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On the Creation 1-2

Now concerning the other lawgivers, some set out their code for virtue, unadorned and naked. Others tied-up their thoughts with heavy weights, mythic lies which hid the truth.

Moses refused both of those options. The first one is thoughtless, careless, and unphilosophical. The other is the work of liars full of witchcraft. Instead, he began the law with all beauty and dignity. He didn’t immediately set down “Do this” and “Don’t do that”; nor did he make up a myth (he didn’t even use existing myths).  It was necessary, first, to form their minds for the use of the law.


The Greek Text and Translation Notes: 

τῶν ἄλλων νομοθετῶν οἱ μὲν ἀκαλλώπιστα καὶ γυμνὰ τὰ νομισθέντα παρʼ αὐτοῖς εἶναι δίκαια διετάξαντο, οἱ δὲ πολὺν ὄγκον τοῖς νοήμασι προσπεριβαλόντες ἐξετύφωσαν τὰ πλήθη μυθικοῖς πλάσμασι τὴν ἀλήθειαν ἐπικρύψαντες.

Μωυσῆς δʼ ἑκάτερον ὑπερβάς, τὸ μὲν ὡς ἄσκεπτον καὶ ἀταλαίπωρον καὶ ἀφιλόσοφον, τὸ δʼ ὡς κατεψευσμένον καὶ μεστὸν γοητείας, παγκάλην καὶ σεμνοτάτην ἀρχὴν ἐποιήσατο τῶν νόμων, μήτʼ εὐθὺς ἃ χρὴ πράττειν ἢ τοὐναντίον ὑπειπὼν μήτʼ, ἐπειδὴ προτυπῶσαι τὰς διανοίας τῶν χρησομένων τοῖς νόμοις ἀναγκαῖον ἦν, μύθους πλασάμενος ἢ συναινέσας τοῖς ὑφʼ ἑτέρων συντεθεῖσιν


τῶν ἄλλων νομοθετῶν

Of the other lawgivers

One who appoints law.

The genitive sets out the reference, the general subject area which Philo will explain next. Now concerning the other law givers.

Other: other than Moses, who will be Philo’s subject.


οἱ μὲν ἀκαλλώπιστα καὶ γυμνὰ τὰ νομισθέντα

Those, on one hand, unadorned and naked the statement of law/custom

τὰ νομισθέντα: substantival accusative participle: it is the law given by the lawgivers.


παρʼ αὐτοῖς εἶναι δίκαια διετάξαντο

Among themselves to be just they set in order

Para + dative: in the sight of the people, near the people.

Διετάξαντο: aorist, they put into order/arrangement

οἱ δὲ πολὺν ὄγκον

the great bulk/burdern

The de completes the thought begun by the men:

τοῖς νοήμασι προσπεριβαλόντες ἐξετύφωσαν

The thoughts dressing up they deceived

Dative plural of νόημα, thought, design, purpose.

Προσπεριβαλόντες: the participle explains the means of deception: The idea is to completely surround, whether by walls or by clothing.

τὰ πλήθη μυθικοῖς πλάσμασι

The many by means of mythic forms

The articular accusative sets out those deceived: the masses.

Dative shows the means of deception.

Mythic, not myth. The noun is plasma, a thing formed.


τὴν ἀλήθειαν ἐπικρύψαντες

the truth they hid

Accusative of the thing hid: the truth

A participle is used here to establish the relationship to the primary verb: they deceived.


      Μωυσῆς δʼ ἑκάτερον ὑπερβάς

But Moses each of them going over

Huperbas: participle of huperbaino to go beyond, in a bad sense, trespass. Colson has “disdaining”.


τὸ μὲν ὡς ἄσκεπτον καὶ ἀταλαίπωρον καὶ ἀφιλόσοφον

the on one hand as without thought, without pains and without philosophy

as thoughtless, painless, unphilosophical

τὸ δʼ ὡς κατεψευσμένον καὶ μεστὸν γοητείας

on the other hand as the one lying and filled with witchcraft/trickery

substantival participle, the one characterized by such action.

κατα-ψεύδομαι, Dep., with f. med. -ψεύσομαι, pf. pass. -έψευσμαι, aor. I -εψεύσθην:—to tell lies against, speak falsely of, τινος Ar., Plat., etc.

2. to allege falsely against, τί τινος Plat., Dem.

3. to say falsely, pretend, Eur.: to feign, invent, τι Dem.

II. also as Pass. to be falsely reported: of writings, to be spurious, Plut.

γοητ-εία , ἡ,

A.witchcraft, jugglery, “γ. καὶ μαγεία” Gorg.Hel.10, cf. Pl. Smp.203a: metaph., “οὐδὲν ὑγιές, ἀλλὰ γ. τις” Id.R.584a, Andronic. Rhod.p.573 M., etc.; “ἀπάτη καὶ γ.” Plb.4.20.5, cf. Luc.Nigr.15; “γ. τῆς ὑποκρίσεως” D.S.1.76; “ἡδονῆς δι᾽ ὀμμάτων” Plu.2.961d: in a milder sense, ‘finesse’, Cic.Att.9.13.4; ἡ τῆς φύσεως γ. the magic of Nature, Plot.4.4.44.


παγκάλην καὶ σεμνοτάτην ἀρχὴν ἐποιήσατο τῶν νόμων

all good and honorable rule he [Moses] made by means of the law

pan-kalos: all good.

μήτʼ εὐθὺς ἃ χρὴ πράττειν ἢ τοὐναντίον ὑπειπὼν μήτʼ

neither immediately/without delay those things needful to practice or those things contrary prefacing neither

Moses took time.

ὑπεῖπον , aor. with no pres. in use (ὑπαγορεύω (q. v.) being used instead): fut.

A.“ὑπερῶ” Ar.Fr.652: pf. Pass., v. infr. 2:—say or repeat before another, ἐγὼ δ᾽ ὑπερῶ τὸν ὅρκον l.c.


2. say by way of preface, premise, suggest, “ὑπειπεῖν τούσδε τοὺς αὐτοὺς λόγους” E.Supp. 1171; “ὀλίγ᾽ ἄτθ᾽ ὑπειπὼν πρῶτον” Ar.V.55; “ὥσπερ ἐν ἀρχῇ ὑπείπομεν” Th.1.35; “τοσοῦτον ὑπειπών” D.18.60; οὐδὲν ὑπειπὼν πῶς without suggesting the method, Id.23.53, cf. 60; “τοιοῦτος . . , ὃν ὑπεῖπες” Pl.Virt.377d; so ἀκοὴν ὑπειπών, = προειπών (referring to the words of the proclamation, ἀκούετε, λεῴ), E.HF962:—Pass., “καθάπερ καὶ ἐξ ἀρχῆς ἦν ὑπειρημένον” Is.11.12.


3. subjoin, add, “ὑπειπούσης . . ὅτι ἐς ἑσπέραν ἥξοιμι” Ar.Pl.997, cf. Lys.Fr. in PHib.1.14.32; “ὑπειπὼν τἆλλα ὅτι αὐτὸς τἀκεῖ πράξοι” Th.1.90, cf. 2.102; τὸν ἐχθρὸν . . ὑπειπὼν τὸν αὑτοῦ adding the name of his personal enemy, D.25.91; “ὑπειπὼν τῆς Ὑγιείας του^νομα” Philetaer.1.


4. suggest an explanation, hint, give a clue, “ὥστ᾽ . . ἂν . . ὑπείποις” S.Aj.213 (anap.); “οὑτωσί πως ὑπειπόντα τὸ τοῦ Πιττακοῦ” Pl.Prt.343e.


ἐπειδὴ προτυπῶσαι τὰς διανοίας τῶν χρησομένων τοῖς νόμοις ἀναγκαῖον ἦν

Since first [beforehand] to mold/shape the minds concerning the usefulness/the use by the laws [necessity] was

The infinitive expresses purpose: Since it was necessary first to shape their minds.

The genitive participle explains the way in which the minds were to be shaped: those things useful by means of the law.

ἀναγκαῖον ἦν: it was a necessity, it was necessary.


μύθους πλασάμενος ἢ συναινέσας τοῖς ὑφʼ ἑτέρων συντεθεῖσιν
[neither, from the previous clause] myths making or agreeing with those put into place by others.

Moses did not create his own myth, nor did he use existing myths.