On The Gods and the World"

By Platonis Sallustius

V. On the First Cause

Next in order comes knowledge of the First Cause and the subsequent orders of the gods, then the Nature of the World, he essence of intellect and of Soul, the Providence, Fate, and Forture, then to see Virtue and Vice and the various forms of social constitution, good and bad, that are formed from them, and from what possible source Evil came [or comes] into the World.

Each of these subjects need many long discussions; but perhaps there is no harm in stating them briefly so that a disciple may not be completely ignorant about them.

It is proper to the First Cause to be One - for Unity precedes Multitude - to surpass all things in power and goodness. Consequently, all things must partake of it. For owing to its power, nothing else can hinder it, and owing to its goodness, it will not hold itself apart.

If the First Cause were Soul, then all things would possess Soul. If it were Mind, then all things would possess Mind. If it were Being, then all things would partake of Being - seeing this quality (i.e. Being) in all things, some men have thought that it was Being itself. Now, if things simply were, without being good, this argument would be true, but if the things that are are because of goodness, and partake in the Good, then the First thing must and needs to be both beyond-Being and good. It is strong evidence of this that noble souls despise Being for the sake of the Good, when they face death for their country or friends, or for the sake of Virture. After this inexpressible Power [[The Tao or The One SS]] comes the Order of the Gods.

VI. On Gods Cosmic and Hypercosmic

Of the Gods, some are of the World, some are Cosmic, and some are Hypercosmic. By the Cosmic, I mean those who make the Cosmos. Of the Hypercosmic gods some create Essence, some Mind, and some Soul. Thus, they have three Orders.

Of the Cosmic Gods: some make the World be, others animate it, others harmonize its different elements; and a fourth class [preserves or] keeps it harmonized.

These are the four actions, each of which has a beginning, a middle and an end. Therefore there are Twelve Gods who govern the World.

Those who make the World are Zeus, Poseidon, and Hephaistos; those who animate it are Demeter, Hera and Artemis; and those who harmonize it are Apollo, Aphrodite, and Hermes; and those who watch over it are Hestia, Athena, and Ares.

One can see secret suggestions of this in their images: Apollo tunes a lyre; Athena is armed; and Aphrodite is naked for harmony creates beauty, and beauty in things seen isn't covered.

While these Twelve in the primary sense possess the world, we should consider that the other gods are contained within these. Dionysus in Zeus, Asklepios in Apollo, and the Charities in Aphrodite, for instance.

We can also discern their various Spheres: to Hestia belongs the earth; to Poseidon, water; to Hera, air; to Hephaistos, fire. The six superior Spheres to the Gods to whom they are usually attributed. For Apollo and Artemis are to be taken for the Sun and the Moon respectively, the sphere of Kronos should be attributed to Demeter; the Ether to Athena, while the Heavens are common to all. Thus the Orders, Powers, and Spheres of the Twelve Gods have been explained and are celebrated in Hymns.

VII. On the Nature of the World and its Eternity

The Cosmos itself must of necessity be indestructible and uncreated: Indestructible because; suppose it destroyed: the only possibility is to make one better than this one, or worse, or the same, or a chaos. If worse; the power, which out of the better, makes worse must be bad. If better, then the maker who did not make the better at first must be imperfect in power. If the same, there will be no use in making it; if a chaos... it is impious even to hear such a thing suggested ! [[ Then the ruling powers are Chaos or Evil, or the Universe have no laws or gods, and that invalidates most of science, and all religion. SS]] These reasons would suffice to show that the World is also uncreated: for if not destroyed, neither is it created. Everything that is created is subject to destruction, and furthermore, since the Cosmos exists by the goodness of God, then it follows that God must always be good and the world [must always] exist. Just as light coexists with the Sun and with fire, and shadow coexists with a body.

Of the bodies in the Cosmos, some imitate Mind and move in orbits; some imitate Soul and move in a straight line, fire and air upward, earth and water downward. Of those that move in orbits: the fixed sphere goes from the East, the Seven [planets] from the West. (this is so for various causes, especially lest the creation should be imperfect owing to the rapid circuit of the spheres) [[Note: pre-Copernican. ]]

The movement being different; the nature of the bodies must also be different; hence the celestial body does not burn or freeze what it touches, or do anything else that pertains to the four elements.

Since the Cosmos is a sphere - the nature of the bodies most also be different - the Zodiac proves that - in every sphere "down" means toward the center, for the center is the farthest distance for every point [of the circumference], and heavy things fall 'down' and fall to the earth (therefore, it follows that the Earth is the Center of the Cosmos). [[The Earth is the center of the Cosmos because people live here and not on other planets or the Sun...; not because of 'gravity' or the Zodiac. Keep in mind just how old this treatise is.]] All these things are made by the Gods, ordered by Mind, and moved by Soul.

VIII. On Mind and Soul, and that the Latter is Immortal.

There is a certain force, less primary than Being, but more primary than the Soul, which draws its existance from Being and completes the Soul as the Sun completes the eyes. Of Souls, some are rational and mortal, some irrational and mortal. The former are derived from the first Gods, the latter from the secondary.

First, we must consider what soul is. It is that by which the animate differs from the inanimate. The difference lies in motion, sensation, imagination, and intelligence. Soul when irrational is the life of sense and imagination; and when the soul is rational, it is the life which controls sense and imagination, and uses reason.

The irrational soul depends on the affections of the body; it feels desire and anger irrationally. The rational soul with the help of reason, despises the body, and fights against the irrational soul, producing either virtue or vice, according to whether it is victorious or it is defeated.

The Soul must be immortal, both because it knows the Gods (and nothing mortal knows what is immortal) [[ in the full sense of Gnosis ]], it looks down upon human affairs as though it stands outside them, and like an unbodied thing, it is affected in the opposite way to the body. For when the body grows old it attains its highest power, Again, every good soul uses mind; but no body can produce mind: for how should that which is without mind produce it ? Again, while Soul uses the body as an instrument, it is not in it; just as the engineer is not in his engines, though many engines move without being touched by anyone. If the Soul is often made to err by the body, is not surprising, for the Arts cannot perform their work when their instruments are spoilt.

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