LIBER

Isis et Osiris

Mario Meunier; Plutarco

The following is the opinion of the great majority of learned men. By some it is maintained that there are two gods, rivals as it were, authors the one of good and the other of evil.
 
The following is the opinion of the great majority of learned men. By some it is maintained that there are two gods, rivals as it were, authors the one of good and the other of evil. Others confine the name of god to the good power, the other they term demon, as was done by Zoroaster the Magian, who is said to have lived to old age five thousand years before the Trojan war. He calls the one Horomazes, the other Areimanius. The former he assserts is of all natural phenomena most closely akin to the light, the latter to darkness, and that Mithra holds an intermediate position. To Mithra therefore the Persians give the name of the mediator. Moreover he taught men to offer to Horomazes worthy and unblemished sacrifices, but to Areimanius imperfect and deformed. For they bruise a kind of grass called molu in a trough, and invoke Hades and Darkness; then mixing it with the blood of a slaughtered wolf they carry it to a sunless place and throw it away. For they regard some plants as the property of the good god, and some· of the evil demon; and so also such animals as dogs and birds ,and hedgehogs belong to the good deity, and the water rat to the evil. Of these last therefore it is meritorious to kill as many as possible.

They have also many stories to relate concerning the gods, for example that Horomazes was born of the purest light, Areimanius of the darkness, and these are hostile to one another. The former created six gods, the first three deities respectively of good-will, truth, and orderliness, the others of wisdom, wealth, and a good conscience. By the latter rivals as it were to these were formed of equal number. Then Horomazes extended himself to thrice his stature as far beyond the sun as the sun is beyond the earth, and adorned the heaven with stars, appointing one star, Sirius, as guardian and watcher before all. He made also other twenty-four gods and placed them in an egg, but Areimanius produced creatures of equal number and these crushed the egg […] wherefore evil is mingled with good. At the appointed time however Areimanius must be utterly brought to nought and destroyed by the pestilence and famine which he has himself caused, and the earth will be cleared and made free from obstruction, the habitation of a united community of men dwelling in happiness and speaking one tongue. Theopompus further reports that according to the magi for three thousand years in succession each of the gods holds sway or is in subjection, and that there will follow on these a further period of three thousand years of war and strife, in which they mutually destroy the works of one another. Finally Hades will be overthrown, and men will be blessed, and will neither need nourishment nor cast a shadow. And the deity who has accomplished these things will then take rest and solace for a period that is not long, especially for a god, and moderate for a sleeping man. To this effect then is the legendary account given by the magi.

—Plutarch De Iside et Osiride, ch. 46
Non seulement le contenu de ce traité est passionnant, mais l’édition en est ici exemplaire.

La traduction et l’annotation sont de Mario Meunier, helléniste de la vieille école ; en le qualifiant ainsi, nous entendons bien faire son éloge. Car outre que le texte de Plutarque est rendu avec simplicité et précision, et se laisse lire très agréablement, Meunier propose aussi, dans ses notes, de nombreuses réflexions tirées immédiatement des meilleurs auteurs, qui donnent souvent un réel éclaircissement.

Bref, nous ne pouvons assez recommander la lecture attentive de ce joyau de la philosophie grecque, qui raconte en détail un mythe célèbre de l’ancienne Égypte, puis en commente avec profondeur les éléments les plus importants.

https://www.arca-librairie.com/lus-pour-vous/egypte/450-plutarque-isis-et-osiris

Plutarque, dans ce traité, se propose d’expliquer la fable d’Isis et d’Osiris, deux divinités égyptiennes, et de rendre compte des opinions différentes auxquelles cette fable avait donné lieu. «Il l’a fait, dit l’abbé Batteux, avec une sorte de gravité religieuse, qui annonce non seulement les recherches et les soins de l’auteur, mais encore son respect pour le sujet qu’il traite.»

On y remarque, en effet, que Plutarque n’a rien négligé pour s’instruire de tout ce qui pouvait jeter du jour sur une matière si obscure; qu’il a consulté tous les monuments connus de son temps; qu’il a porté même ses recherches plus loin que l’Égypte; qu’il a puisé, dans la doctrine allégorique de plusieurs autres peuples orientaux, des objets de comparaison qui pussent donner plus de poids au sentiment qu’il avait embrassé.

Il y expose l’opinion de Platon et de son école sur les deux causes opposées, qui produisent tout ce qui se fait dans l’univers, l’une principe du bien, l’autre du mal; la première toujours occupée à établir dans le monde l’ordre et l’harmonie d’après lesquels il a été formé et qui sont analogues à sa nature; la seconde sans cesse appliquée à contrarier les vues de l’autre, à introduire dans l’univers les désordres physiques et moraux qui en troublent l’économie.

Cette opinion, que Plutarque a établie plus d’une fois dans ses ouvrages et dont il suit la trace à travers les traditions de presque tous les peuples, était son système favori, et il fait tous ses efforts pour y ramener les interprétations qu’il donne des différentes parties de la fable égyptienne d’Isis et d’Osiris. (Ricard, 1844).

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