Saturday, September 11, 2021
This is what my grandfather on my father's side long ago predicted to me. For once, when I was vexed about the decline of good morals and especially of learning, I asked him if there would be any progress again. He, who was very old and shrewd enough to see many things to come, gently stroking my hair and sighing deeply said: "Dear child, son, do you think that from now on studies or any other virtue will progress? Now the time has come when men will live worse than even wild beasts. For the power of the prince of this world has come near the gates, and there must precede him evil harbingers of his coming, namely strange beliefs and criminal practices, which are no better than what happened in the mysteries of Dionysus and the tragedies enacted by the Greeks: Kronos or Thyestes or Tantalus sacrificing their children, Oedipus having sexual intercourse with his mother, and Kinyras with his daughter. All these abominations will also be introduced into our society. But see and beware, child. Know, indeed, and know it well: not only many uneducated and uncultured people, but also educated people, will be drawn into these practices."The Greek is from Paul Gautier, "Le De daemonibus du Pseudo-Psellos," Revue des études byzantines 38 (1980) 105-194 (at 143).
τοῦτο ἐκεῖνο ὃ πάλαι μοι πάππος ὁ πρὸς πατρὸς προηγόρευσεν· ἀσχάλλων γὰρ ἐγώ ποτε τά τε ἄλλα τῶν ἀγαθῶν καὶ δὴ καὶ τὰ μαθήματα ὕπορρεῖν, ἠρόμην εκεῖνον εἴ τις ἔσται αὖθις ἐπίδοσις. Ὁ δὲ κάρτα γέρων ὢν καὶ πολλὰ τῶν ἐσομένων ξυνιδεῖν ἀγχίνους, ἠρέμα καταψήσας μου τὴν κόμην καὶ βαθὺ στενάξας· «ὦ τέκνον, ἔφη, φίλον, ὦ παῖ, λόγους τὸ ἀπὸ τοῦδε ἤ τίνα ἄλλην ἀρετὴν ἐπιδώσειν οἴει; Καιρὸς ἐφέστηκε νῦν ὅτε βιώσουσιν ἄνθρωποι χεῖρον καὶ αὐτῶν θηρίων· τὸ γάρ τοι κράτος τοῦ κοσμοκράτορος ἐγγὺς ἐπὶ θύραις ἥκει καὶ δεῖ τῆς αὐτοῦ παρουσίας πρόδρομα κακὰ προηγήσασθαι δόγματά τε ἀλλόκοτα καὶ ἀθέσμους πράξεις, οὐδὲν τών ἐν Διονύσου τελεταῖς ἀμείνους καὶ ἅπερ Ἕλλησι τετραγῴδηται, Κρόνος ἣ Θυέστης ἣ Τάνταλος τὰ ἔκγονα καταθύοντες, Oἰδίπους τε μητρὶ συμφυρόμενος καὶ Κινύρας τῇ θυγατρί, ταῦτα δὴ τὰ πάνδεινα καὶ περὶ πολιτείαν ἐπεισφρήσει τὴν ἡμετέραν. Ἀλλ᾿ ὅρα καὶ φυλάττου, τέκνον. ἴσθι γὰρ καὶ πάνυ γε ἴσθι ὡς οὐ μόνον τῆς ἀπαιδεύτου καὶ ἀμούσου μοίρας, ἀλλὰ πολλοὶ καὶ τῆς πεπαιδευμένης εἰς ταῦτα συνυπαχθήσονται.»
Hat tip: Eric Thomson.