The Perfect Sermon, or

The Asclepius


1. Asc. Thou speak’st of God, then, O Thrice-greatest one?

Tris. Not only God, Asclepius, but all things living and inanimate. For ’tis impossible that any of the things that are should be unfruitful.

For if fecundity should be removed from all the things that are, it could not be that they should be for ever what they are. I mean that Nature, Sense, and Cosmos, have in themselves the power of being born, and of preserving all things that are born.

For either sex is full of procreation; and of each one there is a union, or,—what’s more true,—a unity incomprehensible; which you may rightly call Erōs or Aphroditē, or both [names].

2. This, then, is truer than all truth, and plainer than what the mind [’s eye] perceives;—that from that Universal God of Universal Nature all other things for evermore have found, and had bestowed on them, the mystery of bringing forth; in which there is innate the sweetest Charity, [and] Joy, [and] Merriment, Longing, and Love Divine.

We might have had to tell the mighty power and the compulsion of this mystery, if it had not been able to be known by every one from personal experience, by observation of himself.

3. For if thou should’st regard that supreme [point] of time when … the one nature doth pour forth the young into the other one, and when the other greedily absorbs [it] from the first, and hides it [ever] deeper [in itself]; then, at that time, out of their common congress, females attain the nature of the males, males weary grow with female listlessness.

And so the consummation of this mystery, so sweet and requisite, is wrought in secret; lest, owing to the vulgar jests of ignorance, the deity of either sex should be compelled to blush at natural congress,—and much more still, if it should be subjected to the sight of impious folk.

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