Good. I had forgotten 51a, which does indeed refer to ὑποδοχή as a mother. So I guess we're left simply with vague implications (a) that generation requires careful nurture, by something like a nurse or a mother, but (b) that it is not the creator who provides this nurturing service.
Just to confirm. Is ὑποδοχή called a nurse using the same word that identified Eurykleia as Odysseus' nurse?
One of the two platonic words is the same with that used for Eurykleia - trophos (τροφός). Cf. Politicus 273 on how the creator himself takes care of the world. This is a point emphasized by St. Athanasius to oppose those who regarded the incarnation of Christ as impossible and unthinkable.
No more questions on this end. Many thanks for a helpful conversation.
I'm not sure what your point is in the reference to Politicus. For my own part, I did not deny that Plato's creator nurtures the world: evidently, Plato claims he does, in both the Timaeus and the Politicus. I intended only to point out that, since the receptacle evidently differs from the creator, the receptacle's supposed nurturing service would not be provided by the creator. This would be completely consistent with Plato's claim that the creator provides his own kind of nurture. I see no need, though, to discuss this idea, so am happy to end the conversation at this point.
May be is too late, but I think that in question of 'receptacle' the consulting of derridaean study about χωρα is required.
In my opinion the reading of words 'receptacle', 'nurse', 'mother' have to make it in context with masculin terms used by Plato because the generative context. The Univers has a 'mother' (chora), a 'father' (demiourgos), a 'nurse' (titene) for the first step of the Universe and a teacher-god for the historical period of the 'Kosmos' (the last is not present in Timaeus but you can find him in Politicus: http://www.ellopos.net/elpenor/greek-texts/ancient-greece/plato/plato-politicus.asp )
On May 6, I cited the 49b passage of the Timaeus, asking George to identify the Greek word that Jowett translates as 'receptacle'. George, if I don't misunderstand him, responded May 7 that the word is 'upodoche'. In further discussion, George said that 'upodoche' is one of two words the Greeks used to refer to the female household servants we call 'nurses'.
On July 15, dansimaster seems to say that 'receptacle', nurse', and 'mother' all must be understood in the context of the masculine terms Plato used. He seems to add that the universe has a 'mother' (chora). And, for more information on the masculine roles, he seems to refer us to the Politicus. But (1) so far as I know, 'chora' means 'space', not 'mother'. And (2) 'chora' seems to be a term that Heidegger and Derrida found significant, but which doesn't - so far as I can see - appear in Plato's Timaeus 49b description of the 'receptacle'. And (3) the Politicus contains at 268e-74c a lengthy myth about god; but that passage does not seem - so far as I can see - to include any mention of either 'upodoche' or 'chora'.
For my own part, I suspect it may be difficult to decide what Plato meant. Some Christians seem to feel that his cosmological myths echo or perhaps anticipate creation stories in the Hebrew Bible. I am inclined instead to see Plato's 'receptacle' as anticipating Aristotle's notions of matter and form, which the latter used to solve Parmenidean problems that motion and change seem to involve contradiction and therefore should be impossible. (Plato apparently was familiar with these problems, having raised them in the Euthydemus at 283d.) But it seems quite difficult to show with any confidence that Plato really had my view or some other view in mind. For his treatments seem to differ from one dialogue to the next. For example, Plato seems to me in the Cratylus to use 'receptacle' only for purposes of making a lewd joke. The passage is 412c-13d, where Socrates purports to identify the true meaning of 'justice' (dikaiosune). Socrates links this word with 'dikaiou sunesis', and then with 'dikaion'; and he then links this last with 'penetration' (diaion). And in this connection he adds that those [Heracliteans] who suppose all things to be in motion "conceive the greater part of nature to be a mere receptacle, and they say there is a penetrating power that passes through all this, and is the instrument of creation." I, though no Greek scholar, am tempted to suppose Socrates' linkage of justice with 'diaion' was entirely arbitrary, and only served to suggest comically that justice consists in penetrating [female] receptacles. ("Right! Have another drink. Did you hear the one about Hesiod and the Heliconian Muses?") In this connection, the Timaeus and the Cratylus are the only dialogues - if I'm not mistaken - in which Plato mentions "the receptacle". This circumstance, it seems to me, makes it quite difficult to say with much confidence (a) whether it's the Timaeus or the Cratylus version that exhibits Plato's "true" meaning, or (b) how this notion of the receptacle might function in other dialogues where it is not mentioned.