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paraphrase_of_book_1 [2019/03/09 16:56]
cassiusamicus
paraphrase_of_book_1 [2019/03/09 17:06]
cassiusamicus
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 [63] For indeed there was a time when mankind was held in wretched bondage, and lay groveling on the ground before all eyes, galled with the yoke of what is called Religion. From the sky this tyrant shewed her head, and with grim looks hung over us poor mortals here below; until a man from Greece with steady eyes first dared to look her in the face, and first opposed her power. This man was not held back by the stories of the Gods, by the roar of thunder, or by threatening storms – all these simply spurred him on as he pressed forward to be the first to break through the gates separating men from Nature. By force of mind he prevailed, passing far beyond the flaming limits of this world and exploring the mighty spaces above; from which he then came back to us triumphant, to tell us what things can be, and what cannot be, and how a finite power gives rise to each, with a limit it cannot break. By this man's victory Religion, which we feared before, has now been subdued, and in turn we tread upon it. Through His conquest we ourselves can rise to the skies. [63] For indeed there was a time when mankind was held in wretched bondage, and lay groveling on the ground before all eyes, galled with the yoke of what is called Religion. From the sky this tyrant shewed her head, and with grim looks hung over us poor mortals here below; until a man from Greece with steady eyes first dared to look her in the face, and first opposed her power. This man was not held back by the stories of the Gods, by the roar of thunder, or by threatening storms – all these simply spurred him on as he pressed forward to be the first to break through the gates separating men from Nature. By force of mind he prevailed, passing far beyond the flaming limits of this world and exploring the mighty spaces above; from which he then came back to us triumphant, to tell us what things can be, and what cannot be, and how a finite power gives rise to each, with a limit it cannot break. By this man's victory Religion, which we feared before, has now been subdued, and in turn we tread upon it. Through His conquest we ourselves can rise to the skies.
  
-[80] But as we proceed, I am concerned that you will think that we are studying things that are impious, and following a road to wickedness. The truth is very far from this and in fact the reverse ​-- think about what  sad deeds Religion has produced. ​ Remember, for example, the story of Iphigenia at Aulis. ​ Remember how it was that, inspired by the Grecian priests, her own father sacrificed her on the altar for a supposed blessing of fair winds for his ships! Such are the scenes of villainy that Religion inspires!+[80] But as we proceed, I am concerned that you will think that we are studying things that are impious, and following a road to wickedness. The truth is very far from this and in fact the reverse ​– think about what sad deeds Religion has produced. Remember, for example, the story of Iphigenia at Aulis. Remember how it was that, inspired by the Grecian priests, her own father sacrificed her on the altar for a supposed blessing of fair winds for his ships! Such are the scenes of villainy that Religion inspires!
  
-[103] I also want to caution those of you who will be tempted to dispute what I tell you because you are afraid, having spent your lives trembling at the horrible threats of spending an eternity in Hell for impiety. ​ Even now we could talk about such dreams as would pervert even the most steady of reasoning, and cause your hearts to tremble to the bottom in fear. But think - it is no wonder that the priests have invented such tales of punishment, because they know that if you were ever convinced that death is the sure end of all your pains, you would then resist with reason the force of all Religion, and ignore their threats. As it is, because we fear their stories of endless torment after death, we have no power to fight back against their threats.+[103] I also want to caution those of you who will be tempted to dispute what I tell you because you are afraid, having spent your lives trembling at the horrible threats of spending an eternity in Hell for impiety. Even now we could talk about such dreams as would pervert even the most steady of reasoning, and cause your hearts to tremble to the bottom in fear. But think - it is no wonder that the priests have invented such tales of punishment, because they know that if you were ever convinced that death is the sure end of all your pains, you would then resist with reason the force of all Religion, and ignore their threats. As it is, because we fear their stories of endless torment after death, we have no power to fight back against their threats.
  
-[113] And yet the nature of the soul we know not, whether formed with the body, or at the birth infused; ​and then, by death cut offshe perishes as bodies do; or whether ​she descends ​to the dark caves and dreadful lakes of Hell; or, after death, inspired with heavenly Instinct, she retires into the Brutes, as our great Ennius ​sung, who first a crown of laurels ever green brought down from Helicon; which gained him fame through all the Italian CoastsAnd yet this man, in never-dying numbers, describes the stately Palaces of Acheron, ​where nor our souls or bodies ever come, but certain spectres strange and wonderous pale; from whence he tells how Homer’s ever celebrated shade appeared, and how his eyes began to flow with briny tears, as in immortal verse he sung of Nature and her secret laws.+[113] The problem is that we are confused about the nature of the soul whether ​it is formed with the body at birthand then perishes with the body at death, or whether ​it survives death to descend into Hell, as poets such as Ennius ​have taughtPoets such has he have told tales in immortal poems about places ​where souls wander for eternity ​in never-ending pain.
  
-[126] Whereforeshall not only accurately write of things ​aboveas how the Sun and Moon their courses ​runand by what power beings ​in Earth and Heaven ​are formed, ​but chiefly search with nicest care into the soul and what her Nature is. What ‘tis that meets our wakeful eyesand frights the mind; and how, by sickness or by sleep oppressed, ​we think we see, or hear the voice of those who died long since, whose mould’ring bones rot in the cold embraces of the grave.+[126] So in order to set you straight about all these thingswe shall study together the nature ​of all things, ​the forces by which the Sun and Moon run their courses ​in the sky, by what power all things ​in Earth and Heaven ​were formed.  But even more importantlywe will study together ​the nature of the human soul, and how we see some things around us clearlybut how we also sometimes ​think we see other things which scare useven such things as ghosts ​of people ​who we know are long dead.
  
-[137] I know ‘tis ​hard to explain in Latin verse the dark and mystic notions of the Greeks, (for I have things to say require new words) because the tongue is poorthe subject new. But your virtue, and the pleasures I expect ​from tender friendship, makes me bear the toil, and spend the silent night with wakeful eyes, studious of words and numbers I shall use, to open your minds such scenes of lightwhich shew the hidden qualities of things unknown.+[137] It is hard to explain ​all these details ​in words, ​but with patience, friends, and with the pleasure we will get from our study togetherwe can work through all these issues ​and open our minds to scenes of light which will open up to us the hidden qualities of things ​previously ​unknown.
  
 [145] These terrors of the mind, this darkness then, not the Sun’s beams, nor the bright rays of day, can e’er dispel, but Nature’s light and reason; Whose first of principles shall be my guide: Nothing was by the Gods of nothing made. For hence it is that fear disturbs the mind, that strange events in Earth and Heaven are seen, whose causes cannot appear by reason’s eye, and then we say they were from Powers Divine. But when we rest convinced that nothing can arise from nothing, then the way is clear to our pursuit; we distinctly see whence every thing comes into being, and how things are formed without the help and trouble of the Gods. [145] These terrors of the mind, this darkness then, not the Sun’s beams, nor the bright rays of day, can e’er dispel, but Nature’s light and reason; Whose first of principles shall be my guide: Nothing was by the Gods of nothing made. For hence it is that fear disturbs the mind, that strange events in Earth and Heaven are seen, whose causes cannot appear by reason’s eye, and then we say they were from Powers Divine. But when we rest convinced that nothing can arise from nothing, then the way is clear to our pursuit; we distinctly see whence every thing comes into being, and how things are formed without the help and trouble of the Gods.
paraphrase_of_book_1.txt · Last modified: 2019/03/09 17:12 by cassiusamicus