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Three Millennia of Greek Literature
Physis : World Creation  

Plato's TIMAEUS : Genesis

Timaeus 27c-34a  * Greek Fonts


Page 6

Now the creation took up the whole of each of the four elements; for the Creator compounded the world out of all the fire and all the water and all the air and all the earth, leaving no part of any of them nor any power of them outside. His intention was, in the first place, that the animal should be as far as possible a perfect whole and of perfect parts: secondly, that it should be one, leaving no remnants out of which another such world might be created: and also that it should be free from old age and unaffected by disease. Considering that if heat and cold and other powerful forces which unite bodies surround and attack them from without when they are unprepared, they decompose them, and by bringing diseases and old age upon them, make them waste away-for this cause and on these grounds he made the world one whole, having every part entire, and being therefore perfect and not liable to old age and disease. And he gave to the world the figure which was suitable and also natural. Now to the animal which was to comprehend all animals, that figure was suitable which comprehends within itself all other figures. Wherefore he made the world in the form of a globe, round as from a lathe, having its extremes in every direction equidistant from the centre, the most perfect and the most like itself of all figures; for he considered that the like is infinitely fairer than the unlike. This he finished off, making the surface smooth all around for many reasons; in the first place, because the living being had no need of eyes when there was nothing remaining outside him to be seen; nor of ears when there was nothing to be heard; and there was no surrounding atmosphere to be breathed; nor would there have been any use of organs by the help of which he might receive his food or get rid of what he had already digested, since there was nothing which went from him or came into him: for there was nothing beside him. Of design he was created thus, his own waste providing his own food, and all that he did or suffered taking place in and by himself. For the Creator conceived that a being which was self-sufficient would be far more excellent than one which lacked anything; and, as he had no need to take anything or defend himself against any one, the Creator did not think it necessary to bestow upon him hands: nor had he any need of feet, nor of the whole apparatus of walking; but the movement suited to his spherical form was assigned to him, being of all the seven that which is most appropriate to mind and intelligence; and he was made to move in the same manner and on the same spot, within his own limits revolving in a circle. All the other six motions were taken away from him, and he was made not to partake of their deviations. And as this circular movement required no feet, the universe was created without legs and without feet. 

Τῶν δὲ δὴ τεττάρων ἓν ὅλον ἕκαστον εἴληφεν ἡ τοῦ κόσμου σύστασις. ἐκ γὰρ πυρὸς παντὸς ὕδατός τε καὶ ἀέρος καὶ γῆς συνέστησεν αὐτὸν ὁ συνιστάς͵ μέρος οὐδὲν οὐδενὸς οὐδὲ δύναμιν ἔξωθεν ὑπολιπών͵ τάδε διανοηθείς͵ [32d] πρῶτον μὲν ἵνα ὅλον ὅτι μάλιστα ζῷον τέλεον ἐκ τελέων τῶν μερῶν εἴη͵ [33a] πρὸς δὲ τούτοις ἕν͵ ἅτε οὐχ ὑπολελειμμένων ἐξ ὧν ἄλλο τοιοῦτον γένοιτ΄ ἄν͵ ἔτι δὲ ἵν΄ ἀγήρων καὶ ἄνοσον ᾖ͵ κατανοῶν ὡς συστάτῳ σώματι θερμὰ καὶ ψυχρὰ καὶ πάνθ΄ ὅσα δυνάμεις ἰσχυρὰς ἔχει περιιστάμενα ἔξωθεν καὶ προσπίπτοντα ἀκαίρως λύει καὶ νόσους γῆράς τε ἐπάγοντα φθίνειν ποιεῖ. διὰ δὴ τὴν αἰτίαν καὶ τὸν λογισμὸν τόνδε ἕνα ὅλον ὅλων ἐξ ἁπάντων τέλεον καὶ ἀγήρων καὶ ἄνοσον αὐτὸν ἐτεκτήνατο. [33b] σχῆμα δὲ ἔδωκεν αὐτῷ τὸ πρέπον καὶ τὸ συγγενές. τῷ δὲ τὰ πάντα ἐν αὑτῷ ζῷα περιέχειν μέλλοντι ζῴῳ πρέπον ἂν εἴη σχῆμα τὸ περιειληφὸς ἐν αὑτῷ πάντα ὁπόσα σχήματα· διὸ καὶ σφαιροειδές͵ ἐκ μέσου πάντῃ πρὸς τὰς τελευτὰς ἴσον ἀπέχον͵ κυκλοτερὲς αὐτὸ ἐτορνεύσατο͵ πάντων τελεώτατον ὁμοιότατόν τε αὐτὸ ἑαυτῷ σχημάτων͵ νομίσας μυρίῳ κάλλιον ὅμοιον ἀνομοίου. [33c] λεῖον δὲ δὴ κύκλῳ πᾶν ἔξωθεν αὐτὸ ἀπηκριβοῦτο πολλῶν χάριν. ὀμμάτων τε γὰρ ἐπεδεῖτο οὐδέν͵ ὁρατὸν γὰρ οὐδὲν ὑπελείπετο ἔξωθεν͵ οὐδ΄ ἀκοῆς͵ οὐδὲ γὰρ ἀκουστόν· πνεῦμά τε οὐκ ἦν περιεστὸς δεόμενον ἀναπνοῆς͵ οὐδ΄ αὖ τινος ἐπιδεὲς ἦν ὀργάνου σχεῖν ᾧ τὴν μὲν εἰς ἑαυτὸ τροφὴν δέξοιτο͵ τὴν δὲ πρότερον ἐξικμασμένην ἀποπέμψοι πάλιν. ἀπῄει τε γὰρ οὐδὲν οὐδὲ προσῄειν αὐτῷ ποθεν - οὐδὲ γὰρ ἦν - αὐτὸ γὰρ ἑαυτῷ τροφὴν τὴν ἑαυτοῦ φθίσιν παρέχον καὶ πάντα ἐν ἑαυτῷ καὶ ὑφ΄ ἑαυτοῦ πάσχον καὶ δρῶν ἐκ τέχνης γέγονεν· [33d] ἡγήσατο γὰρ αὐτὸ ὁ συνθεὶς αὔταρκες ὂν ἄμεινον ἔσεσθαι μᾶλλον ἢ προσδεὲς ἄλλων. χειρῶν δέ͵ αἷς οὔτε λαβεῖν οὔτε αὖ τινα ἀμύνασθαι χρεία τις ἦν͵ μάτην οὐκ ᾤετο δεῖν αὐτῷ προσάπτειν͵ οὐδὲ ποδῶν οὐδὲ ὅλως τῆς περὶ τὴν βάσιν ὑπηρεσίας. [34a] κίνησιν γὰρ ἀπένειμεν αὐτῷ τὴν τοῦ σώματος οἰκείαν͵ τῶν ἑπτὰ τὴν περὶ νοῦν καὶ φρόνησιν μάλιστα οὖσαν· διὸ δὴ κατὰ ταὐτὰ ἐν τῷ αὐτῷ καὶ ἐν ἑαυτῷ περιαγαγὼν αὐτὸ ἐποίησε κύκλῳ κινεῖσθαι στρεφόμενον͵ τὰς δὲ ἓξ ἁπάσας κινήσεις ἀφεῖλεν καὶ ἀπλανὲς ἀπηργάσατο ἐκείνων. ἐπὶ δὲ τὴν περίοδον ταύτην ἅτ΄ οὐδὲν ποδῶν δέον ἀσκελὲς καὶ ἄπουν αὐτὸ ἐγέννησεν.

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