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Origen, ON THE PRINCIPLES (PERI ARCHON - DE PRINCIPIIS), Second Part, Complete

Translated by Frederick Crombie.

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This Part: 128 Pages


Page 16

Chapter I.--On the Freedom of the Will. [2275]

1. Some such opinions, we believe, ought to be entertained regarding the divine promises, when we direct our understanding to the contemplation of that eternal and infinite world, and gaze on its ineffable joy and blessedness. But as the preaching of the Church includes a belief in a future and just judgment of God, which belief incites and persuades men to a good and virtuous life, and to an avoidance of sin by all possible means; and as by this it is undoubtedly indicated that it is within our own power to devote ourselves either to a life that is worthy of praise, or to one that is worthy of censure, I therefore deem it necessary to say a few words regarding the freedom of the will, seeing that this topic has been treated by very many writers in no mean style. And that we may ascertain more easily what is the freedom of the will, let us inquire into the nature of will and of desire. [2276]

2. Of all things which move, some have the cause of their motion within themselves, others receive it from without: and all those things only are moved from without which are without life, as stones, and pieces of wood, and whatever things are of such a nature as to be held together by the constitution of their matter alone, or of their bodily substance. [2277] That view must indeed be dismissed which would regard the dissolution of bodies by corruption as motion, for it has no bearing upon our present purpose. Others, again, have the cause of motion in themselves, as animals, or trees, and all things which are held together by natural life or soul; among which some think ought to be classed the veins of metals. Fire, also, is supposed to be the cause of its own motion, and perhaps also springs of water. And of those things which have the causes of their motion in themselves, some are said to be moved out of themselves, others by themselves. And they so distinguish them, because those things are moved out of themselves which are alive indeed, but have no soul; [2278] whereas those things which have a soul are moved by themselves, when a phantasy, [2279] i.e., a desire or incitement, is presented to them, which excites them to move towards something. Finally, in certain things endowed with a soul, there is such a phantasy, i.e., a will or feeling, [2280] as by a kind of natural instinct calls them forth, and arouses them to orderly and regular motion; as we see to be the case with spiders, which are stirred up in a most orderly manner by a phantasy, i.e., a sort of wish and desire for weaving, to undertake the production of a web, some natural movement undoubtedly calling forth the effort to work of this kind. Nor is this very insect found to possess any other feeling than the natural desire of weaving; as in like manner bees also exhibit a desire to form honeycombs, and to collect, as they say, aerial honey. [2281]

[2275] The whole of this chapter has been preserved in the original Greek, which is literally translated, so that the differences between Origen's own words and amplifications and alterations of the paraphrase of Rufinus may be at once patent to the reader. [Skip, or Open a new window to the translation from the Greek original]

[2276] Natura ipsius arbitrii voluntatisque.

[2277] Quaecunque hujusmodi sunt, quae solo habitu materiae suae vel corporum constant.

[2278] Non tamen animantia sunt.

[2279] Phantasia.

[2280] Voluntas vel sensus.

[2281] Mella, ut aiunt, aeria congregandi. Rufinus seems to have read, in the original, aeroplastein instead of keroplastein,--an evidence that he followed in general the worst readings (Redepenning).

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