Early Church Fathers
1 Gregory himself tells us, in his life of S. Macrina, that he went to see her after the Council of Antioch. (This and Basil's death occurred in the year 379: so that this Dialogue was probably composed in 380.) "The interval during which the circumstances of our times of trials prevented any visits had been long." He goes on to say (p. 189 B.); "And that she might cause me no depression of spirits, she somehow subdued the noise and concealed the difficulty of her breathing, and assumed perfect cheerfulness: she not only started pleasant topics herself, but suggested them as well by the questions which she asked. The conversation led naturally to the mention of our great Basil. While my very soul sank and my countenance was saddened and fell, she herself was so far from going with me into the depths of mourning, that she made the mention of that saintly name all opportunity for the most sublime philosophy. Examining human nature in a scientific way, disclosing the divine plan that underlies all afflictions, and dealing, as if inspired by the Holy Spirit, with all the questions relating to a future life, she maintained such a discourse that my soul seemed to be lifted along with her words almost beyond the compass of humanity, and, as I followed her argument, to be placed within the sanctuary of heaven." Again (p. 190 B): "And if my tract would not thereby be extended to an endless length, I would have reported everything in its order; i.e. how her argument lifted her as she went into the philosophy both of the soul, and of the causes of our life in the flesh, and of the final cause of Man and his mortality, and of death and the return thence into life again. In all of it her reasoning continued clear and consecutive: it flowed on so easily and naturally that it was like the water from some spring falling unimpeded downwards."
2 Two grounds are here given why this practice of grief for the departed is difficult to give up. One lies in the natural abhorrence of death, showing itself in two ways, viz. in our grief over others dying, and in recoiling from our own death, expressed by two evenly balanced sentences, oute twn orwntwn <\=85_oij te an <\=85_; in the latter a second oute might have been expected; but such an anacoluthon is frequent in dialogue. Oehler is wrong in giving to the second te an intensive force, i.e. "much more." The other ground lies in the attitude of the law towards death.
3 Reading periexonti: the same word is used below, "as long as the breath within was held in by the enveloping substance"(see p. 432, note 8). Here it means "the air": as in Marcus Antoninus, Lib. iv. 39.
4 Reading kataseisasa th xeiri, instead of the vox nihili metaseisasa of the two Paris Editions, which can be accounted for by meta being repeated in error from metacu. The question which this gesture accompanied is one to which it would be very appropriate. The reading adopted is that of the Codex Uffenbach, and this phrase, kataseiein th xeiri, is unimpeachable for "commanding silence," being used by Polybius, and Xenophon (without xeiri). Wolf and Krabinger prefer this reading to that of most of the Codd., katasighsasa: and doubtless Sifanus read it ("manu silentio imperato").
5 isaj <\=85_adhlia. This is Krabinger's reading (for iswj <\=85_h deilia in the Parisian Editions) with abundant ms. authority.
6 antipiptontwn proj ton skopon upoklhqentwn: he reading of the Parisian Editions. But the preponderance of ms. authority is in favour of upekluqentwn, "si quae ad hoc propositum opponuntur soluta fuerint," Krabinger. The force of upo will then be "by way of rejoinder." The idea in skopon seems to be that of a butt set up to be shot at. All the mss. but not the Paris Editions, have the article before antipipontwn: but it is not absolutely necessary, for Gregory not unfrequently omits it before participles, when his meaning is general, i.e. "Everything that," &c.
7 wj tuxaia, k.t.l. It is better to connect this directly with Epicurus himself, than to refer it, by bracketing the preceding sentence (with Oehler), to his followers. Macrina infers from the opinions known to her of Epicurus, what he must have said about the human soul: i.e. that it was a bubble; and then what his followers probably said. There is no evidence that Epicurus usedthis actual figure: still Gregory may be recording his very words.- Lucian (Charon, 68) enlarges on such a simile: and his wkumoron fnshma, as a description of man, is reproduced by Gregory himself in Orat. de Beatitud. p. 768 D.
8 tw periexonti. Sifanus takes this of the surrounding atmo-sphere. So also Krabinger, "aere circumfuso," just as above (182 A.) it does certainly mean the air, and Wolf quotes a passage to that effect from Marcus Antoninus and the present instance also. Still there is no reason that it should not here mean the body of the man, which is as it were a case retentive of the vital breath within; and the sense seems to require it. As to the construction. although pomofluc is sometimes masculine in later Greek, yet it is much more likely that peritaqentoj (not periteqentoj of the Paris Editt.) is the genitive absolute with tou swmatoj: tw periexonti would then very naturally refer to this.
9 But Dr. Hermann Schmidt sees even more than this in this bold figure. The Creation preaches, as it were, and its tones are first heard in our hearts (enhxountoj th kardia): and these tones are then reflected back from the heart to the contemplating eye, which thus becomes not a seeing only, but a hearing (akroathj ginetai) organ, in its external activity.
10 Enarmoniouj apostaseij, i.e. to which the music of the pheres was due: see Macrobius, Somnium Scipionis, c. 4: for the "retrograde" motion of the planets above, see Joannes de Sacro Bosco, Sphaera (1564), p. 47, sqq.
11 See On the Making of Man, c. viii. 5.
12 ikanh. This is the reading of Codd. A and B (of Krabinger, but the common reading is ei kan h '
13 It may be noticed that besides the physician several others were present. Cf. 242 D, toij pollo<\=xd_j polloij parakaqhmenoij.
14 Krabinger's Latin "in intentione," though a literal translation, hardly represents the full force of this passage, which is interesting because, the terms being used specially, if not only, of fevers or inflammation, it is evident that the speaker has her own illness in mind, and her words are thus more natural than if she spoke of patients generally. If en epitasei is translated "at its height," this will very awkwardly anticipate what follows, epi tosonde <\=85_h epitasij. The doctor is supposed simply to class the complaint as belonging to the order of those which manifest themselves di= epitasewj, as opposed to those which do so di anesewj: he then descends to particulars, i.e. epi tosonde. The demonstrative in twnde twn splagxnwn has the same force as in to en twde qermon, 214 C, "such and such;" the nobler organs (viscera thoracis) of course are here meant. Gregory himself gives a list of them, 250 C.
15 A trochaic line to this effect from the comedian Epicharmus is quoted by Theodoret, De Fide, p. 15.
16 oper dh pantelhj tou stoixeiou meiwsij legetai, "perfecta elementi diminutio;" oper referring to the dark "new" moon just described, which certainly is the consummation of the waning of the moon: though it is not itself a meiwsij.-This last consideration, and the use of dh, and the introduction of tou stoixeiou, favour another meaning which might be given, i.e. by joining pantelhj with tou stoixiou, and making oper refer to the whole passage of the moon from full to new, "which indeed is commonly (but erroneously) spoken of as a substantial diminution of the elementary body itself," as if it were a true and real decrease of bulk.
17 ei tina toutwn kata ton sunousiwmenhn tij ei/ai legoi dunamin, k.t.l. The difficulty here is in toutwn, which Krabinger takes as a partitive genitive after einai, and refers to the "elements ", and this is perhaps the best way of taking it. But still, as Schmidt points out, it is rather the human body than the elements themselves that ought here to be spoken of as the efficient cause of thought: and so he would either refer tontwn to ton auton ("in the same way as these instances just given"), and compares Eurip Helen., onomadetautonthsemhsexousatisdamartosallh (Matt. Gr. p. 706); or else would join to<\=f8_twn with the preceding diaforoj (with Codd. Mon. D, E).
18 Cod. Mon. D, apoteloushj. This seems a better reading than that preferred by Krabinger, apotelesma einai: for apotelesma must be pressed to mean, in order to preserve the sense, "mere result," i.e. something secondary, and not itself a principle or cause: the following h besides, cannot without awkwardness be referred to energeian.
19 Reading ousian ouk an apodeiknuoito h to mhd= olwj einai;
20 According to an author quoted by Athenaeus (iv. 75), the first organist (udraulhj), or rather organ-builder, was Ctesibius of Alexandria, about b.c. 200.
21 Remove comma after zhtoumenou. in Paris Editt.
22 or vice versa, i.e. the idea of badness by the negation of goodness. Krabinger appositely quotes a passage from Plotinus: "Who could picture to himself evil as a specific thing, appearing as it does only in the absence of each good? ...it will be necessary for all who are to know what evil is to have a clear conception about good: since even in dealing with real species the better take precedence of the worse; and evil is not even a species, but rather a negation." Cf. Origen, In Johan. p. 66 A, pasa h kakia ouden estin, epei kai ouk on tugxanei. See also Gregorys Great Cathechism, cap. v. and vii.
23 supposing, that is. This only repeats what was said above: "granted that the inquirer has had his doubts set at rest as to the existence of the thing." It is the reading of Krabinger (ei dh ti), and the best. Sifanus follows the loss supported reading oiden oti, which is open to the further objection that it would be absurd to say, "when a man learns that A is not B he knows that it is something else." The reading of the Paris. Editt. idh is unintelligible.
24 (kaq=) oson te ...qigganomen.
25 weight (ogkou). This is a Platonic word it means the weight, and then (morally) the burden, of the body: not necessarily connected with the idea of swelling, even in Empedocles, v. 220; its Latin equivalent is "onus" in both meanings. Cf. Heb. xii. 1; ogkon apoqemenoi panta, "every weight," or "all cumbrance."
26 Reading diasthmatikhn. Cf. 239 A.
27 all= en oij ...ekeino ...touto.
28 pure (akhratw). perishable (epikhron). The first word is a favourite one with the Platonists; such as Plotinus, and Synesius. Gregory uses it in his funeral speech over Flacilla, "she passes with a soul unstained to the pure and perfect life"; and both in his treatise De Mortuis, "that man's grief is real, who becomes conscious of the blessings he has lost; and contrasts this perishing and soiled existence with the perfect blessedness above."
29 logw tini kreittoni thj anqrwpinhj katanohsewj. So just below arrhtw tini logw. The mode of the union of soul and body is beyond our comprehension. To refer these words to the Deity Himself ("incomprehensible cause"), as Oehler, would make of them, as Schmidt well remarks, a "mere showy phrase."
30 analuqentwn. Krabinger reads analusantwn, i.e. "returning"; as frequently in this treatise, and in N. T. usage.
31 i.e. as we have already seen (p. 433). The fact of the continuity of the soul was there deduced from its being incomposite. So that the gar here does not give the ground for the statement immediately preceding.
Gregory (p. 431) had suggested two alternatives:-1. That the soul dissolves with the body. This is answered by the soul's "incompositeness." 2. That the union of the immaterial soul with the still material atoms after death cannot be maintained. This is answered by the analogy given in the present section, of God's presence in an uncongenial universe, and that of the soul in the still living body. The gar therefore refers to the answer to 1, without which the question of the soul continuing in the atoms could not have been discussed at all.
32 her vessel. Of course this is not the "vehicle" of the soul (after death) which the later Platonists speak of, but the body itself. The word oxhma is used in connection with a ship, Soph. Trach. 656; and though in Plato (Timaeus, p. 69), whose use of this word for the body was afterwards followed, it is not clear whether a car or a ship is most thought of, yet that the latter is Gregory's meaning appears from his next words.
33 at once. Reading (with Codd. A, B, C, and Uff.) kata tauton.
34 oute diaxeitai. Oehler translates wrongly "noch dehnt es sich aus"; because the faculty of extension is ascribed to the intelligence (cf. ekteinesqai, diateinomenon, parekteinomenh, below), but diffusion is denied of it, both here, and in the words diasxizetai (above and below), diakrisij, and diaspatai, i. e. separation in space.
36 endedeixqai. Gregory constantly uses endeiknusqai (middle) transitively, e. g. 202 C, 203 A, C, 208 B, and above, 189 A, so that it is possible that we have here, in the passive form, a deponent (transitive) perfect; moreover the sense seems to require it. Gregory objects that in what has been said all the powers which analysis finds in the soul have not been set forth with sufficient fulness: an exhaustive account of them has not been given; and he immediately proceeds to name other dunameij and energeiai which have not been taken into consideration. That this view of the passage is correct is further shown by 202 C, where, the present objection having been treated at length, it is concluded that there is no real ground for quarrelling with the definition of soul wj elleipwj endeicamenw thn fusin. Krahinger therefore is right in dropping ennooumenw, which two of his mss. exhibit, and which Sifanus translates as governing taj <\=85_dunameij, as if the sense were, "When I consider all the powers of the soul, I do not think that your definition bas been made good."
37 The syllogism implied in the following words is this:-
The emotions are something intellectual (because incorporeal).
Therefore the emotions are soul (or souls).
This conclusion is obviously false; logically, by reason of the fallacy of "the undistributed middle"; ontologically, because it requires a false premise additional (i. e. "everything intellectual is soul") to make it true. Macrina directly after this piece of bad logic deprecates the use of the syllogism. Is this accidental? It looks almost like an excuse for not going into technicalities and exposing this fallacy, which she has detected in her opponent's statement. Macrina actually answers as if Gregory had urged his objection thus. "The emotions are not purely intellectual, but are conditioned by the bodily organism: but they do belong to the expression and the substance of the soul: the soul therefore is dependent on the organism and will perish along with it."
38 para thn prwthn (i.e. wran understood). This is the reading of all the Codd. for the faulty para thn authn of the Editions.
39 prostiqenai. Sifanus translates "illorum commentationi de anima adjicere sermonem," which Krabinger wonders at. The Greek could certainly bear this meaning: but perhaps the other reading is better, i. e. protiqenai, "to propose for consideration."
40 i. e. the syllogism.
41 that the soul was mortal. Aristotle, guided only by probabilities as discoverable by the syllogism, does indeed define the soul, "the first entelechy of a physical, potentially living, and organic body." Entelechy is more than mere potentiality: it is "developed force" ("dormant activity;" see W. Archer Butler's Lectures, ii. p. 393), capable of manifestation. The human soul, uniting in itself all the faculties of the other orders of animate existence; is a Microcosm. The other parts of the soul are inseparable from the body, and are hence perishable (De Anima, ii. 2); but the nouj exists before the body, into which it enters from without as something divine and immortal (De Gen. Animal. ii. 3). But he makes a distinction between the form-receiving, and the form-giving nouj: substantial eternal existence belongs only to the latter (De Anima, iii. 5). The secret of the difference between him and Plato, with whom "all the soul is immortal" (Phaedrus, p. 245 C), lies in this; that Plato regarded the soul as always in motion, while Aristotle denied it, in itself, any motion at all. "It is one of the things that are impossible that motion should exist in it" (De Anima, i. 4). It cannot be moved at all; therefore it cannot move itself. Plotinus and Porphyry, as well as Nemesius the Platonizing Bishop of Emesa (whose treatise De Anima is wrongly attributed to Gregory), attacked this teaching of an "entelechy." Cf. also Justin Martyr (ad Graec. cohort, c. 6, p. 12); "Plato declares that all the soul is immortal; Aristotle calls her an `entelechy,0' and not immortal. The one says she is ever-moving, the other that she is never-moving, but prior to all motion." Also Gregory Naz., Orat. xxvii, "Away with Aristotle's calculating Providence, and his art of logic, and his dead reasonings about the soul, and purely human doctrine!"
42 for the overthrow of the truth. So c. Eunom. iii. (ii. 500).
44 most surely, h. This is the common reading: but the Codd. have mostly kai.
45 Aristotle, Ethic. i. 13, dwells upon these principles. Of the last he says, i. e. the common vegetative, the principle of nutrition and growth: "One would assume such a power of the soul in everything that grows, even in the embryo, and just this very same power in the perfect creatures; for this is more likely than that it should be a different one." Sleep, in which this power almost alone is active, levels all.