polytheist extractions

Tag Archives: wisdom

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

Xenophon, Anabasis 3.1.5-7

“And Sokrates advised Xenophon to go to Delphi and consult the god in regard to this journey. So Xenophon went and asked Apollo to what one of the gods he should sacrifice and pray in order best and most successfully to perform the journey which he had in mind and, after meeting with good fortune, to return home in safety; and Apollon in his response told him to what gods he must sacrifice. When Xenophon came back from Delphi, he reported the oracle to Sokrates; and upon hearing about it Sokrates found fault with him because he did not first put the question whether it were better for him to go or stay, but decided for himself that he was to go and then asked the god as to the best way of going. However, he added, since you did put the question in that way, you must do all that the god directed.” – Xenophon, Anabasis 3.1.5-7

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

CIL 8.18529

“To our lord Flavius Claudius Julianus, devout, blessed, powerful in every kind of virtue, invincible leader, restorer of freedom and of the Roman religion, and conqueror of the whole world.” – CIL 8.18529

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

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

Jerome, Against Jovinianus 2.13

“Chaeremon the Stoic, a man of great eloquence, has a treatise on the life of the ancient priests of Egypt who, he says, laid aside all worldly business and cares and were ever in the temple, studying nature and the regulating causes of the heavenly bodies; they never had intercourse with women; they never from the time they began to devote themselves to the divine service set eyes on their kindred and relations, nor even saw their children; they always abstained from flesh and wine, on account of the light-headedness and dizziness which a small quantity of food caused, and especially to avoid the stimulation of the lustful appetite engendered by this meat and drink. They seldom ate bread, that they might not load the stomach. And whenever they ate it, they mixed pounded hyssop with all that they took, so that the action of its warmth might diminish the weight of the heavier food. They used no oil except with vegetables, and then only in small quantities, to mitigate the unpalatable taste. What need, he says, to speak of birds, when they avoided even eggs and milk as flesh. The one, they said, was liquid flesh, the other was blood with the colour changed? Their bed was made of palm-leaves, called by them baiae: a sloping footstool laid upon the ground served for a pillow, and they could go without food for two or three days. The humours of the body which arise from sedentary habits were dried up by reducing their diet to an extreme point.” – Jerome, Against Jovinianus 2.13

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 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

Porphyry, On Abstinence from Animal Foods 2.61

“The best offering to the gods is a pure intellect and a soul unaffected by passion; it is also appropriate to make them moderate offerings of other things, not casually but with full commitment. Honors to the gods must be like the front seats given to good men, and like standing up for them to sit down, not like paying taxes. If a man can say, Íf you remember my good deeds and love me, long since dear one you repaid my favor, it was for this I showed you favor first’ surely a god will be satisfied with this. That is why Plato says (Laws 716d; 717a) ‘it is right for a good man to sacrifice and always to be in conversation with the gods by prayer and dedications and sacrifices and all forms of worship’ but for a bad man ‘great effort about the gods is in vain.’ The good man knows what must be sacrificed, from what one must abstain, what should be eaten and from what offerings should be made; the bad man, bringing to the gods honors suited to his own disposition and what he wants, acts impiously.” – Porphyry, On Abstinence from Animal Foods 2.61

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

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

Plutarch, Sayings of the Kings and Commanders 179e

“As Alexander was sacrificing to the gods liberally, and often offered frankincense, Leonidas his tutor standing by said, ‘O son, thus generously will you sacrifice, when you have conquered the country that bears frankincense.’ And when he had conquered it, he sent him this letter: ‘I have sent you an hundred talents of frankincense and cassia, that hereafter you may not be niggardly towards the gods, who have rewarded my piety with rulership over the country in which perfumes grow.’” – Plutarch, Sayings of the Kings and Commanders 179e

Emperor Julian, Letter to a Priest

“You must above all exercise philanthropy, for from it result many other blessings, and moreover that choicest and greatest blessing of all, the good will of the gods. What creature of the sea uses corn, what land animal uses things that grow in the sea? And I have not yet mentioned gold and bronze and iron, though in all these the gods have made us very rich; yet not to the end that we may bring reproach on them by disregarding the poor who go about in our midst, especially when they happen to be of good character— men for instance who have inherited no paternal estate, and are poor because in the greatness of their souls they have no desire for money. Now the crowd when they see such men blame the gods. However it is not the gods who are to blame for their poverty, but rather the insatiate greed of us men of property becomes the cause of this false conception of the gods among men, and besides of unjust blame of the gods. Who, I ask, ever became poor by giving to his neighbours? Indeed I myself, who have often given lavishly to those in need, have recovered my gifts again many times over at the hands of the gods, though I am a poor man of business; nor have I ever repented of that lavish giving. And of the present time I will say nothing, for it would be altogether irrational of me to compare the expenditure of private persons with that of an Emperor; but when I was myself still a private person I know that this happened to me many times. My grandmother’s estate for instance was kept for me untouched, though others had taken possession of it by violence, because from the little that I had I spent money on those in need and gave them a share. We ought then to share our money with all men, but more generously with the good, and with the helpless and poor so as to suffice for their need. And I will assert, even though it be paradoxical to say so, that it would be a pious act to share our clothes and food even with the wicked. For it is to the humanity in a man that we give, and not to his moral character. This too, when I consider it, seems to me altogether wrong; I mean that we call Zeus by the title ‘God of Strangers,’ while we show ourselves more inhospitable to strangers than are the very Scythians. How, I ask, can one who wishes to sacrifice to Zeus, the God of Strangers, even approach his temple? With what conscience can he do so, when he has forgotten the saying ‘From Zeus come all beggars and strangers; and a gift is precious though small ? Again, the man who worships Zeus the God of Comrades, and who, though he sees his neighbours in need of money’, does not give them even so much as a drachma, how, I say, can he think that he is worshipping Zeus aright? When I observe this I am wholly amazed, since I see that these titles of the gods are from the beginning of the world their express images, yet in our practice we pay no attention to anything of the sort. The gods are called by us ‘gods of kindred,’ and Zeus the ‘God of Kindred,’ but we treat our kinsmen as though they were strangers. I say ‘kinsmen’ because every man, whether he will or no, is akin to every other man.” – Emperor Julian, Letter to a Priest

Porphyry, On Images Frag. 1

“It was a theology full of great wisdom that enabled men to indicate god and god’s powers through sensible images and sketch invisible things in visible forms. Listen closely and I will teach you how to read from the statues as from books the things written there about the gods. Nor is it any wonder that the utterly unlearned regard the statues as mere wood and stone, just as those who are illiterate look upon the monuments as rock and tablets as bits of wood, and on books as woven papyrus, failing to comprehend what is truly there.” – Porphyry, On Images Frag. 1

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

Diocletian, Fontes Iuris Romani Anteiustiniani, 2.544-89

“The immortal gods have so designed things that good and true principles have been established by the wisdom and deliberations of eminent, wise and upright men. It is wrong to oppose these principles or desert the ancient religion for some new one, for it is the height of criminality to try and revise doctrines that were settled once and for all by the ancients, and whose position is fixed and acknowledged.” – Diocletian, Fontes Iuris Romani Anteiustiniani, 2.544-89

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