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Three Millennia of Greek Literature
Physis : World Creation  

Plato's TIMAEUS : More about the body

Timaeus 72d - 81e  * Greek Fonts


ONCERNING the soul, as to which part is mortal and which divine, and how and why they are separated, and where located, if God acknowledges that we have spoken the truth, then, and then only, can we be confident; still, we may venture to assert that what has been said by us is probable, and will be rendered more probable by investigation. Let us assume thus much.

The creation of the rest of follows next in order, and this we may investigate in a similar manner. And it appears to be very meet that the body should be framed on the following principles:-

The authors of our race were aware that we should be intemperate in eating and drinking, and take a good deal more than was necessary or proper, by reason of gluttony. In order then that disease might not quickly destroy us, and lest our mortal race should perish without fulfilling its end-intending to provide against this, the gods made what is called the lower belly, to be a receptacle for the superfluous meat and drink, and formed the convolution of the bowels, so that the food might be prevented from passing quickly through and compelling the body to require more food, thus producing insatiable gluttony, and making the whole race an enemy to philosophy and music, and rebellious against the divinest element within us.

τὸ τοῦ σώματος ἐπίλοιπον

Τὰ μὲν οὖν περὶ ψυχῆς͵ ὅσον θνητὸν ἔχει καὶ ὅσον θεῖον͵ καὶ ὅπῃ καὶ μεθ΄ ὧν καὶ δι΄ ἃ χωρὶς ᾠκίσθη͵ τὸ μὲν ἀληθὲς ὡς εἴρηται͵ θεοῦ συμφήσαντος τότ΄ ἂν οὕτως μόνως διισχυριζοίμεθα· τό γε μὴν εἰκὸς ἡμῖν εἰρῆσθαι͵ καὶ νῦν καὶ ἔτι μᾶλλον ἀνασκοποῦσι διακινδυνευτέον τὸ φάναι καὶ πεφάσθω.

[72e] τὸ δ΄ ἑξῆς δὴ τούτοισιν κατὰ ταὐτὰ μεταδιωκτέον· ἦν δὲ τὸ τοῦ σώματος ἐπίλοιπον ᾗ γέγονεν. ἐκ δὴ λογισμοῦ τοιοῦδε συνίστασθαι μάλιστ΄ ἂν αὐτὸ πάντων πρέποι.

τὴν ἐσομένην ἐν ἡμῖν ποτῶν καὶ ἐδεστῶν ἀκολασίαν ᾔδεσαν οἱ συντιθέντες ἡμῶν τὸ γένος͵ καὶ ὅτι τοῦ μετρίου καὶ ἀναγκαίου διὰ μαργότητα πολλῷ χρησοίμεθα πλέονι· ἵν΄ οὖν μὴ φθορὰ διὰ νόσους ὀξεῖα γίγνοιτο καὶ ἀτελὲς τὸ γένος εὐθὺς τὸ θνητὸν τελευτῷ͵ [73a] ταῦτα προορώμενοι τῇ τοῦ περιγενησομένου πώματος ἐδέσματός τε ἕξει τὴν ὀνομαζομένην κάτω κοιλίαν ὑποδοχὴν ἔθεσαν͵ εἵλιξάν τε πέριξ τὴν τῶν ἐντέρων γένεσιν͵ ὅπως μὴ ταχὺ διεκπερῶσα ἡ τροφὴ ταχὺ πάλιν τροφῆς ἑτέρας δεῖσθαι τὸ σῶμα ἀναγκάζοι͵ καὶ παρέχουσα ἀπληστίαν͵ διὰ γαστριμαργίαν ἀφιλόσοφον καὶ ἄμουσον πᾶν ἀποτελοῖ τὸ γένος͵ ἀνυπήκοον τοῦ θειοτάτου τῶν παρ΄ ἡμῖν.

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