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Thomas Taylor: dæmon

sexta-feira 25 de março de 2022

As there is no vacuum in corporeal, so neither in incorporeal natures. Between divine essences, therefore, which are the first of things, and partial essences such as ours, which are nothing more than the dregs of the rational nature, there must necessarily be a middle rank of beings, in order that divinity may be connected with man, and that the progression of things may form an entire whole, suspended like the golden chain of Homer from the summit of Olympus. This middle rank of beings, considered according to a twofold division, consists of dæmons and heroes, the latter of which is proximate to partial souls such as ours, and the former to divine natures, just as air and water subsist between fire and earth. Hence whatever is ineffable and occult in the gods, dæmons and heroes express and unfold. They likewise conciliate all things, and are the sources of the harmonic consent and sympathy of all things with each other. They transmit divine gifts to us, and equally carry back ours to the divinities. But the characteristics of divine natures are unity, permanency in themselves, a subsistence as an immovable cause of motion, transcendent providence, and which possesses nothing in common with the subjects of their providential energies ; and these characteristics are preserved in them according to essence, power and energy. On the other hand, the characteristics of partial souls are, a declination to multitude and motion, a conjunction with the gods, an aptitude to receive something from other natures, and to mingle together all things in itself, and through itself; and these characteristics they also possess according to essence, power and energy. Such then being the peculiarities of the two extremes, we shall find that those of dæmons are, to contain in themselves the gifts of divine natures, in a more inferior manner indeed than the gods, but yet so as to comprehend the conditions of subordinate natures, under the idea of a divine essence. In other words, the prerogatives of deity characterise, and absorb as It were by their powerful light, whatever dæmons possess peculiar to inferior beings. Hence they are multiplied indeed, but unitedly—mingled, but yet so that the unmingled predominates—and are moved, but with stability. On the contrary, heroes possess unity, identity, permanency, and every excellence, under the condition of multitude, motion, and mixture; viz. the prerogatives of subordinate predominate in these over the characteristics of superior natures. In short, dæmons and heroes are composed from the properties of the two extremes—gods and partial souls; but in dæmons there is more of the divine, and in heroes more of the human nature.

Having premised thus much, the Platonic reader will, I doubt not, gratefully accept the following admirable account of dæmons in general, and also of the dæmon of Socrates  , from the MS. Commentary of Proclus   on this dialogue (First Alcibiades  ).