Welcome
   Home | Texts by category | | Quick Search:   
Authors
Works by Porphyry
Pages of On Images



Previous | Next
                  

On Images   

Fragment 1
I speak to those who lawfully may hear:
Depart all ye profane, and close the doors.
The thoughts of a wise theology, wherein men indicated God and God's
powers by images akin to sense, and sketched invisible things in visible
forms, I will show to those who have learned to read from the statues
as from books the things there written concerning the gods. Nor is
it any wonder that the utterly unlearned regard the statues as wood
and stone, just as also those who do not understand the written letters
look upon the monuments as mere stones, and on the tablets as bits
of wood, and on books as woven papyrus.
Fragment 2
As the deity is of the nature of light, and dwells in an atmosphere
of ethereal fire, and is invisible to sense that is busy about mortal
life, He through translucent matter, as crystal or Parian marble or
even ivory, led men on to the conception of his light, and through
material gold to the discernment of the fire, and to his undefiled
purity, because gold cannot be defiled.
On the other hand, black marble was used by many to show his invisibility;
and they moulded their gods in human form because the deity is rational,
and made these beautiful, because in those is pure and perfect beauty;
and in varieties of shape and age, of sitting and standing, and drapery;
and some of them male, and some female, virgins, and youths, or married,
to represent their diversity.
Hence they assigned everything white to the gods of heaven, and the
sphere and all things spherical to the cosmos and to the sun and moon
in particular, but sometimes also to fortune and to hope: and the
circle and things circular to eternity, and to the motion of the heaven,
and to the zones and cycles therein; and the segments of circles to
the phases of the moon; pyramids and obelisks to the element of fire,
and therefore to the gods of Olympus; so again the cone to the sun,
and cylinder to the earth, and figures representing parts of the human
body to sowing and generation.
Fragment 3
'Now look at the wisdom of the Greeks, and examine it as follows.
The authors of the Orphic hymns supposed Zeus to be the mind of the
world, and that he created all things therein,containing the world
in himself. Therefore in their theological systems they have handed
down their opinions concerning him thus:'
Zeus was the first, Zeus last, the lightning's lord,
Zeus head, Zeus centre, all things are from Zeus.
Zeus born a male, Zeus virgin undefiled;
Zeus the firm base of earth and starry heaven;
Zeus sovereign, Zeus alone first cause of all:
One power divine, great ruler of the world,
One kingly form, encircling all things here,
Fire, water, earth, and ether, night and day;
Wisdom, first parent, and delightful Love:
For in Zeus' mighty body these all lie.
His head and beauteous face the radiant heaven
Reveals and round him float in shining waves
The golden tresses of the twinkling stars.
On either side bulls' horns of gold are seen,
Sunrise and sunset, footpaths of the gods.
His eyes the Sun, the Moon's responsive light;
His mind immortal ether, sovereign truth,
Hears and considers all; nor any speech,
Nor cry, nor noise, nor ominous voice escapes
The ear of Zeus, great Kronos' mightier son:
Such his immortal head, and such his thought.
His radiant body, boundless, undisturbed
In strength of mighty limbs was formed thus:
The god's broad-spreading shoulders, breast and back
Air's wide expanse displays; on either side

Previous | Next
Site Search