Demonax | Hellenic Library
Buy me a cup of coffee
When, accordingly, we had joined their company and seated ourselves among them and Demetrius had laid the subject before them, up sprang at once the Cynic Didymus, by nickname Planetiades, and, striking the ground two or three times with his staff, cried out, “Aha! a difficult matter to decide and one requiring much investigation is that which you have come bringing to us! It is indeed a wonder, when so much wickedness has been disseminated upon earth that not only Modesty and Righteous Indignation, as Hesiod said long ago, have deserted the life of mankind, but that Divine Providence also has gathered up its oracles and departed from every place! Quite the contrary, I propose that you discuss how it happens that the oracle here has not also given out, and Heracles for a second time, or some other god, has not wrested away the tripod, which is constantly being occupied with shameful and impious questions which people propound to the god, some of whom try to make a test of him as though his wisdom were an affectation, while others put questions about treasures or inheritances or unlawful marriages; so Pythagoras is proved to be utterly wrong in asserting that men are at their best when they approach the gods. Thus those maladies and emotions of the soul which it would be good to disclaim and conceal in the presence of an older man, they bring naked and exposed before the god.”
He would have said more, but Heracleon seized hold of his cloak, and I, being about as intimate with him as anybody, said, “Cease provoking the god, my dear Planetiades; for he is of a good and mild disposition,
And towards mortal men he hath been judged the most gentle,
as Pindar says. And whether he be the sun or the lord and father of the sun and of all that lies beyond our vision, it is not likely that he should deny his utterance to people of the present day because of their unworthiness, when he is responsible for their birth and nurture and their existence and power to think; nor is it likely withal that Providence, like a benign and helpful mother, who does everything for us and watches over us, should cherish animosity in the matter of prophecy only, and take away that from us after having given it to us at the beginning, if the number of wicked men included among a larger population were not larger at that earlier time when the oracles were established in many places in the inhabited world! Come, sit down again and make a 'Pythian truce' with evil, which you are wont to chastise with words every day, and join us in seeking some other reason for what is spoken of as the obsolescence of oracles; but keep the god benign and provoke him not to wrath.”
What I had said was so far effective that Planetiades went out through the door without another word.