|International Vegetarian Union (IVU)|
15th World Vegetarian Congress 1957
We gratefully acknowledge these quotations in "The Voice of the Great" Section to a great vegetarian Dr. J. M. Peebles, from his book "Death Defeated;" also to "Os Potens," the sayings of Professor Verealus by "Ascripto," published by Nichols and Co., London, which one suspects might have been likewise written by Dr. Peebles - the two books are so similar in content. A few quotations are from "The Millennium Guild" and those on the early Christian Fathers, save Tertullian and Chrysostum are translated from "Les Peres de :'Eglise et la Temperance Vegetarienne"
HESIOD : (8th century B.C.) - one of the earliest of the prophet poets of Greece who in old age left a populous city, retiring to a mountain to subsist on grains, berries, and fruits.
The Golden Age:
The Silver Age, though less transcendentally pure, still preserved much of the primitive innocence, cultivated friendliness with the lower creatures, and wholly abstained from the slaughter of animals in the preparation of their food; nor did they offer sacrifices. But the feast of blood was inaugurated with
The Brazen Age:
PYTHAGORAS (570-470 B.C.) Philosopher - mathematician - musician. None of his writings are extant, but we know of him through Philolaus (450 B.C.) Iamblichus, Ovid, Plutarch, and other Greek writers.
"It has always been asserted that he had already abandoned the orthodox diet at the age of nineteen or twenty." "As the natural and necessary result of his pure living we are told by Iamblichus, that 'his sleep was brief, his soul vigilant and pure, and his body confirmed in a state of perfect and invariable health.' " "As for his own diet, 'he was satisfied (says Porphyry) 'with honey or the honeycomb, or with bread only, and he did not taste wine from morning to night; or his principal dish was often kitchen herbs, cooked or uncooked. Fish he ate rarely.' "
"Amongst other reasons, Pythagoras" (says Iamblichus)
"enjoined abstinence from the flesh of animals, because it is conducive
to peace; for those who are accustomed to abominate the slaughter of
other animals. as iniquitous and unnatural, will think it still more
unjust and unlawful to kill a man or to engage in war."
"Specially, he exhorted those politicians who are
legislators to abstain. For if they were willing to act justly in the
highest degree, it was indubitably incumbent upon them not to injure
any of the lower animals. Since how could they persuade others to act
justly, if they themselves were proved to be indulging an insatiable
avidity by devouring these animals that are allied to us. For through
the communion of life and the same elements, and the sympathy thus existing,
they are, as it were, conjoined to us by a fraternal alliance."
CYRUS THE GREAT (520 B.C. born) Emperor of Persia,
who conquered many lands and raised Persia from an obscure country into
a great Empire was not only vegetarian himself but ordered his soldiers
also strictly to adhere to this diet. His army conquered wherever it
went, Xenophen says that Cyrus was brought up upon a diet of bread,
cresses, and water till the age of fifteen, when honey and raisins were
HERODOTUS (484-425 B.C.) - the Father of History;
a very abstemious vegetarian, often partaking of but one meal per day
and that of parched wheat and fruit. He abhorred the killing of the
innocent grazing herds, still more the bloody sacrifices seen about
the Temples, and still more the eating of the flesh sacrificed to the
"Why cause suffering, to these inferior and innocent orders of being and why take the life that only the gods could give ; and why cut flesh, yet dripping with innocent blood? Do not the oracles condemn it? Do they not advise lentils, and grains and fruits that ripen in the sun?
EMPEDOKLES (5th Century B.C.) continued the Pythagorean
tradition. He left no doubt about his opinion of flesh foods : "Will
you not put an end to this accursed slaughter? Will you not see that
you are destroying yourselves in blind ignorance of soul?"
"The work-people will live , I suppose, on barley
and wheat, baking cakes of the meal and kneading loaves of the flour.
And spreading these excellent cakes and loaves upon mats of straw or
upon clean leaves, and themselves reclining upon rude beds of yew or
myrtle boughs, they will make merry, themselves and their children,
drinking their wine, weaving garlands, and singing the praises of the
gods, enjoying one another's society and not begetting children beyond
their means through a prudent fear of poverty or war ... We shall also
set before them a dessert, I imagine, of figs. peas and beans; they
may roast myrtle berries and beech nuts at the fire, taking wine with
their fruit in great moderation. And thus passing their days in tranquility
and sound health, they will, in all probability, live to a very advanced
age and, dying. bequeath to their children a life in which their own
will be reproduced."
Then Socrates proceeds to point out how the new ideal
Republic will become plunged into injustice and violence and fall into
decay just as soon as it oversteps the limits of necessaries and makes
the flesh diet and the acquisition of wealth objects of supreme endeavour.
"By this extension of our inquiry we shall perhaps
discover how it is that injustice takes root in our cities.. .If you
also contemplate a city that is suffering from inflammation (whose people
have departed from simplicity), they will not be satisfied, it seems,
with the mode of life we have described, but must have in addition,
couches and tables and every other showy article of furniture, as well
as meats and viands. We shall need swine-herds (for such a city) ...
and great quantities of all kinds of cattle for those who may wish to
eat them ... Then decline and decay."
... All this is told in an inimitable Dialogue between
Socrates and Glaucon, which only lack of space prohibits reproducing
Ovid remarks that "Plato, doubtless, reached his
great age, becausc of his moral purity, temperance, and natural food
diet : of herbs, berries, nuts, grains, and the wild plants of the mountains,
which the earth, that best of mothers produces."
OVID (43 B.C. to 18 A.D.) - a popular Roman poet,
wrote in a day when it was considered a fine spectacle for men and animals
to fight together till the death. Of Pythagoras he said:
"He, too, was the first to forbid animals to be served
up at the table, and he was first to open his lips indeed full of wisdom
yet all unheeded, in the following words :
CICERO (106-43 B.C.) the greet Roman Orator and
"Man is destined to a better occupation than that
of pursuing and cutting the throat of dumb creatures."
" Nothing cruel is useful or expedient."
SENECA [5 B.C.- 65 A.D.] One of the most eminent
of the Roman Stoics, Tutor of young Nero and his chief advisor, an ardent
vegetarian, created a vegetarian cult in the Court at the time of the
most voluptuous period in history. But since the early Christians mere
vegetarian, the Emperor's suspicions were aroused that Seneca also was
a Christian, and so Seneca returned to flesh-eating. Later still Nero
condemned him to death through jealousy of his musical performances
in which Nero alone wished to excel, so his martyrdom might have come
the sooner and in a better cause. However, some of the finest passages
written on this subject have been by Seneca :
"Since I have begun to confide to you," he writes
in a letter, "with what exceeding ardour I approached the study
of philosophy in my youth, I shall not be ashamed to confess the affection
with which Sotion [his preceptor] inspired me for the teaching of Pythagoras.
He was wont to instruct me on what grounds he himself, and after him,
Sextius. had determined to abstain from the flesh of animals. Each had
a different reason, but the reason in both instances was a grand one.
Sotion held that man could find a sufficiency of nourishment without
blood-shedding, and that cruelty became habitual when once the practice
of butchering was applied to the gratification of the appetite. He was
wont to add that it is our bounden duty to limit the materials of luxury
: that moreover a variety of foods is injurious to health, and not natural
to our bodies. If these maxims are true: then to abstain from the flesh
of animals is to encourage and foster innocence; if ill-founded. at
least they teach us frugality and simplicity of living. And what loss
have you in losing your cruelty? I merely deprive you of the food of
lions and vultures.
"Moved by these arguments, I resolved to abstain
from flesh-meats, and at the end of a year the habit of abstinenco was
not only easy but delightful. You ask then, 'Why did you go back and
relinquish this mode of life?' I reply that the lot of my early days
was cast in the reign of the Emperor Tiberius. Certrtin foreign religions
(Christianity) became the object of the imperial suspicion and amongst
the proofs of adherence to the foreign culture or superstition was that
of abstinence from the flesh of animals. At the earnest entreaty of
my father, therefore I was induced to return to my former dietetic habits."
All the above, while showing us the weakness of Seneca,
gives us the habits of the early Christians. who were known for their
harmlessness and compassion for all, to such an extent that someone
likewise showing compassion to the lower kingdoms was liable to the
suspicion of being a Christian - but all these days were very near to
those of the gentle Jesus who is so often depicted as being surrounded
by all animals - wild and tame, carrying a lamb in his arms, and very
far from the days that associate the very birthday of Christ with a
Saturnalia of animal slaughter. But if we had lived in the days of Seneca.
would we have been willing to die for our convictions? Of such times.
he writes :
"How long shall we weary heaven with petitions for superfluous luxuries as though we had not at hand the wherewithal to feed ourselves. How long shall we fill our plains with huge cities? How long shall the people slave for us unnecessarily? How long shall countless numbers of ships from every sea bring us provisions for the consumption of a single mouth? An ox is satisfied with the pasture of an acre or two ; one wood suffices for several elephants. Man alone supports himself by the pillage of the whole earth and sea. What! Has Nature indeed given us so insatiable a stomach, while she has given us such insignificant bodies? No: it is not the hunger of our stomachs, 'but insatiable covetousness (ambitio) which costs so much ...
"The slaves of the belly (as say Sallust ) are to be counted in the number of the lower animals, not of men. Nay not of them but rather of the dead... You might inscribe on their doors: 'These have anticipated death.'. . .
"I now turn to you, whose insatiable and unfathomable
gluttony searches every land and every sea. Some animals it persecutes
with snares and traps, with hunting-nets, with hooks ; sparing no sort
of toil to obtain them. Excepting from mere caprice or daintiness there
in no peace allowed to any species of beings. Yet how much of all these
feasts which you obtain by the agency of innumerable hands do you even
so much as touch with your lips, satiated as they are with luxuries?
How much of that animal, which has been caught with so much expense,
or peril, does the dyspeptic and bilious owner taste? Unhappy even in
this! that you perceive not that you hunger more than your belly. Study
not to know more but to know better,..
"If the human race would but listen to the voice
of reason, it would recognize that (fashionable) cooks are as superfluous
as soldiers... In the simpler times there was no need of so large a
supernumerary force of medical men, nor of so many surgical instruments,
or of so many boxes of drugs. Health was simple for a simple reason.
Many dishes have induced many diseases. Note how vast quantity of
lives one stomach absorbs - devastator of land and sea. No wonder
that with so discordant a diet disease is ever varying .. Count the
cooks; you will no longer wonder at the innumerable number of human
Of simplicity in diet, Seneca writes :
"You think it a great matter that you can bring yourself
to live without all the apparatus of fashionable dishes; that you do
not desire wild boars of a thousand pounds weight, or the tongues of
rare birds, and other portents of a luxury which now despises whole
carcasses, and chooses only certain parts of each victim. I shall admire
you then only when you scorn not plain bread, when you have persuaded
yourself that herbs exist not for other animals only, but for man also
- if you shall recognize that vegetables are sufficient food for the
stomach into which we now stuff valuable lives, as though it were to
keep them for ever. For whist matters it what it receives, since it
will soon lose all that it has devoured? The apparatus of dishes, containing
the spoils of sea and land, gives you pleasure, you say.. .The splendour
of all this, heightened by art. gives you pleasure. Ah! those very things
so solicitously sought for and served up so variously - no sooner have
they entered the belly then one and the same foulness shall take possession
of them all. Would you contemn the pleasures of the table? Consider
their final destination."
PLUTARCH (40 to 120 A.D. approx.) Prince of Biographers
and Historians. His essay on flesh eating contains arguments for vegetarianism
not superseded. A few excerpts follow :
"You ask me upon what grounds Pythagoras abstained
from feeding on the flesh of animals. I, for my part, marvel of what
sort of feeling, mind, or reason, that man was possessed who was the
first to pollute his mouth with gore, and to allow his lips to touch
the flesh of a murdered being; who spread his table with the mangled
forms of dead bodies, and claimed as his daily food what were but now
beings endowed with movement, with perception, and with voice. How could
his eyes endure the spectacle of the flayed and dismembered limbs? How
could his sense of smell endure the horrid effluvium? How, I ask, was
his taste not sickened by contact with festering wounds, with the pollution
of corrupted blood and juices? ... The first man who set the example
of this savagery is the person to arraign; not, assuredly, that great
mind [Pythagoras] which, in a later age, determined to have nothing
to do with such horrors.
"For the wretches who first applied to flesh-eating
may justly be alleged in excuse their utter resourcelessness and destitution,
inasmuch as it was not to indulge in lawless desires, or amidst the
superfluities of necessaries, for the pleasure of wanton indulgence
in unnatural luxuries that they (the primaeval people) betook themselves
to carnivorous habits...
"Does it not shame you to mingle murder and blood
with their beneficent fruits? Other carnivora you call savage
and ferocious - lions and tigers and serpents - while yourselves come
behind them in no species of barbarity. And yet for them murder is the
only means of sustenance; whereas to you it is a superfluous luxury
"For, in point of fact, we do not kill and eat lions
and wolves, as we might do in self-defence - on the contrary, we leave
them unmolested; and yet the innocent and the domesticated and helpless
and unprovided with weapons of offence - these we hunt and kill, whom
Nature seems to have brought into existence for their beauty and gracefulness.
"Nothing puts us out of countenance, not the charming beauty of their form, not the plaintive sweetness of their voice or cry, not their mental intelligence, not the purity of their diet, not superiority of understanding. For the sake of a part of their flesh only, we deprive them of the glorious light of the sun - of the life, for which they were born. The plaintive cries they utter we affect to take to be meaningless; whereas, in fact, they are entreaties and supplications and prayers addressed to us by each which say, 'It is not the satisfaction of your real necessities we deprecate, but the wanton indulgence of your appetities. Kill to eat, if you must or will, but do not slay me that you may feed luxuriously.'
"Alas for our savage inhumanity! It is a terrible thing to see the table of rich men decked out by those layers-out of corpses: the butchers and cooks; a still more terrible sight is the same table after the feast - for the wasted relics are even more than the consumption. These victims, then, have given us their lives uselessly. As other times, from mere niggardliness, the host will grudge to distribute his dishes, and yet he grudged not to deprive innocent beings of their existence!
"Well I have taken away the excuse of those who allege that they have the authority and sanction of Nature. For that man is not, by nature, carnivorous is proved, in the first place, by the external frame of his body - seeing that to none of the animals designed for living on flesh has the human body any resemblance. He has no curved beak, no sharp talons and claws, no pointed teeth, no intense power of stomach or heat of blood which might help him to masticate and digest the gross and tough flesh-substance. On the contrary, by the smoothness of his teeth, the small capacity of his mouth, the softness of his tongue, and the sluggishness of his digestive aparatus, Nature sternly forbids him to feed on flesh.
"If, in spite of all this, you still affirm that you were, to begin with, kill yourself what you wish to eat - but do it yourself with your own natural weapons, without the use of butcher's knife, or axe, or club. No; as the wolves and lions and bears themselves slay all they feed on, so, in like manner, do you kill the cow or ox with a grip of your jaw, or the pig with your teeth, or a hare or a lamb by falling upon and rending them there and then. Having gone through all these preliminaries, then sit down to your repast. If, however, you wait until the living and intelligent existence be deprived of life, and if it would disgust you to have to rend out the heart and shed the life-blood of your victim, why, I ask, in the very face of Nature, and in despite of her, do you feed on beings endowed with sentient life?
"But more than this - not even, after your victims have been killed, will you eat them just as they are from the slaughter-house. You boil, roast, and altogether metamorphose them by fire and condiments. You entirely alter and disguise the murdered animal by use of ten thousand sweet herbs and spices, that your natural taste may be deceived and be prepared to take the unnatural food. A proper and witty rebuke was that of the Spartan who bought a fish and gave it to his cook to dress. When the latter asked for butter, and olive oil, and vinegar, he replied, 'Why, if I had all these things I should not have bought the fish!'
To such a degree do we make luxuries of bloodshed that
we call flesh a 'delicacy', and forthwith require delicate sauces for
this same flesh-meat, and mix together oil and wine and pickle and vinegar
with all the spices of Syria and Arabia - for all the world as though
we were embalming a human corpse. After all these heterogenous matters
have been mixed and dissolved and, in a manner, corrupted, it is for
the stomach, forsooth, to masticate and assimilate them - if it can.
And though this may be, for the time, accomplished, the natural sequence
is a variety of diseases produced by imperfect digestion and repletion.
Flesh-eating is not unnatural to our physical constitution only. The
mind and intellect are made gross by gorging and repletion ; for flesh
meat and wine may possibly tend to robustness of the body, but it gives
only feebleness to the mind .... "It is hard to argue with stomachs,
since they have no ears ; and the inebriating potion of custom has been
drunk like Circe's, with all its deceptions and witcheries. Now that
men are saturated and penetrated, as it were, with love of pleasure,
it is not an easy task to attempt to pluck out from their bodies the
flesh-baited hook. Well would it be if, as the people of Egypt turning
their back to the pure light of day disemboweled their dead and cast
away the offal as the very source and origin of their sins. we, too,
in like manner, were to eradicate bloodshed and gluttony from ourselves
and purify the remainder of our lives. If the irreproachable diet be
impossible to any by reason of inveterate habit, at least let them devour
their flesh as driven to it by hunger, not in luxurious wantonness,
but with feelings of shame. Slay your victim, but at least do so with
feelings of pity and pain, not with callous heedlessness and with torture,
And yet that is what is done in a variety of ways.
"In slaughtering swine, for example, they thrust red hot irons into their living bodies, so that by sucking up or diffusing the blood, they may render the flesh soft and tender. Some butchers jump upon or kick the udders of pregnant sows, that by mingling the blood and milk and matter of the embryos that have been murdered together in the very pangs of parturition, they may enjoy the pleasure of feeding upon unnaturally and highly inflamed flesh! Again, it is a common practice to stitch up the eyes of cranes and swans and shut them up in dark places to fatten. In this and other similar ways are manufactured their dainty dishes, with all the varieties of sauces and spices, from all of which it is evident that men have indulged their lawless appetites in the pleasures of luxury, not for necessary food and from no necessity, but only out of the merest wantonness, and gluttony, and display."
And if any doubt that these are only ancient cruelties,
let them read the sections to follow and weep for our modern times.
Many of Plutarch's arguments on behalf of vegetarianism have a very
modern flavour, as for example :
"Ill-digestion is most to be feared after flesh-eating, for it very soon clogs us and leaves ill consequences behind it. It would be best to accustom ourselves to eat no flesh at all, for the earth affords plenty enough of things fit not only for nourishment, but for delight and enjoyment ... But you, pursuing the pleasures of eating and drinking beyond the satisfaction of nature are punished with many and lingering diseases, which arising from the single fountain of superfluous gormandizing, fill your bodies with all manner of wind and vapours, not easy by purgation to expel. In the first place, all species of the lower animals, according to their kind, feed upon one sort of food which is proper to their natures - some upon grass. some upon roots, and others upon fruits. Neither do they rob the weaker of their nourishment. But man, such is his voracity, falls upon all to satisfy the pleasures of his appetite, tries all things, tastes all things; and, as if he were yet to see what were the most proper diet and most agreeable to his nature, among all animals is the only all-devourous (omnivorous). He makes use of flesh not out of want and necessity, but out of luxury and being clogged with necessaries, he seeks after an impure and inconvenient diet, purchased by the slaughter of living beings; for this, showing himself more cruel than the most savage of wild beasts. The lower animals abstain from most of other kinds and are at enmity with only a few, and that only compelled by necessities of hunger : but neither fish nor fowl nor anything that lives upon the land, escapes your tables, though they bear the name of humane and hospitable."
Animals photographed by telescopic cameras in the wilds of Africa, amply bear out the contentions of Plutarch. Zebras, the prey of the lion, graze undisturbed by the very Presence of the King of Beasts. Other zebras hardly raise their heads, when a lioness pounces on her prey and drags it to her lair. They know she will only slay again when she is hungry, and they accept her hunger as inevitable. Only man causes all animals to flee from his presence.
Finally Plutarch criticizes the discarding of a faithful animal servant when old, saying : " For own part, I would not sell even an old ox that has laboured for me."
"The obligations of law and equity reach only to
mankind, but kindness and beneficence should be extended to the creatures
of every species, and these will flow from the breast of a true man,
as streams that issue from the living
TERTULLIAN (160-230 A.D.) of the Early Christian
"It is in the cooking-pots that your love is inflamed - it is in the kitchen that your faith grows fervid - it is in the flesh dishes that all your hope lies hid... who is held in so much esteem with you as the frequent giver of dinners, as the sumtuous entertainer, as the practised toaster of healths?
"Consistently do you men of flesh reject the things of the spirit. But if your prophets are complacent towards such persons they are not my prophets : why preach you not constantly, 'Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die; just as we preach 'let us abstain brothers and sisters, lest tomorrow, perchance we die?"
"Let prize-fighters and pugilists fatten themselves up - for them a mere corporeal ambition suffices. And yet even they become stronger by living on vegetable food. But other strength and vigour is our aim, as other contests are ours, who fight not against flesh and blood. Against our antagonists we lust fight - not by means of flesh and blood, but with faith and a strong mind.
SAINT CLEMENT OF ALEXANDRIA (150-220? A. D.), stated in his treatise on Pedagogy that " The Apostle Matthew never ate meat ; but lived on fruits, cereals, acorns, and legumes.''
PORPHYRY (233-304 A.D.) a great Greek Philosopher:
"It is not from those who hare lived on innocent
foods that murderers, tyrants, robbers, and sycophants have come, but
from eaters of flesh. The necessaries of life are few and easily procured,
without violation of justice, liberty, or peace of mind ; whereas luxury
obliges these ordinary souls who take delight in it to covet riches,
to give up their liberty, to sell justice, to misspend their time, to
ruin their health, and to renounce the satisfaction of an upright conscience.
"Since, then, justice is due to rational beings,
as our opponents allow, how is it possible to evade the admission also
that we are bound to act justly towards the races of beings below us?
We do not extend the obligations of justice to plants, because there
appears in them no indication of reason; although, even in the case
of these, while we eat the fruits we do not, with the fruits, cut away
the trunks. We use corn and leguminous vegetables when they hare fallen
on the earth and are dead. But no one uses for food the flesh of dead
animals, unless they have been killed by violence, so that there is
in these things a radical injustice."
"Wilt thou draw near the nature of the gods? Draw
near them in being merciful. True mercy is nobility's true badge...
If we depend on the argument of utility, we cannot avoid admitting by
implication that we, ourselves, were created only for the sake of certain
destructive animals, such as crocodiles and snakes and other monsters,
who seize and destroy men whom they meet - in so doing acting not at
all more cruelly than we ... Those who first perpetrated these iniquities
fatally blunted the most important part of the human mind. Therefore,
it is that Pythagoras considers kindness and gentleness to the lower
animals to be an exercise of gentleness and philanthropy. .. He who
does not restrict harmless conduct to man, but extends it to other animals,
most closely approaches Divinity.. .According to Xenocrates, there were
in existence at Eleusis[the edicts]: "Honour thy parents; sacrifice
to the gods from the fruits of the earth; injure no animals."
SAINT BASILE THE GREAT, (320-79 A.D.) Bishop of Cesarea, adjures :
If one lives soberly. "The animals will be secure;
they will never pour forth their blood; men will never cause beasts
to die; the knives of cooks will be useless; and the table will be loaded
with the fruits given us by nature, and we will be content."
"There never was wine in the Terrestrial Paradise
; they never sacrificed animals ; they never ate meat ; wine was only
invented after the Deluge,"
SAINT JEROME (340-420 A.D.) Author of the Vulgate.
"The use of the flesh of animals was unknown up to
the Deluge; but after the Deluge, men put between their teeth the sinews
and stinking juices of flesh. Jesus Christ.. . today does not permit
us to eat flesh according to the Apostle (Rom XIV. 21). It is good never
to drink wine, and never to eat flesh, for the use of wine has commenced
with that of flesh after the Deluge." - Letter from St. Jerome
ST. AUGUSTIN, (354-430 A. D.), Bishop of Hippo
in Africa, calls attention to the abstinence of the Anchorites who "not
only abstain from flesh and wine, but also from other viands. ..which
flatter taste," He also quotes from St. Paul in I Corinthians VIII.
8 and also Rom. XIV 21 "that it is good never to eat meat and drink
wine when by so doing we scandalize our brothers."
CHRYSOSTUM (347-407 A.D.) Archbishop of Constantinople;
whose attacks on sin in high places made him enemies at court and among
the wealthy classes. Scourging the customs of his time, he said : "No
streams of blood are among them (the ascetics); no butchering and cutting
up of flesh; no dainty cookery; no heaviness of head. Nor are there
the horrible smells of flesh meats atmong them, or disagreeable fumes
from the kitchen. No tumult and disturbance and wearisome clamours,
but bread and water - the latter from a pure fountain, the former from
honest labour. If at any time, however, they wish to feast more sumptuously,
the sumptuousness consists in fruits, and their pleasure in these is
greater than at royal tables. No master and servant are there. All are
servants - all are free men...
"Neither am I leading you to the lofty peak of total
renunciation of possessions ; but for the present I require you to cut
off superfluities, and to desire a sufficiency alone. Now the boundary
of sufficiency is the using those things which it is impossible to live
without. No one debars you from these, nor forbids you your daily food.
I say 'food,' not 'luxury,' 'raiment,' nor 'ornament.' Rather this frugality,
to speak, correctly, is, in the best sense, luxury. For consider who
should we say more truly feasted - he whose diet is herbs, and who is
in sound health and suffered no uneasiness, or he who has the table
of a Sybarite and is full of a thousand disorders. Clearly, the former.
Therefore, let us seek nothing more than these, if we would at once
live luxuriantly and healthfully."
So have the Great spoken two thousand years ago, as did indeed the Lord Christ, a gospel of kindness and protectiveness to all that lives. Whether in "pagan" Greece and Rome or the early followers of the Christ, all the truly Great lived a life of simplicity and harmlessness. These words of the Great sound strangely familiar to us, for today all our modern science has only succeeded in demonstrating scientifically that which they knew intuitively. Plutarch's Essay on Vegetarianism might have been written by any modern man who would quote scientific sources for his thesis. The Words of the Great came from souls attuned to the Infinite One Indwelling Life. So they reach our ears today with a force that carries conviction to our own souls - in which likewise the One Life indwells. And we see with these Great Ones that life indwelling in all lives from the humblest to the highest and, seeing, give reverence to all.