4

Epinomis is attributed. It would appear that Plato in his old age received a "Chaldean" guest, who was able to instruct him in the discoveries made by his compatriots.

It seems to me to be beyond doubt that the influence of oriental star-worship upon the Epinomis was much more extensive than has hitherto been admitted. It is not from the Pythagoreans that the author borrows, but, as he himself says, from the Syrians. We find set forth or indicated in this brief dialogue the fundamental doctrines, of which we have already seen some expressly attributed to the Chaldeans, while others we shall find developed in the stellar theology of the Roman period.

These doctrines are the idea that science in general is a gift of the gods, and that mathematics in particular were revealed to men by Uranus, considered as a deity, who caused them to be understood by his periodical phenomena; the demonstration that, whatever may be the opinion of the vulgar, the stars are animated and divine, and that between these celestial divinities and the earth a hierarchically organised army of airy spirits acts as intermediary; the declaration that the most perfect of the sciences is astronomy, which has become a theology. Man, the author says, attracted by the beauty of the visible world, does not merely conceive the desire of knowing all that his nature allows him to apprehend, he rises to a fervent contemplation of the wondrous spectacle of harmonious movements, which surpass all choruses in majesty and magnificence. This study, in short, is inseparable from virtue; this wisdom secures supreme happiness, and it has as its reward in the next world a life of bliss like that which the pious astronomer has led on earth, but more perfect, a life in which he will be entirely absorbed in the contemplation of celestial splendours, and will attain to supreme felicity.

Truly the Epinomis is that which it professes to be: the first gospel preached to Hellenes of the stellar religion of Asia. The ideas which are here set forth will not cease to influence the Platonic school. Thus Xenocrates, to whom astronomy is a sacred science, will develop demonology, and we shall see how an eclectic, Posidonius, will expand and exalt these same conceptions.

But, it will be said, if the Greeks thus bowed to the supremacy of the sidereal theology of the

Chaldeans, how was it that astrology was not introduced among them? For from the sixth to the fourth century the whole marvellous development of their philosophy shows that it knows nothing of cosmic fatalism and stellar divination. Speaking generally, this assertion is correct, although certain traces of these speculations are found, as we have seen, in works of the early Pythagoreans, and recently a Chaldean doctrine has been successfully employed to explain a passage of Pindar.1 Now, about the period when Philip of Opus published or wrote the Epinomis, another pupil of Plato, the astronomer Eudoxus of Cnidos, declared: "No credence should be given to the Chaldeans, who predict and mark out the life of every man according to the day of his nativity."2 Certain modern philologists—who doubtless look upon Greek history as a kind of experiment in a closed vessel, which a providence anxious to exclude every disturbing element conducted for the fullest instruction of the savants of the future— certain philologists, I say, have doubted whether r* Franz Boll, Neue Jahrb.fur das klass. Altertum, xxi. (1908), p. 119.

Eudoxus in the fourth century could really have known and condemned oriental genethlialogy. But like Eudoxus, Theophrastus, a little later, spoke of it in his treatise on "Celestial Signs": he regarded with surprise the claim of the Chaldeans to be able to predict from these signs the life and death of individuals, and not merely general phenomena, such as good or bad weather.1

The insatiable curiosity of the Greeks, then, did not ignore astrology, but their sober genius rejected its hazardous doctrines, and their keen critical sense was able to distinguish the scientific data observed by the Babylonians from the erroneous conclusions which they derived from them. It is to their everlasting honour that, amid the tangle of precise observations and superstitious fancies which made up the priestly lore of the East, they discovered and utilised the serious elements, while neglecting the rubbish.

As long as Greece remained Greece, stellar divination gained no hold on the Greek mind, and all attempts to substitute an astronomic theology for their immoral but charming idolatry were

1 Proel., In Tim., iii., 151,1 (Diehl). On Theophrastus' translation of the tale of Akichar, see below, p. 66.

destined to certain failure. The efforts of philosophers to impose on their countrymen the worship of "the great visible gods," as Plato terms them, recoiled before the might of a tradition supported by the prestige of art and literature. It was a purely intellectual movement which remained, as it would seem, without serious practical result. It changed neither popular nor official worship. The populace continued to pray " Kara ra narpia after the fashion of their ancestors, to old protectors of family and city, and the formulary of the old-iashioned liturgies remained unchanged in spite of all the objections which the science of the reformers could raise against it.

But after the conquests of Alexander a great change took place. The ancient ideal of the Greek republic gave way to the conception of universal v monarchy. Thenceforth municipal cults disappeared before an international religion. The worship of the stars, common to all the peoples, was strengthened by everything that weakened the particularism of cities. In proportion as the idea of "humanity" spread, men were the more ready to reserve their homage for those celestial powers which extended their blessings to all mankind, and princes who proclaimed themselves the rulers of the world, could not be protected save by cosmo-/ politan gods.

Thus it was that thinkers agreed more and more in reserving the foremost place for the sidereal deities. Zeno and his disciples proclaimed their might still more clearly than the schools of Plato and Aristotle. Since stoic pantheism represented Reason, which governs all things, as residing in ethereal Fire, the stars in which the supreme Fire manifested itself with the greatest force and brilliance, woüld necessarily be invested with the loftiest divine qualities. In the same way the prodigious success attained by the doctrine of Euhemerus contributed to the exaltation of their power. This doctrine, we know, regarded the divinities of fable as superior mortals, to whom after death the gratitude or admiration of the multitude had accorded worship. In thus attributing to the Olympians of old no longer merely human form but also human nature, it left to the eternal and incorruptible stars alone the dignity of original gods, and exalted them in proportion as it lowered their rivals of bygone days.

Thus the political condition of the world, just as the tendencies of theology, drew Hellenism towards star-worship. But the interpénétration of the Orient and Greece which took place in this period, hastened this religious evolution in a remarkable manner. The Stoa, as we shall see, was freely accessible to barbaric influences, and Euhemerus, we are told, drew his inspiration from Egyptian theologoumena. But the decisive agency was the contact which was established in the Se-leucid Empire between Hellenic culture and Babylonian civilisation.

The Chaldeans, whom the policy of the kings of Antioch strove to conciliate, entered into close relations with the learned men who came to Asia in the train of their conquerors, and they even proceeded to carry their precepts throughout the land of Greece. A priest of Bel, Berosus, established himself about the year 280 in the island of Cos, and there revealed to his sceptical hearers the contents of the cuneiform writings accumulated in the archives of his country, annals of the ancient kii^gs and astrological treatises. Another Chaldean, Soudines, invited to the court of Attalus I., king of Pergamus, practised there,

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