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Three Millennia of Greek Literature
Physis : World Creation  

Plato's TIMAEUS : Atlantis against Athens

Timaeus 21a-27b  * Greek Fonts


Page 4

Solon marvelled at his words, and earnestly requested the priests to inform him exactly and in order about these former citizens. You are welcome to hear about them, Solon, said the priest, both for your own sake and for that of your city, and above all, for the sake of the goddess who is the common patron and parent and educator of both our cities. She founded your city a thousand years before ours, receiving from the Earth and Hephaestus the seed of your race, and afterwards she founded ours, of which the constitution is recorded in our sacred registers to be eight thousand years old. As touching your citizens of nine thousand years ago, I will briefly inform you of their laws and of their most famous action; the exact particulars of the whole we will hereafter go through at our leisure in the sacred registers themselves. If you compare these very laws with ours you will find that many of ours are the counterpart of yours as they were in the olden time. In the first place, there is the caste of priests, which is separated from all the others; next, there are the artificers, who ply their several crafts by themselves and do not intermix; and also there is the class of shepherds and of hunters, as well as that of husbandmen; and you will observe, too, that the warriors in Egypt are distinct from all the other classes, and are commanded by the law to devote themselves solely to military pursuits; moreover, the weapons which they carry are shields and spears, a style of equipment which the goddess taught of Asiatics first to us, as in your part of the world first to you. Then as to wisdom, do you observe how our law from the very first made a study of the whole order of things, extending even to prophecy and medicine which gives health, out of these divine elements deriving what was needful for human life, and adding every sort of knowledge which was akin to them. All this order and arrangement the goddess first imparted to you when establishing your city; and she chose the spot of earth in which you were born, because she saw that the happy temperament of the seasons in that land would produce the wisest of men. Wherefore the goddess, who was a lover both of war and of wisdom, selected and first of all settled that spot which was the most likely to produce men likest herself. And there you dwelt, having such laws as these and still better ones, and excelled all mankind in all virtue, as became the children and disciples of the gods.

[23d] Ἀκούσας οὖν ὁ Σόλων ἔφη θαυμάσαι καὶ πᾶσαν προθυμίαν σχεῖν δεόμενος τῶν ἱερέων πάντα δι΄ ἀκριβείας οἱ τὰ περὶ τῶν πάλαι πολιτῶν ἑξῆς διελθεῖν. τὸν οὖν ἱερέα φάναι· Φθόνος οὐδείς͵ ὦ Σόλων͵ ἀλλὰ σοῦ τε ἕνεκα ἐρῶ καὶ τῆς πόλεως ὑμῶν͵ μάλιστα δὲ τῆς θεοῦ χάριν͵ ἣ τήν τε ὑμετέραν καὶ τήνδε ἔλαχεν καὶ ἔθρεψεν καὶ ἐπαίδευσεν͵ [23e] προτέραν μὲν τὴν παρ΄ ὑμῖν ἔτεσιν χιλίοις͵ ἐκ Γῆς τε καὶ Ἡφαίστου τὸ σπέρμα παραλαβοῦσα ὑμῶν͵ τήνδε δὲ ὑστέραν. τῆς δὲ ἐνθάδε διακοσμήσεως παρ΄ ἡμῖν ἐν τοῖς ἱεροῖς γράμμασιν ὀκτακισχιλίων ἐτῶν ἀριθμὸς γέγραπται. περὶ δὴ τῶν ἐνακισχίλια γεγονότων ἔτη πολιτῶν σοι δηλώσω διὰ βραχέων νόμους͵ καὶ τῶν ἔργων αὐτοῖς ὃ κάλλιστον ἐπράχθη· [24a] τὸ δ΄ ἀκριβὲς περὶ πάντων ἐφεξῆς εἰς αὖθις κατὰ σχολὴν αὐτὰ τὰ γράμματα λαβόντες διέξιμεν. τοὺς μὲν οὖν νόμους σκόπει πρὸς τοὺς τῇδε· πολλὰ γὰρ παραδείγματα τῶν τότε παρ΄ ὑμῖν ὄντων ἐνθάδε νῦν ἀνευρήσεις͵ πρῶτον μὲν τὸ τῶν ἱερέων γένος ἀπὸ τῶν ἄλλων χωρὶς ἀφωρισμένον͵ μετὰ δὲ τοῦτο τὸ τῶν δημιουργῶν͵ ὅτι καθ΄ αὑτὸ ἕκαστον ἄλλῳ δὲ οὐκ ἐπιμειγνύμενον δημιουργεῖ͵ τό τε τῶν νομέων καὶ τὸ τῶν θηρευτῶν τό τε τῶν γεωργῶν. [24b] καὶ δὴ καὶ τὸ μάχιμον γένος ᾔσθησαί που τῇδε ἀπὸ πάντων τῶν γενῶν κεχωρισμένον͵ οἷς οὐδὲν ἄλλο πλὴν τὰ περὶ τὸν πόλεμον ὑπὸ τοῦ νόμου προσετάχθη μέλειν· ἔτι δὲ ἡ τῆς ὁπλίσεως αὐτῶν σχέσις ἀσπίδων καὶ δοράτων͵ οἷς ἡμεῖς πρῶτοι τῶν περὶ τὴν Ἀσίαν ὡπλίσμεθα͵ τῆς θεοῦ καθάπερ ἐν ἐκείνοις τοῖς τόποις παρ΄ ὑμῖν πρώτοις ἐνδειξαμένης. τὸ δ΄ αὖ περὶ τῆς φρονήσεως͵ ὁρᾷς που τὸν νόμον τῇδε ὅσην ἐπιμέλειαν ἐποιήσατο εὐθὺς κατ΄ ἀρχὰς περί τε τὸν κόσμον͵ [24c] ἅπαντα μέχρι μαντικῆς καὶ ἰατρικῆς πρὸς ὑγίειαν ἐκ τούτων θείων ὄντων εἰς τὰ ἀνθρώπινα ἀνευρών͵ ὅσα τε ἄλλα τούτοις ἕπεται μαθήματα πάντα κτησάμενος. ταύτην οὖν δὴ τότε σύμπασαν τὴν διακόσμησιν καὶ σύνταξιν ἡ θεὸς προτέρους ὑμᾶς διακοσμήσασα κατῴκισεν͵ ἐκλεξαμένη τὸν τόπον ἐν ᾧ γεγένησθε͵ τὴν εὐκρασίαν τῶν ὡρῶν ἐν αὐτῷ κατιδοῦσα͵ ὅτι φρονιμωτάτους ἄνδρας οἴσοι· [24d] ἅτε οὖν φιλοπόλεμός τε καὶ φιλόσοφος ἡ θεὸς οὖσα τὸν προσφερεστάτους αὐτῇ μέλλοντα οἴσειν τόπον ἄνδρας͵ τοῦτον ἐκλεξαμένη πρῶτον κατῴκισεν. ᾠκεῖτε δὴ οὖν νόμοις τε τοιούτοις χρώμενοι καὶ ἔτι μᾶλλον εὐνομούμενοι πάσῃ τε παρὰ πάντας ἀνθρώπους ὑπερβεβληκότες ἀρετῇ͵ καθάπερ εἰκὸς γεννήματα καὶ παιδεύματα θεῶν ὄντας.

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