from Phaedo, * 109a-114c, translated by B. Jowett
Greek Fonts / Plato Complete works / Plato Concept
LSO I believe that the earth is very vast, and that we who dwell in the region extending from the river Phasis to the Pillars of Heracles, along the borders of the sea, are just like ants or frogs about a marsh, and inhabit a small portion only, and that many others dwell in many like places. For I should say that in all parts of the earth there are hollows of various forms and sizes, into which the water and the mist and the air collect; and that the true earth is pure and in the pure heaven, in which also are the stars-that is the heaven which is commonly spoken of as the ether, of which this is but the sediment collecting in the hollows of the earth. But we who live in these hollows are deceived into the notion that we are dwelling above on the surface of the earth; which is just as if a creature who was at the bottom of the sea were to fancy that he was on the surface of the water, and that the sea was the heaven through which he saw the sun and the other stars-he having never come to the surface by reason of his feebleness and sluggishness, and having never lifted up his head and seen, nor ever heard from one who had seen, this region which is so much purer and fairer than his own.
ἡ ὡς ἀληθῶς γῆ
Ἔτι τοίνυν͵ ἔφη͵ πάμμεγά τι εἶναι αὐτό͵ καὶ ἡμᾶς οἰκεῖν τοὺς μέχρι Ἡρακλείων στηλῶν ἀπὸ Φάσιδος ἐν σμικρῷ τινι μορίῳ͵ ὥσπερ περὶ τέλμα μύρμηκας ἢ βατράχους περὶ τὴν θάλατταν οἰκοῦντας͵ καὶ ἄλλους ἄλλοθι πολλοὺς ἐν πολλοῖσι τοιούτοις τόποις οἰκεῖν. εἶναι γὰρ πανταχῇ περὶ τὴν γῆν πολλὰ κοῖλα καὶ παντοδαπὰ καὶ τὰς ἰδέας καὶ τὰ μεγέθη͵ εἰς ἃ συνερρυηκέναι τό τε ὕδωρ καὶ τὴν ὁμίχλην καὶ τὸν ἀέρα· αὐτὴν δὲ τὴν γῆν καθαρὰν ἐν καθαρῷ κεῖσθαι τῷ οὐρανῷ ἐν ᾧπέρ ἐστι τὰ ἄστρα͵ ὃν δὴ αἰθέρα ὀνομάζειν τοὺς πολλοὺς τῶν περὶ τὰ τοιαῦτα εἰωθότων λέγειν· οὗ δὴ ὑποστάθμην ταῦτα εἶναι καὶ συρρεῖν ἀεὶ εἰς τὰ κοῖλα τῆς γῆς. ἡμᾶς οὖν οἰκοῦντας ἐν τοῖς κοίλοις αὐτῆς λεληθέναι καὶ οἴεσθαι ἄνω ἐπὶ τῆς γῆς οἰκεῖν͵ ὥσπερ ἂν εἴ τις ἐν μέσῳ τῷ πυθμένι τοῦ πελάγους οἰκῶν οἴοιτό τε ἐπὶ τῆς θαλάττης οἰκεῖν καὶ διὰ τοῦ ὕδατος ὁρῶν τὸν ἥλιον καὶ τὰ ἄλλα ἄστρα τὴν θάλατταν ἡγοῖτο οὐρανὸν εἶναι͵ διὰ δὲ βραδυτῆτά τε καὶ ἀσθένειαν μηδεπώποτε ἐπὶ τὰ ἄκρα τῆς θαλάττης ἀφιγμένος μηδὲ ἑωρακὼς εἴη͵ ἐκδὺς καὶ ἀνακύψας ἐκ τῆς θαλάττης εἰς τὸν ἐνθάδε τόπον͵ ὅσῳ καθαρώτερος καὶ καλλίων τυγχάνει ὢν τοῦ παρὰ σφίσι͵ μηδὲ ἄλλου ἀκηκοὼς εἴη τοῦ ἑωρακότος.
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