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Three Millennia of Greek Literature

Plato Bilingual Anthology : THE WORLD IS A LIVING BEING

from Timaeus, * 30c-31b, 32b-34b, 92c, translated by B. Jowett

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UT let us suppose the world to be the very image of that whole of which all other animals both individually and in their tribes are portions. For the original of the universe contains in itself all intelligible beings, just as this world comprehends us and all other visible creatures. For the Deity, intending to make this world like the fairest and most perfect of intelligible beings, framed one visible animal comprehending within itself all other animals of a kindred nature. Are we right in saying that there is one world, or that they are many and infinite? There must be one only, if the created copy is to accord with the original. For that which includes all other intelligible creatures cannot have a second or companion; in that case there would be need of another living being which would include both, and of which they would be parts, and the likeness would be more truly said to resemble not them, but that other which included them. In order then that the world might be solitary, like the perfect animal, the creator made not two worlds or an infinite number of them; but there is and ever will be one only-begotten and created heaven. (...)

ζῷον ἓν ὁρατόν

οὗ δ΄ ἔστιν τἆλλα ζῷα καθ΄ ἓν καὶ κατὰ γένη μόρια͵ τούτῳ πάντων ὁμοιότατον αὐτὸν εἶναι τιθῶμεν. τὰ γὰρ δὴ νοητὰ ζῷα πάντα ἐκεῖνο ἐν ἑαυτῷ περιλαβὸν ἔχει͵ καθάπερ ὅδε ὁ κόσμος ἡμᾶς ὅσα τε ἄλλα θρέμματα συνέστηκεν ὁρατά. τῷ γὰρ τῶν νοουμένων καλλίστῳ καὶ κατὰ πάντα τελέῳ μάλιστα αὐτὸν ὁ θεὸς ὁμοιῶσαι βουληθεὶς ζῷον ἓν ὁρατόν͵ πάνθ΄ ὅσα αὐτοῦ κατὰ φύσιν συγγενῆ ζῷα ἐντὸς ἔχον ἑαυτοῦ͵ συνέστησε. πότερον οὖν ὀρθῶς ἕνα οὐρανὸν προσειρήκαμεν͵ ἢ πολλοὺς καὶ ἀπείρους λέγειν ἦν ὀρθότερον; ἕνα͵ εἴπερ κατὰ τὸ παράδειγμα δεδημιουργημένος ἔσται. τὸ γὰρ περιέχον πάντα ὁπόσα νοητὰ ζῷα μεθ΄ ἑτέρου δεύτερον οὐκ ἄν ποτ΄ εἴη· πάλιν γὰρ ἂν ἕτερον εἶναι τὸ περὶ ἐκείνω δέοι ζῷον͵ οὗ μέρος ἂν εἴτην ἐκείνω͵ καὶ οὐκ ἂν ἔτι ἐκείνοιν ἀλλ΄ ἐκείνῳ τῷ περιέχοντι τόδ΄ ἂν ἀφωμοιωμένον λέγοιτο ὀρθότερον. ἵνα οὖν τόδε κατὰ τὴν μόνωσιν ὅμοιον ᾖ τῷ παντελεῖ ζῴῳ͵ διὰ ταῦτα οὔτε δύο οὔτ΄ ἀπείρους ἐποίησεν ὁ ποιῶν κόσμους͵ ἀλλ΄ εἷς ὅδε μονογενὴς οὐρανὸς γεγονὼς ἔστιν καὶ ἔτ΄ ἔσται. (...)

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