Christian Platonism

Rediscovering Ancient Wisdom

Epilogue – Philo on the Strange Woman of the Old Testament

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Here is Philo’s practical suggestion for responding to the lure of the strange woman.

Philo – On the Giants (De Gigantibus) 10.43-44

(43) Now it is well not to desert the ranks of God, in which it follows inevitably that all who are arrayed must be most excellent, and it would be shameful to quit those ranks, to fly to unmanly and effeminate pleasure, which injures its friends and benefits its enemies, for its nature is a very singular one; for all those to whom it chooses to give a share of its special advantages, it at once chastises and injures; and those whom it thinks fit to deprive of its good things, it benefits in the greatest possible degree, for it injures them when it gives, but it benefits them when it takes away.

(44) If therefore, O my soul, any one of the temptations of pleasure invites you, turn yourself away, and directing your views towards another point, look at the genuine beauty of virtue, and having surveyed it, remain, until a desire for it has sunk into you, and draws you to it, like a magnet, and immediately leads you and attaches you to that which has become the object of your desire.

Philo Judaeus. De gigantibus

43. καλὸν δὲ μὴ λιποτακτῆσαι μὲν τῆς τοῦ θεοῦ τάξεως, ἐν ᾗ τοὺς τεταγμένους πάντας ἀριστεύειν ἀνάγκη, αὐτομολῆσαι δὲ πρὸς τὴν ἄνανδρον καὶ κεκλασμένην ἡδονήν, ἣ βλάπτει μὲν τοὺς φίλους, ὠφελεῖ δὲ τοὺς ἐχθρούς. καινοτάτη γάρ τις αὐτῆς ἡ φύσις· οἷς μὲν ἂν ἐθελήσῃ τῶν ἰδίων ἀγαθῶν μεταδοῦναι, τούτους εὐθὺς ἐζημίωσεν, οὓς δ’ ἂν ἀφελέσθαι, τὰ μέγιστα ὤνησε· βλάπτει μὲν γὰρ ὅταν διδῷ, χαρίζεται δὲ ὅταν ἀφαιρῆται.

44. ἐὰν οὖν, ὦ ψυχή, προσκαλῆταί σέ τι τῶν ἡδονῆς φίλτρων, μετάκλινε σεαυτὴν καὶ ἀντιπεριάγουσα τὴν ὄψιν κάτιδε τὸ γνήσιον ἀρετῆς κάλλος καὶ ὁρῶσα ἐπίμεινον, ἄχρις ἂν ἵμερος ἐντακῇ σοι καὶ ὡς σιδηρῖτις λίθος ἐπισπάσηταί σε καὶ ἐγγὺς ἀγάγῃ καὶ ἐξαρτήσῃ τοῦ ποθουμένου.

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Written by John Uebersax

March 6, 2010 at 7:24 am

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