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of heaven were near us, and endeavoured to build their tower to reach them. If he had been there to instruct them, they would not thus have laboured in vain. O idle toil of knowledge, that puffs up the soul! () faithless faith, which is no faith! that Ptolemy should be thought the wisest of men by those who cultivate this kind of wisdom!' Ω ματαιοπόνου και ψυχής φυσιώσεως και πίστεως απίστου, ίνα πάντων Πτολεμαίος σοφός νομίζηται παρά τους την ομοίαν σοφίαν ήσκηκόσι (p. 50).
Origen no doubt, when he had written this last sentence, felt as much complacency, as confident an assurance of superiority, as the Inquisitor when he refuted Galileo by the authority of the Church and by the dungeon--as the Dean of York when he has finished a pamphlet to demolish Sedgewick or Lyell.
Origen is more fortunate in dealing with those who, after the fashion of Pythagoras, formed a philosophy out of numbers and the letters of words ; who set up for prophets on the reputation of one lucky hit out of many, but were utterly and shamelessly regardless of their perpetual failures. Our friends addicted to phrenology, mesmerism, clairvoyance, electrobiology, who club together the stories of their scanty successes with such zealous activity, must permit us to submit this prediction of their proceedings in the original Greek:-"Ων ομοίους λόγους ερανισάμενοι τινες αποπλανώσιν ιδιώτας, προγνωστικούς εαυτούς φάσκοντες, έσθ' ότε δια του πολλά μαντεύεσθαι ένα επιτυγχάνοντες, και επί μεν τοίς πολλούς αποτεύγμασι μη αιδούμενοι, επί δε τω ενί εγκομπάζοντες.
We must say of all whimsical nonsense the ancient science of numbers is the most whimsical—if indeed it was ever adduced with gravity. As explained and applied by Origen, it has much more to do with the interpretation of Homer than of the Bible. Certain powers are assigned to certain letters; and Patroclus killed Sarpedon, not because he was a better warrior, and wore the armour of Achilles, but because the letters of his name made more monads. On the same principle Polydeuces floored Amycus in the boxing-match. The affair of Paris and Menelaus seems to have been doubtful. Alé&avopos might even have won the victory as he won Helen; but Ilégıs, having fewer letters in his name to multiply, could only escape through the aid of Venus. We have then a long list of the bodily and mental qualities which belonged to men born under different constellations. We are not learned enough in that horoscopic science which Lord Brougham and the Society for the Promotion of Useful Knowledge have but so recently routed out of our common almanack, to know whether its hierophants boasted of prophetic succession from the old Roman times. We give as the briefest the type of those born under Pisces:–«They are of a moderate stature like fish; sharp forehead,
thick hair; often become grey very early. By nature magnanimous, simple, passionate, frugal; great talkers; in early youth given to sleep; determined to do everything for themselves; held in honour; bold, jealous, accusers of others, versatile, worthy of love, dancers, serviceable friends.'
The subsequent part of this book, if fully and accurately translated-(no easy task! for the text is mutilated and corrupt-the subject matter intricate and abstruse)—would be infinitely more curious and diverting. It describes many of the conjuring tricks, which the Gnostic heretics, as we presume we are to understand from Origen, did not scruple to borrow from the heathen adepts. We have detailed accounts of the manner in which boys were made to see frightful visions--(we must not forget our Egyptian lads in modern days, and stories nearer home)—to repeat
words from the gods, conveyed to their ears by artificial pipes; receipts for various kinds of invisible ink—which became visible when necessary for the trick; we learn how to make lambs seem to cut off their own heads; how to make thunder ; how men were to thrust their hands into boiling pitch, and walk over hot coals; how to make the gods appear to their wondering votaries; Æsculapius—(the poetical invocation of this god is, we believe, quite new)-in a flame of fire; Artemis, the huntress, with her hounds, &c. &c. &c. We select (requesting from our friends of more rigid scholarship some indulgence, as it is our design to make our version as intelligible as we may to the common reader) first, the act of divination by a dish---exavovavtext-afterwards a few other kindred conjurations. Having prepared a room, closely shut up, and painted the roof deep blue (κυανό τον όροφον χρίσαντες), και certain number of vessels of deep blue colour are introduced and arranged around it, and in the middle is placed a stone dish, full of water, which by the reflection of the blue looks like the sky. The floor has a hidden trap; and the bottom of the dish being of glass, the accomplices in a secret chamber below show whatever forms the magician announces that the gods and goddesses are about to assume. On these the poor gull gazes, and in his awe and amazement believes whatever the magician chooses to tell him. The author proceeds with his receipt to make a deity appear in a flame of fire. First, the magician draws on the wall whatever form is required, and then secretly smears it with an ointment composed of Laconicum and Zacynthian Asphaltus. Then, as if to lighten the chamber, a torch is whirled about till brought in contact with the wall; when the ointment catches fire, and burns briskly, and so the God
in a blaze. A more
appears imposing trick was to make Hecate fly all on fire through the heavens. First, having concealed an accomplice in a certain
VOL. LXXXIX. NO, CLXXVII.
place, the magician leads out his dupes, promising to show them the goddess riding in flames through the air. He has made sure that it is a night without a moon; and enjoins them to take great care of their eyes directly the light appears in the heavens. They are to cover their faces, and to fall flat upon the ground, till he calls to them. He then utters this grand invocation, which we request our fair readers, who have not aspired to learn, and our country readers who have forgotten their Greek, to have intoned' to them in all its sonorous and almost untranslateable awfulness.
Νερτερίη, χθονίη τε, και ουρανίη μολέ Βομβω,
Ελθους ενάντητος εφ' ημετέρηση θυηλαίς-
Triple Goddess, Bombo come!
As he utters these words, fire is seen whirling through the air ; the spectators, shuddering at the strange sight, cover up their eyes,
and throw themselves down on the ground in silence. But the telling part of the trick is to come. •The accomplice, hidden, as before said, has a hawk or a vulture covered with tow ;-when he hears the incantation read, he sets it on fire, and lets it fly. The bird frightened by the fire soars up and flutters with the utmost rapidity: the foolish people, thinking that they have seen a god, run away and hide themselves in terror. The bird, blazing
all the while, goes wheeling about here and there, and sometimes sets fire to houses or farm buildings. Such is the divination of these magicians.'
The invocations to Æsculapius and to Hecate, the latter of which we have extracted, are by no means the only fragments, certainly not the finest, of Greek poetry scattered through this volume. The author, in his view of the original Gnostics, contrasts the origin and nature of man according to the sect of the Naassenes (from Nahash the serpent, obviously the mystical Ophites of later writers) with the notions of the Greek poets. The Gnostic or Ophite Adam was clearly the Adam Cædmon of the Cabbalists. For the Greek legend of the birth of man he quotes the following noble passage of Pindar. We accept, of course, the restoration adopted in his note by M. Miller, as the result of the conjectures of the learned '-
Πρώτα δε γαϊ’ άνδωκεν άνθρωπον τότ’ ενεγκαμένα καλόν γέρας
first bare the Earth
To be the mother of that gentle race,
On clear Cephisus' strand,
The Corybantes in the Phrygian land,
Pelasgus, elder than the moon ?
Diaulus, in the Rarian haunts to dwell ?
Cabeiros, him the sire
Or earlier bare Pallene rude
From her parched plains did strong Iarbas rise,
Unto great Jove to bring, sweet sacrifice!
Under her genial influence, moist and warm,
Kindles, and quickens into human form. To that distinguished scholar, M. Schneidewin, we owe the arrangement, and also the few conjectural amendments in the following splendid fragments of a hymn concerning that mystic personage whom Catullus has sung in what (whether it be or be not a translation more or less free of some Greek Dithyrambic) is certainly the noblest lyric poem in the Latin language :- Super alta vectus Atys celeri rate maria.
Είτε Κρόνου γενος, είτε Διός μάκαρος,