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The Works of Philo



{----Yonge's edition includes this treatise not found in Cohn-Wendland (Loeb). In a note, Yonge asserts that it is virtually identical to the Loeb treatise, On the Eternity of the World (which Yonge titled, On the Incorruptibility of the World).}

I. There is no existing thing equal in honour to God, but he is the one Ruler, and Governor, and King, to whom alone it is lawful to govern and regulate everything; for the verse-

"A multitude of masters is not good,

Let there one sovereign be, one king of All,"{1}{hom. Il. 2.204.}

is not more appropriate to be said with respect to cities and men than to the world and God, for it follows inevitably that there must be one Creator and Master of one world; and this position having been laid down and conceded as a preliminary, it is only consistent with sense to connect with it what follows from it of necessity. Let us now, therefore, consider what inferences these are. God being one being, has two supreme powers of the greatest importance. By means of these powers the incorporeal world, appreciable only by the intellect, was put together, which is the archetypal model of this world which is visible to us, being formed in such a manner as to be perceptible to our invisible conceptions just as the other is to our eyes. Therefore some persons, marvelling at the nature of both these worlds, have not only worshipped them in their entirety as gods, but have also deified the most beautiful parts of them, I mean for instance the sun, and the moon, and the whole heaven, which, without any fear or reverence, they called gods. And Moses, perceiving the ideas which they entertained, says, "O Lord, King of all Gods,"{2}{#de 10:17.} in order to point out the great superiority of the Ruler to his subjects. And the original founder of the Jewish nation was a Chaldaean by birth, being the son of a father who was much devoted to the study of astronomy, and being among people who were great studiers of mathematical science, who think the stars, and the whole heaven, and the whole world gods; and they say that both good and evil result from their speculations and belief, since they do not believe in anything as a cause which is apart from those things which are visible to the outward senses. But what can be worse than this, or more calculated to display the want of true nobility existing in the soul, than the notion of causes in general being secondary and created causes, combined with an ignorance of the one first cause, the uncreated God, the Creator of the universe, who for these and innumerable other reasons is most excellent, reasons which because of their magnitude human intellect is unable to apprehend? but this founder of the Jewish nation having conceived an idea of him in his mind, and looking upon him as the true God, forsook his native country and his family, and his father's house, knowing that if he remained, the deceits of the polytheistic doctrine also remaining in his soul would render his intellect incapable of discovering the nature of the one God, who is alone everlasting, and the father of everything else, whether appreciable only by the intellect or perceptible to the outward senses; but if he departed and emigrated, then he saw that deceit would also depart from his mind, which would then change its erroneous opinions into truth. And at the same time the oracular commands of God, which had been given to him, did further excite the desire which he felt to become acquainted with the living God. And he went forth like a man under the immediate guidance of others, with the most unhesitating promptness, to search after the knowledge of the one God; and he did not relax in his search till he had arrived at a more accurate and correct perception, not indeed of his essences (for that is impossible), but of his existence and of his providence; on which account he is the first man of whom it is said that he believed in God, since he was the first who had an accurate and positive notion of him, believing that there is one supreme cause of all things, which by his providence takes care of the world and of all things that are therein. Since the Creator of the world bringing an essence previously without any order and in complete confusion, into distinct order and regularity, began to arrange and adorn the earth and the water, and established them in the middle of the world, and the trees, and air, and fire he drew up from the middle to the higher regions, and he fixed the regions of the aether all around, placing it as a boundary to and a preserver of the things which were inside, from which also it derived its name of Heaven.{3}{horos is the Greek word for boundary, from which Philo thinks that ouranos, "heaven," is derived.} And these things, then, were the perfect seeds of the whole universe, but the great and all productive tree raised from this seed is this world, of which the aforesaid branches are the offshoots.

II. Where, then, God placed the roots, and what foundation it has upon which it is so firmly fixed like a statue, we must now consider. It is not natural that any body which is left behind should wander out of its limits, since God has made and arranged in its proper place, the materials of the whole universe. For it was fitting that the greatest of all works, being also the most perfect, should be created by the greatest of all workmen. And it would not have been completely perfect if it had not been completed in perfect parts. So that if this world consists of every kind of material, nothing being beyond, and not even the most insignificant thing being omitted, it follows of necessity that whatever is outside the world must either be vacuum or nothing at all. If it be a vacuum, then how can it be found to balance the world, which is full and closely packed, and the heaviest of all things, when there is nothing solid to support it? from which consideration it would appear to resemble a vision. Since the mind is always looking for a corporeal basis, it is natural to suppose that one whole should have such a thing if it happens to be put in motion, and the world above all things, inasmuch as it is the greatest of bodies, and as it embraces in its bosom a multitude of other bodies as its own appropriate parts. Therefore, if any one wishes to escape the perplexities which arise in treating of doubtful matters, let him speak his mind freely, and affirm that there is no material so strong as to be able to support the weight of the world. But the eternal law of the everlasting God is the strong and lasting support of the universe. This law being extended from the centre of the world to its furthest extremities, and again back from its extremities to the centre, moves on in the unwearied irresistible course of nature, uniting and binding together all the parts of the universe. For the Father who established it made it to be the indissoluble bond of the universe. Therefore we are naturally led to conclude that the whole earth will not be dissolved by water, which its bosoms contain; nor again will fire be extinguished by the air, nor again will the air be burnt up and consumed by fire, since the divine law has placed itself as a boundary to keep all these elements distinct from one another. As yet the allproductive plant was not rooted, and had not the power which was to be derived from being rooted. But of the subordinate, particular, and less important plants, some were moveable in such a way as easily to change their places, and some, without being liable to any change of places, were made as if they were to stand for ever in the same position. Those therefore which are exposed to a motion which involves a change of place, which we call animals, were added to the most entire and perfect parts of the universe. The earth receiving the terrestrial animals, the water the aquatic animals; the air those creatures which fly; and the stars being assigned to the heaven.

III. But the Creator created two different kinds both in the earth, and in the water, and in the air. In the air he placed those animals which fly, and other powers also which cannot by any means, or on any occasion, be comprehended by the outward senses. Thus the company of incorporeal souls is arranged in regular order according to their nature. For it is said that some of them are separated off and assigned to mortal bodies, and that, at certain definite and predetermined periods, they again depart from them. But that others of a more divine nature are utterly regardless of any situation in earth, but are raised to a great height, and placed in the aether itself, being of the purest possible character, which those among the Greeks who have studied philosophy call heroes and daemones, and which Moses, giving them a most felicitous appellation, calls angels, acting as they do the part of ambassadors and messengers, announcing to the subjects all kinds of blessings from their rulers, and acting as servants to the king to whom they are subject; and they, descending into the body as into a river, at one time are carried away by the violence of a most irresistible current and swallowed up, and at other times, being wholly unable to resist the powers of destruction, at first, indeed, raise their heads above the flood, and afterwards sink down again to the place from whence they have started. These, then, are the souls of those who devote themselves to the vigorous study of philosophy respecting divine subjects, from the beginning to the end of their existence studying things which may concern them after the life has left the body, that thus they may enjoy an incorporeal and endless life in the presence of the uncreated and immortal God. But those souls of other men which I have spoken of as being overwhelmed, being such as have disregarded wisdom, giving themselves up to uncertain circumstances, such as depend wholly on chance, of which none have any reference to the soul or to the intellect, but all to the body, which is but a corpse to which we are joined, or to other things even more inanimate and insensible than that; I mean such things as glory, and riches, and power, and honour, and all such other things as through the deceitfulness of false opinions are looked upon as real and living objects by people who do not see what is really beautiful. Therefore, if you look upon souls, and daemones, and angels, as things differing indeed in name, but as meaning in reality one and the same thing, you will thus get rid of the heaviest of all evils, superstition. For as people in general speak of good daemones and bad daemones, in the same manner also do they speak of good and bad souls; and so they speak of some angels as being by their title worthy ambassadors from men to God, and from God to men, being sacred and inviolable guardians on account of their blameless and most excellent service which they have allotted to them. And, again, if you look upon others as unholy and unworthy of any such appellation, you will not err. And the Psalmist himself is a witness in favour of what I have here asserted, where he speaks as follows: "He sent among them the anger of his wrath, by the operation of evil Angels."{4}{psalm 77:49.} Again, all animals that swim and zoophytes are allotted to the water, and all terrestrial animals and plants to the land. And the plants he placed with their heads downwards, fixing their heads in the deepest parts of the earth; but the heads of the irrational animals he dragged up from the earth and placed upon a lofty neck, placing the fore-feet beneath them as a kind of pedestal. But man has had a separate formation of a higher character; for in the case of other animals, God has placed their eyes in the side of their heads and bent them down to the ground, on which account they are all inclined downwards to the earth. But the eyes of man, on the other hand, he has raised up, that he might behold the heavens, being not a terrestrial but a celestial plant, as the old saying Is.{5}{this is in accordance with the idea of Ovid, who says (as may be Translated)ù"and while all other creatures from their birth, / With downcast eyes gaze on their kindred earth, / Man walks erect, and proudly scans the heaven / From which he sprung, to which his hopes are given."} But the other class, who affirm that our intellect is a portion of ethereal nature, connect man in a relationship with the air. Accordingly, the great Moses has not spoken of the rational soul as it resembled in its species any created thing, but he has called it the image of the divine and invisible God, looking upon it to be a glorious and carefully wrought image, the seal of God, the character of which is the everlasting Word; for, says he, "God breathed into his face the breath of Life."{6}{#ge 2:7.} So that it follows inevitably that he who received it must be made in the image and likeness of him who sent it. On which account he also says that man was created in the image of God, and not in the likeness of any created thing.

IV. But, taking up our discourse again at the beginning for the sake of clearness, let us say that of bodies some have put on habit, and others nature, and others soul, and others a rational soul. Therefore those stocks and stones which are torn from any intimate connection, have made for themselves that strongest of all forms, namely habit, and that is a breath returning constantly to itself; for it begins at the centre and extends to the furthest extremities, and when it has touched the outermost circumference it turns back again until it arrives at the same place from which it originally started. This it he continued course of habit over which it runs and returns. And he has allotted a nature of their own to plants, having combined it of many powers, especially the nutritious and the generative power. And the Creator has made the soul different from nature in three particulars-the outward sense, and fancy, and impulse. Now plants have no participation in any of these things, but every living animal has a share in all of them. Therefore the outward sense, as its very name in my opinion shows, is a certain imposition which represents to the intellect the things which have appeared to it. And it represents to the fancy a sort of outline in the soul, being, as it were, a kind of representation of light; for those things which each of the outward senses has introduced, like a ring as it were or a seal, it impresses on them its own character, or else it preserves the impression which has been made until the rival of memory, forgetfulness, having softened the impression, at least makes it very dim, or else entirely effaces it; and what has appeared to have been impressed upon it disposes the soul at one time as if it belonged to it, and at another time as if it belonged to some other: and this feeling is called impulse, which those who have attempted to give accurate definitions have called the primary motion of the soul.

V. In such important particulars are animals superior to plants. Let us now therefore see in what man is superior to the other animals. He now has received as an especial and pre-eminent honour, the gift of intellect, by which he is accustomed to comprehend the natures of all things, whether they be bodies or things; for as the predominant part in the body is the sight, and as the nature of light is the most important part of the universe, so in the same manner the most important and influential of all the parts in us is the mind; for this is the light of the soul, being irradiated and enlightened by its own beams, by which that dense and profound darkness, ignorance of facts which was shed around it, is dissipated. And this portion of the soul is not composed of the same elements as those of which the other parts are made, but it has a pure and more excellent essence, from which the divine natures were made; on which account the intellect alone, of all the parts within us, appears very reasonably and naturally to be imperishable, for that is the only portion which the Father who generated it has thought worthy of freedom, and loosing the bands of necessity, he has allowed it to roam at large without restraint, having endowed it with a share of his own most glorious and becoming attribute, freewill, the highest present which it was able to receive. For the other animals in whose souls there does not exist that intellect which is thus especially appropriated to freedom, have been given up to them to submit to their yoke and to receive their bridle in their mouths, so as to serve them as servants obey their masters. But man having a spontaneous will, subject to no promptings but those of his own nature, and exerting his energies in accordance with his own deliberate purpose, is very properly subject to blame for whatever unjust actions he commits from deliberate intention, and to praise for all the good deeds which he intentionally performs; for as he has received from God a power of voluntary motion, and as he is in this respect like unto God himself, being delivered from all subservience to that most severe and grievous mistress, necessity, he very properly is open to accusation when he does not pay worship to that being who has thus delivered him. Therefore he will most justly in such a case suffer the punishment which has been inexorably pronounced against ungrateful people who do not deserve freedom. On which account also, the body being raised up towards the purest portion of the universe, the heaven, raises its eyes upwards, that so by an observation of what is visible, it may arrive at an adequate comprehension of what is invisible. Since, therefore, it would be impossible to behold the attraction of the intellect towards the living God, excepting as far as those who are attracted towards him can themselves perceive it, for each man in an individual and especial degree knows what happens to himself, he has made a visible image of the invisible eye, namely, the eyes of the body which are thus able to look towards the sky. For when the eyes, which are made of perishable materials, have gone to such heights as even to soar upwards to the heaven which is removed to such an immense distance from the regions of the earth, and to touch its borders, to how great a distance must we not suppose that the eyes of the soul can reach? which, being excited by a vehement desire to see the one Being clearly and distinctly, stretch forward not only to the furthest extremity of the sky, but, leaving beneath them the boundaries of the universal world, hasten onwards to the uncreated.

VI. Having now, therefore, gone through the whole question of the more important plants in the world, let us see in what manner also the all-wise God has fashioned the trees which exist in man, that lesser world. Therefore immediately having taken our body as a region of fertile soil, he has made in it the outward senses as so many channels; and then he has carefully trained each of those outward senses as a plant susceptible of cultivation and of the greatest use, implanting the sense of hearing in the ears, and that of seeing in the eyes, and that of smell in the nostrils, and all the other senses in the places akin to and appropriate to them. And I have a witness in favour of this my argument in that god-like man who speaks thus in the Psalms: "He that planted the ear, shall he not hear? and he that fashioned the eye, must not he See?"{7}{#ps 93:9.} Moreover, those other faculties which reside apart from the main body, being situated in the legs and hands and the other parts of the body, whether within or without, all these faculties, I say, are noble and excellent offshoots. And the more excellent and more perfect parts he very appropriately stationed near the dominant portion of the whole, as being in the centre, and able preeminently to bring forth fruit, as being the lord of the whole. And these faculties are perception and comprehension, and felicity of conjecture, and study, and recollection, and habit, and disposition, and every variety of art, and certainty of knowledge, and an ever-mindful apprehension of the speculations of every kind of virtue. Now, no one can properly or sufficiently cultivate any one of these within, but the one uncreated Maker of them, and who has not merely created them, but who also makes all these plants to correspond to everything which takes place; he alone can manage them and perfect them as they should be perfected.

VII. And the way in which Paradise was planted is in strict conformity with what has been here said; for we read that "God planted a Paradise in Eden, towards the east, and there he placed the man whom he had Made."{8}{#ge 2:8.} Now, to think that this means that God planted vines and olives, and trees of apples and pomegranates, and things of that kind, is great and incurable folly. But in order that no one might imagine that the Creator had need of anything that he had created, Moses has made a most important declaration when he says, "The Lord, the King of ages, for ever and Ever."{9}{#ex 15:18.} Accordingly, God is both the Father, and the Creator, and the Governor, in reality and truth, of all the things that are in heaven and in the whole world. And, indeed, the future is concealed and separated from the present moment at one time by a brief, and at another time by a long interval. But God is also the Creator of time, for he is the Father of that which is the father of time; and the father of time is the world, which proves that its own birth is the motion of time. But nothing is future to God, because he is in possession of and the author of the boundaries of time; for it is not time, but rather the archetype and model of time. But in eternity nothing is passed, nothing is future, but everything is at the present moment.

VIII. Having now, then, discussed these matters at sufficient length, we must proceed to investigate its imperishableness. Now, there are three opinions in vogue among the philosophers on this subject: some affirming it is everlasting, and uncreated, and free from all liability to destruction; others, on the contrary, that it is created and perishable. There is also a sect which has adopted some portions of the doctrine of each of the beforementioned parties, taking from the latter sect the doctrine that it is created, and from the former the idea that it is imperishable; and thus they have left a mixed opinion, looking upon it as at the same time created and yet imperishable. Therefore Democritus, and Epicurus, and the chief body of the philosophers of the Stoic school, believe the generation and also the destructibility of the world; but they do not all do so in the same manner. For some give a sketch of many worlds, the creation of which they attribute to the concourse and conflicting combination of atoms, and their destruction they attribute to the repercussion and shattering of what has been thus formed. But the Stoics affirm that there is one world, and that God is the cause of its creation, but that God is not the cause of its destruction; but that the power which is contained in existing things, in the long periods of never-ending time, attracts everything to itself, from which again a regeneration of the world is caused by the prudence of the Creator. But Aristotle pronounced the world to be both uncreated and imperishable, and he affirmed that those who maintained a contrary doctrine were guilty of terrible impiety, as they considered that so great a work of God was in no respect superior to things made by the hand of men. And they say too that it has been proved to be both uncreated and imperishable by Plato in his Timaeus. But some persons interpret Plato's words sophistically, and think that he affirms that the world was created, not inasmuch as it has had a beginning of creation, but inasmuch as if it had been created it could not possibly have existed in any other manner than that in which it actually does exist as has been described, or else because it is in its creation and change that the parts are seen. But the forementioned opinion is better and truer, not only because throughout the whole treatise he affirms that the Creator of the gods is also the father and creator and maker of everything, and that the world is a most beautiful work of his and his offspring, being an imitation visible to the outward senses of an archetypal model appreciable only by the intellect, comprehending in itself as many objects of the outward senses as the model does objects of the intellect, since it is a most perfect impression of a most perfect model, and is addressed to the outward sense as the other is to the intellect. But also because Aristotle bears witness to this fact in the case of Plato, who, from his great reverence for philosophy, would never have spoken falsely. But some persons think that the father of the Platonic theory was the poet Hesiod, as they conceive that the world is spoken of by him as created and indestructible; as created, when he says, -

"First did Chaos rule;

Then the broad-chested earth was brought to light,

Foundation firm and lasting for whatever

Exists among Mankind;"{10}{hesiod, Theogon. 116.}

and as indestructible, because he has given no hint of its dissolution or destruction. Now Chaos was conceived by Aristotle to be a place, because it is absolutely necessary that a place to receive them must be in existence before bodies. But some of the Stoics think that it is water, imagining that its name has been derived from Effusion.{11}{chysis, as if chaos were derived from cheoµ, "to pour."} But however that may be, it is exceedingly plain that the world is spoken of by Hesiod as having been created: and a very long time before him Moses, the lawgiver of the Jews, had said in his sacred volumes that the world was both created and indestructible, and the number of the books is five. The first of which he entitled Genesis, in which he begins in the following manner: "In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth; and the earth was invisible and without form."

IX. But we must place those arguments first which make out the world to be uncreated and indestructible, because of our respect for that which is visible, employing an appropriate commencement. To all things which are liable to destruction there are two causes of that destruction, one being internal and the other external; therefore you may find iron, and brass, and all other substances of that kind destroyed by themselves when rust, like a creeping disease, overruns and devours them; and by external causes when, if a house or a city is burnt, they also are consumed in the conflagration, being melted by the violent impetuosity of the fire. A similar end also befalls animals, partly when they are sick of diseases arising internally, and partly when they are destroyed by external causes, being sacrificed, or stoned, or burnt, or when they endure an unclean death by hanging. And if the world also is destroyed, then it must of necessity be so either by some external cause, or else by some one of the powers which exist within itself; and both these alternatives are impossible, for there is nothing whatever outside of the world, since all things are brought together in order to make it complete and full, for it is in this way that it will be one, and whole, and free from old age; it will be one, because if anything were left outside of it, then another world might be created resembling that which exists now; and whole, because the whole of its essence is expended on itself; and exempt from old age and from all disease, since those bodies which are liable to be destroyed by disease or old age are violently overthrown by external causes, such as heat, and cold, and other contrary qualities, no power of which is able to escape so as to surround and attack the world, all those being entirely enclosed within, without any part whatever being separated from the rest. But if indeed there is any external thing it must by all means be a vacuum, or else a nature absolutely impossible, which it would be impossible should either suffer or do anything. And again, it will also not be dissolved by any cause existing within itself; first of all because, if it were, then the part would be greater and more powerful than the whole, which is the greatest possible absurdity, for the world, enjoying an unsurpassable power, influences all its parts, and is not itself influenced or moved by any one of them; in the second place because, since there are two causes of corruption, the one being internal and the other external, those things which are competent to admit the one must also by all means be liable to the other; and a proof of this may be found in oxen, and horses, and men, and other animals of similar kinds, because it is their nature to be destroyed by the sword, or to be liable to die by disease.

X. Since, therefore, the arrangement of the world is such as I have endeavoured to describe it, so that there is no part whatever left out, so as for any force to be applied, it has now been proved that the world will not be destroyed by any external thing, because in fact nothing whatever external has been left at all; nor will it be destroyed by anything in itself on account of the proof which has already been considered and stated, according to which that which was obnoxious to the power of one of those causes was also naturally susceptible of the influence of the other. And there are testimonies also in the Timaeus to the fact of the world being exempt from disease and not liable to destruction, such as these: "Accordingly, of the four elements the constitution of the world receives each in all its integrity; for he who compounded it made it to consist of the whole of fire, and the whole of water, and the whole of air, and the whole of earth, not leaving any portion or any power of any one of them outside, from the following intentions:-in the first place, in order that the whole might be as far as possible a perfect animal made up of perfect parts. And besides all these things, he ordained that it should be one, inasmuch as there is nothing left out of which another similar world could be composed. Moreover, he willed that it should be exempt from old age, and free from all disease, considering that those things which in the body are hot or cold, or which have mighty powers, if standing all around and falling upon it unseasonably, would be likely to dissolve it, and, by introducing diseases and old age, cause it to decay and perish. For this cause, and because of this reason, God made the whole universe to consist of entire and perfect elements, and exempt from old age and free from disease."

XI. Let this be taken as a testimony delivered by Plato to the imperishable nature of the world. Its uncreated character follows from the truth of natural philosophy; for dissolution must of necessity attend everything which is born, and incorruptibility must inevitably belong to everything which is unborn; since the poet who wrote the following iambic verse,

"All that is born must surely Die,"{12}{timaeus, p. 32.}

appears to have spoken very correctly when he asserted this connection of destructibility with birth. The argument may be stated in a different way as follows. All compound things which are destroyed are dissolved into the elements of which they were compounded; accordingly, dissolution is nothing else but a return of everything to its original constituent parts; just as, on the contrary, composition is that which compels the things combined to come together in a manner contrary to their nature; and indeed, this appears to be the most exact truth; for men are composed of the four elements which together make up the whole of the universe, the heaven, the earth, the air, and fire, borrowing a few parts of each in a manner at first sight hardly consistent with nature. But the things which are thus combined together are necessarily deprived of a motion in accordance with nature; for instance, warmth is deprived of its upward motion, and coldness of its downward tendency, the earthy and somewhat weighty substance being lightened and assuming the higher place, which the most earth-like of our own parts, the head, has obtained in us. But of all bonds, that is the worst which is forged by violence, and which, being violent, is also short-lived; for it is speedily broken by those who are bound in it, since they become restive from their desire for a motion in accordance with nature, to which they hasten; for as the tragic poet says, -

"And for things sprung from earth, they must

Return unto their parent dust,

While those from heavenly seed which rise

Are borne uplifted to the skies.

Nought that has once existed dies,

Though often what has been combined

Before, we separated find,

Invested with another Form."{13}{a fragment from the Chrysippus of Euripides.}

And this law and ordinance is established with reference to everything which is destroyed, that wherever composite things are existing in combination they are thrown into disorder instead of into the order in accordance with nature, which they previously enjoyed, and they are removed to situations opposite to those in which they were previously placed, so that they seem in a manner to be sojourners; and when they are dissolved again, then they return to the appropriate parts allotted to them by nature. But since the world has no participation in that irregularity which exists in the things which I have just been mentioning, let us stop awhile and consider this point. If the world were liable to corruption and destruction, it follows of necessity that all its parts would at present be arranged in a position not in accordance with nature: but it is impious even to imagine such a thing as this; for all the parts of the world have received the most excellent position possible, and an arrangement of the purest symmetry and harmony; so that each individual part, being content with its place as a native country to it, does not seek any change for the better. On this account it is that the most central position of all has been assigned to the earth, to which all things belonging to it adhere, and to which they descend again even if you throw them into the air: and this is a proof that their place is in accordance with nature; for wherever anything is borne without any violence, and where it then remains firm and stationary, that is clearly its natural place. And then, in the second place, water was poured over the earth, and air and fire have gone from the central to the upper part, air having received for its portion the region which is on the borders between air and fire, and fire having received the highest place of all: on which account, if you light a torch and press it down towards the ground, nevertheless the flame will still turn in a contrary direction, and lightening itself in accordance with the natural motion of fire, will rise upwards: if, then, motion contrary to nature is the cause of corruptibility and destruction in the case of other animals, but if in the case of the world every one of its parts is arranged in complete accordance with nature, having had appropriate positions allotted to each of them, then surely the world must most justly be pronounced incorruptible and imperishable.

XII. Moreover this point is manifest to every one, that every nature is desirous to keep and preserve, and if it were possible to make immortal, everything of which it is the nature; the nature of trees, for instance, desires to preserve trees, and the nature of animals desires to preserve each individual animal. But particular nature is of necessity unable to conduct what it belongs to to eternity; for want, or heat, or cold, or innumerable other ordinary circumstances, when they affect particular things, shake them and dissolve the bond which previously held them together, and at last break them to pieces; but if nothing resembling any of these things were lying in wait outside, then in that case nature itself, as far as it is possible, would preserve everything both great and small free from old age. It follows therefore of necessity, that the nature of the world must desire the durability of the universe; for it is not worse than particular natures, so that it should run away and desert its proper duties, and attempt to produce disease instead of health, and corruption and destruction instead of complete safety, since,

"High over all she lifts her beauteous face,

And towers above her nymphs with heavenly grace,

Fair as they all Appear."{14}{homer, Odyssey 6.107, where the lines quoted are applied to Latona among her nymphs.}

But if this be true, then the world cannot be capable of destruction. Why so? Because the nature which holds it together is itself invincible by reason of its exceeding strength and power, by which it gets the mastery over every thing else which might be likely to injure it; wherefore Plato has well Said:{15}{timaeus, p. 33.} "For nothing ever departed from it, nor did anything ever come to it from any quarter; for that was not possible; for there was nothing in existence which could come; for since it supplies itself with nutriment out of its own consumption, it also does everything and suffers everything in itself and by itself, and is compounded with the most consummate art. For he who created it thought that it would be better if wholly selfsufficient, than if in continual need of accessories from other quarters."

XIII. However, this argument also is a most demonstrative one, on which I know that vast numbers of philosophers pride themselves as one most accurately worked out, and altogether irresistible; for they inquire what reason there is for God's destroying the world. For if he destroys it at all he must do so either with the intention of never making a world again, or with the object of creating a second fresh one; now the former idea is inconsistent with the character of God; for it is proper to change disorder into order, and not order into disorder: in the second place, it is so because it would give rise to repentance, which is an affliction and a disease of the soul. For he ought either never to have created a world at all, or else, if he judged that it was a fitting employment for him, he ought to have been pleased with it after it was made. But the second reason deserves no superficial examination; for if he were intending to make another world instead of that which exists at present, then of necessity this second world that would be made, in that case, would be either worse than, or similar to, or better than the first; everyone of which ideas is inadmissible; for if the new world is to be worse than the former, then the maker must be also worse: but all the works of God are without blemish, beyond all reproach and wholly faultless, inasmuch as they are wrought with the most consummate skill and knowledge; for as the proverb says; -

"For e'en a woman's wisdom's not so coarse

As to despise the good and choose the worse."

But it is consistent with the character of, and becoming to God to give form to what is shapeless, and to invest what is most ugly with admirable beauty. Again, if the new world is to be exactly like the old one, then the maker is only wasting his labour, and differs in no respect from infant children who, very often while playing on the sea shore raise up little mounds of sand, and then pull them down again with their hands and destroy them; for it would have been much better than making another world exactly like the former, neither to take anything from, nor to add anything to, nor to change either for the better or for the worse, what existed originally, but to let it remain just as it was. If, on the other hand, he is about to make a world better than the former one, then the maker too must be better than the maker of the former world, so that when he made the former world he was inferior both in his skill and in his intellect, which is impious even to imagine, for God is at all times equal and similar to himself, being neither capable of any relaxation which can make him worse, nor of any extension which can make him better. Men, indeed, do admit of such inequalities in either direction, being naturally liable to alter either for the better or for the worse, and continually admitting of increase, and advance, and improvement, and everything contrary to these states; and besides this, the works of us who are but mortal men may very appropriately be perishable, but the works of the immortal must in all consistency and reason be likewise imperishable, for it is natural that what is made should resemble the nature of the maker.

XIV. But Boethus adduces the most convincing arguments, which we shall proceed to mention immediately; for if, says he, the world was created and is liable to destruction, then something will be made out of nothing, which appears to be most absurd even to the Stoics. Why so? Because it is not possible to discover any cause of destruction either within or without, which will destroy the world. For on the outside there is nothing except perhaps a vacuum, inasmuch as all the elements in their integrity are collected and contained within it, and within there is no imperfection so great as to be the cause of dissolution to so great a thing. Again, if it is destroyed without any cause, then it is plain that from something which has no existence will arise the engendering of destruction, which is an idea quite inadmissible by reason; and, indeed, they say that there are altogether three generic manners of corruption, one which arises from division, another which proceeds from a destruction of the distinctive quality which holds the thing together, and the third from confusion; therefore the things which consist of a union of separate members, such as flocks of goats, herds of oxen, choruses, armies; or, again, bodies which are compounded of limbs joined together, are dissolved by disjunction and separation. But wax, when stamped with a new impression, or softened before being remodelled so as to present a new and different appearance, is corrupted by a destruction of the distinctive quality which previously held it together. Other things are corrupted by confusion, as the medicine which the physicians call tetrapharmacon, for the powers of the drugs brought together and combined were destroyed in such a manner as to produce one perfect medicine of especial virtue. By which, then, of these modes of corruption is it becoming to say that the world is destroyed? By that which is caused by separation? No, for it is not compounded of separate members so that its different parts can be dispersed, nor of portions joined together so that they can be dissolved; nor is it united together in a similar manner to our own bodies, for they have the seeds of decay in themselves, and they are subject to influence of a great variety of things by which they are at times injured; but the power of the world is invincible, since by its great superiority to other things it has dominion over everything. Is it then destroyed by a complete destruction of its distinctive qualities? This again is impossible, for there remains, as the adversaries affirm, a quality of arrangement which by the process of conflagration is only diminished to a lesser substance ... Is it destroyed then by confusion? Away with such an idea, for in that case it would be necessary to confess that the corruption of a body can be reduced to a state of non-existence. Why so? Because if each of the particular elements were destroyed separately, it would be possible for it to become changed into another; but if they are altogether destroyed at one and the same moment by confusion, then it would be necessary to imagine what is absolutely impossible.

XV. Is it not however worth while to examine this question, in what manner there can be a regeneration of all those things which have been destroyed by fire, and resolved into fire? for when their substance has been wholly destroyed by the fire, it follows of necessity that the fire itself must also be extinguished as no longer having any nourishment. Therefore, as long as it remained the seminal principle of arrangement was likewise preserved, but when it is destroyed that principle is destroyed with it. But it would be impious, and an impiety of double dye, not only to attribute destruction to the world, but also to take away the possibility of its regeneration; as if God delighted in disorder, and irregularity, and all kinds of evil things. But we must examine this question more accurately, in the following manner. There are three species in fire; the coal, and the flame, and the light. Now coal is the fire in its earthy substance, which, like a sort of spiritual habit, couches and lies hid in a sort of cavern, pervading it all to its very extremities. And the flame is that part which, being raised on high, is lifted up from its fuel. And the light is that which is emitted from the flame, so as to co-operate with the eyes, in order to enable them to comprehend what is seen. And the flame occupies the middle position between the coal and the light; for when it is extinguished it ends in coal, and when it is kindled it excites the light, which, being deprived of its burning power, blazes. If therefore, we affirm that the world is dissolved by conflagration, it would not be coal, because, in that case there will be a great deal of the earthy substance left behind, in which also fire must necessarily be contained. But we must agree, that none of the other bodies subsist any longer, but that earth, and water, and air, are all dissolved into unmixed fire. Nor, again, would it become flame; for that can only exist in connexion with nourishment; and, if nothing is left behind, being deprived of all nourishment it will immediately be extinguished. It follows from all this, that it cannot become light either; for light by itself has no substance at all, but flows from the things before mentioned, coal and flame, not in a great degree from the coal, but very much from the flame; for it is diffused over a very great space indeed. But if, as has been already proved, those things had no existence from the conflagration of all things, then there could not be any light either. So that it is impossible for the world to be susceptible of any regeneration, inasmuch as there is no spermatic principle smouldering beneath; from which consideration it is plain that it is uncreated, and that it will be for ever imperishable.

XVI. However, besides what has been here said, any one may use this argument also in corroboration of his opinion, which will certainly convince all those who are not determined to be obstinate beyond all bounds; of those things which in pairs are exactly contrary to one another it is impossible that one thing should be, and that the other should not be; for since there is white it follows as a matter of absolute necessity that there must also be black, and since there is a great there must likewise be a little; since there is an odd there must inevitably be an even; since there is a sweet there must be a bitter; since there is day there must be night; and so on in an infinite number of similar cases; but if a conflagration should take place, then something would ensue which is impossible; for then, of things in a pair, the one will happen and the other will not. Come, now, let us consider the matter thus: if everything is resolved into fire, there is then something light, and rare, and warm; for all these are the especial properties of fire; but there can be nothing heavy, or cold, or thick, which are the opposites of the qualities which I have just enumerated. How then can any one more completely overturn the idea of the universal disorder which would be involved in such a conflagration than by showing that those things which by a law of nature must exist together, are by this process separated from their natural conjunction? And the separation has extended to such a degree, that those who maintain this doctrine attribute eternal durability to the one and deny any existence at all to the other. Again, there is this assertion made by some of those who diligently employ themselves in investigating truth which appears to me to be a sufficiently felicitous one; if the world is destroyed it will either be destroyed by some other efficient cause, or by God; now there is certainly nothing else whatever from which it can receive its destruction, for there is nothing whatever which it does not surround and contain; but that which is surrounded and confined within something else is manifestly inferior in power to that which surrounds and confines it, by which it is therefore mastered; on the other hand, to say that it is destroyed by God is the most impious of all possible assertions; for God is the cause not of disorder, and irregularity, and destruction, but of order, and beautiful regularity, and life, and of every good thing, as is confessed by all those whose opinions are based on truth.

XVII. But some of those persons who have fancied that the world is everlasting, inventing a variety of new arguments, employ also such a system of reasoning as this to establish their point: they affirm that there are four principal manners in which corruption is brought about, addition, taking away, transposition, and alteration; accordingly, the number two is by the addition of the unit corrupted so as to become the number three, and no longer remains the number two; and the number four by the taking away of the unit is corrupted so as to become the number three; again, by transposition the letter Z becomes the letter H when the parallel lines which were previously horizontal (3/43/4) are placed perpendicularly (1/2 1/2), and when the line which did before pass upwards, so as to connect the two is now made horizontal, and still extended between them so as to join them. And by alteration the word oinos, wine, becomes oxos, vinegar. But of the manner of corruption thus mentioned there is not one which is in the least degree whatever applicable to the world, since otherwise what could we say? Could we affirm that anything is added to the world so as to cause its destruction? But there is nothing whatever outside of the world which is not a portion of it as the whole, for everything is surrounded, and contained, and mastered by it. Again, can we say that anything is taken from the world so as to have that effect? In the first place that which would be taken away would again be a world of smaller dimensions than the existing one, and in the second place it is impossible that any body could be separated from the composite fabric of the whole world so as to be completely dispersed. Again, are we to say that the constituent parts of the world are transposed? But at all events they remain in their original positions without any change of place, for never at any time shall the whole earth be raised up above the water, nor the water above the air, nor the air above the fire. But those things which are by nature heavy, namely the earth and the water, will have the middle place, the earth supporting everything like a solid foundation, and the water being above it; and the air and the fire, which are by nature light, will have the higher position, but not equally, for the air is the vehicle of the fire; and that which is carried by anything is of necessity above that which carries it. Once more: we must not imagine that the world is destroyed by alteration, for the change of any elements is equipollent, and that which is equipollent is the cause of unvarying steadiness, and of untroubled durability, inasmuch as it neither seeks any advantage itself, and is not subject to the inroads of other things which seek advantages at its expense; so that this retribution and compensation of these powers is equalized by the rules of proportion, being the produce of health and endless preservation, by all which considerations the world is demonstrated to be eternal.

XVIII. Theophrastus, moreover, says that those men who attribute a beginning and destructibility to the world are deceived by four particulars of the greatest importance, the inequalities of the earth, the retreat of the sea, the dissolution of each of the parts of the universe, and the destruction of different terrestrial animals in their kinds; and he proceeds to establish the first point thus: if the earth had never had any beginning of its creation, then there would have been no portion of it rising above the rest so as to be conspicuous, but all the mountains would have been level, and all the pieces of rising ground would have been even with the plain. For as there are such vast showers falling from heaven throughout all ages, it would be natural that of any places which were originally raised on high some would be broken down and washed away by torrents, and others would subside of their own accord and so become lowered, and that every place everywhere would be smoothed; but now, as things are, the constant inequalities which exist, and the vast heights of many mountains, reaching up even to the sky, are so many proofs that the earth is not eternal. For otherwise, as I have said before, all the earth would long since have been rendered level from one extremity to the other by the vast rains which would have fallen from the eternal commencement of time; for it is the character of the nature of water, and especially of such as descends in a heavy fall from lofty places, to push some things away by force, and to cut out hollow others places by its continual dropping, and in this manner to operate on the hard, rugged, stony ground not less than men digging. And again, the sea, as they affirm, is already somewhat diminished, and for proof of this fact we can appeal to the most celebrated islands, Rhodes and Delos, for these were in ancient times invisible, being overwhelmed by and sunk under the sea, but by lapse of time, as the sea gradually diminished, they by slow degrees rose above it and came into sight, as the histories which are written concerning them record. And they used to call Delos Anaphe, confirming the account here given by both names, since when it appeared above the Waters{16}{the Greek word is anaphaneisa, from which Anapheµ is derived.} it became evident, {17}{deµleµ, from which Deµlos is derived.} having been formerly invisible and unseen. And in addition to these arguments they adduce the facts that many great and deep bays and gulfs of vast seas have been dried up, and have become land, and have so turned out no insignificant addition to the adjacent country when sown and planted, and on that soil there is still left plenty of proof of such spots having formerly been sea, in the pebbles, and shells, and other things which are commonly washed up on the sea-shore being found in them. But if the sea is gradually being diminished then the earth also will be diminished; and in long revolutions of years every one of the elements will be entirely consumed and destroyed; and the whole air will be consumed, being diminished by little and little; and all things will be absorbed and dissolved into the one substance of fire. And for the purpose of establishing the third alternative of this question they use the following argument: beyond all question that thing is destroyed all the parts of which are liable to destruction; but all the parts of the world are liable to destruction, therefore the world also is liable to destruction. But we must now proceed to consider the question which we postponed till the present time. What sort of a part of the earth is that, that we may begin from this, whether it is greater or less, that is not dissolved by time? Do not the very hardest and strongest stones become hard and decayed through the weakness of their conformation (and this conformation is a sort of course of a highly strained spirit, a bond not indissoluble, but only very difficult to unloose), in consequence of which they are broken up and made fluid, so that they are dissolved first of all into a thin dust, and afterwards are wholly wasted away and destroyed? Again, if the water were never agitated by the winds, but were left immoveable for ever, would it not from inaction and tranquillity become dead? at all events it is changed by such stagnation, and becomes very foetid and foul-smelling, like an animal deprived of life. And so also the corruptions of the air are plain to everyone, for it is the nature of the atmosphere to become sick and to decay, and, as one may say, in a manner to die; since what else is it which a man, who is not aiming at selecting plausible language, but only at truth, would call a plague except a death of the atmosphere, which diffuses its own disease and suffering to the destruction of everything which is endowed with life? And why need I speak at great length concerning fire? for if it is deprived of nourishment it is immediately extinguished. If then, each of the separate parts of the world awaits utter destruction, it is plain that the world which is compounded of these can not be itself exempt from destruction. We must now consider with accuracy the fourth and remaining argument. Thus they argue: if the world were eternal then the animals also would be eternal, and much more the human race, in proportion as that is more excellent than the other animals; but, on the contrary, those who take delight in investigating the mysteries of nature consider that man has only been created in the late ages of the world; for it is likely, or I should rather say it is inevitably true, that the arts co-exist with man, so as to be exactly co-eval with him, not only because methodical proceedings are appropriate to a rational nature, but also because it is not possible to live without them; let us therefore examine the dates of each of these, disregarding the fables invented by the tragedians about the gods; but if man is not eternal then neither is any other animal, so that then neither are the places which receive them, the earth, or the water, or the air; from all which considerations it is plain that this world is liable to destruction.

XIX. But it is necessary to encounter such quibbling arguments as these, lest some persons of too little experience should yield to and be led away by them; and we must begin our refutation of them from the same point from which the Sophists begin their deceit. They say, "There could no longer be any inequalities existing on the earth, if the world were eternal." Why not, my most excellent friends? For other persons will come up and say that the natures of trees are in no respect different from mountains; but just as they at certain seasons lose their leaves, and again at certain seasons recover their verdure again; (on which account there is admirable truth in those lines of the poet:-

"Like leaves on trees the race of man is found,

Now green in youth, now withering on the ground;

Another race the following spring supplies;

They fall successive and successive Rise."){18}{homer, Il. 6.147.}

And so in like manner some portions of the mountains are broken off, and others grow in their stead: but after a long lapse of time the additional growth becomes conspicuous, because the trees having a more rapid nature display their increase with great rapidity; but mountains have a slower character, on which account it happens that the additions which take place in their case are not perceptible by the outward senses except after a long time. And these men appear to be ignorant of the manner in which they are produced, since if they had not been, perhaps they would have been silent out of shame; but still there is no reason why we should not teach them; but there is nothing new in what is now said, neither are they our words but the ancient sayings of wise men, by whom nothing which was necessary for knowledge has been left uninvestigated; when the fiery principle which is contained beneath, in the earth, is thrust upwards by the natural power of fire, it proceeds to its own appropriate place; and if it meets with any respite or relaxation, though ever so slight, it draws up with it a large portion of the earthy substance, as much as it can; and when it has emerged from the earth it proceeds more slowly; but the earthy substance being compelled to follow it for a long time, being at last raised to an immense height, is contracted at the top, and at last comes to end on a sharp point imitating the general appearance of the flame of fire; for there arises then a most violent contention between two things which are natural adversaries, the lightest and the heaviest of things, each of them pressing onwards to reach its own place, and each striving against the violent efforts of the other; accordingly the fire, which is drawing up the earth with it, is compelled to sink down by its descending power; and the earth naturally inclining to the lowest point is nevertheless to a certain degree made light, and lifted up by the upward tendencies of fire, and so is raised on high, and being at last overpowered by the more influential power which lightens it is thrust upwards towards the natural seat of fire, and established on high. Why then need we wonder if the mountains are not entirely washed away by the impetuosity of the rains, when so great a power, which keeps them together, and by which they are raised up, is very firmly and steadfastly connected with them? For if they were released from the bond which holds them together, it would be natural for them to be entirely dissolved and to be dispersed by the water; but since they are bound together by this power of fire, they resist the impetuosity of the rains more surely.

XX. These things, then, may be said by us with respect to the argument that the inequalities of the surface of the earth are no proof of the world having been created and being liable to destruction; but with respect to that argument which was endeavoured to be established by the diminution of the sea, we may reasonably adduce this statement in opposition to it: "Do not look only at the islands which have risen up out of the sea, nor at any portions of land which, having been formerly buried by the waters, have in subsequent times become dry land; for obstinate contention is very unfavourable to the consideration of natural philosophy, which considers the search after truth to be the chief object of rational desire; but look rather at the contrary effects: consider how many districts on the main-land, not only such as were near the coast, but even such as were completely inland, have been swallowed up by the waters; and consider how great a portion of land has become sea and is now sailed over by innumerable ships." Are you ignorant of the celebrated account which is given of that most sacred Sicilian strait, which in old times joined Sicily to the continent of Italy? and where vast seas on each side being excited by violent storms met together, coming from opposite directions, the land between them was overwhelmed and broken away; from which circumstance the city built in the neighbourhood was called Rhegium, {19}{rheµgion, from rhoµgnymi, "to break."} and the result was quite different from what any one would have expected; for the seas which had formerly been separated now flowed together and were united in one expanse; and the land which had previously united was now separated into two portions by the strait which intersected it, in consequence of which Sicily, which had previously formed a part of the mainland, was now compelled to be an island. XXI. And it is said that many other cities also have disappeared, having been swallowed up by the sea which overwhelmed them; since they speak of three in Peloponnesus-

"Aegira and fair Bura's walls,

And Helica's lofty halls,

And many a once renowned town,

With wreck and seaweed overgrown,"

as having been formerly prosperous, but now overwhelmed by the violent influx of the sea. And the island of Atalantes which was greater than Africa and Asia, as Plato says in the Timaeus, in one day and night was overwhelmed beneath the sea in consequence of an extraordinary earthquake and inundation and suddenly disappeared, becoming sea, not indeed navigable, but full of gulfs and eddies. Therefore that imaginary and fictitious diminution of the sea has no connection with the destruction or durability of the world; for in fact it appears to recede indeed from some parts, but to rise higher in others; and it would have been proper rather not to look at only one of these results but at both together, and so to form one's opinion, since in all the disputed questions which arise in human life, a wise and honest judge will not deliver his opinion before he has heard the arguments of the advocates on both sides.

XXII. And as for the third argument, it is convicted by itself, as being derived only from an unsound system of questioning proceeding from the assertions originally made; for in truth it does not necessarily follow that a thing, all the parts of which are liable to corruption, is likewise perishable itself; but this is only inevitably true of that thing of which all the parts are perishable when taken collectively and together in the same place and at the same time, since in the case of a person who has the tip of his finger cut off, he is not disabled from living, but if he had the whole collection of all his parts and limbs cut off at once, he would die immediately. Therefore in the same manner, if all the elements of the world together were all to disappear at one and the same moment, then it would be necessary to admit that the world was liable to corruption and destruction; but if each of these elements separately only changes its nature so as to assimilate to that of its nature, it is then rendered immortal rather than destroyed, according to the philosophical statement of the tragic poet-

"Nought that has once existed dies,

Though often what has been combined

Before, we separated find,

Invested with another form."

For it is the greatest folly imaginable to estimate the antiquity of the human race from the state of art; for if any one were to follow the absurdity of such a system of reasoning as this, he will prove the world to be very young indeed, and to have been made scarcely a thousand years, since all those men whom we have heard of traditionally as the discoverers in different branches of science do not go back to a greater number of years than that which I have mentioned. But if we must speak of the arts as co-eval with the race of mankind, then we must speak, drawing our arguments from natural history, and not inconsiderately or carelessly. And what is this history? The destruction of the things on the earth, not all together, but of the greatest number of them, is attributed to two principal causes, the indescribable violence and power of fire and water. And they say that each of these elements attacks them in its turn, after very long periods of revolving years. When, therefore, a conflagration seizes upon things, a stream of ethereal fire being poured down from above is frequently diffused over them, overrunning many districts of the habitable world; and when a deluge draws down the whole of the rainy nature of water, the regular rivers and torrents overflowing, and not only that, but even far exceeding the ordinary measure of a common flood. Accordingly, when the greater part of mankind is destroyed in the manners above mentioned, besides an infinity of other ways of less power and importance, it follows of necessity that the arts also must fail, for it cannot be possible to discuss science by itself without some one to reduce it to method and practice. But when those common pestilences relax their fury, and when the human race begins again to recover vigour and to flourish, descending from those who have not been previously destroyed by the evils which pressed upon them, then the arts also begin again to exist, not indeed as they were at first, but in thinner numbers from the diminution of the numbers of those who practise them. I have now then set forth to the best of my ability what I have been able to learn or to understand concerning the indestructibility of the world.

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