Book 1

3

Fr. 5 (374 F Smith = Stob. I, 3, 56) talks about the terrestrial waters of the Styx.

Fr. 7 (376 F Smith = Stob. I, 3, 56) cites the views of the Syrian Gnostic-Christian poet and philosopher Bardaisan (154-222 AD), who lived at the court of Abgar IX the Great, at Edessa (today Urfa). This one received information about India from a certain delegation around 218 AD.4 Bardaisan was a religious writer whose cosmology that influenced Mani (216-276 AD), founder of Manichaeism. Later he was condemned as a heretic by the Syrian Orthodox Church.5

41

1.41.60 - Translation Lamberton

What Homer says about Circe contains an amazing view of things that concern the soul. He says

Their heads and voices, their bristles and their bodies were those of pigs, but their minds were solid, as before.

Clearly this myth is a riddle concealing what Pythagoras and Plato have said about the soul: that it is indestructable by nature and eternal, but no immune to experience and change, and that it undergoes change and transfer into other types of bodies when it goes through what we call destruction or death. It then seeks out, in the pursuit of pleasure, that which is fitting and appropriate to it because it is similar and its way of life is similar in character. At this point, by virtue of what each of us gains through education and philosophy, the soul, remembering the good and repelled by shameful and illicit pleasures, is able to prevail and watch itself carefully and take care lest through inattention it be reborn as a beast and fall in love with a body badly suited for virtue and impure, nurturing an uncultivated and irrational nature and encouraging an appetitive and passionate elements of the soul rather than the rational. Empedocles calls the fate and nature that preside over this transformation a …

Wrapping souls in an alien tunic of flesh

and giving them new clothes.

Homer for his part, calls the cyclical progress and rotation of metensomatosis Circe, making her a child of the sun, which is constantly linking destruction with birth and birth back again with destruction and stringing them together. The island of Aiaia is both the fate that awaits the dead and a place in the upper air. When they have first fallen into it, the souls wander about disoriented and wail and do not know where the west is …

Or where the sun that lights mortal men goes beneath the earth

The urge for pleasure makes them long for their accustomed way of life in and through the flesh, and so they fall back into the witch’s brew of genesis, which truly mixes and brews together the immortal and the mortal, the rational and the emotional, the Olympian and the terrestrial. The souls are bewitched and softened by the pleasures that lead them back again into genesis, and at this point they have special need of great good fortune and self-restraint lest they follow and give in to their worst parts and emotions and take on an accursed and beastly life.

This meeting of the three roads that is imagined as being among the shades of Hades is actually in this world, in the three divisions of the soul, the rational, the passionate, and the appetitive. Each path or division starts from the same source but leads to a life of a specific sort appropriate to it. We are no longer talking about a myth or a poem but about truth and the description of things as they are. The claim is that those who are taken over and dominated by the appetitive part of the soul, blossoming forth at the moment of transformation and rebirth, enter the bodies of asses and animals of that sort to lead turbulent lives made impure by love of pleasure and by gluttonly. When a soul that has had its passionate part made completely savage by hardening contentiousness and murderous brutality stemming from some disagreement or enmity comes to its second birth, gloomy and full of fresh bitterness, it casts itself into the body of a wolf or a lion, projecting as it were this body as a defense for its ruling passion and fitting itself to it. Therefore where death is concerned, purity is just as important as in an initiation, and you must keep all base emotion from the soul, put all painful desire to sleep, and keep as far from the mind as possible all jealousy, ill will, and anger, as you leave the body.

Hermes with his golden staff - in reality, reason - meets the soul and clearly points the way to the good. He either bars the soul’s way and prevents its reaching the witch’s brew or, if it drinks watches over it and keeps it as long as possible in a human form.

49

Fr. 4 (373 F Smith = Stob. I, 49, 50) cites the views of Apollodorus about the etymology of the rivers that are found in Hades.

Fr. 6 (375 F Smith = Stob. I, 49, 52) continues the discussion about the properties of the waters of the river Styx.

Fr. 2 (377 F Smith = Stob. I, 49, 53) expounds the plan of the treatise: to inquire into the meaning of the river Styx. It starts by explaining the disposition of the souls in the Homeric poems.

Fr. 3 (378 F Smith = Stob. I, 49, 54) continues the discussion about the condition of the souls that traverse Acheron.

Book 2

1

Fr. 1 (372 F Smith = Stob. II, 1, 32) proposes to use the allegorical method since Homer expressed himself “sotto forma di enigmi”.

Book 3

Book 4

41

Fr. 8 (379 F Smith = Stob. IV, 41, 57) and Fr. 9 (380 F Smith = Stob. IV, 36, 23) refer to the same verse from the Odyssey.