Damascius: "This is my body" (From Greek)

To be alive in Byzantium at the height of its splendor while insisting on having too many thoughts of one's own was not always an easy thing. Often, it was downright dangerous, especially during the rule of a certain christomaniac named Justinian who felt free to visit more torture and misery upon pagans than any pagan emperor had ever visited upon Christians, and who took seriously the Christian imperative of world-conquest through the saving of souls. (The Orthodox Christian churches would later deem that Holy Warcriminal a saint.)

For Damascius, one of the last "pagan" philosophers, this meant a life of grief,  harassment, slander and even exile. It thus comes as no shock that he has a somewhat critical view of Christian doctrine. In this epigram on a beneficiary of Christian love (and presumably penetration), he gives his take on the medieval Church's presumption that, while human souls are all equally important in the eyes of God and thus a slave's soul could not be owned, the physical body to which one's soul was attached was like any other worldly object, and could thus be bought and sold without offending the heavens.

"This is my body"
By Damascius
Translated by A.Z. Foreman
Click to hear me read the original Greek

Vivia, a slave in body alone, is dead
So now her body is free as well.

The Original:

ζωσίμη ἡ πρὶν ἐοῦσα μόνῳ τῷ σώματι δούλη,
Καὶ τῷ σώματι νῦν εὗρεν ἐλευθερίην

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