Simon Magus
Mead George Robert Stow

Part 1 out of 2

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Everybody in Christendom has heard of Simon, the magician, and how
Peter, the apostle, rebuked him, as told in the narrative of the _Acts
of the Apostles_. Many also have heard the legend of how at Rome this
wicked sorcerer endeavoured to fly by aid of the demons, and how Peter
caused him to fall headlong and thus miserably perish. And so most think
that there is an end of the matter, and either cast their mite of pity
or contempt at the memory of Simon, or laugh at the whole matter as the
invention of superstition or the imagination of religious fanaticism,
according as their respective beliefs may be in orthodoxy or
materialism. This for the general. Students of theology and church
history, on the other hand, have had a more difficult task set them in
comparing and arranging the materials they have at their disposal, as
found in the patristic writings and legendary records; and various
theories have been put forward, not the least astonishing being the
supposition that Simon was an alias for Paul, and that the Simon and
Peter in the accounts of the fathers and in the narrative of the legends
were simply concrete symbols to represent the two sides of the Pauline
and Petrine controversies.

The first reason why I have ventured on this present enquiry is that
Simon Magus is invariably mentioned by the heresiologists as the founder
of the first heresy of the commonly-accepted Christian era, and is
believed by them to have been the originator of those systems of
religio-philosophy and theosophy which are now somewhat inaccurately
classed together under the heading of Gnosticism. And though this
assumption of the patristic heresiologists is entirely incorrect, as may
be proved from their own works, it is nevertheless true that Simonianism
is the first system that, as far as our present records go, came into
conflict with what has been regarded as the orthodox stream of
Christianity. A second reason is that I believe that Simon has been
grossly misrepresented, and entirely misunderstood, by his orthodox
opponents, whoever they were, in the first place, and also, in the
second place, by those who have ignorantly and without enquiry copied
from them. But my chief reason is that the present revival of
theosophical enquiry throws a flood of light on Simon's teachings,
whenever we can get anything approaching a first-hand statement of them,
and shows that it was identical in its fundamentals with the Esoteric
Philosophy of all the great religions of the world.

In this enquiry, I shall have to be slightly wearisome to some of my
readers, for instead of giving a selection or even a paraphraze of the
notices on Simon which we have from authenticated patristic sources, I
shall furnish verbatim translations, and present a digest only of the
unauthenticated legends. The growth of the Simonian legend must unfold
itself before the reader in its native form as it comes from the pens of
those who have constructed it. Repetitions will, therefore, be
unavoidable in the marshalling of authorities, but they will be shown to
be not without interest in the subsequent treatment of the subject, and
at any rate we shall at least be on the sure ground of having before us
all that has been said on the matter by the Church fathers. Having cited
these authorities, I shall attempt to submit them to a critical
examination, and so eliminate all accretions, hearsay and controversial
opinions, and thus sift out what reliable residue is possible. Finally,
my task will be to show that Simon taught a system of Theosophy, which
instead of deserving our condemnation should rather excite our
admiration, and that, instead of being a common impostor and impious
perverter of public morality, his method was in many respects of the
same nature as the methods of the theosophical movement of to-day, and
deserves the study and consideration of all students of Theosophy.

This essay will, therefore, be divided into the following parts:

I.--Sources of Information.

II.--A Review of Authorities.

III.--The Theosophy of Simon.



Our sources of information fall under three heads: I. The Simon of the
_New Testament_; II. The Simon of the Fathers; III. The Simon of the

I.--_The Simon of the New Testament._

_Acts_ (viii. 9-24); author and date unknown; commonly supposed to be
"by the author of the third gospel, traditionally known as Luke";[1] not
quoted prior to A.D. 177;[2] earliest MS. not older than the sixth
century, though some contend for the third.

II.--_The Simon of the Fathers._

i. Justinus Martyr (_Apologia_, I. 26, 56; _Apologia_, II. 15; _Dialogus
cum Tryphone_, 120); probable date of First Apology A.D. 141; neither
the date of the birth nor death of Justin is known; MS. fourteenth

ii. Irenaeus (_Contra Haereses_, I. xxiii. 1-4); chief literary activity
last decennium of the second century; MSS. probably sixth, seventh, and
eighth centuries; date of birth and death unknown, for the former any
time from A.D. 97-147 suggested, for latter 202-3.

iii. Clemens Alexandrinus (_Stromateis_, ii. 11; vii. 17); greatest
literary activity A.D. 190-203; born 150-160, date of death unknown;
oldest MS. eleventh century.

iv. Tertullianus (_De Praescriptionibus adversus Haereticos_, 46,
generally attributed to a Pseudo-Tertullian); c. A.D. 199; (_De Anima_,
34, 36); c. A.D. 208-9; born 150-160, died 220-240.

v. [Hippolytus (?)] (_Philosophumena_, vi. 7-20); date unknown, probably
last decade of second to third of third century; author unknown and only
conjecturally Hippolytus; MS. fourteenth century.

vi. Origenes (_Contra Celsum_, i. 57; v. 62; vi. 11); born A.D. 185-6,
died 254-5; MS. fourteenth century.

vii. Philastrius (_De Haeresibus_); date of birth unknown, died probably
A.D. 387.

viii. Epiphanius (_Contra Haereses_, ii. 1-6); born A.D. 310-20, died
404; MS. eleventh century.

ix. Hieronymus (_Commentarium in Evangelicum Matthaei_, IV. xxiv. 5);
written A.D. 387.

x. Theodoretus (_Hereticarum Fabularum Compendium_, i. 1); born towards
the end of the fourth century, died A.D. 453-58; MS. eleventh century.

III.--_The Simon of the Legends._

A. The so-called Clementine literature.

i. _Recognitiones_, 2. _Homiliae_, of which the Greek originals are lost,
and the Latin translation of Rufinus (born c.A.D. 345, died 410) alone
remains to us. The originals are placed by conjecture somewhere about
the beginning of the third century; MS. eleventh century.

B. A mediaeval account; (_Constitutiones Sanctorum Apostolorum_, VI.
vii, viii, xvi); these were never heard of prior to 1546, when a
Venetian, Carolus Capellus, printed an epitomized translation of them
from an MS. found in Crete. They are hopelessly apocryphal.

* * * * *

I.--_The Simon of the New Testament._

_Acts_ (viii. 9-24). Text: _The Greek Testament_ (with the readings
adopted by the revisers of the authorized version); Oxford, 1881.

Now a certain fellow by name Simon had been previously in the city
practising magic and driving the people of Samaria out of their
wits, saying that he was some great one; to whom all from small to
great gave heed, saying: "This man is the Power of God which is
called Great." And they gave heed to him, owing to his having
driven them out of their wits for a long time by his magic arts.
But when they believed on Philip preaching about the Kingdom of God
and the Name of Jesus Christ, they began to be baptized, both men
and women. And Simon himself also believed, and after being
baptized remained constantly with Philip; and was driven out of
_his_ wits on seeing the signs and great wonders[3] that took

And the apostles in Jerusalem hearing that Samaria had received the
Word of God, sent Peter and John to them. And they went down and
prayed for them, that they might receive the Holy Spirit. For as
yet it had not fallen upon any of them, but they had only been
baptized unto the Name of the Lord Jesus.

Then they laid their hands on them, and they received the Holy
Spirit. And when Simon saw that the Holy Spirit was given by the
laying on of the hands of the apostles, he offered them money,
saying: "Give unto me also this power, in order that on whomsoever
I lay my hands he may receive the Holy Spirit."

But Peter said unto him: "Thy silver perish with thee, in that thou
didst think that the gift of God is possessed with money. There is
not for thee part or lot in this Word, for thy heart is not right
before God. Therefore turn from this evil of thine, and pray the
Lord, if by chance the thought of thy heart shall be forgiven thee.
For I see that thou art in the gall of bitterness and the bond of

And Simon answered and said: "Pray ye on my behalf to the Lord,
that none of the things that ye have said may come upon me."

II.--_The Simon of the Fathers._

i. Justinus Martyr (_Apologia_, I. 26). Text: _Corpus Apologetarum
Christianorum Saeculi Secundi_ (edidit Io. Car. Th. Eques de Otto); Jenae,
1876 (ed. tert.).

And thirdly, that even after the ascension of the Christ into
heaven the daemons cast before themselves (as a shield) certain men
who said that they were gods, who were not only not expelled by
you,[4] but even thought worthy of honours; a certain Samaritan,
Simon, who came from a village called Gitta; who in the reign of
Claudius Caesar[5] wrought magic wonders by the art of the daemons
who possessed him, and was considered a god in your imperial city
of Rome, and as a god was honoured with a statue by you, which
statue was erected in the river Tiber, between the two bridges,
with the following inscription in Roman: "Simoni Deo Sancto." And
nearly all the Samaritans, but few among the rest of the nations,
confess him to be the first god and worship him. And they speak of
a certain Helen, who went round with him at that time, and who had
formerly prostituted herself,[6] but was made by him his first

ii. Irenaeus (_Contra Haereses_, I. xxiii. 1-4). Text: _Opera_ (edidit
Adolphus Stieren); Lipsiae, 1848.

1. Simon was a Samaritan, the notorious magician of whom Luke the
disciple and adherent of the apostles says: "But there was a fellow
by name Simon, who had previously practised the art of magic in
their state, and led away the people of the Samaritans, saying that
he was some great one, to whom they all listened, from the small to
the great, saying: 'He is the Power of God, which is called Great.'
Now they gave heed to him because he had driven them out of their
wits by his magical phenomena." This Simon, therefore, pretended to
be a believer, thinking that the apostles also wrought their cures
by magic and not by the power of God; and supposing that their
filling with the Holy Spirit by the laying on of hands those who
believed in God, through that Christ Jesus who was being preached
by them--that this was effected by some superior magical knowledge,
and offering money to the apostles, so that he also might obtain
the power of giving the Holy Spirit to whomsoever he would, he
received this answer from Peter: "Thy money perish with thee, since
thou hast thought that the gift of God is obtained possession of
with money; for thee there is neither part nor lot in this Word,
for thy heart is not right before God. For I see thou art in the
gall of bitterness and the bond of iniquity."

And since the magician still refused to believe in God, he
ambitiously strove to contend against the apostles, so that he also
might be thought of great renown, by extending his investigations
into universal magic still farther, so that he struck many aghast;
so much so that he is said to have been honoured with a statue for
his magic knowledge by Claudius Caesar.

He, therefore, was glorified by many as a god; and he taught that
it was he himself who, forsooth, appeared among the Jews as the
Son, while in Samaria he descended as the Father, and in the rest
of the nations he came as the Holy Spirit. That he was the highest
power, to wit, the Father over all, and that he allowed himself to
be called by whatever name men pleased.

2. Now the sect of the Samaritan Simon, from whom all the heresies
took their origin, was composed of the following materials.

He took round with him a certain Helen, a hired prostitute from the
Phoenician city Tyre, after he had purchased her freedom, saying
that she was the first conception (or Thought) of his Mind, the
Mother of All, by whom in the beginning he conceived in his Mind
the making of the Angels and Archangels. That this Thought, leaping
forth from him, and knowing what was the will of her Father,
descended to the lower regions and generated the Angels and Powers,
by whom also he said this world was made. And after she had
generated them, she was detained by them through envy, for they did
not wish to be thought to be the progeny of any other. As for
himself, he was entirely unknown by them; and it was his Thought
that was made prisoner by the Powers and Angels that has been
emanated by her. And she suffered every kind of indignity at their
hands, to prevent her reaescending to her Father, even to being
imprisoned in the human body and transmigrating into other female
bodies, as from one vessel into another.[7] She also was in that
Helen, on whose account the Trojan War arose; wherefore also
Stesichorus[8] was deprived of his sight when he spake evil of her
in his poems; and that afterwards when he repented and wrote what
is called a recantation, in which he sang her praises, he recovered
his sight. So she, transmigrating from body to body, and thereby
also continually undergoing indignity, last of all even stood for
hire in a brothel; and she was the "lost sheep."

3. Wherefore also he himself had come, to take her away for the
first time, and free her from her bonds, and also to guarantee
salvation to men by his "knowledge." For as the Angels were
mismanaging the world, since each of them desired the sovereignty,
he had come to set matters right; and that he had descended,
transforming himself and being made like to the Powers and
Principalities and Angels; so that he appeared to men as a man,
although he was not a man; and was thought to have suffered in
Judaea, although he did not really suffer. The Prophets moreover had
spoken their prophecies under the inspiration of the Angels who
made the world; wherefore those who believed on him and his Helen
paid no further attention to them, and followed their own pleasure
as though free; for men were saved by his grace, and not by
righteous works. For righteous actions are not according to nature,
but from accident, in the manner that the Angels who made the world
have laid it down, by such precepts enslaving men. Wherefore also
he gave new promises that the world should be dissolved and that
they who were his should be freed from the rule of those who made
the world.

4. Wherefore their initiated priests live immorally. And everyone
of them practises magic arts to the best of his ability. They use
exorcisms and incantations. Love philtres also and spells and what
are called "familiars" and "dream-senders," and the rest of the
curious arts are assiduously cultivated by them. They have also an
image of Simon made in the likeness of Jupiter, and of Helen in
that of Minerva; and they worship the (statues); and they have a
designation from their most impiously minded founder, being called
Simonians, from whom the Gnosis, falsely so-called, derives its
origins, as one can learn from their own assertions.

iii. Clemens Alexandrinus (_Stromateis_, ii. 11; vii. 17). Text: _Opera_
(edidit G. Dindorfius); Oxoniae, 1869.

In the first passage the Simonian use of the term, "He who stood," is
confirmed, in the latter we are told that a branch of the Simonians was
called Entychitae.

iv. Tertullianus, or Pseudo-Tertullianus (_De Praescriptionibus_, 46).
Text: _Liber de Praes_., etc. (edidit H. Hurter, S.J.); Oeniponti, 1870.
Tertullianus (_De Anima_, 34, 36). Text: _Bibliothec. Patr. Eccles.
Select._ (curavit Dr. Guil. Bruno Linder), Fasc. iv; Lipsiae, 1859.

In the _Praescriptions_ the passage is very short, the briefest notice
possible, under the heading, "Anonymi Catalogus Heresum." The notice in
the _De Anima_ runs as follows:

For Simon the Samaritan also, the purveyor of the Holy Spirit, in
the _Acts of the Apostles_, after he had been condemned by himself,
together with his money, to perdition, shed vain tears and betook
himself to assaulting the truth, as though for the gratification of
vengeance. Supported by the powers of his art, for the purpose of
his illusions through some power or other, he purchased with the
same money a Tyrian woman Helen from a place of public pleasure, a
fit commodity instead of the Holy Spirit. And he pretended that he
was the highest Father, and that she was his first suggestion
whereby he had suggested the making of the Angels and Archangels;
that she sharing in this design had sprung forth from the Father,
and leaped down into the lower regions; and that there, the design
of the Father being prevented, she had brought forth Angelic Powers
ignorant of the Father, the artificer of this world; by these she
was detained, not according to his intention, lest when she had
gone they should be thought to be the progeny of another. And
therefore being made subject to every kind of contumely, so that by
her depreciation she might not choose to depart, she had sunk to as
low as the human form, as though she had had to be restrained by
chains of flesh, and then for many ages being turned about through
a succession of female conditions, she became also that Helen who
proved so fatal to Priam, and after to the eyes of Stesichorus, for
she had caused his blindness on account of the insult of his poem,
and afterwards had removed it because of her pleasure at his
praise. And thus transmigrating from body to body, in the extreme
of dishonour she had stood, ticketed for hire, a Helen viler [than
her predecessor]. She was, therefore, the "lost sheep," to whom the
highest Father, Simon, you know, had descended. And after she was
recovered and brought back, I know not whether on his shoulders or
knees, he afterwards had respect to the salvation of men, as it
were by the liberation of those who had to be freed from these
Angelic Powers, for the purpose of deceiving whom he transformed
himself, and pretended that he was a man to men only, playing the
part of the Son in Judaea, and that of the Father in Samaria.

v. [Hippolytus (?)] _(Philosophumena_, vi. 7-20). Text: _Refutatio
Omnium Haeresium_ (ediderunt Lud. Duncker et F.G. Schneidewin);
Gottingae, 1859.

7. I shall, therefore, set forth the system of Simon of Gittha, a
village of Samaria, and shall show that it is from him that those
who followed[9] him got their inspiration, and that the
speculations they venture upon have been of a like nature, though
their terminology is different.

This Simon was skilled in magic, and deluding many, partly by the
art of Thrasymedes, in the way we have explained above,[10] and
partly corrupting them by means of daemons, he endeavoured to deify
himself--a sorcerer fellow and full of insanity, whom the apostles
confuted in the _Acts_. Far more prudent and modest was the aim of
Apsethus, the Libyan, who tried to get himself thought a god in
Libya. And as the story of Apsethus is not very dissimilar to the
ambition of the foolish Simon, it will not be unseemly to repeat
it, for it is quite in keeping with Simon's endeavour.

8. Apsethus, the Libyan, wanted to become a god. But in spite of
the greatest exertions he failed to realize his longing, and so he
desired that at any rate people should _think_ that he had become
one; and, indeed, for a considerable time he really did get people
to think that such was the case. For the foolish Libyans sacrificed
to him as to some divine power, thinking that they were placing
their confidence in a voice that came down from heaven.

Well, he collected a large number of parrots and put them all into
a cage. For there are a great many parrots in Libya and they mimic
the human voice very distinctly. So he kept the birds for some time
and taught them to say, "Apsethus is a god." And when, after a long
time, the birds were trained and could speak the sentence which he
considered would make him be thought to be a god, he opened the
cage and let the parrots go in every direction. And the voice of
the birds as they flew about went out into all Libya, and their
words reached as far as the Greek settlements. And thus the
Libyans, astonished at the voice of the birds, and having no idea
of the trick which had been played them by Apsethus, considered him
to be a god.

But one of the Greeks, correctly surmising the contrivance of the
supposed god, not only confuted him by means of the self-same
parrots, but also caused the total destruction of this boastful and
vulgar fellow. For the Greek caught a number of the parrots and
re-taught them to say "Apsethus caged us and made us say, 'Apsethus
is a god.'" And when the Libyans heard the recantation of the
parrots, they all assembled together of one accord and burnt
Apsethus alive.

9. And in the same way we must regard Simon, the magician, more
readily comparing him with the Libyan fellow's thus becoming a god.
And if the comparison is a correct one, and the fate which the
magician suffered was somewhat similar to that of Apsethus, let us
endeavour to _re-teach the parrots of Simon_, that he was not
Christ, who has stood, stands and will stand, but a man, the child
of a woman, begotten of seed, from blood and carnal desire, like
other men. And that this is the case, we shall easily demonstrate
as our narrative proceeds.

Now Simon in his paraphrasing of the Law of Moses speaks with
artful misunderstanding. For when Moses says "God is a fire burning
and destroying,"[11] taking in an incorrect sense what Moses said,
he declares that Fire is the Universal Principle, not understanding
what was said, viz., not that "God is fire," but "a fire burning
and destroying." And thus he not only tears to pieces the Law of
Moses, but also plunders from Heracleitus the obscure.[12] And
Simon states that the Universal Principle is Boundless Power, as

"_This is the writing of the revelation of Voice and Name from
Thought, the Great Power, the Boundless. Wherefore shall it be
sealed, hidden, concealed, laid in the Dwelling of which the
Universal Root is the foundation_."[13]

And he says that man here below, born of blood, is the Dwelling,
and that the Boundless Power dwells in him, which he says is the
Universal Root. And, according to Simon, the Boundless Power, Fire,
is not a simple thing, as the majority who say that the four
elements are simple have considered fire also to be simple, but
that the Fire has a twofold nature; and of this twofold nature he
calls the one side the concealed and the other the manifested,
(stating) that the concealed (parts) of the Fire are hidden in the
manifested, and the manifested produced by the concealed.

This is what Aristotle calls "in potentiality" and "in actuality,"
and Plato the "intelligible" and "sensible."

And the manifested side of the Fire has all things in itself which
a man can perceive of things visible, or which he unconsciously
fails to perceive. Whereas the concealed side is everything which
one can conceive as intelligible, even though it escape sensation,
or which a man fails to conceive.

And generally we may say, of all things that are, both sensible
and intelligible, which he designates concealed and manifested, the
Fire, which is above the heavens, is the treasure-house, as it were
a great Tree, like that seen by Nabuchodonosor in vision, from
which all flesh is nourished. And he considers the manifested side
of the Fire to be the trunk, branches, leaves, and the bark
surrounding it on the outside. All these parts of the great Tree,
he says, are set on fire from the all-devouring flame of the Fire
and destroyed. But the fruit of the Tree, if its imaging has been
perfected and it takes the shape of itself, is placed in the
storehouse, and not cast into the Fire. For the fruit, he says, is
produced to be placed in the storehouse, but the husk to be
committed to the Fire; that is to say, the trunk, which is
generated not for its own sake but for that of the fruit.

10. And this he says is what is written in the scripture: "For the
vineyard of the Lord Sabaoth is the house of Israel, and a man of
Judah a well-beloved shoot."[14] And if a man of Judah is a
well-beloved shoot, it is shown, he says, that a tree is nothing
else than a man. But concerning its sundering and dispersion, he
says, the scripture has sufficiently spoken, and what has been said
is sufficient for the instruction of those whose imaging has been
perfected, viz.: "All flesh is grass, and every glory of the flesh
as the flower of grass. The grass is dried up and the flower
thereof falleth, but the speech of the Lord endureth for the
eternity (aeon)."[15] Now the Speech of the Lord, he says, is the
Speech engendered in the mouth and the Word (Logos), for elsewhere
there is no place of production.

11. To be brief, therefore, the Fire, according to Simon, being of
such a nature--both all things that are visible and invisible, and
in like manner, those that sound within and those that sound aloud,
those which can be numbered and those which are numbered--in the
_Great Revelation_ he calls it the Perfect Intellectual, as (being)
everything that can be thought of an infinite number of times, in
an infinite number of ways, both as to speech, thought and action,
just as Empedocles[16] says:

"By earth earth we perceive; by water, water; by aether [divine],
aether; fire by destructive fire; by friendship, friendship; and
strife by bitter strife."

12. For, he says, he considered that all the parts of the Fire,
both visible and invisible, possessed perception[17] and a portion
of intelligence. The generable cosmos, therefore, was generated
from the ingenerable Fire. And it commenced to be generated, he
says, in the following way. The first six Roots of the Principle of
generation which the generated (_sc._, cosmos) took, were from that
Fire. And the Roots, he says, were generated from the Fire in
pairs,[18] and he calls these Roots Mind and Thought, Voice and
Name, Reason and Reflection, and in these six Roots there was the
whole of the Boundless Power together, in potentiality, but not in
actuality. And this Boundless Power he says is He who has stood,
stands and will stand; who, if his imaging is perfected while in
the six Powers, will be, in essence, power, greatness and
completeness, one and the same with the ingenerable and Boundless
Power, and not one single whit inferior to that ingenerable,
unchangeable and Boundless Power. But if it remain in potentiality
only, and its imaging is not perfected, then it disappears and
perishes, he says, just as the potentiality of grammar or geometry
in a man's mind. For potentiality when it has obtained art becomes
the light of generated things, but if it does not do so an absence
of art and darkness ensues, exactly as if it had not existed at
all; and on the death of the man it perishes with him.

13. Of these six Powers and the seventh which is beyond the six, he
calls the first pair Mind and Thought, heaven and earth; and the
male (heaven) looks down from above and takes thought for its
co-partner, while the earth from below receives from the heaven the
intellectual fruits that come down to it and are cognate with the
earth. Wherefore, he says, the Word ofttimes steadfastly
contemplating the things which have been generated from Mind and
Thought, that is from heaven and earth, says: "Hear, O heaven, and
give ear, O earth, for the Lord hath said: I have generated sons
and raised them up, but they have set me aside."[19]

And he who says this, he says, is the seventh Power, He who has
stood, stands and will stand, for He is the cause of those good
things which Moses praised and said they were very good. And (the
second pair is) Voice and Name, sun and moon. And (the third)
Reason and Reflection, air and water. And in all of these was
blended and mingled the Great Power, the Boundless, He who has
stood, as I have said.

14. And when Moses says: "(It is) in six days that God made the
heaven and the earth, and on the seventh he rested from all his
works," Simon arranges it differently and thus makes himself into a
god. When, therefore, they (the Simonians) say, that there are
three days before the generation of the sun and moon, they mean
esoterically Mind and Thought--that is to say heaven and earth--and
the seventh Power, the Boundless. For these three Powers were
generated before all the others. And when they say "he hath
generated me before all the Aeons," the words, he says, are used
concerning the seventh Power. Now this seventh Power which was the
first Power subsisting in the Boundless Power, which was generated
before all the Aeons, this, he says, was the seventh Power, about
which Moses says: "And the spirit of God moved over the water,"
that is to say, he says, the spirit which hath all things in
itself, the Image of the Boundless Power, concerning which Simon
says: "_The Image from, the incorruptible Form, alone ordering all
things._" For the Power which moves above the water, he says, is
generated from an imperishable Form, and alone orders all things.

Now the constitution of the world being with them after this or a
similar fashion, God, he says, fashioned man by taking soil from
the earth. And he made him not single but double, according to the
image and likeness. And the Image is the spirit moving above the
water, which, if its imaging is not perfected, perishes together
with the world, seeing that it remains only in potentiality and
does not become in actuality. And this is the meaning of the
Scripture, he says: "Lest we be condemned together with the
world."[20] But if its imaging should be perfected and it should be
generated from an "indivisible point," as it is written in his
_Revelation_, the small shall become great. And this great shall
continue for the boundless and changeless eternity (_aeon_), in as
much as it is no longer in the process of becoming.[21]

How and in what manner, then, he asks, does God fashion man? In the
Garden (Paradise), he thinks. We must consider the womb a Garden,
he says, and that this is the "cave," the Scripture tells us when
it says: "I am he who fashioned thee in thy mother's womb,"[22] for
he would have it written in this way. In speaking of the Garden, he
says, Moses allegorically referred to the womb, if we are to
believe the Word.

And, if God fashions man in his mother's womb, that is to say in
the Garden, as I have already said, the womb must be taken for the
Garden, and Eden for the region (surrounding the womb), and the
"river going forth from Eden to water the Garden,"[23] for the
navel. This navel, he says, is divided into four channels, for on
either side of the navel two air-ducts are stretched to convey the
breath, and two veins[24] to convey blood. But when, he says, the
navel going forth from the region of Eden is attached to the foetus
in the epigastric regions, that which is commonly called by
everyone the navel[25] ... and the two veins by which the blood
flows and is carried from the Edenic region through what are called
the gates of the liver, which nourish the foetus. And the
air-ducts, which we said were channels for breath, embracing the
bladder on either side in the region of the pelvis, are united at
the great duct which is called the dorsal aorta. And thus the
breath passing through the side doors towards the heart produces
the movement of the embryo. For as long as the babe is being
fashioned in the Garden, it neither takes nourishment through the
mouth, nor breathes through the nostrils. For seeing that it is
surrounded by the waters (of the womb), death would instantly
supervene, if it took a breath; for it would draw after it the
waters and so perish. But the whole (of the foetus) is wrapped up
in an envelope, called the amnion, and is nourished through the
navel and receives the essence of the breath through the dorsal
duct, as I have said.

15. The river, therefore, he says, which goes out of Eden, is
divided into four channels, four ducts, that is to say; into four
senses of the foetus: sight, (hearing),[26] smelling, taste and
touch. For these are the only senses the child has while it is
being formed in the Garden.

This, he says, is the law which Moses laid down, and in accordance
with this very law each of his books was written, as the titles
show. The first book is _Genesis_, and the title of the book, he
says, is sufficient for a knowledge of the whole matter. For this
_Genesis_, he says, is sight, which is one division of the river.
For the world is perceived by sight.

The title of the second book is _Exodus_. For it was necessary for
that which is born to travel through the Red Sea, and pass towards
the Desert--by Red the blood is meant, he says--and taste the
bitter water. For the "bitter," he says, is the water beyond the
Red Sea, inasmuch as it is the path of knowledge of painful and
bitter things which we travel along in life. But when it is changed
by Moses, that is to say by the Word, that bitter (water) becomes
sweet. And that this is so, all may hear publicly by repeating
after the poets:

"In root it was black, but like milk was the flower. Moly the Gods
call it. For mortals to dig it up is difficult; but Gods can do all

16. Sufficient, he says, is what is said by the Gentiles for a
knowledge of the whole matter, for those who have ears for hearing.
For he who tasted this fruit, he says, was not only not changed
into a beast by Circe, but using the virtue of the fruit, reshaped
those who had been already changed into beasts, into their former
proper shape, and re-struck and recalled their type. For the true
man and one beloved by that sorceress is discovered by this
milk-white divine fruit, he says.

In like manner _Leviticus_, the third book, is smelling or
respiration. For the whole of that book treats of sacrifices and
offerings. And wherever there is a sacrifice, there arises the
smell of the scent from the sacrifice owing to the incense,
concerning which sweet smell the sense of smell is the test.

_Numbers_, the fourth book, signifies taste, wherein speech (or the
Word) energizes. And it is so called through uttering all things in
numerical order.

_Deuteronomy_, again, he says, is so entitled in reference to the
sense of touch of the child which is formed. For just as the touch
by contact synthesizes and confirms the sensations of the other
senses, proving objects to be either hard, warm, or adhesive, so
also the fifth book of the Law is the synthesis of the four books
which precede it.

All ingenerables, therefore, he says, are in us in potentiality but
not in actuality, like the science of grammar or geometry. And if
they meet with befitting utterance[28] and instruction, and the
"bitter" is turned into the "sweet"--that is to say, spears into
reaping hooks and swords into ploughshares[29]--the Fire will not
have born to it husks and stocks, but perfect fruit, perfected in
its imaging, as I said above, equal and similar to the ingenerable
and Boundless Power. "For now," says he, "the axe is nigh to the
roots of the tree: every tree," he says, "that bringeth not forth
good fruit, is cut down and cast into the fire."[30]

17. And so, according to Simon, that blessed and imperishable
(principle) concealed in everything, is in potentiality, but not in
actuality, which indeed is He who has stood, stands and will stand;
who has stood above in the ingenerable Power, who stands below in
the stream of the waters, generated in an image, who shall stand
above, by the side of the blessed and Boundless Power, if the
imaging be perfected. For three, he says, are they that stand, and
without there being three standing Aeons, there would be no setting
in order[31] of the generable which, according to them, moves on
the water, and which is fashioned according to the similitude into
a perfect celestial, becoming in no whit inferior to the
ingenerable Power, and this is the meaning of their saying: "_Thou
and I, the one thing; before me, thou; that after thee, I._"

This, he says, is the one Power, separated into the above and
below, generating itself, increasing itself, seeking itself,
finding itself, its own mother, its own father, its sister, its
spouse; the daughter, son, mother, and father of itself; One, the
Universal Root.

And that, as he says, the beginning of the generation of things
which are generated is from Fire, he understands somewhat in this
fashion. Of all things of which there is generation, the beginning
of the desire for their generation is from Fire. For, indeed, the
desire of mutable generation is called "being on fire." And though
Fire is one, yet has it two modes of mutation. For in the man, he
says, the blood, being hot and yellow--like fire when it takes
form--is turned into seed, whereas in the woman the same blood (is
changed) into milk. And this change in the male becomes the faculty
of generating, while that in the female (becomes) nourishment for
the child. This, he says, is "the flaming sword that is turned
about to keep the way of the tree of life."[32] For the blood is
turned into seed and milk; and this Power becomes mother and
father, father of those that are born, and mother of those that are
nourished, standing in want of nothing, sufficient unto itself. And
the tree of life, he says, is guarded by the fiery sword which is
turned about, (which tree), as we have said, (is) the seventh Power
which proceeds from itself, contains all (in itself), and is stored
in the six Powers. For were the flaming sword not turned about,
that fair tree would be destroyed and perish; but if it is turned
into seed and milk, that which is stored in them in potentiality,
having obtained a fitting utterance,[33] and an appointed place in
which the utterance may be developed, starting as it were from the
smallest spark, it will increase to all perfection, and expand, and
be an infinite power, unchangeable, equal and similar to the
unchangeable Aeon, which is no more generated for the boundless

18. Conformably, therefore, to this reasoning, for the foolish,
Simon was a god, like that Libyan Apsethus; (a god) subject to
generation and suffering, so long as he remained in potentiality,
but freed from the bonds of suffering and birth, as soon as his
imaging forth was accomplished, and attaining perfection he passed
forth from the first two Powers, to wit heaven and earth. For Simon
speaks distinctly concerning this in his _Revelation_ as follows:

"_To you, therefore, I say what I say, and write what I write. And
the writing is this._

"_Of the universal Aeons there are two shoots, without beginning or
end, springing from one Root, which is the Power invisible,
inapprehensible Silence. Of these shoots one is manifested from
above, which is the Great Power, the Universal Mind ordering all
things, male, and the other, (is manifested) from below, the Great
Thought, female, producing all things_.

"_Hence pairing with each other_,[34] _they unite and manifest the
Middle Distance, incomprehensible Air, without beginning or end. In
this is the Father who sustains all things, and nourishes those
things which have a beginning and end._

"_This is He who has stood, stands and will stand, a male-female
power like the preexisting Boundless Power, which has neither
beginning nor end, existing in oneness. For it is from this that
the Thought in the oneness proceeded and became two._

"_So he_[35] _was one; for having her_[36] _in himself, he was
alone, not however first, although preexisting, but being
manifested from himself to himself, he became second. Nor was he
called Father before (Thought) called him Father._

"_As, therefore, producing himself by himself, he manifested to
himself his own Thought, so also the Thought that was manifested
did not make the Father, but contemplating him hid him--that is to
say the Power--in herself, and is male-female, Power and Thought._

"_Hence they pair with each other being one, for there is no
difference between Power and Thought. From the things above is
discovered Power, and from those below Thought._

"_In the same manner also that which was manifested from them_[37]
_although being one is yet found as two, the male-female having the
female in itself. Thus Mind is in Thought--things inseparable from
one another--which although being one are yet found as two._"

19. So then Simon by such inventions got what interpretation he
pleased, not only out of the writings of Moses, but also out of
those of the (pagan) poets, by falsifying them. For he gives an
allegorical interpretation of the wooden horse, and Helen with the
torch, and a number of other things, which he metamorphoses and
weaves into fictions concerning himself and his Thought.

And he said that the latter was the "lost sheep," who again and
again abiding in women throws the Powers in the world into
confusion, on account of her unsurpassable beauty; on account of
which the Trojan War came to pass through her. For this Thought
took up its abode in the Helen that was born just at that time, and
thus when all the Powers laid claim to her, there arose faction and
war among those nations to whom she was manifested.

It was thus, forsooth, that Stesichorus was deprived of sight when
he abused her in his verses; and afterwards when he repented and
wrote the recantation in which he sung her praises he recovered his

And subsequently, when her body was changed by the Angels and lower
Powers--which also, he says, made the world--she lived in a brothel
in Tyre, a city of Phoenicia, where he found her on his arrival.
For he professes that he had come there for the purpose of finding
her for the first time, that he might deliver her from bondage. And
after he had purchased her freedom he took her about with him,
pretending that she was the "lost sheep," and that he himself was
the Power which is over all. Whereas the impostor having fallen in
love with this strumpet, called Helen, purchased and kept her, and
being ashamed to have it known by his disciples, invented this

And those who copy the vagabond magician Simon do like acts, and
pretend that intercourse should be promiscuous, saying: "All soil
is soil, and it matters not where a man sows, so long as he does
sow." Nay, they pride themselves on promiscuous intercourse, saying
that this is the "perfect love," citing the text, "the holy shall
be sanctified by the ... of the holy."[38] And they profess that
they are not in the power of that which is usually considered evil,
for they are redeemed. For by purchasing the freedom of Helen, he
(Simon) thus offered salvation to men by knowledge peculiar to

For he said that, as the Angels were misgoverning the world owing
to their love of power, he had come to set things right, being
metamorphosed and made like unto the Dominions, Principalities and
Angels, so that he was manifested as a man although he was not
really a man, and that he seemed to suffer[40] in Judaea, although
he did not really undergo it, but that he was manifested to the
Jews as the Son, in Samaria as the Father, and among the other
nations as the Holy Ghost, and that he permitted himself to be
called by whatever name men pleased to call him. And that it was by
the Angels, who made the world, that the Prophets were inspired to
utter their prophecies. Wherefore they who believe on Simon and
Helen pay no attention to the latter even to this day, but do
everything they like, as being free, for they contend that they are
saved through his (Simon's) grace.

For (they assert that) there is no cause for punishment if a man
does ill, for evil is not in nature but in institution. For, he
says, the Angels who made the world, instituted what they wished,
thinking by such words to enslave all who listened to them. Whereas
the dissolution of the world, they (the Simonians) say, is for the
ransoming of their own people.

20. And (Simon's) disciples perform magical ceremonies and (use)
incantations, and philtres and spells, and they also send what are
called "dream-sending" daemons for disturbing whom they will. They
also train what are called "familiars,"[41] and have a statue of
Simon in the form of Zeus, and one of Helen in the form of Athena,
which they worship, calling the former Lord and the latter Lady.
And if any among them on seeing the images, calls them by the name
of Simon or Helen, he is cast out as one ignorant of the mysteries.

While this Simon was leading many astray by his magic rites in
Samaria, he was confuted by the apostles. And being cursed, as it
is written in the _Acts_, in dissatisfaction took to these schemes.
And at last he travelled to Rome and again fell in with the
apostles, and Peter had many encounters with him for he continued
leading numbers astray by his magic. And towards the end of his
career going ... he settled under a plane tree and continued his
teachings. And finally running the risk of exposure through the
length of his stay, he said, that if he were buried alive, he would
rise again on the third day. And he did actually order a grave to
be dug by his disciples and told them to bury him. So they carried
out his orders, but he has stopped away[42] until the present day,
for he was not the Christ.

vi. Origenes (_Contra Celsum_, i. 57; v. 62; vi. ii). Text (edidit
Carol. Henric. Eduard); Lommatzsch; Berolini, 1846.

i. 57. And Simon also, the Samaritan magician, endeavoured to steal
away certain by his magic. And at that time he succeeded in
deceiving them, but in our own day I do not think it possible to
find thirty Simonians altogether in the inhabited world. And
probably I have said more than they really are. There are a very
few of them round Palestine; but in the rest of the world his name
is nowhere to be found in the sense of the doctrine he wished to
spread broadcast concerning himself. And alongside of the reports
about him, we have the account from the _Acts_. And they who say
these things about him are Christians and their clear witness is
that Simon was nothing divine.

v. 62. Then pouring out a quantity of our names, he (Celsus) says
he knows certain Simonians who are called Heleniani, because they
worship Helen or a teacher Helenus. But Celsus is ignorant that the
Simonians in no way confess that Jesus is the Son of God, but they
say that Simon is the Power of God, telling some marvellous stories
about the fellow, who thought that if he laid claim to like powers
as those which he thought Jesus laid claim to, he also would be as
powerful among men as Jesus is with many.

vi. ii. For the former (Simon) pretended he was the Power of God,
which is called Great, and the latter (Dositheus) that he too was
the Son of God. For nowhere in the world do the Simonians any
longer exist. Moreover by getting many under his influence Simon
took away from his disciples the danger of death, which Christians
were taught was taken away, teaching them that there was no
difference between it and idolatry. And yet in the beginning the
Simonians were not plotted against. For the evil daemon who plots
against the teaching of Jesus, knew that no counsel of his own
would be undone by the disciples of Simon.

vii. Philastrius (_De Haeresibus_, i). Text: _Patres Quarti Ecclesiae
Saeculi_ (edidit D.A.B. Caillau); Paris, 1842.

Now after the passion of Christ, our Lord, and his ascension into
heaven, there arose a certain Simon, the magician, a Samaritan by
birth, from a village called Gittha, who having the leisure
necessary for the arts of magic deceived many, saying that he was
some Power of God, above all powers. Whom the Samaritans worship as
the Father, and wickedly extol as the founder of their heresy, and
strive to exalt him with many praises. Who having been baptized by
the blessed apostles, went back from their faith, and disseminated
a wicked and pernicious heresy, saying that he was transformed
supposedly, that is to say like a shadow, and thus he had suffered,
although, he says, he did not suffer.

And he also dared to say that the world had been made by Angels,
and the Angels again had been made by certain endowed with
perception from heaven, and that they (the Angels) had deceived the
human race.

He asserted, moreover, that there was a certain other Thought, who
descended into the world for the salvation of men; he says she was
that Helen whose story is celebrated in the Trojan War by the
vain-glorious poets. And the Powers, he says, led on by desire of
this Helen, stirred up sedition. "For she," he says, "arousing
desire in those Powers, and appearing in the form of a woman, could
not reaescend into heaven, because the Powers which were in heaven
did not permit her to reascend." Moreover, she looked for another
Power, that is to say, the presence of Simon himself, which would
come and free her.

The wooden horse also, which the vain-glorious poets say was in the
Trojan War, he asserted was allegorical, namely, that that
mechanical invention typified the ignorance of all the impious
nations, although it is well known that that Helen, who was with
the magician, was a prostitute from Tyre, and that this same Simon,
the magician, had followed her, and together with her had practised
various magic arts and committed divers crimes.

But after he had fled from the blessed Peter from the city of
Jerusalem, and came to Rome, and contended there with the blessed
apostle before the Emperor Nero, he was routed on every point by
the speech of the blessed apostle, and being smitten by an angel
came by a righteous end in order that the glaring falsity of his
magic might be made known unto all men.

viii. Epiphanius (_Contra Haereses_, ii. 1-6). Text: _Opera_ (edidit G.
Dindorfius); Lipsiae, 1859.

1. From the time of Christ to our own day the first heresy was that
of Simon the magician, and though it was not correctly and
distinctly one of the Christian name, yet it worked great havoc by
the corruption it produced among Christians. This Simon was a
sorcerer, and the base of his operations was at Gittha, a city in
Samaria, which still exists as a village. And he deluded the
Samaritan people with magical phenomena, deluding and enticing them
with a bait by saying that he was the Great Power of God and had
come down from above. And he told the Samaritans that he was the
Father, and the Jews that he was the Son, and that in undergoing
the passion he had not really done so, but that it was only in
appearance. And he ingratiated himself with the apostles, was
baptized by Philip with many others, and received the same rite as
the rest. And all except himself awaited the arrival of the great
apostles and by the laying on of their hands received the Holy
Spirit, for Philip, being a deacon, had not the power of laying on
of hands to grant thereby the gift of the Holy Spirit. But Simon,
with wicked heart and erroneous calculations, persisted in his base
and mercenary covetousness, without abandoning in any way his
miserable pursuits, and offered money to Peter, the apostle, for
the power of bestowing the Holy Spirit by the laying on of hands,
calculating that he would give little, and that for the little (he
gave), by bestowing the Spirit on many, he would amass a large sum
of money and make a profit.

2. So with his mind in a vile state through the devilish illusions
produced by his magic, and weaving all kinds of images, and being
ever ready of his own villany to show his barbaric and demoniacal
tricks by means of his charms, he came forward publicly and under
the cloak of the name of Christ; and pretending that he was mixing
hellebore[43] with honey, he added a poison for those whom he
hunted into his mischievous illusion, under the cloak of the name
of Christ, and compassed the death of those who believed. And being
lewd in nature and goaded on through shame of his promises, the
vagabond fabricated a corrupt allegory for those whom he had
deceived. For picking up a roving woman, called Helen, who
originated from the city of the Tyrians, he took her about with
him, without letting people know that he was on terms of undue
intimacy with her; and when he was involved in bursting disgrace
because of his mistress, he started a fabulous kind of
psychopompy[44] for his disciples, and saying, forsooth, that he
was the Great Power of God, he ventured to call his prostitute
companion the Holy Spirit, and he says that it was on her account
he descended. "And in each heaven I changed my form," he says, "in
order that I might not be perceived by my Angelic Powers, and
descend to my Thought, which is she who is called Prunicus[45] and
Holy Spirit, through whom I brought into being the Angels, and the
Angels brought into being the world and men." (He claimed) that
this was the Helen of old, on whose account the Trojans and Greeks
went to war. And he related a myth with regard to these matters,
that this Power descending from above changed its form, and that it
was about this that the poets spake allegorically. And through this
Power from above--which they call Prunicus, and which is called by
other sects Barbero or Barbelo--displaying her beauty, she drove
them to frenzy, and on this account was she sent for the despoiling
of the Rulers who brought the world into being; and the Angels
themselves went to war on her account; and while she experienced
nothing, they set to work to mutually slaughter each other on
account of the desire which she infused into them for herself. And
constraining her so that she could not reaescend, each had
intercourse with her in every body of womanly and female
constitution--she reincarnating from female bodies into different
bodies, both of the human kingdom, and of beasts and other
things--in order that by means of their slaying and being slain,
they might bring about a diminution of themselves through the
shedding of blood, and that then she by collecting again the Power
would be enabled to reaescend into heaven.

3. And she it was at that time who was possessed by the Greeks and
Trojans; and that both in the night of time before the world
existed, and after its existence, by the invisible Powers she had
wrought things of a like nature. "And she it is who is now with me,
and on her account have I descended. And she was looking for my
coming. For she is the Thought,[46] called Helen in Homer." And it
was on this account that Homer was compelled to portray her as
standing on a tower, and by means of a torch revealing to the
Greeks the plot of the Phrygians. And by the torch, he delineated,
as I said, the manifestation of the light from above. On which
account also the wooden horse in Homer was devised, which the
Greeks think was made for a distinct purpose, whereas the sorcerer
maintained that this is the ignorance of the Gentiles, and that
like as the Phrygians when they dragged it along in ignorance drew
on their own destruction, so also the Gentiles, that is to say
people who are "without my wisdom," through ignorance, draw ruin on
themselves. Moreover the impostor said that Athena again was
identical with what they called Thought, making use forsooth of the
words of the holy apostle Paul--changing the truth into his own
lie--to wit: "Put on the breastplate of faith and the helmet of
salvation, and the greaves and sword and buckler";[47] and that all
this was in the mimes of Philistion,[48] the rogue!--words uttered
by the apostle with firm reasoning and faith of holy conversation,
and the power of the divine and heavenly word--turning them further
into a joke and nothing more. For what does he say? That he
(Philistion) arranged all these things in a mysterious manner into
types of Athena. Wherefore again, in making known the woman with
him whom he had taken from Tyre and who had the same name as Helen
of old, he spoke as I have told you above, calling her by all those
names, Thought, and Athena, and Helen and the rest. "And on her
account," he says, "I descended. And this is the 'lost sheep'
written of in the Gospel." Moreover, he left to his followers an
image, his own presumably, and they worship it under the form of
Zeus; and he left another in like manner of Helen in the guise of
Athena, and his dupes worship them.

4. And he enjoined mysteries of obscenity and--to set it forth more
seriously--of the sheddings of bodies, _emissionum virorom,
feminarum menstruorum_, and that they should be gathered up for
mysteries in a most filthy collection; that these were the
mysteries of life, and of the most perfect Gnosis--a practice which
anyone who has understanding from God would most naturally consider
to be most filthy conduct and death rather than life. And he
supposes names for the Dominions and Principalities, and says there
are different heavens, and sets forth Powers for each firmament and
heaven, and tricks them out with barbarous names, and says that no
man can be saved in any other fashion than by learning this
mystagogy, and how to offer such sacrifices to the Universal Father
through these Dominions and Principalities. And he says that this
world (aeon) was constructed defectively by Dominions and
Principalities of evil. And he considers that corruption and
destruction are of the flesh alone, but that there is a
purification of souls and that, only if they are established in
initiation by means of his misleading Gnosis. This is the beginning
of the so-called Gnostics. And he pretended that the Law was not of
God, but of the left-hand Power, and that the Prophets were not
from the Good God but from this or the other Power. And he lays it
down for each of them as he pleases: the Law was of one, David of
another, Isaiah of another, Ezekiel again of another, and ascribes
each of the Prophets to some one Dominion. And all of them were
from the left-hand Power and outside the Perfection,[49] and every
one that believed in the _Old Testament_ was subject to death.

5. But this doctrine is overturned by the truth itself. For if he
were the Great Power of God, and the harlot with him the Holy
Spirit, as he himself says, let him say what is the name of the
Power or in what word[50] he discovered the epithet for the woman
and nothing for himself at all. And how and at what time is he
found at Rome successively paying back his debt, when in the midst
of the city of the Romans the miserable fellow fell down and died?
And in what scripture did Peter prove to him that he had neither
lot nor share in the heritage of the fear of God? And could the
world not have its existence in the Good God, when all the good
were chosen by him? And how could it be a left-hand Power which
spake in the Law and Prophets, when it has preached the coming of
the Christ, the Good God, and forbids mean things? And how could
there not be one divine nature and the same spirit of the _New_ and
_Old Testament_, when the Lord said: "I am not come to destroy the
Law, but to fulfil it"?[51] And that He might show that the Law was
declared through Him and was given through Moses, and that the
grace of the Gospel has been preached through himself and his
carnal presence, He said to the Jews: "If ye believe Moses, ye
should also believe me; for he wrote about me."[52] There are many
other arguments also to oppose to the contention of the sorcerer.
For how will obscene things give life, if it were not a conception
of daemons? When the Lord himself answers in the Gospel to those
who say unto him: "If such is the case of the man and the woman, it
is not good to marry." But He said unto them: "All do not hold
this; for there are eunuchs who made themselves eunuchs for the
sake of the kingdom of the heavens."[53] And He showed that
natural abstinence from union is the gift of the kingdom of the
heavens; and again in another place He says with respect to
righteous marriage--which Simon of his own accord basely corrupting
treats according to his own desires--"Whom God has joined together
let no man put asunder."[54]

6. And how unaware is again the vagabond that he confutes himself
by his own babbling, not knowing what he gives out? For after
saying that the Angels were produced by him through his Thought, he
goes on to say that he changed his form in every heaven, to escape
their notice in his descent. Consequently he avoided them through
fear. And how did the babbler fear the Angels whom he had himself
made? And how will not the dissemination of his error be found by
the intelligent to be instantly refuted by everyone, when the
scripture says: "In the beginning[55] God made the heaven and the
earth"?[56] And in unison with this word, the Lord in the Gospel
says, as though to his own Father: "O Father, Lord of heaven and
earth."[57] If, therefore, the maker of heaven and earth is
naturally God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, all that the
slanderer Simon says is vain; to wit, the defective production of
the world by the Angels, and all the rest he has babbled about in
addition to his world of Daemons, and he has deceived those who
have been led away by him.

ix. Hieronymus (In _Matthaeum_, IV. xxiv. 5). Text: _S. Eusebii
Hieronymi Comment._; Migne _Patrol. Grec._, VII. col. 176.

Of whom there is one Simon, a Samaritan, whom we read of in the
_Acts of the Apostles_, who said he was some Great Power. And among
the rest of the things written in his volumes, he proclaimed as

"I am the Word of God; I am the glorious one, I the Paraclete, the
Almighty, I the whole of God."

x. Theodoretus _(Haereticarum Fabularum Compendium_, I. i.). Text: _Opera
Omnia_ (ex recensione Jacobi Simondi, denuo edidit Joann. Ludov.
Schulze); Halae, 1769.

Now Simon, the Samaritan magician, was the first minister of his
(the Daemon's)[58] evil practices who arose. Who, making his base
of operations from Gittha, which is a village of Samaria, and
having rushed to the height of sorcery, at first persuaded many,
by the wonder-working he wrought, to attend his school, and call
him some divine Power. But afterwards seeing the apostles
accomplishing wonder-workings that were really true and divine, and
bestowing on those who came to them the grace of the Spirit,
thinking himself also worthy to receive equal power from them, when
great Peter detected his villainous intention, and bade him heal
the incurable wounds of his mind with the drugs of repentance, he
immediately returned to his former evil-doing, and leaving Samaria,
since it had received the seeds of salvation, ran off to those who
had not yet been tilled by the apostles, in order that, having
deceived with his magic arts those who were easy to capture, and
having enslaved them in the bonds of their own legendary lore,[59]
he might make the teachings of the apostles difficult to be

But the divine grace armed great Peter against the fellow's
madness. For following after him, he dispelled his abominable
teaching like mist and darkness, and showed forth the rays of the
light of truth. But for all that the thrice wretched fellow, in
spite of his public exposure, did not cease from his working
against the truth, until he came to Rome, in the reign of Claudius
Caesar. And he so astonished the Romans with his sorceries that he
was honoured with a brazen pillar. But on the arrival of the divine
Peter, he stripped him naked of his wings of deception, and
finally, having challenged him to a contest in wonder-working, and
having shown the difference between the divine grace and sorcery,
in the presence of the assembled Romans, caused him to fall
headlong from a great height by his prayers and captured the
eye-witnesses of the wonder for salvation.

This (Simon) gave birth to a legend somewhat as follows. He started
with supposing some Boundless Power; and he called this the
Universal Root.[60] And he said that this was Fire, which had a
twofold energy, the manifested and the concealed. The world
moreover was generable, and had been generated from the manifested
energy of the Fire. And first from it (the manifested energy) were
emanated three pairs, which he also called Roots. And the first
(pair) he called Mind and Thought, and the second, Voice and
Intelligence, and the third, Reason and Reflection. Whereas he
called himself the Boundless Power, and (said) that he had appeared
to the Jews as the Son, and to the Samaritans he had descended as
the Father, and among the rest of the nations he had gone up and
down as the Holy Spirit.

And having made a certain harlot, who was called Helen, live with
him, he pretended that she was his first Thought, and called her
the Universal Mother, (saying) that through her he had made both
the Angels and Archangels; and that the world was fabricated by the
Angels. Then the Angels in envy cast her down among them, for they
did not wish, he says, to be called fabrications. For which cause,
forsooth, they induced her into many female bodies and into that of
the famous Helen, through whom the Trojan War arose.

It was on her account also, he said, that he himself had descended,
to free her from the chains they had laid upon her, and to offer to
men salvation through a system of knowledge peculiar to himself.

And that in his descent he had undergone transformation, so as not
to be known to the Angels that manage the establishment of the
world. And that he had appeared in Judaea as a man, although he was
not a man, and that he had suffered, though not at all suffering,
and that the Prophets were the ministers of the Angels. And he
admonished those that believed on him not to pay attention to them,
and not to tremble at the threats of the Law, but, as being free,
to do whatever they would. For it was not by good actions, but by
grace they would gain salvation.

For which cause, indeed, those of his association ventured on every
kind of licentiousness, and practised every kind of magic,
fabricating love philtres and spells, and all the other arts of
sorcery, as though in pursuit of divine mysteries. And having
prepared his (Simon's) statue in the form of Zeus, and Helen's in
the likeness of Athena, they burn incense and pour out libations
before them, and worship them as gods, calling themselves

III.--_The Simon of the Legends_.

The so-called Clementine Literature:

A. _Recognitiones_. Text: Rufino Aquilei Presb. Interprete (curante E.G.
Gersdorf); Lipsiae, 1838.

_Homiliae_. Text: _Bibliotheca Patrum Ecclesiasticorum Latinorum
Selecta_, Vol. I. (edidit Albertus Schwegler); Tubingensis, Stuttgartiae,

B. _Constitutiones_. Text: _SS. Patrum qui Temporibus Apostolicis
Floruerunt Opera_ (edidit J.B. Cotelerius); Amsteladami, 1724.

A. The priority of the two varying accounts, in the _Homilies_ and
_Recognitiones_, of the same story is in much dispute, but this is a
question of no importance in the present enquiry. The latest scholarship
is of the opinion that "the Clementines are unmistakably a production of
the sect of the Ebionites."[61] The Ebionites are described as:

A sect of heretics developed from among the Judaizing Christians of
apostolic times late in the first or early in the second century.
They accepted Christianity only as a reformed Judaism, and believed
in our Blessed Lord only as a mere natural man spiritually
perfected by exact observance of the Mosaic law.[62]

Summary.[63] Clement, the hero of the legendary narrative, arrives at
Caesarea Stratonis in Judaea, on the eve of a great controversy between
Simon and the apostle Peter, and attaches himself to the latter as his
disciple (H. II. xv; R.I. lxxvii). The history of Simon is told to
Clement, in the presence of Peter, by Aquila and Nicetas--the adopted
sons of a convert--who had associated with Simon.

Simon was the son of Antonius and Rachael, a Samaritan of Gittha, a
village six schoeni[64] from the city of Caesarea (H.I. xxii), called a
village of the Gettones (R. II. vii). It was at Alexandria that Simon
perfected his studies in magic, being an adherent of John, a
Hemero-baptist,[65] through whom he came to deal with religious

John was the forerunner of Jesus, according to the method of combination
or coupling.[66] Whereas Jesus had twelve disciples, as the Sun, John,
the Moon, had thirty, the number of days in a lunation, or more
correctly twenty-nine and a half, one of his disciples being a woman
called Helen, and a woman being reckoned as half a man in the perfect
number of the Triacontad, or Pleroma of the Aeons (H.I. xxiii; R. II.
viii). In the _Recognitions_ the name of Helen is given as Luna in the
Latin translation of Rufinus.[67]

Of all John's disciples, Simon was the favourite, but on the death of
his master, he was absent in Alexandria, and so Dositheus,[68] a
co-disciple, was chosen head of the school.

Simon, on his return, acquiesced in the choice, but his superior
knowledge could not long remain under a bushel. One day Dositheus,
becoming enraged, struck at Simon with his staff; but the staff passed
through Simon's body like smoke, and Dositheus, struck with amazement,
yielded the leadership to Simon and became his disciple, and shortly
afterwards died (H.I. xxiv; R. II. xiii).

Aquila and Nicetas then go on to tell how Simon had confessed to them
privately his love for Luna (R. II. viii), and narrate the magic
achievements possessed by Simon, of which they have had proof with their
own eyes. Simon can dig through mountains, pass through rocks as if they
were merely clay, cast himself from a lofty mountain and be borne gently
to earth, can break his chains when in prison, and cause the doors to
open of their own accord, animate statues and make the eye-witness think
them men, make trees grow suddenly, pass through fire unhurt, change his
face or become double-faced, or turn into a sheep or goat or serpent,
make a beard grow upon a boy's chin, fly in the air, become gold, make
and unmake kings, have divine worship and honours paid him, order a
sickle to go and reap of itself and it reaps ten times as much as an
ordinary sickle (R. II. xi).

To this list of wonders the _Homilies_ add making stones into loaves,
melting iron, the production of images of all kinds at a banquet; in his
own house dishes are brought of themselves to him (H.I. xxxii). He makes
spectres appear in the market place; when he walks out statues move, and
shadows go before him which he says are souls of the dead (H. IV. iv).

On one occasion Aquila says he was present when Luna was seen looking
out of all the windows of a tower on all sides at once (R. II. xi).

The most peculiar incident, however, is the use Simon is said to have
made of the soul of a dead boy, by which he did many of his wonders. The
incident is found in both accounts, but more fully in the _Homilies_ (I.
xxv-xxx) than in the _Recognitions_ (II. xiii-xv), for which reason the
text of the former is followed.

Simon did not stop at murder, as he confessed to Nicetas and Aquila "as
a friend to friends." In fact he separated the soul of a boy from his
body to act as a confederate in his phenomena. And this is the magical
_modus operandi_. "He delineates the boy on a statue which he keeps
consecrated in the inner part of the house where he sleeps, and he says
that after he has fashioned him out of the air by certain divine
transmutations, and has sketched his form, he returns him again to the

Simon explains the theory of this practice as follows:

"First of all the spirit of the man having been turned into the nature
of heat draws in and absorbs, like a cupping-glass, the surrounding air;
next he turns the air which comes within the envelope of spirit into
water. And the air in it not being able to escape owing to the confining
force of the spirit, he changed it into the nature of blood, and the
blood solidifying made flesh; and so when the flesh is solidified he
exhibited a man made of air and not of earth. And thus having persuaded
himself of his ability to make a new man of air, he reversed the
transmutations, he said, and returned him to the air."

When the converts thought that this was the soul of the person, Simon
laughed and said, that in the phenomena it was not the soul, "but some
daemon[69] who pretended to be the soul that took possession of people."

The coming controversy with Simon is then explained by Peter to Clement
to rest on certain passages of scripture. Peter admits that there are
falsehoods in the scriptures, but says that it would never do to explain
this to the people. These falsehoods have been permitted for certain
righteous reasons (H. III. v).

"For the scriptures declare all manner of things that no one of those
who enquire unthankfully may discover the truth, but (simply) what he
wishes to find" (H. III. x).

In the lengthy explanation which follows, however, on the passages Simon
is going to bring forward, such as the mention of a plurality of gods,
and God's hardening men's hearts, Peter states that in reality all the
passages which speak against God are spurious additions, but this is to
be guarded as an esoteric secret.

Nevertheless in the public controversy which follows, this secret is
made public property, in order to meet Simon's declaration: "I say that
there are many gods, but one God of all these gods, incomprehensible and
unknown to all" (R. II. xxxviii); and again: "My belief is that there is
a Power of immeasurable and ineffable Light, whose greatness is held to
be incomprehensible, a power which the maker of the world even does not
know, nor does Moses the lawgiver, nor your master Jesus" (R. II. xlix).

A point of interest to be noticed is that Peter challenges Simon to
substantiate his statements by quotations either from the scriptures of
the Jews, or from some they had not heard of, or from those of the
Greeks, or from _his own_ scriptures (R. II. xxxviii).

Simon argues that finding the God of the Law imperfect, he concludes
this is not the supreme God. After a wordy harangue of Peter, Simon is
said to have been worsted by Peter's threatening to go to Simon's
bed-chamber and question the soul of the murdered boy. Simon flies to
Tyre (H.) or Tripolis (R.), and Peter determines to pursue him among the

The two accounts here become exceedingly contradictory and confused.
According to the _Homilies_, Simon flees from Tyre to Tripolis, and
thence further to Syria. The main dispute takes place at Laodicaea on the
unity of God (XVI. i). Simon appeals to the _Old Testament_ to show that
there are many gods (XVI. iv); shows that the scriptures contradict
themselves (XVI. ix); accuses Peter of using magic and teaching
doctrines different to those taught by Christ (XVII. ii-iv); asserts
that Jesus is not consistent with himself (XVII. v); that the maker of
the world is not the highest God (XVIII. i); and declares the Ineffable
Deity (XVIII. iv).[70] Peter of course refutes him (XVIII. xii-xiv), and
Simon retires.

The last incident of interest takes place at Antioch. Simon stirs up the
people against Peter by representing him as an impostor. Friends of
Peter set the authorities on Simon's track, and he has to flee. At
Laodicaea he meets Faustinianus (R.), or Faustus (H.), the father of
Clement, who rebukes him (H. XIX. xxiv); and so he changes the face of
Faustinianus into an exact likeness of his own that he may be taken in
his place (H. XX. xii; R.X. liii). Peter sends the transformed
Faustinianus to Antioch, who, in the guise of Simon, makes a confession
of imposture and testifies to the divine mission of Peter. Peter
accordingly enters Antioch in triumph.

The story of Simon in the _Apostolic Constitutions_ is short and taken
from the _Acts_, and to some extent from the Clementines, finishing up,
however, with the mythical death of Simon at Rome, owing to the prayers
of Peter. Simon is here said to be conducted by daemons and to have
flown ([Greek: hiptato]) upwards. The details of this magical feat are
given variously elsewhere.[71]

The only point of real interest is a vague reference to Simonian
literature (VI. xvi), in a passage which runs as follows:

For we know that the followers of Simon and Cleobius having
composed poisonous books in the name of Christ and his disciples,
carry them about for the deception of you who have loved Christ and
us his servants.[72]

So end the most important of the legends. To these, however, must be
added others of a like nature of which the scene of action is laid at
Rome in the time of Nero.[73] I have not thought it worth while to refer
to the original texts for these utterly apocryphal and unauthenticated
stories, but simply append a very short digest from the excellent
summary of Dr. Salmon, the Regius Professor of Divinity in Dublin
University, as given in Smith and Wace's _Dictionary of Christian

The Greek _Acts of Peter and Paul_ give details of the conflict and
represent both apostles as having taken part in it. Simon and Peter are
each required to raise a dead body to life. Simon, by his magic, makes
the head move, but as soon as he leaves the body it again becomes
lifeless. Peter, however, by his prayers effects a real resurrection.
Both are challenged to divine what the other is planning. Peter prepares
blessed bread, and takes the emperor into the secret. Simon cannot guess
what Peter has been doing, and so raises hell-hounds who rush on Peter,
but the presentation of the blessed bread causes them to vanish.

In the _Acts of Nereus and Achilleus_,[75] another version of the story
is given. Simon had fastened a great dog at his door in order to prevent
Peter entering. Peter by making the sign of the cross renders the dog
tame towards himself, but so furious against his master Simon that the
latter had to leave the city in disgrace.

Simon, however, still retains the emperor's favour by his magic power.
He pretends to permit his head to be cut off, and by the power of
glamour appears to be decapitated, while the executioner really cuts off
the head of a ram.

The last act of the drama is the erection of a wooden tower in the
Campus Martius, and Simon is to ascend to heaven in a chariot of fire.
But, through the prayers of Peter, the two daemons who were carrying him
aloft let go their hold and so Simon perishes miserably.

Dr. Salmon connects this with the story, told by Suetonius[76] and Dio
Chrysostom,[77] that Nero caused a wooden theatre to be erected in the
Campus, and that a gymnast who tried to play the part of Icarus fell so
near the emperor as to bespatter him with blood.

So much for these motley stories; here and there instructive, but mostly
absurd. I shall now endeavour to sift out the rubbish from this
patristic and legendary heap, and perhaps we shall find more of value
than at present appears.


[Footnote 1: Smith's _Dictionary of the Bible_, art. "Acts of the

[Footnote 2: _Ibid._]

[Footnote 3: Lit. powers.]

[Footnote 4: The Romans.]

[Footnote 5: Claudius was the fourth of the Caesars, and reigned from
A.D. 41-54.]

[Footnote 6: Lit., stood on a roof; an Eastern metaphor.]

[Footnote 7: The technical term for this transmigration, used by
Pythagoreans and others, is [Greek: metangismos], the pouring of water
from one vessel ([Greek: angos]) into another.]

[Footnote 8: This famous lyric poet, whose name was Tisias, and
honorific title Stesichorus, was born about the middle of the seventh
century B.C., in Sicily. The story of his being deprived of sight by
Castor and Pollux for defaming their sister Helen is mentioned by many
classical writers. The most familiar quotation is the Horatian (_Ep._
xvii. 42-44):

Infamis Helenae Castor offensus vicem
Fraterque magni Castoris victi prece.
Adempta vati redidere lumina.

[Footnote 9: That is to say, the heretics.]

[Footnote 10: In a preceding part of the book against the "Magicians."]

[Footnote 11: _Deuteronomy_, iv. 24.]

[Footnote 12: Heracleitus of Ephesus flourished about the end of the
sixth century B.C. He was named the obscure from the difficulty of his

[Footnote 13: I put the few direct quotations we have from Simon in

[Footnote 14: _Isaiah_, v. 7.]

[Footnote 15: _I Peter_, i. 24.]

[Footnote 16: Empedocles of Agrigentum, in Sicily, flourished about B.C.

[Footnote 17: [Greek: phronaesis], consciousness?]

[Footnote 18: Syzygies.]

[Footnote 19: _Isaiah_, i. 2.]

[Footnote 20: _I Corinth._, xi. 32.]

[Footnote 21: [Greek: to maeketi ginomenon.]]

[Footnote 22: See _Jeremiah_, i. 5.]

[Footnote 23: _Genesis_, ii, 10.]

[Footnote 24: Veins and arteries are said not to have been distinguished
by ancient physiologists.]

[Footnote 25: A lacuna unfortunately occurs here in the text. The
missing words probably identified "that which is commonly called by
everyone the navel" with the umbilical cord.]

[Footnote 26: This is omitted by Miller in the first Oxford edition.]

[Footnote 27: _Odyssey_, x. 304, _seqq._]

[Footnote 28: [Greek: logos].]

[Footnote 29: Cf. _Isaiah_, ii. 4.]

[Footnote 30: Cf. _Luke_, iii. 9.]

[Footnote 31: Or adorning.]

[Footnote 32: _Genesis_, iii. 24.]

[Footnote 33: [Greek: logos]; also reason.]

[Footnote 34: [Greek: antistoichountes]; used in Xenophon (_Ana._ v. 4,
12) of two bands of dancers facing each other in rows or pairs.]

[Footnote 35: He who has stood, stands and will stand.]

[Footnote 36: Thought.]

[Footnote 37: The Middle Distance.]

[Footnote 38: There is a lacuna in the text here.]

[Footnote 39: [Greek: dia taes idias epignoseos.]]

[Footnote 40: Undergo the passion.]

[Footnote 41: [Greek: paredrous] C.W. King calls these "Assessors."
(_The Gnostics and their Remains_, p. 70.)]

[Footnote 42: This is presumably meant for a grim patristic joke.]

[Footnote 43: A medicinal drug used by the ancients, especially as a
specific against madness.]

[Footnote 44: The conducting of souls to or from the invisible world.]

[Footnote 45: [Greek: prounikos: prouneikos] is one who bears burdens, a
carrier; in a bad sense it means lewd.]

[Footnote 46: Or the conception (of the mind).]

[Footnote 47: Cf. 1 _Thess_., v. 8.]

[Footnote 48: A famous actor and mime writer who flourished in the time
of Augustus (circa A.D. 7); there are extant some doubtful fragments of
Philistion containing moral sentiments from the comic poets.]

[Footnote 49: [Greek: plaeroma]]

[Footnote 50: Scripture.]

[Footnote 51: _Matth._, v. 17.]

[Footnote 52: _John_, v. 46, 47.]

[Footnote 53: _Matth._, xix. 10-12.]

[Footnote 54: _Matth._, xix. 6.]

[Footnote 55: [Greek _archae_] the same word is translated "dominion"
when applied to the aeons of Simon.]

[Footnote 56: _Genesis_, i. 1.]

[Footnote 57: _Matth._, xi. 25.]

[Footnote 58: "The all-evil Daemon, the avenger of men," of the

[Footnote 59: Mythologies.]

[Footnote 60: "Rootage," rather, to coin a word. [Greek: rizoma] must be
distinguished from [Greek: riza], a root, the word used a few sentences

[Footnote 61: _Dictionary of Christian Biography_ (Ed. Smith and Wace),
art. "Clementine Literature," I. 575.]

[Footnote 62: _Dictionary of Sects, Heresies_, etc. (Ed. Blunt), art.

[Footnote 63: The two accounts are combined in the following digest, and
in the references H. stands for the _Homiles_ and R. for the

[Footnote 64: Some twenty-three miles.]

[Footnote 65: We have little information of the Hemero-baptists, or
Day-baptists. They are said to have been a sect of the Jews and to have
been so called for daily performing certain ceremonial ablutions
(Epiph., _Contra Haer._, I. 17). It is conjectured that they were a sect
of the Pharisees who agreed with the Sadducees in denying the
resurrection. _The Apostolic Constitutions_ (VI. vii) tell us of the
Hemero-baptists, that "unless they wash themselves every day they do not
eat, nor will they use a bed, dish, bowl, cup, or seat, unless they have
purified it with water."]

[Footnote 66: [Greek: kata ton taes suzugias logon.]]

[Footnote 67: This has led to the conjecture that the translation was
made from the false reading Selene instead of Helene, while Bauer has
used it to support his theory that Justin and those who have followed
him confused the Phoenician worship of solar and lunar divinities of
similar names with the worship of Simon and Helen.]

[Footnote 68: This is not to be confused with the Dositheus of Origen,
who claimed to be a Christ, says Matter (_Histoire Critique du
Gnosticisme_, Tom. i. p. 218, n. 1st. ed., 1828).]

[Footnote 69: An elemental.]

[Footnote 70: [Greek: pataer en aporraetois].]

[Footnote 71: Hegesippus (_De Bello Judaico_, iii. 2), Abdias (_Hist._,
i, towards the end), and Maximus Taurinensis (_Patr. VI. Synodi ad Imp.
Constant._, Act. 18), say that Simon flew like Icarus; whereas in
Arnobius (_Contra Gentes_, ii) and the Arabic Preface to Council of
Nicaea there is talk of a chariot of fire, or a car that he had

[Footnote 72: Cotelerius in a note (i. 347, 348) refers the reader to
the passages in the _Recognitions_ and in Jerome's _Commentary on
Matthew_, which I have already quoted. He also says that the author of
the book, _De Divinis Nominibus_ (C. 6), speaks of "the controversial
sentences of Simon" ([Greek: Simonos antirraetikoi logoi]). The author
is the Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite, and I shall quote later on some
of these sentences, though from a very uncertain source. Cotelerius also
refers to the Arabic Preface to the Nicaean Council. The text referred
to will be found in the Latin translation of Abrahamus Echellensis,
given in Labbe's _Concilia (Sacrorum Conciliorum Nova Collectio_, edd.
Phil. Labbaeus et Gabr. Cossartius, S.J., Florentiae, 1759, Tom. ii, p.
1057, col. 1), and runs as follows:

"Those traitors (the Simonians) fabricated for themselves a gospel,
which they divided into four books, and called it the 'Book of the
Four Angles and Points of the World.' All pursue magic zealously,
and defend it, wearing red and rose-coloured threads round the neck
in sign of a compact and treaty entered into with the devil their

As to the books of the followers of Cleobius we have no further

[Footnote 73: A.D. 54-68.]

[Footnote 74: Art. "Simon Magus," Vol. IV. p. 686.]

[Footnote 75: Bolland, _Acta SS._ May iii. 9.]

[Footnote 76: vi. 12.]

[Footnote 77: _Orat._ xxi. 9.]



The student will at once perceive that though the Simon of the _Acts_
and the Simon of the fathers both retain the two features of the
possession of magical power and of collision with Peter, the tone of the
narratives is entirely different. Though the apostles are naturally
shown as rejecting with indignation the pecuniary offer of the
thaumaturge, they display no hate for his personality, whereas the
fathers depict him as the vilest of impostors and charlatans and hold
him up to universal execration. The incident of Simon's offering money
to Peter is admittedly taken by the fathers from this account, and
therefore their repetition in no way corroborates the story. Hence its
authenticity rests entirely with the writer of the _Acts_, for Justin,
who was a native of Samaria, does not mention it. As the _Acts_ are not
quoted from prior to A.D. 177, and their writer is only traditionally
claimed to be Luke, we may safely consider ourselves in the domain of
legend and not of history.

The same may be said of all the incidents of Simon's career; they
pertain to the region of fable and probably owe their creation to the
Patristic and Simonian controversies of later ages.

The Simon of Justin gives us the birthplace of Simon as at Gitta, and
the rest of the fathers follow suit with variation of the name. Gitta,
Gittha, Gittoi, Gitthoi, Gitto, Gitton, Gitteh, so run the variants.
This, however, is a matter of no great importance, and the little burg
is said to-day to be called Gitthoi.[78]

The statement of Justin as to the statue of Simon at Rome with the
inscription "SIMONI DEO SANCTO" has been called in question by every
scholar since the discovery in 1574 of a large marble fragment in the
island of the Tiber bearing the inscription "SEMONI SANCO DEO FIDIO," a
Sabine God. A few, however, think that Justin could not have made so
glaring a mistake in writing to the Romans, and that if it were a
mistake Irenaeus would not have copied it. The coincidence, however, is
too striking to bear any other interpretation than that perhaps some
ignorant controversialist had endeavoured to give the legend a
historical appearance, and that Justin had lent a too ready ear to him.
It is also to be noticed that Justin tells us that nearly all the
Samaritans were Simonians.

We next come to the Simon of Irenaeus which, owing to many similarities,
is supposed by scholars to have been taken from Justin's account, if not
from the _Apology_, at any rate from Justin's lost work on heresies
which he speaks of in the _Apology_. Or it may be that both borrowed
from some common source now lost to us.

The story of Helen is here for the first time given. Whether or not
there was a Helen we shall probably never know. The "lost sheep" was a
necessity of every Gnostic system, which taught the descent of the soul
into matter. By whatever name called, whether Sophia, Acamoth, Prunicus,
Barbelo, the glyph of the Magdalene, out of whom seven devils are cast,
has yet to be understood, and the mystery of the Christ and the seven
aeons, churches or assemblies (_ecclesiae_), in every man will not be
without significance to every student of Theosophy. These data are
common to all Gnostic aeonology.

If it is argued that Simon was the first inventor of this aeonology, it
is astonishing that his name and that of Helen should not have had some
recognition in the succeeding systems. If, on the contrary, it is
maintained that he used existing materials for his system, and explained
away his improper connection with Helen by an adaptation of the
Sophia-mythos, it is difficult to understand how such a palpable
absurdity could have gained any credence among such cultured adherents
as the Simonians evidently were. In either case the Gnostic tradition is
shown to be pre-Christian. Every initiated Gnostic, however, must have
known that the mythos referred to the World-Soul in the Cosmos and the
Soul in man.

The accounts of the _Acts_ and of Justin and Irenaeus are so confusing
that it has been supposed that two Simons are referred to.[79] For if he
claimed to be a reincarnation of Jesus, appearing in Jerusalem as the
Son, he could not have been contemporary with the apostles. It follows,
therefore, that either he made no such claim; or if he made the claim,
Justin and Irenaeus had such vague information that they confused him
with the Simon of the _Acts_; or that the supposition is not
well-founded, and Simon was simply inculcating the esoteric doctrine of
the various manifestations or descents of one and the same Christ

The Simon of Tertullian again is clearly taken from Irenaeus, as the
critics are agreed. "Tertullian evidently knows no more than he read in
Irenaeus," says Dr. Salmon.[80]

It is only when we come to the Simon of the _Philosophumena_ that we
feel on any safe ground. The prior part of it is especially precious on
account of the quotations from _The Great Revelation_ ([Greek: hae
megalae apophasis]) which we hear of from no other source. The author of
_Philosophumena_, whoever he was, evidently had access to some of the
writings of the Simonians, and here at last we have arrived at any thing
of real value in our rubbish heap.

It was not until the year 1842 that Minoides Mynas brought to Paris from
Mount Athos, on his return from a commission given him by the French
Government, a fourteenth-century MS. in a mutilated condition. This was
the MS. of our _Philosophumena_ which is supposed to have been the work
of Hippolytus. The authorship, however, is still uncertain, as will
appear by what will be said about the Simon of Epiphanius and Philaster.

The latter part of the section on Simon in the _Philosophumena_ is not
so important, and is undoubtedly taken from Irenaeus or from the
anti-heretical treatise of Justin, or from the source from which both
these fathers drew. The account of the death of Simon, however, shows
that the author was not Hippolytus from whose lost work Epiphanius and
Philaster are proved by Lipsius to have taken their accounts.

The Simon of Origen gives us no new information, except as to the small
number of the Simonians. But like other data in his controversial
writings against the Gnostic philosopher Celsus we can place little
reliance on his statement, for Eusebius Pamphyli writing in A.D. 324-5,
a century afterwards, speaks of the Simonians as still considerable in

The Simon of Epiphanius and Philaster leads us to speak of a remarkable
feat of scholarship performed by R.A. Lipsius,[82] the learned professor
of divinity in the university of Jena. From their accounts he has
reconstructed to some extent a lost work of Hippolytus against heresies
of which a description was given by Photius. This treatise was founded
on certain discourses of Irenaeus. By comparing Philaster, Epiphanius,
and the Pseudo-Tertullian, he recovers Hippolytus, and by comparing his
restored Hippolytus with Irenaeus he infers a common authority, probably
the lost work of Justin Martyr, or, may we suggest, as remarked above,
the work from which Justin got his information.[83]

The Simon of Theodoret differs from that of his predecessor only in one
or two important details of the aeonology, a fact that has presumably
led Matter to suppose that he has introduced some later Gnostic ideas
or confused the teachings of the later Simonians with those of

The Simon of the legends is so entirely outside any historical
criticism, and the stories gleaned from the _Homilies_ and
_Recognitions_ are so evidently fabrications--most probably added to the
doctrinal narrative at a later date--and so obviously the stock-in-trade
legends of magic, that not a solitary scholar supports their
authenticity. Probably one of the reasons for this is the strong
Ebionism of the narratives, which is by no means palatable to the
orthodox taste. In this connection the following table of the Ebionite
scheme of emanation may be of interest:

(The One Being, the Principle of all things.)
/ \
| The Four elements.
| (This mixture produces)
| |
| |
(The Leader of the future cycle.) (The leader of the present cycle.)
| |
| |
(Heaven, light, life, etc.) (Earth, fire, death, etc.)
| |
| |
(Truth.) (Error.)
\________________ _______________/
\ /
(The union of Spirit and Body, of Truth and Error.)
________________/ \_______________
/ \
Ishmael. Isaac.
Esau. Jacob.
Aaron. Moses.
John the Baptist. Jesus.
Antichrist. Christ.
\_____________________________________ ___________________________________/
(Completion, rest.)[85]

There remains but to mention the curious theory of Bauer and the
Tubingen school. It is now established by recent theological criticism
that the Clementine writings were the work of some member or members of
the Elkesaites, a sect of the Ebionites, and that they were written at
Rome somewhere in the third century. The Elkessaeans or Elkesaites
founded their creed on a book called _Elkesai_, which purported to be an
angelic revelation and which was remarkable for its hostility to the
apostle Paul. As the _Recognitions_ contain much anti-Paulinism, Bauer
and his school not only pointed out the Ebionite source of the
Clementine literature, but also put forward the theory that whenever
Simon Magus is mentioned Paul is intended; and that the narrative of the
_Acts_ and the legends simply tell the tale of the jealousy of the elder
apostles to Paul, and their attempt to keep him from the fullest
enjoyment of apostolic privileges. But the latest scholarship shakes its
head gravely at the theory, and however bitter controversialists the
anti-Paulinists may have been, it is not likely that they would have
gone so far out of their way to vent their feelings in so grotesque a

In conclusion of this Part let us take a general review of our
authorities with regard to the life of Simon and the immoral practices
attributed to his followers, including a few words of notice on the lost
Simonian literature, and reserving the explanation of his system and
some notice of magical practices for Part III.

I have distinguished the Simon of the fathers from the Simon of the
legends, as to biography, "by convention" and not "by nature," as the
Simonians would say, for the one and the other is equally on a mythical
basis. It is easy to understand that the rejection of the Simon of the
legends is a logical necessity for those who have to repudiate the
Ebionite Clementines. Admit the authenticity of the narrative as regards
Simon, and the authenticity of the other incidents about John the
Baptist and Peter would have to be acknowledged; but this would never
do, so Simon escapes from the clutches of his orthodox opponents as far
as this count is concerned.

But the biographical incidents in the fathers are of a similar nature
precisely to those in the Clementines, and their sources of information
are so vague and unreliable, and at such a distance from the time of
their supposed occurrence, that we have every reason to place them in
the same category with the Clementine legends. Therefore, whether we
reject the evidence or accept it, we must reject both accounts or accept
both. To reject the one and accept the other is a prejudice that a
partisan may be guilty of, but a position which no unbiassed enquirer
can with justice take up.

The legends, however, may find some excuse when it is remembered that
they were current in a period when the metal of religious controversy
was glowing at white heat. Orthodox Christians had their ears still
tingling with the echoing of countless accusations of the foulest nature
to which they had been subjected. Not a crime that was known or could be
imagined that had not been brought against them; they naturally,
therefore, returned the compliment when they could do so with safety,
and though in these more peaceful and tolerant days much as we may
regret the flinging backwards and forwards of such vile accusations, we
may still find some excuse for it in the passionate enthusiasm of the
times, always, however, remembering that the readiest in accusation and
in putting the worst construction on the actions of others, is generally
one who unconsciously brings a public accusation against his own lower

This has been well noticed by Matter, who writes as follows:

"There is nothing so impure," says Eusebius, "and one cannot
imagine anything so criminal, but the sect of the Simonians goes
far beyond it."[86]

The bolt of Eusebius is strong; it is even too strong; for one can
imagine nothing that goes beyond the excess of criminality; and
Eusebius, belonging to a community who were just escaping from
punishments into which accusations no less grave had caused them to
be dragged, should not perhaps have allowed himself to speak as he
does. But man is made thus; he pursues when he ceases to be

All societies that have secret rites and a public position, as was the
case with all the early communities of Christians and Gnostics, have had
like accusations brought against them. The communities of the Simonians
and Christians may or may not have been impure, it is now impossible to
pronounce a positive opinion. The important point to notice is that the
accusations being identical and the evidence or want of evidence the
same, condemnation or acquittal must be meted out to both; and that if
one is condemned and the other acquitted, the judgment will stand
condemned as biassed, and therefore be set aside by those who prefer
truth to prejudice.

So eager were the fathers to discredit Simon that they contradict
themselves in the most flagrant fashion on many important points. On the
one hand we hear that Samaria received the seed of the Word from the
apostles and Simon in despair had to flee, on the other hand Justin, a
native of Samaria, tells us, a century after this supposed event, that
nearly all the Samaritans are Simonians. The accounts of Simon's death
again are contradictory; if Simon perished so miserably at Rome, it is
the reverse of probable that the Romans would have set up a statue in
his honour. But, indeed, it is a somewhat thankless task to criticize
such manifest inventions; we know the source of their inspiration, and
we know the fertility of the religious imagination, especially in
matters of controversy, and this is a sufficient sieve wherewith to sift
them out of our heap.

I must now say a few words on Simonian literature of which the only
geniune specimens we can in any way be certain are the quotations from
the _Apophasis_ of Simon in the text of the _Philosophumena_.

That there was a body of Simonian scriptures is undoubtedly true, as may
be seen from the passages we have quoted from the _Recognitions_,


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