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On Images   


Of the sun's healing power Asclepius is the symbol, and to him they
have given the staff as a sign of the support and rest of the sick,
and the serpent is wound round it, as significant of his preservation
of body and soul: for the animal is most full of spirit, and shuffles
off the weakness of the body. It seems also to have a great faculty
for healing: for it found the remedy for giving clear sight, and is
said in a legend to know a certain plant which restores life.
But the fiery power of his revolving and circling motion, whereby
he ripens the crops, is called Dionysus, not in the same sense as
the power which produces the juicy fruits, but either from the sun's
rotation, or from his completing his orbit in the heaven. And whereas
he revolves round the cosmical seasons and is the maker of "times
and tides," the sun is on this account called Horus.
Of his power over agriculture, whereon depend the gifts of wealth,
the symbol is Pluto. He has, however, equally the power of destroying,
on which account they make Sarapis share the temple of Pluto: and
the purple tunic they make the symbol of the light that has sunk beneath
the earth, and the sceptre broken at the top that of his power below,
and the posture of the hand the symbol of his departure into the unseen
world.
Cerberus is represented with three heads, because the positions of
the sun above the earth are three-rising, midday, and setting.
The moon, conceived according to her brightness, they called Artemis,
as it were, "cutting the air." And Artemis, though herself a virgin,
presides over childbirth, because the power of the new moon is helpful
to parturition.
What Apollo is to the sun, that Athena is to the moon: for the moon
is a symbol of wisdom, and so a kind of Athena.
But, again, the moon is Hecate, the symbol of her varying phases and
of her power dependent on the phases. Wherefore her power appears
in three forms, having as symbol of the new moon the figure in the
white robe and golden sandals, and torches lighted: the basket, which
she bears when she has mounted high, is the symbol of the cultivation
of the crops, which she makes to grow up according to the increase
of her light: and again the symbol of the full moon is the goddess
of the brazen sandals.
Or even from the branch of olive one might infer her fiery nature,
and from the poppy her productiveness, and the multitude of the souls
who find an abode in her as in a city, for the poppy is an emblem
of a city. She bears a bow, like Artemis, because of the sharpness
of the pangs of labour.
And, again, the Fates are referred to her powers, Clotho to the generative,
and Lachesis to the nutritive, and Atropos to the inexorable will
of the deity.
Also, the power productive of corn-crops, which is Demeter, they associate
with her, as producing power in her. The moon is also a supporter
of Kore. They set Dionysus also beside her, both on account of their
growth of horns, and because of the region of clouds lying beneath
the lower world.
The power of Kronos they perceived to be sluggish and slow and cold,
and therefore attributed to him the power of time: and they figure
him standing, and grey-headed, to indicate that time is growing old.
The Curetes, attending on Chronos, are symbols of the seasons, because
time journeys on through seasons.
Of the Hours, some are the Olympian, belonging to the sun, which also
open the gates in the air: and others are earthly, belonging to Demeter,
and hold a basket, one symbolic of the flowers of spring, and the
other of the wheat-ears of summer.
The power of Ares they perceived to be fiery, and represented it as
causing war and bloodshed, and capable both of harm and benefit.
The star of Aphrodite they observed as tending to fecundity, being
the cause of desire and offspring, and represented it as a woman because
of generation, and as beautiful, because it is also the evening star
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