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Physis : World Creation  

Plato's TIMAEUS : Atlantis against Athens

Timaeus 21a-27b  * Greek Fonts

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To this city came Solon, and was received there with great honour; he asked the priests who were most skilful in such matters, about antiquity, and made the discovery that neither he nor any other Hellene knew anything worth mentioning about the times of old. On one occasion, wishing to draw them on to speak of antiquity, he began to tell about the most ancient things in our part of the world-about Phoroneus, who is called "the first man," and about Niobe; and after the Deluge, of the survival of Deucalion and Pyrrha; and he traced the genealogy of their descendants, and reckoning up the dates, tried to compute how many years ago the events of which he was speaking happened. Thereupon one of the priests, who was of a very great age, said: O Solon, Solon, you Hellenes are never anything but children, and there is not an old man among you. Solon in return asked him what he meant. I mean to say, he replied, that in mind you are all young; there is no old opinion handed down among you by ancient tradition, nor any science which is hoary with age. And I will tell you why. There have been, and will be again, many destructions of mankind arising out of many causes; the greatest have been brought about by the agencies of fire and water, and other lesser ones by innumerable other causes. There is a story, which even you have preserved, that once upon a time Paethon, the son of Helios, having yoked the steeds in his father's chariot, because he was not able to drive them in the path of his father, burnt up all that was upon the earth, and was himself destroyed by a thunderbolt. Now this has the form of a myth, but really signifies a declination of the bodies moving in the heavens around the earth, and a great conflagration of things upon the earth, which recurs after long intervals; at such times those who live upon the mountains and in dry and lofty places are more liable to destruction than those who dwell by rivers or on the seashore. And from this calamity the Nile, who is our never-failing saviour, delivers and preserves us. When, on the other hand, the gods purge the earth with a deluge of water, the survivors in your country are herdsmen and shepherds who dwell on the mountains, but those who, like you, live in cities are carried by the rivers into the sea. Whereas in this land, neither then nor at any other time, does the water come down from above on the fields, having always a tendency to come up from below; for which reason the traditions preserved here are the most ancient.

οἷ δὴ Σόλων ἔφη πορευθεὶς σφόδρα τε γενέσθαι παρ΄ αὐτοῖς ἔντιμος͵ [22a] καὶ δὴ καὶ τὰ παλαιὰ ἀνερωτῶν ποτε τοὺς μάλιστα περὶ ταῦτα τῶν ἱερέων ἐμπείρους͵ σχεδὸν οὔτε αὑτὸν οὔτε ἄλλον Ἕλληνα οὐδένα οὐδὲν ὡς ἔπος εἰπεῖν εἰδότα περὶ τῶν τοιούτων ἀνευρεῖν. καί ποτε προαγαγεῖν βουληθεὶς αὐτοὺς περὶ τῶν ἀρχαίων εἰς λόγους͵ τῶν τῇδε τὰ ἀρχαιότατα λέγειν ἐπιχειρεῖν͵ περὶ Φορωνέως τε τοῦ πρώτου λεχθέντος καὶ Νιόβης͵ καὶ μετὰ τὸν κατακλυσμὸν αὖ περὶ Δευκαλίωνος καὶ Πύρρας ὡς διεγένοντο μυθολογεῖν͵ [22b] καὶ τοὺς ἐξ αὐτῶν γενεαλογεῖν͵ καὶ τὰ τῶν ἐτῶν ὅσα ἦν οἷς ἔλεγεν πειρᾶσθαι διαμνημονεύων τοὺς χρόνους ἀριθμεῖν· καί τινα εἰπεῖν τῶν ἱερέων εὖ μάλα παλαιόν· Ὦ Σόλων͵ Σόλων͵ Ἕλληνες ἀεὶ παῖδές ἐστε͵ γέρων δὲ Ἕλλην οὐκ ἔστιν. Ἀκούσας οὖν͵ Πῶς τί τοῦτο λέγεις; φάναι. Νέοι ἐστέ͵ εἰπεῖν͵ τὰς ψυχὰς πάντες· οὐδεμίαν γὰρ ἐν αὐταῖς ἔχετε δι΄ ἀρχαίαν ἀκοὴν παλαιὰν δόξαν οὐδὲ μάθημα χρόνῳ πολιὸν οὐδέν. [22c] τὸ δὲ τούτων αἴτιον τόδε. πολλαὶ κατὰ πολλὰ φθοραὶ γεγόνασιν ἀνθρώπων καὶ ἔσονται͵ πυρὶ μὲν καὶ ὕδατι μέγισται͵ μυρίοις δὲ ἄλλοις ἕτεραι βραχύτεραι. τὸ γὰρ οὖν καὶ παρ΄ ὑμῖν λεγόμενον͵ ὥς ποτε Φαέθων Ἡλίου παῖς τὸ τοῦ πατρὸς ἅρμα ζεύξας διὰ τὸ μὴ δυνατὸς εἶναι κατὰ τὴν τοῦ πατρὸς ὁδὸν ἐλαύνειν τά τ΄ ἐπὶ γῆς συνέκαυσεν καὶ αὐτὸς κεραυνωθεὶς διεφθάρη͵ τοῦτο μύθου μὲν σχῆμα ἔχον λέγεται͵ [22d] τὸ δὲ ἀληθές ἐστι τῶν περὶ γῆν κατ΄ οὐρανὸν ἰόντων παράλλαξις καὶ διὰ μακρῶν χρόνων γιγνομένη τῶν ἐπὶ γῆς πυρὶ πολλῷ φθορά. τότε οὖν ὅσοι κατ΄ ὄρη καὶ ἐν ὑψηλοῖς τόποις καὶ ἐν ξηροῖς οἰκοῦσιν μᾶλλον διόλλυνται τῶν ποταμοῖς καὶ θαλάττῃ προσοικούντων· ἡμῖν δὲ ὁ Νεῖλος εἴς τε τἆλλα σωτὴρ καὶ τότε ἐκ ταύτης τῆς ἀπορίας σῴζει λυόμενος. ὅταν δ΄ αὖ θεοὶ τὴν γῆν ὕδασιν καθαίροντες κατακλύζωσιν͵ οἱ μὲν ἐν τοῖς ὄρεσιν διασῴζονται βουκόλοι νομῆς τε͵ [22e] οἱ δ΄ ἐν ταῖς παρ΄ ὑμῖν πόλεσιν εἰς τὴν θάλατταν ὑπὸ τῶν ποταμῶν φέρονται· κατὰ δὲ τήνδε χώραν οὔτε τότε οὔτε ἄλλοτε ἄνωθεν ἐπὶ τὰς ἀρούρας ὕδωρ ἐπιρρεῖ͵ τὸ δ΄ ἐναντίον κάτωθεν πᾶν ἐπανιέναι πέφυκεν. ὅθεν καὶ δι΄ ἃς αἰτίας τἀνθάδε σῳζόμενα λέγεται παλαιότατα·

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