This is part 1 of 3. Part 2 is here. Part 3 is here.
Οἵη δ’ ὑετίοιο κατ’ ἠέρος εὐδιόωντος
ἀντομένη νεφέεσσιν ἀποκρούστοις περιωγαῖς
ἀκτὶς ἠελίοιο πολύχροον ἶριν ἑλίσσει,
ἀμφὶ δέ μιν πάντη σελαγίζεται ἐγγύθεν αἰθὴρ
κύκλοισιν πυκινοῖσι καὶ ἔκτοθι λυομένοισι·
τοίη καὶ φαέων πέλεται φύσις, ἀκροτάτοιο
φωτὸς ἀποστίλβοντος ἀεὶ νόας, ἥσσονας αὐγάς.
ἤτοι ὁ μὲν πηγὴ φαέων, φάος οὔτ’ ὀνομαστὸν
οὔθ’ ἑλετόν, φεῦγόν τε νόου τάχος ἐγγὺς ἰόντος,
αἰὲν ὑπεκπροθέων πάντων φρένας, ὥς κε πόθοισι
τεινώμεσθα πρὸς ὕψος ἀεὶ νέον, οἱ δέ τε φῶτα
δεύτερα ἐκ Τριάδος βασιλήϊον εὖχος ἐχούσης,
ἄγγελοι αἰγλήεντες, ἀειδέες, οἵ ῥα θόωκον
ἀμφὶ μέγαν βεβαῶτες, ἐπεὶ νόες εἰσὶν ἐλαφροί,
πῦρ καὶ πνεύματα θεῖα δι’ ἠέρος ὦκα θέοντες
ἐσσυμένως μεγάλῃσιν ὑποδρήσσουσιν ἐφετμαῖς,
ἁπλοῖ τε νοεροί τε, διαυγέες, οὔτ’ ἀπὸ σαρκῶν
ἐρχόμενοι (σάρκες γὰρ ἐπεὶ πάγεν αὖθις ὀλοῦνται),
οὔτ’ ἐπὶ σάρκας ἰόντες, ὅπερ δ’ ἐγένοντο μένοντες.
ἤθελον εἰ καὶ πάμπαν ἀτειρέες. ἀλλ’ ἄνεχ’ ἵππον
καὶ μάλα θερμὸν ἐόντα, νόου ψαλίοισιν ἐέργων.
καί ῥ’ οἱ μὲν μεγάλοιο παραστάται εἰσὶ Θεοῖο,
οἱ δ’ ἄρα κόσμον ἅπαντα ἑαῖς κρατέουσιν ἀρωγαῖς,
ἄλλην ἄλλος ἔχοντες ἐπιστασίην παρ’ ἄνακτος,
ἄνδρας τε πτόλιάς τε καὶ ἔθνεα πάνθ’ ὁρόωντες,
καὶ λογικῶν θυέων ἐπιίστορες ἡμερίοισι.
θυμέ, τί καὶ ῥέξεις; τρομέει λόγος οὐρανίοισι
κάλλεσιν ἐμβεβαώς, ἀχλὺς δέ μοι ἀντεβόλησεν,
οὐδ’ ἔχω ἢ προτέρω θεῖναι λόγον ἢ ἀναδῦναι.
ὡς δ’ ὅτε τρηχαλέῳ ποταμῷ περάων τις ὁδίτης
ἐξαπίνης ἀνέπαλτο καὶ ἴσχεται ἱέμενός περ,
πολλὰ δέ οἱ κραδίη πορφύρεται ἀμφὶ ῥεέθρῳ·
χρειὼ θάρσος ἔπηξε, φόβος δ’ ἐπέδησεν ἐρωήν·
πολλάκι ταρσὸν ἄειρεν ἐφ’ ὕδατι, πολλάκι δ’ αὖτε
χάσσατο, μαρναμένων δέ, φόβον νίκησεν ἀνάγκη,
ὣς καὶ ἐμοὶ Θεότητος ἀειδέος ἆσσον ἰόντι,
τάρβος μὲν καθαροῖο παραστάτας ὑψιμέδοντος
θεῖναι ὑπ’ ἀμπλακίῃ, φωτὸς κεκορημένον εἶδος,
μή πως καὶ πλεόνεσσιν ὁδὸν κακίης στορέσαιμι,
τάρβος δ’ ἄτροπον ἐσθλὸν ἐμοῖς ἐπέεσσι χαράξαι,
μέσφ’ ὅτε καὶ σκολιόν τιν’ ὁρῶ κακίης μεδέοντα.
οὔτε γὰρ ἦν ἀγαθοῖο, κακοῦ φύσιν ἄμμι φυτεῦσαι,
ἠὲ μόθον προφέρειν καὶ ἔχθεα οἷσι φίλοισιν,
οὔτε μὲν ἀντιθόωκον ἀναστῆναι κακότητα
ὕστατον, ἢ καὶ ἄναρχον ἔχειν φύσιν ὥσπερ ἄνακτα.
ὧδέ μοι ἀσχαλόωντι Θεὸς νόον ἔμβαλε τοῖον.
(Gregory of Nazianzus, Poëmata Arcana 6.1-46)
Even as a sunbeam, travelling through rain-heavy, calm air, encountering clouds in its refracted, revolving movements, produces the many-coloured rainbow curve; everywhere around, the upper air gleams brightly with many circles dissolving towards the edges; such is the nature of lights also, the highest light always shining brightly upon minds which are lesser beams. There is one who is the source of lights, a light inexpressible, eluding caputre, fleeing the speed of a pursuing mind whenever it approaches, for ever outstripping the minds of all, that we may be drawn by desires to a height which is ever new. There are others who are second lights after the Trinity which holds the royal pride of precedence, shining angels without visible form, moving around the mighty throne, as they are nimble intelligences. As fire and divine spirits they run swiftly through the air, eagerly obeying God’s great behests, being simple, intellectual, radiant, emanating not from flesh (for flesh when once compacted is afterwards destroyed), nor again coming into relationship with flesh, but rather remaining in their original state. I might have wished them also quite unyielding. But restrain the horse, for all its impetuosity, checking it with the curb of the mind. Some are attendants of the mighty God, while others use their powers to maintain the whole world, holding from the sovereign’s hand varying offices, overseeing men, cities, and all nations, acquainted with the sacrifices reasonable for mortals to make.
My heart, I ask what you will do now. Reason trembles to enter upon the beauties of the heavenly world. A mist has come upon me. I do not know whether to advance my speaking or to withdraw. I am like a traveller attempting to cross a raging stream who is suddenly borne upwards by the current and is held fast for all his eagerness to cross. His heart is in a great swirl because of the current. Necessity stiffens his courage, while fear constrains his urge to go on. Often he raises his foot upon the water and as often he falls back. With emotions in conflict, necessity overcomes fear. This is my case, as I come closer to the Godhead which lies beyond visible form. I fear to ascribe sin to the attendants of the pure one who rules on high, them who are a form of being sated with light, in case I should somehow pave a way to evil for still more beings. I am also afraid to set down in my account the idea of changeless good, as long as I see a crooked being holding sway in the realm of evil. For it was not the way of a good being to plant in us the nature of evil and to produce strife and hatred in creatures he loves. Nor would he later establish evil upon a rival throne nor allow it an eternal nature, as if it were sovereign. Such was the thought God planted firmly in my distressed mind. (tr. Donald A. Sykes)
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