Page images
PDF
EPUB

governing the whole, in a manner free from all stumbling, and full of protection.

How is it possible for any one to affirm that the comprehension of such objects as are brought before them, is the same in all men ?

And again, the imaginations which are occupied with the consideration of what is good, are not they compelled to suspend their judgment rather than to agree? While some think that it is only what is good that is beautiful, and treasure that up in the soul, and others divide it into numbers of minute particles, and extend it as far as the body and external circumstances. These men affirm that such pieces of prosperity as are granted by fortune, are the body-guards of the body, namely strength and good health, and that the integrity and sound condition of the organs of the external senses, and all things of that kind, are the guards of that princess, the soul; for since the nature of good is divided according to three divisions, the third and outermost is the champion and defender of the second and yielding one, and the second in its turn is a great bulwark and protection to the first; and about these very things, and about the different ways of life, and about the ends to which all actions ought to be referred, and about ten thousand other things which logical, and moral, and natural philosophy comprehends, there have been an unspeakable number of discussions, as to wbich, up to the present time, there is no agreement whatever among all these philosophers who have examined into such subject.

XLIX. Is it not then strictly in accordance with nature that while its two daughters, Counsel and Assent, were agreed together, and sleeping together, the mind is introduced as embarrassed by an ignorance of all knowledge ? for we read in the scripture, “ They knew not when they lay down, or when they rose up."* For it was not likely that in his state he could clearly and distinctly comprehend either sleep or waking, or a stationary position or motion ; but when he appears

'to have come to an opinion in the best manner, then above all other times is he found to be most foolish, since his affairs then come to an end, by no means resembling that which was expected; and whenever he has decided on

• Genesis xix. 35.

Assenting to some things as true, then he incurs a reproach and condemnation for his facility in adopting opinions, those things which he previously believed as most certain now appearing untrustworthy and uncertain ; so that, as matters are in the habit of turning out contrary to what was expected, the safest course appears to be to suspend one's judgment.

L. Having now discussed these matters sufficiently, let us turn to what follows the points already examined. We said, then, that under the name of drunkenness was siguified that covetousness and greediness, which has often greatly injured many persons, and the votaries of which one may see, even though they may be amply filled in all the channels of their bodies, still unsatisfied and empty as to their desires. These men, if, being distended by the abundance of the things which they have devoured, they nevertheless get breath again for a short time, like wrestlers who are tired, soon descend again to the same contest.

Moreover, the king of the Egyptian country, that is of the body, appearing to the minister of drunkenness, his cupbearer, to be angry with him ; again at no great distance or tiine is represented in the sacred scriptures as reconciled to hiu remembering that passion whích breaks down the appetites in the day of his perishable creation, not in the imperishable light of the uncreated luminary; for it is said that it was Pharaoh's birth-day,* when he sent for the chief butler out of his prison, that he might appear at his banquet; for it is a peculiar characteristic of the man who is devoted to the passions, to think created and perishable things beautiful, because he is enveloped in night and dense darkness, as to the knowledge of imperishable things. On which account be embraces drunkenness as the beginning of all pleasures, and its minister the cup-bearer.

LI. Now there are three companions of and servants of the intemperate and incontinent soul, the chief baker, the chief cook, and the chief butler, whom the admirable Moses mentions in these words, “And Pharoah was angry with the two eunuchs, with the chief butler, and with the chief baker, and he put them in prison with the chief cook;" and the chief cook is eunuch; for he says in another place,

Genesis xl. 20.

" And Joseph was brought down to Egypt, and a eunuch became his master, Pharaoh's chief cook," and again, they sold Joseph to Pharaoh's eunuch, the chief cook; † and why is it that the aforesaid offices are absolutely committed to one who is neither man nor woman? Is it because men are by nature calculated to sow seed, and woman to receive it, and that the meeting of the two together is the cause of the generation, and also of the duration of all animals? But it belongs to an unproductive and barren soil, or one may rather say to one which has been made a eunuch, to delight in costly meats and drinks, and in superfluous extravagant preparations of delicacies, since it is unable in reality either to scatter the masculine seeds of virtue, or to receive and nourish them after they have been shed upon it; but, like a rough and stony field, only to destroy those things which ought to have lived for ever.

And it is laid down as a doctrine of the most general applicnbility and usefulness, that every author of pleasure is unproductive of wisdom, being neither male nor female, because it is incompetent either to give or to receive the seeds which have a tendency to incorruptibility, but is able only to study the most disgraceful habits of life, to destroy what ought to be indestructible, and to extinguish the torches of wisdom, which ought to be enduring and in extinguishable. None of such persons does Moses permit to come into the assembly of God; for he says that, “A man who is bruised or castrated shall not enter into the assembly of the Lord."

LII. For what advantage is there, from the hearing of the sacred scriptures, to a man wbo is destitute of wisdom, whose faith bas been eradicated, and who is unable to preserve that deposit of doctrines most advantageous to all. human life ? Now, there are three persons who contribute to the conviviality of the human race,—the chief baker, the cup-bearer, and the maker of delicacies: very naturally, since we desire the use and enjoyment of three things— meat, confections, and drink. But some men only desire that indispensable food which we use of necessity for the

• Genesis xxix. 1.

† Genesis xxxvi. 86.

I Deut. xxiii. 1.

sake of our health, and in order to avoid living in an illiberal manner. Others again desire immoderate and exceedingly extravagant luxuries, which, breaking through the appetites, and weighing.down, and overwhelming the channels of the body by their number, usually become the parents of all sorts of terrible diseases.

Those, therefore, who are inexperienced in pleasure and the indulgence of the appetites and diseases, like the common people in cities, living a life free alike from hatred and from annoyances, as frugal people, have no need of all kinds of various ministers of refined skill, being contented with ordinary cooks, and cup-bearers, and confectioners.

But they who think that the most important and royal object of life is to live pleasantly, and who refer everything, whether of great or small importance, to this object, desire to avail themselves of the services of chief cooks and chief cupbearers, and chief confectioners, that is to say, of men possessed of the highest degree of skill in the arts which they profess. For those who are skilful in the making of confections and luxuries invent the most various possible kinds of cheese-cakes, and honey-cakes, and of innumerable other sweetmeats, varying from one another, uot merely in the difference of their material, but also in the manner in which they are made, and in their shape, in such a way as not only to please the taste, but also to beguile the eye. And again, the contrivances displayed in the examination of different kinds of wine to produce some, the effect of which shall speedily go off, and which shall not produce headache, but, on the contrary, shall be devoid of any tendency to heat the blood, and shall be very fragrant, admitting either a copious or a scanty admixture with water, according as the object is to have a strong and powerful draught, or a gentle and imperceptible one. And all the other devices and inventions of cup-bearers all come to the same end of art. And to cook up and prepare fish, and birds, and similar viands, in every variety of manner, and to make all other kinds of sweetmeats and delicacies, we have plausible confectioners of exceeding skill; and there are thousands of other luxuries which they are clever at contriving, besides those which they have heard of or seen made by others, having derised them themselves out of their continued care and attention

to the object of making life luxurious, and effeminate, and not worth living:

LIII. But all these men have been now spoken of as eunuchs, being utterly barren of wisdom. But the mind, with which the king of the belly makes a treaty and agreement, ' was the cup-bearer; for by its own nature, the human race is very fond of wine, and this is the sole thing of which it is immeasurably insatiable, since there is no one who is impossible to be satisfied with sleep, and eating, and carnal enjoyments, and things like these; but nearly every one is insatiably fond of wine, and especially those who are occupied with serious business ; for after they have drunk they are still thirsty, and they begin drinking at first out of small cups, then, as they proceed, they tell their servants to bring them wine in larger goblets, and when they are pretty full and getting riotous, being no longer able to restrain themselves, they take bowls and goblets of all the largest sizes that they can get, and drink the wine unmixed in huge draughts, until they are either overcome by deep sleep, being no longer able to govern themselves, or till what they have poured into themselves is vomited out again through repletion. But even then, nevertheless, the insatiable desire which exists within them continues to rage as though it were still under the influence of hunger. “For their wine is of the vine of Sodom," as Moses says, “and their tendrils are from Gomorrah; their grapes are grapes of gall, and their branches are bitter branches. The rage of dragons is their wine, and the incurable fury of serpente.

The interpretation of the name Sodom is " barrenness and blindness." But Moses here compares those who are the slaves of greediness for wine and general gluttony, and of other most disgraceful pleasures to a vine, and to the different products of the vine ; and the enigmatical meaning which he conceals under this allegory is this : - There is no plant of true joy naturally implanted in the soul of the bad man ; inasmuch as it has no healthy roots, but only such as are burnt and reduced to ashes, since, instend of water, Heaven has poured upon it the fire of lightning which cannot be quenched, God having adjudged that as fitting punishment for the impious. But there is in planted in it the plant

* Deuteronomy xxxi. 32.

« PreviousContinue »