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Three Millennia of Greek Literature
Physis : World Creation  

Plato's TIMAEUS : Visible and created Gods

Timaeus 39e-41d  * Greek Fonts


Page 2

Vain would be the attempt to tell all the figures of them circling as in dance, and their juxtapositions, and the return of them in their revolutions upon themselves, and their approximations, and to say which of these deities in their conjunctions meet, and which of them are in opposition, and in what order they get behind and before one another, and when they are severally eclipsed to our sight and again reappear, sending terrors and intimations of the future to those who cannot calculate their movements-to attempt to tell of all this without a visible representation of the heavenly system would be labour in vain. Enough on this head; and now let what we have said about the nature of the created and visible gods have an end.

To know or tell the origin of the other divinities is beyond us, and we must accept the traditions of the men of old time who affirm themselves to be the offspring of the gods-that is what they say-and they must surely have known their own ancestors. How can we doubt the word of the children of the gods? Although they give no probable or certain proofs, still, as they declare that they are speaking of what took place in their own family, we must conform to custom and believe them. In this manner, then, according to them, the genealogy of these gods is to be received and set forth.

Oceanus and Tethys were the children of Earth and Heaven, and from these sprang Phorcys and Cronos and Rhea, and all that generation; and from Cronos and Rhea sprang Zeus and Here, and all those who are said to be their brethren, and others who were the children of these. 

χορείας δὲ τούτων αὐτῶν καὶ παραβολὰς ἀλλήλων͵ καὶ [περὶ] τὰς τῶν κύκλων πρὸς ἑαυτοὺς ἐπανακυκλήσεις καὶ προχωρήσεις͵ ἔν τε ταῖς συνάψεσιν ὁποῖοι τῶν θεῶν κατ΄ ἀλλήλους γιγνόμενοι καὶ ὅσοι καταντικρύ͵ μεθ΄ οὕστινάς τε ἐπίπροσθεν ἀλλήλοις ἡμῖν τε κατὰ χρόνους οὕστινας ἕκαστοι κατακαλύπτονται [40d] καὶ πάλιν ἀναφαινόμενοι φόβους καὶ σημεῖα τῶν μετὰ ταῦτα γενησομένων τοῖς οὐ δυναμένοις λογίζεσθαι πέμπουσιν͵ τὸ λέγειν ἄνευ δι΄ ὄψεως τούτων αὖ τῶν μιμημάτων μάταιος ἂν εἴη πόνος· ἀλλὰ ταῦτά τε ἱκανῶς ἡμῖν ταύτῃ καὶ τὰ περὶ θεῶν ὁρατῶν καὶ γεννητῶν εἰρημένα φύσεως ἐχέτω τέλος.


Περὶ δὲ τῶν ἄλλων δαιμόνων εἰπεῖν καὶ γνῶναι τὴν γένεσιν μεῖζον ἢ καθ΄ ἡμᾶς͵ πειστέον δὲ τοῖς εἰρηκόσιν ἔμπροσθεν͵ ἐκγόνοις μὲν θεῶν οὖσιν͵ ὡς ἔφασαν͵ σαφῶς δέ που τούς γε αὑτῶν προγόνους εἰδόσιν· [40e] ἀδύνατον οὖν θεῶν παισὶν ἀπιστεῖν͵ καίπερ ἄνευ τε εἰκότων καὶ ἀναγκαίων ἀποδείξεων λέγουσιν͵ ἀλλ΄ ὡς οἰκεῖα φασκόντων ἀπαγγέλλειν ἑπομένους τῷ νόμῳ πιστευτέον. οὕτως οὖν κατ΄ ἐκείνους ἡμῖν ἡ γένεσις περὶ τούτων τῶν θεῶν ἐχέτω καὶ λεγέσθω.  

Γῆς τε καὶ Οὐρανοῦ παῖδες Ὠκεανός τε καὶ Τηθὺς ἐγενέσθην͵ τούτων δὲ Φόρκυς Κρόνος τε καὶ Ρέα καὶ ὅσοι μετὰ τούτων͵ [41a] ἐκ δὲ Κρόνου καὶ Ρέας Ζεὺς ῞Ηρα τε καὶ πάντες ὅσους ἴσμεν ἀδελφοὺς λεγομένους αὐτῶν͵ ἔτι τε τούτων ἄλλους ἐκγόνους·

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