1 This treatise is written for Hierius, in Gregory's old age. It has been thought to be spurious (Oudin, p. 605), because of Fronto Ducaeus' insertion (p. 374) about the Purgatorial Fire. But Tillemont, Semler, and Schroeckh have shown that there are no grounds for this opinion. Anastasius Sinaita mentions it (Quaest. xvi.).
2 eiper hbwsin oi kata touj nun toij logoij akmazontej. The Latin translator Laurent. Sifanus, I. U. Doct. (Basle, 1562), must have had a different text to this of the Paris Edit.: "si quidem ita floreret ut qui nunc eloquentia vigent."
3 plinqothj, playing upon plinqwn just above; a word seemingly peculiar to Gregory. We cannot help thinking here of Plato's definition of the good man, petragwnoj aneu yogou: though the idea here is that of richness rather than shape.
6 th aplanei perifora. This is of course the Ptolemaic system which had already been in vogue two centuries. Sun, and moon, and all, were "planets" round the earth as a centre: until the 8th sphere, in which the stars were fixed, was reached; and above this was the crystalline sphere, under the primum mobile. Cf. Milton, Par. Lost, iii. 481: "They pass the planets seven, and pass the fix'd:" and see note p. 257.
11 There is introduced at these words in the text of the Paris Edition the following "Explicatio," in Greek. "Here it is manifest that the father means by the `purging fire0' the torments and agonies suffered by those who having sinned have not completed a worthy and adequate repentance, according to the Gospel parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus. For it is clear that he is thinking of this parable when he says, `either purged in fire0' (i.e. the Rich Man), `or refreshed with the dew of blessing0' (i.e. Lazarus). But that sentence of the Judgment, `They shall go, these into everlasting punishment, but the just into life everlasting,0' has no place as yet in these sufferings." In other words, the commentator sees here the doctrine of Purgatory, as held by the Roman Church. And when we compare the other passages in Gregory about the "cleansing fire," especially that De Anima et Resurrectione, 247 B, we shall see that he contemplates the judgment ("the incorruptible tribunal") as coming not only after the Resurrection, but also after the chastising process. Not till the Judgment will the moral value of each life be revealed; the chastising is a purely natural process. But then the belief in a Judgment coming after everything rather contradicts the Universalism with which he has been charged, for what necessity would there be for it, if the chastising was successful in every instance? With regard to the nature of this "fire," it is spiritual or material with him according to the context. The invisible natures will be punished with the one, the visible (i. e. the World) with the other: although this destruction is not always preserved by him. See E. Moeller (on Gregory's Doctrine on Human Nature), p. 100.
17 h fusij i. e. the intellectual fusij mentioned above. If this were translated "Nature," it would contradict what has just been said about the body. It is plain that fusij contains a much larger meaning always than our sole equivalent for it; fusij is applied even to the Divine essence.
28 This mysticism of Gregory is an extension of Origen's view that there are direct affinities or analogies between the visible and invisible world. Gregory here and elsewhere proposes to find in the facts of nature nothing less than analogies with the energies, and so with the essence, of the Deity. The marks stamped upon the Creation translate these energies into language intelligible to us: just as the energies in their turn translate the essence, as he insists on in his treatise against Eunomius. This world, in effect, exists only in order to manifest the Divine Being. But the human soul, of all that is created, is the special field where analogies to the Creator are to be sought, because we feel both by their energies alone; both the soul and God are hid from us, in their essence. "Since," he says (De Hom Opif. c. xi.) "one of the attributes we contemplate in the Divine nature is incomprehensibility of essence, itis clearly necessary that in this point `the image0' should be able to show its resemblance to the Archetype. For if, while the Archetype transcends comprehension, the essence of `the image0' were comprehended, the contrary character of the attributes we behold in them would prove the defect of `the image0'; but since the essence of our Mind eludes our knowledge, it has an exact resemblance to the Supreme essence, figuring as it does by its own unknowableness the incomprehensible Being." Therefore, Gregory goes to the interior facts of our nature for the actual proof of theological doctrine. God is "spirit" because of the spirituality of the soul. The "generation" of the Son is proved by the Will emanating from the Reason. Gregory follows this line even more resolutely than Origen. He was the first Father who sought to explain the Trinity by the triple divisions of the soul which Platonism offered. Cf. his treatise De eo quod sit ad immutabilitatem, &c., p. 26.
30 eij apeiron parateinetai. Such passages as these must be set against others in Gregory, such as the concluding part of the De Anima et Resurrectione, in arriving at an exact knowledge of his views about a Universal ' Apokatastasij.
1 The modern history of this Letter is curious. Its genuineness though suspected by Bellarmine, is admitted by Tillemont, and even by Caesar Baronius. After having been edited by Morel in Greek and Latin, 1551, it was omitted from his son's edition of the works of Gregory by the advice of Fronto Ducaeus, lest it should seem to reflect upon the practice of pilgrimages. But in 1607 it was again edited (Hannov.) by Du Moulin, with a defence of it, and a translation into French by R. Stephen: this is the only instance of a vernacular version of Gregory at this time, and shows the importance attached to this Letter. It appears in the second Paris Edition, but with the vehement protests, printed in the notes, of the Jesuit Gretser, against Du Moulin's interpretation of its scope, and even against its genuineness. He makes much of its absence from the Bavarian (Munich) Cod., and of the fact that even "heretical printers" had omitted it from the Basle Edition of 1562: and he is very angry with Du Moulin for not having approached the Royal Library while in Paris, and while he had leisure from his "Calvinistic evening communions." But why should he, when the Librarian, no less a person than I. Casaubon (appointed 1598), had assured him that the Letter was in the Codex Regius? It is in Migne iii. col. 1009. See Letter to Eustathia, &c.