XI. (55) But Critolaus, a man who devoted himself very much to literature, and a lover of the Peripatetic philosophy, agreeing with the doctrine of the eternity of the world, used the following arguments to prove it: “If the word was created, then it follows of necessity that the earth was created also; and if the earth was created, then beyond all question the human race was so too. But man was not created, since he subsists of an everlasting race, as shall be proved, therefore the world is eternal.” (56) But I must now proceed to examine the argument which I postponed just now, if indeed things that are so evident stand in need of any demonstration; but, indeed, proofs are necessary on account of the inventors of fables who, filling all life with their falsehoods, have utterly driven truth out of the land, and have not merely banished it from cities and houses, but have even deprived each separate individual of that most valuable possession, and, for the purpose of alluring his sight, have invented metres and rhythm as a bait and a snare, by which they cajole the ears of fools, just as ugly and shapeless courtesans allure the eyes by necklaces and spurious ornaments in the absence of all genuine beauty, (57) for they say that the generation of mankind by means of one another is a more recent work of nature, but that the more original and ancient mode of their birth is out of the earth, since she both is and is considered the mother of all men. And they say that those men who are celebrated among the Greeks as having sprung from seed were produced and grew up as trees do now, being perfect and completely armed sons of the earth. (58) But that this is a mere fiction of fable it is easy to see from many circumstances. For the very moment that the first man was born there was a necessity for his receiving growth in accordance with the previously defined measures and numbers of time, for nature has arranged the different ages as certain steps along which man in a manner ascends and descends; he ascends while he is growing, and he descends at the period when he is lessening; and the boundary of the uppermost steps is the prime of life at which when a man has arrived he no longer makes any further advance; but as runners who run the diaulos turn back again upon the same path which they have already travelled, so too does man retrace his steps, giving back in the weakness of old age what he has received from vigorous youth; (59) but to fancy that any one has ever been born absolutely perfect is the part of those who are ignorant of the laws of nature, which are unchangeable ordinances. For our minds, being vitiated by the contagion of the mortal body which is united to them, are very naturally liable to changes and alterations, but the works of the nature of the universe are unalterable, since she has dominion over all things, and by means of the stability of whatever desires she has once established she preserves the definitions which have been originally fixed in an unchangeable state. (60) If then she had originally thought it proper that men should be born perfect, now also man would still be born in a perfect state, without ever being an infant, or a boy, or a youth, but he would at once be a man, and perhaps he would be altogether exempt from all diminution, for up to the prime of a man’s life all his changes tend towards increase, but from that period up to old age and death they exist with a gradual diminution; and it is natural to suppose that he who has no share in the former must also be free from the subsequent changes. (61) And what is there that can hinder men from shooting up now out of the ground like plants, as they say that they did in former times? For the earth has not yet grown old so as to appear to have become barren by reason of the lapse of time, but it remains in the same condition as before, being always young, because it is a fourth part of the universe, and for the sake of ensuring the duration of the universe it is bound not to decay, because its kindred elements, water, air, and fire, all remain for ever exempt from old age. (62) And there is a visible proof of the uninterrupted and everlasting vigour of the earth in the plants which spring from it, for being purified, either by the overflowing of rivers, as they say that Egypt is, or by annual rains, by such irrigation it refreshes and recruits its exhausted powers, and then, having rested for a while, it recovers its natural powers to the full extent of its original vigour, and then it begins again with a repetition of the production of similar things to those which it produced before to supply abundant food to every description of animal.