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When I had said this, Demetrius remarked, ‘Lamprias gives the right advice ; for
The gods make us to slip by many forms
not ‘of tricks,’ as Euripides1 says, but of facts, whenever we make bold to pronounce opinions about such matters as if we understood them. ‘But the discussion must be carried back,’ as the same writer says,2 to the assumption made at the beginning. For what was said then, that when the demigods withdraw and forsake the oracles, these lie idle and inarticulate like the instruments of musicians, raises another question of greater import regarding the causative means and power which they employ to [p. 463] make the prophetic priests and priestesses possessed by inspiration and able to present their visions. For it is not possible to hold that the desertion by the demigods is the reason for the silence of the oracles unless we are convinced as to the manner in which the demigods, by having the oracles in their charge and by their presence there, make them active and articulate.’

Here Ammonius joined in and said, ‘Do you really think that the demigods are aught else than souls that make their rounds, ‘in mist apparelled,’ as Hesiod3 says ? To my mind the difference between man and man in acting tragedy or comedy is the difference between soul and soul arrayed in a body suitable for its present life. It is, therefore, not at all unreasonable or even marvellous that souls meeting souls should create in them impressions of the future, exactly as we do not convey all our information to one another through the spoken word, but by writing also, or merely by a touch or a glance, we give much information about what has come to pass and intimation of what is to come. Unless it be, Lamprias, that you have another story to tell. For not long ago a rumour reached us about your having had a long talk on these subjects with strangers at Lebadeia, but the man who told of it could recall none of it with exactness.’

‘You need not be surprised,’ said I, ‘since many activities and distractions occurring in the midst of it, because it was a day for oracles and sacrifice, made our conversation desultory and disconnected.’

‘But now,’ said Ammonius, ‘you have listeners with nothing to distract them and eager to seek and [p. 465] gain information on this point or that ; all strife and contention is banished and a sympathetic hearing and freedom of statement, as you observe, is granted for all that may be said.’

1 Cf. Nauck, Trag. Graec. Frag. p. 674, Euripides, no. 972.

2 Cf. the note on 390 c, supra.

3 Works and Days, 125.

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