XIV. (45) It would therefore have been consistent for Abel to practise prudence, a very saving virtue, and to have remained at home, disregarding the invitation to the arena of discussion and contest, which was given to him, imitating Rebecca, that is perseverance, who, when Esau, the companion of wickedness, was pouring forth threats, advised the practiser of wisdom, Jacob, to retreat before him who was about to plot against him, until he should have relaxed in his fierce hostility to him, (46) for Esau had been holding out an intolerable threat over Jacob, saying, “The days of mourning for my Father are at hand, that then I may slay my brother Jacob;”{16} {#Ge 27:41.} for he is wishing only that that species in the nature of things which is void of passions, namely, Isaac (to whom the oracle had been given, that he should not descend into Egypt), {17}{#ge 26:2.} may be the victim of an irrational affection, in order I suppose that he may be wounded by the stings of pleasure or pain, or of any other passion, showing that the man who is not wholly perfect and who makes laborious improvements, will receive not merely a wound, but utter destruction. However, the good God will neither allow that invulnerable species among created things to be subdued by passion, nor will he surrender the practice of virtue to bloody and raging destruction. (47) On which account we read in a subsequent passage, “Cain rose up against Abel, his brother, and slew Him.”{18}{#ge 4:8.} For according to the first imagination, he suggests the idea that Abel has been killed. But if you look at it according to the most accurate investigation, you will see that the intimates that Cain himself was slain by himself, so that we ought to read it thus: “Cain rose up and killed himself,” and not the other. (48) And very reasonably may we attribute this to him. For the soul, which destroys out of itself the virtueloving and God-loving principle, has died as to the life of virtue, so that Abel (which appears a most paradoxical assertion) both is dead and alive. He is dead, indeed, having been slain by the foolish mind, but he lives according to the happy life which is in God. And the holy oracle which has been given will bear witness, which expressly says, that he cried out loudly, and betrayed clearly by his Cries{19}{genesis 4:10.} what he had suffered from the concrete evil, that is from the body. For how could one who no longer existed have conversed?