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April 14, 2020

"The Symposium of the Ten Virgins" (St. Methodios of Olympus)

"The number of the ten virgins signifies the souls that have believed in Jesus Christ, symbolizing by the ten the only right way to heaven." - St. Methodios of Olympus

J. Pauli writes (Dictionary of Early Christian Literature, p. 422):

The Symposion seu convivium virginum, written in an elegant style and modeled on Plato's Symposium, gives a comprehensive introduction to various areas of Christian doctrine and attests to Methodius's vision of a completion of Platonism by Christianity. Ten virgins, taking part in a banquet in the garden of Virtue, each starting from a citation of scripture, praise not Eros but Parthenia as the perfect ideal of Christian life (though marriage is not rejected). The divine image in human beings is restored by chastity/virginity; the body then obeys the soul. At the end of the work, Thekla sings a marriage hymn in 24 strophes to Christ the bridegroom (an archetype of virginity: archiparthenos) and his bride the Church."

Chapter I.-The Difficulty and Excellence of Virginity; The Study of Doctrine Necessary for Virgins.

Chapter II.-Virginity a Plant from Heaven, Introduced Late; The Advancement of Mankind to Perfection, How Arranged.

Chapter III.-By the Circumcision of Abraham, Marriage with Sisters Forbidden; In the Times of the Prophets Polygamy Put a Stop To; Conjugal Purity Itself by Degrees Enforced.

Chapter IV.-Christ Alone Taught Virginity, Openly Preaching the Kingdom of Heaven; The Likeness of God to Be Attained in the Light of the Divine Virtues.

Chapter V.-Christ, by Preserving His Flesh In-Corrupt in Virginity, Draws to the Exercise of Virginity; The Small Number of Virgins in Proportion to the Number of Saints.

Chapter I.-Marriage Not Abolished by the Commendation of Virginity.

Chapter II.-Generation Something Akin to the First Formation of Eve from the Side and Nature of Adam; God the Creator of Men in Ordinary Generation.

Chapter III.-An Ambiguous Passage of Scripture; Not Only the Faithful But Even Prelates Sometimes Illegitimate.

Chapter IV.-Human Generation, and the Work of God Therein Set Forth.

Chapter V.-The Holy Father Follows Up the Same Argument.

Chapter VI.-God Cares Even for Adulterous Births; Angels Given to Them as Guardians.

Chapter VII.-The Rational Soul from God Himself; Chastity Not the Only Good, Although the Best and Most Honoured.

Chapter I.-Passages of Holy Scripture Compared.

Chapter II.-The Digressions of the Apostle Paul; The Character of His Doctrine: Nothing in It Contradictory; Condemnation of Origen, Who Wrongly Turns Everything into Allegory.

Chapter III.-Comparison Instituted Between the First and Second Adam.

Chapter IV.-Some Things Here Hard and Too Slightly Treated, and Apparently Not Sufficiently Brought Out According to the Rule of Theology.

Chapter V.-A Passage of Jeremiah Examined.

Chapter VI.-The Whole Number of Spiritual Sheep; Man a Second Choir, After the Angels, to the Praise of God; The Parable of the Lost Sheep Explained.

Chapter VII.-The Works of Christ, Proper to God and to Man, the Works of Him Who is One.

Chapter VIII.-The Bones and Flesh of Wisdom; The Side Out of Which the Spiritual Eve is Formed, the Holy Spirit; The Woman' the Help-Meet of Adam; Virgins Betrothed to Christ.

Chapter IX.-The Dispensation of Grace in Paul the Apostle.

Chapter X.-The Doctrine of the Same Apostle Concerning Purity.

Chapter XI.-The Same Argument.

Chapter XII.-Paul an Example to Widows, and to Those Who Do Not Live with Their Wives.

Chapter XIII.-The Doctrine of Paul Concerning Virginity Explained.

Chapter XIV.-Virginity a Gift of God: the Purpose of Virginity Not Rashly to Be Adopted by Any One.

Chapter I.-The Necessity of Praising Virtue, for Those Who Have the Power.

Chapter II.-The Protection of Chastity and Virginity Divinely Given to Men, that They May Emerge from the Mire of Vices.

Chapter III.-That Passage of David Explained; What the Harps Hung Upon the Willows Signify; The Willow a Symbol of Chastity; The Willows Watered by Streams.

Chapter IV.-The Author Goes on with the Interpretation of the Same Passage

Chapter V.-The Gifts of Virgins, Adorned with Which They are Presented to One Husband, Christ.

Chapter VI.-Virginity to Be Cultivated and Commended in Every Place and Time.

Chapter I.-The Offering of Chastity a Great Gift.

Chapter II. Abraham's Sacrifice of a Heifer Three Years Old, of a Goat, and of a Ram Also Three Years Old: Its Meaning; Every Age to Be Consecrated to God; The Threefold Watch and Our Age.

Chapter III.-Far Best to Cultivate Virtue from Boyhood.

Chapter IV.-Perfect Consecration and Devotion to God: What It is.

Chapter V.-The Vow of Chastity, and Its Rites in the Law; Vines, Christ, and the Devil.

Chapter VI.-Sikera, a Manufactured and Spurious Wine, Yet Intoxicating; Things Which are Akin to Sins are to Be Avoided by a Virgin; The Altar of Incense (a Symbol Of) Virgins.

Chapter VII.-The Church Intermediate Between the Shadows of the Law and the Realities of Heaven.

Chapter VIII.-The Double Altar, Widows and Virgins; Gold the Symbol of Virginity.

Chapter I.-The Excellence of the Abiding Glory of Virginity; The Soul Made in the Image of the Image of God, that is of His Son; The Devil a Suitor for the Soul.

Chapter II.-The Parable of the Ten Virgins.

Chapter III.-The Same Endeavour and Effort After Virginity, with a Different Result.

Chapter IV.-What the Oil in the Lamps Means.

Chapter V.-The Reward of Virginity.

Chapter I.-What the True and Seemly Manner of Praising; The Father Greater Than the Son, Not in Substance, But in Order; Virginity the Lily; Faithful Souls and Virgins, the One Bride of the One Christ.

Chapter II.-The Interpretation of that Passage of the Canticles.

Chapter III.-Virgins Being Martyrs First Among the Companions of Christ.

Chapter IV.-The Passage Explained; The Queens, the Holy Souls Before the Deluge; The Concubines, the Souls of the Prophets; The Divine Seed for Spiritual Offspring in the Books of the Prophets; The Nuptials of the Word in the Prophets as Though Clandestine.

Chapter V.-The Sixty Queens: Why Sixty, and Why Queens; The Excellence of the Saints of the First Age.

Chapter VI.-The Eighty Concubines, What; The Knowledge of the Incarnation Communicated to the Prophets.

Chapter VII.-The Virgins, the Righteous Ancients; The Church, the One Only Spouse, More Excellent Than the Others.

Chapter VIII.-The Human Nature of Christ His One Dove.

Chapter IX.-The Virgins Immediately After the Queen and Spouse.

Chapter I.-Methodius' Derivation of the Word Virginity: Wholly Divine; Virtue, in Greek 0Areth/, Whence So Called.

Chapter II.-The Lofty Mind and Constancy of the Sacred Virgins; The Introduction of Virgins into the Blessed Abodes Before Others.

Chapter III.-The Lot and Inheritance of Virginity.

Chapter IV.-Exhortation to the Cultivation of Virginity; A Passage from the Apocalypse is Proposed to Be Examined.

Chapter V.-The Woman Who Brings Forth, to Whom the Dragon is Opposed, the Church; Her Adornment and Grace.

Chapter VI.-The Works of the Church, the Bringing Forth of Children in Baptism; The Moon in Baptism, the Full Moon of Christ's Passion.

Chapter VII.-The Child of the Woman in the Apocalypse Not Christ, But the Faithful Who are Born in the Laver.

Chapter VIII.-The Faithful in Baptism Males, Configured to Christ; The Saints Themselves Christs.

Chapter IX.-The Son of God, Who Ever Is, is To-Day Begotten in the Minds and Sense of the Faithful.

Chapter X.-The Dragon, the Devil; The Stars Struck from Heaven by the Tail of the Dragon, Heretics; The Numbers of the Trinity, that Is, the Persons Numbered; Errors Concerning Them.

Chapter XI.-The Woman with the Male Child in the Wilderness the Church; The Wilderness Belongs to Virgins and Saints; The Perfection of Numbers and Mysteries; The Equality and Perfection of the Number Six; The Number Six Related to Christ; From This Number, Too, the Creation and Harmony of the World Completed.

Chapter XII.-Virgins are Called to the Imitation of the Church in the Wilderness Overcoming the Dragon.

Chapter XIII.-The Seven Crowns of the Beast to Be Taken Away by Victorious Chastity; The Ten Crowns of the Dragon, the Vices Opposed to the Decalogue; The Opinion of Fate the Greatest Evil.

Chapter XIV.-The Doctrine of Mathematicians Not Wholly to Be Despised, When They are Concerned About the Knowledge of the Stars; The Twelve Signs of the Zodiac Mythical Names.

Chapter XV.-Arguments from the Novelty of Fate and Generation; That Golden Age, Early Men; Solid Arguments Against the Mathematicians.

Chapter XVI.-Several Other Things Turned Against the Same Mathematicians.

Chapter XVII.-The Lust of the Flesh and Spirit: Vice and Virtue.

Chapter I.-Chastity the Chief Ornament of the True Tabernacle; Seven Days Appointed to the Jews for Celebrating the Feast of Tabernacles: What They Signify; The Sum of This Septenary Uncertain; Not Clear to Any One When the Consummation of the World Will Be; Even Now the Fabric of the World Completed.

Chapter II.-Figure, Image, Truth: Law Grace, Glory; Man Created Immortal: Death Brought in by Destructive Sin.

Chapter III.-How Each One Ought to Prepare Himself for the Future Resurrection.

Chapter IV.-The Mind Clearer When Cleansed from Sin; The Ornaments of the Mind and the Order of Virtue; Charity Deep and Full; Chastity the Last Ornament of All; The Very Use of Matrimony to Be Restrained.

Chapter V.-The Mystery of the Tabernacles.

Chapter I.-Chastity Alone Aids and Effects the Most Praiseworthy Government of the Soul.

Chapter II.-The Allegory of the Trees Demanding a King, in the Book of Judges, Explained.

Chapter III.-The Bramble and the Agnos the Symbol of Chastity; The Four Gospels, that Is, Teachings or Laws, Instructing to Salvation.

Chapter IV.-The Law Useless for Salvation; The Last Law of Chastity Under the Figure of the Bramble.

Chapter V.-The Malignity of the Devil as an Imitator in All Things; Two Kinds of Fig-Trees and Vines.

Chapter VI.-The Mystery of the Vision of Zechariah.

Chapter I.-The True and Chaste Virgins Few; Chastity a Contest; Thekla Chief of Virgins

Chapter II.-Thekla Singing Decorously a Hymn, the Rest of the Virgins Sing with Her; John the Baptist a Martyr to Chastity; The Church the Spouse of God, Pure and Virgin.

Chapter III.-Which are the Better, the Continent, or Those Who Delight in Tranquillity of Life? Contests the Peril of Chastity: the Felicity of Tranquillity; Purified and Tranquil Minds Gods: They Who Shall See God; Virtue Disciplined by Temptations.