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When therefore the imaginative part of the soul and the prophetic blast or exhalation have a sort of harmony and proportion with each other, so as the one, as it were in the nature of a medicament, may operate upon the other, then happens that enthusiasm or divine fury which is discernible in prophets and inspired persons. And, on the contrary, when the proportion is lost, there can be no prophetical inspiration, or only such as is as good as none; for then it is a forced fury, not a natural one, but violent and turbulent, such as we have seen to have happened in the prophetess Pythia who is lately deceased. For certain pilgrims being come for an answer from the oracle, it is said the sacrifice endured the first effusion without stirring or moving a jot, which made the priests, out of an excess of zeal, to continue to pour on more, till the beast was [p. 63] almost drowned with cold water; but what happened hereupon to the prophetess Pythia? She went down into the hole against her will; but at the first words which she uttered, she plainly showed by the hoarseness of her voice that she was not able to bear up against so strong an inspiration (like a ship under sail, oppressed with too much wind), but was possessed with a dumb and evil spirit. Finally, being horribly disordered and running with dreadful screeches towards the door to get out, she threw herself violently on the ground, so that not only the pilgrims fled for fear, but also the high priest Nicander and the other priests and religious which were there present; who entering within a while took her up, being out of her senses; and indeed she lived but few days after. For these reasons it is that Pythia is obliged to keep her body pure and clean from the company of men, there being no stranger permitted to converse with her. And before she goes to the oracle, they are used by certain marks to examine whether she be fit or no, believing that the God certainly knows when her body is disposed and fit to receive, without endangering her person, this enthusiastical inspiration. For the force and virtue of this exhalation does not move all sorts of persons, nor the same persons in like manner, nor as much at one time as at another; but it only gives beginning, and, as it were, kindles those spirits which are prepared and fitted to receive its influence. Now this exhalation is certainly divine and celestial, but yet not incorruptible and immortal, nor proof against the eternity of time, which subdues all things below the moon, as our doctrine teaches,—and, as some say, all things above it, which, weary and in despair as regards eternity and infinity, are apt to be suddenly renewed and changed.

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load focus Greek (Gregorius N. Bernardakis, 1891)
load focus English (Frank Cole Babbitt, 1936)
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