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Three Millennia of Greek Literature
Physis : World Creation  

Gregory of Nyssa : THE MAKING OF MAN

That the Construction of Man Throughout Signifies His Ruling Power

Patrologia Graeca 44.136  * Greek Fonts


OR as in our own life artificers fashion a tool in the way suitable to its use, so the best Artificer made our nature as it were a formation fit for the exercise of royalty, preparing it at once by superior advantages of soul, and by the very form of the body, to be such as to be adapted for royalty: for the soul immediately shows its royal and exalted character, far removed as it is from the lowliness of private station, in that it owns no lord, and is self-governed, swayed autocratically by its own will; for to whom else does this belong than to a king? And further, besides these facts, the fact that it is the image of that Nature which rules over all means nothing else than this, that our nature was created to be royal from the first. For as, in men's ordinary use, those who make images of princes both mould the figure of their form, and represent along with this the royal rank by the vesture of purple, and even the likeness is commonly spoken of as "a king," so the human nature also, as it was made to rule the rest, was, by its likeness to the King of all, made as it were a living image, partaking with the archetype both in rank and in name, not vested in purple, nor giving indication of its rank by sceptre and diadem (for the archetype itself is not arrayed with these), but instead of the purple robe, clothed in virtue, which is in truth the most royal of all raiment, and in place of the sceptre, leaning on the bliss of immortality, and instead of the royal diadem, decked with the crown of righteousness; so that it is shown to be perfectly like to the beauty of its archetype in all that belongs to the dignity of royalty.

Ὅτι διὰ πάντων ἐπισημαίνει τὴν ἀρχικὴν ἐξουσίαν ἡ τοῦ ἀνθρώπου κατασκευή

Καθάπερ γὰρ ἐν τῷ βίῳ τούτῳ καταλλήλως τῇ χρείᾳ σχηματίζεται παρὰ τῶν τεχνιτευόντων τὸ ὄργανον· οὕτως οἷόν τι σκεῦος εἰς βασιλείας ἐνέργειαν ἐπιτήδειον τὴν ἡμετέραν φύσιν ὁ ἀριστοτέχνης ἐδημιούργησε͵ τοῖς τε κατὰ τὴν ψυχὴν προτερήμασι καὶ αὐτῷ τῷ τοῦ σώματος σχήματι τοιοῦτον εἶναι παρασκευάσας͵ οἷον ἐπιτηδείως πρὸς βασιλείαν ἔχειν. Ἡ μὲν γὰρ ψυχὴ τὸ βασιλικόν τε καὶ ἐπηρμένον αὐτόθεν δείκνυσι πόῤῥω τῆς ἰδιωτικῆς ταπεινότητος κεχωρισμένον͵ ἐκ τοῦ ἀδέσποτον αὐτὴν εἶναι καὶ αὐτεξούσιον͵ ἰδίοις θελήμασιν αὐτοκρατορικῶς διοικουμένην. Τίνος γὰρ ἄλλον τοῦτο καὶ οὐχὶ βασιλέως ἐστίν; Καὶ ἔτι πρὸς τούτοις͵ τὸ τῆς δυναστευούσης τῶν πάντων φύσεως εἰκόνα γενέσθαι͵ οὐδὲν ἕτερόν ἐστιν ἢ εὐθὺς βασιλίδα δημιουργηθῆναι τὴν φύσιν. Ὥσπερ γὰρ κατὰ τὴν ἀνθρωπίνην συνήθειαν οἱ τὰς εἰκόνας τῶν κρατούντων κατασκευάζοντες͵ τόν τε χαρακτῆρα τῆς μορφῆς ἀναμάσσονται καὶ τῇ περιβολῇ τῆς πορφυρίδος τὴν βασιλικὴν ἀξίαν συμπαραγράφουσι͵ καὶ λέγεται κατὰ συνήθειαν καὶ ἡ εἰκὼν βασιλεύς, οὕτω καὶ ἡ ἀνθρωπίνη φύσις͵ ἐπειδὴ πρὸς τὴν ἀρχὴν ἄλλων κατεσκευάζετο͵ διὰ τῆς πρὸς τὸν βασιλέα τοῦ παντὸς ὁμοιότητος͵ οἷόν τις ἔμψυχος εἰκὼν ἀνεστάθη͵ κοινωνοῦσα τῷ ἀρχετύπῳ καὶ τῆς ἀξίας καὶ τοῦ ὀνόματος· οὐ πορφυρίδα περικειμένη͵ οὐδὲ σκήπτρῳ καὶ διαδήματι τὴν ἀξίαν ἐπισημαίνουσα (οὐδὲ γὰρ τὸ ἀρχέτυπον ἐν τούτοις ἐστὶν)͵ ἀλλ' ἀντὶ μὲν τῆς ἁλουργίδος τὴν ἀρετὴν ἠμφιεσμένη͵ ὃ δὴ πάντων βασιλικώτατον ἐσθημάτων ἐστίν· ἀντὶ δὲ τοῦ σκήπτρου τῇ μακαριότητι τῆς ἀθανασίας ἐρειδομένη· ἀντὶ δὲ τοῦ βασιλικοῦ διαδήματος τῷ τῆς δικαιοσύνης στεφάνῳ κεκοσμημένη͵ ὥστε διὰ πάντων ἐν τῷ τῆς βασιλείας ἀξιώματι δείκνυσθαι δι' ἀκριβείας πρὸς τὸ ἀρχέτυπον κάλλος ὁμοιωθεῖσαν.

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

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