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THE stories told by the ancients concerning Cupid, or Love, cannot all apply to the same person; and indeed they themselves make mention of two Cupids, very widely differing from one another; one being said to be the oldest, the other the youngest of the gods. It is of the elder that I am now going to speak. They say then that this Love was the most ancient of all the gods, and therefore of all things else, except Chaos, which they hold to be coeval with him. He is without any parent of his own; but himself united with Chaos begat the gods and all things. By some however it is reported that he came of an egg that was laid by Nox. Various attributes are assigned to him: as that he is always an infant, blind, naked, winged, and an archer. But his principal and peculiar power is exercised in uniting bodies; the keys likewise of the air, earth, and sea were entrusted to him. Another younger Cupid, the son of Venus, is also spoken of, to whom the attributes of the elder are transferred, and many added of his own.

This fable, with the following one respecting Colum, seems to set forth in the small compass of a parable a doctrine concerning the principles of things and the origins of the world, not differing in much from the philosophy which Democritus held, excepting that it appears to be somewhat more severe, sober, and pure. For the speculations of that philosopher, acute and diligent as he was, could not rest nor keep within bounds, nor put a sufficient check and control over themselves. And even the opinions which are veiled in the parable, though somewhat more correct, are yet no better

than such as proceed from the intellect left to itself and not resting constantly on experience and advancing step by step; a fault to which I suppose the primitive ages were likewise subject. It must be understood however in the first place, that the things here brought forward are drawn and concluded from the authority of human reason alone, according to the belief of the sense, whose expiring and failing oracles are deservedly rejected since a better and more certain light has been shed upon us from divine revelation. This Chaos then, which was contemporary with Cupid, signified the rude mass or congregation of matter. But matter itself, and the force and nature thereof, the principles of things in short, were shadowed in Cupid himself. He is introduced without a parent, that is to say, without a cause; for the cause is as the parent of the effect; and it is a familiar and almost continual figure of speech to denote cause and effect as parent and child. Now of this primary matter and the proper virtue and action thereof there can be no cause in nature (for we always except God), for nothing was before it. Therefore there was no efficient cause of it, nor anything more original in nature; consequently neither genus nor form. Wherefore whatsoever this matter and its power and operation be, it is a thing positive and inexplicable, and must be taken absolutely as it is found, and not to be judged by any previous conception. For if the manner could be known, yet it cannot be known by cause, seeing that next to God it is the cause of causes, itself only without a cause. For there is a true and certain limit of causes in nature; and it is as unskilful and superficial a part to require or imagine a cause when we come to the ultimate force and positive law of nature, as not to look for a cause in things subordinate. And hence Cupid is represented by the ancient sages in the parable as without a parent, that is to say, without a cause,—an observation of no small significance; nay, I know not whether it be not the greatest thing of all. For nothing has corrupted philosophy so much as this seeking after the parents of Cupid; that is, that philosophers have not taken the principles of things as they are found in nature, and accepted them as a positive doctrine, resting on the faith of experience; but they have rather deduced them from the laws of disputation, the petty conclusions of logic and mathematics, common motions, and such wanderings of the mind beyond the

limits of nature. Therefore a philosopher should be continually reminding himself that Cupid has no parents, lest his understanding turn aside to unrealities; because the human mind runs off in these universal conceptions, abuses both itself and the nature of things, and struggling towards that which is far off, falls back on that which is close at hand. For since the mind, by reason of its narrowness, is commonly most moved by things of familiar occurrence and which may enter and strike it directly and at once, it comes to pass that when it has advanced to those things which are most universal in experience, and yet cannot be content to rest in them, that then, as if striving after things still more original, it turns to those by which itself has been most affected or ensnared, and fancies these to be more causative and demonstrative than those universals themselves.

primitive essence, force and How it proceeded, having Now the manner is itself

It has been said then that the desire of things has no cause. no cause, is now to be considered. also very obscure: and of this we are warned by the parable, where Cupid is elegantly feigned to come of an egg which was laid by Nox. Certainly the divine philosopher declares that "God hath made everything beautiful in its season, also he hath given the world to their disputes; yet so that man cannot find out the work that God worketh from the beginning to the end." 1 For the summary law of being and nature, which penetrates and runs through the vicissitudes of things (the same which is described in the phrase, "the work which God worketh from the beginning to the end "), that is, the force implanted by God in these first particles, from the multiplication whereof all the variety of things proceeds and is made up, is a thing which the thoughts of man may offer at but can hardly take in. Now that point concerning the egg of Nox bears a most apt reference to the demonstrations by which this Cupid is brought to light. For things concluded by affirmatives may be considered as the offspring of light; whereas those concluded by negatives and exclusions are extorted and educed as it were out of darkness and night. Now this Cupid is truly an egg hatched by Nox; for all the knowledge of him which is to be had proceeds by exclusions and negatives: and proof made by exclusion is a kind of ignorance, and as it were night, with regard to the thing

1 Eccles. iii. 11.

included. Whence Democritus excellently affirmed that atoms or seeds, and the virtue thereof, were unlike anything that could fall under the senses; but distinguished them as being of a perfectly dark and hidden nature; saying of themselves, "that they resembled neither fire nor anything else that could be felt or touched ;" and of their virtue, "that in the generation of things the first beginnings must needs have a dark and hidden nature, lest something should rise up to resist and oppose them." 99 2 Atoms therefore are neither like sparks of fire, nor drops of water, nor bubbles of air, nor grains of dust, nor particles of spirit or ether. Neither is their power and form heavy or light, hot or cold, dense or rare, hard or soft, such as those qualities appear in greater bodies; since these and others of the kind are results of composition and combination. And in like manner the natural motion of the atom is not that motion of descent which is called natural, nor the one contrary to it (that of percussion), nor the motion of expansion and contraction, nor the motion of impulse and connection, nor the motion of rotation of the celestial bodies, nor any of the other motions of large bodies simply. Notwithstanding in the body of the atom are the elements of all bodies, and in the motion and virtue of the atom are the beginnings of all motions and virtues. But yet on this point, namely, the motion of the atom compared with the motion of larger bodies, the philosophy of the parable seems to differ from that of Democritus. For Democritus is found to be not only at variance with the parable, but inconsistent and almost in contradiction with himself in that which he says further on this point. For he should have attributed to the atom a heterogeneous motion, as well as a heterogeneous body and a heterogeneous virtue; whereas, out of the motions of the larger bodies, he has selected two motions; namely, the descent of heavy things and the ascent of light (which latter he explained as the effect of force or percussion of the heavier driving the less heavy upwards), and ascribed them as primitive

Lucret. i. 688.:

2 Id. i. 779.:

Neque sunt igni simulata, neque ulli
Præterea rei quæ corpora mittere possit
Sensibus, et nostros adjectu tangere tactus.

At primordia gignundis in rebus oportet
Naturam clandestinam cæcamque adhibere,
Emineat ne quid, quod contra pugnet et obstet.

motions to the atom. The parable on the contrary preserves the heterogeneity and exclusion throughout, both in substance and motion. But it further intimates, that there is some end and limit to these exclusions; for Nox does not sit for ever. And certainly it is the prerogative of God alone, that when his nature is inquired of by the sense, exclusions shall not end in affirmations. But here the case is different; and the result is, that after due exclusions and negations something is affirmed and determined, and an egg laid, as it were, after a proper course of incubation; and not only that Nox lays her egg, but that from this egg is hatched the person of Cupid: that is to say, not only is some notion of the thing educed and extracted out of ignorance, but a distinct and definite notion. With regard then to the kind of demonstrations which are possible concerning primary matter, this is what I conceive to be most in accordance with the meaning of the parable. Let us now proceed to Cupid himself, that is, primary matter, together with its properties, which are surrounded by so dark a night; and see what light the parable throws upon this. Now I am well aware that opinions of this kind sound harsh and almost incredible to the senses and thoughts of men. As we see it has been tried and proved in this very philosophy of Democritus respecting atoms, which, because it penetrated somewhat more sharply and deeply into nature and was further removed from common ideas, was treated as childish by the vulgar; and was moreover by the disputes of other philosophies more adapted to their capacity blown about and almost extinguished. And yet this man was much admired in his day', and was called Pentathlus from the variety of his knowledge, and by consent of all was esteemed the greatest physical philosopher, so that he obtained also the surname of Magus. Nor could either the battles and contests of Aristotle (who after the Ottoman fashion felt insecure about his own kingdom of philosophy till he had slain his brethren; and who was likewise anxious, as appears from his own words, that posterity should doubt about nothing), or the majesty and solemnity of Plato, so far prevail-the one by violence, the other by reverence-as to obliterate entirely this philosophy of Democritus. But while that of Plato and Aristotle was noised and celebrated in the schools amid the din and

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