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by Socrates, to shew the folly or absurdity of a certain thing, by pointing out the same folly or absurdity in something else that resembled it. Thus to prove the folly of choosing magistrates, that is, persons appointed to command, and preside over others in the state, by lot it would be just as reasonable, Socrates argued, to choose the combatants in the games by lot; to appoint the pilot of a ship by lot. The Memorabilia of Xenophon abound in such examples of his mode of arguing upon practical subjects". One similar instance occurs also at the beginning of the Rhetorica of Aristotle, where he is arguing against the impropriety of prejudicing the understanding of a judge by an appeal to his passions? It would be just as wise, says he, to make crooked a rule.
The common principle of all such reasonings as these, is this. Something is supposed, which is not a real matter of fact; that is, which never actually holds good in practice; but which something, if it were real, and did hold good in practice, would be exactly the counterpart of a certain matter of fact and notoriety ; of something which actually does obtain in practice. The tapaßon, therefore necessarily cites and supposes a parallel case of some kind or other—and consequently is always an example. But it supposes a parallel case, which is never real; and consequently it is an example, which is always a fictitious one : yet such a fictitious case, that if it were real, it would be just the same kind of thing as something which is real. Of this parallel case, thus hypothetically assumed as real, some manifest absurdity holds good: whence it is inferred, and justly so, on the principle of analogy, that the same absurdity does, or ought to hold good, of the real case, parallel to it. The parable of rhetoric, then, was always a species of the argument a pari, or from analogy, in general ; and that species of this argument in particular, which had for its object the elenchus, or reductio ad absurdum ; which was directed to the exposure of some practical folly and absurdity in one thing, by pointing out the same kind of folly and absurdity in other things, which resembled it. It is well known that Socrates was a great master of this peculiar weapon of dialectic ; but it has not, perhaps, been sufficiently attended to by commentators on the Gospels, that our Saviour also has dignified and ennobled its use, by resorting to it on various occasions.
lj. i. 5.
k Cf. Memorabilia, i. ii. 9. 12; ii. vi. 38.
To these instances of its use by him, we find St. Luke twice premising the words, είπε δε παραβολήν αυτούς, Or έλεγε δε και παραβολήν προς αυτούς m : and if we analyse the reasonings which follow, we shall find them to be of the kind described by Aristotle, under the name of the parable of rhetoric—the reductio ad absurdum, by virtue of a parallel case; the refutation or exposure of an error, which actually holds good in practice, by the comparison of something, which resembles it, and would be just as absurd, if real; the elenchus or conviction of an adversary, on principles which he cannot deny himself; and the like.
Take the first, Luke v. 36. To force the observance of fastings, or of similar austerities, on those who were not yet prepared for them, or the circuinstances of whose situation, were not yet befitting for them, would be just as absurd as to put a piece of new cloth on an old garment; which either will not sustain the new, or will not match with it. And so, of the instances which follow to the end of the chapter.
m Luke v. 36. Harm. ii. 28. vi. 39. Harm. iii. 5.
Take again the examples specified, Luke vi. 39, &c. For one, who himself is still in need of reformation or instruction, to attempt to reform, or to instruct another, would be just as absurd as for a blind man to pretend to guide a blind man; a scholar to endeavour to teach his master.
Even in the instance specified, Luke iv. 23, where the word napalony is used in the sense of the word naporuía, or proverb, still the nature of the reasoning is the same. For Jesus not to perform such miracles, in behalf of his own countrymen, at Nazareth, as he had performed for strangers, in Capernaum, would be as absurd, as if a physician were to cure others, but to neglect himself.
They are strictly such parables as those of Aristotle, which St. Mark recounts iii. 23. in the answer of Jesus to the charge of casting out devils, by the ruler or prince of the devils ; premising to them the words, έν παραβολαίς έλεγεν αυτοίς 1. Every case supposed in this account of his answer, is one which, if real, would be parallel to the alleged fact of our Lord's casting out devils by Beelzebub: and if it were real, would involve an obvious absurdity. And hence, perhaps, we may infer that St. Mark also was not ignorant of the technical sense of the word napaßoan, no more than St. Luke.
n Harm. iii, 13.
APPENDIX, CHAPTER II.
HISTORICAL EXAMPLES OF THE USE OF
VIDE GENERAL INTRODUCTION, CHAP. V. p. 79, 80.
THE original name of the fable or apologue, in Greek, was aivos, which, however, is the same in meaning as the more common one of λόγος, or μύθος. Its name in Latin is of course fabula; whence our English word for it is derived; though Quinctilian tells us some of his countrymen had attempted to render it, non sane recepto in usum nomine, by Apologatio a.
Under the name of aivos, we meet with a genuine specimen of the fable in the following passage of Hesiod, the most ancient classical author, whose writings have come down to us; as he is believed to have flourished in the latter part of the tenth century before Christ, and was, therefore, contemporary with Asa king of Judah, or Jehoshaphat his
Νύν δ' αίνον βασιλεύσ' ερέω, φρονέoυσι και αυτοίς.
a Institut. Orat. v. xi. 10.
ύψι μάλ' εν νεφέεσσι φέρων, ονύχεσσι μεμαρπώς:
Opera et Dies, 200. Now will I read for kings, though wise, a taleThus spoke the hawk the mottled nightingale, Clutched in his talons, borne mid clouds on high. She, by curved talons pierced, with plaintive cry, Both loud and piteous, her sad fears confest ; When thus the tyrant stern his prey addrest. " What ails thee, wretch ? will cries avail thee now, “ When one has got thee, mightier far than thou ? “ Thou'rt mine--and chauntress as thou art, must know, “ That where I take thee, there thou canst but go.
My supper, if I list, I'll make on thee : “ Or, if I better list, will set thee free. “ No prize such contests but disgrace betides, “ And they that wage them rue their shame besides« When fools would vie with rivals much too strong.” So said the fleet hawk, bird of pinion long.
In the fragments of Archilochus, likewise, who after Homer is the next Greek poet in point of antiquity, to Hesiod, and flourished about the beginning of the seventh century before Christ, in the reign of Hezekiah or of Manasseh, kings of Judah, two more alvor occur, as follows;
Αϊνός τις ανθρώπων όδε,