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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

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Page 3

For this earth, and the stones, and the entire region which surrounds us, are spoilt and corroded, like the things in the sea which are corroded by the brine; for in the sea too there is hardly any noble or perfect growth, but clefts only, and sand, and an endless slough of mud: and even the shore is not to be compared to the fairer sights of this world. And greater far is the superiority of the other. Now of that upper earth which is under the heaven, I can tell you a charming tale, Simmias, which is well worth hearing. And we, Socrates, replied Simmias, shall be charmed to listen. The tale, my friend, he said, is as follows: In the first place, the earth, when looked at from above, is like one of those balls which have leather coverings in twelve pieces, and is of divers colors, of which the colors which painters use on earth are only a sample. But there the whole earth is made up of them, and they are brighter far and clearer than ours; there is a purple of wonderful luster, also the radiance of gold, and the white which is in the earth is whiter than any chalk or snow. Of these and other colors the earth is made up, and they are more in number and fairer than the eye of man has ever seen; and the very hollows (of which I was speaking) filled with air and water are seen like light flashing amid the other colors, and have a color of their own, which gives a sort of unity to the variety of earth.

ἥδε μὲν γὰρ ἡ γῆ καὶ οἱ λίθοι καὶ ἅπας ὁ τόπος ὁ ἐνθάδε διεφθαρμένα ἐστὶν καὶ καταβεβρωμένα͵ ὥσπερ τὰ ἐν τῇ θαλάττῃ ὑπὸ τῆς ἅλμης͵ καὶ οὔτε φύεται ἄξιον λόγου οὐδὲν ἐν τῇ θαλάττῃ͵ οὔτε τέλειον ὡς ἔπος εἰπεῖν οὐδέν ἐστι͵ σήραγγες δὲ καὶ ἄμμος καὶ πηλὸς ἀμήχανος καὶ βόρβοροί εἰσιν͵ ὅπου ἂν καὶ [ἡ] γῆ ᾖ͵ καὶ πρὸς τὰ παρ΄ ἡμῖν κάλλη κρίνεσθαι οὐδ΄ ὁπωστιοῦν ἄξια. ἐκεῖνα δὲ αὖ τῶν παρ΄ ἡμῖν πολὺ ἂν ἔτι πλέον φανείη διαφέρειν· εἰ γὰρ δὴ καὶ μῦθον λέγειν καλόν͵ ἄξιον ἀκοῦσαι͵ ὦ Σιμμία͵ οἷα τυγχάνει τὰ ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς ὑπὸ τῷ οὐρανῷ ὄντα. Ἀλλὰ μήν͵ ἔφη ὁ Σιμμίας͵ ὦ Σώκρατες͵ ἡμεῖς γε τούτου τοῦ μύθου ἡδέως ἂν ἀκούσαιμεν. Λέγεται τοίνυν͵ ἔφη͵ ὦ ἑταῖρε͵ πρῶτον μὲν εἶναι τοιαύτη ἡ γῆ αὐτὴ ἰδεῖν͵ εἴ τις ἄνωθεν θεῷτο͵ ὥσπερ αἱ δωδεκάσκυτοι σφαῖραι͵ ποικίλη͵ χρώμασιν διειλημμένη͵ ὧν καὶ τὰ ἐνθάδε εἶναι χρώματα ὥσπερ δείγματα͵ οἷς δὴ οἱ γραφῆς καταχρῶνται. ἐκεῖ δὲ πᾶσαν τὴν γῆν ἐκ τοιούτων εἶναι͵ καὶ πολὺ ἔτι ἐκ λαμπροτέρων καὶ καθαρωτέρων ἢ τούτων· τὴν μὲν γὰρ ἁλουργῆ εἶναι [καὶ] θαυμαστὴν τὸ κάλλος͵ τὴν δὲ χρυσοειδῆ͵ τὴν δὲ ὅση λευκὴ γύψου ἢ χιόνος λευκοτέραν͵ καὶ ἐκ τῶν ἄλλων χρωμάτων συγκειμένην ὡσαύτως͵ καὶ ἔτι πλειόνων καὶ καλλιόνων ἢ ὅσα ἡμεῖς ἑωράκαμεν. καὶ γὰρ αὐτὰ ταῦτα τὰ κοῖλα αὐτῆς͵ ὕδατός τε καὶ ἀέρος ἔκπλεα ὄντα͵ χρώματός τι εἶδος παρέχεσθαι στίλβοντα ἐν τῇ τῶν ἄλλων χρωμάτων ποικιλίᾳ͵ ὥστε ἕν τι αὐτῆς εἶδος συνεχὲς ποικίλον φαντάζεσθαι.

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