. . . And (the sorcerer), taking (a paper), directs the inquirer to write down with water whatever questions he may desire to have asked from the demons. Then, folding up the paper, and delivering it to the attendant, he sends him away to commit it to the flames, that the ascending smoke may waft the letters to demons. While, however, the attendant is executing this order, (the sorcerer) first removes equal portions of the paper, and on some more parts of it he pretends that demons write in Hebrew characters. Then burning an incense of the Egyptian magicians, termed Cyphi, he takes these (portions of paper) away, and places them near the incense. But (that paper) which the inquirer happens to have written (upon), having placed on the coals, he has burned. Then (the sorcerer), appearing to be borne away under divine influence, (and) hurrying into a corner (of the house), utters a loud and harsh cry, and unintelligible to all, . . . and orders all those present to enter, crying out (at the same time), and invoking Phryn, or some other demon. But after passing into the house, and when those that were present stood side by side, the sorcerer, flinging the attendant upon a bed, utters to him several words, partly in the Greek, and partly, as it were, the Hebrew language, (embodying) the customary incantations employed by the magicians. (The attendant), however, goes away to make the inquiry.

And within (the house), into a vessel full of water (the sorcerer) infusing copperas mixture, and melting the drug, having with it sprinkled the paper that forsooth had (the characters upon it) obliterated, he forces the latent and concealed letters to come once more into light; and by these he ascertains what the inquirer has written down.

And if one write with copperas mixture likewise, and having ground a gall nut, use its vapour as a fumigator, the concealed letters would become plain. And if one write with milk, (and) then scorch the paper, and scraping it, sprinkle and rub (what is thus scraped off) upon the letters traced with the milk, these will become plain. And urine likewise, and sauce of brine, and juice of euphorbia, and of a fig, produce a similar result. But when (the sorcerer) has ascertained the question in this mode, he makes provision for the manner in which be ought to give the reply. And next he orders those that are present to enter, holding laurel branches and shaking them, and uttering cries, and invoking the demon Phryn.

For also it becomes these to invoke him; and it is worthy that they make this request from demons, which they do not wish of themselves to put forward,

having lost their minds.

The confused noise, however, and the tumult, prevent them directing attention to those things which it is supposed (the sorcerer) does in secret. But what these are, the present is a fair opportunity for us to declare.

Considerable darkness, then, prevails. For the (sorcerer) affirms that it is impossible for mortal nature to behold divine things, for that to hold converse (with these mysteries) is sufficient.

Making, however, the attendant lie down (upon the couch), head foremost, and placing by each side two of those little tablets, upon which had been inscribed in, forsooth, Hebrew characters, as it were names of demons, he says that (a demon) will deposit the rest in their ears.

But this (statement) is requisite, in order that some instrument may be placed beside the ears of the attendant, by which it is possible that he signify everything which he chooses.

First, however, he produces a sound that the (attendant) youth may be terrified; and secondly, he makes a humming noise; then, thirdly, he speaks through the instrument what he wishes the youth to say,

and remains in expectation of the issue of the affair; next, he makes those present remain still, and directs the (attendant) to signify, what he has heard from the demons.

But the instrument that is placed beside his ears is a natural instrument, viz., the windpipe of long-necked cranes, or storks, or swans. And if none of these is at hand, there are also some different artificial instruments (employed); for certain pipes of brass, ten in number, (and) fitting into one another, terminating in a narrow point, are adapted (for the purpose), and through these is spoken into the ear whatsoever the (magician) wishes.

And the youth hearing these (words) with terror as uttered by demons, when ordered, speaks them out.

If any one, however, putting around a stick a moist hide, and having dried it and drawn it together, close it up, and by removing the rod fashion the hide into the form of a pipe, he attains a similar end. Should any of these, however, be not at hand, he takes a book, and, opening it inside, stretches it out as far as he think requisite, (and thus) achieves the same result.

But if he knows beforehand that one is present who is about to ask a question, he is the more ready for all (contingencies). If, however, he may also previously ascertain the question, he writes with the drug, and, as being prepared, he is considered more skilful, on account of having clearly written out what is (about) being asked. If, however, he is ignorant of the question, he forms conjectures, and puts forth something capable of a doubtful and varied interpretation, in order that the oracular response, being originally unintelligible, may serve for numerous purposes, and in the issue of events the prediction may be considered correspondent with what actually occurs. Next, having filled a vessel with water, he puts down (into it) the paper, as if uninscribed, at the same time infusing along with it copperas mixture. For in this way the paper written upon floats upwards (to the surface), bearing the response. Accordingly there ensue frequently to the attendant formidable fancies for also he strikes blows plentifully on the terrified (bystanders).

For, casting incense into the fire, he again operates after the following method. Covering a lump of what are called "fossil salts" with Etruscan wax, and dividing the piece itself of incense into two parts, he throws in a grain of salt; and again joining (the piece) together, and placing it on the burning coals, he leaves it there. And when this is consumed, the salts, bounding upwards, create the impression of, as it were, a strange vision taking place. And the dark-blue dye which has been deposited in the incense produces a blood-red flame, as we have already declared.

But (the sorcerer) makes a scarlet liquid, by mixing wax with alkanet, and, as I said, depositing the wax in the incense. And he makes the coals be moved, placing underneath powdered alum; and when this is dissolved and swells up like bubbles, the coals are moved.


But different eggs they display after this manner. Perforating the top at both ends, and extracting the white, (and) having again dipped it, throw in some minium and some writing ink. Close, however, the openings with refined scrapings of the eggs, smearing them with fig-juice.

Alexander the Oracle Monger


By those who cause sheep to cut off their own heads, the following plan is adopted. Secretly smearing the throat (of the animal) with a cauterizing drug, he places a sword near, and leaves it there. The sheep, desirous of scratching himself, rushes against the blade, and in the act of rubbing is slaughtered, while the head is almost severed from the trunk. There is, however, a compound of the drug, bryony and salt and squills, made up in equal parts. In order that the person bringing the drug may escape notice, he carries a box with two compartments constructed of horn, the visible one of which contains frankincense, but the secret one (the aforesaid) drug. He, however, likewise insinuates into the ears of the sheep about to meet death quicksilver; but this is a poisonous drug.


And if one smear the ears of goats over with cerate, they say that they expire a little afterwards, by having their breathing obstructed. For this to them is the way--as these affirm--of their drawing their breath in an act of respiration.

And a ram, they assert, dies, if one bends back (its neck) opposite the sun. And they accomplish the burning of a house, by daubing it over with the juice of a certain fish called dactylus. And this effect, which it has by reason of the sea-water, is very useful. Likewise foam of the ocean is boiled in an earthen jar along with some sweet ingredients; and if you apply a lighted candle to this while in a seething state, it catches the fire and is consumed; and (yet though the mixture) be poured upon the head, it does not bum it at all. If, however, you also smear it over with heated resin, it is consumed far more effectually. But he accomplishes his object better still, if also he takes some sulphur.


Thunder is produced in many ways; for stones very numerous and unusually large, being rolled downwards along wooden planks, fall upon plates of brass, and cause a sound similar to thunder.

And also around the thin plank with which carders thicken cloth,

they coil a thin rope; and then drawing away the cord with a whiff,

they spin the plank round, and in its revolution it emits a sound like thunder.

These farces, verily, are played off thus.

There are, however, other practices which I shall explain, which those who execute these ludicrous performances estimate as great exploits. Placing a cauldron full of pitch upon burning coals, when it boils up, (though) laying their hands down upon it, they are not burned; nay, even while walking on coals of fire with naked feet, they are not scorched. But also setting a pyramid of stone on a hearth, (the sorcerer) makes it get on fire, and from the mouth it disgorges a volume of smoke, and that of a fiery description. Then also putting a linen cloth upon a pot of water, throwing on (at the same time) a quantity of blazing coals, (the magician) keeps the linen cloth unconsumed.

Creating also darkness in the house, (the sorcerer) alleges that he can introduce gods or demons; and if any requires him to show AEsculapius, he uses an invocation couched in the following words:-

"The child once slain, again of Phoebus deathless made I call to come, and aid my sacrificial rites; Who, also, once the countless tribes of fleeting dead, In ever-mournful homes of Tartarus wide, The fatal billow breasting, and the inky flood Surmounting, where all of mortal mould must float, Torn, beside the lake, with endless grief and woe, Thyself didst snatch from gloomy Proserpine.

See Lucian's Alexander the Oracle Monger.

Or whether the seat of Holy Thrace thou haunt, or lovely Pergamos, or besides Ionian Epidaurus, The chief of seers, O happy God, invites thee here."


But after he discontinues uttering these jests, a fiery AEsculapius appears upon the floor. Then, placing in the midst a pot full of water, he invokes all the deities, and they are present. For any one who is by, glancing into the pot, will behold them all, and Diana leading on her baying hounds. We shall not, however, shrink from narrating the account (of the devices) of these men, how they attempt (to accomplish their jugglery). For (the magician) lays his hand upon the cauldron of pitch, which is in, as it were, a boiling state; and throwing in (at the same time) vinegar and nitre and moist pitch, he kindles a fire beneath the cauldron. The vinegar, however, being mixed along with the nitre, on receiving a small accession of heat, moves the pitch, so as to cause bubbles to rise to the surface, and afford the mere semblance of a seething (pot).

The (sorcerer), however, previously washes his hands frequently in brine; the consequence being, that the contents of the cauldron do not in any wise, though in reality boiling, burn him very much.

But if, having smeared his hands with a tincture of myrtle and nitre and myrrh, along with vinegar, he wash them in brine frequently, he is not scorched: and he does not burn his feet, provided he smear them with isinglass and a salamander.

As regards, however, the burning like a taper of the pyramid, though composed of stone, the cause of this is the following. Chalky earth is fashioned into the shape of a pyramid, but its colour is that of a milk-white stone, and it is prepared after this fashion. Having anointed the piece of clay with plenty of oil, and put it upon coals, and baked it, by smearing it afresh, and scorching it a second and third time, and frequently, (the sorcerer) contrives that it can be burned, even though he should plunge it in water; for it contains in itself abundance of oil.

The hearth, however, is spontaneously kindled, while the magician pours out a libation, by having time instead of ashes burning underneath, and refined frankincense and a large quantity of tow, and a bundle of anointed tapers and of gall nuts, hollow within, and supplied with (concealed) fire. And after some delay, (the sorcerer) makes (the pyramid) emit smoke from the mouth, by both putting fire in the gall nut, and encircling it with tow, and blowing into the mouth. The linen cloth, however, that has been placed round the cauldron, (and) on which he deposits the coals, on account of the underlying brine, would not be burned; besides, that it has itself been washed in brine, and then smeared with the white of an egg, along with moist alum. And if, likewise, one mix in these the juice of house-leek along with vinegar, and for a long time previously smear it (with this preparation), after being washed in this drug, it continues altogether fire-proof.


See Alexander the Oracle Monger's method

After, then, we have succinctly explained the powers of the secret arts practised among these (magicians), and have shown their easy plan for the acquisition of knowledge, neither are we disposed to be silent on the following point, which is a necessary one,--

how that, loosing the seals, they restore the sealed letters, with the actual seals themselves.

Melting pitch, resin, and sulphur, and moreover asphalt, in equal parts, (and) forming the ointment into a figure, they keep it by them.

When, however, it is time to loose a small tablet, smearing with oil their tongue, next with the latter anointing the seal, (and) heating the drug with a moderate fire, (the sorcerers) place it upon the seal; and they leave it there until it has acquired complete consistence, and they use it in this condition as a seal.

But they say, likewise, that wax itself with fir-wood gum possesses a similar potency, as well as two parts of mastich with one part of dry asphalt. But sulphur also by itself effects the purpose tolerably well, and flower of gypsum strained with water, and of gum. Now this (last mixture) certainly answers most admirably also for sealing molten lead. And that which is accomplished by the Tuscan wax, and refuse of resin, and pitch, and asphalt, and mastich, and powdered spar, all being boiled together in equal parts, is superior to the rest of the drugs which I have mentioned, while that which is effected by the gum is not inferior. In this manner, then, also, they attempt to loose the seals, endeavouring to learn the letters written within.

These contrivances, however, I hesitated to narrate in this book, perceiving the danger lest, perchance, any knavish person, taking Occasion (from my account), should attempt (to practise these juggleries). Solicitude, however, for many young persons, who could be preserved from such practices, has persuaded me to teach and publish, for security's sake, (the foregoing statements). For although one person may make use of these for gaining instruction in evil, in this way somebody else will, by being instructed (in these practices), be preserved from them. And the magicians themselves, corrupters of life, will be ashamed in plying their art. And learning these points that have been previously elucidated by us, they will possibly be restrained from their folly. But that this seal may not be broken, let me seal it with hog's lard and hair mixed with wax.


But neither shall I be silent respecting that piece of knavery of these (sorcerers), which consists in the divination by means of the cauldron. For, making a closed chamber, and anointing the ceiling with cyanus for present use, they introduce certain vessels of cyanus, and stretch them upwards. The cauldron, however, full of water, is placed in the middle on the ground; and the reflection of the cyanus falling upon it, presents the appearance of heaven. But the floor also has a certain concealed aperture, on which the cauldron is laid, having been (previously, supplied with a bottom of crystal, while itself is composed of stone.

Underneath, however, unnoticed (by the spectators), is a compartment, into which the accomplices, assembling, appear invested with the figures of such gods and demons as the magician wishes to exhibit.

Now the dupe, beholding these, becomes astonished at the knavery of the magician, and subsequently believes all things that are likely to be stated by him.

But (the sorcerer) produces a burning demon, by tracing on the wall whatever figure he wishes, and then covertly smearing it with a drug mixed according to this manner, viz., of Laconian and Zacynthian asphalt,--

while next, as if under the influence of prophetic frenzy,

he moves the lamp towards the wall.

The drug, however, is burned with considerable splendour. And that a fiery Hecate seems to career through air, he contrives in the mode following. Concealing a certain accomplice in a place which he wishes, (and) taking aside his dupes, he persuades them (to believe himself),

alleging that he will exhibit a flaming demon riding through the air. Now he exhorts them immediately to keep their eyes fixed until they see the flame in the air, and that (then),

veiling themselves, they should fall on their face until he himself should call them;

and after having given them these instructions, he, on a moonless night, in verses speaks thus:-

"Infernal, and earthy, and supernal Bombo, come!

Saint of streets, and brilliant one, that strays by night; Foe of radiance, but friend and mate of gloom; In howl of dogs rejoicing, and in crimson gore, Wading 'mid corpses through tombs of lifeless dust, Panting for blood; with fear convulsing men.

Gorgo, and Mormo, and Luna, and of many shapes, Come, propitious, to our sacrificial rites!"


And while speaking these words, fire is seen borne through the air; but the (spectators) being horrified at the strange apparition, (and) cover ing their eyes, fling themselves speechless to earth. But the success of the artifice is enhanced by the following contrivance. The accomplice whom I have spoken of as being concealed, when he hears the incantation ceasing, holding a kite or hawk enveloped with tow, sets fire to it and releases it. The bird, however, frightened by the flame, is borne aloft, and makes a (proportionably) quicker flight, which these deluded persons beholding, conceal themselves, as if they had seen something divine. The winged creature, however, being whirled round by the fire, is borne whithersoever chance may have it, and burns now the houses, and now the courtyards. Such is the divination of the sorcerers.


And they make moon and stars appear on the ceiling after this manner. In the central part of the ceiling, having fastened a mirror, placing a dish full of water equally (with the mirror) in the central portion of the floor, and setting in a central place likewise a candle, emitting a faint light from a higher position than the dish,--in this way, by reflection, (the magician) causes the moon to appear by the mirror. But frequently, also, they suspend on high from the ceiling, at a distance, a drum, but which, being covered with some garment, is concealed by the accomplice, in order that (the heavenly body) may not appear before the (proper) time.

And afterwards placing a candle (within the drum), when the magician gives the signal to the accomplice, he removes so much of the covering as may be sufficient for effecting an imitation representing the figure of the moon as it is at that particular time. He smears, however, the luminous parts of the drum with cinnabar and gum; and having pared around the neck and bottom of a flagon of glass ready behind, he puts a candle in it, and places around it some of the requisite contrivances for making the figures shine, which some one of the accomplices has concealed on high; and on receiving the signal, he throws down from above the contrivances, so to make the moon appear descending from the sky.

And the same result is achieved by means of a jar in sylvan localities. For it is by means of a jar that the tricks in a house are performed. For having set up an altar, subsequently is (placed upon it) the jar, having a lighted lamp; when, however, there are a greater number of lamps, no such sight is displayed. After then the enchanter invokes the moon, he orders all the lights to be extinguished, yet that one be left faintly burning; and then the light, that which streams from the jar, is reflected on the ceiling, and furnishes to those present a representation of the moon; the mouth of the jar being kept covered for the time which it would seem to require, in order that the representation of full moon should be exhibited on the ceiling.


But the scales of fishes--for instance, the seahorse--cause the stars to appear to be; the scales being steeped in a mixture of water and gum, and fastened on the ceiling at intervals.


The sensation of an earthquake they cause in such a way, as that all things seem set in motion; ordure of a weasel burned with a magnet upon coals (has this effect).


And they exhibit a liver seemingly bearing an inscription in this manner. With the left hand he writes what he wishes, appending it to the question, and the letters are traced with gall juice and strong vinegar. Then taking up the liver, retaining it in the left hand, he makes some delay, and then it draws away the impression, and it is supposed to have, as it were, writing upon it.


But putting a skull on the ground, they make it speak in this manner.

The skull itself is made out of the caul of an ox; and when fashioned into the requisite figure, by means of Etruscan wax and prepared gum,

(and) when this membrane is placed around, it presents the appearance of a skull, which seems to all to speak when the contrivance operates;

in the same manner as we have explained in the case of the (attendant) youths, when, having procured the windpipe of a crane, or some such long-necked animal, and attaching it covertly to the skull, the accomplice utters what he wishes.

And when he desires (the skull) to become invisible, he appears as if burning incense, placing around, (for this purpose,) a quantity of coals; and when the wax catches the heat of these, it melts, and in this way the skull is supposed to become invisible.


These are the deeds of the magicians, and innumerable other such (tricks) there are which work on the credulity of the dupes, by fair balanced words, and the appearance of plausible acts. And the heresiarchs, astonished at the art of these (sorcerers), have imitated them, partly by delivering their doctrines in secrecy and darkness, and partly by advancing (these tenets) as their own. For this reason, being desirous of warning the multitude, we have been the more painstaking, in order not to omit any expedient practised by the magicians, for those who may be disposed to be deceived. We have been however drawn, not unreasonably, into a detail of some of the secret (mysteries) of the sorcerers, which are not very requisite, to be sure, in reference to the subject taken in hand; yet, for the purpose of guarding against the villanous and incoherent art of magicians, may be supposed useful. Since, therefore, as far as delineation is feasible, we have explained the opinions of all (speculators), exerting especial attention towards the elucidation of the opinions introduced as novelties by the heresiarchs; (opinions) which, as far as piety is concerned, are futile and spurious, and which are not, even among themselves, perhaps deemed worthy of serious consideration. (Having pursued this course of inquiry), it seems expedient that, by means of a compendious discourse, we should recall to the (reader's) memory statements that have been previously made.


Among all those who throughout the earth, as philosophers and theologians, have carried on investigations, has prevailed diversity of opinion concerning the Deity, as to His essence or nature. For some affirm Him to be fire, and some spirit, and some water, while others say that He is earth. And each of the elements labours under some deficiency, and one is worsted by the other. To the wise men of the world, this, however, has occurred, which is obvious to persons possessing intelligence; (I mean) that, beholding the stupendous works of creation, they were confused respecting the substance of existing things, supposing that these were too vast to admit of deriving generation from another, and at the same time (asserting) that neither the universe itself is God. As far as theology was concerned, they declared, however, a single cause for things that fall under the cognizance of vision, each supposing the cause which he adjudged the most reasonable; and so, when gazing on the objects made by God, and on those which are the most insignificant in comparison with His overpowering majesty, not, however, being able to extend the mind to the magnitude of God as He really is, they deified these (works of the external world).

But the Persians, supposing that they had penetrated more within the confines of the truth, asserted that the Deity is luminous, a light contained in air.

The Babylonians, however, affirmed that the Deity is dark, which very opinion also appears the consequence of the other; for day follows night, and night day.

Do not the Egyptians, however, who suppose themselves more ancient than all, speak of the power of the Deity? (This power they estimate by) calculating these intervals of the parts (of the zodiac; and, as if) by a most divine inspiration, they asserted that the Deity is an indivisible monad, both itself generating itself, and that out of this were formed all things.

For this, say they, being unbegotten, produces the succeeding numbers; for instance, the monad, superadded into itself, generates the duad; and in like manner, when superadded (into duad, triad, and so forth), produces the triad and tetrad, up to the decade, which is the beginning and end of numbers. Wherefore it is that the first and tenth monad is generated, on account of the decade being equipollent, and being reckoned for a monad, and (because) this multiplied ten times will become a hundred, and again becomes a monad, and the hundred multiplied ten times will produce a thousand, and this will be a monad. In this manner also the thousand multiplied ten times make up the full sum of a myriad; in like manner will it be a monad. But by a comparison of indivisible quantities, the kindred numbers of the monad comprehend 3, 5, 7, 9.

There is also, however, a more natural relation of a different number to the monad, according to the arrangement of the orbit of six days' duration, (that is), of the duad, according to the position and division of even numbers. But the kindred number is 4 and 8. These, however, taking from the monad of the numbers an idea of virtue, progressed up to the four elements; (I allude), of course, to spirit, and fire, and water, and earth. And out of these having made the world, (God) framed it an ermaphrodite, and allocated two elements for the upper hemisphere, namely spirit and fire; and this is styled the hemisphere of the monad, (a hemisphere) beneficent, and ascending, and masculine. For, being composed of small particles, the monad soars into the most rarified and purest part of the atmosphere; and the other two elements, earth and water, being more gross, he assigned to the duad; and this is termed the descending hemisphere, both feminine and mischievous. And likewise, again, the upper elements themselves, when compared one with another, comprise in one another both male and female for fruitfulness and increase of the whole creation. And the fire is masculine, and the spirit feminine. And again the water is masculine, and the earth feminine. And so from the beginning fire consorted with spirit, and water with earth. For as the power of spirit is fire, so also that of earth is water; . . . and the elements themselves, when computed and resolved by subtraction of enneads, terminate properly, some of them in the masculine number, and others of them in the feminine. And, again, the ennead is subtracted for this cause, because the three hundred and sixty parts of the entire (circle) consist of enneads, and for this reason the four regions of the world are circumscribed by ninety perfect parts. And light has been appropriated to the monad, and darkness to the duad, and life to light, according to nature, and death to the duad. And to life (has been appropriated) justice; and to death, injustice. Wherefore everything generated among masculine numbers is beneficent, while that (produced) among feminine (numbers) is mischievous. For instance, they pursue their calculations thus: monad--that we may commence from this--becomes 361, which (numbers) terminate in a monad by the subtraction of the ennead. In like manner, reckon thus: Duad becomes 605; take away the enneads, it ends in a duad, and each reverts into its own peculiar (function).


For the monad, therefore, as being beneficent, they assert that there are consequently names ascending, and beneficent, and masculine, and carefully observed, terminating in an uneven number; whereas that those terminating in the even number have been supposed to be both descending, and feminine and malicious. For they affirm that nature is made up of contraries, namely bad and good, as right and left, light and darkness, night and day, life and death. And moreover they make this assertion, that they have calculated the word "Deity," (and found that it reverts into a pentad with an ennead subtracted). Now this name is an even number, and when it is written down (on some material) they attach it to the body, and accomplish cures by it. In this manner, likewise, a certain herb, terminating in this number, being similarly fastened around (the frame), operates by reason of a similar calculation of the number.

Nay, even a doctor cures sickly people by a similar calculation. If, however, the calculation is contrary, it does not heal with facility.

Persons attending to these numbers reckon as many as are homogeneous according to this principle; some, however, according to vowels alone; whereas others according to the entire number. Such also is the wisdom of the Egyptians, by which, as they boast, they suppose that they cognise the divine nature.


It appears, then, that these speculations also have been sufficiently explained by us. But since I think that I have omitted no opinion found in this earthly and grovelling Wisdom, I perceive that the solicitude expended by us on these subjects has not been useless. For we observe that our discourse has been serviceable not only for a refutation of heresies, but also in reference to those who entertain these opinions. Now these, when they encounter the extreme care evinced by us, will even be struck with admiration of our earnestness, and will not despise our industry and condemn Christians as fools when they discern the opinions to which they themselves have stupidly accorded their belief. And furthermore, those who, desirous of learning, addict themselves to the truth, will be assisted by our discourse to become, when they have learned the fundamental principles of the heresies, more intelligent not only for the easy refutation of those who have attempted to deceive them, but that also, when they have ascertained the avowed opinions of the wise men, and have been made acquainted with them, that they shall neither be confused by them as ignorant persons would, nor become the dupes of certain individuals acting as if from some authority; nay, more than this, they shall be on their guard against those that are allowing themselves to become victims to these delusions.


Having sufficiently explained these opinions, let us next pass on to a consideration of the subject taken in hand, in order that, by proving what we have determined concerning heresies, and by compelling their (champions) to return to these several (speculators) their peculiar tenets, we may show the heresiarchs destitute (of a system); and by proclaiming the folly of those who are persuaded (by these heterodox tenets), we shall prevail on them to retrace their course to the serene haven of the truth. In order, however, that the statements about to follow may seem more clear to the readers, it is expedient also to declare the opinions advanced by Aratus concerning the disposition of the stars of the heavens. (And this is necessary), inasmuch as some persons, assimilating these (doctrines) to those declared by the Scriptures, convert (the holy writings) into allegories, and endeavour to seduce the mind of those who give heed to their (tenets), drawing them on by plausible words into the admission of whatever opinions they wish, (and) exhibiting a strange marvel, as if the assertions made by them were fixed among the stars.

They, however, gazing intently on the very extraordinary wonder, admirers as they are of trifles, are fascinated like a bird called the owl, which example it is proper to mention, on account of the statements that are about to follow. The animal (I speak of) is, however, not very different from an eagle, either in size or figure, and it is captured in the following way:--

The hunter of these birds, when he sees a flock of them lighting anywhere, shaking his hands, at a distance pretends to dance, and so by little and little draws near the birds.

But they, struck with amazement at the strange sight, are rendered unobservant of everything passing around them.

But others of the party, who have come into the country equipped for such a purpose, coming from behind upon the birds, easily lay hold on them as they are gazing on the dancer.

Wherefore I desire that no one, astonished by similar wonders of those who interpret the (aspect of) heaven, should, like the owl, be taken captive. For the knavery practised by such speculators may be considered dancing and silliness, but not truth. Aratus, therefore, expresses himself thus:- "Just as many are they; hither and thither they roll Day by day o'er heav'n, endless, ever, (that is, every star), Yet this declines not even little; but thus exactly E'er remains with axis fixed and poised in every part Holds earth midway, and heaven itself around conducts."


Aratus says that there are in the sky revolving, that is, gyrating stars, because from east to west, and west to east, they journey perpetually, (and) in an orbicular figure.

And he says that there revolves towards "The Bears" themselves, like some stream of a river, an enormous and prodigious monster, (the) Serpent;

and that this is what the devil says in the book of Job to the Deity, when (Satan) uses these words:

"I have traversed earth under heaven, and have gone around,"

that is, that I have been turned around, and thereby have been able to survey the worlds. For they suppose that towards the North Pole is situated the Dragon, the Serpent,

from the highest pole looking upon all (the objects), and gazing on all the works of creation, in order that nothing of the things that are being made may escape his notice.

For though all the stars in the firmament set, the pole of this (luminary) alone never sets, but, careering high above the horizon, surveys and beholds all things, and none of the works of creation, he says, can escape his notice.

"Where chiefly Settings mingle and risings one with other."

(Here Aratus) says that the head of this (constellation) is placed. For towards the west and east of the two hemispheres is situated the head of the Dragon, in order, he says, that nothing may escape his notice throughout the same quartet, either of objects in the west or those in the east,

but that the Beast may know all things at the same time.

And near the head itself of the Dragon is the appearance of a man, conspicuous by means of the stars, which Aratus styles a wearied image, and like one oppressed with labour, and he is denominated "Engonasis."

Aratus then affirms that he does not know what this toil is, and what this prodigy is that revolves in heaven.

The heretics, however, wishing by means of this account of the stars to establish their own doctrines, (and) with more than ordinary earnestness devoting their attention to these (astronomic systems),

assert that Engonasis is Adam, according to the commandment of God as Moses declared,

guarding the head of the Dragon,

and the Dragon (guarding) his heel.

For so Aratus expresses himself:- "The right-foot's track of the Dragon fierce possessing."

And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed;

it shall bruise thy head,
and thou shalt bruise his heel. Genesis 3:15


And (Aratus) says that (the constellations) Lyra and Corona have been placed on both sides near him,--now I mean Engonasis,--

but that he bends the knee,
and stretches forth both hands,
as if making a confession of sin.

And that the lyre is a musical instrument fashioned by Logos while still altogether an infant, and that Logos is the same as he who is denominated Mercury among the Greeks.

And Aratus, with regard to the construction of the lyre, observes:- "Then, further, also near the cradle,

Hermes pierced it through, and said, Call it Lyre."

Read the whole story to understand why there is such superstition about musical instruments and harmony. And perhaps, a subconscious worship of the dragon rather than God. Apollo is really considered the god of musical harmony. In the Bible he is Abaddon or Apollyon.

It consists of seven strings, signifying by these seven strings the entire harmony and construction of the world as it is melodiously constituted. For in six days the world was made, and (the Creator) rested on the seventh.

If, then, says (Aratus),

Adam, acknowledging (his guilt)
and guarding the head of the Beast,
according to the commandment of the Deity,
will imitate Lyra,
that is, obey the Logos of God,

that is, submit to the law, he will receive Corona that is situated near him. If, however, he neglect his duty,

he shall be hurled downwards in company with the Beast that lies underneath, and shall have, he says, his portion with the Beast.

And Engonasis seems on both sides to extend his hands, and on one to touch Lyra, and on the other Corona--and this is his confession;--

so that it is possible to distinguish him by means of this (sidereal) configuration itself.
But Corona nevertheless is plotted against,
and forcibly drawn away by another beast,
a smaller Dragon,
which is the offspring of him who is guarded by the foot of Engonasis.

A man also stands firmly grasping with both hands, and dragging towards the space behind the Serpent from Corona;

and he does not permit the Beast to touch Corona. though making a violent effort to do so.

And Aratus styles him Anguitenens, because he restrains the impetuosity of the Serpent in his attempt to reach Corona.

But Logos, he says, is he who, in the figure of a man, hinders the Beast from reaching Corona, commiserating him who is being plotted against by the Dragon and his offspring simultaneously.

These (constellations), "The Bears," however, he says, are two hebdomads, composed of seven stars, images of two creations.

For the first creation, he affirms, is that according to Adam in labours, this is he who is seen "on his knees" (Engonasis).

The second creation, however, is that according to Christ, by which we are regenerated; and this is Anguitenens,

who struggles against the Beast, and hinders him from reaching Corona, which is reserved for the man.

But "The Great Bear" is, he says, Helice, symbol of a mighty world towards which the Greeks steer their course, that is, for which they are being disciplined.

And, wafted by the waves of life, they follow onwards,
(having in prospect) some such revolving world or discipline or wisdom
which conducts those back that follow in pursuit of such a world.

For the term Helice seems to signify a certain circling and revolution towards the same points. There is likewise a certain other "Small Bear" (Cynosuris), as it were some image of the second creation--that formed according to God.

For few, he says, there are that journey by the narrow path. But they assert that Cynosuris is narrow, towards which Aratus says that the Sidonians navigate.

But Aratus has spoken partly of the Sidonians, (but means) the Phoenicians, on account of the existence of the admirable wisdom of the Phoenicians.

The Greeks, however, assert that they are Phoenicians, who have migrated from (the shores of) the Red Sea into this country where they even at present dwell, for this is the opinion of Herodotus.

Now Cynosura, he says, is this (lesser) Bear, the second creation; the one of limited dimensions, the narrow way, and not Helice. For he does not lead them back, but guides forward by a straight path, those that follow him being (the tail) of Canis. For Canis is the Logos, partly guarding and preserving the flock, that is plotted against by the wolves; and partly like a dog, hunting the beasts from the creation, and destroying them; and partly producing all things, and being what they express by the name "Cyon" (Canis), that is, generator. Hence it is said, Aratus has spoken of the rising of Canis, expressing himself thus: "When, however, Canis has risen, no longer do the crops miss." This is what he says: Plants that have been put into the earth up to the period of Canis' rising, frequently, though not having struck root, are yet covered with a profusion of leaves, and afford indications to spectators that they will be productive, and that they appear full of life, (though in reality) not having vitality in themselves from the root. But when the rising of Canis takes place, the living are separated from the dead by Canis; for whatsoever plants have not taken root, really undergo putrefaction. This Canis, therefore, he says, as being a certain divine Logos, has been appointed judge of quick and dead. And as (the influence of) Canis is observable in the vegetable productions of this world, so in plants of celestial growth--in men--is beheld the (power of the) Logos.

From some such cause, then, Cynosura, the second creation, is set in the firmament as an image of a creation by the Logos. The Dragon, however, in the centre reclines between the two creations, preventing a transition of whatever things are from the great creation to the small creation; and in guarding those that are fixed in the (great) creation, as for instance Engonasis, observing (at the same time) how and in what manner each is constituted in the small creation. And (the Dragon) himself is watched at the head, he says, by Anguitenens. This image, he affirms, is fixed in heaven, being a certain wisdom to those capable of discerning it. If. however, this is obscure, by means of some other image, he says the creation teaches (men) to philosophize, in regard to which Aratus has expressed himself thus:- "Neither of Cepheus Iasidas are we the wretched brood."


But Aratus says, near this (constellation) is Cepheus, and Cassiepea, and Andromeda, and Perseus, great lineaments of the creation to those who are able to discern them. For he asserts that Cepheus is Adam, Cassiepea Eve, Andromeda the soul of both of these,

Perseus the Logos, winged offspring of Jove, and Cetos the plotting monster.

Not to any of these. but to Andromeda only does he repair, who slays the Beast; from whom, likewise taking unto himself Andromeda, who had been delivered (and) chained to the Beast, the Logos--that is, Perseus--achieves, be says, her liberation. Perseus, however, is the winged axle that. pierces both poles through the centre of the earth, and turns the world round.

The spirit also, that which is in the world, is (symbolized by) Cycnus, a bird--a musical animal near "The Bears"--type of the Divine Spirit, because that when it approaches the end itself of life,

it alone is fitted by nature to sing, on departing with good hope from the wicked creation, (and) offering up hymns unto God. But crabs, and bulls, and lions, and rams, and goats, and kids, and as many other beasts as have their names used for denominating the stars in the firmament, are, he says, images, and exemplars from which the creation, subject to change, obtaining (the different) species, becomes replete with animals of this description.


Employing these accounts, (the heretics) think to deceive as many of these as devote themselves over-sedulously to the astrologers, from thence striving to construct a system of religion that is widely divergent from the thoughts of these (speculators). Wherefore, beloved, let us avoid the habit of admiring trifles, secured by which the bird (styled) the owl (is captured). For these and other such speculations are, (as it were), dancing, and not Truth. For neither do the stars yield these points of information; but men of their own accord, for the designation of certain stars, thus called them by names, in order that they might become to them easily distinguishable. For what similarity with a bear or lion, or kid, or waterman, or Cepheus, or Andromeda, or the spectres that have names given them in Hades, have the stars that are scattered over the firmament--for we must remember that these men, and the titles themselves, came into existence long after the origin of man,-- (what, I say, is in common between the two), that the heretics, astonished at the marvel, should thus strive by means of such discourses to strengthen their own opinions?


But since almost every heresy (that has sprung up) through the arithmetical art has discovered measures of hebdomads and certain projections of Aeons, each rending the art differently, while whatever variation prevailed was in the names merely; and (since) Pythagoras became the instructor of these, tint introducing numbers of this sort among the Greeks from Egypt, it seems expedient not to omit even this, but, after we have given a compendious elucidation, to approach the demonstration of those things that we propose to investigate.

Arithmeticians and geometers arose, to whom especially Pythagoras first seems to have furnished principles. And from numbers that can continually progress ad infinitum by multiplication, and from figures, these derived their first principles, as capable of being discerned by reason alone; for a principle of geometry, as one may perceive, is an indivisible point. From that point, however, by means of the art, the generation of endless figures from the point is discovered. For the point being drawn into length becomes a line, after being thus continued, having a point for its extremity. And a line flowing out into breadth begets a surface, and the limits of the surface are lines; but a surface flowing out into breadth becomes body, And when what is solid has in this manner derived existence from, altogether, the smallest point, the nature of a huge body is constituted; and this is what Simon expresses thus: "The little will be great, being as a point, and the great illimitable." Now this coincides with the geometrical doctrine of a point.

But of the arithmetical art, which by composition contains philosophy, number became a first principle, which is an indefinable and incomprehensible (entity), comprising in itself all the numbers that can go on ad infinitum by aggregation. But the first monad became a principle, according to substance, of the numbers, which (principle) is a male monad, pro-creating paternally all the rest of the numbers. Secondly, the duad is a female number, which by the arithmeticians is also itself denominated even. Thirdly, the triad is a male number; this also it has been the usual custom of arithmeticians to style odd. In addition to all these, the tetrad is a female number; and this same, because it is feminine, is likewise denominated even. All the numbers therefore, taken generically, are four--number, however, as regards genus, is indefinite--from which, according to their system, is formed the perfect number--I mean the decade. For one, two, three, four, become ten--as has been previously proved--if the proper denomination be preserved, according to substance, for each of the numbers. This is the sacred quaternion, according to Pythagoras, having in itself roots of an endless nature, that is, all other numbers; for eleven, and twelve, and the rest, derive the principle of generation from the ten. Of this decade--the perfect number--there are called four parts--number, monad, power, cube--whose connections and mixtures take place for the generation of increase, according to nature completing the productive number. For when the square is multiplied into itself, it becomes a biquadratic; but when the square is multiplied into a cube, it becomes the product of a quadratic and cube; but when a cube is multiplied into a cube, it becomes the product of cube multiplied by cube.

Wherefore all the numbers are seven; so that the generation of things produced may be from the hebdomad--which is number, monad, power, cube, biquadratic, product of quadratic multiplied by cube, product of cube multiplied by cube.

Of this hebdomad Simon and Valentinus, having altered the names, detailed marvellous stories, from thence hastily adopting a system for themselves. For Simon employs his denominations thus: Mind, Intelligence, Name, Voice, Ratiocination, Reflection; and He who stood, stands, will stand. And Valentinus (enumerates them thus): Mind, Truth, Word, Life, Man, Church, and the Father, reckoned along with these, according to the same principles as those advanced by the cultivators of arithmetical philosophy. And (heresiarchs) admiring, as if unknown to the multitude, (this philosophy, and) following it, have framed heterodox doctrines devised by themselves.

Some indeed, then, attempt likewise to form the hebdomads from the medical (art), being astonished at the dissection of the brain, asserting that the substance of the universe and the power of procreation and the Godhead could be ascertained from the arrangement of the brain. For the brain, being the dominant portion of the entire body, reposes calm and unmoved, containing within itself the spirit. Such an account, then, is not incredible, but widely differs from the conclusions which these (heretics) attempt to deduce from it. For the brain, on being dissected, has within it what may be called a vaulted chamber. And on either side of this are thin membranes, which they term little wings.

Now these are gently moved by the spirit, and in turn propel towards the cerebellum the spirit, which, careering through a certain blood-vessel like a reed, advances towards the pineal gland. And near this is situated the entrance of the cerebellum, which admits the current of spirit, and distributes it into what is styled the spinal marrow. But from them the whole frame participates in the spiritual energy, inasmuch as all the arteries, like a branch, are fastened on from this blood-vessel, the extremity of which terminates in the genital blood-vessels, whence all the (animal) seeds proceeding from the brain through the loin are secreted (in the seminal glands). The form, however, of the brain is like the head of a serpent, respecting which a lengthened discussion is maintained by the professors of knowledge, falsely so named, as we shall prove. Six other coupling ligaments grow out of the brain, which, traversing round the head, and having their termination in (the head) itself, hold bodies together; but the seventh (ligament) proceeds from the cerebellum to the lower parts of the rest of the frame, as we have declared.

And respecting this there is an enlarged discussion, whence both Simon and Valentinus will be found both to have derived from this source starting-points for their opinions, and, though they may not acknowledge it, to be in the first instance liars, then heretics. Since, then, it appears that we have sufficiently explained these tenets likewise, and that all the reputed opinions of this earthly philosophy have been comprised in four books; it seems expedient to proceed to a consideration of the disciples of these men, nay rather, those who have furtively appropriated their doctrines.


[On p. 43 supra I omitted to direct attention to the desirable enlargement of note 3 by a reference to Homer's Hymn of Mercury and its minute description of the invention of the Lyre. The passage is given in Henry Nelson Coleridge's Introduction, etc., p. 202. The versified translation of Shelley is inimitable; in ottava rima, but instinct with the ethos of the original.]


Homeric Hymn to Hermes or Mercury

Homeric Hymn to Apollo

Lucian The Oracle Monger

First Musical Heresy Musical Worship Teams

Musical Heresy 2: Hippolytus on Music and Soothsaying

Hippolytus Book V

Orphic Music

Orphic Connection to Romans 14

Rhea-Saturn-Zoe Connection

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