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Three Millennia of Greek Literature
Physis : World Creation  

Plato's TIMAEUS : Visible and created Gods

Timaeus 39e-41d  * Greek Fonts


HUS far and until the birth of time the created universe was made in the likeness of the original, but inasmuch as all animals were not yet comprehended therein, it was still unlike. What remained, the creator then proceeded to fashion after the nature of the pattern. Now as in the ideal animal the mind perceives ideas or species of a certain nature and number, he thought that this created animal ought to have species of a like nature and number. There are four such; one of them is the heavenly race of the gods; another, the race of birds whose way is in the air; the third, the watery species; and the fourth, the pedestrian and land creatures. Of the heavenly and divine, he created the greater part out of fire, that they might be the brightest of all things and fairest to behold, and he fashioned them after the likeness of the universe in the figure of a circle, and made them follow the intelligent motion of the supreme, distributing them over the whole circumference of heaven, which was to be a true cosmos or glorious world spangled with them all over. And he gave to each of them two movements: the first, a movement on the same spot after the same manner, whereby they ever continue to think consistently the same thoughts about the same things; the second, a forward movement, in which they are controlled by the revolution of the same and the like; but by the other five motions they were unaffected, in order that each of them might attain the highest perfection. And for this reason the fixed stars were created, to be divine and eternal animals, ever-abiding and revolving after the same manner and on the same spot; and the other stars which reverse their motion and are subject to deviations of this kind, were created in the manner already described. The earth, which is our nurse, clinging around the pole which is extended through the universe, he framed to be the guardian and artificer of night and day, first and eldest of gods that are in the interior of heaven.

θεοὶ ὁρατοὶ καὶ γενητοί

Καὶ τὰ μὲν ἄλλα ἤδη μέχρι χρόνου γενέσεως ἀπείργαστο εἰς ὁμοιότητα ᾧπερ ἀπεικάζετο͵ τὸ δὲ μήπω τὰ πάντα ζῷα ἐντὸς αὑτοῦ γεγενημένα περιειληφέναι͵ ταύτῃ ἔτι εἶχεν ἀνομοίως. τοῦτο δὴ τὸ κατάλοιπον ἀπηργάζετο αὐτοῦ πρὸς τὴν τοῦ παραδείγματος ἀποτυπούμενος φύσιν. ᾗπερ οὖν νοῦς ἐνούσας ἰδέας τῷ ὃ ἔστιν ζῷον͵ οἷαί τε ἔνεισι καὶ ὅσαι͵ καθορᾷ͵ τοιαύτας καὶ τοσαύτας διενοήθη δεῖν καὶ τόδε σχεῖν. εἰσὶν δὴ τέτταρες͵ μία μὲν οὐράνιον θεῶν γένος͵ [40a] ἄλλη δὲ πτηνὸν καὶ ἀεροπόρον͵ τρίτη δὲ ἔνυδρον εἶδος͵ πεζὸν δὲ καὶ χερσαῖον τέταρτον. τοῦ μὲν οὖν θείου τὴν πλείστην ἰδέαν ἐκ πυρὸς ἀπηργάζετο͵ ὅπως ὅτι λαμπρότατον ἰδεῖν τε κάλλιστον εἴη͵ τῷ δὲ παντὶ προσεικάζων εὔκυκλον ἐποίει͵ τίθησίν τε εἰς τὴν τοῦ κρατίστου φρόνησιν ἐκείνῳ συνεπόμενον͵ νεί μας περὶ πάντα κύκλῳ τὸν οὐρανόν͵ κόσμον ἀληθινὸν αὐτῷ πεποικιλμένον εἶναι καθ΄ ὅλον. κινήσεις δὲ δύο προσῆψεν ἑκάστῳ͵ τὴν μὲν ἐν ταὐτῷ κατὰ ταὐτά͵ περὶ τῶν αὐτῶν ἀεὶ τὰ αὐτὰ ἑαυτῷ διανοουμένῳ͵ [40b] τὴν δὲ εἰς τὸ πρόσθεν͵ ὑπὸ τῆς ταὐτοῦ καὶ ὁμοίου περιφορᾶς κρατουμένῳ· τὰς δὲ πέντε κινήσεις ἀκίνητον καὶ ἑστός͵ ἵνα ὅτι μάλιστα αὐτῶν ἕκαστον γένοιτο ὡς ἄριστον. ἐξ ἧς δὴ τῆς αἰτίας γέγονεν ὅσ΄ ἀπλανῆ τῶν ἄστρων ζῷα θεῖα ὄντα καὶ ἀίδια καὶ κατὰ ταὐτὰ ἐν ταὐτῷ στρεφόμενα ἀεὶ μένει· τὰ δὲ τρεπόμενα καὶ πλάνην τοιαύτην ἴσχοντα͵ καθάπερ ἐν τοῖς πρόσθεν ἐρρήθη͵ κατ΄ ἐκεῖνα γέγονεν. γῆν δὲ τροφὸν μὲν ἡμετέραν͵ [40c] ἰλλομένην δὲ τὴν περὶ τὸν διὰ παντὸς πόλον τεταμένον͵ φύλακα καὶ δημιουργὸν νυκτός τε καὶ ἡμέρας ἐμηχανήσατο͵ πρώτην καὶ πρεσβυτάτην θεῶν ὅσοι ἐντὸς οὐρανοῦ γεγόνασιν.

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