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Three Millennia of Greek Literature


Translated by Stephen MacKenna and B. S. Page.

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Thus this universe of ours is a wonder of power and wisdom, everything by a noiseless road coming to pass according to a law which none may elude — which the base man never conceives though it is leading him, all unknowingly, to that place in the All where his lot must be cast — which the just man knows, and, knowing, sets out to the place he must, understanding, even as he begins the journey, where he is to be housed at the end, and having the good hope that he will be with gods.

In a living being of small scope the parts vary but slightly, and have but a faint individual consciousness, and, unless possibly in a few and for a short time, are not themselves alive. But in a living universe, of high expanse, where every entity has vast scope and many of the members have life, there must be wider movement and greater changes. We see the sun and the moon and the other stars shifting place and course in an ordered progression. It is therefore within reason that the souls, also, of the All should have their changes, not retaining unbrokenly the same quality, but ranged in some analogy with their action and experience — some taking rank as head and some as foot in a disposition consonant with the Universal Being which has its degrees in better and less good. A soul, which neither chooses the highest that is here, nor has lent itself to the lowest, is one which has abandoned another, a purer, place, taking this sphere in free election.

The punishments of wrong-doing are like the treatment of diseased parts of the body — here, medicines to knit sundered flesh; there, amputations; elsewhere, change of environment and condition — and the penalties are planned to bring health to the All by settling every member in the fitting place: and this health of the All requires that one man be made over anew and another, sick here, be taken hence to where he shall be weakly no longer.

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