XLVIII. (139) And that he is superior to all these animals in regard of his soul, is plain. For God does not seem to have availed himself of any other animal existing in creation as his model in the formation of man; but to have been guided, as I have said before, by his own reason alone. On which account, Moses affirms that this man was an image and imitation of God, being breathed into in his face in which is the place of the sensations, by which the Creator endowed the body with a soul. Then, having placed the mind in the dominant part as king, he gave him as a body of satellites, the different powers calculated to perceive colours and sounds, and flavours and odours, and other things of similar kinds, which man could never have distinguished by his own resources without the sensations. And it follows of necessity that an imitation of a perfectly beautiful model must itself be perfectly beautiful, for the word of God surpasses even that beauty which exists in the nature which is perceptible only by the external senses, not being embellished by any adventitious beauty, but being itself, if one must speak the truth, its most exquisite embellishment.
XLIX. (140) The first man, therefore, appears to me to have been such both in his body and in his soul, being very far superior to all those who live in the present day, and to all those who have gone before us. For our generation has been from men: but he was created by God. And in the same proportion as the one Author of being is superior to the other, so too is the being that is produced. For as that which is in its prime is superior to that the beauty of which is gone by, whether it be an animal, or a plant, or fruit, or anything else whatever of the productions of nature; so also the first man who was ever formed appears to have been the height of perfection of our entire race, and subsequent generations appear never to have reached an equal state of perfection, but to have at all times been inferior both in their appearance and in their power, and to have been constantly degenerating, (141) which same thing I have also seen to be the case in the instance of the sculptors’ and painters’ art. For the imitations always fall short of the original models. And those works which are painted or fashioned from models must be much more inferior, as being still further removed from the original. And the stone which is called the magnet is subject to a similar deterioration. For any iron ring which touches it is held by it as firmly as possible, but another which only touches that ring is held less firmly. And the third ring hangs from the second, and the fourth from the third, and the fifth from the fourth, and so on one from another in a long chain, being all held together by one attractive power, but still they are not all supported in the same degree. For those which are suspended at a distance from the original attraction, are held more loosely, because the attractive power is weakened, and is no longer able to bind them in an equal degree. And the race of mankind appears to be subject to an influence of the same kind, since in men the faculties and distinctive qualities of both body and soul are less vivid and strongly marked in each succeeding generation. (142) And we shall be only saying what is the plain truth, if we call the original founder of our race not only the first man, but also the first citizen of the world. For the world was his house and his city, while he had as yet no structure made by hands and wrought out of the materials of wood and stone. And in this world he lived as in his own country, in all safety, removed from any fear, inasmuch as he had been thought worthy of the dominion over all earthly things; and had everything that was mortal crouching before him, and taught to obey him as their master, or else constrained to do so by superior force, and living himself surrounded by all the joys which peace can bestow without a struggle and without reproach.