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Physis : World Creation  

Gregory of Nyssa : THE MAKING OF MAN

That Man is a Likeness of the Divine Sovereignty

Patrologia Graeca 44.137  * Greek Fonts


T is true, indeed, that the Divine beauty is not adorned with any shape or endowment of form, by any beauty of colour, but is contemplated as excellence in unspeakable bliss. As then painters transfer human forms to their pictures by the means of certain colours, laying on their copy the proper and corresponding tints, so that the beauty of the original may be accurately transferred to the likeness, so I would have you understand that our Maker also, painting the portrait to resemble His own beauty, by the addition of virtues, as it were with colours, shows in us His own sovereignty: and manifold and varied are the tints, so to say, by which His true form is portrayed: not red, or white , or the blending of these, whatever it may be called, nor a touch of black that paints the eyebrow and the eye, and shades, by some combination, the depressions in the figure, and all such arts which the hands of painters contrive, but instead of these, purity, freedom from passion, blessedness, alienation from all evil, and all those attributes of the like kind which help to form in men the likeness of God: with such hues as these did the Maker of His own image mark our nature.


Ὅτι ὁμοίωμα τῆς θείας βασιλείας ὁ ἄνθρωπος

Τὸ δὲ θεῖον κάλλος οὐ σχήματί τινι καὶ μορφῆς εὐμοιρίᾳ διά τινος εὐχροίας ἀγλαΐζεται͵ ἀλλ' ἐν ἀφράστῳ μακαριότητι κατ' ἀρετὴν θεωρεῖται. Ὥσπερ τοίνυν τὰς ἀνθρωπίνας μορφὰς διὰ χρωμάτων τινῶν ἐπὶ τοὺς πίνακας οἱ γραφεῖς μεταφέρουσι͵ τὰς οἰκείας τε καὶ καταλλήλους βαφὰς ἀπαλείφοντες τῷ μιμήματι͵ ὡς ἂν δι' ἀκριβείας τὸ ἀρχέτυπον κάλλος μετενεχθείη πρὸς τὸ ὁμοίωμα· οὕτω μοι νόει καὶ τὸν ἡμέτερον πλάστην͵ οἷόν τισι βαφαῖς τῇ τῶν ἀρετῶν ἐπιβολῇ πρὸς τὸ ἴδιον κάλλος τὴν εἰκόνα περιανθίσαντα͵ ἐν ἡμῖν δεῖξαι τὴν ἰδίαν ἀρχήν. Πολυειδῆ δὲ καὶ ποικίλα τὰ οἱονεὶ χρώματα τῆς εἰκόνος͵ δι' ὧν ἡ ἀληθινὴ ἀναζωγραφεῖται μορφὴ͵ οὐκ ἐρύθρημα καὶ λαμπρότης͵ καὶ ἡ ποιὰ τούτων πρὸς ἄλληλα μίξις͵ οὐδέ τινος μέλανος ὑπογραφὴ ὀφρύν τε καὶ ὀφθαλμοὺς ὑπαλείφουσα καὶ κατά τινα κρᾶσιν τὰ κοῖλα τοῦ χαρακτῆρος ὑποσκιάζουσα καὶ ὅσα τοιαῦτα ζωγράφων χεῖρες ἐπετεχνήσαντο, ἀλλ' ἀντὶ τούτων καθαρότης͵ ἀπάθεια͵ μακαριότης͵ κακοῦ παντὸς ἀλλοτρίωσις͵ καὶ ὅσα τοῦ τοιούτου γένους ἐστί͵ δι' ὧν μορφοῦται τοῖς ἀνθρώποις ἡ πρὸς τὸ Θεῖον ὁμοίωσις. Τοιούτοις ἄνθεσιν ὁ δημιουργὸς τῆς ἰδίας εἰκόνος τὴν ἡμετέραν διεχάραξε φύσιν.

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

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