English translation by R. D. Hicks at Perseus
1. Τὸ τῆς φιλοσοφίας ἔργον ἔνιοί φασιν ἀπὸ βαρβάρων ἄρξαι. γεγενῆσθαι γὰρ παρὰ μὲν Πέρσαις Μάγους, παρὰ δὲ Βαβυλωνίοις ἢ Ἀσσυρίοις Χαλδαίους, καὶ Γυμνοσοφιστὰς παρ᾽ Ἰνδοῖς, παρά τε Κελτοῖς καὶ Γαλάταις τοὺς καλουμένους Δρυΐδας καὶ Σεμνοθέους, καθά φησιν Ἀριστοτέλης ἐν τῷ Μαγικῷ καὶ Σωτίων ἐν τῷ εἰκοστῷ τρίτῳ τῆς Διαδοχῆς. Φοίνικά τε γενέσθαι Μῶχον, καὶ Θρᾷκα Ζάμολξιν, καὶ Λίβυν Ἄτλαντα.
There are some who say that the study of philosophy had its beginning among the foreigners. They urge that the Persians have had their Magi, the Babylonians or Assyrians their Chaldaeans, and the Indians their Gymnosophists; and among the Celts and Gauls there are the people called Druids or Holy Ones, for which they cite as authorities the Magicus of Aristotle and Sotion in the twenty-third book of his Succession of Philosophers. Also they say that Mochus was a Phoenician, Zamolxis a Thracian, and Atlas a Libyan.
6. Οἱ δὲ φάσκοντες ἀπὸ βαρβάρων ἄρξαι φιλοσοφίαν καὶ τὸν τρόπον παρ᾽ ἑκάστοις αὐτῆς ἐκτίθενται: καί φασι τοὺς μὲν Γυμνοσοφιστὰς καὶ Δρυΐδας αἰνιγματωδῶς ἀποφθεγγομένους φιλοσοφῆσαι, σέβειν θεοὺς καὶ μηδὲν κακὸν δρᾶν καὶ ἀνδρείαν ἀσκεῖν. τοὺς γοῦν Γυμνοσοφιστὰς καὶ. θανάτου καταφρονεῖν φησι Κλείταρχος ἐν τῇ δωδεκάτῃ: τοὺς δὲ Χαλδαίους περὶ ἀστρονομίαν καὶ πρόρρησιν ἀσχολεῖσθαι: τοὺς δὲ Μάγους περί τε θεραπείας θεῶν διατρίβειν καὶ θυσίας καὶ εὐχάς, ὡς αὐτοὺς μόνους ἀκουομένους. ἀποφαίνεσθαί τε περί τε οὐσίας θεῶν καὶ γενέσεως, οὓς καὶ πῦρ εἶναι καὶ γῆν καὶ ὕδωρ: τῶν δὲ ξοάνων καταγινώσκειν, καὶ μάλιστα τῶν λεγόντων ἄρρενας εἶναι θεοὺς καὶ θηλείας.
But the advocates of the theory that philosophy took its rise among the barbarians go on to explain the different forms it assumed in different countries. As to the Gymnosophists and Druids we are told that they uttered their philosophy in riddles, bidding men to reverence the gods, to abstain from wrongdoing, and to practise courage. That the Gymnosophists at all events despise even death itself is affirmed by Clitarchus in his twelfth book; he also says that the Chaldaeans apply themselves to astronomy and forecasting the future; while the Magi spend their time in the worship of the gods, in sacrifices and in prayers, implying that none but themselves have the ear of the gods. They propound their views concerning the being and origin of the gods, whom they hold to be fire, earth, and water; they condemn the use of images, and especially the error of attributing to the divinities difference of sex.
7. περί τε δικαιοσύνης λόγους ποιεῖσθαι, καὶ ἀνόσιον ἡγεῖσθαι πυρὶ θάπτειν: καὶ ὅσιον νομίζειν μητρὶ ἢ θυγατρὶ μίγνυσθαι, ὡς ἐν τῷ εἰκοστῷ τρίτῳ φησὶν ὁ Σωτίων: ἀσκεῖν τε μαντικὴν καὶ πρόρρησιν, καὶ θεοὺς αὑτοῖς ἐμφανίζεσθαι λέγοντας. ἀλλὰ καὶ εἰδώλων πλήρη εἶναι τὸν ἀέρα, κατ᾽ ἀπόρροιαν ὑπ᾽ ἀναθυμιάσεως εἰσκρινομένων ταῖς ὄψεσι τῶν ὀξυδερκῶν: προκοσμήματά τε καὶ χρυσοφορίας ἀπαγορεύειν. τούτων δὲ ἐσθὴς μὲν λευκή, στιβὰς δὲ εὐνή, καὶ λάχανον τροφή, τυρός τε καὶ ἄρτος εὐτελής, καὶ κάλαμος ἡ βακτηρία, ᾧ κεντοῦντες, φασί, τοῦ τυροῦ ἀνῃροῦντο καὶ ἀπήσθιον. Τὴν δὲ γοητικὴν μαγείαν οὐδ᾽ ἔγνωσαν, φησὶν Ἀριστοτέλης ἐν τῷ Μαγικῷ καὶ Δείνων ἐν τῇ πέμπτῃ τῶν Ἱστοριῶν: ὃς καὶ μεθερμηνευόμενόν φησι τὸν Ζωροάστρην ἀστροθύτην εἶναι: φησὶ δὲ τοῦτο καὶ ὁ Ἑρμόδωρος.
They hold discourse of justice, and deem it impious to practise cremation; but they see no impiety in marriage with a mother or daughter, as Sotion relates in his twenty-third book. Further, they practise divination and forecast the future, declaring that the gods appear to them in visible form. Moreover, they say that the air is full of shapes which stream forth like vapour and enter the eyes of keen-sighted seers. They prohibit personal ornament and the wearing of gold. Their dress is white, they make their bed on the ground, and their food is vegetables, cheese and coarse bread; their staff is a reed and their custom is, so we are told, to stick it into the cheese and take up with it the part they eat. With the art of magic they were wholly unacquainted, according to Aristotle in his Magicus and Dinon*. In the fifth book of his History, Dinon tells us that the name Zoroaster, literally interpreted, means "star-worshipper"; and Hermodorus agrees with him in this. [*Dinon (c. 360-340 BCE), was a contemporary of Alexander and the author of a lost Persica. He is likely the Dino referred to by Clement of Alexandria.]
8. Ἀριστοτέλης δ᾽ ἐν πρώτῳ Περὶ φιλοσοφίας καὶ πρεσβυτέρους εἶναι τῶν Αἰγυπτίων: καὶ δύο κατ᾽ αὐτοὺς εἶναι ἀρχάς, ἀγαθὸν δαίμονα καὶ κακὸν δαίμονα: καὶ τῷ μὲν ὄνομα εἶναι Ζεὺς καὶ Ὠρομάσδης, τῷ δὲ ᾍδης καὶ Ἀρειμάνιος. φησὶ δὲ τοῦτο καὶ Ἕρμιππος ἐν τῷ πρώτῳ περὶ Μάγων καὶ Εὔδοξος ἐν τῇ Περιόδῳ καὶ Θεόπομπος ἐν τῇ ὀγδόῃ τῶν Φιλιππικῶν.
Aristotle in the first book of his dialogue On Philosophy declares that the Magi are more ancient than the Egyptians; and further, that they believe in two principles, the good spirit and the evil spirit, the one called Zeus or Oromasdes, the other Hades or Arimanius. This is confirmed by Hermippus in his first book about the Magi, Eudoxus in his Voyage Around the World, and Theopompus in the eighth book of his Philippica.
9. ὃς καὶ ἀναβιώσεσθαι κατὰ τοὺς Μάγους φησὶ τοὺς ἀνθρώπους καὶ ἀθανάτους ἔσεσθαι, καὶ τὰ ὄντα ταῖς αὐτῶν ἐπικλήσεσι διαμενεῖν. ταῦτα δὲ καὶ Εὔδημος ὁ Ῥόδιος ἱστορεῖ. Ἑκαταῖος δὲ καὶ γενητοὺς τοὺς θεοὺς εἶναι κατ᾽ αὐτούς. Κλέαρχος δὲ ὁ Σολεὺς ἐν τῷ Περὶ παιδείας καὶ τοὺς Γυμνοσοφιστὰς ἀπογόνους εἶναι τῶν Μάγων φησίν: ἔνιοι δὲ καὶ τοὺς Ἰουδαίους ἐκ τούτων εἶναι. πρὸς τούτοις καταγινώσκουσιν Ἡροδότου οἱ τὰ περὶ Μάγων γράψαντες: μὴ γὰρ ἂν εἰς τὸν ἥλιον βέλη Ξέρξην ἀκοντίσαι, μηδ᾽ εἰς τὴν θάλασσαν πέδας καθεῖναι, θεοὺς ὑπὸ τῶν Μάγων παραδεδομένους. τὰ μέντοι ἀγάλματα εἰκότως καθαιρεῖν.
The last-named author says that according to the Magi men will live in a future life and be immortal, and that the world will endure through their invocations. This is again confirmed by Eudemus of Rhodes. But Hecataeus relates that according to them the gods are subject to birth. Clearchus of Soli in his tract On Education further makes the Gymnosophists to be descended from the Magi; and some trace the Jews also to the same origin. Furthermore, those who have written about the Magi criticize Herodotus. They urge that Xerxes would never have cast javelins at the sun nor have let down fetters into the sea, since in the creed of the Magi sun and sea are gods. But that statues of the gods should be destroyed by Xerxes was natural enough.
10. Τὴν δὲ τῶν Αἰγυπτίων φιλοσοφίαν εἶναι τοιαύτην περί τε θεῶν καὶ ὑπὲρ δικαιοσύνης. φάσκειν τε ἀρχὴν μὲν εἶναι τὴν ὕλην, εἶτα τὰ τέσσαρα στοιχεῖα ἐξ αὐτῆς διακριθῆναι, καὶ ζῷα παντοῖα ἀποτελεσθῆναι. θεοὺς δ᾽ εἶναι ἥλιον καὶ σελήνην, τὸν μὲν Ὄσιριν, τὴν δ᾽ Ἶσιν καλουμένην: αἰνίττεσθαί τε αὐτοὺς διά τε κανθάρου καὶ δράκοντος καὶ ἱέρακος καὶ ἄλλων, ὥς φησι Μανέθως ἐν τῇ τῶν Φυσικῶν ἐπιτομῇ καὶ Ἑκαταῖος ἐν τῇ πρώτῃ Περὶ τῆς Αἰγυπτίων φιλοσοφίας. κατασκευάζειν δὲ <καὶ> ἀγάλματα καὶ τεμένη τῷ μὴ εἰδέναι τὴν τοῦ θεοῦ μορφήν.
The philosophy of the Egyptians is described as follows so far as relates to the gods and to justice. They say that matter was the first principle, next the four elements were derived from matter, and thus living things of every species were produced. The sun and the moon are gods bearing the names of Osiris and Isis respectively; they make use of the beetle, the dragon, the hawk, and other creatures as symbols of divinity, according to Manetho in his Epitome of Physical Doctrines, and Hecataeus in the first book of his work On the Egyptian Philosophy. They also set up statues and temples to these sacred animals because they do not know the true form of the deity.
11. τὸν κόσμον γενητὸν καὶ φθαρτὸν καὶ σφαιροειδῆ: τοὺς ἀστέρας πῦρ εἶναι, καὶ τῇ τούτων κράσει τὰ ἐπὶ γῆς γίνεσθαι: σελήνην ἐκλείπειν εἰς τὸ σκίασμα τῆς γῆς ἐμπίπτουσαν: τὴν ψυχὴν καὶ ἐπιδιαμένειν καὶ μετεμβαίνειν: ὑετοὺς κατὰ ἀέρος τροπὴν ἀποτελεῖσθαι: τά τε ἄλλα φυσιολογεῖν, ὡς Ἑκαταῖός τε καὶ Ἀρισταγόρας ἱστοροῦσιν. ἔθεσαν δὲ καὶ νόμους ὑπὲρ δικαιοσύνης, οὓς εἰς Ἑρμῆν ἀνήνεγκαν: καὶ τὰ εὔχρηστα τῶν ζῴων θεοὺς ἐδόξασαν. λέγουσι δὲ καὶ ὡς αὐτοὶ γεωμετρίαν τε καὶ ἀστρολογίαν καὶ ἀριθμητικὴν ἀνεῦρον. καὶ τὰ μὲν περὶ τῆς εὑρέσεως ὧδε ἔχει.
They hold that the universe is created and perishable, and that it is spherical in shape.
They say that the stars consist of fire, and that,
according as the fire in them is mixed, so events
happen upon earth; that the moon is eclipsed when
it falls into the earth's shadow; that the soul
survives death and passes into other bodies; that
rain is caused by change in the atmosphere; of all
other phenomena they give physical explanations,
as related by Hecataeus and Aristagoras. They
also laid down laws on the subject of justice, which
they ascribed to Hermes; and they deified those
animals which are serviceable to man. They also
claimed to have invented geometry, astronomy, and
arithmetic. Thus much concerning the invention