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Three Millennia of Greek Literature
Physis : World Creation  

Plato's TIMAEUS : More about the body

Timaeus 72d - 81e  * Greek Fonts


Page 4

He who modelled us, considering these things, mixed earth with fire and water and blended them; and making a ferment of acid and salt, he mingled it with them and formed soft and succulent flesh. As for the sinews, he made them of a mixture of bone and unfermented flesh, attempered so as to be in a mean, and gave them a yellow colour; wherefore the sinews have a firmer and more glutinous nature than flesh, but a softer and moister nature than the bones. With these God covered the bones and marrow, binding them together by sinews, and then enshrouded them all in an upper covering of flesh. The more living and sensitive of the bones he enclosed in the thinnest film of flesh, and those which had the least life within them in the thickest and most solid flesh. So again on the joints of the bones, where reason indicated that no more was required, he placed only a thin covering of flesh, that it might not interfere with the flexion of our bodies and make them unwieldy because difficult to move; and also that it might not, by being crowded and pressed and matted together, destroy sensation by reason of its hardness, and impair the memory and dull the edge of intelligence. Wherefore also the thighs and the shanks and the hips, and the bones of the arms and the forearms, and other parts which have no joints, and the inner bones, which on account of the rarity of the soul in the marrow are destitute of reason-all these are abundantly provided with flesh; but such as have mind in them are in general less fleshy, except where the creator has made some part solely of flesh in order to give sensation-as, for example, the tongue. But commonly this is not the case. For the nature which comes into being and grows up in us by a law of necessity, does not admit of the combination of solid bone and much flesh with acute perceptions.

ταῦτα ἡμῶν διανοηθεὶς ὁ κηροπλάστης͵ ὕδατι μὲν καὶ πυρὶ καὶ γῇ συμμείξας καὶ συναρμόσας͵ ἐξ ὀξέος καὶ ἁλμυροῦ συνθεὶς ζύμωμα ὑπομείξας αὐτοῖς͵ σάρκα ἔγχυμον καὶ μαλακὴν συνέστησεν· [74d] τὴν δὲ τῶν νεύρων φύσιν ἐξ ὀστοῦ καὶ σαρκὸς ἀζύμου κράσεως μίαν ἐξ ἀμφοῖν μέσην δυνάμει συνεκεράσατο͵ ξανθῷ χρώματι προσχρώμενος. ὅθεν συντονωτέραν μὲν καὶ γλισχροτέραν σαρκῶν͵ μαλακωτέραν δὲ ὀστῶν ὑγροτέραν τε ἐκτήσατο δύναμιν νεῦρα· οἷς συμπεριλαβὼν ὁ θεὸς ὀστᾶ καὶ μυελόν͵ δήσας πρὸς ἄλληλα νεύροις͵ μετὰ ταῦτα σαρξὶν πάντα αὐτὰ κατεσκίασεν ἄνωθεν. [74e] ὅσα μὲν οὖν ἐμψυχότατα τῶν ὀστῶν ἦν͵ ὀλιγίσταις συνέφραττε σαρξίν͵ ἃ δ΄ ἀψυχότατα ἐντός͵ πλείσταις καὶ πυκνοτάταις͵ καὶ δὴ κατὰ τὰς συμβολὰς τῶν ὀστῶν͵ ὅπῃ μήτινα ἀνάγκην ὁ λόγος ἀπέφαινεν δεῖν αὐ τὰς εἶναι͵ βραχεῖαν σάρκα ἔφυσεν͵ ἵνα μήτε ἐμποδὼν ταῖς καμπαῖσιν οὖσαι δύσφορα τὰ σώματα ἀπεργάζοιντο͵ ἅτε δυσκίνητα γιγνόμενα͵ μήτ΄ αὖ πολλαὶ καὶ πυκναὶ σφόδρα τε ἐν ἀλλήλαις ἐμπεπιλημέναι͵ διὰ στερεότητα ἀναισθησίαν ἐμποιοῦσαι͵ δυσμνημονευτότερα καὶ κωφότερα τὰ περὶ τὴν διάνοιαν ποιοῖεν. διὸ δὴ τό τε τῶν μηρῶν καὶ κνημῶν [75a] καὶ τὸ περὶ τὴν τῶν ἰσχίων φύσιν τά τε περὶ τὰ τῶν βραχιόνων ὀστᾶ καὶ τὰ τῶν πήχεων͵ καὶ ὅσα ἄλλα ἡμῶν ἄναρθρα͵ ὅσα τε ἐντὸς ὀστᾶ δι΄ ὀλιγότητα ψυχῆς ἐν μυελῷ κενά ἐστιν φρονήσεως͵ ταῦτα πάντα συμπεπλήρωται σαρξίν· ὅσα δὲ ἔμφρονα͵ ἧττον - εἰ μή πού τινα αὐτὴν καθ΄ αὑτὴν αἰσθήσεων ἕνεκα σάρκα οὕτω συνέστησεν͵ οἷον τὸ τῆς γλώττης εἶδος τὰ δὲ πλεῖστα ἐκείνως· [75b] ἡ γὰρ ἐξ ἀνάγκης γιγνομένη καὶ συντρεφομένη φύσις οὐδαμῇ προσδέχεται πυκνὸν ὀστοῦν καὶ σάρκα πολλὴν ἅμα τε αὐτοῖς ὀξυήκοον αἴσθησιν.

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