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Chapter XVII.—They Falsely Promise Health to Their Votaries.

Concerning the sympathies and antipathies of Democritus what can we say but this, that, according to the common saying, the man of Abdera is Abderiloquent? But, as he who gave the name to the city, a friend of Hercules as it is said, was devoured by the horses of Diomedes, so he who boasted of the Magian Ostanes 473 will be delivered up in the day of consummation 474 as fuel for the eternal fire. And you, if you do not cease from your laughter, will gain the same punishment as the jugglers. Wherefore, O Greeks, hearken to me, addressing you as from an eminence, nor in mockery transfer your own want of reason to the herald of the truth. A diseased affection (πάθος) is not destroyed by a counter-affection (ἀντιπάθεια), nor is a maniac cured by hanging little amulets of leather upon him. There are visitations of demons; and he who is sick, and he who says he is in love, and he who hates, and he who wishes to be revenged, accept them as helpers. And this is the method of their operation: just as the forms of alphabetic letters and the lines composed of them cannot of themselves indicate what is meant, but men have invented for themselves signs of their thoughts, knowing by their peculiar combination what the order of the letters was intended to express; so, in like manner, the various kinds of roots and the mutual relation of the sinews and bones can effect nothing of themselves, but are the elemental matter with which the depravity of the demons works, who have determined for what purpose each of them is available. And, when they see that men consent to be served by means of such things, they take them and make them their slaves. But how can it be honourable to minister to adulteries? How can it be noble to stimulate men in hating one another? Or how is it becoming to ascribe to matter the relief of the insane, and not to God? For by their art they turn men aside from the pious acknowledgment of God, leading them to place confidence in herbs and roots. 475 But God, if He had prepared these things to effect just what men wish, would be a Producer of evil things; whereas He Himself produced everything which has good qualities, but the profligacy of the demons has made use of the productions of nature for evil purposes, and the appearance of evil which these wear is from them, and not from the perfect God. For how comes it to pass that when alive I was in no wise evil, but that now I am dead and can do nothing, my remains, which are incapable of motion or even sense, should effect something cognizable by the senses? And how shall he who has died by the most miserable death be able to assist in avenging any one? If this were possible, much more might he defend p. 73 himself from his own enemy; being able to assist others, much more might he constitute himself his own avenger.



Democritus. [The Paris editors add, vide Lærtium. As to Ostanes, see that invaluable thesaurus, Hofmann’s Lex. Universale, vol. ii. p. 6. Leyden, 1698.]


[Comp. cap. vi. note 6, supra. p. 67.]


[Naviget Anticyras. On hellebore, see otherwise useless learning but illustrative of this place, in Burton, Anat. Melanchol., p. 400. Ed. New York, 1847.]

Next: Chapter XVIII. They Deceive, Instead of Healing.