PHILO of Alexandria
MEDITATION and
MYSTICAL VISION
 

 Philo Judaeus, miniature, 9th cent. Greek codex 
of works of St. John Damascene.
MS Gr. 923 fol. 310v


THE SPECIAL LAWS, III


Engl: The Works of Philo Judaeus The contemporary of Josephus, translated from the Greek By Charles Duke Yonge London, H. G. Bohn, 1854-1890. Greek: TLG 001 18.24.-.24  De specialibus legibus (lib. i-iv) Philonis Alexandrini opera quae supersunt, vol. 5 ( Reimer, Berlin, 1906;  rpr. De Gruyter, Berlin, 1962 p.p. 1-265 ed. L.Cohn)


1. There was once a time when, devoting my leisure to philosophy and to the contemplation of the world and the things in it, 3.1 ῏Ην ποτε χρόνος͵ ὅτε φιλοσοφίᾳ σχολάζων καὶ θεωρίᾳ τοῦ κόσμου καὶ τῶν ἐν αὐτῷ

I reaped the fruit of excellent, and desirable, and blessed intellectual feelings,

τὸν καλὸν καὶ περιπόθητον καὶ μακάριον ὄντως νοῦν ἐκαρπούμην͵

being always living among the divine oracles and doctrines, on which I fed incessantly and insatiably, to my great delight,

θείοις ἀεὶ λόγοις συγγινόμενος καὶ δόγμασιν͵ ὧν ἀπλήστως καὶ ἀκορέστως ἔχων ἐνευφραινόμην͵

never entertaining any low or groveling thoughts, nor ever wallowing in the pursuit of glory or wealth, or the delights of the body,

οὐδὲν ταπεινὸν φρονῶν ἢ χαμαίζηλον οὐδὲ περὶ δόξαν ἢ πλοῦτον ἢ τὰς σώματος εὐπαθείας ἰλυσπώμενος͵

but I appeared to be raised on high and borne aloft by a certain inspiration of the soul,.

ἀλλ΄ ἄνω μετάρσιος ἐδόκουν ἀεὶ φέρεσθαι κατά τινα τῆς ψυχῆς ἐπιθειασμὸν

and to dwell in the regions of the sun and moon, and to associate with the whole heaven, and the whole universal world

καὶ συμπεριπολεῖν ἡλίῳ καὶ σελήνῃ καὶ σύμπαντι οὐρανῷ τε καὶ κόσμῳ.

2. At that time, therefore, looking down from above, from the air, 3.2 τότε δὴ τότε διακύπτων ἄνωθεν ἀπ΄ αἰθέρος

and straining the eye of my mind as from a watch-tower,

καὶ τείνων ὥσπερ ἀπὸ σκοπιᾶς τὸ τῆς διανοίας ὄμμα κατεθεώμην

I surveyed the unspeakable contemplation of all the things on the earth,

τὰς ἀμυθήτους θεωρίας τῶν ἐπὶ γῆς ἁπάντων. 

and looked upon myself as happy as having forcibly escaped from all the evil fates that can attack human life.

καὶ εὐδαιμόνιζον ἐμαυτὸν ὡς ἀνὰ κράτος ἐκπεφευγότα τὰς ἐν τῷ θνητῷ βίῳ κῆρας
3. Nevertheless, the most grievous of all evils was lying in wait for me, namely, envy, that hates every thing that is good, and which, suddenly attacking me, did not cease from dragging me after it by force till it had taken me and thrown me into the vast sea of the cares of public politics, in which I was and still am tossed about without being able to keep myself swimming at the top. 3.3 ἐφήδρευε δ΄ ἄρα μοι τὸ κακῶν ἀργαλεώτατον͵ ὁ μισόκαλος φθόνος͵ ὃς ἐξαπιναίως ἐπιπεσὼν οὐ πρότερον ἐπαύσατο καθέλκων πρὸς βίαν ἤ με καταβαλεῖν εἰς μέγα πέλαγος τῶν ἐν πολιτείᾳ φροντίδων͵ ἐν ᾧ φορούμενος οὐδ΄ ὅσον ἀνανήξασθαι δύναμαι.
4. But though I groan at my fate, I still hold out and resist, retaining in my soul that desire of instruction which has been implanted in it from my earliest youth, and this desire taking pity and compassion on me continually raises me up and alleviates my sorrow. 3.4 στένων δ΄ ὅμως ἀντέχω τὸν ἐκ πρώτης ἡλικίας ἐνιδρυμένον τῇ ψυχῇ παιδείας ἵμερον ἔχων͵ ὃς ἔλεόν μου καὶ οἶκτον ἀεὶ λαμβάνων ἀνεγείρει καὶ ἀνακουφίζει.
And it is through this fondness for learning that I at times lift up my head, and with the eyes of my soul, which are indeed dim for the mist of affairs, wholly inconsistent with their proper objects, has overshadowed their acute clear-sightedness., still, as well as I may, I survey all the things around me, being eager to imbibe something of a life which shall be pure and unalloyed by evils. διὰ τοῦτον ἔστιν ὅτε τὴν κεφαλὴν ἐπαίρω καὶ τοῖς τῆς ψυχῆς ὄμμασιν ἀμυδρῶς μὲντὸ γὰρ ὀξυδερκὲς αὐτῶν ἡ τῶν ἀλλοκότων πραγμάτων ἀχλὺς ἐπεσκίασεν ἀλλ΄ ἀναγκαίως γοῦν περιβλέπομαι τἀν κύκλῳ καθαρᾶς καὶ ἀμιγοῦς κακῶν ζωῆς σπάσαι γλιχόμενος.
5. And if at any time unexpectedly there shall arise a brief period of tranquillity, and a short calm and respite from the troubles which arise from state affairs, I then rise aloft and float above the troubled waves, soaring as it were in the air, and being, I may almost say, blown forward by the breezes of knowledge, which often persuades me to flee away, and to pass all my days with her, escaping as it were from my pitiless masters, not men only, but also affairs which pour upon me from all quarters and at all times like a torrent. 3.5 εἰ δέ μοι καὶ ἐξ ἀπροσδοκήτου βρα χεῖα γένοιτο εὐδία καὶ γαλήνη θορύβων τῶν ἐν πολιτείᾳ͵ ὑπόπτερος ἐπικυματίζω μόνον οὐκ ἀεροπορῶν͵ αὔραις τῆς ἐπιστήμης καταπνεόμενος͵ ἥ με πολλάκις ἀναπείθει δραπετεύειν συνημερεύσοντα αὐτῇ καθάπερ ἀπὸ δεσποτῶν ἀμειλίκτων͵ οὐκ ἀνθρώπων μόνον ἀλλὰ καὶ πραγμάτων ἀλλα χόθεν ἄλλων χειμάρρου τρόπον ἐπεισχεομένων.
 6. But even in these circumstances I ought to give thanks to God, that though I am so overwhelmed by this flood, I am not wholly sunk and swallowed up in the depths. But I open the eyes of my soul, which from an utter despair of any good hope had been believed to have been before now wholly darkened, and I am irradiated with the light of wisdom, since I am not given up for the whole of my life to darkness. Behold, therefore, I venture not only to study the sacred commands of Moses, but also with an ardent love of knowledge to investigate each separate one of them, and to endeavour to reveal and to explain to those who wish to understand them, things concerning them which are not known to the multitude. 3.6 ἀλλὰ γὰρ καὶ ἐπὶ τούτοις θεῷ προσῆκον εὐχαριστεῖν͵ ὅτι καίτοι κατακλυζόμενος οὐκ ἐγκα ταπίνομαι βύθιος· ἀλλὰ καὶ τοὺς τῆς ψυχῆς ὀφθαλμούς͵ οὓς ἀπογνώσει τινὸς χρηστῆς ἐλπίδος ᾠήθην ἤδη πεπηρῶσθαι͵ διοίγω καὶ φωτὶ τῷ σοφίας ἐναυγάζομαι μὴ πάντα τὸν βίον τῷ σκότῳ παραδοθείς. ἰδού γέ τοι τολμῶ μὴ μόνον τοῖς ἱεροῖς Μωυσέως ἑρμηνεύμασιν ἐντυγχάνειν͵ ἀλλὰ καὶ φιλεπιστημόνως διακύπτειν εἰς ἕκαστον καὶ ὅσα μὴ γνώριμα τοῖς πολλοῖς διαπτύττειν καὶ ἀναφαίνειν.

     


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