To see the Latin text, click on a green square. spacerTo see a textual note, click on a blue square.

II. THE BLESSED CONDITION OF MAN IN HIS FIRST-BORN INTEGRITY

spacerWhen Nature’s great Creator had put these things into effect, and had established the lands, the tracts of the sea, the deep sky, and the legions of heaven and earth, He celebrated a holiday. This was not a rest such as idle or sluggish minds pursue, since He was diffused throughout all the ways of heaven and earth and wielded the reins of things, determining all the world. But, inasmuch as He ceased to produce new species and form hitherto-unseen shapes, in His holiness He enjoyed a sacred rest, and decreed that the sixth day should be kept sacrosanct so that morals might celebrate it with sacred rites, that they should set aside transitory demands and, freed from the cares which trouble mortal hearts, they wholeheartedly devote themselves to heaven. And, since the Father had completed His creation of the world in six days, when the seventh day dawned He wished Man to travel through all of nature with the swift turning of his mind, to learn the world’s laws, and hence to raise himself yet higher and on victorious wings to soar above the homes of heaven and the precincts of the Thunderer, as he beheld God’s crafty hands and His countenance, so that he could adore the Author of nature with his prayers and humble address. Why does not gape in admiration at God’s immeasurable majesty when with his eyes he surveys, the glittering halls of heaven, the brightness of the dawn shining with its snow-white brilliance, the silvery light of the moon at night, and the fires of the sky, conspicuous with their radiant locks, or the fragrant decorations of a painted field, and when he directs the eyes of his mind to You, Who are decorated by glory and all honor, and around Whom beauty hovers on shining wings? And His creation of the walls which surround the world, made out of nothing, the limpid breezes which ride above the fluttering shoulders of the waves, and the way the sea with its heavy circlings are upheld show the mighty strength of His hand. Indeed, nature’s discordant harmony, its assemblage out of unlike elements bound together, which resembles a Pan-pipe made up of seven reeds of differing length rising up in their due order, goes to show the clever intelligence of His eternal mind. And so you are three, nay four times blessed, you seventh day! On you, the world’s cares set aside, it is us granted us to approach nearer to heaven and be suffused with God’s Spirit at closer hand.
spacer And blessed are you, great Adam, the first beginning of our race. Being of divine stock, with your mind you reflect the images of the eternal beings blue that dwell above the sky, and the limbs of your solid body possess whatever the world contains, from the place where the Titan rises in his bejeweled wagon until he plunges his car in the water. The strength of stone is in your bones, a forest of foliage flourishes atop your head, a sea of blood flows through your veins as its wends its branched ways, a burning ardor fires your heart, and whatever power of a questing intellect is possessed by your soul, are combined in a single mind. Thus the great world is enclosed in this small one. Your will is a ruling queen, and she is assisted by reason, like a sacred parliament; emotions dwell in her heart and make those men dear to her whom are raised up by the favor of her enticing court; and the senses minister to her like a Commons. She is supported by piety and the favor of heaven. Only a partner to your bed and holy matrimony were lacking.
spacer Therefore, oh holy Father, You Who as patron of marriage have sanctified wedding celebrations and the laws of marriage with all manner of joy, inspire me with a generous helping of the Holy Spirit, lest I demean great things with threadbare verse. After the Creator of the world had brought together in a fit combination the congregations of birds and beasts of the fields, and the wild beasts in their generations, and created Adam, God’s darling, the lawful heir of heaven, who reclined in loneliness on the lonely grass, the Father searched the land and the sea for a woman worthy of this husband’s embrace, or worthy of such a great marriage. None was found, either in the places where the the world’s steepness rose up towards heaven’s high citadels, or where it is borne down to its low places. So He bound Adam in a deep sleep like unto death, opened up the curved cage of his side, and from one of his ribs He manufactured Eve as a fully-grown woman, and blessed her with an ample dowry of beauty. As the golden sun rises in the new morning, clothing the land in its light, thus this lady shone, making the shadowy grove serene with her countenance and shedding light on a cloudy day. Since she was flesh of her husband’s flesh and bone of his bone, she was called his wife. God breathed into her a divine mind and spirit and presented her to her husband, celebrating the mystic rites of marriage, and made them a bower in Eden. He bade them embrace and fill with offspring the lands which the Ocean supports with its waves. Soon a banquet was set and apron-clad sprites appeared as servants. Some set the table with herbs and luscious apples. Others crowned the feast with a stream of nectar. The garden summoned its wealth: the fig-tree sent its gifts, the pear gave its fruit, the apple its offering, and the cherry splendid dishes of the scarlet hue of Tyre. blue Olive-trees furnished their berries, grapevines provided their sweet clusters, and whatever ship was destined someday to visit oceanic warehouses and whatever orchard was bursting with its juice offered their contributions, bringing gifts to the holy table. Indeed, the breezes blew sweetly together, the forests waved their arms in measured rhythms as their branches intertwined and led the dance, and the woods sprang up with a leap. They say that the Phison, blue dressed in his reedy cloak and rolling along a sheet of water purer than silver, the Gibon, the swift Tigris, and the Euphrates, that sovereign of the rivers, attested their joy with their liquid applause. The fields smiled, as did the followers, and the gladsome pastures shone, their breasts picked out with gold and their tresses shining. The meadows crowned their locks with purple garlands. Not only did the glades, the streams, and the fat farmlands rejoice at this wedding, but the in the high heaven god of Delos also shone as golden in the pure air, as when he first entered Tethys’ damp bower and azure embrace.
spacer Likewise the winged brotherhood, aloft in the sky’s steepness, gave their congratulations and applause. Then a red bird, moved by holy ardor, opened its mouth and poured forth this song: “With what song shall I hymn these wedding-torches and marriage-bonds? The sun, that golden glory, has witnessed nothing worthier in the world. The Creator of nature has first consecrated your rites, He has first made your marriage-bed, and kindled your marriage-torches. These first times have produced you, you will equal these times in later ages. Be present, you Trinity Which has consecrated this holy wedding, oh you hymeneal Trinity, hymen hymenaee.
spacer “The light of day purvey nothing sweeter than you, marriage. You purvey sweet embraces, you purvey the sweet pledges of the chaste marriage-chamber and the joys of a shared life. Without you, days are unwelcome, and so are the night-time stars, nothing is sweet. Be present, you Trinity Which has consecrated this holy wedding, oh you hymeneal Trinity, hymen hymenaee.
spacer “What boons are granted mankind by marriages! It helps for a husband tp share his secret thoughts with his wife, and they should strive to share their concerns for their common good, that they should join their vows and prayers, and raise their children with mutual concern for their common good. Be present, you Trinity Which has consecrated this holy wedding, oh you hymeneal Trinity, hymen hymenaee.
spacer “Without you, marriage, who will be able to recount his grandfather’s ancestors? Without you, no house will bear children, none will bear descendants. Thanks to you, human commerce and dealings exist. Thanks to you, shrines and churches upheld by marble columns resound with God’s praises. Thanks to you, altars smoke with fires of the incense of Araby. Be present, oh you hymeneal Trinity, hymen hymenaee.
spacer “You who have a share of the divine intelligence and imbibe the spirit of heaven, joined in the equal bond of marriage, store up my words in your remembering minds. Although, after God had decreed the birds and beasts at the Creation, and the creatures which cleave the blue waves with their scaly fins, He derived all humankind from a single man, let love create a closer bond than that which his origin first established. Let the wedding-torch inspire new heat and set ardent fires burning in your bones. Let your heart be warmed by Eve’s perpetual fires, and you must regard your Eve with enduring flames. Be present, oh you hymeneal Trinity, hymen hymenaee.
spacer “Since God Himself has consecrated your abiding marriage, let neither the father nor the mother break its bonds. Let whatever place, whatever corner of the world contains you, also contain Eve. If you visit either of Phoebus’ shores, blue or the place where the south wind takes wing in its course, or the threshold of the north wind and the lands never bereft of their Riphaean blue frosts, let Eve always, cling to your side as a sweet burden. Be present, oh you hymeneal Trinity, hymen hymenaee.
spacer“You who are conjoined to Eve alone, live as a husband together with your wife, seek the bed and the embrace of her alone, keep only her face before yours. Let either of you only sigh with love for the other. Be present, oh you hymeneal Trinity, hymen hymenaee.
spacer “Eve, you must help your man in his duties, and you must diligently help her in hers. Let you have a shared concern for your children and for your household, let your property be mutual and also your wishes, and let your prayers and also your fortune be held in common. Let there be a single safety for you both, one heart and one will. Be present, oh you hymeneal Trinity, hymen hymenaee.
spacer “These are the shared duties incumbent on you, that you must perform with equal energy. It remains to state your individual tasks and clearly distinguish them. Your wife, who is joined to you in your bed, is also joined to you at your table. And you will profit from this toil: to work the soil with iron and turn the earth, trenching it and seeding its furrows; to take a knife and graft shoots and buds into tree-bark you have cut open, so that they may learn to grow on a foreign tree; and to take a sickle to your crops and bring home heaps of harvest and cram your storage-rooms with the fruit of the orchard, so as to ward of hunger with delightful provender. And since you wield the reins of your marriage and God has granted you the husband’s scepter, you must employ this lot He gave you, but do so temperate;u. Her first-beginnings did not give Eve dusty feet so that you might trample her underfoot like a servant. Nor are your loins the chaste home of your husbandly ardor, the source of your progeny to come, so that you might oppress her with your paternal government. The hand of God opened up your side, and your wife was given you from one of your ribs. So let her be the partner at your side, let her share rule with her husband. Let your yoke be gentle. Let the laws of your marriage be easy, not the harsh commands of a savage tyrant. Be present, oh you hymeneal Trinity, hymen hymenaee.
spacer “And you, grown from your husband, a mother in hope and a wife by your pledge, your duty remains to be done. If your husband tills the earth with his plow, if he consigns seeds to the earth and renews the happy earth of his field, the ignoble shade of idleness does not allow your days to pass basely, you must think it shameful to let your heart drowse in slothful slumber. You must be the guardian of the foodstuffs and provender he provides. You must be his faithful assistant in providing him with these things, and be ready to perform all services. Indeed, although you are ennobled by your proud marriage, you must regard this man as your master, and singlemindedly look up to him. Bear in mind that he is your better half, that the world’s Creator gave you the breath of life to be his helpmeet, because he is superior in his sex, because God made your appearance as a copy of his, and because you are the dear offspring of his side. This is the decree of Him Who rules the world in accordance with His will, and, alas, what a great crime it would be to abrogate his sacred laws! But if you conform to God’s law, if you obey His commandments, you will live forever, enrolled in His celestial company. Grant these things, Father Who invented and patronizes marriage, and bless them with a progeny more numerous than the stars and the sands rolled about by the ocean, so that you may replenish Your home, the bright precincts of heaven, from which the criminal shades have been banished to Tartarus.”
spacer When the genial flame-red bird had completed his song with its heavenly notes, all the winged choir cheered, and heaven’s ceiling resounded with this verse, Be present, oh you hymeneal Trinity, hymen hymenaee.
spacer
You happy souls, you husband with your wife, whom God Himself has joined with wedding-torches and a happy marriage! For your minds are spotless and divine,
enclosed in pure bodies, and endowed with the treasurers of heaven and God’s spirit. What am I to say of your celestial countenances? What of the august beauty of your faces, and the rosy honor of your curved brows? Of your eyes, which rival the stars? Your noses, breathing the fragrance of incense? Your ruddy cheeks, like the sky when the dawn empurples it with its first light? Your bodies, which gleam whiter than snow? Nothing that confers a blessing is lacking. Aloft on a high throne, King Adam rules the lands and wields the earth’s reins, the flights of birds and flocks of livestock serve at his right and left hands, bands of beasts stand before him, keeping watch for his nod and lordly commands. Having examined each one’s character and nature, he assigned each its own name, by which it was to be called forever, and ratified this by his command. Monstrous whales, Triton, seals, and the entire cerulean host which sweep the waters of the sea with their fluttering blue-grey tails prostrate themselves with ready obedience.
spacer Meanwhile, although he sits on a proud throne, subjecting everything under heaven to his laws, he binds his locks with no headband, he wears no golden cloak, he does not shine in purple or an embroidered robe, or gleams with a golden ornament of jasper. No covering veiled his body, neither a bright garment from Cos, blue nor one which warded off the piercing cold of winter. Not yet did the hostile hanging distaff give its bites to tender lips, blue not yet did the spindle grow fat with thread, not yet weights hang down from a loom, nor any hand artfully make fabric with its skilful weaving. No wool was reddened with the dye of Sidon. blue Rather they both lived in nudity, displaying their naked limbs to the eyes, nor did they possess anything to offend the eyes. Rather, complete virtue dominated over their unsullied bodies, nor did they guiltily blush and hang their heads in shame. No fatal seeds of foulness yet tainted the fields of their breasts, they burned with no criminal fires or imbibed sweet madness in their hearts. Boreas, after having wrecked the honor of the forest, did not menace farmers with death, nor did the rain-bearing south wind rage with its stormy wind, pouring down an army of its hostile water. Neither unmentionable sin or the realms of Cocytus had yet produced fever, harsh diseases, sluggish old age, or stern fate and inexorable death. Hence Man had no need for clothing. Happy first times, happy souls produced by those first times, happy souls for being destined to live at nature’s summit on the earth, and happier yet for living far from the earth, among the stars.

Go to Book III