Porphyry Ad Gaurum in Festugiere’s translation

The volume of Festugiere, La Revelation d’Hermes Trismegiste III, which contains a French version of Porphyry Ad Gaurum, has arrived!  My local library is open late on Tuesdays, and I drove into town and collected it. 

All I’ve read so far is the opening portion of the prologue, in which Porphyry argues that unborn children and newborn babies are properly vegetables in nature, rather than living sentient beings.  I fear we all know what motive lies behind such an argument — a defence, against Christian criticism, of the evil pagan practices of procuring abortion and infanticide.    Dehumanising those whom we propose to treat in an inhumane manner is a standard method whereby men who are set on evil deeds attempt to quiet their consciences.

Still, it should make for an interesting read.  There is no English translation.  Festugiere’s translation is clear and accessible.  I may run it over into English.  First I need to explore the volume a  bit  more, and see what else he says about it. 

It also contains a translation of Iamblichus On the Soul, a work about which I know nothing.  Iamblichus was the he-witch who successfully played on the gullibility of Julian the Apostate and lured him to practice theurgy, or so I believe we are told by Libanius.


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