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Three Millennia of Greek Literature
Physis : World Creation  

Plato's TIMAEUS : Powers of the soul

Timaeus 69a - 72d  * Greek Fonts


Page 3

The part of the soul which desires meats and drinks and the other things of which it has need by reason of the bodily nature, they placed between the midriff and the boundary of the navel, contriving in all this region a sort of manger for the food of the body; and there they bound it down like a wild animal which was chained up with man, and must be nourished if man was to exist. They appointed this lower creation his place here in order that he might be always feeding at the manger, and have his dwelling as far as might be from the council-chamber, making as little noise and disturbance as possible, and permitting the best part to advise quietly for the good of the whole. And knowing that this lower principle in man would not comprehend reason, and even if attaining to some degree of perception would never naturally care for rational notions, but that it would be led away by phantoms and visions night and day-to be a remedy for this, God combined with it the liver, and placed it in the house of the lower nature, contriving that it should be solid and smooth, and bright and sweet, and should also have a bitter quality, in order that the power of thought, which proceeds from the mind, might be reflected as in a mirror which receives likenesses of objects and gives back images of them to the sight; and so might strike terror into the desires, when, making use of the bitter part of the liver, to which it is akin, it comes threatening and invading, and diffusing this bitter element swiftly through the whole liver produces colours like bile, and contracting every part makes it wrinkled and rough; and twisting out of its right place and contorting the lobe and closing and shutting up the vessels and gates, causes pain and loathing. And the converse happens when some gentle inspiration of the understanding pictures images of an opposite character, and allays the bile and bitterness by refusing to stir or touch the nature opposed to itself, but by making use of the natural sweetness of the liver, corrects all things and makes them to be right and smooth and free, and renders the portion of the soul which resides about the liver happy and joyful, enabling it to pass the night in peace, and to practise divination in sleep, inasmuch as it has no share in mind and reason.

Τὸ δὲ δὴ σίτων τε καὶ ποτῶν ἐπιθυμητικὸν τῆς ψυχῆς καὶ ὅσων ἔνδειαν διὰ τὴν τοῦ σώματος ἴσχει φύσιν͵ [70e] τοῦτο εἰς τὸ μεταξὺ τῶν τε φρενῶν καὶ τοῦ πρὸς τὸν ὀμφαλὸν ὅρου κατῴκισαν͵ οἷον φάτνην ἐν ἅπαντι τούτῳ τῷ τόπῳ τῇ τοῦ σώματος τροφῇ τεκτηνάμενοι· καὶ κατέδησαν δὴ τὸ τοιοῦτον ἐνταῦθα ὡς θρέμμα ἄγριον͵ τρέφειν δὲ συνημμένον ἀναγκαῖον͵ εἴπερ τι μέλλοι ποτὲ θνητὸν ἔσεσθαι γένος. ἵν΄ οὖν ἀεὶ νεμόμενον πρὸς φάτνῃ καὶ ὅτι πορρωτάτω τοῦ βουλευομένου κατοικοῦν͵ θόρυβον καὶ βοὴν ὡς ἐλαχίστην παρέχον͵ [71a] τὸ κράτιστον καθ΄ ἡσυχίαν περὶ τοῦ πᾶσι κοινῇ καὶ ἰδίᾳ συμφέροντος ἐῷ βουλεύεσθαι͵ διὰ ταῦτα ἐνταῦθ΄ ἔδοσαν αὐτῷ τὴν τάξιν. εἰδότες δὲ αὐτὸ ὡς λόγου μὲν οὔτε συνήσειν ἔμελλεν͵ εἴ τέ πῃ καὶ μεταλαμβάνοι τινὸς αὐτῶν αἰσθήσεως͵ οὐκ ἔμφυτον αὐτῷ τὸ μέλειν τινῶν ἔσοιτο λόγων͵ ὑπὸ δὲ εἰδώλων καὶ φαντασμάτων νυκτός τε καὶ μεθ΄ ἡμέραν μάλιστα ψυχαγωγήσοιτο͵ [71b] τούτῳ δὴ θεὸς ἐπιβουλεύσας αὐτῷ τὴν ἥπατος ἰδέαν συνέστησε καὶ ἔθηκεν εἰς τὴν ἐκείνου κατοίκησιν͵ πυκνὸν καὶ λεῖον καὶ λαμπρὸν καὶ γλυκὺ καὶ πικρότητα ἔχον μηχανησάμενος͵ ἵνα ἐν αὐτῷ τῶν διανοημάτων ἡ ἐκ τοῦ νοῦ φερομένη δύναμις͵ οἷον ἐν κατόπτρῳ δεχομένῳ τύπους καὶ κατιδεῖν εἴδωλα παρέχοντι͵ φοβοῖ μὲν αὐτό͵ ὁπότε μέρει τῆς πικρότητος χρωμένη συγγενεῖ͵ χαλεπὴ προσενεχθεῖσα ἀπειλῇ͵ κατὰ πᾶν ὑπομειγνῦσα ὀξέως τὸ ἧπαρ͵ χολώδη χρώματα ἐμφαίνοι͵ συνάγουσά τε πᾶν ῥυσὸν καὶ τραχὺ ποιοῖ͵ [71c] λοβὸν δὲ καὶ δοχὰς πύλας τε τὸ μὲν ἐξ ὀρθοῦ κατακάμπτουσα καὶ συσπῶσα͵ τὰ δὲ ἐμφράττουσα συγκλείουσά τε͵ λύπας καὶ ἄσας παρέχοι͵ καὶ ὅτ΄ αὖ τἀναντία φαντάσματα ἀποζωγραφοῖ πρᾳότητός τις ἐκ διανοίας ἐπίπνοια͵ τῆς μὲν πικρότητος ἡσυχίαν παρέχουσα τῷ μήτε κινεῖν μήτε προσάπτεσθαι τῆς ἐναντίας ἑαυτῇ φύσεως ἐθέλειν͵ γλυκύτητι δὲ τῇ κατ΄ ἐκεῖνο συμφύτῳ πρὸς αὐτὸ χρωμένη [71d] καὶ πάντα ὀρθὰ καὶ λεῖα αὐτοῦ καὶ ἐλεύθερα ἀπευθύνουσα͵ ἵλεών τε καὶ εὐήμερον ποιοῖ τὴν περὶ τὸ ἧπαρ ψυχῆς μοῖραν κατῳκισμένην͵ ἔν τε τῇ νυκτὶ διαγωγὴν ἔχουσαν μετρίαν͵ μαντείᾳ χρωμένην καθ΄ ὕπνον͵ ἐπειδὴ λόγου καὶ φρονήσεως οὐ μετεῖχε.

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