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Three Millennia of Greek Literature
Physis : World Creation  

Gregory of Nyssa : THE MAKING OF MAN

Α Partial Inquiry into the Nature of the World, and a More Minute Exposition of the Things Which Preceded the Genesis of Man

Patrologia Graeca 44.127-132  * Greek Fonts


REGORY, Bishop of Nyssa, to his Brother Peter, The Servant of God.

If we had to honour with rewards of money those who excel in virtue, the whole world of money, as Solomon says , would seem but small to be made equal to your virtue in the balance. Since, however, the debt of gratitude due to your Reverence is greater than can be valued in money, and the holy Eastertide demands the accustomed gift of love, we offer to your greatness of mind, O man of God, a gift too small indeed to be worthy of presentation to you, yet not falling short of the extent of our power. The gift is a discourse, like a mean garment, woven not without toil from our poor wit, and the subject of the discourse, while it will perhaps be generally thought audacious, yet seemed not unfitting. For he alone has worthily considered the creation of God who truly was created after God, and whose soul was fashioned in the image of Him Who created him,-Basil, our common father and teacher,-who by his own speculation made the sublime ordering of the universe generally intelligible, making the world as established by God in the true Wisdom known to those who by means of his understanding are led to such contemplation: but we, who fall short even of worthily admiring him, yet intend to add to the great writer's speculations that which is lacking in them, not so as to interpolate his work by insertion (for it is not to be thought of that that lofty mouth should suffer the insult of being given as authority for our discourses), but so that the glory of the teacher may not seem to be failing among his disciples.

Τῷ ἀδελφῷ δούλῳ Θεοῦ Πέτρῳ Γρηγόριος ἐπίσκοπος Νύσσης.

Εἰ ταῖς διὰ τῶν χρημάτων τιμαῖς ἔδει γεραίρειν τοὺς κατ' ἀρετὴν διαφέροντας͵ μικρὸς ἄν͵ καθώς φησιν ὁ Σολομών͵ ὅλος ὁ κόσμος τῶν χρημάτων ἐφάνη πρὸς τὸ γενέσθαι τῆς σῆς ἀρετῆς ἰσοστάσιος· ἐπειδὴ κρεῖττον ἢ κατὰ πλούτου τιμὴν ἡ χρεωστουμένη τῇ σεμνότητί σου χάρις ἐστίν. Ἀπαιτεῖ δὲ τὸ ἅγιον Πάσχα τὴν συνήθη τῆς ἀγάπης δωροφορίαν͵ ἣν προσάγομέν σου τῇ μεγαλοφροσύνῃ͵ δῶρον͵ ὧν ἄνθρωπε Θεοῦ͵ μικρότερον μὲν ἢ ὡς ἄξιον εἶναί σοι προσκομίζεσθαι͵ τῆς γε μὴν δυνάμεως ἡμῶν οὐκ ἐνδεέστερον. Τὸ δὲ δῶρον λόγος ἐστίν͵ οἷον ἱμάτιόν τι πενιχρὸν ἐκ τῆς πτωχῆς ἡμῶν διανοίας οὐκ ἀπόνως ἐξυφασμένον. Ἡ δὲ τοῦ λόγου ὑπόθεσις τολμηρὰ μὲν ἴσως τοῖς πολλοῖς εἶναι δόξει͵ πλὴν οὐκ ἔξω τοῦ πρέποντος ἐνομίσθη. Μόνος γὰρ ἀξίως τὴν κτίσιν τοῦ Θεοῦ κατενόησεν͵ ὁ κατὰ Θεὸν κτισθεὶς ὄντως καὶ ἐν εἰκόνι τοῦ κτίσαντος τὴν ψυχὴν μεμορφωμένος Βασίλειος͵ ὁ κοινὸς ἡμῶν πατὴρ καὶ διδάσκαλος͵ ὃς τὴν ὑψηλὴν τοῦ παντὸς διακόσμησιν εὔληπτον τοῖς πολλοῖς διὰ τῆς ἰδίας θεωρίας ἐποίησε͵ καὶ τὸν ἐν τῇ ἀληθινῇ σοφίᾳ παρὰ τοῦ Θεοῦ συστάντα κόσμον γνώριμον τοῖς διὰ τῆς συνέσεως αὐτοῦ τῇ θεωρίᾳ προσαγομένοις ποιήσας. Ἡμεῖς δὲ καὶ τοῦ θαυμάζειν αὐτὸν κατ' ἀξίαν ἐνδεῶς ἔχοντες͵ ὁμοῦ τὸ λεῖπον τοῖς τεθεωρημένοις τῷ μεγάλῳ προσθεῖναι διενοήθημεν͵ οὐχ ὡς νοθεύοντες δι' ὑποβολῆς τὸν ἐκείνου πόνον (οὐδὲ γὰρ θέμις τὸ ὑψηλὸν ἐκεῖνο καθυβρισθῆναι στόμα τοῖς ἡμετέροις ἐπιφημιζόμενον λόγοις)͵ ἀλλ' ὡς μὴ δοκεῖν ἐλλιπῆ τοῦ διδασκάλου τὴν δόξαν ἐν τοῖς μαθηταῖς αὐτοῦ εἶναι.

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Cf. St Basil the Great, On the Creation of the World (Hexaemeron)

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