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Plato Bilingual Anthology : A MOVING IMAGE OF ETERNITY

from Timaeus, * 37c-e, translated by B. Jowett

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ELPENOR EDITIONS IN PRINT

HEN the father creator saw the creature which he had made moving and living, the created image of the eternal gods, he rejoiced, and in his joy determined to make the copy still more like the original; and as this was eternal, he sought to make the universe eternal, so far as might be. Now the nature of the ideal being was everlasting, but to bestow this attribute in its fulness upon a creature was impossible. Wherefore he resolved to have a moving image of eternity, and when he set in order the heaven, he made this image eternal but moving according to number, while eternity itself rests in unity; and this image we call time. For there were no days and nights and months and years before the heaven was created, but when he constructed the heaven he created them also. They are all parts of time, and the past and future are created species of time, which we unconsciously but wrongly transfer to the eternal essence;

 

χρόνος αἰῶνα μιμούμενος

Ὡς δὲ κινηθὲν αὐτὸ καὶ ζῶν ἐνόησεν τῶν ἀιδίων θεῶν γεγονὸς ἄγαλμα ὁ γεννήσας πατήρ͵ ἠγάσθη τε καὶ εὐφρανθεὶς ἔτι δὴ μᾶλλον ὅμοιον πρὸς τὸ παράδειγμα ἐπενόησεν ἀπεργάσασθαι. καθάπερ οὖν αὐτὸ τυγχάνει ζῷον ἀίδιον ὄν͵ καὶ τόδε τὸ πᾶν οὕτως εἰς δύναμιν ἐπεχείρησε τοιοῦτον ἀποτελεῖν. ἡ μὲν οὖν τοῦ ζῴου φύσις ἐτύγχανεν οὖσα αἰώνιος͵ καὶ τοῦτο μὲν δὴ τῷ γεννητῷ παντελῶς προσάπτειν οὐκ ἦν δυνατόν· εἰκὼ δ΄ ἐπενόει κινητόν τινα αἰῶνος ποιῆσαι͵ καὶ διακοσμῶν ἅμα οὐρανὸν ποιεῖ μένοντος αἰῶνος ἐν ἑνὶ κατ΄ ἀριθμὸν ἰοῦσαν αἰώνιον εἰκόνα͵ τοῦτον ὃν δὴ χρόνον ὠνομάκαμεν. ἡμέρας γὰρ καὶ νύκτας καὶ μῆνας καὶ ἐνιαυτούς͵ οὐκ ὄντας πρὶν οὐρανὸν γενέσθαι͵ τότε ἅμα ἐκείνῳ συνισταμένῳ τὴν γένεσιν αὐτῶν μηχανᾶται· ταῦτα δὲ πάντα μέρη χρόνου͵ καὶ τό τ΄ ἦν τό τ΄ ἔσται χρόνου γεγονότα εἴδη͵ ἃ δὴ φέροντες λανθάνομεν ἐπὶ τὴν ἀίδιον οὐσίαν οὐκ ὀρθῶς.

 


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