Polus' Treatise On Justice

September 9, 2015

Justice may be called the mother and the nurse of the other virtues.

Without this, a man can neither be temperate, nor brave, nor prudent.

It is the harmony and peace, in conjunction with elegance, of the whole soul.

The strength of this virtue will become more manifest, if we direct our attention to the other habits.

For they have a partial utility, and which is referred to one thing; but this is referred to whole systems, and to a multitude.

In the world therefore, it conducts the whole government of things, and is providence, harmony, and Dice, by the decree of a certain genus of Gods.

But in a city, it is justly called peace, and equitable legislation.

In a house, it is the concord between 255 the husband and wife.

The benevolence of the servant towards the master; and the anxious care of the master for the welfare of the servant.

In the body likewise, which is the first and dearest thing to all animals, [so far as they are animals,] it is the health and intireness of all the parts. But in the soul, it is the wisdom, which among men subsists from science and justice.

If therefore, this virtue thus disciplines and saves both the whole and the parts [of every thing] rendering things concordant and familiar with each other, how is it possible it should not be called by the decision of all men, the mother and the nurse of all things?

Iamblichus preserves Archytas’ Treatise on Wisdom.

  1. Wisdom as much excels in all human affairs as the sight does the [other] corporeal senses, intellect the soul, and the sun the stars.

For the sight is the most far-darting, and the most multiform of all the senses; intellect is the supreme part of the soul, judging by reason and dianoïa what is fit, and existing as the sight and power of the most honorable things;

The sun is the eye and soul of things which have a natural subsistence. For through it all things become visible, are generated, and rise into existence.[74] Deriving also their roots, and being generated from thence, they are nourished, increased and excited by it in conjunction with sense.

  1. “Man was generated by far the wisest of all [terrestrial] animals. For he is able to contemplate the things which exist, and to obtain from all things science and wisdom.

To which also it may be added, that divinity has engraved and exhibited in him the system of universal reason, in which all the forms of things in existence are distributed, and the significations of nouns and verbs. For a place is assigned for the sounds of the voice, viz. the pharynx, the mouth, and the nostrils. But as man was generated the instrument of the sounds, through which nouns and verbs are signified, so likewise of the conceptions which are beheld in the things that have an existence. And this appears to me to be the work of wisdom, for the accomplishment of which man was generated and constituted, and received organs and powers from divinity.

  1. “Man was generated and constituted, for the purpose of contemplating the reason of the whole 257 of nature, and in order that, being himself the work of wisdom, he might survey the wisdom of the things which exist.—For if the reason of man is contemplative of the reason of the whole of nature, and the wisdom also of man perceives and contemplates the wisdom of the things in existence,—this being acknowledged, it is at the same time demonstrated, that man is a part of universal reason, and of the whole of the intellectual nature.

  2. “Wisdom is not conversant with a certain definite existing thing, but is simply conversant with all the things that exist. And it is requisite, that it should not first investigate the principles of itself, but the common principles of all beings. For wisdom so subsists with reference to all beings, that it is the province of it to know and contemplate the universal accidents of all things. And on this account wisdom discovers the principles of all beings.

  3. “Whoever, therefore, is able to analyze all the genera which are contained under one and the same principle, and again to compose and con-numerate them, he appears to me to be the wisest of men, and to possess the most perfect veracity. Farther still, he will also have discovered a beautiful place of survey, from which it will be possible to behold divinity, and all things that are in co-ordination with, and successive to him, subsisting 258 separately, or distinct from each other.[75] Having likewise entered this most ample road, being impelled in a right direction by intellect, and having arrived at the end of his course, he will have conjoined beginnings with ends, and will know that God is the principle, middle, and end, of all things which are accomplished according to justice and right reason.”[76]

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