Against the Galileans – Fragment 21

But now, against these things, consider ours. Ours say that the creator is the common father and king of everyone, and by him have been divided the remaining parts of nations to ethnarch and protecting gods of cities, among which each one leads his own division as his own family. Thus, when everything is achieved and one in the father, in the divided matters, another power prevails; Ares leads warlike nations; Athena, warlike nations with intelligence; Hermes, those who are wiser than valiant; and the governed nations follow in their place each of their own gods’ features.

If really experience doesn’t attest our words, be persuaded that ours are nothing but irrelevant forgery and yours have to be acknowledged. If however, since aeons, experience attests the things we say while nothing seems to agree with your words, why are you clinging to the argument? May I be told then, what is the reason why Celts and Teutons are brave, Greeks and Romans are usually political [1], generous with toughness [2] and warlike, Egyptians are brilliant and ingenious, Syrians are peaceful and delicate with intelligence, warmth, levity and studious spirit. If indeed, we do not observe any reason for this difference between nations and if we rather say them closer to accidence, how can we still believe that the world is administered by a providence? But if we accept that there are reasons for that, may I be told them, by the creator himself, and may I be taught.


[1] πολιτικοὺς, educated for political activity

[2] μετὰ στερροῦ, with solidness or inflexibility

Notice on text and translation.


Αλλὰ δὴ σκοπεῖτε πρὸς ταῦτα πάλιν τὰ παρ’ ͱημῶν. Ͱοι γὰρ ͱημέτεροι τὸν δημιουργόν φασιν ͱαπάντων μὲν εῖναι κοινὸν πατέρα καὶ βασιλέα, νενεμῆσθαι δὲ ͱυπ’ αυτοῦ τὰ λοιπὰ τῶν εθνῶν εθνάρχαις καὶ πολιούχοις θεοῖς, ͱῶν ͱέκαστος επιτροπεύει τὴν ͱεαυτοῦ λῆξιν οικείως ͱεαυτῷ. Επειδὴ γὰρ εν μὲν τῷ πατρὶ τέλεια καὶ ͱὲν πάντα, εν δὲ τοῖς μεριστοῖς άλλη παρ’ άλλῳ κρατεῖ δύναμις, Άρης μὲν επιτροπεύει τὰ πολεμικὰ τῶν εθνῶν, Αθηνᾶ δὲ τὰ μετὰ φρονήσεως πολεμικά, Ͱερμῆς δὲ τὰ συνετώτερα μᾶλλον ὴ τολμηρότερα, καὶ καθ’ ͱεκάστην ουσίαν τῶν οικείων θεῶν ͱέπεται καὶ τὰ επιτροπευόμενα παρὰ σφῶν έθνη.

Ει μὲν οῦν ου μαρτυρεῖ τοῖς ͱημετέροις λόγοις ͱη πεῖρα, πλάσμα μὲν έστω τὰ παρ’ ͱημῶν καὶ πιθανότης άκαιρος, τὰ παρ’ ͱυμῖν δὲ επαινείσθω· ει δὲ πᾶν τουναντίον ͱοῖς μὲν ͱημεῖς λέγομεν εξ αιῶνος ͱη πεῖρα μαρτυρεῖ, τοῖς ͱυμετέροις δὲ λόγοις ουδὲν ουδαμοῦ φαίνεται σύμφωνον, τί τοσαύτης τῆς φιλονεικίας αντέχεσθε ; Λεγέσθω γάρ μοι τίς αιτία τοῦ Κελτοὺς μὲν εῖναι καὶ Γερμανοὺς θρασεῖς, Ͱέλληνας δὲ καὶ Ῥωμαίους ͱως επίπαν πολιτικοὺς καὶ φιλανθρώπους μετὰ στερροῦ καὶ πολεμικοῦ, συνετωτέρους δὲ καὶ τεχνικωτέρους Αιγυπτίους, απολέμους δὲ καὶ τρυφηλοὺς Σύρους μετὰ τοῦ συνετοῦ καὶ θερμοῦ καὶ κούφου καὶ ευμαθοῦς. Ταύτης γὰρ εν τοῖς έθνεσι διαφορᾶς ει μὲν ουδεμίαν τις αιτίαν συνορῲη, μᾶλλον δὲ αυτά φησι καὶ εκ τοῦ αυτομάτου συμπεσεῖν, πῶς έτι προνοίᾳ διοικεῖσθαι τὸν κόσμον οίεται ; Ει δὲ τούτων αιτίας εῖναι τις τίθεται, λεγέτω μοι πρὸς αυτοῦ τοῦ δημιουργοῦ καὶ διδασκέτω.


Julian’s Against the Galileans, Fragment 21, translation by J-S Desnanot

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