XI. (35) Arguing therefore in this prolix train of reasoning, they thought that they got the better of those who were not accustomed to deal in sophistry. But the cause of their victory was not the strength of those who got the better, but the weakness of their adversaries in these matters. For of those who practise virtue, some treasured up what is good in their soul alone, becoming practisers of praiseworthy actions, and having no knowledge whatever of sophistries of words. But they who were armed in both ways, having their minds furnished with wise counsel and with good deeds, and having also good store of reasons to bring forward according to the arts of the sophists, (36) they had a good right to oppose the contentious behaviour of some others, having means at hand by which to repel their enemies. But the former sort had no safety whatever. For what men could fight naked against armed enemies on equal terms, when, even if they had been both equally armed, the contest would still have been unequal? (37) Abel therefore had not learnt any of the arts of reasoning, but he knew what was good by his intellectual disposition alone; on account of which he ought to have refused to go down to the plain, and to have disregarded the invitation of his enemy. For any display of fear is better than being defeated; but such fear a man’s enemies call cowardice, but his friends entitle it safe prudence, and we must believe friends in preference to enemies, inasmuch as they tell us the truth.

XII. (38) And it is on this account, as you see, that Moses rejected the sophists in Egypt, that is to say, in the body whom he calls magicians (for it is owing to the tricks and deceits of their sophistical tricks that good dispositions and good habits are infected and corrupted), saying that he was “not an eloquent Man,”{13}{#ex 4:10.} which is equivalent to saying that he was not formed by nature for the conjectural rhetoric of plausible and specious reasons. And immediately afterwards he confirms the assertion by adding, that he is not only not eloquent, but altogether “void of Words,”{14}{it is not possible to give the exact force of the original here. The Greek word is alogos, which usually means “irrational,” as derived from logos, “reason,” which word has also the sense of “a word,” “speech.” The Bible translation in the passage alluded to, #Ex 6:12, is “who am of uncircumcised lips.”} meaning this, not in the sense in which we do when we call animals void of words, but speaking of himself as one who did not choose to employ words by means of his organs of speech, but who impresses and stamps the principles of true wisdom upon his mind alone, which is the most perfect opposite to false sophistry. (39) And he will not go to Egypt, nor will he descend into the arena to strive against the sophists who contend in it, till he has thoroughly studied and practised the art of argumentative reasoning; God himself showing to him all the ideas which belong to such elocution, and making him perfect in them by the election of Aaron who was the brother of Moses, and whom he was accustomed to call his mouth-piece, and interpreter, and Prophet.{15}{#ex 7:1.} (40) For all these attributes belong to speech, which is the brother of the intellect; for the intellect is the fountain of words, and speech is its mouth-piece, because all the conceptions which are entertained in the mind are poured forth by means of speech, like streams of water which flow out of the earth, and come into sight. And speech is an interpreter of the things which the mind has decided upon in its tribunal. Moreover, it is a prophet and a soothsayer of those things which the mind unceasingly pours forth as oracles from its inaccessible and invisible retreats.