Various Texts on Sadness


 John and Mary
Eisenheim Altar, Grünewald.

Translation by Luke Dysinger, O.S.B.  (translation in public domain)

1. from the Praktikos:


10. GLOOMINESS sometimes arises from frustrated desires; but sometimes it is the result of anger. When desires are frustrated it arises thus: certain [tempting-]thoughts first seize the soul and remind it of home and parents and its former course of life. When they see the soul following them without resistance,  and dissipating itself in mental pleasures, they take and dunk [lit baptize] it in gloom, since it is the case that these earlier things are gone and cannot be recovered due to the [monk's] present way of life Then the miserable soul, having been dissipated by the first [tempting-]thought, is humiliated all the more by the second.

    ι´.   (10) Ἡ λύπη ποτὲ μὲν ἐπισυμβαίνει κατὰ στέρησιν τῶν ἐπιθυμιῶν͵ ποτὲ δὲ καὶ παρέπεται τῇ ὀργῇ. Κατὰ στέρησιν δὲ τῶν ἐπιθυμιῶν οὕτως ἐπισυμβαίνει· λογισμοί τινες προλαβόντες εἰς μνήμην ἄγουσι τὴν ψυχὴν οἴκου τε καὶ γονέων καὶ τῆς προτέρας διαγωγῆς. Καὶ ὅταν αὐτὴν μὴ ἀνθισταμένην ἀλλ΄ ἐπακολουθοῦσαν θεάσωνται καὶ διαχεο μένην ἐν ταῖς κατὰ διάνοιαν ἡδοναῖς͵ τότε λαμβάνοντες αὐτὴν ἐν τῇ λύπῃ βαπτίζουσιν ὡς οὐχ ὑπαρχόντων τῶν προ τέρων πραγμάτων οὐδὲ δυναμένων λοιπὸν διὰ τὸν παρόντα βίον ὑπάρξαι· καὶ ἡ ταλαίπωρος ψυχή͵ ὅσον διεχύθη ἐπὶ τοῖς προτέροις λογισμοῖς͵ τοσοῦτον ἐπὶ τοῖς δευτέροις συνεστάλη ταπεινωθεῖσα.



19.  ANYONE who flees from all worldly pleasures is a tower which cannot be breached by the demon of gloominess. Gloominess is the deprivation of pleasure, either an actual or an expected pleasure. ιθ'  Ὁ φεύγων πάσας τὰς κοσμικὰς ἡδονὰς πύργος ἐστὶ τῷ τῆς λύπης ἀπόσιτος δαίμονι· λύπη γάρ ἐστὶ στέρησις ἡδονῆς  ἢ παρούσης ἢ προσδοκωμένης·
So long as we have any attachment to anything on earth, it is impossible for us to drive away this enemy. He sets his trap and produces gloominess just where he sees that our inclinations lead us. ἀδύνατον δὲ τὸν ἔχοντας ἡμᾶς προσπάθειαν· ἐκεῖ γὰρ ἵστησι τὴν παγίδα καὶ τὴν λύπην ἐργάζεται ὅπου βλέπει μάλιστα νενευκότας ἡμᾶς.

2. from On Prayer

  3. PRAYER is [intimate] conversation of the nous with God.  So then, what stable state must the nous possess to be able to stretch out unalterably toward its own Master and converse with him without any intermediary?

Γ´.  Ἡ προσευχὴ, ὁμιλία ἐστι νοῦ πρὸς Θεόν· ποίας οὖν δεῖται καταστάσεως ὁ νοῦς, ἵνα ἰσχυσῃ ἀμεταστρόφως ἐκταθῆναι πρὸς τὸν οἰκεῖον Δεσπότην, καὶ συνομιλεῖν αὐτῷ μηδενὸς μεσιτεύοντος;



4. IF Moses was hindered when he attempted to approach the bush burning on earth, until he had taken off the shoes from [his] feet (Exod. 3:2-5); do you not think that if you wish to [both] see the One who is above every concept and perception and to converse with him, you should cast away from yourself every impassioned thought (noema)?

Δ´.  Εἰ τῇ ἐπὶ γῆς βάτῳ φλεγομένῃ προσεγγίσαι πειράσας Μωϋσῆς κωλύεται ἄχρις οὗ λύσει τὸ ὑπόδημα τῶν ποδῶν, πῶς αὐτὸς τὸν ὑπὲρ πᾶσαν ἔννοιαν καὶ αἴσθησιν ἰδεῖν βουλόμενος, καὶ συνόμιλος αὐτῷ γενέσθαι, οὐ λύεις ἐκ σοῦ πὰν νόημα ἐμπαθές;



5. FIRST of all pray that you may receive tears, so that by means of sorrow (penthos) you may be able to calm the wildness within your soul; and by confessing your iniquity to the Lord, obtain forgiveness from him.

Ε´.  Πρότερον περὶ λήψεως δακρύων προσεύχου, ἵνα διὰ τοῦ πένθους μαλάξῃς τὴν ὑπάρχουσαν ἐν τῇ ψυχῇ σου ἀγριότητα, καὶ ἐξαγορεύσας κατὰ σου τὴν ἀνομίαν σοῦ τῷ Κυρίῳ, παρ' αὐτοῦ ἀφέσεως τεύξῃ.



6. MAKE use of tears to realize every petition, for it delights your Master to receive prayer [offered] with tears.

ϟ´.  Κέχρησο τοῖς δάκρυσι πρὸς παντὸς αἰτήματος κατόρθωσιν· λίαν γὰρ χαίρει σου ὁ Δεσπότες ἐν δάκρυσι προσευχὴν δεχόμενος.



7. EVEN if you weep rivers of tears at your prayer, on no account be inwardly haughty, as if you were superior to others. For your prayer has received this help so that you may be able to [more] easily confess your sins and propitiate the Lord by means of tears. So do not turn into passion the antidote to passions, lest you anger all the more the [One] who gave you this grace.

Ζ´.  Ἐὰν πηγὰς δακρύων ἐκχέῃς ἐν τῇ προσευχῇ σου, μηδαμῶς ἐπαίρου ἐν σεαυτῷ ὡς ὑπὲρ τοὺς πολλοὺς ὤν· βοήθειαν γὰρ προσείληφεν ἡ προσευχή σου, ἵνα δυνηθῇς προθύμως ἐξαγορεύειν σου τὰς ἁμαρτίας, καὶ ἐξευμενίσασθαι τὸν Δεσπότην διὰ τῶν δακρύων. [Η´.] Μὴ οὖν εἰς πάθος τρέψῃ τὸ τῶν παθῶν ἀλέξημα, ἵνα μὴ πλέον παροργίσῃς τὸν δεδωκότα τὴν χάριν·̈



  8. MANY who weep for their sins, have forgotten the purpose of their weeping, gone insane, and wandered away.

Η´.  πολλοὶ δακρύοντες ὑπὲρ ἁμαρτιῶν, επιλαθόμενοι τοῦ τῶν δακρύων σκοποῦ, μανέντες ἐξεπλάγησαν.



 14. PRAYER is an offshoot of gentleness and freedom from anger.

ΙΔ´.  Προσευχή ἐστι πραότητος καὶ ἀοργησίας βλάστημα.

 15. PRAYER is the budding forth of joy and thankfulness.

ΙΕ´.  Προσευχή ἐστι χαρᾶς καὶ εὐχαριστίας πρόβλημα.

 16. PRAYER is an antidote to gloominess and despondency.

Ιϟ´.  Προσευχή ἐστι λύπης καὶ ἀθυμίας ἀλέξημα.


3. from the Antirrhetikos (Chapter 4, On Sadness/Gloominess)
Τεταρτος λογος· περι των του λυπης

Note in particular the role of nocturnal fears: the mental gloom that overtakes the monk during temptation in [what must have been the wild and frightening] Egyptian desert.


4.11. For the soul that is cast into gloom because of disturbances at night and imagines  it will become perpetually dismayed [i.e. mentally unbalanced] because of its terror:

11. προς ψυχην περι ταραχης νυκτος λυπουμενην και απο της πτοησεως αυτης οιομενην οτι διαπαντος εν τηι συγχυσει αυτης μενει

+ Lev 26:6-7 And I will give peace in your land, and you shall sleep, and none shall make you afraid; and I will destroy the evil beasts out of your land,

̈ Λεῃ. 26·6



4.12. For the human thoughts that arise within us saying that struggling against demons does us no good:

δευτερον. 12. προς ανθρωπινους λογισμους εν ημιν υπανασταντας και λεγοντας οτι ου προχωρει υμιν αγωνιζεσθαι προς τους δαιμονας

+ Deut 1:29-30  Fear not, nor be afraid of them; the Lord your God who goes before your face, he shall fight against them together with you effectually.

̈ Δευτ 1·29 φ.



4.22. For the [tempting-]thought that does not realize that singing the Psalms changes the temperament [krasis] of the body and drives away the demon touching one on the back and cutting at the nerves and troubling every part of the body

                [π.505] ͅ σαμουηλ. 22.  προσ λογισμον ῾α.Ρ. ψυχην̓ ουκ εννοουμενον οτι μελος κολλωμενος τοις ψαλμοις την σωματος κρασιν ῾εξιν̓ μετατιθησι και δαιμονα ψηλαφουντα τον νωτον και τα νευρα ψυχουντα και παντα τα μελη θορυβουντα διωκει

+ 1 Sam 16:23  And whenever the evil spirit was upon Saul, David took the lyre, and played it with his hand, and Saul was refreshed, and was well, and the evil spirit departed from him.

+ 1 Σαμ 16·23  καὶ ἐγενήθη ἐν τῷ εἶναι πνεῦμα πονηρὸν ἐπὶ Σαουλ καὶ ἐλάμβανεν Δαυιδ τὴν κινύραν καὶ ἔψαλλεν ἐν τῇ χειρὶ αὐτοῦ, καὶ ἀνέψυχεν Σαουλ, καὶ ἀγαθὸν αὐτῷ, καὶ ἀφίστατο ἀπ' αὐτοῦ τὸ πνεῦμα τὸ πονηρόν.



4.23.For the demon that appears, sword in hand: we must answer back as in warfare, just as our blessed father Macarius answered back when he saw one, sword in hand, ready to attack him when he was about to see the garden paradise made by Jannes and Jambres made[3]:

                23. προς δαιμονα φαινομενον ξιφορον προσηκει ημας ως εν πολεμωι αποκρινεσθαι ωσπερ και ο πατηρ ημων ο μακαριος Μακαριος απεκριθη αυτωι ορων αυτον ξιφηρη αυτωι εναντιουντα οτε ωιχετο την παραδεισον οψομενος ην Ιαννης και Ιαμβρης εποιησαν

+ 1 Sam 17:45  You come to me with sword, and with spear, and with shield; but I come to you in the name of the Lord God of hosts of the army of Israel, which you have defied this day

̈ 1Σαμ 17·45



4.29. For the Lord, concerning the vision of disturbing and disgusting things that appear [to us] at night:

                29. εις κυριον περι οψεων ταρασσουσων και βδελυκτων της υμιν νυκτος φαινομενων

+ Ps 6:3-5  3Have mercy on me, O Lord, for I am weak; heal me, Lord, for my bones are troubled. 4And my soul is greatly troubled; and you, Lord, how long? 5 Return, Lord, rescue my soul, save me on account of your mercy.

+ ψ 6,3-5  ἐλέησόν με, κύριε, ὅτι ἀσθενής εἰμι· ἴασαί με, κύριε, ὅτι ἐταράχθη τὰ ὀστᾶ μου, 4 καὶ ἡ ψυχή μου ἐταράχθη σφόδρα· καὶ σύ, κύριε, ἕως πότε; 5 ἐπίστρεψον, κύριε, ῥῦσαι τὴν ψυχήν μου, σῶσόν με ἕνεκεν τοῦ ἐλέους σου.



4.36. For the Lord, concerning the demons that fall upon the skin of the body scorching like flames with their touch and then leave circular marks like those made by a cupping instrument. These I have often seen with [my] eyes and been amazed.

36. εις κυριον δαιμονων επι δερμα σωματος προςπιπτοντων και καυστηρας ως πυρος εν αυτωι τιθεντων και τυπους κυκλωδεις ως υπο σικυων εμποιουντων, α δη πολλακις οφθαλμοις ιδων τεθαυμακα

+ Ps 34:1-2  Judge, O Lord, those that injure me, fight against those who fight against me. 2Take hold of shield and buckler, and arise for my help.

ψ 34,1-2   Δίκασον, κύριε, τοὺς ἀδικοῦντάς με, πολέμησον τοὺς πολεμοῦντάς με. 34.2 ἐπιλαβοῦ ὅπλου καὶ θυρεοῦ καὶ ἀνάστηθι εἰς βοήθειάν μου,



4.42. For the soul concerning the [tempting-] thought of sadness which portrays before our eyes the father’s old age, the mother’s weakness, and the relatives’ inconsolable sorrow.

                42. προς ψυχην περι λυπης λογισμου προ των οφθαλμων ημων διαγραφοντος γηρας του πατρος και ασθενειαν της μητρος και πενθος των συγγενων ου παρακαλουμενων

Ps 54.22[3]  Cast your cares upon the Lord and he will support you; he will never permit the righteous to be tossed about.

+ Ψ 54,22[3]  ἐπίρριψον ἐπὶ κύριον τὴν μέριμνάν σου͵ καὶ αὐτός σε δια θρέψει· οὐ δώσει εἰς τὸν αἰῶνα σάλον τῷ δικαίῳ.



4.43. For the Lord, concerning the demon that threatens my mind with insanity and folly, so as to shame me and [all] those who seek the Lord in the monastic way of life

                43. εις κυριον περι δαιμονος εν τηι διανοιαι μοι απειλουντα μανιαν και ανοιαν εν καταισχυνηι εμου τε και των τον κυριον δια μοναστικης πολιτειας ζητουντων

+ Ps 68: 7  [Do not let those who wait on you, O Lord of hosts, be ashamed on my account.] 7Do not let those who seek you be ashamed on my account, O God of Israel.

+ ψ 68,7  μὴ αἰσχυνθείησαν ἐπ' ἐμοὶ οἱ ὑπομένοντές σε, κύριε κύριε τῶν δυνάμεων, μὴ ἐντραπείησαν ἐπ' ἐμοὶ οἱ ζητοῦντές σε, ὁ θεὸς τοῦ Ισραηλ, 



4.49. For the Lord, concerning the demon that threatens that he will burst into flames and burn me.

56ββ 49. εις κυριον περι δαιμονος οτι εν πυρι φλογισθεντι με κατακαυσει απειλουντος μοι

+ Ps 139:11  Coals of fire shall fall upon them on the earth; and you shall cast them down in fire.

+ ψ 139,11 πεσοῦνται ἐπ' αὐτοὺς ἄνθρακες, ἐν πυρὶ καταβαλεῖς αὐτούς, ἐν ταλαιπωρίαις οὐ μὴ ὑποστῶσιν.]



4.50. For the [tempting-] thought that tells me the road to the knowledge of Jesus Christ is full of great difficulty and much suffering:

                παροιμ. 50. προς λογισμον μοι λεγοντα οτι κινδυνου πολλου και θλιψεως πληρης η οδος η εις Ι.Χ. γνωσιν αναγουσα

+ Prov 22:13  The sluggard makes excuses, and says, ‘There is a lion in the way, and danger in the streets!

̈ Πρ. 22·13.


[3] This story of Macarius going out to visit the mysterious garden of Pharoh's magicians, Jannes and Jambre,s is attested elsewhere in the apophthegmata


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