Eratōsan

worship-cat-egypt

Ὁ μὲν γὰρ θεός, ὁ τῶν ὄντων πατὴρ καὶ δημιουργός, πρεσβύτερος μὲν ἡλίου, πρεσβύτερος δὲ οὐρανοῦ, κρείττων δὲ χρόνου καὶ αἰῶνος καὶ πάσης ῥεούσης φύσεως, ἀνώνυμος νομοθέταις καὶ ἄρρητος φωνῇ καὶ ἀόρατος ὀφθαλμοῖς· οὐκ ἔχοντες δὲ αὐτοῦ λαβεῖν τὴν οὐσίαν, ἐπερειδόμεθα φωναῖς καὶ ὀνόμασιν καὶ ζῴοις, καὶ τύποις χρυσοῦ καὶ ἐλέφαντος καὶ ἀργύρου, καὶ φυτοῖς καὶ ποταμοῖς καὶ κορυφαῖς καὶ νάμασιν, ἐπιθυμοῦντες μὲν αὐτοῦ τῆς νοήσεως, ὑπὸ δὲ ἀσθενείας τὰ παρ’ ἡμῖν καλὰ τῇ ἐκείνου φύσει ἐπονομάζοντες· αὐτὸ ἐκεῖνο τὸ τῶν ἐρώντων πάθος, οἷς ἥδιστον εἰς μὲν θέαμα οἱ τῶν παιδικῶν τύποι, ἡδὺ δὲ εἰς ἀνάμνησιν καὶ λύρα καὶ ἀκόντιον καὶ θῶκός που καὶ δρόμος, καὶ πᾶν ἁπλῶς τὸ ἐπεγεῖρον τὴν μνήμην τοῦ ἐρωμένου. τί μοι τὸ λοιπὸν ἐξετάζειν καὶ νομοθετεῖν ὑπὲρ ἀγαλμάτων; θεῖον ἴστωσαν γένος, ἴστωσαν μόνον. εἰ δὲ Ἕλληνας μὲν ἐπεγείρει πρὸς τὴν μνήμην τοῦ θεοῦ ἡ Φειδίου τέχνη, Αἰγυπτίους δὲ ἡ πρὸς τὰ ζῷα τιμή, καὶ ποταμὸς ἄλλους καὶ πῦρ ἄλλους, οὐ νεμεσῶ τῆς διαφωνίας· ἴστωσαν μόνον, ἐράτωσαν μόνον, μνημονευέτωσαν.
(Maximus Tyrius 2.10)

For divinity, indeed, the father and fabricator of all things, is more ancient than the sun and the heavens, more excellent than time and eternity, and every flowing nature, and is a legislator without law, ineffable by voice, and invisible by the eyes. Not being able, however, to comprehend his essence, we apply for assistance to words and names, to animals and figures of gold, and ivory and silver, to plants and rivers, to the summits of mountains, and to streams of water; desiring, indeed, to understand his nature, but through imbecility calling him by the names of such things as appear to us to be beautiful. And in thus acting we are affected in the same manner as lovers, who are delighted with surveying the images of the objects of their love, and with recollecting the lyre, the dart, and the seat of these, the circus in which they ran, and every thing, in short, which excites the memory of the beloved object. What then remains for me to investigate and determine respecting statues? Only to admit the subsistence of deity. But if the art of Phidias excites the Greeks to the recollection of divinity, honour to animals the Egyptians, a river others, and fire others, I do not condemn the dissonance: let them only know, let them only love, let them only be mindful of the object they adore. (tr. Thomas Taylor)

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