polytheist extractions

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John of Ephesos as quoted in the third book of the Chronicle of Zuqnin

“In the nineteenth year of the Emperor Justinian, they were busy, thanks to my zeal, with the matter of the Pagans who were discovered in Constantinople. These were illustrious and noble men, with a host of grammarians, sophists, scholastics and physicians. When they were discovered and, thanks to torture, denounced themselves, they were seized, flogged, imprisoned, and sent to the churches so that they might learn the Christian faith as was appropriate for Pagans. There were among them patricians and nobles. Then a powerful and wealthy Pagan named Phocas, who was a patrician, saw the harshness of the inquisition and knowing that those arrested had denounced him as a Pagan, and that a severe sentence had been given against him because of the zeal of the emperor, that night took deadly poison and so left this earthly life. When the emperor heard this, he ordered with justice that he should be interred like an ass, that there should be no cortege or prayer for him. So his family during the night put him on a litter, carried him, made an open grave and threw him in it like a dead animal. Thanks to this the Pagans were afraid for some time. Later on the goodness of god visited Asia, Caria, Lydia and Phrygia, thanks to the zeal of the victorious Justinian and by the efforts of his humble servant. So by the power of the holy spirit, 70,000 souls were instructed, and left behind the errors of Paganism, the worship of idols and the temples of the demons for the knowledge of the truth. All were converted, disavowed the errors of their ancestors, were baptized in the name of our lord Jesus Christ, and were added to the number of Christians. The victorious Justinian paid the expenses and clothing for baptism; he also took care to give three gold pieces to each of them. When god had opened their minds and had made known the truth, they helped us with their own hands to destroy their temples, to overthrow their idols, to extirpate the sacrifices that were offered everywhere, to cut down their altars, soiled with the blood of sacrifices offered to demons, and to cut down countless trees that they worshipped because they were leaving all the errors of their ancestors. The salutary sign of the cross was planted everywhere among them, and churches of god were founded everywhere. They were built and erected, to the number of eighty-six, with great diligence and zeal, in the high mountains and steep and in the plains, in all the places where there was Paganism. Twelve monasteries were also founded in places which were Pagan, and where the name of Christian name had never been heard from the beginning of the world until this time. Fifty-five churches were founded at public expense and forty-one at the expense of the new Christians. The victorious emperor gave them willingly, by our hands, the sacred vessels, clothes, books and brass items.” – John of Ephesos as quoted in the third book of the Chronicle of Zuqnin

ZINU 59.420-3

Order of Anathemas for Orthodox Sunday: Anathema on those who claim to be pious but shamelessly or rather impiously introduce the ungodly teachings of the Hellenes into the orthodox catholic church concerning human souls and heaven and earth and other created objects. Anathema on those who go through a course of Hellenic studies and are taught not simply for the sake of education but follow these empty notions and believe in them as the truth, upholding them as a firm foundation to such an extent that they lead others to them, sometimes secretly, sometimes openly, and teach them without hesitation. Anathema on those who of their own accord invent an account of our creation along with other myths, who accept the Platonic forms as true, who say that matter possesses independent substance and is shaped by the forms, who openly question the power of the creator to bring all things from non-existence to existence.” – ZINU 59.420-3

John Mauropous, Iohannis Euchaitorum metropolitae quae in codice Vaticano graeco 676

“Oh god, be merciful to the souls of Plutarch and Plato, excepting them from the fate that awaits all unbelievers, for both of them in word and character adhere closely to your laws.” – John Mauropous, Iohannis Euchaitorum metropolitae quae in codice Vaticano graeco 676

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

Emperor Alexios III to the republic of Genoa, Acta et diplomata graeca medii aevi 3.46-7

“The dicta and sayings of the wise men of Pagan antiquity are not false but hit the mark regularly; for example their wise poet Hesiod declared that a whole city reaps the benefit of an evil man.” – Emperor Alexios III to the republic of Genoa, Acta et diplomata graeca medii aevi 3.46-7

P. Oxy. 42.3069

“Aquila to Sarapion the philosopher, greetings! I was overjoyed to receive your letter. Our friend Callinicus was testifying to the utmost about the way of life you follow even under such conditions – especially in your not abandoning your austerities. Yes, we may deservedly congratulate ourselves, not because we do these things, but because we are not diverted from them by ourselves. Courage! Carry through what remains like a man! Let not wealth distract you, nor beauty, nor anything else of the same kind: for there is no good in them, if virtue is not joined to them; no without her they are vanishing and worthless. Under the protection of the gods, I expect to see you in Antinoopolis. Send Soteris the puppy, since she now spends her time by herself in the country. Good health to you and yours! Good health!” – P. Oxy. 42.3069

Gregory of Nyssa, De Deitate Filii et Spiritus Sancti 46.557

“As in the days when Paul visited the Athenians, there are many amongst us who spend all their time doing nothing else except discussing and listening to new ideas that came about yesterday or a little earlier perhaps; craftsmen offhand pontificating about theology, servants and slaves and fugitives from domestic service grandly philosophizing to us about matters far beyond them and difficult for even the greatest minds to understand. You know whom this sermon is addressed to: everywhere throughout the city is full of such things. The alleys, the squares, the thoroughfares, the residential quarters; among cloak salesmen, those in charge of the money changing tables, those even who sell us our food. For if you ask about change, they philosophize to you about the Begotten and the Unbegotten. And if you ask about the price of bread, the reply is ‘The Father is greater, and the Son is subject to him.’ If you say, ‘Is the bath ready?’ they declare the son has his being from the non-existent. I am not sure what this evil should be called – inflammation of the brain or madness, or some sort of epidemic disease which contrives the derangement of reasoning.” – Gregory of Nyssa, De Deitate Filii et Spiritus Sancti 46.557

Epicurus, as quoted in Philodemos, On Piety 31

“Let us sacrifice to the gods devoutly and fittingly on the proper days, and let us appropriately perform all the acts of worship as the laws stipulate, in no way disturbing ourselves with opinions on matters concerning the most excellent and august beings. Moreover let us sacrifice justly for we draw closest to Zeus when we most act like Zeus.” – Epicurus, as quoted in Philodemos, On Piety 31

Philodemos, On Piety 25-28

“Therefore I think it is especially necessary to despise those who transgress or mock the traditional rites. Furthermore it will appear that Epicurus loyally observed all the forms of worship and enjoined upon his friends to observe them, and not just be in accordance with the laws. For as he says to pray is right and natural for man, not because the gods would be hostile if we did not pray, but the act of doing so helps us gain a better understanding of those who surpass us in their power and excellence, enabling us to fulfill our potential. He also said that every wise man holds pure and holy thoughts about the divine, namely that the nature of divinity is great and august. And it is particularly at festivals that we attain our greatest understanding of things for during a festival all that a man can think about, and all that is upon his lips, are holy matters. He didn’t just advise others to participate in the worship of the gods – indeed, he was very active in religious matters, sharing in all festivals and sacrifices, and especially the Khoes festival and the mysteries celebrated in his city and elsewhere.” – Philodemos, On Piety 25-28

Al-Ya’qubi, Tarikh 1.87-88

“The Sage of the Copts is Hermes the Copt. He was the first builder of temples and the inventor of the script of the temples. And in our time nobody knows how to read it, because only the elite among them were writing in it; they would not allow the common people to do so. The ones in charge of it were their sages and priests. This script held the secrets of their religion and the origins of sciences which nobody was allowed to see but their priests, who did not teach it to anyone unless ordered to do so by the king. Their religion was the worship of the planets and stars. From their sayings: The souls are old and were in the upper paradise and every thirty six thousand years all this is in the world will perish, either from dust meaning the earth, its earthquakes and eclipses, or from fire and burning, destructive poisons, or from great and noxious wind in which animals, plants and humans will perish. Then nature will bring back to life from every kind and the world will return after its demise. They honored spirits and gods who descend into the idols, causing the idols to speak, but that was deception for they did not let the common people see how the idols were made to speak, which was a craft of the priests and the result of certain drugs. Through tricks such as whistles or screams they made people think that the idol was indeed a bird or some other animal. Then the priests would translate the sound of the idol according to whatever they like to judge, using astronomical signs and physiognomy. They say that when the souls depart they go to these deities who are the planets who wash and purify them of whatever sins they had. The souls then go up to paradise where they belong. They say that their prophets were spoken to by the planets, which informed them that the spirits descend into the idols and take up residence there, foretelling events before they happen. They had such precise and wondrous astuteness which which they instilled in the common people the illusion that they were conversing with the planets and gaining knowledge of the future. This was possible only because of the perfection of their knowledge of the secrets and signs of the zodiac and their exact physiognomy. They were seldom wrong.” – Al-Ya’qubi, Tarikh 1.87-88

Gregory of Tours, History of the Franks 2.20-22

“Of queen Clotild the king had a firstborn son whom the mothers wished to be baptized; she therefore persistently urged Clovis to permit it, saying, ‘The gods whom ye worship are naught; they cannot aid either themselves or others, seeing that they are images carved of wood or stone or metal. Moreover the names which ye have given them are the names of men not of gods. Saturn was a man, fabled to have escaped by flight from his son to avoid being thrust from his kingdom; Jupiter also, the lewdest practicer of debaucheries and unnatural vice, the abuser of the women of his own family, who could not even abstain from intercourse with his own sister … What powers had Mars and Mercury? They may have been endowed with magical arts but they never had the power of a divine name.’  [continues on like this for a while] Though the queen ever argued thus, the king’s mind was nowise moved towards belief, but he replied, ‘It is by command of our gods that all things are created and come forth; it is manifest that thy god availeth in nothing; nay more, he is not even proven to belong to the race of gods.’ But the queen, true to her faith, presented her son for baptism. She gave an expensive donation to the church, hoping that she might thus move god to touch the heart of her husband, which no amount of preaching could reach. The boy was duly baptized and named Ingomer, but died while yet clothed in the white raiment of his regeneration. Thereupon the king was moved to bitter wrath, nor was he slow to reproach the queen saying, ‘If the child had been dedicated in the name of my gods, surely he would have survived. But now, baptized in the name of thy god, he could not live a single day.’ The queen replied, ‘I render thanks to almighty god, creator of all things, who hath not judged me all unworthy, and deigneth to take into his kingdom this child born of my womb. My mind is untouched by grief at this event, since I know that they which be called from this world in the white clothes of baptism shall be nurtured in the sight of god.’ Afterwards she bore another son who was baptized with the name of Chlodomer. When he too began to ail, the king said, ‘It cannot but befall that this infant like his brother shall straightaway die, being baptized in the name of thy Christ.’ But the mother prayed and god ordained that the child should recover.” – Gregory of Tours, History of the Franks 2.20-22

Lucian, On Slander 16

“A very effective form of slander is the one that is based on opposition to the hearer’s tastes. For instance, in the court of the Ptolemy who was called Dionysos there was once a man who accused Demetrios, the Platonic philosopher, of drinking nothing but water and of being the only person who did not wear women’s clothes at the Dionysia. He was summoned next morning, and had to drink in public, dress up in gauze, clash and dance to the cymbals, or he would have been put to death for disapproving the King’s life, and setting up for a critic of his luxurious ways.” – Lucian, On Slander 16

Porphyry, On Abstinence from Animal Foods 4.6-8

“Chaeremon the Stoic, therefore, in his narration of the Egyptian priests, who, he says, were considered by the Egyptians as philosophers, informs us, that they chose temples, as the places in which they might philosophize. For to dwell with the statues of the gods is a thing allied to the whole desire, by which the soul tends to the contemplation of their divinities. And from the divine veneration indeed, which was paid to them through dwelling in temples, they obtained security, all men honouring these philosophers, as if they were certain sacred animals. They also led a solitary life, as they only mingled with other men in solemn sacrifices and festivals. But at other times the priests were almost inaccessible to any one who wished to converse with them. For it was requisite that he who approached to them should be first purified, and abstain from many things; and this is as it were a common sacred law respecting the Egyptian priests. But these philosophic priests having relinquished every other employment, and human labours, gave up the whole of their life to the contemplation and worship of divine natures and to divine inspiration; through the latter, indeed, procuring for themselves, honour, security, and piety; but through contemplation, science; and through both, a certain occult exercise of manners, worthy of antiquity. For to be always conversant with divine knowledge and inspiration, removes those who are so from all avarice, suppresses the passions, and excites to an intellectual life. But they were studious of frugality in their diet and apparel, and also of continence and endurance, and in all things were attentive to justice and equity. They likewise were rendered venerable, through rarely mingling with other men. For during the time of what are called purifications, they scarcely mingled with their nearest kindred, and those of their own order, nor were they to be seen by anyone, unless it was requisite for the necessary purposes of purification. For the sanctuary was inaccessible to those who were not purified, and they dwelt in holy places for the purpose of performing divine works; but at all other times they associated more freely with those who lived like themselves. They did not, however, associate with any one who was not a religious character. But they were always seen near to the gods, or the statues of the gods, the latter of which they were beheld either carrying, or preceding in a sacred procession, or disposing in an orderly manner, with modesty and gravity; each of which operations was not the effect of pride, but an indication of some physical reason. Their venerable gravity also was apparent from their manners. For their walking was orderly, and their aspect sedate; and they were so studious of preserving this gravity of countenance, that they did not even wink, when at any time they were unwilling to do so; and they seldom laughed, and when they did, their laughter proceeded no farther than to a smile. But they always kept their hands within their garments. Each likewise bore about him a symbol indicative of the order which he was allotted in sacred concerns; for there were many orders of priests. Their diet also was slender and simple. For, with respect to wine, some of them did not at all drink it, but others drank very little of it, on account of its being injurious to the nerves, oppressive to the head, an impediment to invention, and an incentive to venereal desires. In many other things also they conducted themselves with caution; neither using bread at all in purifications, and at those times in which they were not employed in purifying themselves, they were accustomed to eat bread with hyssop, cut into small pieces. For it is said, that hyssop very much purifies the power of bread. But they, for the most part, abstained from oil, the greater number of them entirely; and if at any time they used it with pot-herbs, they took very little of it, and only as much as was sufficient to mitigate the taste of the herbs.

“It was not lawful for them therefore to meddle with the esculent and potable substances, which were produced out of Egypt, and this contributed much to the exclusion of luxury from these priests. But they abstained from all the fish that was caught in Egypt, and from such quadrupeds as had solid, or many-fissured hoofs, and from such as were not horned; and likewise from all such birds as were carnivorous. Many of them, however, entirely abstained from all animals; and in purifications this abstinence was adopted by all of them, for then they did not even eat an egg. Moreover, they also rejected other things, without being calumniated for so doing. Thus, for instance, of oxen, they rejected the females, and also such of the males as were twins, or were speckled, or of a different colour, or alternately varied in their form, or which were now tamed, as having been already consecrated to labours, and resembled animals that are honoured, or which were the images of any thing that is divine, or those that had but one eye, or those that verged to a similitude of the human form. There are also innumerable other observations pertaining to the art of those who are called mosxofragistai, or who stamp calves with a seal, and of which books have been composed. But these observations are still more curious respecting birds; as, for instance, that a turtle should not be eaten; for it is said that a hawk frequently dismisses this bird after he has seized it, and preserves its life, as a reward for having had connexion with it. The Egyptian priests, therefore, that they might not ignorantly meddle with a turtle of this kind, avoided the whole species of those birds. And these indeed were certain common religious ceremonies; but there were different ceremonies, which varied according to the class of the priests that used them, and were adapted to the several divinities. But chastity and purifications were common to all the priests. When also the time arrived in which they were to perform something pertaining to the sacred rites of religion, they spent some days in preparatory ceremonies, some indeed forty-two, but others a greater, and others a less number of days; yet never less than seven days; and during this time they abstained from all animals, and likewise from all pot-herbs and leguminous substances, and, above all, from a venereal connexion with women; for they never at any time had connexion with males. They likewise washed themselves with cold water thrice every day; viz. when they rose from their bed, before dinner, and when they betook themselves to sleep. But if they happened to be polluted in their sleep by the emission of the seed, they immediately purified their body in a bath. They also used cold bathing at other times, but not so frequently as on the above occasion. Their bed was woven from the branches of the palm tree, which they call bais; and their bolster was a smooth semi-cylindric piece of wood. But they exercised themselves in the endurance of hunger and thirst, and were accustomed to paucity of food through the whole of their life.

“This also is a testimony of their continence, that, though they neither exercised themselves in walking or riding, yet they lived free from disease, and were sufficiently strong for the endurance of modern labours. They bore therefore many burdens in the performance of sacred operations, and accomplished many ministrant works, which required more than common strength. But they divided the night into the observation of the celestial bodies, and sometimes devoted a part of it to offices of purification; and they distributed the day into the worship of the gods, according to which they celebrated them with hymns thrice or four times, viz. in the morning and evening, when the sun is at his meridian altitude, and when he is declining to the west. The rest of their time they devoted to arithmetical and geometrical speculations, always labouring to effect something, and to make some new discovery, and, in short, continually exercising their skill. In winter nights also they were occupied in the same employments, being vigilantly engaged in literary pursuits, as paying no attention to the acquisition of externals, and being liberated from the servitude of that bad master, excessive expense. Hence their unwearied and incessant labour testifies their endurance, but their continence is manifested by their liberation from the desire of external good. To sail from Egypt likewise, was considered by them to be one of the most unholy things, in consequence of their being careful to avoid foreign luxury and pursuits; for this appeared to them to be alone lawful to those who were compelled to do so by regal necessities. Indeed, they were very anxious to continue in the observance of the institutes of their country, and those who were found to have violated them, though but in a small degree were expelled from the college of the priests. The true method of philosophizing, likewise, was preserved by the prophets, by the hierostolistae, and the sacred scribes, and also by the horologi, or calculators of nativities. But the rest of the priests, and of the pastophori, curators of temples, and ministers of the gods, were similarly studious of purity, yet not so accurately, and with such great continence, as the priests of whom we have been speaking. And such are the particulars which are narrated of the Egyptians, by a man who was a lover of truth, and an accurate writer, and who among the Stoics strenuously and solidly philosophized.” – Porphyry, On Abstinence from Animal Foods 4.6-8

Jerome, Against Jovinianus 2.14

“Eubulus who wrote the history of Mithras in many volumes, relates that among the Persians there are three kinds of Magi, the first of whom, those of greatest learning and eloquence, take no food except meal and vegetables. At Eleusis it is customary to abstain from fowls and fish and certain fruits. Euripides relates that the prophets of Jupiter in Crete abstained not only from flesh, but also from cooked food. Xenocrates the philosopher writes that at Athens out of all the laws of Triptolemus only three precepts remain in the temple of Ceres: respect to parents, reverence for the gods, and abstinence from flesh.” – Jerome, Against Jovinianus 2.14

Jerome, Against Jovinianus 2.9

“The Platonists as well as the Stoics lived in the groves and porticos of temples, that, admonished by the sanctity of their restricted abode, they might think of nothing but virtue.” – Jerome, Against Jovinianus 2.9

Areios Didymos, Epitome of Stoic Ethics 3.684

“It is the Stoic view that every wrong act is an impious act. For to do something against the wish of a god is proof of impiety. As the gods have an affinity with virtue and its deeds, but are alienated from vice and those things which are produced by it, and as a wrong act is an activation in accord with vice, every wrong act is revealed as displeasing to the gods. Furthermore enmity is disharmony and discord in matters of life, just as friendship is harmony and concord. But the worthless are in disharmony with the gods in matters of life. Hence, every stupid person is an enemy of the gods. Furthermore if all believe that those opposed to them are their enemies, and the worthless person is hostile to the worthwhile, and god is worthwhile, then the worthless person is an enemy of the gods.” – Areios Didymos, Epitome of Stoic Ethics 3.684

Areios Didymos, Epitome of Stoic Ethics 3.604-3.662

“The Stoics say that only the wise man can be a priest, while no worthless person can be one. For the priest needs to be experienced in the laws concerning sacrifices, prayers, purifications, foundations, and the like. In addition to this he needs ritual, piety, and experience in the service of the gods, and to be close to the divine nature. Not one of these things belongs to the worthless; hence, also all the stupid are impious. For impiety as a vice is ignorance of the service of the gods, while piety is knowledge of that divine service. Likewise they say that the worthless are not holy. For holiness is described as justice with respect to the gods. The worthless transgress many of the just customs pertaining to the gods, on account of which they are unholy, impure, unclean, defiled and barred from festive rites. For carrying out festive rites is, they say, the mark of a civilized man, since a festival is a time when one ought to be concerned with the divine for the sake of honor and appropriate celebration. So the person who carries out festive rites needs to have humbly entered with piety into this post.” – Areios Didymos, Epitome of Stoic Ethics 3.604-3.662

Marinus of Samaria, The Life of Proclus 36

“Proclus left this world in the 124th year from Julian’s accession to the empire under the archonship of the younger Nicagoras in Athens on the seventeenth day of the month Munychion, or the seventeenth of April. His body received the funerary honors usual among the Athenians, as he himself had requested; for more than any other did this blessed man have the knowledge and practice of funerary honors due the dead. Under no circumstances did he neglect to render the customary homages, and on fixed yearly dates he went to visit the tombs of the Attic heroes, those of the philosophers, of his friends, and acquaintances; he performed the rites prescribed by religion, and not through some deputy, but personally. After having fulfilled this pious duty towards each of them, he went to the Academy, in a certain particular place, and by vows and prayers, he invoked the souls of his ancestors, collectively and separately; and, in another part of the building, in common with others, he made libations in honor of all those who had practiced philosophy. After all that, this holy person traced out a third distinct space and offered a sacrifice to all the souls of the dead. His body, clothed and arranged as I have said above, according to his own request, and carried by his friends, was buried in the most easterly part of the suburbs, near Mount Lycabettus, where rested the body of his teacher Syrianus.” – Marinus of Samaria, The Life of Proclus 36

Marinus of Samaria, The Life of Proclus 29-30

“If we wished to do so, we might easily extend our observations on the theurgic labors of this blessed man. From among thousands, I will mention but one, which is really miraculous. One day Asklepigenia, daughter of Archiadas and Plutarche, and wife of our benefactor Theagenes, being still small, and being raised at her parents’, became ill with a sickness pronounced incurable by the physicians. Archiadas was in despair, as the child was the family’s only hope, and naturally uttered distressful lamentations. Seeing her abandoned by the physicians, the father, as in the gravest circumstances of life, turned to his last resort, and ran to the philosopher’s, as to the only person who could save her, and urgently besought him to come and pray for his daughter. The latter, taking with him the great Lydian Pericles, who also was a genuine philosopher, ran to the temple of Asklepios to pray to god in favor of the patient, for Athens was still fortunate enough to possess it, and it had not yet been sacked (by the Christians). While he was praying according to the ancient rite, suddenly a change manifested in the little girl’s condition, and there occurred a sudden improvement, for the Savior, being a divinity, swiftly gave her back her health. On completing the religious ceremonies, Proclus visited Asklepigenia, who had just been delivered from the sufferings that had assailed her, and who now was in perfect health. He had indeed performed his vows and offered his prayers in spite of everybody, so as to preclude any possibility of malicious slander, and the whole household had taken part in this act. This indeed was one of Proclus’s good fortunes, that he lived in the house that suited him best, where had dwelt both Syrianus, whom he called his father, and Plutarch, whom he called his grandfather. It was in the vicinity of the Asklepios temple which Sophokles had immortalized, and of the Dionysos temple near the theater, and was in sight of the Acropolis. His choice of the philosophic life amply proves how dear he was to the goddess friendly to wisdom (Athene), But the goddess testified to that herself when the statue of the goddess which had been erected in the Parthenon had been removed by the (Christian) people who move that which should not be moved. In a dream the philosopher thought he saw coming to him a woman of great beauty, who announced to him that he must as quickly prepare his house ‘because the Athenian Lady wishes to dwell with you.’ How high he stood in the esteem of Asklepios has already been shown in the story I have related above, and we were, in his last malady, thereof convinced by the god’s appearance. For being in a semi-waking condition, he saw a serpent creeping around his head, and from this moment on he felt relieved from his suffering; and he had the feeling that this apparition would cure him from his disease. But he seemed to have been restrained by an ardent and even violent desire for death, and I am indeed certain that he would have completely recovered his health if he had been willing to receive the cares demanded by his condition..” – Marinus of Samaria, The Life of Proclus 29-30

Marinus of Samaria, The Life of Proclus 28

“But since, as I said before, by his studies on this subject, Proclus had acquired a still greater and more perfect virtue, namely the theurgic, passing beyond the theoretic step, he did not conform his life exclusively to one of the two characteristics suitable to divine beings, but to both: not only did he direct his thoughts upward to the divine, but by a providential faculty which was not merely social, he cared for those things which were lower. He practiced the Chaldean prayer-meetings and conferences, and even employed the art of moving the divine tops. He was a believer in these practices, in unpremeditated responses, and other such divinations, which he had learned from Asklepigenia, daughter of Plutarch, to whom exclusively her father had confided and taught the mystic rites preserved by Nestorius, and the whole theurgic science. Even before that, according to the prescribed order, and purified by the Chaldean lustrations, the philosopher had, as epoptic initiate, witnessed the apparitions of Hekate under a luminous form, as he himself has mentioned in a special booklet. He had the power of producing rains by activating, at the right time, a particular rite, and was able to deliver Attica from a terrible drought. He knew how to foresee earthquakes, he had experimented with the divinatory power of the tripod, and had himself uttered verses prophetic about his own destiny.” – Marinus of Samaria, The Life of Proclus 28

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

Marinus of Samaria, The Life of Proclus 18-19

“Proclus made use of the noble purificatory practices which woo us from evil, that is lustrations and all of the other processes of purification whether Orphic or Chaldean, such as dipping himself into the sea without hesitation every month, and sometimes even twice or thrice a month. He practiced this discipline, rude as it was, not only in his prime, but even also when he approached his life’s decline; and so he observed, without ever failing, these austere habits of which he had, so to speak, made himself a law … As to the necessary pleasures of food and drink, he made use of them with sobriety, for to him they were no more than a solace from his fatigues. He especially preached abstinence from animal food, but if a special ceremony compelled him to make use of it, he only tasted it, out of consideration and respect. Every month he sanctified himself according to the rites devoted to the Mother of the Gods by the Romans, and before them by the Phrygians; he observed the holy days observed among the Egyptians even more strictly than did they themselves; and especially he fasted on certain days, quite openly. During the first day of the lunar month he remained without food, without even having eaten the night before; and he likewise celebrated the New Moon in great solemnity, and with much sanctity. He regularly observed the great festivals of all peoples, so to speak, and the religious ceremonies peculiar to each people or country. Nor did he, like so many others, make this the pretext of a distraction, or of a debauch of food, but on the contrary they were occasions of prayer meetings that lasted all night, without sleep, with songs, hymns and similar devotions. Of this we see the proof in the composition of his hymns, which contain homage and praises not only of the gods adored among the Greeks, but where you also see worship of the god Marnas of Gaza, Asklepios Leontukhos of Askalon, Thyandrites who is much worshipped among the Arabs, the Isis who has a temple at Philae, and indeed all other divinities. It was a phrase he much used, and that was very familiar to him, that a philosopher should watch over the salvation of not only a city, nor over the national customs of a few people, but that he should be the hierophant of the whole world in common. Such were the holy and purificatory exercises he practiced, in his austere manner of life.” – Marinus of Samaria, The Life of Proclus 18-19

Marinus of Samaria, The Life of Proclus 6

“The parents of Proclus were Patricius and Marcella, Lykians of noble descent and very virtuous. At birth he was welcomed by the Constantinopolitan goddess Poliouchos (Athene), who as it were assisted his mother in childbirth. She might have been considered the cause of his life because he was born in the town she protects and saves; and who, when he reached childhood and youth, made him live well: for she appeared to him in a dream inducing him to follow philosophy. That is how he began so close an intimacy with the goddess, so that he sacrificed especially to her, and practiced her precepts with the greatest enthusiasm.” – Marinus of Samaria, The Life of Proclus 6

Eunapius, Life of Iamblichus

“Iamblichus was accustomed to perform the sacred rites alone, apart from his friends and disciples, which provoked much curiosity. One day while the company was drinking and Iamblichus was regaling them with his conversation that was sweet as nectar, the most eloquent of the crowd inquired, ‘O master most inspired, why do you thus occupy yourself in solitude, instead of sharing with us your more perfect wisdom? A rumor has reached us through your slaves that when you pray to the gods you soar aloft from the earth more than ten cubits to all appearance; that your body and your garments change to a beautiful golden hue; and presently when your prayer is ended your body becomes as it was before you prayed, and then you come down to earth and associate again with us.’ Iamblichus was not at all inclined to laughter, but he laughed at these remarks … One day, after the group had performed a sacrifice at Iamblichus’ suburban villa, they were returning to the city, walking slowly and having leisurely conversation about the gods. Iamblichus abruptly stopped and gazed for a while at the ground, lost in deep thought. Then he seemed to come back to himself and looked up at his friends, saying in a loud voice, ‘Let us go by another road, for a dead body has lately been carried along this way.’ After saying this he turned onto another road which seemed to be less impure, and some of them turned aside with him, who thought it was a shame to desert their teacher. But the greater number and the more obstinate of his disciples, among whom was Aedesius, stayed where they were, ascribing the occurrence to a portent and scenting like hounds for the proof. And very soon those who had buried the dead man came back. But even so the disciples did not desist but inquired whether they had passed along this road. ‘We had to,’ they replied, ‘for there was no other road.'”- Eunapius, Life of Iamblichus

Porphyry, On Abstinence from Animal Foods 2.45

“That is why even sorcerers have thought such advance protection and purification necessary; but it is not effective in all circumstances, for they stir up wicked daimones to gratify their lusts. So holiness is not for sorcerers, but for godly men who are wise about the gods, and it brings as a guard on all sides, for those who practice it, their attachment to the divine. If only sorcerers would practice it constantly, they would have no enthusiasm for sorcery, because holiness would exclude them from enjoyment of the things for the sake of which they commit impiety. But, being filled with passions, they abstain for a little from impure foods, yet are full of impurity and pay the penalty for their lawlessness towards the universe: some penalties are inflicted by the beings they themselves provoke, some by the justice which watches over all mortal concerns, both actions and thoughts. Holiness, both internal and external, belongs to a godly man, who strives to fast from the passions of the soul just as he fasts from those foods which arouse the passions, who feeds on wisdom about the gods and becomes like them by right thinking about the divine; a man sanctified by intellectual sacrifice, who approaches the god in white clothing, with a truly pure freedom from passion in the soul and with a body which is light and not weighted down with the alien juices of other creatures or with the passions of the soul.” – Porphyry, On Abstinence from Animal Foods 2.45

Iamblichus, On the Mysteries 37.3-6; 38.13-40

“To answer your question, the erection of phallic images is a symbol of generative power and we consider that this is directed towards the fecundating of the world; this is the reason, indeed, why most of these images are consecrated in the spring, since this is just when the world as a whole receives from the gods the power of generating all creation. And as for the obscene utterances (aiskhrorrêmosunai), my view is that they have the role of expressing the absence of beauty in matter and the previous ugliness of those things that are going to be brought to order, which, since they lack ordering, yearn for it in the same degree as they spurn the unseemliness that was previously their lot. So then, once again, one is prompted to seek after the causes of form and beauty when one learns the nature of obscenity from the utterance of obscenities; one rejects the practice of obscenities, while by means of uttering them one makes clear one’s knowledge of them, and thus directs one’s striving towards the opposite. And there is another explanation too. When the power of human emotions in us is everywhere confined, it becomes stronger. But when it is brought to exercise briefly and to a moderate extent, it rejoices moderately and is satisfied. By that means it is purged and ceases by persuasion, and not in response to force. It is by this means that, when we see the emotions of others in comedy and in tragedy, we still our own emotions, and make them more moderate and purge them. And in sacred rites, through the sight and sound of the obscenities, we are freed from harm that comes from actual indulgence in them. So things of this sort are embraced for the therapy of our souls and to moderate the evils which come to us through the generative process, to free us from our chains and give us riddance.” – Iamblichus, On the Mysteries 37.3-6; 38.13-40

Damascius, On First Principles 153.20

“For plants too are living things of a kind as Plato says (Tim. 77a-c), and rocks and metals and earth and in general all of the elements are shown not to be altogether without soul by the spontaneous generation of life within them and by the perfection of the forms they create.” – Damascius, On First Principles 153.20

Porphyry, On Abstinence from Animal Foods 2.32.1

“The first and greatest help is that from crops, and from this alone we should make offerings to the gods and to the earth which produces them. The earth is the common hearth of gods and men, and everyone, leaning upon her as a nurse and mother, must hymn her and love her as the one who gave us birth.” – Porphyry, On Abstinence from Animal Foods 2.32.1

Iamblichus, Letter to Dyskolios as preserved Stobaeus 4.5.74-5

“For it is the aim of a good ruler to cause his subjects to flourish. And it is precisely then that a leader is distinguished in power above those he administers, when those who have entrusted themselves to him enjoy a blessed existence. For the common good is not to be separated from the individual good; on the contrary, the individual advantage is subsumed within that of the whole, and the particular is preserved in the universal, in the case of both living things and states and all other natural entities. For my part I respect high-mindedness and generosity in all the activities of government, and especially in the area of benefactions, when rulers are not exact or sparing in their donations to someone, nor reckon up as in a scale equal for equal in their exchanges, but rather put forth their acts of generosity with nobility, not just ‘pouring them out from a jar’ as the poets say, nor having them confined within any other such receptacles, but rather extending them naked and uncovered and free of any external covering conditions, following continually one upon another, honestly and with goodwill, in a way that is indeed gratifying. Such a program of benefactions I would certainly term, and reasonably so, the ‘crown’ of an administration. To those whom the gods have given much, much they expect them to give.” – Iamblichus, Letter to Dyskolios as preserved Stobaeus 4.5.74-5

The Teaching for Merikare

“Construct fine monuments to god for it means the perpetuation of the name of whoever does it, and a man should do what is profitable to his soul, namely monthly service as priest and the wearing of white sandals. Enrich the fane, be discreet concerning the mysteries, enter into the sanctuary, eat bread in the temple, richly provide the altars, increase the revenues, add to the daily offerings, for it is a profitable matter for whoever does it; maintain your monuments in proportion to your wealth, for a single day gives to eternity, an hour does good for the future, and god is aware of him who serves him.” –  The Teaching for Merikare