The Borborites

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Re: The Borborites

Post by Secret Alias » Sat Jul 15, 2017 11:40 am

From the Suda:

Headword: Βορβόροπιν
Adler number: beta,391
Translated headword: filth-holed
Vetting Status: high
Translation:
[sc. This "hole" means] cunt.[1] It also means genitals.
Greek Original:
Βορβόροπιν: κῆπον. σημαίνει δὲ καὶ τὸ μόριον.
Notes:
The headword adjective is in the accusative singular. Quoted from Hipponax (iota 588), it is transmitted variously as βορβόροπιν (or βορβορόπιν ) and, as here, βορβορόπην . The eta form is orthodox (so e.g. LSJ s.v.), i.e. with the second half of the compound as ὀπή "hole"; a technical case can be made for the iota form (see mu 1470, at n.6 there), which would require the translation "filth-faced", but the glossing seems to tell against that.
For borboros see in any event Henderson 192 #414.
[1] Literally "garden". For κῆπος in this sense (III in LSJ s.v.) see generally Henderson 135-6 #130.
“Finally, from so little sleeping and so much reading, his brain dried up and he went completely out of his mind.”
― Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, Don Quixote

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Re: The Borborites

Post by Secret Alias » Sat Jul 15, 2017 8:02 pm

The two words are often substituted for one another in different MSS. For instance - https://books.google.com/books?id=vg7VA ... 82&f=false
“Finally, from so little sleeping and so much reading, his brain dried up and he went completely out of his mind.”
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Re: The Borborites

Post by Secret Alias » Sat Jul 15, 2017 8:55 pm

The theme of βόρβορος, "mire" or "mud," is Platonic—Phaedo, 69c; Repub. 7, 533d; Plot., Enn. 1.6.5; 18.13; 6.7.31. Cf. in Gregory the "mud (πηλός) of pleasure," In Cant. 11, Vol. 6, p. 332, 2 (MG 44.1008C); man "fell into the mire of sin," De virg. 12, Vol. 8, 1, p. 299, 28 (MG 46. 372B);
and "smearing passions like mud on the pearl of the soul," De perf. Vol. 8, 1, p. 212, 2-3 (MG 46.284C). See Michel Aubineau, "Le thème du 'Bourbier' dans la littérature grecque profane et chrétienne," Rech. Sci. Rel. 47 (1959): 185-214, and H. Merki, Όμοίωσις θ∊ῳ̂ von der platonischen Angleichung am Gott zur Gottähnlichkeit bei Gregor von Nyssa (Paradosis 7, Freiburg, 1952), p. 117, who discusses the idea as it appears in Plotinus, Enn. 1.6.5
“Finally, from so little sleeping and so much reading, his brain dried up and he went completely out of his mind.”
― Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, Don Quixote

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Re: The Borborites

Post by Secret Alias » Mon Jul 17, 2017 9:12 am

Getting back to Epiphanius's report about the Borborites, it is important to see that it was conceived as little more than a follow up to the previous section on Nicolaus who is understood to be an apostolic heretic:
Though he had a beautiful wife he had refrained from intercourse with her, as though in emulation of those whom he saw devoting themselves to God. He persevered for a while but could not bear to control his incontinence till the end. Instead, desiring to return like a dog to its vomit, he kept looking for poor excuses and inventing them in defence of his own intemperate passion. (Being ashamed and repenting would have done him more good!) Then, failing of his purpose, he simply began having sex with his wife. But because he was ashamed of his defeat and suspected that he had been found out, he ventured to say, 'Unless one copulates every day, he has no part in eternal life.'4

For he had shifted from one pretence to another. Seeing that his wife was unusually beautiful and yet bore herself with modesty, he envied her. And, supposing that everyone was as lascivious as he, he began by constantly being offensive to his wife and making certain slanderous charges against her in speeches. And at length he degraded himself not only to normal sexual activity but to a blasphemous opinion, the harm of perverse teaching, and the deceit of the covert introduction of wickedness. And from this source the founders of what is falsely termed 'Knowledge' began their evil sprouting in the world6—I mean the people who are called Gnostics and Phibionites, the so-called disciples of Epiphanes, the Stratiotics, Levitics, Borborites and the rest. For each of these, in attracting his own sect with his own passions, invented countless ways of doing evil.

For some of them glorify a Barbelo7 who they claim is on high in an eighth heaven,8 and say she has been emitted by the Father. For some of them say she is the mother of Ialdabaoth,9 others, of Sabaoth. But her son has ruled the seventh heaven with a sort of insolence, and tyrannically. To the ones below him he says, 'I am the first and I am the last, and there is none other God beside me.' But Barbelo has heard what he says, and weeps.12 And she keeps appearing in some beautiful form to the archons and stealing the seed which is generated by their climax and ejaculation—supposedly to recover her power13 which has been sown in various of them. And so, on such a basis as this, he covertly brought his smutty mystery to the world. And as I said, some of the others too, with much turpitude, taught the practice—it is not right to say how they did it—of promiscuity with women and unnatural acts of intolerable perversity as the most holy apostle somewhere says, 'It is a shame even to speak of the things that are done of them in secret.'
The core 'evidence' about the Nicolatians is a misrepresentation of Clement's testimony regarding the sect in Book 3 of the Stromata (Clem. Alex. Strom. 3.4.25.5-26.3/Eus. H. E. 3.29.2). The story there is intended to show Nicolaus's chastity:
They say that he had a pretty wife. After the Savior’s resurrection he was accused of jealousy by the apostles. He brought his wife out into their midst and offered her to anyone who wanted her in marriage. They say that his action was consistent with the saying "The flesh is to be treated with contempt." Those who are members of his sect follow his word and act simply and uncritically, and indulge in unrestrained licence. However, I learn that Nicolaus had relations with no woman other than his wedded wife, and of his children the girls grew to old age as virgins, and the son remained innocent. In these circumstances it was a rejection of the passions to wheel out the wife, over whom he was charged with jealousy, into the middle of the apostles; and his control of the generally acknowledged pleasures was a lesson in "treating the flesh with contempt." I suppose that, following the Savior’s command, he did not want "to serve two masters," pleasure and God. Anyway, they say that Matthias taught the lesson of fighting against the flesh, holding it in contempt, never giving in to its desire for unrestrained pleasure, and enabling the soul to grow through faith and revealed knowledge.
It is quite fascinating how Epiphanius goes off the rails connecting the followers of Nicolaus with this contemporary 'pornographic cult' that he claims he witnessed firsthand.

Did Epiphanius simply misrepresent Clement (either from contact with the Stromata or its repetition in Eusebius)? I quicker think that he had access to the original source and interpreted it differently. Again in Stromata 2.118 we read:
Such also are those (who say that they follow Nicolaus, quoting an adage of the man, which they pervert, "that the flesh must be abused." But the worthy man showed that it was necessary to check pleasures and lusts, and by such training to waste away the impulses and propensities of the flesh. But they, abandoning themselves to pleasure like goats, as if insulting the body, lead a life of self-indulgence; not knowing that the body is wasted, being by nature subject to dissolution; while their soul is buffed in the mire of vice ( ἡ ψυχὴ δὲ αὐτῶν ἐν βορβόρῳ κακίας κατορώρυκται); following as they do the teaching of pleasure itself, not of the apostolic man (οὐχὶ δὲ ἀνδρὸς ἀποστολικοῦ μεταδιωκόντων).
We have clearly found the source of Epiphanius's reporting. Clement makes clear that it is not Nicolaus who is the heretic but his followers who strayed from this 'apostle' by choosing pleasure over his teaching. Their souls are stuck ἐν βορβόρῳ κακίας. This cannot be coincidence. But interestingly Epiphanius has changed the whole story around so that there is no longer any distinction between apostolic teacher and heretical followers. Moreover Epiphanius has connected the teachings about the Womb, Barbero/Barbelo and Ialdabaoth and gnosticism generally with Nicolaus and his followers. I am not sure that this is necessarily accurate reporting.
“Finally, from so little sleeping and so much reading, his brain dried up and he went completely out of his mind.”
― Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, Don Quixote

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Re: The Borborites

Post by Secret Alias » Mon Jul 17, 2017 9:29 am

And the citation in Clement might well go back to a Platonic reframing of Heraclitus's statement - Pigs wash themselves in mud, birds in dust or ash. (fr. 37). Plato interestingly writes "the eye of the soul is sunk in barbarian mud"
(a) Plato, Resp. 533d ἡ διαλεκτικὴ µέθοδος… τῷ ὄντι ἐν βορβόρῳ βαρβαρικῷ τινι τὸ τῆς ψυχῆς ὄµµα κατορωρυγµένον ἠρέµα ἕλκει καὶ ἀνάγει ἄνω…

(b) Plotin. Enn. 1.6.5 Ἔστι γὰρ δή, ὡς ὁ παλαιὸς λόγος, καὶ ἡ σωφροσύνη καὶ ἡ ἀνδρεία καὶ πᾶσα ἀρετὴ κάθαρσις καὶ ἡ φρόνησις αὐτή. Διὸ καὶ αἱ τελεταὶ ὀρθῶς αἰνίττονται τὸν µὴ κεκαθαρµένον καὶ εἰς Ἅιδου κείσεσθαι ἐν βορβόρῳ, ὅτι τὸ µὴ καθαρὸν βορβόρῳ διὰ κάκην φίλον· οἷα δὴ καὶ ὕες, οὐ καθαραὶ τὸ σῶµα, χαίρουσι τῷ τοιούτῳ. Τί γὰρ ἂν καὶ εἴη σωφροσύνη ἀληθὴς ἢ τὸ µὴ προσοµιλεῖν ἡδοναῖς τοῦ σώµατος κτλ.

(c) Clemens Alexandrinus, Stromata II, 20, 118, 5 οἳ δὲ εἰς ἡδονὴν τράγων δίκην ἐκχυθέντες, οἷον ἐφυβρίζοντες τῷ σώµατι, καθηδυπαθοῦσιν, οὐκ εἰδότες ὅτι τὸ µὲν ῥακοῦται φύσει ῥευστὸν ὄν, ἡ ψυχὴ δὲ αὐτῶν ἐν βορβόρῳ κακίας κατορώρυκται, δόγµα ἡδονῆς αὐτῆς, οὐχὶ δὲ ἀνδρὸς
ἀποστολικοῦ µεταδιωκόντων.
Notice the 'coincidence' that at the core of the Clement reference is the Platonic play on words borboros/barbaros viz. βορβόρῳ βαρβαρικῷ . I think we have discovered something important.

Let's cite Plato's original criticism of those who follow Orphic myths:
“You will not be able, dear Glaucon, to follow me further,1 though on my part there will be no lack of goodwill.2 And, if I could, I would show you, no longer an image and symbol of my meaning, but the very truth, as it appears to me—though whether rightly or not I may not properly affirm.3 But that something like this is what we have to see, I must affirm.4 Is not that so?” “Surely.” “And may we not also declare that nothing less than the power of dialectics could reveal5 this, and that only to one experienced6 in the studies we have described, and that the thing is in no other wise possible?” “That, too,” he said, “we may properly affirm.” “This, at any rate,” said I, “no one will maintain in dispute against us7: that there is any other way of inquiry1 that attempts systematically and in all cases to determine what each thing really is. But all the other arts have for their object the opinions and desires of men or are wholly concerned with generation and composition or with the service and tendance of the things that grow and are put together, while the remnant which we said2 did in some sort lay hold on reality—geometry and the studies that accompany it— are, as we see, dreaming1 about being, but the clear waking vision2 of it is impossible for them as long as they leave the assumptions which they employ undisturbed and cannot give any account3 of them. For where the starting-point is something that the reasoner does not know, and the conclusion and all that intervenes is a tissue of things not really known,4 what possibility is there that assent5 in such cases can ever be converted into true knowledge or science?” “None,” said he.

“Then,” said I, “is not dialectics the only process of inquiry that advances in this manner, doing away with hypotheses, up to the first principle itself in order to find confirmation there? And it is literally true that when the eye of the soul6 is sunk in the barbaric slough (βορβόρῳ βαρβαρικῷ) of the Orphic myth, dialectic gently draws it forth and leads it up, employing as helpers and co-operators in this conversion the studies and sciences which we enumerated, which we called sciences often from habit,2 though they really need some other designation, connoting more clearness than opinion and more obscurity than science. ‘Understanding,’3 I believe, was the term we employed. But I presume we shall not dispute about the name ...
The context of this statement in the Republic is to juxtapose superstition with logic and reason:

As the capstone of the sciences, dialectic is set over them (Republic 534). When
presenting the analogy of line, Plato had Socrates comment that in the higher subsection
of the world of reality/intellect, “the soul passes out of hypotheses, and goes up to a
principle which is above hypotheses, making no use of images as in the former case, but
proceeding only in and through the ideas themselves” (Republic 510-511). Now, Plato
reveals that this process is what science, namely dialectic, is all about. As Socrates puts
it:
Then dialectic, and dialectic alone, goes directly to the first principle and is the
only science which does away with hypotheses in order to make her ground
secure; the eye of the soul, which is literally buried in an outlandish slough, is
by her gentle aid lifted upwards; and she uses as handmaids and helpers in the
work of conversion, the sciences which we have been discussing. Custom terms
them sciences, but they ought to have some other name, implying greater
clearness than opinion and less clearness than science: and this, in our previous
sketch, was called understanding. (Republic 533)
Thus, through dialectic the soul finally reaches the idea of good. In this final ascent, the
soul does not employ the assistance of the senses at all; it uses only the Forms in its
reasoning, and at last it arrives at the end of the intellectual world, specifically at the
idea of good. Once the soul reaches this first principle, it can retrace its path back to
where it started, which is the hypothesis of other sciences. This whole process of
discovering the truth is best illustrated by the “Allegory of the Cave.”

So when Clement writes this:
Such also are those (who say that they follow Nicolaus, quoting an adage of the man, which they pervert, "that the flesh must be abused." But the worthy man showed that it was necessary to check pleasures and lusts, and by such training to waste away the impulses and propensities of the flesh. But they, abandoning themselves to pleasure like goats, as if insulting the body, lead a life of self-indulgence; not knowing that the body is wasted, being by nature subject to dissolution; while their soul is buffed in the mire of vice ( ἡ ψυχὴ δὲ αὐτῶν ἐν βορβόρῳ κακίας κατορώρυκται); following as they do the teaching of pleasure itself, not of the apostolic man (οὐχὶ δὲ ἀνδρὸς ἀποστολικοῦ μεταδιωκόντων).
His point is that Clement is comparing the followers of Nicolaus to the Orphics (whose mythologizing was juxtaposed against 'true science' by Plato). It would seem that he has already changed the sense of borboros to mean something sexual which wasn't in the Platonic original. Perhaps he knew that they engaged in myth-making. But this seems to have been inferred only from Epiphanius.
“Finally, from so little sleeping and so much reading, his brain dried up and he went completely out of his mind.”
― Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, Don Quixote

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Re: The Borborites

Post by Secret Alias » Mon Jul 17, 2017 9:58 am

So Plato's original ἐν βορβόρῳ βαρβαρικῷ was transformed into the Nicolatians being ἐν βορβόρῳ κακίας in the Stromata. The questions now are:

1. Did Clement transform the text or was he quoting some original source?
2. Did Epiphanius read the borboros quote in Clement or in the original source?
3. Did Epiphanius make the connection back to Plato and the barbaros/borboros play on words or was it in the original source or in another reference in Clement?
“Finally, from so little sleeping and so much reading, his brain dried up and he went completely out of his mind.”
― Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, Don Quixote

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Re: The Borborites

Post by Secret Alias » Mon Jul 17, 2017 1:15 pm

A paraphrase of the original passage in the Republic:

Resp. VII 533d: “When the eye of the soul is sunk in a veritable slough of barbarous ignorance, this method (of philosophical discussion) gently draws it forth and guides it upwards"

The early Christian tradition took over this interest in the 'eye of the soul' - even Clement of Alexandria. But notice that the reference in the Stromata only mentions 'the soul' being in the mud - implying clearly that the eye has been closed.
“Finally, from so little sleeping and so much reading, his brain dried up and he went completely out of his mind.”
― Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, Don Quixote

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