I’ve decided to try my hand at a bit more from Gregory’s “On the Spirit.” (cf. here). This portion describes the Divine nature:
It is Triune Union,
It is Threefold Unity.
Neither stream, nor sea, nor rushing river,
One threefold flow rushing down against the earth.
Nor as a gleam of light, returning to its flame,
Nor as a word proceeding from the mind
yet therein abides—
Nor as a ray of the sun dances
Upon the waters and the walls:
It whirls off before the approach,
Yet arrives before leaping away.
Divine nature knows no flux:
It neither flows apart nor returns to itself,
Eternal center, age to age it is.
And the Greek:
ἐκ μονάδος Τρίας ἐστι, καὶ ἐκ Τριάδος μονὰς αὖθις, (60)
οὔτε πόρος, πηγή, ποταμὸς μέγας, ἕν τε ῥέεθρον
ἐν τρισσοῖσι τύποισιν ἐλαυνόμενον κατὰ γαίης·
οὔτε δὲ πυρκαϊῆς λαμπὰς πάλιν εἰς ἓν ἰοῦσα,
οὔτε λόγος προϊών τε νόου καὶ ἔνδοθι μίμνων,
οὔτε τις ἐξ ὑδάτων κινήμασιν ἡλιακοῖσι (65)
μαρμαρυγή, τοίχοισι περίτρομος, ἀστατέουσα,
πρὶν πελάσαι φεύγουσα, πάρος φυγέειν πελάουσα,
οὐδὲ γὰρ ἄστατός ἐστι θεοῦ φύσις ἠὲ ῥέουσα
ἠὲ πάλιν συνιοῦσα· τὸ δ᾽ἔμπεδόν ἐστι θεοῖο.
The Homeric references are fewer. We do have some common homeric words show up (like the verb ἐλαύνω), and Homer does use similar language when discussing rivers. In its place, though, we get a series of negative descriptions; that is, they describe what God is not. Gregory tells us that the godhead is not like a rushing river, flowing in three parts. Nor is it a ray of light, that shoots forth and returns, or a beam of light dancing on the water. His point is stated at the end of the excerpt: the divine nature is not subject to change or flux. But even when describing what God is not, he uses lovely images. One vividly pictures light bouncing against the water off the walls of a city. Gregory is fond of employing light imagery for the trinity, and a few lines laters he says, “one nature, firmly established in three lights.” But here he paints a delightful picture, even as a negative description.