Peripatetics on the Gods

Category: Theology > Philosophers on the Gods

1 Introduction

The founder of the Peripatetic school, Aristotle, has the reputation – especially by contrast to Plato – of having little interest in the gods worshipped by his contemporaries, and instead focussing his attentions on a single greatest being, the First Mover or God; this is the impersonal “God of the philosophers” whom medieval theologians sought to reconcile with the personal “God of Abraham”. Accordingly, Aristotle has been described as a “pagan monotheist” or as the first deist.

But this is not just an exaggeration, it is simply wrong. While he never discusses the nature of specific named gods in the way that Plato does, and perhaps had little confidence in the ability of human reason to achieve knowledge in this area, Aristotle presupposes the ethical value of conventional piety throughout his work. His apparent disinterest, in fact, stems in part from the fact that he takes the moral necessity and social benefit of polytheistic worship entirely for granted.

As for the First Mover (or ‘Prime Mover’), it is important to note that Aristotle uses the neuter here, so that to prōton kinoun means ‘the thing that first causes motion’, whereas the word for ‘god’, theos, is grammatically masculine. To be clear, I do not mean that the First Mover is not a god for Aristotle – it certainly is divine –, but that he does not in the first instance think of it as “God”. It is, as later Peripatetics will say, the ‘First God’, and they will also begin simply referring to it as ho theos, ‘The God’. But neither for them nor for their preceptor does this imply anything that can honestly be called monotheism.

On this page, I will collect various excerpts from Aristotle and his followers that demonstrate these points.

2 Aristotle on the Movers as Gods

“The principle (arkhē) and the first of all beings is unmoved, both essentially and accidentally, and it brings about the first eternal and unitary movement; for it is necessary that what is moved is moved by something, and that the first mover is essentially unmoved, and also that eternal motion is moved by something eternal, and what is unitary (or ‘one’) by some one thing.

“But we see that, beside the unitary (or ‘simple’) movement of the universe, of which we say that the first and unmoved substance moves it, there are other eternal movements, namely those of the planets […] and it is necessary that each of these movements is also moved by a substance that is essentially unmoved and eternal. For the eternal nature of the stars is a certain substance, and that which moves is eternal and prior to that which is moved, and it is also necessary that what is prior to substance is a substance. So, it is evident that there necessarily substances which by their nature are eternal, essentially unmoved and without extension […].

“That (these Movers) are substances, and that there is a certain first and second one (and so on), according to the same orders of the motions (phorai) of the stars, is evident” (Metaphysics 10723ab).

Here we see that, while the Movers are ordered hierarchically, the First Mover is commensurate with the others; and when Aristotle goes on to argue for the unity of the cosmos (or ‘heaven’, ouranos, which here refers especially to the outermost sphere), and for the unity of its First Mover, he immediately follows this by arguing that all the Movers are gods:

“That there is only one heaven is evident. For if there were many heavens, like there are humans, the principle of each would be one in species, but many in number. But whenever there are many in number (of something), they have matter; […] but the first essence (ti ēn einai) does not have matter; for it is an actuality (or ‘entelechy’). So, since the First Mover, which is unmoved, is one in pattern (logos) and in number, that which is eternally and continuously moved is likewise; and so, there is only one heaven.

“It has been handed down, in the form of a myth, as a tradition from the ancients and those of the oldest times to those after them, that these (Movers) are gods, and that the divine encompasses all of nature. The rest has been added later, in a mythical manner so as to persuade the masses, and because of the usefulness (of mythical narratives) for the laws and expedience (eis tous nomous kai to sympheron); for they say that that they are human-shaped (anthrōpoeideis) and like certain other animals, and other things that follow from these things or are related to the aforementioned.

“If, setting all these things aside, one takes only this first (opinion), that the first substances are gods, one should regard it as divinely said, and that – since in all probability, every art and philosophy has been fully explored and lost in turn many times over – these opinions have survived as a kind of remnant of them until now. And it is to this extent only that the view of our ancestors and the earliest (writers?) is clear to us” (Metaphysics 1074ab).

This does not necessary entail that the Movers are the only gods (although it might), but it certainly does entail that all of them are gods. And this provides the crucial context for interpreting the more famous passage, slightly earlier in the Metaphysics, where Aristotle discusses the nature of ho theos, ‘the god’. This not “God”, as Christian readers would have it, but ‘the god’ in the sense of ‘the gods as a genus’, just as ho anthrōpos means both ‘the human being’ and, in an abstract sense, ‘humankind’. (Compare the obsolete English ‘man’ for ‘mankind’, i.e., ‘human’ for ‘humanity’.) So, let us see how Aristotle understands ‘godkind’:

The First Mover (or the god more generally?) “is life; for the actualization (energeia) of mind (nous) is life, and he is actuality (energeia); but his the essential actuality is a most excellent and eternal life. For of course we call the god an eternal and most excellent living being (zōion aïdion ariston), so that life and aiōn (‘lifetime; eternity’) are continuous and eternal for the god; for that is the god” (Metaphysics 1072b).

(Note that I have omitted the preceding, more famous passage about “thought thinking itself” or “intellect cognizing the intelligible”, since it is about the First Mover, not ‘the god’.)

According to the conventional, monotheistic reading of this passage, Aristotle is supposed to have introduced the radical opinion that there is only one god by nothing more than the phrase “that is is the god”, while presupposing it elsewhere. But from context, it is much more natural to read this as meaning “this is what the gods are like”. Firstly, we know from 1074b that Aristotle believes there to be many gods; secondly, the definition of gods as eternal and most excellent living beings accords perfectly with Greek tradition; and thirdly, Aristotle introduces this definition with the particle , which I translate “of course”: this can only mean that he is relying on a view that is already shared by his audience, and is now being applied to one god in particular, the First Mover.

(Richard Bodéüs’ argument in his excellent Aristotle and the Theology of the Living Immortals, that the genus of gods is introduced here only as an analogy, is not quite plausible in context, although it is in a sense much closer to the truth than the conventional monotheizing reading.)

2 Later Peripatetics on the Movers as Gods

I anticipate the objection that a definition involving a superlative – specifically, ariston, ‘most excellent’ or ‘best’ – can only be in reference to a unique individual, not the entire genus of gods. But that is misguided pedantry. Ancient Greek authors regularly write things to the effect that “the gods are the most excellent of all” (Aspasius, On Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics, p. 109), and this is consistent with the use of ariston (sans definite article) in Aristotle’s definition.

The best evidence that this was the natural reading for polytheists speaking ancient Greek is found in the great commentator on Aristotle, Alexander of Aphrodisias, who appropriately takes ariston in a double sense: all gods are most excellent, but the First God especially so: “every god is most excellent, even if not in the same way as the first (pas gar theos aristos kai ei mē hōs ho prōtos)” (Alexander, On Aristotle’s Metaphysics, p. 707), that is, even if they are not “first principles (prōtai arkhai) and most excellent beings in the strictest sense (ta kyriōs arista)” (ibid. p. 709).

Alexander, On Metaphysics, p. 706 – 707

ἀλλὰ τίνα τὰ τῶν σφαιρῶν ποιητικὰ αἴτια, ἃ νῦν παραδίδωσι; πότερον αἱ ψυχαὶ καὶ τὰ εἴδη αὐτῶν; ἢ οὐ τὰς τούτων ψυχάς φησιν, ἐπεὶ οὐχ αὗται θεοί; αὗται γὰρ εἴδη οὖσαι τῶν σφαιρῶν ἐν αὐταῖς εἰσι, καὶ κινοῦσιν αὐτὰς κύκλῳ διὰ μέσης τῆς φύσεως μιᾶς οὔσης καὶ τῆς αὐτῆς κινήσεως (οὐ γὰρ ἄλλη ἡ τῆς ψυχῆς καὶ ἄλλη ἡ τῆς φύσεως κίνησις), καὶ ἔχουσιν ἀπὸ μὲν τῆς φύσεως αἱ σφαῖραι τὴν αὐτοφυᾶ καὶ ἀβίαστον καὶ κατ‘ αὐτὸ τὸ εἶδος ἐπιτηδειότητα πρὸς τὸ κινεῖσθαι, ἀπὸ δὲ τῆς ψυχῆς τὴν μεταβατικὴν ἐνέργειαν, πρὸς ἣν πεφύκασι διὰ τὴν φύσιν. οὐ τὰς τούτων οὖν ψυχὰς λέγει, ἀλλ‘ ἑτέρας οὐσίας ἀσωμάτους καὶ χωρὶς σώματος, ὑφειμένας μὲν τοῦ πρώτου νοῦ ὅσον αἱ σφαῖραι, εἰ χρὴ λέγειν, τῆς ἀπλανοῦς, ὑπερτέρας δὲ τῶν ψυχῶν τῶν σφαιρῶν· ὥστε αἱ σφαῖραι ὑπὸ μὲν τῶν οἰκείων ψυχῶν κινοῦνται, ὥσπερ εἴρηται, ὑπὸ δὲ τῶν τοιούτων θεῶν, ὡς ἡ ἀπλανὴς ὑπὸ τοῦ πρώτου νοός. κινεῖται δὲ ἡ ἀπλανὴς ὑπὸ τοῦ πρώτου κινητικοῦ τὴν ἐπ‘ ἄπειρον κίνησιν· οὐ γάρ ἐστιν ἡ ψυχὴ τῆς ἀπλανοῦς αἰτία τοῦ ἐπ‘ ἄπειρον κινεῖσθαι, οὐδ‘ ὑπ‘ αὐτῆς τοῦτο ἔχει, ἀλλ‘ ὑπὸ τοῦ πρώτου κινητικοῦ. ὥσπερ γὰρ τὴν κίνησιν ἀπὸ ψυχῆς ἔχει, ὥσπερ εἴρηται, οὕτω τὸ ἐπ‘ ἄπειρον καὶ ἀεὶ κατὰ τὰ αὐτὰ καὶ ὡσαύτως καὶ περὶ τὰ αὐτὰ καὶ ἐν τῷ αὐτῷ καὶ ὅσα τοιαῦτα ἀπὸ τῆς ἀκινήτου νοερᾶς αἰτίας ἐφήκει τῷ οὐρανῷ. ὡς οὖν ὁ οὐρανὸς ὑπὸ τοῦ πρώτου κινεῖται κινητικοῦ, οὕτω καὶ αἱ πλανώμεναι σφαῖραι ὑπὸ τῶν οἰκείων κινητικῶν, τελειουμένων καθ‘ ἑκάστην καὶ ἀγαθυνομένων ὑπὸ τοῦ πρώτου κινητικοῦ, ἄλλα μὲν μᾶλλον ἄλλα δὲ ἧττον, τὰ μὲν τῆς Κρονιακῆς σφαίρας μᾶλλον, τὰ δὲ τῆς ἡλίου ἧττον, καὶ τὰ λοιπὰ ὁμοίως. λέγονται δὲ καὶ τὰ τοιαῦτα κινητικὰ αἴτια ἄριστα, οὐχ ὡς τὸ πρῶτον καὶ οὗ ταῦτα ἐξήρτηται (ἐκεῖνο μὲν γὰρ ἀνενδεὲς τῶν ἑαυτοῦ καλῶν ὑπέρπληρες, ταῦτα δὲ ἐπιστρέφεται πρὸς ἐκεῖνο καὶ τῆς ἐκείνου πληροῦται ἀγαθοδοσίας), ἀλλὰ λέγεται ἄριστα ὡς πρὸς τὰς σφαίρας ἃς κινοῦσιν· ὡς γὰρ ἀρίστων τούτων ἐφίενται· οὗ γάρ τι ἐφίεται, ὡς ἀρίστου τούτου ἐρᾷ. ὥστε ὁ πολυτίμητος νοῦς ἁπλῶς λέγεται ἄριστον, ὡς καὶ ὁ πρῶτος οὐρανὸς ἁπλῶς μέγας· ταῦτα δὲ λέγεται ἄριστα ὡς πρὸς τὰς ὑπ‘ αὐτῶν κινουμένας σφαίρας, ὥσπερ καὶ τοδὶ τὸ μέγεθος λέγεται μέγα ἢ μεῖζον, οἷον φέρε τὸ δεκάπηχυ οὐχ ἁπλῶς ἀλλὰ πρὸς τοδὶ τὸ δίπηχυ ἢ πεντάπηχυ.

Alexander, On Metaphysics, p. 709-710

on p. 1074a38 <Παραδέδοται δὲ παρὰ τῶν ἀρχαίων καὶ παμπαλαίων ἐν μύθου σχήματι.>

Δείξας ὅτι εἰσὶ θεοὶ καὶ τοσοῦτοι ὅσαι αἱ σφαῖραι, ἐξηρτημένοι τῆς θειοτάτης καὶ ἀρίστης οὐσίας καὶ ὑπ‘ ἐκείνην ὄντες καὶ ἐκεῖθεν τὸ ἄριστοι εἶναί τε καὶ λέγεσθαι ἔχοντες, λέγει ὅτι οὐ μόνον ἡμεῖς ταύτην περὶ τούτων τὴν ἔννοιαν ἔχομεν, ἀλλὰ <παρὰ τῶν ἀρχαίων καὶ παμπαλαίων> παρειλήφαμεν <ἐν μύθου σχήματι> ὅτι εἰσὶ θεοί, οὐχ ἑτέρους τινὰς διὰ τῶν μύθων αἰνιττόμενοι, ἀλλὰ τούτους οὓς ἡμεῖς φαμεν. εἰσὶν οὖν θεοὶ καὶ θεῖον πλῆθος περιέχον τὴν ὅλην φύσιν καὶ τὸν ἅπαντα κόσμον· οὐ σωματικῶς δὲ περιέχει ὡς ὁ μέδιμνος τοὺς ἐν αὐτῷ πυρούς (ἀμερὲς γὰρ πᾶν τὸ θεῖον), ἀλλ‘ ὡς κυβερνῶν καὶ ἀγαθῦνον καὶ τὴν ὡς ἔχει τάξιν καὶ εὐκοσμίαν ἀεὶ παράγον. εἰπὼν δὲ ὅτι <ἐν μύθου σχήματι> καταλελειμμένα, τὴν αἰτίαν τοῦ πῶς μυθικῶς περὶ θεῶν ἔλεγον ἐπάγει <τὰ λοιπὰ μυθικῶς προῆκται πρὸς τὴν πειθὼ τῶν πολλῶν,> δυνάμει λέγων ὅτι μόνον [710] τοῦτο σαφῶς ἀποφηνάμενοι, ὥς εἰσι θεοί, τὰ λοιπὰ ὅσα περὶ αὐτῶν εἶπον, οἷον ὅτι ὁ Κρόνος καὶ ἡ Ῥέα ἐγέννησε τὸν Δία καὶ τὰ λοιπά, μυθικῶς εἰρήκασι πρὸς τὸ πεῖσαι τοὺς πολλοὺς καὶ πρὸς τὸ χρῆσθαι νόμοις, καὶ ὅλως πρὸς τὸ συμφέρον τοῦ ἀνθρωπείου βίου μυθικῶς ταῦτα ἀπεφήναντο. σοφοὶ γὰρ ὄντες καὶ γινώσκοντες ὅτι αἱ πανηγύρεις καὶ τὰ συμπόσια ἐξημεροῖ τοὺς ἀνθρώπους καὶ ἑνοῖ καὶ φιλεῖν ἀλλήλους καὶ ὑπὲρ ἀλλήλων ἀποθνήσκειν ποιεῖ, ταῦτα δὲ συνίστησι τὰς πόλεις, τὸ δὲ μονοῦσθαι ἀποθηριοῖ καὶ διασχίζει καὶ ἀναιρεῖν ἀλλήλους παρασκευάζει, καὶ διὰ τοῦτο βουληθέντες συστῆσαι τὰς πανηγύρεις καὶ τὰ συμπόσια, μύθους ἐπλάσαντο, οἷον ὅτι τήμερον ὁ Ζεὺς ἐκ τῆς Ῥέας ἐγεννήθη, καὶ διὰ τοῦτο δεῖ πάντας ἀθροισθῆναι καὶ ἑορτάσαι τὴν γενέθλιον ἡμέραν τοῦ θεοῦ καὶ συνεστιαθῆναι. ἀλλὰ καὶ ἀνθρωποειδεῖς αὐτοὺς ποιήσαντες οὐδὲ τοῦτο μάτην πεποιήκεσαν ἀλλὰ πρὸς τὸ συμφέρον τῶν πολλῶν· βουλόμενοι γὰρ ἀποτρέψαι τοὺς ἀνθρώπους ἀπὸ τοῦ τύπτειν ἀλλήλους πεποιήκασι τοὺς θεοὺς ἀνθρωποειδεῖς, αἰνιττόμενοι διὰ τούτου ὅτι ὁ τύπτων ἄνθρωπον τὸ θεῖον εἶδος τύπτει καὶ περιυβρίζει. καὶ οὐ μόνον ἀνθρωποειδεῖς αὐτοὺς ποιοῦσιν, ἀλλὰ πρὸς περισσοτέραν ὠφέλειαν τοῦ ἀνθρωπείου γένους ποιοῦσι τοὺς θεοὺς ὁμοίους καὶ τῶν ἄλλων ζῴων τισίν. ἐπειδὴ γὰρ ἡ τῶν Αἰγυπτίων χώρα πάνυ πολὺ πλῆθος ὄφεων ἀναδίδωσιν ὡς οὐδεμία ἄλλη βλάβη βλάπτον τοὺς ἐκεῖσε οἰκοῦντας, ὧν ἡ φύσις καὶ ὁ θεὸς προνοουμένη ἀνῆκε τὰς καλουμένας ἴβεις φονευτρίας τῶν ὄφεων, βουλόμενοι οἱ ἐκεῖσε σοφοὶ ἀποτρέψαι τοὺς Αἰγυπτίους τοῦ φονεύειν τὰς ἴβεις (ἐφόνευον γὰρ αὐτάς τινες, καὶ ταῦτα σωτείρας οὔσας τοῦ τῶν Αἰγυπτίων γένους) τεθείκασι νόμον παρακελευόμενον μηδενὶ ἐξεῖναι Αἰγυπτίων φονεύειν ἶβιν. διὰ τί, φησίν· ὅτι οἱ θεοὶ οἷς ἂν φανεῖεν ἐν εἴδει ἴβεων φαίνονται. <ὧν,> φησὶν ὁ Ἀριστοτέλης, τούτων πάντων τῶν περὶ θεῶν μυθικῶς λεγομένων <εἴ τις χωρίσας τὸ πρῶτον> ῥηθὲν <λάβοι,> ὅτι ἃς ἡμεῖς πρώτας οὐσίας καὶ θεούς φαμεν, ταύτας καὶ ἐκεῖνοι θεοὺς ἐνόμιζον, <θείως ἂν εἰρῆσθαι νομίσειεν.> καὶ ὥσπερ κατὰ τὸ εἰκὸς πολλάκις ὑπὸ κατακλυσμῶν τεχνῶν καὶ ἐπιστημῶν φθαρεισῶν λείψανά τινα κατελείπετο, ἐξ ὧν πάλιν ὡς δυνατὸν αἱ τέχναι καὶ ἐπιστῆμαι εὕρηνται, οὕτω καὶ τῆς δόξης, ἣν εἶχον περὶ τῶν θεῶν οἱ παμπάλαιοι ἄνθρωποι (εἶχον δὲ δόξαν ὅτι εἰσὶ θεοί), ταύτης δὴ τῆς δόξης μέχρι τοῦ νῦν περισώζεται λείψανά τινα. ἀλλ‘ ἀπὸ τῶν τοιούτων, φησί, λειψάνων καὶ τῆς πατρίου ὑπολήψεως τοῦτο μόνον ἐστὶν ἡμῖν δῆλον, ὅτι καὶ ἐκεῖνοι θεοὺς εἶναι ᾤοντο.

On Metaphysics, p. 721

οὐ γὰρ ἀγαθὸν πολυκοιρανίη, ἀλλ‘ εἷς κοίρανος, μία ἀρχή, εἷς θεός ἐστι. τὰ γὰρ τῶν πλανωμένων αἴτια θεοὶ μέν, ἀλλὰ μεθέξει καὶ τῷ βουλήματι τοῦ πρώτου καὶ μακαριωτάτου ἐξήρτηνται νοός.

p. 1072b23 <Ὥστε ἐκεῖνο μᾶλλον τούτου ὃ δοκεῖ ὁ νοῦς θεῖον ἔχειν.>

Alexander On Metaphysics, p. 698 – 699 : Πάντων τῶν τοῦ νοὸς θειότατόν ἐστιν ἡ θεωρία. ὃ οὖν θεῖον ἔχει ὁ ἐνεργείᾳ νοῦς (ἔχει δὲ θεῖον τὸ νοεῖν ἑαυτόν), <τοῦτο μᾶλλον ἐκείνου,> τουτέστι τοῦ πρώτου νοός ἐστιν· ἐκεῖνο οὖν φησιν, ὅπερ δοκεῖ τοῦ ἐνεργείᾳ νοῦ θειότατον καὶ τιμιώτατον, τοῦτο δ‘ ἐστὶ τὸ νοεῖν ἑαυτόν, τοῦτο μᾶλλον ἐκείνου τοῦ πρώτου νοός ἐστιν· μᾶλλον γὰρ καὶ ἀκριβέστατα νοεῖ ἑαυτὸν ὁ πρῶτος νοῦς, ἤπερ ὁ ἐνεργείᾳ νοῦς ἑαυτόν. οὔτε οὖν ὁ ἐνεργείᾳ νοῦς ἑαυτὸν νοεῖ, ὥσπερ ὁ πρῶτος νοῦς ἑαυτόν, οὔτε ἀεί, ἀλλὰ ποτὲ καὶ ὀλιγάκις· ὁ δὲ πρῶτος νοῦς ἑαυτὸν ἀεὶ νοεῖ. οὐδὲν γὰρ ὁ πρῶτος νοῦς ἄλλο νοεῖ ἢ ἑαυτόν· τῷ μὲν γὰρ εἶναι νοητὸς νοεῖται πρὸς ἑαυτοῦ, καὶ τῷ ἐνεργείᾳ καὶ φύσει τῇ ἑαυτοῦ νοητὸς εἶναι ἀεὶ νοούμενος ἔσται, δηλονότι ὑπὸ τοῦ ἐνεργείᾳ νοοῦντος· ἀεὶ δὲ ἐνεργείᾳ νοῶν ἐστι νοῦς αὐτὸς μόνος· ἀεὶ ἄρα ἑαυτὸν νοήσει. μᾶλλον δὲ καθ‘ ὅσον ἐστὶν ἁπλοῦς· ὁ γὰρ ἁπλοῦς νοῦς ἁπλοῦν τι νοεῖ, οὐδὲν δὲ ἄλλο ἁπλοῦν ἐστι νοητὸν πλὴν αὐτός· ἀμιγὴς γὰρ οὗτος καὶ ἄυλος καὶ οὐδὲν ἔχων ἐν ἑαυτῷ δυνάμει· ἑαυτὸν ἄρα μόνον νοήσει. καθὸ μὲν γὰρ νοῦς ἐστιν, ἑαυτὸν ὡς νοητὸν νοήσει· καθὸ δὲ ἐνεργείᾳ καὶ νοῦς ἐστι καὶ νοητόν, ἑαυτὸν νοήσει ἀεί· καθὸ δὲ ἁπλοῦς μόνος, ἑαυτὸν μόνον νοήσει· αὐτός τε γὰρ μόνος ἁπλοῦς ὢν ἁπλοῦ τινος νοητικός ἐστι, καὶ μόνος ἁπλοῦς τῶν νοητῶν ἐστι [τινός]. καὶ ἔστιν ἡ θεωρία, ἐν ᾗ ἑαυτὸν νοεῖ, τὸ ἥδιστον καὶ ἄριστον. εἰ οὖν ὁ θεὸς ἀεὶ οὕτως εὖ ἔχει ὥσπερ ἡμεῖς ποτε εὖ ἔχομεν, θαυμαστὸν ἂν εἴη τὸ θεῖον. εἰ δὲ μᾶλλον καὶ πλέον ὅσον οὐδὲ εἰπεῖν ἔχει τοῦ ἐνεργείᾳ νοῦ, τοσοῦτον ἔσται θαυμασιώτερον ὅσον καὶ πλεονεκτεῖ. ἀλλὰ μὴν ἔχει οὕτω· θαυμασιώτατον ἄρα καὶ πολυτίμητον τὸ θεῖον. ἀλλὰ μὴν καὶ ζωὴ ὑπάρχει τῷ πρώτῳ νῷ· <ἡ γὰρ νοῦ ἐνέργεια ζωή, ἐκεῖνο δέ ἐστιν ἡ ἐνέργεια,> ἐκεῖνο ἄρα ἡ ζωή. ἡ ἐνέργεια οὖν ἐκείνου, ἥτις καὶ καθ‘ αὑτήν ἐστιν ἐνέργεια, <ζωή> ἐστιν <ἀρίστη καὶ ἀίδιος.> εἶτα ἐκ τῶν δειχθέντων ὑπάρχειν τῷ πρώτῳ νῷ ὁρίζεται αὐτόν, λέγων ὅτι ἐστὶν ὁ πρῶτος νοῦς <ζῷον ἀίδιον ἄριστον·> εἰσὶ γὰρ καὶ ἄλλα ζῷα ἀίδια, ἀλλὰ τὸ ἄριστον αὐτός ἐστι μόνος ὁ πρῶτος νοῦς. ὥστε εἰ ζῷον ἀίδιόν ἐστιν ὁ θεός, πᾶν δὲ ἀίδιον ἐν συνεχείᾳ θεωρεῖται (εἰ γὰρ διαλιμπάνει, οὐκ ἀίδιον), <ζωὴ καὶ αἰὼν συνεχής> (αἰὼν γάρ ἐστιν ἡ ἑκάστῳ συμπαρεκτεινομένη ζωή) <ὑπάρχει τῷ θεῷ. τοῦτο γάρ ἐστιν ὁ θεός,> ἡ αἰώνιος καὶ ἀρίστη ζωή.

54 Later writers on Aristotle’s gods

Stob. ecl. I 22 1 p. 486H. 9.1 <(Ἀριστοτέλους)> Περιέχεσθαι δὲ ταῦτα ὑπὸ τοῦ αἰθέρος, ἔνθα τὰ θεῖα διανενεμημένα κατὰ σφαίρας ἵδρυται τῶν λεγομένων ἀπλανῶν τε καὶ πλανωμένων 9.3 ἀστέρων. ὅσας δὲ εἶναι τὰς σφαίρας, τοσούτους ὑπάρχειν καὶ τοὺς κινοῦντας θεοὺς ταύτας, ὧν μέγιστον τὸν πάσας περιέχοντα, ζῷον ὄντα λογικὸν καὶ μακάριον, 9.5 συνεκτικὸν καὶ προνοητικὸν τῶν οὐρανίων. συνεστάναι δὲ τὰ ἄστρα καὶ τὸν οὐρανὸν ἐκ τοῦ αἰθέρος, τοῦτον δὲ οὔτε βαρὺν οὔτε κοῦφον, οὔτε γενητὸν οὔτε φθαρτόν, οὔτε αὐξόμενον οὔτε μειούμενον ἐς ἀεὶ διαμένειν ἄτρεπτον καὶ ἀναλ- λοίωτον πεπερασμένον καὶ σφαιροειδῆ καὶ ἔμψυχον κινούμενον περὶ τὸ μέσον ἐγκυκλίως.

Justin: Ἀριστοτέλης μετὰ τὸν πρῶτον θεὸν οὐ τὰς εἰδέας ἀλλά τινας νοητοὺς θεοὺς εἶναι λέγει. Similarly Life of Pythy?

Sextus: ὡς Ἀριστοτέλης μὲν ἀσώ- ματον εἶπεν εἶναι τὸν θεὸν καὶ πέρας τοῦ οὐρανοῦ,

<Πόσα γένη ζῴων.> 124.2 <Πλάτων> καὶ <Ἀριστοτέλης> τέσσαρα εἶναι ζῴων γένη λέγουσι χερσαῖα ἔνυδρα πτηνὰ οὐράνια· καὶ γὰρ τὰ ἄστρα ζῷα εἶναι· καὶ αὐτὸς ὁ κόσμος ζῷον λογικὸν ἀθάνατον.

1.1.29b.70 <Ἀριστοτέλης> τὸν μὲν ἀνωτάτω θεὸν εἶδος <χωρι- στόν>, ὁμοίως Πλάτωνι, ἐπιβεβηκότα τῇ σφαίρᾳ τοῦ παν- τός, ἥτις ἐστὶν αἰθέριον σῶμα, τὸ πέμπτον ὑπ‘ αὐτοῦ καλούμενον.


5 Later Peripatetics on the First God

Theophrastus comp. Homer’s Zeus; De mundo