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Eusebius of Caesarea: Praeparatio Evangelica (Preparation for the Gospel). Tr. E.H. Gifford (1903) -- Book 4



I. Preface concerning the oracles in various cities, and the most celebrated responses by the extraordinary manifestations of daemons, and our reason for disregarding them  p. 129 d
II. That it is easy for any who will to prove the promise of the oracles to be the deceit and knavery of human impostors p. 133 a
III. Extract from Diogenianus, that their soothsaying is inconsistent and full of falsehood, and their prediction useless and mischievous p. 136 d
IV. That from these great evils we were delivered by the evangelic teaching of our Saviour p. 140 a
V. The division of Greek theology p. 141 a
VI. That we confirm the testimonies used in our arguments not by our own assertions, but by our quotations from the Greeks p. 142 d
Concerning the secrets of the oracles, from quotations of the Greeks p. 143 a
VII. Extract from Porphyry on the oracles. His oath of the truth of his statements. p. 143 c
VIII. That his intended statements must not be published to all p. 144 b
IX. How the worship of the gods by sacrifice is prescribed by Apollo p. 145 a
X. That they who delight in animal sacrifices cannot be gods p. 147 d
XI. That none of the fruits of the earth may be offered to the supreme God either as incense or sacrifice p. 149 b
XII. Not even to the divine powers is it right to offer any of the fruits of the earth either as incense or sacrifice p. 149 d
XIII. Further concerning the impropriety of offering the fruits of the earth to the supreme God p. 150 b
XIV. To offer animals to the gods is unlawful and injurious and unjust and unholy, and subject to execration p. 151 a
XV. That their offerings are made to daemons and not to gods p. 153 c
XVI. Porphyry on human sacrifice in old time p. 155 b
XVII. That after the teaching of the Gospel the old custom of human sacrifice was abolished p. 163 d
The heathen theology was all concerned with evil daemons p. 164 b
XVIII. It is wrong to sacrifice to evil daemons p. 166 b
XIX. How we ought to be devoted to the supreme God p. 166 d
XX. How Apollo enjoins sacrifice to the evil daemon  p. 168 b
XXI. None other than our Lord and Saviour ever delivered the whole human race from the deceit of daemons p. 169 c
XXII. The manner of daemoniacal activity p. 171 a
XXIII. Of the evil daemons and the character of their rulers p. 174 b


In this fourth book of the Preparation for the Gospel, due order bids me to refute the third form of polytheistic error, from which we were delivered by the power and beneficence of our Redeemer and Saviour.

For since they divide their whole system of theology under three general heads, the mythical treated by the poets in tragedy, and the physical which has been invented by the philosophers, and that which is enforced by the laws and observed in each city and country; and since two of these parts have been already explained by us in the preceding books, namely the historical, which they call mythical, and that which has transcended the mythical, and which they call physical, or speculative, or by any other name they please; in this present book it will be the right time to examine the third part, and this is what is established in the several cities and countries, and which they call political, or state-religion, which also is especially enforced by the laws, as both ancient and ancestral, and as in itself indicating the excellence of the power of those whom they deify.

There are for instance oracles renowned among them, and responses, and cures, and healings of all kinds of sufferings, and judgements inflicted upon the impious; whereof they profess to have had experience, and have thoroughly persuaded themselves that they act rightly in honouring the deities, and that we are guilty of the greatest impiety in making no account of powers so manifest and so beneficent, but directly breaking the laws, which require every one to reverence ancestral customs, and not disturb what should be inviolable, but to walk orderly in following the religion of his forefathers, and not to be meddlesome through love of innovation. Thus they say that even death has been deservedly fixed by the laws as the punishment for those who transgress.

As to the first form then of their theology, being historical and mythical, let any of the poets arrange it as he will, and so let any of the philosophers deal with the second form, reported to us through the allegorical interpretation of the legends in a more physical sense: but since the third form, as being both ancient and politic, has been legally ordained by their rulers to be honoured and observed, this, say they, let neither poet nor philosopher disturb; but let every one, both in rural districts and in cities, continue to walk by the customs which have prevailed from old time, and obey the laws of his forefathers.

In answer then to this, it is time to render the reason alleged on our side, and to submit a defence of our Saviour's evangelic system, as protesting against what has been described, and laying down laws opposed to the laws of all the nations.

Well then! it is manifest even to themselves that their lifeless images are no gods; and that their mythical theology offers no explanation that is respectable and becoming to deity, has been shown in the first book, as likewise in the second and third it has been shown that neither does their more physical and philosophical interpretation of the legends contain an unforced explanation.

Come then, let us examine the third point----how we are to regard the powers that lurk in the carved images, whether as civilized and good and truly divine in character, or the very opposite of all these.

Others, peradventure, in entering upon the discussion of these questions, might have laid it down that the whole system is a delusion, and mere conjuror's tricks and frauds, stating their opinion generally and concisely, that we ought not to attribute even to an evil daemon, much less to a god, the stories commonly told of them. For the poems and the compositions of the oracles, he would say, are fictions of men not without natural ability but extremely well furnished for deception, and are composed in an equivocal and ambiguous sense, and adapted, not without ingenuity, to either of the cases expected from the event: and the marvels which deceive the multitude by certain prodigies are dependent on natural causes.

For there are many kinds of roots, and herbs, and plants, and fruits, and stones, and other powers, both solid and liquid of every kind of matter in the natural world; some of them fit to drive off and expel certain diseases; others of a nature to attract and superinduce them; some again with power to secrete and disperse, or to harden and to bind, and others to relax and liquidate and attenuate; some again to save and others to kill, or to give a thorough turn, and change the present condition, altering it now this way and now that; and some to work this effect for a longer and some for a shorter time; and again, some to be efficacious on many and others only on a few; and some to lead and others to follow; and some to combine in different ways, and to grow and decay together. Yet further, that some are conducive to health, not unconnected with medical science, and others morbific and deleterious; and lastly that some things occur by physical necessities, and wax and wane together with the moon, and that there are countless antipathies of animals and roots and plants, and many kinds of narcotic and soporific vapours, and of others that produce delusion: that the places also, and regions in which the effects are accomplished give no little help; also that they have tools and instruments provided from afar in a way well fitted to their art, and that they associate with themselves in their jugglery many confederates from without, who make many inquiries about those who arrive, and the wants of each, and what he is come to request; also that they conceal within their temples many secret shrines and recesses inaccessible to the multitude; and that the darkness also helps their purpose not a little; and not least the anticipatory assumption itself, and the superstition of those who approach them as gods, and the opinion which has prevailed among them from the time of their forefathers. To this must be added also the silliness of mind of the multitude, and their feeble and uncritical reasoning, and on the other hand the cleverness and craftiness of those who are constantly practising this mischievous art, and the deceitful and knavish disposition of the impostors, at one time promising what will please each person, and soothing the present trouble by hopes of advantage, and at other times guessing at what is to come, and prophesying obscurely, and darkening the sense of their oracles by equivocations and indistinctness of expression, in order that no one may understand what is foretold, but that they may escape detection by the uncertainty of their statement.

They might also say that many events coincide with other frauds and quackeries, when certain so-called spells are associated with the events, with a kind of unintelligible and barbaric incantation, in order that the occurrences which are not in the least affected by them may seem to be hastened by them. Most, too, even of those who are supposed to start with a good education are especially astonished at the poetry of the oracles themselves, finely adorned as it is by the combination of the words, finely inflated also by the pompous grandeur of the language, and arrayed with much, boastful exaggeration and arrogant pretence of inspiration, and deceiving nearly all the people by their ambiguous sound.


Certainly all their oracles which have been free from ambiguity have been uttered not according to foreknowledge of the future but by mere conjecture, and thousands of these, or rather almost all, were often convicted of having failed in their prediction, the issue of the matters having turned out contrary to the answer of the oracle; unless perhaps on rare occasions some one event out of tens of thousands agreed therewith by some course of luck, or according to the conjectural expectation of what would happen, and so was thought to make the oracle speak true.

And of this you would find them most loudly boasting, and carving inscriptions upon columns, and shouting to the ends of the earth, not choosing to remember at all, that so many persons, it might chance, were disappointed, but publishing it high and low that to this one man out of ten thousand something promised by the oracle had turned out right. Just as if, when men were casting lots two at a time out of ten thousand, and it happened perhaps just once that they both fell upon the same numbers, a man should wonder how one and the same number happened to come round to both at once in consequence of divination and foreknowledge.

For such is the case of the one out of myriads upon myriads of oracular answers that on some one occasion happened to turn out true; and on observing this the man who possesses no firmness in the depth of his soul is exceedingly amazed at the oracle, though it were much better for him to cease from his folly by calculating to how many others the aforesaid soothsayers have been the cause of death, and of sedition, and wars, and to consider the histories of the ancients, and observe that they never pointed out any effect of divine power even at that time when the oracles of Greece were flourishing, and those which formerly were celebrated, but now exist no longer, were firmly established, and thought worthy of all care and zeal by their countrymen, who revered and fostered them by ancestral laws and mysterious rites.

And certainly in that period especially they were proved to be impotent in the calamities of war, in which the fine soothsayers being powerless to help were convicted of deceiving those who sought their protection by the ambiguity of their oracles; and this we shall accordingly show at the proper opportunity, by proving how they even goaded on those who consulted them into war with each other, and how they failed to give answers even about serious matters, and how they used to mislead their inquirers, making sport of them by their oracles, and tried to conceal their own ignorance by the darkness of uncertainty.

But observe from your own inquiries how they often promised to the sick strengthening, and life, and health, and then being trusted as though they were gods, exacted large rewards for this inspired traffic; and not very long afterwards it was discovered what sort of persons they were, being proved to be human impostors and no gods, when some unfortunate catastrophe seized upon their deluded victims.

What need to say that these wonderful prophets did not render their assistance even to their own next neighbours, those I mean who dwelt in the same city? But you might there see persons sick, and maimed, and mutilated all over their body, in thousands. Why in the world then did they promise such good hopes to the foreigners, who arrived from a far country, but not also to those who dwelt in the same place with them, to whom before all, as being their own friends and fellow citizens, they ought to have rendered the benefit of the presence of their gods? Was it not that they could more easily deceive the strangers, who knew nothing of their roguery, but not their intimates, as these were not ignorant of their craft, but conscious of the trickery practised upon those who were to be initiated?

Thus then the whole business was not divine nor beyond the pgwer of man's device; so that in the greatest calamities, I mean those which are suspended from on high over the heads of the ungodly from the all-ruling God, their temples, with votive offerings, statues and all, were subjected to utter destruction and sudden overthrow.

For where will you find the temple that was at Delphi, celebrated from the earliest times among all the Greeks? Where is the Pythian god? Where the Clarian? Where even the god of Dodona? As for the Delphian shrine, the story goes that it was burnt a third time by Thracians, the oracle not having been able to give any help to the knowledge of what was coming, nor the Pythian god himself to guard his own abode. It is recorded also that the Capitol at Rome met the same fate in the times of the Ptolemies, when the temple of Vesta at Rome is also said to have suffered conflagration. And about the time of Julius Caesar it is recorded that the great statue, which was the glory of the Greeks and of Olympia, was struck by lightning from the god at the very time of the Olympic games. On another occasion also, they say, the temple of Jupiter Capitolinus was burnt, and the Pantheon destroyed by lightning, and the Serapeium at Alexandria burnt down in like manner.

Of these events written testimonies are current among the Greeks themselves; but it would be a long story, if any one meant to enumerate the several particulars, in trying to prove that the wonderful oracle-mongers have been found unable to defend even their own temples; and it is not likely that they who have been of no use to themselves in misfortunes would ever be able to give help to others.

By adding one circumstance to those which have been mentioned, such man would have clearly seen the main sum and substance of the matter, that ere now, many of the most highly inspired even of their chief hierophants, and theologians, and prophets, who were celebrated for this kind of theosophy, not only in former times but also recently in our own day, under cruel tortures before the Roman courts declared that the whole delusion was produced by human frauds, and confessed that it was all an artfully contrived imposture; and they had the whole character of the system and the methods of their evil practices registered in the words uttered by them in public records. Therefore they paid the just penalty of their pernicious deception, and revealed every word, and certified by actual facts the proof of the things which we have mentioned.

But, you ask, what sort of persons were these? Think not that they were any of the outcast and obscure. Some came to them from, this wonderful and noble philosophy, from the tribe who wear the long cloak and otherwise look so supercilious; and some were taken from the magistrates of the city of Antioch, who indeed in the time of our persecution prided themselves especially on their outrages against us. We know also the philosopher and prophet who suffered at Miletus the like punishments to those which we have mentioned.

These arguments then, and yet more than these, one might bring together to assert that the authors of the oracles are not gods nor yet daemons, but the delusion and deceit of human impostors.

And there were among the Greeks themselves whole sects distinguished in philosophy who defended this opinion; as the school of Aristotle, and all the successors of the Peripatetic school; Cynics too and Epicureans, in whom what I most admire is, how, after being brought up in the customs of the Greeks, and been taught even from the cradle, son from father, that those of whom we speak are gods, they have not been easily caught, but proved with all their might that even the renowned oracles, and the seats of divination which were sought after among all, had no truth, and declared that they were useless, nay gather mischievous.

But though there are thousands who have wrought the overthrow of the oracles by many arguments, for me I think it is sufficient at present, for a testimony of what I have stated, to make a single quotation from one of them in answer to the arguments devised by Chrysippus concerning fate from the predictions of the oracles. This author then writes against him to prove that he wrongly derives indications of fate from the oracles, and that the oracles of the Greeks give false answers in most cases, and that rarely from a coincidence some events agree with them, and that their prediction of the future is useless and mischievous. Hear, however, what he says, word for word. 1


[DIOGENIANUS] 'But Chrysippus, in the book before mentioned, brings also another proof of the following kind. He says that the predictions of the prophets could not be true unless all things were fast bound by fate: which is itself a most silly argument. For he argues as if it were evident or would be more readily admitted by any one, that all the predictions of the so-called prophets came to pass, than that all things take place according to fate, as if the former would not itself be an equally false statement, since plain experience shows the contrary; I mean that not all the things foretold, or rather not the greatest part of them, come to pass.

'Thus Chrysippus has brought us his proof, by establishing each proposition from the other. For he wishes to show that all things take place according to fate from the existence of prophecy: but the existence of prophecy he could not prove in any other way, if he did not first assume that all things occur according to fate.

'But what method of proof could be more wretched than this? For that some things come to pass according to the plain meaning of what the prophets foretell would be a sign, not of the existence of prophetic science, but of the accidental concurrence of the events in agreement with the predictions----a thing which gives us no indication of any science.

'For neither should we call an archer scientific who hit the mark once now and then, but missed many times; nor a physician who killed the greater number of those who were attended by him, but was able to save one sometimes; nor do we ever give the name of science to that which does not succeed in all, or at least in the greatest part of its proper operations.

'Now that most of the predictions of the so-called prophets fail, the whole experience of human life would bear witness; and so would these men themselves who profess the art of prophecy, because it is not by this that they help themselves in the exigencies of life, but use sometimes their own judgement, and sometimes the counsel and cooperation of those who have been thought to possess experience in each kind of affairs.

'But with regard to the want of consistency in this which we have chosen to call prophecy, we will render fuller proof elsewhere, bringing forward the opinions of Epicurus on this point also. But at present we will add to what has been said only this much, that at most the fact of the so-called prophets speaking truth sometimes in their predictions must be an effect, not of science, but of an accidental cause; for it is not that a man never hits the proposed mark, but that he does not hit it always, nor even in most cases, and not from science even when he does occasionally succeed, this is what we have chosen to call a work of chance----we who have arranged our own ideas in clear order under each term. Further, if even by hypothesis it were true that the prophetic art is able to discern and to foretell all things future, it might be concluded that all things are according to fate, but the usefulness of the art and its benefit to life could never be shown; and it is for this purpose especially that Chrysippus seems to sing the praises of the prophetic art.

'For what benefit would it be to us to learn beforehand the misfortunes certain to come to pass, which it would not even be possible to guard against? For how could any one guard against the things which take place according to fate? So that there is no benefit to us in the prophetic art, but rather it would tend to some mischief, by causing mankind to grieve in vain beforehand over the predicted misfortunes which must of necessity come to pass.

'For no one will affirm that the prediction of future blessings affords on the other hand equal delight: since man is not naturally so disposed to rejoice over expected blessings, as to be grieved over misfortunes. Especially as we hope that the latter will not happen at all to ourselves, until we hear it: but all of us, so to say, rather look for blessings, because our nature is congenial thereto; for most persons have formed hopes of things even greater than what can possibly come to pass.

'Hence it results that the prediction of blessings either does not at all increase the joy, because even apart from the prediction every one of his own accord expects the better fortune, or else increases it but little by the supposed certainty, and often even diminishes the joy, when less is foretold than what was hoped for; but the prediction of evils causes great perturbation, both because of their repulsive nature, and because the prediction is sometimes opposed to men's hopes.

'But even if this did not happen, nevertheless it would be evident, I think, to every one that the prediction would be useless. For if any one shall affirm that the usefulness of the prophetic art will be maintained on account of the prediction of the misfortune which will certainly happen unless we should guard against it, he can no longer show that all things are to happen in accordance with fate, if it is in our power either to guard or not to guard against them.

'For if any one shall say that this choice also is controlled by necessity, so as to extend fate to all things that exist, the usefulness of prophecy on the other hand is destroyed; for we shall keep guard if it is so fated, and evidently we shall not keep guard if it is not fated that we shall keep guard, even though all the prophets foretell to us what is about to happen.

'As to Oedipus, for instance, and Alexander son of Priam, even Chrysippus himself says that though their parents had recourse to many contrivances to kill them, in order that they might guard against the mischief predicted from them, they were unable to do so.

'Thus there was no benefit, he says, even to them from the prediction of the evils, because they were effects proceeding from fate. Let this then be enough, and more than enough, to have been said in regard to not merely the uncertainty but also the uselessness of the prophetic art.' 

Thus far the philosopher. Do thou however consider with thyself, how those who were Greeks, and had from an early age acquired the customary education of the Greeks, and knew more accurately than any men the customs of their ancestors concerning the gods, all Aristotelians, and Cynics, and Epicureans, and all who held like opinions with them, poured ridicule upon the oracles which were renowned among the Greeks themselves.

And yet, if the stories current concerning the miraculous power of the oracles were true, it was natural that these men also should have been struck with wonder, being Greeks, and having an accurate understanding of the customs of their ancestors, and regarding nothing worthy to be known as of secondary importance.

To collect, however, these and all similar evidences, in order to overthrow the argument on behalf of the oracles, there would be abundant means: but it is not in this way that I wish to pursue the present discussion, but in the same way as we started at first, by granting that those who stand forth in their defence speak truth; in order that from their own avowals, when they affirm that oracles are true, and that the alleged responses are divinely inspired Pythian oracles, we may learn the exact explanation of the things alleged.


Now I think it is plain to every one that the proof of the matters before us will embrace not a small part, but a very great and at the same time very necessary part of the evangelic argument. For suppose it should b be shown that all men everywhere, both Greeks and Barbarians, before the advent of our Saviour Jesus Christ, had no knowledge of the true God, but either regarded 'the things that are not as though they were,' 2  or were led about hither and thither like blind men by certain wicked spirits fighting against God, and by evil and impure daemons, and were by them dragged down into an abyss of wickedness (for what else ailed them but possession by daemons?)----how can the great mystery of the Gospel dispensation fail to be seen in a higher light? I mean, that all men from all quarters have been sailed back by our Saviour's voice from the delusion handed down from their fathers about the tyranny of daemons, and that the men who dwell as far off as the ends of the earth have been released from the deception which from the earliest age oppressed their whole life. For since His time and up to the present the antiquated seats of delusion in all the heathen nations have been broken up and destroyed----shrines and statues and all----and temples truly venerable, and schools of true religion have been raised up in honour of the Absolute Monarch and Creator of the universe in the midst of cities and villages by the power and goodness of our Saviour throughout the whole world. And by prayers of holy men the sacrifices which are worthy of God have been purified from all wickedness, and in freedom of soul from all passions, and in the acquirement of every virtue, according to the divine doctrines of salvation, are day by day continually offered up by all nations----those sacrifices which alone are acceptable and pleasing to the God who is over all?

Now if these things be so, how can we have failed to show at the same time, that with sound reason, arid without giving ourselves over to folly, we have turned away from the superstition handed down from our fathers, and with just and true judgement have chosen the better part, and become lovers of the inspired and true religion? But enough of this, and let us now take in hand the subjects before us.


Those, therefore, who have accurately discussed the Greek theology in a manner different from the systems which we have already mentioned, distribute the whole subject under four heads. First of all they have set apart the first God, saying that they know him to be the One over all, and First, and Father and King of all gods, and that after him the race of gods is second, that of daemons third, and heroes fourth. All these, they say, participating in the nature of the higher power act and are acted upon in this way and in that, and everything of this kind is called light because of its participating in light. But they also say that evil rules the essence of the lower nature; and this evil is a race of wicked daemons, who treat the good in no way as a friend, but possess chief power in the nature of the adversaries of good, just as God does in that of the better sort; and everything of this kind is called darkness.

After defining these points in this manner, they say that the heaven, and the ether as far down as the moon, are assigned to gods; and the parts about the moon and the atmosphere to daemons; and the region of the earth and parts beneath the earth to souls. And having made such a distribution they say that we ought to worship first of all the gods of heaven and of the ether, secondly the good daemons, thirdly the souls of the heroes, and fourthly to propitiate the bad and wicked daemons.

But while making these verbal distinctions they in fact throw all into confusion, by worshipping the wicked powers only, instead of all those whom we have mentioned, and are wholly enslaved by them, as the course of our argument will prove. It is in your power, at any rate, to consider from what will be laid before you, what character we ought to ascribe to the powers which operate through the statues, whether as gods or daemons, and whether bad or good.

For our divine oracles never call any daemon good, but say that all are bad who share this lot and even this appellation, since no other is truly and properly god except the One Cause of all: but the gentle and good powers, as being in their nature created, and following far behind the uncreated God who is their Maker, but nevertheless separated also from the mischievous race of daemons----these the Scriptures deem it right to name neither gods nor daemons, but as being intermediate between God and daemons they are accustomed to call them by a well-applied and intermediate name, angels of God, and 'ministering spirits,' 3  and divine powers, and archangels, and any other names corresponding to their offices; but the daemons, if indeed it behoves us to declare the origin of their name also, are called according to their nature daemons, not as the Greeks think in consequence of their being knowing (δαημονας), and wise, but because of their fearing and causing fear (δειμαινειν).

Certainly the divine and good powers are different in name as well as in character, from the daemons; since it would be of all things most absurd to adjudge one and the same appellation to the powers which are alike neither in purpose nor in natural character.


Come then, let us examine what is, according to them, the character of the oracles, in order that we may learn what kind of power we must ascribe to them, and whether we withdrew from them rightly or not. Now if I were going to bring forward my own proofs of the matters to be set forth, I know well that I should not render my argument unassailable by those who are inclined to find fault. Wherefore instead of asserting anything of my own, I shall make use again of the testimonies of those who are without.

But as there are among the Greeks historians and philosophers without number, I judge the most suitable of all in reference to the subjects before us to be that very friend of the daemons, who in our generation is celebrated for his false accusations against us. For he of all the philosophers of our time seems to have been most familiar with daemons and those whom he calls gods, and to have been their advocate, and to have investigated the facts concerning them much the most accurately.

He therefore, in the book which he entitled Of the Philosophy to be derived from Oracles, made a collection of the oracles of Apollo and the other gods and good daemons, which he especially chose out of them as thinking that they would suffice both for proof of the excellence of the supposed deities, and for the encouragement of what he is pleased to call 'Theosophy.'

From these oracles, therefore, which have been selected and thought worthy to be remembered it is fair to judge the soothsayers, and to consider what sort of power they possess. But first let us observe how at the beginning of his work the person indicated swears in the following words that he is 'verily speaking the truth':4


[PORPHYRY] 'Sure, then, and steadfast is he who draws his hopes of salvation from this as from the only sure source, and to such thou wilt impart information without any reserve. For I myself call the gods to witness, that I have neither added anything, nor taken away from the meaning of the responses, except where I have corrected an erroneous phrase, or made a change for greater clearness, or completed the metre when defective, or struck out anything that did not conduce to the purpose; so that I preserved the sense of what was spoken untouched, guarding against the impiety of such changes, rather than against the avenging justice that follows from the sacrilege.

'And our present collection will contain a record of many doctrines of philosophy, according as the gods declared the truth to be; but to a small extent we shall also touch upon the practice of divination, such as will be useful both for contemplation, and for the general purification of life. And the utility which this collection possesses will be best known to as many as have ever been in travail with the truth, and prayed that by receiving the manifestation of it from the gods they might gain relief from their perplexity by virtue of the trustworthy teaching of the speakers.' 

After making such preludes, he protests and forewarns against revealing to many what he is going to tell, in the following words:5


[PORPHYRY] 'And do thou endeavour to avoid publishing these above all things, and casting them even before the profane for the sake of reputation, or gain, or any unholy flattery. For so there would be danger not only to thee for transgressing these injunctions, but also to me for lightly trusting thee who couldst not keep the benefits secret to thyself. We must give them then to those who have arranged their plan of life with a view to the salvation of the soul.'

And further on he adds:

'These things I beg you to conceal as the most unutterable of secrets, for even the gods did not make a revelation concerning thein openly, but by enigmas.'

Since, then, his discourse adopted such lofty strains, let us now examine, by help of the inspired Pythian oracles, what character we ought to ascribe to the invisible deified powers: for thus may the man also be tested from his own words and practices.

The aforesaid author, then, in his work which he entitled Of the Philosophy to be derived from Oracles, gives responses of Apollo enjoining the performance of animal sacrifices, and the offering of animals not to daemons only, nor only to the terrestrial powers, but also to the etherial and heavenly powers.

But in another work 6 the same author, confessing that all, to whom the Greeks used to offer sacrifices by blood and slaughter of senseless animals, are daemons and not gods, says that it is not right nor pious to offer animal sacrifices to gods.

Hear, therefore, his first utterances, in which, collecting the facts concerning The Philosophy to be derived from Oracles, he shows how Apollo teaches that the gods ought to be worshipped. This he sets forth in writing as follows:


[PORPHYRY] 'Next in order after what has been said concerning piety we shall record the responses given by them concerning their worship, part of which by anticipation we have set forth in the statements concerning piety. Now this is the response of Apollo, containing at the same time an orderly classification of the gods.

"Friend, who hast entered on this heaven-taught path,
Heed well thy work; nor to the blessed gods
Forget to slay thine offerings in due form,
Whether to gods of earth, or gods of heaven,
Kings of the sky and liquid paths of air
And sea, and all who dwell beneath the earth;
For in their nature's fullness all is bound.
How to devote things living in due form
My verse shall tell, thou in thy tablets write.
For gods of earth and gods of heaven each three:
For heavenly gods pure white; for gods of earth
Cattle of kindred hue divide in three
And on the altar lay thy sacrifice.
For gods infernal bury deep, and cast
The blood into a trench!
For gentle Nymphs Honey and gifts of Dionysus pour.
For such as flit for ever o'er the earth
Fill all the blazing altar's trench with blood,
And cast the feathered fowl into the fire.
Then honey mix'd with meal, and frankincense,
And grains of barley sprinkle over all.
But when thou comest to the sandy shore,
Pour green sea-water on the victim's head,
And cast the body whole into the deep.
Then, all things rightly done, return at last
To the great company of heavenly gods.
For all the powers that in pure ether dwell,
And in the stars, let blood in fullest stream
Flow from the throat o'er all the sacrifice:
Make of the limbs a banquet for the gods,
And give them to the fire; feast on the rest,
Filling with savours sweet the liquid air.
Breathe forth, when all is done, thy solemn vows."'

Then a few words later he explains this response, interpreting it as follows:

'Now this is the method of the sacrifices, which are rendered according to the aforesaid classification of the gods. For whereas there are gods beneath the earth, and on the earth, and those beneath the earth are called also infernal gods, and those on the earth terrestrial, for all these in common he enjoins the sacrifice of black four-footed victims. But with regard to the manner of the sacrifice he makes a difference: for to terrestrial gods he commands the victims to be slain upon altars, but to the infernal gods over trenches, and moreover after the offering to bury the bodies therein.

'For that the four-footed beasts are common to these deities, the god himself added when questioned:

"For gods of earth and Erebus alone
Four-footed must their common victims be;
For gods of earth soft limbs of newborn lambs."

'But to the gods of the air he bids men sacrifice birds as whole burnt-offerings, and let the blood run round upon the altars: birds also to the gods of the sea, of a black colour, but to cast them alive into the waves. For he says:

"Birds for the gods, but for the sea-gods black."

'He names birds for all the gods save the Chthonian, but black for the sea-gods only, and therefore white for the others.

'But to the gods of the heaven and the ether he bids thee consecrate the limbs of the victims, which are to be white, and eat the other parts: for of these only must thou eat, and not of the others. But those whom in his classification he called gods of heaven, these he here calls gods of the stars.

'Will it then be necessary to explain the symbolic meanings of the sacrifices, manifest as they are to the intelligent? For there are four-footed land animals for the gods of the earth, because like rejoices in like. And the sheep is of the earth and therefore dear to Demeter, and in heaven the Ram, with the help of the sun, brings forth out of the earth its display of fruits. They must be black, for of such colour is the earth, being naturally dark: and three, for three is the symbol of the corporeal and earthly.

'To the gods of earth then one must offer high upon altars, for these pass to and fro upon the earth; but to the gods beneath the earth, in a trench and in a grave, where they abide. To the other gods we must offer birds, because all things are in swift motion. For the water of the sea also is in perpetual motion, and dark, and therefore victims of this kind are suitable. But white victims for the gods of the air: for the air itself is filled with light, being of a translucent nature. For the gods of heaven and of the ether, the parts of the animals which are lighter, and these are the extremities; and with these gods we must participate in the sacrifice: for these are givers of good things, but the others are averters of evil.'

Such are the wonderful theosophist's statements taken from The Philosophy to be derived from Oracles.


But now come, let us compare with this the same person's contrary utterances, set down by him in the book which he entitled On Abstinence from Animal Food. Here indeed, moved by right reasoning, he first of all confesses that we ought not to offer anything at all, either incense or sacrifice, to the God who is over all, nor yet to the divine and heavenly powers who come next to Him.

Then as he goes on, he refutes the opinions of the multitude, by saying that we ought not to regard as gods those who rejoice in the sacrifices of living creatures. For to offer animals in sacrifice, he says, is of all things most unjust, and unholy, and abominable, and hurtful, and therefore not pleasing to gods. But in speaking thus it is evident that he must convict his own god: for he said just before that the oracle enjoined the sacrifice of animals, not only to the infernal and terrestrial gods, but also to those of the air, the heaven, and the ether.

And whereas such are Apollo's injunctions, yet he, appealing to Theophrastus as witness, says that the sacrifice of animals is not fit for gods, but for daemons only: so that, according to the argument of himself and Theophrastus, Apollo is a daemon and not a god; and not Apollo only but also all those who have been regarded as gods among all the heathen, those to whom whole peoples, both rulers and ruled, in cities and in country districts, offer animal sacrifices. For these we ought to believe to be nothing else than daemons, according to the philosophers whom we have mentioned.

But if they say that they are good, how then, if indeed bloody sacrifice was unholy and abominable and hurtful, could those who were pleased with such things as these be good? And if they should also be shown to delight not only in such sacrifices as these, but, with an excess of cruelty and inhumanity, in the slaughter of men and in human sacrifices, how can they be other than utterly blood-guilty, and friends of all cruelty and inhumanity, and nothing else than wicked daemons?

Now when these things have been demonstrated by us, I suppose that good reason has been rendered for our withdrawal from the practices mentioned. For even to confer the honour of one who is invested with regal dignity among men upon robbers and housebreakers is not holy nor pious, much less to degrade the adorable name of God and His supreme honour to wicked spirits.

Hence we who have been taught to worship only the God who is over all, and to honour in due degree the divinely favoured and blessed powers which are around Him, bring with us no earthy or dead offering, nor gore and blood, nor anything of corruptible and material substance; but with a mind purified from all wickedness, and with a body clothed with the ornament of purity and temperance which is brighter than any raiment, and with right doctrines worthy of God, and beside all this with sincerity of disposition, we pray that we may guard even unto death the religion delivered unto us by our Saviour.

But now after these previous explanations it is time for us to proceed to the proofs of our assertions. And first of all it is reasonable to go through the arguments by which the aforesaid author, in his book entitled On Abstinence from Animal Food, says that neither to the God who is over all, nor to the divine powers next to Him, ought we to bring anything of earth either as burnt-offering or sacrifice; because such things are alien to seemly worship.


[PORPHYRY] 7 'To the God who is over all, as a certain wise man said, we must neither offer by fire nor dedicate any of the things of sense; for there is no material thing which is not at once impure to the immaterial. Wherefore neither is speech by the outward voice proper to Him, nor even the inward speech, whenever it is defiled by passion of the soul. But we worship Him in pure silence, and with pure thoughts concerning Him. United therefore and made like to Him, we must offer our own self-discipline as a holy sacrifice to God, the same being both a hymn of praise to Him and salvation to us. Therefore this sacrifice is perfected in passionless serenity of soul and in contemplation of God.'


'But to the gods who are his offspring, and known only by the mind, we must now add also that hymnody which is produced by speech: for the proper sacrifice for each deity is the first-fruit of the gifts which he has bestowed, and by which he sustains our being and keeps it in existence. As therefore a husbandman brings first-fruits of sheaves and of tree-fruits, so let us offer them first-fruits of noble thoughts concerning them, giving thanks for the things of which they have granted us the contemplation, and because they feed us with true food by the vision of themselves, dwelling with us, and showing themselves to us, and shining upon the path of our salvation.' 

So speaks this author; and statements closely related and akin to his concerning the First and Great God are said to be written by the famous Apollonius of Tyana, so celebrated among the multitude, in his work Concerning Sacrifices, as follows:8


[APOLLONIUS OF TYANA] 'In this way, then, I think, one would best show the proper regard for the deity, and thereby beyond all other men secure His favour and good will, if to Him whom we called the First God, and who is One and separate from all others, and to whom the rest must be acknowledged inferior, he should sacrifice nothing at all, neither kindle fire, nor dedicate anything whatever that is an object of sense----for He needs nothing even from beings who are greater than we are: nor is there any plant at all which the earth sends up, nor any animal which it, or the air, sustains, to which there is not some defilement attached----but should ever employ towards Him only that better speech, I mean the speech which passes not through the lips, and should ask good things from the noblest of beings by what is noblest in ourselves, and this is the mind, which needs no instrument. According to this therefore we ought by no means to offer sacrifice to the great God who is over all.' 

Now these things being so, see next what kind of account the former writer gives of animal sacrifice, calling up Theophrastus as witness of his statement.9


[PORPHYRY] 'But when the sacrifices of first-fruits were allowed by mankind to run into great disorder, they began to adopt the most dreadful offerings full of cruelty, so that the curses formerly denounced against us seemed now to have received accomplishment, by men cutting the victims' throats, and defiling the altars with blood, from the time that they experienced famines and wars, and had recourse to bloodshed. Therefore the deity, as Theophrastus says, indignant at these several crimes, seems to have inflicted the suitable punishment, inasmuch as some men have become atheists, while others would more justly be called evil-minded than impious, because they believed the gods to be in their nature vile and no better than ourselves. Thus some of them, it appears, came to differ no sacrifices, while others offered evil sacrifices and had recourse to unlawful victims.'

Again the same author adds this also:

'Which things being so, Theophrastus rightly forbids those who wish to be really pious to sacrifice things with life, making use of other arguments of this kind.' 10

He further says:

'Moreover we ought to offer such sacrifices as shall injure no one, for a sacrifice above all things ought to be harmless to all. But if any one should say that God has given us animals for our use no less than the fruits of the earth, yet at all events when he sacrifices animals he inflicts some harm upon them, inasmuch as they are robbed of their life. These then we must not sacrifice, for by its very name sacrifice is something holy; but no one is holy who renders thank-offerings out of things belonging to another, whether grain or plants, if taken against his will. For how can it be a holy thing, when wrong is done to those who are robbed? But if he who lays hands even upon another man's crops makes not a holy offering, most certainly it is not holy to take things more precious than these from any, and offer them: for thus the harm becomes greater. And far more precious than the fruits of the earth is life, which man ought not to take by sacrificing living things.' 11

And he adds:

'We must abstain therefore from offering living things in our sacrifices.' 12

And again he says:

'What therefore is neither holy nor of little cost must not be offered in sacrifice.' 13

And presently:

'So that if we are to sacrifice animals to the gods, even these we must offer for some of the following purposes: for whatever we sacrifice is sacrificed for some one of these purposes. Would then any one of us, or would any god think that he received honour, when by what we consecrate we are at once shown to be doing wrong? Or would he not rather think that such a deed was a dishonour? But surely we confess that by slaying in our sacrifice those animals which do no wrong we shall do wrong to them: so that we must not sacrifice any of the other living beings for the sake of honouring the gods: no, nor yet as rendering thanks to them for their benefits. For he that would render just recompense for a benefit, and a worthy return for a kind deed, ought to provide these gifts without doing evil to any. For he will be thought to make no better return, than a man would if he were to seize his neighbour's property to crown any persons by way of repaying them with gratitude and honour. Nay, nor yet (may we offer animals) because of any need of good things. For if a man seeks to gain good treatment by unjust conduct, it is suspected that, even if well treated, he will not be grateful.

'So that not even in hope of benefit must we sacrifice animals to the gods: for in so doing one might perhaps deceive man, but to deceive God is impossible. If therefore sacrifice should be offered for some one of these purposes, and if we must not offer animals for the sake of any of them, it is manifest that we must not offer such sacrifices to the gods at all.' 14

And again he adds:

'For both nature and the whole feeling of man's soul were pleased with offerings of the former kind: 15

"When with pure blood of bulls no altar dripped,
But this was held by men the foulest crime,
To rend the life, and feed upon the limbs."' 16

And after other matters he says:

'But when a young man has learned that gods delight in costliness, and, as is said, in feasts upon kine and other animals, when would he ever choose to be thrifty and temperate? And if he believes that these offerings are pleasing to the gods, how can he avoid thinking that he has license to do wrong, being sure to buy off his sin by his sacrifices? But if he be persuaded that the gods have no need of these sacrifices, but look to the moral disposition of those who approach them, receiving as the greatest offering the right judgement concerning themselves and their affairs, how can he fail to be prudent, and just, and holy? 17

'The best sacrifice to the gods is a pure mind and a soul free from passions; but also congenial to them is the offering of other sacrifices in moderation, not carelessly however, but with all earnestness. For their honours must be like those paid in the case of good men, such as chief seats in public assemblies, rising up at their approach, and honourable places at table, and not like grants of tribute.'  18

Hereby then it was clearly acknowledged, according to the Greeks and their philosophers, that nothing endued with life can rightly be sacrificed to the gods, for the act is unholy, and unjust, and hurtful, and not far from a pollution. He was no god then nor yet a truthful and good daemon----that oracle-monger of whom we heard just now as exacting drink-offerings of blood and burnt-offerings; nor yet all those to whom the oracle commanded animals to be sacrificed. A deceiver therefore and a cheat and an utterly wicked daemon must we call him who so lied, and called them gods who are not, and enjoined the sacrifice of animals not only to the terrestrial and infernal gods, but also to the gods of heaven and ether and the stars. What then, if not gods, we ought to suppose all those before mentioned to be, the writer himself shall explain again in what follows.


[PORPHYRY] 'He who cares for religion knows that nothing which has life is offered to gods, but to daemons either good or evil; knows also whose interest it is to sacrifice to them, and how far they proceed who need their help.' 19

And presently he says again:

'Those who thoroughly understood the powers that are in the universe brought their bloody sacrifices not to gods but to daemons, which fact also is certified by the theologists themselves; and moreover that some of the daemons do harm, but others are good and will not molest us.' 20

Thus far the aforesaid author. But since he asserted that some of the daemons are good and others bad, how may we see that their supposed gods are all found to be not even good daemons, but bad? You may find the proof of this as follows.

What is good gives help, but the contrary does harm. If then those who have been everywhere proclaimed either as gods or as daemons----the very same, I say, who have been celebrated by them all, and are worshipped by all the heathen nations, as Kronos, and Zeus, and Hera and Athena, and the like, also the invisible powers, and the daemons who operate through graven images----if these should be found to delight not only in slaughter and sacrifices of irrational animals, but also in manslaughter and human sacrifices, thus destroying the souls of the miserable men, what worse harm could you conceive than this?

For if the offering of irrational animals was called by the philosophers execrable and sacrilegious, abominable too and unjust and unholy and not harmless to the offerers, and for all these reasons unworthy of the gods, what are we to think of the offering made by human sacrifice? Would not this be most impious, most unholy of all? How then could it reasonably be declared welcome to good daemons, and not rather to utterly abominable and destructive spirits?

Come then, let us examine and prove how widely the plague of polytheistic error held sway over the life of man before our Saviour's teaching in the gospel. For we shall prove that this error was abolished and destroyed no earlier than the times of Adrian, when Christ's teaching was already shining forth like light over every region.

And to this not our testimony, but the voices again of our adversaries themselves shall expressly bear witness, charging upon the preceding ages wickedness so great, that the superstitious pass at length beyond nature's limits, being so utterly driven frantic and possessed by the destroying spirits, as even to suppose that they propitiate the bloodthirsty powers by the blood of their dearest friends and countless other human sacrifices.

Sometimes a father sacrificed his only son to the daemon, and a mother her beloved daughter, and the dearest friends would slay their relatives as readily as any irrational and strange animals, and to the so-called gods in every city and country they used to offer their home-friends and fellow citizens, having sharpened their humane and sympathetic nature to a merciless and inhuman cruelty, and exhibiting a frantic and truly daemoniacal disposition.

So then by examining all history both Grecian and barbarian you would find how some used to dedicate sons, and others daughters, and others even themselves for sacrifice to the daemons. And for this I offer you the same witness as before, in the same work in which he forbad the sacrifice of irrational cattle as unholy and most unjust: and this is what he says word for word. 21


[PORPHYRY] 'And that we say this not lightly, but with the fullest testimony of history, the following instances may suffice to prove. For even in Eliodes a man used to be sacrificed to Kronos on the sixth day of the month Metageitnion. This custom prevailed for a long time before it was changed: for one of those who had been publicly condemned to death was kept in custody until the festival of Kronos, and when the festival was come, they brought the man forth outside the gates opposite the temple of Aristobule, gave him a drink of wine, and cut his throat.

'And in what is now called Salamis, but formerly Coronia, in the month Aphrodisius according to the Cyprians, a man used to be sacrificed to Agraulos, the daughter of Cecrops and a nymph of Agraule. This custom continued until the times of Diomedes; then it changed, so that the man was sacrificed to Diomedes; and the shrine of Athena, and that of Agraulos and Diomedes are under one enclosure. The man to be sacrificed ran thrice round the altar, led by the youths: then the priest struck him in the throat with a spear, and so they offered him as a burnt-sacrifice upon the pyre that was heaped up.

22 'But this ordinance was abolished by Diphilus, king of Cyprus, who lived in the times of Seleucus the theologian, and changed the custom into a sacrifice of an ox: and the daemon accepted the ox instead of a man; so little is the difference in value of the performance.

'Also at Heliopolis in Egypt Amosis abolished the law of human sacrifice, as Manetho bears witness in his book Concerning Antiquity and Religion. The men were sacrificed to Hera, and were examined just as the pure calves that were sought after and sealed. Three men were sacrificed in the day: but instead of them Amosis ordered the same number of waxen images to be supplied.

'Also in Chios they used to sacrifice a man to Dionysus Omadius, tearing him limb from limb; in Tenedos also, as Euelpis of Carystus states. For even the Lacedaemonians, Apollodorus says, used to sacrifice a man to Ares.

'The Phoenicians, too, in the great calamities of war, or pestilence, or drought, used to dedicate one of their dearest friends and sacrifice him to Kronos: and of those who thus sacrificed the Phoenician history is full, which Sanchuniathon wrote in the Phoenician language, and Philo Byblius translated into Greek in eight books.

'And Ister, in his Collection of Cretan Sacrifices, says that the Curetes in old times used to sacrifice boys to Kronos. But that the human sacrifices in almost all nations had been abolished, is stated by Pallas, who made an excellent collection concerning the mysteries of Mithras in the time of the Emperor Adrian. Also at Laodicea in Syria a virgin used to be offered to Athena every year, but now a hind.

'Moreover the Carthaginians in Libya used to perform this kind of sacrifice, which was stopped by Iphicrates. The Dumateni also, in Arabia, used every year to sacrifice a boy, and bury him under the altar, which they treated as an image.

'Phylarchus states in his history that all the Greeks in common offered human sacrifices before going out against their enemies. I say nothing of the Thracians and Scythians, and how the Athenians slew the daughter of Erechtheus and Praxithea. Nay, even at the present time, who knows not that in the Great City a man is sacrificed at the festival of Jupiter Latiaris?

And again he says: 23

'From which time until now not only in Arcadia at the Lycaea, nor only in Carthage to Kronos do the whole people offer human sacrifice, but periodically for the sake of keeping the custom in remembrance they always sprinkle kindred blood upon the altars.'

So then from the aforesaid writing let these passages suffice: but from the first book of Philo's Phoenician History I will quote the following: 24

[PHILO BYBLIUS] 'It was a custom of the ancients in the great crises of danger for the rulers of a city or nation, in order to avert the general destruction, to give up the most beloved of their children for sacrifice as a ransom to the avenging daemons: and those who were so given up were slain with mystic rites. Kronos, therefore, whom the Phoenicians call El, who was king of the country, and subsequently, after his decease, was deified and changed into the star Saturn, had by a nymph of the same country called Anobret an only-begotten son (whom on this account they called Jeiid, the only-begotten being still so called among the Phoenicians); and when extreme dangers from war had befallen the country, he arrayed his son in royal apparel, and prepared an altar and sacrificed him.'

Such, was the manner of these doings.

With good reason therefore does the excellent Clement himself also, in his Exhortation to the Greeks, when finding fault with these very customs, lament as follows over the delusion of mankind and say: 25

[CLEMENT OF ALEXANDRIA] 'Come then, let us further observe, what inhuman daemons and haters of mankind your gods were, not only delighting in driving men mad, but also gloating over human slaughter, making for themselves occasions of pleasure now in the armed conflicts of the arena, and now in the endless contests for glory in war, that so they might have the fullest opportunities of freely glutting themselves with human slaughter. And at length, falling like pestilences upon cities and nations, they demanded merciless libations of blood. For instance, Aristomenes the Messenian slew three hundred men in honour of Zeus of Ithome, supposing that hecatombs so many and also of such quality would give good omens; for among them was Theopompus, the king of the Lacedaemonians, a noble victim. The Tauri, the nation who dwell about the Tauric Chersonese, sacrifice forthwith to the Tauric Artemis whatever strangers they take on their coasts, those I mean who have been wrecked at sea. These are the sacrifices which Euripides dramatizes on the stage. Monimus, too, in his Collection of Marvels, relates that at Pella in Thessaly a man of Achaia was offered in sacrifice to Peleus and Cheirou. And that the Lyctians, who are a race of Cretans, sacrificed men to Zeus, is declared by Anticleides in his Returns of the Greeks: and Dosidas says that the Lesbians offered the like sacrifice to Dionysus. The Phocaeans also, for I must not omit them, are said by Pythocles in the third book On Concord to offer a man as a burnt-sacrifice to Artemis Tauropolos. Erechtheus of Attica, and Marius of Rome, sacrificed their own daughters, the one to Pherephatta, as Demaratus states in his first book of Subjects of Tragedy, and Marius to the "Averters of Evil," as Dorotheus relates in the fourth book of the Italica. Friends truly of mankind the daemons are clearly proved by these examples!

'Must not then the piety of the daemon-worshippers be of the like kind, the former receiving the flattering title of Saviours, and the latter asking safety of those who plot against safety? At least, while imagining that they offer to them a sacrifice of good omen, they forget that they are cutting men's throats themselves. For of course the murder does not become a sacrifice because of the place. Nor, if one should slay a man in honour of Artemis and Zeus in a so-called sacred place (would it become a sacrifice) any more than if, from anger or covetousness, he should slay the man in honour of like daemons on altars rather than on highways, and call it a holy sacrifice. But such a sacrifice is murder and manslaughter.

'Why then, O men, ye wisest of all living creatures, why do we flee from savage wild beasts, and, if we fall in anywhere with a bear or a lion, turn out of the way----

"As when some traveller spies,
Coiled in his path upon the mountain side,
A deadly snake, back he recoils in haste,
His limbs all trembling, and his cheek all pale"---- 26

but though you have perceived and understand that daemons are destructive and pernicious, treacherous, enemies of mankind, and destroyers, you do not turn aside nor shrink back from them?' 

Thus far Clement. But I have also to present to you another witness of the blood-thirstiness of the impious and inhuman daemons, namely, Dionysius of Halicarnassus, a man who published a complete and accurate work on the History of Rome. Now he too writes that Zeus and Apollo once demanded human sacrifices, but those of whom they were demanded offered to the gods their portion of all crops and cattle, but were beset by all kinds of misfortune, because they did not also sacrifice men. There is nothing, however, like hearing the writer himself, who tells the story as follows: 27

[DIONYSIUS OF HALICARNASSUS] 'But a small part (of the Pelasgians) remained in Italy, through the prudence of the Aborigines. The first beginning of ruin to the inhabitants of the cities seeme'd to be the damage of the land by drought, when neither did any fruit remain to ripen upon the trees, but all fell off unripe, nor did any of the seeds, which put forth shoots and blossomed, complete the normal periods for the ripening of the ear; nor did grass grow sufficient for cattle; and of the springs some were no longer good to drink, and some were failing from heat, and some completely drying up. And disasters akin to these occurred in regard to offspring of cattle and women: for the fruit of the womb either miscarried, or perished at the time of birth, in some cases causing death to the mothers also. And whatever escaped the danger of parturition was crippled, or imperfect, or injured through some other mischance, and was not fit to be reared. Then, too, the rest of the population which was in the prime of life began to be ravaged by diseases and deaths of more than ordinary frequency. And when they inquired of oracles, which of the gods or daemons they had offended that they suffered thus, and what they could do with a hope of alleviating their troubles, the god made answer, that, after obtaining what they wished, they had not paid what they vowed, but still owed the most precious part. For when a general dearth had fallen upon their land, the Pelasgi made a vow to Zeus and to Apollo and to the Cabeiri that they would offer in sacrifice tithes of all future produce: but when their prayer was fulfilled, they chose out the portion of all crops and cattle, and offered these in sacrifice to the gods, as though they had vowed these only. This story is told by Myrsilus the Lesbian, who writes in almost the same words as I have now used, except only that he does not call the people Pelasgians but Tyrrhenians; and the reason of this I will state a little later.

'When they learned the answer of the oracle that had been brought back, they could not conjecture the meaning. But in their perplexity, one of the older men who had guessed the oracle said, that they had mistaken the whole matter if they supposed that the gods were accusing them unjustly: for though all the first-fruits of property had been rightly and justly paid by them, yet the portion of human offspring, a thing most precious above all to the gods, was still due. But if the gods were to receive their just share of this also, they would then have fully satisfied the oracle. Some thought then that this was good advice, but others that the speech was concocted as part of a plot: and when some one brought forward the proposal that they should ask the god again whether it was his pleasure to receive tenths of men, they sent ambassadors a second time, and the god made answer that they should do so. Hereupon a quarrel arose among them as to the method of choosing the tenths: and the chief men of their cities then first fell into dissension among themselves, and afterwards the rest of the multitude became suspicious of the magistrates; and their emigrations were not made with any order, but as was to be expected when men were driven away by frenzy and infatuation. So when a portion of them migrated, many households were utterly destroyed; for the relatives of those who went forth did not approve of being left behind by their dearest friends and remaining among their worst enemies. These then were the first who removed from Italy, and wandered into Greece and many barbarous lands; and after the first emigrants, others had the same feeling, and this went on continuously for years. For those who were in power in the cities did not cease to choose out the victims from the youth who at the time were growing into manhood, both as deeming thus to pay due service to the gods, and because they feared seditious movements from those who had escaped. There were many also who from enmity were driven away by their opponents under a specious pretext; so that the migrations became numerous, and the Pelasgic race was scattered abroad over a very great part of the earth.' 

Also a little later he says: 28

'Now it is said that the ancients offer these sacrifices to Kronos, as was done in Carthage while the city remained, and is done among the Celts unto this day, and in certain other of the Western nations who offer human sacrifices; but that Hercules, wishing to put a stop to the custom of this sacrifice, set up the altar on the hill of Saturn, and dedicated holy offerings hallowed by pure fire. And in order that the people might have no timorous scruple, as having neglected their ancestral sacrifices, he taught the inhabitants to appease the wrath of the god, by substituting for the men whom they used to cast into the stream of the Tiber bound hand and foot, images made like men and arrayed in the same manner as the former, and to throw them into the river in order that the foreboding, whatever there was of it remaining in the souls of all, might be removed as the likenesses of their old suffering were still preserved. And this the Romans continued to do even to my time, a little after the spring equinox, on the so-called Ides in the month of May, meaning this day to be the division of the month: on which day, after sacrificing the customary victims, the so-called Pontifices, the most distinguished of the priests, and with them the Virgins who guard the undying fire, and the Praetors, and those of the other citizens who have the right to be present at the sacred services, throw from the sacred bridge into the stream of the Tiber images fashioned in human forms, which they call Argëi.' 

Such are these statements. And Diodorus also narrates similar facts in the twentieth book of his Bibliotheca Historica, after the death of Alexander of Macedon, in the time of the first Ptolemy, concerning the Carthaginians when besieged by Agathocles the tyrant of Sicily, writing word for word thus: 29

[DIODORUS] 'They alleged also that Kronos was set against them, inasmuch as they used in earlier times to sacrifice the best of their sons to this god, but afterwards bought children secretly, and reared them and sent them for the sacrifice; and when an inquiry was held, some of those who had been sacrificed were found to have been supposititious. So when they had taken thought of this, and saw the enemy encamping close to their walls, they had a superstitious fear of having abolished the honours which their fathers had paid to the gods: and, being eager to amend their errors, they chose out two hundred of their most distinguished sons and offered them as a public sacrifice; and others who were under suspicion gave themselves up of their own accord, in number not less than three hundred. Now they had a brazen statue of Kronos, stretching forth his upturned hands inclined towards the ground, in such a way that the boy placed thereon rolled off and fell into a pit full of fire.'

Such are the stories handed down by this author also in his own history. With good reason then does the scripture of the Hebrews lay blame upon those of the circumcision who emulated such practices, saying: 'They offered their sons and their daughters to the daemons, and the land was defiled with their blood, and was polluted with their works.' 30 But in fact I believe it to be hereby clearly proved that the most ancient and primitive erection of carved images and all the idolatrous creation of gods among the heathen was the work of daemons, and of daemons who were not even good, but utterly wicked and worthless: so that the oracle speaks truth which says in the prophecies, 'All the gods of the heathen are daemons'; 31 as also the passage of the Apostle where he says, 'That the things which they sacrifice, they sacrifice to daemons and not to God.' 32

Or if there was any good one among them, on whose account they might share in the title of the good, he would be a benefactor and saviour of all, a friend of justice, and a guardian of mankind. But if he were such, how could he delight in human slaughter? And why did he not forbid mankind by oracles to follow such practices? Surely he was worse and more wicked than men, since they by legal punishments brought the blood-guilty to a better mind. For it was no god, but a man, who abolished the long-continued and wide-spread plague of human sacrifice.

But that these were the works of worthless and wicked daemons would be still more manifest to you, were you to consider their practices of infamous and unbridled fornication still observed in the City of the Sun in Phoenicia, and among many other people. For they say that men ought to practise adulteries, and seductions, and other unlawful kinds of intercourse, in honour of the gods, as a sort of debt due to them, and to consecrate to the gods the first-fruits of adultery and fornication, dedicating to them the gains of this ignoble and unseemly commerce, just as if it were some worthy kind of thank-offering: for these practices are similar to their human sacrifices.

If therefore it is not the part even of a decent man to delight in murders, and obscene language, and illicit intercourse with women who sell away their beauty for hire, far be it from us to say that it is the part of gods or good daemons to accept such offerings. But if any one should say that, though these are confessedly the acts of evil daemons, there are nevertheless others, namely the good daemons, whom they especially worship as saviours; where then, we should ask, were their good saviours, if they worshipped them, that they did not hinder the wicked daemons from so treating their suppliants? And where were the good daemons that they did not drive away the mischievous, and bring aid to their worshippers? And why did they neglect and overlook the rational and religious race of mankind when oppressed by the cruelty of the evil daemons, instead of plainly warning them all to flee straight away, and shun every so-called god as being no god but a wicked daemon, to whom things cruel and inhuman and unlawful and disgraceful are dear? And if either in Rhodes there was long ago a supposed god who rejoiced in human sacrifices, the true god, if indeed there was one, would have repressed the practice and warned them all to regard such an one not as a god but as an evil daemon. Or if in Salamis, which also was formerly called Coronea, a man was sacrificed in the month Aphrodisius according to the Cyprians, their true god would have shown them that this too was a wicked daemon, and so would have stopped the proceeding as impious and unholy.

If also at Heliopolis in Egypt Amosis abolished the law of human sacrifice, the true god would have taught them that the man was far better than the god: for there again he who was the author of the human sacrifice was no god but a daemon. Nor would the true god have ordained that men must not consider Hera's daemon impure, since the history showed that three men were sacrificed to her every day.

And what could be more truly daemoniacal than the so-called Dionysus Omadius, to whom, it is said, they sacrifice a man in Chios, tearing him limb from limb, or the other in Tenedos, whom also in like manner they used to propitiate by human sacrifice? Their true god would also have forbidden to sacrifice a man to Ares, the daemon who is the bane of mortals and lover of war, and would have made a law against sacrificing to him the dearest either of their kindred or of strangers.

If also, as they say, a virgin was sacrificed every year to Athena at Laodicea in Syria, their true god would not have shunned to call her too a wicked daemon; as also him in Libya who delighted in the like sacrifices, and him in Arabia, to whom they sacrificed a boy every year; and buried him under the altar.


All these, and those who delighted in obscenities of language and illicit seductions of women and all the madness which has been before mentioned, the true and good god, or daemon, would have forewarned them, not by any means to regard as gods. But none of them ever yet is recorded to have done this, except only the God who is honoured among the Hebrews, as being the Only and true God.

For He alone forewarned all men by Moses the Prophet and Theologian, not to reverence the wicked daemons as good, but on the contrary to shun and repel them, as being evil spirits; and moreover He made a law to destroy their shrines and their unholy and profane sacrifices, and utterly to banish from among men the remembrance of them as gods, and the honour that was assigned to them: for it was an impiety that those who were cared for by the good should propitiate the evil.

And whether it is Phylarchus, or any one else, who records that all the Greeks, before going out to their wars, offer a human sacrifice, do not thou hesitate to take him also as a witness of the daemoniacal possession of the Greeks: do not neglect either to declare that those in Africa, and the Thracians, and the Scythians, who follow the like practices, have been subjected to the same daemoniacal frenzies; as also the Athenians, and the inhabitants of the Great City, since these also used to sacrifice men at the festivals of Jupiter Maximus.

But in fact if you were to collect the catalogue of all those who have been mentioned above, you would find that, as I might almost say, the whole manufacture of gods by the heathen depends upon these same murderous spirits and evil daemons. For if in Rhodes, and in Salamis and the other islands, and at Heliopolis in Egypt, in Chios, and Tenedos, and Lacedaemon, Arcadia, Phoenicia, Libya, and, besides all these, in Syria and Arabia, and among the Panhellenes and the Athenians who stand at the very head of them, in Carthage also and Africa, and among Thracians and Scythians, it has been shown that the rites of human sacrifice to daemons were celebrated in old times, and continued down to our Saviour's time, why may you not say with good reason that all mankind were at that time enslaved to wicked daemons, and that life was not relieved from these great evils before our Saviour's teaching shed light upon the world? For indeed it was proved by the statement of history that these things continued till the times of Adrian, and have been abolished since his reign: and this was exactly the time at which the doctrine of salvation began to flourish among all mankind.

Moreover it is not in their power to say that they used to sacrifice to the evil daemons; since the history made it clear that the human sacrifices were dedicated especially to the great gods themselves. For it affirmed that they were offered to Hera and to Athena, to Kronos and Ares and Dionysus, and to supreme Zeus himself, and to Phoebus, that is to Apollo the most venerable and most wise of all: and these and none other they address as the greatest and best of saviours and gods.

These then must themselves be the wicked daemons. For if they delighted in such human sacrifices and homicides, may you not with good reason reckon them in the same class of blood-guiltiness with the wicked spirits, whether they were said themselves to delight in such offerings, or to acquiesce in them, and connive at their being done by others?

For why should they permit men at all to propitiate the wicked spirits? Or why allow them to err so far as to worship and flatter the evil daemons? And why to be enslaved by the wicked, when, as being good themselves and gods, it behoved them by their greater and more divine power to drive away everything whatsoever base and wicked as far as possible from man's daily life?

Surely a good father would not calmly see his own son corrupted by evil men; nor would a prudent master calmly see his servant led away by his enemies, nor yet a commander in time of war give up his own soldiers as prisoners to the enemy, when it was in his power to bring them safe off; nor would a shepherd give up his sheep to the wolves: and shall then gods and good daemons give up mankind in subjection to the bad and wicked daemons? And shall

'The thrice ten thousand guardians of mankind,' 33

I mean their shepherds and preservers, kings and fathers and lords, deliver up their dearest ones to their enemies and foemen, fierce as wild beasts, to harry and plunder in so merciless and cruel a manner? Will they not cast a shield over their suppliants, and fight in their defence? Will they not drive the hostile and wicked daemons far away from the human fold, like savage and devouring beasts? And will they not teach every man to be of good courage because he is closely allied with a countless multitude of gods and good daemons, and, because he is consecrated to those who are not only stronger but also the more numerous and the greatest gods, to pay little or rather no regard to the weakness of the wicked daemons? But since they did not act thus, but on the contrary themselves helped the evil daemons by permitting the fore-mentioned human sacrifices by their oracles, and by delighting in all kinds of obscene language and the practices attendant thereon, it is proved by deed, as the saying is, that they were not themselves at all different in nature from the evil daemons, but rather were of one and the same will and purpose; and that, to speak yet more truly, he was no god at all, nor any good daemon, that was worshipped of old by all the heathen in every city and country district.

For how could the wicked ever become friendly to the good, unless one should say that one mixture might be made of light and darkness? And how much better is human reason than those supposed gods, when it enjoins that no sacrifice should be offered even to wicked daemons! So at all events the writer formerly quoted, in the work wherein he asserted that men ought not to offer living victims, says that neither ought we to sacrifice to wicked daemons, speaking in this wise: 34


[PORPHYRY] 'Wherefore a wise and prudent man will guard against using sacrifices such as these, whereby he will draw down daemons of this kind to himself, but will be careful to purify his soul in every way; for they never attack a pure soul, because of its being unlike themselves. But if it is necessary for States to propitiate these daemons also, that is nothing to us; for States regard wealth and externals and things for the body as good, and the contrary as ill; but there are in them very few who care for the soul.' 

After this he adds:


[PORPHYRY] 'We, however, as far as possible, will require none of the things which these evil daemons supply: but with all our soul and with all outward means we make every endeavour, by freedom from passions, and a clearly formed conception of the realities of being, and the life that looks to them and agrees with them, to grow like to God and those about Him; but to grow unlike to wicked men and daemons and, generally, to all that takes delight in what is mortal and material.

35 'But the philosopher whom we describe as standing aloof from external things will not, we may fairly say, trouble daemons, nor have need of soothsayers, nor of the entrails of animals; for he has made it his care to stand aloof from the very things for which divinations exist. For he neither lets himself fall into marriage, that he should trouble the soothsayer about a wedding, nor into commerce; nor will he trouble him about a servant, or a theft, or any other of the vanities of mankind. But on the subjects of his inquiry no soothsayer, nor animal's entrails will indicate the truth. By himself alone, as we said, he will approach the god whose seat is in his own true heart, and there uniting all his powers in one full stream will receive his suggestions concerning the life eternal.' [Porphyry, ibid. ii. 52]

Hereby then his language most clearly shows to whom we must ascribe the oracles, and the inquiries by inspection of sacrifices, and those prognostications about uncertainties at which the multitude marvel. For by calling all these things 'vanities,' he rejects them as being wrought by wicked daemons.

So when going through his account of evil daemons, and asserting that the wise and prudent man never gave himself over to them, nor drew such daemons to himself by his sacrifices, he next subjoins a statement that the philosopher 'will have no need of oracles nor of the entrails of animals,' and such like, as being part of the evil craft of daemons.

If then according to this the wise and prudent man ought to beware of using sacrifices of this kind, whereby to draw the daemons to himself----and if by these were meant sacrifices by shedding of blood, and by slaughter of brute animals----none could justly be called prudent and wise among those who of old used to sacrifice animals to the daemons,and much less any of those who offered human sacrifices.

But almost all nations in the world, so to speak, before our Saviour was made known unto mankind, were convicted of propitiating the evil daemons by the human sacrifices which were performed in every place: none of these therefore was wise and prudent.

So then the common sense and consideration of mankind, guided by true reason, expressly forewarns every wise and prudent man not to make use of sacrifices for courting the favour of the wicked daemons, 'but to be diligent in purifying his soul in all ways; for they do not assail a pure soul, because it is unlike themselves.'

But their god Apollo (for we must again compare him with men, and show how far he falls short of right reason) enjoins sacrificing to the picked daemon, not otherwise of course than as being friendly to him: and the bad is friendly to the bad. The witness of this is the same author as before, in the work which he entitled Of the Philosophy to be derived from Oracles, who relates the following story word for word:


[PORPHYRY] 'So when the prophet was eager to see the deity with his own eyes, and was urgent, Apollo said that such a thing was impossible before giving ransom to the wicked daemon. And these are his words:

"To the dread genius of thy fatherland
Bring thou, for ransom meet, libations first,
Then fragrant incense, and dark blood of grapes,
With rich milk from the mothers of thy flock." 36

'Again, he spake more plainly on the same subject:

"Bring wine and milk, and water crystal-clear,
Holm boughs and acorns, and in order lay
The entrails, and the rich libations pour."

'But when asked what prayer should be used he began, but, did not finish, speaking thus:

"O daemon, crowned king of erring souls
Beneath daik caves, and on the earth above----"'

So spake the wonderful god, or rather the most wily daemon: but the dictates of natural reason are the very contrary, exhorting us 'to purify the soul,' but not to draw the wicked daemons to our side by sacrifices, 'for they do not assail a pure soul, because it is unlike them.' But then if he who was cautious, and did no sacrifice to daemons, was rightly judged to be a wise and prudent man, I leave it to you to consider, who and what kind of being he could reasonably be esteemed who, by his oracle, advised men to sacrifice to the wicked daemons.

Now if from this point you review what has been said, it will be evident what sort of beings in natural disposition those were who delighted in human sacrifices, or those who had long before enslaved the whole human race to such beings. But should any one say that the custom of human sacrifice is not wicked, but was most rightly practised by the men of old, he must at once condemn all of the present day, because none worship after the manner of their fathers.


If, however, it was prudent in those of our day to make their escape from that harsh and fierce cruelty, then none of the ancients was wise in propitiating the wicked daemons by human sacrifices. But in fact it is plain even to a blind man, as the saying is, that those who were deified of old by all the heathen, could neither be gods nor good daemons but were as far removed as possible from goodness.

Wherefore also they might justly be called enemies of God and impious,who ruined all human life, and from whom never any save only our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ provided the way of escape for all men, by preaching to all alike, Greeks and Barbarians, a cure for their ancestral malady, and deliverance from their bitter and inveterate bondage. To that deliverance the language of the Demonstration of the Gospel urges men to hasten, shouting with loud voice to be heard of all, 'The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because He hath anointed me, He hath sent me to preach good tidings to the poor, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and recovery of sight to the blind, to heal the broken-hearted.' 37 And again, 'To bring out the prisoners from their bonds, and them that sit in darkness out of the prison-house.' 38

For these are the things which long ages ago the truly divine oracles of the Hebrews foretold, preaching the good tidings of deliverance for us who had long been blind of soul, and fast bound in the many-linked fetters of wicked daemons. Wherefore with good reason, after being enlightened in the eyes of our understanding by the word of salvation, and made prudent, and wise, and pious, and free from all ills, we will neither sacrifice nor be in bondage to the supposed gods of the heathen, who formerly indeed tyrannized over us also; but having been led and brought near by our Saviour's teaching to the only true God, who is both our Lord and our Preserver, our Saviour and Benefactor, and moreover our Maker and Creator, and sole King of the universe, Him only we will believe to be the true God, and to Him alone will we render the homage which is due, honouring and worshipping Him only, not as the daemons like, but as the Saviour of all mankind sent down from Him has taught us by the doctrine of His Gospel.

If we worship God in this way, far from fearing the wicked daemons, we shall pursue and drive them away from us by chastity, and a pure disposition, and by a life of prudence and perfect virtue, which has been marked out by our Saviour: for it was acknowledged that they cannot approach a pure soul because it is unlike themselves. But neither shall we need divination and oracles, nor shall we scrutinize the entrails of animals, nor pry into any of the operations of daemoniacal influence.

For Christ's word enjoined on us to be careful to shun the very things for the sake of which these practices are eagerly pursued by the multitude; and exhorted us to desire only those things concerning which no soothsayer nor any entrails of animals will give clear indication of the truth, but only the Word of God Himself, who dwells in the true hearts of those who, because of perfect purity of soul, are able to receive Him inwardly in themselves. For concerning these He says somewhere in the holy Scriptures, 'I will dwell in them, and walk in them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.' 39

These then are the proofs of the wickedness of the daemons derived from the topic of sacrifices. Hear however what the author of the work On Abstinence from Animal Food relates again on the same subject, expressly acknowledging that, while the wicked daemons are sculptured in many shapes, and give their character to forms of all kinds, they elude and deceive most men. For, says he, by slipping into the persons of good beings, and alluring the multitude to their company by inflaming men's passions, they wish themselves to be entitled the supreme gods.

And so far, says he, have they prevailed, as to deceive even the wisest poets and philosophers of the Greeks, whom he also admits to have been the authors of the perversion of the multitude: he says also that from them all kinds of imposture arose, and the things which allure men to pleasure are supplied by them; also he says how they wish to be gods, though they are really evil daemons, and how the power which presides over them is supposed to be the supreme god. All these things Porphyry relates in the following manner: 40


[PORPHYRY] 'All souls which fail to control the spirit connected with them, but are for the most part controlled by it, are on this account greatly vexed and harassed, whenever the angry passions and desires of the spirit are excited: and these souls might reasonably be themselves called daemons, but mischievous ones.' And the whole number, both these and those of the adverse power, are invisible and perfectly imperceptible by human senses. For they are not clothed with a solid body, nor all with one form, but their forms being moulded in various shapes, and expressing the character of their spirit, sometimes become visible, at other times are invisible: sometimes also the daemons, at least the worst sort of them, change their forms.

'The spirit, in so far as it is corporeal, is capable of suffering and of perishing: but, by being so bound in subjection to the soul that the character thereof continues for a long time, it is nevertheless not rendered eternal; for it is natural that some portion of it should be continually wasting away and changing.

'The spirits then of the good are well proportioned, as also are the bodies of those which become visible; but those of the maleficent are misproportioned. These last, occupying chiefly the region near the earth with their sensuous nature, omit no effort to work all kinds of evil. For with a disposition wholly violent and treacherous, and deprived of the guardianship of the better daemons, they make their assaults for the most part forcibly and suddenly like ambuscades, here trying to lie hid, and there using violence.' 

Presently he adds: 41

'These things and the like they do with the purpose of turning us away from the right notion of the gods, and drawing us towards themselves. For they themselves delight in all things that are done in this irregular and inconsistent way; and having slipped as it were into the persons of the other gods, they take advantage of our thoughtlessness, and attach the multitude to their company, by inflaming men's lusts by amours, and desires of wealth and power and pleasure, and again by ambitions, out of which things grow wars and seditions, and the like.

'But worst of all, from these crimes they mount up higher, and make men believe the like concerning the chief gods, until they bring even the God of all goodness under these accusations, and say that by Him all things are thrown into confusion. And not only ordinary men have been thus affected, but also not a few of those who are occupied in philosophy.

'And the cause of their errors has been mutual; for of the students of philosophy, those who did not depart from the common train of thought came to agree with the opinions of the multitude: and on the other hand again the multitudes, hearing from those who were thought to be wise what agreed with their own opinions, were confirmed in holding more strongly such thoughts concerning the gods.

42 'For poetry further inflamed men's imaginations by using language adapted to astonish and beguile, and able to work in them a fascination and belief concerning things utterly impossible; whereas they ought to have been firmly persuaded that the good never does harm, nor the evil ever does good. For, as Plato says, to chill is no property of heat, but of the contrary principle; (nor is to warm a property of cold, but of the contrary); so neither is it a property of the just to do harm.

'And of course the divine is by nature most just of all, else it would not be divine. Wherefore this power and office (of doing harm) must be far removed from the beneficent daemons. For the power which is naturally fit and willing to do harm is contrary to the beneficent power, and opposites can never exist in the same subject.'

Again: 43

'It is by the adverse powers, however, that the whole imposture is accomplished; for these and their prince are especially honoured by those who, through their impostures, work mischief.

44 'For they are full of every kind of illusion, and well able to deceive by their wonder-working. By their help those possessed by evil daemons prepare philters and love-potions: for all lewdness, and hope of wealth and fame is wrought by them, and deception above all.

'For falsehood is congenial to them: for they wish to be gods, and the power who presides over them wishes to be thought the supreme god. These are they who delight "in libations and burnt-offerings," 45 by which very things the spiritual and bodily element is nourished and fattened. For this element lives on vapours and exhalations, in various ways by their various contrivances, and is strengthened by the sacrifices of blood and flesh.' 

Hereby then we have heard them confess that not only the poets among the Greeks inflamed men's imaginations concerning the evil daemons as if they were gods and good, but so did also those of the philosophers who were thought to be earnest about the gods; for they themselves worshipped not gods but wicked daemons, and so plunged the multitude and the common people headlong into the like delusion.

In their statement at all events it was clearly confessed that the multitudes, by hearing from those who were thought to be wise doctrines about the gods agreeing with their own opinions, were encouraged to think still more of the wicked daemons as if they were gods. And these charges are not brought upon our authority, but by the very men who know their own affairs much more accurately than we do.

In fact the same writer, having made no slight acquaintance with the superstition which is unknown to most, says that the wicked daemons wish to be gods, and to have among men the reputation of being good.

And who the power presiding over them happens to be, shall be made clear by the same author again, who says that the rulers of the wicked daemons are Sarapis and Hecate; but the sacred scripture says Beelzebul. Hear then how he writes on this point in his book Of the Philosophy to be derived from Oracles. 46


[PORPHYRY] 'But it is not without reason that we suspect the wicked daemons to be subject to Sarapis, nor from being persuaded only by the symbols, but because all the sacrifices for propitiating or averting their influence are offered to Pluto, as we showed in the first book. But this god is the same as Pluto, and for this reason especially rules over the daemons, and grants tokens for driving them away.

'It was he then who made known to his suppliants how they gain access to men in the likeness of animals of all kinds; whence among the Egyptians also, and the Phoenicians, and generally among those who are wise in divine things, thongs are violently cracked in the temples, and animals are dashed against the ground before worshipping the gods, the priests thus driving away these daemons by giving them the breath or blood of animals, and by the beating of the air, in order that on their departure the presence of the god may be granted.

'Every house also is full of them, and on this account, when they are going to call down the gods, they purify the house first, and cast these daemons out. Our bodies also are full of them, for they especially delight in certain kinds of food. So when we are eating they approach and sit close to our body; and this is the reason of the purifications, not chiefly on account of the gods, but in order that these evil daemons may depart. But most of all they delight in blood and in impure meats, and enjoy these by entering into those who use them.

'For universally the vehemence of the desire towards anything, and the impulse of the lust of the spirit, is intensified from no other cause than their presence: and they also force men to fall into inarticulate noises and flatulence by sharing the same enjoyment with them.

'For where there is a drawing in of much breath, either because the stomach has been inflated by indulgence, or because eagerness from the intensity of pleasure breathes much out and draws in much of the outer air, let this be a clear proof to you of the presence of such spirits there. So far human nature ventures to investigate the snares that are set about it: for when the deity enters in, the breathing is much increased.'

So much then concerning the wicked daemons, the ruler of whom he says is Sarapis. But the same author also teaches us that Hecate rules them, speaking thus: 47

'Are not these perhaps they over whom Sarapis rules, and whose symbol is the three-headed dog, that is the wicked daemon in the three elements, water, earth, air: these are restrained by the god, who has them under his hand. But Hecate also rules them, as holding the threefold, elements together.'

And again he says: 48

'After quoting yet one oracle, composed by Hecate herself, I will bring my account of her to an end.

'Lo! here the virgin, who in changing forms
Runs forth o'er highest heaven, with bovine face,
Three-headed, ruthless, arm'd with shafts of gold,
Chaste Phoebe, Ilithyia, light of men;
Of nature's elements the triple sign,
In ether manifest in forms of fire,
Upon the air in shining car I sit,
While earth in leash holds my black brood of whelps.'

After these verses the author plainly states who the whelps are; namely, that they are the wicked daemons, of whom we have just ceased speaking. So much then for these statements. But by still more evidence let us go on to confirm our argument, that those who are by the many regarded as gods are in reality wicked daemons, bringing with them no good at all.

[Footnotes moved to end and numbered]

1. 136 d 3 Diogenianus, a Fragment preserved by Eusebius only

2. Rom. iv. 17

3. 142 b 1 Heb. i. 14

4. 143 c 4 Porphyry, Of the Philosophy to be derived from Oracles, a fragment preserved by Eusebius only

5. 144 b 1 Porphyry, l. c.

6. 144 d 5 See below, p. 147 d 1

7. 149 b 2 Porphyry, On Abstinence from Animal Food, ii. 34. Cf. Eus. Dem. Ev. p. 105 a

8. 150 b 1 Apollonius of Tyana in Philostratus. Cf. Eus. Dem. Ev. p. 105 b 

9. 151 a 1 Porphyry, l. c., ii. 7. Cf. 29 b 2

10. b 7 Porphyry, l. c., ii. 11

11. c 2 ibid. ii. 12

12. d 9 ibid. ii. 13

13. 152 d 11 Porphyry, l. c., ii. 13

14. d 15 ibid. ii. 24

15. 152 c 5 ibid, ii. 27

16. c 7 'Empedocles ap Sturz. 312 ' (Gaisford)

17. c 11 Porphyry, l. c., ii. 60

18. d 10 ibid. ii. 62

19. 153 c 1 Porphyry, l. c., ii. 36

20. c 6 ibid. ii. 58

21. 155 b 1 Porphyry, l. c., ii. 54

22. d 3 ibid. ii. 55

23. c 5 Porphyry, l. c., ii. 27

24. d 3 Philo Byblius, Phoenician History, i. Cf. p. 40 c 1

25. 157 a 9 Clement of Alexandria, Protrept. c iii

26. 158 b 3 Hom. Il. iii. 33 (Lord Derby's translation)

27. 158 c 12 Dionysius of Halicarnassus, i. 23

28. 160 b 2 Dion. Hal. i. 38

29. 161 a 3 Diod. Sic. xx. 14

30. c 3 Ps. cvi. 37

31. d 3 Ps. xcvi. 5

32. d 4 I Cor. x. 20

33. 105 a 3 Hesiod, Works and Days, 250 ; cf. p. 233 d

34. 166 b 2 Porphyry, Abstinence, ii. 43; cf. Theodoret, Gr. Aff. Cur. 138, 22 

35. 167 a 1 Porphyry, ibid. ii. 52

36. 168 b 2 Porphyry, Fragment, preserved by Eusebius

37. 169 d 7 Is. lxi. 1

38. 170 a 1 Is. xlii. 7

39. d 10 2 Cor. vi. 16 ; cf. Lev. xxvi. 12

40. 171 c 1 Porphyry, Abstinence, ii. 38

41. 172 b 1 ibid. ii. 40

42. d 4 ibid. ii. 41

43. 173 a 10 Porphyry, Abstinence, ii. 41

44. b 1 ibid. ii. 42

45. b 6 Hom. Il. ix. 496

46. 174 b 1 Porphyry, Of the Philosophy to be derived from Oracles, a Fragment preserved by Eusebius.

47. 175 b 6 Porphyry, ibid.

48. c 2 ibid.

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Early Church Fathers - Additional Texts