(32) Did the serpent speak with a human voice? (#Ge 3:2). In the first place, it may be the fact that at the beginning of the world even the other animals besides man were not entirely destitute of the power of articulate speech, but only that man excelled them in a greater fluency and perspicuity of speech and language. In the second place, when anything very marvellous requires to be done, God changes the subject natures by which he means to operate. Thirdly, because our soul is entirely filled with many errors, and rendered deaf to all words except in one or two languages to which it is accustomed; but the souls of those who were first created were rendered acute to thoroughly understand every voice of every kind, in order that they might be pure from evil and wholly unpolluted. Since we indeed are not endowed with senses in such perfection, for those which we have received are in some degree depraved, just as the construction of our bodies too is small; but the first created men, as they received bodies of vast size reaching to a gigantic height, must also of necessity have received more accurate senses, and, what is more excellent still, a power of examining into and hearing things in a philosophical manner. For some people think, and perhaps with some reason, that they were endowed with such eyes as enabled them to behold even those natures, and essences, and operations, which exist in heaven, as also ears by which they could comprehend every kind of voice and language.

(33) Why did the serpent accost the woman, and not the man? (#Ge 3:2). The serpent, having formed his estimate of virtue, devised a treacherous stratagem against them, for the sake of bringing mortality on them. But the woman was more accustomed to be deceived than the man. For his counsels as well as his body are of a masculine sort, and competent to disentangle the notions of seduction; but the mind of the woman is more effeminate, so that through her softness she easily yields and is easily caught by the persuasions of falsehood, which imitate the resemblance of truth. Since therefore, in his old age, the Serpent{5}{the ancients believed that the serpent became young again by casting his skin. Ovid says–Anguibus exuitur tenui cum pelle vetustas.} strips himself of his scales from the top of his head to his tail, he, by his nakedness, reproaches man because he has exchanged death for immortality. His nature is renewed by the beast, and made to resemble every time. The woman, when she sees this, is deceived; when she ought rather to have looked upon him as an example, who, while showing his ingenuity towards her, was full of devices, but she was led to desire to acquire a life which should be free from old age, and from all decay.