ON ABSTINENCE FROM ANIMAL FOOD
1. Hearing from some of our acquaintance, O Firmus, that you, having rejected a fleshless diet, have again returned to animal food, at first I did not credit the report, when I considered your temperance, and the reverence which you have been taught to pay to those ancient and pious men from whom we have received the precepts of philosophy. But when others who came after these confirmed this report, it appeared to me that it would be too rustic and remote from the rational method of persuasion to reprehend you, who neither, according to the proverb, flying from evil have found something better, nor according to Empedocles, having lamented your former life, have converted yourself to one that is more excellent. I have therefore thought it worthy of the friendship which subsists between us, and also adapted to those who have arranged their life conformably to truth, to disclose your errors through a confutation derived from an argumentative discussion.
2. For when I considered with myself what could be the cause of this alteration in your diet, I could by no means suppose that it was for the sake of health and strength, as the vulgar and idiots would say; since, on the contrary, you yourself, when you were with us, confessed that a fleshless diet contributed both to health and to the proper endurance of philosophic labors; and experience testifies, that in saying this you spoke the truth. It appears, therefore, that you have returned to your former illegitimate conduct, either through deception, because you think it makes no difference with respect to the acquisition of wisdom whether you use this or that diet; or perhaps through some other cause of which I am ignorant, which excited in you a greater fear than that which could be produced by the impiety of transgression. For I should not say that you have despised the philosophic laws which we derived from our ancestors, and which you have so much admired, through intemperance, or for the sake of voracious gluttony; or that you are naturally inferior to some of the vulgar, who, when they have assented to laws, though contrary to those under which they formerly lived, will suffer amputation [rather than violate them], and will abstain from certain animals on which they before fed, more than they would from human flesh.
3. But when I was also informed by certain persons that you even employed arguments against those who abstained from animal food, I not only pitied, but was indignant with you, that, being persuaded by certain frigid and very corrupt sophisms, you have deceived yourself, and have endeavored to subvert a dogma which is both ancient and dear to the Gods. Hence it appeared to me to be requisite not only to show what our own opinion is on this subject, but also to collect and dissolve the arguments of our opponents, which are much stronger than those adduced by you in multitude and power, and every other apparatus; and thus to demonstrate, that truth is not vanquished even by those arguments which seem to be weighty, and much less by superficial sophisms. For you are perhaps ignorant, that not a few philosophers are adverse to abstinence from animal food, but that this is the case with those of the Peripatetic and Stoic sects, and with most of the Epicureans; the last of whom have written in opposition to the philosophy of Pythagoras and Empedocles, of which you once were studiously emulous. To this abstinence, likewise, many philologists are adverse, among whom Clodius the Neapolitan wrote a treatise against those who abstain from flesh. Of these men I shall adduce the disquisitions and common arguments against this dogma, at the same time omitting those reasons which are peculiarly employed by them against the demonstrations of Empedocles.
The Arguments of the Peripatetics and Stoics from Heraclides Ponticus
4. Our opponents therefore say, in the first place, that justice will be confounded, and things immoveable be moved, if we extend what is just, not only to the rational, but also to the irrational nature; conceiving that not only Gods and men pertain to us, but that there is likewise an alliance between us and brutes, who [in reality] have no conjunction with us. Nor shall we employ some of them in laborious works, and use others for food, from a conviction that the association which is between us and them, in the same manner as that of some foreign polity, pertains to a tribe different from ours, and is dishonorable. For he who uses these as if they were men, sparing and not injuring them, thus endeavoring to adapt to justice that which it cannot bear, both destroys its power, and corrupts that which is appropriate, by the introduction of what is foreign. For it necessarily follows, either that we act unjustly by sparing them, or if we spare, and do not employ them, that it will be impossible for us to live. We shall also, after a manner, live the life of brutes, if we reject the use of which they are capable of affording.
5. For I shall omit to mention the innumerable multitude of Nomads and Troglodytes, who know of no other nutriment than that of flesh; but to us who appear to live mildly and philanthropically, what work would be left for us on the earth or in the sea, what illustrious art, what ornament of our food would remain, if we conducted ourselves innoxiously and reverentially towards brutes, as if they were of a kindred nature with us? For it would be impossible to assign any work, any medicine, or any remedy for the want which is destructive of life, or that we can act justly, unless we preserve the ancient boundary and law.
“To fishes, savage beasts, and birds, devoid
i.e. towards each other.
6. But it is not possible for us to act unjustly towards those to whom we are not obliged to act justly. Hence, for those who reject this reasoning, no other road of justice is left, either broad or narrow, into which they can enter. For, as we have already observed, our nature, not being sufficient to itself, but indigent of many things, would be entirely destroyed, and enclosed in a life involved in difficulties, unorganic, and deprived of necessaries, if excluded from the assistance derived from animals. It is likewise said, that those first men did not live prosperously; for this superstition did not stop at animals, but compelled its votaries even to spare plants. For, indeed, what greater injury does he do, who cuts the throat of an ox or a sheep, than he who cuts down a fir tree or an oak? Since, from the doctrine of transmigration, a soul is also implanted in these. These therefore are the principal arguments of the Stoics and Peripatetics.
The Arguments of the Epicureans, from Hermachus.
7. The Epicureans, however, narrating, as it were, a long genealogy, say, that the ancient legislators, looking to the association of life, and the mutual actions of men, proclaimed that manslaughter was unholy, and punished it with no casual disgrace. Perhaps, indeed, a certain natural alliance which exists in men towards each other, through the similitude of form and soul, is the reason why they do not so readily destroy an animal of this kind, as some of the other animals which are conceded to our use. Nevertheless, the greatest cause why manslaughter was considered as a thing grievous to be borne, and impious, was the opinion that it did not contribute to the whole nature and condition of human life. For, from a principle of this kind, those who are capable of perceiving the advantage arising from this decree, require no other cause of being restrained from a deed so dire. But those who are not able to have a sufficient perception of this, being terrified by the magnitude of the punishment, will abstain from readily destroying each other. For those, indeed, who survey the utility of the before-mentioned ordinance, will promptly observe it; but those who are not able to perceive the benefit with which it is attended, will obey the mandate, in consequence of fearing the threatenings of the laws; which threatenings certain persons ordained for the sake of those who could not, by a reasoning process, infer the beneficial tendency of the decree, at the same time that most would admit this to be evident.
8. For none of those legal institutes which were established from the first, whether written or unwritten, and which still remain, and are adapted to be transmitted, [from one generation to another] became lawful through violence, but through the consent of those that used them. For those who introduced things of this kind to the multitude, excelled in wisdom, and not in strength of body, and the power which subjugates the rabble. Hence, through this, some were led to a rational consideration of utility, of which they had only an irrational sensation, and which they had frequently forgotten; but others were terrified by the magnitude of the punishments. For it was not possible to use any other remedy for the ignorance of what is beneficial than the dread of the punishment ordained by law. For this alone even now keeps the vulgar in awe, and prevents them from doing any thing, either publicly or privately, which is not beneficial [to the community]. But if all men were similarly capable of surveying and recollecting what is advantageous, there would be no need of laws, but men would spontaneously avoid such things as are prohibited, and perform such as they were ordered to do. For a survey of what is useful and detrimental, is a sufficient incentive to the avoidance of the one and the choice of the other. But the infliction of punishment has a reference to those who do not foresee what is beneficial. For impendent punishment forcibly compels such as these to subdue those impulses which lead them to useless actions, and to do that which is right.
9. Hence also, legislators ordained, that even involuntary manslaughter should not be entirely void of punishment; in order that they might not only afford no pretext for the voluntary imitation of those deeds which were involuntarily performed, but also that they might prevent many things of this kind from taking place, which happen, in reality, involuntarily. For neither is this advantageous through the same causes by which men were forbidden voluntarily to destroy each other. Since, therefore, of involuntary deeds, some proceed from a cause which is unstable, and which cannot be guarded against by human nature; but others are produced by our negligence and inattention to different circumstances; hence legislators, wishing to restrain that indolence which is injurious to our neighbors, did not even leave an involuntary noxious deed without punishment, but, through the fear of penalties, prevented the commission of numerous offenses of this kind. I also am of opinion, that the slaughters which are allowed by law, and which receive their accustomed expiations through certain purifications, were introduced by those ancient legislators, who first very properly instituted these things for no other reason than that they wished to prevent men as much as possible from voluntary slaughter. For the vulgar everywhere require something which may impede them from promptly performing what is not advantageous [to the community]. Hence those who first perceived this to be the case, not only ordained the punishment of fines, but also excited a certain other irrational dread, through proclaiming those not to be pure who in any way whatever had slain a man, unless they used purifications after the commission of the deed. For that part of the soul which is void of intellect, being variously disciplined, acquired a becoming mildness, certain taming arts having been from the first invented for the purpose of subduing the irrational impulses of desire, by those who governed the people. And one of the precepts promulgated on this occasion was, that men should not destroy each other without discrimination.
10. Those, however, who first defined what we ought to do, and what we ought not, very properly did not forbid us to kill other animals. For the advantage arising from these is effected by a contrary practice, since it is not possible that men could be preserved, unless they endeavored to defend those who are nurtured with themselves from the attacks of other animals. At that time, therefore, some of those, of the most elegant manners, recollecting that they abstained from slaughter because it was useful to the public safety, they also reminded the rest of the people in their mutual associations of what was the consequence of this abstinence; in order that, by refraining from the slaughter of their kindred, they might preserve that communion which greatly contributes to the peculiar safety of each individual. But it was not only found to be useful for men not to separate from each other, and not to do any thing injurious to those who were collected together in the same place, for the purpose of repelling the attacks of animals of another species; but also for defense against men whose design was to act nefariously. To a certain extent, therefore, they abstained from the slaughter of men, for these reasons, viz. in order that there might be a communion among them in things that are necessary, and that a certain utility might be afforded in each of the above-mentioned incommodities. In the course of time, however, when the offspring of mankind, through their intercourse with each other, became more widely extended, and animals of a different species were expelled, certain persons directed their attention in a rational way to what was useful to men in their mutual nutriment, and did not alone recall this to their memory in an irrational manner.
11. Hence they endeavored still more firmly to restrain those who readily destroyed each other, and who, through an oblivion of past transactions, prepared a more imbecile defense. But in attempting to effect this, they introduced those legal institutes which still remain in cities and nations; the multitude spontaneously assenting to them, in consequence of now perceiving, in a greater degree, the advantage arising from an association with each other. For the destruction of every thing noxious, and the preservation of that which is subservient to its extermination, similarly contribute to a fearless life. And hence it is reasonable to suppose, that one of the above-mentioned particulars was forbidden, but that the other was not prohibited. Nor must it be said, that the law allows us to destroy some animals which are not corruptive of human nature, and which are not in any other way injurious to our life. For as I may say, no animal among those which the law permits us to kill is of this kind; since, if we suffered them to increase excessively, they would become injurious to us. But through the number of them which is now preserved, certain advantages are imparted to human life. For sheep and oxen, and every such like animal, when the number of them is moderate, are beneficial to our necessary wants; but if they become redundant in the extreme, and far exceed the number which is sufficient, they then become detrimental to our life; the latter by employing their strength, in consequence of participating of this through an innate power of nature, and the former, by consuming the nutriment which springs up from the earth for our benefit alone. Hence, through this cause, the slaughter of animals of this kind is not prohibited, in order that as many of them as are sufficient for our use, and which we may be able easily to subdue, may be left. For it is not with horses, oxen, and sheep, and with all tame animals, as it is with lions and wolves, and, in short, with all such as are called savage animals, that, whether the number of them is small or great, no multitude of them can be assumed, which, if left, would alleviate the necessity of our life. And on this account, indeed, we utterly destroy some of them; but of others, we take away as many as are found to be more than commensurate to our use.
12. On this account, from the above-mentioned causes, it is similarly requisite to think, that what pertains to the eating of animals, was ordained by those who from the first established the laws; and that the advantageous and the disadvantageous were the causes why some animals were permitted to be eaten and others not. So that those who assert, that every thing beautiful and just subsists conformably to the peculiar opinions of men respecting those who establish the laws, are full of a certain most profound stupidity. For it is not possible that this thing can take place in any other way than that in which the other utilities of life subsist, such as those that are salubrious, and an innumerable multitude of others. Erroneous opinions, however, are entertained in many particulars, both of a public and private nature. For certain persons do not perceive those legal institutes, which are similarly adapted to all men; but some, conceiving them to rank among things of an indifferent nature, omit them; while others, who are of a contrary opinion, think that such things as are not universally profitable, are every where advantageous. Hence, through this cause, they adhere to things which are unappropriate; though in certain particulars they discover what is advantageous to themselves, and what contributes to general utility. And among these are to be enumerated the eating of animals, and the legally ordained destructions which are instituted by most nations on account of the peculiarity of the region. It is not necessary, however, that these institutes should be preserved by us, because we do not dwell in the same place as those did by whom they were made. If, therefore, it was possible to make a certain compact with other animals in the same manner as with men, that we should not kill them, nor they us, and that they should not be indiscriminately destroyed by us, it would be well to extend justice as far as to this; for this extent of it would be attended with security. But since it is among things impossible, that animals which are not recipients of reason should participate with us of law, on this account, utility cannot be in a greater degree procured by security from other animals, than from inanimate natures. But we can alone obtain security from the liberty which we now possess of putting them to death. And such are the arguments of the Epicureans.
Such, therefore, are the arguments of Clodius, Heraclides Ponticus, Hermachus the Epicurean, and the Stoics and Peripatetics [against abstinence from animal food]: among which also are comprehended the arguments which were sent to us by you, O Castricius. As, however, I intend to oppose these opinions, and those of the multitude, I may reasonably premise what follows.
27. In the first place, therefore, it must be known that my discourse does not bring with it an exhortation to every description of men. For it is not directed to those who are occupied in sordid mechanical arts, nor to those who are engaged in athletic exercises; neither to soldiers, nor sailors, nor rhetoricians, nor to those who lead an active life. But I write to the man who considers what he is, whence he came, and whither he ought to tend, and who, in what pertains to nutriment, and other necessary concerns, is different from those who propose to themselves other kinds of life; for to none but such as these do I direct my discourse. For, neither in this common life can there be one and the same exhortation to the sleeper, who endeavors to obtain sleep through the whole of life, and who, for this purpose, procures from all places things of a soporiferous nature, as there is to him who is anxious to repel sleep, and to dispose everything about him to a vigilant condition. But to the former it is necessary to recommend intoxication, surfeiting, and satiety, and to exhort him to choose a dark house, and
A bed, luxuriant, broad, and soft,—
as the poets say; and that he should procure for himself all such things as are of a soporiferous nature, and which are effective of sluggishness and oblivion, whether they are odors, or ointments, or are liquid or solid medicines. And to the latter it is requisite to advise the use of a drink sober and without wine, food of an attenuated nature, and almost approaching to fasting; a house lucid, and participating of a subtle air and wind, and to urge him to be strenuously excited by solicitude and thought, and to prepare for himself a small and hard bed. But, whether we are naturally adapted to this, I mean to a vigilant life, so as to grant as little as possible to sleep, since we do not dwell among those who are perpetually vigilant, or whether we are designed to be in a soporiferous state of existence, is the business of another discussion, and is a subject which requires very extended demonstrations.
28. To the man, however, who once suspects the enchantments attending our journey through the present life, and belonging to the place in which we dwell; who also perceives himself to be naturally vigilant, and considers the somniferous nature of the region which he inhabits;—to this man addressing ourselves, we prescribe food consentaneous to his suspicion and knowledge of this terrene abode, and exhort him to suffer the somnolent to be stretched on their beds, dissolved in sleep. For it is requisite to be cautious, lest as those who look on the blear-eyed contract on ophthalmy, and as we gape when present with those who are gaping, so we should be filled with drowsiness and sleep, when the region which we inhabit is cold, and adapted to fill the eyes with rheum, as being of a marshy nature, and drawing down all those that dwell in it to a somniferous and oblivious condition. If, therefore, legislators had ordained laws for cities, with a view to a contemplative and intellectual life, it would certainly be requisite to be obedient to those laws, and to comply with what they instituted concerning food. But if they established their laws, looking to a life according to nature, and which is said to rank as a medium, and to what the vulgar admit, who conceive externals, and things which pertain to the body to be good or evil, why should anyone, adducing their laws, endeavor to subvert a life, which is more excellent than every law which is written and ordained for the multitude, and which is especially conformable to an unwritten and divine law? For such is the truth of the case.
29. The contemplation which procures for us felicity, does not consist, as some one may think it does, in a multitude of discussions and disciplines; nor does it receive any increase by a quantity of words. For if this were the case, nothing would prevent those from being happy by whom all disciplines are collected together. Now, however, every discipline by no means gives completion to this contemplation, nor even the disciplines which pertain to truly existing beings, unless there is a conformity to them of our nature and life. For since there are, as it is said, in every purpose three ends, the end with us is to obtain the contemplation of real being, the attainment of it procuring, as much as it is possible for us, a conjunction of the contemplator with the object of contemplation. For the reascent of the soul is not to anything else than true being itself, nor is its conjunction with any other thing. But intellect is truly-existing being; so that the end is to live according to intellect. Hence such discussions and exoteric disciplines as impede our purification, do not give completion to our felicity. If, therefore, felicity consisted in literary attainments, this end might be obtained by those who pay no attention to their food and their actions. But since for this purpose it is requisite to exchange the life which the multitude lead for another, and to become purified both in words and deeds, let us consider what reasonings and what works will enable us to obtain this end.
30. Shall we say, therefore, that they will be such as separate us from sensibles, and the passions which pertain to them, and which elevate us as much as possible to an intellectual, unimaginative, and impassive life; but that the contraries to these are foreign, and deserve to be rejected? And this by so much the more, as they separate us from a life according to intellect. But, I think, it must be admitted, that we should follow the object to which intellect attracts us. For we resemble those who enter into, or depart from a foreign region, not only because we are banished from our intimate associates, but in consequence of dwelling in a foreign land, we are filled with barbaric passions, and manners, and legal institutes, and to all these have a great propensity. Hence, he who wishes to return to his proper kindred and associates, should not only with alacrity begin the journey, but, in order that he may be properly received, should meditate how he may divest himself of everything of a foreign nature which he has assumed, and should recall to his memory such things as he has forgotten, and without which he cannot he admitted by his kindred and friends. After the same manner, also, it is necessary, if we intend to return to things which are truly our own, that we should divest ourselves of every thing of a mortal nature which we have assumed, together with an adhering affection towards it, and which is the cause of our descent; and that we should excite our recollection of that blessed and eternal essence, and should hasten our return to the nature which is without color and without quality, earnestly endeavoring to accomplish two things; one, that we may cast aside every thing material and mortal; but the other, that we may properly return, and be again conversant with our true kindred, ascending to them in a way contrary to that in which we descended hither. For we were intellectual natures, and we still are essences purified from all sense and irrationality; but we are complicated with sensibles, through our incapability of eternally associating with the intelligible, and through the power of being conversant with terrestrial concerns. For all the powers which energize in conjunction with sense and body, are injured, in consequence of the soul not abiding in the intelligible; (just as the earth, when in a bad condition, though it frequently receives the seed of wheat, yet produces nothing but tares), and this is through a certain depravity of the soul, which does not indeed destroy its essence from the generation of irrationality, but through this is conjoined with a mortal nature, and is drawn down from its own proper to a foreign condition of being.
31. So that, if we are desirous of returning to those natures with which we formerly associated, we must endeavor to the utmost of our power to withdraw ourselves from sense and imagination, and the irrationality with which they are attended, and also from the passions which subsist about them, as far as the necessity of our condition in this life will permit. But such things as pertain to intellect should be distinctly arranged, procuring for it peace and quiet from the war with the irrational part; that we may not only be auditors of intellect and intelligibles, but may as much as possible enjoy the contemplation of them, and, being established in an incorporeal nature, may truly live through intellect; and not falsely in conjunction with things allied to bodies. We must therefore divest ourselves of our manifold garments, both of this visible and fleshly vestment, and of those with which we are internally clothed, and which are proximate to our cutaneous habiliments; and we must enter the stadium naked and unclothed, striving for [the most glorious of all prizes] the Olympia of the soul. The first thing, however, and without which we cannot contend, is to divest ourselves of our garments. But since of these some are external and others internal, thus also with respect to the denudation, one kind is through things which are apparent, but another through such as are more unapparent. Thus, for instance, not to eat, or not to receive what is offered to us, belongs to things which are immediately obvious; but not to desire is a thing more obscure; so that, together with deeds, we must also withdraw ourselves from an adhering affection and passion towards them. For what benefit shall we derive by abstaining from deeds, when at the same time we tenaciously adhere to the causes from which the deeds proceed?
32. But this departure may be effected by violence, and also by persuasion and by reason, through the wasting away, and, as it may be said, oblivion and death of the passions; which, indeed, is the best kind of departure, since it is accomplished without oppressing that from which we have departed. For, in sensibles, a detachment by force is not effected without either a laceration of a part, or a vestige of avulsion. But this separation is introduced by a continual negligence of the passions. And this negligence is produced by an abstinence from those sensible perceptions which excite the passions, and by a persevering attention to intelligibles. And among these passions or perturbations, those which arise from food are to be enumerated.
33. We should therefore abstain, no less than from other things, from certain food, viz., such as is naturally adapted to excite the passive part of our soul, concerning which it will be requisite to consider as follows: There are two fountains whose streams irrigate the bond by which the soul is bound to the body; and from which the soul being filled as with deadly potions, becomes oblivious of the proper objects of her contemplation. These fountains are pleasure and pain; of which sense indeed is preparative, and the perception which is according to sense, together with the imaginations, opinions, and recollections which accompany the senses. But from these, the passions being excited, and the whole of the irrational nature becoming fattened, the soul is drawn downward, and abandons its proper love of true being. As much as possible, therefore, we must separate ourselves from these. But the separation must be effected by an avoidance of the passions which subsist through the senses and the irrational part. But the senses are employed either on objects of the sight, or of the hearing, or of the taste, or the smell, or the touch; for sense is as it were the metropolis of that foreign colony of passions which we contain. Let us, therefore, consider how much fuel of the passions enters into us through each of the senses. For this is effected partly by the view of the contests of horses and the athletes, or those whose bodies are contorted in dancing; and partly from the survey of beautiful women. For these, ensnaring the irrational nature, attack and subjugate it by all-various deceptions.
34. For the soul, being agitated with Bacchic fury through all these by the irrational part, is made to leap, to exclaim and vociferate, the external tumult being inflamed by the internal, and which was first enkindled by sense. But the excitations through the ears, and which are of a passive nature, are produced by certain noises and sounds, by indecent language and defamation, so that many through these being exiled from reason, are furiously agitated, and some, becoming effeminate, exhibit allvarious convolutions of the body. And who is ignorant how much the use of fumigations, and the exhalations of sweet odors, with which lovers supply the objects of their love, fatten the irrational part of the soul? But what occasion is there to speak of the passions produced through the taste? For here, especially, there is a complication of a twofold bond; one which is fattened by the passions excited by the taste; and the other, which we render heavy and powerful, by the introduction of foreign bodies [i.e. of bodies different from our own]. For, as a certain physician said, those are not the only poisons which are prepared by the medical art; but those likewise which we daily assume for food, both in what we eat, and what we drink, and a thing of a much more deadly nature is imparted to the soul through these, than from the poisons which are compounded for the purpose of destroying the body. And as to the touch, it does all but transmute the soul into the body, and produces in it certain inarticulate sounds, such as frequently take place in inanimate bodies. And from all these, recollections, imaginations, and opinions being collected together, excite a swarm of passions, viz. of fear, desire, anger, love, voluptuousness, pain, emolation, solicitude, and disease, and cause the soul to be full of similar perturbations.
35. Hence, to be purified from all these is most difficult, and requires a great contest, and we must bestow much labor both by night and by day to be liberated from an attention to them, and this, because we are necessarily complicated with sense. Whence, also, as much as possible, we should withdraw ourselves from those places in which we may, though unwillingly, meet with this hostile crowd. From experience, also, we should avoid a contest with it, and even a victory over it, and the want of exercise from inexperience.
36. For we learn, that this conduct was adopted by some of the celebrated ancient Pythagoreans and wise men; some of whom dwelt in the most solitary places; but others in temples and sacred groves, from which, though they were in cities, all tumult and the multitude were expelled. But Plato chose to reside in the Academy, a place not only solitary and remote from the city, but which was also said to be insalubrious. Others have not spared even their eyes, through a desire of not being detached from the inward contemplation [of reality]. If some one, however, at the same time that he is conversant with men, and while be is filling his senses with the passions pertaining to them, should fancy that he can remain impassive, he is ignorant that he both deceives himself and those who are persuaded by him, nor does he see that we are enslaved to many passions, through not alienating ourselves from the multitude. For he did not speak vainly, and in such a way as to falsify the nature of [the Coryphaean] philosophers, who said of them, “These, therefore, from their youth, neither know the way to the forum, nor where the court of justice or senate-house is situated, or any common place of assembly belonging to the city. They likewise neither hear nor see laws, or decrees, whether orally promulgated or written. And as to the ardent endeavors of their companions to obtain magistracies, the associations of these, their banquets and wanton feastings, accompanied by pipers, these they do not even dream of accomplishing. But whether any thing in the city has happened well or ill, or what evil has befallen any one from his progenitors, whether male or female, these are more concealed from such a one, than, as it is said, how many measures called choes the sea contains. And besides this, he is even ignorant that he is ignorant of all these particulars. For he does not abstain from them for the sake of renown, but, in reality, his body only dwells, and is conversant in the city; but his reasoning power considering all these as trifling and of no value, “he is borne away,” according to Pindar, “on all sides, and does not apply himself to anything which is near.”
37. In what is here said, Plato asserts, that the Coryphaean philosopher, by not at all mingling himself with the above-mentioned particulars, remains impassive to them. Hence, he neither knows the way to the court of justice nor the senate-house, nor any thing else which has been before enumerated. He does not say, indeed, that he knows and is conversant with these particulars, and that, being conversant, and filling his senses with them, yet does not know anything about them; but, on the contrary, he says, that abstaining from them, he is ignorant that he is ignorant of them. He also adds, that this philosopher does not even dream of betaking himself to banquets. Much less, therefore, would he be indignant, if deprived of broth, or pieces of flesh; nor, in short, will he admit things of this kind. And will he not rather consider the abstinence from all these as trifling, and a thing of no consequence, but the assumption of them to be a thing of great importance and noxious? For since there are two paradigms in the order of things, one of a divine nature, which is most happy, the other of that which is destitute of divinity, and which is most miserable; the Coryphaean philosopher will assimilate himself to the one, but will render himself dissimilar to the other, and will lead a life conformable to the paradigm to which he is assimilated, viz. a life satisfied with slender food, and sufficient to itself, and in the smallest degree replete with mortal natures.
38. Hence, as long as any one is discordant about food, and contends that this or that thing should be eaten, but does not conceive that, if it were possible, we should abstain from all food, assenting by this contention to his passions, such a one forms a vain opinion, as if the subjects of his dissension were things of no consequence. He, therefore, who philosophizes, will not separate himself [from his terrestrial bonds] by violence; for he who is compelled to do this, nevertheless remains there from whence he was forced to depart. Nor must it be thought, that he who strengthens these bonds, effects a thing of small importance. So that only granting to nature what is necessary, and this of a light quality, and through more slender food, he will reject whatever exceeds this, as only contributing to pleasure. For he will be persuaded of the truth of what Plato says, that sense is a nail by which the soul is fastened to bodies, through the agglutination of the passions, and the enjoyment of corporeal delight. For if sensible perceptions were no impediment to the pure energy of the soul, why would it be a thing of a dire nature to be in body, while at the same time the soul remained impassive to the motions of the body?
39. How is it, also, that you have decided and said, that you are not passive to things which you suffer, and that you are not present with things by which you are passively affected? For intellect, indeed, is present with itself, though we are not present with it. But he who departs from intellect, is in that place to which he departs; and when, by discursive energies, he applies himself upwards and downwards by his apprehension of things, he is there where his apprehension is. But it is one thing not to attend to sensibles, in consequence of being present with other things, and another for a man to think, that though he attends to sensibles yet he is not present with them. Nor can any one show that Plato admits this, without at the same time demonstrating himself to be deceived. He, therefore, who submits to the assumption of [every kind of] food, and voluntarily betakes himself to [alluring] spectacles, to conversation with the multitude, and laughter; such a one, by thus acting, is there where the passion is which he sustains. But he who abstains from these in consequence of being present with other things, he it is who, through his unskillfulness, not only excites laughter in Thracian maid-servants, but in the rest of the vulgar, and when he sits at banquet, falls into the greatest perplexity, not from any defect of sensation, or from a superior accuracy of sensible perception, and energizing with the irrational part of the soul alone; for Plato does not venture to assert this; but because, in slanderous conversation, he has nothing reproachful to say of anyone, as not knowing any evil of anyone, because he has not made individuals the subject of his meditation. Being in such perplexity, therefore, he appears, says Plato, to be ridiculous; and in the praises and boastings of others, as he is manifestly seen to laugh, not dissembling, but, in reality, he appears to be delirious.
40. So that, through ignorance of, and abstaining from sensible concerns, he is unacquainted with them. But it is by no means to be admitted, that though he should be familiar with sensibles, and should energize through the irrational part, yet it is possible for him [at the same time] genuinely to survey the objects of intellect. For neither do they who assert that we have two souls, admit that we can attend at one and the same time to two different things. For thus they would make a conjunction of two animals, which being employed in different energies, the one would not be able to perceive the operations of the other.
41. But why should it be requisite that the passions should waste away, that we should die with respect to them, and that this should be daily the subject of our meditation, if it was possible for us, as some assert, to energize according to intellect, though we are at the same time intimately connected with mortal concerns, and this without the intuition of intellect? For intellect sees, and intellect hears [as Epicharmus says]. But if while eating luxuriously, and drinking the sweetest wine, it were possible to be present with immaterial natures, why may not this be frequently effected while you are present with, and are performing things which it is not becoming even to mention? For these passions every where proceed from the boy which is in us. And you certainly will admit that the baser these passions are, the more we are drawn down towards them. For what will be the distinction which ought here to be made, if you admit that to some things it is not possible to be passive, without being present with them, but that you may accomplish other things, at the same time that you are surveying intelligibles? For it is not because some things are apprehended to be base by the multitude, but others not. For all the above mentioned passions are base. So that to the attainment of a life according to intellect, it is requisite to abstain from all these, in the same manner as from venereal concerns. To nature, therefore, but little food must be granted, through the necessity of generation [or of our connection with a flowing condition of being.] For, where sense and sensible apprehension are, there a departure and separation from the intelligible take place; and by how much stronger the excitation is of the irrational part, by so much the greater is the departure from intellection. For it is not possible for us to be borne along to this place and to that, while we are here, and yet be there, [i.e. be present with an intelligible essence.] For our attentions to things are not effected with a part, but with the whole of ourselves.
42. But to fancy that he who is passively affected according to sense, may, nevertheless, energize about intelligibles, has precipitated many of the Barbarians to destruction; who arrogantly assert, that though they indulge in every kind of pleasure, yet they are able to convert themselves to things of a different nature from sensibles, at the same time that they are energizing with the irrational part. For I have heard some persons patronizing their infelicity after the following manner. “We are not,” say they, “defiled by food, as neither is the sea by the filth of rivers. For we have dominion over all eatables, in the same manner as the sea over all humidity. But if the sea should shut up its mouth, so as not to receive the streams that now flow into it, it would be indeed, with respect to itself, great; but, with respect to the world, small, as not being able to receive dirt and corruption. If, however, it was afraid of being defiled, it would not receive these streams; but knowing its own magnitude, it receives all things, and is not averse to anything which proceeds into it. In like manner, say they, we also, if we were afraid of food, should be enslaved by the conception of fear. But it is requisite that all things should be obedient to us. For, if we collect a little water, indeed, which has received any filth, it becomes immediately defiled and oppressed by the filth; but this is not the case with the profound sea. Thus, also, aliments vanquish the pusillanimous; but where there is an immense liberty with respect to food, all things are received for nutriment, and no defilement is produced.” These men, therefore, deceiving themselves by arguments of this kind, act in a manner conformable to their deception. But, instead of obtaining liberty, being precipitated into an abyss of infelicity, they are suffocated. This, also, induced some of the Cynics to be desirous of eating every kind of food, in consequence of their pertinaciously adhering to the cause of errors, which we are accustomed to call a thing of an indifferent nature.
43. The man, however, who is cautious, and is suspicious of the enchantments of nature, who has surveyed the essential properties of body, and knows that it was adapted as an instrument to the powers of the soul, will also know how readily passion is prepared to accord with the body, whether we are willing or not, when anything external strikes it, and the pulsation at length arrives at perception. For perception is, as it were, an answer to [that which causes the perception.] But the soul cannot answer unless she wholly converts herself to the sound, and transfers her animadversive eye to the pulsation. In short, the irrational part not being able to judge to what extent, how, whence, and what thing ought to be the object of attention, but of itself being inconsiderate, like horses without a charioteer; whither it verges downward, thither it is borne along, without any power of governing itself in things external. Nor does it know the fit time or the measure of the food which should be taken, unless the eye of the charioteer is attentive to it, which regulates and governs the motions of irrationality, this part of the soul being essentially blind. But he who takes away from reason its dominion over the irrational part, and permits it to be borne along, conformably to its proper nature: such a one, yielding to desire and anger, will suffer them to proceed to whatever extent they please. On the contrary, the worthy man will so act that his deeds may be conformable to presiding reason, even in the energies of the irrational part.
44. And in this the worthy appears to differ from the depraved man, that the former has every where reason present, governing and guiding, like a charioteer, the irrational part; but the latter performs many things without reason for his guide. Hence the latter is said to be most irrational, and is borne along in a disorderly manner by irrationality; but the former is obedient to reason, and superior to every irrational desire. This, therefore, is the cause why the multitude err in words and deeds, in desire and anger, and why, on the contrary, good men act with rectitude, viz. that the former suffer the boy within them to do whatever it pleases; but the latter give themselves up to the guidance of the tutor of the boy, [i.e. to reason] and govern what pertains to themselves in conjunction with it. Hence in food, and in other corporeal energies and enjoyments, the charioteer being present, defines what is commensurate and opportune. But when the charioteer is absent, and, as some say, is occupied in his own concerns, then, if he also has with him our attention, he does not permit it to be disturbed, or at all to energize with the irrational power. If, however, he should permit our attention to be directed to the boy, unaccompanied by himself, he would destroy the man, who would be precipitately borne along by the folly of the irrational part.
45. Hence, to worthy men, abstinence in food, and in corporeal enjoyments and actions, is more appropriate than abstinence in what pertains to the touch; because though, while we touch bodies, it is necessary we should descend from our proper manners to the instruction of that which is most irrational in us; yet this is still more necessary in the assumption of food. For the irrational nature is incapable of considering what will be the effect of it, because this part of the soul is essentially ignorant of that which is absent. But, with respect to food, if it were possible to be liberated from it, in the same manner as from visible objects, when they are removed from the view; for we can attend to other things when the imagination is withdrawn from them;—if this were possible, it would be no great undertaking to be immediately emancipated from the necessity of the mortal nature, by yielding, in a small degree, to it. Since, however, a prolongation of time in cooking and digesting food, and together with this the co-operation of sleep and rest, are requisite, and, after these, a certain temperament from digestion, and a separation of excrements, it is necessary that the tutor of the boy within us should be present, who, selecting things of a light nature, and which will be no impediment to him, may concede these to nature, in consequence of foreseeing the future, and the impediment which will be produced by his permitting the desires to introduce to us a burden not easily to be borne, through the trifling pleasure arising from the deglutition of food.
46. Reason, therefore, very properly rejecting the much and the superfluous, will circumscribe what is necessary in narrow boundaries, in order that it may not be molested in procuring what the wants of the body demand, through many things being requisite; nor being attentive to elegance, will it need a multitude of servants; nor endeavor to receive much pleasure in eating, nor, through satiety, to be filled with much indolence; nor by rendering its burden [the body] more gross, to become somnolent; nor through the body being replete with things of a fattening nature, to render the bond more strong, but himself more sluggish and imbecile in the performance of his proper works. For, let any man show us who endeavors as much as possible to live according to intellect, and not to be attracted by the passions of the body, that animal food is more easily procured than the food from fruits and herbs; or that the preparation of the former is more simple than that of the latter, and, in short, that it does not require cooks, but, when compared with inanimate nutriment, is unattended by pleasure, is lighter in concoction, and is more rapidly digested, excites in a less degree the desires, and contributes less to the strength of the body than a vegetable diet.
47. If, however, neither any physician, nor philosopher, nor wrestler, nor any one of the vulgar has dared to assert this, why should we not willingly abstain from this corporeal burden? Why should we not, at the same time, liberate ourselves from many inconveniences by abandoning a fleshly diet? For we should not be liberated from one only, but from myriads of evils, by accustoming ourselves to be satisfied with things of the smallest nature; viz. we should be freed from a superabundance of riches, from numerous servants, a multitude of utensils, a somnolent condition, from many and vehement diseases, from medical assistance, incentives to venery, more gross exhalations, an abundance of excrements, the crassitude of the corporeal bond, from the strength which excites to [base] actions, and, in short, from an Iliad of evils. But from all these, inanimate and slender food, and which is easily obtained, will liberate us, and will procure for us peace, by imparting salvation to our reasoning power. For, as Diogenes says, thieves and enemies are not found among those that feed on maize, but sycophants and tyrants are produced from those who feed on flesh. The cause, however, of our being in want of many things being taken away, together with the multitude of nutriment introduced into the body, and also the weight of digestibles being lightened, the eye of the soul will become free, and will be established as in a port beyond the smoke and the waves of the corporeal nature.
48. And this neither requires monition, nor demonstration, on account of the evidence with which it is immediately attended. Hence, not only those who endeavor to live according to intellect, and who establish for themselves an intellectual life, as the end of their pursuits, have perceived that this abstinence was necessary to the attainment of this end; but, as it appears to me, nearly every philosopher, preferring frugality to luxury, has rather embraced a life which is satisfied with a little, than one that requires a multitude of things. And, what will seem paradoxical to many, we shall find that this is asserted and praised by men who thought that pleasure is the end of those that philosophize. For most of the Epicureans, beginning from the Corypheus and their sect, appear to have been satisfied with maize and fruits, and have filled their writings with showing how little nature requires, and that its necessities may be sufficiently remedied by slender and easily procured food.
49. For the wealth, say they, of nature is definite, and easily obtained; but that which proceeds from vain opinions, is indefinite, and procured with difficulty. For things which may be readily obtained, remove in a beautiful and abundantly sufficient manner that which, through indigence, is the cause of molestation to the flesh; and these are such as have the simple nature of moist and dry aliments. But every thing else, say they, which terminates in luxury, is not attended with a necessary appetition, nor is it necessarily produced from a certain something which is in pain; but partly arises from the molestation and pungency solely proceeding from something not being present; partly from joy; and partly from vain and false dogmas, which neither pertain to any natural defect, nor to the dissolution of the human frame, those not being present. For things which may every where be obtained, are sufficient for those purposes which nature necessarily requires. But these, through their simplicity and paucity, may be easily procured. And he, indeed, who feeds on flesh, requires also inanimate natures; but he who is satisfied with things inanimate, is easily supplied from the half of what the other wants, and needs but a small expense for the preparation of his food.
50. They likewise say, it is requisite that he who prepares the necessaries of life, should not afterwards make use of philosophy as an accession; but, having obtained it, should, with a confident mind, thus genuinely endure the events of the day. For we shall commit what pertains to ourselves to a bad counsellor, if we measure and procure what is necessary to nature, without philosophy. Hence it is necessary that those who philosophize should provide things of this kind, and strenuously attend to them as much as possible. But, so far as there is a dereliction from thence, [i.e. from philosophizing], which is not capable of effecting a perfect purification, so far we should not endeavor to procure either riches or nutriment. In conjunction, therefore, with philosophy, we should engage in things of this kind, and be immediately persuaded that it is much better to pursue what is the least, the most simple, and light in nutriment. For that which is least, and is unattended with molestation, is derived from that which is least.
51. The preparation also of these things, draws along with it many impediments, either from the weight of the body, [which they are adapted to increase,] or from the difficulty of procuring them, or from their preventing the continuity of the energy of our most principal reasonings, or from some other cause. For this energy then becomes immediately useless, and does not remain unchanged by the concomitant perturbations. It is necessary, however, that a philosopher should hope that he may not be in want of anything through the whole of life. But this hope will be sufficiently preserved by things which are easily procured; while, on the other hand, this hope is frustrated by things of a sumptuous nature. The multitude, therefore, on this account, though their possessions are abundant, incessantly labor to obtain more, as if they were in want. But the recollection that the greatest possible wealth has no power worth mentioning of dissolving the perturbations of the soul, will cause us to be satisfied with things easily obtained, and of the most simple nature. Things also, which are very moderate and obvious, and which may be procured with the greatest facility, remove the tumult occasioned by the flesh. But the deficiency of things of a luxurious nature will not disturb him who meditates on death. Farther still, the pain arising from indigence is much milder than that which is produced by repletion, and will be considered to be so by him who does not deceive himself with vain opinions. Variety also of food not only does not dissolve the perturbations of the soul, but does not even increase the pleasure which is felt by the flesh. For this is terminated as soon as pain is removed. So that the feeding on flesh does not remove any thing which is troublesome to nature, nor effect any thing which, unless it is accomplished, will end in pain. But the pleasantness with which it is attended is violent, and, perhaps, mingled with the contrary. For it does not contribute to the duration of life, but to the variety of pleasure; and in this respect resembles venereal enjoyments, and the drinking of foreign wines, without which nature is able to remain. For those things, without which nature cannot last, are very few, and may be procured easily, and in conjunction with justice, liberty, quiet, and abundant leisure.
52. Again, neither does animal food contribute, but is rather an impediment to health. For health is preserved through those things by which it is recovered. But it is recovered through a most slender and fleshless diet; so that by this also it is preserved. If, however, vegetable food does not contribute to the strength of Milo, nor, in short, to an increase of strength, neither does a philosopher require strength, or an increase of it, if he intends to give himself up to contemplation, and not to an active and intemperate life. But it is not at all wonderful, that the vulgar should fancy that animal food contributes to health; for they also think that sensual enjoyments and venery are preservative of health, none of which benefit anyone; and those that engage in them must be thankful if they are not injured by them. And if many are not of this opinion, it is nothing to us. For neither is any fidelity and constancy in friendship and benevolence to be found among the vulgar; nor are they capable of receiving these, nor of participating of wisdom, or any portion of it which deserves to be mentioned. Neither do they understand what is privately or publicly advantageous; nor are they capable of forming a judgment of depraved and elegant manners, so as to distinguish the one from the other. And, in addition to these things, they are full of insolence and intemperance. On this account, there is no occasion to fear that there will not be those who will feed on animals.
53. For if all men conceived rightly, there would be no need of fowlers, or hunters, or fishermen, or swineherds. But animals governing themselves, and having no guardian and ruler, would quickly perish, and be destroyed by others, who would attack them and diminish their multitude, as is found to be the case with myriads of animals on which men do not feed. But allvarious folly incessantly dwelling with mankind, there will be an innumerable multitude of those who will voraciously feed on flesh. It is necessary however to preserve health; not by the fear of death, but for the sake of not being impeded in the attainment of the good which is derived from contemplation. But that which is especially preservative of health, is an undisturbed state of the soul, and a tendency of the reasoning power towards truly existing being. For much benefit is from hence derived to the body, as our associates have demonstrated from experience. Hence some who have been afflicted with the gout in the feet and hands, to such a degree as to be infested with it for eight entire years, have expelled it through abandoning wealth, and betaking themselves to the contemplation of divinity. At the same time, therefore, that they have abandoned riches, and a solicitude about human concerns, they have also been liberated from bodily disease. So that a certain state of the soul greatly contributes both to health and to the good of the whole body. And to this also, for the most part, a diminution of nutriment contributes. In short, as Epicurus likewise has rightly said, that food is to be avoided, the enjoyment of which we desire and pursue, but which, after we have enjoyed, we rank among things of an unacceptable nature. But of this kind is every thing luxuriant and gross. And in this manner those are affected, who are vehemently desirous of such nutriment, and through it are involved either in great expense, or in disease, or repletion, or the privation of leisure.
54. Hence also, in simple and slender food, repletion is to be avoided, and every where we should consider what will be the consequence of the possession or enjoyment of it, what the magnitude of it is, and what molestation of the flesh or of the soul it is capable of dissolving. For we ought never to act indefinitely, but in things of this kind we should employ a boundary and measure; and infer by a reasoning process, that he who fears to abstain from animal food, if he suffers himself to feed on flesh through pleasure, is afraid of death. For immediately, together with a privation of such food, he conceives that something indefinitely dreadful will be present, the consequence of which will be death. But from these and similar causes, an insatiable desire is produced of riches, possessions, and renown, together with an opinion that every good is increased with these in a greater extent of time, and the dread of death as of an infinite evil. The pleasure however which is produced through luxury, does not even approach to that which is experienced by him who lives with frugality. For such a one has great pleasure in thinking how little he requires. For luxury, astonishment about venereal occupations, and ambition about external concerns, being taken away, what remaining use can there be of idle wealth, which will be of no advantage to us whatever, but will only become a burden, no otherwise than repletion?— while, on the other hand, the pleasure arising from frugality is genuine and pure. It is also necessary to accustom the body to become alienated, as much as possible, from the pleasure of the satiety arising from luxurious food, but not from the fullness produced by a slender diet, in order that moderation may proceed through all things, and that what is necessary, or what is most excellent, may fix a boundary to our diet. For he who thus mortifies his body will receive every possible good, through being sufficient to himself, and an assimilation to divinity. And thus also, he will not desire a greater extent of time, as if it would bring with it an augmentation of good. He will likewise thus be truly rich, measuring wealth by a natural bound, and not by vain opinions. Thus too, he will not depend on the hope of the greatest pleasure, the existence of which is incredible, since this would be most troublesome. But he will remain satisfied with his present condition, and will not be anxious to live for a longer period of time.
55. Besides this also, is it not absurd, that he who is in great affliction, or, is in some grievous external calamity, is bound with chains, does not even think of food, nor concern himself about the means of obtaining it; but when it is placed before him, refuses what is necessary to his subsistence; and that the man who is truly in bonds, and is tormented by inward calamities, should endeavor to procure a variety of eatables, paying attention to things through which he will strengthen his bonds? And how is it possible that this should be the conduct of men who know what they suffer, and not rather of those who are delighted with their calamities, and who are ignorant of the evils which they endure? For these are affected in a way contrary to those who are in chains, and who are conscious of their miserable condition; since these, experiencing no gratification in the present life, and being full of immense perturbation, insatiably aspire after another life. For no one who can easily liberate himself from all perturbations, will desire to possess silver tables and couches, and to have ointments and cooks, splendid vessels and garments, and suppers remarkable for their sumptuousness and variety; but such a desire arises from a perfect uselessness to every purpose of the present life, from an indefinite generation of good, and from immense perturbation. Hence some do not remember the past, the recollection of it being expelled by the present; but others do not inquire about the present, because they are not gratified with existing circumstances.
56. The contemplative philosopher, however, will invariably adopt a slender diet. For he knows the particulars in which his bond consists, so that he is not capable of desiring luxuries. Hence, being delighted with simple food, he will not seek for animal nutriment, as if he was not satisfied with a vegetable diet. But if the nature of the body in a philosopher was not such as we have supposed it to be, and was not so tractable, and so adapted to have its wants satisfied through things easily procured, and it was requisite to endure some pains and molestations for the sake of true salvation, ought we not [willingly] to endure them? For when it is requisite that we should be liberated from disease, do we not voluntarily sustain many pains, viz., while we are cut, covered with blood, burnt, drink bitter medicines, and are purged through the belly, through emetics, and through the nostrils, and do we not also reward those who cause us to suffer in this manner? And this being the case, ought we not to sustain every thing, though of the most afflictive nature, with equanimity, for the sake of being purified from internal disease, since our contest is for immortality, and an association with divinity, from which we are prevented through an association with the body? By no means, therefore, ought we to follow the laws of the body, which are violent and adverse to the laws of intellect, and to the paths which lead to salvation. Since, however, we do not now philosophize about the endurance of pain, but about the rejection of pleasures which are not necessary, what apology can remain for those, who impudently endeavor to defend their own intemperance?
57. For if it is requisite not to dissemble any thing through fear, but to speak freely, it is not otherwise possible to obtain the end [of a contemplative life], than by adhering to God, as if fastened by a nail, being detached from body, and those pleasures of the soul which subsist through it; since our salvation is effected by deeds, and not by a mere attention to words. But as it is not possible with any kind of diet, and, in short, by feeding on flesh, to become adapted to an union with even some partial deity, much less is this possible with that God who is beyond all things, and is above a nature simply incorporeal; but after all-various purifications, both of soul and body, he who is naturally of an excellent disposition, and lives with piety and purity, will scarcely be thought worthy to perceive him. So that, by how much more the Father of all things excels in simplicity, purity, and sufficiency to himself, as being established far beyond all material representation, by so much the more is it requisite, that he who approaches to him should be in every respect pure and holy, beginning from his body, and ending internally, and distributing to each of the parts, and in short to every thing which is present with him a purity adapted to the nature of each. Perhaps, however, these things will not be contradicted by any one. But it may be doubted, why we admit abstinence from animal food to pertain to purity, though in sacrifices we slay sheep and oxen, and conceive that these immolations are pure and acceptable to the Gods. Hence, since the solution of this requires a long discussion, the consideration of sacrifices must be assumed from another principle.
1. Pursuing therefore the inquiries pertaining to simplicity and purity of diet, we have now arrived, O Castracius, at the discussion of sacrifices; the consideration of which is difficult, and at the same time requires much explanation, if we intend to decide concerning it in such a way as will be acceptable to the Gods. Hence, as this is the proper place for such a discussion, we shall now unfold what appears to us to be the truth on this subject, and what is capable of being narrated, correcting what was overlooked in the hypothesis proposed from the beginning.
2. In the first place therefore we say, it does not follow because animals are slain that it is necessary to eat them. Nor does he who admits the one, I mean that they should be slain, entirely prove that they should be eaten. For the laws permit us to defend ourselves against enemies who attack us [by killing them]; but it did not seem proper to these laws to grant that we should eat them, as being a thing contrary to the nature of man. In the second place, it does not follow, that because it is proper to sacrifice certain animals to daemons, or Gods, or certain powers, through causes either known or unknown to men, it is therefore necessary to feed on animals. For it may be shown, that men assumed animals in sacrifices, which no one even of those who are accustomed to feed on flesh, would endure to taste. Moreover, in the slaying of animals, the same error is overlooked. For it does not follow, that if it is requisite to kill some, it is therefore necessary to slay all animals, as neither must it be granted, that if irrational animals, therefore men also may be slain.
3. Besides, abstinence from animal food, as we have said in the first book, is not simply recommended to all men, but to philosophers, and to those especially, who suspend their felicity from God, and the imitation of him. For neither in the political life do legislators ordain that the same things shall be performed by private individuals and the priests, but conceding certain things to the multitude, pertaining to food and other necessaries of life, they forbid the priests to use them, punishing the transgression of their mandates by death, or some great fine.
4. For these things not being confused, but distinguished in a proper manner, most of the opposing arguments will be found to be vain. For the greater part of them endeavor to show, either that it is necessary to slay animals, on account of the injuries sustained from them, and it is assumed as a thing consequent, that it is proper to eat them; or because animals are slain in sacrifices, it is inferred that therefore they may be eaten by men. And again, if it is requisite to destroy certain animals, on account of their ferocity, it is conceived, that it must follow, that tame animals likewise ought to be slain. If, also, some persons may be allowed to eat them, such as those who engage in athletic exercises, soldiers, and those who are employed in bodily labor, therefore this may likewise be permitted to philosophers; and if to some, therefore to all of them; though all these inferences are bad, and are incapable of exhibiting any necessity for their adoption. And, indeed, that all of them are bad, will be immediately evident to men that are not contentious. But some of these inferences we have already confuted, and we shall show the fallacy of others as we proceed. Now, however, we shall discuss what pertains to the consideration of sacrifices, unfolding the principles from which they originated, what the first sacrifices were, and of what kind they were; how they came to be changed, and whence the change arose; whether all things ought to be sacrificed by a philosopher, and from what animals sacrifices are made. In short, we shall unfold every thing pertaining to the proposed subject, discovering some things ourselves, but receiving others from the ancients, and as much as possible directing our attention to what is commensurate and adapted to the hypothesis, [or thing intended to be investigated.]
5. It seems that the period is of immense antiquity, from which a nation the most learned of all others as Theophrastus says, and who inhabit the most sacred region made by the Nile, began first, from the vestal hearth, to sacrifice to the celestial Gods, not myrrh, or cassia, nor the first-fruits of things mingled with the crocus of frankincense; for these were assumed many generations afterwards, in consequence of error gradually increasing, when men, wanting the necessaries of life, offered, with great labor and many tears, some drops of these, as first-fruits to the Gods. Hence, they did not at first sacrifice these, but grass, which, as a certain soft wool of prolific nature, they plucked with their hands. For the earth produced trees prior to animals; and long before trees grass, which germinates annually. Hence, gathering the blades and roots, and all the germs of this herb, they committed them to the flames, as a sacrifice to the visible celestial Gods, to whom they paid immortal honor through fire. For to these, also, we preserve in temples an immortal fire, because it is especially most similar to these divinities. But from the exhalation or smoke of things produced in the earth, they called the offerings thumiateria; to sacrifice, they called thuein, and the sacrifices, thusiai; all which, as if unfolding the error which was afterwards introduced, we do not rightly interpret; since we call the worship of the Gods through the immolation of animals thusia. But so careful were the ancients not to transgress this custom, that against those who, neglecting the pristine, introduced novel modes of sacrificing, they employed execrations, and therefore they now denominate the substances which are used for fumigations aromata, i.e. aromatics, [or things of an execrable nature.] The antiquity, however, of the before-mentioned fumigations may be perceived by him who considers that many now also sacrifice certain portions of odoriferous wood. Hence, when after grass, the earth produced trees, and men at first fed on the fruits of the oak; they offered to the Gods but few of the fruits on account of their rarity, but in sacrifices they burnt many of its leaves. After this, however, when human life proceeded to a milder nutriment, and sacrifices from nuts were introduced, they said enough of the oak.
6. But as barley first appeared after leguminous substances, the race of men used it in primitive sacrifices, moistening it for this purpose with water. Afterwards, when they had broken and bruised it, so as to render it eatable, as the instruments of this operation afforded a divine assistance to human life, they concealed them in an arcane place, and approached them as things of a sacred nature. But esteeming the food produced from it when bruised to be blessed, when compared with their former nutriment, they offered, in fine, the first-fruits of it to the Gods. Hence also now, at the end of the sacrifices, we use fruits that are bruised or ground; testifying by this how much fumigations have departed from their ancient simplicity; at the same time not perceiving on what account we perform each of these. Proceeding, however, from hence, and being more abundantly supplied, both with other fruits and wheat, the first-fruits of cakes, made of the fine flower of wheat, and of everything else, were offered in sacrifices to the Gods; many flowers being collected for this purpose, and with these all that was conceived to be beautiful, and adapted, by its odor, to a divine sense, being mingled. From these, also, some were used for garlands, and others were given to the fire. But when they had discovered the use of the divine drops of wine, and honey, and likewise of oil, for the purposes of human life, then they sacrificed these to their causes, the Gods.
7. And these things appear to be testified by the splendid procession in honor of the Sun and the Hours, which is even now performed at Athens, and in which there were other herbs besides grass, and also acorns, the fruit of the crab tree, barley, wheat, a heap of dried figs, cakes made of wheaten and barley flour; and, in the last place, an earthen pot. This mode, however, of offering first-fruits in sacrifices, having, at length, proceeded to great illegality, the assumption of immolations, most dire and full of cruelty, was introduced; so that it would seem that the execrations, which were formerly uttered against us, have now received their consummation, in consequence of men slaughtering animals, and defiling altars with blood; and this commenced from that period in which mankind tasted of blood, through having experienced the evils of famine and war. Divinity, therefore, as Theophrastus says, being indignant, appears to have inflicted a punishment adapted to the crime. Hence some men became atheists; but others, in consequence of forming erroneous conceptions of a divine nature, may be more justly called kakophrones [unhappy], than kakothevi [malevolent], because they think that the Gods are depraved, and in no respect naturally more excellent than we are. Thus, therefore, some were seen to live without sacrificing any thing, and without offering the first-fruits of their possessions to the Gods; but others sacrificed improperly, and made use of illegal oblations.
8. Hence the Thoes, who dwell in the confines of Thrace, as they neither offered any first-fruits, nor sacrificed to the Gods, were at that time suddenly taken away from the rest of mankind; so that neither the inhabitants, nor the city, nor the foundations of the houses, could by any one be found.
“Men prone to ill, denied the Gods their due,
Nor did they offer first-fruits to the Gods, as it was just that they should. But with respect to the Bassarians, who formerly were not only emulous of sacrificing bulls, but also ate the flesh of slaughtered men, in the same manner as we now do with other animals; for we offer to the Gods some parts of them as first-fruits; and eat the rest;—with respect to these men, who has not heard, that insanely rushing on and biting each other, and in reality feeding on blood, they did not cease to act in this manner till the whole race was destroyed of those who use sacrifices of this kind?
9. The sacrifice, therefore, through animals is posterior and most recent, and originated from a cause which is not of a pleasing nature, like that of the sacrifice from fruits, but received its commencement either from famine, or some other unfortunate circumstance. The causes, indeed, of the peculiar mactations among the Athenians, had their beginning, either in ignorance, or anger, or fear. For the slaughter of swine is attributed to an involuntary error of Clymene, who, by unintentionally striking, slew the animal. Hence her husband, being terrified as if he had perpetrated an illegal deed, consulted the oracle of the Pythian God about it. But as the God did not condemn what had happened, the slaughter of animals was afterwards considered as a thing of an indifferent nature. The inspector, however, of sacred rites, who was the offspring of prophets, wishing to make an offering of first-fruits from sheep, was permitted to do so, it is said, by an oracle, but with much caution and fear. For the oracle was as follows:—
“Offspring of prophets, sheep by force to slay,
10. But a goat was first slain in Icarus, a mountain of Attica, because it had cropped a vine. And Diomus, who was a priest of Jupiter Polieus, was the first that slew an ox; because, when the festival sacred to Jupiter, and called Diipolia, was celebrated, and fruits were prepared after the ancient manner, an ox approaching tasted the sacred cake. But the priest, being aided by others who were present, slew the ox. And these are the causes, indeed, which are assigned by the Athenians for this deed; but by others, other causes are narrated. All of them however, are full of explanations that are not holy. But most of them assign famine, and the injustice with which it is attended, as the cause. Hence men having tasted of animals, they offered them in sacrifice, as first-fruits, to the Gods; but prior to this, they were accustomed to abstain from animal food. Whence, since the sacrifice of animals is not more ancient than necessary food, it may be determined from this circumstance what ought to be the nutriment of men. But it does not follow, because men have tasted of and offered animals in sacrifices as first-fruits, that it must necessarily be admitted to be pious to eat that which was not piously offered to the Gods.
11. But what especially proves that every thing of this kind originated from injustice, is this, that the same things are neither sacrificed nor eaten in every nation, but that they conjecture what it is fit for them to do from what they find to be useful to themselves. With the Egyptians, therefore, and Phoenicians, any one would sooner taste human flesh than the flesh of a cow. The cause, however, is that this animal being useful, is also rare among them. Hence, though they eat bulls, and offer them in sacrifice as first-fruits, yet they spare cows for the sake of their progeny, and ordain that, if any one kill them, it shall be considered as an expiation. And thus, for the sake of utility in one and the same genus of animals, they distinguish what is pious, and what is impious. So that these particulars subsisting after this manner, Theophrastus reasonably forbids those to sacrifice animals who wish to be truly pious; employing these, and other similar arguments, such as the following.
12. In the first place, indeed, because we sacrificed animals through the occurrence, as we have said, of a greater necessity. For pestilence and war were the causes that introduced the necessity of eating them. Since, therefore, we are supplied with fruits, what occasion is there to use the sacrifice of necessity? In the next place, the remunerations of, and thanks for benefits, are to be given differently to different persons, according to the worth of the benefit conferred; so that the greatest remunerations, and from things of the most honorable nature, are to be given to those who have benefited us in the greatest degree, and especially if they are the causes of these gifts. But the most beautiful and honorable of those things, by which the Gods benefit us, are the fruits of the earth. For through these they preserve us, and enable us to live legitimately; so that, from these we ought to venerate them. Besides, it is requisite to sacrifice those things by the sacrifice of which we shall not injure any one. For nothing ought to be so inoxious to all things as sacrifice. But if someone should say, that God gave animals for our use, no less than the fruits of the earth, yet it does not follow that they are, therefore, to be sacrificed, because in so doing they are injured, through being deprived of life. For sacrifice is, as the name implies, something holy. But no one is holy who requites a benefit from things which are the property of another, whether he takes fruits or plants from one who is unwilling to be deprived of them. For how can this be holy, when those are injured from whom they are taken? If, however, he who takes away fruit from others does not sacrifice with sanctity, it cannot be holy to sacrifice things taken from others, which are in every respect more honorable than the fruits of the earth. For a more dire deed is thus perpetrated. But soul is much more honorable than the vegetable productions of the earth, which it is not fit, by sacrificing animals, that we should take away.
13. Some one, however, perhaps may say, that we also take away something from plants [when we eat, and sacrifice them to the Gods]. But the ablation is not similar; since we do not take this away from those who are unwilling that we should. For, if we omitted to gather them, they would spontaneously drop their fruits. The gathering of the fruits, also, is not attended with the destruction of the plants, as it is when animals lose their animating principle. And, with respect to the fruit which we receive from bees, since this is obtained by our labor, it is fit that we should derive a common benefit from it. For bees collect their honey from plants; but we carefully attend to them. On which account it is requisite that such a division should be made [of our attention and their labor] that they may suffer no injury. But that which is useless to them, and beneficial to us, will be the reward which we receive from them [of our attention to their concerns]. In sacrifices, therefore, we should abstain from animals. For, though all things are in reality the property of the Gods, yet plants appear to be our property; since we sow and cultivate them, and nourish them by other attentions which we pay to them. We ought to sacrifice, therefore, from our own property, and not from the property of others; since that which may be procured at a small expense, and which may easily be obtained, is more holy, more acceptable to the Gods, and better adapted to the purposes of sacrifice, and to the exercise of continual piety. Hence, that which is neither holy, nor to be obtained at a small expense, is not to be offered in sacrifice, even though it should be present.
14. But that animals do not rank among things which may be procured easily, and at a small expense, may be seen by directing our view to the greater part of our race: for we are not now to consider that some men abound in sheep, and others in oxen. In the first place, therefore, there are many nations that do not possess any of those animals which are offered in sacrifice, some ignoble animals, perhaps, excepted. And, in the second place, most of those that dwell in cities themselves, possess these but rarely. But if some one should say that the inhabitants of cities have not mild fruits in abundance; yet, though this should be admitted, they are not in want of the other vegetable productions of the earth; nor is it so difficult to procure fruits as it is to procure animals. Hence an abundance of fruits, and other vegetables, is more easily obtained than that of animals. But that which is obtained with facility, and at a small expense, contributes to incessant and universal diety.
15. Experience also testifies that the Gods rejoice in this more than in sumptuous offerings. For when that Thessalian sacrificed to the Pythian deity oxen with gilt horns, and hecatombs, Apollo said, that the offering of Hermioneus was more gratifying to him, though he had only sacrificed as much meal as he could take with his three fingers out of a sack. But when the Thessalian, on hearing this, placed all the rest of his offerings on the altar the God again said, that by so doing his present was doubly more unacceptable to him than his former offering. Hence the sacrifice which is attended with a small expense is pleasing to the Gods, and divinity looks more to the disposition and manners of those that sacrifice, than to the multitude of the things which are sacrificed.
16. Theopompus likewise narrates things similar to these, viz. that a certain Magnesian came from Asia to Delphi; a man very rich, and abounding in cattle, and that he was accustomed every year to make many and magnificent sacrifices to the Gods, partly through the abundance of his possessions, and partly through piety and wishing to please the Gods. But being thus disposed, he came to the divinity at Delphi, bringing with him a hecatomb for the God, and magnificently honoring Apollo, he consulted his oracle. Conceiving also that he worshipped the Gods in a manner more beautiful than that of all other men, he asked the Pythian deity who the man was that, with the greatest promptitude, and in the best manner, venerated divinity, and made the most acceptable sacrifices, conceiving that on this occasion the God would deem him to be pre-eminent. The Pythian deity however answered, that Clearchus, who dwelt in Methydrium, a town of Arcadia, worshipped the Gods in a way surpassing that of all other men. But the Magnesian being astonished, was desirous of seeing Clearchus, and of learning from him the manner in which he performed his sacrifices. Swiftly, therefore, betaking himself to Methydrium, in the first place, indeed, he despised the smallness and vileness of the town, conceiving that neither any private person, nor even the whole city, could honor the Gods more magnificently and more beautifully than he did. Meeting, however, with the man, he thought fit to ask him after what manner he reverenced the Gods. But Clearchus answered him, that he diligently sacrificed to them at proper times in every month at the new moon, crowning and adorning the statues of Hermes and Hecate, and the other sacred images which were left to us by our ancestors, and that he also honored the Gods with frankincense, and sacred wafers and cakes. He likewise said, that he performed public sacrifices annually, omitting no festive day; and that in these festivals he worshipped the Gods, not by slaying oxen, nor by cutting victims into fragments, but that he sacrificed whatever he might casually meet with, sedulously offering the first-fruits to the Gods of all the vegetable productions of the seasons, and of all the fruits with which he was supplied. He added, that some of these he placed before the [statues of the] Gods, but that he burnt others on their altars; and that, being studious of frugality, he avoided the sacrificing of oxen.
17. By some writers, also, it is related, that certain tyrants, after the Carthaginians were conquered, having, with great strife among themselves, placed hecatombs before Apollo, afterwards inquired of the God with which of the offerings he was most delighted; and that he answered, contrary to all their expectation, that he was most pleased with the cakes of Docimus. But this Docimus was an inhabitant of Delphi, and cultivated some rugged and stony land. Docimus, therefore, coming on that day from the place which he cultivated, took from a bag which was fastened round him a few handfuls of meal, and sacrificed them to the God, who was more delighted with his offering than with the magnificent sacrifices of the tyrants. Hence, also a certain poet, because the affair was known, appears to have asserted things of a similar kind, as we are informed by Antiphanes in his Mystics:
“In simple offerings most the Gods delight:
Menander likewise, in the comedy called the Morose, says,
“Pious th’ oblation which with frankincense
18. On this account also, earthen, wooden, and wicker vessels were formerly used, and especially in public sacrifices, the ancients being persuaded that divinity is delighted with things of this kind. Whence, even now, the most ancient vessels, and which are made of wood, are thought to be more divine, both on account of the matter and the simplicity of the art by which they were fashioned. It is said, therefore, that Aeschylus, on his brother’s asking him to write a Paean in honor of Apollo, replied, that the best Paean was written by Tynnichus; and that if his composition were to be compared with that of Tynnichus, the same thing would take place as if new were compared with ancient statues. For the latter, though they are simple in their formation, are conceived to be divine; but the former, though they are most accurately elaborated, produce indeed admiration, but are not believed to possess so much of a divine nature. Hence Hesiod, praising the law of ancient sacrifices, very properly says,
“Your country’s rites in sacrifice observe:
19. But those who have written concerning sacred operations and sacrifices, admonish us to be accurate in preserving what pertains to the popana, because these are more acceptable to the Gods than the sacrifice which is performed through the mactation of animals. Sophocles also, in describing a sacrifice which is pleasing to divinity, says in his Polyidus:
“The skins of sheep in sacrifice were used,
Formerly, also, there were venerable monuments in Delos of those who came from the Hyperboreans, bearing handfuls [of fruits]. It is necessary, therefore, that, being purified in our manners, we should make oblations, offering to the Gods those sacrifices which are pleasing to them, and not such as are attended with great expense. Now, however, if a man’s body is not pure and invested with a splendid garment, he does not think it is qualified for the sanctity of sacrifice. But when he has rendered his body splendid, together with his garment, though his soul at the same time is not purified from vice, yet he betakes himself to sacrifice, and thinks that it is a thing of no consequence; as if divinity did not especially rejoice in that which is most divine in our nature, when it is in a pure condition, as being allied to his essence. In Epidaurus, therefore, there was the following inscription on the doors of the temple:
“Into an odorous temple, he who goes
20. But that God is not delighted with the amplitude of sacrifices, but with any casual offering, is evident from this, that of our daily food, whatever it may be that is placed before us, we all of us make an offering to the Gods, before we have tasted it ourselves; this offering being small indeed, but the greatest testimony of honor to divinity. Moreover, Theophrastus shows, by enumerating many of the rites of different countries, that the sacrifices of the ancients were from fruits, and he narrates what pertains to libations in the following manner: “Ancient sacrifices were for the most part performed with sobriety. But those sacrifices are sober in which the libations are made with water. Afterwards, however, libations were made with honey. For we first received this liquid fruit prepared for us by the bees. In the third place, libations were made with oil; and in the fourth and last place with wine.”
21. These things, however, are testified not only by the pillars which are preserved in Cyrbe, and which contain, as it were, certain true descriptions of the Cretan sacred rites of the Corybantes; but also by Empedocles, who, in discussing what pertains to sacrifices and theogony, or the generation of the Gods, says:
“With them nor Mars nor tumult dire was found,
And Venus is friendship. Afterwards he adds,
“With painted animals, and statues once
Which ancient custom is still even now preserved by some persons as a certain vestige of the truth. And in the last place, Empedocles says,
“Nor then were altars wet with blood of bulls
22. For, as it appears to me, when friendship and a proper sense of the duties pertaining to kindred natures, was possessed by all men, no one slaughtered any living being, in consequence of thinking that other animals were allied to him. But when strife, and tumult, every kind of contention, and the principle of war, invaded mankind, then, for the first time, no one in reality spared any one of his kindred natures. The following particulars, likewise, ought to be considered: For, as though there is an affinity between us and noxious men, who, as it were, by a certain impetus of their own nature and depravity, are incited to injure anyone they may happen to meet, yet we think it requisite that all of them should be punished and destroyed; thus also, with respect to those irrational animals that are naturally malefic and unjust, and who are impelled to injure those that approach them, it is perhaps fit that they should be destroyed. But with respect to other animals who do not at all act unjustly, and are not naturally impelled to injure us, it is certainly unjust to destroy and murder them, no otherwise than it would be to slay men who are not iniquitous. And this seems to evince, that the justice between us and other animals does not arise from some of them being naturally noxious and malefic, but others not, as is also the case with respect to men.
23. Are therefore those animals to be sacrificed to the Gods which are thought to be deserving of death? But how can this be possible, if they are naturally depraved? For it is no more proper to sacrifice such as these, than it would be to sacrifice mutilated animals. For thus, indeed, we shall offer the first-fruits of things of an evil nature, but we shall not sacrifice for the sake of honoring the Gods. Hence, if animals are to be sacrificed to the Gods, we should sacrifice those that are perfectly innoxious. It is however acknowledged, that those animals are not to be destroyed who do not at all injure us, so that neither are they to be sacrificed to the Gods. If, therefore, neither these, nor those that are noxious, are to be sacrificed, is it not evident that we should abstain from them more than from any thing else, and that we should not sacrifice any one of them, though it is fit that some of them should be destroyed?
24. To which may be added, that we should sacrifice to the Gods for the sake of three things, viz. either for the sake of honoring them, or of testifying our gratitude, or through our want of good. For, as we offer first-fruits to good men, thus also we think it is necessary that we should offer them to the Gods. But we honor the Gods, either exploring the means of averting evils, and obtaining good, or when we have been previously benefited, or in order that we may obtain some present advantage and assistance, or merely for the purpose of venerating the goodness of their nature. So that if the first-fruits of animals are to be offered to the Gods, some of them for the sake of this are to be sacrificed. For whatever we sacrifice, we sacrifice for the sake of some one of the above mentioned particulars. Is it therefore to be thought that God is honored by us, when we are directly seen to act unjustly through the first-fruits which we offer to him? Or will he not rather think that he is dishonored by such a sacrifice, in which, by immolating animals that have not at all injured us, we acknowledge that we have acted unjustly. So that no one of other animals is to be sacrificed for the sake of honoring divinity. Nor yet are they to be sacrificed for the purpose of testifying our gratitude to the Gods. For he who makes a just retribution for the benefits he has received, ought not to make it by doing an injury to certain other animals. For he will no more appear to make a retribution than he who, plundering his neighbor of his property, should bestow it on another person for the sake of honor. Neither are animals to be sacrificed for the sake of obtaining a certain good of which we are in want. For he who endeavors to be benefited by acting unjustly, is to be suspected as one who would not be grateful even when he is benefited. So that animals are not to be sacrificed to the Gods through the expectation of deriving advantage from the sacrifice. For he who does this, may perhaps elude men, but it is impossible that he can elude divinity. If, therefore, we ought to sacrifice for the sake of a certain thing, but this is not to be done for the sake of any of the before mentioned particulars, it is evident that animals ought not to be sacrificed.
25. For, by endeavoring to obliterate the truth of these things through the pleasures which we derive from sacrifices, we deceive ourselves, but cannot deceive divinity. Of those animals, therefore, which are of an ignoble nature, which do not impart to our life any superior utility, and which do not afford us any pleasure, we do not sacrifice any one to the Gods. For who ever sacrificed serpents, scorpions, and apes, or any one of such like animals? But we do not abstain from any one of those animals which afford a certain utility to our life, or which have something in them that contributes to our enjoyments; since we, in reality, cut their throats, and excoriate them, under the patronage of divinity. For we sacrifice to the Gods oxen and sheep, and besides these, stags and birds, and fat hogs, though they do not at all participate of purity, but afford us delight. And of these animals, indeed, some, by co-operating with our labors, afford assistance to our life, but others supply us with food, or administer to our other wants. But those which effect neither of these, yet, through the enjoyment which is derived from them, are slain by men in sacrifices similarly with those who afford us utility. We do not, however, sacrifice asses or elephants, or any other of those animals that co-operate with us in our labors, but are not subservient to our pleasure; though, sacrificing being excepted, we do not abstain from such like animals, but we cut their throats on account of the delight with which the deglutition of them is attended; and of those which are fit to be sacrificed, we do not sacrifice such as are acceptable to the Gods, but such as in a greater degree gratify the desires of men; thus testifying against ourselves, that we persist in sacrificing to the Gods, for the sake of our own pleasure, and not for the sake of gratifying the Gods.
26. But of the Syrians, the Jews indeed, through the sacrifice which they first made, even now, says Theophrastus, sacrifice animals, and if we were persuaded by them to sacrifice in the same way that they do, we should abstain from the deed. For they do not feast on the flesh of the sacrificed animals, but having thrown the whole of the victims into the fire, and poured much honey and wine on them during the night, they swiftly consume the sacrifice, in order that the all-seeing sun may not become a spectator of it. And they do this, fasting during all the intermediate days, and through the whole of this time, as belonging to the class of philosophers, and also discourse with each other about the divinity. But in the night, they apply themselves to the theory of the stars, surveying them, and through prayers invoking God. For these make offerings both of other animals and themselves, doing this from necessity, and not from their own will. The truth of this, however, may be learnt by any one who directs his attention to the Egyptians, the most learned of all men; who are so far from slaying other animals, that they make the images of these to be imitations of the Gods; so adapted and allied do they conceive these to be both to Gods and men.
27. For at first, indeed, sacrifices of fruits were made to the Gods; but, in the course of time, men becoming negligent of sanctity, in consequence of fruits being scarce, and through the want of legitimate nutriment, being impelled to eat each other, then supplicating divinity with many prayers, they first began to make oblations of themselves to the Gods, not only consecrating to the divinities whatever among their possessions was most beautiful, but, proceeding beyond this, they sacrificed those of their own species. Hence, even to the present time, not only in Arcadia, in the Lupercal festivals, and in Carthage, men are sacrificed in common to Saturn, but periodically, also, for the sake of remembering the legal institute, they sprinkle the altars of those of the same tribe with blood, although the rites of their sacrifices exclude, by the voice of the crier, him from engaging in them who is accused of human slaughter. Proceeding therefore from hence, they made the bodies of other animals supply the place of their own in sacrifices, and again, through a satiety of legitimate nutriment, becoming oblivious of piety, they were induced by voracity to leave nothing untasted, nothing undevoured. And this is what now happens to all men with respect to the aliment from fruits. For when, by the assumption of them, they have alleviated their necessary indigence, then searching for a superfluity of satiety, they labor to procure many things for food which are placed beyond the limits of temperance. Hence, as if they had made no ignoble sacrifices to the Gods, they proceeded also to taste the animals which they immolated; and from this, as a principle of the deed, the eating of animals became an addition to men to the nutriment derived from fruits. As, therefore, antiquity offered the first produce of fruits to the Gods, and gladly, after their pious sacrifice, tasted what they offered, thus also, when they sacrificed the firstlings of animals to the divinities, they thought that the same thing ought to be done by them, though ancient piety did not ordain these particulars after this manner, but venerated each of the Gods from fruits. For with such oblations, both nature, and every sense of the human soul, are delighted.
“No altar then was wet with blood of bulls
28. The truth of this may also be perceived from the altar which is even now preserved about Delos, which, because no animal is brought to, or is sacrificed upon it, is called the altar of the pious. So that the inhabitants not only abstain from sacrificing animals, but they likewise conceive, that those who established, are similarly pious with those who use the altar. Hence, the Pythagoreans having adopted this mode of sacrifice, abstained from animal food through the whole of life. But when they distributed to the Gods a certain animal instead of themselves, they merely tasted of it, living in reality without touching other animals. We, however, do not act after this manner; but being filled with animal diet, we have arrived at this manifold illegality in our life by slaughtering animals, and using them for food. For neither is it proper that the altars of the Gods should be defiled with murder, nor that food of this kind should be touched by men, as neither is it fit that men should eat one another; but the precept which is still preserved at Athens, should be obeyed through the whole of life.
29. For formerly, as we have before observed, when men sacrificed to the Gods fruits and not animals, and did not assume the latter for food, it is said, that a common sacrifice being celebrated at Athens, one Diomus, or Sopater, who was not a native, but cultivated some land in Attica, seizing a sharp axe which was near to him, and being excessively indignant, struck with it an ox, who, coming from his labor, approached to a table, on which were openly placed cakes and other offerings which were to be burnt as a sacrifice to the Gods, and ate some, but trampled on the rest of the offerings. The ox, therefore, being killed, Diomus, whose anger was now appeased, at the same time perceived what kind of deed he had perpetrated. And the ox, indeed, he buried. But embracing a voluntary banishment, as if he had been accused of impiety, he fled to Crete. A great dryness, however, taking place in the Attic land from vehement heat, and a dreadful sterility of fruit, and the Pythian deity being in consequence of it consulted by the general consent, the God answered, that the Cretan exile must expiate the crime; and that, if the murderer was punished, and the statue of the slain ox was erected in the place in which it fell, this would be beneficial both to those who had and those who had not tasted its flesh. An inquiry therefore being made into the affair, and Sopater, together with the deed, having been discovered, he, thinking that he should be liberated from the difficulty in which he was now involved, through the accusation of impiety, if the same thing was done by all men in common, said to those who came to him, that it was necessary an ox should be slain by the city. But, on their being dubious who should strike the ox, he said that he would undertake to do it, if they would make him a citizen, and would be partakers with him of the slaughter. This, therefore, being granted, they returned to the city, and ordered the deed to be accomplished in such a way as it is performed by them at present, [and which was as follows:]
30. They selected virgins who were drawers of water; but these brought water for the purpose of sharpening an axe and a knife. And these being sharpened, one person gave the axe, another struck with it the ox, and a third person cut the throat of the ox. But after this, having excoriated the animal, all that were present ate of its flesh. These things therefore being performed, they sewed up the hide of the ox, and having stuffed it with straw, raised it upright in the same form which it had when alive, and yoked it to a plough, as if it was about to work with it. Instituting also a judicial process, respecting the slaughter of the ox, they cited all those who were partakers of the deed, to defend their conduct. But as the drawers of water accused those who sharpened the axe and the knife, as more culpable than themselves, and those who sharpened these instruments accused him who gave the axe, and he accused him who cut the throat of the ox, and this last person accused the knife,—hence, as the knife could not speak, they condemned it as the cause of the slaughter. From that time also, even till now, during the festival sacred to Jupiter, in the Acropolis, at Athens, the sacrifice of an ox is performed after the same manner. For, placing cakes on a brazen table, they drive oxen round it, and the ox that tastes of the cakes that are distributed on the table, is slain. The race likewise of those who perform this, still remains. And all those, indeed, who derive their origin from Sopater are called boutupoi [i.e. slayers of oxen]; but those who are descended from him that drove the ox round the table, are called kentriadai, [or stimulators.] And those who originate from him that cut the throat of the ox, are denominated daitroi, [or dividers,] on account of the banquet which takes place from the distribution of flesh. But when they have filled the hide, and the judicial process is ended, they throw the knife into the sea.
31. Hence, neither did the ancients conceive it to be holy to slay animals that co-operated with us in works beneficial to our life, and we should avoid doing this even now. And as formerly it was not pious for men to injure these animals, so now it should be considered as unholy to slay them for the sake of food. If, however, this is to be done from motives of religious reverence of the Gods, yet every passion or affection which is essentially produced from bodies is to be rejected, in order that we may not procure food from improper substances, and thus have an incentive to violence as the intimate associate of our life. For by such a rejection we shall, at least, all of us derive great benefit in what pertains to be our mutual security, if we do not in anything else. For those whose sense is averse to the destruction of animals of a species different from their own, will evidently abstain from injuring those of their own kind. Hence it would perhaps have been best, if men in after-times had immediately abstained from slaughtering these animals; but since no one is free from error, it remains for posterity to take away by purifications the crime of their ancestors, respecting nutriment. This, however, will be effected, if, placing before our eyes, the dire nature of such conduct, we exclaim with Empedocles:
“Ah me, while yet exempt from such a crime,
For in those only the appropriate sense sympathetically grieves for errors that have been committed, who endeavor to find a remedy for the evils with which they are afflicted; so that every one, by offering pure and holy sacrifices to the divinity, may through sanctity obtain the greatest benefits from the Gods.
32. But the benefit derived from fruits is the first and the greatest of all others, and which, as soon as they are matured, should alone be offered to the Gods, and to Earth, by whom they are produced. For she is the common Vesta of Gods and men; and it is requisite that all of us, reclining on her surface, as on the bosom of our mother and nurse, should celebrate her divinity, and love her with a parental affection, as the source of our existence. For thus, when we exchange this life for another, we shall again be thought worthy of a residence in the heavens, and of associating with all the celestial Gods, whom, now beholding, we ought to venerate with those fruits of which they are the causes, sacrificing indeed to them from all these, when they have arrived at maturity, but not conceiving all of us to be sufficiently worthy to sacrifice to the Gods. For as all things are not to be sacrificed to the Gods, so neither perhaps are the Gods gratified by the sacrifice of everyone. This, therefore, is the substance of the arguments adduced by Theophrastus, to show that animals ought not to be sacrificed; exclusive of the interspersed fabulous narrations, and a few things which we have added to what he has said.
33. I, however, shall not attempt to dissolve the legal institutes which the several nations have established. For it is not my design at present to speak about a polity. But as the laws by which we are governed permit us to venerate divinity by things of the most simple, and of an inanimate nature, hence, selecting that which is the least costly, let us sacrifice according to the law of the city, and endeavor to offer an appropriate sacrifice, approaching with consummate purity to the Gods. In short, if the oblation of first-fruits is of any value, and is an acknowledgment of thanks for the benefits which we receive, it will be most irrational to abstain ourselves from animals, and yet offer the first-fruits of these to the Gods. For neither are the Gods worse than we are, so as to be in want of those things of which we are not indigent, nor is it holy to offer the first-fruits of that nutriment from which we ourselves abstain. For we find it is usual with men, that, when they refrain from animal food, they do not make oblations of animals; but that they offer to the Gods the first-fruits of what they themselves eat. Hence also it is now fit, that he who abstains from animals should offer the first-fruits of things which he touches [for the purpose of food.]
34. Let us therefore also sacrifice, but let us sacrifice in such a manner as is fit, offering different sacrifices to different powers; to the God indeed who is above all things, as a certain wise man said, neither sacrificing with incense, nor consecrating any thing sensible. For there is nothing material, which is not immediately impure to an immaterial nature. Hence, neither is vocal language, nor internal speech, adapted to the highest God, when it is defiled by any passion of the soul; but we should venerate him in profound silence with a pure soul, and with pure conceptions about him. It is necessary, therefore, that being conjoined with and assimilated to him, we should offer to him, as a sacred sacrifice, the elevation of our intellect, which offering will be both a hymn and our salvation. In an impassive contemplation, therefore, of this divinity by the soul, the sacrifice to him is effected in perfection; but to his progeny, the intelligible Gods, hymns, orally enunciated, are to be offered. For to each of the divinities, a sacrifice is to be made of the first-fruits of the things which he bestows, and through which he nourishes and preserves us. As therefore, the husbandman offers handfuls of the fruits and berries which the season first produces; thus also we should offer to the divinities the first-fruits of our conceptions of their transcendent excellence, giving them thanks for the contemplation which they impart to us, and for truly nourishing us through the vision of themselves, which they afford us, associating with, appearing to, and shining upon us, for our salvation.
35. Now, however, many of those who apply themselves to philosophy are unwilling to do this; and, pursuing renown rather than honoring divinity, they are busily employed about statues, neither considering whether they are to be reverenced or not, nor endeavoring to learn from those who are divinely wise, to what extent, and to what degree, it is requisite to proceed in this affair. We, however, shall by no means contend with these, nor are we very desirous of being well instructed in a thing of this kind; but imitating holy and ancient men, we offer to the Gods, more than anything else, the first-fruits of contemplation, which they have imparted to us, and by the use of which we become partakers of true salvation.
36. The Pythagoreans, therefore, diligently applying themselves to the study of numbers and lines, sacrificed for the most part from these to the Gods, denominating, indeed, a certain number Minerva, but another Diana, and another Apollo: and again, they called one number justice, but another temperance. In diagrams also they adopted a similar mode. And thus, by offerings of this kind, they rendered the Gods propitious to them, so as to obtain of them the object of their wishes, by the things which they dedicated to, and the names by which they invoked them. They likewise frequently employed their aid in divination, and if they were in want of a certain thing for the purpose of some investigation. In order, therefore, to affect this, they made use of the Gods within the heavens, both the erratic and non-erratic, of all of whom it is requisite to consider the sun as the leader; but to rank the moon in the second place; and we should conjoin with these fire, in the third place, from its alliance to them, as the theologist says. He also says that no animal is to be sacrificed; but that first-fruits are to be offered from meal and honey, and the vegetable productions of the earth. He adds, that fire is not to be enkindled on a hearth defiled with gore; and asserts other things of the like kind. For what occasion is there to transcribe all he says? for he who is studious of piety knows, indeed, that to the Gods no animal is to be sacrificed, but that a sacrifice of this kind pertains to daemons, and other powers, whether they are beneficent, or depraved. He likewise knows who those are that ought to sacrifice to these, and to what extent they ought to proceed in the sacrifices which they make. Other things, however, will be passed over by me in silence. But what some Platonists have divulged, I shall lay before the reader, in order that the things proposed to be discussed, may become manifest to the intelligent. What they have unfolded, therefore, is as follows:
37. The first God being incorporeal, immoveable, and impartible, and neither subsisting in any thing, nor restrained in his energies, is not, as has been before observed, in want of any thing external to himself, as neither is the soul of the world; but this latter, containing in itself the principle of that which is triply divisible, and being naturally self-motive, is adapted to be moved in a beautiful and orderly manner, and also to move the body of the world, according to the most excellent reasons [i.e. productive principles or powers]. It is, however, connected with and comprehends body, though it is itself incorporeal, and liberated from the participation of any passion. To the remaining Gods, therefore, to the world, to the inerratic and erratic stars, who are visible Gods, consisting of soul and body, thanks are to be returned after the above-mentioned manner, through sacrifices from inanimate natures. The multitude, therefore, of those invisible beings remains for us, whom Plato indiscriminately calls daemons; but of these, some being denominated by men, obtain from them honors, and other religious observances, similar to those which are paid to the Gods; but others, who for the most part are not explicitly denominated, receive an occult religious reverence and appellation from certain persons in villages and certain cities; and the remaining multitude is called in common by the name of daemons. The general persuasion, however, respecting all these invisible beings, is this, that if they become angry through being neglected, and deprived of the religious reverence which is due to them, they are noxious to those by whom they are thus neglected, and that they again become beneficent, if they are appeased by prayers, supplications, and sacrifices, and other similar rites.
38. But the confused notion which is formed of these beings, and which has proceeded to great crimination, necessarily requires that the nature of them should be distinguished according to reason. For perhaps it will be said, that it is requisite to show whence the error concerning them originated among men. The distinction, therefore, must be made after the following manner. Such souls as are the progeny of the whole soul of the universe, and who govern the great parts of the region under the moon, these, being incumbent on a pneumatic substance or spirit, and ruling over it conformably to reason, are to be considered as good daemons, who are diligently employed in causing every thing to be beneficial to the subjects of their government, whether they preside over certain animals, or fruits, which are arranged under their inspective care, or over things which subsist for the sake of these, such as showers of rain, moderate winds, serene weather, and other things which co-operate with these, such as the good temperament of the seasons of the year. They are also our leaders in the attainment of music, and the whole of erudition, and likewise of medicine and gymnastic, and of every thing else similar to these. For it is impossible that these daemons should impart utility, and yet become, in the very same things, the causes of what is detrimental. Among these two, those transporters, as Plato calls them, [in his Banquet] are to be enumerated, who announce the affairs of men to the Gods, and the will of the Gods to men; carrying our prayers, indeed, to the Gods as judges, but oracularly unfolding to us the exhortations and admonitions of the Gods. But such souls as do not rule over the pneumatic substance with which they are connected, but for the most part are vanquished by it; these are vehemently agitated and borne along [in a disorderly manner,] when the irascible motions and the desires of the pneumatic substance, received an impetus. These souls, therefore, are indeed daemons, but are deservedly called malefic daemons.
39. All these being, likewise, and those who possess a contrary power, are invisible, and perfectly imperceptible by human senses; for they are not surrounded with a solid body, nor are all of them of one form, but they are fashioned in numerous figures. The forms, however, which characterize their pneumatic substance, at one time become apparent, but at another are invisible. Sometimes also those that are malefic, change their forms; but the pneumatic substance, so far as it is corporeal, is passive and corruptible: and though, because it is thus bound by the souls [that are incumbent on it,] the form of it remains for a long time, yet it is not eternal. For it is probable that something continually flows from it, and also that it is nourished. The pneumatic substance, therefore, of good daemons, possesses symmetry, in the same manner as the bodies of the visible Gods; but the spirit of malefic daemons is deprived of symmetry, and in consequence of its abounding in passivity, they are distributed about the terrestrial region. Hence, there is no evil which they do not attempt to effect; for, in short, being violent and fraudulent in their manners, and being also deprived of the guardian care of more excellent daemons, they make, for the most part, vehement and sudden attacks; sometimes endeavoring to conceal their incursions, but at other times assaulting openly. Hence the molestations which are produced by them are rapid; but the remedies and corrections which proceed from more excellent daemons, appear to be more slowly effected: for every thing which is good being tractable and equable, proceeds in an orderly manner, and does not pass beyond what is fit. By forming this opinion, therefore, you will never fall into that most absurd notion, that evil may be expected from the good, or good from the evil. For this notion is not only attended with absurdity, but the multitude, receiving through it the most erroneous conceptions of the Gods, disseminate them among the rest of mankind.
40. It must be admitted, therefore, that one of the greatest injuries occasioned by malefic daemons is this, that though they are the causes of the calamities which take place upon the earth, such as pestilence, sterility, earthquakes, excessive dryness, and the like, yet they endeavor to persuade us, that they are the causes of things the most contrary to these, viz. of fertility, [salubrity, and elementary peace.] Hence, they exonerate themselves from blame, and, in the first place, endeavor to avoid being detected as the sources of injury; and, in the next place, they convert us to supplications and sacrifices to the beneficent Gods, as if they were angry. But they effect these, and things of a similar nature, in consequence of wishing to turn us from right conceptions of the Gods, and convert us to themselves; for they are delighted with all such as act thus incongruously and discordantly, and, as it were, assuming the persons of other Gods, they enjoy the effects of our imprudence and folly; conciliating to themselves the good opinion of the vulgar, by inflaming the minds of men with the love of riches, power, and pleasure, and filling them with the desire of vain glory, from which sedition, and war, and other things allied to these, are produced. But that which is the most dire of all things, they proceed still farther, and persuade men that similar things are effected by the greatest Gods, and do not stop till they even subject the most excellent of the divinities to these calumnies, through whom they say every thing is in perfect confusion. And not only the vulgar are affected in this manner, but not a few also of those who are conversant with philosophy. The cause of this, however, extends equally to philosophers, and the vulgar; for of philosophers, those who do not depart from the prevailing notions, fall into the same error with the multitude; and again, the multitude, on hearing assertions from celebrated men conformable to their own opinions, are in a greater degree corroborated in conceiving things of this kind of the Gods.
41. For poetry also inflames the opinions of men, by employing a diction adapted to produce astonishment and enchantment, and not only allures the ears, but is also capable of procuring belief in things that are most impossible. At the same time, however, it is requisite to be firmly persuaded, that what is good can never injure, or what is evil can never be beneficial; for, as Plato says, it is not the province of heat to refrigerate, but of that which is contrary to heat; and, in like manner, neither is it the province of that which is just to injure. But divinity is naturally the most just of all things; since otherwise he would not be divinity. Hence this power and portion of good is not to be abscinded from beneficent daemons; for the power which is naturally adapted, and wishes to injure, is contrary to the power which is beneficent: but contraries can never subsist about the same thing. As malefic daemons, therefore, injure the mortal race in many respects, and sometimes in things of the greatest consequence, good daemons not only never cease to act conformably to their office, but also, as much as possible, presignify to us the dangers which are impendent from malefic daemons, unfolding these through dreams, through a divinely inspired soul, and through many other things; so that he who is capable of explaining what is signified, may know and avoid all the perils with which he is threatened. For they indicate [future events] to all men, but every one cannot understand what they indicate, nor is every one able to read what is written by them; but he alone is able to do this, who has learnt their letters. All enchantment, however, [or witchcraft,] is effected through daemons of a contrary nature; for those who perpetrate evil through enchantments, especially venerate these malefic beings, and the power that presides over them.
42. For they are full of every kind of imagination, and are sufficiently qualified to deceive, through effects of a prodigious nature; and through these, unhappy men procure philtres, and amatory allurements. For all intemperance, and hope of possessing wealth and renown, and especially deception, exist through these, since falsehood is allied to these malevolent beings; for they wish to be considered as Gods, and the power which presides over them is ambitious to appear to be the greatest God. These are they that rejoice in libations, and the savor of sacrifices, through which their pneumatic vehicle is fattened; for this vehicle lives through vapors and exhalations, and the life of it is various through various exhalations. It is likewise corroborated by the savor of blood and flesh.
43. On this account, a wise and temperate man will be religiously afraid to use sacrifices of this kind, through which he will attract to himself such-like daemons; but he will endeavor in all possible ways to purify his soul. For these malefic beings do not attack a pure soul, because it is dissimilar to them; but if it is necessary to cities to render them propitious, this is nothing to us. For by these riches, and things external and corporeal, are thought to be good, and their contraries evil; but the smallest attention is paid by them to the good of the soul. We however, to the utmost of our ability, endeavor not to be in want of those things which they impart; but all our endeavor is to become similar to God, and to the [divine] powers with which he is surrounded both from what pertains to the soul, and from externals; and this is effected through an entire liberation from the dominion of the passions, an evolved perception of truly existing beings, and a vital tendency towards them. On the other hand, we strive to become dissimilar to depraved men and evil daemons, and, in short, to every being that rejoices in a mortal and material nature. So that, conformably to what is said by Theophrastus, we also shall sacrifice from those things which theologists permit us to use for this purpose; as well knowing, that by how much the more we neglect to exempt ourselves from the passions of the soul, by so much the more we connect ourselves with a depraved power, and render it necessary that he should become propitious to us. For, as theologists say, it is necessary for those who are bound to things external, and have not yet vanquished their passions, should avert the anger of this [malefic] power; since, if they do not, there will be no end to their labors.
44. Thus far what pertains to sacrifices has been elucidated. As we said, however, at first, as it is not entirely necessary, if animals are to be sacrificed, that they are also to be eaten, we shall now show that it is necessary we should not eat them, though it may be sometimes necessary that they should be sacrificed. For all theologists agree in this that in sacrifices, which are made for the purpose of averting some evil, the immolated animals are not to be tasted, but are to be used as expiations. For, say they, no one should go into the city, nor into his own house, till he has first purified his garments, and his body, in rivers, or some fountain. So that they order those whom they permit to sacrifice, to abstain from the victims, and to purify themselves before they sacrifice by fasting, and especially by abstaining from animals. They add, that purity is the guardian of piety; and is, as it were, a symbol or divine seal, which secures its possessor from the attacks and allurements of evil daemons. For such a one, being contrarily disposed to, and more divine in his operations than those by whom he is attacked, because he is more pure both in his body and in the passions of his soul, remains uninjured, in consequence of being surrounded with purity as with a bulwark.
45. Hence a defense of this kind has appeared to be necessary even to enchanters; though it is not efficacious with them on all occasions. For they invoke evil daemons for lascivious purposes. So that purity does not belong to enchanters, but to divine men, and such as are divinely wise; since it everywhere becomes a guard to those that use it, and conciliates them with a divine nature. I wish, therefore, that enchanters would make use of purity continually, for then they would not employ themselves in incantations, because, through this, they would be deprived of the enjoyment of those things, for the sake of which they act impiously. Whence becoming full of passions, and abstaining for a short time from impure food, they are notwithstanding replete with impurity, and suffer the punishment of their illegal conduct towards the whole of things, partly from those whom they irritate, and partly from Justice, who perceives all mortal deeds and conceptions. Both inward, therefore, and external purity pertain to a divine man, who earnestly endeavors to be liberated from the passions of the soul, and who abstains from such food as excites the passions, and is fed with divine wisdom; and by right conceptions of, is assimilated to divinity himself. For such a man being consecrated by an intellectual sacrifice, approaches to God in a white garment, and with a truly pure impassivity of soul, and levity of body, and is not burdened with foreign and external juices, and the passions of the soul.
46. For, indeed, it must not be admitted as necessary in temples, which are consecrated by men to the Gods, that those who enter into them should have their feet pure, and their shoes free from every stain, but that in the temple of the father [of all], which is this world, it is not proper to preserve our ultimate and cutaneous vestment pure, and to dwell in this temple with an undefiled garment. For if the danger consisted only in the defilement of the body, it might, perhaps, be lawful to neglect it. But now, since every sensible body is attended with an efflux of material daemons, hence, together with the impurity produced from flesh and blood, the power which is friendly to, and familiar with, this impurity, is at the same time present through similitude and alliance.
47. Hence theologists have rightly paid attention to abstinence. And these things were indicated to us by a certain Egyptian, who also assigned a most natural cause of them, which was verified by experience. For, since a depraved and irrational soul, when it leaves the body, is still compelled to adhere to it, since the souls also of those men who die by violence, are detained about the body; this circumstance should prevent a man from forcibly expelling his soul from the body. The violent slaughter, therefore, of animals, compels souls to be delighted with the bodies which they have left, but the soul is by no means prevented from being there, where it is attracted by a kindred nature; whence many souls are seen to lament, and some remain about the bodies that are unburied; which souls are improperly used by enchanters, as subservient to their designs, being compelled by them to occupy the body, or a part of the body, which they have left. Since, therefore, these things were well known to theologists, and they also perceived the nature of a depraved soul, and its alliance to the bodies from which it was dispossessed, and the pleasure which it received from a union with them, they very properly avoided animal food, in order that they might not be disturbed by alien souls, violently separated from the body and impure, and which are attracted to things of a kindred nature, and likewise that they might not be impeded by the presence of evil daemons, in approaching alone [or without being burdened with things of a foreign nature] to the highest God.
48. For that the nature of a kindred body is attractive of soul, experience abundantly taught these theologists. Hence those who wish to receive into themselves the souls of prophetic animals, swallow the most principal parts of them, such as the hearts of crows, or of moles, or of hawks. For thus they have soul present with, and predicting to them like a God, and entering into them together with the intromission of the body.
49. Very properly, therefore, will the philosopher, and who is also the priest of the God that is above all things, abstain from all animal food, in consequence of earnestly endeavoring to approach through himself alone to the alone God, without being disturbed by any attendants. Such a one likewise is cautious, as being well acquainted with the necessities of nature. For he who is truly a philosopher, is skilled in, and an observer of many things, understands the works of nature, is sagacious, temperate and modest, and is in every respect the savior of himself. And as he who is the priest of a certain particular God, is skilled in placing the statues of that divinity, and in his orgies, mysteries and the like, thus also he who is the priest of the highest God, is skilled in the manner in which his statue ought to be fashioned, and in purifications, and other things, through which he is conjoined to this divinity.
50. But if in the sacred rites which are here, those that are priests and diviners order both themselves and others to abstain from sepulchres, from impious men, from menstrual purgations, and from venereal congress, and likewise from base and mournful spectacles, and from those auditions which excite the passions, (because frequently, through those that are present being impure, something appears which disturbs the diviner; on which account it is said, that to sacrifice inopportunely, is attended with greater detriment than gain);—if this, therefore, is the case, will he, who is the priest of the father of all things, suffer himself to become the sepulchre of dead bodies? And will such a one, being full of defilement, endeavor to associate with the transcendent God? It is sufficient, indeed, that in fruits we assume parts of death, for the support of our present life. This, however, is not yet the place for such a discussion. We must, therefore, still farther investigate what pertains to sacrifices.
51. For some one may say that we shall subvert a great part of divination, viz. that which is effected through an inspection of the viscera, if we abstain from destroying animals. He, therefore, who makes this objection, should also destroy men: for it is said that future events are more apparent in the viscera of men than in those of brutes; and many of the Barbarians exercise the art of divination through the entrails of men. As, however, it would be an indication of great injustice, and inexhaustible avidity, to destroy those of our own species for the sake of divination, thus also it is unjust for the sake of this to slay an irrational animal. But it does not belong to the present discussion to investigate whether God, or daemons, or soul liberated from the animal [with which it had been connected], exhibit signs of future events to those who explore such signs, through the indications which the viscera afford.
52. Nevertheless, we permit those whose life is rolled about externals, having once acted impiously towards themselves, to be borne along to that which they tend; but we rightly say, that the man who we designate as a philosopher, and who is separated from externals, will not be disturbed by daemons, nor be in want of diviners, nor of the viscera of animals. For he earnestly endeavors to be separated from those things for the sake of which divinations are effected. For he does not betake himself to nuptials, in order that he may molest the diviner about wedlock, or merchandise, or inquiries about a servant, or an increase of property, or any other object of vulgar pursuit. For the subjects of his investigation are not clearly indicated by any diviner or viscera of animals. But he, as we have said, approaching through himself to the [supreme] God, who is established in the true inward parts of himself, receives from thence the precepts of eternal life, tending thither by a conflux of the whole of himself, and instead of a diviner praying that he may become a confabulator of the mighty Jupiter.
53. For if such a one is impelled by some necessary circumstance, there are good daemons, who, to the man living after this manner, and who is a domestic of divinity, will indicate and prevent, through dreams and symbols, and omens, what may come to pass, and what is necessarily to be avoided. For it is only requisite to depart from evil, and to know what is most honorable in the whole of things, and every thing which in the universe is good, friendly, and familiar. But vice, and an ignorance of divine concerns, are dire, through which a man is led to despise and defame things of which he has no knowledge; since nature does not proclaim these particulars with a voice which can be heard by the ears, but being herself intellectual, she initiates through intellect those who venerate her. And even though some one should admit the art of divination for the sake of predicting what is future, yet it does not from thence necessarily follow that the flesh of animals is to be eaten; as neither does it follow, that because it is proper to sacrifice to Gods or daemons, food from animals is therefore to be introduced. For, not only the history which is related by Theophrastus, but also many other narrations inform us, that in ancient times men were sacrificed, yet it must not be inferred that on this account men are to be eaten.
54. And that we do not carelessly assert these things, but that what we have said is abundantly confirmed by history, the following narrations sufficiently testify. For in Rhodes, on the sixth day of June, a man was sacrificed to Saturn; which custom having prevailed for a long time, was afterwards changed [into a more human mode of sacrificing]. For one of those men who, by the public decision, had been sentenced to death, was kept in prison till the Saturnalia commenced; but as soon as this festival began, they brought the man out of the gates of the city, opposite to the temple of Aristobulus, and giving him wine to drink, they cut his throat. But in the island which is now called Salamis, but was formerly denominated Coronis, in the month according to the Cyprians Aphrodisius, a man was sacrificed to Agraule, the daughter of Cecrops, and the nymph Agraulis. And this custom continued till the time of Diomed. Afterwards it was changed, so that a man was sacrificed to Diomed. But the temples of Minerva, of Agraule, and Diomed, were contained in one and the same enclosure. The man who was also about to be slain, was first led by young men thrice round the altar, afterwards the priest pierced him with a lance in the stomach, and thus being thrown on the pyre, he was entirely consumed.
55. This sacred institute was, however, abolished by Diphilus, the king of Cyprus, who flourished about the time of Seleucus, the theologist. But Daemon substituted an ox for a man; thus causing the latter sacrifice to be of equal worth with the former. Amosis also abolished the law of sacrificing men in the Egyptian city Heliopolis; the truth of which is testified by Manetho in his treatise on Antiquity and Piety. But the sacrifice was made to Juno, and an investigation took place, as if they were endeavoring to find pure calves, and such as were marked by the impression of a seal. Three men also were sacrificed on the day appointed for this purpose, in the place of whom Amosis ordered them to substitute three waxen images. In Chios likewise, they sacrificed a man to Omadius Bacchus, the man being for this purpose torn in pieces; and the same custom, as Eulpis Carystius says, was adopted in Tenedos. To which may be added, that the Lacedaemonians, as Apollodorus says, sacrificed a man to Mars.
56. Moreover the Phoenicians, in great calamities, either of war, or excessive dryness, or pestilence, sacrificed some one of their dearest friends, who was selected by votes for this purpose. The Phoenician history also is replete with instances of men being sacrificed, which history was written by Sanchoniatho in the Phoenician tongue, and was interpreted into Greek in eight books, by Philo Byblius. But Ister, in his collection of the Cretan sacrifices, says that the Curetes formerly sacrificed children to Saturn. And Pallas, who is the best of those who have collected what pertains to the mysteries of Mithras, says, that under the Emperor Adrian the sacrificing of men was nearly totally abolished. For, prior to his time, in Laodicea, which is in Syria, they anciently sacrificed a virgin to Minerva, but now they sacrifice a stag. The Carthaginians too, who dwell in Libya, formerly sacrificed men; but this custom was abolished by Iphicrates. And the Dumatii, a people of Arabia, annually sacrificed a boy, whom they buried under the altar, which was used by them as a statue. But Phylarchus narrates, that it was the general custom of all the Greeks, before they went to war, to immolate men. I omit to mention the Thracians and Scythians, and also the Athenians, who slew the daughter of Erechtheus and Praxithea. And even at present, who is ignorant that in the great city of Rome, in the festival of Jupiter Latialis, they cut the throat of a man? Human flesh, however, is not on this account to be eaten; though, through a certain necessity, a man should be sacrificed. For, when a famine takes place during a siege, some of the besieged feed on each other, yet at the same time those who do so are deemed execrable, and the deed is thought to be impious.
57. After the first war, likewise, waged by the Romans against the Carthaginians, in order to obtain Sicily, when the mercenary soldiers of the Phoenicians revolted, and, together with them, those of Africa deserted, Amilcar, who was surnamed Barkas, in attacking the Romans, was reduced to such a scarcity of food, that at first his men ate those that fell in battle; but afterwards, these failing, they ate their captives; in the third place, their servants; and in the last place, they attacked each other, and devoured their fellow-soldiers, who were led to be slaughtered for this purpose by lot. But Amilcar, taking those men that were in his power, caused his elephants to trample on such of the soldiers as had acted in this manner, conceiving that it was not holy to suffer them to be any longer mingled with other men; and neither did he admit that men should be eaten because certain persons had dared to do this; nor his son Hannibal, who, when he was leading his army into Italy, was advised by a certain person to accustom his troops to feed on human flesh, in order that they might never be in want of food. It does not follow, therefore, that because famine and war have been the causes of eating other animals, it is also requisite to feed on them for the sake of pleasure; as neither must we admit, that on this account men are to be eaten. Nor does it follow, that because animals are sacrificed to certain powers, it is also requisite to eat them. For neither do those who sacrifice men, on this account, feed on human flesh. Through what has been said, therefore, it is demonstrated, that it does not entirely follow that animals are to be eaten because they are sacrificed.
58. But that those who had learnt what the nature is of the powers in the universe, offered sacrifices through blood, not to Gods, but to daemons, is confirmed by theologists themselves. For they also assert, that of daemons, some are malefic, but others beneficent, who will not molest us, if we offer to them the first-fruits of those things alone which we eat, and by which we nourish either the soul or the body. After, therefore, we have added a few observations more, in order to show that the unperverted conceptions of the multitude accord with a right opinion respecting the Gods, we shall conclude this book. Those poets, therefore, who are wise, though but in a small degree, say,
“What man so credulous and void of mind,
But another poet says,
“My offerings to the Gods from cakes alone
59. Apollo also, when he orders men to sacrifice according to paternal institutes, appears to refer every thing to ancient custom. But the ancient custom of sacrificing was, as we have before shown, with cakes and fruits. Hence also, sacrifices were called thusiai, and thuelai, and thumelai, and auto to thuein, i.e. the act of sacrificing, signified the same thing as tou thumian, i.e. to offer incense, and which is now called by us, epithuein, i.e. to sacrifice something more. For what we now call thuein, i.e. to sacrifice, the ancients denominated erdein, i.e. to perform or make.
“They perfect hecatombs of bulls, or goats,
60. But those who introduced costliness into sacrifices, were ignorant that, in conjunction with this, they also introduced a swarm of evils, viz., superstition, luxury, an opinion that a divine nature may be corrupted by gifts, and that a compensation may be made by sacrifices for injustice. Or whence do some make an oblation of three animals with gilded horns, but others of hecatombs? And whence did Olympias, the mother of Alexander [the Great,] sacrifice a thousand of each species of animals, unless sumptuousness had at length proceeded to superstition? But when the young man was informed that the Gods rejoiced in magnificent sacrifices, and, as they say, in solemn banquets of oxen and other animals, how, though he was willing to act wisely, was it possible that he could? How also, when he conceived that these sacrifices were acceptable to the Gods, was it possible he should not fancy that he was permitted to act unjustly, when he might exonerate himself from erroneous conduct through sacrifices? But if he had been persuaded that the Gods have no need of these things, and that they look to the manners of those who approach to them, and conceive that a right opinion of them, and of things themselves, is the greatest sacrifice, how is it possible that he should not have been temperate, holy, and just?
61. To the Gods, indeed, the most excellent offering is a pure intellect and an impassive soul, and also a moderate oblation of our own property and of other things, and this not negligently, but with the greatest alacrity. For the honors which we pay to the Gods should be accompanied by the same promptitude as that with which we give the first seat to worthy men, and with which we rise to salute them, and not by the promptitude with which we pay a tribute. For man must not use such language as the following to God:
“If, O Philinus, you recall to mind,
For divinity is not satisfied with such assertions as these. And hence Plato says [in his Laws], that it pertains to a good man to sacrifice, and to be always conversant with the Gods by prayers, votive offerings, sacrifices, and every kind of religious worship; but that to the bad man, much labor about the Gods is inefficacious and vain. For the good man knows what ought to be sacrificed, and from what it is requisite to abstain; what things are to be offered to divinity; and of what the first-fruits are to be sacrificed; but the bad man exhibiting honors to the Gods from his own disposition and his own pursuits, acts in so doing more impiously than piously. Hence Plato thought, that a philosopher ought not to be conversant with men of depraved habits; for this is neither pleasing to the Gods, nor useful to men; but the philosopher should endeavor to change such men to a better condition, and if he cannot effect this, he should be careful that he does not himself become changed into their depravity. He adds, that having entered into the right path, he should proceed in it, neither fearing danger from the multitude, nor any other blasphemy which may happen to take place. For it would be a thing of a dire nature, that the Syrians indeed will not taste fish, nor the Hebrews swine, nor most of the Phoenicians and Egyptians cows; and though many kings have endeavored to change these customs, yet those that adopt them would rather suffer death, than a transgression of the law [which forbids them to eat these animals]; and yet that we should choose to transgress the laws of nature and divine precepts through the fear of men, or of a certain denunciation of evil from them. For the divine choir of Gods, and divine men, may justly be greatly indignant with us, if it perceives us directing our attention to the opinions of depraved men, and idly looking to the terror with which they are attended, though we daily meditate how we may become [philosophically] dead to other things in the present life.