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Daughter of Saturn, venerable dame,
The seat containing of unweary'd flame;  2

p. 221

In sacred rites these ministers are thine,
Mystics much-blessed, holy and divine
In thee, the Gods have fix'd place, 5
Strong, stable, basis of the mortal race:
Eternal, much-form'd ever-florid queen,
Laughing and blessed, and of lovely mien;  8

p. 222

Accept these rites, accord each just desire,
And gentle health, and needful good inspire.


220:2 XXXIII. Ver. 2] The seat containing of unweary'd flame. Vesta is celebrated in this Hymn as the earth, and is the same with the mother of the Gods; as is evident from the Hymn to that divinity, in which she is expressly called Vesta. Now this perfectly agrees with the fragment of Philolaus the Pythagorean, preserved by Stobæus, in Eclog. Phys. p. 51. "Philolaus (says he) places fire in the middle at the centre, which he calls the Vesta of the universe, the house of Jupiter, the mother of the Gods, and the basis, coherence, and measure of nature." From whence it appears, that they are greatly mistaken who suppose the Pythagoreans meant the sun, by the fire at the centre: and this is still more evident, from the following words of Simplicius de Cælo, lib ii. Οἱ δὲ γνησίςερον ἀυτον μετασχόντες, p. 221 μετασχόντες, τὸ μὲν πῦρ ἐν τῷ μέσῳ φασὶ τὴν δημιυργικην δίναμιν, εκ τῦ μέσυ ὅλην τηγ γην τρέφυσαν, καὶ τὸ ψυχόμενον ἀυτῆς ἀνεγέιρυσαν. δἰ ὃ οἱ μέν, ΖΗΝΟΣ ΠΥΡΓΟΝ ἀυτὸ καλυσιν. ὡσ ἀυτὸς ἐν τοῖσ Πυθαγορείοις διηγήσατο. οἱ δὲ ΔΙΟΣ ΦΥΛΑΚΗΝ ὡσ ἐν τὐτοις. οῖ δὲ, ΔΙΟΣ ΘΡΟΝΟΝ᾽ ὡς ἄλλοι φασίν. χεδνρον (sic lege et non ἄντρον) δὲ τὴν γῆν ἔλεγον, ὡς ὄργανον καὶ αὐτὴν τῦ χρονῦ ἡμερων γαρ ἐςιν ἅυτη, καὶ νυχτων, αἰτία. That is, "But those who more clearly perceive these affairs, call the fire in the middle a demiurgic power, nourishing the whole earth from the midst, and exciting and enlivening whatever it contains of a frigid nature: on which account some call it the tower of Jupiter, as he (i.e. Aristotle) relates in his Phythagorics. But others, the keeper or guardian of Jove; as he relates in these (i.e. his books of Cælo). But according to others, it is the throne of Jupiter. But they called the earth a centre, as being itself an organ or instrument of time: for it is the cause of day and night."

221:8 Ver. 8] Laughing and blessed. Proclus, in Plat. Rep. p. 384. observes, that we ought to interpret the laughter of the Gods as an exuberant operation in the universe; and the gladness of mundane concerns, under the providence of a divine cause. But since such a providence, says he, is incomprehensible, and is a never failing communication of all divine goods; we must allow that Homer justly calls the laughter of the Gods ἄσϐεςος {Greek á?sbesos} or inextinguishable. He adds, that fables do not represent the Gods as always weeping, but affirm that they laugh p. 222 without ceasing; because tears are symbols of their providence in mortal concerns, which are continually subject to existence and decay: but laughter is a sign of their effects in the universe, and of its principal parts, which are ever moved in one and the same orderly manner. Hence, since we divide demiurgical powers between Gods and men, we assign laughter to the generation of the Gods, but tears to the formation of men or animals. Hence, the poet sings in his Hymn to the Sun, O Apollo, the mortal race of men is the subject of thy tears; but the celestial race of Gods springs from laughter. But since we divide the works of divinity into things celestial, and those subject to the moon; after the same manner, we attribute laughter to the first, and grief to the second. Lastly, when we reason concerning the generations and corruptions of things below the moon, we refer the one to the weeping, and the other to the laughter of the Gods. And hence in our mysteries, the ministers of sacred rites, at a certain time order each of these to be celebrated. He then concludes with an excellent observation, that men of simple understandings are unable to comprehend intellectually mystical ceremonies and fables of this kind; since such men destitute of science, produce nothing but absurd confusion about the religion of the Gods.

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