Essays and Miscellanies, by Plutarch

Common Conceptions Against the Stoics.


LAMPRIAS. You, O Diadumenus, seem not much to care, if any one thinks that you philosophize against the common notions; since you confess that you contemn also the senses, from whence the most part of these notions in a manner proceed, having for their seat and foundation the belief of such things as appear to us. But I beseech you, with what speed you can, either by reasons, incantations, or some other manner of discourse, to cure me, who come to you full, as I seem to myself, of great and strange perturbations; so much have I been shaken, and into such a perplexity of mind have I been brought, by certain Stoics, in other things indeed very good men and my familiar friends, but most bitterly and hostility bent against the Academy. These, for some few words modestly spoken by me, have (for I will tell you no lie) rudely and unkindly reprehended me; angrily censuring and branding the ancient philosophers as Sophists and corrupters of philosophy, and subverters of regular doctrines; and saying things yet more absurd than these, they fell at last upon the conceptions, into which (they contend) the Academics had brought a certain confusion and disturbance. At length one of them said, that he thought it was not by fortune, but by the providence of the gods, that Chrysippus came into the world after Arcesilaus and before Carneades; of which the one was the author of the contumelies and injuries done to custom, and the other flourished most of all the Academics. Chrysippus then, coming between them, by his writings against Arcesilaus, stopped also the way against the eloquence of Carneades, leaving indeed many things to the senses, as provisions against a siege, but wholly taking away the trouble about anticipations and conceptions, directing every one of them and putting it in its proper place; so that they who will again embroil and disquiet matters should gain nothing, but be convinced of being malicious and deceitful Sophists. I, having been this morning set on fire by these discourses, want some cooling remedies to extinguish and take away this doubting, as an inflammation, out of my mind.

DIADUMENUS. You perhaps have suffered the same things with some of the vulgar. But if you believe the poets, who say that the ancient city Sipylus was overthrown by the providence of the gods when they punished Tantalus, believe also the companions of the Stoa saying that Nature, not by chance but by divine providence, brought forth Chrysippus, when she had a mind to turn things upside down and alter the course of life; for which purpose never any man was fitter than he. But as Cato said of Caesar, that never any but he came to the management of public affairs sober and considerately resolved on the ruin of the state; so does this man seem to me with the greatest diligence and eloquence to overturn and demolish custom, as those who magnify the man testify, when they dispute against him concerning the sophism called Pseudomenos (or the Liar). For to say, my best friend, that a conclusion drawn from contrary positions is not manifestly false, and again to say that some arguments having true premises and true inductions may yet moreover have the contrary to their conclusions true, what conception of demonstration or what assumption of confidence does it not overthrow? They say, that the polypus in the winter gnaws his own claws; but the logic of Chrysippus, taking away and cutting off its own chiefest parts and principles — what other notion has it left unsuspected of falsehood? For the superstructures cannot be steady and sure, if the foundations remain not firm but are shaken with so many doubts and troubles. But as those who have dust or dirt upon their bodies, if they touch or rub the filth that is upon them, seem rather to increase than remove it; so some men blame the Academics, and think them guilty of the faults with which they show themselves to be burdened. For who do more subvert the common conceptions than the Stoic school? But if you please, let us leave accusing them, and defend ourselves from the things with which they charge us.

LAMPRIAS. Methinks, Diadumenus, I am this day become a various and unconstant man. For erewhile I came dejected and trembling, as one that wanted an apology; and now I am changed to an accuser, and desire to enjoy the pleasure of revenge, in seeing them all convicted of philosophizing against the common conceptions and presumptions, on which they think chiefly their doctrine is founded, whence they say that it alone agrees with Nature.

DIADUMENUS. Shall we then first attack those common and celebrated doctrines of theirs which themselves, gently admitting their absurdity, style paradoxes; as that only wise men are kings, that they only are rich and fair, they only citizens and judges? Or shall we send all this to the brokers, as old decayed frippery, and make our inquiry into such things as are most practical and with the greatest earnestness delivered by them?

LAMPRIAS. I indeed like this best. For who is there that is not already full of the arguments brought against those paradoxes?

DIADUMENUS. First, then, consider this, whether, according to the common conceptions, they can be said to agree with Nature, who think all natural things indifferent, and esteem neither health, strength of body, beauty, nor strength as desirable, commodious, profitable, or any way contributory to the completing of natural perfection; nor consider that their contraries, as maims, pains, disgraces, and diseases, are hurtful or to be shunned? To the latter of these they themselves say that Nature gives us an abhorrence, and an inclination to the former. Which very thing is not a little repugnant to common understanding, that Nature should incline us to such things as are neither good nor available, and avert us from such as are neither ill nor hurtful, and which is more, that she should render this inclination and this aversion so violent, that they who either possess not the one or fall into the other detest their life with good reason, and withdraw themselves out of it.

I think also that this is said by them against common sense, that Nature herself is indifferent, and yet that it is good to agree with Nature. For it is not our duty either to follow the law or be persuaded by argument, unless the law and argument be good and honest. And this indeed is the least of their errors. But if, as Chrysippus has written in his First Book concerning Exhortation, a happy life consists only in living according to virtue, other things (as he says) being nothing to us, nor cooperating any ways towards it, Nature is not only indifferent, but foolish also and stupid, in inclining us to such things as belong nothing to us; and we also are fools in thinking felicity to be an agreeing with Nature, which draws us after such things as contribute nothing to happiness. For what can be more agreeable to common sense, than that, as desirable things are requisite to live commodiously, so natural things are necessary that we may live according to Nature? Now these men say not so; but having settled the living according to Nature for their end, do nevertheless hold those things which are according to Nature to be indifferent.

Nor is this less repugnant to common sense, that an intelligent and prudent man should not be equally affected to equal good things, but should put no value on some, and be ready to undergo and suffer anything for others, though the things themselves are neither greater nor less one than another. For they say, It is the same thing to abstain from the enjoyment of an old woman that is about to die as to take part in the greatest actions with moderation . . . since in both cases we do what duty requires. And yet for this, as a great and glorious thing, they should be ready to die; when as to boast of the other would be shameful and ridiculous. And even Chrysippus himself in his commentary concerning Jupiter, and in the Third Book of the Gods, says, that it were a poor, absurd, and impertinent thing to glory in such acts, as proceeding from virtue, as bearing valiantly the stinging of a wasp, or abstaining chastely from an old woman that lies a dying. Do not they then philosophize against the common conception, who profess nothing to be more commendable than those things which yet themselves are ashamed to praise? For how can that be desirable or to be approved, which is worthy neither of praise nor admiration, but the praisers and admirers of which they esteem absurd and ridiculous?

And yet this will (I suppose) appear to you more against common sense, that a wise man should take no care whether he enjoys or not enjoys the greatest good things, but should carry himself after the same manner in these things, as in those that are indifferent both in their management and administration. For all of us, “whoever we are that eat the fruit of the broad earth,” judge that desirable, good, and profitable, which being present we use, and absent we want and desire. But that which no man thinks worth his concern, either for his profit or delight, is indifferent. For we by no other means distinguish a laborious man from a trifler, who is for the most part also employed in action, but that the one busies himself in useless matters and indifferently, and the other in things commodious and profitable. But these men act quite contrary; for with them, a wise and prudent man, being conversant in many comprehensions and memories of comprehension, esteems few of them to belong to him; and not caring for the rest, he thinks he has neither more or less by remembering that he lately had the comprehension of Dion sneezing or Theon playing at ball. And yet every comprehension in a wise man, and every memory having assurance and firmness, is a great, yea, a very great good. When therefore his health fails, when some organ of his senses is disordered, or when his wealth is lost, is a wise man so careless as to think that none of these things concern him? Or does he, “when sick, give fees to the physicians: for the gaining of riches sail to Leucon, governor in the Bosphorus, or travel to Idanthyrsus, king of the Scythians,” as Chrysippus says? And being deprived of some of his senses, does he not become weary even of life? How then do they not acknowledge that they philosophize against the common notions, employing so much care and diligence on things indifferent, and not minding whether they have or have not great good things?

But this is also yet against the common conceptions, that he who is a man should not rejoice when coming from the greatest evils to the greatest goods. Now their wise men suffer this. Being changed from extreme viciousness to the highest virtue, and at the same time escaping a most miserable life and attaining to a most happy one, he shows no sign of joy, nor does this so great change lift him up or yet move him, being delivered from all infelicity and vice, and coming to a certain sure and firm perfection of virtue. This also is repugnant to common sense, to hold that the being immutable in one’s judgments and resolutions is the greatest of goods, and yet that he who has attained to the height wants not this, nor cares for it when he has it, nay, many times will not so much as stretch forth a finger for this security and constancy, which nevertheless themselves esteem the sovereign and perfect good. Nor do the Stoics say only these things, but they add also this to them — that the continuance of time increases not any good thing; but if a man shall be wise but a minute of an hour, he will not be any way inferior in happiness to him who has all his time practised virtue and led his life happily in it. Yet, whilst they thus boldly affirm these things, they on the contrary also say, that a short-lived virtue is nothing worth; “For what advantage would the attainment of wisdom be to him who is immediately to be swallowed up by the waves or tumbled down headlong from a precipice? What would it have benefited Lichas, if being thrown by Hercules, as from a sling into the sea, he had been on a sudden changed from vice to virtue?” These therefore are the positions of men who not only philosophize against the common conceptions but also confound their own, if the having been but a little while endued with virtue is no way short of the highest felicity, and at the same time nothing worth. Nor is this the strangest thing you will find in their doctrine; but their being of opinion that virtue and happiness, when present, are frequently not perceived by him who enjoys them, nor does he discern that, having but a little before been most miserable and foolish, he is of a sudden become wise and happy. For it is not only childish to say that he who is possessed of wisdom is ignorant of this thing alone, that he is wise, and knows not that he is delivered from folly; but, to speak in general, they make goodness to have very little weight or strength, if it does not give so much as a feeling of it when it is present. For according even to them, it is not by nature imperceptible; nay, even Chrysippus in his books of the End expressly says that good is sensible, and demonstrates it also, as he maintains. It remains, then, that by its weakness and littleness it flies the sense, when being present it is unknown and concealed from the possessors. It were moreover absurd to imagine that the sight, perceiving those things which are but a little whitish or inclining to white, should not discern such as are white in perfection; or that the touch, feeling those things which are but warm or moderately hot, should be insensible of those that are hot in the highest degree. And yet more absurd it is, that a man who perceives what is commonly according to Nature — as are health and good constitution of body — should yet be ignorant of virtue when it is present, which themselves hold to be most of all and in the highest degree according to Nature. For how can it but be against sense, to conceive the difference between health and sickness, and yet so little to comprehend that between wisdom and folly as to think the one to be present when it is gone, and possessing the other to be ignorant that one has it? Now because there is from the highest progress a change made to felicity and virtue, one of these two things must of necessity follow; either that this progress is not vice and infelicity, or that virtue is not far distant from vice, nor happiness from misery, but that the difference between good and evil is very small and not to be perceived by sense; for otherwise they who have the one for the other could not be ignorant of it.

Since, then, they will not depart from any of these contrarieties, but confess and hold them all — that those who are proceeding towards virtue are fools and vicious, that those who are become good and wise perceive not this change in themselves, and that there is a great difference between folly and wisdom — they must assuredly seem to you wonderfully to preserve an agreement in their doctrines, and yet more so in their conduct, when affirming all men who are not wise to be equally wicked, unjust, faithless, and fools, they on the other side abhor and detest some of them — nay, sometimes to such a degree that they refuse even to speak to them when they meet them — while others of them they trust with their money, choose to offices, and take for husbands to their daughters. Now if they say these things in jest, let them smooth their brows; but if in earnest and as philosophers, it is against the common notions to reprove and blame all men alike in words, and yet to deal with some of them as moderate persons and with others as very wicked; and exceedingly to admire Chrysippus, to deride Alexinus, and yet to think neither of them more or less mad than the other. “’Tis so,” say they; “but as he who is not above a cubit under the superficies of the sea is no less drowned than he who is five hundred fathom deep, so they that are coming towards virtue are no less in vice their those that are farther off. And as blind men are still blind, though they shall perhaps a little after recover their sight; so these that have proceeded towards virtue, till such time as they have attained to it, continue foolish and wicked.” But that they who are in the way towards virtue resemble not the blind, but such as see less clearly, nor are like to those who are drowned, but — those which swim, and that near the harbor — they themselves testify by their actions. For they would not use counsellors and generals and lawgivers as blind leaders, nor would they imitate the works and actions and words and lives of some, if they saw them all equally drowned in folly and wickedness. But leaving this, wonder at the men in this behalf, that they are not taught by their own examples to give up the doctrine that these men are wise being ignorant of it themselves, and neither knowing nor being sensible that they are recovered from being drowned and see the light, and that being gotten above vice, they fetch breath again.

This also is against common sense, that it should be convenient for a man who has all good things, and wants nothing requisite to felicity and happiness, to make away himself; and much more this, that for him who neither has nor ever shall have any good thing, but who is and ever shall be accompanied with all adversities, difficulties, and mishaps, it should not be fitting to quit this life unless some of the indifferent things befall him. These laws are enacted in the Stoa; and by these they incite many wise men to kill themselves, as if they would be thereby more happy; and they prevent many foolish men, as if it were proper for them to live on in misery. Although the wise man is fortunate, blessed, every way happy, secure, and free from danger; but the vicious and foolish man is “full, as I may say, of evils, so that there is not room to put them in”; and yet they think that continuing in life is fit for the latter, and departing out of it for the former. And not without cause, says Chrysippus, for we are not to measure life by good things or evil, but by those that are according to Nature. In this manner do they maintain custom, and philosophize according to the common conceptions. What do you say? — that he who enters upon a deliberation of life and death has no right to consider

What good or ill in his own house there is;

or to weigh, as in a balance, what things have the greatest sign of serving to felicity or infelicity; but must argue whether he should live or die from those things which are neither profitable nor prejudicial, and follow such principles and sentences as command the choosing of a life full of all things to be avoided, and the shunning of one which wants nothing of all those things that are desirable? For though it is an absurd thing, friend Lamprias, to shun a life in which there is no evil, it is yet more absurd, if any one should leave what is good because he is not possessed of what is indifferent, as these men do who leave present felicity and virtue for want of riches and health which they have not.

Satumian Jove from Glaucus took his wits,

when he went about to change his suit of golden armor for a brazen one, and to give what was worth a hundred oxen for that which was worth but nine. And yet the brazen armor was no less useful for fight than the golden; whereas beauty and health of body, as the Stoics say, contribute not the least advantage so far as happiness is concerned. And yet they seek health in exchange for wisdom. For they say, it would well enough have become Heraclitus and Pherecydes to have parted with their virtue and wisdom, if the one of them could have thereby been freed from his lousy disease, and the other from his dropsy; and if Circe had used two sorts of magical drinks, one to make wise men fools, and the other to make fools wise, Ulysses would rather have drunk that of folly, than have changed his shape for the form of a beast, though having with it wisdom, and consequently also happiness. And, they say, wisdom itself dictates to them these things, exhorting them thus: Let me go, and value not my being lost, if I must be carried about in the shape of an ass. But this, some will say, is an ass-like wisdom which teacheth thus; granting that to be wise and enjoy felicity is good, and to wear the shape of an ass is indifferent. They say, there is a nation of the Ethiopians where a dog reigns, is called king, and has all regal honors and services done to him; but men execute the offices of magistrates and governors of cities. Do not the Stoics act in the very same manner? They give the name and appearance of good to virtue, saying that it alone is desirable, profitable, and available; but in the meantime they act these things, they philosophize, they live and die, as at the command of things indifferent. And yet none of the Ethiopians kill that dog; but he sits in state, and is revered by all. But these men destroy and corrupt their virtue, that they may obtain health and riches.

But the corollary which Chrysippus himself has given for a conclusion to his doctrines seems to free us from the trouble of saying anything more about it. For there being, says he, in Nature some things good, some things bad, and some things between them both, which we call indifferent; there is no man but would rather have the good than the indifferent, and the indifferent than the bad. And of this we call the gods to witness, begging of them by our prayers principally the possession of good things, and if that may not be, deliverance from evil; not desiring that which is neither good nor bad instead of good, but willing to have it instead of evil. But this man, changing Nature and inverting its order, removes the middle out of its own place into the last, and brings back the last into the middle — not unlike to those tyrants who give the first place to the wicked — and he gives us a law, first to seek the good, and secondly the evil, and lastly to judge that worst which is neither good nor evil; as if any one should place infernal things next to celestial, thrusting the earth and earthly things into Tartarus,

Where very far from hence, deep under ground,
Lies a vast gulf.
(Iliad, viii. 14.)

Having therefore said in his Third Book concerning Nature, that it is more expedient for a fool to live than not, though he should never attain to wisdom, he adds these words: “For such are the good things of men, that even evil things do in a manner precede other things that are in the middle place; not that these things themselves really precede, but reason, which makes us choose rather to live, though we were to be fools.” Therefore also, though we were to be unjust, wicked, hated of the gods, and unhappy; for none of these things are absent from those that live foolishly. Is it then convenient rather to live miserably than not to live miserably, and better to be hurt than not hurt, to be unjust than not unjust, to break the laws than not to break them? That is, is it convenient to do things that are not convenient, and a duty to live even against duty? Yes indeed, for it is worse to want sense and reason than to be a fool. What then ails them, that they will not confess that to be evil which is worse than evil? Why do they say that folly alone is to be avoided, if it is not less but rather more convenient to shun that disposition which is not capable of folly?

But who can complain of this, that shall remember what he has written in his Second Book of Nature, declaring that vice was not unprofitably made for the universe? But it is meet I should set down his doctrine in his own words, that you may understand in what place those rank vice, and what discourses they hold of it, who accuse Xenocrates and Speusippus for not reckoning health indifferent and riches useless. “Vice,” saith he, “has its limit in reference to other accidents. For it is also in some sort according to the reason of Nature, and (as I may so say) is not wholly useless in respect of the universe; for other wise there would not be any good.” Is there then no good among the gods, because there is no evil? And when Jupiter, having resolved all matter into himself, shall be alone, other differences being taken away, will there then be no good, because there will be no evil? But is there melody in a choir though none in it sings faultily, and health in the body though no member is sick; and yet cannot virtue have its existence without vice? But as the poison of a serpent or the gall of an hyena is to be mixed with some medicines, was it also of necessity that there must have been some conjunction of the wickedness of Meletus with the justice of Socrates, and the dissolute conduct of Cleon with the probity of Pericles? And could not Jupiter have found a means to bring into the world Hercules and Lycurgus, if he had not also made for us Sardanapalus and Phalaris? It is now time for them to say that the consumption was made for the sound constitution of men’s bodies, and the gout for the swiftness of their feet; and that Achilles would not have had a good head of hair if Thersites had not been bald. For what difference is there between such triflers and ravers, and those who say that intemperance was not brought forth unprofitably for continence, nor injustice for justice, so that we must pray to the gods, there may be always wickedness,

Lies, fawning speeches, and deceitful manners,
(Hesiod, “Works and Days,” 78.)

if, when these are taken away, virtue will also vanish and be lost?

Or do you desire to understand the greatest sweetness of his eloquence and persuasion? “For,” says he, “as comedies have in them sometimes ridiculous epigrams, which, though bad in themselves, give nevertheless a certain grace to the whole poem; so, though you may blame vice in itself, yet is it not useless to other things.” First, then, to say that vice was made by the providence of God, as a wanton epigram by the will of the poet, transcends in absurdity all imagination. For this being granted, how will the gods be rather givers of good than evil? How will wickedness be displeasing to them, and hated by them? And what shall we have to oppose against these ill-sounding sentences of the poets. —

A cause to men God sends,
When to chastise some house his wrath intends;
(From the “Niobe” of Aeschylus, Frag. 151.)

and again,

What God those seeds of strife ‘twixt them did sow?
(Iliad, i. 8.)

Moreover, a lewd epigram adorns the comedy and contributes to its end, which is to delight the spectators and make them laugh. But Jupiter, who is surnamed fatherly, supreme, just, and (as Pindar has it) the most perfect artist, framing the world, not as a great interlude, full of variety and great learning, but as a common city of Gods and men, living together in concord and happiness with justice and virtue — what need had he, for the attaining to this excellent end, of thieves, murderers, parricides, and tyrants? For vice entered not as a morris-dance, pleasing and delightful to the Divinity; nor was it brought in amongst the affairs of men, to cause mirth and laughter by its raillery and facetiousness, since there is not to be seen in it so much as a dream of that celebrated agreement with Nature. Besides, that foolish epigram is a very small part of the poem, and takes up but a very little place in the comedy; neither do such things abound in it, nor do they corrupt any of those things which seem to have been well done, or spoil their grace. But all human affairs are replete with vice, and the whole life, from the very prologue and beginning to the end, being disordered, depraved, and disturbed, and having no part of it pure or irreprehensible (as these men say), is the most filthy and most unpleasant of all farces.

Wherefore I would willingly ask, in what vice is profitable to the universe. Not surely in respect of heavenly things, and such as are divine by nature. For it would be ridiculous to say, that if there had not arisen, or were not amongst men, malice and covetousness and lying, or that if we did not rob, plunder, slander, and murder one another, the sun would not run his appointed course, the world enjoy its seasons and periods of time, or the earth, which is seated in the midst of the universe, afford the principles of the wind and rain. It remains, then, that the existence of vice must be profitable for us and our affairs; and that perhaps these men mean. Are we more healthy for being vicious, or do we more abound with necessaries? Or does vice contribute anything to our beauty and strength? They say, no. But where on earth is virtue to be met with? Is it then only a base name, and a visionary opinion of night-walking Sophists, and not an actual thing lying conspicuous to all, like vice, so that we cannot partake of anything as profitable, . . . but least, O ye gods! of virtue, for which we were created? Is it not then absurd, that the utensils of the husbandman, mariner, and charioteer should be serviceable and aiding towards his intended end, whilst that which was by God made for virtue destroys and corrupts virtue? But perhaps it is time now to leave this point, and pass to another.

LAMPRIAS. Not for my sake, my dear friend, I beseech you; for I desire to understand, in what manner these men bring in evil things before the good, and vice before virtue.

DIADUMENUS. It is indeed, sir, a thing worth knowing. They babble indeed much; but in conclusion they say that prudence, being the knowledge of good and evil, would be wholly taken away if there were no evil. For as, if there are truths, it is impossible but there must be some lies also near to them; so it stands with reason, that if there are good things, there must also be evil things.

LAMPRIAS. One of these things is not said amiss; and I think also that the other is not unapprehended by me. For I see a difference here: that which is not true must immediately be false; but that is not of necessity evil which is not good; because that between true and false there is no medium, but between good and evil there is the indifferent. Nor is it of necessity that the one must subsist with the other. For Nature may have good without having any need of evil, but only having that which is neither good nor evil. But if there is anything to be said by you to the former reason, let us hear it.

DIADUMENUS. Many things indeed are said; but at present we shall make use only of what is most necessary. In the first place, it is a folly to imagine that good and evil have their existence for the sake of prudence. For good and evil being already extant, prudence came afterwards; as the art of physic was invented, there being already things wholesome and unwholesome. For good and evil are not therefore extant that there may be prudence; but the faculty by which we judge good and evil that are already in being is named prudence. As sight is a sense distinguishing white from black; which colors were not therefore made that we might have sight, but we rather wanted sight to discern these things. Secondly, when the world shall be set on fire (as the Stoics hold), there will then no evil be left, but all will then be prudent and wise. There is therefore prudence, though there is no evil; nor is it of necessity for evil to exist that prudence may have a being. But supposing that prudence must always be a knowledge of good and evil, what inconvenience would it be if, evil being taken away, prudence should no longer subsist; but instead of this we should have another virtue, not being the knowledge of good and evil, but of good only? So, if black should be wholly lost from among the colors, and any one should therefore contend that sight is also lost, for that there is no more the sense of discerning black and white, what should hinder us from answering him: It is no prejudice to us, if we have not what you call sight, but in lieu of that have another sense and faculty, by which we apprehend colors that are white and not white. For I indeed think that neither our taste would be lost, if bitter things were wanting, nor our feeling, if pain were taken away, nor prudence, if evil had no being; but that these senses would remain, to apprehend things sweet and grateful and those that are not so, and prudence to be the science of things good and not good. But let those who think otherwise take the name to themselves, leaving us the thing.

Besides all this, what should hinder but there may be an understanding of evil, and an existence of good? As the gods, I believe, enjoy health, but understand the fever and pleurisy. Since even we, who, as they say, have abundance of evils but no good, are not yet destitute of the knowledge what prudence, what goodness, and what happiness is. And this also would be remarkable, that if virtue were absent, there should be those who could teach us what it is and give us a comprehension of it, when if vice were not extant, it should be impossible to have any understanding of it. For see what these men persuade us who philosophize against the conceptions — that by folly indeed we comprehend prudence, but prudence without folly cannot so much as comprehend folly itself.

And if Nature had absolutely stood in need of the generation of evil, yet might one or two examples of vice have been sufficient; or if you will, it might have been requisite that ten, a thousand, or ten thousand vicious men should be brought forth, and not that the multitude of vices should be so great as “to exceed in number the sands of the sea, the dust of the earth, and the feathers of all the various kinds of birds in the world,” and yet that there should not be so much all this while as a dream of virtue. Those who in Sparta had the charge of the public halls or eating places called Phiditia were wont to bring forth two or three Helots drunken and full of wine, that the young men, seeing what drunkenness was, might learn to keep sobriety. But in human life there are many such examples of vice. For there is not any one sober to virtue; but we all stagger up and down, acting shamefully and living miserably. Thus does reason inebriate us, and with so much trouble and madness does it fill us, that we fall in nothing short of those dogs of whom Aesop says, that seeing certain skins swimming in the water, they endeavored to gulp down the sea, but burst before they could get at them. For reason also, by which we hope to gain reputation and attain to virtue, does, ere we can reach to it, corrupt and destroy us, being before filled with abundance of heady and bitter vice; — if indeed, as these men say, they who are got even to the uppermost step have no ease, cessation, or breathing from folly and infelicity.

But let us see what manner of thing he shows vice to be who says that it was not brought forth unprofitably, and of what use and what a thing he makes it to be to those who have it, writing in his book of right conduct, that a wicked man wants nothing, has need of nothing, nothing is useful to him, nothing proper, nothing fit for him. How then is vice useful, with which neither health nor abundance of riches nor advancement in virtue is profitable? Who then does not want these things, of which some are “preferable” and “acceptable” and therefore highly useful, and others are “according to Nature,” as themselves term them? But (they affirm) no one has need of them, unless he become wise. So the vicious man does not even stand in want of being made wise. Nor are men hungry and thirsty before they become wise. When thirsty, therefore, they have no need of water, nor when hungry, of bread.

Be like to courteous guests, and him
Who asks only fire and shelter:

does this man now not need entertainment? Nor had he need of a cloak, who said,

Give Hipponax a cloak, for I’m stiff with cold.

But will you speak a paradox indeed, both extravagant and singular? Say then that a wise man has need of nothing, that he wants nothing, he is fortunate, he is free from want, he is self-sufficient, blessed, perfect. Now what madness is this, that he to whom nothing is wanting has need of the goods he has, but that the vicious indeed wants many things, and stands in need of nothing. For thus indeed says Chrysippus, that the vicious wants but stands not in need; removing the common notions, like chessmen, backwards and forwards. For all men think that having need precedes wanting, esteeming him who stands in need of things that are not at hand or easy to be got, to want them. For no man wants horns or wings, because no one has need of them. But we say that those want arms and money and clothes who are destitute of them, when they have occasion for them. But these men are so desirous of seeming always to say something against the common notions, that for the love of novelty they often depart from their own opinions, as they do here.

Recall yourself to the consideration of what has been said a little above. This is one of their assertions against the common conception, that no vicious man receives any utility. And yet many being instructed profit, many being slaves are made free; many being besieged are delivered, being lame are led by the hand, and being sick are cured. “But possessing all these things, they are never the better, neither do receive benefits, nor have they any benefactors, nor do they slight them.” Vicious men then are not ungrateful, no more than are wise men. Ingratitude therefore has no being; because the good receiving a benefit fail not to acknowledge it, and the bad are not capable of receiving any. Behold, now, what they say to this — that benefit is ranked among mean or middle things, and that to give and receive utility belongs only to the wise, but the bad also receive a benefit. Then they who partake of the benefit partake not also of its use; and whither a benefit extends, there is nothing useful or commodious. Now what else is there that makes a kind office a benefit, but that the bestower of it is, in some respect, useful to the needy receiver?

LAMPRIAS. But let these things pass. What, I beseech you, is this so highly venerated utility, which preserving as some great and excellent thing for the wise, they permit not so much as the name of it to the vicious?

DIADUMENUS. If (say they) one wise man does but any way prudently stretch out his finger, all the wise men all the world over receive utility by it. This is the work of their amity; in this do the virtues of the wise man terminate by their common utilities. Aristotle then and Xenocrates doted, saving that men receive utility from the gods, from their parents, from their masters, being ignorant of that wonderful utility which wise men receive from one another, being moved according to virtue, though they neither are together nor yet know it. Yet all men esteem, that laying up, keeping, and bestowing are then useful and profitable, when some benefit or profit is recovered by it. The thriving man buys keys, and diligently keeps his stores,

With ‘s hand unlocking wealth’s sweet treasury.
(From the “Bellerophontes” of Euripides, Frag. 287, vs. 8.)

But to store up and to keep with diligence and labor such things as are for no use is not seemly or honorable, but ridiculous. If Ulysses indeed had tied up with the knot which Circe taught him, not the gifts he had received from Alcinous — tripods, caldrons, cloths, and gold — but heaping up trash, stones, and such like trumpery, should have thought his employment about such things, and the possession and keeping of them, a happy and blessed work, would any one have imitated this foolish providence and empty care? Yet this is the beauty, gravity, and happiness of the Stoical consent, being nothing else but a gathering together and keeping of useless and indifferent things. For such are things according to Nature, and more exterior things; if indeed they compare the greatest riches to fringes and golden chamberpots, and sometimes also, as it happens, to oil-cruets. Then, as those who seem proudly to have affronted and railed at some gods or demigods presently changing their note, fall prostrate and sit humbly on the ground, praising and magnifying the Divinity; so these men, having met with punishment of this arrogancy and vanity, again exercise themselves in these indifferent things and such as pertain nothing to them, crying out with a loud voice that there is only one thing good, specious, and honorable, the storing up of these things and the communication of them, and that it is not meet for those to live who have them not, but to despatch out of the way and famish themselves, bidding a long farewell to virtue.

They esteem indeed Theognis to have been a man altogether of a base and abject spirit, for saying, as one overfearful in regard to poverty, which is an indifferent thing:—

From poverty to fly, into the deep
Throw thyself, Cyrnus, or from rocks so steep.

Yet they themselves exhort the same thing in prose, and affirm that a man, to free himself from some great disease or exceedingly acute pain, if he have not at hand sword or hemlock, ought to leap into the sea or throw himself headlong from a precipice; neither of which is hurtful, or evil, or incommodious, or makes them who fall into it miserable.

With what, then, says he, shall I begin? And what shall I take for the principle of duty and matter of virtue, leaving Nature and that which is according to Nature?

With what, O good sir, do Aristotle and Theophrastus begin? What beginnings do Xenocrates and Polemo take? Does not also Zeno follow these, who hold Nature and that which is according to Nature to be the elements of happiness? But they indeed persisted in these things, as desirable, good, and profitable; and joining to them virtue, which employs them and uses every one of them according to its property, thought to complete and consummate a perfect life and one every way absolute, producing that concord which is truly suitable and consonant to Nature. For these men did not run into confusion, like those who leap up from the ground and presently fall down again upon it, terming the same things acceptable and not desirable, proper and not good, unprofitable and yet useful, nothing to us and yet the principles of duties. But their life was such as their speech, and they exhibited actions suitable and consonant to their sayings. But they who are of the Stoic sect — not unlike to that woman in Archilochus, who deceitfully carried in one hand water, in the other fire — by some doctrines draw Nature to them, and by others drive her from them. Or rather, by their deeds and actions they embrace those things which are according to Nature, as good and desirable, but in words and speeches they reject and contemn them, as indifferent and of no use to virtue for the acquiring felicity.

Now, forasmuch as all men esteem the sovereign good to be joyous, desirable, happy, of the greatest dignity, self-sufficient, and wanting nothing; compare their good, and see how it agrees with this common conception. Does the stretching out a finger prudently produce this joy? Is a prudent torture a thing desirable? Is he happy, who with reason breaks his neck? Is that of the greatest dignity, which reason often chooses to let go for that which is not good? Is that perfect and self-sufficient, by enjoying which, if they possess not too indifferent things, they neither can nor will endure to live? There is also another tenet of the Stoics, by which custom is still more injured, taking and plucking from her genuine notions, which are as her legitimate children, and supposing other bastardly, wild, and illegitimate ones in their room, and necessitating her to nourish and cherish the one instead of the other; and that too in those principles which concern things good and bad, desirable and avoidable, proper and strange, the energy of which ought to be more clearly distinguished than that of hot and cold, black and white. For the imaginations of these things are brought in by the senses from without; but those have their original bred from the good things which we have within us. But these men entering with their logic upon the topic of felicity, as on the sophism called Pseudomenos, or that named Kyrieuon, have removed no ambiguities, but brought in very many.

Indeed, of two good things, of which the one is the end and the other belongs to the end, none is ignorant that the end is the greater and perfecter good. Chrysippus also acknowledges this difference, as is manifest from his Third Book of Good Things. For he dissents from those who make science the end, and sets it down. . . . In his Treatise of Justice, however, he does not think that justice can be preserved, if any one makes pleasure to be the end; but allows it may, if pleasure is not said to be the end, but simply a good. Nor do I think that you need now to hear me repeat his words, since his Third Book of Justice is everywhere to be had. When, therefore, O my friend, they elsewhere say that no one good is greater or less than another, and that what is not the end is equal to the end, they contradict not only the common conceptions, but even their own words. Again, if of two evils, the one when it is present renders us worse, and the other hurts us but renders us not worse, it is against reason not to say that the evil which by its presence renders us worse is greater than that which hurts us but renders us not worse. Now Chrysippus indeed confesses, that there are some fears and sorrows and errors which hurt us, but render us not worse. Read his First Book of Justice against Plato; for in respect of other things, it is worth the while to note the babbling of the man in that place, expounding indifferently all matters and doctrines, as well proper to his own sect as foreign to it.

It is likewise against common sense when he says that there may be two ends or scopes proposed of life, and that all the things we do are not to be referred to one; and yet this is more against common sense, to say that there is an end, and yet that every action is to be referred to another. Nevertheless they must of necessity endure one of these. For if those things which are first according to Nature are not eligible for themselves, but the choice and taking of them agreeably to reason is, and if every one therefore does all his actions for the acquiring the first things according to Nature, then all things which are done must have their reference to this, that the principal things according to Nature may be obtained. But they think that they who aim and aspire to get these things do not have the things themselves as the end, but that to which they must make reference, namely, the choice and not the things. For the end indeed is to choose and receive these things prudently. But the things themselves and the enjoying of them are not the end, but the material ground, having its value only from the choice. For it is my opinion that they both use and write this very expression, to show the difference.

LAMPRIAS. You have exactly related both what they say and in what manner they deliver it.

DIADUMENUS. But observe how it fares with them, as with those that endeavor to leap over their own shadow; for they do not leave behind, but always carry along with them in their speech some absurdity most remote from common sense. For as, if any one should say that he who shoots does all he can, not that he may hit the mark, but that he may do all he can, such a one would rightly be esteemed to speak enigmatically and prodigiously; so these doting dreamers, who contend that the obtaining of natural things is not the end of aiming after natural things, but the taking and choosing them is, and that the desire and endeavor after health is not in every one terminated in the enjoyment of health, but on the contrary, the enjoyment of health is referred to the desire and endeavor after it, and that certain walkings and contentions of speech and suffering incisions and taking of medicines, so they are done by reason, are the end of health, and not health of them, they, I say, trifle like to those who say, Let us sup, that we may offer sacrifice, that we may bathe. But this rather changes order and custom, and all things which these men say carry with them the total subversion and confusion of affairs. Thus, we do not desire to take a walk in fit time that we may digest our meat; but we digest our meat that we may take a walk in fit time. Has Nature also made health for the sake of hellebore, instead of producing hellebore for the sake of health? For what is wanting to bring them to the highest degree of speaking paradoxes, but the saying of such things? What difference is there between him who says that health was made for the sake of medicines and not medicines for the sake of health, and him who makes the choice of medicines and their composition and use more desirable than health itself? — or rather who esteems health not at all desirable, but placing the end in the negotiation about these things, prefers desire to enjoyment, and not enjoyment to desire? For to desire, forsooth (they affirm), is joined the proceeding wisely and discreetly. It is true indeed, we will say, if respect be had to the end, that is, the enjoyment and possession of the things it pursues; but otherwise, it is wholly void of reason, if it does all things for the obtaining of that the enjoyment of which is neither honorable nor happy.

Now, since we are fallen upon this discourse, anything may rather be said to agree with common sense, than that those who have neither received nor have any conception of good do nevertheless desire and pursue it. For you see how Chrysippus drives Ariston into this difficulty, that he should understand an indifference in things inclining neither to good nor to bad, before either good or bad is itself understood; for so indifference will appear to have subsisted even before itself, if the understanding of it cannot be perceived unless good be first understood, while the good is nothing else than this very indifference. Understand now and consider this indifference which the Stoa refutes and calls consent, whence and in what manner it gives us the knowledge of good. For if without good the indifference to that which is not good cannot be understood, much less does the knowing of good things give any intelligence of itself to those who had not before some notion of the good. But as there can be no knowledge of the art of things wholesome and unwholesome in those who have not first some knowledge of the things themselves; so they cannot conceive any notion of the science of good and evil who have not some fore-knowledge of good and evil.

LAMPRIAS. What then is good? DIADUMENUS. Nothing but prudence. LAMPRIAS. And what is prudence? DIADUMENUS. Nothing but the science of good.

LAMPRIAS. There is much then of “Jupiter’s Corinth” (that is, much begging the question) admitted into their reasoning. For I would have you let alone the saying about the turning of the pestle, lest you should seem to mock them; although an accident like to that has insinuated itself into their discourse. For it seems that, to the understanding of good, one has need to understand prudence, and to seek for prudence in the understanding of good, being forced always to pursue the one by the other, and thus failing of both; since to the understanding of each we have need of that which cannot be known without the other be first understood.

DIADUMENUS. But there is yet another way, by which you may perceive not only the perversion but the eversion of their discourse, and the reduction of it entirely to nothing. They hold the essence of good to be the reasonable election of things according to Nature. Now the election is not reasonable which is not directed to some end, as has been said before. What, then, is this end? Nothing else, say they, but to reason rightly in the election of things according to Nature. First, then, the conception of good is lost and gone. For to reason rightly in election is an operation proceeding from an habit of right reasoning, and therefore being constrained to get this from the end; and the end not without this, we fail of understanding either of them. Besides, which is more, this reasonable election ought strictly to be a choice of things good and useful, and cooperating to the end; for how can it be reasonable to choose things which are neither convenient nor honorable nor at all eligible? For be it, as they say, a reasonable election of things having a fitness for the causing felicity; see then to what a beautiful and solemn conclusion their discourse brings them. For the end is (it seems), according to them, to reason rightly in the choice of things which are useful in causing us to reason rightly.

LAMPRIAS. When I hear these words, my friend, what is laid down seems to me strangely extravagant; and I farther want to know how this happens.

DIADUMENUS. You must then be more attentive; for it is not for every one to understand this riddle. Hear therefore and answer. Is not the end, according to them, to reason rightly in the election of things according to Nature?

LAMPRIAS. So they say.

DIADUMENUS. And are these things according to Nature chosen as good, or as having some fitness or preferences . . . either for this end or for something else?

LAMPRIAS. I think not for anything else but for this end.

DIADUMENUS. Now, then, having discovered the matter, see what befalls them. They affirm that the end is to reason rightly in the selection of things which are of value in causing us to reason rightly, for they say that we neither have nor understand any other principle either of good or of felicity but this precious rectitude of reasoning in the election of things that are of worth. But there are some who think that this is spoken against Antipater, and not against the whole sect; for that he, being pressed by Carneades, fell into these fooleries.

But as for those things that are against the common conceptions taught in the Stoa concerning love, they are all of them concerned in the absurdity. They say youths are deformed who are vicious and foolish, and that the wise are fair; and yet that none of these beautiful ones is either beloved or worthy of being beloved. Nor yet is this the worst; but they add, that those who love the deformed ones cease to do so when they are become fair. Now whoever knew such a love as is kindled and has its being at the sight of the body’s deformity joined with that of the soul, and is quenched and decays at the accession of beauty joined with prudence, justice, and temperance? These men are not unlike to those gnats which love to settle on the dregs of wine, or on vinegar, but shun and fly away from potable and pleasant wine. As for that which they call and term an appearance of beauty, saying that it is the inducement of love — first, it has no probability, for in those who are very foul and highly wicked there cannot be an appearance of beauty, if indeed (as is said) the wickedness of the disposition fills the face with deformity. And secondly, it is absolutely against all common experience for the deformed to be worthy of love because he one day will be fair and expects to have beauty, but that when he has got it and is become fair and good, he is to be beloved of none.

LAMPRIAS. Love, they say, is a certain hunting after a young person who is as yet indeed undeveloped, but naturally well disposed towards virtue.

DIADUMENUS. And what do we now else, O my best friend, but demonstrate that their sect perverts and destroys all our common conceptions with improbable things and unusual expressions? For none would hinder the solicitude of these wise men towards young persons, if it were free from all passionate affection, from being named hunting or love of instruction; but they ought to call love what all men and women understand and call by this name, like that which Penelope’s suitors in Homer seem to acknowledge,

Who all desired to lie with her;
(“Odyssey,” i. 366)

or as Jupiter in another place says to Juno,

For neither goddess yet nor mortal dame
E’er kindled in my heart so great a flame.
(“Iliad.” xiv. 315.)

Thus casting moral philosophy into these matters, in which all is

A mazy whirl, with nothing sound, and all perplexed,
(Euripides, “Andromache,” 448.)

they contemn and deride it, as if boasting themselves to be the only men who observe nature and custom as it ought to be, and who at the same time adapted reason to each man by means of aversions, desires, appetites, pursuits, and impulses. But custom has received no good from their logic, but, like the ear diseased by vain sounds, is filled with difficulty and obscurity — of which, if you think good, we will elsewhere begin a new discourse. But now we will run through the chief and principal heads of their natural philosophy, which no less confounds the common conceptions than that other concerning ends. ============= First, this is altogether absurd and against sense, to say that is which is not, and things which are not are. But above all that is most absurd which they say of the universe. For, putting round about the circumference of the world an infinite vacuum, they say that the universe is neither a body nor bodiless. It follows then from this that the universe has no being, since with them body only has a being. Since therefore it is the part of that which has a being both to do and suffer, and the universe has no being, it follows that the universe will neither do nor suffer. Neither will it be in a place; for that which takes up place is a body, and the universe is not a body, therefore the universe exists nowhere. And since that only rests which continues in one and the same place, the universe rests not, because it takes not up place. Neither yet is it moved, for what is moved must have a place and space in which to move. Moreover, what is moved either moves itself, or suffers motion from another. Now, that which is moved by itself has some bents and inclinations proceeding from its gravity or levity; and gravity and levity are either certain habits or faculties or differences of bodies. But the universe is not a body. It follows then of necessity, that the universe is neither, heavy nor light, and consequently, that it has not in itself any principle of motion. Nor yet will the universe be moved by any other; for there is nothing else besides the universe. Thus are they necessitated to say as they do, that the universe neither rests nor is moved. Lastly since according to their opinion it must not be said that the universe is a body, and yet the heaven, the earth, animals, plants, men, and stones are bodies, it follows that that which is no body will have bodies for its parts, and things which have existence will be parts of that which has no existence, and that which is not heavy will have parts that are heavy, and what is not light will have parts that are light; — than which there cannot be any dreams imagined more repugnant to the common conceptions.

Moreover, there is nothing so evident or so agreeing to common sense as this, that what is not animate is inanimate, and what is not inanimate is animate. And yet they overthrow also this evidence, confessing the universe to be neither animate nor inanimate. Besides this, none thinks the universe, of which there is no part wanting to be imperfect; but they deny the universe to be perfect, saying that what is perfect may be defined, but the universe because of its infiniteness cannot be defined. Therefore, according to them, there is something which is neither perfect nor imperfect. Moreover, the universe is neither a part, since there is nothing greater than it; nor the whole, for the whole (they say) is predicated only of that which is digested into order; but the universe is, through its infiniteness, undetermined and unordered. Moreover, there is no other thing which can be the cause of the universe, there being nothing besides the universe; nor is the universe the cause of other things or even of itself; for its nature suffers it not to act, and a cause is understood by its acting. Suppose, now, one should ask all men what they imagine NOTHING to be, and what notion they have of it. Would they not answer, that it neither is a cause nor has a cause, that it is neither the whole nor a part that it is neither perfect nor imperfect, that it is neither animate nor inanimate, that it neither is moved nor rests nor subsists, that it is neither corporeal nor incorporeal; and that this and no other thing is meant by NOTHING? Since, then, they alone predicate that of the universe which all others do of NOTHING, it seems plain that they make the universe and NOTHING to be the same. Time must then be said to be nothing; the same also must be said of predicate, axiom, junction, conjunction, which terms they use more than any of the other philosophers, yet they say that they have no existence. But farther, to say that what is true has no being or subsistence but is comprehended, and that that is comprehensible and credible which no way partakes of the essence of being — does not this exceed all absurdity?

But lest these things should seem to have too much of logical difficulty, let us proceed to such as pertain more to natural philosophy. Since, then, as themselves say,

Jove is of all beginning, midst, and end,
(See “Orphic Fragments,” vi. 10 (Herm.).)

they ought chiefly to have applied themselves to remedy, redress, and reduce to the best order the conceptions concerning the gods, if there were in them anything confused or erroneous; or if not, to have left every one in those sentiments which they had from the laws and custom concerning the Divinity:-

For neither now nor yesterday
But always these things lived,
No one knows from whence they came.
(Sophocles, “Antigone,” 456.)

But these men, having begun (as it were) “from Vesta” to disturb the opinions settled and received in every country concerning the gods, have not (to speak sincerely) left anything entire and uncorrupted. For what man is there or ever was, except these, who does not believe the Divinity to be immortal and eternal? Or what in the common anticipations is more unanimously chanted forth concerning the gods than such things as these:—

There the blest gods eternally enjoy
Their sweet delights;
(“Odyssey,” vi. 46.)

and again,

Both gods immortal, and earth-dwelling men;
(“Iliad,” v. 442.)

and again,

Exempt from sickness and old age are they,
And free from toil, and have escaped the stream
Of roaring Acheron?
(From Pindar.)

One may perhaps light upon some nations so barbarous and savage as not to think there is a God; but there was never found any man who, believing a God, did not at the same time believe him immortal and eternal. Certainly, those who were called Atheists, like Theodorus, Diagoras, and Hippo, durst not say that the Divinity is corruptible, but they did not believe that there is anything incorruptible; not indeed admitting the subsistence of an incorruptibility, but keeping the notion of a God. But Chrysippus and Cleanthes, having filled (as one may say) heaven, earth, air, and sea with gods, have not yet made any one of all these gods immortal or eternal, except Jupiter alone, in whom they consume all the rest; so that it is no more suitable for him to consume others than to be consumed himself. For it is alike an infirmity to perish by being resolved into another, and to be saved by being nourished by the resolution of others into himself. Now these are not like other of their absurdities, gathered by argument from their suppositions or drawn by consequence from their doctrines; but they themselves proclaim it aloud in their writings concerning the gods, Providence, Fate, and Nature, expressly saying that all the other gods were born, and shall die by the fire, melting away, in their opinion, as if they were of wax or tin. It is indeed as much against common sense that God should be mortal as the man should be immortal; nay, indeed, I do not see what the difference between God and man will be, if God also is a reasonable and corruptible animal. For if they oppose us with this subtle distinction, that man is mortal, and God not mortal but corruptible, see what they get by it. For they will say either that God is at the same time both immortal and corruptible, or else that he neither is mortal nor immortal; the absurdity of which even those cannot exceed who set themselves industriously to devise positions repugnant to common sense. I speak of others; for these men have left no one of the absurdest things unspoken or unattempted.

To these things Cleanthes, contending for the conflagration of the world, says, that the sun will make the moon and all the other stars like to himself, and will change them into himself. Indeed, if the stars, being gods, should contribute anything to the sun towards their own destruction by adding to its conflagration, it would be very ridiculous for us to make prayers to them for our salvation, and to think them the saviours of men, whose nature it is to accelerate their own corruption and dissolution.

And yet these men leave nothing unsaid against Epicurus, crying out, Fie, fie upon him, as confounding their presumption concerning God by taking away Providence; for God (they say) is presumed and understood to be not only immortal and happy, but also a lover of men and careful of them and beneficial to them, and herein they say true. Now if they who abolish Providence take away the preconception concerning God, what do they who say that the gods indeed have care of us, but deny them to be helpful to us, and make them not bestowers of good things but of indifferent ones, giving, to wit, not virtue, but wealth, health, children, and such like things, none of which is helpful, profitable, desirable, or available? Or shall we not rather think, that Epicurus does not take away the conceptions concerning the gods; but that these Stoics scoff at the gods and deride them, saying one is a god of fruits, another of marriage, another a physician, and another a diviner, while yet health, issue, and plenty of fruits are not good things, but indifferent things and unprofitable to those who have them?

The third point of the conception concerning the gods is, that the gods do in nothing so much differ from men as in happiness and virtue. But according to Chrysippus, they have not so much as this difference. For he says that Jupiter does not exceed Dion in virtue, but that Jupiter and Dion, being both wise, are equally aided by one another, when one comes into the motion of the other. For this and none else is the good which the gods do to men, and likewise men to the gods when they are wise. For they say, that a man who falls not short in virtue comes not behind them in felicity, and that he who, tormented with diseases and being maimed in the body, makes himself away, is equally happy with Jupiter the Saviour, provided he be but wise. But this man neither is nor ever was upon the earth; but there are infinite millions of men unhappy to the highest degree in the state and government of Jupiter, which is most excellently administered. Now what can be more against sense than that, when Jupiter governs exceedingly well, we should be exceedingly miserable? But if (which it is unlawful even to say) he would desire no longer to be a saviour, nor a deliverer, nor a protector, but the contrary to all these glorious appellations, there can no goodness be added to the things that are, either as to their multitude or magnitude, since, as these men say, all men live to the height miserably and wickedly, neither vice receiving addition, nor unhappiness increase.

Nor is this the worst; but they are angry with Menander for saying upon the stage,

The chief beginning of men’s miseries
Are things exceeding good;

for that this is against sense. And yet they make God, who is good, the beginning of evils. “For matter,” they contend, “produced not any evil of itself; for it is without quality, and whatever differences it has, it has received them all from that which moves and forms it.” But that which moves and forms it is the reason dwelling in it, since matter is not made to move and form itself. So that of necessity evil, if it come by nothing, must have been produced from that which has no being; but if by some moving principle, from God. But if they think that Jupiter has not the command of his parts nor uses every one of them according to his reason, they speak against common sense, and imagine an animal, many of whose parts are not subservient to his will but use their own operations and actions, to which the whole gives no incitation nor begins their motion. For there is nothing which has life so ill compacted as that, against its will, its feet shall go, its tongue speak, its horns push, or its teeth bite. The most of which things God must of necessity suffer, if the wicked, being parts of him, do against his will lie, cheat, rob, and murder one another. But if, as Chrysippus says, the very least part cannot possibly behave itself otherwise than according to Jupiter’s pleasure, and if every living thing is so framed by Nature as to rest and move according as he inclines it and as he turns, stays, and disposes it,

This saying is more impious than the first.
(See Nauck’s “Tragic Fragments,” p. 704 (No. 345).)

For it were more tolerable to say that many parts of Jupiter are, through his weakness and want of power, hurried on to do many absurd things against his nature and will, than that there is not any intemperance or wickedness of which Jupiter is not the cause. Moreover, since they affirm the world to be a city and the stars citizens, if this be so, there must be also tribes-men and magistrates, the sun must be some consul, and the evening star a praetor or mayor of a city. Now I know not whether any one that shall go about to disprove such things will not show himself more ridiculous than those who assert and affirm them.

Is it not therefore against sense to say that the seed is more and greater than that which is produced of it? For we see that Nature in all animals and plants, even those that are wild, has taken small, slender, and scarce visible things for principles of generation to the greatest. For it does not only from a grain of wheat produce an ear-bearing stalk, or a vine from the stone of a grape; but from a small berry or acorn which has escaped being eaten by the bird, kindling and setting generation on fire (as it were) from a little spark, it sends forth the stock of a bush, or the tall body of an oak, palm, or pine tree. Whence also they say that seed is in Greek called [Greek omitted], as it were, the [Greek omitted] or the WINDING UP of a great mass in a little compass; and that Nature has the name of [Greek omitted], as if it were the INFLATION [Greek omitted] and diffusion of reason and numbers opened and loosened by it. But now, in opposition to this, they hold that fire is the seed of the world, which shall after the conflagration change into seed the world, which will then have a copious nature from a smaller body and bulk, and possess an infinite space of vacuum filled by its increase; and the world being made, the form again recedes and settles, the matter being after the generation gathered and contracted into itself.

You may hear them and read many of their writings, in which they jangle with the Academics, and cry out against them as confounding all things with their paradox of indistinguishable identity, and as vehemently contending that there is but one quality in two substances. And yet there is no man who understands not this, and would not on the contrary think it wonderful and extremely strange if there should not in all time be found one kind of dove exactly and in all respects like to another dove, a bee to a bee, a grain of wheat to a grain of wheat, or (as the proverb has it) one fig to another. But these things are plainly against common sense which the Stoics say and feign — that there are in one substance two individual qualities, and that the same substance, which has particularly one quality, when another quality is added, receives and equally conserves them both. For if there may be two, there may be also three, four, and five, and even more than you can name, in one and the same substance; I say not in its different parts, but all equally in the whole, though even infinite in number. For Chrysippus says, that Jupiter and the world are like to man, as is also Providence to the soul; when therefore the conflagration shall be, Jupiter, who alone of all the gods is incorruptible, will retire into Providence, and they being together, will both perpetually remain in the one substance of the ether.

But leaving now the gods, and beseeching them to give these Stoics common sense and a common understanding, let us look into their doctrines concerning the elements. It is against the common conceptions that one body should be the place of another, or that a body should penetrate through a body, neither of them containing any vacuity, but the full passing into the full, and in which there is no vacuity — but is full and has no place by reason of its continuity — receiving the mixture. But these men, not thrusting one thing into one, nor yet two or three or ten together, but jumbling all the parts of the world, being cut piecemeal, into any one thing which they shall first light on, and saying that the very least which is perceived by sense will contain the greatest that shall come unto it, boldly frame a new doctrine, proving themselves here, as in many other things, to be holding for their suppositions things repugnant to common sense. And presently upon this they are forced to admit into their discourse many monstrous and strange positions, mixing whole bodies with whole; of which this also is one, that three are four. For this others put as an example of those things which cannot be conceived even in thought. But to the Stoics it is a matter of truth, that when one cup of wine is mixed with two of water, if it is not to disappear and if the mixture is to be equalized, it must be spread through the whole and be confounded therewith, so as to make that which was one two by the equalization of the mixture. For the one remains, but is extended as much as two, and thus is equal to the double of itself. Now if it happens in the mixture with two to take the measure of two in the diffusion, this is together the measure both of three and four — of three because one is mixed with two, and of four because, being mixed with two, it has an equal quantity with those with which it is mixed. Now this fine subtilty is a consequence of their putting bodies into a body, and so likewise is the unintelligibleness of the manner how one is contained in the other. For it is of necessity that, of bodies passing one into another by mixture, the one should not contain and the other be contained, nor the one receive and the other be received within; for this would not be a mixture, but a contiguity and touching of the superficies, the one entering in, and the other enclosing it without, and the rest of the parts remaining unmixed and pure, and so it would be merely many different things. But there being a necessity, according to their axiom of mixture, that the things which are mixed should be mingled one within the other, and that the same things should together be contained by being within, and by receiving contain the other, and that neither of them could possibly exist again as it was before, it comes to pass that both the subjects of the mixture mutually penetrate each other, and that there is not any part of either remaining separate, but that they are necessarily all filled with each other.

Here now that famed leg of Arcesilaus comes in, with much laughter insulting over their absurdities; for if these mixtures are through the whole, what should hinder but that, a leg being cut off and putrefied and cast into the sea and diffused, not only Antigonus’s fleet (as Arcesilaus said) might sail through it, but also Xerxes’s twelve hundred ships, together with the Grecians’ three hundred galleys, might fight in it? For the progress will not henceforth fail, nor the lesser cease to be in the greater; or else the mixture will be at an end, and the extremity of it, touching where it shall end, will not pass through the whole, but will give over being mingled. But if the mixture is through the whole, the leg will not indeed of itself give the Greeks room for the sea-fight, for to this there is need of putrefaction and change; but if one glass or but one drop of wine shall fall from hence into the Aegean or Cretan Sea, it will pass into the Ocean or main Atlantic Sea, not lightly touching its superficies, but being spread quite through it in depth, breadth, and length. And this Chrysippus admits, saying immediately in his First Book of Natural Questions, that there is nothing to hinder one drop of wine from being mixed with the whole sea. And that we may not wonder at this, he says that this one drop will by mixtion extend through the whole world; than which I know not anything that can appear more absurd.

And this also is against sense, that there is not in the nature of bodies anything either supreme or first or last, in which the magnitude of the body may terminate; but that there is always some phenomenon beyond the body, still going on which carries the subject to infinity and undeterminateness. For one body cannot be imagined greater or less than another, if both of them may by their parts proceed IN INFINITUM; but the nature of inequality is taken away. For of things that are esteemed unequal, the one falls short in its last parts, and the other goes on and exceeds. Now if there is no inequality, it follows that there is no unevenness nor roughness of bodies; for unevenness is the inequality of the same superficies with itself, and roughness is an unevenness joined with hardness; neither of which is left us by those who terminate no body in its last part, but extend them all by the multitude of their parts unto an infinity. And yet is it not evident that a man consists of more parts than a finger, and the world of more than a man? This indeed all men know and understand, unless they become Stoics; but if they are once Stoics, they on the contrary say and think that a man has no more parts than a finger, nor the world than a man. For division reduces bodies to an infinity; and of infinites neither is more or less or exceeds in multitude, or the parts of the remainder will cease to be divided and to afford a multitude of themselves.

LAMPRIAS. How then do they extricate themselves out of these difficulties?

DIADUMENUS. Surely with very great cunning and courage. For Chrysippus says: “If we are asked, if we have any parts, and how many, and of what and how many parts they consist, we are to use a distinction, making it a position that the whole body is compacted of the head, trunk, and legs, as if that were all which is inquired and doubted of. But if they extend their interrogation to the last parts, no such thing is to be undertaken, but we are to say that they consist not of any certain parts, nor yet of so many, nor of infinite, nor of finite.” And I seem to myself to have used his very words, that you may perceive how he maintains the common notions, forbidding us to think of what or how many parts every body is compacted, and whether of infinite or finite. For if there were any medium between finite and infinite, as the indifferent is between good and evil, he should, by telling us what that is, have solved the difficulty. But if — as that which is not equal is presently understood to be unequal, and that which is not mortal to be immortal — we also understand that which is not finite to be immediately infinite, to say that a body consists of parts neither finite nor infinite is, in my opinion, the same thing as to affirm that an argument is compacted of positions neither true nor false. . . .

To this he with a certain youthful rashness adds, that in a pyramid consisting of triangles, the sides inclining to the juncture are unequal, and yet do not exceed one another in that they are greater. Thus does he keep the common notions. For if there is anything greater and not exceeding, there will be also something less and not deficient, and so also something unequal which neither exceeds nor is deficient; that is, there will be an unequal thing equal, a greater not greater, and a less not less. See it yet farther, in what manner he answered Democritus, inquiring philosophically and to the point, if a cone is divided by a plane parallel with its base, what is to be thought of the superficies of its segments, whether they are equal or unequal; for if they are unequal, they will render the cone uneven, receiving many steplike incisions and roughnesses; but if they are equal, the sections will be equal, and the cone will seem to have the same qualities as the cylinder, to wit, to be composed not of unequal but of equal circles; which is most absurd. Here, that he may convince Democritus of ignorance, he says, that the superficies are neither equal or unequal, but that the bodies are unequal, because the superficies are neither equal nor unequal. Indeed to assert this for a law, that bodies are unequal while the superficies are not unequal, is the part of a man who takes to himself a wonderful liberty of writing whatever comes into his head. For reason and manifest evidence, on the contrary, give us to understand, that the superficies of unequal bodies are unequal, and that the bigger the body is, the greater also is the superficies, unless the excess, by which it is the greater, is void of a superficies. For if the superficies of the greater bodies do not exceed those of the less, but sooner fail, a part of that body which has an end will be without an end and infinite. For if he says that he is compelled to this. For those rabbeted incisions, which he suspects in a cone, are made by the inequality of the body, and not of the superficies. It is ridiculous therefore not to reckon the superficies, and to leave the inequality in the bodies themselves. But to persist still in this matter, what is more repugnant to sense than the imagining of such things? For if we admit that one superficies is neither equal nor unequal to another, we may say also of magnitude and of number, that one is neither equal nor unequal to another; and this, not having anything that we can call or think to be a neuter or medium between equal and unequal. Besides, if there are superficies neither equal nor unequal, what hinders but there may be also circles neither equal nor unequal? For indeed these superficies of conic sections are circles. And if circles, why may not also their diameters be neither equal nor unequal? And if so, why not also angles, triangles, parallelograms, parallelopipeds, and bodies? For if the longitudes are neither equal nor unequal to one another, so will the weight, percussion, and bodies be neither equal nor unequal. How then dare these men inveigh against those who introduce vacuums, and suppose that there are indivisible atoms, and who say that motion and rest are not incompatible with each other, when they themselves affirm such axioms as these to be false: If any things are not equal to one another, they are unequal to one another; and the same things are not equal and unequal to one another? But when he says that there is something greater and yet not exceeding, it were worth the while to ask, whether these things quadrate with one another. For if they quadrate, how is either the greater? And if they do not quadrate, how can it be but the one must exceed and the other fall short? For if neither of these are true, the other both will and will not quadrate with the greater. For those who keep not the common conceptions must of necessity fall into such perplexities.

It is moreover against sense to say that nothing touches another; nor is this less absurd, that bodies touch one another, but touch by nothing. For they are necessitated to admit these things, who allow not the least parts of a body, but assume something before that which appears to touch, and never ceases to proceed still farther. What, therefore, these men principally object to the patrons of those indivisible bodies called atoms is this, that there is neither a touching of the whole by the whole, nor of the parts by the parts; for that the one makes not a touching but a mixture, and that the other is not possible, these individuals having no parts. How then do not they themselves fall into the same inconvenience, leaving no first or last part, whilst they say, that whole bodies mutually touch one another by a term or extremity and not by a part? But this term is not a body; therefore one body shall touch one another by that which is incorporeal, and again shall not touch, that which is incorporeal coming between them. And if it shall touch, the body shall both do and suffer something by that which is incorporeal. For it is the nature of bodies mutually to do and suffer, and to touch. But if the body has a touching by that which is incorporeal, it will have also a contact, and a mixture, and a coalition. Again, in these contacts and mixtures the extremities of the bodies must either remain, or not remain but be corrupted. Now both of these are against sense. For neither do they themselves admit corruptions and generations of incorporeal things; nor can there be a mixture and coalition of bodies retaining their own extremities. For the extremity determines and constitutes the nature of the body; and mixtions, unless the mutual laying of parts by parts are thereby understood, wholly confound all those that are mixed. And, as these men say, we must admit the corruption of extremities in mixtures, and their generation again in the separation of them. But this none can easily understand. Now by what bodies mutually touch each other, by the same they press, thrust, and crush each other. Now that this should be done or take place in things that are incorporeal, is impossible and not so much as to be imagined. But yet this they would constrain us to conceive. For if a sphere touch a plane by a point, it is manifest that it may be also drawn over the plane upon a point; and if the superficies of it is painted with vermilion, it will imprint a red line on the plane; and if it is fiery hot, it will burn the plane. Now for an incorporeal thing to color, or a body to be burned by that which is incorporeal, is against sense. But if we should imagine an earthen or glassy sphere to fall from on high upon a plane of stone, it were against reason to think it would not be broken, being struck against that which is hard and solid; but it would be more absurd that it should be broken, falling upon an extremity or point that is incorporeal. So that the presumptions concerning things incorporeal and corporeal are wholly disturbed, or rather taken away, by their joining to them many impossibilities.

It is also against common sense, that there should be a time future and past, but no time present; and that EREWHILE and LATELY subsist, but NOW is nothing at all. Yet this often befalls the Stoics, who admit not the least time between, nor will allow the present to be indivisible; but whatsoever any one thinks to take and understand as present, one part of that they say to be future, and the other part past; so that there is no part remaining or left of the present time: but of that which is said to be present, one part is distributed to the future, the other to the past. Therefore one of these two things follows: either that, holding there was a time and there will be a time, we must deny there is a time; or we must hold that there is a time present, part of which has already been and part will be, and say that of that which now is, one part is future and the other past; and that of NOW, one part is before and the other behind; and that now is that which is neither yet now nor any longer NOW; for that which is past is no longer now, and that which is to come is not yet NOW. And dividing thus the present, they must needs say of the year and of the day, that part of it was of the year or day past, and part will be of the year or day to come; and that of what is together, there is a part before and a part after. For no less are they perplexed, confounding together these terms, NOT YET and ALREADY and NO LONGER and NOW and NOT NOW. But all other men suppose, esteem, and think EREWHILE and AWHILE HENCE to be different parts of time from NOW, which is followed by the one and preceded by the other. But Archedemus, saying that now is the beginning and juncture of that which is past and that which is near at hand, has (as it seems) without perceiving it thereby destroyeth all time. For if NOW is no time, but only a term or extremity of time, and if every part of time is such as now, all time seems to have no parts, but to be wholly dissolved into terms, joints, and beginnings. But Chrysippus, desiring to show more artifice in his division, in his book of Vacuity and some others, says, that the past and future time are not, but have subsisted (or will subsist), and that the present only is; but in his third, fourth, and fifth books concerning Parts, he asserts, that of the present time one part is past, the other to come. Thus it comes to pass, that he divides subsisting time into non-subsisting parts of a subsisting total, or rather leaves nothing at all of time subsisting, if the present has no part but what is either future or past.

These men’s conception therefore of time is not unlike the grasping of water, which, the harder it is held, all the more slides and runs away. As to actions and motions, all evidence is utterly confounded. For if NOW is divided into past and future, it is of necessity that what is now moved partly has been moved and partly shall be moved, that the end and beginning of motion have been taken away, that nothing of any work has been done first, nor shall anything be last, the actions being distributed with time. For as they say that of present time, part is past and part to come; so of that which is doing, it will be said that part is done and part shall be done. When therefore had TO DINE, TO WRITE, TO WALK, a beginning, and when shall they have an end, if every one who is dining has dined and shall dine, and every one who is walking has walked and shall walk? But this is, as it is said, of all absurdities the most absurd, that if he who now lives has already lived and shall live, then to live neither had beginning nor shall have end; but every one of us, as it seems, was born without commencing to live, and shall die without ceasing to live. For if there is no last part, but he who lives has something of the present still remaining for the future, to say “Socrates shall live” will never be false so long as it shall be true to say “Socrates lives”; and so long also will it be false to say “Socrates is dead.” So that, if “Socrates shall live” is true in infinite parts of time, it will in no part of time be true to say “Socrates is dead.” And verily what end will there be of a work, and where will you terminate an action, if, as often as it is true to say “This is doing,” it is likewise true to say “This shall be doing”? For he will lie who shall say, there will be an end of Plato’s writing and disputing; since Plato will never give over writing and disputing, if it is never false to say of him who disputes that he shall dispute, and of him who writes that he shall write. Moreover, there will be no part of that which now is, but either has been or is to be, and is either past or future; but of what has been and is to be, of past and future, there is no sense; wherefore there is absolutely no sense of anything. For we neither see what is past and future, nor do we hear or have any other sense of what has been or is to be. Nothing, then, even what is present, is to be perceived by sense, if of the present, part is always future and part past — if part has been and part is to be.

Now they indeed say, that Epicurus does intolerable things and violates the conceptions, in moving all bodies with equal celerity, and admitting none of them to be swifter than another. And yet it is much more intolerable and farther remote from sense, that nothing can be overtaken by another:—

Not though Adrastus’s swift-footed steed
Should chase the tortoise slow,

as the proverb has it. Now this must of necessity fall out, if things move according to PRIUS and POSTERIUS, and the intervals through which they pass are (as these men’s tenet is) divisible IN INFINITUM; for if the tortoise is but a furlong before the horse, they who divide this furlong in infinitum, and move them both according to PRIUS and POSTERIUS, will never bring the swiftest to the slowest; the slower always adding some interval divisible into infinite spaces. Now to affirm that, water being poured from a bowl or cup, it will never be all poured out, is it not both against common sense, and a consequence of what these men say? For no man can understand the motion according to PRIUS of things infinitely divisible to be consummated; but leaving always somewhat divisible, it will make all the effusion, all the running and flux of a liquid, motion of a solid, and fall of an heavy thing imperfect.

I pass by many absurdities of theirs, touching only such as are against sense. The dispute concerning increase is indeed ancient; for the question, as Chrysippus says, was put by Epicharmus. Now, whereas those of the Academy think that the doubt is not very easy and ready all of a sudden to be cleared, these men have mightily exclaimed against them, and accused them of taking away the fixed ideas, and yet themselves are so far from preserving the common notions, that they pervert even sense itself. For the discourse is simple, and these men grant the suppositions — that all particular substances flow and are carried, some of them emitting forth somewhat from themselves, and others receiving things coming from elsewhere; and that the things to which there is made an accession or from which there is a decession by numbers and multitudes, do not remain the same, but become others by the said accessions, the substance receiving a change; and that these changes are not rightly called by custom increasings or diminutions, but it is fitter they should be styled generations and corruptions, because they drive by force from one state to another, whereas to increase and be diminished are passions of a body that is subject and permanent. These things being thus in a manner said and delivered, what would these defenders of evidence and canonical masters of common conceptions have? Every one of us (they say) is double, twin-like, and composed of a double nature; not as the poets feigned of the Molionidae, that they in some parts grow together and in some parts are separated — but every one of us has two bodies, having the same color, the same figure, the same weight and place. . . . These things were never before seen by any man; but these men alone have discerned this composition, doubleness, and ambiguity, how every one of us is two subjects, the one substance, the other quality; and the one is in perpetual flux and motion, neither increasing nor being diminished nor remaining altogether; the other remains and increases and is diminished, and suffers all things contrary to the former, with which it is so concorporated, conjoined, and confounded, that it exhibits not any difference to be perceived by sense. Indeed, Lynceus is said to have penetrated stones and oaks with his sight; and a certain man sitting on a watch-tower in Sicily beheld the ships of the Carthaginians setting forth from their harbor, which was a day and a night’s sail from thence. Callicrates and Myrmecides are said to have made chariots that might be covered with the wings of a fly, and to have engraved verses of Homer on a sesame seed. But none ever discerned or discovered this diversity in us; nor have we perceived ourselves to be double, in one part always flowing, and in the other remaining the same from our birth even to our death. But I make the discourse more simple, since they make four subjects in every one, or rather every one of us to be four. But two are sufficient to show their absurdity. For if, when we hear Pentheus in the tragedy affirm that he sees two suns and two cities of Thebes, (Euripides, “Bacchae,” 918.) we say that he does not see, but that his sight is dazzled, he being transported and troubled in his head; why do we not bid those farewell, who assert not one city alone, but all men and animals, and all trees, vessels, instruments, and clothes, to be double and composed of two, as men who constrain us to dote rather than to understand? But this feigning other natures of subjects must perhaps be pardoned them; for there appears no other invention by which they can maintain and uphold the augmentations of which they are so fond.

But by what cause moved, or for the adorning of what other suppositions, they frame in a manner innumerable differences and forms of bodies in the soul, there is none can say, unless it be that they remove, or rather wholly abdicate and destroy, the common and usual notions, to introduce other foreign and strange ones. For it is very absurd that, making all virtues and vices — and with them all arts, memories, fancies, passions, impulses, and assents — to be bodies, they should affirm that they neither lie nor subsist in any subject, leaving them for a place one only hole, like a prick in the heart, where they crowd the principal part of the soul, enclosed with so many bodies, that a very great number of them lie hid even from those who think they can spare and distinguish them one from another. Nay that they should not only make them bodies, but also intelligent beings, and even a swarm of such creatures, not friendly or mild, but a multitude rebellious and having a hostile mind, and should so make of each one of us a park or menagerie or Trojan horse, or whatever else we may call their inventions — this is the very height of contempt and contradiction to evidence and custom. But they say, that not only the virtues and vices, not only the passions, as anger, envy, grief, and maliciousness, not only comprehensions, fancies, and ignorances, not only arts, as shoemaking and working in brass, are animals; but besides these, also they make even the operations bodies and animals, saying that walking is an animal, as also dancing, supposing, saluting, and railing. The consequence of this is that laughing and weeping are also animals; and if so, then also are coughing, sneezing, groaning, spitting, blowing the nose, and other such like things sufficiently known. Neither have they any cause to take it ill that they are by reason, proceeding leisurely, reduced to this, if they shall call to mind how Chrysippus, in his First Book of Natural Questions, argues thus: “Is not night a body? And are not then the evening, dawning, and midnight bodies? Or is not a day a body? Is not then the first day of the month a body? And the tenth, the fifteenth, and the thirtieth, are they not bodies? Is not a month a body? Summer, autumn, and the year, are they not bodies?”

These things they maintain against the common conceptions; but those which follow they hold also against their own, engendering that which is most hot by refrigeration, and that which is most subtile by condensation. For the soul, to wit, is a substance most hot and most subtile. But this they make by the refrigeration and condensation of the body, changing, as it were, by induration the spirit, which of vegetative is made animal. Moreover, they say that the sun became animated, his moisture changing into intellectual fire. Behold how the sun is imagined to be engendered by refrigeration! Xenophanes indeed, when one told him that he had seen eels living in hot water, answered, We will boil them then in cold. But if these men engender heat by refrigeration and lightness by condensation, it follows, they must also generate cold things by heat, thick things by dissolution, and heavy things by rarefaction, that so they may keep some proportion in their absurdity.

And do they not also determine the substance and generation of conception itself, even against the common conceptions? For conception is a certain imagination, and imagination an impression in the soul. Now the nature of the soul is an exhalation, in which it is difficult for an impression to be made because of its tenuity, and for which it is impossible to keep an impression it may have received. For its nutriment and generation, consisting of moist things, have continual accession and consumption. And the mixture of respiration with the air always makes some new exhalation which is altered and changed by the flux of the air coming from abroad and again going out. For one may more easily imagine that a stream of running water can retain figures, impressions, and images, than that a spirit can be carried in vapors and humors, and continually mingled with another idle and strange breath from without. But these men so far forget themselves, that, having defined the conceptions to be certain stored-up intelligences, and memoirs to be constant and habitual impressions, and having wholly fixed the sciences, as having stability and firmness, they presently place under them a basis and seat of a slippery substance, easy to be dissipated and in perpetual flux and motion.

Now the common conception of an element and principle, naturally imprinted in almost all men, is this, that it is simple, unmixed, and uncompounded. For that is not an element or principle which is mixed; but those things are so of which it is mixed. But these men, making God, who is the principle of all things, to be an intellectual body and a mind seated in matter, pronounce him to be neither simple nor uncompounded, but to be composed of and by another; matter being of itself indeed without reason and void of quality, and yet having simplicity and the propertv of a principle. If, then, God is not incorporeal and immaterial, he participates of matter as a principle. For if matter and reason are one and the same thing, they have not rightly defined matter to be reasonless; but if they are different things, then is God constituted of them both, and is not a simple but compound thing, having to the intellectual taken the corporeal from matter.

Moreover, calling these four bodies, earth, water, air, and fire, the first elements, they do (I know not how) make some of them simple and pure, and others compound and mixed. For they maintain that earth and water hold together neither themselves nor other things, but preserve their unity by the participation of air and force of fire; but that air and fire do both fortify themselves by their own strength, or being mixed with the other two, give them force, permanence, and subsistence. How, then, is either earth or water an element, if neither of them is either simple, or first or self-sufficient, but if each one wants somewhat from without to contain and keep it in its being? For they have not left so much as a thought of their substance; but this discourse concerning the earth has much confusion and uncertainty, when they say that it subsists of itself; for if the earth is of itself, how has it need of the air to fix and contain it? But neither the earth nor water can any more be said to be of itself; but the air, drawing together and thickening the matter, has made the earth, and again dissolving and mollifying it, has produced the water. Neither of these then is an element, since something else has contributed being and generation to them both.

Moreover, they say that subsistence and matter are subject to qualities, and do so in a manner define them; and again, they make the qualities to be also bodies. But these things have much perplexity. For if qualities have a peculiar substance, for which they both are and are called bodies, they need no other substance; for they have one of their own. But if they have under them in common only that which the Stoic school calls essence and matter, it is manifest they do but participate of the body; for they are not bodies. But the subject and recipient must of necessity differ from those things which it receives and to which it is subject. But these men see by halves; for they say indeed that matter is void of quality, but they will not call qualities immaterial. Now how can they make a body without quality, who understand no quality without a body? For the reason which joins a body to all quality suffers not the understanding to comprehend any body without some quality. Either, therefore, he who oppugns incorporeal quality seems also to oppugn unqualified matter; or separating the one from the other, he mutually parts them both. As for the reason which some pretend, that matter is called unqualified not because it is void of all quality, but because it has all qualities, it is most of all against sense. For no man calls that unqualified which is capable of every quality, nor that impassible which is by nature always apt to suffer all things, nor that immovable which is moved every way. And this doubt is not solved, that, however matter is always understood with quality, yet it is understood to be another thing and differing from quality.

Last updated Thursday, March 6, 2014 at 16:24