed; in him they come to end.
All other necessary and naturall causes they never sought farther, nor came neere unto them: whereas the moderne Philosophers who succeeded after them and were named naturalists, tooke a contrary course; and turning cleane aside from that most excellent and divine principle, ascribed al unto bodies, unto passions also of bodies, and I wot not what percussions, mutations and temperatures. And thus it is come to passe, that as well the one sort as the other, are in their opinions defective and come short of that which they should. For as these either of ignorance know not, or of negligence regard not to set downe the efficient principall cause, whereby, and from which: so the other before, leave out the materiall causes, of which; and the instrumentall meanes, by which things are done. But he who first manifestly touched both causes, and coupled with the reason that freely worketh and moveth, the matter which necessarily is subject and suffreth; he (I say) for himselfe & us, answereth all calumniations, and putteth by all surmizes and suspicions whatsoever. For we bereave not divination either of God, or of reason: for as much as we graunt unto it for the subject matter, the soule of man; and for an instrument and plectre (as it were) to set it aworke, we allow a spirit or winde, and an exhalation enthusiasticke. First and formost, the earth it is that engendreth such exhalations: then, that which giveth unto the earth all power and vertue of this temperature and mutation is the Sunne, who (as we have learned by tradition from our forefathers) is a god. After this we adjoine thereto, the Dæmons as superintendants, overseers and keepers of this temperature (as if it were some harmony and consonance) who in due and convenient time let downe and slacke, or else set up and stretch hard the vertue of this exhalation: taking from it otherwhiles the over-active efficacy that it hath to torment the soule and transport it beside it selfe : tempering therewith a motive vertue without working any paine, or hurt and damage to them that are inspired and possessed therewith. Wherein me thinkes, we doe nothing that seemeth either absurd or impossible: neither in killing sacrifices before we come to moove the Oracle, and adorning them with coronets of flowers, and powring upon them sacred liquors and libations, doe we ought that is contrary to this discourse and opinion of ours. For the priests and sacrificers, and whosoever have the charge to kill the beast, and to powre upon it the holy libations of wine or other liquors; who also observe and consider the motion, trembling and the whole demeanour thereof, doe the same for no other end or cause but to have a signe, that God giveth eare unto their demaund. For necessary it is that the beast sacrificed unto the gods be pure, sound, entier, immaculuate, and uncorrupt both in soule and bodie. And verily, for the body it is no hard matter to judge and know the markes: as for the soule they make an experiment, by setting before bulles, meale: by presenting unto swine, cich-pease: for if they will not fall to, nor tast thereof, it is a certaine token that they be not right. For the goat, cold water is the triall. Now if the beast makes no shew and semblance of being mooved or affected, when as the said water is powred aloft on it, be sure the soule thereof is not disposed as it ought to be by nature.
Now, say it go for currant and be constantly beleeved, that it is an undoubted and infallible signe, that the God will give answer, when the host or sacrifice thus drenched doth stire; and contrariwise, that he will not answer, if the beast quetch not: I see nothing herein repugnant unto that, which we have before delivered. For every natrual power produceth the effect for which it is ordained, better or worse, according as the time and season is more or lesse convenient: and probable it is, that God giveth us certeine signes, whereby we may know when the opportunity is past. For mine owne part, I am of this minde, that the very exhalation it selfe which ariseth out of the earth, is not alwaies of the same sort; but at one time is slacke and feeble, at another stretched out and strong. And the argument which maketh me thus to judge, I may easily confirme and verifie by the testimonie of many strangers and of all those ministers who serve in the temple. For the chamber or roume, wherein they are set and give attendance who come to demand the answer of the Oracle, is filled thorow (not often, nor at certeine set times, but as it falleth out after some space betweene) with so fragrant an odour and pleasant breath, as the most pretious ointments and sweetest perfumes in the world can yeeld no better. And this ariseth from the sanctuarie and vault of the temple, as out of some source and lively fountaine: and verily like it is, that it is heat, or at leastwise some other puissance, that sendeth it forth. Now if peradventure, this may seeme unto you not probable nor to sound of trueth: yet will ye at leastwise confesse unto me, that the Prophetesse Pythia hath that part of the soule, unto which this winde or propheticall spirit approacheth, disposed some time in this sort and otherwhiles in that, and keepeth not alwaies the same temperature, as an harmonic immutable. For many troubles and passions there be that possesse her body, and enter likewise in her soule, some apparent; but more, secret and unseene: with which she finding herselfe seized and replenished, better it were for her not to present and exhibit herselfe to this divine inspiration of the god, being not altogether cleane and pure from all perturbations; like unto an instrument of Musicke well set in tune and sounding sweetly, but passionate and out of order. For neither wine doth surprise the drunken man alwaies alike, and as much at one time as at another; nor the sound of the flute or shaulme affecteth after one and the same sort at al times, him who naturally is given to be soone ravished with divine inspiration: but the same persons are one time more, and another while lesse transported beside themselves; and drunken likewise, more or lesse. The reason is, because in their bodies there is a divers temperature: but principally, the imaginative part of the soule, and which receiveth the images and fantasies, is possessed by the body, and subject to change with it, as appeareth evidently by dreames: for sometimes there appeare many visions and fansies of all sorts in our sleeps; otherwhiles againe, we are free from all such illusions, and rest in great quietnesse and tranquillitie. We our selves know this Cleon here of Daulia, who all his lifetime (and many yeeres he lived) never (as he said himselfe) dreamed nor saw any vision in his sleepe: and of those in former times, we have heard as much reported of Thrasymedes the Hœreian. The cause whereof, was the temperature of the bodie: whereas contrariwise it is seene, that the complexion of the melancholicke persons is apt to dreame much, and subject to many illusions in the night; although it seemeth their dreames and visions be more regular, and fall out truer than others, for that such persons touching their imaginative faculty with one fansie or other, it can not chuse but they meet with the truth otherwhiles: much like as when a man shoots many shafts, it goeth hard if he hit not the marke with one. When as therefore the imaginative part and the propheticall faculty is well disposed and sutable with the temperature of the exhalation, as it were with some medicinable potion, then of necessitie there must be engendred within the bodies of Prophets an Enthusiasme or divine furie: contrariwise, when there is no such proportionate disposition, there can be no propheticall inspiration; or if there be, it is fanaticall, unseasonable, violent and troublesome: as we know, how of late it befel to that Pythia or Prophetesse, who is newly departed. For there being many pilgrims and strangers come from forren parts to consult with the Oracle, it is said, that the host or beast to be sacrificed, did endure the first libaments and liquors that were powred upon it, never stirring thereat nor once quetching for the matter: but after that the Priests and Sacrificers powred still, and never gave over to cast liquor on, beyond all measure; at length (after great laving and drenching of it) hardly and with much adoe it yeelded and trembled a little. But what hapned hereupon to the Prophetesse or Pythia aforesaid? Went she did indeed downe into the cave or hole, against her will (as they said) and with no alacrity at all: but incontinently, when she was come up againe, at the very first words and answers that she pronounced, it was well knowen by the horsenesse of her voice, that she could not endure the violence of possession, being replenished with a maligne and mute spirit, much like unto a ship caried away under full sailes with a blustering gale of wind. Insomuch as in the end being exceedingly troubled, and with a fearefull and hideous crie, making haste to get out, she flung herselfe downe, and fell upon the earth: so that not onely the foresaid pilgrims fled for feare, but Nicander also the High-priest, and other Sacrificers and religious ministers that were present. Who notwithstanding afterwards taking heart unto them, and entring againe into the place, tooke her up lying still in an exstasie besides herselfe: and in very trueth, she lived not many daies after. And therefore it is, that the said Pythia keepeth her bodie pure and cleane from the company of man, and forbidden she is to converse or have commerce all her life time with any stranger. Also, before they come to the Oracle, they observe certeine signes; for that they thinke it is knowen unto the God, when her bodie is prepared and disposed to receive (without danger of her person) this Enthusiasme. For the force and vertue of this exhalation, doth not move and incite all sorts of persons, nor the same alwaies after one maner, nor yet as much at one time as at another: but giveth onely a beginning, and setteth to (as it were) a match to kindle it, as we have said before; even unto those onely who are prepared and framed aforehand to suffer and receive this alteration. Now this exhalation (without all question) is divine and celestiall: howbeit for all that, not such as may not faile and cease, not incorruptible, not subject to age and decay, nor able to last and endure for ever: and under it, all things suffer violence, which are betweene the earth and the moone, according to our doctrine: however others there be who affirme, that those things also which are above, are not able to resist it; but being wearied an eternall and infinite time, are quickely changed and renewed (as one would say) by a second birth & regeneration. But of these matters (quoth I) advise you I would and my selfe also, eftsoones to call to minde, and consider often this discourse, for that they be points exposed to many reprehensions, and sundry objections may be alledged against them. All which, the time will not suffer us now to prosecute at large: and therefore let us put them off unto another opportunity, together with the doubts and questions which Philippus moved as touching Apollo and the Sunne.
The running title is "Why Oracles cease to give answers" (or occasionally "Why Oracles cease to give answere").
1 That is to say, England. [All notes not in square brackets are Holland's marginalia, marked in the original with asterisks.]
5 λακέρυζα, or crying.
6 [This note difficult to decipher because of small and worn type.] ταῦτα δὲ πεντάκις τριγωνισθέντα. I suspect this place. Some to set all strait read πέντα τριγωνισθέντ; but neither the one nor the other atteine to the point. For [albeit ? admit?] that the foure first numbers added or multiplied by foure make 40, & 40 doubled arise to 80, and the same reduced into a triangle (or take 3 times), amount to 240, and it brought into a triangle or multiplied by three, grow to 720: yet the 9000 remaine still, unlesse we goe this way to work: first multiply 40 πεντάκις, that is to say, five times, & you shal have 200 multiply it by five, it commeth to 1000. bring it to one triangle, it is 3000: and let the same be multiplied by another, maketh 9000.
10 Some take it to be a place of manie shelves and shallowes.
11 Or Theophrastus some read.
12 Or Cœlum.
13 θηητηρ, some read θηρατες, that is to say, a hunter. [This note nearly unreadable because worn; the first word in any case is wrong in the text, corrected in the errata.]
14 [That is, whose square is equal to the sum of the squares of the two numbers before it: 32 + 42 = 52.]
15 Our understanding, or light.
This page is by James Eason.