Book 3, 68, (189), tr. C.D. Jonge


 Philo Judaeus, miniature, 9th cent. Greek codex 
of works of St. John Damascene.
MS Gr. 923 fol. 310v

Legum allegoriarum libri 1-3 Philonis Alexandrini opera quae supersunt, vol. 1, ed. L.Cohn,  (Reimer ,Berlin, 1896; De Gruyter, Berlin, 1962 pp. 61-169

Here Philo is providing a symbolic explanation of the Greek texts of Genesis 3:15, concerning the serpent and Eve. In Philo's Septuagint version the text reads: “He shall watch your head, and you shall watch his heel,”

BUT the words, “shall watch,” intimate two things: in the first place it means as it were “shall keep,” and “shall preserve.” And, in the second place, it is equivalent to “shall watch for the purpose of destroying.” Now it is inevitable that the mind must be either bad or good. Now, if it be bad, it would be but a foolish guardian and dispenser of pleasure, for it rejoices in it. 3.189.1τὸ δὲ τηρήσει δύο δηλοῖ· ἓν μὲν τὸ οἷον διαφυλάξει καὶ διασώσει͵ ἕτερον δὲ τὸ ἴσον τῷ ἐπιτηρήσει πρὸς ἀναίρεσιν. ἀνάγκη δὲ τὸν νοῦν ἢ φαῦλον ἢ σπουδαῖον εἶναι· ὁ μὲν οὖν ἄφρων φύλαξ καὶ ταμίας ἂν γένοιτο τῆς ἡδονῆς͵ χαίρει γὰρ αὐτῇ͵
BUT the good man is an enemy to it, expecting that, when he once attacks it, he will be able utterly to destroy it. And, indeed, on the other hand, pleasure watches the footsteps of the foolish man, but endeavors to trip up and undermine the standing ground of the wise man, thinking that he is always meditating its destruction; but that the fool is always considering the means by which its safety may be best secured. (190) ὁ δὲ σπουδαῖος ἐχθρός͵ καραδοκῶν ὅτε ἐπιθέμενος ἰσχύσει καθελεῖν αὐτὴν εἰσάπαν. καὶ μὴν ἔμπαλιν ἡ ἡδονὴ τοῦ μὲν ἄφρονος διατηρεῖ τὴν ἐπίβασιν͵ τοῦ δὲ σοφοῦ λύειν καὶ ἀναιρεῖν ἐπιχειρεῖ τὴν ἔνστασιν͵ ἡγουμένη τὸν μὲν κατάλυσιν αὐτῆς μελετᾶν͵ τὸν δ΄ ἄφρονα δι΄ ὧν μάλιστα 3.190  σωθήσεται.
BUT, nevertheless, though pleasure appears to trip up and to deceive the good man, it will in reality be tripped up itself by that experienced (ēskēkotos = trained) wrestler, Jacob; and that, too, not in the wrestling of the body, but in that struggle which the soul carries on against the dispositions which are antagonistic to it, and which attack it through the agency of thepassions and vices; and it will not let go the heel of its antagonist, passion, before it surrenders, and confesses that it has been twice tripped up and defeated, both in the matter of the birthright, and also in that of the blessing ἀλλ΄ ὅμως πτερνίζειν δοκοῦσα καὶ ἀπατᾶν τὸν ἀστεῖον αὐτὴ πτερνισθήσεται πρὸς τοῦ πάλην ἠσκηκότος Ἰακώβ πάλην δ΄ οὐ τὴν σώματος ἀλλ΄ ἣν παλαίει ψυχὴ πρὸς τοὺς ἀνταγωνιστὰς τρόπους αὐτῆς πάθεσι καὶ κακίαις μαχομένη· καὶ οὐ πρότερον ἀνή σει πτέρναν τοῦ ἀνταγωνιστοῦ πάθους͵ πρὶν ἀπειπεῖν αὐτὸ καὶ ὁμολογῆσαι͵ ὅτι ἐπτέρνισται καὶ νενίκηται δίς͵ ἔν τε τοῖς πρωτοτοκίοις καὶ 3.191 ἐν τῷ εὐλογιστεῖν.


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