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Page 185

PART III - THE PAST
CHAPTER IV - GEMISTUS PLETHO

did not suspect, could endure the philosophy of that day, just as they will endure the archa=ology of this.
The gods were served by an elaborate ritual. Every morning, before breakfast, they were addressed in an allocution, which informed them at great length of their nature, parentage, and limitations. There were three more allocutions in the afternoon, and another in the evening. The style of Gemistus, never very clear, now becomes hopelessly involved ; nor is he more successful in the ` Hymns '-chilly little things in hexameters, to be sung by the assembled people. ` O Artemis, thou dost preside over diversity ; thou hast received the universe united and thou dost divide it as far as thou canst. Permit us to escape what is bad, 0 venerable goddess, and rule our lives.' On festal days these hymns were to be accompanied by music. There are also directions for annual sacrifices. But the part dealing with the duties of the priesthood was too bad, or not bad enough, to be preserved ; and Gennadius has burnt it.
` This theology is the foundation of everything ; only those who believe it can attain to happiness.' Perhaps there has never been a scheme so equally unattractive to the heart and to the head. The mere intellectual effort of remembering who is who among the gods is very trying, and it is difficult to believe that the most eccentric of souls could here find any consolation. Yet much of the ritual had probably been actually performed by the little band of disciples who gathered round Gemistus in his closing years. And he directs that ` any sophist who speaks against it shall be burnt alive.' This was the traditional language of enthusiasm ; after his death his disciples found him a place in the heaven he had constructed so carefully and defended so bravely.
Only occasionally are there moments of sobriety which recall the introduction, and moments of insight which justify it. ` It is not enough to be happy, fools can be that. We must know what happiness is, and how it comes.' ` A great name may be defiled by bad usage ; yet once used rightly, it again becomes pure.' Speaking of religious inquiry, Gemistus says: ` There is no defect in heavenly things, nor any petty jealousy, that could make the gods ashamed to reveal themselves to us.' And his choice of ancient Greece as an ideal was not always arbitrary.

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