No doubt, said Ammonius, as it is in us a violent and involuntary cause; but in the Gods Necessity is not intolerable, uncontrollable, or violent, unless it be to the wicked: as the law in a commonwealth to the best men is its best good, not to be violated or transgressed, not because they have no power, but because they have no will, to change it. And Homer's Sirens give us no just reason to be afraid; for he in that fable rightly intimates the power of their music not to be hurtful to man, but delightfully charming, and detaining the souls which pass from hence thither and wander after death; working in them a love for divine and heavenly things, and a forgetfulness of every thing on earth; and they extremely pleased follow and attend them. And from thence some imperfect sound, and as it were echo of that music, coming to us by the means of reason and good precepts, rouseth our souls, and restores the notice of those things to our minds, the greatest part of which lie encumbered with and entangled in disturbances of the flesh and distracting passions. But the generous soul hears and remembers, and her affection for those pleasures riseth up to the most ardent passion, whilst she eagerly desires but is not able to free herself from the body. It is true, I do not approve what he says; but Plato seems to me, as he hath strangely and unaccountably called the axes spindles and distaffs, and the stars whirls, so to have named the Muses Sirens, as delivering divine things [p. 455] to the ghosts below, as Ulysses in Sophocles says of the Sirens,
I next to Phorcus's daughters came,Eight of the Muses take care of the spheres, and one of all about the earth. The eight who govern the motions of the spheres maintain the harmony of the planets with the fixed stars and one another. But that one who looks after the place betwixt the earth and moon and takes care of mortal things, by means of speech and song introduceth persuasion, assisting our natural consent to community and agreement, and giveth men as much harmony, grace, and order as is possible for them to receive; introducing this persuasion to smooth and quiet our disturbances, and as it were to recall our wandering desires out of the wrong way, and to set us in the right path. But, as Pindar says,
Who fix the sullen laws below.
Whom Jove abhors, he starts to hear
The Muses sounding in his ear.