Reference address :

ELPENOR - Home of the Greek Word

Three Millennia of Greek Literature
Physis : World Creation  

Gregory of Nyssa : THE MAKING OF MAN

To Those Who Say that Souls Existed Before Bodies, or that Bodies Were Formed Before Souls; Wherein There is Also a Refutation of the Fables Concerning Transmigration of Souls

Patrologia Graeca 44.229-233  * Greek Fonts


Page 3

And of such absurdity the cause is this-the supposition of the pre-existence of souls for the first principle of such doctrine leads on the argument by consequence to the next and adjacent stage, until it astonishes us by reaching this point. For if the soul, being severed from the more exalted state by some wickedness after having once, as they say, tasted corporeal life, again becomes a man, and if the life in the flesh is, as may be presumed, acknowledged to be, in comparison with the eternal and incorporeal life, more subject to passion, it naturally follows that that which comes to be in a life such as to contain more occasions of sin, is both placed in a region of greater wickedness and rendered more subject to passion than before (now passion in the human soul is a conformity to the likeness of the irrational); and that being brought into close connection with this, it descends to the brute nature: and that when it has once set out on its way through wickedness, it does not cease its advance towards evil even when found in an irrational condition: for a halt in evil is the beginning of the impulse towards virtue, and in irrational creatures virtue does not exist. Thus it will of necessity be continually changed for the worse, always proceeding to what is more degraded and always finding out what is worse than the nature in which it is: and just as the sensible nature is lower than the rational, so too there is a descent from this to the insensible.

Τῆς δὲ τοιαύτης ἀτοπίας αὕτη ἐστὶν ἡ αἰτία͵ τὸ προϋφεστάναι τὰς ψυχὰς οἴεσθαι. Δι' ἀκολούθου γὰρ ἡ ἀρχὴ τοῦ τοιούτου δόγματος ἐπὶ τὸ προσεχές τε καὶ παρακείμενον τὸν λόγον προάγουσα͵ μέχρι τούτου τερατευομένη διέξεισιν. Εἰ γὰρ διά τινος κακίας ἀποσπασθεῖσα τῆς ὑψηλοτέρας ἡ ψυχὴ πολιτείας͵ μετὰ τὸ (καθώς φασιν) ἅπαξ γεύσασθαι τοῦ σωματικοῦ βίου͵ πάλιν ἄνθρωπος γίνεται͵ ἐμπαθέστερος δὲ πάντως ὁ ἐν σαρκὶ βίος ὁμολογεῖται παρὰ τὸν ἀΐδιον καὶ ἀσώματον, ἀνάγκη πᾶσα τὴν ἐν τῷ τοιούτῳ γινομένην βίῳ͵ ἐν ᾧ πλείους αἱ πρὸς τὸ ἁμαρτάνειν εἰσὶν ἀφορμαί͵ ἐν πλείονί τε κακίᾳ γενέσθαι καὶ ἐμπαθέστερον ἢ πρότερον διατεθῆναι· ἀνθρωπίνης δὲ ψυχῆς πάθος ἡ πρὸς τὸ ἄλογόν ἐστιν ὁμοίωσις, τούτῳ δὲ προσοικειωθεῖσαν αὐτήν͵ εἰς κτηνώδη φύσιν μεταῤῥυῆναι· ἅπαξ δὲ διὰ κακίας ὁδεύουσαν͵ μηδὲ ἐν ἀλόγῳ γενομένην τῆς ἐπὶ τὸ κακὸν προόδου λῆξαί ποτε. Ἡ γὰρ τοῦ κακοῦ στάσις ἀρχὴ τῆς κατ' ἀρετήν ἐστιν ὁρμῆς· ἀρετὴ δὲ ἐν ἀλόγοις οὐκ ἔστιν. Οὐκοῦν ἀεὶ πρὸς τὸ χεῖρον ἐξ ἀνάγκης ἀλλοιωθήσεται͵ πάντοτε πρὸς τὸ ἀτιμότερον προϊοῦσα καὶ ἀεὶ τὸ χεῖρον τῆς ἐν ᾗ ἐστι φύσεως ἐξευρίσκουσα. Ὥσπερ δὲ τοῦ λογικοῦ τὸ αἰσθητὸν ὑποβέβηκεν͵ οὕτω καὶ ἀπὸ τούτου ἐπὶ τὸ ἀναίσθητον ἡ μετάπτωσις γίνεται.

Previous / First / Next Page of this chapter

Previous chapter  *  Index  *  Next chapter

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

Septuagint Genesis Septuagint Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomomy Septuagint Psalms Septuagint Job, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs, Wisdom, Sirach Septuagint Isaiah, Jeremiah, Baruch, Lamentations, Ezekiel, Daniel Septuagint Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi The Authentic Greek New Testament Bilingual New Testament I

Gregory of Nyssa Home Page


Learned Freeware

Reference address :