Porphyry, On abstinence from animal food (1823) Book 2. pp.45-80
[Translated by Thomas Taylor]
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 |46 the greater part of them endeavour 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 labour, 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 1 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 labour 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 |47 immortal honour 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 (εκ δε της θυμιασεως) of things produced in the earth, they called the offerings θυμιατηρια, thumiateria; to sacrifice, they called θυειν, thuein, and the sacrifices, θυσιαι, 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 2 and therefore they now denominate the substances which are used for fumigations αρωματα, 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 flour 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 odour, to a divine sense, being |48 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 honour 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 κακοφρονες, kakophrones, than κακοθεοι, kakotbeoi 3, 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 4, 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,
And by their follies made their days but few.
The altars of the bless'd neglected stand, |49
Without the offerings which the laws demand;
But angry Jove in dust this people laid,
Because no honours to the Gods they paid."
Hesiod. Op. et Di. lib. i. v. 133.
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,
The Gods permit not thee: but with wash'd hands
For thee 'tis lawful any sheep to kill,
That dies a voluntary death."
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 |50 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 honourable 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 honourable 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 |51 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.5 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 honourable than the fruits of the earth. For a more dire deed is thus perpetrated. But soul is much more honourable 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 labour, 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 labour] 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 |52 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 deity.
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 honouring 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 |53 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 honour 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 honoured 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,6 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 hetacombs 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, |54 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:
For though before them hecatombs are placed,
Yet frankincense is burnt the last of all.
An indication this that all the rest,
Preceding, was a vain expense, bestowed
Through ostentation, for the sake of men;
But a small offering gratifies the Gods.
Menander likewise, in the comedy called the Morose, says,
Pious th'oblation which with frankincense
And Popanum7 is made; for in the fire
Both these, when placed, divinity accepts.
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 honour of Apollo, replied, that the best Paean was written by Tynnichus8; 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, |55
Your country's rites in sacrifice observe:
[In pious works] the ancient law is best 9.
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,
Libations too of wine, grapes well preserved,
And fruits collected in a heap of every kind;
The olive's pinguid juice, and waxen work
Most variegated, of the yellow bee.
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
Should pure and holy be; but to be wise
In what to sanctity pertains, is to be pure.
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 |56 offering to the Gods, before we have tasted it ourselves; this offering being small indeed, but the greatest testimony of honour 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 10, 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,
Nor Saturn, Neptune, or the sovereign Jove,
But Venus [beauty's] queen.
And Venus is friendship. Afterwards he adds,
With painted animals, and statues once
Of sacred form, with unguents sweet of smell,
The fume of frankincense and genuine myrrh,
And with libations poured upon the ground
Of yellow honey, Venus was propitious made.
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 |57 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 honouring 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 honouring 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 honour 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 |58 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 honoured 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 dishonoured 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 honouring 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 neighbour of his property, should bestow it on another person for the sake of honour. Neither are animals to be sacrificed for the sake of obtaining a certain good of which we are in want. For he who endeavours 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 endeavouring 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 11. 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 labours, afford assistance to our life, but others supply us with |59 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 labours, 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 12. 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 |60 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 un-devoured. 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 labour 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
Irrationally slain; but this was thought
To be of every impious deed the worst,
Limbs to devour of brutes deprived of life.
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 |61 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 labour, 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, |62 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 reference 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 |63 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,
Why was I not destroyed by cruel Time,
Before these lips began the guilty deed,
On the dire nutriment of flesh to feed?
For in those only the appropriate sense sympathetically grieves for errors that have been committed, who endeavour 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 13, 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 |64 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 endeavour 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;14 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; |65 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 honouring divinity, they are busily employed about statues, neither considering whether they are to be reverenced or not, nor endeavouring 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 15. 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 |66 alliance to them, as the theologist 16 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 depraved1. 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 17; but of these, some being denominated by men, obtain from them honours, 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 |67 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 |68 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 dsemons 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 dsemons, they make, for the most part, vehement and sudden attacks; sometimes endeavouring 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 dsemons, 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 truly 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 dsemons 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 endeavour 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, endeavour 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, |69 and fulling 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. |70
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 he 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 savour of sacrifices, through which their pneumatic vehicle is fattened; for this vehicle lives through vapours and exhalations, and the life of it is various through various exhalations. It is likewise corroborated by the savour 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 endeavour 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, endeavour not to be in want of those things which they impart; but all our endeavour 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 18 to things |71 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 labours.
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 defence 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, |72 therefore, and external purity pertain to a divine man, who earnestly endeavours 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 19, 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 |73 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 divulsed, 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 20.
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 endeavouring to approach through himself alone to the alone God 21, 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 saviour of |74 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, endeavour 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 |75 be disturbed by daemons, nor be in want of diviners, nor of the viscera of animals. For he earnestly endeavours 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 honourable 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 22, 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. |76
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 endeavouring 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 23, the man being for this purpose torn in pieces; and the same custom, as Eulpis Carystius says, was adopted in |77 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, Hamilcar, 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 Hamilcar, 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 |78 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,
What man so ignorant, as to think the Gods
In fiery bile and fleshless bones rejoice,
For hungry dogs a nutriment not fit;
Or that such offerers they will e'er reward?
But another poet says,
My offerings to the Gods from cakes alone
And frankincense shall be; for not to friends
But deities my sacrifice I make.
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 θυσιαι thusiai, and θυηλαι thuelai, and θυμελαι thumelai, and αυτο το θυειν auto to thuein, i.e. the act of sacrificing, signified the same thing as του θυμιαν ton thumian, i.e. to offer incense, and which is now called by us, επιθυειν epithuein, i.e. to |79 sacrifice something more. For what we now call θυειν thuein, i.e. to sacrifice, the ancients denominated ερδειν erdein, i.e. to perform or make.
They perfect hecatombs of bulls, or goats,
Made to Apollo.
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 honours 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,
And love me for, the benefits which I
On you conferr'd, 'tis well, since for the sake
Of these alone my bounty was bestow'd.
For divinity is not satisfied with such assertions as these. And hence |80 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 labour 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 honours 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 endeavour 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 endeavoured 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.
[Footnotes moved to the end and numbered]
1. * i.e. The Egyptians
2. * In the original αρασαμενους, which is derived from the verb αραομαι, imprecor, maledico; and from hence, according to Porphyry, came the word αραματα.
3. * i.e. May be rather called malevolent than unhappy.
4. + Fabricius is of opinion that these Thoes are the same with the Acrothoitae, mentioned by Simplicius in his Comment. in Epictet. from Theophrastus.
5. * In the original, η γαρ θησια, οσια τις εστιν κατα τουνομα.
6. * In the original, και τα μεν παρατιθεναι, which Felicianus very erroneously renders, "alius sequidem mihi ad vescendum sumo;" but Valentinus rightly , "et horum aliqua coram illis apponere."
7. * A round, broad, and thin cake, which was offered in sacrifice to the Gods.
8. + Tynnichus, the Chalcidensian, is mentioned by Plato in his Io.
9. * Vid. Hesiod. Fragm. v. 169.
10. * A city of Crete.
11. * i.e. Under the pretext of being patronized by divinity in so doing.
12. * Porphyry, in what he here says of the Jews, alludes to that sect of them called Essenes; concerning whom, see the 4th book of this work.
13. * In the original, ους νυν ορωντας τιμαν τουτους, κ.τ.λ., instead of which, Reisk proposes to read, ους νυν ουχ ορωντας τιμαν δει ̔̃ϝελ χρἦ τουτοις, κ.τ.λ. But the insertion of ουχ is most absurd: for the celestial are called the visible Gods. Thus Plato, in the Timaeus, in the speech of the Demiurgus to the junior or mundane Gods, who consist of the celestial and sublunary deities, calls the celestial Gods those that visibly revolve, and the sublunary, those that become apparent when they please: Επει ουν παντες οσοι τε περιπολουσι φανερως, και οσοι φαινονται καθ̕ οσον αν εθελωσι θεοι, γενεσιν εσχον, κ.τ.λ. conformably, therefore, to the above translation, I read, ους νυν ορωντας τιμαν δει τουτοις, κ.τ.λ. To which may be added, that our author, in paragraph 37, expressly calls the stars visible Gods.
14. * In the original, θυσομον τοινυν κα ημεις· αλλα θυσομεν, ως προσηκει, διαφορους τας θυσιας, ως αν διαφοροις δυναμεσι πρασαγοντες. This Valentinus erroneously translates as follows: "Sacrificabimus igitur etiam et nos, sed prout decet, victimas scilicet eximias potestatibus eximiis adducentes." For διαφορους and διαφοροις, in this passage, evidently mean different, and not excellent.
15. * Concerning the appellations which the Pythagoreans gave to numbers, see my Theoretic Arithmetic, in which also the occult meaning of these appellations is unfolded.
16. * "Plotinus ni fallor, aut Plato, sed ille potius", says Reisk; but everyone who is at all conversant with Platonic writers, will immediately see that by the theologist, Porphyry means Orpheus.
17. + For a more theological account of daemons, I refer the reader to my translation of the before-mentioned admirable treatise of Iamblichus On the Mysteries.
18. * In the original, ως γαρ φασιν οι θεολογοι τοις δεομενοις υπο των εκτος και μηδεπω κρατουσιν των παθων, κ.τ.λ. But for δεομενοις, it is necessary to read δεδεμενοις; and it is evident that both the Latin translators of the work found δεδεμενοις in their manuscripts. For Felicianus has "qui devincti externus rebus sunt," and Valentinus, "qui rebus externis illigantur." Reisk, however, has taken no notice of this error on the printed text.
19. * Reisk, with his usual stupidity, where merely verbal emendations are not concerned, says that this Egyptian is Plotinus, whose country was Lycopolis, in Egypt. But what instance can be adduced, in all antiquity, of the disciple of a philosopher speaking of his preceptor in this indefinite manner? Is it not much more probable that this Egyptian is the priest mentioned by Porphyry in his Life of Plotinus, who, at the request of a certain friend of Plotinus, (which friend was, perhaps, Porphyry himself,) exhibited to Plotinus, in the temple of Isis, at Rome, the familiar daemon, or, in modern language, the guardian angel of that philosopher?
20. * Conformably to this, the Pythagorean Demophilus beautifully observes, Γυμνος αποσταλεις σοφος, γυμνιτευων καλεσει τον πεμψαντα· μονου γαρ του μη τοις αλλοτριοις πεφορτισμενου επικοος ο θεος. i.e. "The wise man being sent hither naked, should naked invoke him by whom he was sent. For he alone is heard by divinity, who is not burdened with things of a foreign nature."
21. + This expression of "approaching alone to the alone God," Porphyry derived from his master, the great Plotinus, who divinely concludes his Enneads as follows: και ουτω θεων και ανθρωπων θειων και ευδαιμονων βιος, απαλλαγη των αλλων των τῃδε, ανηδονος των τῃδε, φυγη μονου προς μονον --- i.e. "This, therefore, is the life of the Gods, and of divine and happy men, a liberation from all terrene concerns, a life unaccompanied by human pleasures, and a flight of the alone to the alone.
22. * Nature, considered as the last of the causes which fabricate this corporeal and sensible world, "bounds (says Proclus in Tim.) the progressions of incorporeal essences, and is full of forms and powers, through which she governs mundane affairs. And she is a Goddess, indeed, considered as deified; but not according to the primary signification of the word. By her summit likewise she comprehends the heavens, but through these rules over the fluctuating empire of generation; and she every where weaves together partial natures in admirable conjunction with wholes." See more on this subject in my translation of that work.
23. * This epithet is used in two of the Orphic hymns, viz. in Hymn LI. 7., and Hymn XXIX. 5. But the following appears to be the reason why Bacchus is so called. Bacchus is the intellect, and Ippa the soul of the world, according to the Orphic Theology; and the former is said by Orpheus to be carried on the head of the latter. For so we are informed by Proclus, in Tim. p. 124. Jacob de Rhoer, therefore, the editor of this work, was grossly mistaken in saying, "Non dubito, quin ωμαδιος Διονυσος, aedem sit qui ωμηστης, crudivorus." Scaliger in his version of the Hymns, very improperly translates ωμαδιος; bajulus, a porter. For Bacchus is carried on, but does not carry ιρρα.
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