COLLECTION OF THE CHALDEAN ORACLES
Translated by Thomas Taylor
[Extracted from the Classical Journal, vol. 16, no. 32
(Sept. and Dec. 1817): 333-44:
vol. 17, nos. 33 & 34 (Mar. and June 1818): 128-33, 243-64.]
Note: Greek explanatory footnotes and text have been omitted.
The following remains of Chaldean theology are not only venerable
for their antiquity, but inestimably valuable for the unequalled sublimity of the doctrines they contain. They will, doubtless, too, be held
in the highest estimation by every liberal mind, when it is considered that some of them are the sources whence the sublime conceptions of Plato flowed; that others are perfectly conformable to
his most abstruse dogmas; and that the most important part of
them was corrupted by the Gnostics, and, in this polluted state,
became the fountains of barbarous and gigantically daring impiety.
That they are of Chaldaic origin, and were not forged by Christians of any denomination, as has been asserted by some superficial writers, is demonstrably evident from the following considerations: In the first place, John Picus, earl of Mirandula, in a letter to Ficinus, informs him that he was in possession of the Oracles of Zoroaster in the Chaldean tongue, with a commentary on them, by certain Chaldean wise men. And that he did not speak this from mere conjecture (as Fabricius thinks he did) is evident from his expressly asserting, in a letter to Urbinatus (p. 256 of his works), that, after much labour, he had at length learned the Chaldean language. And still farther, as we shall see, he has inserted in his works fifteen conclusions, founded on this very Chaldean manuscript. That this circumstance should have escaped the notice of mere verbalists, is not surprising; but it is singular that it should not have been attended to by a man of such uncommon erudition, and extensive reading, as Fabricius.
In the next place, as Porphyry, Iamblichus, and Proclus, wrote large commentaries on these oracles, and are well known to have ranked amongst the greatest enemies of the Christian religion; there is not even poetical probability, that men of such great learning and sagacity should have been duped by the shallow artifice of some heretical Christian knave. To which we may add, that Porphyry, in his life of Plotinus, express!; mentions, that certain revelations ascribed to Zoroaster, were circulated, in his time, by many Christians and heretics who had abandoned the ancient philosophy, and that he showed, by many arguments, these revelations were spurious; from which it is evident, that the oracles commented on by him, were not those forged by the heretics of his time.
In the third place, Proclus in his MS. Scholia on the Cratylus
of Plato, says, that the Oracles respecting the intelligible and
intellectual orders were delivered by Theurgists, under the reign
of Marcus Antoninus. It is clear, therefore, that the following
oracles, which are collected from the writings of the Platonists, are
of Chaldean, and not of Christian origin; not to mention that the dogmas they
contain are totally dissonant from those of the Christian faith.
It is likewise evident, that some of these oracles may, with great confidence, be ascribed to the Chaldean Zoroaster. This appears from the Chaldean manuscript of Picus, in which those oracles were denominated Zoroastrian, which exist at present, with the Scholia of Psellus, under the title of The Magic Oracles of Zoroaster.
In consequence of this, I have distributed these oracles into four parts. The first division I denominate The Oracles of Zoroaster; the second, Oracles delivered by Theurgists, under the reign of Marcus Antoninus; because the oracles in this division relate to the intelligible and intellectual orders. The third division I call, Oracles which were either delivered by Theurgists, under Marcus Antoninus, or by Zoroaster; because the collection or Psellus is [p.335] far from being complete, as we shall see from the conclusions of Picus, and the oracles in this division do not immediately relate to the intelligible and intellectual orders. The fourth division contains a few oracles of uncertain, or imperfect meaning, which I have thus denominated, from not having the MSS. in my possession, from which they were collected.
The learned reader will easily perceive that my labour, in forming this collection, must have been great, as I have accurately arranged each oracle under its proper head, and have given the authors and places where each (a few only excepted) may be found. He will likewise find, that I have added fifty Chaldean oracles, and fragments of oracles, to the collection of Patricius; and that I have given a far more correct edition of the text, than that of Le Clerc. Short notes are added, by way of comment, on the most obscure of these oracles, and the exposition of Psellus is prefixed as containing the best account of the Chaldaic dogmas that can, at present, be obtained.
A CONCISE EXPOSITION OF CHALDAIC DOGMAS, BY PSELLUS
"They assert that there are seven corporeal worlds, one Empyrean and the first; after this, three etherial, and then three material
worlds,1 the last of which is said to be terrestrial, and the hater of
life: and this is the sublunary place, containing likewise in itself
matter, which they call a profundity. They are of opinion, that
there is one principle of things; and this they celebrate as the one, and
good.2 After this, they venerate a certain paternal profundity,3 consisting of three triads; but each triad contains,
power, and intellect. After this is the intelligible lynx,4 then the
[p.336] Synoches, of which one is empyrean, the other etherial, and the
third material. The Teletarchæ follow the
Synoches. After these
succeed the fontal fathers,5 who are also called
leaders of the world. Of these, the first is called once beyond, the second is
Hecate, and the third is twice beyond. After these are
the three Amilicti;6 and, last of all, the
Upezokus. They likewise
venerate a fontal triad of faith, truth, and love. They assert that
there is a ruling sun from a solar fountain, and an archangelic sun;
that there is a fountain of sense, a fontal judgment, a thundering-fountain, a dioptric fountain, and a fountain of characters, seated in
unknown impressions. And, again, that there are fontal summits
of Apollo, Osiris, and Hermes. They likewise assert that there
are material fountains of centres and elements; that there is a
zone of dreams, and a fontal soul.
After the fountains, they say, the principles7 succeed: for fountains are superior to principles. But of the vivific principles,8 the summit is called Hecate, the middle ruling soul, and the extremity ruling virtue. They have likewise azonic Hecate, such as the Chaldaic Triecdotis, Comas, and Ecklustike. But the azonic9 gods, according to them, are Serapis, Bacchus, the series of Osiris, and of Apollo. These gods are called azonic, because they rule without restraint over the zones, and are established above the apparent gods. But the zonic gods are those which revolve round the celestial zones, and rule over sublunary affairs, but not with the same unrestrained energy, as the azonic. For the Chaldeans consider the zonic order as divine; as distributing the parts of the sensible world; and as begirding the allotments about the material region.
The inerratic circle succeeds the zones, and comprehends the seven spheres in which the stars are placed. According to them likewise, there are two solar worlds; one, which is subservient to the etherial profundity; the other zonaic, being one of the seven spheres.
Of human souls, they establish a twofold fontal cause; viz. the
paternal intellect,10 and the
fontal soul;11 and they consider
partial souls,12 as proceeding from the fontal, according to the will
of the father. Souls of this kind, however, possess a self-begotten,
and self-vital essence: for they are not like alter-motive natures.
Indeed, since according to the Oracle, a partial soul is a portion
of divine fire, a splendid fire, and a paternal conception, it must
be an immaterial and self-subsistent essence; for every thing divine
is of this kind; and of this the soul is a portion. They assert too,
that all things are contained in each soul; but that in each there
is an unknown characteristic of an effable and ineffable impression.
They are of opinion, that the soul often descends into the world,
through many causes; either through the defluxion of its wings,13
or through the paternal will. They believe the world to be eternal,
as likewise the periods of the stars. They multifariously distribute
Hades, at one time calling it the leader of a terrene allotment, and
at another the sublunary region. Sometimes they denominate it,
the most inward of the etherial and material worlds; at another
time, irrational soul.14 In this, they place the rational soul, not
essentially, but according to habitude, when it sympathises with it,
and energises according to partial reason.
They consider ideas, at one time, as the conceptions of the father;15 at another time, as universal reasons, viz. physical, psychical, and intelligible; and again, as the exempt hyparxes (or summits) of beings. They assert that magical operations are accomplished through the intervention of the highest powers, and terrene substances; and that superior natures sympathise with inferior, and especially with those in the sublunary region. They consider souls, as restored after death to their pristine perfection, in the wholes16 of the universe, according to the measures of their peculiar purifications; but some souls are raised by them to a supermundane condition of being. They likewise define souls to be media between impartible and partible natures. With respect to these dogmas, many of them are adopted by Plato17 and Aristotle: but Plotinus, Porphyry, Iamblichus, Proclus, and their [p.338] disciples, adopt the whole of them, and admit them without hesitation, as doctrines of a divine origin."
Thus far Psellus: I add, for the sake of those readers that are
unacquainted with the scientific theology of the ancients, that as
the highest principle of things is a nature truly ineffable and unknown, it is impossible that this visible world could have been
produced by him without media; and this not through any
impotency, but, on the contrary, through transcendency of power.
For if he had produced all things without the agency of intermediate beings, all things must have been like himself, ineffable and
unknown. It is necessary, therefore, that there should be certain
mighty powers between the supreme principle of things and us:
for we, in reality, are nothing more than the dregs of the universe.
These mighty powers, from their surpassing similitude to the first
god, were very properly called by the ancients gods; and were
considered by them as perpetually subsisting in the most admirable
and profound union with each other, and the first cause; yet so as
amidst this union to preserve their own energy distinct from that
of the highest god. For it would be absurd in the extreme, to
allow, that man has a peculiar energy of his own, and to deny that
this is the case with the most exalted beings. Hence, as Proclus
beautifully observes, the gods may be compared to trees rooted in
the earth: for as these, by their roots, are united with the earth,
and become earthly in an eminent degree, without being earth itself; so the gods, by their summits, are profoundly united to the
first cause, and by this mean are transcendently similar to, without
being, the first cause.
Lines too, emanating from the centre of a circle, afford us a conspicuous image of the manner in which these mighty powers proceed from, and subsist in, the ineffable principle of things. For here, the lines are evidently things different from the centre, to which, at the same time, by their summits, they are exquisitely allied. All these summits too, which are indescribably absorbed in centre, are yet no parts (i.e. powers) of it; for the centre has a subsistence prior to them, as being their cause.
THE ORACLES OF ZOROASTER
N.B. Wherever a star occurs prefixed to an oracle, it denotes that oracle to be an additional one, first discovered by me.
Oracles of Zoroaster.
There is also portion for the image18 in the place19 every way splendid.
Nor should you leave the dregs of matter20 in die precipice.21
Nor should you expel the soul from the body, lest in departing it retain something.22
Direct not your attention to the immense measures of the earth; for the plant of truth is not in the earth, Nor measure the dimensions of the sun, by moans of collected rules, for it revolves by the eternal will of the father, and not for your sake. Dismiss the sounding course of the moon; for it perpetually runs through the exertions of necessity. The advancing procession of the stars is not generated for your sake. The wide-spread aerial wing of birds, and the sections of victims and viscera; are never tree: but all those are mere puerile spoils, the foundations of mercantile deception. Fly from these, it you intend to open the sacred paradise of piety, where virtue, wisdom, and equity are collected together.23
Explore the river24 of the soul, whence, or in what order, having [p.340] become a servant to body, you may again rise to that order from which you flowed, uniting operation to sacred reason.25
Verge not downwards, a precipice lies under the earth, which draws through a descent of seven steps,26 and under which lies the throne of dire necessity.
You should never change barbarous names.27
In a certain respect the world possesses intellectual inflexible sustainers.28
Energise about the Hecatic sphere.29
If you often invoke me,30 ail things will appear to you to be a lion. For neither will the convex bulk of heaven then be visible; the stars will not shine; the light of the moon will be concealed; the earth will not stand firm; but all things will be seen in thunder.
On all sides, with an unfigured31 soul, extend the reins of fire.
O man, thou subtle production,32 that art of a bold nature!
In the left-hand inward parts of Hecate33 is the fountain of virtue, which wholly abides within, and does not emit its virginal nature.
When you behold a sacred fire34 without form, shining with a leaping splendour through the profundities of the whole world, hear the voice of fire.
You should not invoke the self-conspicuous image of nature.35
Nature persuades us, that there are holy daemons, and that the blossoms of depraved matter36 are useful and good.
The soul of mortals compels,37 in a certain respect, divinity into itself, possessing nothing mortal, and is wholly inebriated from deity: for it glories in the harmony38 under which the mortal body subsists.
The immortal depth39 of the soul should be the leader; but vehemently extend all your eyes40 upwards.
You should not defile the spirit,41 nor give depth to a superficies.
The wild beasts of the earth shall inhabit thy vessel.43
By extending a fiery intellect44 to the work of piety, you will also preserve the flowing body.
From the bosom therefore of the earth terrestrial dogs45 leap forth, who never exhibit a true sign to mortal man.
The Father46 perfected all things, and delivered them to the second intellect,47 which the nations of men call the first.
The furies are the bonds of men.48
The paternal intellect disseminated symbols49 in souls.
Those souls that leave the body with violence are most pure.50
The soul being a splendid fire, through the power of the father remains immortal, is the mistress51 of life, and possesses many perfections of the bosoms of the world.
The father did not hurl forth fear, but infused persuasion.52
The father53 has hastily withdrawn himself, but has not shut up his proper fire, in his own intellectual power.
There is a certain intelligible54 which it becomes you to understand with the flower of intellect.
The expelling powers55 of the soul which cause her to respire, are of an unrestrained nature.
It becomes you to hasten to the light and the rays of the Father, whence a soul was imparted to you, invested with an abundance of Intellect.
All things are the progeny of one fire.56
That which intellect says, it undoubtedly says by intellection.57
Ha! ha! the earth from beneath bellows at these as far as to their children.58
You should not increase your fate.59
Nothing imperfect proceeds, according to a circular energy, from a paternal principle.60
But the paternal intellect will not receive the will of the soul, till she has departed from oblivion;61 and has spoken the word, assuming the memory of her paternal sacred impression.
When you behold the terrestrial62 daemon approaching, vociferate and sacrifice the stone Mnizurim.
Learn the intelligible, for it subsists beyond intellect.63
The intelligible lynges64 possess intellection themselves from the Father, so far as they energize intellectually, being moved by ineffable councils.
The above Zoroastrian Oracles are from Psellus.
COLLECTION OF THE CHALDEAN ORACLES
The course of the moon, and the advancing procession of the stars.
Procl. in Tim.
The most celebrated of the Babylonians, together with and Zoroaster, very properly call the starry spheres herds; whether, because these alone among corporeal magnitudes, are perfectly carried about a centre, or in conformity to the oracles, because they are considered by them as in a certain respect the bonds and collectors of physical reasons, which they likewise call in their sacred discourses herds, and by the insertion of a gamma, angels. Hence, in a similar manner, they denominate the stars and daemons which rule over each of these herds (or starry spheres) angels and archangels: and these are seven in number. Anonymous, in Theologumenis Arithmeticis.
He who knows himself, knows all things in himself, as Zoroaster first asserted, and afterwards Plato in the first Alcibiades. Pici, Op. tom. i. p. 211.
Moisture is a symbol of life; and hence both Plato, and prior to Plato, the gods call the soul, at one time, a drop from the whole of vivification; and, at another time, a certain fountain of it. Procl. in Tim. p. 318.
There are certain aquatic daemons, called by Orpheus, Nereides, in the more
elevated exhalations of water, such as reside in the cloudy air, whose bodies,
according to Zoroaster, are sometimes
seen by more acute eyes, especially in Persia and Africa. Ficin. de Immortal. Anim.
Since the soul perpetually runs, in a certain space of time it passes through all things, which circulation being accomplished, it is compelled to run back again through all things, and unfold the same web of generation in the world, according to Zoroaster; who is of opinion, that the same causes on a time returning, the same effects will, in a similar manner, return. Ibid. p. 129.
According to Zoroaster, in us, the etherial vestment of the soul perpetually revolves. Ibid. p. 131.
Zoroaster calls the congruities of material forms to the reasons of the soul of the world, divine allurements. Ficin. de vita coelitus comparanda, p. 519.
In that part of the work of Johannes Picus, Earl of Mirandula, which is denominated Conclusiones, there are fifteen conclusions, according to his own opinion, of the meaning of certain oracles of Zoroaster, and the meaning of his Chaldean expositors. In these the two following oracles are preserved, which are not to be found in any Greek writer now extant:
Nor should you go forth when the victor passes by.
As yet three days shall ye sacrifice, and no longer.
It appears likewise, from these conclusions, that the first
Zoroaster was concerning a ladder, which reached from Tartarus to the first
That the second oracle was respecting a two-fold air, water, and earth, and the roots of the earth.
That the eleventh was concerning the two-fold intoxication of Bacchus and Silenus.
That there was an oracle respecting a syren, and another respecting she-goats.
As a translation of these conclusions, from their mixture with Cabalistic and other barbarous jargons, would not be of the least [p.130] use to the philosophic English reader, I shall only give them in the original.
Conlusiones numero 15 secundum propriam opinionem de intelligentia dictorum
Zoroastris, et expositorum ejus Chaldaeorum.
1. Quod dicunt interpretes Chaldaei super primum dtctum Zoroastris, de scala a tartaro ad primum ignem: nihil aliud significat quam seriem naturarum universi, a non gradu materiae ad eum, qui est super omnem graduin graduate protensum.
2. Ibidem dico interpretes nihil aliud per virtutes mysteriales intelligere quam naturalem magiam.
3. Quod dicunt interpretes super dictum secundum Zoroastris de duplici aere, aqua et terra, nihil aliud sibi vult, nisi quodlibet elementum, quod potest dividi per purum et impuruni, habere habitatores rationales et irrationales; quod vero purum est tantum rationales tantum.
4. Ibidem per radices terras nihil aliud intilligere possunt quam vitam vegetalem, convenienter ad dicta Empedoclis, qui ponit transanimationem etiam in plantas.
5. Ex dicto illo Zoroastris, Ha Ha, hos terra deflet usque ad filios, sequendo expositionem Osiae Chaldaei, expressam habemus veritatem de peccato originali.
6. Dicta interpretum Chaldaeorum super 11 aphorismo de duplici vino ebriatione Bacchi et Sileni, perfecte iutelligentur per dicta Cabalistarum de duplici vino.
7. Quae dicunt interpretes super 14 aphorismo, perfecte intelligentur, per ea, quae dicunt Cabalistae de morte osculi.
8. Magi in 17 aphorismo nihil aliud intelligunt per triplex indumentum, ex lino, panuo et pellibus, quam triplex animae habitaculum coeleste, spiritale, et terrenum.
9. Poteris ex praecedenti conclusione aliquid intelligere de pelliceis tunicis; quas sibi fecit Adam, et de pellibus qua; erant in tabemaculo.
10. Per canem nihil aliud intelligit Zoroaster, quam partem irrationalem aniniae et prpportionalia. Quod ita esse videbit qui diligenter dicta omnia expositorum consideraverit, qui et ipsi sicut et Zoroaster aenigmatice loquuntur.
11. Dictum illud Zoroastris, Nec exeas cum transit lictor, perfecte intelligitur per illud Exodi, quando sunt probibiti Israelitas exire domos suas in transitu angeli interficientis primogenita Egyptiorum.
12. Per Sirenam apud Zoroastrem nihil aliud intelligas quam partem animae rationalem.
13. Per puerum apud interpretes nihil aliud intelligibile quam intellectum.
14. Per dictum illud Zoroastris, Adhuc tres dies sacrificabitis, [p.131] et non ultra, apparuit mihi per Arithmeticam superioiris Merchianae illos computandi dies esse, in eo dicto expresse praedictum advertum Christi.
15. Quid sit intelligendum per capras apud Zoroastriem, intelligit, qui legeret in libro Bair quae sit affinitas capris et quae agnis cum spiritibus. Pici. op. vol. i. p. 69.
Chaldean Oracles delivered by Theurgists, under the reign of the Emperor Marcus Antoninus.
Concerning the summit of the intelligible order:
The monad is there first where the paternal monad subsists. Procl. in Eucl. p. 27.
Concerning the production, of the middle of the intelligible order:
The monad is extended, which generates two. Procl. in Eucl. p. 27.
Concerning eternity, according to which, the middle of the intelligible order is characterised:
Father-begotten light. For this alone, by plucking abundantly from the strength
of the Father, the flower of intellect, is enabled, by intellection, to impart a
paternal intellect to all the fountains
and principles; together with intellectual energy, and a perpetual permanency,
according to an unsluggish revolution. Procl. in Tim. p. 242.
For eternity,65 according to the oracle, is the cause of never-failing life, of unwearied power, and of unsluggish energy.
Concerning the extremity of the intelligible order:
Thence a fiery whirlwind sweeping along, obscures the flower of fire, leaping, at the same time, into the cavities of the world. For all things thence begin to extend their admirable rays downwards66. Procl. in Theol. Plat. p. 171, 172.
it proceeded, but it abides in the paternal profundity, and in the adytum,
according to the divinely-nourished silence. Procl. in Tim. p. 167.
It is the boundary of the paternal profundity, and the fountain of intellectual natures. Damascius.
It is the operator, and the giver of life-bearing fire. It fills the vivific bosom of Hecate, and pours on the Synoches the fertile strength of a fire endued with mighty power. Procl. in Tim. p. 128.
Who first leaped forth from intellect, clothing fire bound together with fire, that he might govern the fiery craters, restraining the flower oi his own fire. Procl. in Parmenid.
Concerning Faith, Truth, and Love:
All things are governed and subsist in these three. Procl. in I. Alcibiad.
You may conceive that all things act as servants to these three principles. Damasc.
Concerning the intelligible order in general:
The intelligible order is the principle of all section. Damasc.
This order is the principle of all section. Damasc.
The oracles show, that the orders prior to Heaven are ineffable, and add, "They possess mystic silence." Procl. in Crat.
The oracle calls the intelligible causes "Swift,'' and asserts, "That proceeding from the Father, they run to him." Procl, in Crat.
All things subsist together in the intelligible world. Damasc.
Concerning hyparxis, power, and energy:
What the Pythagoreans intended to signify by monad, duad, and triad—or Plato, by bound, infinite, and that which is mixed from both—or we, in the former part of this work, by one, the many, and the united, that the oracles of the gods signify by hyparxis,67 power, and intellect. Damasc.
Concerning power and intellect:
Power is with them (father and intellect) but intellect is from him (the father). Procl. in Plat. Theol. p. 365.
Concerning the intelligible in general:
The intelligible is food to that which understands. Procl. in Crat. and
You will not apprehend it by an intellectual energy, as when understanding some particular thing.68 Damasc.
It is not proper to understand that intelligible,69 with vehemence, but with the extended flame of an extended intellect: a flame which measures all things, except that intelligible. But it is requisite to understand this. For if you incline your mind, you will understand it, though not vehemently. It becomes you, therefore, bringing with you the pure convertible eye of your soul, to extend the void intellect to the intelligible, that you may learn its nature, because it has a subsistence above intellect. Damasc.
COLLECTION OF THE CHALDEAN ORACLES.
Concerning the energy of intellect about the intelligible:
Eagerly urging itself towards the centre of resounding light. Procl. in Tim. p. 250.
Concerning the triad:
In every world a triad shines forth70 of which a monad is the principle.
Damaac. in Parmen.
The triad measures and bounds all things. Procl. in Plat. Theol. p. 386.
Concerning intelligible, and at the same time, intellectual natures:
Those natures are both intellectual and intelligible, which, possessing themselves intellection, are the objects of intelligence to others. Procl. in Theol. Plat. p. 179.
Concerning the lynges, or the summit of the intelligible, and, at the same time, intellectual order of gods:
These being many, ascend leaping into the shining worlds; and they contain three summits. Damasc. in Parmenid.
Concerning the defensive triad, which subsists with the lynges:
They are the guardians of the works of the Father, and of one intelligible Intellect. Procl. in Plat. Theol. p. 205.
Concerning the empyrean Synoches:
All things yield ministrant to the intellectual presters of intellectual fire, through the persuasive will of the Father. Procl. in Parmenid.
Concerning the material Synoches:
But likewise such as serve the material Synoches.
Concerning the Synoches in general:
He gave them to guard the summits with their presters, mingling the proper force
of his strength in the Synoches.
Connectedly containing all things in the one summit of his hyparxis, according to the oracle, he himself subsists wholly beyond. Procl. in Theol. p. 212, respecting the first of the Synoches.
The oracles call the angular junctions of figures Synocheidae, so far as they contain an image of synochean unions, and of divine conjunctions, according to which, they connect together things separated from each other. Procl. in Eucl. p. 56.
Concerning the Teletarchae:
These fabricate indivisible and sensible natures, together with such as are
endued with corporeal form, and are distributed into matter.
The Teletarchae are comprehended together with the Syoeches. Damasc.
Concerning Saturn, the summit of the intellectual order:
The fire which is the first beyond, did not shut up his power in matter, nor in
works, but in intellect. For the artificer of the fiery world is an intellect of
intellect. Procl. in Plat. Theol. p. 333, and in Tim. p. 157.
And of that intellect which conducts the empyrean world. Damasc.
From him leap forth the implacable thunders, and the prester-capacious bosoms of the all-splendid strength of the father-begot- [p.246] ten Hecate, together with the environed flower of fire, and the strong spirit which is beyond the fiery poles. Procl. in Crat.
In the oracles it is said, that Saturn, who is the first fountain of the Amilicti, comprehends and rides on all the rest. The intellect of the Father, riding on attenuated rulers, they become refulgent with the furrows of inflexible and implacable fire. Procl. in Crat.
Concerning Rhea, who, in the intellectual triad, is called by the Chaldeans, Hecate:
The vivific fountain of souls is comprehended under two intellects.
Immense Nature is suspended about the shoulders of the goddess. Procl. in Tim. p. 4.
The centre of Hecate is carried in the middle of the fathers.
Her hairs appear similar to rays of light ending in a sharp point. Procl. in Plat. Polit. p. 387.
Rhea is the fountain and river of the blessed intellectual gods. Procl. in Crat.
For first receiving the powers of all things in her ineffable bosoms, she pours running generation into every thing.
Concerning Jupiter, the artificer of the universe:
The Duad sits with this god, and glitters, with intellectual sections;
together with the power of governing all things, and placing in order every
thing which is not regularly disposed. Procl. in Plat. p. 376.
And die fountain of fountains, and the boundary of all fountains.
Thus too both Orpheus and Plato characterise Jupiter by the duad. Procl. in Tim. p. 313.
The intellect of the eternal Father governing all things by intellect, said into
For the intellect of the Father said all things should be cut into three. His will assented, and immediately all things were cut. Procl. in Parmenid.
Thence the generation
of multifarious matter wholly leaps forth. Procl. in Tim. p. 118.
The paternal self-begotten intellect, understanding his works, disseminated in all things the bond of love, heavy with fire, that all things might remain loving for an infinite time; that the connected series of things might intellectually remain in all the light of the Father; and that the elements of the world might continue running in love. Procl. in Tim. p. 155.
The paternal intellect, who understands intelligibles, and adorns things ineffable, has disseminated symbols through the world. Procl. in Crat.
Through intellect he contains intelligibles, but he introduces sense to the worlds. Procl. in Crat.
For he is the power of a strength every way lucid, and he glitters with intellectual sections. Damascius.
The artificer who himself operating, fabricated the world. Damascius.
He glitters with intellectual sections, but he has filled all things with love. Damascius.
These things the Father understood, and the mortal nature became animated for him. Procl. in Tim. p. 536.
A matrix71 containing all things.
The theology of the Chaldeans attributes seven processions to this god. Hence he is called, in the oracles, seven-angled and seven-rayed. Gal. not. in Iamblich. p. 315.
Concerning the unpolluted, or guardian intellectual order:
The union of the first father (Saturn) and the first of the
is transcendent; and hence this stable god is called, by the gods, ''silent, and
is said to consent with intellect, and to be known by souls through intellect alone."
Procl. in Theol. Plat. p. 321.
And hence, Plato appears to me again to assert the same things which were afterwards asserted by the gods. For what they have denominated, furnished with every kind of armour, this he celebrates, by the being adorned with an all-perfect and complete armour.
''For being furnished with every kind of armour, and being armed, he is similar to the goddess." Procl. in Plat. Theol. p. 324.
Chaldean Oracles, which were either delivered by Theurgists, under the reign of the emperor Marcus Antoninus, or by Zoroaster.
Concerning ideas, as proceeding from the intellect of Jupiter, the artificer of the universe:
The intellect of the Father made a crashing noise72 understanding, with unwearied counsel, omniform ideas. But with winged speed they leaped forth from one fountain: for both the counsel and the end were from the Father. In consequence too of being allotted an intellectual fire, they are divided into other intellectual forms: for the king previously placed in the multiform world, an intellectual incorruptible impression, the vestige of which hastening through the world, causes the world to appear invested with form, and replete with all-various ideas, of which there is one fountain. From this fountain other immense distributed ideas rush with a crashing noise, bursting forth about the bodies of the world, and are borne along its terrible bosoms, like swarms of bees. They turn themelves too on all sides, and nearly in all directions. They are intellectual conceptions from the paternal foundation plucking abundantly the flower of the fire of sleepless time. But a self-perfect fountain pours forth primogenial ideas from the primary vigour of the Father. Procl. in Parmenid.
An oracle addressed to the intellectual gods:
Ye who understand the supermundane paternal profundity. Damasc.
Concerning that intelligible which is co-ordinate with intellect:
For intellect is not without the intelligible; it does not subsist separate from it. Procl. in Plat, Theol. p. 172.
Every intellect understands deity. Damascius.
Concerning fountains and principles:
All fountains and principles rapidly whirl round, and perpetually abide in an unsluggish revolution. Procl. in Parmenid.
Concerning the multitude of rulers:
The ruler of the immaterial worlds is subject to them. Damasc. in Parmenid.
Rulers who understand the intelligible works of the Father. These he spread like a
veil over sensible works and bodies. They are standing transporters,
whose employment consists in speaking
to the Father and to matter; in producing apparent imitations of unapparent
natures; and in inscribing things unapparent in the apparent fabrication of the
The employment of the assimilative order, it to elevate things posterior to itself to the intellectual demiurgic monad (Jupiter); just as it is the employment of another order, which has a transporting power, to elevate natures subordinate to itself to the intelligible monad. For as the gods say. "All things proceed from it; as far as to the matter, and again all things return to it." Procl. in Parmenid.
Concerning fontal time:
Another time which b fontal, and the leader of the empyrean world. Procl. in Tim. p. 552.
Theurgists assert, that Time is a god, and celebrate him as both older and younger, as a circulating and eternal god; as understanding the whole number of all the natures which are moved in the world; and, besides this, as eternal through his power, and of a spiral form. Procl. in Tim. p. 244.
Concerning the fontal soul:
Abundantly animating light, fire, ether, and the worlds. Simplic. in Phys. p. 143.
The speech of the soul of the universe, respecting the fabrication of the world by Jupiter:
I, soul, reside after the paternal cogitations, hot, and animating all things; for the Father of gods and men placed our intellect & soul, but soul he deposited in sluggish body. Procl. in Tim. p. 124.
Concerning natural productions and the soul of the world:
Natural productions consubsist in the intellectual light of the Father. For it is soul which has adorned the mighty heaven, and which adorns it in conjunction with the Father. But her horns art established on high. Procl. in Tim. p. 106.
Unwearied nature rules over the worlds and works, and draws downward, that
heaven may run an eternal course; and that the other periods of the sun, moon,
the seasons, night and day, may be
accomplished. Procl. in Tim. p. 4 and 323.
And that the swift sun may as usual revolve round the centre.
You should not look upon Nature, for her name is fatal.73 Procl. in Plat. Theol. p. 317.
Concerning the light above the empyrean world:
In this light, things without figure become figured. Simplic. in Phys. p. 143.
Concerning the universe:
It is an imitation of intellect, but that which is fabricated possesses
something of body. Procl. in Tim. p. 87.
The paternal intellect disseminated symbols through the world.
Concerning the composition of the world from the four elements, by the Demiurgus.
He made the whole world from fire, water, earth, and all-nourishing air.
The artificer who, self-operating, fabricated the world. And there was also another mass of fire. All these be produced, self-operating, that the mundane body might be conglobed, that the world might became manifest, and that it might not appear membranous.74 Procl. in Tim p. 1.
Concerning the seven firmaments, the heavens, the heavenly bodies, ether, air, earth, and water:
The Father gave balk to the seven firmaments of the worlds, and inclosed the
heavens in a convex figure. Damasc. in Parmenid.
He established the numerous multitude of inerratic stars, not by a laborious and evil tension, but with a stability void of a wandering motion; for this purpose compelling fire to fire. Procl. in Tlm. p. 280.
He made the planets six in number, and for the seventh, he hurled into the midst the fire of the sun. Procl. in Tim. p. 280.
He suspended the disordered motion of the planets in orderly
The ethereal course, and the immense impetus of the moon and the aerial streams. Procl. in Tim. p. 257.
O aether, sun, spirit of the moon, and ye leaders of the air. Procl. in Tim. p. 257.
Of the solar circles, the lunar rattlings, and the aerial bosoms. Procl. in Tim. p. 257.
The portion of aether, of the sun, of the rivers, of the moon, and of the air.
The broad air, the lunar course, and the pole of the sun. Procl. in Tim. p. 257.
The sun is a fire, which is the channel of fire; and it is the dispensator of fire. Procl. in Tim. p. 141.
He constituted the heptad of wandering animals.
Placing earth in the middle, but water in the bosoms of the earth, and air above these.
The oracles assert, that the impressions of characters, and of other divine visions, appear in aether. Simplic. in Phys. p. 144.
The most mystic of discourses inform us, that the wholeness of the sun is in the supermundane order. For there a solar world and a total light subsist, as the oracles of the Chaldeans affirm. Procl. in Tim. p. 264.
The more true sun measures all things together with time, being truly a time of time,'' according to the oracle of the gods respecting it.
Procl. in Tim. p. 249.
The orb of the sun revolves in the starless, much above the inerratic sphere. Hence, he is not the middle of the planets, but of the three worlds, according to the telestic hypotheses. Julian. Orat. V. p. 334.
Concerning the middle of the five mundane centres:
And another fifth middle fiery centre, where a life-bearing fire descends as far as the material channels. Procl. in Tim. p. 172.
Concerning the summit of the earth:
The aethers of the elements, agreeably to the oracles, are there.75 Olympiod. in Phaed.
We learn that matter pervades through the whole world, as the gods also assert. Procl. in Tim. p. 142.
Evil, according to the oracle, is more debile than non-entity. Procl. de Providen.
Concerning the aquatic gods:
The aquatic, when, applied to divine natures, signifies a government inseparable from water; and hence, the oracle calls the aquatic gods water-walkers. Procl. in Tim. p. 270.
Concerning Typhon, Echidna, and Python:
Typhon, Echidna, and python, being the progeny of Tartarus, and Earth, which is conjoined with Heaven, form, as it were, a certain Chaldaic triad, which is the inspective guardian of the whole of a disordered fabrication. Olympiod. in Phaed.
Concerning the origin of irrational daemons:
Irrational daemons derive their subsistence from the aerial rulers, and hence, the oracle says, "Being the charioteer of the aerial, terrestrial, and aquatic dogs." Olympiod. in Phaed.
Concerning terrestrial daemons:
It is not proper that you should behold them, till your body is purified by initiation: for these daemons alluring souls always draw them away from mystic ceremonies. Procl. in I. Alcibiad.
Concerning divine names:
There is a venerable name with a sleepless revolutions, leaping into the worlds, through the rapid reproofs of the Father. Procl. in Crat.
There are names of divine origin in every nation, which possess ineffable power in mystic ceremonies.
Concerning the centre:
The centre is that from which, and to which, (the lines) as far as they may happen to extend, are equal. Procl. in Euclid. p. 43.
A fire-heated conception has the first order. For the mortal who approaches to fire, will receive a light from divinity: and he who perseveres in prayer, without intermission, will be perfected by the rapid76 and blessed immortals. Procl. in Tim. p. 65.
Concerning divine natures, and the manner in which they appear to mankind:
All divine natures are incorporeal, but bodies were bound in them for your sake; bodies not being able to contain incorporeals, through the corporeal nature in which you are concentrated. Procl. in Plat, Polit. p. 359.
A similar fire extending itself by leaps through the waves of the air; or an
unfigured fire, whence a voice runs before, or a light beheld near, every way
splendid, resounding and convolved. But
also to behold a horse full of refulgent light; or a boy carried on die swift
back of a horse—a boy fiery, or clothed with gold, or on the contrary, naked;
or shooting an arrow, and standing on the
back of the horse. Procl. m Plat. Polit. p. 386.
The gods exhort us to understand the forerunning form of light. Procl. in Crat.
Concerning the mystic ceremonies of Apollo:
The Theurgist who presides over the mystic rites of Apollo, begins his operations from purifications and sprinklings. "The priest, in the first place, governing the works of fire, must sprinkle with the cold water of the loud-sounding sea," as the oracle says. Procl. in Crat.
Concerning the human soul, its descent, ascent, body, &c.
Filling the soul with profound love.77 Procl. in Plat. Theol. p. 4.
By understanding the works of the Father, they fly from the shameless wing of fate. But they are placed in God,78 drawing vigorous torches descending from the Father: and from these the soul descending plucks empyrean fruits, the soul-nourishing flower. Procl. in Tim. p. 321.
Though you should perceive this particular soul restored to its pristine
perfection, yet the Father sends another, that the number may be complete.
Those are in the most eminent degree the most blessed of all souls, that are poured forth from heaven on the earth: but those are fortunate, and possess ineffable stamina, who are either produced from thy lucid self, O king,79 or from Jupiter, through the ' strong necessity of Mithus. Synes. de Insom. p. 153.
Nor should you verge downwards into the darkly-splendid world, whose bottom is always unfaithful, and under which is spread Hades:80 a place every day cloudy, squalid, rejoicing in images, stupid, steep, winding, a blind profundity, always rolling, always marrying an unapparent body, sluggish, and without breath. Synes. de Insom.
And the light-hating world, and the winding streams, under which many are drawn down.81 Procl. in Tim. p. 339.
Fiery82 hope should nourish you in the angelic region. Olympiod. in Phaedon. et Procl. in I. Alcibiad.
To these be gave the ability of receiving the knowledge of lights which may be
taught; but to others, even when asleep, be extended the fruit of his strength.83
Synes. de Insom.
Things divine cannot be obtained by those whose intellectual eye is directed to body: but those only can arrive at the possession of them, who, stript of their garments, hasten to the summit. Procl. in Crat.
Rivers being mingled, perfecting the works of incorruptible fire. Procl. in Plat Polit. p. 399.
Lest being baptized in the furies of earth, and in the necessities of nature (as some one of the gods says), it should perish. Procl. in Plat. Theol. p. 597.
More robust souls perceive truth through themselves, and are of a more inventive nature; "such a soul being saved (according to the oracle) through its own strength." Procl. in I. Alcibiad.
According to the oracle, we should fly from "the multitude of men going along in a herd.''84 Procl. in I. Alcibibid.
As the oracle, therefore, says, ''Divinity is never so much turned away from man, and never so much sends him novel paths, as when we make our ascent to the most divine of speculations, or works, in a confused and disordered manner, and as it adds, with unhallowed lips, or unbathed feet. For of those, who are thus negligent, the progressions are imperfect, the impulses are vain, and
the paths are blind." Procl. in Parmenid.
The telestic life,85 through a divine fire, removes all the stains, together
with every foreign and irrational nature, which the spirit of the soul attracted
from generation, as we are taught by the oracle to believe. Procl. in Tim.
This axiom then must be first assumed: every god is good, and the oracles witness the truth of the axiom; when accusing the impiety of men, they say, "Not knowing that every god is good, ye are fruitlessly vigilant." Procl. in Plat. Polit. p. 355.
The powers build up the body of the holy man.86 Boeth. de Consol.
The oracles of the gods declare, that, through purifying ceremonies, not the soul only, but bodies themselves become worthy of receiving much assistance and health: "for (say they) the mortal vestment of bitter matter will, by this means, be preserved.'' And this, the gods, in an exhortatory manner, announce to the most holy of Theurgists. Julian. Orat. V. p. 334.
The oracles delivered by the gods, celebrate the essential fountain of every
soul, the empyrean, the aetherial, and the material. This fountain they separate
from the whole vivific goddess (Rhea);
from whom also, suspending the whole of fate, they make two series, the one
animastic, or belonging to soul, and the other belonging to Fate. They assert,
that soul is derived, from the anima, the series, but that sometimes it becomes
subservient to Fate, when passing
into an irrational condition of being, it changes its lord, viz. Fate for
Providence. Procl. de Providentia, apud Fabric, in Bibliotb. Graeca. vol. viii. p. 486.
The oracle says, that ascending souls sing a hymn in praise of Apollo. Olympiod. in Phaed.
Nor hurling, according to the oracle, a transcendent foot towards piety.87 Damascius in vita Isidori apud Suidam.
This animastic spirit, which blessed men have called the pneumatic soul, becomes a god, an all-various daemon, and an image, and the soul in this suffers her punishments. The oracles, too, accord with this account: for they assimilate the employment of the soul to Hades to the delusive visions of a dream.88 Synes. de Insom. p. 159.
The oracles often give the victory to our own choice, and not to the order alone of the mundane periods. As for instance, when they say, "On beholding yourself, fear." And again, "Believe [p.261] yourself to be above body^ and you are." And still further, where they assert, ''That our voluntary sorrows germinate in us as the growth of the particular life which we lead." Procl. de Providentia. p. 483.
Oracles of uncertain or imperfect meaning:
The ineffable and effable impressions of the world.
He collected it, receiving the portion of aether, of the sun, of the moon, and of whatever is contained in the air.
There appeared in it virtue and wisdom, and truth endued with abundance of intellect.
From these the body of the triad flows before it had a being, not the body of the first triad, but of that by which things are measured.
The first course is sacred, the aerial is in the middle, and there is another as a third, which nourishes earth in fire.
An intire and impartible division.
For he assimilates himself, he hastening to invest himself with the form of the images.
Having put on complete armoured might of clear-sounding light, mind and soul arming with triple-forked strength, bringing every thing into one, a manifold symbol strikes the mind. Nor to approach in a scattered manner to the empyrean channels, but collectively.
The following Chaldean oracles are extracted from the treatise of Lydus, De Mensibus.
"It is requisite that [man] being an intelligible mortal, should bridle
his soul, in order that she may not incur terrestrial infelicity, but may be
saved from it." p. 2.
Conformably to this, Socrates, in the Phaedrus, represents the [p.262] soul as resembling a winged chariot, the charioteer of which is intellect, and the horses are the powers of the soul. Hence Lydus introduces the above oracle by observing as follows: [Greek].
Lydus farther observes that the oracle delivers to us the whole soul as a divine triad. For it says:
[Greek]. p. 3.
i.e. "[The Demiurgus] having mingled the vital spark from two according substances, intellect and a divine spirit, he added, as the third, to these, pure and holy love, the venerable charioteer that binds all things together."
Again, Lydus (p. 20) observes from Proclus, in his Hypotyposis of the Philosophy of Plato,89 that the summit of intelligibles is the intelligible triad, containing in itself the cause and essence of all powers, as Parmenides says. For all intelligibles are comprehended in this triad, and every divine number proceeds in this order, as also the Chaldean90 says, in the Oracles: [Greek].
But the oracles are as follow:
i.e. "All things are governed [by the father] in the bosoms of the [intelligible] triad."
And again, "The father mingled every spirit from this triad."
In the next place, the Oracle says, that souls which are returning to their pristine condition, i.e. to the highest felicity of their nature, transcend Fate:
i.e. "Theurgists do not fall so as to be ranked among the herd that are in subjection to Fate."
The words of Lydus are, [Greek] [p.263] [Greek] by which it is evident, that for [Greek] in the above oracle, we should read [Greek] were it not for the metre.
Farther still, Lydus observes:
i.e. "The moon proximately rides on every thing generated, and all these terrestrial natures are manifestly governed by her, as the oracle says:
Fontal nymphs, all aquatic spirits, and monthly terrestrial, aerial, and splendid bosoms, who ride on all matter, viz. the celestial and starry matter,91 and that which belongs to the abysses." p. 32.
In p. 83 Lydus informs us, "that Dionysus, or Bacchus, was called by the Chaldeans Iao (instead of intelligible light) in the Phoenician tongue, and that he is frequently called Sabaoth, such as he who is above the seven poles, i.e. the Demiurgus."
And lastly, in p. 121, he says, "that the number 9 is divine, receiving its completion from three triads, and preserving the summits of theology according to the Chaldaic philosophy, as Porphyry informs us."
It appears to be a circumstance of a most singular nature, that the oracles respecting the divine orders, which were delivered by Chaldean Theurgists, under the reign of Marcus Antoninus, should be, in every respect, conformable to the Grecian theology, as scientifically unfolded by Plato. That this is actually the case, every one who is capable of understanding the writings of Plato, and his most genuine disciple Proclus, will be fully convinced. The philosophic reader, who is desirous of obtaining a partial conviction of this extraordinary fact, may be satisfied by perusing my Introduction to the Parmenides of Plato.
It may, indeed, be clearly shown, that the most ancient poets, priests, and philosophers, have delivered one and the same theology, [p.264] though in different modes. The first of these, through fabulous names, and a more vehement diction; the second, through names adapted to sacred concerns, and a mode of interpretation grand and elevated; and the third, either through mathematical names, or dialectic epithets. Hence we shall find, that the Æther, Chaos, Phanes, and Jupiter of Orpheus; the father, power, intellect, and twice beyond of the Chaldeans; the monad, duad, tetrad, and decad, of Pythagoras; and the one being, the whole, infinite multitude, and sameness and difference, of Plato, respectively, signify the same divine processions from the ineffable principle of things.
I only add, that Fabricius seems to have entertained a very high opinion of these oracles, and to have wished to see them in that form in which they are now presented to the English reader. For thus he speaks (Biblioth. Græc. tom. i. p. 249) "Digna autem sunt præstantissima hæc priscæ sapientiæ apospasmatia, quæ post clarissimorum Virorurn conatus etiamnum eruditorum industriam et ingenia exerceant, adeo multa adhuc restant in illis notanda, quæ ab interpretibus male accepta, et quia argumentum de quo agunt paucis perspectum est, inepta plerisque vel sensus expertia videntur." And in page 250, he expresses his wish, that some one would consult the writers from which Patricius made his collection (a great part of which, though unpublished, are to be met with in various libraries), and not negligently consider the places of the authors where they are to be found.
But whatever merit there may be in the preceding collection, long experience has taught me to expect from mere verbal critics nothing but impertinent and malevolent censure, in return for laborious exertion and valuable information. However, as these men may be aptly compared to the mice that nibbled the veil of Minerva, I soothe my resentment with the consoling assurance of the goddess herself (in the Battle of the Frogs and Mice) that,
"To such as these, she ne'er imparts her aid."
1 These three material worlds, are the inerratic sphere, the seven planetary spheres, and the sublunary regions.
2 So Plato.
3 This is called, by the Platonists, the intelligible triad; and is celebrated by Plato in the Philebus, under the names of bound, infinite, and the mixed; and likewise of symmetry, truth, and beauty, which triad, he says, is seated in the vestibule of the good.
4 The lynx, Synoches, and Teletarchæ of the Chaldeans, compose that divine order which is called, by the Platonists, the intelligible, and, at the same time, intellectual order; and is celebrated by Plato in the Phaedrus, under the names of the supercelestial place, Heaven, and the subcelestial arch.
5 These fontal fathers compose the intellectual triad of the Greeks, and are Saturn, Rhea, Jupiter.
6 The three Amilicti are the same with the unpolluted triad, or Curetes, of the Greeks. Observe, that a fontal subsistence means a subsistence according to cause.
7 These principles are the same with the Platonic supermundane order of gods.
8 The vivific triad consists, according to the Greek Theologists, of Diana, Proserpine, and Minerva.
9 The azonic gods are the same with the liberated order of the Greek Theologists, or that order which is immediately situated above the mundane gods.
10 The Jupiter of the Greeks, the artificer of the universe.
11 Called by the Greeks, Juno.
12 That is, such souls as ours.
13 So Plato: see my translation of the Phaedrus.
14 Hades is with great propriety thus called: for the rational, when giving itself up to the dominion of the irrational soul, maybe truly said to be situated in Hades, or obscurity.
15 i.e. Jupiter, or the Demiurgus.
16 That is to say, the celestial and sublunary spheres.
17 Indeed, he who has penetrated the profundity of Plato's doctrines, will find that they perfectly accord with these Chaldaic dogmas; as is every where copiously shown by Proclus.
18 That is, the irrational soul, which is the image of the rational.
19 That is, the region above the moon.
20 The human body.
21 i.e. This terrestrial region,
22 i.e. Lest it retain something of the more passive life.
23 This oracle is conformable to what Plato says in his Republic, that a philosopher must astronomise above the heavens: that is to say, he must speculate the celestial orbs, as nothing more than images of forms in the intelligible world.
24 i.e. The producing cause of the soul.
25 By sacred reason is meant the summit, or principal power of the soul, which Zoroaster, in another place, calls the flower of intellect.
26 i.e. The orbs of the seven planets.
27 For in every nation there are names of divine origin, and which possess an ineffable power in mystic operations.
28 i.e. The fontal fathers, or intellectual gods. By inflexible, understand stable power.
29 This sphere was of gold. In the middle of it there was a sapphire; and the sphere itself was turned round by means of a thong, made of the hide of an ox. It was likewise every where inscribed with characters: and the Chaldeans turning it round, made certain invocations. But it is called Hecatine, because dedicated to Hecate.
30 By me is meant the fountain or cause of the celestial constellation called the lion.
31 By unfigured, understand most simple and pure: and by the reins of fire, the unimpeded energy of the theurgic life of such a soul.
32 Man is a subtle production, considered as the work of the secret art of divinity. But he is of a bold nature, as exploring things more excellent than himself.
33 Hecate, according to the Chaldeans, is the centre of the intellectual gods: and they say that in her right-hand parts she contains the fountain of souls; and in her left, the fountain of the virtues.
34 This oracle relates to the vision of divine light.
35 i.e. The image to be invoked in the mysteries must be intelligible, and not sensible.
36 By the blossoms of depraved matter, understand the daemons called Evil; but which are not so essentially, but from their office.
37 That is, the human soul, through its immortality and purity, becomes replete with a more excellent life, and divine illumination ; and is, as it were, raised above itself.
38 i.e. Unapparent and intelligible harmony.
39 i.e. The summit or flower of its nature.
40 i.e. All the gnostic powers of the soul.
41 Understand by the spirit, the aerial vehicle of the soul; and by the superficies, the ethereal and lucid vehicle.
42 The Chaldaic Paradise is the choir of divine powers about the Father of the universe ; and the empyrean beauties of the demiurgic fountains.
43 By the vessel is meant the composite temperature of the soul; and by the wild beasts of the earth, terrestrial daemons. These, therefore, will reside in the soul which is. replete with irrational affections.
44 i.e. An intellect full of divine light.
45 i.e. Material daemons.
46 i.e. Saturn.
47 i.e. Jupiter.
48 That is, the powers that punish guilty souls, bind them to their material passions, and in these, as it were, suffocate them: such punishment being finally the means of purification. Nor do these powers only afflict the vicious, but even such as convert themselves to an immaterial essence: for these, through their connection with matter, require a purification of this kind.
49 That is, symbols of all the divine natures.
50 This oracle praises a violent death, because the soul, in this case, is induced to hate the body, and rejoice in a liberation from it.
51 The soul is the mistress of life, because she extends vital illuminations, to body, which is, of itself, destitute of life.
52 That is, as divinity is not of a tyrannical nature, he draws every thing to himself by persuasion, and not by fear.
53 That is, Saturn, the summit of the intellectual order, is perfectly separated from all connection with matter; but, at the same time, imparts his divinity to inferior nature?
54 Meaning the intelligible, which immediately subsists after the highest God.
55 That is, those powers of the soul which separate it from the body.
56 That is, of one divine nature.
57 That is, the voice of intellect is an intellectual, or in other words, an immaterial and indivisible energy.
58 The meaning of the oracle is, that even the very children of the impious are destined to subterranean punishments; and this, with the greatest propriety; for those who, in a former life, have perpetrated similar crimes, become, through the wise administration of Providence, the members of one family.
59 Fate is the full perfection of those divine illuminations which are received by Nature; but Providence is the immediate energy of deity. Hence, when we energise intellectually, we are under the dominion of Providence; but when corporeally, under that of fate. The oracle therefore admonishes to withdraw ourselves from corporeal energy.
60 For divinity is self-perfect; and the imperfect cannot proceed from the perfect.
61 That is, till she has recovered her knowledge of the divine symbols, and sacred reasons, from which she is composed; the former of which she receives from the divine unities, and the latter from the sacred ideas.
62 Terrestrial daemons are full of deceit, as being remote from divine knowledge, and replete with dark matter: he, therefore, who desires to receive any true information from one of these, must prepare an altar, and sacrifice the stone Mnizurim, which has the power of causing another greater daemon to appear, who, approaching invisible to the material daemon, will give a true answer to the proposed question; and this to the interrogator himself.
63 The intelligible is two-fold; one kind being co-ordinate with intellect, but the other being of a super-essential characteristic.
64 See the concise Exposition of Psellus, prefixed to these oracles.
65 Agreeably to this, Plotinus divinely defines eternity to be infinite lift, at once total and full.
66 See my Introduction to the Parmenides of Plato, near the end.
67 By hyparxis, understand the summit of the nature of any being.
68 This is spoken of a divine intelligible, which is only to be apprehended by the flower of intellect, or, in other words, the unity of the soul.
69 That is, a divine intelligible.
70 i.e. In each of the seven worlds mentioned by Psellus, in the exposition prefixed to these oracles: and the like must be understood in every divine order. Indeed, that in every procession of divine natures, a monad presides over, and is the principle of, a kindred multitude; and, first of all, of a triadic multitude, is largely and beautifully shown by Proclus, in Plat. Theol., and is demonstrated to be the doctrine of Plato; but, to understand this, requires very different qualifications from those by which a man is able to discover, that instead of [Greek] in a Greek MS. you may read [Greek]. Et hoc dice pro ratione officii mei; non quod velim conviciari, sed admonere.
71 Agreeably to this, he was celebrated by the Pythagoreans as the decad, from the all-comprehensive nature of this number.
72 The crashing noise, signifies the procession of ideas to the formation of the world.
73 This alludes to the intimate connexion between Fate and Nature. For Fate, as we have before observed, is the full perfection of those divine illuminations which are received by Nature.
74 As every deity is a self-perfect unity, all things must be as much as possible united: for union must necessarily be the offspring of unity.
75 The earth, according to Plato, in the Phaedo, is every where cavernous, like a pumice-stone; and its true summit is aetherial.—Agreeably to this theory, which probably is of Egyptian origin, and which we see was adopted by the Chaldeans, we only live at the bottom of four large holes in the earth, which we denominate the four quarters of the globe; and yet fancy, as Plato observes, that we inhabit the true summit of the earth. For further particulars concerning this curious theory, see my Introduction to the Timaeus of Plato, and Notes on Pausanias.
76 By the rapid, the oracle means, according to Proclus, the intelligible gods.
77 Profound love must be our guide to the beatific vision of the intelligible world: and Plato informs us, that a better guide than this cannot be found.
78 The soul, when united with deity, energizes supernaturally: and is no longer self-motive, but is wholly moved by divinity.
80 See the exposition of Psellus.
81 The winding streams signify the human body, and the whole of generation externally placed about us.
82 That is, divine hope: for the ancients assimilated a divine nature to fire.
83 That is, some men acquire divine knowledge through communicating with divinity
84 He who voluntarily mixes with the multitude, necessarily imbibes puerile notions, and engages in puerile pursuits.
85 That is, a life consisting in the exercise of divinely mystic ceremonies.
86 This sentence is, by all the editors of Boethius, erroneously ascribe to Hermes Trismegistus. I say erroneously, because Philosophy is made to utter it, as the saying of one greater than herself. But since Philosophy, according to Plato, in the Banquet, ranks in the daemoniacal order, it is evident, that one greater than herself must be a god. As the sentence, therefore, is clearly oracular, I have not hesitated, from the peculiar sanctity of its meaning, to insert it among the Chaldean oracles.
87 Nothing so requisite as an orderly progression to the acquisition of a divine life.
88 For he who lives under the dominion of the irrational life, both here and hereafter; is truly in a dormant state.
89 This work of Proclus is not extant.
90 i.e. Julian the Theurgist, who lived under Marcus Antoninus; for an account of whose writings see Suidas.
91 The celestial and starry matter is called by the oracles primogenial matter, as Lydus elsewhere informs us: [Greek]. p. 24.