Against the Galileans – Fragment 24

I am coming back to this [1], and how the god has mixed the languages [2] up. Moses gives for reason that [the god] was afraid [men] could do something against him, having finished [the construction of] an access for them to the sky, all of them having the same language and the same thinking as each of the other ones; on the question about how he did it, Moses says that he got down from the sky, unable to do that from heaven, as it seems, if he had not descended onto the earth. About differences of morals and customs, neither Moses nor other one gives any clarification. However, everywhere, customs and political differences of peoples among men are bigger than language differences. Indeed, who among the Greeks would say that one might get into relation with one’s sister; who with one’s daughter, who with one’s mother? But this among the Persians, is considered as a good thing.

What? Should I oversee [3] each thing, and friendship [4] for freedom, and Teutons being untameable against their enemies, submission [5] and domesticity of Syrians, Persians, Parthians and merely of all Barbarians from the East and the South, and of those who experience with consent really [6] despotic monarchies? If truly, these things happened [7] without a bigger and more divine providence, why do we bother so much in vain and care about the one who doesn’t bring [us] anything? Indeed, the one who didn’t care neither about our lives, nor our morals, nor our habits, nor our good management, nor our public affairs [8], is it suitable for him to still receive esteem from us? Absolutely not. See what oddity your speech is leading to. Indeed, among the qualities that we witness in human life, those from the spirit come first, and those from the body follow. This is why if he completely neglected our psychic [9] qualities and didn’t provide training for our nature, and didn’t send us neither teachers, nor lawmakers, as for the Hebrew during the time of Moses and of the prophets after him, in what matter should we be grateful to him?

[1] πρὸς εκεῖνο : to this, i.e, to this matter

[2] τὰς διαλέκτους : dialects

[3] επιέναι : get on, examine, i.e oversee

[4] φιλελεύθερόν : friendship of freedom, or love for freedom

[5] χειρόηθες : mildness

[6] κεκτημένα : very

[7] συνηνέχθη : have been brought

[8] πολιτικῆς : of our politics

[9] ψυχικῶν : of spirit, mental

Notice on text and translation

Επάνειμι δὲ αῦθις πρὸς εκεῖνο, τὰς μὲν διαλέκτους ͱόπως ͱο θεὸς συνέχεεν. Είρηκεν нο Μωσῆς τὴν μὲν αιτίαν ͱότι φοβηθεὶς μή τι κατ’ αυτοῦ πράξωσι προσβατὸν αυτοῖς τὸν ουρανὸν απεργασάμενοι ͱομόγλοττοι όντες καὶ ͱομόφρονες αλλήλοις · τὸ δὲ πρᾶγμα ͱόπως εποίησεν ͱότι κατελθὼν εξ ουρανοῦ, μὴ δυνάμενος άνωθεν αυτὸ ποιεῖν, ͱως έοικεν, ει μὴ κατῆλθεν επὶ τῆς γῆς. Ͱυπὲρ δὲ τῆς κατὰ τὰ ήθη καὶ τὰ νόμιμα διαφορᾶς ούτε Μωσῆς ούτε άλλος απεσάφησε τις. Καίτοι τῷ παντὶ μείζων εστὶν ͱη περὶ τὰ νόμιμα καὶ τα πολιτικὰ τῶν εθνῶν εν τοῖς ανθρώποις τῆς περὶ τὰς διαλέκτους διαφορᾶς. Τίς γὰρ Ͱελλήνω αδελφῇ, τἰς δὲ θυγαρτί, τίς δὲ μητρί φησι δεῖν μίγνυσθαι ; Τοῦτο δὲ αγαθὸν εν Πέρσαις κρίνεται.

Τἰ με χρῆ καθ’ ͱέκαστον επιέναι τὸ φιλελεύθερόν τε καὶ ανυπότακτον Γερμανῶν επεξιόντα, τὸ δὲ χειρόηθες καὶ τιθασὸν Σύρων καὶ Περσῶν καὶ Πάρθων καὶ πάντων ͱαπλῶς τῶν πρὸς ͱέω καὶ πρὸς μεσημβρίαν βαρβάρων καὶ ͱόσα καὶ τὰς βασιλείας αγαπᾷ κεκτημένα δεσποτικωτέρας ; Ει μὲν οῦν άνευ προνοίας μείζονος καὶ θειοτέρας ταῦτα συνηνέχθη τὰ μείζω καὶ τελειώτερα, τί μάτην περιεργαζόμεθα καὶ θεραπεύομεν τὸν μηδὲν προνοοῦντα ; Ͱοῖ γὰρ ούτε βίων ούτε ηθῶν ούτε τρόπων ούτε ευνομίας ούτε πολιτικῆς εμέλησε καταστάσεως, ᾶρ’ έτι προσήκει μεταποιεῖσθαι τῆς παρ’ ͱημῖν τιμῆς ; Ουδαμῶς. Ͱορᾶτε εις ͱόσην ͱυμῶν ατοπίαν ͱο λόγος έρχεται. Τῶν γὰρ αγαθῶν ͱόσα περὶ τὸν ανθρώπινον θεωρεῖται βίον, ͱηγεῖται μὲν τὰ τῆς ψυχῆς, ͱέπεται δὲ τὰ τοῦ σώματος. Ει τοίνυν τῶν ψυχικῶν ͱημῶν αγαθῶν κατωλιγώρησεν, ούτε τῆς φυσικῆς ͱημῶν κατασκευῆς προνοησάμενος, ούτε ͱημῖν πἐμψας διδασκάλους ͱη νομοθέτας, ͱώσπερ τοῖς Εβραίοις κατὰ τὸν Μωσέα καὶ τοὺς επ’ εκείνῳ προφήτας, ͱυπὲρ τίνος ͱέξομεν αυτῷ καλῶς ευχαριστεῖν ;

Julian’s Against the Galileans, Fragment 24, translation by Jean-Sébastien Desnanot

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