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Three Millennia of Greek Literature

Plato Bilingual Anthology : STUDYING DEATH III - THE REAL WORLD

from Phaedo, * 109a-114c, translated by B. Jowett

Greek Fonts / Plato Complete works / Plato Concept

Page 2

Now this is exactly our case: for we are dwelling in a hollow of the earth, and fancy that we are on the surface; and the air we call the heaven, and in this we imagine that the stars move. But this is also owing to our feebleness and sluggishness, which prevent our reaching the surface of the air: for if any man could arrive at the exterior limit, or take the wings of a bird and fly upward, like a fish who puts his head out and sees this world, he would see a world beyond; and, if the nature of man could sustain the sight, he would acknowledge that this was the place of the true heaven and the true light and the true stars.

ταὐτὸν δὴ τοῦτο καὶ ἡμᾶς πεπονθέναι· οἰκοῦντας γὰρ ἔν τινι κοίλῳ τῆς γῆς οἴεσθαι ἐπάνω αὐτῆς οἰκεῖν͵ καὶ τὸν ἀέρα οὐρανὸν καλεῖν͵ ὡς διὰ τούτου οὐρανοῦ ὄντος τὰ ἄστρα χωροῦντα· τὸ δὲ εἶναι ταὐ τόν͵ ὑπ΄ ἀσθενείας καὶ βραδυτῆτος οὐχ οἵους τε εἶναι ἡμᾶς διεξελθεῖν ἐπ΄ ἔσχατον τὸν ἀέρα· ἐπεί͵ εἴ τις αὐτοῦ ἐπ΄ ἄκρα ἔλθοι ἢ πτηνὸς γενόμενος ἀνάπτοιτο͵ κατιδεῖν ἂν ἀνακύψαντα͵ ὥσπερ ἐνθάδε οἱ ἐκ τῆς θαλάττης ἰχθύες ἀνακύπτοντες ὁρῶσι τὰ ἐνθάδε͵ οὕτως ἄν τινα καὶ τὰ ἐκεῖ κατιδεῖν͵ καὶ εἰ ἡ φύσις ἱκανὴ εἴη ἀνασχέσθαι θεωροῦσα͵ γνῶναι ἂν ὅτι ἐκεῖνός ἐστιν ὁ ἀληθῶς οὐρανὸς καὶ τὸ ἀληθινὸν φῶς καὶ ἡ ὡς ἀληθῶς γῆ.

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