Invention of the Lyre; Allegorizing the Appearance and Position of the Stars; Origin of the Phoenicians; the Logos Identified by Aratus with the Constellation Canis; Influence
And (Aratus) says that (the constellations) Lyra and Corona have been placed on both sides near him, -- now I mean Engonasis, -- but that he bends the knee, and stretches forth both hands, as if making a confession of sin. And that the lyre is a musical instrument fashioned by Logos while still altogether an infant, and that Logos is the same as he who is denominated Mercury among the Greeks. And Aratus, with regard to the construction of the lyre, observes: --

"Then, further, also near the cradle, [297]

Hermes pierced it through, and said, Call it Lyre." [298]

It consists of seven strings, signifying by these seven strings the entire harmony and construction of the world as it is melodiously constituted. For in six days the world was made, and (the Creator) rested on the seventh. If, then, says (Aratus), Adam, acknowledging (his guilt) and guarding the head of the Beast, according to the commandment of the Deity, will imitate Lyra, that is, obey the Logos of God, that is, submit to the law, he will receive Corona that is situated near him. If, however, he neglect his duty, he shall be hurled downwards in company with the Beast that lies underneath, and shall have, he says, his portion with the Beast. And Engonasis seems on both sides to extend his hands, and on one to touch Lyra, and on the other Corona -- and this is his confession; -- so that it is possible to distinguish him by means of this (sidereal) configuration itself. But Corona nevertheless is plotted against, and forcibly drawn away by another beast, a smaller Dragon, which is the offspring of him who is guarded by the foot [299] of Engonasis. A man also stands firmly grasping with both hands, and dragging towards the space behind the Serpent from Corona; and he does not permit the Beast to touch Corona. though making a violent effort to do so. And Aratus styles him Anguitenens, because he restrains the impetuosity of the Serpent in his attempt to reach Corona. But Logos, he says, is he who, in the figure of a man, hinders the Beast from reaching Corona, commiserating him who is being plotted against by the Dragon and his offspring simultaneously.

These (constellations), "The Bears," however, he says, are two hebdomads, composed of seven stars, images of two creations. For the first creation, he affirms, is that according to Adam in labours, this is he who is seen "on his knees" (Engonasis). The second creation, however, is that according to Christ, by which we are regenerated; and this is Anguitenens, who struggles against the Beast, and hinders him from reaching Corona, which is reserved for the man. But "The Great Bear" is, he says, Helice, [300] symbol of a mighty world towards which the Greeks steer their course, that is, for which they are being disciplined. And, wafted by the waves of life, they follow onwards, (having in prospect) some such revolving world or discipline or wisdom which conducts those back that follow in pursuit of such a world. For the term Helice seems to signify a certain circling and revolution towards the same points. There is likewise a certain other "Small Bear" (Cynosuris), as it were some image of the second creation -- that formed according to God. For few, he says, there are that journey by the narrow path. [301] But they assert that Cynosuris is narrow, towards which Aratus [302] says that the Sidonians navigate. But Aratus has spoken partly of the Sidonians, (but means) the Phoenicians, on account of the existence of the admirable wisdom of the Phoenicians. The Greeks, however, assert that they are Phoenicians, who have migrated from (the shores of) the Red Sea into this country where they even at present dwell, for this is the opinion of Herodotus. [303] Now Cynosura, he says, is this (lesser) Bear, the second creation; the one of limited dimensions, the narrow way, and not Helice. For he does not lead them back, but guides forward by a straight path, those that follow him being (the tail) of Canis. For Canis is the Logos, [304] partly guarding and preserving the flock, that is plotted against by the wolves; and partly like a dog, hunting the beasts from the creation, and destroying them; and partly producing all things, and being what they express by the name "Cyon" (Canis), that is, generator. Hence it is said, Aratus has spoken of the rising of Canis, expressing himself thus: "When, however, Canis has risen, no longer do the crops miss." This is what he says: Plants that have been put into the earth up to the period of Canis' rising, frequently, though not having struck root, are yet covered with a profusion of leaves, and afford indications to spectators that they will be productive, and that they appear full of life, (though in reality) not having vitality in themselves from the root. But when the rising of Canis takes place, the living are separated from the dead by Canis; for whatsoever plants have not taken root, really undergo putrefaction. This Canis, therefore, he says, as being a certain divine Logos, has been appointed judge of quick and dead. And as (the influence of) Canis is observable in the vegetable productions of this world, so in plants of celestial growth -- in men -- is beheld the (power of the) Logos. From some such cause, then, Cynosura, the second creation, is set in the firmament as an image of a creation by the Logos. The Dragon, however, in the centre reclines between the two creations, preventing a transition of whatever things are from the great creation to the small creation; and in guarding those that are fixed in the (great) creation, as for instance Engonasis, observing (at the same time) how and in what manner each is constituted in the small creation. And (the Dragon) himself is watched at the head, he says, by Anguitenens. This image, he affirms, is fixed in heaven, being a certain wisdom to those capable of discerning it. If, however, this is obscure, by means of some other image, he says the creation teaches (men) to philosophize, in regard to which Aratus has expressed himself thus: --

"Neither of Cepheus Iasidas are we the wretched brood." [305]


[297] "Pierced it through," i.e., bored the holes for the strings, or, in other words, constructed the instrument. The Latin version in Buhle's edition of Aratus is ad cunam (cunabulam) compegit, i.e., he fastened the strings into the shell of the tortoise near his bed. The tortoise is mentioned by Aratus in the first part of the line, which fact removes the obscurity of the passage as quoted by Hippolytus. The general tradition corresponds with this, in representing Mercury on the shores of the Nile forming a lyre out of a dried tortoise. The word translated bed might be also rendered fan, which was used as a cradle, its size and construction being suitable. [See note, p. 46, infra.]

[298] Arat., Phænom., v. 268.

[299] Or, "son of" (see Arat., Phænom., v. 70).

[300] The Abbe Cruice considers that these interpretations, as well as what follows, are taken not from a Greek writer, but a Jewish heretic. No Greek, he supposes, would write, as is stated lower down, that the Greeks were a Phoenician colony. The Jewish heresies were impregnated by these silly doctrines about the stars (see Epiphan., Adv. Hæres., lib. i. De Pharisæis).

[301] Reference is here made to Matthew 7:14.

[302] Arat., Phænom., v. 44.

[303] Herod., Hist., i. 1.

[304] Or, "for creation is the Logos" (see Arat., Phænom., v. 332 et seq.).

[305] Arat., Phænom., v. 179.

chapter xlvii opinions of the heretics
Top of Page
Top of Page