Writings of Methodius. The Banquet of the Ten Virgins
Gregorion. Well then, as I came here for this reason, do you want to
hear all that was said from the beginning; or shall I pass by parts of
it, and recall only those points which I consider worthy of mention?
Translated by the Rev. William R. Clark, M.a., Vicar of St. Mary
Text edited by Rev. Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson and
first published by T&T Clark in Edinburgh in 1867. Additional
introductionary material and notes provided for the American
edition by A. Cleveland Coxe, 1886.
The Banquet of the Ten Virgins
Or, Concerning Chastity. 
Persons of the Dialogue: Euboulios, Gregorion, Arete; Marcella,
Theophila, Thaleia, Theopatra, Thallousa, Agathe, Procilla, Thekla,
Tusiane, Domnina. 
Introduction.--Plan of the Work; Way to Paradise; Description and
Personification of Virtue; The Agnos a Symbol of Chastity; Marcella,
the Eldest and Foremost Among the Virgins of Christ.
Euboulios. You have arrived most seasonably, Gregorion, for I have
just been looking for you, wanting to hear of the meeting of Marcella
and Theopatra, and of the other virgins who were present at the
banquet, and of the nature of their discourses on the subject of
chastity; for it is said that they argued with such ability and power
that there was nothing lacking to the full consideration of the
subject. If, therefore, you have come here for any other purpose, put
that off to another time, and do not delay to give us a complete and
connected account of the matter of which we are inquiring.
Gregorion.  I seem to be disappointed of my hope, as some one
else has given you intelligence beforehand on the subject respecting
which you ask me. For I thought that you had heard nothing of what had
happened, and I was flattering myself greatly with the idea that I
should be the first to tell you of it. And for this reason I made all
haste to come here to you, fearing the very thing which has happened,
that some one might anticipate me.
Euboulios. Be comforted, my excellent friend, for we have had no
precise information respecting anything which happened; since the
person who brought us the intelligence had nothing to tell us, except
that there had been dialogues; but when he was asked what they were,
and to what purpose, he did not know.
Euboulios. By no means the latter; but first, Gregorion, relate to us
from the very beginning where the meeting was, and about the setting
forth of the viands, and about yourself, how you poured out the
wine"They in golden cups Each other pledged, while towards broad
heaven they looked." 
Gregorion. You are always skilful in discussions, and excessively
powerful in argument--thoroughly confuting all your adversaries.
Euboulios. It is not worth while, Gregorion, to contend about these
things at present; but do oblige us by simply telling us what happened
from the beginning.
Gregorion. Well, I will try. But first answer me this: You know, I
presume, Arete,  the daughter of Philosophia?
Euboulios. Why do you ask?
Gregorion. "We went by invitation to a garden of hers with an eastern
aspect, to enjoy the fruits of the season, myself, and Procilla, and
Tusiane." I am repeating the words of Theopatra, for it was of her I
obtained the information. "We went, Gregorion, by a very rough, steep,
and arduous path: when we drew near to the place," said Theopatra, "we
were met by a tall and beautiful woman walking along quietly and
gracefully, clothed in a shining robe as white as snow. Her beauty was
something altogether inconceivable and divine. Modesty, blended with
majesty, bloomed on her countenance. It was a face," she said, "such
as I know not that I had ever seen, awe-inspiring, yet tempered with
gentleness and mirth; for it was wholly unadorned by art, and had
nothing counterfeit. She came up to us, and, like a mother who sees
her daughters after a long separation, she embraced and kissed each
one of us with great joy, saying, 'O, my daughters you have come with
toil and pain to me who am earnestly longing to conduct you to the
pasture of immortality; toilsomely have you come by a way abounding
with many frightful reptiles; for, as I looked, I saw you often
stepping aside, and I was fearing lest you should turn back and slip
over the precipices. But thanks to the Bridegroom to whom I have
espoused  you, my children, for having granted an effectual
answer to all our prayers.' And, while she is thus speaking," said
Theopatra, "we arrive at the enclosure, the doors not being shut as
yet, and as we enter we come upon Thekla and Agathe and Marcella
preparing to sup. And Arete immediately said, 'Do you also come
hither, and sit down here in your place along with these your
fellows.' Now," said she to me, "we who were there as guests were
altogether, I think, ten in number; and the place was marvellously
beautiful, and abounding in the means of recreation. The air was
diffused in soft and regular currents, mingled with pure beams of
light, and a stream flowing as gently as oil through the very middle
of the garden, threw up a most delicious drink; and the water flowing
from it, transparent and pure, formed itself into fountains, and
these, overflowing like rivers, watered all the garden with their
abundant streams; and there were different kinds of trees there, full
of fresh fruits, and the fruits that hung joyfully from their branches
were of equal beauty; and there were ever-blooming meadows strewn with
variegated and sweet-scented flowers, from which came a gentle breeze
laden with sweetest odour. And the agnos  grew near, a lofty
tree, under which we reposed, from its being exceedingly
wide-spreading and shady."
Euboulios. You seem to me, my good friend, to be making a revelation
of a second paradise. 
Gregorion. You speak truly and wisely. "When there," she said, "we had
all kinds of food and a variety of festivities, so that no delight was
wanting. After this Arete,  entering, gave utterance to these
"'Young maidens, the glory of my greatness, beautiful virgins, who
tend the undefiled meadows of Christ with unwedded hands, we have now
had enough of food and feasting, for all things are abundant and
plentiful with us.  What is there, then, besides which I wish
and expect? That each of you shall pronounce a discourse in praise of
virginity. Let Marcella begin, since she sits in the highest place,
and is at the same time the eldest. I shall be ashamed of myself if I
do not make the successful disputant an object of envy, binding her
with the unfading flowers of wisdom.'
"And then," I think she said, "Marcella immediately began to speak as
Chapter I.--The Difficulty and Excellence of Virginity; The Study of
Doctrine Necessary for Virgins.
Virginity is something supernaturally great, wonderful, and glorious;
and, to speak plainly and in accordance with the Holy Scriptures, this
best and noblest manner of life alone is the root  of
immortality, and also its flower and first-fruits; and for this reason
the Lord promises that those shall enter into the kingdom of heaven
who have made themselves eunuchs, in that passage  of the
Gospels in which He lays down the various reasons for which men have
made themselves eunuchs. Chastity with men is a very rare thing, and
difficult of attainment, and in proportion to its supreme excellence
and magnificence is the greatness of its dangers. 
For this reason, it requires strong and generous natures, such as,
vaulting over the stream of pleasure, direct the chariot of the soul
upwards from the earth, not turning aside from their aim, until
having, by swiftness of thought, lightly bounded above the world, and
taken their stand truly upon the vault of heaven, they purely
contemplate immortality itself as it springs forth  from the
undefiled bosom of the Almighty.
Earth could not bring forth this draught; heaven alone knew the
fountain from whence it flows; for we must think of virginity as
walking indeed upon the earth, but as also reaching up to heaven. And
hence some who have longed for it, and considering only the end of it,
have come, by reason of coarseness of mind, ineffectually with
unwashed feet, and have gone aside out of the way, from having
conceived no worthy idea of the virginal manner of life. For it is not
enough to keep the body only undefiled, just as we should not show
that we think more of the temple than of the image of the god; but we
should care for the souls of men as being the divinities of their
bodies, and adorn them with righteousness. And then do they most care
for them and tend them when, striving untiringly to hear divine
discourses, they do not desist until, wearing the doors of the wise,
 they attain to the knowledge of the truth.
For as the putrid humours and matter of flesh, and all those things
which corrupt it, are driven out by salt, in the same manner all the
irrational appetites of a virgin are banished from the body by divine
teaching. For it must needs be that the soul which is not sprinkled
with the words of Christ, as with salt, should stink and breed worms,
as King David, openly confessing with tears in the mountains, cried
out, "My wounds stink and are corrupt,"  because he had not
salted himself with the exercises of self-control, and so subdued his
carnal appetites, but self-indulgently had yielded to them, and became
corrupted in adultery. And hence, in Leviticus,  every gift,
unless it be seasoned with salt, is forbidden to be offered as an
oblation to the Lord God. Now the whole spiritual meditation of the
Scriptures is given to us as salt which stings in order to benefit,
and which disinfects, without which it is impossible for a soul, by
means of reason, to be brought to the Almighty; for "ye are the salt
of the earth,"  said the Lord to the apostles. It is fitting,
then, that a virgin should always love things which are honourable,
and be distinguished among the foremost for wisdom and addicted to
nothing slothful or luxurious, but should excel, and set her mind upon
things worthy of the state of virginity, always putting away, by the
word, the foulness of luxury, lest in any way some slight hidden
corruption should breed the worm of incontinence; for "the unmarried
woman careth for the things of the Lord," how she may please the Lord,
"that she may be holy both in body and in spirit,"  says the
blessed Paul. But many of them who consider the hearing of the word
quite a secondary matter, think they do great things if they give
their attention to it for a little while. But discrimination must be
exercised with respect to these; for it is not fitting to impart
divine instruction to a nature which is careful about trifles, and
low, and which counterfeits wisdom. For would it not be laughable to
go on talking to those who direct all their energy towards things of
little value, in order that they may complete most accurately those
things which they want to bring to perfection, but do not think that
the greatest pains are to be taken with those necessary things by
which most of all the love of chastity would be increased in them?
Chapter II.--Virginity a Plant from Heaven, Introduced Late; The
Advancement of Mankind to Perfection, How Arranged.
For truly by a great stretch of power the plant of virginity was sent
down to men from heaven, and for this reason it was not revealed to
the first generations. For the race of mankind was still very small in
number; and it was necessary that it should first be increased in
number, and then brought to perfection. Therefore the men of old times
thought it nothing unseemly to take their own sisters for wives, until
the law coming separated them, and by forbidding that which at first
had seemed to be right, declared it to be a sin, calling him cursed
who should "uncover the nakedness" of his sister;  God thus
mercifully bringing to our race the needful help in due season, as
parents do to their children. For they do not at once set masters over
them, but allow them, during the period of childhood, to amuse
themselves like young animals, and first send them to teachers
stammering like themselves, until they cast off the youthful wool of
the mind, and go onwards to the practice of greater things, and from
thence again to that of greater still. And thus we must consider that
the God and Father of all acted towards our forefathers. For the
world, while still unfilled with men, was like a child, and it was
necessary that it should first be filled with these, and so grow to
manhood. But when hereafter it was colonized from end to end, the race
of man spreading to a boundless extent, God no longer allowed man to
remain in the same ways, considering how they might now proceed from
one point to another, and advance nearer to heaven, until, having
attained to the very greatest and most exalted lesson of virginity,
they should reach to perfection; that first they should abandon the
intermarriage of brothers and sisters, and marry wives from other
families; and then that they should no longer have many wives, like
brute beasts, as though born for the mere propagation of the species;
and then that they should not be adulterers; and then again that they
should go on to continence, and from continence to virginity, when,
having trained themselves to despise the flesh, they sail fearlessly
into the peaceful haven of immortality. 
Chapter III.--By the Circumcision of Abraham, Marriage with Sisters
Forbidden; In the Times of the Prophets Polygamy Put a Stop To;
Conjugal Purity Itself by Degrees Enforced.
If, however, any one should venture to find fault with our argument as
destitute of Scripture proof, we will bring forward the writings of
the prophets, and more fully demonstrate the truth of the statements
already made. Now Abraham, when he first received the covenant of
circumcision, seems to signify, by receiving circumcision in a member
of his own body, nothing else than this, that one should no longer
beget children with one born of the same parent; showing that every
one should abstain from intercourse with his own sister, as his own
flesh. And thus, from the time of Abraham, the custom of marrying with
sisters has ceased; and from the times of the prophets the contracting
of marriage with several wives has been done away with; for we read,
"Go not after thy lusts, but refrain thyself front thine appetites;
"  for "wine and women will make men of understanding to fall
away; "  and in another place, "Let thy fountain be blessed;
and rejoice with the wife of thy youth,"  manifestly
forbidding a plurality of wives. And Jeremiah clearly gives the name
of "fed horses"  to those who lust after other women; and we
read, "The multiplying brood of the ungodly shall not thrive, nor take
deep rooting from bastard slips, nor lay any fast foundation."
Lest, however, we should seem prolix in collecting the testimonies of
the prophets, let us again point out how chastity succeeded to
marriage with one wife, taking away by degrees the lusts of the flesh,
until it removed entirely the inclination for sexual intercourse
engendered by habit. For presently one is introduced earnestly
deprecating, from henceforth, this seduction, saying, "O Lord, Father,
and Governor of my life, leave me not to their counsels; give me not a
proud look; let not the greediness of the belly, nor lust of the
flesh, take hold of me."  And in the Book of Wisdom, a book
full of all virtue, the Holy Spirit, now openly drawing His hearers to
continence and chastity, sings on this wise, "Better it is to have no
children, and to have virtue, for the memorial thereof is immortal;
because it is known with God and with men. When it is present men take
example at it; and when it is gone they desire it: it weareth a crown
and triumpheth for ever, having gotten the victory, striving for
undefiled rewards." 
Chapter IV.--Christ Alone Taught Virginity, Openly Preaching the
Kingdom of Heaven; The Likeness of God to Be Attained in the Light of
the Divine Virtues.
We have already spoken of the periods of the human race, and how,
beginning with the intermarriage of brothers and sisters, it went on
to continence; and we have now left for us the subject of virginity.
Let us then endeavour to speak of this as well as we can. And first
let us inquire for what reason it was that no one of the many
patriarchs and prophets and righteous men, who taught and did many
noble things, either praised or chose the state of virginity. Because
it was reserved for the Lord alone to he the first to teach this
doctrine, since He alone, coming down to us, taught man to draw near
to God; for it was fitting that He who was first and chief of priests,
of prophets, and of angels, should also be saluted as first and chief
of virgins.  For in old times man was not yet perfect, and for
this reason was unable to receive perfection, which is virginity. For,
being made in the Image of God, he needed to receive that which was
according to His Likeness;  which the Word being sent down
into the world to perfect. He first took upon Him our form, disfigured
as it was by many sins, in order that we, for whose sake He bore it,
might be able again to receive the divine form. For it is then that we
are truly fashioned in the likeness of God, when we represent His
features in a human life, like skilful painters, stamping them upon
ourselves as upon tablets, learning the path which He showed us. And
for this reason He, being God, was pleased to put on human flesh, so
that we, beholding as on a tablet the divine Pattern of our life,
should also be able to imitate Him who painted it. For He was not one
who, thinking one thing, did another; nor, while He considered one
thing to be right, taught another. But whatever things were truly
useful and right, these He both taught and did.
Chapter V.--Christ, by Preserving His Flesh In-Corrupt in Virginity,
Draws to the Exercise of Virginity; The Small Number of Virgins in
Proportion to the Number of Saints.
What then did the Lord, who is the Truth and the Light, take in hand
when He came down from heaven? He preserved the flesh which He had
taken upon Him incorrupt in virginity, so that we also, if we world
come to the likeness of God and Christ, should endeavour to honour
virginity. For the likeness of God is the avoiding of corruption. And
that the Word, when He was incarnate, became chief Virgin, in the same
way as He was chief Shepherd and chief Prophet of the Church, the
Christ-possessed John shows us, saying, in the Book of the Revelation,
"And I looked, and, lo, a Lamb stood on the mount Sion, and with Him
an hundred forty and four thousand, having His name and His Father's
name written in their foreheads. And I heard a voice from heaven, as
the voice of many waters, and as the voice of a great thunder; and I
heard the voice of harpers harping with their harps: And they sung as
it were a new song before the throne, and before the four beasts, and
the elders: and no man could learn that song but the hundred and forty
and four thousand, which were redeemed from the earth. These are they
which were not defiled with women; for they are virgins. These are
they who follow the Lamb whithersoever He goeth; "  showing
that the Lord is leader of the choir of virgins. And remark, in
addition to this, how very great in the sight of God is the dignity of
virginity: "These were redeemed from among men, being the first-fruits
unto God and to the Lamb. And in their mouth was found no guile: for
they are without fault,"  he says, "and they follow the Lamb
whithersoever He goeth." And he clearly intends by this to teach us
that the number of virgins was, from the beginning, restricted to so
many, namely, a hundred and forty and four thousand, while the
multitude of the other saints is innumerable. For let us consider what
he means when discoursing of the rest. "I beheld a great multitude,
which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people,
and tongues."  It is plain, therefore, as I said, that in the
case of the other saints he introduces an unspeakable multitude, while
in the case of those who are in a state of virginity he mentions only
a very small number, so as to make a strong contrast with those who
make up the innumerable number. 
This, O Arete, is my discourse to you on the subject of virginity.
But, if I have omitted anything, let Theophila, who succeeds me,
supply the omission.
Chapter I.--Marriage Not Abolished by the Commendation of Virginity.
And then, she said, Theophila spoke:--Since Marcella has excellently
begun this discussion without sufficiently completing it, it is
necessary that I should endeavour to put a finish to it. Now, the fact
that man has advanced by degrees to virginity, God urging him on from
time to time, seems to me to have been admirably proved; but I cannot
say the same as to the assertion that from henceforth they should no
longer beget children. For I think I have perceived clearly from the
Scriptures that, after He had brought in virginity, the Word did not
altogether abolish the generation of children; for although the moon
may be greater than the stars, the light of the other stars is not
destroyed by the moonlight.
Let us begin with Genesis, that we may give its place of antiquity and
supremacy to this scripture. Now the sentence and ordinance of God
respecting the begetting of children  is confessedly being
fulfilled to this day, the Creator still fashioning man. For this is
quite manifest, that God, like a painter, is at this very time working
at the world, as the Lord also taught, "My Father worketh hitherto."
 But when the rivers shall cease to flow and fall into the
reservoir of the sea, and the light shall be perfectly separated from
the darkness,--for the separation is still going on,--and the dry laud
shall henceforth cease to bring forth its fruits with creeping things
and four-footed beasts, and the predestined number of men shall be
fulfilled; then from henceforth shall men abstain from the generation
of children. But at present man must cooperate in the forming of the
image of God, while the world exists and is still being formed; for it
is said, "Increase and multiply."  And we must not be offended
at the ordinance of the Creator, from which, moreover, we ourselves
have our being. For the casting of seed into the furrows of the matrix
is the beginning of the generation of men, so that bone taken from
bone, and flesh from flesh, by an invisible power, are fashioned into
another man. And in this way we must consider that the saying is
fulfilled, "This is now bone of my bone, and flesh of my flesh."
Chapter II.--Generation Something Akin to the First Formation of Eve
from the Side and Nature of Adam; God the Creator of Men in Ordinary
And this perhaps is what was shadowed forth by the sleep and trance of
the first man, which prefigured the embraces of connubial love. When
thirsting for children a man falls into a kind of trance, 
softened and subdued by the pleasures of generation as by sleep, so
that again something drawn from his flesh and from his bones is, as I
said, fashioned into another man. For the harmony of the bodies being
disturbed in the embraces of love, as those tell us who have
experience of the marriage state, all the marrow-like and generative
part of the blood, like a kind of liquid bone, coming together from
all the members, worked into foam and curdled, is projected through
the organs of generation into the living body of the female. And
probably it is for this reason that a man is said to leave his father
and his mother, since he is then suddenly unmindful of all things when
united to his wife in the embraces of love, he is overcome by the
desire of generation, offering his side to the divine Creator to take
away from it, so that the father may again appear in the son.
Wherefore, if God still forms man, shall we not be guilty of audacity
if we think of the generation of children as something offensive,
which the Almighty Himself is not ashamed to make use of in working
with His undefiled hands; for He says to Jeremiah, "Before I formed
thee in the belly I knew thee; "  and to Job, "Didst thou take
clay and form a living creature, and make it speak upon the earth? "
 and Job draws near to Him in supplication, saying, "Thine hands
have made me and fashioned me."  Would it not, then, be absurd
to forbid marriage unions, seeing that we expect that after us there
will be martyrs, and those who shall oppose the evil one, for whose
sake also the Word promised that He would shorten those days? 
For if the generation of children henceforth had seemed evil to God,
as you said, for what reason will those who have come into existence
in opposition to the divine decree and will be able to appear
well-pleasing to God? And must not that which is begotten be something
spurious, and not a creature of God, if, like a counterfeit coin, it
is moulded apart from the intention and ordinance of the lawful
authority? And so we concede to men the power of forming men.
Chapter III.--An Ambiguous Passage of Scripture; Not Only the Faithful
But Even Prelates Sometimes Illegitimate.
But Marcella, interrupting, said, "O Theophila, there appears here a
great mistake, and something contrary to what you have said; and do
you think to escape under cover of the cloud which you have thrown
around you? For there comes that argument, which perhaps any one who
addresses you as a very wise person will bring forward: What do you
say of those who are begotten unlawfully in adultery? For you laid it
down that it was inconceivable and impossible for any one to enter
into the world unless he was introduced by the will of the divine
Ruler, his frame being prepared for him by God. And that you may not
take refuge behind a safe wall, bringing forward the Scripture which
says, `As for the children of the adulterers, they shall not come to
their perfection, '  he will answer you easily, that we often
see those who are unlawfully begotten coming to perfection like ripe
And if, again, you answer sophistically, `O, my friend, by those who
come not to perfection I understand being perfected in Christ-taught
righteousness; 'he will say, `But, indeed, my worthy friend, very many
who are begotten of unrighteous seed are not only numbered among those
who are gathered into the flock of the brethren, but are often called
even to preside over them.  Since, then, it is clear, and all
testify, that those who are born of adultery do come to perfection, we
must not imagine that the Spirit was teaching respecting conceptions
and births, but rather perhaps concerning those who adulterate the
truth, who, corrupting the Scriptures by false doctrines, bring forth
an imperfect and immature wisdom, mixing their error with piety.' And,
therefore, this plea being taken away from you, come now and tell us
if those who are born of adultery are begotten by the will of God; for
you said that it was impossible that the offspring of a man should be
brought to perfection unless the Lord formed it and gave it life."
Chapter IV.--Human Generation, and the Work of God Therein Set Forth.
Theophila, as though caught round the middle by a strong antagonist,
grew giddy, and with difficulty recovering herself, replied, "You ask
a question, my worthy friend, which needs to be solved by an example,
that you may still better understand how the creative power of God,
pervading all things, is more especially the real cause in the
generation of men, making those things to grow which are planted in
the productive earth. For that which is sown is not to be blamed, but
he who sows in a strange soil by unlawful embraces, as though
purchasing a slight pleasure by shamefully selling his own seed. For
imagine our birth into the world to be like some such thing as a house
having its entrance lying close to lofty mountains; and that the house
extends a great way down, far from the entrance, and that it has many
holes behind, and that in this part it has circular." "I imagine it,"
said Marcella. "Well, then, suppose that a modeller r seated within is
fashioning many statues; imagine, again, that the substance of clay is
incessantly brought to him from without, through the holes, by many
men who do not any of them see the artist himself. Now suppose the
house to be covered with mist and clouds, and nothing visible to those
who are outside but only the holes." "Let this also be supposed," she
said. "And that each one of those who are labouring together to
provide the clay has one hole allotted to himself, into which he alone
has to bring and deposit his own clay, not touching any other hole.
And if, again, he shall officiously endeavour to open that which is
allotted to another, let him be threatened with fire and scourges.
"Well, now, consider further what comes after this: the modeller
within going round to the holes and taking privately for his modelling
the clay which he finds at each hole, and having in a certain number
of months made his model, giving it back through the same hole; having
this for his rule, that every lump of clay which is capable of being
moulded shall be worked up indifferently, even if it be unlawfully
thrown by any one through another's hole, for the clay has done no
wrong, and, therefore, as being blameless, should be moulded and
formed; but that he who, in opposition to the ordinance and law,
deposited it in another's hole, should be punished as a criminal and
transgressor. For the clay should not be blamed, but he who did this
in violation of what is right; for, through incontinence, having
carried it away, he secretly, by violence, deposited it in another's
hole." "You say most truly."
Chapter V.--The Holy Father Follows Up the Same Argument.
And now that these things are completed, it remains for you to apply
this picture, my wisest of friends, to the things which have been
already spoken of; comparing the house to the invisible nature of our
generation, and the entrance adjacent to the mountains to the sending
down of our souls from heaven, and their descent into the bodies; the
holes to the female sex, and the modeller to the creative power of
God, which, under the cover of generation, making use of our nature,
invisibly forms us men within, working the garments for the souls.
Those who carry the clay represent the male sex in the comparison;
when thirsting for children, they bring and east in seed into the
natural channels of the female, as those in the comparison cast clay
into the holes. For the seed, which, so to speak, partakes of a divine
creative power, is not to be thought guilty of the incentives to
incontinence; and art always works up the matter submitted to it; and
nothing is to be considered as evil in itself, but becomes so by the
act of those who used it in such a way; for when properly and purely
made use of, it comes out pure, but if disgracefully and improperly,
then it becomes disgraceful. For how did iron, which was discovered
for the benefit of agriculture and the arts, injure those who
sharpened it for murderous battles? Or how did gold, or silver, or
brass, and, to take it collectively, the whole of the workable earth,
injure those who, ungratefully towards their Creator, make a wrong use
of them by turning parts of them into various kinds of idols? And if
any one should supply wool from that which had been stolen to the
weaving art, that art, regarding this one thing only, manufactures the
material submitted to it, if it will receive the preparation,
rejecting nothing of that which is serviceable to itself, since that
which is stolen is here not to be blamed, being lifeless.And,
therefore, the material itself is to be wrought and adorned, but he
who is discovered to have abstracted it unjustly should be punished.
So, in like manner, the violators of marriage, and those who break the
strings of the harmony of life, as of a harp, raging with lust, and
letting loose their desires in adultery, should themselves be tortured
and punished, for they do a great wrong stealing from the gardens of
others the embraces of generation; but the seed itself, as in the case
of the wool, should be formed and endowed with life.
Chapter VI.--God Cares Even for Adulterous Births; Angels Given to
Them as Guardians.
But what need is there to protract the argument by using such
examples? for nature could not thus, in a little time, accomplish so
great a work without divine help. For who gave to the bones their
fixed nature? and who bound the yielding members with nerves, to be
extended and relaxed at the joints? or who prepared channels for the
blood, and a soft windpipe for the breath? or what god caused the
humours to ferment, mixing them with blood and forming the soft flesh
out of the earth, but only the Supreme Artist making us to be man, the
rational and living image of Himself, and forming it like wax, in the
womb, from moist slight seed? or by whose providence was it that the
foetus was not suffocated by damp when shut up within, in the
connexion of the vessels? or who, after it was brought forth and had
come into the light, changed it from weakness and smallness to size,
and beauty, and strength, unless God Himself, the Supreme Artist, as I
said, making by His creative power copies of Christ, and living
pictures? Whence, also, we have received from the inspired writings,
that those who are begotten, even though it be in adultery, are
committed to guardian angels. But if they came into being in
opposition to the will and the decree of the blessed nature of God,
how should they be delivered over to angels, to be nourished with much
gentleness and indulgence? and how, if they had to accuse their own
parents, could they confidently, before the judgment seat of Christ,
invoke Him and say, "Thou didst not, O Lord, grudge us this common
light; but these appointed us to death, despising Thy command?" "For,"
He says, "children begotten of unlawful beds are witnesses of
wickedness against their parents at their trial." 
Chapter VII.--The Rational Soul from God Himself; Chastity Not the
Only Good, Although the Best and Most Honoured.
And perhaps there will be room for some to argue plausibly among those
who are wanting in discrimination and judgment, that this fleshly
garment of the soul, being planted by men, is shaped spontaneously
apart from the sentence of God. If, however, he should teach that the
immortal being of the soul also is sown along with the mortal body, he
will not be believed; for the Almighty alone breathes into man the
undying and undecaying part, as also it is He alone who is Creator of
the invisible and indestructible. For, He says, He "breathed into his
nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul." 
And those artificers who, to the destruction of men, make images in
human form, not perceiving and knowing their own Maker, are blamed by
the Word, which says, in the Book of Wisdom, a book full of all
virtue,  "his heart is ashes, his hope is more vile than
earth, and his life of less value than clay; forasmuch as he knew not
his Maker, and Him that inspired into him an active soul, and breathed
in a living spirit; "  that is, God, the Maker of all men;
therefore, also, according to the apostle, He "will have all men to be
saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth."  And now,
although this subject be scarcely completed, yet there are others
which remain to be discussed. For when one thoroughly examines and
understands those things which happen to man according to his nature,
he will know not to despise the procreation of children, although he
applauds chastity, and prefers it in honour. For although honey be
sweeter and more pleasant than other things, we are not for that
reason to consider other things bitter which are mixed up in the
natural sweetness of fruits. And, in support of these statements, I
will bring forward a trustworthy witness, namely, Paul, who says, "So
then he that giveth her  in marriage doeth well; but he that
giveth her not in marriage doeth bet ter."  Now the word, in
setting forth that which is better and sweeter, did not intend to take
away the inferior, but arranges so as to assign to each its own proper
use and advantage. For there are some to whom it is not given to
attain virginity; and there are others whom He no longer wills to be
excited by procreations to lust, and to be defiled, but henceforth to
meditate and to keep the mind upon the transformation of the body to
the likeness of angels, when they "neither marry nor are given in
marriage,"  according to the infallible words of the Lord;
since it is not given to all to attain that undefiled state of being a
eunuch for the sake of the kingdom of heaven,  but manifestly
to those only who are able to preserve the ever-blooming and unfading
flower of virginity. For it is the custom of the prophetic Word to
compare the Church to a flower covered and variegated meadow, adorned
and crowned not only with the flowers of virginity, but also with
those of child-bearing and of continence; for it is written, "Upon
thy  right hand did stand the queen in a vesture of gold,
wrought about with divers colours." 
These words, O Arete, I bring according to my ability to this
discussion in behalf of the truth.
And when Theophila had thus spoken, Theopatra said that applause arose
from all the virgins approving of her discourse; and that when they
became silent, after a long pause, Thaleia arose, for to her had been
assigned the third place in the contest, that which came after
Theophila. And she then, as I think, followed, and spoke.
Chapter I.--Passages of Holy Scripture Compared. 
You seem to me, O Theophila, to excel all in action and in speech, and
to be second to none in wisdom. For there is no one who will find
fault with your discourse, however contentious and contradictory he
may be. Yet, while everything else seems rightly spoken, one thing, my
friend, distresses and troubles me, considering that that wise and
most spiritual man--I mean Paul--would not vainly refer to Christ and
the Church the union of the first man and woman,  if the
Scripture meant nothing higher than what is conveyed by the mere words
and the history; for if we are to take the Scripture as a bare
representation wholly referring to the union of man and woman, for
what reason should the apostle, calling these things to remembrance,
and guiding us, as I opine, into the way of the Spirit, allegorize the
history of Adam and Eve as having a reference to Christ and the
Church? For the passage in Genesis reads thus: "And Adam said, This is
now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called
Woman, because she was taken out of man. Therefore shall a man leave
his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they
shall be one flesh."  But the apostle considering this passage,
by no means, as I said, intends to take it according to its mere
natural sense, as referring to the union of man and woman, as you do;
for you, explaining the passage in too natural a sense, laid down that
the Spirit is speaking only of conception and births; that the bone
taken from the bones was made another man, and that living creatures
coming together swell like trees at the time of conception. But he,
more spiritually referring the passage to Christ, thus teaches: "He
that loveth his wife loveth himself. For no man ever yet hated his own
flesh, but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the Church:
for we are members of His body, of His flesh, and of His bones. For
this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be
joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. This is a great
mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the Church." 
Chapter II.--The Digressions of the Apostle Paul; The Character of His
Doctrine: Nothing in It Contradictory; Condemnation of Origen, Who
Wrongly Turns Everything into Allegory.
Let it not disturb you, if, in discussing one class of subjects, he,
i.e., Paul, should pass over into another, so as to appear to mix them
up, and to import matters foreign to the subject under consideration,
departing from the question, as now for instance. For wishing, as it
seems, to strengthen most carefully the argument on behalf of
chastity, he prepares the mode of argument beforehand, beginning with
the more persuasive mode of speech. For the character of his speech
being very various, and arranged for the purpose of progressive proof,
begins gently, but flows forward into a style which is loftier and
more magnificent. And then, again changing to what is deep, he
sometimes finishes with what is simple and easy, and sometimes with
what is more difficult and delicate; and yet introducing nothing which
is foreign to the subject by these changes, but, bringing them all
together according to a certain marvellous relationship, he works into
one the question which is set forth as his subject. It is needful,
then, that I should more accurately unfold the meaning of the
apostle's arguments, yet rejecting nothing of what has been said
before. For you seem to me, O Theophila, to have discussed those words
of the Scripture amply and clearly, and to have set them forth as they
are without mistake. For it is a dangerous thing wholly to despise the
literal meaning,  as has been said, and especially of Genesis,
where the unchangeable decrees of God for the constitution of the
universe are set forth, in agreement with which, even until now, the
world is perfectly ordered, most beautifully in accordance with a
perfect rule, until the Lawgiver Himself having re-arranged it,
wishing to order it anew, shall break up the first laws of nature by a
fresh disposition. But, since it is not fitting to leave the
demonstration of the argument unexamined--and, so to speak,
half-lame--come let us, as it were completing our pair, bring forth
the analogical sense, looking more deeply into the Scripture; for Paul
is not to be despised when he passes over the literal meaning, and
shows that the words extend to Christ and the Church.
Chapter III.--Comparison Instituted Between the First and Second Adam.
And, first, we must inquire if Adam can be likened to the Son of God,
when he was found in the transgression of the Fall, and heard the
sentence, "Dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return."  For
how shall he be considered "the first-born of every creature," 
who, after the creation of the earth and the firmament, was formed out
of clay? And how shall he be admitted to be "the tree of life" who was
cast out for his transgression,  lest "he should again stretch
forth his hand and eat of it, and live forever? "  For it is
necessary that a thing which is likened unto anything else, should in
many respects be similar and analogous to that of which it is the
similitude, and not have its constitution opposite and dissimilar. For
one who should venture to compare the uneven to the even, or harmony
to discord, would not be considered rational. But the even should be
compared to that which in its nature is even, although it should be
even only in a small measure; and the white to that which in its
nature is white, even although it should be very small, and should
show but moderately the whiteness by reason of which it is called
white. Now, it is beyond all doubt clear to every one, that that which
is sinless and incorrupt is even, and harmonious, and bright as
wisdom; but that that which is mortal and sinful is uneven and
discordant, and cast out as guilty and subject to condemnation.
Chapter IV.--Some Things Here Hard and Too Slightly Treated, and
Apparently Not Sufficiently Brought Out According to the Rule of
Such, then, I consider to be the objections urged by many who,
despising, as it seems, the wisdom of Paul, dislike the comparing of
the first man to Christ. For come, let us consider how rightly Paul
compared Adam to Christ, not only considering him to be the type and
image, but also that Christ Himself became the very same thing,
 because the Eternal Word fell upon Him. For it was fitting that
the first-born of God, the first shoot, the only--begotten, even the
wisdom of God, should be joined to the first-formed man, and first and
first-born of mankind, and should become incarnate. And this was
Christ, a man filled with the pure and perfect Godhead, and God
received into man. For it was most suitable that the oldest of the
Aeons and the first of the Archangels, when about to hold communion
with men, should dwell in theoldest and the first of men, even Adam.
And thus, when renovating those things which were from the beginning,
and forming them again of the Virgin by the Spirit, He frames the
same  just as at the beginning. When the earth was still
virgin and untilled, God, taking mould, formed the reasonable creature
from it without seed. 
Chapter V.--A Passage of Jeremiah Examined.
And here I may adduce the prophet Jeremiah as a trustworthy and lucid
witness, who speaks thus: "Then I went down to the potter's house;
and, behold, he wrought a work on the wheels. And the vessel that he
made of clay was marred in the hand of the potter: so he made it again
another vessel, as seemed good to the potter to make it."  For
when Adam, having been formed out of clay, was still soft and moist,
and not yet, like a tile, made hard and incorruptible, sin ruined him,
flowing and dropping down upon him like water. And therefore God,
moistening him afresh and forming anew the same clay to His honour,
having first hardened and fixed it in the Virgin's womb, and united
and mixed it with the Word, brought it forth into life no longer soft
and broken; lest, being overflowed again by streams of corruption from
without, it should become soft, and perish as the Lord in His teaching
shows in the parable of the finding of the sheep; where my Lord says
to those standing by, "What man of you, having an hundred sheep, if he
lose one of them, doth not leave the ninety and nine in the
wilderness, and go after that which is lost until he find it? and when
he hath found it, he layeth it on his shoulders rejoicing; and when he
cometh home, he calleth together his friends and neighbours, saying
unto them, Rejoice with me; for I have found my sheep which was lost."
Chapter VI.--The Whole Number of Spiritual Sheep; Man a Second Choir,
After the Angels, to the Praise of God; The Parable of the Lost Sheep
Now, since He truly was and is, being in the beginning with God, and
being God,  He is the chief Commander and Shepherd of the
heavenly ones, whom all reasonable creatures obey and attend, who
tends in order and numbers the multitudes of the blessed angels. For
this is the equal and perfect number of immortal creatures, divided
according to their races and tribes, man also being here taken into
the flock. For be also was created without corruption, that he might
honour the king and maker of all things, responding to the shouts of
the melodious angels which came from heaven. But when it came to pass
that, by transgressing the commandment (of God), he suffered a
terrible and destructive fall, being thus reduced to a state of death,
for this reason the Lord says that He came from heaven into (a human)
life, leaving the ranks and the armies of angels. For the mountains
are to be explained by the heavens, and the ninety and nine sheep by
the principalities and powers  which the Captain and Shepherd
left when He went down to seek the lost one. For it remained that man
should be included in this catalogue and number, the Lord lifting him
up and wrapping him round, that he might not again, as I said, be
overflowed and swallowed up by the waves of deceit. For with this
purpose the Word assumed the nature of man, that, having overcome the
serpent, He might by Himself destroy the condemnation which had come
into being along with man's ruin. For it was fitting that the Evil One
should be overcome by no other, but by him whom he had deceived, and
whom he was boasting that he held in subjection, because no otherwise
was it possible that sin and condemnation should be destroyed, unless
that same man on whose account it had been said, "Dust thou art, and
unto dust thou shall return,"  should be created anew, and
undo the sentence which for his sake had gone forth on all, that "as
in Adam" at first "all die, even so" again "in Christ," who assumed
the nature and position of Adam, should "all be made alive." 
Chapter VII.--The Works of Christ, Proper to God and to Man, the Works
of Him Who is One.
And now we seem to have said almost enough on the fact that man has
become the organ and clothing of the Only-begotten, and what He was
who came to dwell in him. But the fact that there is no moral
inequality or discord  may again be considered briefly from
the beginning. For he speaks well who says that that is in its own
nature good and righteous and holy, by participation of which other
things become good, and that wisdom is in connection with 
God, and that, on the other hand, sin is unholy and unrighteous and
evil. For life and death, corruption and incorruption, are two things
in the highest degree opposed to each other. For life is a moral
equality, but corruption an inequality; and righteousness and prudence
a harmony, but unrighteousness and folly a discord. Now, man being
between these is neither righteousness itself, nor unrighteousness;
but being placed midway between incorruption and corruption, to
whichever of these he may incline is said to partake of the nature of
that which has laid hold of him. Now, when he inclines to corruption,
he becomes corrupt and mortal, and when to incorruption, he becomes
incorrupt and immortal. For, being placed midway between the tree of
life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, of the Fruit of
which he tasted,  he was changed into the nature of the
latter, himself being neither the tree of life nor that of corruption;
but having been shown forth as mortal, from his participation in and
presence with corruption, and, again, as incorrupt and immortal by
connection with and participation in life; as Paul also taught,
saying, "Corruption shall not inherit incorruption, nor death life,"
 rightly defining corruption and death to be that which corrupts
and kills, and not that which is corrupted and dies; and incorruption
and life that which gives life and immortality, and not that which
receives life and immortality. And thus man is neither a discord and
an inequality, nor an equality and a harmony. But when he received
discord, which is transgression and sin, he became discordant and
unseemly; but when he received harmony, that is righteousness, he
became a harmonious and seemly organ, in order that the Lord, the
Incorruption which conquered death, might harmonize the resurrection
with the flesh, not suffering it again to be inherited by corruption.
And on this point also let these statements suffice.
Chapter VIII.--The Bones and Flesh of Wisdom; The Side Out of Which
the Spiritual Eve is Formed, the Holy Spirit; The Woman' the Help-Meet
of Adam; Virgins Betrothed to Christ.
For it has been already established by no contemptible arguments from
Scripture, that the first man may be properly referred to Christ
Himself, and is no longer a type and representation and image of the
Only-begotten, but has become actually Wisdom and the Word.
For man, having been composed, like water, of wisdom and life, has
become identical with the very same untainted light which poured into
him. Whence it was that the apostle directly referred to Christ the
words which had been spoken of Adam. For thus will it be most
certainly agreed that the Church is formed out of His bones and flesh;
and it was for this cause that the Word, leaving His Father in heaven,
came down to be "joined to His wife; "  and slept in the
trance of His passion, and willingly suffered death for her, that He
might present the Church to Himself glorious and blameless, having
cleansed her by the laver,  for the receiving of the spiritual
and blessed seed, which is sown by Him who with whispers implants it
in the depths of the mind; and is conceived and formed by the Church,
as by a woman. so as to give birth and nourishment to virtue. For in
this way, too, the command, "Increase and multiply,"  is duly
fulfilled, the Church increasing daily in greatness and beauty and
multitude, by the union and communion of the Word who now still comes
down to us and falls into a trance by the memorial of His passion; for
otherwise the Church could not conceive believers, and give them new
birth by the laver of regeneration, unless Christ, emptying Himself
for their sake, that He might be contained by them, as I said, through
the recapitulation of His passion, should die again, coming down from
heaven, and being "joined to His wife," the Church, should provide for
a certain power being taken from His own side, so that all who are
built up in Him should grow up, even those who are born again by the
laver, receiving of His bones and of His flesh, that is, of His
holiness and of His glory. For he who says that the bones and flesh of
Wisdom are understanding and virtue, says most rightly; and that the
side  is the Spirit of truth, the Paraclete, of whom the
illuminated  receiving are fitly born again to incorruption.
For it is impossible for any one to be a partaker of the Holy Spirit,
and to be chosen a member of Christ, unless the Word first came down
upon him and fell into a trance, in order that he, being filled
 with the Spirit, and rising again from sleep with Him who was
laid to sleep for his sake, should be able to receive renewal and
restoration. For He may fitly be called the side  of the Word,
even the sevenfold Spirit of truth, according to the prophet; 
of whom God taking, in the trance of Christ, that is, after His
incarnation and passion, prepares a help-meet for Him  --I
mean the souls which are betrothed and given in marriage to Him. For
it is frequently the case that the Scriptures thus call the assembly
and mass of believers by the name of the Church, the more perfect in
their progress being led up to be the one person and body of the
Church. For those who are the better, and who embrace the truth more
clearly, being delivered from the evils of the flesh, become, on
account of their perfect purification and faith, a church and
help-meet of Christ, betrothed and given in marriage to Him as a
virgin, according to the apostle,  so that receiving the pure
and genuine seed of His doctrine, they may co-operate with Him,
helping in preaching for the salvation of others. And those who are
still imperfect and beginning their lessons, are born to salvation,
and shaped, as by mothers, by those who are more perfect, until they
are brought forth and regenerated unto the greatness and beauty of
virtue; and so these, in their turn making progress, having become a
church, assist in labouring for the birth and nurture of other
children, accomplishing in the receptacle of the soul, as in a womb,
the blameless will of the Word.
Chapter IX.--The Dispensation of Grace in Paul the Apostle.
Now we should consider the case of the renowned Paul, that when he was
not yet perfect in Christ, he was first born and suckled, Ananias
preaching to him, and renewing him in baptism, as the history in the
Acts relates. But when he was grown to a man, and was built up, then
being moulded to spiritual perfection, he was made the help-meet and
bride of the Word; and receiving and conceiving the seeds of life, he
who was before a child, becomes a church and a mother, himself
labouring in birth of those who, through him, believed in the Lord,
until Christ was formed and born in them also. For he says, "My little
children, of whom I travail in birth again until Christ be formed in
you; "  and again, "In Christ Jesus I have begotten you
through the Gospel." 
It is evident, then, that the statement respecting Eve and Adam is to
be referred to the Church and Christ. For this is truly a great
mystery and a supernatural, of which I, from my weakness and dulness,
am unable to speak, according to its worth and greatness.
Nevertheless, let us attempt it. It remains that I speak to you on
what follows, and of its signification.
Chapter X.--The Doctrine of the Same Apostle Concerning Purity.
Now Paul, when summoning all persons to sanctification and purity, in
this way referred that which had been spoken concerning the first man
and Eve in a secondary sense to Christ and the Church, in order to
silence the ignorant, now deprived of all excuse. For men who are
incontinent in consequence of the uncontrolled impulses of sensuality
in them, dare to force the Scriptures beyond their true meaning, so as
to twist into a defence of their incontinence the saying, "Increase
and multiply; "  and the other, "Therefore shall a man leave
his father and his mother; "  and they are not ashamed to run
counter to the Spirit, but, as though born for this purpose, they
kindle up the smouldering and lurking passion, fanning and provoking
it; and therefore he, cutting off very sharply these dishonest follies
and invented excuses, and having arrived at the subject of instructing
them how men should behave to their wives, showing that it should be
as Christ did to the Church, "who gave Himself for it, that He might
sanctify and cleanse it by the washing  of water by the
Word,"  he referred back to Genesis, mentioning the things
spoken concerning the first man, and explaining these things as
bearing on the subject before him, that he might take away occasion
for the abuse of these passages from those who taught the sensual
gratification of the body, under the pretext of begetting children.
Chapter XI.--The Same Argument.
For consider, O virgins, how he,  desiring with all his might
that believers in Christ should be chaste, endeavours by many
arguments to show them the dignity of chastity, as when he says,
 Now, concerning the things whereof ye wrote unto me: It is good
for a man not to touch a woman," thence showing already very clearly
that it is good not to touch  a woman, laying it down. and
setting it forth unconditionally. But afterwards, being aware of the
weakness of the less continent, and their passion for intercourse, he
permitted those who are unable to govern the flesh to use their own
wives, rather than, shamefully transgressing, to give themselves up to
fornication. Then, after having given this permission, he immediately
added these words,  "that Satan tempt you not for your
incontinency; "which means, "if you, such as you are, cannot, on
account of the incontinence and softness of your bodies, be perfectly
continent, I will rather permit you to have intercourse with your own
wives, lest, professing perfect continence, ye be constantly tempted
by the evil one, and be inflamed with lust after other men's wives."
Chapter XII.--Paul an Example to Widows, and to Those Who Do Not Live
with Their Wives.
Come, now, and let us examine more carefully the very words which are
before us, and observe that the apostle did not grant these things
unconditionally to all, but first laid down the reason on account of
which he was led to this. For, having set forth that "it is good for a
man not to touch a woman,"  he added immediately,
"Nevertheless, to avoid fornication, let every man have his own
wife"  --that is, "on account of the fornication which would
arise from your being unable to restrain your voluptuousness "--and
let every woman have her own husband. Let the husband render unto the
wife due benevolence: and likewise also the wife unto the husband. The
wife hath not power of her own body, but the husband: and likewise
also the husband hath not power of his own body, but the wife. Defraud
ye not one the other, except it tie with consent for a time, that ye
may give yourselves to prayer;  and come together again, that
Satan tempt you not for your incontinency. But I speak this by
permission, and not of commandment."  And this is very
carefully considered. "By permission" he says, showing that he was
giving counsel, "not of command; "for he receives command respecting
chastity and the not touching of a woman, but permission respecting
those who are unable, as I said, to chasten their appetites. These
things, then, he lays down concerning men and women who are married to
one spouse, or who shall hereafter be so; but we must now examine
carefully the apostle's language respecting men who have lost their
wives, and women who have lost their husbands, and what he declares on
"I say therefore," he goes on,  "to the unmarried and widows,
It is good for them if they abide even as I. But if they cannot
contain, let them marry: for it is better to marry than to burn." Here
also he persisted in giving the preference to continence. For, taking
himself as a notable example, in order to stir them up to emulation,
he challenged his hearers to this state of life, teaching that it was
better that a man who had been bound to one wife should henceforth
remain single, as lie also did.  But if, on the other hand,
this should be a matter of difficulty to any one, on account of the
strength of animal passion, he allows that one who is in such a
condition may, "by permission," contract a second marriage; not as
though he expressed the opinion that a second marriage was in itself
flood,  but judging it better than burning. Just as though, in
the fast which prepares for the Easter celebration, one should offer
food to an other who was dangerously ill, and say," In truth, my
friend, it were fitting and good that you should bravely hold out like
us, and partake of the same things,  for it is forbidden even
to think of food to-day; but since you are held down and weakened by
disease, and cannot bear it, therefore, 'by permission, ' we advise
you to eat food, lest, being quite unable, from sickness, to hold up
against the desire for food, you perish." Thus also the apostle speaks
here, first saying that he wished all were healthy and continent, as
he also was, but afterwards allowing a second marriage to those who
are burdened with the disease of the passions, lest they should be
wholly defiled by fornication, goaded on by the itchings of the organs
of generation to promiscuous intercourse, considering such a second
marriage far preferable to burning and indecency.
Chapter XIII.--The Doctrine of Paul Concerning Virginity Explained.
I have now brought to an end what I have to say respecting continence
and marriage and chastity, and intercourse with men, and in which of
these there is help towards progress in righteousness; but it still
remains to speak concerning virginity--if, indeed, anything be
prescribed on this subject. Let us then treat this subject also; for
it stands thus:  "Now concerning virgins, I have no
commandment of the Lord: yet I give my judgment, as one that hath
obtained mercy of the Lord to be faithful. I suppose therefore that
this is good for the present distress; I say, that it is good for a
man so to be. Art thou bound unto a wife? seek not to be loosed. Art
thou loosed from a wife? seek not a wife. But and if thou marry, thou
hast not sinned; and if a virgin marry, she has not sinned.
Nevertheless such shall have trouble in the flesh: but I spare you."
Having given his opinion with great caution respecting virginity, and
being about to advise him who wished it to give his virgin in
marriage, so that none of those things which conduce to sanctification
should be of necessity and by compulsion, but according to the free
purpose of the soul. for this is acceptable to God, he does not wish
these things to be said as by authority, and as the mind of the Lord,
with reference to the giving of a virgin in marriage; for after he had
said,  "if a virgin marry, she hath not sinned," directly
afterwards, with the greatest caution, he modified his statement,
showing that he had advised these things by human permission, and not
by divine. So, immediately after he had said, "if a virgin marry, she
hath not sinned," he added, "such shall have trouble in the flesh: but
I spare you."  By which he means: "I sparing you, such as you
are, consented to these things, because yon have chosen to think thus
of them, that I may not seem to hurry you on by violence, and compel
any one to this.  But yet if it shall please you who find
chastity hard to bear, rather to turn to marriage; I consider it to be
profitable for you to restrain yourselves in the gratification of the
flesh, not making your marriage an occasion for abusing your own
vessels to uncleanness." Then he adds,  "But this I say,
brethren, the time is short: it remaineth, that both they that have
wives be as though they had none." And again, going on and challenging
them to the same things, he confirmed his statement, powerfully
supporting the state of virginity, and adding expressly the following
words to those which he had spoken before, he exclaimed,  "I
would have you without carefulness. He that is unmarried careth for
the things that belong to the Lord:  but he that is married
careth for f the things that are of the world, how he may please his
wife. There is a difference also between a wife and a virgin. The
unmarried woman careth for the things of the Lord, that she may be
holy both in body and in spirit: but she that is married careth for
the things of the world, how she may please her husband." Now it is
clear to all, without any doubt, that to care for the things of the
Lord and to please God, is much better than to care for the things of
the world and to please one's wife. For who is there so foolish and
blind. as not to perceive in this statement the higher praise which
Paul accords to chastity? "And this," he says,  "I speak for
your own profit, not that I may cast a snare upon you, but for that
which is comely."
Chapter XIV.--Virginity a Gift of God: the Purpose of Virginity Not
Rashly to Be Adopted by Any One.
Consider besides how, in addition to the words already quoted, he
commends the state of virginity as a gift of God. Wherefore he rejects
those of the more incontinent, who, under the influence of vain-glory,
would advance to this state, advising them to marry, lest in their
time of manly strength, the flesh stirring up the desires and
passions, they should be goaded on to defile the soul. For let us
consider what he lays down:  " But if any man think that he
behaveth himself uncomely towards his virgin," he says," if she pass
the flower of her age, and need so require, let him do what he will,
he sinneth not: let him marry; "properly here preferring marriage to
"uncomeliness," in the case of those who had chosen the state of
virginity, but afterwards finding it intolerable and grievous, and in
word boasting of their perseverance before men, out of shame, but
indeed no longer having the power to persevere in the life of a
eunuch. But for him who of his own free will and purpose decides to
preserve his flesh in virgin purity, "having no necessity," 
that is, passion calling forth his loins to intercourse, for there
are, as it seems, differences in men's bodies; such a one contending
and struggling, and zealously abiding by his profession. and admirably
fulfilling it, he exhorts to abide and to preserve it, according the
highest prize to virginity. For he that is able, he says, and
ambitious to preserve his flesh pure, does better; but he that is
unable, and enters into marriage lawfully, and does not indulge in
secret corruption, does well. And now enough has been said on these
Let any one who will, take in his hand the Epistle to the Corinthians,
and, examining all its passages one by one, then consider what we have
said, comparing them together, as to whether there is not a perfect
harmony and agreement between them. These things, according to my
power, O Arete, I offer to thee as my contribution on the subject of
Euboulios. Through many things, O Gregorion, she has scarcely come to
the subject, having measured and crossed a mighty sea of words.
Gregorion. So it seems; but come, I must mention the rest of what was
said in order, going through it and repeating it, while I seem to have
the sound of it dwelling in my ears, before it flies away and escapes;
for the remembrance of things lately heard is easily effaced from the
Euboulios. Say on, then; for we have come to have the pleasure of
hearing these discourses.
Gregorion. And then after, as you observed, Thaleia had descended from
her smooth and unbroken course to the earth, Theopatra, she said,
followed her in order, and spoke as follows.
Chapter I.--The Necessity of Praising Virtue, for Those Who Have the
If the art of speaking, O virgins, always went by the same ways, and
passed along the same path, there would be no way to avoid wearying
you for one who persisted in the arguments which had already been
urged. But since there are of arguments myriads of currents and ways,
God inspiring us "at sundry times and in divers manners,"  who
can have the choice of holding back or of being afraid? For he would
not be free from blame to whom the gift has been given, if he failed
to adorn that which is honourable with words of praise. Come then, we
also, according to our gifts, will sing the brightest and most
glorious star of Christ, which is chastity. For this way of the Spirit
is very wide and large. Beginning, therefore, at the point from which
we may say those things which are suitable and fitting to the subject
before us, I let us from thence consider it.
Chapter II.--The Protection of Chastity and Virginity Divinely Given
to Men, that They May Emerge from the Mire of Vices.
Now I at least seem to perceive that nothing has been such a means of
restoring men to paradise, and of the change to incorruption, and of
reconciliation to God, and such a means of salvation to men, by
guiding us to life, as chastity. And I will now endeavour to show why
I think so concerning these things, that having heard distinctly the
power of the grace already spoken of, you may know of how great
blessings it has become the giver to us. Anciently, then, after the
fall of man, when he was cast out by reason of his transgression, the
stream of corruption poured forth abundantly, and running along in
violent currents, not only fiercely swept along whatever touched it
from without, but also rushing within it, overwhelmed the souls of
men. And they,  continuously exposed to this, were carried
along dumb and stupid, neglecting to pilot their vessels, 
from having nothing firm to lay hold of. For the senses of the soul,
as those have said who are learned in these things, when, being
overcome by the excitements to passion which fall upon them from
without, they receive the sudden bursts of the waves of folly which
rush into them, being darkened turn aside from the divine course its
whole vessel, which is by nature easily guided. Wherefore God, pitying
us who were in such a condition, and were able neither to stand nor to
rise, sent down from heaven the best and most glorious help,
virginity, that by it we might tie our bodies fast, like ships, and
have a calm, coming to an anchorage without damage, as also the Holy
Spirit witnesses. For this is said in the hundred and thirty-sixth
 psalm, where the souls send joyfully up to God a hymn of
thanksgiving,  as many as have been taken hold of and raised
up to walk with Christ in heaven, that they might not be overwhelmed
by the streams of the world and the flesh. Whence, also, they say that
Pharaoh was a type of the devil in Egypt, since he mercilessly
commanded the males to be cast into the river,  but the
females to be preserved alive. For the devil, ruling  from
Adam to Moses over this great Egypt, the world, took care to have the
male and rational offspring of the soul carried away and destroyed by
the streams of passions, but he longs for the carnal and irrational
offspring to increase and multiply.
Chapter III.--That Passage of David Explained; What the Harps Hung
Upon the Willows Signify; The Willow a Symbol of Chastity; The Willows
Watered by Streams. 
But not to pass away from our subject, come, let us take in our hands
and examine this psalm, which the pure and stainless souls sing to
God, saying:  "By the rivers of Babylon there we sat down;
yea, we wept, when we remembered Zion. We hanged our harps upon the
willows in the midst thereof," clearly giving the name of harps to
their bodies which they hung upon the branches of chastity, fastening
them to the wood that they might not be snatched away and dragged
along again by the stream of incontinence. For Babylon, which is
interpreted "disturbance "or" confusion," signifies this life around
which the water flows, while we sit in the midst of which the water
flows round us, as long as we are in the world, the rivers of evil
always beating upon us. Wherefore, also, we are always fearful, and we
groan and cry with weeping to God, that our harps may not be snatched
off by the waves of pleasure, and slip down from the tree of chastity.
For everywhere the divine writings take the willow as the type of
chastity, because, when its flower is steeped in water, if it be
drunk, it extinguishes whatever kindles sensual desires and passions
within us, until it entirely renders barren, and makes every
inclination to the begetting of children without effect, as also Homer
indicated, for this reason calling the willows destructive of fruit.
 And in Isaiah the righteous are said to "spring up as willows
by the water courses."  Surely, then, the shoot of virginity
is raised to a great and glorious height, when the righteous, and he
to whom it is given to preserve it and to cultivate it, bedewing it
with wisdom, is watered by the gentlest streams of Christ. For as it
is the nature of this tree to bud and grow through water, so it is the
nature of virginity to blossom and grow to maturity when enriched by
words, so that one can hang his body  upon it.
Chapter IV.--The Author Goes on with the Interpretation of the Same
If, then, the rivers of Babylon are the streams of voluptuousness, as
wise men say, which confuse and disturb the soul, then the willows
must be chastity, to which we may suspend and draw up the organs of
lust which overbalance and weigh down the mind, so that they may not
be borne down by the torrents of incontinence, and be drawn like worms
to impurity and corruption. For God has bestowed upon us virginity as
a most useful and a serviceable help towards incorruption, sending it
as an ally to those who are contending for and longing after Zion, as
the psalm shows, which is resplendent charity and the commandment
respecting it, for Zion is interpreted "The commandment of the
watchtower."  Now, let us here enumerate the points which
follow. For why do the souls declare that they were asked by those who
led them captive to sing the Lord's song in a strange land? Surely
because the Gospel teaches a holy and secret song, which sinners and
adulterers sing to the Evil One. For they insult the commandments,
accomplishing the will of the spirits of evil, and cast holy things to
dogs, and pearls before swine,  in the same manner as those of
whom the prophet says with indignation, "They read the law 
without; "  for the Jews were not to read the law going forth
out of the gates of Jerusalem or out of their houses; and for this
reason the prophet blames them strongly, and cries that they were
liable to condemnation, because, while they were transgressing the
commandments, and acting impiously towards God, they were
pretentiously reading the law, as if, forsooth, they were piously
observing its precepts; but they did not receive it in their souls,
holding it firmly with faith, but rejected it, denying it by their
works. And hence they sing the Lord's song in a strange land,
explaining the law by distorting and degrading it, expecting a sensual
kingdom, and setting their hopes on this alien world, which the Word
says will pass away,  where those who carry them captive
entice them with pleasures, lying in wait to deceive them.
Chapter V.--The Gifts of Virgins, Adorned with Which They are
Presented to One Husband, Christ.
Now, those who sing the Gospel to senseless people seem to sing the
Lord's song in a strange land, of which Christ is not the husbandman;
but those who have put on and shone in the most pure and bright, and
unmingled and pious and becoming, ornament of virginity, and are found
barren and unproductive of unsettled and grievous passions, do not
sing the song in a strange land; because they are not borne thither by
their hopes, nor do they stick fast in the lusts of their mortal
bodies, nor do they take a low view of the meaning of the
commandments, but well and nobly, with a lofty disposition, they have
regard to the promises which are above, thirsting for heaven as a
congenial abode, whence God, approving their dispositions, promises
with an oath to give them choice honours, appointing and establishing
them "above His chief joy; "for He says thus:  "If I forget
thee, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget her cunning. If I do not
remember thee, let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth; if I
prefer not Jerusalem above my chief joy; "meaning by Jerusalem, as I
said, these very undefiled and incorrupt souls, which, having with
self-denial drawn in the pure draught of virginity with unpolluted
lips, are "espoused to one husband," to be presented "as a chaste
virgin to Christ"  in heaven, "having gotten the victory,
striving for undefiled rewards."  Hence also the prophet
Isaiah proclaims, saying,  "Arise, shine,  for thy
light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee." Now
these promises, it is evident to every one, will be fulfilled after
the resurrection.  For the Holy Spirit does not speak of that
well-known town in Judea; but truly of that heavenly city, the blessed
Jerusalem, which He declares to be the assembly of the souls which God
plainly promises to place first, "above His chief joy," in the new
dispensation, settling those who are clothed in the most white robe of
virginity in the pure dwelling of unapproachable light; because they
had it not in mind to put off their wedding garment--that is, to relax
their minds by wandering thoughts.
Chapter VI.--Virginity to Be Cultivated and Commended in Every Place
Further, the expression in Jeremiah,  "That a maid should not
forget her ornaments, nor a bride her attire,"  shows that she
should not give up or loosen the band of chastity through wiles and
distractions. For by the heart are properly denoted our heart and
mind. Now the breastband, the girdle which gathers together and keeps
firm the purpose of the soul to chastity, is love to God, which our
Captain and Shepherd, Jesus, who is also our Ruler and Bridegroom, O
illustrious virgins, commands both you and me to hold fast unbroken
and sealed up even to the end; for one will not easily find anything
else a greater help to men than this possession, pleasing and grateful
to God. There-fore, I say, that we should all exercise and honour
chastity, and always cultivate and commend it.
Let these first-fruits of my discourse suffice for thee, O Arete, in
proof of my education and my zeal. "And I receive the gift," she said
that Arete replied, "and bid Thallousa speak after thee; for I must
have a discourse from each one of you." And she said that Thallousa,
pausing a little, as though considering somewhat with herself, thus
Chapter I.--The Offering of Chastity a Great Gift. 
I pray you, Arete, that you will give your assistance now too, that I
may seem to speak something worthy in the first place of yourself, and
then of those who are present. For I am persuaded, having thoroughly
learnt it from the sacred writings, that the greatest and most
glorious offering and gift, to which there is nothing comparable,
which men can offer to God, is the life  of virginity. For
although many accomplished many admirable things, according to their
vows, in the law, they alone were said to fulfil a great vow who were
willing to offer themselves of their free-will. For the passage runs
thus: "And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, Speak unto the children
of Israel, and say unto them, when either man or woman shall separate
themselves ... unto the Lord."  One vows to offer gold and
silver vessels for the sanctuary when he comes, another to offer the
tithe of his fruits, another of his property, another the best of his
flocks, another consecrates his being; and no one is able to vow a
great vow to the Lord, but he who has offered himself entirely to God.
Chapter II. Abraham's Sacrifice of a Heifer Three Years Old, of a
Goat, and of a Ram Also Three Years Old: Its Meaning; Every Age to Be
Consecrated to God; The Threefold Watch and Our Age.
I must endeavour, O virgins, by a true exposition, to explain to you
the mind of the Scripture according to its meaning.  Now, he who
watches over and restrains himself in part, and in part is distracted
and wandering, is not wholly given up to God. Hence it is necessary
that the perfect man offer up all, both the things of the soul and
those of the flesh, so that he may be complete and not lacking.
Therefore also God commands Abraham,  "Take Me an heifer of
three years old, and a she goat of three years old, and a ram of three
years old, and a turtle dove, and a young pigeon; "which is admirably
said; for remark, that concerning those things, He also gives this
command, Bring them Me and keep them free from the yoke, even thy soul
uninjured, like a heifer, and your flesh, and your reason; the last
like a goat, since he traverses lofty and precipitous places, and the
other like a ram, that he may in nowise skip away, and fall and slip
off from the right way. For thus shalt thou be perfect and blameless,
O Abraham, when thou hast offered to Me thy soul, and thy sense, and
thy mind, which He mentioned under the symbol of the heifer, the goat,
and the ram of three years old, as though they represented the pure
knowledge of the Trinity.
And perhaps He also symbolizes the beginning, the middle, and the end
of our life and of our age, wishing as far as possible that men should
spend their boyhood, their manhood, and their more advanced life
purely, and offer them up to Him. Just as our Lord Jesus Christ
commands in the Gospels, thus directing: "Let not your lights be
extinguished, and let not your loins be loosed. Therefore also be ye
like men who wait for their lord, when he will return from the
wedding; that, when he cometh and knocketh, they may open unto him
immediately. Blessed are ye, when he shall make you sit down, and
shall come and serve you. And if he come in the second, or in the
third watch, ye are blessed."  For consider, O virgins, when He
mentions three watches of the night, and His three comings, He shadows
forth in symbol our three periods of life, that of the boy, of the
full-grown man, and of the old man; so that if He should come and
remove us from the world while spending our first period, that is,
while we are boys, He may receive us ready and pure, having nothing
amiss; and the second and the third in like manner. For the evening
watch is the time of the budding and youth of man, when the reason
begins to be disturbed and to be clouded by the changes of life, his
flesh gaining strength and urging him to lust. The second is the time
when, afterwards advancing to a full-grown man, he begins to acquire
stability, and to make a stand against the turbulence of passion and
self-conceit. And the third, when most of the imaginations and desires
fade away, the flesh now withering and declining to old age.
Chapter III.--Far Best to Cultivate Virtue from Boyhood.
Therefore, it is becoming that we should kindle the unquenchable light
of faith in the heart, and gird our loins with purity, and watch and
ever wait for the Lord so that, if He should will to come and take any
of us away in the first period of life, or in the second, or in the
third, and should find us most ready, and working what He appointed,
He may make us to lie down in the bosom of Abraham, of Isaac, and of
Jacob. Now Jeremiah says, "It is good for a man that he bear the yoke
in his youth; "  and "that his soul should not depart from the
Lord." It is good, indeed, from boyhood, to submit the neck to the
divine Hand, and not to shake off, even to old age, the Rider who
guides with pure mind, when the Evil One is ever dragging down the
mind to that which is worse. For who is there that does not receive
through the eyes, through the ears, through the taste and smell and
touch, pleasures and delights, so as to become impatient of the
control of continence as a driver, who checks and vehemently restrains
the horse from evil? Another who turns his thoughts to other things
will think differently; but we say that he offers himself perfectly to
God who strives to keep the flesh undefiled from childhood, practising
virginity; for it speedily brings great and much-desired gifts of
hopes to those who strive for it, drying up the corrupting lusts and
passions of the soul. But come, let us explain how we give ourselves
up to the Lord.
Chapter IV.--Perfect Consecration and Devotion to God: What It is.
That which is laid down in the Book of Numbers,  "greatly to vow
a vow," serves to show, as, with a little more explanation, I proceed
to prove, that chastity is the great vow above all vows. For then am I
plainly consecrated altogether to the Lord, when I not only strive to
keep the flesh untouched by intercourse, but also unspotted by other
kinds of unseemliness. For "the unmarried woman," it is said, 
"careth for the things of the Lord, how she may please the Lord.; "not
merely that she may bear away the glory in part of not being maimed in
her virtue, but in both parts, according to the apostle, that she may
be sanctified in body and spirit, offering up, her members to the
Lord. For let us say what it is to offer up oneself perfectly to the
Lord. If, for instance, I open my mouth on some subjects, and close it
upon others; thus, if I open it for the explanation of the Scriptures,
for the praise of God, according to my power, in a true faith and with
all due honour, and if I close it, putting a door and a watch upon
it  against foolish discourse, my mouth is kept pure, and is
offered up to God. "My tongue is a pen."  an organ of wisdom;
for the Word of the Spirit writes by it in clearest letters, from the
depth and power of the Scriptures, even the Lord, the swift Writer of
the ages, that He quickly and swiftly registers and fulfils the
counsel of the Father, hearing the words, "quickly spoil, swiftly
plunder."  To such a Scribe the words may be applied, "My
tongue is a pen; "for a beautiful pen is sanctified and offered to
Him, writing things more lovely than the poets and orators who confirm
the doctrines of men.If, too, I accustom my eyes not to lust after the
charms of the body, nor to take delight in unseemly sights, but to
look up to the things which are above, then my eyes are kept pure, and
are offered to the Lord. If I shut my ears against detraction and
slanders, and open them to the word of God, having intercourse with
wise men,  then have I offered up my ears to the Lord. If I
keep my hands from dishonourable dealing, from acts of covetousness
and of licentiousness, then are my hands kept pure to God. If I
withhold my steps from going  in perverse ways, then have I
offered up my feet, not going to the places of public resort and
banquets, where wicked men are found, but into the right way,
fulfilling something of the  commands. What, then, remains to
me, if I also keep the heart pure, offering up all its thoughts to
God; if I think no evil, if anger and wrath gain no rule over me, if I
meditate in the law of the Lord day and night? And this is to preserve
a great chastity, and to vow a great vow.
Chapter V.--The Vow of Chastity, and Its Rites in the Law; Vines,
Christ, and the Devil.
I will now endeavour to explain to you, O virgins, the rest of that
which is prescribed; for this is attached to your duties, consisting
of laws concerning virginity, which are useful as teaching how we
should abstain, and how advance to virginity. For it is written
thus:  "And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, Speak unto the
children of Israel, and say unto them, When either man or woman shall
separate themselves to vow a vow of a Nazarite, to separate themselves
unto the Lord; he shall separate himself from wine and strong drink,
and shall drink no vinegar of wine, or vinegar of strong drink,
neither shall he drink any liquor of grapes, nor eat moist grapes, or
dried, all the days of his separation." And this means, that he who
has devoted and offered himself to the Lord shall not take of the
fruits of the plant of evil, because of its natural tendency to
produce intoxication and distraction of mind. For we perceive from the
Scriptures two kinds of vines which were separate from each other, and
were unlike. For the one is productive of immortality and
righteousness; but the other of madness and insanity. The sober and
joy-producing vine, from whose instructions, as from branches, there
joyfully hang down clusters of graces, distilling love, is our Lord
Jesus, who says expressly to the apostles,  "I am the true
vine, ye are the branches; and my Father is the husbandman." But the
wild and death-bearing vine is the devil, who drops down fury and
poison and wrath, as Moses relates, writing concerning him, 
"For their vine is of the vine of Sodom, and of the fields of
Gomorrah: their grapes are grapes of gall, their clusters are bitter:
their wine is the poison of dragons, and the cruel venom of asps." The
inhabitants of Sodom having gathered grapes from this, were goaded on
to an unnatural and fruitless desire for males. Hence, also, in the
time of Noah, men having given themselves tip to drunkenness, sank
down into unbelief, and, being overwhelmed by the deluge, were
drowned. And Cain, too, having drawn from this, stained his
fratricidal hands, and defiled the earth with the blood of his own
family. Hence, too, the heathen, becoming intoxicated, sharpen their
passions for murderous battles; for man is not so much excited, nor
goes so far astray through wine, as from anger and wrath. A man does
not become intoxicated and go astray through wine, in the same way as
he does from sorrow, or from love, or from incontinence. And therefore
it is ordered that a virgin shall not taste of this vine, so that she
may be sober and watchful from the cares of life, and may kindle the
shining torch of the light of righteousness for the Word. "Take heed
to yourselves," says the Lord,  "lest at any time your hearts
be overcharged with surfeiting, and drunkenness, and cares of this
life, and so that day come upon yon unawares, as a snare."
Chapter VI.--Sikera, a Manufactured and Spurious Wine, Yet
Intoxicating; Things Which are Akin to Sins are to Be Avoided by a
Virgin; The Altar of Incense (a Symbol Of) Virgins.
Moreover, it is not only forbidden to virgins in any way to touch
those things which are made from that vine, but even such things as
resemble them and are akin to them. For Sikera, which is manufactured,
is called a spurious kind of wine, whether made of palms or of other
fruit-trees. For in the same way that draughts of wine overthrow man's
reason, so do these exceedingly; and to speak the plain truth, the
wise are accustomed to call by the name of Sikera all that produces
drunkenness and distraction of mind, besides wine. In order,
therefore, that the virgin may not, when guarding against those sins
which are in their own nature evil, be defiled by those which are like
them and akin to them, conquering the one and being conquered by the
other, that is, decorating herself with textures of different cloths,
or with stones and gold, and other decorations of the body, things
which intoxicate the soul; on this account it is ordered that she do
not give herself up to womanish weaknesses and laughter, exciting
herself to wiles and foolish talking, which whirl the mind around and
confuse it; as it is indicated in another place,  "Ye shall
not eat the hyaena and animals like it; nor the weasel and creatures
of that kind." For this is the straight and direct way to heaven, not
merely not to avoid any stumbling-block which would trip up and
destroy men who are agitated by a desire for luxuries and pleasures,
but also from such things as resemble them.
Moreover, it has been handed down that the unbloody altar of God
signifies the assembly of the chaste; thus virginity appears to be
something great and glorious. Therefore it ought to be preserved
undefiled and altogether pure, having no participation in the
impurities of the flesh; but it should be set up before the presence
of the testimony, gilded with wisdom, for the Holy of holies, sending
forth a sweet savour of love to the Lord; for He says,  "Thou
shalt make an altar to burn incense upon: of shittim-wood shalt thou
make it. And thou shall make the staves of shittim-wood, and overlay
them with gold. And thou shalt put it before the veil that is by the
ark of the testimony, before the mercy-seat that is over the
testimony, where I will meet with thee. And Aaron shall burn thereon
sweet incense every morning: when he dresseth the lamps, he shall burn
incense upon it. And when Aaron lighteth the lamps at even, he shall
burn incense upon it; a perpetual incense before the Lord throughout
your generations. Ye shall offer no strange incense thereon, nor
burnt-sacrifices nor meat-offering; neither shall ye pour
Chapter VII.--The Church Intermediate Between the Shadows of the Law
and the Realities of Heaven.
If the law, according to the apostle, is spiritual, containing the
images "of future good things,"  come then, let us strip off
the veil of the letter which is spread over it, and consider its naked
and true meaning. The Hebrews were commanded to ornament the
Tabernacle as a type of the Church, that they might be able, by means
of sensible things, to announce beforehand the image of divine things.
For the pattern which was shown to Moses  in the mount, to
which he was to have regard in fashioning the Tabernacle, was a kind
of accurate representation of the heavenly dwelling, which we now
perceive more clearly than through types, yet more darkly than if we
saw the reality. For not yet, in our present condition, has the truth
come unmingled to men, who are here unable to bear the sight of pure
immortality, just as we cannot bear to look upon the rays of the sun.
And the Jews declared that the shadow of the image (of the heavenly
things which was afforded to them), was the third from the reality;
but we clearly behold the image of the heavenly order; for the truth
will be accurately made manifest after the resurrection, when we shall
see the heavenly tabernacle (the city in heaven "whose builder and
maker is God"  "face to face," and not "darkly" and "in
Chapter VIII.--The Double Altar, Widows and Virgins; Gold the Symbol
Now the Jews prophesied our state, but we foretell the heavenly; since
the Tabernacle was a symbol of the Church, and the Church of heaven.
Therefore, these things being so, and the Tabernacle being taken for a
type of the Church, as I said, it is fitting that the altars should
signify some of the things in the Church. And we have already compared
the brazen altar to the company and circuit of widows; for they are a
living altar of God, to which they bring calves and tithes, and
free-will offerings, as a sacrifice to the Lord; but the golden altar
within the  Holy of holies, before the presence of the
testimony, on which it is forbidden to offer sacrifice and libation,
has reference to those in a state of virginity, as those who have
their bodies preserved pure, like unalloyed gold, from carnal
intercourse. Now gold is commended for two reasons: the first, that it
does not rust, and the second, that in its colour it seems in a
measure to resemble the rays of the sun; and thus it is suitably a
symbol of virginity, which does not admit any stain or spot, but ever
shines forth with the light of the Word. Therefore, also, it stands
nearer to God within the Holy of holies, and before the veil, with
undefiled hands, like incense, offering up prayers to the Lord,
acceptable as a sweet savour; as also John indicated, saying that the
incense in the vials of the four-and-twenty elders were the prayers of
the saints. This, then, I offer to thee, O Arete, on the spur of the
moment, according to my ability, on the subject of chastity.
And when Thallousa had said this, Theopatra said that Arete touched
Agathe with her sceptre, and that she, perceiving it, immediately
arose and answered.
Chapter I.--The Excellence of the Abiding Glory of Virginity; The Soul
Made in the Image of the Image of God, that is of His Son; The Devil a
Suitor for the Soul.
With great confidence of being able to persuade, and to carry on this
admirable discourse, O Arete, if thou go with me, will I also
endeavour, according to my ability, to contribute something to the
discussion of the subject before us; something commensurate to my own
power, and not to be compared with that which has already been spoken.
For I should be unable to put forth in philosophizing anything that
could compete with those things which have already been so variously
and brilliantly worked out. For I shall seem to bear away the reproach
of silliness, if I make an effort to match myself with my superiors in
wisdom. If, however, you will bear even with those who speak as they
can, I will endeavour to speak, not lacking at least in good will. And
here let me begin.
We have all come into this world, O virgins, endowed with singular
beauty, which has a relationship and affinity to divine wisdom. For
the souls of men do then most accurately resemble Him who begat and
formed them, when, reflecting the unsullied representation of His
likeness, and the features of that countenance, to which God looking
formed them to have an immortal and indestructible shape, they remain
such. For the unbegotten and incorporeal beauty, which neither begins
nor is corruptible, but is unchangeable, and grows not old and has
need of nothing, He resting in Himself, and in the very light which is
in unspeakable and inapproachable places,  embracing all things
in the circumference of His power, creating and arranging, made the
soul after the image of His image. Therefore, also, it is reasonable
and immortal. For being made after the image of the Only-begotten, as
I said, it has an unsurpassable beauty, and therefore evil spirits
 love it, and plot and strive to defile its godlike and lovely
image, as the prophet Jeremiah shows, reproaching Jerusalem, "Thou
hadst a whore's forehead, thou refusedst to be ashamed; " 
speaking of her who prostituted herself to the powers which came
against her to pollute her. For her lovers are the devil and his
angels, who plan to defile and pollute our reasonable and
clear-sighted beauty of mind by intercourse with themselves, and
desire to cohabit with every soul which is betrothed to the Lord.
Chapter II.--The Parable of the Ten Virgins. 
If, then, any one will keep this beauty inviolate and unharmed, and
such as He who constructed it formed and fashioned it, imitating the
eternal and intelligible nature of which man is the representation and
likeness, and will become like a glorious and holy image, he will be
transferred thence to heaven, the city of the blessed, and will dwell
there as in a sanctuary. Now our beauty is then best preserved
undefiled and perfect when, protected by virginity, it is not darkened
by the heat of corruption from without; but, remaining in itself, it
is adorned with righteousness, being brought as a bride to the Son of
God; as He also Himself suggests, exhorting that the light of chastity
should be kindled in their flesh, as in lamps; since the number of the
ten virgins s signifies the souls that have believed in Jesus Christ,
symbolizing by the ten the only right way to heaven. Now five of them
were prudent and wise; and five were foolish and unwise, for they had
not the forethought to fill their vessels with oil, remaining
destitute of righteousness. Now by these He signifies those who strive
to come to the boundaries of virginity, and who strain every nerve to
fulfil this love, acting virtuously and temperately, and who profess
and boast that this is their aim; but who, making light of it, and
being subdued by the changes of the world, come rather to be sketches
of the shadowy image of virtue, than workers who represent the living
Chapter III.--The Same Endeavour and Effort After Virginity, with a
Now when it is said  that "the kingdom of heaven is likened unto
ten virgins, which took their lamps and went forth to meet the
bridegroom," this means that the same way towards the goal had been
entered upon, as is shown by the mark X.  By profession they had
equally proposed the same end, and therefore they are called ten,
since, as I have said, they chose the same profession; but they did
not, for all that, go forth in the same way to meet the bridegroom.
For some provided abundant future nourishment for their lamps which
were fed with oil, but others were careless, thinking only of the
present. And, therefore, they are divided into two equal numbers of
five, inasmuch as the one class preserved the five senses, which most
people consider the gates of wisdom, pure and undefiled by sins; but
the others, on the contrary, corrupted them by multitudes of sins,
defiling themselves with evil. For having restrained them, and kept
them free from righteousness, they bore a more abundant crop of
transgressions, in consequence of which it came to pass that they were
forbidden, and shut out from the divine courts. For whether, on the
one hand, we do right, or, on the other, do wrong through these
senses, our habits of good and evil are confirmed. And as Thallousa
said that there is a chastity of the eyes, and of the ears, and of the
tongue, and so on of the other senses; so here she who keeps inviolate
the faith of the five pathways of virtue--sight, taste, smell, touch,
and hearing--is called by the name of the five virgins, because she
has kept the five forms of the sense pure to Christ, as a lamp,
causing the light of holiness to shine forth clearly from each of
them. For the flesh is truly, as it were, our five-lighted lamp, which
the soul will bear like a torch, when it stands before Christ the
Bridegroom, on the day of the resurrection, showing her faith
springing out clear and bright through all the senses, as He Himself
taught, saying,  "I am come to send fire on the earth; and what
will I if it be already kindled? "meaning by the earth our bodies, in
which He wished the swift-moving and fiery operation of His doctrine
to be kindled. Now the oil represents wisdom and righteousness; for
while the soul rains down unsparingly, and pours forth these things
upon the body, the light of virtue is kindled unquenchably, making its
good actions to shine before men, so that our Father which is in
heaven may be glorified. 
Chapter IV.--What the Oil in the Lamps Means.
Now they offered, in Leviticus,  oil of this kind, "pure oil
olive, beaten for the light, to cause the lamps to burn continually,
without the veil ... before the Lord." But they were commanded to have
a feeble light from the evening to the morning. For their light seemed
to resemble the prophetic word, which gives encouragement to
temperance, being nourished by the acts and the faith of the people.
But the temple (in which the light was kept burning) refers to "the
lot of their inheritance,"  inasmuch as a light can shine in
only one house. Therefore it was necessary that it should be lighted
before day. For he says,  "they shall burn it until the
morning," that is, until the coming of Christ. But the Sun of chastity
and of righteousness having arisen, there is no need of other light.
So long, then, as this people treasured up nourishment for the light,
supplying oil by their works, the light of continence was not
extinguished among them, but was ever shining and giving light in the
"lot of their inheritance." But when the oil failed, by their turning
away from the faith to incontinence, the light was entirely
extinguished, so that the virgins have again to kindle their lamps by
light transmitted from one to another, bringing the light of
incorruption to the world from above. Let us then supply now the oil
of good works abundantly, and of prudence, being purged from all
corruption which would weigh us down; lest, while the Bridegroom
tarries, our lamps may also in like manner be extinguished. For the
delay is the interval which precedes the appearing of Christ. Now the
slumbering and sleeping of the virgins signifies the departure from
life; and the midnight is the kingdom of Antichrist, during which the
destroying angel passes over the houses.  But the cry which
was made when it was said,  "Behold the bridegroom cometh, go
ye out to meet him," is the voice which shall be heard from heaven,
and the trumpet, when the saints, all their bodies being raised, shall
be caught up, and shall go on the clouds to meet the Lord. 
For it is to be observed that the word of God says, that after the cry
all the virgins arose, that is, that the dead shall be raised after
the voice which comes from heaven, as also Paul intimates, 
that "the Lord Himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with
the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in
Christ shall rise first; "that is the tabernacles,  for they
died, being put off by their souls. "Then we which are alive shall be
caught up together with them," meaning our souls.  For we
truly who are alive are the souls which, with the bodies, having put
them on again, shall go to meet Him in the clouds, bearing our lamps
trimmed, not with anything alien and worldly, but like stars radiating
the light of prudence and continence, full of ethereal splendour.
Chapter V.--The Reward of Virginity.
These, O fair virgins, are the orgies of our mysteries; these the
mystic rites of those who are initiated in virginity; these the
"undefiled rewards"  of the conflict of virginity. I am
betrothed to the Word, and receive as a reward the eternal crown of
immortality and riches from the Father; and I triumph in eternity,
crowned with the bright and unfading flowers of wisdom. I am one in
the choir with Christ dispensing His rewards in heaven, around the
unbeginning and never-ending King. I have become the torch-bearer of
the unapproachable lights,  and I join with their company in
the new song of the archangels, showing forth the new grace of the
Church; for the Word says that the company of virgins always follow
the Lord, and have fellowship with Him wherever He is. And this is
what John signifies in the commemoration of the hundred and forty-four
Go then, ye virgin band of the new ages. Go, fill your vessels with
righteousness, for the hour is coming when ye must rise and meet the
bridegroom. Go, lightly leaving on one side the fascinations and the
pleasures of life, which confuse and bewitch the soul; and thus shall
ye attain the promises, "This I swear by Him who has shown me the way
of life." This crown, woven by the prophets, I have taken from the
prophetic meadows, and offer to thee, O Arete.
Agathe having thus admirably brought her discourse to an end, she
said, and having been applauded for what she had uttered, Arete again
commanded Procilla to speak. And she, rising and passing before the
entrance, spoke thus.
Chapter I.--What the True and Seemly Manner of Praising; The Father
Greater Than the Son, Not in Substance, But in Order; Virginity the
Lily; Faithful Souls and Virgins, the One Bride of the One Christ.
It is not lawful for me to delay, O Arete, after such discourses,
seeing that I confide undoubtingly in the manifold wisdom of God,
which gives richly and widely to whomsoever it wills. For sailors who
have experience of the sea declare that the same wind blows on all who
sail; and that different persons, managing their course differently,
strive to reach different ports. Some have a fair wind; to others it
blows across their course; and yet both easily accomplish their
voyage. Now, in the same way, the "understanding Spirit,  holy,
one only,"  gently breathing down from the treasures of the
Father above, giving us all the clear fair wind of knowledge, will
suffice to guide the course of our words without offence. And now it
is time for me to speak. This, O virgins, is the one true and seemly
mode of praising, when he who praises brings forward a witness better
than all those who are praised. For thence one may learn with
certainty that the commendation is given not from favour, nor of
necessity, nor from repute, but in accordance with truth and an
unflattering judgment. And so the prophets and apostles, who spoke
more fully concerning the Son of God, and assigned to Him a divinity
above other men, did not refer their praises of Him to the teaching of
angels, but to Him upon whom all authority and power depend. For it
was fitting that He who was greater than all things after the Father,
should have the Father, who alone is greater than Himself,  as
His witness. And so I will not bring forward the praises of virginity
from mere human report, but from Him who cares for us, and who has
taken up the whole matter, showing that He is the husbandman of this
grace, and a lover of its beauty, and a fitting witness. And this is
quite clear, in the Song of Songs,  to any one who is willing to
see it, where Christ Himself, praising those who are firmly
established in virginity, says,  "As the lily among thorns, so
is my love among the daughters; "comparing the grace of chastity to
the lily, on account of its purity and fragrance, and sweetness and
joyousness. For chastity is like a spring flower, always softly
exhaling immortality from its white petals. Therefore He is not
ashamed to confess that He loves the beauty of its prime, in the
following words:  "Thou hast ravished my heart, my sister, my
spouse; thou hast ravished my heart with one of thine eyes, with one
chain of thy neck. How fair is thy love, my sister, my spouse! how
much better is thy love than wine! and the smell of thine ointments
than all spices! Thy lips, O my spouse, drop as the honeycomb; honey
and milk are under thy tongue; and the smell of thy garments is like
the smell of Lebanon. A garden enclosed is my sister, my spouse; a
spring shut up, a fountain sealed."
These praises does Christ proclaim to those who have come to the
boundaries of virginity, describing them all under the one name of His
spouse; for the spouse must be betrothed to the Bridegroom, and called
by His name. And, moreover, she must be undefiled and unpolluted, as a
garden sealed, in which all the odours of the fragrance of heaven are
grown, that Christ alone may come and gather them, blooming with
incorporeal seeds. For the Word loves none of the things of the flesh,
because He is not of such a nature as to be contented with any of the
things which are corruptible, as hands, or face, or feet; but He looks
upon and delights in the beauty which is immaterial and spiritual, not
touching the beauty of the body.
Chapter II.--The Interpretation of that Passage of the Canticles.
Consider now, O virgins, that, in saying to the bride, "Thou hast
ravished my heart, my sister, my spouse," He shows the clear eye of
the understanding, when the inner man has cleansed it and looks more
clearly upon the truth. For it is clear to every one that there is a
twofold power of sight, the one of the soul, and the other of the
body. But the Word does not profess a love for that of the body, but
only that of the understanding, saying, "Thou hast ravished my heart
with one of thine eyes, with one chain of thy neck; "which means, By
the most lovely sight of thy mind, thou hast urged my heart to love,
radiating forth from within the glorious beauty of chastity. Now the
chains of the neck are necklaces which are composed of various
precious stones; and the souls which take care of the body, place
around the outward neck of the flesh this visible ornament to deceive
those who behold; but those who live chastely, on the other hand,
adorn themselves within with ornaments truly composed of various
precious stones, namely, of freedom, of magnanimity, of wisdom, and of
love, caring little for those temporal decorations which, like leaves
blossoming for an hour, dry up with the changes of the body. For there
is seen in man a twofold beauty, of which the Lord accepts that which
is within and is immortal, saying, "Thou hast ravished my heart with
one chain of thy neck; "meaning to show that He had been drawn to love
by the splendour of the inner man shining forth in its glory, even as
the Psalmist also testifies, saying, "The King's daughter is all
glorious within." 
Chapter III.--Virgins Being Martyrs First Among the Companions of
Let no one suppose that all the remaining company of those who have
believed are condemned, thinking that we who are virgins alone shall
be led on to attain the promises, not understanding that there shall
be tribes and families and orders, according to the analogy of the
faith of each. And this Paul, too, sets forth, saying,  "There
is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another
glory of the stars: for one star differeth from another star in glory.
So also is the resurrection of the dead." And the Lord does not
profess to give the same honours to all; but to some He promises that
they shall be numbered in the kingdom of heaven, to others the
inheritance of the earth, and to others to see the Father. 
And here, also, He announces that the order and holy choir of the
virgins shall first enter in company with Him into the rest of the new
dispensation, as into a bridal chamber. For they were martyrs, not as
bearing the pains of the body for a little moment of time, but as
enduring them through all their life, not shrinking from truly
wrestling in an Olympian contest for the prize of chastity; but
resisting the fierce torments of pleasures and fears and griefs, and
the other evils of the iniquity of men, they first of all carry off
the prize, taking their place in the higher rank of those who receive
the promise. Undoubtedly these are the souls whom the Word calls alone
His chosen spouse and His sister, but the rest concubines and virgins
and daughters, speaking thus:  "There are threescore queens
and fourscore concubines, and virgins without number. My dove, my
undefiled, is but one; she is the only one of her mother, she is the
choice one of her that bare her: the daughters saw her and blessed
her: yea, the queens and the concubines, and they praised her." For
there being plainly many daughters of the Church, one alone is the
chosen and most precious in her eyes above all, namely, the order of
Chapter IV.--The Passage  Explained; The Queens, the Holy
Souls Before the Deluge; The Concubines, the Souls of the Prophets;
The Divine Seed for Spiritual Offspring in the Books of the Prophets;
The Nuptials of the Word in the Prophets as Though Clandestine.
Now if any one should have a doubt about these things, inasmuch as the
points are nowhere fully wrought out, and should still wish more fully
to perceive their spiritual significance, namely, what the queens and
the concubines and the virgins are, we will say that these may have
been spoken concerning those who have been conspicuous for their
righteousness from the beginning throughout the progress of time; as
of those before the flood, and those after the flood, and so on of
those after Christ. The Church, then, is the spouse. The queens are
those royal souls before the deluge, who became well-pleasing to God,
that is, those about Abel and Seth and Enoch. The concubines 
those after the flood, namely, those of the prophets, in whom, before
the Church was betrothed to the Lord, being united to them after the
manner of concubines, He sowed true words in an incorrupt and pure
philosophy, so that, conceiving faith, they might bring forth to Him
the Spirit of salvation. For such fruits do the souls bring forth with
whom Christ has had intercourse, fruits which bear an ever-memorable
renown. For if you will look at the books of Moses, or David, or
Solomon, or Isaiah, or of the prophets who follow, O virgins, you will
see what offspring they have left, for the saving of life, from their
intercourse with the Son of God. Hence the Word has with deep
perception called the souls of the prophets concubines, because He did
not espouse them openly, as He did the Church, having killed for her
the fatted calf. 
Chapter V.--The Sixty Queens: Why Sixty, and Why Queens; The
Excellence of the Saints of the First Age.
In addition to these matters, there is this also to be considered, so
that nothing may escape us of things which are necessary, why He said
that the queens were sixty, and the concubines eighty, and the virgins
so numerous as not to be counted from their multitude, but the spouse
one. And first let us speak of the sixty. I imagine that He named
under the sixty queens, those who had pleased God from the first-made
man in succession to Noah, for this reason, since these had no need of
precepts and laws for their salvation, the creation of the world in
six days being still recent. For they remembered that in six days God
formed the creation, and those things which were made in paradise; and
how man, receiving a command not to touch  the tree of
knowledge, ran aground, the author of evil having led him astray.
 Thence he gave the symbolical name of sixty queens to those
souls who, from the creation of the world, in succession chose God as
the object of their love, and were almost, so to speak, the offspring
of the first age, and neighbours of the great six days' work, from
their having been born, as I said, immediately after the six days. For
these had great honour, being associated with the angels, and often
seeing God manifested visibly, and not in a dream. For consider what
confidence Seth had towards God, and Abel, and Enos, and Enoch, and
Methuselah, and Noah, the first lovers of righteousness, and the first
of the first-born children who are written in heaven,  being
thought worthy of the kingdom, as a kind of first-fruits of the plants
for salvation, coming out as early fruit to God. And so much may
suffice concerning these.
Chapter VI.--The Eighty Concubines, What; The Knowledge of the
Incarnation Communicated to the Prophets.
It still remains to speak concerning the concubines. To those who
lived after the deluge the knowledge of God was henceforth more
remote, and they needed other instruction to ward off the evil, and to
be their helper, since idolatry was already creeping in. Therefore
God, that the race of man might not be wholly destroyed, through
forgetfulness of the things whichwere good, commanded His own Son to
reveal to the prophets His own future appearance in the world by the
flesh, in which the joy and knowledge of the spiritual eighth day
 shall be proclaimed, which would bring the remission of sins
and the resurrection, and that thereby the passions and corruptions of
men would be circumcised. And, therefore, He called by the name of the
eighty virgins the list of the prophets from Abraham, on account of
the dignity of circumcision, which embraces the number eight, in
accordance with which also the law is framed; because they first,
before the Church was espoused to the Word, received the divine seed,
and foretold the circumcision of the spiritual eighth day.
Chapter VII.--The Virgins, the Righteous Ancients; The Church, the One
Only Spouse, More Excellent Than the Others. 
Now he calls by the name of virgins, who belong to a countless
assembly, those who, being inferior to the better ones, have practised
righteousness, and have striven against sin with youthful and noble
energy. But of these, neither the queens, nor the concubines, nor the
virgins, are compared to the Church. For she is reckoned the perfect
and chosen one beyond all these, consisting and composed of all the
apostles, the Bride who surpasses all in the beauty of youth and
virginity. Therefore, also, she is blessed and praised by all, because
she saw and heard freely what those desired to see, even for a little
time, and saw not, and to hear, but heard not. For "blessed," said our
Lord to His disciples,  "are your eyes, for they see; and your
ears, for they hear. For verily I say unto you, That many prophets
have desired to see those things which ye see, and have not seen them;
and to hear those things which ye hear, and have not heard them." For
this reason, then, the prophets count them blessed, and admire them,
because the Church was thought worthy to participate in those things
which they did not attain to hear or see. For "there are threescore
queens, and fourscore concubines, and virgins without number. My dove,
my undefiled, is but one." 
Chapter VIII.--The Human Nature of Christ His One Dove.
Can any one now say otherwise than that the Bride is the undefiled
flesh of the Lord, for the sake of which He left the Father and came
down here, and was joined to it, and, being incarnate, dwelt in it?
Therefore He called it figuratively a dove, because that creature is
tame and domestic, and readily adapts itself to man's mode of life.
For she alone, so to speak, was found spotless and undefiled, and
excelling all in the glory and beauty of righteousness, so that none
of those who had pleased God most perfectly could stand near to her in
a comparison of virtue. And for this reason she was thought worthy to
become a partaker of the kingdom of the Only-begotten, being betrothed
and united to Him. And in the forty-fourth psalm,  the queen
who, chosen out of many, stands at the right hand of God, clothed in
the golden ornament of virtue, whose beauty the King desired, 
is, as I said, the undefiled and blessed flesh, which the Word Himself
carried into the heavens, and presented at the right hand of God,
"wrought about with divers colours," that is, in the pursuits of
immortality, which he calls symbolically golden fringes. For since
this garment is variegated and woven of various virtues, as chastity,
prudence, faith, love, patience, and other good things, which,
covering, as they do, the unseemliness of the flesh, adorn man with a
Chapter IX.--The Virgins Immediately After the Queen and Spouse.
Moreover, we must further consider what the Spirit delivers to us in
the rest of the psalm, after the enthronization of the manhood assumed
by the Word at the right hand of the Father. "The virgins," He says,
 "that be her fellows shall bear her company, and shall be
brought unto thee. With joy and gladness shall they be brought, and
shall enter into the King's palace." Now, here the Spirit seems quite
plainly to praise virginity, next, as we have explained, to the Bride
of the Lord, who promises that the virgins shall approach second to
the Almighty with joy and gladness, guarded and escorted by angels.
For so lovely and desirable is in truth the glory of virginity, that,
next to the Queen, whom the Lord exalts, and presents in sinless glory
to the Father, the choir and order of virgins bear her company,
assigned to a place second to that of the Bride. Let these efforts of
mine to speak to thee, O Arete, concerning chastity, be engraven on a
And Procilla having thus spoken, Thekla said, It is my turn after her
to continue the contest; and I rejoice, since I too have the favouring
wisdom of words, perceiving that I am, like a harp, inwardly attuned,
and prepared to speak with elegance and propriety.
Arete. I most willingly hail thy readiness, O Thekla, in which I
confide to give me fitting discourse, in accordance with thy powers;
since thou wilt yield to none in universal philosophy and instruction,
instructed by Paul in what is fitting to say of evangelical and divine
Chapter I.--Methodius' Derivation of the Word Virginity: Wholly
Divine; Virtue, in Greek Arete' , Whence So Called. 
Well, then, let us first say, beginning from the origin of the name,
for what cause this supreme and blessed pursuit was called partheni'a,
what it aims at, what power it has, and afterwards, what fruits it
gives forth. For almost all have been ignorant of this virtue as being
superior to ten thousand other advantages of virtue which we cultivate
for the purification and adornment of the soul. For virginity 
is divine by the change of one letter,  as she alone makes him
who has her, and is initiated by her incorruptible rites like unto
God, than which it is impossible to find a greater good, removed, as
it is, from pleasure and grief; and the wing of the soul sprinkled by
it becomes stronger and lighter, accustomed daily to fly from human
For since the children of the wise have said that our life is a
festival, and that we have come to exhibit in the theatre the drama of
truth, that is, righteousness, the devil and the demons plotting and
striving against us, it is necessary for us to look upwards and to
take our flight aloft, and to flee from the blandishments of their
tongues, and from their forms tinged with the outward appearance of
temperance, more than from the Sirens of Homer. For many, bewitched by
the pleasures of error, take their flight downwards, and are weighed
down when they come into this life, their nerves being relaxed and
unstrung, by means of which the power of the wings of temperance is
strengthened, lightening the downward tendency of the corruption of
the body. Whence, O Arete, whether thou hast thy name, signifying,
virtue, because thou art worthy of being chosen  for thyself, or
because thou raisest  and liftest up to heaven, ever going in
the purest minds, come, give me thy help in my discourse, which thou
hast thyself appointed me to speak.
Chapter II.--The Lofty Mind and Constancy of the Sacred Virgins; The
Introduction of Virgins into the Blessed Abodes Before Others.
Those who take a downward flight, and fall into pleasures, do not
desist from grief and labours until, through their passionate desires,
they fulfil the want of their intemperance, and, being degraded and
shut out from the sanctuary, they are removed from the scene of truth,
and, instead of procreating children with modesty and temperance, they
rave in the wild pleasures of unlawful amours. But those who, on light
wing, ascend into the supramundane life, and see from afar what other
men do not see, the very pastures of immortality, bearing in abundance
flowers of inconceivable beauty, are ever turning themselves again to
the spectacles there; and, for this reason, those things are thought
small which are here considered noble--such as wealth, and glory, and
birth, and marriage; and they think no more of those things. 
But yet if any of them should choose to give up their bodies to wild
beasts or to fire, and be punished, they are ready to have no care for
pains, for the desire of them or the fear of them; so that they seem,
while in the world, not to be in the world, but to have already
reached, in thought and in the tendency of their desires, the assembly
of those who are in heaven.
Now it is not right that the wing of virginity should, by its own
nature, be weighed down upon the earth, but that it should soar
upwards to heaven, to a pure atmosphere, and to the life which is akin
to that of angels. Whence also they, first of all, after their call
and departure hence, who have rightly and faithfully contended as
virgins for Christ, bear away the prize of victory, being crowned by
Him with the flowers of immortality. For, as soon as their souls have
left the world, it is said that the angels meet them with much
rejoicing, and conduct them to the very pastures already spoken of, to
which also they were longing to come, contemplating them in
imagination from afar, when, while they were vet dwelling in their
bodies, they appeared to them divine.
Chapter III.--The Lot and Inheritance of Virginity.
Furthermore, when they have come hither, they see wonderful and
glorious and blessed things of beauty, and such as cannot be spoken to
men. They see there righteousness itself and prudence, and love
itself, and truth and temperance, and other flowers and plants of
wisdom, equally splendid, of which we here behold only the shadows
 and apparitions, as in dreams, and think that they consist of
the actions of men, because there is no clear image of them here, but
only dim copies, which themselves we see often when making dark copies
of them. For never has any one seen with his eyes the greatness or the
form or the beauty of righteousness itself, or of understanding, or of
peace; but there, in Him whose name is I AM,  they are seen
perfect and clear, as they are. For there is a tree of temperance
itself, and of love, and of understanding, as there are plants of the
fruits which grow here--as of grapes, the pomegranate, and of apples;
and so, too, the fruits of those trees are gathered and eaten, and do
not perish and wither, but those who gather them grow to immortality
and a likeness to God. Just as he from whom all are descended, before
the fall and the blinding of his eyes, being in paradise, enjoyed its
fruits, God appointing man to dress and to keep the plants of wisdom.
For it was entrusted to the first Adam to cultivate those fruits. Now
Jeremiah saw that these things exist specially in a certain place,
removed to a great distance from our world, where, compassionating
those who have fallen from that good state, he says:  "Learn
where is wisdom, where is strength, where is understanding; that thou
mayest know also where is length of days, and life, where is the light
of the eyes, and peace. Who hath found out her place? or who hath come
into her treasures? "The virgins having entered into the treasures of
these things, gather the reasonable fruits of the virtues, sprinkled
with manifold and well-ordered lights, which, like a fountain, God
throws up over them, irradiating that state with unquenchable lights.
And they sing harmoniously, giving glory to God. For a pure atmosphere
is shed over them, and one which is not oppressed by the sun.
Chapter IV.--Exhortation to the Cultivation of Virginity; A Passage
from the Apocalypse is Proposed to Be Examined. 
Now, then, O Virgins, daughters of undefiled temperance, let us strive
for a life of blessedness and the kingdom of heaven. And do ye unite
with those before you in an earnest desire for the same glory of
chastity, caring little for the things of this life. For immortality
and chastity do not contribute a little to happiness, raising up the
flesh aloft, and drying up its moisture and its clay-like weight, by a
greater force of attraction. And let not the uncleanness which you
hear creep in and weigh you down to the earth; nor let sorrow
transform your joy, melting away your hopes in better things; but
shake off incessantly the calamities which come upon you, not defiling
your mind with lamentations. Let faith conquer wholly, and let its
light drive away the visions of evil which crowd around the heart.
For, as when the moon brightly shining fills the heaven with its
light, and all the air becomes clear, but suddenly the clouds from the
west, enviously rushing in, for a little while overshadow its light,
but do not destroy it, since they are immediately driven away by a
blast of the wind; so ye also, when causing the light of chastity to
shine in the world, although pressed upon by afflictions and labours,
do not grow weary and abandon your hopes. For the clouds which come
from the Evil One are driven away by the Spirit,  if ye, like
your Mother, who gives birth to the male Virgin in heaven, fear
nothing the serpent that lies in wait and plots against you;
concerning whom I intend to discourse to you more plainly; for it is
John, in the course of the Apocalypse, says:  "And there
appeared a great wonder in heaven; a woman clothed with the sun, and
the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars:
and she, being with child, cried, travailing in birth, and pained to
be delivered. And there appeared another wonder in heaven; and behold
a great red dragon, having seven heads and ten horns, and seven crowns
upon his heads. And his tail drew the third part of the stars of
heaven, and did cast them to the earth: and the dragon stood before
the woman which was ready to be delivered, for to devour her child as
soon as it was born. And she brought forth a man-child, who was to
rule all nations with a rod of iron: and her child was caught up unto
God, and to His throne. And the woman fled into the wilderness, where
she hath a place prepared of God, that they should feed her there a
thousand two hundred and threescore days." So far we have given, in
brief, the history of the woman and the dragon. But to search out and
explain the solution of them is beyond my powers. Nevertheless, let me
venture, trusting in Him who commanded to search the Scriptures.
 If, then, you agree with this, it will not be difficult to
undertake it; for you will quite pardon me, if I am unable
sufficiently to explain the exact meaning of the Scripture.
Chapter V.--The Woman Who Brings Forth, to Whom the Dragon is Opposed,
the Church; Her Adornment and Grace.
The woman who appeared in heaven clothed with the sun, and crowned
with twelve stars, and having the moon for her footstool, and being
with child, and travailing in birth, is certainly, according to the
accurate interpretation, our mother,  O virgins, being a power
by herself distinct from her children; whom the prophets, according to
the aspect of their subjects, have called sometimes Jerusalem,
sometimes a Bride, sometimes Mount Zion, and sometimes the Temple and
Tabernacle of God. For she is the power which is desired to give light
in the prophet, the Spirit crying to her:  "Arise, shine; for
thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee. For,
behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the
people: but the Lord shall arise upon thee, and His glory shall be
seen upon thee. And the Gentiles shall come to thy light, and kings to
the brightness of thy rising. Lift up thine eyes round about, and see;
all they gather themselves together, they come to thee: thy sons shall
come from far, and thy daughters shall be nursed at thy side." It is
the Church whose children shall come to her with all speed after the
resurrection, running to her from all quarters. She rejoices receiving
the light which never goes down, and clothed with the brightness of
the Word as with a robe. For with what other more precious or
honourable ornament was it becoming that the queen should be adorned,
to be led as a Bride to the Lord, when she had received a garment of
light, and therefore was called by the Father? Come, then, let us go
forward in our discourse, and look upon this marvelous woman as upon
virgins prepared for a marriage, pure and undefiled, perfect and
radiating a permanent beauty, wanting nothing of the brightness of
light; and instead of a dress, clothed with light itself; and instead
of precious stones, her head adorned with shining stars. For instead
of the clothing which we have, she had light; and for gold and
brilliant stones, she had stars; but stars not such as those which are
set in the invisible heaven, but better and more resplendent, so that
those may rather be considered as their images and likenesses.
Chapter VI.--The Works of the Church, the Bringing Forth of Children
in Baptism; The Moon in Baptism, the Full Moon of Christ's Passion.
Now the statement that she stands upon the moon, as I consider,
denotes the faith of those who are cleansed from corruption in the
laver of regeneration, because the light of the moon has more
resemblance to tepid water, and all moist substance is dependent upon
her. The Church, then, stands upon our faith and adoption, under the
figure of the moon, until the fulness of the nations come in,
labouring and bringing forth natural men as spiritual men; for which
reason too she is a mother. For just as a woman receiving tim unformed
seed of a man, within a certain time brings forth a perfect man, in
the same way, one should say, does the Church conceive those who flee
to the Word, and, forming them according to the likeness and form of
Christ, after a certain time produce them as citizens of that blessed
state. Whence it is necessary that she should stand upon the laver,
bringing forth those who are washed in it. And in this way the power
which she has in connection with the laver is called the moon,
 because the regenerate shine being renewed with a new ray,
 that is, a new light. Whence, also, they are by a descriptive
term called newly-enlightened;  the moon ever showing forth
anew to them the spiritual full moon, namely, the period and the
memorial of the passion, until the glory and the perfect light of the
great day arise.
Chapter VII.--The Child of the Woman in the Apocalypse Not Christ, But
the Faithful Who are Born in the Laver.
If any one, for there is no difficulty in speaking distinctly, should
be vexed, and reply to what we have said: "But how, O virgins, can
this explanation seem to you to be according to the mind of Scripture,
when the Apocalypse plainly defines that the Church brings forth a
male, while you teach that her labour-pains have their fulfilment in
those who are washed in the laver? "We will answer, But, O
faultfinder, not even to you will it be possible to show that Christ
Himself  is the one who is born. For long before the
Apocalypse, the mystery of the Incarnation of the Word was fulfilled.
And John speaks concerning things present and things to come. But
Christ, long ago conceived, was not caught up to the throne of God
when He was brought forth, from fear of the serpent injuring Him. But
for this was He begotten, and Himself came down from the throne of the
Father, that He should remain and subdue the dragon who made an
assault upon the flesh. So that you also must confess that the Church
labours and gives birth to those who are baptized. As the spirit says
somewhere in Isaiah:  "Before she travailed, she brought
forth; before her pain came, she was delivered of a man-child. Who
hath heard such a thing? who hath seen such things? Shall the earth be
made to bring forth in one day? or shall a nation be born at once? for
as soon as Zion travailed, she brought forth her children." 
From whom did he flee? Surely from the dragon, that the spiritual Zion
might bear a masculine people, who should come back from the passions
and weakness of women to the unity of the Lord, and grow strong in
Chapter VIII.--The Faithful in Baptism Males, Configured to Christ;
The Saints Themselves Christs.
Let us then go over the ground again from the beginning, until we come
in course to the end, explaining what we have said. Consider if the
passage seems to you to be explained to your mind. For I think that
the Church is here said to give birth to a male; since the
enlightened  receive the features, and the image, and the
manliness of Christ, the likeness of the form of the Word being
stamped upon them, and begotten in them by a true knowledge and faith,
so that in each one Christ is spiritually born. And, therefore, the
Church swells and travails in birth until Christ is formed in us,
 so that each of the saints, by partaking of Christ, has been
born a Christ. According to which meaning it is said in a certain
scripture,  "Touch not mine anointed,  and do my
prophets no harm," as though those who were baptized into Christ had
been made Christs  by communication of the Spirit, the Church
contributing here their clearness and transformation into the image of
the Word. And Paul confirms this, teaching it plainly, where he
says:  "For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our
Lord Jesus Christ, of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is
named, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory,
to be strengthened I with might by His Spirit in the inner man; that
Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith." For it is necessary that
the word of truth should be imprinted and stamped upon the souls of
Chapter IX.--The Son of God, Who Ever Is, is To-Day Begotten in the
Minds and Sense of the Faithful.
Now, in perfect agreement and correspondence with what has been said,
seems to be this which was spoken by the Father from above to Christ
when He came to be baptized in the water of the Jordan, "Thou art my
son: this day have I begotten thee; "  for it is to be
remarked that He was declared to be His Son unconditionally, and
without regard to time; for He says "Thou art," and not "Thou hast
become," showing that He had neither recently attained to the relation
of Son, nor again, having begun before, after this had an end, but
having been previously begotten,  that He was to be, and was
the same. But the expression, "This day have I begotten thee,"
signifies that He willed that He who existed before the ages in heaven
should be begotten on the earth--that is, that He who was before
unknown should be made known. Now, certainly, Christ has never yet
been born in those men who have never perceived the manifold wisdom of
God--that is, has never been known, has never been manifested, has
never appeared to them. But if these also should perceive the mystery
of grace, then in them too, when they were converted and believed, He
would be born in knowledge and understanding. Therefore from hence the
Church is fitly said to form and beget the male Word in those who are
cleansed.  So far I have spoken according to my ability
concerning the travail of the Church; and here we must change to the
subject of the dragon and the other matters. Let us endeavour, then,
to explain it in some measure, not deterred by the greatness of the
obscurity of the Scripture; and if anything difficult comes to be
considered, I will again help you to cross it like a river.
Chapter X.--The Dragon, the Devil; The Stars Struck from Heaven by the
Tail of the Dragon, Heretics; The Numbers of the Trinity, that Is, the
Persons Numbered; Errors Concerning Them.
The dragon, which is great, and red, and cunning, and manifold, and
seven-headed, and horned, and draws down the third part of the stars,
and stands ready to devour the child of the woman who is travailing,
is the devil, who lies in wait to destroy the Christ-accepted mind of
the baptized, and the image and clear features of the Word which had
been brought forth in them. But he misses and fails of his prey, the,
regenerate being caught up on high to the throne of God--that is, the
mind of those who are renovated is lifted up around the divine seat
and the basis of truth against which there is no stumbling, being
taught to look upon and regard the things which are there, so that it
may not be deceived by the dragon weighing them down. For it is not
allowed to him to destroy those whose thoughts and looks are upwards.
And the stars, which the dragon touched with the end of his tail, and
drew them down to earth, are the bodies of heresies; for we must say
that the stars, which are dark, obscure, and falling, are the
assemblies of the heterodox; since they, too, wish to be acquainted
with the heavenly ones, and to have believed in Christ, and to have
the seat of their soul in heaven, and to come near to the stars as
children of light. But they are dragged down, being shaken out by the
folds of the dragon, because they did not remain within the triangular
forms of godliness, falling away from it with respect to an orthodox
service. Whence also they are called the third part of the stars, as
having gone astray with regard to one of the three Persons of the
Trinity. As when they say, like Sabellios, that the Almighty Person of
the Father Himself suffered;  or as when they say, like
Artemas, that the Person of the Son was born and manifested only in
appearance;  or when they contend, like the Ebionites, that
the prophets spoke of the Person of the Spirit, of their own motion.
For of Marcion and Valentinus, and those about Elkesaios and others,
it is better not even to make mention.
Chapter XI.--The Woman with the Male Child in the Wilderness the
Church; The Wilderness Belongs to Virgins and Saints; The Perfection
of Numbers and Mysteries; The Equality and Perfection of the Number
Six; The Number Six Related to Christ; From This Number, Too, the
Creation and Harmony of the World Completed.
Now she who brings forth, and has brought forth, the masculine Word in
the hearts of the faithful, and who passed, undefiled and uninjured by
the wrath of the beast, into the wilderness, is, as we have explained,
our mother the Church. And the wilderness into which she comes, and is
nourished for a thousand two hundred and sixty days, which is truly
waste and unfruitful of evils, and barren of corruption, and difficult
of access and of transit to the multitude; but fruitful and abounding
in pasture, and blooming and easy of access to the holy, and full of
wisdom, and productive of life, is this most lovely, and beautifully
wooded and well-watered abode of Arete.  Here the south wind
awakes, and the north wind blows, and the spices flow out, 
and all things are filled with refreshing dews, and crowned with the
unfading plants of immortal life; in which we now gather flowers, and
weave with sacred fingers the purple and glorious crown of virginity
for the queen. For the Bride of the Word is adorned with the fruits of
virtue. And the thousand two hundred and sixty days that we are
staying here, O virgins, is the accurate and perfect understanding
concerning the Father, and the Son, and the Spirit, in which our
mother increases, and rejoices, and exults throughout this time, until
the restitution of the new dispensation, when, coming into the
assembly in the heavens, she will no longer contemplate the I AM
through the means of human knowledge, but will clearly behold entering
in together with Christ. For a thousand,  consisting of a
hundred multiplied by ten, embraces a full and perfect number, and is
a symbol of the Father Himself, who made the universe by Himself, and
rules all things for Himself. Two hundred embraces two perfect numbers
united together, and is the symbol of the Holy Spirit, since He is the
Author of our knowledge of the Son and the Father. But sixty has the
number six multiplied by ten, and is a symbol of Christ, because the
number six proceeding  from unity is composed of its proper
parts, so that nothing in it is wanting or redundant, and is complete
when resolved into its parts. Thus it is necessary that the number
six, when it is divided into even parts by even parts, should again
make up the same quantity from its separated segment.  For,
first, if divided equally, it makes three; then, if divided into three
parts, it makes two; and again, if divided by six, it makes one, and
is again collected into itself. For when divided into twice three, and
three times two, and six times one, when the three and the two and the
one are put together, they complete the six again. But everything is
of necessity perfect which neither needs anything else in order to its
completion, nor has anything over. Of the other numbers, some are more
than perfect, as twelve. For the half of it is six, and the third
four, and the fourth three, and the sixth two, and the twelfth one.
The numbers into which it can be divided, when put together, exceed
twelve, this number not having preserved itself equal to its parts,
like the number six. And those which are imperfect, are numbers like
eight. For the half of it is four, and the fourth two, and the eighth
one. Now the numbers into which it is divided, when put together, make
seven, and one is wanting to its completion, not being in all points
harmonious with itself, like six, which has reference to the Son of
God, who came from tile fulness of the Godhead into a human life. For
having emptied Himself,  and taken upon Him the form of a
slave, He was restored again to His former perfection and dignity. For
He being humbled, and apparently degraded, was restored again from His
humiliation and degradation to His former completeness and greatness,
having never been diminished from His essential perfection.
Moreover, it is evident that the creation of the world was
accomplished in harmony with this number, God having made heaven and
earth, and the things which are in them, in six days; the word of
creative power containing the number six, in accordance with which the
Trinity is the maker of bodies. For length, and breadth, and depth
make up a body. And the number six is composed of triangles. On these
subjects, however, there is not sufficient time at present to enlarge
with accuracy, for fear of letting the main subject slip, in
considering that which is secondary.
Chapter XII.--Virgins are Called to the Imitation of the Church in the
Wilderness Overcoming the Dragon.
The Church, then, coming hither into this wilderness, a place
unproductive of evils, is nourished, flying on the heavenward wings of
virginity, which the Word called the "wings of great eagle," 
having conquered the serpent, and driven away from her full moon the
wintry clouds. It is for the sake of these things, meanwhile, that all
these discourses are held, teaching us, O fair virgins, to imitate
according to our strength our mother, and not to be troubled by the
pains and changes and afflictions of life, that you may enter in
exulting with her into the bride-chamber, showing your lamps. Do not,
therefore, lose courage on account of the schemes and slanders of the
beast, but bravely prepare for the battle, armed with the helmet of
salvation,  and the breastplate, and the greaves. For you will
bring upon him an immense consternation when you attack him with great
advantage and courage; nor will he at all resist, seeing his
adversaries set in array by One more powerful; but the many-headed and
many-faced beast will immediately allow you to carry off the spoils of
the seven contests:--"Lion in front, but dragon all behind, And in the
midst a she-goat breathing forth Profuse the violence of flaming fire.
Her slew Bellerophon in truth. And this Slew Christ the King; for many
Nor could they bear the fetid foam which burst
From out the fountain of her horrid jaws; "  unless Christ had
first weakened and overcome her, making her powerless and contemptible
Chapter XIII.--The Seven Crowns of the Beast to Be Taken Away by
Victorious Chastity; The Ten Crowns of the Dragon, the Vices Opposed
to the Decalogue; The Opinion of Fate the Greatest Evil.
Therefore, taking to you a masculine and sober mind, oppose your
armour to the swelling beast, and do not at all give way, nor be
troubled because of his fury. For you will have immense glory if you
overcome him, and take away the seven crowns which are upon him, on
account of which we have to struggle and wrestle, according to our
teacher Paul. For she who having first overcome the devil, and
destroyed his seven heads, becomes possessed of the seven crowns of
virtue, having gone through the seven great struggles of chastity. For
incontinence and luxury is a head of the dragon; and whoever bruises
this is wreathed with the crown of temperance. Cowardice and weakness
is also a head; and he who treads upon this carries off the crown of
martyrdom. Unbelief and folly, and other similar fruits of wickedness,
is another head; and he who has overcome these and destroyed them
carries off the honours connected with them, the power of the dragon
being in many ways rooted up. Moreover, the ten horns and stings which
he was said to have upon his heads are the ten opposites, O virgins,
to the Decalogue, by which he was accustomed to gore and cast down the
souls of many imagining and contriving things in opposition to the
law, "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God,"  and to the other
precepts which follow. Consider now the fiery and bitter horn of
fornication, by which he casts down the incontinent; consider
adultery, consider falsehood, covetousness, theft, and the other
sister and related vices, which flourish by nature around his
murderous heads, which if you root out with the aid of Christ, you
will receive, as it were, divine heads, and will bloom with the crowns
gained from the dragon. For it is our duty to prefer and to set
forward the best things, who have received, above the earth-born, a
commanding and voluntary mind, and one free from all necessity, so as
to make choice like masters of the things which please us, not being
in bondage to fate or fortune. And so no man would be master of
himself and good, unless selecting the human example of Christ, and
bringing himself to the likeness of Him, he should imitate Him in his
manner of life. For of all evils the greatest which is implanted in
many is that which refers the causes of sins to the motions of the
stars, and says that our life is guided by the necessities of fate, as
those say who study the stars, with much insolence. For they, trusting
more in guessing than in prudence, that is, in something between truth
and falsehood, go far astray from the sight of things as they are.
Whence, if you permit me, O Arete, now that I have completed the
discourse which you, my mistress, appointed to be spoken, I will
endeavour, with your assistance and favour, to examine carefully the
position of those who are offended, and deny that we speak the truth,
when we say that man is possessed of free-will, and prove that"They
perish self-destroyed, By their own fault,"  choosing the
pleasant in preference to the expedient.
Arete. I do permit you and assist you; for your discourse will be
perfectly adorned when you have added this to it.
Chapter XIV.--The Doctrine of Mathematicians Not Wholly to Be
Despised, When They are Concerned About the Knowledge of the Stars;
The Twelve Signs of the Zodiac Mythical Names.
Thekla. Resuming then, let us first lay bare, in speaking of those
things according to our power, the imposture of those who boast as
though they alone had comprehended from what forms the heaven is
arranged, in accordance with the hypothesis of the Chaldeans and
Egyptians. For they say that the circumference of the world is likened
to the turnings of a well-rounded globe, the earth having a central
point. For its outline being spherical, it is necessary, they say,
since there are the same distances of the parts, that the earth should
be the centre of the universe, around which, as being older, the
heaven is whirling. For if a circumference is described from the
central point, which seems to be a circle,--for it is impossible for a
circle to be described without a point, and it is impossible for a
circle to be without a point,--surely the earth consisted before all,
they say, in a state of chaos and disorganization. Now certainly the
wretched ones were overwhelmed in the chaos of error, "because that,
when they knew God, they glorified Him not as God, neither were
thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish
heart was darkened; "  and their wise men said that nothing
earth-born was more honourable or more ancient than the Olympians.
Whence they are not mere children who know Christ, like the Greeks,
who, burying the truth in fairies and fictions, rather than in
artistic words, ascribing human calamities to the heavens, are not
ashamed to describe the circumference of the world by geometrical
theorems and figures, and explain that the heaven is adorned with the
images of birds and of animals that live in water and on dry land, and
that the qualities of the stars were made from the calamities of the
men of old, so that the movements of the planets, in their opinion,
depended upon the same kind of bodies. And they say that the stars
revolve around the nature of the twelve signs of the Zodiac, being
drawn along by the passage of the circle of the Zodiac, so that
through their intermingling they see the things which happen to many,
according to their conjunctions and departures, their rising and
For the whole heaven being spherical, and having the earth for its
central point, as they think,  because all the straight lines
from the circumference falling upon the earth are equal to one
another, holds back from the circles which surround it, of which the
meridian is the greatest; and the second, which divides it into two
equal parts, is the horizon; and the third, which separates these, the
equinoctial; and on each side of this the two tropics, the summer and
the winter--the one on the north, and the other on the south. Beyond
is that which is called the axis, around which are the greater and
lesser Bears, and beyond them is the tropic. And the Bears, turning
about themselves, and weighing upon the axis, which passes through the
poles, produce the motion of the whole world, having their heads
against each other's loins, and being untouched by our horizon.
Then they say that the Zodiac touches all the circles, making its
movements diagonally, and that there are in it a number of signs,
which are called the twelve signs of the Zodiac, beginning with the
Ram, and going on to the Fishes, which, they say, were so determined
from mythical causes; saying that it was the Ram that conveyed Helle,
the daughter of Athamas, and her brother Phryxos into Scythia; and
that the head of the Ox is in honour of Zeus, who, in the form of a
Bull, carried over Europe into Crete; and they say the circle called
the Galaxy, or milky way, which reaches from the Fishes to the Ram,
was poured forth for Herakles from the breasts of Hera, by the
commands of Zeus. And thus, according to them, there was no natal
destiny before Europe or Phryxos, and the Dioscuroi,  and the
other signs of the Zodiac, which were placed among the constellations,
from men and beasts. But our ancestors lived without destiny. Let us
endeavour now to crush falsehood, like physicians, taking its edge
off, and quenching it with the healing medicine of words, here
considering the truth.
Chapter XV.--Arguments from the Novelty of Fate and Generation; That
Golden Age, Early Men; Solid Arguments Against the Mathematicians.
If it were better, O wretched ones, that man should be subject to the
star of his birth, than that he should not, why was not his generation
and birth from the very time when the race of man began to be? And if
it was, what is the need of those which had lately been placed among
the stars, of the Lion, the Crab, the Twins, the Virgin, the Bull, the
Balance, the Scorpion, the Ram, the Archer, the Fishes, the Goat, the
Watercarrier, Perseus, Cassiopeia, Cepheus, Pegasus, Hydra, the Raven,
the Cup, the Lyre, the Dragon, and others, from which you introduce,
by your instructions, many to the knowledge of mathematics, or,
rather, to a knowledge which is anathema?  Well, then, either
there was generation among those before, and the removal of these
creatures above was absurd; or else there was not, and God changed
human life into a better state and government than that of those who
before that lived an inferior life. But the ancients were better than
those of the present time; whence theirs was called the golden age.
There was then no natal destiny.
If the sun, driving through the circles and passing along the signs of
the Zodiac in his annual periods, accomplishes the changes and
turnings of the seasons, how did those who were born before the signs
of the Zodiac were placed among the stars, and the heaven was adorned
with them, continue to exist, when summer, autumn, winter, and spring,
were not as yet separated from each other, by means of which the body
is increased and strengthened? But they did exist, and were longer
lived and stronger than those who live now, since God then disposed
the seasons in the same manner. The heaven was not then diversified by
If the sun and the moon and the other stars were made for the division
and protection of the members of the time,  and for the
adornment of the heaven, and the changes of the seasons, they are
divine, and better than men; for these must needs pass a better life,
and a blessed and peaceful one, and one which far exceeds our own life
in righteousness and virtue, observing a motion which is well-ordered
and happy. But if they are the causes of the calamities and mischief
of mortals, and busy themselves in working the lasciviousness, and the
changes and vicissitudes of life, then they are more miserable than
men, looking upon the earth, and their weak and lawless actions, and
doing nothing better than men, if at least our life depends upon their
revolutions and movements.
Chapter XVI.--Several Other Things Turned Against the Same
If no action is performed without a previous desire, and there is no
desire without a want, yet the Divine Being has no wants, and
therefore has no conception of evil. And if the nature of the stars be
nearer in order to that of God, being better than the virtue of the
best men, then the stars also are neither productive of evil, nor in
And besides, every one of those who are persuaded that the sun and
moon and stars are divine, will allow that they are far removed from
evil, and incapable of human actions which spring from the sense of
pleasure and pain; for such abominable desires are unsuitable to
heavenly beings. But if they are by nature exempt from these, and in
no want of anything, how should they be the causes to men of those
things which they do not will themselves, and from which they are
Now those who decide that man is not possessed of free-will, and
affirm that he is governed by the unavoidable necessities of fate, and
her unwritten commands, are guilty of impiety towards God Himself,
making Him out to be the cause and author of human evils. For if He
harmoniously orders the whole circular motion of the stars, with a
wisdom which man can neither express nor comprehend, directing the
course of the universe; and the stars produce the qualities of virtue
and vice in human life, dragging men to these things by the chains of
necessity; then they declare God to be the Cause and Giver of evils.
But God is the cause of injury to no one; therefore fate  is
not the cause of all things.
Whoever has the least intelligence will confess that God is good,
righteous, wise, true, helpful, not the cause of evils, free from
passion, and everything of that kind. And if the righteous be better
than the unrighteous, and unrighteousness be abominable to them, God,
being righteous, rejoices in righteousness, and unrighteousness is
hateful to Him, being opposed and hostile to righteousness. Therefore
God is not the author of unrighteousness.
If that which profits is altogether good, and temperance is profitable
to one's house and life and friends, then temperance is good. And if
temperance be in its nature good, and licentiousness be opposed to
temperance, and that which is opposed to good be evil, then
licentiousness is evil. And if licentiousness be in its nature evil,
and out of licentiousness come adulteries, thefts, quarrels, and
murders, then a licentious life is in its nature evil. But the Divine
Being is not by nature implicated in evils. Therefore our birth is not
the cause of these things.
If the temperate are better than the incontinent, and incontinence is
abominable to them, and God rejoices in temperance, being free from
the knowledge of passions, then incontinence is hateful also to God.
Moreover, that the action which is in accordance with temperance,
being a virtue, is better than that which is in accordance with
incontinence, which is a vice, we may learn from kings and rulers, and
commanders, and women, and children, and citizens, and masters, and
servants, and pedagogues, and teachers; for each of these is useful to
himself and to the public when he is temperate; but when he is
licentious he is injurious to himself and to the public. And if there
be any difference between a filthy man and a noble man, a licentious
and a temperate; and if the character of the noble and the temperate
be the better, and that of the opposite the worse; and if those of the
better character be near to God and His friends, and those of the
worse be far from Him and His enemies, those who believe in fate make
no i distinction between righteousness and unrighteousness, between
filthiness and nobility, between licentiousness and temperance, which
is a contradiction. For if good be opposed to evil, and
unrighteousness be evil, and this be opposed to righteousness and
righteousness be good, and good be hostile to evil, and evil be unlike
to good, then righteousness is different from un-righteousness. And
therefore God is not the cause of evils, nor does He rejoice in evils.
Nor does reason commend them, being good. If, then, any are evil, they
are evil in accordance with the wants and desires of their minds, and
not by necessity.
"They perish self-destroyed,
By their own fault." 
If destiny  leads one on to kill a man, and to stain his hands
with murder, and the law forbids this, punishing criminals, and by
threats restrains the decrees of destiny, such as committing
injustice, adultery, theft, poisoning, then the law is in opposition
to destiny; for those things which destiny appointed the law
prohibits, and those things which the law prohibits destiny compels
men to do. Hence law is hostile to destiny. But if it be hostile, then
lawgivers do not act in accordance with destiny; for by passing
decrees in opposition to destiny they destroy destiny. Either, then,
there is destiny and there was no need of laws; or there are laws and
they are not in accordance with destiny. But it is impossible that
anyone should be born or anything done apart from destiny; for they
say it is not lawful for anyone even to move a finger apart from fate.
And therefore it was in accordance with destiny that Minos and Dracon,
and Lycurgus, and Solon, and Zaleukos were law-givers and appointed
laws, prohibiting adulteries, murders, violence, rape, thefts, as
things which neither existed nor took place in accordance with
destiny. But if these things were in accordance with destiny, then the
laws were not in accordance with destiny. For destiny itself would not
be destroyed by itself, cancelling itself, and contending against
itself; here appointing laws forbidding adultery and murders, and
taking vengeance upon and punishing the wicked, and there producing
murders and adulteries. But this is impossible: for nothing is alien
and abhorrent to itself, and self-destructive, and at variance with
itself. And, therefore, there is no destiny.
If everything in the world falls out in accordance with destiny, and
nothing without it, then the law must needs be produced by destiny.
But the law destroys destiny, teaching that virtue should be learnt,
and diligently performed; and that vice should be avoided, and that it
is produced by want of discipline. Therefore there is no destiny.
If destiny makes men to injure one another, and to be injured by one
another, what need is there of laws? But if laws are made that they
may check the sinful, God having a care for those who are injured, it
were better that the evil should not act in accordance with Fate, than
that they should be set right, after having acted. But God is good and
wise, and does what is best. Therefore there is no fixed destiny.
Either education and habit are the cause of sins, or the passions of
the soul, and those desires which arise through the body. But
whichever of these be the cause, God is not the cause. If it is better
to be righteous than to be unrighteous, why is not man made so at once
from his birth? But if afterwards he is tempered by instruction and
laws, that he may become better, he is so tempered as possessing
free-will, and not by nature evil. If the evil are evil in accordance
with destiny, by the decrees of Providence, they are not blameworthy
and deserving of the punishment which is inflicted by the laws, since
they live according to their own nature, and are not capable of being
And, again, if the good, living according to their own proper nature,
are praiseworthy, their natal destiny being the cause of their
goodness; yet the wicked, living according to their own proper nature,
are not blamable in the eye of a righteous judge. For, if we must
speak plainly, he who lives according to the nature which belongs to
him, in no way sins. For he did not make himself thus, but Fate; and
he lives according to its motion, being urged on by unavoidable
necessity. Then no one is bad. But some men are bad: and vice is
blameworthy, and hostile to God, as reason has shown. But virtue is
lovable and praiseworthy, God having appointed a law for the
punishment of the wicked. Therefore there is no Fate.
Chapter XVII.--The Lust of the Flesh and Spirit: Vice and Virtue.
But why do I draw out my discourse to such length, spending the time
with arguments, having set forth the things which are most necessary
for persuasion, and to gain approval for that which is expedient; and
having made manifest to all, by a few words, the inconsistency of
their trick, so that it is now possible even for a child to see and
perceive their error; and that to do good or evil is in our own power,
and not decided by the stars. For there are two motions in us, the
lust of the flesh and that of the soul, differing from each other,
 whence they have received two names, that of virtue and that of
vice. And we ought to obey the most noble and most useful leading of
virtue, choosing the best in preference to the base. But enough on
these points. I must come to the end of my discourse; for I fear, and
am ashamed, after these discourses on chastity, that I should be
obliged to introduce the opinions of men who study the heavens, or
rather who study nonsense, who waste their life with mere conceits,
passing it in nothing but fabulous figments. And now may these
offerings of ours, composed from the words which are spoken by God, be
acceptable to thee, O Arete, my mistress.
Euboulios. How bravely and magnificently, O Gregorion, has Thekla
Gregorion. What, then, would you have said, if you had listened to
herself, speaking fluently, and with easy expression, with much grace
and pleasure? So that she was admired by every one who attended, her
language blossoming with words, as she set forth intelligently, and in
fact picturesquely, the subjects on which she spoke, her countenance
suffused with the blush of modesty; for she is altogether brilliant in
body and soul.
Euboulios. Rightly do you say this, Gregorion, and none of these
things is false; for I knew her wisdom also from other noble actions,
and what sort of things she succeeded in speaking, giving proof of
supreme love to Christ; and how glorious she often appeared in meeting
the chief conflicts of the martyrs, procuring for herself a zeal equal
to her courage, and a strength of body equal to the wisdom of her
Gregorion. Most truly do you also speak. But let us not waste time;
for we shall often be able to discuss these and other subjects. But I
must now first relate to you the discourses of the other virgins which
followed, as I promised; and chiefly those of Tusiane and Domnina; for
these still remain. When, then, Thekla ceased speaking these things,
Theopatra said that Arete directed Tusiane to speak; and that she,
smiling, passed before her and said.
Chapter I.--Chastity the Chief Ornament of the True Tabernacle; Seven
Days Appointed to the Jews for Celebrating the Feast of Tabernacles:
What They Signify; The Sum of This Septenary Uncertain; Not Clear to
Any One When the Consummation of the World Will Be; Even Now the
Fabric of the World Completed.
O Arete, thou dearest boast to the lovers of virginity, I also implore
thee to afford me thine aid, lest I should be wanting in words, the
subject having been so largely and variously handled. Wherefore I ask
to be excused exordium and introductions, lest, whilst I delay in
embellishments suitable to them, I depart from the subject: so
glorious, and honourable, and renowned a thing is virginity.
God, when He appointed to the true Israelites the legal rite of the
true feast of the tabernacles, directed, in Leviticus, how they should
keep and do honour to the feast; above all things, saying that each
one should adorn his tabernacle with chastity. I will add the words
themselves of Scripture, from which, without any doubt, it will be
shown how agreeable to God, and acceptable to Him, is this ordinance
of virginity: "In the fifteenth day of the seventh month, when ye have
gathered in the fruit of the land, ye shall keep a feast unto the Lord
seven days: on the first day shall be a Sabbath, and on the eighth day
shall be a Sabbath. And ye shall take you on the first day the boughs
of goodly trees, branches of palm-trees, and the boughs of thick
trees, and willows  of the brook; and ye shall rejoice before
the Lord your God seven days. And ye shall keep it a feast unto the
Lord seven days in the year. It shall be a statute for ever in your
generations; ye shall celebrate it in the seventh month. Ye shall
dwell in booths seven days; all that are Israelites born shall dwell
in booths; that your generations may know that I made the children of
Israel to dwell in booths, when I brought them out of Egypt: I am the
Lord your God." 
Here the Jews, fluttering about the bare letter of Scripture, like
drones about the leaves of herbs, but not about flowers and fruits as
the bee, fully believe that these words and ordinances were spoken
concerning such a tabernacle as they erect; as if God delighted in
those trivial adornments which they, preparing, fabricate from trees,
not perceiving the wealth of good things to come; whereas these
things, being like air and phantom shadows, foretell the resurrection
and the putting up of our tabernacle that had fallen upon the earth,
which at length, in the seventh thousand of years, resuming again
immortal, we shall celebrate the great feast of true tabernacles in
the new and indissoluble creation, the fruits of the earth having been
gathered in, and men no longer begetting and begotten, but God resting
from the works of creation. 
For since in six days God made the heaven and the earth, and finished
the whole world, and rested on the seventh day from all His works
which He had made, and blessed the seventh day and sanctified it,
 so by a figure in the seventh month, when the fruits of the
earth have been gathered in, we are commanded to keep the feast to the
Lord, which signifies that, when this world shall be terminated at the
seventh thousand years, when God shall have completed the world, He
shall rejoice in us.  For now to this time all things are
created by His all-sufficient will and inconceivable power; the earth
still yielding its fruits, and the waters being gathered together in
their receptacles; and the light still severed from darkness, and the
allotted number of men not yet being complete; and the sun arising to
rule the day, and the moon the night; and four-footed creatures, and
beasts, and creeping things arising from the earth, and winged
creatures, and creatures that swim, from the water. Then, when the
appointed times shall have been accomplished, and God shall have
ceased to form this creation, in the seventh month, the great
resurrection-day, it is commanded that the Feast of our Tabernacles
shall be celebrated to the Lord, of which the things said in Leviticus
are symbols and figures, which things, carefully investigating, we
should consider the naked truth itself, for He saith, "A wise man will
hear, and will increase learning; and a man of understanding shall
attain unto wise counsels: to understand a proverb, and the
interpretation; the words Of the wise, and their dark sayings." 
Wherefore let it shame the Jews that they do not perceive the deep
things of the Scriptures, thinking that nothing else than outward
things are contained in the law and the prophets; for they, intent
upon things earthly, have in greater esteem the riches of the world
than the wealth which is of the soul. For since the Scriptures are in
this way divided that some of them give the likeness of past events,
some of them a type of the future, the miserable men, going back, deal
with the figures of the future as if they were already things of the
past. As in the instance of the immolation of the Lamb, the mystery of
which they regard as solely in remembrance of the deliverance of their
fathers from Egypt, when, although the first-born of Egypt were
smitten, they themselves were preserved by marking the door-posts of
their houses with blood. Nor do they understand that by it also the
death of Christ is personified, by whose blood souls made safe and
sealed shall be preserved from wrath in the burning of the world;
whilst the first-born, the sons of Satan, shall be destroyed with an
utter destruction by the avenging angels, who shall reverence the seal
of the Blood impressed upon the former.
Chapter II.--Figure, Image, Truth: Law Grace, Glory; Man Created
Immortal: Death Brought in by Destructive Sin.
And let these things be said for the sake of example, showing that the
Jews have wonderfully fallen from the hope of future good, because
they consider things present to be only signs of things already
accomplished; whilst they do not perceive that the figures represent
images, and images are the representatives of truth. For the law is
indeed the figure and the shadow of an image, that is, of the Gospel;
but the image, namely, the Gospel, is the representative of truth
itself. For the men of olden time and the law foretold to us the
characteristics of the Church, and the Church represents those of the
new dispensation which is to come. Whence we, having received Christ,
saying, "I am the truth,"  know that shadows and figures have
ceased; and we hasten on to the truth, proclaiming its glorious
images. For now we know "in part," and as it were "through a glass,"
 since that which is perfect has not yet come to us; namely, the
kingdom of heaven and the resurrection, when "that which is in part
shall be done away."  For then will all our tabernacles be
firmly set up, when again the body shall rise, with bones again joined
and compacted with flesh. Then shall we celebrate truly to the Lord a
glad festal-day, when we shall receive eternal tabernacles, no snore
to perish or be dissolved into the dust of the tomb. Now, our
tabernacle was at first fixed in an immoveable state, but was moved by
transgression and bent to the earth, God putting an end to sin by
means of death, lest man immortal, living a sinner, and sin living in
him, should be liable to eternal curse. Wherefore he died, although he
had not been created liable to death or corruption, and the soul was
separated from the flesh, that sin might perish by death, not being
able to live longer in one dead. Whence sin being dead and destroyed,
again I shall rise immortal; and I praise God who by means of death
frees His sons from death, and I celebrate lawfully to His honour a
festal-day, adorning my tabernacle, that is my flesh, with good works,
as there did the five virgins with the five-lighted lamps.
Chapter III.--How Each One Ought to Prepare Himself for the Future
In the first day of the resurrection I am examined whether I bring
these things which are commanded, whether I am adorned with virtuous
works, whether I am overshadowed by the boughs of chastity. For
account the resurrection to be the erection of the tabernacle. Account
that the things which are taken for the putting together of the
tabernacle are the works of righteousness.I take, therefore, on the
first day the things which are set down, that is, on the day in which
I stand to be judged, whether I have adorned my tabernacle with the
things commanded; if those things are found on that day which here in
time we are commanded to prepare, and there to offer to God. But come,
let us consider what follows.
"And ye shall take yon," He says, "on the first day the boughs of
goodly trees, branches of palm-trees, and the boughs of thick trees,
and willows (and the tree of chastity) of the brook; and ye shall
rejoice before the Lord your God."  The Jews, uncircumcised in
heart, think that the most beautiful fruit of wood is the citron wood,
on account of its size; nor are they ashamed to say that God is
worshipped with cedar, to whom not all the quadrupeds of the earth
would suffice as a burnt-offering or as incense for burning. And
moreover, O hard breasts, if the citron appear beautiful to you, why
not the pomegranate, and other fruits of trees, and amongst them
apples, which much surpass the citron? Indeed, in the Song of Songs,
 Solomon having made mention of all these fruits, passes over in
silence the citron only. But this deceives the unwary, for they have
not understood that the tree of life  which Paradise once
bore, now again the Church has produced for all, even the ripe and
comely fruit of faith.
Such fruit it is necessary that we bring when we come to the
judgment-seat of Christ, on the first day of the feast; for if we are
without it we shall not be able to feast with God, nor to have part,
according to John,  in the first resurrection. For the tree of
life is wisdom first begotten of all. "She is a tree of life to them
that lay hold upon her," says the prophet;  "and happy is
every one that retaineth her." "A tree planted by the waterside, that
will bring forth his fruit in due season; "  that is, learning
and charity and discretion are imparted in due time to those who come
to the waters of redemption.
He that hath not believed in Christ, nor hath understood that He is
the first principle and the tree of life, since he cannot show to God
his tabernacle adorned with the most goodly of fruits, how shall he
celebrate the feast? How shall he rejoice? Desirest thou to know the
goodly fruit of the tree? Consider the words of our Lord Jesus Christ,
how pleasant they are beyond the children of men. Good fruit came by
Moses, that is the Law, but not so goodly as the Gospel. For the Law
is a kind of figure and shadow of things to come, but the Gospel is
truth and the grace of life. Pleasant was the fruit of the prophets,
but not so pleasant as the fruit of immortality which is plucked from
Chapter IV.--The Mind Clearer When Cleansed from Sin; The Ornaments of
the Mind and the Order of Virtue; Charity Deep and Full; Chastity the
Last Ornament of All; The Very Use of Matrimony to Be Restrained.
"And ye shall take you on the first day the boughs of goodly trees,
branches of palm-trees."  This signifies the exercise of
divine discipline, by which the mind that subdues the passions is
cleansed and adorned by the sweeping out and ejection from it of sins.
For it is necessary to come cleansed and adorned to the feast,
arrayed, as by a decorator, in the discipline and exercise of virtue.
For the mind being cleansed by laborious exercises from the
distracting thoughts which darken it, quickly perceives the truth; as
the widow in the Gospels  found the piece of money after she
had swept the house and cast out the dirt, that is, the passions which
obscure and cloud the mind, which increase in us from our
luxuriousness and carelessness.
Whoso, therefore, desires to come to that Feast of Tabernacles, to be
numbered with the saints, let him first procure the goodly fruit of
faith, then palm branches, that is, attentive meditation upon and
study of the Scriptures, afterwards the far-spreading and
thickly-leaved branches of charity, which He commands us to take after
the palm branches; most fitly calling charity dense boughs, because it
is all thick and close and very fruitful, not having anything hare or
empty, but all full, both branches and trunks. Such is charity, having
no part void or unfruitful. For "though I sell all my goods and give
to the poor, and though I yield up my body to the fire, and though I
have so great faith that I can remove mountains, and have not charity,
I am nothing."  Charity, therefore, is a tree the thickest and
most fruitful of all, full and abounding copiously abounding in
After this, what else does He will that we should take? Willow
branches; by that figure indicating righteousness, because "the just,"
according to the prophet, shall spring up "as grass in the midst of
the waters, as willows by the watercourses,"  flourishing in
the word. Lastly, to crown all, it is commanded that the bough of the
Agnos tree be brought to decorate the Tabernacle, because it is by its
very name the tree of chastity, by which those already named are
adorned. Let the wanton now be gone. who, through their love of
pleasure, reject chastity. How shall they enter into the feast with
Christ who have not adorned their tabernacle with boughs of chastity,
that God-making and blessed tree with which all who are hastening to
that assembly and nuptial banquet ought to be begirt, and to cover
their loins? For come, fair virgins, consider the Scripture itself,
and its commands, how the Divine word has assumed chastity to be the
crown of those virtues and duties that have been mentioned, showing
how becoming and desirable it is for the resurrection, and that
without it no one will obtain the promises which we who profess
virginity supremely cultivate and offer to the Lord. They also possess
it who live chastely with their wives, and do, as it were about the
trunk, yield its lowly branches bearing chastity, not being able like
us to reach its lofty and mighty boughs, or even to touch them; yet
they, too, offer no less truly, although in a less degree, the
branches of chastity.  But those who are goaded on by their
lusts, although they do not commit fornication, yet who, even in the
things which are permitted with a lawful wife, through the heat of
unsubdued concupiscence are excessive in embraces, how shall they
celebrate the feast? how shall they rejoice, who have not adorned
their tabernacle, that is their flesh, with the boughs of the Agnos,
nor have listened to that which has been said; that "they that have
wives be as though they had none? " 
Chapter V.--The Mystery of the Tabernacles.
Wherefore, above all other things, I say to those who love contests,
and who are strong-minded, that without delay they should honour
chastity, as a thing the most useful and glorious. For in the new and
indissoluble creation, whoever shall not be found decorated with the
boughs of chastity, shall neither obtain rest, because he has not
fulfilled the command of God according to the law, nor shall he enter
into the land of promise, because he has not previously celebrated the
Feast of Tabernacles. For they only who have celebrated the Feast of
Tabernacles come to the Holy Land, setting out from those dwellings
which are called tabernacles, until they come to enter into the temple
and city of God, advancing to a greater and more glorious joy, as the
Jewish types indicate. For like as the Israelites, having left the
borders of Egypt, first came to the Tabernacles,  and from
hence, having again set forth, came into the land of promise, so also
do we. For I also, taking my journey, and going forth from the Egypt
of this life, came first to the resurrection, which is the true Feast
of the Tabernacles, and there having set up my tabernacle, adorned
with the fruits of virtue, on the first day of the resurrection, which
is the day of judgment, celebrate with Christ the millennium of rest,
which is called the seventh day, even the true Sabbath. Then again
from thence I, a follower of Jesus, "who hath entered into the
heavens,"  as they also, after the rest of the Feast of
Tabernacles, came into the laud of promise, come into the heavens, not
continuing to remain in tabernacles--that is, my body not remaining as
it was before, but, after the space of a thousand years, changed from
a human and corruptible form into angelic size and beauty, where at
last we virgins, when the festival of the resurrection is consummated,
shall pass froth the wonderful place of the tabernacle to greater and
better things, ascending into the very house of God above the heavens,
as, says the Psalmist, "in the voice of praise and thanksgiving, among
such as keep holy day."  I, O Arete, my mistress, offer as a
gift to thee this robe, adorned according to my ability.
Euboulios. I am much moved, O Gregorion, considering within myself in
how great anxiety of mind Domnina must be from the character of the
discourses, perplexed in heart as she is, and with good cause, fearing
lest she should be at a loss for words, and should speak more feebly
than the rest of the virgins, since they have spoken on the subject
with such ability and variety. If, therefore, she was evidently moved,
come and complete this too; for I wonder if she had anything to say,
being the last speaker.
Gregorion. Theopatra told me, Euboulios, that she was greatly moved,
but she was not perplexed from want of words. After, therefore,
Tusiane had ceased, Arete looked at her and said, Come, my daughter,
do thou also deliver a discourse, that our banquet may be quite
complete. At this Domnina, blushing, and after a long delay, scarcely
looking up, rose to pray, and turning round, invoked Wisdom to be her
present helper. And when she had prayed, Theopatra said that suddenly
courage came to her, and a certain divine confidence possessed her,
and she said:--
Chapter I.--Chastity Alone Aids and Effects the Most Praiseworthy
Government of the Soul.
O Arete, I also, omitting the long preludes of exordiums, will
endeavour according to my ability to enter upon the subject, lest, by
delaying upon those matters which are outside the subject in hand, I
should speak of them at greater length than their importance would
warrant. For I account it a very great part of prudence not to make
long speeches, which merely charm the ears, before coming to the main
question, but to begin forthwith at the point in debate. So I will
begin from thence, for it is time.
Nothing can so much profit a man, O fair virgins, with respect to
moral excellence, as chastity; for chastity alone accomplishes and
brings it about that the soul should be governed in the noblest and
best way, and should be set free, pure from the stains and pollutions
of the world. For which reason, when Christ taught us to cultivate it,
and showed its unsurpassable beauty, the kingdom of the Evil One was
destroyed, who aforetime led captive and enslaved the whole race of
men, so that none of the more ancient people pleased the Lord, but all
were overcome by errors, since the law was not of itself sufficient to
free the human race from corruption, until virginity, succeeding the
law, governed men by the precepts of Christ. Nor truly had the first
men so often rim headlong into combats and slaughter, into lust and
idolatry, if the righteousness that is by the law had been to them
sufficient for salvation. Now truly they were then confused by great
and frequent calamities; but from the time when Christ was incarnate,
and armed and adorned His flesh with virginity, the savage tyrant who
was master of incontinence was taken away, and peace and faith have
dominion, men no longer turning so much as before to idolatry.
Chapter II.--The Allegory of the Trees Demanding a King, in the Book
of Judges, Explained. 
But lest I should appear to some to be sophistical, and to conjecture
these things from mere probabilities, and to babble, I will bring
forward to you, O virgins, from the Old Testament, written prophecy
from the Book of Judges, to show that I speak the truth, where the
future reign of chastity was already clearly foretold. For we read:
"The trees went forth on a time to anoint a king over them; and they
said unto the olive-tree, Reign thou over us. But the olive-tree said
unto them, Should I leave my fatness, wherewith by the they honour God
and man, and go to be promoted over the trees? And the trees said to
the fig-tree, Come thou, and reign over us. But the fig-tree said unto
them, Should I forsake my sweetness, and my good fruit, and go to be
promoted over the trees? Then said the trees unto the vine, Come thou,
and reign over us. And the vine said unto them, Should I leave my
wine, which cheereth God and man, and go to be promoted over the
trees? Then said all the trees unto the bramble, Come thou, and reign
over us. And the bramble said unto the trees, If in truth ye anoint me
king over you, then come and put your trust in my shadow; and if not,
let fire come out of the bramble, and devour the cedars of Lebanon."
Now, that these things are not said of trees growing out of the earth,
is clear. For inanimate trees cannot be assembled in council to choose
a king, inasmuch as they firmly fixed by deep roots to the earth. But
altogether are these things narrated concerning souls which, before
the incarnation of Christ, too deeply luxuriating in transgressions,
approach to God as suppliants, and ask His mercy, and that they may be
governed by His pity and compassion, which Scripture expresses under
the figure of the olive, because oil is of great advantage to our
bodies, and takes away our fatigues and ailments, and affords light.
For all lamp-light increases when nourished by oil. So also the
mercies of God entirely dissolve death, and assist the human race, and
nourish the light of the heart.  And consider whether the laws,
from the first created man until Christ in succession, were not set
forth in these words by the Scripture by figments, in opposition to
which the devil has deceived the human race. And it has likened the
fig-tree to the command given to man in paradise, because, when he was
deceived, he covered his nakedness with the leaves of a fig-tree;
 and the vine to the precept given to Noah at the time of the
deluge, because, when overpowered by wine, he was mocked.  The
olive signifies the law given to Moses in the desert, because the
prophetic grace, the holy oil, had failed from their inheritance when
they broke the law. Lastly, the bramble not inaptly refers to the law
which was given to the apostles for the salvation of the world;
because by their instruction we have been taught virginity, of which
alone the devil has not been able to make a deceptive image. For which
cause, also, four Gospels have been given, because God has four times
given the Gospel  to the human race, and has instructed them by
four laws, the times of which are clearly known by the diversity of
the fruits. For the fig-tree, on account of its sweetness and
richness, represents the delights of man, which he had in paradise
before the fall. Indeed, not rarely, as we shall afterwards show, the
Holy Spirit  takes the fruit of the fig-tree as an emblem of
goodness. But the vine, on account of the gladness produced by wine,
and the joy of those who were saved from wrath and from the deluge,
signifies the change produced from fear and anxiety into joy. 
Moreover, the olive, on account of the oil which it produces,
indicates the compassion of God, who again, after the deluge, bore
patiently when men turned aside to ungodliness, so that He gave them
the law and manifested Himself to some, and nourished by oil the light
of virtue, now almost extinguished.
Chapter III.--The Bramble and the Agnos the Symbol of Chastity; The
Four Gospels, that Is, Teachings or Laws, Instructing to Salvation.
Now the bramble commends chastity, for the bramble and the agnos is
the same tree: by some it is called bramble, by others agnos. 
Perhaps it is because the plant is akin to virginity that it is called
bramble and agnos; bramble, because of its strength and firmness
against pleasures; agnos, because it always continues chaste. Hence
the Scripture relates that Elijah, fleeing from the face of the woman
Jezebel,  at first came under a bramble, and there, having been
heard, received strength and took food; signifying that to him who
flies from the incitements of lust, and from a woman--that is, from
pleasure--the tree of chastity is a refuge and a shade, ruling men
from the coming of Christ, the chief of virgins. For when the first
laws, which were published in the times of Adam and Noah and Moses,
were unable to give salvation to man, the evangelical law alone has
And this is the cause why the fig-tree may be said not to have
obtained the kingdom over trees, which, in a spiritual sense, mean
men; and the fig-tree the command, because man desired, even after the
fall, again to be subject to the dominion of virtue, and not to be
deprived of the immortality of the paradise of pleasure. But, having
transgressed, he was rejected and cast far away, as one who could no
longer be governed by immortality, nor was capable of receiving it.
And the first message to him after the transgression was preached by
Noah,  to which, if he had applied his mind, he might have
been saved from sin; for in it he promised both happiness and rest
from evils, if he gave heed to it with all his might, just as the vine
promises to yield wine to those who cultivate it with care and labour.
But neither did this law rule mankind, for men did not obey it,
although zealously preached by Noah. But, after they began to be
surrounded and drowning by the waters, they began to repent, and to
promise that they would obey the commandments. Wherefore with scorn
they are rejected as subjects; that is, they are contemptuously told
that they cannot be helped by the law; the Spirit answering them back
and reproaching them because they had deserted those men whom God had
commanded to help them, and to save them, and make them glad; such as
Noah and those with him. "Even to you, O rebellious," said he, "I
come, to bring help to you who are destitute of prudence, and who
differ in nothing from dry trees, and who formerly did not believe me
when I preached that you ought to flee from present things."
Chapter IV.--The Law Useless for Salvation; The Last Law of Chastity
Under the Figure of the Bramble.
And so those men, having been thus rejected from the divine care, and
the human race having again given themselves up to error, again God
sent forth, by Moses, a law to rule them and recall them to
righteousness. But these, thinking fit to bid a long farewell to this
law, turned to idolatry. Hence God gave them up to mutual slaughters,
to exiles, and captivities, the law it self confessing, as it were,
that it could not save them. Therefore, worn out with ills and
afflicted, they again promised that they would obey the commandments;
until God, pitying man the fourth time, sent chastity to rule over
them, which Scripture consequently called the bramble. And she
consuming pleasures threatens besides, that unless all undoubtingly
obey her, and truly come to her, she will destroy all with fire, since
there will be hereafter no other law or doctrine but judgment and
fire. For this reason, man henceforth began to do righteousness, and
firmly to believe in God, and to separate himself from the devil. Thus
chastity was sent down, as being most useful and helpful to men. For
of her alone was the devil unable to forge an imitation to lead men
astray, as is the case with the other precepts.
Chapter V.--The Malignity of the Devil as an Imitator in All Things;
Two Kinds of Fig-Trees and Vines.
The fig-tree, as I said, from the sweetness and excellence of its
fruit, being taken as a type of the delights of paradise, the devil,
having beguiled the man by its imitations, led him captive, persuading
him to conceal the nakedness of his body by fig-leaves; that is, by
their friction he excited him to sexual pleasure. Again, those that
had been saved from the deluge, he intoxicated with a drink which was
an imitation of the vine of spiritual joy; and again he mocked them,
having stripped them of virtue. And what I say will hereafter be more
The enemy, by his power, always imitates  the forms of virtue
and righteousness, not for the purpose of truly promoting its
exercise, but for deception and hypocrisy. For in order that those who
fly from death he may entice to death, he is outwardly dyed with the
colours of immortality. And hence he wishes to seem a fig-tree or
vine, and to produce sweetness and joy, and is "transformed into an
angel of light,"  ensnaring many by the appearance of piety.
For we find in the Sacred Writings that there are two kinds of
fig-trees and vines, "the good figs, very good; and the evil, very
evil; "  "wine that maketh glad the heart of man." 
and wine which is the poison of dragons, and the incurable venom of
asps.  But from the time when chastity began to rule over men,
the fraud was detected and overcome, Christ, the chief of virgins,
overturning it. So both the true fig-tree and the true vine yield
fruit after that the power of chastity has laid hold upon all men, as
Joel the prophet preaches, saying: "Fear not, O land; be glad and
rejoice, for the Lord will do great things. Be not afraid, ye beasts
of the field; for the pastures of the wilderness do spring, for the
tree beareth her fruit, the fig-tree and the vine do yield their
strength. Be glad then, ye children of Zion, and rejoice in the Lord
your God, for He hath given you food unto righteousness; " 
calling the former laws the vine and the fig, trees bearing fruit unto
righteousness for the children of the spiritual Zion, which bore fruit
after the incarnation of the Word, when chastity ruled over us, when
formerly, on account of sin and much error, they had checked and
destroyed their buds. For the true vine and the true fig-tree were not
able to yield such nourishment to us as would be profitable for life,
whilst as yet the false fig-tree, variously adorned for the purpose of
fraud, flourished. But when the Lord dried up the false branches, the
imitations of the true branches, uttering the sentence against the
bitter fig-tree, "Let no fruit grow on thee henceforward for ever,"
 then those which were truly fruit-bearing trees flourished and
yielded food unto righteousness.
The vine, and that not in a few places, refers to the Lord Himself,
 and the fig-tree to the Holy Spirit, as the Lord "maketh glad
the hearts of men," and the Spirit healeth them. And therefore
Hezekiah is commanded  first to make a plaster with a lump of
figs--that is, the fruit of the Spirit--that he may be healed--that
is, according to the apostle--by love; for he says, "The fruit of the
Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness,
faith, meekness, temperance; "  which, on account of their
great pleasantness, the prophet calls figs. Micah also says, "They
shall sit every man under his vine and under his fig-tree; and none
shall make them afraid."  Now it is certain that those who
have taken refuge and rested under the Spirit, and under the shadow of
the Word, shall not be alarmed, nor frightened by him who troubles the
hearts of men.
Chapter VI.--The Mystery of the Vision of Zechariah.
Moreover, Zechariah shows that the olive shadows forth the law of
Moses, speaking thus: "And the angel that talked with me came again
and waked me, as a man that is wakened out of his sleep, and said unto
me, What seest thou? And I said, I have looked, and behold a
candlestick all of gold, with a bowl upon the top of it.... And two
olive-trees by it, one upon the right side of the bowl, and the other
upon the left side thereof."  And after a few words, the
prophet, asking what are the olives on the right and left of the
candlestick, and what the two olive-boughs in the hands of the two
pipes, the angel answered and said: "These are the two sons of
fruitfulness  which stand by the Lord of the whole earth,"
signifying the two first-born virtues that are waiting upon God,
which, in His dwelling, supply around the wick, through the boughs,
the spiritual oil of God, that man may have the light of divine
knowledge. But the two boughs of the two olives are the law and the
prophets, around, as it were, the lot  of the inheritance, of
which Christ and the Holy Spirit are the authors, we ourselves
meanwhile not being able to take the whole fruit and the greatness of
these plants, before chastity began to rule the world, but only their
boughs--to wit, the law and the prophets--did we formerly cultivate,
and those moderately, often letting them slip. For who was ever able
to receive Christ or the Spirit, unless he first purified himself? For
the exercise which prepares the soul from childhood for desirable and
delectable glory, and carries this grace safely thither with ease, and
from small toils raises up mighty hopes, is chastity, which gives
immortality to our bodies; which it becomes all men willingly to
prefer in honour and to praise above all things; some, that by its
means they may be betrothed to the Word, practising virginity; and
others, that by it they may be freed from the curse, "Dust thou art,
and unto dust shalt thou return." 
This, O Arete, is the discourse on virginity which you required of me,
accomplished according to my ability; which I pray, O mistress,
although it is mediocre and short, that thou wilt receive with
kindness from me who was chosen to speak last.
Chapter I.--The True and Chaste Virgins Few; Chastity a Contest;
Thekla Chief of Virgins,
I do accept it, Theopatra related that Arete said, and approve of it
all. For it is an excellent thing, even although you had not spoken so
clearly, to take up and go through with earnestness those things which
have been said, not to prepare a sweet entertainment for those who
listen, but for correction, recollection, and abstinence. For whoever
teaches that chastity is to be preferred and embraced first of all
among my pursuits, rightly advises; which many think that they honour
and cultivate, but which few, so to speak, really honour. For it is
not one who has studied to restrain his flesh from the pleasure of
carnal delight that cultivates chastity, if he do not keep in check
the rest of the desires; but rather he dishonours it, and that in no
small degree, by base lusts, exchanging pleasures for pleasures. Nor
if he have strongly resisted the desires of the senses, but is lifted
up with vainglory, and from this cause is able to repress the heats of
burning lust, and reckon them all as nothing, can he be thought to
honour chastity; for he dishonours it in that he is lifted up with
pride, cleansing the outside of the cup and platter, that is, the
flesh and the body, but injuring the heart by conceit and ambition.
Nor when any one is conceited of riches is he desirous of honouring
chastity; he dishonours it more than all, preferring a little gain to
that to which nothing is comparable of those things that are in this
life esteemed. For all riches and gold "in respect of it are as a
little sand."  And neither does he who loves himself above
measure, and eagerly considers that which is expedient for himself
alone, regardless of the necessities of his neighbour, honour
chastity, but he also dishonours it. For he who has repelled from
himself charity, mercy, and humanity, is much inferior to those who
honourably exercise chastity. Nor is it right, on the one hand, by the
use of chastity to keep virginity, and, on the other hand, to pollute
the soul by evil deeds and lust; nor here to profess purity and
continence, and there to pollute it by indulgence in vices. Nor,
again, here to declare that the things of this world bring no care to
himself; there to be eager in procuring them, and in concern about
them. But all the members are to be preserved intact and free from
corruption; not only those which are sexual, but those members also
which minister to the service of lusts. For it would be ridiculous to
preserve the organs of generation pure, but not the tongue; or to
preserve the tongue, but neither the eyesight, the ears, nor the
hands; or lastly, to preserve these pure, but not the mind, defiling
it with pride and anger.
It is altogether necessary for him who has resolved that he will not
err from the practice of chastity, to keep all his members and senses
clean and under restraint, as is customary with the planks of ships,
whose fastenings the ship-masters diligently join together, lest by
any means the way and access may lie open for sin to pour itself into
the mind. For great pursuits are liable to great falls, and evil is
more opposed to that which is really good than to that which is not
good. For many who thought that to repress vehement lascivious desires
constituted chastity, neglecting other duties connected with it,
failed also in this, and have brought blame  upon those
endeavouring after it by the fight way, as you have proved who are a
model in everything, leading a virgin life in deed and word. And now
what that is which becomes a virgin state has been described.
And you all in my hearing having sufficiently contended in speaking, I
pronounce victors and crown; but Thekla with a larger and thicker
chaplet, as the chief of you, and as having shone with greater lustre
than the rest.
Chapter II.--Thekla Singing Decorously a Hymn, the Rest of the Virgins
Sing with Her; John the Baptist a Martyr to Chastity; The Church the
Spouse of God, Pure and Virgin.
Theopatra said that Arete having said these things, commanded them all
to rise, and, standing under the Agnos, to send up to the Lord in a
becoming manner a hymn of thanksgiving; and that Thekla should begin
and should lead the rest. And when they had stood up, she said that
Thekla, standing in the midst of the virgins on the right of Arete,
decorously sang; but the rest, standing together in a circle after the
manner of a chorus, responded to her: "I keep myself pure for Thee, O
Bridegroom, and holding a lighted torch I go to meet Thee." 
Thekla. I. From above, O virgins, the sound of a noise that wakes the
dead has come, bidding us all to meet the Bridegroom in white robes,
and with torches towards the cast.Arise, before the King enters within
Chorus. I keep myself pure for Thee, O Bridegroom, and holding a
lighted torch I go to meet Thee.
Thekla. 2. Fleeing from the sorrowful happiness of mortals, and having
despised the luxuriant delights of life and its love, I desire to be
protected under Thy life-giving arms, and to behold Thy beauty for
ever, O blessed One.
Chorus. I keep myself pure for Thee, O Bridegroom, and holding a
lighted torch I go to meet Thee.
Thekla. 3. Leaving marriage and the beds of mortals and my golden home
for Thee, O King, I have come in undefiled robes, in order that I
might enter with Thee within Thy happy bridal chamber.
Chorus. I keep myself pure for Thee, O Bridegroom, and holding
alighted torch I go to meet Thee.
Thekla. 4. Having escaped, O blessed One, from the innumerable
enchanting wiles of the serpent, and, moreover, from the flame of
fire, and from the mortal-destroying assaults of wild beasts, I await
Thee from heaven.
Chorus. I keep myself pure for Thee, O Bridegroom, and holding
alighted torch I go to meet Thee.
Thekla. 5. I forget my own country, O Lord, through desire of Thy
grace.  I forget, also, the company of virgins, my fellows, the
desire even of mother and of kindred, for Thou, O Christ, art all
things to me.
Chorus. I keep myself pure for Thee, O Bridegroom, and holding
alighted torch I go to meet Thee.
Thekla. 6. Giver of life art Thou, O Christ. Hail, light that never
sets, receive this praise. The company of virgins call upon Thee,
Perfect Flower, Love, Joy, Prudence, Wisdom, Word.
Chorus. I keep myself pure for Thee, O Bridegroom, and holding
alighted torch I go to meet Thee.
Thekla. 7. With open gates, O beauteously adorned Queen, admit us
within thy chambers. O spotless, gloriously triumphant Bride,
breathing beauty, we stand by Christ, robed as He is, celebrating thy
happy nuptials, O youthful maiden.
Chorus. I keep myself pure for Thee, O Bridegroom, and holding
alighted torch I go to meet Thee.
Thekla. 8. The virgins standing without the chamber,  with
bitter tears and deep moans, wail and mournfully lament that their
lamps are gone out, having failed to enter in due time the chamber of
Chorus. I keep myself pure for Thee, O Bridegroom, and holding
alighted torch I go to meet Thee.
Thekla. 9. For turning from the sacred way of life, unhappy ones, they
have neglected to prepare sufficiency of oil for the path of life;
bearing lamps whose bright light is dead, they groan from the inward
recesses of their mind.
Chorus. I keep myself pure for Thee, O Bridegroom, and holding
alighted torch I go to meet Thee.
Thekla. 10. Here are cups full of sweet nectar; let us drink, O
virgins, for it is celestial drink, which the Bridegroom hath placed
for those duly called to the wedding.
Chorus. I keep myself pure for Thee, O Bridegroom, and holding
alighted torch I go to meet Thee.
Thekla. 11. Abel, clearly prefiguring Thy death,  O blessed One,
with flowing blood, and eyes lifted up to heaven, said, Cruelly slain
by a brother's hand, O Word, I pray Thee to receive me.
Chorus. I keep myself pure for Thee, O Bridegroom, and holding
alighted torch I go to meet Thee.
Thekla. 12. Thy valiant son Joseph,  O Word, won the greatest
prize of virginity, when I a woman heated with desire forcibly drew
him to an unlawful bed; but he giving no heed to her fled stripped,
and crying aloud:--
Chorus. I keep myself pure for Thee, O Bridegroom, and holding a
lighted torch I go to meet Thee.
Thekla. 13. Jephthah offered his fresh slaughtered virgin daughter a
sacrifice to God, like a lamb; and she, nobly fulfilling the type of
Thy body, O blessed One, bravely cried:--
Chorus. I keep myself pure for Thee, O Bridegroom, and holding
alighted torch I go to meet Thee.
Thekla. 14. Daring Judith,  by clever wiles having cut off the
head of the leader of the foreign hosts, whom previously she had
allured by her beautiful form, without polluting the limbs of her
body, with a victor's shout said:--
Chorus. I keep myself pure for Thee, O Bridegroom, and holding
alighted torch I go to meet Thee.
Thekla. 15. Seeing the great beauty of Susanna, the two Judges,
maddened with desire, said, O dear lady, we have come desiring secret
intercourse with thee; but she with tremulous cries said:--
Chorus. I keep myself pure for Thee, O Bridegroom, and holding a
lighted torch I go to meet Thee.
Thekla. 16. It is far better for me to die than to betray my nuptials
to you, O mad for women, and so to suffer the eternal justice of God
in fiery vengeance. Save me now, O Christ, from these evils.
Chorus. I keep myself pure for Thee, O Bridegroom, and holding a
lighted torch I go to meet Thee.
Thekla. 17. Thy Precursor, washing multitudes of men in flowing
lustral water, unjustly by a wicked man, on account of his chastity,
was led to slaughter; but as he stained the dust with his life-blood,
he cried to Thee, O blessed One:--
Chorus. I keep myself pure for Thee, O Bridegroom, and holding a
lighted torch I go to meet Thee.
Thekla. 18. The parent of Thy life, that unspotted Grace  and
undefiled Virgin, bearing in her womb without the ministry of man, by
an immaculate conception,  and who thus became suspected of
having betrayed the marriage-bed, she, O blessed One, when pregnant,
Chorus. I keep myself pure for Thee, O Bridegroom, and holding
alighted torch I go to meet Thee.
Thekla. 19. Wishing to see Thy nuptial day, O blessed One, as many
angels as Thou, O King, calledst from above, bearing the best gifts to
Thee, came in unsullied robes:--
Chorus. I keep myself pure for Thee, O Bridegroom, and holding
alighted torch I go to meet Thee.
Thekla. 20. In hymns, O blessed spouse of God, we attendants of the
Bride honour Thee, O undefiled virgin Church of snow-white form, dark
haired, chaste, spotless, beloved.
Chorus. I keep myself pure for Thee, O Bridegroom, and holding
alighted torch I go to meet Thee.
Thekla. 21. Corruption has fled, and the tearful pains of diseases;
death has been taken away, all folly has perished, consuming mental
grief is no more; for again the grace of the God-Christ has suddenly
shone upon mortals.
Chorus. I keep myself pure for Thee, O Bridegroom, and holding
alighted torch I go to meet Thee.
Thekla. 22. Paradise is no longer bereft of mortals, for by divine
decree he no longer dwells there as formerly, thrust out from thence
when he was free from corruption, and from fear by the various wiles
of the serpents, O blessed One.
Chorus. I keep myself pure for Thee, O Bridegroom, and holding
alighted torch I go to meet Thee.
Thekla. 23. Singing the new song, now the company of virgins attends
thee towards the heavens, O Queen, all manifestly crowned with white
lilies, and bearing in their hands bright lights.
Chorus. I keep myself pure for Thee, O Bridegroom, and holding
alighted torch I go to meet Thee.
Thekla. 24. O blessed One, who inhabited the undefiled seats of heaven
without beginning, who governed all things by everlasting power, O
Father, with Thy Son, we are here, receive us also within the gates of
Chorus. I keep myself pure for Thee, O Bridegroom, and holding
alighted torch I go to meet Thee.
Chapter III.--Which are the Better, the Continent, or Those Who
Delight in Tranquillity of Life? Contests the Peril of Chastity: the
Felicity of Tranquillity; Purified and Tranquil Minds Gods: They Who
Shall See God; Virtue Disciplined by Temptations.
Euboulios. Deservedly, O Gregorion, has Thekla borne off the chief
Gregorion. Deservedly indeed.
Euboulios. But what about the stranger Telmisiake?  Tell me,
was she not listening from without? I wonder if she could keep silence
on hearing of this banquet, and would not forthwith, as a bird flies
to its food, listen to the things which were spoken.
Gregorion. The report is that she was present with Methodios 
when he inquired respecting these things of Arete. But it is a good as
well as a happy thing to have such a mistress and guide as Arete, that
Euboulios. But, Gregorion, which shall we say are the better, those
who without lust govern concupiscence, or those who under the assaults
of concupiscence continue pure?
Gregorion. For my part, I think those who are free from lust, for they
have their mined undefiled, and are altogether uncorrupted, sinning in
Euboulios. Well, I swear by chastity, and wisely, O Gregorion. But
lest in any wise I hinder you, if I gainsay your words, it is that I
may the better learn, and that no one hereafter may refute me.
Gregorion. Gainsay me as you will, you have my permission. For,
Euboulios, I think that I know sufficient to teach you that he who is
not concupiscent is better than he who is. If I cannot, then there is
no one who can convince you.
Euboulios. Bless me! I am glad that you answer me so magnanimously,
and show how wealthy you are as regards wisdom.
Gregorion. A mere chatterer, so you seem to be, O Euboulios.
Euboulios. Why so?
Gregorion. Because you ask rather for the sake of amusement than of
Euboulios. Speak fair, I pray you, my good friend; for I greatly
admire your wisdom and renown. I say this because, with reference to
the things that many wise men often dispute among themselves, you say
that you not only understand them, but also vaunt that you can teach
Gregorion. Now tell me truly whether it is a difficulty with you to
receive the opinion, that they who are not concupiscent excel those
who are concupiscent, and yet restrain themselves? or are you joking?
Euboulios. How so, when I tell you that I do not know? But, come, tell
me, O wisest lady, in what do the non-concupiscent and chaste excel
the concupiscent who live chastely?
Gregorion. Because, in the first place, they have the soul itself
pure, and the Holy Spirit always dwells in it, seeing that it is not
distracted and disturbed by fancies and unrestrained thoughts, so as
to pollute the mind. But they are in every way inaccessible to lust,
both as to their flesh and to their heart, enjoying tranquillity from
passions. But they who are allured from without, through the sense of
sight, with fancies, and receiving lust flowing like a stream into the
heart, are often not less polluted, even when they think that they
contend and fight against pleasures, being vanquished in their mind.
Euboulios. Shall we then say that they who serenely live and are not
disturbed by lusts are pure?
Gregorion. Certainly, For these  are they whom God makes gods
in the beatitudes; they I who believe in Him without doubt. And He
says that they shall look upon God with confidence, because they bring
in nothing that darkens or confuses the eye of the soul for the
beholding of God; but all desire of things secular being eliminated,
they not only, as I said, preserve the flesh pure from carnal
connection, but even the heart, in which, especially, as in a temple,
the Holy Spirit rests and dwells, is open to no unclean thoughts.
Euboulios. Stay now; for I think that from hence we shall the better
go on to the discovery of what things are truly the best; and, tell
me, do you call anyone a good pilot?
Gregorion. I certainly do.
Euboulios. Whether is it he that saves his vessel in great and
perplexing storms, or is it he who does so in a breathless calm?
Gregorion. He that does so in a great and perplexing storm.
Euboulios. Shall we not then say that the soul, which is deluged with
the surging waves of the passions, and yet does not, on that account,
weary or grow faint, but direct her vessel--that is, the flesh--nobly
into the port of chastity, is better and more estimable than he that
navigates in calm weather?
Gregorion. We will say so.
Euboulios. For to be prepared against the entrance of the gales of the
Evil Spirit, and not to be cast away or overcome, but to refer all to
Christ, and strongly to contend against pleasures, brings greater
praise than he wins who lives a virgin life calmly and with ease.
Gregorion. It appears so.
Euboulios. And what saith the Lord? Does He not seem to show that he
who retains continence, though concupiscent, excels him who, having no
concupiscence, leads a virgin life?
Gregorion. Where does He say so?
Euboulios. Where, comparing a wise man to a house well founded, He
declares him immoveable because he cannot be overthrown by rains, and
floods, and winds; likening, as it would seem, these storms to lusts,
but the immoveable and unshaken firmness of the soul in chastity to
Gregorion. You appear to speak what is true.
Euboulios. And what say you of the physician? Do you not call him the
best who has been proved in great diseases, and has healed many
Gregorion. I do.
Euboulios. But the one who has never at any time practised, nor ever
had the sick in his hands, is he not still in all respects the
Euboulios. Then we may certainly say that a soul which is contained by
a concupiscent body, and which appeases with the medicaments of
temperance the disorders arising from the heat of lusts, carries off
the palm for healing, over one to whose lot it has fallen to govern
aright a body which is free from lust. 
Gregorion. It must be allowed.
Euboulios. And how is it in wrestling? Whether is the better wrestler
he who has many and strong antagonists, and continually is contending
without being worsted, or he who has no opponents?
Gregorion. Manifestly he who wrestles.
Euboulios. And, in wrestling, is not the athlete who contends the more
Gregorion. It must be granted.
Euboulios. Therefore it is clear that he whose soul contends against
the impulses of lust, and is not borne down by it, but draws back and
sets himself in array against it, appears stronger than he who does
not lust. 
Euboulios. What then? Does it not appear to you, Gregorion, that there
is more courage in being valiant against the assaults of base desires?
Gregorion. Yes, indeed.
Euboulios. Is not this courage the strength of virtue?
Gregorion. Plainly so.
Euboulios. Therefore, if endurance be the strength of virtue, is not
the soul, which is troubled by lusts, and yet perseveres against them,
stronger than that which is not so troubled?
Euboulios.And if stronger, then better?
Euboulios.Therefore the soul which is concupiscent, and exercises
self-control, as appears from what has been said, is better than that
which is not concupiscent, and exercises serf-control. 
Gregorion. You speak truly, and I shall desire still more fully to
discourse with you concerning these things. If, therefore, it pleases
you, tomorrow I will come again to hear respecting them. Now, however,
as you see, it is time to betake ourselves to the care of the outward
We here behold only shadows, etc., p. 335.
Schleiermacher,  in commenting on Plato's Symposium, remarks:
"Even natural birth (i.e., in Plato's system) was nothing but a
reproduction of the same eternal form and idea.... The whole
discussion displays the gradation, not only from that pleasure which
arises from the contemplation of personal beauty through that which
every larger object, whether single or manifold, may occasion, to that
immediate pleasure of which the source is in the Eternal Beauty,"
etc.Our author ennobles such theorizing by mounting up to the great I
Christ Himself is the one who is born, p. 337.
Wordsworth, and many others of the learned, sustain our author's
comment on this passage.  So Aquinas, ad loc., Bede, and many
others. Methodius is incorrectly represented as rejecting  the
idea that "the woman" is the Blessed Virgin Mary, for no such idea
existed for him to reject. He rejects the idea that the man-child is
Christ; but that idea was connected with the supposition that the
woman was the Church of the Hebrews bringing forth the Messiah.
Gregory the Great regards the woman as the Christian Church. So
Hippolytus:  "By the woman ... is meant most manifestly the
Church, endued with the Father's Word, whose brightness is above the
sun," etc. Bossuet says candidly,  "C'est l'Eglise, tout
eclatante de la lumiere de J. C., " etc.
Now, note the progress of corruption, one fable engendering another.
The text of Gen. iii. 15, contrary to the Hebrew, the Seventy, the
Syriac, and the Vulgate itself, in the best mss., is made to read,
"She shall bruise thy head," etc. The "woman," therefore, becomes the
Mother of our Lord, and the "great red dragon" (of verse 3), from
which the woman "fled into the wilderness," is next represented as
under her feet (where the moon appears in the sacred narrative); and
then the Immaculate Conception of her Holy Seed is transferred back to
the mother of Mary, who is indecently discussed, and affirmed to have
been blest with an "Immaculate Conception" when, in the ordinary
process of nature, she was made the mother of the Virgin. So, then,
the bull Ineffabilis comes forth, eighteen hundred years after the
event,  with the announcement that what thousands of saints
and many bishops of Rome have denounced as a fable mast be received by
all Christians on peril of eternal damnation.  The worst of it
all is the fact, that, as the mystery of the Incarnation of the Son of
God has heretofore been the only "Immaculate Conception" known to the
faith of Christendom, thousands now imagine that this is what was only
so lately set forth, and what we must therefore renounce as false.
 [The idea, and some of the ideas borrowed from the Symposium of
Plato, but designed to furnish a contrast as strong as possible
between the swinish sensuality of false "philosophy" in its best
estate, and the heavenly chastity of those whom the Gospel renders
"pure in heart," and whose life on earth is controlled by the promise,
"they shall see God."]
 In Migne's ed. Euboulion, but apparently with less authority;
and probably because the name is connected with that of Gregorion.
Euboulios is a man, and Gregorion a woman.
 [Gregorion answers to the Diotima of Socrates in Plato's
Banquet, and talks like a philosopher on these delicate subjects.]
 Hom., Il., iv. 3, 4.
 A personification of virtue, the daughter of philosophy. [i.e.,
of philosophy not falsely so called.]
 2 Cor. xi. 2.
 "A tall tree like the willow, the branches of which were strewn
by matrons on their beds at the Thesmophoria, vitex agnuscastus. It
was associated with the notion of chastity, from the likeness of its
name to hagno's."-- Liddell and Scott.
 [Much of this work suggests a comparison with the Hermas of
vol. ii., and Minucius Felix seems not infrequently reflected.]
 [Virtue presides, and "to the pure all things are pure;" but
the freedoms of the converse must offend unless we bear in mind that
these are allegorical beings, not women in flesh and blood.]
 0 [See the oration on Simeon and Anna, cap. 10, infra]
 Lit. the udder.
 Matt. ix. 12.
 [I think evidence abounds, in the course of this allegory, that
it was designed to meet the painful discussions excited in the Church
by the fanatical conduct of Origen, vol. iv. pp. 225-226.]
 Lit. "leaps out."
 Ecclus. vi. 36.
 Ps. xxxvii. 6 (LXX.), xxxviii. 5 (E. V.).
 Lev. ii. 13; Mark ix. 40.
 Matt. v. 13.
 1 Cor. vii. 34.
 0 Lev. xviii. 19, xx. 17.
 [Contending with the worse than bestial sensuality of
paganism, and inured to the sorrows of martyr-ages, when Christian
families could not be reared in peace, let us not wonder at the high
conceptions of these heroic believers, based on the words of Christ
Himself, and on the promise, "Blessed are the pure in heart, for they
shall see God."]
 Ecclus. xviii. 30.
 Ecclus. xix. 2.
 Prov. v. 18.
 Jer. v. 8.
 Wisd. iv. 3.
 Ecclus. xxiii. 1, 4, 6.
 Wisd. iv. 1, 2.
 [This seems to me admirable. Our times are too little
willing to see all that Scripture teaches in this matter.]
 0 A distinction common among the Fathers.
 Rev. xiv. 1-4.
 Rev. xiv. 4, 5.
 Rev. vii. 9.
 [Compare Cyprian, vol. v. p. 475, this series.]
 Gen. i. 28.
 eos arti, even until now. John v. 17.
 Gen. i. 28.
 Gen. ii. 23.
 Remark the connection, ekstasis and exi'statai.
 Jer. i. 5.
 Job xxxviii. 14 (LXX.).
 Job x. 8.
 Matt. xxiv. 22.
 0 Wisd. iii. 16.
 [Bastardy seems to have been regarded as washed out by
baptism, thousands of pagan converts having been born under this
 Wisd. iv. 6.
 Gen. ii. 7.
 [This language shows that it is not cited as Holy Scripture.
It confirms St. Jerome's testimony, Prolog. in Libros Salomonis.]
 Wisd. xv. 10, 11.
 1 Tim. ii. 4.
 His virgin. [St. Paul was married, and then a widower, in
the opinion of many of the ancients. See Euseb., H. E., iii. 30.]
 1 Cor. vii. 38.
 Matt. xxii. 30.
 0 Matt. xix. 12.
 The bridegroom's.
 Ps. xlv. 10 (xliv. 10, LXX.).
 Gen. ii. 23, 24, and Eph. v. 28-32.
 Eph. v. 32. [A forcible argument.]
 Gen. ii. 23, 24.
 Eph. v. 28-32. [Compare the next Chapter, note 4.]
 This is the obvious English equivalent of the Greek text.--Tr.
[A singularly cautious testimony against Origen, whom our author
follows too closely in allegorizing interpretations of Scripture.
Origen, having literalized so sadly in one case, seems to have erred
ever afterward in the other extreme. Here is a prudent caveat.]
 Gen. iii. 19.
 Col. i. 15.
 Rev. ii. 7.
 Gen. iii. 22.
 0 Namely, the second Adam.
 Second Adam.
 The obscurity of this Chapter is indicated in the heading
placed over it by the old Latin translator. The general meaning,
however, will be clear enough to the theological reader.--Tr.
 Jer. xviii. 3, 4.
 St. John i. 1.
 Eph. i. 21, iii. 10.
 Gen. iii. 19.
 1 Cor. xv. 22.
 In Him.
 Here, as in the previous Chapter, and in many other
passages, I have preferred the text of Jahn to that of Migne, as being
generally the more accurate.--Tr.
 0 Gen. ii. 9.
 1 Cor. xv. 22. The words are, "Neither doth corruption
 Eph. v. 31.
 Eph. v. 26, 27.
 Gen. i. 18.
 Commonly used by the Greek Fathers for the Baptized.
[Following Holy Scripture, Heb. x. 32, and Calvin's Commentary, ad
loc. Also his comment on Tit. iii. 5.]
 Jahn's reading, anaplesthei's. Migne has anaplasthei`s,
 Isa. xi. 2.
 0 Gen. ii. 18.
 2 Cor. xi. 12.
 Gal. iv. 19.
 1 Cor. iv. 15.
 Gen. ii. 18.
 Gen. ii. 24.
 [Laver (Gr loutro`n). Compare Tit. iii. 5 and Calvin's
comment, Opp., tom. ii. p. 506, ed. 1667.]
 Eph. v. 25, 26. [Baptismus = lavacrum animae.--Calvin, Ib.,
 1 Cor. vii. 1. [All vulgar familiarity included.]
 0 In the original the two words are different. In the
quotation from St. Paul it is aptesthai; here it is prospsau'ein.
Nothing could be gained by using two words in the translation.--Tr.
 1 Cor vii. 5.
 1 Cor. vii. 1. [All vulgar familiarity included.]
 1 Cor. vii. 2.
 E. V. "Fasting and prayer." As in the best Mss., tej3
nestei'aj3 kai' is wanting in the text.
 1 Cor. vii. 2-6.
 1 Cor. vii. 8, 9.
 [See p. 316, supra (note), and also Eusebius, there cited.
Per contra, see Lewin, vol. i. 382, 386.]
 Kalo'n. It is the same word which is translated good in ver.
1. "It is good for a man."
 i.e., participate in the same ordinances, and in their
 0 1 Cor. vii. 25-28.
 1 Cor. vii. 28.
 1 Cor. vii. 28.
 Which I recommend.
 1 Cor. vii. 29. [Nobody can feel more deeply than I do the
immeasurable evils of an enforced celibacy; nobody can feel more
deeply the deplorable state of the Church which furnishes only rare
and exceptional examples of voluntary celibacy for the sake of Christ.
On chastity, see Jer. Taylor's Holy Living, Works, i. p. 424.]
 1 Cor. vii. 32-34.
 A clause is omitted here in the text.
 1 Cor. vii. 35.
 1 Cor. vii. 36. [On virginity, see Taylor, i. 426, ed.
 1 Cor. vii. 37.
 0 polumeros kai` polutro'pos. Heb. i. 1.
 i.e., ai psuchai'.
 The body.
 Ps. cxxxvii. E. V., and in Heb. [Does not our author follow
the Hebrew here? I must think his reference here is to the cxxxvith
Psalm as we have it. It is Eucharistic, and verses 10-16 seem to be
specially referred to.]
 Or, Eucharistic hymn.
 Exod. i. 16.
 Rom. v. 14.
 "By the waters of Babylon," etc. [He passes to the next
 Ps. cxxxvii. 1, 2. [Here is a transition to Psalm cxxxvii.,
which has been the source of a confusion in the former Chapter. This
psalm is not Eucharistic, but penitential.]
 Odyss. K'. 510.
 0 Isa. xliv. 4.
 organon. The word used for harp above, and here employed
with a double meaning. ["Body" here = man's physical system.]
 In Hebrew the word means simply "a memorial."
 Matt. vii. 6.
 i.e., To those without.
 Amos iv. 5 (LXX.). The E. V. is, "Offer a sacrifice of
thanksgiving in the leaven."
 1 Pet. ii. 10.
 Ps. cxxxvii. 5, 6.
 2 Cor. xi. 2.
 Wisd. iv. 2.
 0 Isa. lx. 1.
 O Jerusalem.
 Commentators have remarked the allusion to Phil. iii. 11.
See Migne's note. The thought of the marriage of the heavenly
bridegroom, Christ, to His virgin bride, the Church, at the second
Advent, when "the dead shall be raised," was obviously present to the
mind of the writer.
 Jer. ii. 32. The author, in quoting from the LXX., slightly
alters the text, so as to make it almost a command, instead of a
question. The original has epile'setai; in the text it is
 Literally, breastband.
 [Compare vol. v. p. 587, this series.]
 Lit. game or toil, athlon.
 Lit. shall greatly vow a vow to offer, with sacrifices of
purification, chastity to the Lord. Num. vi. 1, 2.
 There are two readings. The above rendering may fairly embrace
 Gen. xv. 9. [Our author has in mind (the triad) 1 Thess. v.
 Luke xii. 35-38. The author apparently quotes from memory.
 Lam. iii. 27.
 Num. vi. 2 (LXX.).
 1 Cor. vii. 34; quoted from memory.
 0 Cf. Ps. cxxxix. 4, and cxli. 3.
 Ps. xlv. 2.
 Isa. viii. 1. The LXX is quoted from memory. The meaning,
however, is nearer the original than the E. V. Cf. Keil and Delitzsch,
Bib. Com., in loc.
 Cf. Ecclus. vi. 36.
 to` poreutiko'n, the power of going.
 Num. vi. 1-4.
 St. John xv. 1, 5.
 Deut. xxxii. 32, 33.
 Luke xxi. 34.
 0 Lev. xi. 29; not an exact quotation.
 Exod. xxx. 1-9.
 Heb. x. 1. The apostle says, "a shadow," and "not the very
image." The difference, however, is verbal only.--Tr.
 Exod. xxv. 40.
 Heb. xi. 10.
 1 Cor. xiii. 12.
 An apparent confusion between the altar of incense, to which
the author refers, and which stood in the Holy Place, and the
Mercy-Seat, which was within the vale in the Holy of holies.--Tr.
 Cf. 1 Tim. vi. 16.
 pneumatika` tes poneri'as (Eph. vi. 12). In E. V. "spiritual
 Jer. iii. 3.
 [Which has suggested the form of this allegorical work.]
 Matt. xxv.
 In Greek i' = ten. The word employed signifies the index of a
sun-dial.--Tr. [The lamps found in the Roman catacombs have this mark
(X), which is at once a monogram for Christ and a reference to the ten
virgins. In the Greek the accented Iota might yet be associated with
the initial of Jesus.]
 Luke xii. 49. The Latin version is certainly more accurate,
"Quid volo nisi ut accendatur?"--Tr. [A visionary interpretation
follows. But has not this text been too much overlooked in its literal
significance? "It is the last time." The planet is now on fire.]
 Matt. v. 16.
 Lev. xxiv. 2, 3.
 0 Ps. cv. 11.
 Lev. xxiv. 3.
 Exod. xi., xii.
 Matt. xxv. 6. [This parable greatly stimulated primitive
 1 Thess. iv. 16, 17.
 1 Thess. iv. 16.
 1 Thess. iv. 17. Commentators have remarked on the
peculiarity of the interpretation. We give simply the writer's
 Wisd. iv. 2.
 Although the Greek word is not the same as in 1 Tim. vi. 16,
the meaning is probably this rather than unquenchable, as it is
rendered in the Latin.--Tr. [See Discourse XI. cap. 2, infra]
 0 Rev. vii. 4, xiv. 4.
 pneuma here and for wind above.
 Literally, only begotten. Wisd. vii. 22.
 St. John xiv. 28.
 [That the Canticles demand allegorical interpretation, we may
admit; nor can I object to our author's ideas here.]
 Cant ii. 2.
 Cant iv. 9-12.
 Chap. iv. ver. 9-12.
 Ps. xlv. 14.
 1 Cor. xv. 41, 42.
 0 Matt. v. 3-16.
 Cant. vi. 8, 9.
 Cant. vi. 8, 9.
 [Here allegorizing is refuted and perishes in fanciful and
 Luke xv. 23.
 This was Eve's testimony to the serpent, not the original
command.--Tr. [But I do not see the force of this note. Eve in her
innocency is surely a competent witness.]
 Gen. iii. 3.
 Heb. xi. 23.
 Here, and in many other places, the prevalent millenarian
belief of the first centuries is expressed by Methodius.--Tr. [See
Barnabas, vol. i. p. 147, this series; also Irenaeus (same vol.), p.
562, at note 11.]
 This word, as being that employed in the E. T. of the
Canticles, is adopted throughout. It must be remembered, that, in this
connection, it stands for nea'nides, and not for parthe'noi.-- Tr.
 0 Matt. xiii. 16, 17.
 Cant. vi. 8, 9.
 The forty-fifth in our arrangement.
 Ps. xlv. 2.
 Ps. xlv. 15, 16.
 Than of the most ordinary things of life.
 The influence of Plato is traceable, here and elsewhere,
throughout the works of Methodius. It has been fully examined in the
able work of Jahn, Methodius Platonizans.--Tr. [ Elucidation I.]
 Exod. iii. 14.
 Baruch iii. 14, 15. The apocryphal book of Baruch, as bearing
the name of the companion of Jeremiah, was usually quoted, in the
second and third centuries, as the work of that great prophet.--Tr.
 0 Rev. xii. 1-6.
 The same word in the text which is translated wind: pneuma.
The play upon the word cannot be preserved in the translation.--Tr.
 Rev. xii. 1-6.
 St. John v. 39.
 [i.e., the Church. See p 337, note 4, infra]
 Isa. lx. 1-4.
 It is hardly necessary to observe, that amid many
interpretations of the passage, this which Methodius condemns is
probably the true one, as it is certainly the most natural.--Tr. [It
is certainly worth observing, that Methodius has on his side a strong
following among the ancients; the interpretation the translator
favours having little support save among modern defenders of the late
pontiff's bull Ineffabilis. Elucidation II.]
 0 Isa. lxvi. 7, 8.
 In the LXX. "a male."
 The baptized.
 Gal. iv. 19.
 Ps. cv. 15.
 Eph. iii. 14-17.
 Ps. ii. 7.
 Certain phrases like this have led to the opinion that
Methodius was inclined to Arianism. There is no ground for the
supposition. In the writer's mind, as is clear from the previous
statements, the previous generation was eternal.--Tr.
 0 In the baptismal font.
 Patripassianism: nearly the same as Sabellianism.--Tr.
 Doke'sei, hence Docetae.--Tr.
 Cant. iv. 16.
 Methodius is not the first or the last who has sought to
explore the mystery of numbers. An interesting and profound
examination of the subject will be found in Bähr's Symbolik; also in
Delitzsch's Bib. Psychology.--Tr. [On the Six Days' Work, p. 71,
translation, Edinburgh, 1875.]
 i.e. in a regular arithmetical progression.
 i.e. its divisors or dividends.
 "Make Himself of no reputation."--E. T., Phil. ii. 7.
 Ezek. xvii. 3.
 0 Eph. vi. 17.
 Hom., Il., vi. 181.
 Deut. vi. 5.
 Hom., Od., i. 7.
 Rom. i. 21.
 ["As they think." Had Methodius any leaning to Pythagoras
and his school? To "science" the world owes its rejection of the true
theory of the universe for two thousand years, till Copernicus, a
Christian priest, broke that spell. Could the Christian Fathers know
more than science taught them? Methodius hints it.]
 Castor and Pollux.
 We cannot preserve the play upon words of the original.
There it is--mathematike`n and katathematike'n.-- Tr.
 Gen. i. 14, etc.
 ge'nesis = birth i.e., our life is not controlled by the
star of our nativity.--Tr. [See Hippolytus, vol. v. p. 27, this
 0 Hom., Od., i. 7.
 ge'nesis = birth, h. the star of man's nativity, h. destiny.
 Gal. v. 17.
 The LXX. adds "And of the Agnos." See note on this tree at the
beginning of the treatise, p. 310, note 2.]
 Lev. xxiii. 39-42.
 [Methodius did not adopt the errors of the Chiliasts, but he
kept up the succession of witnesses to this primitive idea.
Coleridge's remarks on Jeremy Taylor, touching this point, may be
worth consulting. Notes on Old English Divines, vol. i. p. 218.]
 Gen. ii. 1.
 Ps. civ. 31.
 Prov. i. 5, 6.
 St. John xiv. 16.
 1 Cor. xiii. 12.
 1 Cor. xiii. 10.
 0 Lev, xxiii. 40.
 Cant. iv. 13.
 Gen. ii. 9.
 Rev. xx. 6.
 Prov. iii. 18.
 Ps. i. 3.
 Lev. xxiii. 40.
 Luke xv. 8.
 1 Cor. xiii. 2, 3. Quoted from memory and in meaning, not
 Isa. xliv. 4. The reading of the LXX.
 0 [See Jer. Taylor, Holy Living, cap. ii. sec. 3, Works, vol.
i. p. 427, ed. Bohn, 1844. This is a token of antiquity.]
 1 Cor. vii. 29.
 In Hebrew, Succoth. Num. xxxiii. 5.
 Heb. iv. 14.
 Ps. xlii. 4.
 Judg. ix. 8-15.
 For this use of heart, cf. 2 Cor. iv. 6.--Tr. [See Coleridge on
Leighton, Old English Divines, vol. ii. p. 137.]
 Gen. iii. 7.
 Gen. ix. 22.
 Good news.
 Jer. viii. 13.
 Joel ii. 22.
 Jahn's reading is here followed. [This is a puzzle as well as a
parable; the Seventy give ra'mnos, which is not = agnos. It spoils the
force of Jotham's caustic satire to adopt this conception of our
 1 Kings xix. 4.
 0 Gen. v. 29.
 [Diabolus simia Dei, an idea very common to the Fathers. He
is the malignant caricature of the Most High, exulting in the
deformity which he gives to his copies. Exod. vii. 11.]
 2 Cor. xi. 14.
 Jer. xxiv. 3.
 Ps. civ. 15.
 Deut. xxxii. 33.
 Joel ii. 21-23. The last words of the quotation are from the
 Matt. xxi. 19.
 John xv. 1.
 2 Kings xx. 7; Isa. xxxviii. 21.
 0 Gal. v. 22, 23.
 Micah iv. 4.
 Zech. iv. 1-3.
 E. V. "Anointed ones," ver. 14.
 schoi'nisma: same word as that translated "wick."--Tr.
 Gen. iii. 19.
 Wisd. vii. 9.
 [Compare our Lord's wisdom and mercy, Matt. xix. 11.]
 The text of Jahn is here followed.--Tr. [I have been obliged to
arrange this hymn (so as to bring out the refrain as sung by the
chorus of virgins) somewhat differently from the form in the Edinburgh
edition. I invite a comparison.]
 Ps. xlv. 10.
 Matt. xxv. 11.
 Gen. iv. 10.
 Gen. xxxix. 12.
 Jud. viii.
 Matt. i. 18.
 0 [The only one. See p. 355, Elucidation II., infra]
 In Jahn, Telmesiake.--Tr. [Comp. p. 356, n. 2, infra]
 [Contrast the shameful close of Plato's Symposium.]
 Matt. v. 8.
 [Recur to what is said of Origen and his epoch on p. 224,
vol. iv. of this series.]
 [Recur to what is said of Origen and his epoch on p. 224,
vol. iv. of this series.]
 [Here is our author's conclusive condemnation of Origen,
whose great mistake, I have supposed, gave occasion to this
extraordinary work. Possibly the epoch of Anthony had revived such
discussions when this was written.]
 Introduction to the Dialogues, etc. Dobson's translation,
 See his work On the Apocalypse, Lecture IX. p. 198, ed
 Speaker's Com., ad loc.
 0 Vol. v. p. 217, this series.
 Works, vol. i. p. 447, ed. Paris, 1845.
 Dec. 8, 1854.
 See The Eirenicon of Dr. Pusey, ed. New York, 1866.
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