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Chapter VI.—Other Opinions of the Philosophers.

And regarding lawless conduct, those who have blindly wandered into the choir of philosophy have, almost to a man, spoken with one voice. Certainly Plato, to mention him first who seems to have been the most respectable philosopher among them, expressly, as it were, legislates in his first book, 642 entitled The Republic, that the wives of all be common, using the precedent of the son 643 of Jupiter and the lawgiver of the Cretans, in order that under this pretext there might be an abundant offspring from the best persons, and that those who were worn with toil might be comforted by such intercourse. 644 And Epicurus himself, too, as well as teaching atheism, teaches along with it incest with mothers and sisters, and this in transgression of the laws which forbid it; for Solon distinctly legislated regarding this, in order that from a married parent children might lawfully spring, that they might not be born of adultery, so that no one should honour as his father him who was not his father, or dishonour him who was really his father, through ignorance that he was so. And these things the other laws of the Romans and Greeks also prohibit. Why, then, do Epicurus and the Stoics teach incest and sodomy, with which doctrines they have filled libraries, so that from boyhood 645 this lawless intercourse is learned? And why should I further spend time on them, since even of those they call gods they relate similar things?



Not in the first, but the fifth book of the Republic, p. 460.




As this sentence cannot be intelligibly rendered without its original in Plato, we subjoin the latter: “As for those youths who excel either in war or other pursuits, they ought both to have other rewards and prizes given them; and specially this, of being allowed the freest intercourse with women, that, at the same time, under this pretext the greatest number of children may spring from such parents.”


[This statement reflects light upon some passages of Hermas, and shows with what delicacy he has reproved the gross vices with which Christians could not escape familiarity.]

Next: Chapter VII.—Varying Doctrine Concerning the Gods.