polytheist extractions

Tag Archives: literature

St. John Damascene, De fide orthodoxa PG 94.1177b

“If we could glean something of value from the Pagans, it is not one of the things forbidden to us. Let us be like honest bankers, piling up genuine and pure currency, and rejecting the counterfeit. Let us accept their most noble writings, while casting their rediculous gods and foreign myths to the dogs; for we can derive great strength from them.” – St. John Damascene, De fide orthodoxa PG 94.1177b

P.Hal. 1

“Apollonios to Zoilos, greeting. We have released the [teachers] of letters and masters of gymnastic and [performers of] the rites of Dionysos and victors in the Alexandrian contest and in the Basileia and Ptolemaia from the tax on salt, them and their (descendants, as the king] has ordered. Farewell. Year …” – P.Hal. 1

Julian the Egyptian, Greek Anthology 6.68.5-6

“Accept, O Hermes, with the reed pens also the ink bottle by which eternity guards for those who will come the voice of those who have gone before.” – Julian the Egyptian, Greek Anthology 6.68.5-6

Aelian, Historical Miscellany 13.22

“Ptolemy Philopator built a temple to Homer. He set up a fine statue of the poet, and around it in a circle all the cities which claim Homer as theirs.” – Aelian, Historical Miscellany 13.22

Plato, Ion 533e-534b

“For all good poets, epic as well as lyric, compose their beautiful poems not by art, but because they are inspired and possessed. And as the Corybantic revellers when they dance are not in their right mind, so the lyric poets are not in their right mind when they are composing their beautiful strains: but when falling under the power of music and metre they are inspired and possessed; like Bacchic maidens who draw milk and honey from the rivers when they are under the influence of Dionysos but not when they are in their right mind. And the soul of the lyric poet does the same, as they themselves say; for they tell us that they bring songs from honeyed fountains, culling them out of the gardens and dells of the Muses; they, like the bees, winging their way from flower to flower. And this is true. For the poet is a light and winged and holy thing, and there is no invention in him until he has been inspired and is out of his senses, and the mind is no longer in him: when he has not attained to this state, he is powerless and is unable to utter his oracles.” – Plato, Ion 533e-534b

Scholion to Theokritos

“The title of this idyll is Syracusan women or Women at the festival of Adonis. The subject is some women from Syracuse who are staying at Alexandria; they arrange to go to watch the procession of Adonis, which has been furnished by Arsinoe, the wife of Philadelphos. Gorgo visits Praxinoa, and together they go out to watch. Theokritos modelled the poem on the Spectators at the Isthmia by Sophron, and it is different from his usual style of poetry. At the festival of Adonis, the inhabitants of Alexandria used to adorn the statues of Adonis and escort them in traditional fashion down to the sea. When the Syracusan women leave their house, they are astonished by the crowd and by what is happening in the crowd. Theokritos wrote this poem while he was staying at Alexandria, to please the queen. He describes the violent commotion of the men, and the singer who in her song extols the lavishness of Arsinoe.” – Scholion to Theokritos

Marinus of Samaria, The Life of Proclus 22

“Proclus on the contrary intoxicated himself with love for the primary beings. So he had himself achieved seeing directly the really beatific visions from beyond, establishing his assured science not on apodictic and discursive syllogisms, but on what he could contemplate with his eyes, on the intuitions of intellectual activity, on the models contained within divine reason. So he acquired this virtue whose true and proper name is not science, but rather wisdom, sophia, or any other if possible more reverend name. Conforming all his actions to this virtue, the philosopher had no trouble in understanding the whole Hellenic and foreign mythology, even those revelations which had been obscured by mythical fictions; and these he expounded for those who would or could attain their elevation, giving to all of them profoundly religious interpretations, and relating them all in a perfect harmony. The writings of the most ancient authors he studied thoroughly, and after having subjected them to criticism, he gathered whatever thoughts he therein found to be useful and fruitful; but whatever seemed to lack force or value he set aside, branding them ridiculous puerilities. What however was contrary to true principles, he very energetically discussed, submitting it to thorough-going criticism, in his lectures treating each one of these theories with as much clearness as vigor, and recording all his observations in books.” – Marinus of Samaria, The Life of Proclus 22

Clement of Alexandria, Stromata 6.14

“For the Egyptians pursue a philosophy of their own. This is principally shown by their sacred ceremonial. For first advances the Singer, bearing some one of the symbols of music. For they say that he must learn two of the books of Hermes, the one of which contains the hymns of the gods, the second the regulations for the king’s life. And after the Singer advances the Astrologer, with a horologe in his hand, and a palm, the symbols of astrology. He must have the astrological books of Hermes, which are four in number, always in his mouth. Of these, one is about the order of the fixed stars that are visible, and another about the conjunctions and luminous appearances of the sun and moon; and the rest respecting their risings. Next in order advances the sacred Scribe, with wings on his head, and in his hand a book and rule, in which were writing ink and the reed, with which they write. And he must be acquainted with what are called hieroglyphics, and know about cosmography and geography, the position of the sun and moon, and about the five planets; also the description of Egypt, and the chart of the Nile; and the description of the equipment of the priests and of the places consecrated to them, and about the measures and the things in use in the sacred rites. Then the Stole-keeper follows those previously mentioned, with the cubit of justice and the cup for libations. He is acquainted with all points called Paedeutic (relating to training) and Moschophatic (sacrificial). There are also ten books which relate to the honour paid by them to their gods, and containing the Egyptian worship; as that relating to sacrifices, first-fruits, hymns, prayers, processions, festivals, and the like. And behind all walks the Prophet, with the water-vase carried openly in his arms; who is followed by those who carry the issue of loaves. He, as being the governor of the temple, learns the ten books called “Hieratic;” and they contain all about the laws, and the gods, and the whole of the training of the priests. For the Prophet is, among the Egyptians, also over the distribution of the revenues. There are then forty-two books of Hermes indispensably necessary; of which the six-and-thirty containing the whole philosophy of the Egyptians are learned by the forementioned personages; and the other six, which are medical, by the Pastophoroi (image-bearers), — treating of the structure of the body, and of diseases, and instruments, and medicines, and about the eyes, and the last about women. Such are the customs of the Egyptians, to speak briefly.” – Clement of Alexandria, Stromata 6.14

Iamblichus, On the Mysteries 2.1

“Hermes, the patron of literature, was rightly considered of old to be a god common to all the priests and the one presiding over the genuine learning relating to the gods, one and the same among all. Hence our predecessors were wont to ascribe to him their discoveries in wisdom and to name all their respective works Books of Hermes.” – Iamblichus, On the Mysteries 2.1