Preparatio Evangelica by Eusebius - Quotes about Hekate


'But, again, the moon is Hecate, the symbol of her varying phases and of her power dependent on the phases. Wherefore her power appears in three forms, having as symbol of the new moon the figure in the white robe and golden sandals, and torches lighted: the basket, which she bears when she has mounted high, is the symbol of the cultivation of the crops, which she makes to grow up according to the increase of her light: and again the symbol of the full moon is the goddess of the brazen sandals.

'Or even from the branch of olive one might infer her fiery nature, and from the poppy her productiveness, and the multitude of the souls who find an abode in her as in a city, for the poppy is an emblem of a city. She bears a bow, like Artemis, because of the sharpness of the pangs of labour.

'And, again, the Fates are referred, to her powers, Clotho to the generative, and Lachesis to the nutritive, and Atropos to the inexorable will of the deity.

'Also, the power productive of corn-crops, which is Demeter, they associate with her, as producing power in her. The moon is also a supporter of Koré. They set Dionysus also beside her, both on account of their growth of horns, and because of the region of clouds lying beneath the lower world.

'Further, reason is composite: in the sun it is called Hermes; in the moon Hecate; and that which is in the All Hermopan, for the generative and creative reason extends over all things. Hermanubis also is composite, and as it were half Greek, being found among the Egyptians also. Since speech is also connected with the power of love, Eros represents this power: wherefore Eros is represented as the son of Hermes, but as an infant, because of his sudden impulses of desire.

If at least they made Hephaestus fire and the force of heat, Poseidon the watery element, Hera the air, and the mountainous and rocky earth Rhea, the plain and fruitful earth Demeter, Koré the seminal power, and Dionysus the power which produces hard fruits, the sun Apollo, together with those who have been enumerated above, and the moon at one time Artemis, at another Athena, and again Hecate, and Eileithyia----are they not again convicted of deifying 'the creature rather than the Creator.' and the handiwork of the world but not the worker, with great risk and danger, and with mischief that must fall on their own head?

THE falsehood of the oracle is to be refuted in another way. For surely the sun did not come down to them from heaven, and then, after fully inspiring the recipient, utter the Phoebean oracle; since it is neither possible nor right that so great a luminary should be subjected to man's compulsion: nay, not even if they should speak of the divine and intelligent power in the sun, because a human soul could never be capable of receiving even this.

In the case of the moon also there would be the same argument. For if they mean to assert that she is Hecate, how then can it be right that she should be dragged down by constraint of men, and prophesy through the recipient, and be taken to help in base and amatory services, herself being ruler of the evil daemons----how right, I say, that Hecate should do these things? This the writer himself acknowledges, as we shall fully prove in due time.

How again could Pluto and Sarapis be changed by physical theory into the sun, when the same author declares that Sarapis is the same with Pluto, and is the ruler of the evil daemons? Moreover, in recording oracles of Sarapis how could he say they were those of the sun?

But in fact from all these considerations it only remains to confess that the physical explanations which have been described have no truth, but are sophisms and subtleties of sophistic men.


In fact the same writer, having made no slight acquaintance with the superstition which is unknown to most, says that the wicked daemons wish to be gods, and to have among men the reputation of being good.

And who the power presiding over them happens to be, shall be made clear by the same author again, who says that the rulers of the wicked daemons are Sarapis and Hecate; but the sacred scripture says Beelzebul. Hear then how he writes on this point in his book Of the Philosophy to be derived from Oracles.

So much then concerning the wicked daemons, the ruler of whom he says is Sarapis. But the same author also teaches us that Hecate rules them, speaking thus: 47

'Are not these perhaps they over whom Sarapis rules, and whose symbol is the three-headed dog, that is the wicked daemon in the three elements, water, earth, air: these are restrained by the god, who has them under his hand. But Hecate also rules them, as holding the threefold, elements together.'

And again he (Porphyry) says: 48

'After quoting yet one oracle, composed by Hecate herself, I will bring my account of her to an end.

'Lo! here the virgin, who in changing forms

Runs forth o'er highest heaven, with bovine face,

Three-headed, ruthless, arm'd with shafts of gold,

Chaste Phoebe, Ilithyia, light of men;

Of nature's elements the triple sign,

In ether manifest in forms of fire,

Upon the air in shining car I sit,

While earth in leash holds my black brood of whelps.'

After these verses the author plainly states who the whelps are; namely, that they are the wicked daemons, of whom we have just ceased speaking. So much then for these statements. But by still more evidence let us go on to confirm our argument, that those who are by the many regarded as gods are in reality wicked daemons, bringing with them no good at all.




'NE'ER mid the immortal gods an idle threat 

Or unaccomplish'd doom to seers inspir'd 

Spake Hecate; but from the almighty mind 

Of Zeus descends in brightest truth array'd. 

Lo! by my side walks Wisdom with firm step, 

Leaning on oracles that ne'er can fail.

In bonds secure me: for my power divine 

Can give a soul to worlds beyond the sky.'

Perhaps then on this account the soul is of threefold form and parts: and one part of it is irascible, and another concupiscent, by which latter it is invited to amorous indulgence. These are not my ideas, do not suppose it, but what you have heard from the writer before mentioned; from whom again the following is taken:

'But what utterly perplexes me is, how, being invoked as superiors, they receive orders as inferiors; and while requiring their worshipper to be just, they submit when bidden themselves to do injustice; and, while they would not listen to one who invokes them, if defiled by sensual pleasure, do not hesitate themselves to lead any whom they meet into lawless indulgence.'


[PORPHYRY] 'THIS also was rightly declared by Pythagoras of Rhodes, that the gods who are invoked over the sacrifices have no pleasure therein, but come because they are dragged by a certain necessity of following, and some of them more, and some less.

'Some however, having made as it were a custom of being present, attend more readily, and especially if they happen to be of a good nature: but others, even if they are accustomed to be present, are eager to do some harm, and especially if any one seems to behave rather carelessly in the performances.

'For as Pythagoras had made these statements, I learned, by close observation of the oracles, how true his words are. For all the gods say that they have come by compulsion, yet not simply so, but as it were, if I may so speak, by compulsion under the guise of persuasion.

'In what goes before we have mentioned those statements of Hecate, as to the means by which she says she is made to appear:

"The lightsome air and boundless realm of stars, 

Unsullied home of deity, I leave, 

To tread the fruitful earth at thy command: 

Thou know'st the secret spell, which mortal man 

Has learn'd, to charm immortal spirits down."

'And again:

"I come at sound of thy persuasive prayer, 

Which man inspir'd by heavenly counsels learn'd."

'And still more plainly:

"What need of thine, by spells that bind the gods, 

Calls Hecate from swiftest ether down?"

'And then:

"Some from the sky thy wheel with mystic charm 

Draws swiftly, though unwilling, down to earth. 

And others floating midway on the winds, 

From the bright empyrean far remov'd, 

As ominous dreams thou dost to mortals send, 

Service unseemly laid on powers divine."

'And again:

"Some from their lofty home above the sky 

Down through mid air with Harpies swift descending 

Bow to the mystic spells that bind the gods, 

And rushing swiftly down to Deo's earth 

Bring messages to man of things to come."

'And again another is compelled to say:

"Hear the unwilling voice thy power constrains."'

After this again the author says:

'For they give out answers for their own compulsion, as will be shown by Apollo's answer as to means of compelling him. It is expressed thus:

"Strong to compel and weighty is this name." 

'Then he added:

"Then come thou swiftly at these words, 

Drawn from my heart in mystic chant, 

The while I quench the sacred fire. 

Thus nature dares thy birth divine, 

Immortal Paean, to declare."

'And again Apollo himself speaks:

"A stream of heavenly light from Phoebus flowing, 

Veil'd in the clear breath of the purest air, 

By soothing song and mystic spell allur'd 

Falls like a glory round the prophet's head, 

Pierces the delicate membrane of the brain, 

Fills the soft coating of the inward frame, 

Thence surging upward in hot stream returns, 

And through the living pipe gains welcome voice."'

To this the writer adds the remark:

'Nothing could be plainer than this, nothing more godlike and more natural; for that which comes down is a spirit; and an emanation from the heavenly power having entered into an organized and living body, uses the soul as a basis, and through the body, as its organ, utters speech.'

But this is sufficient to prove that they suffer compulsion; and that they also request to be set free, as if it were not in their own power to withdraw, you may learn from what follows.


'THAT they themselves suggested how even their statues ought to be made, and of what kind of material, shall be shown by the response of Hecate in the following form:

"My image purify, as I shall show: 

Of wild rue form the frame, and deck it o'er 

With lizards such as run about the house; 

These mix with resin, myrrh, and frankincense, 

Pound all together in the open air 

Under the crescent moon, and add this vow."

'Then she set forth the vow, and showed how many lizards must be taken:

"Take lizards many as my many forms, 

And do all this with care. My spacious house 

With branches of self-planted laurel form. 

Then to my image offer many a prayer, 

And in thy sleep thou shalt behold me nigh."

'And again in another place she described an image of herself of this same kind.'

'Hecate also speaks of herself thus:

"Do all anon: a statue too therein; 

My form----Demeter bright with autumn fruits, 

White robes, and feet with golden sandals bound. 

Around the waist long snakes run to and fro, 

Gliding o'er all with undefiled track, 

And from the head down even to the feet 

Wrapping me fairly round with spiral coils."

'And the material, she says, must be

"Of Parian stone or polish'd ivory."

The symbols of Hecate are wax of three colours, white and black and red combined, having a figure of Hecate bearing a scourge, and torch, and sword, with a serpent to be coiled round her; and the symbols of Uranus are the mariners' stars nailed up before the doors. For these symbols the gods themselves have indicated in the following verses. The speaker is Pan:

"Evil spirits drive afar: 

Then upon the fire set wax 

Gleaming fair with colours three, 

White and black must mingle there 

With the glowing embers' red, 

Terror to the dogs of hell. 

Then let Hecate's dread form 

Hold in her hand a blazing torch, 

And the avenging sword of fate; 

While closely round the goddess wrapp'd 

A snake fast holds her in his coils, 

And wreathes about her awful brow. 

Let the shining key be there, 

And the far-resounding scourge, 

Symbol of the daemons' power."'

By these and the like quotations this noble philosopher of the Greeks, this admirable theologian, this initiate in secret mysteries, exhibits The Philosophy to be derived from Oracles as containing secret oracles of the gods, while openly proclaiming the plots laid against men by their wicked and truly daemoniacal power. For what benefit to human life can there be from these evil arts of sorcery? Or what pleasure to the gods in this scrupulous care about lifeless statues? Of what divine power can there be a likeness in the formation of such shapes? Why should he not have counselled us to study philosophy rather than to practise magic and pursue forbidden arts, if the path of virtue and philosophy is sufficient for a happy and blessed life? But he, continuing his own refutation, adds to what has been mentioned the following: 19 


[PORPHYRY] 'Now that they love the symbols of their features is signified by Hecate comparing them with what men love, as follows:

"What mortal longs not for the features carv'd 

In bronze, or gold, or silver gleaming bright? 

What god loves not this pedestal, whereon 

I weave the tangled web of human fates?"'

He has made it clear that not only the features are dear, but that also, as I said, the gods themselves are confined therein, and dwell in the underlying likeness as it were in a sacred place: for they could not be supported on earth, except on sacred ground: and that ground is sacred which bears the image of the deity; but if the image be taken away, the bond which held the deity on earth is loosed.