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Three Millennia of Greek Literature

St Basil the Great HEXAEMERON, Complete

Translated by Bl. Jackson.

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80 Pages (Homilies: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9)

Page 32

Homily IV

Upon the gathering together of the waters.

1. There are towns where the inhabitants, from dawn to eve, feast their eyes on the tricks of innumerable conjurors. They are never tired of hearing dissolute songs which cause much impurity to spring up in their souls, and they are often called happy, because they neglect the cares of business and trades useful to life, and pass the time, which is assigned to them on this earth, in idleness and pleasure. They do not know that a theatre full of impure sights is, for those who sit there, a common school of vice; that these melodious and meretricious songs insinuate themselves into men's souls, and all who hear them, eager to imitate the notes [1520] of harpers and pipers, are filled with filthiness. [1521] Some others, who are wild after horses, think they are backing their horses in their dreams; they harness their chariots, change their drivers, and even in sleep are not free from the folly of the day. [1522] And shall we, whom the Lord, the great worker of marvels, calls to the contemplation of His own works, tire of looking at them, or be slow to hear the words of the Holy Spirit? Shall we not rather stand around the vast and varied workshop of divine creation and, carried back in mind to the times of old, shall we not view all the order of creation? Heaven, poised like a dome, to quote the words of the prophet; [1523] earth, this immense mass which rests upon itself; the air around it, of a soft and fluid nature, a true and continual nourishment for all who breathe it, of such tenuity that it yields and opens at the least movement of the body, opposing no resistance to our motions, while, in a moment, it streams back to its place, behind those who cleave it; water, finally, that supplies drink for man, or may be designed for our other needs, and the marvellous gathering together of it into definite places which have been assigned to it: such is the spectacle which the words which I have just read will show you.

[1520] krouma, properly "beat," "stroke," is used of the blow of the plectrum on the string, and hence of the note produced.

[1521] cf. Plato, Rep. iii. 18, ad init., and his reference to the malthakos aichmetes of Homer, Il. xvii. 586. The same subject is treated of the Laws ii. S: 3 and 5 and vii.

[1522] cf. Ar., Nub. 16, oneiropolei hippous and 27, oneiropolei kai katheudon hippiken. So Claudian, De vi. Cons. Hon. 1, sq.: Omnia quae sensu volvuntur vota diurno, Pectore sopito reddit amica quies. Venator defessa toro cum membra reponit, Mens tamen ad sylvas et sua lustra redit. Judicibus lites, aurigae somnia currus, Vanaque nocturnis meta cavetur equis.

[1523] Isa. xl. 22, LXX.

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