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Three Millennia of Greek Literature
Physis : World Creation  

Plato's TIMAEUS : Genesis of other animals

Timaeus 90e - 92c  * Greek Fonts


HUS our original design of discoursing about the universe down to the creation of man is nearly completed. A brief mention may be made of the generation of other animals, so far as the subject admits of brevity; in this manner our argument will best attain a due proportion. On the subject of animals, then, the following remarks may be offered. Of the men who came into the world, those who were cowards or led unrighteous lives may with reason be supposed to have changed into the nature of women in the second generation. And this was the reason why at that time the gods created in us the desire of sexual intercourse, contriving in man one animated substance, and in woman another, which they formed respectively in the following manner. The outlet for drink by which liquids pass through the lung under the kidneys and into the bladder, which receives then by the pressure of the air emits them, was so fashioned by them as to penetrate also into the body of the marrow, which passes from the head along the neck and through the back, and which in the preceding discourse we have named the seed. And the seed having life, and becoming endowed with respiration, produces in that part in which it respires a lively desire of emission, and thus creates in us the love of procreation. Wherefore also in men the organ of generation becoming rebellious and masterful, like an animal disobedient to reason, and maddened with the sting of lust, seeks to gain absolute sway; and the same is the case with the so-called womb or matrix of women; the animal within them is desirous of procreating children, and when remaining unfruitful long beyond its proper time, gets discontented and angry, and wandering in every direction through the body, closes up the passages of the breath, and, by obstructing respiration, drives them to extremity, causing all varieties of disease, until at length the desire and love of the man and the woman, bringing them together and as it were plucking the fruit from the tree, sow in the womb, as in a field, animals unseen by reason of their smallness and without form; these again are separated and matured within; they are then finally brought out into the light, and thus the generation of animals is completed.

γένεσις ἄλλων ζῴων

[90e] Καὶ δὴ καὶ τὰ νῦν ἡμῖν ἐξ ἀρχῆς παραγγελθέντα διεξελθεῖν περὶ τοῦ παντὸς μέχρι γενέσεως ἀνθρωπίνης σχεδὸν ἔοικε τέλος ἔχειν. τὰ γὰρ ἄλλα ζῷα ᾗ γέγονεν αὖ͵ διὰ βραχέων ἐπιμνηστέον͵ ὃ μή τις ἀνάγκη μηκύνειν· οὕτω γὰρ ἐμμετρότερός τις ἂν αὑτῷ δόξειεν περὶ τοὺς τούτων λόγους εἶναι. τῇδ΄ οὖν τὸ τοιοῦτον ἔστω λεγόμενον. τῶν γενομένων ἀνδρῶν ὅσοι δειλοὶ καὶ τὸν βίον ἀδίκως διῆλθον͵ κατὰ λόγον τὸν εἰκότα γυναῖκες μετεφύοντο ἐν τῇ δευτέρᾳ [91a] γενέσει· καὶ κατ΄ ἐκεῖνον δὴ τὸν χρόνον διὰ ταῦτα θεοὶ τὸν τῆς συνουσίας ἔρωτα ἐτεκτήναντο͵ ζῷον τὸ μὲν ἐν ἡμῖν͵ τὸ δ΄ ἐν ταῖς γυναιξὶν συστήσαντες ἔμψυχον͵ τοιῷδε τρόπῳ ποιήσαντες ἑκάτερον. τὴν τοῦ ποτοῦ διέξοδον͵ ᾗ διὰ τοῦ πλεύμονος τὸ πῶμα ὑπὸ τοὺς νεφροὺς εἰς τὴν κύστιν ἐλθὸν καὶ τῷ πνεύματι θλιφθὲν συνεκπέμπει δεχομένη͵ συνέτρησαν εἰς τὸν ἐκ τῆς κεφαλῆς κατὰ τὸν αὐχένα καὶ διὰ τῆς ῥάχεως μυελὸν συμπεπηγότα͵ [91b] ὃν δὴ σπέρμα ἐν τοῖς πρόσθεν λόγοις εἴπομεν· ὁ δέ͵ ἅτ΄ ἔμψυχος ὢν καὶ λαβὼν ἀναπνοήν͵ τοῦθ΄ ᾗπερ ἀνέπνευσεν͵ τῆς ἐκροῆς ζωτικὴν ἐπιθυμίαν ἐμποιήσας αὐτῷ͵ τοῦ γεννᾶν ἔρωτα ἀπετέλεσεν. διὸ δὴ τῶν μὲν ἀνδρῶν τὸ περὶ τὴν τῶν αἰδοίων φύσιν ἀπειθές τε καὶ αὐτοκρατὲς γεγονός͵ οἷον ζῷον ἀνυπήκοον τοῦ λόγου͵ πάντων δι΄ ἐπιθυμίας οἰστρώδεις ἐπιχειρεῖ κρατεῖν· [91c] αἱ δ΄ ἐν ταῖς γυναιξὶν αὖ μῆτραί τε καὶ ὑστέραι λεγόμεναι διὰ τὰ αὐτὰ ταῦτα͵ ζῷον ἐπιθυμητικὸν ἐνὸν τῆς παιδοποιίας͵ ὅταν ἄκαρπον παρὰ τὴν ὥραν χρόνον πολὺν γίγνηται͵ χαλεπῶς ἀγανακτοῦν φέρει͵ καὶ πλανώμενον πάντῃ κατὰ τὸ σῶμα τὰς τοῦ πνεύματος διεξόδους ἀποφράττον͵ ἀναπνεῖν οὐκ ἐῶν εἰς ἀπορίας τὰς ἐσχάτας ἐμβάλλει καὶ νόσους παντοδαπὰς ἄλλας παρέχει͵ μέχριπερ ἂν ἑκατέρων ἡ ἐπιθυμία καὶ ὁ ἔρως συναγαγόντες͵ [91d] οἷον ἀπὸ δένδρων καρπὸν καταδρέψαντες͵ ὡς εἰς ἄρουραν τὴν μήτραν ἀόρατα ὑπὸ σμικρότητος καὶ ἀδιάπλαστα ζῷα κατασπείραντες καὶ πάλιν διακρίναντες μεγάλα ἐντὸς ἐκθρέψωνται καὶ μετὰ τοῦτο εἰς φῶς ἀγαγόντες ζῴων ἀποτελέσωσι γένεσιν.

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