Philo - On the dove
Type of Spiritual Experience
A description of the experience
Questions and Answers on Genesis – Philo [translated by Ralph Marcus]
But to the birds, such as the dove and the turtle dove, the whole heaven is equally apportioned, being divided into the circuits of the planets and the fixed stars. And so scripture assigns the dove to the planets, for this is a tame and domesticated creature, and the planets also are rather familiar to us, as though contiguous to terrestrial places and sympathetic. But the turtle dove [is related to] the fixed stars, for this animal is something of a lover of solitude and avoids meeting and mixing with the multitude. So too is the inerrant sphere distant from us and at the ends of the world, at the very extremes of nature. And both orders of the two birds are likened to the heavenly force, wherefore, as the Socratic Plato says, it is likely that ‘Heaven is a flying chariot’ because of its very swift revolution which surpasses even the birds in their course. Moreover, the aforesaid birds are singers and the prophet is alluding to the music which is perfected in heaven and is produced by the harmony of the movement of the stars.