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Three Millennia of Greek Literature


Gregory of Nyssa Bilingual Anthology


from the Great Catechism, * Ch. 6, translated by W. Moore & H. A. Wilson * Greek Fonts ||| Gregory of Nyssa Home Page


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Page 4

But the question, how one who had been created for no evil purpose by Him who framed the system of the Universe in goodness fell away, nevertheless, into this passion of envy, it is not a part of my present business minutely to discuss; though it would not be difficult, and it would not take long, to offer an account to those who are amenable to persuasion. For the distinctive difference between virtue and vice is not to be contemplated as that between two actually subsisting phenomena; but as there is a logical opposition between that which is and that which is not, and it is not possible to say that, as regards subsistency, that which is not is distinguished from that which is, but we say that nonentity is only logically opposed to entity, in the same way also the word vice is opposed to the word virtue, not as being any existence in itself, but only as becoming thinkable by the absence of the better. As we say that blindness is logically opposed to sight, not that blindness has of itself a natural existence, being only a deprivation of a preceding faculty, so also we say that vice is to be regarded as the deprivation of goodness, just as a shadow which supervenes at the passage of the solar ray.

τὸ δ΄ ὅπως ἐπὶ τὸ πάθος κατερρύη τοῦ φθόνου ὁ ἐπὶ μηδενὶ κακῷ κτισθεὶς παρὰ τοῦ τὸ πᾶν ἐν ἀγαθότητι συστησαμένου͵ τὸ μὲν δι΄ ἀκριβείας ἐπεξιέναι οὐ τῆς παρούσης πραγματείας ἐστί͵ δυνατὸν δ΄ ἂν εἴη καὶ δι΄ ὀλίγου τοῖς εὐπειθεστέροις παραθέσθαι τὸν λόγον. τῆς γὰρ ἀρετῆς καὶ τῆς κακίας οὐχ ὡς δύο τινῶν καθ΄ ὑπόστασιν φαινομένων ἡ ἀντιδιαστολὴ θεωρεῖται· ἀλλ΄ ὥσπερ ἀντιδιαιρεῖται τῷ ὄντι τὸ μὴ ὂν καὶ οὐκ ἔστι καθ΄ ὑπόστασιν εἰπεῖν τὸ μὴ ὂν ἀντιδιαστέλλεσθαι πρὸς τὸ ὄν͵ ἀλλὰ τὴν ἀνυπαρξίαν ἀντιδιαιρεῖσθαι λέγομεν πρὸς τὴν ὕπαρξιν͵ κατὰ τὸν αὐτὸν τρόπον καὶ ἡ κακία τῷ τῆς ἀρετῆς ἀντικαθέστηκε λόγῳ͵ οὐ καθ΄ ἑαυτήν τις οὖσα͵ ἀλλὰ τῇ ἀπουσίᾳ νοουμένη τοῦ κρείττονος· καὶ ὥσπερ φαμὲν ἀντιδιαιρεῖσθαι τῇ ὁράσει τὴν πήρωσιν͵ οὐ καθ΄ ἑαυτὴν οὖσαν τῇ φύσει τὴν πήρωσιν͵ ἀλλὰ προλαβούσης ἕξεως στέρησιν͵ οὕτω καὶ τὴν κακίαν ἐν τῇ τοῦ ἀγαθοῦ στερήσει θεωρεῖσθαι λέγομεν͵ οἷόν τινα σκιὰν τῇ ἀναχωρήσει τῆς ἀκτῖνος ἐπισυμβαίνουσαν.

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