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All good things, my dear Clea,1 sensible men must ask from the gods ; and especially do we pray that from those mighty gods we may, in our quest, gain a knowledge of themselves, so far as such a thing is attainable by men.2 For we believe that there is nothing more important for man to receive, or more ennobling for God of His grace to grant, than the truth. God gives to men the other things for which they express a desire, but of sense and intelligence He grants them only a share, inasmuch as these are His especial possessions and His sphere of activity. For the Deity is not blessed by reason of his possession of gold and silver,3 nor strong because of thunder and lightning, but through knowledge and intelligence. Of all the things that Homer said about the gods, he has expressed most beautifully this thought:4
Both, indeed, were in lineage one, and of the same country,
Yet was Zeus the earlier born and his knowledge was greater.
Thereby the poet plainly declares that the primacy of Zeus is nobler since it is elder in knowledge and in [p. 9] wisdom. I think also that a source of happiness in the eternal life, which is the lot of God, is that events which come to pass do not escape His prescience. But if His knowledge and meditation on the nature of Existence should be taken away, then, to my mind, His immortality is not living, but a mere lapse of time.5

1 The priestess for whom Plutarch composed his collection of stories about the Bravery of Women (Moralia, 242 e ff.).

2 Cf. Plutarch, Moralia, 780 f - 781 a and 355 c, infra.

3 Cf. Themistius, Oration xxxiii. p. 365 b-d.

4 Iliad, xiii. 354; quoted also in Moralia, 32 a, and Life and Writings of Homer, ii. 114.

5 Cf. Moralia, 781 a.

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