To seek, to find, to know, to love, and therefore to go on seeking this boundless thing.

Gregory of Nyssa (d. AD 385 or 386), with Basil of Caesarea and Gregory Nazianzen one of the most famous of the Cappadocian Fathers, the greatest Greek theologians. The inscription reads (top left) ὁ ἅγιος (top right) γρηγόριος (bottom right) ὁ Νύσσης (bottom left): Saint / Gregory / of Nyssa. I can't make out the text at his shoulder.

Gregory of Nyssa (d. AD 385 or 386), with Basil of Caesarea and Gregory Nazianzen one of the most famous of the Cappadocian Fathers, the greatest Greek theologians. The inscription reads (top left) ὁ ἅγιος (top right) γρηγόριος (bottom right) ὁ Νύσσης (bottom left): Saint / Gregory / of Nyssa. I can’t make out the text at his shoulder.

Καὶ οὖς οὐκ ἤκουσε, καθ’ ὅσον ἐστὶ τὸ δηλούμενον, κἂν πάντοτε δέχηται τῇ ἀκοῇ τὸν λόγον· καὶ ἐπὶ καρδίαν τοῦ ἀνθρώπου οὐκ ἀνέβη, κἂν διαπαντὸς ὁ καθαρὸς τῇ καρδίᾳ ὅσον δύναται βλέπῃ· τὸ γὰρ ἀεὶ καταλαμβανόμενον τῶν μὲν προκαταληφθέντων πάντων μεῖζόν ἐστιν, οὐ μὴν ὁρίζει ἐν ἑαυτῷ τὸ ζητούμενον· ἀλλὰ τὸ πέρας τοῦ εὑρεθέντος, ἀρχὴ πρὸς τὴν τῶν ὑψηλοτέρων εὕρεσιν τοῖς ἀναβαίνουσι γίνεται. Καὶ οὔτε τελεῖται περὶ ἑαυτὴν ἡ τῶν ἀεὶ μειζόνων ἀρχή. Οὐδέποτε γὰρ περὶ τῶν ἐγνωσμένων ἡ τοῦ ἀνιόντος ἐπιθυμία ἵσταται, ἀλλὰ διὰ μείζονος πάλιν ἑτέρας ἐπιθυμίας πρὸς ἑτέραν ὑπερκειμένην κατὰ τὸ ἐφεξῆς ψυχὴ ἀνιοῦσα, πάντοτε διὰ τῶν ἀνωτέρων ὁδεύει πρὸς τὸ ἀόριστου.

Gregorius Nyssenus, Hom. In Cant. 8

And ear does not hear, to the extent that what is signified exists, even if it always receive the word with its hearing; and it does not arise in the heart of man, even if he who is pure in heart look always as much as he can; for that which always is received in its turn is greater than all which were received in their turn—but what is being sought does not terminate in itself; but the end of that which is found, becomes a beginning for the finding of higher things, for those who rise up to them. And neither does he who rises ever stop, taking in sequence beginning from beginning, nor is the beginning of the ever greater perfected about itself. For never does the enthusiasm of the one rising stop at things known, but again through other enthusiasms for what is greater to another, higher subject, does the soul, rising according to order, always make its way through higher paths to the indefinite.*

St Gregory of Nyssa, Homily on the Song of Songs, 8

*ἀόριστος, -ον, is an adjective meaning not-bounded, which is the image of the English word “indefinite”, being, etymologically, a compound adjective derived from the Latin word “finis”, “end” or “boundary”, with a privative prefix “in-“. Thus, it does not mean, “indefinite” in the postmodern sense of the term, i.e., each defines it for himself, but rather indefinite in the Socratic sense of the term, i.e., its definition is categorically beyond man’s capacity.

But I hope this is clear already from the context!

———

Aren’t the Cappadocians awesome? (I use the word advisedly)

Thanks, dear reader, should you ever find me, for being my gadfly.

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About philokalos

Philologist, historian, and lover of great books, I started this blog to keep myself alert to the beauty of what I see amid the demands of my work.
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