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MACCABEES IV - APPENDIX / ΜΑΚΑΒΑΙΩΝ Δ - ΠΑΡΑΡΤΗΜΑ

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1 Whence it is, that even boys, imbued with the philosophy of religious reasoning, have conquered still more bitter tortures: 2 for when the tyrant was manifestly vanquished in his first attempt, in being unable to force the old man to eat the unclean thing, then, indeed, vehemently swayed with passion, he commanded to bring others of the adult Hebrews, and if they would eat of the unclean thing, to let them go when they had eaten; but if they objected, to torment them more grievously. 3 The tyrant having given this charge, seven brethren were brought into his presence, along with their aged mother, handsome, and modest, and well-born, and altogether comely. 4 Whom, when the tyrant beheld, encircling their mother as in a dance, he was pleased at them; and being struck with their becoming and ingenuous mien, smiled upon them, and calling them near, said: 5 O youths, with favourable feelings, I admire the beauty of each of you; and greatly honouring so numerous a band of brethren, I not only counsel you not to share the madness of the old man who has been tortured before, but I do beg you to yield, and to enjoy my friendship; 6 for I possess the power, not only of punishing those who disobey my commands, but of doing good to those who obey them. 7 Put confidence in me, then, and you shall receive places of authority in my government, if you forsake your national ordinance, 8 and, conforming to the Greek mode of life, alter your rule, and revel in youth’s delights. 9 For if you provoke me by your disobedience, you will compel me to destroy you, every one, with terrible punishments by tortures. 10 Have mercy, then, upon your own selves, whom I, although an enemy, compassionate for your age and comeliness. 11 Will you not reason upon this--that if you disobey, there will be nothing left for you but to die in tortures? 12 Thus speaking, he ordered the instruments of torture to be brought forward, that very fear might prevail upon them to eat unclean meat. 13 And when the spearman brought forward the wheels, and the racks, and the hooks, and catapeltae, and caldrons, pans, and finger-racks, and iron hands and wedges, and bellows, the tyrant continue: 14 Fear, young men, and the righteousness which ye worship will be merciful to you if you err from compulsion. 15 Now they having listened to these words of persuasion, and seeing the fearful instruments, not only were not afraid, but even answered the arguments of the tyrant, and through their good reasoning destroyed his power. 16 Now let us consider the matter: had any of them been weak-spirited and cowardly among them, what reasonings would they have employed but these? 17 O wretched that we are, and exceeding senseless! when the king exhorts us, and calls us to his bounty, should we not obey him? 18 Why do we cheer ourselves with vain counsels, and venture upon a disobedience bringing death? 19 Shall we not fear, O brethren, the instruments of torture and weigh the threatenings of torment and shun this vain-glory and destructive pride? 20 Let us have compassion upon our age and relent over the years of our mother. 21 And let us bear in mind that we shall be dying as rebels. 22 And Divine Justice will pardon us if we fear the king through necessity. 23 Why withdraw ourselves from a most sweet life, and deprive ourselves of this pleasant world? 24 Let us not oppose necessity, nor seek vain-glory by our own excruciation. 25 The law itself is not forward to put us to death, if we dread torture. 26 Whence has such angry zeal taken root in us, and such fatal obstinacy approved itself to us, when we might live unmolested by the king? 27 But nothing of this kind did the young men say or think when about to be tortured. 28 For they were well aware of the sufferings, and masters of the pains. 29 So that as soon as the tyrant had ceased counseling them to eat the unclean, they altogether with one voice, as from the same heart said: Διὰ τοῦτό γέ τοι καὶ μειρακίσκοι τῷ τῆς εὐσεβείας λογισμῷ φιλοσοφοῦντες χαλεπωτέρων βασανιστηρίων ἐπεκράτησαν. 2 ἐπειδὴ γὰρ κατά τὴν πρώτην πεῖραν ἐνικήθη περιφανῶς ὁ τύραννος μὴ δυνηθεὶς ἀναγκάσαι γέροντα μιαροφαγῆσαι, τότε δὴ σφόδρα περιπαθῶς ἐκέλευσεν ἄλλους ἐκ τῆς ἡλικίας τῶν ῾Εβραίων ἀγαγεῖν, καὶ εἰ μὲν μιαροφαγήσαιεν, ἀπολύειν φαγόντας, εἰ δὲ ἀντιλέγοιεν, πικρότερον βασανίζειν. 3 ταῦτα διαταξαμένου τοῦ τυράννου, παρῆσαν ἀγόμενοι μετὰ γηραιᾶς μητρὸς ἑπτὰ ἀδελφοί, καλοί τε καὶ αἰδήμονες καὶ γενναῖοι καὶ ἐν παντὶ χαρίεντες. 4 οὓς ἰδὼν ὁ τύραννος καθάπερ ἐν χορῷ περιέχοντας μέσην τὴν μητέρα, ἥσθη ἐπ’ αὐτοῖς καὶ τῆς εὐπρεπείας ἐκπλαγεὶς καὶ τῆς εὐγενείας, προσεμειδίασεν αὐτοῖς καὶ πλησίον καλέσας ἔφη. 5 ὦ νεανίαι, φιλοφρόνως ἐγὼ καθ’ ἑνὸς ἑκάστου ὑμῶν θαυμάζω, τὸ κάλλος καὶ τὸ πλῆθος τοσούτων ἀδελφῶν ὑπερτιμῶν, οὐ μόνον συμβουλεύω μὴ μανῆναι τὴν αὐτὴν τῷ προβασανισθέντι γέροντι μανίαν, ἀλλὰ καὶ παρακαλῶ συνείξαντάς μου τῇ συμβουλίᾳ τῆς ἐμῆς ἀπολαῦσαι φιλίας· 6 δυναίμην δ’ ἂν ὥσπερ κολάζειν τοὺς ἀπειθοῦντάς μου τοῖς ἐπιτάγμασιν, οὕτως καὶ εὐεργετεῖν τοὺς εὐπειθοῦντάς μοι. 7 πεισθέντες οὖν μοι καὶ ἀρχὰς καὶ ἐπὶ τῶν ἐμῶν πραγμάτων ἡγεμονίας λήψεσθε, ἀρνησάμενοι τὸν πάτριον ὑμῶν τῆς πολιτείας θεσμόν· 8 καὶ μεταλαβόντες ἑλληνικοῦ βίου καὶ μεταδιαιτηθέντες ἐντρυφήσατε ταῖς νεότησιν ὑμῶν· 9 ἐπεὶ ἐὰν ὀργίλως με διάθησθε διὰ τῆς ἀπειθείας ὑμῶν, ἀναγκάσετέ με ἐπὶ δειναῖς κολάσεσιν ἕνα ἕκαστον ὑμῶν διὰ τῶν βασάνων ἀπολέσαι. 10 κατελεήσατε οὖν ἑαυτούς, οὓς καὶ ὁ πολέμιος ἔγωγε καὶ τῆς ἡλικίας καὶ τῆς εὐμορφίας οἰκτείρομαι. 11 οὐ διαλογιεῖσθε τοῦτο, ὅτι οὐδὲν ὑμῖν ἀπειθήσασι πλὴν τοῦ μετὰ στρεβλῶν ἀποθανεῖν ἀπόκειται; - 12 Ταῦτα δὲ λέγων ἐκέλευσεν εἰς τὸ ἔμπροσθεν προτεθεῖναι τὰ βασανιστήρια, ὅπως καὶ διὰ τοῦ φόβου πείσειεν αὐτοὺς μιαροφαγῆσαι. 13 ὡς δὲ τροχούς τε καὶ ἀρθρέμβολα, στρεβλωτήριά τε καὶ τροχαντῆρας καὶ καταπέλτας καὶ λέβητας, τήγανά τε καὶ δακτυλήθρας καὶ χεῖρας σιδηρᾶς καὶ σφῆνας καὶ τὰ ζώπυρα τοῦ πυρὸς οἱ δορυφόροι προέθεσαν, ὑπολαβὼν ὁ τύραννος ἔφη· 14 μειράκια φοβήθητε, καὶ ἣν σέβεσθε δίκην, ἵλεως ὑμῖν ἔσται δι’ ἀνάγκην παρανομήσασιν. 15 οἱ δὲ ἀκούσαντες ἐπαγωγὰ καὶ ὁρῶντες δεινά, οὐ μόνον οὐκ ἐφοβήθησαν, ἀλλὰ καὶ ἀντεφιλοσόφησαν τῷ τυράννῳ καὶ διὰ τῆς εὐλογιστίας τὴν τυραννίδα αὐτοῦ κατέλυσαν. 16 καί τοι λογισώμεθα· εἰ δειλόψυχοί τινες ἦσαν καὶ ἄνανδροι ἐν αὐτοῖς, ποίοις ἂν ἐχρήσαντο λόγοις; οὐχὶ τούτοις; 17 ᾦ τάλανες ἡμεῖς καὶ λίαν ἀνόητοι· βασιλέως ἡμᾶς παρακαλοῦντος καὶ ἐπὶ εὐεργεσίᾳ φωνοῦντος, μὴ πεισθείημεν αὐτῷ, 18 εἰ βουλήμασι κενοῖς ἑαυτοὺς εὐφραίνομεν καὶ θανατηφόρον ἀπείθειαν τολμῶμεν; 19 οὐ φοβησόμεθα, ἄνδρες ἀδελφοί, τὰ βασανιστήρια καὶ λογιούμεθα τὰς τῶν βασάνων ἀπειλὰς καὶ φευξόμεθα τὴν κενοδοξίαν ταύτην καὶ ὀλεθροφόρον ἀλαζονείαν; 20 ἐλεήσωμεν τὰς ἑαυτῶν ἡλικίας καὶ κατοικτείρωμεν τὸ τῆς μητρὸς γῆρας 21 καὶ ἐνθυμηθῶμεν ὅτι ἀπειθοῦντες τεθνηξόμεθα. 22 συγγνώσεται δὲ ἡμῖν καὶ ἡ θεία δίκη δι’ ἀνάγκην τὸν βασιλέα φοβηθεῖσιν. 23 τί ἐξάγομεν ἑαυτοὺς τοῦ ἡδίστου βίου καὶ ἐπιστεροῦμεν ἑαυτοὺς τοῦ γλυκέος κόσμου; 24 μὴ βιαζώμεθα τὴν ἀνάγκην μηδὲ φιλοδοξήσωμεν ἐπὶ τῇ ἑαυτῶν στρέβλῃ. 25 οὐδὲ αὐτὸς ὁ νόμος ἀκουσίως ἡμᾶς θανατοῖ φοβηθέντας τὰ βασανιστήρια. 26 πόθεν ἡμῖν ἡ τοσαύτη ἐντέτηκε φιλονικία καὶ ἡ θανατηφόρος ἀρέσκει καρτερία, παρὸν μετὰ ἀταραξίας ζῆν τῷ βασιλεῖ πεισθέντας; 27 ἀλλὰ τούτων οὐδὲν εἶπον οἱ νεανίαι βασανίζεσθαι μέλλοντες οὐδὲ ἐνεθυμήθησαν. 28 ἦσαν γὰρ περίφρονες τῶν παθῶν καὶ αὐτοκράτορες τῶν ἀλγηδόνων, 29 ὥστε ἅμα τῷ παύσασθαι τὸν τύραννον συμβουλεύοντα αὐτοῖς τοῦ μιαροφαγῆσαι, πάντες διὰ μιᾶς φωνῆς ὁμοῦ, ὥσπερ ἀπὸ τῆς αὐτῆς ψυχῆς εἶπον πρὸς αὐτόν.

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