On The Gods And the World Part 3

By Platonis Sallustius...

IX. On Providence. Fate, and Forture.

This is enough to show the Providence of the Gods. For where comes the ordering of the World, if there is no Ordering Power ? And where comes the fact that all things are for a purpose: e.g. irrational soul that there may be sensation, and rational soul that the Earth may be set in order.

But one can deduce the same result from the evidences of Providence in Nature: .e.g. The eyes have been made transparent with a view to seeing, the nostrils are above the mouth to distinguish bad-smelling foods [from good]; the front teeth are sharp to cut food, the back teeth are broad to grind it. And we find every part of every object arranged on a similar principle. It is impossible that there should be so much providence in the last details, and none in the first principles. Then the arts of prophecy and healing, which are part of the Cosmos, come of the good providence of the Gods.

All this care for the world, we must believe, is taken by the Gods without any act of will or labor. As bodies which possess some power produce their effects by merely existing: e.g. the sun gives light and heat by merely existing [its a natural process]; so and far more so, the Providence of the Gods acts without effort to itself and for the good of the objects of its forethought. This solves the problems of the Epicurians, who argue that what is Divine neither has trouble itself nor gives trouble to others.

The incorporeal providence of the Gods, both for bodies and for souls, is of this sort; but that which is of bodies is different from this, and is called Fate, HeimarmenÍ, because the chain of causes (Hierramos) is more visable in the case of bodies; and it is for dealing with this fate that the science of 'Mathematic' (Astrology) has been discovered.

Therefore, to believe that human things, especially their material constitution, are ordered not only by celestial beings but by the Celestial Bodies, is a reasonable and true belief. Reason shows that health and sickness, good fortune and bad, arise according to our deserts from that source; but to attribute men's acts of injustice and lust to Fate is to make ourselves good and the Gods bad. Unless by chance a man meant be such a statement that in general all things are for the good of the World, and for those who are in a natural state, but that bad education, or weaknesss of nature, changes the goods of Fate for the worse. Just as it happens that the Sun, which is good for all, may be injurious to persons with opthalmia or fever. Else, why do the Massagetae eat their fathers, the Hebrews practice circumcision and the Persians preserve rules of rank?

[[ ... Because other men have different customs and follow weird gods, or because they're just sun-daft?]] Why do astrologers, while calling Saturn and Mars "malignant", proceed to make them good, attributing to them philosophy and royalty, generalships and treasures ? They talk of triangles and squares, but it is absurd that gods should change their natures according to their positions in space, while human virture remains the same everywhere; also the fact that the stars predict high or low rank for the father of the person whose horoscope is taken, teaches that they do not always make things happen, but sometimes only indicate things. For how could things which preceded one's birth depend upon the birth ??

[[ Mebbe because most of Popular Astrology was/is an Organized Absurdity ?? ]]

Further, as there os Providence amd Fate concerned with nations and states, as well as each individual, so also there is Forture, which should follow next. That power of the Gods which orders for the good things which are not uniform and which happen contrary to expectation is commonly called Fortune, and it is for this reason that the Goddess is especially worshipped in public by cities; for every city consists of elements which are not uniform. [[" ... and streets are uneven when your down..."]] Fortune has power beneath the moon, since above the moon no single thing can happen by fortune.

[[ A poetic way of saying that only humans are affected by Fortune; and only [rational] living things need or are affected by morality.]]

If Fortune makes a wicked man prosperous and a good man poor, there is no need to wonder; for the wicked regard wealth as everything, the Good as nothing. For, the good fortune of the bad cannot take away their badness, while virtue alone will be enough for the good.

X. Concerning Vice and Virtue.

The doctrine of Virtue and Vice depends on that of the Soul. When the irrational soul enters into the body and immediately produces Fight and Desire, that rational Soul, put in authority over all these, makes the soul tripartite, composed of Reason, Fight[/Flight], and Desire. Virtue in the region of Reason is Wisdom, in the region of Fight is Courage, in the region of Desire is Temperance; the virtue of the whole Soul is Righteousness. It is for Reason to judge what is right, for Fight in obedience to Reason to despise things that appear terrible, for Desire to pursue not the apparently desirable, but that which is with Reason is desirable. When these things are so, we have a Righteous life; for Righteousness in matters of property is but a small part of virtue. So, Thus we shall find all four virtues in properly trained men, but among the untrained, one may be brave and unjust, another temperate and stupid; and another prudent and unprincipled. Indeed these qualities should not be called Virtues when they are devoid of Reason, are imperfect, and are found in irrational beings. Vice should be regarded as consisting of the opposite elements [of Virtue]. In Reason it is Folly; in Fight, Cowardice; in Desire, Intemperance; in the whole Soul - Unrighteousness.

The virtues are produced by the right social organization and by good rearing and education, and the vices by the opposite.

XI. Concerning the right and wrong Social Organization

Constitutions also depend on the Tripartite nature of the Soul. The rulers are analogues to Reason, the soldiers to Fight and the common folk to Desires.

Where all things are done according to Reason and the best man in the nation rules, it is a Kingdom; where more than one rule according to Reason and Fight, it is an Aristocracy; where the government is according to Desire, and offices depend on money, it is a Timocracy. The contraries are: to Kingdom, tyranny - for Kingdom does all things with the guidance of reason and tyranny nothing; to Aristocracy, oligarchy, when not the best people but a few of the worst are rulers; to Timocracy, democracy, when not the rich but the common folk possess the whole power. [[ This is a meager retelling of Plato's discussion in Repubic viii. By Julian's time the interest in politics and government all but died out with the loss of politics and political freedom. Cities no longer had meaningful assemblies - the Army handled "local government". Many of the Founders of the United States of America held a same bad opinion about 'pure' democracy. ]]


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