From Ancient and Medieval Philosophy: Essential Selections, by James Fieser


Copyright 2016, updated 12/1/2016




Plato: Creation of the Universe

Plato: Unwritten Doctrines

Lucian: Sale of Philosophers

Cicero: Defense of Moral Paradoxes

Chrysippus: Fate and Responsibility

Augustine: Fate, Foreknowledge and Free Will

Augustine: Love of Oneself, Others and God




Intelligence as Creator (Demiurge) Fashions the Universe from a Pattern

First then, in my judgment, we must make a distinction and ask, What is that which always is and has no becoming; and what is that which is always becoming and never is? That which is apprehended by intelligence and reason is always in the same state; but that which is conceived by opinion with the help of sensation and without reason, is always in a process of becoming and perishing and never really is. Now everything that becomes or is created must of necessity be created by some cause, for without a cause nothing can be created. The work of the creator, whenever he looks to the unchangeable and fashions the form and nature of his work after an unchangeable pattern, must necessarily be made fair and perfect. But when he looks to the created only, and uses a created pattern, it is not fair or perfect. . . . There is still a question to be asked about him: Which of the patterns had the artificer in view when he made the world-the pattern of the unchangeable, or of that which is created? If the world be indeed fair and the artificer good, it is manifest that he must have looked to that which is eternal; but if what cannot be said without blasphemy is true, then to the created pattern. Everyone will see that he must have looked to, the eternal; for the world is the fairest of creations and he is the best of causes. . . . .


Universe as an Animal

This being supposed, let us proceed to the next stage: In the likeness of what animal did the Creator make the world? It would be an unworthy thing to liken it to any nature which exists as a part only; for nothing can be beautiful which is like any imperfect thing; but let us suppose the world to be the very image of that whole of which all other animals both individually and in their tribes are portions. For the original of the universe contains in itself all intelligible beings, just as this world comprehends us and all other visible creatures. For the Deity, intending to make this world like the fairest and most perfect of intelligible beings, framed one visible animal comprehending within itself all other animals of a kindred nature. Are we right in saying that there is one world, or that they are many and infinite? There must be one only, if the created copy is to accord with the original. For that which includes all other intelligible creatures cannot have a second or companion; in that case there would be need of another living being which would include both, and of which they would be parts, and the likeness would be more truly said to resemble not them, but that other which included them. In order then that the world might be solitary, like the perfect animal, the creator made not two worlds or an infinite number of them; but there is and ever will be one only-begotten and created heaven.


Creation of the World’s Soul

Such was the whole plan of the eternal God about the god that was to be, to whom for this reason he gave a body, smooth and even, having a surface in every direction equidistant from the center, a body entire and perfect, and formed out of perfect bodies. In the center he put the soul, which he diffused throughout the body, making it also to be the exterior environment of it; and he made the universe a circle moving in a circle, one and solitary, yet by reason of its excellence able to converse with itself, and needing no other friendship or acquaintance. Having these purposes in view he created the world a blessed god.

            Now God did not make the soul after the body, although we are speaking of them in this order; for having brought them together he would never have allowed that the elder should be ruled by the younger; but this is a random manner of speaking which we have, because somehow we ourselves too are very much under the dominion of chance. Whereas he made the soul in origin and excellence prior to and older than the body, to be the ruler and mistress, of whom the body was to be the subject. He made her out of the following elements and on this wise: Out of the indivisible and unchangeable, and also out of that which is divisible and has to do with material bodies, he compounded a third and intermediate kind of essence, partaking of the nature of the same and of the other, and this compound he placed accordingly in a mean between the indivisible, and the divisible and material. . . .

            Now when the Creator had framed the soul according to his will, he formed within her the corporeal universe, and brought the two together, and united them center to center. The soul, interfused everywhere from the center to the circumference of heaven, of which also she is the external envelopment, herself turning in herself, began a divine beginning of never ceasing and rational life enduring throughout all time. . . .


Time Created as a Moving Image of Eternity

When the father creator saw the creature which he had made moving and living, the created image of the eternal gods, he rejoiced, and in his joy determined to make the copy still more like the original; and as this was eternal, he sought to make the universe eternal, so far as might be. Now the nature of the ideal being was everlasting, but to bestow this attribute in its fullness upon a creature was impossible. Wherefore he resolved to have a moving image of eternity, and when he set in order the heaven, he made this image eternal but moving according to number, while eternity itself rests in unity; and this image we call time. For there were no days and nights and months and years before the heaven was created, but when he constructed the heaven he created them also. They are all parts of time, and the past and future are created species of time, which we unconsciously but wrongly transfer to the eternal essence; for we say that he "was," he "is," he "will be," but the truth is that "is" alone is properly attributed to him, and that "was" and "will be" only to be spoken of becoming in time, for they are motions, but that which is immovably the same cannot become older or younger by time, nor ever did or has become, or hereafter will be, older or younger, nor is subject at all to any of those states which affect moving and sensible things and of which generation is the cause. These are the forms of time, which imitates eternity and revolves according to a law of number. Moreover, when we say that what has become is become and what becomes is becoming, and that what will become is about to become and that the non-existent is non-existent-all these are inaccurate modes of expression. But perhaps this whole subject will be more suitably discussed on some other occasion.


Heavenly Bodies Created to Indicate Time

Time, then, and the heaven came into being at the same instant in order that, having been created together, if ever there was to be a dissolution of them, they might be dissolved together. It was framed after the pattern of the eternal nature, that it might resemble this as far as was possible; for the pattern exists from eternity, and the created heaven has been, and is, and will be, in all time. Such was the mind and thought of God in the creation of time. The sun and moon and five other stars, which are called the planets, were created by him in order to distinguish and preserve the numbers of time; and when he had made-their several bodies, he placed them in the orbits in which the circle of the other was revolving-in seven orbits seven stars. First, there was the moon in the orbit nearest the earth, and next the sun, in the second orbit above the earth; then came the morning star and the star sacred to Hermes, moving in orbits which have an equal swiftness with the sun, but in an opposite direction; and this is the reason why the sun and Hermes and Lucifer overtake and are overtaken by each other. To enumerate the places which he assigned to the other stars, and to give all the reasons why he assigned them, although a secondary matter, would give more trouble than the primary. These things at some future time, when we are at leisure, may have the consideration which they deserve, but not at present. . . .


Creation of the Gods

To know or tell the origin of the other divinities is beyond us, and we must accept the traditions of the men of old time who affirm themselves to be the offspring of the gods-that is what they say-and they must surely have known their own ancestors. How can we doubt the word of the children of the gods? Although they give no probable or certain proofs, still, as they declare that they are speaking of what took place in their own family, we must conform to custom and believe them. In this manner, then, according to them, the genealogy of these gods is to be received and set forth. . . .


Human Souls Created

Thus he spoke, and once more into the cup in which he had previously mingled the soul of the universe he poured the remains of the elements, and mingled them in much the same manner; they were not, however, pure as before, but diluted to the second and third degree. Having made it he divided the whole mixture into souls equal in number to the stars, and assigned each soul to a star; and having there placed them as in a chariot, he showed them the nature of the universe, and declared to them the laws of destiny, according to which their first birth would be one and the same for all,-no one should suffer a disadvantage at his hands; they were to be sown in the instruments of time severally adapted to them, and to come forth the most religious of animals; and as human nature was of two kinds, the superior race would hereafter be called man. Now, when they should be implanted in bodies by necessity, and be always gaining or losing some part of their bodily substance, then in the first place it would be necessary that they should all have in them one and the same faculty of sensation, arising out of irresistible impressions; in the second place, they must have love, in which pleasure and pain mingle; also fear and anger, and the feelings which are akin or opposite to them; if they conquered these they would live righteously, and if they were conquered by them, unrighteously. . . .

            And by reason of all these affections, the soul, when encased in a mortal body, now, as in the beginning, is at first without intelligence; but when the flood of growth and nutriment abates, and the courses of the soul, calming down, go their own way and become steadier as time goes on, then the several circles return to their natural form, and their revolutions are corrected, and they call the same and the other by their right names, and make the possessor of them to become a rational being. If these combine in him with any true nurture or education, he attains the fullness and health of the perfect man, and escapes the worst disease of all; but if he neglects education he walks lame to the end of his life, and returns imperfect and good for nothing to the world below. . . .


A Formless Receptacle is the Primal Stuff of the Four Elements

This new beginning of our discussion of the universe requires a fuller division than the former; for then we made two classes, now a third must be revealed. The two sufficed for the former discussion: one, which we assumed, was a pattern intelligible and always the same; and the second was only the imitation of the pattern, generated and visible. There is also a third kind which we did not distinguish at the time, conceiving that the two would be enough. But now the argument seems to require that we should set forth in words another kind, which is difficult of explanation and dimly seen. What nature are we to attribute to this new kind of being? We reply, that it is the receptacle, and in a manner the nurse, of all generation. . . .

            For this reason, the mother and receptacle of all created and visible and in any way sensible things, is not to be termed earth, or air, or fire, or water, or any of their compounds or any of the elements from which these are derived, but is an invisible and formless being which receives all things and in some mysterious way partakes of the intelligible, and is most incomprehensible. In saying this we shall not be far wrong; as far, however, as we can attain to a knowledge of her from the previous considerations, we may truly say that fire is that part of her nature which from time to time is inflamed, and water that which is moistened, and that the mother substance becomes earth and air, in so far as she receives the impressions of them.


Diseases of the Body

Now everyone can see whence diseases arise. There are four natures out of which the body is compacted, earth and fire and water and air, and the unnatural excess or defect of these, or the change of any of them from its own natural place into another, or -- since there are more kinds than one of fire and of the other elements -- the assumption by any of these of a wrong kind, or any similar irregularity, produces disorders and diseases; for when any of them is produced or changed in a manner contrary to nature, the parts which were previously cool grow warm, and those which were dry become moist, and the light become heavy, and the heavy light; all sorts of changes occur. . . .


Diseases of the Soul

Such is the manner in which diseases of the body arise; the disorders of the soul, which depend upon the body, originate as follows. We must acknowledge disease of the mind to be a want of intelligence; and of this there are two kinds; to wit, madness and ignorance. In whatever state a man experiences either of them, that state may be called disease; and excessive pains and pleasures are justly to be regarded as the greatest diseases to which the soul is liable. For a man who is in great joy or in great pain, in his unseasonable eagerness to attain the one and to avoid the other, is not able to see or to hear anything rightly; but he is mad, and is at the time utterly incapable of any participation in reason. . . .


Creation of Other Animals

Thus our original design of discoursing about the universe down to the creation of man is nearly completed. A brief mention may be made of the generation of other animals, so far as the subject admits of brevity; in this manner our argument will best attain a due proportion. On the subject of animals, then, the following remarks may be offered. Of the men who came into the world, those who were cowards or led unrighteous lives may with reason be supposed to have changed into the nature of women in the second generation. . . .

            But the race of birds was created out of innocent light-minded men, who, although their minds were directed toward heaven, imagined, in their simplicity, that the clearest demonstration of the things above was to be obtained by sight; these were remodeled and transformed into birds, and they grew feathers instead of hair. The race of wild pedestrian animals, again, came from those who had no philosophy in any of their thoughts, and never considered at all about the nature of the heavens, because they had ceased to use the courses of the head, but followed the guidance of those parts of the soul which are in the breast. . . . The fourth class were the inhabitants of the water: these were made out of the most entirely senseless and ignorant of all, whom the transformers did not think any longer worthy of pure respiration, because they possessed a soul which was made impure by all sorts of transgression; and instead of the subtle and pure medium of air, they gave them the deep and muddy sea to be their element of respiration; and hence arose the race of fishes and oysters, and other aquatic animals, which have received the most remote habitations as a punishment of their outlandish ignorance. These are the laws by which animals pass into one another, now, as ever, changing as they lose or gain wisdom and folly.




Plato Avoided Writing on Subjects that were Incomprehensible to the Masses (Plato, Letter 7)

I hear that he [i.e., Dionysius] afterwards wrote about what he had then heard [me teach], as if he were composing what was his own creation, when there was in fact nothing of his own, as I hear. However, I know nothing of this. But I know that certain others have written about the same things [that they heard me teach], but who they are they do not know themselves. This much, however, I can say about all who either have written, or will write, and state that they know about the subjects that occupy me. Whether they have heard them from myself or others, or have discovered it themselves, it is not possible for them to know anything according to my opinions upon the matter. For there is not, and never will be, any composition of mine about these subjects. Matters of that kind cannot be expressed by words, as other things might be learned, but instead can only be acquired by a long instruction with the subject and by living with it. A light is then suddenly kindled, as if from a leaping fire, and being produced in the soul, it feeds itself upon itself.

            This much I know, however, that what I have written or said, I have done so in the best manner. Moreover that what has been written badly, does not pain me in the least. But if it had appeared to me that such subjects could be written or spoken of sufficiently before the masses, what could have been more beautiful in life than to impart a such great benefit to mankind, and to bring nature to light before all? I think, however, that an attempt to publicize these matters, would not be beneficial except to a few, who are able with a little direction to make discoveries for themselves. But for the rest, it will fill some with an unreasonable contempt, and others with a lofty and vain hope, as if they had learned something solemn.


Plato’s Failed Lecture on the Good (Aristoxenus, Elements of Harmony, 2)

As Aristotle frequently described, this is what took place with most of those who heard Plato’s lecture “On the Good”. Each person came with the expectation that he would hear about some so-called human good, such as wealth, health, strength, or some extraordinary happiness. However, when the discussion entered into mathematics (numbers, geometry and astronomy) and eventually his view that the Good is One, I think it appeared to them to be something quite unexpected and contradictory. Some ridiculed the entire subject, and others dismissed it.


The Participant (Aristotle, Physics, 4.1)

Plato in the Timaeus says, that matter and space are the same thing. For that which is capable of receiving, and a space, are one and the same thing. But though he there speaks of that which is capable of receiving [the participant] in a different manner from what he says of it, in what are called his unwritten doctrines, yet at the same time he asserts place and space to be the same. For all philosophers affirm that place is something; but Plato alone has attempted to say what it is.


Monad and Dyad (Aristotle, Metaphysics, 1.6)

Plato asserted, indeed, that the one is essence, and that nothing else is called the one, in this respect speaking in a manner similar to the Pythagoreans. Like them, he also considered numbers as the causes of essence to other things. But this is peculiar to him, to make the dyad instead of the infinite considered as one, and to compose the infinite from the great and the small.

            Further still: Plato asserts that numbers are different from things sensible; but the Pythagoreans fay that they are things themselves, and do not place mathematics between these. The one, therefore, and numbers, were considered as different from things themselves, and not as the Pythagoreans consider them; and, as well as forms, were introduced in consequence of dialectic investigation. For the more ancient philosophers were not skilled in dialectic. Through the same investigation, also, Plato made the dyad to be a different nature from the one, because numbers, except those that rank as first, are aptly generated from it, as from a certain express resemblance of a thing; though, indeed, the contrary to this happens to be the case. For it is not reasonable it should be so. For now they make many things from matter, but form generates once only. But one table appears to be produced from one matter. However, he who introduces form makes many tables. The male, too, is in a similar manner related to the female. For the female is filled from one copulation, but the male fills many. And yet these are imitations of those principles. Plato, therefore, has thus defined respecting the objects of investigation.

            But it is evident, from what has been said, that he uses only two causes; that which relates to what a thing is, and that which subsists according to matter. For forms, according to him, are the causes to other things of essence; but the one is the cause of this to forms. And what is this cause that subsists according to matter? It is that subject matter through which forms are said to belong to things sensible; and the one is said to be in forms, because this is the dyad, or the great and the small further still: he attributes to the elements the cause of subsisting well and ill, each to its proper element; and this, we say, some of the more antient philosophers, namely Empedocles and Anaxagoras, have investigated.





            Zeus: You there, put the benches in order, and get the place ready for the customers! You, bring in the goods and set them in a row, but brush them up a little first to make them look their best, and attract as many buyers as possible. You, Hermes, put up the lots, and welcome the buyers to the saleroom. We are pleased to announce a sale of philosophical characters of every class and variously assorted principles. Customers finding it inconvenient to pay cash down may give security for the amount of their purchase, and settle next year.

            Hermes: They are coming in in crowds. We had better begin at once, so as not to keep them waiting.

            Zeus: By all means let us do so.

            Hermes: Whom do you want brought out first?

            Zeus: That long-haired fellow, the Ionian. He looks rather an imposing dignitary.

            Hermes: You there, Pythagoras, come down and let the gentlemen have a look at you. Gentlemen, the article I offer you is one of the best and most high-class character. Who buys? Who wants to soar above mere humanity? Who wants to understand the harmony of the universe, and live again after death?

            Customer: He is rather grand to look at, certainly. But what exactly is his specialty?

            Hermes: Why, arithmetic, astronomy, necromancy, geometry, music, magic. In short, I am offering you a finished wizard.

            Customer: May I ask him a few questions?

            Hermes: Pray do, by all means.

            Customer: What is your country?

            Pythagoras: Samos.

            Customer: Where were you educated?

            Pythagoras: In Egypt, by the wise men of the place.

            Customer: Come now, suppose I buy you, what will you teach me?

            Pythagoras: I will not teach you anything: I will only awaken your memory.

            Customer: How will you do that?

            Pythagoras: By first clearing out your mind, and washing away all its defilements.

            Customer: Well, imagine me already purified. Now, what is your process for awaking memory?

            Pythagoras: The first thing is prolonged quiet and silence; you must never say a word for five whole years.

            Customer: Why, my good man, you had better go and teach the deaf and dumb—for my part, I like to talk, not to be a graven image. However, what comes after the five years' silence?

            Pythagoras: You will be put through a course of musk and geometry.

            Customer: A charming idea truly! So I must first be a fiddler before I can be a philosopher!

            Pythagoras: Next after that you will be taught how to count.

            Customer: 1 know how to do that now.

            Pythagoras: How do you do it, then?

            Customer: One, two, three, four.

            Pythagoras: There! do you see? What you think four is really ten, and the perfect triangle and the oath of our brotherhood.

            Customer: Now, by this most mighty oath of the number Four, I swear I never heard words more wonderful or more divine.

            Pythagoras: Next, my good sir, you will learn about the elements—earth, air, water, and fire—what their Forces and their form and motion are.

            Customer: What! do you mean that fire and water are possessed of form?

            Pythagoras: Most distinctly they are. How could what has neither shape nor form have motion? Then, when you have mastered all this, you will learn that what is called God really consists in Number, and Mind, and Harmony.

            Customer: This is truly wonderful!

            Pythagoras: Then, in addition to what I have mentioned, you will come to understand that you yourself, who think you are a single individual, are one person in appearance and another in reality.

            Customer: What t do you actually mean to say that I am somebody else, and not the person who is talking to you now?

            Pythagoras: Yes, just at the present moment you are that person; but at some former time you used to appear in another body, and under another name, and, in course of time, you will change into somebody else again.

            Customer: Do you mean to say that I will become immortal by changing into other forms? However, we have had enough about that. How about diet now? What is your system in that respect?

            Pythagoras: I eat the flesh of no living creature; but I admit everything else, except beans.

            Customer: Why is that? Do you dislike beans?

            Pythagoras: Not at all; but they are sacred and of a marvelous nature, for they are full of the principle of life. Besides, and this is the most important reason, the law of Athens requires that the magistrates there will be elected by a ballot of beans.

            Customer: Well, all you have said is excellent and worthy of the philosophical character. But now, strip, please, for I wish to see you naked. Good gracious! why, he has got a golden thigh! Surely he must be some god, and not a mortal at all. I must certainly buy him. How much do you ask for him?

            Hermes: Ten minae.

            Customer: I will take him at that.

            Zeus: Write down the purchaser's name and address.

            Hermes: It seems he is from Italy, one of those Greeks who live at Croton, or Tarentum, or some of the colonies thereabouts. He is not the sole purchaser, it would appear, but some three hundred others are partners in the transaction.

            Zeus: Well, let them take him. Now let us have another.



            Hermes: Will we put up that unwashed-looking fellow from Pontus next?

            Zeus: Yes, he’ll do.

            Hermes: You there, the bare-armed fellow with the handbag. Come and walk around the auction room. A fine virile character this, gentlemen, grand and noble and a true freeman. Who buys?

            Customer: What's this now? Are you selling a freeman?

            Hermes: Oh, by all means.

            Customer: Are you not afraid he may bring an action for kidnapping against you, and summon you before the Areopagus?

            Hermes: Oh, being sold is nothing to him: he thinks himself free under all circumstances whatsoever.

            Customer: But what possible use could one make of such a dirty, wretched-looking creature. Maybe digging or carrying water?

            Hermes: That is not all he is fit for. If you were to make a doorkeeper of him, for instance, you would find him more trustworthy than any dog. Indeed, Dog is the name he actually goes by.

            Customer: Where does he come from? What does he profess to be his way of life?

            Hermes: Ask him yourself. That will be the most effective thing to do.

            Customer: But I don't like his surly hang-dog look. I 'm afraid he may growl at me if I go near him. Indeed, upon my word, he looks as though he might bite too. Don't you see how he is fidgeting with that stick of his, and how he scowls, and what angry threatening looks he casts at us from under his brows?

            Hermes: Don't be afraid; he is quite tame.

            Customer: Well, in the first place, my good man, what country do you belong to?

            Diogenes: Every country.

            Customer: What do you mean by that?

            Diogenes: I mean I am a citizen of the universe.

            Customer: Are you a follower of any master?

            Diogenes: Yes, of Heracles.

            Customer: Then why don't you also wear the lion's skin? For I see you have a club like his.

            Diogenes: Here it is—my threadbare cloak is my lion's skin. Like Heracles, I spend my life in warfare, but it is against pleasures that I contend, and that not at anyone's command, but of my own free will. The task to which I have devoted myself is the thorough cleansing of human life.

            Customer: An excellent object, certainly. But what is your particular branch of knowledge? What is the art which you profess?

            Diogenes: I am the liberator of mankind, and the healer of the passions. In a word, I profess myself the apostle of truth and plain speaking.

            Customer: Well, apostle, if I buy you, what will be your method of teaching me?

            Diogenes: First, I will take you and strip off your habits of luxury, and immediately confine you to poverty, and put a ragged cloak upon you. Then I will force you to toil and labor, to sleep on the ground, to drink nothing but water, and eat anything that comes to hand; and if you have any money, you will throw it into the sea at my bidding. You must care nothing for wife, or children, or country; all such things must be empty vanity in your eyes. You will leave your father's house, and live in some tomb or deserted tower, or even, perhaps, in a tub. Your wallet will be full of lupines, and parchments covered with writing on both sides. In this condition you will declare that you live in more happiness and enjoyment than any Eastern potentate; and if anyone should whip or torture you, you are not to look on this as anything painful or distressing.

            Customer: What do you mean? Not feel pain if I am beaten! My good man, do you think I have a shell like a tortoise or a lobster?

            Diogenes: You can adapt that verse by Euripides, you know, and make it your own [i.e., “My tongue swore the oath, but my mind remained unsworn”].

            Customer: What verse?

            Diogenes: You can say, “My mind is pained, but my tongue will not own it.” But the most necessary qualifications are these: you must be headstrong and insolent, and indulge in abuse of everybody indiscriminately—kings and commons alike; in this way you will make yourself conspicuous, and be looked on as a fine virile character. Your way of speaking must be uncouth, and your voice discordant and disagreeable like a dog's; your face must look harsh and rigid, and your gait must match it; in short, your whole manner and appearance must be brute-like and boorish. As for modesty, or decency, or moderation—away with anything of the sort —such a thing as a blush you must utterly banish from your face. Then you must seek out the most frequented places, and when you are there, make a point of being solitary and unsociable; you must let neither friend nor stranger approach you, for that sort of thing is the rain of your dominion. Then you must boldly do in public what most people would be ashamed to do in private; your love affairs, again, must be of the most ridiculous character; and in the end you may die, if you like, by choking yourself with a raw octopus or a squid. This is the life of happiness to which I will introduce you.

            Customer: Be off with you! This system of yours is absolutely revolting and unnatural.

            Diogenes: All the same, it is an easy one, my good man, and anybody can easily shine in it. You see, you don't need culture, or learning, or rubbish of that sort; so it is a fine short cut to distinction. Even supposing you are absolutely without education—-a tanner, say, or a salt-fish huckster, or a carpenter, or a money-changer—there nothing to prevent your gaining fame and admiration, only you have shamelessness and brazen impudence, and a happy knack of indiscriminate abuse.

            Customer: Well, I 'm afraid I can make no use of you as an instructor. But perhaps someday you would do as a boatman or an under-gardener; and if they will sell you for two obols, I will give that for you, but no more.

            Hermes: Please, take him on any terms you like. We are quite glad to get rid of him; he is so troublesome, roaring and shouting and insulting everybody all round, and calling us all names.



            Zeus: Now call up the next. Let us have the Cyrenean there, the fellow with the purple cloak and the garland [i.e., Aristippus].

            Hermes: Now, gentlemen, please give me your attention. This is a most expensive and valuable article, and only persons of large means need think of buying. I offer you joy and Pleasure—nothing less. Who buys luxury and delicate living? What offers for my most dainty of sages?

            Customer: Well, come here and tell me what your attainments are. I will buy you if you seem likely to be of any use.

            Hermes: Don't bother him, my dear sir, nor ask him questions. He has had a drop too much, as you see, and can't answer you, for his tongue is not quite under control.

            Customer: Who in his senses, do you think, would buy such a spoilt and worthless scamp as that? Why, he positively reeks of perfumes, and can't even walk straight. But tell me yourself, Hermes, if you can, what are his points, and whether he has any accomplishments?

            Hermes: Well, he is uncommonly pleasant in society, a first-rate close companion, and can sing and dance with the flute girls. He is a perfect treasure, in short, to any master of jovial tastes and not too strict in his life. Then, besides, he is a great connoisseur in the matter of eating, and a first-rate cook himself; in a word, he is a perfect master of the whole art of good living. He was brought up at Athens, and was in the service of the tyrants of Sicily, who had the highest opinion of him. To put it shortly, his system consists in despising everything, making use of everything, and getting pleasure out of everything.

            Customer: Well, you had better go and look out for some other purchaser among these wealthy people here. I am not the person to invest in so pleasant a character.

            Hermes: I do believe, Zeus, that he will remain on our hands. He's completely unsellable.


Democritus and Heraclitus

            Zeus: Make him step down and put up another—or, rather, put up these two together—the fellow from Abdera, who is always laughing, and the Ephesian, who is perpetually crying. I want them sold as a pair.

            Hermes: Come forward there, you two. Gentlemen, here is a pair of the finest characters possible. we offer you the two wisest of our whole stock.

            Customer: Heavens! What a contrast I One never stops laughing, and the other seems to be in mourning for somebody, for he is completely dissolved in tears. How now, you there, what are you laughing at?

            Democritus: Can you ask? Why, because all your doings seem to me intensely ridiculous, and you yourselves no less so.

            Customer: What! do you mean to say you are laughing at us all, and hold all human concerns in contempt?

            Democritus: Exactly. For, you see, there is nothing in the least real or serious in any of them—all things are vain and empty—the mere blind concourse of atoms in infinite vacuity.

            Customer: Not a bit of it. You are an atom of infinite vacuity yourself. Enough with your insolence! Can't you stop laughing? But tell me, my poor fellow, for I had rather talk to you than to this charlatan, why do you cry so uncontrollably?

            Heraclitus: I weep because to me it seems that all things in the life of man are pitiable, and call for tears, and there is nothing among mankind that is not doomed to misery. This is why I pity them and lament their fate. The present ills, indeed, I count not so heavy; it is for the awful future that I mourn, I mean the final conflagration and the collapse of the universe. All this I bewail, and this, too, that there is nothing lasting, but all things are blended together, as it were, in one cup of misery— pleasure and pain, knowledge and ignorance, great and small, high and low, each is the same as the other, changing and interchanging with ceaseless flux in the sport of the universe.

            Customer: What, then, is the universe?

            Heraclitus: It is a child at his game, playing at checkers, quarrelling.

            Customer: What, then, are men?

            Heraclitus: Mortal gods.

            Customer: What are the gods?

            Heraclitus: Immortal men.

            Customer: Are you presenting riddles, my good man, and giving us puzzles to solve? You speak exactly like the Delphic oracle, and one is not a bit the wiser for all you say.

            Heraclitus: Very likely not. I trouble myself about you not at all.

            Customer: Then no one in his senses will buy you.

            Heraclitus: Woe to you all, man and boy, buyers alike and those who do not buy!

            Customer: This sort of thing is one step away from insanity. I will not buy either the one or the other of them.

            Hermes: These two have not sold either.

            Zeus: Well, put up another.



            Hermes: Will we have the chattering Athenian now?

            Zeus: By all means.

            Hermes: Come here, you. The lot we now offer you, gentlemen, is a character of high moral tone and great intelligence. What offers do we have for the most exalted of philosophers?

            Customer: Tell me, what is your specialty?

            Socrates: I am very fond of children, and also a great authority on the subject of love-making.

            Customer: Dear me! Then I am afraid I can hardly buy you —what I wanted was a tutor for my handsome son.

            Socrates: No one could be a more discreet instructor for a handsome youth than myself. It is the beauty of the mind, not of the body, that I make my care.

            Customer: Really?

            Socrates: Yes, I assure you, by the Dog and the Plane Tree.

            Customer: Dear me, what extraordinary gods to swear by!

            Socrates: What do you say? Do you think the Dog is not a god? Don't you know the position that Anubis holds in Egypt, Sirius in the skies, Cerberus in the world below?

            Customer: You are right, I was quite mistaken. But what is your manner of life?

            Socrates: I live in a city I have built for myself, under a peculiar constitution, and I observe laws of my own making.

            Customer: Indeed? I should like to hear one of these enactments.

            Socrates: I will tell you the one which seems to me the most important, and it is about women. In my state no woman is to be the wife of any one man; they are to have wives in common.

            Customer: What, do you mean to say you have done away with all the marriage laws?

            Socrates: Yes, certainly, and thereby with all the petty questions which arise out of the subject.

            Customer: Well, what are your views about those who are in the flower of youth?

            Socrates: These are to be given as a special reward to the brave and valiant, who have performed some brilliant and gallant exploit.

            Customer: Heavens! what honorable liberality, to be sure! But, tell me, what is the distinctive doctrine of your system?

            Socrates: It is the doctrine of the Forms, and of the divine examples of all visible things, such as the earth and all that is upon it, the heavens and the sea. It is that, of all these things, there are invisible images or Forms outside the universe.

            Customer: Where are they then?

            Socrates: They are nowhere; for if they were anywhere, they would not exist at all.

            Customer: These images of yours are quite invisible to me.

            Socrates: Of course they are, for your mind's eye is blind. But I can see the images of all things. For example, I can see your other self, whom the eye cannot see, and my other self as well. In short, I see everything double.

            Customer: I really think you are worth buying; you are so clever and clear-sighted. What is your price for him?

            Hermes: Oh, I'll let you have him for two talents.

            Customer: I'll take him at that, but you must let me pay later on.

            Hermes: What is your name?

            Customer: Dion of Syracuse.



            Hermes: Well, take him away, and I wish you joy with him. Now, Epicurus, I'll call you. Who'll buy this one? He is a disciple of that laughing fellow there, and of the drunkard that we put up a short time ago. His knowledge is superior to theirs in one point however, for he is more of an unbeliever. As for his other qualities, I may say he is a pleasant companion and a great lover of good living.

            Customer: What is your price for him?

            Hermes: Two minae.

            Customer: There you are, but, by the way, you might let me know what he likes best to eat?

            Hermes: Oh, anything sweet and tasting like honey. Figs in particular.

            Customer: Well, there is no difficulty about that. I will get him slabs of those cheap pressed figs from Caria.



            Zeus: Now call up another, that one with the cropped head, I mean the ugly-looking fellow that came from the Painted Porch, you know.

            Hermes: That is a good idea, for I think quite a number of people have come here on purpose to buy him, and are only waiting till we come to him. Now, gentlemen, here is the choicest and most perfect lot of all. I offer you Virtue itself for sale—nothing less. Who wants to have all knowledge for his sole possession?

            Customer: What do you mean?

            Hermes: I mean that you have before you the only wise man. He alone is handsome, just, or noble; he is the only true king, orator, rich man, lawgiver, or anything else.

            Customer: Then am I to understand that he is also the only true cook? By Jove, perhaps be is also the one leather worker or carpenter, and, in short, the one tradesman of any kind?

            Hermes: So it would seem.

            Customer: Well, come now, my good man, since I propose to buy you, tell me what sort of person you are, and in the first place whether you do not bitterly resent being put up for sale as a slave?

            Chrysippus. Not at all. These things are not in our power, and if a thing is not in our power, it follows that it is a matter of indifference,

            Customer: I don't understand what you mean.

            Chrysippus: What? don't you understand that of such things some are relatively preferable, while others, again, are the reverse?

            Customer: I don't follow your meaning even now.

            Chrysippus: Very likely you don't, because you are not accustomed to our phraseology, and, moreover, you lack the faculty of apprehension. But the virtuous man, and he who has mastered the theory of logic, not only knows all this, but can also tell the nature of symbama and parasymbama, and how they differ from one another.

            Customer: Dear me! I beg you, in the name of philosophy herself, do not refuse to tell me one thing more. What exactly are symbama and parasymbama? Somehow I find an extraordinary charm in the mere sound of these two words.

            Chrysippus: I will tell you with pleasure. Suppose a lame man would strike his lame foot against a stone, and so receive a wound. Then his lameness is a symbama, and the wound he gets in addition is a parasymbama.

            Customer: Heavens, what extraordinary acuteness of mind! What other wonderful things do you know?

            Chrysippus: I understand the art of weaving meshes of words in which I entangle those who converse with me, and hedge them in. In fact, I reduce them to silence by fairly muzzling them. The means by which I accomplish this is the famous device of the Syllogism.

            Customer: Good gracious, what an irresistible and powerful instrument!

            Chrysippus: Yes, indeed. To illustrate, do you have a son?

            Customer: Why do you ask?

            Chrysippus: Suppose a crocodile were to catch him playing around a river bank and carry him off, and then promise to return him to you on condition that you guess correctly what he really means to do, that is, whether to give back the child or not. What would you say he had determined on?

            Customer: That is a hard question. Indeed, I am at a loss to see how I could possibly answer. Please, in Heaven's name, answer for me and save my child, otherwise the crocodile will eat him up before the answer is given.

            Chrysippus: Don't be afraid. I will teach you something even more wonderful.

            Customer: What is that?

            Chrysippus: There is the “Reaper.” There is the “Rightful Owner.” Better still, there is the “Electra” and the “Veiled Face.”

            Customer: What do you mean by the Veiled One or by the Electra?

            Chrysippus: I mean the famous Electra herself, the daughter of Agamemnon. At one and the same time she knows and does not know the same thing. For when Orestes appears before her in disguise, she knows that Orestes is her brother, but does not know that the person before her is Orestes. Now you will hear the wonderful syllogism of the Veiled Face. Tell me, do you know your own father?

            Customer: Certainly, I do.

            Chrysippus: Well, then, if I were to set before you a man with his face veiled and ask, “Do you know this person?” what would you say?

            Customer: Of course I should say I did not know him.

            Chrysippus: Yet this very man was your father. So, if you don't know him, it is clear that you don't know your own father.

            Customer: No, but when I uncover him, I will know the truth. However, be that as it may, tell me what is the end of your philosophy? What do you do when you have once attained to the highest pinnacle of virtue?

            Chrysippus: Then I will have the greatest blessings of nature for my possession—I mean health and wealth and all things of that sort. But first there is need of much preliminary toil and labor, training one's eyes to read closely written books, collecting notes and commentaries, and storing one's mind with eccentric expressions and paradoxical sayings. Most important of all, no one may become a true sophist until be has drunk three cups of hellebore, one after the other [i.e., a plant that in Greek mythology prevents insanity].

            Customer: Well, all this is wonderfully grand and noble. But how about being a miser and a loan shark, for I see that these also are characteristics of yours. Are we to regard these as a feature in a person who has consumed the hellebore and is perfect in virtue?

            Chrysippus: Certainly. Indeed, it is to the wise man that money-lending properly belongs. For, since reasoning, which is his unique area of expertise, is nothing but putting two and two together, then money-lending and the calculation of interest are obviously related to it. Hence it follows that money-lending is a feature of the perfect man, no less than putting two and two together. This applies not only to simple loans, such as anybody may make, but to interest upon interest. For, of course, you know some loans are primary and others secondary, and, as it were, the children of the former. Now you see how the syllogism runs. A man who may take the first interest may take the second interest; the wise man may take the first interest; therefore, the wise man may take the second interest.

            Customer: Then does the same hold as well with regard to the wages you accept for teaching wisdom to the young? Does it follow that the just man only is to take pay for virtue?

            Chrysippus: Quite correct. You see, it is not for my own sake that I accept pay, but for my pupil's. For since there must always be one who pours out and one who takes in, I make it my business to see that it is I who do the latter, and my pupil who does the former.

            Customer: But it ought to be just the contrary. It is the young man who ought to take in, and you, who are the only rich man, should pour out of your wealth.

            Chrysippus: It is all very well for you to joke. But watch out that I don't hit you with my indemonstrable axiomatic syllogism.

            Customer: Tell me, what terrible consequences would follow if you did?

            Chrysippus: Doubt, silence, and distraction of mind. More than that, if I choose, I can turn you into a stone right upon the spot.

            Customer: Into a stone? How will you do that? You certainly do not look much of a Perseus.

            Chrysippus: I will show you. Is a stone a body?

            Customer: Certainly.

            Chrysippus: Well, then, is not a living creature a body?

            Customer: Undoubtedly.

            Chrysippus: Are you a living creature?

            Customer: I certainly think so.

            Chrysippus: Then, since you are a body, you are a stone.

            Customer: Heaven forbid! For goodness' sake, release me, and make me a human being again as I was before!

            Chrysippus: Nothing easier. You will soon find yourself a man again. Tell me: are all bodies living creatures?

            Customer: No.

            Chrysippus: Well, then, is a stone a living creature?

            Customer: No.

            Chrysippus: Are you a body?

            Customer: Yes.

            Chrysippus: Then, being a body, are you a living creature?

            Customer: Yes.

            Chrysippus: Then it follows that since you are a living creature, you cannot be a stone.

            Customer: You were just in time, for, indeed, my limbs were already beginning to grow cold and rigid like Niobe's. Still, I think I will buy you. How much do you want for him?

            Hermes: Twelve minae.

            Customer: Here is your money.

            Hermes: Are you the sole purchaser?

            Customer: Not I. I am acting on behalf of all those people you see there.

            Hermes: Well, there certainly are plenty of them, and their shoulders seem broad enough. In fact, they are just perfect for the Reaper.



            Zeus: Come, now, don't waste time. Call the Peripatetic.

            Hermes: You there, my rich and handsome fellow. Come now, gentlemen, buy the most learned of men. Buy the man who understands everything perfectly.

            Customer: What sort of person is he?

            Hermes: He is temperate, good-natured, easy to get along with. His strong point is, that he is twins.

            Customer: Twins? What do you mean?

            Hermes: Well, the man you see from without is one person, but the inward man is apparently quite another. So that if you buy him, you must remember to call the one the esoteric, and the other the exoteric, man.

            Customer: What is his distinctive doctrine?

            Hermes: That there are three kinds of goods: the first concerns the soul, the second the body, and the third external things.

            Customer: Well, I call that common sense. What is the price of him?

            Hermes: Twenty minae.

            Customer: That is very high.

            Hermes: My dear sir, not at all. This is so especially since he seems to have a little money of his own, so you had better buy him at once. Besides, in addition to what I have told you, he can tell you offhand how long a gnat lives, and how far down the sun's rays light the waters of the sea, and what sort of soul an oyster has.

            Customer: Good gracious! What accuracy of research!

            Hermes: That's nothing, his other attainments are far more profound. What do you say to his knowing about generation, the development of the embryo, and how man is a laughing animal, but a donkey is not a laughing, carpentering or sailing creature?

            Customer: Really, such scientific attainments are praiseworthy and extremely profitable, so I will give you your twenty minae for him.

            Hermes: Very good.



            Zeus: Who is left now?

            Hermes: The Sceptic here. You, Pyrrho, come out and let me put you up for sale. Look sharp, for the attendance is getting thin, and there will only be a few to offer. Well, gentlemen, which of you will buy this lot?

            Customer: I will. But first tell me, my man, what do you know?

            Pyrrho: Nothing at all.

            Customer: What do you mean?

            Pyrrho: I mean that I do not feel certain that anything has any existence.

            Customer: Then are we here nobody at all?

            Pyrrho: I cannot be certain.

            Customer: Don't you even know whether you yourself are somethng?

            Pyrrho: I am even more in the dark on that point.

            Customer: My goodness! what uncertainty! But what have you got these scales for?

            Pyrrho: I weigh the arguments on both sides of a question in them. When I see they are exactly alike, and equally poised, then I find myself absolutely uncertain as to which of them contains the truth.

            Customer: But how about ordinary things? Is there anything else you can do?

            Pyrrho: Oh, anything, except pursuing a runaway.

            Customer: Why can't you do that?

            Pyrrho: Because, my dear sir, I can apprehend nothing.

            Customer: That's likely enough since you do look a bit dull and slow. But to what is the aim of your teaching tend?

            Pyrrho: To knowing nothing, and to hearing and seeing nothing.

            Customer: To being deaf and blind, do you mean?

            Pyrrho: Yes, and to being without judgment, or perception, and, in fact, to differ in no respect from an earthworm.

            Customer: Well, this certainly makes you worth buying. How much is he supposed to be worth?

            Hermes: One Attic mina.

            Customer: Here it is. Well, friend, what do you say? Have I bought you or not?

            Pyrrho: That is a matter of uncertainty.

            Customer: Not at all. I have bought and paid for you.

            Pyrrho: I must suspend my judgment on that point, and make inquiry into it.

            Customer: Well, follow me, anyway, as my slave should.

            Pyrrho: Who knows if what you say is true or not?

            Customer: The salesman there, and the mina I paid, and all here present?

            Pyrrho: Is anybody present?

            Customer: I'll send you to the grinding mill this very day, and convince you by that argument that your master really does exists.

            Pyrrho: Perhaps you should suspend your judgment on that point.

            Customer: Not a chance. I’ve pronounced it already.

            Hermes: Now then, give up resisting, and go with your purchaser. Gentlemen, we invite you to attend again tomorrow, when we will offer a miscellaneous assortment of uneducated persons, mechanics and other ordinary people of that sort.




Paradox 1: Virtue is the Only Good

Let the ridiculers of this sentiment and principle come forward; let even them take their choice, whether they would rather resemble the man who is rich in marble palaces, adorned with ivory, and shining with gold, in statues, in pictures, in embossed gold and silver plate, in the workmanship of Corinthian brass, or if they will resemble Fabricius, who had, and who wished to have, none of these things. Yet they are readily prevailed upon to admit that those things which are transferred, now hither, now thither, are not to be ranked among good things, while at the same time they strongly maintain, and eagerly dispute, that pleasure is the highest good; a sentiment that to me seems to be that of a brute, rather than that of a man. Will you, endowed as you are by God or by nature, whom we may term the mother of all things, with a soul (than which there exists nothing more excellent and more divine), so degrade and prostrate yourself as to think there is no difference between yourself and any quadruped? Is there any real good that does not make him who possesses it a better man? For in proportion as every man has the greatest amount of excellence, he is also in that proportion most praiseworthy; nor is there any excellence on which the man who possesses it may not justly value himself. But what of these qualities resides in pleasure? Does it make a man better, or more praiseworthy? Does any man extol himself in boasting or self-recommendation for having enjoyed pleasures? Now if pleasure, which is defended by the advocacy of many, is not to be ranked among good things, and if the greater it is the more it dislodges the mind from its habitual and settled position; surely to live well and happily, is nothing else than to live virtuously and rightly.


Paradox 2: Virtue is All that is Needed for Happiness

No man who is wholly consistent within himself, and who reposes all his interests in himself alone, can be otherwise than completely happy. But the man whose every hope, and scheme, and design depends upon fortune, such a man can have no certainty;— can possess nothing assured to him as destined to continue for a single day. If you have any such man in your power, you may terrify him by threats of death or exile; but whatever can happen to me in so ungrateful a country, will find me not only not opposing, but even not refusing it. To what purpose have I toiled? to what purpose have I acted? or on what have my cares and meditations been watchfully employed, if I have produced and arrived at no such results, as that neither the outrages of fortune nor the injuries of enemies can shatter me. Do you threaten me with death? which is separating me from mankind? Or with exile, which is removing me from the wicked? Death is dreadful to the man whose all is extinguished with his life; but not to him whose glory never can die. Exile is terrible to those who have, as it were, a circumscribed habitation; but not to those who look upon the whole globe but as one city. Troubles and miseries oppress you who think yourself happy and prosperous. Your desires torment you, day and night you are on the rack. That which you possess is not sufficient, yet you are ever trembling in case even that should not continue. The consciousness of your misdeeds tortures you; the terrors of the laws and the dread of justice appall you. Look where you will, your crimes, like so many furies, meet your view and do not allow you to breathe. Therefore, as no man can be happy if he is wicked, foolish, or indolent; so no man can be miserable, if he is virtuous, brave, and wise. Glorious is the life of that man whose virtues and practice are praiseworthy; nor indeed ought that life to be escaped from which is deserving of praise, though it might well be if it were a miserable one. We are therefore to look upon whatever is worthy of praise as at once happy, prosperous, and desirable.


Paradox 3: All Vices are Equal, and All Good Deeds are Equal

The matter it may be said is trivial, but the crime is enormous; for crimes are not to be measured by the resulting events, but from the bad intentions of men. The fact in which the sin consists may be greater in one instance and loss in another, but guilt itself, in whatsoever light you behold it is the same. A pilot overturns a ship laden with gold or one laden with straw: in value there is some difference, but in the ignorance of the pilot there is none. Your illicit desire has fallen upon an obscure female. The indignity affects fewer people than if it had broken out in the case of some high-born and noble virgin; nevertheless it has been guilty, if it is guilty to overstep the mark. When you have done this, a crime has been committed; nor does it matter in aggravation of the fault how far you run afterward. Certainly it is not lawful for anyone to commit sin, and that which is unlawful is limited by this sole condition, that it is shown to be wrong. If this guilt can neither be made greater nor less (because, if the thing was unlawful, therein sin was committed), then the vicious acts which results from that which is ever one and the same must necessarily be equal. If virtues are equal among themselves, it must necessarily follow that vices are so likewise; and it is most easy to be perceived that a man cannot be better than good, more temperate than temperate, braver than brave, nor wiser than wise. Suppose that a sum of ten pounds of gold were [accidentally] made available to a man, without any witness present, so that he might freely take advantage of it. Will anyone call him an honest person if he returns it, and yet would not do the same in the case of ten thousand pounds? Can a man be accounted temperate who restrains one excessive passion and sets free another? Virtue is uniform, conformable to reason, and of unvarying consistency. Nothing can be added to it that can make it more than virtue; nothing can be taken from it, and the name of virtue be left. If good deeds are done with an upright intention, nothing can be more upright than upright is; and therefore it is impossible that anything should be better than what is good. It therefore follows that all vices are equal; for the deviations of the mind are properly termed vices. Now we may infer, that as all virtues are equal, therefore all good actions, when they spring from virtues, ought to be equal likewise; and therefore it necessarily follows, that evil actions springing from vices, should be also equal. . . .

            But someone will say, what then? does it make no difference, whether a man murders his father or his slave? . . .There is this difference — that in killing a slave, if wrong is done, it is a single sin that is committed; but many are involved in taking the life of a father. The object of violence is the man who begat you, the man who fed you, the man who brought you up, the man who gave your position in your home, your family, and the state. This offense is greater by reason of the number of sins (involved in it), and is deserving of a proportionately greater punishment. But in life we are not to consider what should be the punishment of each offense, but what is the rule of right to each individual. We are to consider everything that is not becoming as wicked, and everything which is unlawful as heinous. What! even in the most trifling matters? To be sure; for if we are unable to regulate the course of events, yet we may place a bound to our passions. If a player dances ever so little out of time, if a verse is pronounced by him longer or shorter by a single syllable than it ought to be, he is hooted and hissed off the stage. Will you, who ought to be better regulated than any gesture, and more regular than any verse will you be found faulty even in a syllable of conduct? I overlook the trifling faults of a poet; but will I approve my fellow-citizen's life while he is counting his misdeeds with his fingers? If some of these are trifling, how can it be regarded as more venial when whatever wrong is committed, is committed to the violation of reason and order? Now, if reason and order are violated, nothing can be added by which the offense can seem to be aggravated.


Paradox 4: Every Fool is a Madman

I will now convict you, by infallible considerations, not as a fool, as I have often done, nor as a villain, as I always do, but as insane and mad. Could the mind of the wise man, fortified as with walls by depth of counsel, by patient endurance of human ills, by contempt of fortune; in short, by all the virtues — a mind that could not be expelled out of this community — will such a mind be overpowered and taken by storm? For what do we call a community? Surely, not every assembly of thieves and ruffians? Is it then the entire rabble of outlaws and robbers assembled in one place? No; you will doubtless reply. Then this was no community when its laws had no force; when its courts of justice were prostrated; when the custom of the country had fallen into contempt; when, the magistrates having been driven away by the sword, there was not even the name of a senate in the state. Could that gang of ruffians, that assembly of villains which you head in the forum, could those remains of Catiline's frantic conspiracy, diverted to your mad and guilty schemes, be termed a community? I could not therefore be expelled from a community, because no such then existed. I was summoned back to a community when there was a consul in the state, which at the former time there was not; when there was a senate, which then had ceased to exist; when the voice of the people was free; and when laws and equity, those bonds of a community, had been restored.


Paradox 5: The Wise Man Alone is Free, and Every Fool is a Slave

It has been said, then, by the most learned men, that none but the wise man is free. For what is liberty? The power of living as you please. Who, then, is he who lives as he pleases, but the man surely who follows righteousness, who rejoices in fulfilling his duty, and whose path of life has been well considered and preconcerted; the man who obeys the laws of his country, not out of dread, but pays them respect and reverence, because he thinks that course the most salutary; who neither does nor thinks anything otherwise than cheerfully and freely; the man, all whose designs and all the actions he performs arise from and are terminated in his proper self; the man who is swayed by nothing so much as by his own inclination and judgment; the man who is master of fortune herself, whose influence is said to be sovereign, agreeably to what the sage poet says, "the fortune of every man is molded by his character." To the wise man alone it happens, that he does nothing against his will, nothing with pain, nothing by coercion. It would, it is true, require a large discourse to prove that this is so, but it is a briefly stated and admitted principle, that no man but he who is thus constituted can be free. All wicked men therefore are slaves, and this is not so surprising and incredible in fact as it is in words. For they are not slaves in the sense those bondmen are who are the properties of their masters by purchase, or by any law of the state; but if obedience to a disordered, abject mind, destitute of self-control be slavery (and such it is'), who can deny that all the dishonest, all the covetous, in short, all the wicked, are slaves?


Paradox 6: The Wise Man Alone is Rich

For whom are we to understand to be a rich man? To what kind of a man do we apply the term? To the man as I suppose, whose possessions are such that he may be well contented to live liberally, who has no desire, no hankering after, no wish for more. It is your own mind, and not the talk of others, nor your possessions, that must pronounce you to be rich; for it ought to think that nothing is wanting to it, and care for nothing beyond. Is it satiated, or even contented with your money? I admit that you are rich; but if for the greed of money you think no source of profit disgraceful (though your order cannot make any honest profits), if you every day are cheating, deceiving, craving, jobbing, poaching, and pilfering; if you rob the allies and plunder the treasury; if you are forever longing for the bequests of friends, or not even waiting for them, but forging them yourself, are such practices the indications of a rich or a needy man? It is the mind, and not the coffers of a man, that is to be accounted rich. For though the latter be full, when I see yourself empty, I will not think you rich; because men measure the amount of riches by that which is sufficient for each individual. . . . Men are not aware how great a revenue is parsimony; for I now proceed to speak of extravagant men, I take my leave of the money-hunter. The revenue one man receives from his estate is six hundred sestertia; I receive one hundred from mine. To that man who has gilded roofs and marble pavements in his villas, and who unboundedly covets statues, pictures, vestments, and furniture, his income is insufficient, not only for his expenditure, but even for the payment of his interest; while there will be some surplus even from my slender income, through cutting out the expenses of voluptuousness. Which, then, is the richer, he who has a deficit, or he who has a surplus? — he who is in need, or he who abounds? — the man whose estate, the greater it is, requires the more to sustain it, or whose estate maintains itself by its own resources?



Chrysippus, the leader of the Stoics, defines fate (which the Greeks call eimarmenh) in this manner: “fate,” he says, “is a certain unchallengeable and eternal series and chain of things, moving and interweaving itself in a fixed and established order of events, with which it is fitted and connected.” To the best of my memory, I have included the exact words of Chrysippus so that if anyone thinks that my interpretation of this is obscure, he may refer to the words themselves. In his fourth book On Providence he says, that fate is “a natural harmony of all things from eternity, each following the other with unalterable interdependence.”

            The proponents of other philosophies and views object to this definition as follows: “If Chrysippus,” they say, “thinks that all things are influenced and governed by fate, and that the action and order of fate cannot be modified or changed, the faults and errors of men ought not to be criticized, nor attributed to them or their inclinations, but, instead, only to a certain compulsion and necessity which arises from fate,” which is the mistress and arbiter of all things, from whose agency whatever happens must of necessity happen. Therefore, the punishment of crimes is unjustly imposed by the laws, if men do not voluntarily commit them, but instead are compelled to them by fate.

            Against these views, Chrysippus argues with great subtlety and acuteness. But the substance of all that he has replied on this subject is this: “Although it is true”, he says, “that all things are necessarily connected and compelled by fate, yet the unique qualities of our minds are subject to this fate only to the degree that they have certain properties and qualities. If they are originally by nature formed well and usefully, then they transmit easily, and without injury, all the power which they externally derive from fate. But if they are coarse, ignorant, and crude, with to support from good education, then they are rush into frequent errors and evils through their own voluntary unsociability and recklessness, even when they are influenced by little or no imposition of fate. This is brought about by that natural and necessary consequence of things, which is called fate. For it seems to be a fated and consequence in the order of things that evil minds should not be free from faults and errors.

            He gives an example of this, which seems equally relevant and clever. If, he says, you push a cylindrical stone down a steep and inclined hill of the earth, you are the primary [external] cause and origin of its descent. But it is soon hurried on with increasing speed, not because you do this, but because the [internal] nature of its rollable form brings this about. Thus, the order, reason, and necessity of fate influences the [external] general principles of causes, but it is the unique [internal] will of each individual, and the constitution of our minds, that regulates the force of our mental inclinations, and our resulting actions. He then adds these words, agreeing with what I have said: "Therefore it is thus said by the Pythagoreans: Know that men's sufferings are brought about by themselves. As then each man's defects are caused by himself, and all sin and offend from their own inclinations, they are injured by their own free will and design." For this reason he says men who are base, crude, and reckless, are not to be considered or tolerated, who being convicted of immorality and crime, rush to the necessity of fate, like the asylum of some temple, and say that their own enormous vices are not the result of their own passions, but of to fate.

            Homer, the wisest and most ancient of poets, has thus expressed himself “Wretched mortals are always blaming the gods, claiming that evil comes from us even though they have suffered beyond what was ordained because of their own stupidity.” Similarly, Marcus Cicero, in the book that he wrote on fate, having said that this question was most obscure and full of perplexity, states in these words that Chrysippus the philosopher had not resolved it: "Chrysippus, laboring and toiling to explain that all things happen by a fatality, and that this influences us, perplexes himself in this manner."




Chapter 9: Concerning the Foreknowledge of God and the Free Will of Man, in Opposition to the Definition of Cicero.

The manner in which Cicero addresses himself to the task of refuting the Stoics, shows that he did not think he could effect anything against them in argument unless he had first demolished divination. And this he attempts to accomplish by denying that there is any knowledge of future things, and maintains with all his might that there is no such knowledge either in God or man, and that there is no prediction of events. Thus he both denies the foreknowledge of God, and attempts by vain arguments, and by opposing to himself certain oracles very easy to be refuted, to overthrow all prophecy, even such as is clearer than the light (though even these oracles are not refuted by him).

             But, in refuting these conjectures of the mathematicians, his argument is triumphant, because truly these are such as destroy and refute themselves. Nevertheless, they are far more tolerable who assert the fatal influence of the stars than they who deny the foreknowledge of future events. For, to confess that God exists, and at the same time to deny that He has foreknowledge of future things, is the most manifest folly. This Cicero himself saw, and therefore attempted to assert the doctrine embodied in the words of Scripture, "The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God." That, however, he did not do in his own person, for he saw how odious and offensive such an opinion would be; and therefore, in his book on the nature of the gods, he makes Cotta dispute concerning this against the Stoics, and preferred to give his own opinion in favor of Lucilius Balbus, to whom he assigned the defence of the Stoical position, rather than in favor of Cotta, who maintained that no divinity exists. However, in his book on divination, he in his own person most openly opposes the doctrine of the prescience of future things. But all this he seems to do in order that he may not grant the doctrine of fate, and by so doing destroy free will. For he thinks that, the knowledge of future things being once conceded, fate follows as so necessary a consequence that it cannot be denied.

             But, let these perplexing debatings and disputations of the philosophers go on as they may, we, in order that we may confess the most high and true God Himself, do confess His will, supreme power, and prescience. Neither let us be afraid lest, after all, we do not do by will that which we do by will, because He, whose foreknowledge is infallible, foreknew that we would do it. It was this which Cicero was afraid of, and therefore opposed foreknowledge. The Stoics also maintained that all things do not come to pass by necessity, although they contended that all things happen according to destiny. What is it, then, that Cicero feared in the prescience of future things? Doubtless it was this,--that if all future things have been foreknown, they will happen in the order in which they have been foreknown; and if they come to pass in this order, there is a certain order of things foreknown by God; and if a certain order of things, then a certain order of causes, for nothing can happen which is not preceded by some efficient cause. But if there is a certain order of causes according to which everything happens which does happen, then by fate, says he, all things happen which do happen. But if this be so, then is there nothing in our own power, and there is no such thing as freedom of will; and if we grant that, says he, the whole economy of human life is subverted. In vain are laws enacted. In vain are reproaches, praises, chidings, exhortations had recourse to; and there is no justice whatever in the appointment of rewards for the good, and punishments for the wicked. And that consequences so disgraceful, and absurd, and pernicious to humanity may not follow, Cicero chooses to reject the foreknowledge of future things, and shuts up the religious mind to this alternative, to make choice between two things, either that something is in our own power, or that there is foreknowledge,--both of which cannot be true; but if the one is affirmed, the other is thereby denied. He therefore, like a truly great and wise man, and one who consulted very much and very skillfully for the good of humanity, of those two chose the freedom of the will, to confirm which he denied the foreknowledge of future things; and thus, wishing to make men free he makes them sacrilegious. But the religious mind chooses both, confesses both, and maintains both by the faith of piety. But how so? says Cicero; for the knowledge of future things being granted, there follows a chain of consequences which ends in this, that there can be nothing depending on our own free wills. And further, if there is anything depending on our wills, we must go backwards by the same steps of reasoning till we arrive at the conclusion that there is no foreknowledge of future things. For we go backwards through all the steps in the following order:--If there is free will, all things do not happen according to fate; if all things do not happen according to fate, there is not a certain order of causes; and if there is not a certain order of causes, neither is there a certain order of things foreknown by God,--for things cannot come to pass except they are preceded by efficient causes,--but, if there is no fixed and certain order of causes foreknown by God, all things cannot be said to happen according as He foreknew that they would happen. And further, if it is not true that all things happen just as they have been foreknown by Him, there is not, says he, in God any foreknowledge of future events.

             Now, against the sacrilegious and impious darings of reason, we assert both that God knows all things before they come to pass, and that we do by our free will whatsoever we know and feel to be done by us only because we will it. But that all things come to pass by fate, we do not say; nay we affirm that nothing comes to pass by fate; for we demonstrate that the name of fate, as it is wont to be used by those who speak of fate, meaning thereby the position of the stars at the time of each one's conception or birth, is an unmeaning word, for astrology itself is a delusion. But an order of causes in which the highest efficiency is attributed to the will of God, we neither deny nor do we designate it by the name of fate, unless, perhaps, we may understand fate to mean that which is spoken, deriving it from fari, to speak; for we cannot deny that it is written in the sacred Scriptures, "God hath spoken once; these two things have I heard, that power belongeth unto God. Also unto Thee, O God, belongeth mercy: for Thou wilt render unto every man according to his works." Now the expression, "Once hath He spoken," is to be understood as meaning "immovably," that is, unchangeably hath He spoken, inasmuch as He knows unchangeably all things which shall be, and all things which He will do. We might, then, use the word fate in the sense it bears when derived from fari, to speak, had it not already come to be understood in another sense, into which I am unwilling that the hearts of men should unconsciously slide. But it does not follow that, though there is for God a certain order of all causes, there must therefore be nothing depending on the free exercise of our own wills, for our wills themselves are included in that order of causes which is certain to God, and is embraced by His foreknowledge, for human wills are also causes of human actions; and He who foreknew all the causes of things would certainly among those causes not have been ignorant of our wills. For even that very concession which Cicero himself makes is enough to refute him in this argument. For what does it help him to say that nothing takes place without a cause, but that every cause is not fatal, there being a fortuitous cause, a natural cause, and a voluntary cause? It is sufficient that he confesses that whatever happens must be preceded by a cause. For we say that those causes which are called fortuitous are not a mere name for the absence of causes, but are only latent, and we attribute them either to the will of the true God, or to that of spirits of some kind or other. And as to natural causes, we by no means separate them from the will of Him who is the author and framer of all nature. But now as to voluntary causes. They are referable either to God, or to angels, or to men, or to animals of whatever description, if indeed those instinctive movements of animals devoid of reason, by which, in accordance with their own nature, they seek or shun various things, are to be called wills. And when I speak of the wills of angels, I mean either the wills of good angels, whom we call the angels of God, or of the wicked angels, whom we call the angels of the devil, or demons. Also by the wills of men I mean the wills either of the good or of the wicked. And from this we conclude that there are no efficient causes of all things which come to pass unless voluntary causes, that is, such as belong to that nature which is the spirit of life. For the air or wind is called spirit, but, inasmuch as it is a body, it is not the spirit of life. The spirit of life, therefore, which quickens all things, and is the creator of every body, and of every created spirit, is God Himself, the uncreated spirit. In His supreme will resides the power which acts on the wills of all created spirits, helping the good, judging the evil, controlling all, granting power to some, not granting it to others. For, as He is the creator of all natures, so also is He the bestower of all powers, not of all wills; for wicked wills are not from Him, being contrary to nature, which is from Him. As to bodies, they are more subject to wills: some to our wills, by which I mean the wills of all living mortal creatures, but more to the wills of men than of beasts. But all of them are most of all subject to the will of God, to whom all wills also are subject, since they have no power except what He has bestowed upon them. The cause of things, therefore, which makes but is not made, is God; but all other causes both make and are made. Such are all created spirits, and especially the rational. Material causes, therefore, which may rather be said to be made than to make, are not to be reckoned among efficient causes, because they can only do what the wills of spirits do by them. How, then, does an order of causes which is certain to the foreknowledge of God necessitate that there should be nothing which is dependent on our wills, when our wills themselves have a very important place in the order of causes? Cicero, then, contends with those who call this order of causes fatal, or rather designate this order itself by the name of fate; to which we have an abhorrence, especially on account of the word, which men have become accustomed to understand as meaning what is not true. But, whereas he denies that the order of all causes is most certain, and perfectly clear to the prescience of God, we detest his opinion more than the Stoics do. For he either denies that God exists,--which, indeed, in an assumed personage, he has labored to do, in his book De Natura Deorum,--or if he confesses that He exists, but denies that He is prescient of future things, what is that but just "the fool saying in his heart there is no God?" For one who is not prescient of all future things is not God. Wherefore our wills also have just so much power as God willed and foreknew that they should have; and therefore whatever power they have, they have it within most certain limits; and whatever they are to do, they are most assuredly to do, for He whose foreknowledge is infallible foreknew that they would have the power to do it, and would do it. Wherefore, if I should choose to apply the name of fate to anything at all, I should rather say that fate belongs to the weaker of two parties, will to the stronger, who has the other in his power, than that the freedom of our will is excluded by that order of causes, which, by an unusual application of the word peculiar to themselves, the Stoics call Fate.


Chapter 10: Whether Our Wills are Ruled by Necessity

Wherefore, neither is that necessity to be feared, for dread of which the Stoics labored to make such distinctions among the causes of things as should enable them to rescue certain things from the dominion of necessity, and to subject others to it. Among those things which they wished not to be subject to necessity they placed our wills, knowing that they would not be free if subjected to necessity. For if that is to be called our necessity which is not in our power, but even though we be unwilling effects what it can effect,--as, for instance, the necessity of death,--it is manifest that our wills by which we live up-rightly or wickedly are not under such a necessity; for we do many things which, if we were not willing, we should certainly not do. This is primarily true of the act of willing itself,--for if we will, it is; if we will not, it is not,--for we should not will if we were unwilling. But if we define necessity to be that according to which we say that it is necessary that anything be of such or such a nature, or be done in such and such a manner, I know not why we should have any dread of that necessity taking away the freedom of our will. For we do not put the life of God or the foreknowledge of God under necessity if we should say that it is necessary that God should live forever, and foreknow all things; as neither is His power diminished when we say that He cannot die or fall into error,--for this is in such a way impossible to Him, that if it were possible for Him, He would be of less power. But assuredly He is rightly called omnipotent, though He can neither die nor fall into error. For He is called omnipotent on account of His doing what He wills, not on account of His suffering what He wills not; for if that should befall Him, He would by no means be omnipotent. Wherefore, He cannot do some things for the very reason that He is omnipotent. So also, when we say that it is necessary that, when we will, we will by free choice, in so saying we both affirm what is true beyond doubt, and do not still subject our wills thereby to a necessity which destroys liberty. Our wills, therefore, exist as wills, and do themselves whatever we do by willing, and which would not be done if we were unwilling. But when any one suffers anything, being unwilling by the will of another, even in that case will retains its essential validity, --we do not mean the will of the party who inflicts the suffering, for we resolve it into the power of God. For if a will should simply exist, but not be able to do what it wills, it would be overborne by a more powerful will. Nor would this be the case unless there had existed will, and that not the will of the other party, but the will of him who willed, but was not able to accomplish what he willed. Therefore, whatsoever a man suffers contrary to his own will, he ought not to attribute to the will of men, or of angels, or of any created spirit, but rather to His will who gives power to wills. It is not the case, therefore, that because God foreknew what would be in the power of our wills, there is for that reason nothing in the power of our wills. For he who foreknew this did not foreknow nothing. Moreover, if He who foreknew what would be in the power of our wills did not foreknow nothing, but something, assuredly, even though He did foreknow, there is something in the power of our wills. Therefore we are by no means compelled, either, retaining the prescience of God, to take away the freedom of the will, or, retaining the freedom of the will, to deny that He is prescient of future things, which is impious. But we embrace both. We faithfully and sincerely confess both. The former, that we may believe well; the latter, that we may live well. For he lives ill who does not believe well concerning God. Wherefore, be it far from us, in order to maintain our freedom, to deny the prescience of Him by whose help we are or shall be free. Consequently, it is not in vain that laws are enacted, and that reproaches, exhortations, praises, and vituperations are had recourse to; for these also He foreknew, and they are of great avail, even as great as He foreknew that they would be of. Prayers, also, are of avail to procure those things which He foreknew that He would grant to those who offered them; and with justice have rewards been appointed for good deeds, and punishments for sins. For a man does not therefore sin because God foreknew that he would sin. Nay, it cannot be doubted but that it is the man himself who sins when he does sin, because He, whose foreknowledge is infallible, foreknew not that fate, or fortune, or something else would sin, but that the man himself would sin, who, if he wills not, sins not. But if he shall not will to sin, even this did God foreknow.


AUGUSTINE: LOVE OF ONESELF, OTHERS AND GOD (On Christian Doctrine 1.26-29)

26. Man, therefore, ought to be taught the due measure of loving, that is, in what measure he may love himself so as to be of service to himself. For that he does love himself, and does desire to do good to himself, nobody but a fool would doubt. He is to be taught, too, in what measure to love his body, so as to care for it wisely and within due limits. For it is equally manifest that he loves his body also, and desires to keep it safe and sound. And yet a man may have something that he loves better than the safety and soundness of his body. For many have been found voluntarily to suffer both pains and amputations of some of their limbs that they might obtain other objects which they valued more highly. But no one is to be told not to desire the safety and health of his body because there is something he desires more. For the miser, though he loves money, buys bread for himself,--that is, he gives away money that he is very fond of and desires to heap up,--but it is because he values more highly the bodily health which the bread sustains. It is superfluous to argue longer on a point so very plain, but this is just what the error of wicked men often compels us to do.

            27. Seeing, then, that there is no need of a command that every man should love himself and his own body,--seeing, that is, that we love ourselves, and what is beneath us but connected with us, through a law of nature which has never been violated, and which is common to us with the beasts (for even the beasts love themselves and their own bodies),--it only remained necessary to lay injunctions upon us in regard to God above us, and our neighbour beside us. "Thou shalt love," He says, "the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind; and thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets." Thus the end of the commandment is love, and that twofold, the love of God and the love of our neighbour. Now, if you take yourself in your entirety,--that is, soul and body together,--and your neighbour in his entirety, soul and body together (for man is made up of soul and body), you will find that none of the classes of things that are to be loved is overlooked in these two commandments. For though, when the love of God comes first, and the measure of our love for Him is prescribed in such terms that it is evident all other things are to find their centre in Him, nothing seems to be said about our love for ourselves; yet when it is said, "Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself," it at once becomes evident that our love for ourselves has not been overlooked.

            28. Now he is a man of just and holy life who forms an unprejudiced estimate of things, and keeps his affections also under strict control, so that he neither loves what he ought not to love, nor fails to love what he ought to love, nor loves that more which ought to be loved less, nor loves that equally which ought to be loved either less or more, nor loves that less or more which ought to be loved equally. No sinner is to be loved as a sinner; and every man is to be loved as a man for God's sake; but God is to be loved for His own sake. If God is to be loved more than any man, each man ought to love God more than himself. Likewise we ought to love another man better than our own body, because all things are to be loved in reference to God, and another man can have fellowship with us in the enjoyment of God, whereas our body cannot; for the body only lives through the soul, and it is by the soul that we enjoy God.

            29. Further, all men are to be loved equally. But since you cannot do good to all, you are to pay special regard to those who, by the accidents of time, or place, or circumstance, are brought into closer connection with you. For, suppose that you had a great deal of some commodity, and felt bound to give it away to somebody who had none, and that it could not be given to more than one person; if two persons presented themselves, neither of whom had either from need or relationship a greater claim upon you than the other, you could do nothing fairer than choose by lot to which you would give what could not be given to both. Just so among men: since you cannot consult for the good of them all, you must take the matter as decided for you by a sort of lot, according as each man happens for the time being to be more closely connected with you.