Category: Theology > Poets & Literati on the Gods
- Aratus, Phaenomena 1–9:
- Unknown tragedian:
- Unknown elegiac poet:
- Unknown poet:
- Cleanthes: a Stoic hymn to Zeus
- Several sources
- Unknown tragedian:
- Unknown tragedian:
- Unknown poet:
- Unknown tragedian:
- Unknown tragedian:
- Unknown tragedian:
- Unknown poet:
- Unknown poet:
- Euripides, Thyestes:
- Unknown tragedian:
- Unknown tragedian:
- Unknown tragedian:
- Orpheus: a hymn to Zeus
- Unnamed (Stoic?) philosopher: Zeus’ name
- Porphyry, On Cult Statues: Zeus’ name
- Chrysippus: Zeus’ name
- Plato, Cratylus 396a: Zeus’ name
- Unnamed Platonic philosopher: meanings of ‘the god’
- Several sources
- Unnamed doxographer:
- Several sources
- Unnamed poet:
- Unnamed poet:
- Arrian, Discourses of Epictetus:
- Arrian, Discourses of Epictetus:
- Iamblichus, Letters:
- Pseudo-Aristotle, On the Cosmos:
- Xenophon, Memorabilia:
- Plato, Sophist:
- Pseudo-Onatas, On the God and the Divine:
- Arrian, Discourses of Epictetus:
That a god is demiurge of all things that are, and manages the whole through the plan (lógos) of his providence, and of what essence he is (poías ousías hypárkhei).
(1) From Theodectus
It is fitting to make the beginning from the gods.
Ἀπὸ τῶν θεῶν ἀρχὴν δὲ ποιεῖσθαι πρέπον.
(2) From Euripides
You see high above that unlimited Aether,
And how it cradles the Earth all around in moist arms;
Take this as Zeus, esteem this as a god.
Ὁρᾷς τὸν ὑψοῦ τόνδ’ ἄπειρον αἰθέρα,
καὶ γῆν πέριξ ἔχονθ’ ὑγραῖς ἐν ἀγκάλαις;
τοῦτον νόμιζε Ζῆνα, τόνδ’ ἡγοῦ θεόν.
(3) From Aratus [Phaenomena 1–9 (see link for Scholia)]
Out of Zeus let us begin, whom never we men leave
Unspoken; filled with Zeus are all streets,
All meeting places of humanity, filled is the sea
And the shores. We are all always in contact with Zeus.
For we too are of his kin. And he, gracious to humankind,
shows favorable signs, rouses people to work,
Reminding them of their livelihood. And he says when the soil is best
For kine and for the mattock, and says when the seasons are favorable
Both to set out plants and to scatter all seeds.
Ἐκ Διὸς ἀρχώμεσθα, τὸν οὐδέποτ’ ἄνδρες ἐῶμεν
ἄρρητον, μεσταὶ δὲ Διὸς πᾶσαι μὲν ἀγυιαί,
πᾶσαι δ’ ἀνθρώπων ἀγοραί, μεστὴ δὲ θάλασσα
καὶ λιμένες, πάντῃ δὲ Διὸς κεχρήμεθα πάντες.
τοῦ γὰρ καὶ γένος ἐσμέν, ὁ δ’ ἤπιος ἀνθρώποισι
δεξιὰ σημαίνει, λαοὺς δ’ ἐπὶ ἔργον ἐγείρει
μιμνήσκων βιότοιο, λέγει δ’ ὅτε βῶλος ἀρίστη
βουσί τε καὶ μακέλῃσι, λέγει δ’ ὅτε δεξιαὶ ὧραι
καὶ φυτὰ γυρῶσαι καὶ σπέρματα πάντα βαλέσθαι.
(4) [From Iliad 20.242–243]
Zeus increases or diminishes the virtue of humans¹
According to his will, since he is the most powerful of all.
Ζεὺς δ’ ἀρετὴν ἄνδρεσσιν ὀφέλλει τε μινύθει τε
ὅππως κεν ἐθέλῃσιν, ὁ γὰρ κάρτιστος ἁπάντων.
1: More Homerically, “men’s valour”.
(5) [From an unknown tragedian]
For law is the greatest god for mortals.
Ὁ γὰρ θεὸς μέγιστος ἀνθρώποις νόμος.
(6) [From an unknown elegiac poet]
Zeus himself alone has remedies for all things.
Ζεὺς πάντων αὐτὸς φάρμακα μοῦνος ἔχει.
(7) [From Odyssey 6.188]
Zeus the Olympian deals out fortune to humans,
To the good and the bad, as he sees fit for each.
Ζεὺς δ’ αὐτὸς νέμει ὄλβον Ὀλύμπιος ἀνθρώποισιν,
ἐσθλοῖς ἠδὲ κακοῖσιν, ὅπως ἐθέλῃσιν ἑκάστῳ.
(8) [From Odyssey 16.212]
For the gods, who hold broad heaven, it is easy
Both to exalt a mortal human or to abase them.
Ῥηΐδιον δὲ θεοῖσι, τοὶ οὐρανὸν εὐρὺν ἔχουσιν,
ἠμὲν κυδῆναι θνητὸν βροτὸν ἠδὲ κακῶσαι.
(9) [From an unknown poet]
Zeus, who distributes the limits of life and death.
Ζεὺς ὁ καὶ ζωῆς καὶ θανάτου πείρατα νωμῶν.
(10) From Simonides
No one can keep a hold on virtue
Without the gods – no city, no mortal.
Οὔτις ἄνευ θεῶν
ἀρετὰν λάβεν, οὐ πόλις, οὐ ‹βροτός›.
(11) From Menander
The god accomplishes all things silently.
Ἅπαντα σιγῶν ὁ θεὸς ἐξεργάζεται.
(12) From Cleanthes
Most honored of the immortals, many-named, ever all-powerful,
Zeus, nature’s principal, who rule all things with your law (nómos),
Be greeted! For the law (thémis) proclaims you to all mortals.
For we are offspring out of you, […]
[Work in Progress]
Κύδιστ’ ἀθανάτων, πολυώνυμε, παγκρατὲς αἰεί,
Ζεῦ, φύσεως ἀρχηγέ, νόμου μέτα πάντα κυβερνῶν,
χαῖρε· σὲ γὰρ πάντεσσι θέμις θνητοῖσι προσαυδᾶν.
ἐκ σοῦ γὰρ γένος ἐσμέν, † ἤχου μίμημα λαχόντες
μοῦνοι, ὅσα ζώει τε καὶ ἕρπει θνήτ’ ἐπὶ γαῖαν·
τῷ σε καθυμνήσω καὶ σὸν κράτος αἰὲν ἀείδω.
σοὶ δὴ πᾶς ὅδε κόσμος, ἑλισσόμενος περὶ γαῖαν,
πείθεται, ᾗ κεν ἄγῃς, καὶ ἑκὼν ὑπὸ σεῖο κρατεῖται·
τοῖον ἔχεις ὑποεργὸν ἀνικήτοις ἐνὶ χερσὶν
ἀμφήκη, πυρόεντ’, αἰειζώοντα κεραυνόν·
τοῦ γὰρ ὑπὸ πληγῇς φύσεως πάντ’ ἐρρίγα<σιν>·
ᾧ σὺ κατευθύνεις κοινὸν λόγον, ὃς διὰ πάντων
φοιτᾷ, μιγνύμενος μεγάλοις μικροῖς τε φάεσσι
[at least one line lost]
ὡς τόσσος γεγαὼς ὕπατος βασιλεὺς διὰ παντός,
οὐδέ τι γίγνεται ἔργον ἐπὶ χθονὶ σοῦ δίχα, δαῖμον,
οὔτε κατ’ αἰθέριον θεῖον πόλον οὔτ’ ἐνὶ πόντῳ,
πλὴν ὁπόσα ῥέζουσι κακοὶ σφετέρῃσιν ἀνοίαις·
ἀλλὰ σὺ καὶ τὰ περισσά ‹τ’› ἐπίστασαι ἄρτια θεῖναι,
καὶ κοσμεῖν τἄκοσμα καὶ οὐ φίλα σοὶ φίλα ἐστίν.
ὧδε γὰρ εἰς ἓν πάντα συνήρμοκας ἐσθλὰ κακοῖσιν,
ὥσθ’ ἕνα γίγνεσθαι πάντων λόγον αἰὲν ἐόντα,
ὃν φεύγοντες ἐῶσιν ὅσοι θνητῶν κακοί εἰσι,
δύσμοροι, οἵ τ’ ἀγαθῶν μὲν ἀεὶ κτῆσιν ποθέοντες
οὔτ’ ἐσορῶσι θεοῦ κοινὸν νόμον οὔτε κλύουσιν,
ᾧ κεν πειθόμενοι σὺν νῷ βίον ἐσθλὸν ἔχοιεν.
αὐτοὶ δ’ αὖθ’ ὁρμῶσιν ἄνοι κακὸν ἄλλος ἐπ’ ἄλλο,
οἳ μὲν ὑπὲρ δόξης σπουδὴν δυσέριστον ἔχοντες,
οἳ δ’ ἐπὶ κερδοσύνας τετραμμένοι οὐδενὶ κόσμῳ,
ἄλλοι δ‘ εἰς ἄνεσιν καὶ σώματος ἡδέα ἔργα
[2.5 metrical feet missing] ἐπ’ ἄλλοτεν ἄλλα φέρονται,
σπεύδοντες μάλα πάμπαν ἐναντία τῶνδε γενέσθαι.
ἀλλὰ Ζεῦ πάνδωρε, κελαινεφές, ἀργικέραυνε,
ἀνθρώπους ‹μὲν› ῥύου ἀπειροσύνης ἀπὸ λυγρῆς,
ἣν σύ, πατήρ, σκέδασον ψυχῆς ἄπο, δὸς δὲ κυρῆσαι
γνώμης, ᾗ πίσυνος σὺ δίκης μέτα πάντα κυβερνᾶς,
ὄφρ’ ἂν τιμηθέντες ἀμειβώμεσθά σε τιμῇ,
ὑμνοῦντες τὰ σὰ ἔργα διηνεκές, ὡς ἐπέοικε
θνητὸν ἐόντ’, ἐπεὶ οὔτε βροτοῖς γέρας ἄλλο τι μεῖζον,
οὔτε θεοῖς, ἢ κοινὸν ἀεὶ νόμον ἐν δίκῃ ὑμνεῖν.
(13a) [From an unknown tragedian]
If the god is willing, all thing turn out well.
Θεοῦ θέλοντος εὖ τὰ πάντα γίγνεται.
(13b) [From an unknown tragedian]
What fortune could not come about if a god decided it?
Τί δ’ οὐ γένοιτ‘ ἂν θεοῦ ‹γ’› ἐφιέντος τύχῃ;
(13c) [From Sophocles, Ajax 383]
It is with the god that everyone both laughs and cries.
Ξὺν τῷ θεῷ πᾶς καὶ γελᾷ κὠδύρεται.
(13d) [From an unknown poet]
The divine produces the gifts of good fortune.
Γεννᾷ τὸ θεῖον εὐτυχῆ δωρήματα.
(13e) [From an unknown tragedian]
It is Zeus who delivers daily nourishment.
Ζεὺς ἔσθ’ ὁ πέμπων τὴν ἐφήμερον τροφήν.
(13f) [From an unknown tragedian]
For without the god no one has any ability.
Ἄνευ θεοῦ γὰρ οὐδὲ εἷς ἀνὴρ σθένει.
(13g) [From an unknown tragedian]
Nature produces all things through divine providence.
Θείᾳ προνοίᾳ πάντ’ ἐγέννησεν φύσις.
(13h) [From an unknown poet]
The god alone is great among mortals.
Θεὸς μόνος πέφυκεν ἐν βροτοῖς μέγας.
(14) [From Odyssey 17.485–487]
And the gods, in the appearance of foreign visitors,
Come in all kinds of shapes and visit the cities,
Overseeing the violence and lawfulness of people.
Καί τε θεοὶ ξείνοισιν ἐοικότες ἀλλοδαποῖσι
παντοῖοί τ’ ἐλθόντες ἐπιστρωφῶσι πόληας,
ἀνθρώπων ὕβριν τε καὶ εὐνομίην ἐφορῶντες.
(15) [From Odyssey 18.135–136]
The thinking of people upon the earth is such
As the father of men and gods brings upon their heart.
Τοῖος γὰρ νόος ἐστὶν ἐπιχθονίων ἀνθρώπων,
οἷον ἐπ’ ἦμαρ ἄγῃσι πατὴρ ἀνδρῶν τε θεῶν τε.
(16) [From an unknown poet]
The god is present everywhere and sees everywhere.
Πάντῃ πάρεστι καὶ βλέπει πάντῃ θεός.
(17) [From Euripides]
No one among mortals has good fortune without the god,
Nor does anyone come to the better, and I advise you
To take joy in the providence of the gods over mortals.
Θεοῦ γὰρ οὐδεὶς χωρὶς εὐτυχεῖ βροτῶν,
οὐδ’ εἰς τὸ μεῖζον ἦλθε, τὰς θνητῶν δ’ ἐγὼ
χαίρειν κελεύω θεῶν ἄτερ προμηθίας.
(18) [From Archilochus]
The spirit of people, o Glaucus, son of Leptineus,
Is such for mortals as Zeus gives them on that day.
Τοῖος ἀνθρώποισι θυμός, Γλαῦκε, Λεπτίνεω πάι,
γίνεται θνητοῖς, ὁκοίην Ζεὺς ἐφ’ ἡμέρην ἄγῃ.
(19) [From Euripides, Thyestes]
If the god is willing, you can sail even on a wicker mat.
Θεοῦ θέλοντος κἂν ἐπὶ ῥιπὸς πλέοις.
(20) [From an unknown tragedian]
The gods are a place of refuge for mortal humans.
Θνητοῖσιν ἀνθρώποισι καταφυγὴ θεοί.
(21) [From an unknown tragedian]
The god comes to help even after offences,
So that those have done evil acts but take up
The supplicant’s olive branch can escape ill luck.
Καὶ τἀμπλακήματ’ ἔρχεται θεὸς μέτα,
ὅθεν λαβόντες οἱ κακῶς πεπραγότες
ἱκετηρίαν ἀπῆλθον ἐκ δυσπραξίας.
(22) [From an unknown tragedian]
Now my heart is no longer split–
Rather, it is a wise saying that Zeus
Divides all things to mortals cross-wise,
Taking down the illustrious,
But raising up the obscure.
Νῦν οὐκέτι μοι δίχα θυμός,
ἀλλὰ σαφὴς ‹φάτις ἔσθ’›, ὅτι πάντα βροτοῖς
Ζεὺς ἐπικάρσια τέμνει,
καθελὼν μὲν δοκέοντ’,
ἀδόκητον δ’ ἐξαείρων.
(23) [From Orpheus]
Zeus was the first, Zeus of the bright lightning is last;
Zeus is the head, Zeus the middle, with Zeus do all things conclude.
Zeus has a masculine nature, Zeus is an immutable bride,
Zeus is the Earth’s foundation and that of starry Heaven.
Zeus is the king, Zeus alone is the first parent of all.
One is the force, one the god who is the great ruler of all,
One the kingly body in whom all these things are encircled,
Fire and Water and Earth and Aether, Night and Day,
Wisdom too, the first ancestor, and most blissful Love;
For all these things lie in the mighty body of Zeus.
His head and beautiful face you may behold
As the shining Heaven, around which are suspended
The golden, beauteous tresses of the marble stars;
On either side, there are two horns of gold like a bull’s,
The rising and the setting, the paths of the celestial gods.
His eyes are Sun and the receptive Moon.
His royal intellect, immutable Aether, without falsehood,
Grasps and considers all; and there is nothing,
No voice or cry or crash, not any sound
That can escape the ears of Zeus Kronion, mighty beyond might.
Such is the immortal head he has, and such his mind.
His body, radiant on all sides, immeasurable and unshakeable,
Strong, strong of limb and mighty above measure, was formed thus:
The god’s broad shoulders, chest and back
Are Air of far-extended might; and there grow wings
With which he soars above all things. His sacred belly is
Earth the all-mother, and the lofty summits of her mountains.
The girdle around his middle is the flood of the lowing Sea
And Brine. His deepest pedestal are the roots within the Earth,
Dank Tartarus and the lowest ends of the Earth.
He hid all things, but then desired in his heart to bring them back
Into the joyful light, and he fulfilled this miraculous work.
Ζεὺς πρῶτος γένετο, Ζεὺς ὕστατος ἀργικέραυνος,
Ζεὺς κεφαλή, Ζεὺς μέσσα, Διὸς δ’ ἐκ πάντα τέτυκται·
Ζεὺς ἄρσην γένετο, Ζεὺς ἄμβροτος ἔπλετο νύμφη,
Ζεὺς πυθμὴν γαίης τε καὶ οὐρανοῦ ἀστερόεντος·
Ζεὺς βασιλεύς, Ζεὺς αὐτὸς ἁπάντων ἀρχιγένεθλος·
ἓν κράτος, εἷς δαίμων γένετο, μέγας ἀρχὸς ἁπάντων·
ἓν ‹δὲ› δέμας βασίλειον, ἐν ᾧ τάδε πάντα κυκλεῖται,
πῦρ καὶ ὕδωρ καὶ γαῖα καὶ αἰθήρ, νύξ τε καὶ ἦμαρ·
καὶ Μῆτις, πρῶτος γενέτωρ καὶ Ἔρως πολυτερπής·
πάντα γὰρ ἐν Ζηνὸς μεγάλῳ τάδε σώματι κεῖται·
τοῦ δή τοι κεφαλὴ μὲν ἰδεῖν καὶ καλὰ πρόσωπα
οὐρανὸς αἰγλήεις, ὃν χρύσεαι ἀμφὶς ἔθειραι
ἄστρων μαρμαρέων περικαλλέες ἠερέθονται·
ταύρεα δ’ ἀμφοτέρωθε δύο χρύσεια κέρατα
ἀντολίη τε δύσις τε, θεῶν ὁδοὶ οὐρανιώνων
ὄμματα δ’ ἠέλιός τε καὶ ἀντιόωσα σελήνη·
οὖς δέ οἱ ἀψευδὲς βασιλήϊον ἄφθιτος αἰθήρ,
ᾧ δὴ πάντα κλύει καὶ φράζεται· οὐδέ τίς ἐστιν
αὐδὴ οὐδ’ ἐνοπὴ οὐδὲ κτύπος οὐδὲ μὲν ὄσσα,
ἣ λήθει Διὸς οὖας ὑπερμενέος Κρονίωνος.
ὧδε μὲν ἀθανάτην κεφαλὴν ἔχει ἠδὲ νόημα·
σῶμα δέ οἱ περιφεγγές, ἀπείριτον, ἀστυφέλικτον,
ἄτρομον, ὀβριμόγυιον, ὑπερμενὲς ὧδε τέτυκται·
ὦμοι μὲν καὶ στέρνα καὶ εὐρέα νῶτα θεοῖο
ἀὴρ εὐρυβίης, πτέρυγες δέ οἱ ἐξεφύοντο,
τῇς ἐπὶ πάντα ποτᾶθ’, ἱερὴ δέ οἱ ἔπλετο νηδὺς
γαῖά τε παμμήτωρ ὀρέων τ’ αἰπεινὰ κάρηνα,
μέσση δὲ ζώνη βαρυηχέος οἶδμα θαλάσσης
καὶ πόντου· πυμάτη δὲ βάσις χθονὸς ἔνδοθι ῥίζαι,
τάρταρά τ’ εὐρώεντα καὶ ἔσχατα πείρατα γαίης.
πάντα δ’ ἀποκρύψας αὖθις φάος ἐς πολυγηθὲς
μέλλεν ἀπὸ κραδίης προφέρειν πάλι θέσκελα ῥέζων.
(24) [From an unknown philosopher]
Whatever is a god? A mind (noûs). And what is a mind? Thought (phrónēsis). But you shall call Zeus (Zêna) that from which we always have life (zên).
Τί πότ’ ἐστὶ θεός; νοῦς. τί δὲ νοῦς ἐστι; φρόνησις. Ζῆνα δὲ σὺ νόμιζε τοῦτον, ὅθεν ἔχομεν ἀεὶ ‹τὸ› ζῆν.
(25) From Porphyry’s About Cult Statues
Now Zeus is the whole cosmos, a living being (made) out of living beings and a god out of gods. But Zeus is also The God, insofar as he is an intellect from which all things proceed, since he creates through intellections.
Πορφυρίου ἐκ τοῦ Περὶ ἀγαλμάτων.
Ζεὺς οὖν ὁ πᾶς κόσμος, ζῷον ἐκ ζῴων καὶ θεὸς ἐκ θεῶν. Ζεὺς δὲ καὶ ‹ὁ θεός›, καθὸ νοῦς ἀφ’ οὗ προφέρεται πάντα, ὅτι δημιουργεῖ τοῖς νοήμασιν.
(26) From Chrysippus
Now Zeus (Zêna) seems to be named from his having given life (tò zên) to all. And they call him Día because he is the origin of all things and all things (exist) through (diá) him.
Ζεὺς μὲν οὖν φαίνεται ὠνομάσθαι ἀπὸ τοῦ πᾶσι δεδωκέναι τὸ ζῆν. Δία δὲ αὐτὸν λέγουσιν, ὅτι πάντων ἐστὶν αἴτιος καὶ δι‘ αὐτὸν πάντα.
(27) From Plato’s Cratylus [396a4–8]
Some call him Zêna, others Día; and combined into one, they show the nature of the god; and we said that the purpose of a name is to do just that. Now, if anyone is the cause of life (zên) for us and all others, none is more so than the ruler and king of all things.
Πλάτωνος ἐκ τοῦ Κρατύλου.
Οἳ μὲν γὰρ Ζῆνα, οἳ δὲ Δία καλοῦσι· συντιθέμενα δὲ εἰς ἓν δηλοῖ τὴν φύσιν τοῦ θεοῦ, ὃ δὴ προσήκειν φαμὲν ὀνόματι οἵῳ τε εἶναι ἀπεργάζεσθαι. οὐ γὰρ ἔστιν ἡμῖν καὶ τοῖς ἄλλοις πᾶσιν, ὅστις ἐστὶν αἴτιος μᾶλλον τοῦ ζῆν ἢ ὁ ἄρχων τε καὶ βασιλεὺς τῶν πάντων.
(28) [From an unknown Platonist]
I assert that the name ‘the god’ is used in reference to both the demiurge and the cosmos. And it seems to me (that it should come) first, in accordance with my own usages, to consult Plato as a witness of an opinion of this kind. For Plato also calls the demiurge of all things Zeus, and he also (calls) this cosmos a god. The demiurge, firstly, in this manner: when he talks about the motion of the universe in the Phaedrus (246e4–6), he says the following about the great Zeus:
The mighty ruler in heaven, Zeus, driving a winged chariot, leads as the first, ordering all things and taking care of them; and the host (stratía) of gods and of daemons follows behind.
It is clear, I should think, that he is referring to the maker of all things in this passage, since he also gives him the gods in the region of the cosmos as followers. He is saying, then, that the gods follow his providence as soldiers (stratiṓtai); he called these gods soldiers because they command (stratēgoûsin) this war of becoming. Similarly, the Pythagorean Onatas refers to the demiurge and the gods who follow him, since he says thus:
And the other gods relate to the first and noetic god like choir singers to the choral leader or soldiers (stratiṓtai) to the general (stratagón).
Furthermore, Plato refers to both in the letter <6> to Hermias and Coriscus <323d2–3>, for he calls the demiurge
the leader of all the gods, of those who are and those who will be.
Now, we know that the gods who will be are those which are forever generated, that is those which are joined to bodies at some point in time. In the Timaeus <34a8–b1>, after he has distinguished the gods from the multitude, he names them all in the singular, because of their location in the cosmos. For he says:
Such was the reasoning of the god who forever is about the god who at one point would be.
For it is obvious that the god who is reasoning is the demiurge, but the cosmos is named as the god who will be and is forever coming into being. Homer, too, (says) thus:
Zeus went to Oceanus, to the blameless Ethiopians
Yesterday, for a feast, and all the gods followed along.
But on the twelfth day, he will go again to Olmypus. (Iliad 1.423–5)
He spoke these things about Zeus in the region of the cosmos: on the one hand, the gods all follow along because the multitude of the gods is a work of the demiurge generated along with the cosmos; but when they reach Olympus, they show their distinctiveness, so that Zeus is named as someone specific (hetérou), distinguished from the (other) gods. So – since the poem must bring the myth (mýtheuma) to its end – when Thetis came to Olympus:
She found far-seeing Cronides sitting apart from the others
On the highest peak of many-ringed Olympus. (Iliad 1.498–499)
Now, as for the twelfth (day) on which the gods return, one must understand this in reference to when the twelve zodiacal signs complete the celestial path, and the circuit leads them back around to the (same) position. For the same order (lógos) applies to souls and gods.
(29a) [From an unnamed source]
– When Thales was asked, “What is the oldest of all beings?”, he answered, “God, since it is something ungenerated (agénnēton).”
– When Socrates was asked, “What is god?”, he said, “The immortal and eternal.”
– When Hermes was asked, “What is god?”, he said, “The demiurge of all things, a most wise mind (noûs) and eternal.”
– Θαλῆς ἐρωτηθείς. Τί πρεσβυτάτων τῶν ὄντων; ἀπεκρίνατο· Θεός, ἀγέννητον γάρ.
– Σωκράτης ἐρωτηθείς, Τί θεός; εἶπε· Τὸ ἀθάνατον καὶ ἀίδιον.
– Ἑρμῆς ἐρωτηθείς, Τί θεός; εἶπεν· Ὁ τῶν ὅλων δημιουργός, σοφώτατος νοῦς καὶ ἀίδιος.
(29b) [From Aëtius, Opinions of the Philosophers]
<Milesian philosophers, 6th century BCE>
Thales (considers the) mind (noûn) of the cosmos to be The God, and (thinks) the universe (to be) both ensouled and full of daemons; and that his divine power (dýnamin) of movement (kinêtikên) pervades the elemental moisture throughout.
Anaximander declared the infinite heavens/worlds (ouranoùs) gods.
Anaximenes: the air (is The God).
Θαλῆς νοῦν τοῦ κόσμου τὸν θεόν, τὸ δὲ πᾶν ἔμψυχον ἅμα καὶ δαιμόνων πλῆρες· διήκειν δὲ καὶ διὰ τοῦ στοιχειώδους ὑγροῦ δύναμιν θείαν κινητικὴν αὐτοῦ.
Ἀναξίμανδρος ἀπεφήνατο τοὺς ἀπείρους οὐρανοὺς θεούς.
Ἀναξιμένης τὸν ἀέρα.
But by the things that are called thus, one must understand the powers pervading the elements or the bodies.
δεῖ δ’ ὑπακούειν ἐπὶ τῶν οὕτως λεγομένων τὰς ἐνδιηκούσας τοῖς στοιχείοις ἢ τοῖς σώμασι δυνάμεις.
<Anaxagoreans, 5th century BCE>
Archelaus (considers) air and mind (noûn) The God, however not that the mind is creator of the cosmos (kosmopoiòn).
Anaxagoras (considers) a cosmos-creating (kosmopoiòn) mind The God.
Ἀρχέλαος ἀέρα καὶ νοῦν τὸν θεόν, οὐ μέντοι κοσμοποιὸν τὸν νοῦν.
Ἀναξαγόρας νοῦν κοσμοποιὸν τὸν θεόν.
<Democritus, ca. 460–370 BCE>
Democritus (considers) an intellect in spherical fire The God.
Δημόκριτος νοῦν τὸν θεὸν ἐν πυρὶ σφαιροειδεῖ.
<Stoic philosophers of the 3rd century BCE>
Diogenes (of Babylon) and Cleanthes and Oenopides: the soul of the cosmos (is The God).
Διογένης καὶ Κλεάνθης καὶ Οἰνοπίδης τὴν τοῦ κόσμου ψυχήν.
<Pythagoras, 6th century BCE>
Pythagoras, out of the (two) first principles, (considers) the monad, which is the nature of the One and the mind (noûs) itself, to be a god and the Good, and (he considers) the indefinite dyad, around which is the material mass, to be <a daemon> and the Evil.
Πυθαγόρας τῶν ἀρχῶν τὴν μὲν μονάδα θεὸν καὶ τἀγαθόν, ἥτις ἐστὶν ἡ τοῦ ἑνὸς φύσις καὶ αὐτὸς ὁ νοῦς, τὴν δ’ ἀόριστον δυάδα δαίμονα καὶ τὸ κακόν, περὶ ἥν ἐστι τὸ ὑλικὸν πλῆθος.
<Posidonius the Stoic, 2nd/1st century BCE>
Posidonius: an intellective (noeròn) and fiery spirit (pneûma), which has no shape (morphḗn), but changes into what it wishes and becomes assimilated to all things (is The God).
Ποσειδώνιος πνεῦμα νοερὸν καὶ πυρῶδες, οὐκ ἔχον μὲν μορφήν, μεταβάλλον δὲ εἰς ὃ βούλεται καὶ συνεξομοιούμενον πᾶσιν.
<Old Academy, 4th century BCE>
Speusippus: the mind (noûn), which is neither the same as the One nor as the Good, but has its own nature (idiophuê), (is The God).
Σπεύσιππος τὸν νοῦν οὔτε τῷ ἑνὶ οὔτε τῷ ἀγαθῷ τὸν αὐτόν, ἰδιοφυῆ δέ.
<Peripatetics (Aristotelians) of the 2nd century BCE>
Critolaus and Diodorus of Tyre: a mind of impassive (apathoûs) ether (is The God).
Κριτόλαος καὶ Διόδωρος ὁ Τύριος νοῦν ἀπ’ αἰθέρος ἀπαθοῦς.
<Heraclitus, 6th/5th century BCE, and Stoics of the 3rd–2nd century BCE>
Heraclitus (considers) the periodical, eternal fire (to be The God), whereas fate (heimarménēn), (i.e.) the order (lógos) that (arises) from contrariety (enantiodromías), is the demiurge of the things that are (tôn óntōn).
Zeno the Stoic: (the) fiery mind of cosmos (is The God).
Mnesarchus (the Stoic): the cosmos, which has the first substance from spirit (pneúmatos), (is The God).
Boethus (the Stoic) declared the ether to be The God.
Ἡράκλειτος τὸ περιοδικὸν πῦρ ἀίδιον, εἱμαρμένην δὲ λόγον ἐκ τῆς ἐναντιοδρομίας δημιουργὸν τῶν ὄντων.
Ζήνων ὁ Στωικὸς νοῦν κόσμου πύρινον.
Μνήσαρχος τὸν κόσμον, τὴν πρώτην οὐσίαν ἔχοντα ἀπὸ πνεύματος.
Βόηθος τὸν αἰθέρα θεὸν ἀπεφήνατο.
<Eleatic philosophers, 5th century BCE>
Parmenides: the unmoved and limited, spherical (is The God).
Melissus and Zeno (of Elea): the one and All and only, eternal and infinite (apeiron), (is The God).
Παρμενίδης τὸ ἀκίνητον καὶ πεπερασμένον σφαιροειδές.
Μέλισσος καὶ Ζήνων τὸ ἓν καὶ πᾶν καὶ μόνον ἀίδιον καὶ ἄπειρον.
<Empedocles, 5th century BCE>
Empedocles […] the one, and (he calls) the one: Necessity, and its matter: the four elements, and the forms: Strife and Love. He also says that the elements are gods, and that their mixture the cosmos (is also a god), and <that the> uniform <Sphairos into which> they will be dissolved (is also a god). And he thinks that the souls are divine (theías), and that the pure who participate in them purely are divine (theíous) as well.
Ἐμπεδοκλῆς τὸν σφαῖρον καὶ τὸ ἕν, καὶ τὸ μὲν ἓν τὴν ἀνάγκην, ὕλην δὲ αὐτοῦ τὰ τέσσαρα στοιχεῖα, εἴδη δὲ τὸ νεῖκος καὶ τὴν φιλίαν. Λέγει δὲ καὶ τὰ στοιχεῖα θεοὺς καὶ τὸ μῖγμα τούτων τὸν κόσμον καὶ προσταναλυθήσεται τὸ μονοειδές· καὶ θείας μὲν οἴεται τὰς ψυχάς, θείους δὲ καὶ τοὺς μετέχοντας αὐτῶν καθαροὺς καθαρῶς.
<Old Academics of the 4th–3rd century>
Polemo declared the cosmos The God.
Xenocrates the Chalcedonian, son of Agathenor, considers the monad and the dyad gods, the former having, like a male, the position of a father, ruling in heaven, and he calls it Zeus, and also odd and mind (noûn), which is his first god; but (he calls) the latter the female in the way of the Mother of Gods, (and says) it rules the sphere below heaven, and this is his world soul of the universe. And (he also calls) the heaven a god and the fiery stars Olympian gods, and (thinks there are) other invisible lunar daemons. And he is also of the opinion […] and they pervade the material elements. Of these, he calls […] Hades, the one pervading moisture Poseidon, and the one pervading the earth Demeter the planter (phytospóron). He adapted all these things from Plato and in turn inspired the Stoics.
Plato: the One, the Single (monophués), the monadic, what really is/real Being (tò óntōs òn), the Good: but all such names aim at the Mind (noûn). Now Mind is The God, a separate form; and let the separate be understood as what is not mixed with any matter, and (which is) entangled with none of the corporeal things, and which has no share in the passivity of nature. The other divine things are intelligible (noētà) offspring of this father and maker. They are the so-called intelligible cosmos <and the ideas>, and they are the models (paradeígmata) of the visible cosmos. In addition to these, there are certain powers (called gods) in the ether (enaithérioi) – but lógoi are incorporeal – and in the air (enaérioi) and in the water (énydroi). And the visible (gods) are Sun, Moon, Stars, Earth, and the cosmos which contains all things.
Πολέμων τὸν κόσμον θεὸν ἀπεφήνατο.
Ξενοκράτης Ἀγαθήνορος Καλχηδόνιος τὴν μονάδα καὶ τὴν δυάδα θεούς, τὴν μὲν ὡς ἄρρενα πατρὸς ἔχουσαν τάξιν, ἐν οὐρανῷ βασιλεύουσαν, ἥντινα προσαγορεύει καὶ Ζῆνα καὶ περιττὸν καὶ νοῦν, ὅστις ἐστὶν αὐτῷ πρῶτος θεός· τὴν δὲ ὡς θήλειαν μητρὸς θεῶν δίκην, τῆς ὑπὸ τὸν οὐρανὸν λήξεως ἡγουμένην, ἥτις ἐστὶν αὐτῷ ψυχὴ τοῦ παντός. Θεὸν δ’ εἶναι καὶ τὸν οὐρανὸν καὶ τοὺς ἀστέρας πυρώδεις Ὀλυμπίους θεούς, καὶ ἑτέρους ὑποσελήνους δαίμονας ἀοράτους. Ἀρέσκει δὲ καὶ αὐτῷ … καὶ ἐνδιήκειν τοῖς ὑλικοῖς στοιχείοις. Τούτων δὲ τὴν μὲν διὰ τοῦ ἀέρος προσγείου Ἅιδην προσαγορεύει, τὴν δὲ διὰ τοῦ ὑγροῦ Ποσειδῶνα, τὴν δὲ διὰ τῆς γῆς φυτοσπόρον Δήμητραν. Ταῦτα δὲ χορηγήσας τοῖς Στωικοῖς τὰ πρότερα παρὰ τοῦ Πλάτωνος μεταπέφρακεν.
Πλάτων δὲ τὸ ἕν, τὸ μονοφυές, τὸ μοναδικόν, τὸ ὄντως ὄν, τἀγαθόν. Πάντα δὲ τὰ τοιαῦτα τῶν ὀνομάτων εἰς τὸν νοῦν σπεύδει. Νοῦς οὖν ὁ θεός, χωριστὸν εἶδος, τὸ δὲ χωριστὸν ἀκουέσθω τὸ ἀμιγὲς πάσης ὕλης καὶ μηδενὶ τῶν σωματικῶν συμπεπλεγμένον, μηδὲ τῷ παθητῷ τῆς φύσεως συμπαθές. Τούτου δὲ πατρὸς καὶ ποιητοῦ τὰ ἄλλα θεῖα ἔκγονα νοητὰ μέν, ὅ τε νοητὸς λεγόμενος κόσμος καὶ αἱ ἰδέαι, παραδείγματα δ‘ ἐστὶ τοῦ ὁρατοῦ κόσμου, πρὸς δὲ τούτοις ἐναιθέριοί τινες δυνάμεις – λόγοι δ’ εἰσὶν ἀσώματοι – καὶ ἔμπυροι καὶ ἐναέριοι καὶ ἔνυδροι, αἰσθητὸς δὲ ἥλιος, σελήνη, ἀστέρες, γῆ καὶ ὁ περιέχων πάντα κόσμος.
<Aristotle, 3rd century BCE>
Aristotle (considers) the highest (anōtátō) god a <separate> form, like Plato, superposed on the sphere of the universe, which is a body of ether (aithérion sôma), called the fifth (body or element) by him.
Ἀριστοτέλης τὸν μὲν ἀνωτάτω θεὸν εἶδος χωριστόν, ὁμοίως Πλάτωνι, ἐπιβεβηκότα τῇ σφαίρᾳ τοῦ παντός, ἥτις ἐστὶν αἰθέριον σῶμα, τὸ πέμπτον ὑπ’ αὐτοῦ καλούμενον.
<Stoics, from around 300 BCE>
The Stoics declare there to be an intellective god (noeròn theòn), a craftsman-like (tekhnikón) fire, procedurally in motion to generate the cosmos, containing within itself all the seminal principles (spermatikoùs lógous) on whose pattern all things arise according to fate (heimarménēn). And as spirit pervades the whole of the cosmos, it changes its appellations in line with the subdivisions of the whole of matter through which it ranges. The cosmos is a god, and the stars and the earth (are also gods); but the highest (anôtatô) god of all is (the) mind within ether (noûn enaithérion).
Οἱ Στωικοὶ νοερὸν θεὸν ἀποφαίνονται, πῦρ τεχνικόν, ὁδῷ βαδίζον ἐπὶ γενέσει κόσμου, ἐμπεριειληφὸς πάντας τοὺς σπερματικοὺς λόγους, καθ‘ οὓς ἅπαντα καθ’ εἱμαρμένην γίνεται. Καὶ πνεῦμα μὲν ἐνδιῆκον δι’ ὅλου τοῦ κόσμου, τὰς δὲ προσηγορίας μεταλαμβάνον δι’ ὅλης τῆς ὕλης, δι’ ἧς κεχώρηκε, παραλλάξαν, θεοὺς δὲ καὶ τὸν κόσμον καὶ τοὺς ἀστέρας καὶ τὴν γῆν· ἀνωτάτω δὲ πάντων νοῦν ἐναιθέριον εἶναι θεόν.
<Epicurus, from around 300 BCE>
Epicurus (considers) the gods to be anthropomorphic, but perceptible only by reason, because the nature of the images consists in such small particles. And he considers the four following natures to be imperishable according to kind (kata genos): the atoms, the empty, the infinite, the correspondences; and these are called the homoeomeries and elements.
Ἐπίκουρος ἀνθρωποειδεῖς μὲν τοὺς θεούς, λόγῳ δὲ πάντας θεωρητοὺς διὰ τὴν λεπτομέρειαν τῆς τῶν εἰδώλων φύσεως. Ὁ δ’ αὐτὸς ἄλλας τέσσαρας φύσεις κατὰ γένος ἀφθάρτους τάσδε· τὰ ἄτομα, τὸ κενόν, τὸ ἄπειρον, τὰς ὁμοιότητας· αὗται δὲ λέγονται ὁμοιομέρειαι καὶ στοιχεῖα.
(30) [From Hermes]
[= Corpus Hermeticum 4.1.4–9]
The body of that one is such that it is intangible, invisible, immeasurable, unextended, and unlike any other body, as it neither fire nor water nor air nor spirit; but these all (spring) from it, since, being good (agathòs), he did not wish to dedicate this (body) and to order the earth for himself alone.
Τοιοῦτο γάρ ἐστι τὸ σῶμα ἐκείνου, οὐχ ἁπτὸν οὐδὲ ὁρατὸν οὐδὲ μετρητὸν οὐδὲ διαστατὸν οὐδ’ ἄλλῳ τινὶ σώματι ὅμοιον. Οὔτε γὰρ πῦρ ἐστιν οὔτε ὕδωρ οὔτε ἀὴρ οὔτε πνεῦμα, ἀλλὰ πάντα ἀπ’ αὐτοῦ. Ἀγαθὸς γὰρ ὤν, μόνῳ ἑαυτῷ τοῦτο ἀναθεῖναι ἠθέλησε, καὶ τὴν γῆν κοσμῆσαι.
(31a) [Unnamed poet]
Of strong Heracles, who purified the entire earth,
And the rock-climbing god Pan Nomius the lustful,
And the healer of the dead, most happy Asclepius,
And the oldest goddess, Hygieia of splendid gifts,
And the Dioscuri, who are seen as apparitions on fast-sailing ships,
And the Curetes, who are the companions of Rhea, the mother of Zeus,
And the Charites, greatest to remember in every work,
And the Seasons, the children of Time, who bring forth all things,
And the mountain Nymphs, who haunt the springs—
Ἡρακλέους κρατεροῦ ὃς γᾶν ἐκάθαρεν ἅπασαν,
πετροβάτα τε θεοῦ, Πανὸς νομίοιο βρυάκτα,
θείω ἰατῆρός τ’ Ἀσκληπιοῦ ὀλβιοδώτα,
πρεσβίστας τε θεᾶς Ὑγιείας μειλιχοδώρου,
ναυσί τ’ ἐπ’ ὠκυπόροισι Διοσκούρων ἐπιφαντᾶν,
Κουρήτων θ’, οἳ ματρὶ Διὸς Ῥέᾳ ἐντὶ πάρεδροι,
καὶ Χαρίτων μεμνᾶσθαι ἐν ἔργῳ παντὶ μέγιστον,
ἠδὲ Χρόνου παίδων Ὡρᾶν, αἳ πάντα φύοντι,
Νυμφᾶν τ’ οὐρειᾶν, αἳ νάματα κάλ’ ἐφέποντι.
(31b) [Unnamed poet]
Let us hymn the blessed ones, o Zeus-begotten Muses, with undying songs!
Ὑμνέωμες μάκαρας, Μοῦσαι Διὸς ἔκγονοι ἀφθίτοις ἀοιδαῖς.
(32) [From Philemon]
The one from whom no one can hide what they do,
Nor what they want to do or once did of old,
Neither god or human. For I am
Air, whom one might also call Zeus.
I am, as is the activity of a god, in all places,
In Athens as well as in Patrai and Sicily,
In all cities, in all households,
In all of you; there is no place
Where there is no air; and he who is present everywhere
Necessarily knows all things.
Ὃν οὐδὲ εἷς λέληθεν οὐδὲ ἓν ποιῶν,
οὐδ’ αὖ ποιήσων οὐδὲ πεφοιηκὼς πάλαι,
οὔτε θεὸς οὔτ’ ἄνθρωπος, οὗτός εἰμ’ ἐγὼ
Ἀήρ, ὃν ἄν τις ὀνομάσειε καὶ Δία.
ἐγὼ δ‘ ὃ ‹θεοῦ ’στιν› ἔργον, εἰμὶ πανταχοῦ,
‹ἐνταῦθ’ ἐν Ἀθήναις, ἐν Πάτραις, ἐν Σικελίᾳ,>
ἐν ταῖς πόλεσι πάσαισιν, ἐν ταῖς οἰκίαις
πάσαις, ἐν ὑμῖν πᾶσιν· οὐκ ἔστιν τόπος
οὗ μή ’στιν ἀήρ· ὁ δὲ παρὼν ἁπανταχοῦ
πάντ’ ἐξ ἀνάγκης οἶδε [πανταχοῦ παρών].
(33) [From Arrian’s record of Epictetus’ discourse On Providence 1.6.1–11]
It is easy to praise providence for each of the things that arise in the cosmos as long as one has these two: the ability to consider each of the things that arise holistically (in light of each other), and a well (developed) sense of gratitude. Without these, one will either not perceive their usefulness, or see it but not come to be grateful for them.
If The God had created colors and all the things that are visible, but had not created a faculty to actually see them, what use would that have been? None at all! And take the reverse, if he had indeed created the faculty, but nothing that could affect the faculty of vision, what use would that have been? None! And what if he had created both, but not the light? It would have been no use!
So who has made this agree with that, and that with this? Who has made the blade fit the sheath and the sheath the sword? No one at all? But we usually assume that something so finished is the work of a craftsman, and not some random structure. So, does each of those indicate a craftsman, but visibility and vision and light do not?
And what about male and female and their desire for sex with each other? What about their faculty to use the organs which are intended for this purpose? Do they not indicate a craftsman? Yes, they do!
And what about the intricate construction of our mind? We not only receive impressions from sensible things in it when they affect us, but we can also (mentally) select some one thing, and remove it, or add something, or create some combination of them, or, by Zeus, we can substitute parts of some with parts of others that are related in some way!
Are such things not enough to move anyone to change their mind and stop ignoring the craftsman? And if not, they must explain to us what else is creating all these things, or how things that are so wonderful and intricately designed can come into being randomly and spontaneously.
(34) That the divine watches over all [=Arrian, Discourses of Epictetus 1.14.1–10]
When (Epictetus) was asked by someone how one might be convinced that everything that is done under him is watched over by The God, he said: “Don’t you think that all things are united in one?” – “I do”, said (the other).
“So then, don’t you think that the things on earth have an affinity with the things in heaven?” – “I do”, was the answer.
“And how else would there be such regularity, (if not) by command of The God, that when he tells the plants to blossom, they blossom, when he tells them to bud, they bud, when he tells them to produce fruit, they produce it, when he tells them to ripen, they ripen, and when he tells them cast off and shed their leaves, (they do it), and when he tells them to contract and remain at rest and inactive, they remain inactive?
“And what else would be the origin of the great changes and transformations from opposite to opposite that are observed on earth when the moon waxes or wanes and when the sun approaches and recedes?
“But if the plants and our bodies are so entangled with the whole and so affected by this affinity, won’t this apply even more so to our souls? And if the souls are so entangled and connected with The God as to be sections and particles of his, won’t The God perceive their every movement as his own and rooted in himself?
“Now, you have the ability to reflect on the divine administration and every (work) of the divine, as well as on human affairs, and you can take in a myriad things, both with your senses and mentally, and in the very same instant you will be accepting some, rejecting some, and suspending judgement about others. You’re storing up so many impressions from such a quantity and variety of things in your soul; because you’re affected by them, you arrive at mental notions (epinoías) equiform to the original impressions; and, one after the other, you (learn and) retain skills and memories from those myriad things.
“And yet The God is supposed not to have the capacity to watch over all things? Not to be present to all things? Not to receive any sort of information from all things? The Sun is able to illuminate so great a part of the universe, leaving only a small portion – that which is covered by the shadow the earth casts – without light. But the one who has created and directs the Sun, which is only a small part of him compared to the whole, he is supposed to not be able to perceive all things?”
(35) From Iamblichus’s Letter to Poimenius
The gods conduct fate (heimarménēn) by correcting (wrongs) throughout the universe. Their corrections sometimes effect a lessening of evils, sometimes relief (for them), and at times their removal. Through this, then, fate regulates things for the sake of the good, but in so regulating does not become fully apparent to the disorderly nature of Becoming. In this way, destiny (peprōménē) is all the more preserved, while any deviations from it are constrained by the undeviable goodness of the gods, because it does not permit any slide into disorderly discordance. In light of this, neither the boniformity of providence nor the self-determination of the soul nor any of the most noble (things/doctrines) must be abandoned, since they exist together by the will of the gods.
(36) From Aristotle’s Letter to Alexander
[=Pseudo-Aristotle, On the Cosmos 400b7–401a27]
On the whole, what the pilot is on a ship, what the charioteer is in a chariot, what the choral leader is in the choir, what the law is in the city, what the general is in the army, this is what The God is in the cosmos, except insofar as for all these, there is much toil and movement and anxiety in ruling, whereas for him it is painless, effortless and divorced from all bodily weakness. Established in immutability, he has all power to do all, move all, direct all things, in the way he wishes and where he wishes, in the different forms and different natures; in the same way, for example, as the law of a city, while remaining immutable in the souls of those who observe it, is able to direct all aspects of politics. Clearly it is because they observe the law that officials go to their offices, judges to their courts, councilmen and assemblymen to their assembly halls, each where they ought. And one person (is given the honour) to go to the town hall for dinners at public expense, another (must) go to the courts as defendant, another to prison to be executed. (Through the law,) customary public feasts and annual festivals are established, as are sacrifices (thysíai) for gods, services (therapeîai) for heroes and libations of those who have passed on (khoaì kekmēkótōn). And all the variety of activities undertaken at one single command, one customary power, recall the verse that:
The city is heavy with incense,
Heavy with songs of praise (paiánōn) and lamentations
(Sophocles, Oedipus Rex 4.5).
We must understand that things stand the same way with that greater city—I mean the cosmos. For The God is an impartial law for us, one which can receive no correction or change, and which is greater and more permanent, I should think, than any of the laws recorded on tablets. With him as immutable and harmonious leader, the universe is managed through his disposition of heaven and earth, ordering all natures and distributing their respective seeds to plants and animals, divided by genera and species, in accord with their natures: vines, date-palms and peaches,
sweet figs and olives (Odyssey 7.116),
as the poet says, and the (trees) that are fruitless but serve another use, planes, pines and box-trees,
alder, poplar and fragrant cypress (Odyssey 5.64),
as well as those which bear sweet fruit in the autumn, but such as is bad to store,
pears, pomegranates and apple trees with glossy fruit (Odyssey 7.115),
and the animals, both wild and tame, and those in the air and on the earth as well as those which live in water—they arise, they are nourished, and they perish in compliance with the decree of The God. For “all cattle is driven by a goad”, as Heraclitus says.
Though he is one, he has many names (polyṓnymós esti), acquiring names from the effects he produces. We call him Zêna and Día, using these names interchangeably, as if to say “di’ hòn zômen (‘Through him we live’).” He is called the son of Kronos and of Khronos (‘time’), because he lasts from one unending epoch to another. He is called Astrapaios (‘of lightning’), Brontaios (‘of thunder’), Aithrios (‘of clear weather’), Aitherios (‘ethereal’), Keraunios (‘of thunderbolt’), Hyetios (‘of rain’) on account of the rain and the thunderbolts and so on. Again, he is named Epikarpios after the crops (karpôn), and Polieus after the city (póleōs);—Genethlios (‘of birth’), Homognios (‘of the same ancestry’), Herkeios (‘of the household’) and Patroos (‘paternal, ancestral’), after the different kinds of relationships;—and Hetaireios (‘of companions’), Philios (‘of friends’) and Xenios (‘of guests/hosts’);—and further, Stratios (‘of the army’) and Tropaioukhos (‘gainer of war trophies’);—Katharsios (‘of purification’), Palamnaios (‘avenging’), Hikesios (‘of supplication’) and Meilikhios (‘gracious’), as the poets call him;—and very truly, Soter (‘Savior’) and Eleutherios (‘of freedom’). In sum, he is Celestial (ouránios) and Chthonic (khthónios), and takes names from every nature and every outcome, since he is the cause of all things.
(37) From Xenophon’s Memorabilia [4.3.3–6]
(Persons: Socrates. Euthydemus.)
SOC: Say, Euthydemus, has it ever occured to you to ponder that the gods take care and furnish all things humans need (for them)?
EUTH: No, by Zeus, I have not.
SOC: But you know, of course, that first of all we need light, which the gods provide us with.
EUTH: By Zeus indeed, and if we didn’t have it, we would in effect be blind, despite having eyes.
SOC: But since we need rest, they provide us with the night, a wonderful break.
EUTH: Quite so, and that is worthy of our thanks.
SOC: And next, isn’t it a fact that the Sun, with its brightness, indicates the hours of the day and illuminates all things, and that, although the night, on account of its darkness, is obscure, still the Stars shine at night and indicate the hours of the night, and that this allows us to accomplish everything we need to?
EUTH: It is a fact.
SOC: And the Moon not only indicates the hours of the night, but also the progress of the month.
SOC: And further, since we need nourishment, they bring this forth from the earth for us, and provide seasons fit for this purpose, which produce not only what we strictly need in great quantity and variety, but also things for our enjoyment.
EUTH: Yes indeed, and these are acts of love for humankind (philánthrōpa).
SOC: And they provide water, which is so precious, in order to assist the earth and the seasons in producing and growing the things we need, and in order to help in our nourishment by mixing with our food and making it more digestible and more wholesome and more pleasant to taste; and what’s more, because we need much of it, they provide us with it unstintingly.
EUTH: This is also providential.
(38) From Plato’s Sophist [265b4–e7]
(Persons: Stranger from Elea. Theaetetus.)
STR: So first of all, let there be two parts of productive (art).
THE: Of what sort?
STR: One is divine and the other human.
THE: I still don’t understand.
STR: We said, if we recall what was said at the outset, that every power is productive which is the cause for things that previously had no existence to come into being.
THE: Yes, I recall.
STR: So then, considering all the mortal animals and also the plants, which grow on the earth out of seeds and roots, and whatever inanimate bodies are formed in the earth, whether fusible or infusible – will we say that these things, which once had no existence, came into being through the craftsmanship (demiourgoûntos) of anyone but a god? Our should we follow the belief of the majority?
THE: Which is what?
STR: That nature produces them from randomly and without any intelligence (dianoías) at work. The alternative is (that they are produced) after a plan (lógou) and by a divine knowledge that comes from a god.
THE: I waver between the two (opinions), perhaps because I am young; but now, looking to you and considering that you think they are produced by a god, I believe it, too.
STR: Very good, Theaetetus! And if I thought that you were one of those who would in time come to change their opinion, I would now try and make you agree by argument and stringent persuasion. But since I think that it is in your nature to reach the (opinion) you say you are already inclining to, even without any arguments from me, I will let it go, as it would be a waste of time. But I will posit that the things that are called natural are made by divine artifice, but those which are put together from these (natural objects) are made by human artifice. And in light of this idea, there will be two kinds of productive (art), one human, the other divine.
(39) From Onatas, On the God and the Divine
The God perceives the other living beings in a manner neither intelligible (noētôs) nor perceptible (epaïstôs), except to a few humans. For The God himself is intellect (nóos) and soul and the ruling faculty (tò hagemonikòn) of the entire cosmos; but his powers (dynámies), of which he is the distributor, are sensible (aisthētaí), and so are the (celestial bodies) revolving around the entire cosmos.
Now the god himself is neither visible nor sensible, but only contemplatable (theōratós) by reason (lógōi) and intellect (nóōi); but his works and acts are manifest and sensible for all humans. But it also seems to me that the god is not one, but one is the greatest and superior and the one who rules the universe, while the many others differ in power (dýnamin); and that over all of them rules he who is greater in terms of power and greatness and virtue. And this god would be the one who encompasses the entire cosmos, while the other gods (theoí) are the ones who run (théontes) across heaven along the curvature of the universe, attending the first and intelligible one (tōi prátōi kai noatôi) according to reason.
But those who say that there is only one god, and not many, err: for they do not fully contemplate the exalted doctrine of divine pre-eminence (huperokhês). I say that ruling and guiding one’s peers (homoíōn) is greater and more excellent than anything else. But the other gods relate to the first and intelligible god like choir singers to the choral leader, soldiers to a general, and soldiers and hoplites to a squad leader and a commander, in that their nature is to follow and attend to the one who rules well. Now, both ruler and ruled share in the same work, but still, the ruled are not able to be organized for their work if they are without a ruler, as neither are choir singers for a common song, nor soldiers for a campaign, if they are without a ruler, a general, or a choral leader, respectively.
But such a nature is in need of nothing, neither of anything internal nor external; hence it needs neither to be joined together from two, a soul and a body—for it is entirely soul—, nor of any contraries—for to rule and to be ruled are naturally contrary. The mixture with the body stains the purity of the soul; for the latter is unmixed and divine, but the former is mortal and thoroughly impure (tholomigés); in the same way, lead stains gold, and the impure stains what is by nature pure. But the god gave the body wholly to the mortal animals by an eternal and inescapable necessity. For everything having a share in becoming/birth (genéseōs) is by nature difficult and beggarly.
Now, just as I said in the beginning of this work, ‘God’ is himself a principle and a first (arkhà kai prâton); but the cosmos is ‘divine’ (theîos), and so are all the things roaming about in it—in the same way that the soul is ‘Daemon’ (daímōn), since she rules and moves the entire living being, but the body is ‘daemonic’, and so are all of its (parts). This is how one must distinguish ‘God’ and ‘divine’, and ‘Daemon’ and ‘daemonic’.
(40) From Arrian’s (record) of Epictetus’ (discourse) About Contentment [1.12.1–7]
Concerning the gods:
– There are some who say that the divine does not exist;
– others, that it does exist, but is inactive and careless, and exercises no providence over anything;
– a third group, that it does exist and exercise providence, but only for great and celestial things, but for nothing upon the earth;
– a fourth, that they do provide for things on the earth and human affairs, but only in general and not individually for each;
– the fifth group, and this includes Odysseus and Socrates, say that:
“Not a movement of mine escapes you.”
If it is rightly said that the goal (of philosophy) is to follow the gods, we must consider each (of the five positions) carefully:
– Now, if there are no gods, how can it be the goal to follow the gods?
– And if they exist, but do not take care of anything, again, how can that (goal) be right?
– But assuming they exist and are providential, if there is no communication from them to humanity, and, by Zeus, not to me either, again: how can that (goal) be right?
Now, one who is noble and good (kalòs kagathòs) and has considered all (of these opinions) makes their own intentions subordinate to the one who administers all things, like good citizens do to the law of their city.