Page images


Isid. et
Osir. c. 2.

Book it immortality is not life, but duration. And the end

of all, he saith, is the knowledge of the first and prinPlutarch. de cipal and intellectual Being. 24 TéAos early Toũ ToTop

και κυρίου και νοητού γνώσις. But he can make nothing at ed. Oxon. all of the matters of fact with relation to Osiris and

Isis, which he looks on as very absurd ; and so overthrows all the Phoenician scheme of Philo Byblius,

who lived much about the same time under Trajan. Ibid. c. 20. But Plutarch saith, To understand those things of a

Divine Being literally, is so absurd and impious, that they deserve to be spit at who offer them. And for those who interpret these things of great princes in former times, who had Divine honour given them, this, he saith, is the way to overthrow the natural sense of a Divine Being, and so open the way to atheism, by confounding gods and men together; as he saith Euhemerus Messenius had done. And therefore he was fain to turn all into allegory, to avoid the mischief of absurd and impious opinions concerning that Divine Power which he

owned to be in the world, and not only so, but he adds, Ibid. c. 45. (as is already observed,) Aiò kai tajnáraios aúty KÁTELJI

εκ θεολόγων και νομοθετών είς τε ποιητές, και φιλοσόφους δόξα, την αρχήν αδέσποτον έχουσα, την δε πίστιν ισχυρών και δυσεξάλειπτον, ουκ εν λόγοις μόνον, ουδε έν φήμαις, αλλά έν τε τελεταίς έν τε θυσίαις, και βαρβάροις και "Ελλησι πολλαχού περιφερομένην, ως ούτ' άνουν και άλογον και ακυβέρνητον αιωρείται το αυTopátų tò mãr that there was a very ancient tradition in the world among all sorts of men, and which had obtained a firm and unshaken belief in the world, not only in common talk, but in their greatest mysteries, and that both among Greeks and Barbarians, that the universe was not made by chance, or without reason, but that it was made and governed by it. From whence it follows, that there was such a tradition among the old Greeks, which did not lose its authority

ed. Oxon.


ed. .

when those mysteries were brought in; and that made CHAP. the most intelligent persons to apply them that way. For it seems, by the account he gives of Euhemerus Messenius, that atheistical persons took great advantages from these stories of their gods, to prove that there were none at all; but only that great men in former ages, that had found out some useful inventions, were deified after their deaths. Plutarch makes that a fabulous story, which he tells of his golden inscriptions in Panchæa, to prove the truth of his assertion, which none ever saw besides himself; and he affirms, that there were no such persons as the Panchæi : but others have shewed that there was such a place as Panchæa about Arabia Felix. And Diodorus Siculus mentions Diod. Sicul. it as a considerable island in the Arabian sea, and that 1. 1. C. 42. the inhabitants are called Panchæi; and that near the city Panara there is a temple to Jupiter Triphyllius, which was in great veneration for its antiquity and magnificence, which he describes at large: and upon the mountain there it is said that Uranus of old inhabited; and the people were called Triphyllii, from three different tribes which joined there, and were afterwards driven out by Ammon. And to make the story of Euhemerus more probable, he saith, the inhabitants came first out of Crete in Jupiter's time; so that Plutarch was very much to seek, when he denied that there was any such place as Panchæa, or such a person as Jupiter Triphyllius. And Diodorus further saith, there was in it a golden pillar in the old Egyptian letters, wherein there were inscriptions, containing the acts of Uranus and Jupiter, and of Diana and Apollo, written by Hermes; which is a very different account of this matter from what Plutarch gives. Some are willing to excuse Euhemerus, as though he intended nothing more but to let the Greeks know that they

[ocr errors]

Placitis Phi


ad Mathe. p. 3.7.

BOOK worshipped such for gods which had been men; which

was true enough. But this did not reach his design, according to Plutarch; which was to prove that there los. 1. vii. were no other gods but these : so Plutarch ranks him

with Diagoras Melius and Theodorus, who said, there Cicero de were no gods. And the Epicurean in Tully said, that Nat . Deor: Euhemerus destroyed all religion ; which could not

be true, if he had left any Divinity to be worshipped. Sext. Emp. Sextus Empiricus reckons him among the atheists, and

saith, he was a conceited man; but he charges him only with saying, that some great men in former ages had been made gods; which was so evident a thing, that one would think none could have been called an atheist merely upon that account. But Jupiter of Crete had been advanced a long time to the highest Divine honour; and consequently those who went about to disprove his worship, were thought to destroy the worship which belongs to the supreme God. But Diodorus Siculus, in a fragment of his sixth book, pre

served by Eusebius, gives a very different account of Præp. Ev.

him, and that from Euhemerus's own words, viz. That the ancients had delivered to their posterity two different notions of gods; one of those that were eternal and immortal, as the sun, moon, and stars, and other parts of the universe; but others were terrestrial gods, that were so made, because they were benefactors to mankind; as Hercules, Bacchus, and others. And as to Euhemerus, he saith, that he was a favourite of Cassander, king of Macedonia, by whose command he

made a voyage into those parts, where he found the Bochart. things before mentioned. But some learned men are still Phaleg. 1. j.

of Plutarch's opinion, that Euhemerus’s Panchæa is a mere figment of his; for which I do not see any reason sufficient, especially when the same persons do allow Sanchoniathon's Phænician antiquities; and methinks


1. ii. c. 2.

c. 8.


Euhemerus's account of the inscriptions on pillars of CHAP. the acts of Uranus and Cronus, and Jupiter and Ammon, and the Sacred Letters by Hermes, comes só near to Philo Biblius, that one would think he had compared notes with Euhemerus and Diodorus Siculus. But their design was different in this respect, that Sanchoniathon justified the making men to be gods, but Euhemerus went about to prove they were not gods, because they had been men. It is possible that the common people might account him an atheist for denying Jupiter of Crete to be God, or for saying that his sepulchre was to be found. But why should Plutarch charge him on this account, when he himself so much finds fault with those who made men to be gods? He endeavoured, he saith, to avoid the extremes both of superstition and atheism; but he could but endeavour it, when he allowed the practices of the Greeks and Egyptians, and only offered at some forced interpretations of them, against the general sense of the Egyptian mysteries.

But however it appears from him, that the old Greeks did preserve the ancient tradition of the world not being made by chance, which is the foundation of all religion. And Plato, when he enters upon the dis- Plato de course against atheism, begins with two things, viz. That the sun, and moon, and stars, and the order of seasons, shewed there was a God and Providence; and the consent of all mankind, Greeks and Barbarians. Now, how could Plato have said this of the old Greeks, if they had been without any religion till Orpheus came out of Egypt? And we have an evident proof of the practice of Divine worship among them, from the Parian Chronicle; where it is said, That Deucalion, after he had escaped the flood, went Marmor. to Athens, and there offered a solemn sacrifice for his

LL. l. x.


[blocks in formation]
[ocr errors]

Pausan, in

BOOK deliverance; and Pausanias saith, he there built a

magnificent temple : which are sufficient evidences of the religion of the old Greeks, even before they had the name of Hellens from the son of Deucalion. But I have not yet done with Diodorus Siculus, who lets fall several insinuations, as though he were of the mind of Euhemerus Messenius; and that the old religion, both in Egypt and elsewhere, was nothing but a politic contrivance. For in the beginning of his history he pretends to give an account of the beginning of all things : but it is such a one as plainly shews he was no friend to religion; for he takes away the very foundation of it, by supposing the world to be produced without any intellectual cause. He saith at first there were two opinions among the philosophers and historians : one was, that the world had been always just as it is; the other, that there was a beginning of mankind, and of other things. But how? This he undertakes to explain after this manner. At first there was a chaos, or a confused mixture of heaven and earth and all together; then followed a separation of bodies from each other, and thence came the present frame of the world. The lighter bodies moved forward, as the air and fire, by which motion came the sun, moon, and stars : but the grosser and more heavy parts subsided together : the moister made the sea, and the dry the earth ; which was very moist, but being quickened by the heat of the sun, swelled up in several tumors, with thin skins, containing the materials of living creatures ; which having strength, brake through those skins, and thence came all sorts of animals. But the heat of the sun and the winds hardening the surface of the earth, no more of such swellings appeared ; and so the animals are since continued by propagation. But the men which were thus

« PreviousContinue »