ORIGEN (c. 185-254)
BOOK 2.5


Origen, Commentary on the Song of Songs, Book 2.5 [ACW pp.128-139]  Origen, Commentarium in Canticum Canticorum , Origenes secundum translationem quam fecit Rufinus, ser. GCS ,Origines Werke, vol. 8  ed. W.A. Baehrens, (Leipzig, Hinrichs, 1925)   141-150.





` Unless thou know thyself, O good (or fair) one among women, go forth in the footsteps of the flocks, and feed thy goats among the shepherds’ tents.’ (1.8—Vg. 1.7)

 “Nisi cognoveris te, o bona” - sive “pulchra” - “inter mulieres, egredere tu in vestigiis gregum, et pasce haedos tuos in tabernaculis pastorum”.










The* admirable maxim Understand thyself’ or Know thyself’ is said to derive, among others, from one of the seven men whom popular opinion acclaims as having been of outstanding wisdom among the Greeks.111

 Unius ex septem, quos apud Graecos singulares in sapientia fuisse fama concelebrat, haec inter cetera mirabilis fertur esse sententia, qua ait: “scito te ipsum” vel “cognosce te ipsum”.

But Solomon who, as we saw in our Introduction, 112 anticipated all these sages in time and in wisdom and in the knowledge of things, says to the soul, as to a woman, and with the implication of a threat : ` Unless thou hast known thyself, O fair one among women, and hast recognized whence the ground of thy beauty proceeds—namely, that thou wast created in God’s Image,113 so that there is in thee an abundance of natural beauty; unless thou hast thus realized how fair thou wast in the beginning—though even now thou art superior to other women and art the only one of them to be called fair, unless thou hast in this wise known thyself for what thou art—for I would not have thy beauty to seem good by comparison with that of thine inferiors, but rather that thou form thy judgement of thyself by looking [p.129] squarely at thyself and thine own comeliness—sinless, I say, thou hast done this, I command thee to go forth and put thyself at the very back of the flocks, and no longer to feed sheep or lambs, but to feed goats, those creatures which, by reason of their wantonness and perversity, will be standing on the left hand of the King when He sits in judgement.114

Quod tamen Solomon, quem praecessisse omnes hos tempore et sapientia ac rerum scientia in praefatione nostra docuimus, ad animam quasi ad “mulierem” sub comminatione quadam loquens dicit: “nisi cognoveris temet ipsam, o pulchra inter mulieres”, et agnoveris pulchritudinis tuae causas inde descendere, quod “ad imaginem Dei facta es”, per quod inest tibi plurimum naturalis decoris, et agnoveris, quam pulchra eras ex initio, quamvis et nunc iam praecellas ceteras “mulieres” et “pulchra inter” eas sola dicaris, tamen “nisi te ipsam cognoveris”, quae sis - non enim ex comparatione inferiorum volo bonam videri pulchritudinem tuam, sed ex eo, ut tibi ipsi et decori tuo collata atque exaequata respondeas -, quod nisi feceris, iubeo te “exire” et “in” ultimis “gregum vestigiis” collocari et non iam oves neque agnos, sed “haedos pascere”, illos videlicet, qui pro pravitate et lascivia “a sinistris staturi sunt regis” iudicio praesidentis.

And though, when thou wast brought into the royal chamber, I may have shown thee things that are supremely good,115 if thou know not thyself, I shall show thee also things that are supremely bad, that thou mayest profit from them both, alike by terror of the evil as by desire for the good.

 Et cum tibi “introductae in cubiculum regium” ostenderim, quae summa sunt bona, “si non agnoveris temet ipsam”, ostendam tibi etiam, quae sint ultima mala, ut ex utroque proficias, tam malorum metu quam desiderio bonorum.

For, if thou hast not known thyself, and hast lived in ignorance thereof, not trying to acquire self-knowledge, thou shalt certainly not possess a tent of thine own, but shalt run about among the shepherds’ tents, and, in those now of one, now of another, thou shalt feed thy goats, those restless, straying creatures that are appointed for sins.116

 “Si” enim “nescieris temet ipsam” et in ignorantia tui vixeris nec scientiae studium gesseris, sine dubio nec tabernaculum proprium habebis, sed per “pastorum tabernacula” discurres et nunc in huius, nunc in illius “pastoris tabernaculis pasces haedos”, inquietum animal et vagum ac peccatis deputatum.

These things shalt thou endure till circumstances and experience teach thee how great an evil it is for the soul not to know herself, nor yet that beauty of hers by which she is superior not to other virgins, but to other women—those, namely, who have suffered corruption and have not kept their maidenhood intact.’

 Haec autem patieris, donec rebus ipsis et experimentis intelligas, quantum mali sit animam nescire semet ipsam neque pulchritudinem suam, per quam praecellit ceteras, non virgines, sed “mulieres”, illas scilicet, quae corruptionem passae sunt nec in virginitatis integritate permanserunt.

After all those sayings of the Bride, this is what the Bridegroom says at this point in the drama. He speaks with a certain sternness, as giving a warning, and turns the thoughts of the Bride to the care for self-knowledge. But [p.130] now let us do as we have done before, and apply these things to Christ and to the Church.’“

 Haec sunt, quae sponsus post illa omnia, quae locuta fuerat sponsa, austera quadam commonitione sponsae animos ad agnitionis suae curam suscitans per ordinem propositi dramatis dicit. Sed nunc consequenter, ut cetera, ad Christum haec et ad ecclesiam referamus,

In addressing these words to His Bride—that is, to the souls of believers, He makes the height of spiritual health and blessedness to consist in the knowledge and understanding of oneself. ‘18

qui ad sponsam suam, ad animas scilicet credentium, loquens summam salutis et beatitudinis in scientia <sui> et agnitione constituit.

I do not think it is possible to explain easily or briefly how a soul may know herself; but as far as we are able, we will try to elucidate a few points out of many.

 Quomodo igitur anima cognoscat semet ipsam”, nec facile puto nec breviter explicari posse; tamen pro viribus pauca ex multis aperire temptabimus.

It seems to me, then, that the soul ought to acquire self-knowledge of a twofold kind : she should know both what she is in herself, and how she is actuated; that is to say, she ought to know what she is like essentially, and what she is like according to her dispositions. She should know, for instance, whether she is of a good disposition or not, and whether or not she is upright in intention; and, if she is in fact of an upright intention, whether, in thought as in action, she has the same zeal for all virtues, or only for necessary things and those that are easy; furthermore, whether she is making progress, and gaining in understanding of things, and growing in the virtues; or whether perhaps she is standing still and resting on what she has been able to achieve thus far; and whether what she does serves only for her own improvement; or whether she can benefit others also, and give them anything of profit, either by the ‘word of teaching or by the example of her actions.

 Videtur ergo mihi duplici modo agnitionem sui capere animam debere, quid ve sit ipsa et qualiter moveatur, id est quid in substantia et quid in affectibus habeat; ut puta ut intelligat, si boni affectus sit aut non boni, et recti propositi aut non recti; et si quidem recti sit, si erga omnes virtutes eundem tenorem habeat, tam in intelligendo quam in agendo, an erga necessaria tantum et quae in promptu sunt; et utrum in eo sit, ut recipiat profectus et augeatur in intellectu rerum augmento que virtutum, an in eo stet et resideat, in quod potuit pervenire; et utrum erga semet ipsam tantummodo excolendam, an et aliis prodesse et conferre aliquid utilitatis vel in verbo doctrinae vel in exemplis gestorum potest.

If, on the other hand, she knows herself not to be of a good disposition nor upright in intention, let her in this [p.131] case find out whether she is greatly deficient and far from the path of virtue; or whether she has already been set in that same way, and is trying to follow it, desiring to apprehend the things that are before and to forget those that are behind,119 but has not yet drawn near or, if she have come near, at least has not as yet attained perfection.

 Si vero “cognoscat semet ipsam” non esse boni affectus neque recti propositi, in hoc ipso ut intelligat, utrum satis ei desit et procul a virtutum via sit, an in ipso iam posita sit itinere et incedere iam conetur cupiens “quae in ante sunt apprehendere et quae retro sunt oblivisci”, sed nondum approximaverit, aut proxima quidem sit, nondum tamen ad perfectionem venerit.

And the soul needs to know herself in another way—whether she does these evil deeds of hers intentionally and because she likes them; or whether it is through some weakness that, as the Apostle says,12° she works what she would not and does the things she hates, while on the contrary she seems to do good deeds with willingness and with direct intention.

 Sed et in eo opus videtur esse animae “cognoscentis semet ipsam”, si haec ipsa, quae operatur mala, ex affectu ea et studio operetur an fragilitate quadam, et, ut ille ait, quasi “quod non vult agens, et quae odit faciens”, et rursus ea, quae bona sunt, affectibus et recto proposito gerere videtur.

Does she, for example, control her anger with some people and let fly with others, or does she always control it, and never give way to it with anyone at all?

Verbi gratia, si iracundiam apud aliquos quidem cohibet, apud aliquos autem effert, an semper eam cohibet et apud nullum omnino profert.

So too with gloominess : does she conquer it in some cases, but give way to it in others, or does she never admit it at all?

 Similiter et tristitiam, si in aliquibus quidem negotiis vincit, in aliquibus vero recipit, an in omnibus omnino non recipit.

It is the same with fear, and all the other things that are patently opposed to the virtues.

 Ita et timorem alia que similiter, quae virtutibus videntur esse contraria.

And the soul who knows herself needs further to enquire whether she is greatly desirous of glory, or only slightly so, or not in the least..

 Adhuc et istud opus est animae “cognoscentis se”, si gloriae multum cupida sit aut parum aut omnino nihil.

She can tell that from her reactions to praise—if she is greatly delighted thereby, or only mildly so, or not in the least degree; and regarding reproaches—whether they sadden her much, or only a little, or not at all

 Quod inde colligit, si laudibus multum aut mediocriter delectetur aut omnino nihil, et si in opprobriis satis aut parum aut omnino nihil contristetur.

For the soul who knows herself, there are, moreover, certain indications in the manner of her giving and re-ceiving—whether she makes her offerings and bestows her [p.132]gifts in a spirit of sharing, and as one who likes her equity to be recognized among men; or whether she does so, as it is said, with sadness or of necessity,121 or at any rate as expecting requital from those who hear her or receive gifts from her.

 Sed et in dando et accipiendo animae “cognoscentis semet ipsam” sunt quaedam indicia, si quod tribuit et praebet, utrum communicabili affectu et quasi cui aequitatem haberi inter homines placeat, an, ut ille ait, “ex tristitia aut necessitate” vel certe gratiam sive ab accipientibus sive ab audientibus quaerens.

So also in the matter of receiving, the soul who knows herself will notice whether she cares nothing for the things that she receives, or whether she rejoices over them as over something good.

 Sed et in accipiendo anima, quae “cognoscit semet ipsam”, observabit, utrum indifferenter habeat ea, quae accipit, an velut super aliquo bono gaudeat.

Such a soul will take stock also of her mental processes, so as to find out whether she is easily moved by the hearing of some apparent truth and carried away by the skill and grace of its verbal presentation; or whether this seldom occurs or never at all.

 Sed et in intellectu perpensabit semet ipsam huiusmodi anima, ut cognoscat, utrum facile eam moveat cuiuscumque verisimilitudinis auditio et subripiatur ei arte vel suavitate vel calliditate sermonum an raro hoc an numquam omnino patiatur.

But we have said enough about that sort of knowledge.

 Sed sufficiant ista in hoc agnitionis genere a nobis dicta.

Anyone who so desires can think of a host of further ways like these, by which the soul may test her knowledge of herself and, contemplating the beauty which she received at her creation in God’s Image, may judge how it may be renewed and restored.

 Possibile est enim volenti ad horum similitudinem et alia innumera colligere, quibus “cognoscere semet ipsam” anima probetur et pulchritudinem suam, quam “ad imaginem Dei” in conditione suscepit, si reparare aut restituere potuerit, contemplari.

The passage before us, then, enjoins the soul, under the figure of a woman, that she should know herself. It says, ` Unless thou know thyself.’ That is to say : ` Unless thou hast guided thine inclinations along the several lines that we have just laid down, distinguishing in every case between what must be done and what must be avoided, between what thou lackest and what thou hast in full, what needs to be amended and what has to be preserved; and if, instead of doing this, thou hast without discrimination chosen to run with other souls on the common human [p.133] level—which souls here are called women—among whom thou art fair, because thou hast already not only received the kisses of the Word of God, but also hast beheld the secrets of His chamber : if, then, I say, thou hast not known thyself, but, making no distinction, hast preferred to live as do the common people, go forth, then, in the footsteps of the flocks.’ 122 That is to say : `If, after all these things that have been given thee, thou doest nothing of uncommon excellence, neither—since thou knowest not thyself—hast held aloof from the flock’s way of life, then be with the rest of the flock.

Hoc igitur est, quod praesens sermo sub specie “mulieris” animam docet, ut “cognoscat semet ipsam”, et ait: “nisi cognoveris temet ipsam”, hoc est nisi per haec singula, quae supra memoravimus, duxeris sensus tuos et discretionem singulorum tenueris, quae agenda sint, quae cavenda, quid desit tibi et quid abundet, quid emendandum sit quid ve servandum, sed si volueris indifferenter agere inter ceteras animas communis vitae hominum, quas hic “mulieres” appellat, “inter” quas tu “pulchra” es, utpote quae iam et “oscula” Verbi Dei susceperis et “cubilis” eius arcana perspexeris, “si” inquam “non te cognoveris”, sed indifferenter et ut communis vulgus agere volueris, “exi in vestigiis gregum”, id est esto in reliquo grege, si nihil egregium post haec omnia, quae in te collata sunt, agis neque “agnoscens temet ipsam” a conversatione gregali sequestraveris.

And thou shalt be not only with the flock, but “in the footsteps of the flocks”; he shall become the last and latest, who did not understand his own preeminence.’ 123

 Et eris non solum in grege, sed “in vestigiis gregum”; “ultimus” enim fiet et “novissimus”, qui primatus suos non intellexerit.

And for this reason, when a soul has thus neglected knowledge, she is bound to be carried about ivith every wind of doctrine 124 into the deception of errors, so that she pitches her tent now with one shepherd—that is, with one teacher of the Word—and now with another, and so she is carried hither and thither, tending not sheep, which are guileless creatures, but goats—that is, her wanton, restless, sinful inclinations; 125 for which purpose indeed she has sought these divers teachers. And this will be the punishment of the fault of the soul, who has not tried to know herself and to follow that Shepherd only who lays down His life for the sheep.126

 Et ob hoc iam ubi scientiam neglexerit, necesse est, ut “circumferatur omni vento doctrinae ad deceptionem errorum”, ita ut modo quidem apud illum “pastorem”, id est doctorem verbi, “tabernaculum” ponat, nunc vero apud alium; et sic ubique “circumfertur” “pascens” non oves, quod est animal simplex, sed “haedos”, lascivos scilicet et inquietos sensus atque ad peccatum deputatos, diversis doctoribus excolens ad hoc ipsum quaesitis; et haec erit poena culpae illius animae, quae “se ipsam” non studuerit “agnoscere” et illum solum sequi “pastorem”, qui “animam suam ponit pro ovibus suis”.

This is one way in which the soul ought to get knowledge of herself—namely, in her affections and actions.

 Haec est una species, qua “intelligere semet ipsam” anima in affectibus et actibus suis debeat.

The other way in which the soul who is beautiful among women is [p.134] bidden to know herself is more abstruse and more difficult.

 Illa vero alia pars profundior est et difficilior, qua iubetur anima, quae tamen “iam in mulieribus pulchra est, agnoscere semet ipsam”.

If she can achieve it, she may hope for all good things; if not, then let her know that she must go forth after the footsteps of the flocks, and feed goats in the tents of shepherds, who are strangers to her.

 Quod si obtinere potuerit, speret sibi bona omnia; si minus, sciat “exeundum sibi post vestigia gregum et pascendum haedos in tabernaculis pastorum” alienorum a se.

Let us then consider and, so far as we are able, embark on the discussion of this kind of knowledge too.

 Videamus ergo et incipiamus pro viribus etiam huius partis agnitionem discutere.

The Divine Word says by the mouth of the prophet : Kindle for yourselves the light of knowledge.127

 Dicit per prophetam sermo divinus: “illuminate vobis lumen scientiae”.

Now among spiritual gifts there is one that is indeed the greatest of them all, namely that word of knowledge which is imparted by the Holy Spirit; 128 and the primary object of that knowledge is that which Matthew’s Gospel puts in this way : No one has learnt (novit) the Son but the Father, neither hath anyone learnt (novit) the Father but the Son, and he to whom it shall please the Son to reveal Him.

 Sed et in donis spiritalibus unum et quidem maximum donum est, quod “per Spiritum sanctum ministratur, sermo scientiae”; cuius “scientiae” opus illud principale est, quod in Evangelio secundum Matthaeum quidem ita dicit: “nemo novit filium nisi pater, neque patrem quis novit nisi filius et cui voluerit filius revelare”.

But in Luke it runs thus : No one knoweth (scit) what the Son is but the Father, and no one knoweth (scit) what the Father is but the Son, and he to whom it shall please the Son to reveal Him

 In Luca autem ita ait: “nemo scit, quid sit filius, nisi pater, et nemo scit, quid sit pater, nisi filius et cui voluerit filius revelare”.

. And according to John we read : As the Father comprehendeth (cognoscit) me, even so do I know (agnosco) the Father.

Secundum Iohannem vero ita scriptum est: “sicut cognoscit me pater et ego agnosco patrem”.

But in the forty-fifth psalm the writer says : Be still, and know that I am God. 29

 In quadragesimo vero et quinto Psalmo dicit: “vacate, et cognoscite quoniam ego sum Deus”.

The supreme function of knowledge is, therefore, to know the Trinity; and, in the second place, to know God’s Creation, even as did he who said : For He hath given me the true knowledge of the things that are, the substance of the world and the virtue of the elements, the beginning and ending and midst of the times, etc.13°

 Igitur principale munus “scientiae” est “agnoscere” Trinitatem, secundo vero in loco “cognoscere” creaturam eius, secundum eum, qui dicebat: “ipse enim mihi dedit horum, quae sunt, scientiam veram, substantiam mundi et virtutem elementorum, initium et finem et medietatem temporum” et reliqua.

For the,soul, therefore, these things will include a certain self-perception, by which she ought to know how she is constituted in herself, whether her being is corporeal or incorporeal, and whether it is simple, or consists of two or three or several elements; 131

 Inter haec ergo erit animae quaedam etiam sui agnitio, per quam scire debet, quae sit eius substantia, utrum corporea an incorporea et utrum simplex an ex duobus vel tribus an vero ex pluribus composita.

also, as some would enquire, [p.135]whether the substance of the soul has been made, or has definitely not been made by anyone; and, if it has been made, how it was made; whether, as some opine, its substance is contained in the bodily seed and originates together with the first beginning of the body; or whether it is introduced from the outside into the womb of a woman, and there united, as a perfect thing, to the body already prepared and formed for it.132

 Sed et iuxta quorundam quaestiones utrum facta an omnino a nullo sit facta; et, si facta sit, quomodo facta sit, utrum, ut putant aliqui, in semine corporali etiam ipsius substantia continetur et origo eius pariter cum origine corporis traducitur, an perfecta extrinsecus veniens parato iam et formato intra viscera muliebria corpore induitur.

And, if this be the case, whether it comes as a new creation that has only just been made when the body is seen to have been formed; in which case we should adjudge the reason for its creation to be the need for furnishing the body with a soul; or whether we should think that, having been created some time earlier, it comes for some reason to assume a body.

 Et si ita sit, utrum nuper creata veniat et tunc primum facta, cum corpus videtur esse formatum, ut causa facturae eius animandi corporis necessitas exstitisse credatur, an prius et olim facta ob aliquam causam ad corpus sumendum venire aestimetur;

And, if it is believed to be thus drawn into the body for some cause, then the work of knowledge is to determine what that cause may be.

et si ex causa aliqua in hoc deduci creditur, quae illa sit causa, ut agnosci possit, “scientiae” opus est.

And there is the further question whether the soul puts on a body only once and, having laid it down, seeks for it no more; or whether, when it once has laid aside what it took, it takes it yet again; and, if it does so a second time, whether it keeps what it has taken always, or some day puts it off once more.

 Sed et illud requiritur, utrum semel tantum corpore induatur et id postmodum depositum ultra non quaerat, an cum semel susceptum deposuerit, iterum assumat; et si secundo, sumptum semper habeat an aliquando iterum abiciat.

But if, as the Scriptures lead us to think, the consummation of the world is near and this present state of corruption will be changed into one of incorruption,134 there seems no doubt that the soul cannot come to the body a second or third time under the conditions of this present life.

 Et si quidem secundum auctoritatem scripturarum consummatio immineat mundi et corruptibilis status hic in incorruptibilem commutabitur, ambiguum non videri quod in praesentis vitae statum secundo aut tertio in corpus venire non possit.

For, if this other view were accepted, then the world would know no end of such successive re-assumptions.

 Nam si recipiatur hoc, necessario sequitur, ut huiusmodi successionibus consequentibus finem nesciat mundus.

And the soul, pursuing this knowledge of herself, may further ask if there is some other class of beings, whether there are some spirits of the same sort of nature as herself, [p.136] and other spirits too, that are not as she, but different from her : that is to say, are there not only some other spirits possessing reason as she does herself, but also some lacking reason?

 Et adhuc in cognitione sui anima requirat, si est aliquis ordo aut sunt aliqui spiritus eiusdem cum ipsa substantiae, alii vero non eiusdem, sed diversi ab ea, id est si sunt et alii spiritus rationabiles, ut ipsa est, et alii carentes ratione;

And is her nature the same as that of the angels—for it is generally thought that one sort of rationality cannot by any means differ from another? 135

et si eadem est ipsius, quae et angelorum substantia, quoniam rationabile a rationabili nequaquam differre creditur.

And, if she is not such as they by nature, will she, if she be worthy, be made so by grace? Or can she not in any case be made like the angels, if the character and make-up of her nature have not received this form? For one would think it possible for that which has been lost to be restored, but not for that to be bestowed which the Creator did not give in the beginning.

Aut si non est quidem talis per substantiam, sed erit talis per gratiam, si meruerit, an non possit omnino similis effici angelis, nisi hoc naturae suae qualitas ac similitudo receperit; reddi enim videbitur posse, quod amissum est, non tamen conferri id, quod ex initio conditor non dedit.

And the soul in pursuit of self-knowledge should enquire also, whether her power of reason is changeable and such as can come and go; or whether it never fails when once it has been acquired.

 Sed et hoc adhuc in cognoscenda semet ipsa anima requirat, si virtus animi eius accedere potest et decedere et est mutabilis an acquisita semel ultra non defluit.

But what need is there to recount further reasons why the soul should know herself? That is to say, if she be neglectful about seeking a perfect self-knowledge, she may be commanded to go forth in the footsteps of the flocks and feed the goats, and this not in her own tent but in the shepherds’ tents. Everyone who is disposed to follow up such reasons has ready to his hand abundant opportunities to take some of the things we have mentioned, and practise himself therein by the word of wisdom, as his strength permits.

 Et quid opus est plura memorare, quibus ex causis “semet ipsam cognoscat” anima, ne forte, si neglexerit perfecte “semet ipsam cognoscere”, “exire” iubeatur “in vestigiis gregum et pascere haedos” et hoc non in proprio tabernaculo, sed “in tabernaculis pastorum”, cum praesto sit volenti haec persequi largissimas occasiones ex his, quae supra memoravimus, sumere, in quibus exerceri in “sermone scientiae” pro viribus possit?

Let us now take it that these words are spoken by the Word of God to the soul that has indeed been set in the path of progress, but has not yet attained the summit of perfection..

 - Dicantur vero haec a Verbo Dei etiam ad animam, quae in profectibus quidem posita est, nondum tamen ad summam perfectionis adscendit.

She is called beautiful because she is advancing; yet to enable her to reach perfection a warning has to be addressed to her, because, unless she knows herself in detail, as we specified above, and exercises herself watchfully in [p.137] the Word of God and in the divine Law, she will surely gather to herself about those details the notions of all sorts of people, and will follow men who speak nothing of excellence, nothing that is inspired by the Holy Spirit

 Quae pro eo quidem, quod proficit, “pulchra” dicitur; ut autem pervenire possit ad perfectionem, fiat ad eam comminatio necessario; quod nisi per ista singula, quae supra diximus, “semet ipsam cognoverit” et vigilanter exercuerit in Verbo Dei et lege divina, continget ei de his singulis opiniones colligere diversorum et sequi homines nihil egregium, nihil ex sancto Spiritu locutos.

For this is what it means to follow in the footsteps of the flocks : it is to run after the teachings of those who, continuing sinners themselves, have been unable to provide any remedy for those who sin.

 Hoc est enim “exire in vestigia gregum” et eorum doctrinas sectari, qui et ipsi permanserint peccatores et nullum peccantibus remedium providere potuerint.

He who follows these will be feeding goats that are appointed for sins, and will be going round the shepherds’ tents—that is, the various sects of the philosophers. 136

 Quos qui sequitur, “haedos” utique, qui peccatorum indicium tenent, videbitur “pascere” circumiens “tabernacula pastorum”, diversas scilicet sectas philosophorum.

Consider now more carefully how terrible a thing it is that this figure presages.

 Intuere ergo plenius, quam terribile est, quod sub hac adumbratur figura.

Go forth,’ He says, in the footsteps of the flocks.’

 “Exi” inquit “tu in vestigiis gregum”;

The soul, now within doors and set among the mysteries, because she neglects to know herself and to enquire who she is and what she ought to do and how she ought to do it, and what she should not do, is for that fault of sloth told to go forth; she is turned out by Him who is set over her.

quasi quae intus iam sit anima et intra mysteria collocata, pro eo tamen, quod negligat “agnoscere semet ipsam” et requirere, quae sit, et quid vel quomodo agere debeat, quid ve non agere, dicitur ei “exi tu”, quasi quae ob hanc desidiae culpam foras mittatur ab eo, qui praeest.

So huge a danger is it for the soul to fail to know and understand herself.

 Sic ingens animae periculum est scientiam sui agnitionem que negligere.

But we have given a twofold explanation of what is meant by the soul’s knowledge of herself. And it may seem that she is deservedly bidden to go forth—in the sense of being driven out of doors from the inside—

Sed fortasse, quoniam duplicem expositionem dedimus agnitionis suae animae, videbitur secundum eam quidem, qua de actibus suis discutere negligit

if, as on the first interpretation, she neglects to examine her acts and test her progress and review her faults; but, on the other hand, the sentence may be thought severe,

et inquirere de profectibus suis aut perscrutari de vitiis, merito ei dici: “exi”, per quod videatur quasi de interioribus foras propelli.

if we follow the second explanation, according to which we said that the knowledge she ought to have is that of her own nature and substance and state, both past and future.

 Si vero secundum editionem aliam, qua diximus quod naturam substantiam que suam agnoscere debeat et statum, vel in quo fuerit vel in quo erit, grave credatur.

For where can there easily be found such a soul, so perfect and so very powerful that the reason and understanding of all these things is clear to her?

 Quae enim facile talis anima invenietur ita perfecta, ita praepotens, cui horum omnium ratio et intelligentia pateat?

[p. 138] We shall reply to this that the words before us are not addressed to all souls; the Bridegroom is speaking not to the maidens, nor to the other women, nor to the eighty concubines, nor to the sixty queens, but only to her who alone is said to be the fair and perfect one among all women.137

 Ad hoc respondebimus quoniam sermo, qui habetur in manibus, non ad omnes animas fit neque ad “adulescentulas” hic loquitur sponsus, neque ad ceteras “mulieres” neque ad “octoginta concubinas” aut “sexaginta reginas”, sed ad illam, quae “inter” omnes “mulieres” sola “pulchra” dicitur et “perfecta”.

It is obvious from this that the words are spoken to certain beloved souls who, although God has given them many graces of perception and understanding, nevertheless neglect parts of this knowledge and take no pains to get to know themselves.

 Unde apparet ad dilectas quasque animas haec dici, quibus cum gratia multa sentiendi et intelligendi a Deo data sit, negligunt tamen scientiae partes et “cognoscendi semet ipsas” nullum adhibent studium.

The threat of the divine saying that unto whomsoever much is given, of them much shall be required,’3s applies, therefore, to them; the humble person shall be accounted worthy of pardon and mercy, but the mighty shall be mightily afflicted.139

 His ergo comminatur sermo divinus quia, “quibus multum datur, multum ex iis exigitur”, et “humilis” quidem “venia et misericordia dignus erit, potentes autem potenter cruciabuntur”.

So, then, if thou, O soul, that art fairer and more notable than others—teachers, for instance—neglectest thyself and continuest in thine ignorance, how will those desiring edification obtain instruction, and how will the gainsayers be refuted and denounced as false? 140

 Si ergo et tu, o anima, quae pulchrior es et eminentior inter ceteros, verbi gratia, doctores, negligas temet ipsam et in ignorantia tui maneas, quomodo poterunt vel hi, qui aedificari desiderant, instrui vel convinci et argui contradicentes?

With reason, therefore, is she told, with an implication of threat, ` Go forth in the footsteps of the flocks, and feed thy goats among the shepherds’ tents.’

 Digne ergo cum comminatione quadam ad eam dicitur: “exi tu in vestigiis gregum et pasce haedos tuos in tabernaculis pastorum”.

We may compare with this what Moses writes, namely, that if an Israelite woman have committed adultery, she shall be stoned; but, if she be the daughter of a priest ... she shall be burnt with fire.141

 Potest ad hoc trahi etiam illud, quod Moyses scribit, quod, si qua Istraelitica “mulier adulteraverit, lapidetur”; si vero “filia sacerdotis, ignibus exuratur”.

The threat will seem just, therefore, as uttered against those who have the capacity for learning and knowledge, but slothfully neglect to use it; the Bridegroom’s anger against such is very just, for He knows that the negligence of one involves the hurt of many.142

 Sic ergo iusta videbitur esse comminatio in eos, qui capaces esse possunt ad agnitionem et scientiam, sed per desidiam negligunt; in quos iustissima indignatio sponsi est, quia scit unius negligentiam cedere ad damna multorum.

For such a soul will appear also as resembling him who received a penny and hid it in the earth, so that his lord should get no profit on his money; it will resemble [ p.139] also him whom God slew, so we are told, because he was wicked, that is to say, him who, grudging to posterity the seed of natural knowledge that he had received, spilled that seed on the earth.’“

Similis enim videbitur huiusmodi anima vel illi, qui acceptum “denarium abscondit in terram”, ne lucri aliquid ex eo pecuniae dominus acquireret, vel illi, quem “occidisse” dicitur “Deus”, quia “malignus” erat, eum scilicet qui accepta semina scientiae naturalis posteritati invidens “profundebat in terra”.

And further, as we said before, if indeed this saying is of the nature of a warning to the Church, the shepherds must be taken as denoting the princes of this world, in other words those angels under whose charge the other nations are, having been brought to this condition either by lot or by some more secret processes.144

 “Pastores” quoque, sicut et ante iam diximus, si quidem ad ecclesiam comminationis hic sermo fit, “huius mundi principes” accipiendi sunt vel illi “angeli”, sub quorum cura reliquae “gentes” habentur sive sorte in hoc sive secretioribus comminatio quibusdam causis deductae.

But if the warning be referred to the individual soul who neglects to know herself, then the sages and masters of this present age are to be understood, who teach the wisdom of this world.145 Thus we may understand once and for all how vital it is for a soul—and especially for one who is good and lovely in disposition and awake in her intelligence—to acquire knowledge of herself, and to give heed to the recognition of herself through the study of doctrine and sacred pursuits, and thus to be led by the Spirit of God and the Spirit of adoption.’4s

 Si vero ad unamquamque animam comminatio ista referatur, quae semet ipsam negligit agnoscere, sapientes et magistri huius saeculi intelligendi sunt docentes “sapientiam huius mundi”, ut in summa hoc intelligatur quia necesse est animam, eam praecipue, quae bona et pulchra est sensibus et ingenio vigilans, “cognoscere semet ipsam” et dare operam ad agnitionem sui per exercitia doctrinae et studia divina ac per hoc agi “spiritu Dei” et “spiritu adoptionis”.

For if such a soul as this shall have neglected herself and abandoned sacred pursuits, she is bound to give her attention to worldly pursuits and secular wisdom, and to be led by the spirit of this world again in fear.

 Aut si talis haec anima semet ipsam neglexerit et a divinis studiis declinaverit, necesse est eam dare operam studiis mundanis et sapientiae saeculi et “agi spiritu huius mundi iterum in timore”.

And that is just what the Apostle means when he says : Now we have not received the spirit of this world, but the Spirit that is of God; and again: For you have not received the spirit of bondage again in fear, but you have received the spirit of adoption, whereby we cry: Abba, Father.147

 Quod designat Apostolus, cum dicit: “nos autem non spiritum huius mundi accepimus, sed spiritum, qui ex Deo est” et iterum: “non enim accepistis spiritum servitutis iterum in timore, sed accepistis spiritum adoptionis, in quo clamamus: Abba pater!”.

These are the points that have occurred to me about this present passage. Now let us turn to what follows.

 Haec interim nobis de praesenti loco occurrere potuerunt; nunc iam convertamur ad consequentia.







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