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For a very
ly, thus : “ In all sincerity, in all truthfulness, in consistency
We have an illustration of this truthful state of mind in the course which Clinias pursues in the next reply—pūTOV Mèv yñ kaì ñàcos, &c. He enters upon the argument with all the confidence of an easy victory. He appeals at once to the most obvious phenomena, not so much as scientific proofs of the Divine existence, but rather as visible representations of a manifest Divine power. - The Heavens de. clare (to all whose souls are prepared for it) the glory of
God.” But as though this had too much the appearance of speculative reasoning, he retreats again to his stronghold, the feelings of his own nature, and appeals to the common and universal sentiments of mankind. This, with the bare aspect of the heavens, he deems enough for those who were true-hearted (åandevovtes) concerning the Gods. We are taught in the Holy Scriptures, that not only a true belief, but also unbelief in respect to the Divine existence, has its seat primarily in the affections rather than in the intellect. " The fool hath said in his heart, there is no God.” The Hebrew word here is sometimes used for the understanding; still, like the Greek opéves, with all its cognates, such as φρονέω, φρόνησις, φρόνημα, &c., it generally refers to the intellect, not so much in a speculative or scientific aspect, but rather as modified by the state of the affections or moral powers.
The Orphic Poetry. PAGE 5, LINE 12. Οι μεν έν τισι μέτρους, οι δε και άνευ μέτρων. . .“ Some in poetry and some in prose.” It is very uncertain what prose writings are here referred to. Those in poetry must have been the works of Homer, Hesiod, and perhaps of Orpheus. The term panaióTatou (most ancient) would seem to refer to some productions older than the Iliad and the Theogonia. These might be styled tahald, in comparison with the period of Grecian literature in which Plato lived, which, although many centuries posterior in time, was not separated from them by any distinct literary epoch prior to the Persian wars. They could not, how. ever, be well entitled to the epithet mahalótata, which, as it is introduced, and as the context shows, is meant to designate the most remote of two distinct periods, in reference to which it is intimated, there was a progression, if we may so style it, from the cosmological to the theogonic or my. thological. The first, or most ancient class, were of the former description. They were more philosophical than the latter, more taken up with the origin of things, that allabsorbing question which so engrossed the early mind : 6 γέγονεν η ΠΡΩΤΗ ΦΥΣΙΣ ουρανού των τε άλλων. They were pantheistic rather than polytheistic, manifesting a de. parture, but still a less departure from the primitive religion than is denoted by the latter stage. (See Note 9, page 5.)
All these marks correspond well with the nature of some of the hymns styled Orphic, under which name a few fragments, whether spurious or not. have survived to our own day. Although these are generally regarded as productions of a much later age, yet, from the frequent reference made to Orpheus by the Greek poets, it would seem almost certain that a collection of hymns under this name existed in the most ancient times, forming that copious fund or store house of rich poetical appellations, from which Homer, and subsequently Æschylus, were supplied, besides being the source of whatever is pantheistical or mystical in the Grecian tragedies. The existence of forgeries is evidence that there must have been originals in imitation of which they were composed, and an ancient philosophy and theology, which had once exerted great influence on the human mind, to serve as their plausible and probable foundation.
In connexion with the passage before us, compare lib. iv., 716, Α.: Ο μεν δή θεός, ώσπερ και ο παλαιός λόγος, αρχήν τε και τελευτην και μέσα των όντων απάντων έχων. This is almost the very language of one of the so-styled Orphic fragments now extant, and is directly referred to Orpheus by the scholiast on the place :-Deòv uÈv TÒV Onμιουργόν σαφώς, παλαιόν δε λόγον λέγει τον ΟΡΦΙΚΟΝ, ός έστιν ούτος, ,
Ζευς αρχή, Ζευς μέσσα, Διός δ' εκ πάντα τέτυκται: Ζευς πυθμήν γαίης τε και ουρανού άστερόεντος. . Should any one say that this resembles very much the language of Thales, or some of the philosophers of that period, and that, therefore, the ignorant old scholiast had been imposed upon by one who had affixed a fabulous name and given a poetical dress to some of their dogmas,—why, we would reply, may not Thales and others have derived this peculiar mode of expression from a still earlier source, and why this disposition to charge the scholiasts and Christian fathers with combining to produce such useless and yet elaborate forgeries as some critics are constantly connecting with their names ? We say useless, because a philosophy and theology, such as appears in these hymns, did, beyond all question, exist at a very early period, and the poetical dress, had it not been real, would have added nothing to the argument they sought to derive from them. For places in the ancient writings, in which reference is made to Orpheus and his poems, the reader is referred to Plato, Ion, vol. iii., p. 134, Leip. ; Convivium, vii., 219; De Legibus, vi., 230; Cratylus, ii., 263; Aristotle, De Anim., i, 8; Euripides, Rhesus, 947; Hippolytus, 967; Cicero, De Nat. Deor., i., 38; Diod. Sic., iv., 25; Just. Mart., Cohortat. ad Græcos, p. 17; Athenagoras, Legat. pro Christ., xv., 64, 65.
102 PLATO'S REGARD FOR THE ANCIENT MYTHS.
His Use of the Word θεοί. .
It is exceedingly interesting to contemplate the peculiar condition of this philosopher, endeavouring to reform what he felt he had no power or commission to abolish. Having no Divine warrant, like the Hebrew prophets or the apostles