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Three Millennia of Greek Literature
Physis : World Creation  

Plato's TIMAEUS : Kinds of the elements

Timaeus 58c - 60b  * Greek Fonts


Page 2

Of all the kinds termed fusile, that which is the densest and is formed out of the finest and most uniform parts is that most precious possession called gold, which is hardened by filtration through rock; this is unique in kind, and has both a glittering and a yellow colour. A shoot of gold, which is so dense as to be very hard, and takes a black colour, is termed adamant. There is also another kind which has parts nearly like gold, and of which there are several species; it is denser than gold, and it contains a small and fine portion of earth, and is therefore harder, yet also lighter because of the great interstices which it has within itself; and this substance, which is one of the bright and denser kinds of water, when solidified is called copper. There is an alloy of earth mingled with it, which, when the two parts grow old and are disunited, shows itself separately and is called rust. The remaining phenomena of the same kind there will be no difficulty in reasoning out by the method of probabilities. A man may sometimes set aside meditations about eternal things, and for recreation turn to consider the truths of generation which are probable only; he will thus gain a pleasure not to be repented of, and secure for himself while he lives a wise and moderate pastime. Let us grant ourselves this indulgence, and go through the probabilities relating to the same subjects which follow next in order.

τούτων δὴ πάντων ὅσα χυτὰ προσείπομεν ὕδατα͵ τὸ μὲν ἐκ λεπτοτάτων καὶ ὁμαλωτάτων πυκνότατον γιγνόμενον͵ μονοειδὲς γένος͵ στίλβοντι καὶ ξανθῷ χρώματι κοινωθέν͵ τιμαλφέστατον κτῆμα χρυσὸς ἠθημένος διὰ πέτρας ἐπάγη· χρυσοῦ δὲ ὄζος͵ διὰ πυκνότητα σκληρότατον ὂν καὶ μελανθέν͵ ἀδάμας ἐκλήθη. τὸ δ΄ ἐγγὺς μὲν χρυσοῦ τῶν μερῶν͵ εἴδη δὲ πλείονα ἑνὸς ἔχον͵ πυκνότητι δέ͵ τῇ μὲν χρυσοῦ πυκνότερον ὄν͵ καὶ γῆς μόριον ὀλίγον καὶ λεπτὸν μετασχόν͵ ὥστε σκληρότερον εἶναι͵ [59c] τῷ δὲ μεγάλα ἐντὸς αὑτοῦ διαλείμματα ἔχειν κουφότερον͵ τῶν λαμπρῶν πηκτῶν τε ἓν γένος ὑδάτων χαλκὸς συσταθεὶς γέγονεν· τὸ δ΄ ἐκ γῆς αὐτῷ μειχθέν͵ ὅταν παλαιουμένω διαχωρίζησθον πάλιν ἀπ΄ ἀλλήλων͵ ἐκφανὲς καθ΄ αὑτὸ γιγνόμενον ἰὸς λέγεται. τἆλλα δὲ τῶν τοιούτων οὐδὲν ποικίλον ἔτι διαλογίσασθαι τὴν τῶν εἰκότων μύθων μεταδιώκοντα ἰδέαν· ἣν ὅταν τις ἀναπαύσεως ἕνεκα τοὺς περὶ τῶν ὄντων ἀεὶ καταθέμενος λόγους͵ τοὺς γενέσεως πέρι διαθεώμενος εἰκότας ἀμεταμέλητον ἡδονὴν κτᾶται͵ [59d] μέτριον ἂν ἐν τῷ βίῳ παιδιὰν καὶ φρόνιμον ποιοῖτο. ταύτῃ δὴ καὶ τὰ νῦν ἐφέντες τὸ μετὰ τοῦτο τῶν αὐτῶν πέρι τὰ ἑξῆς εἰκότα δίιμεν τῇδε.

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