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Three Millennia of Greek Literature
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Plato's TIMAEUS : Diseases and therapy of the soul

Timaeus 86b - 90d  * Greek Fonts


UCH is the manner in which diseases of the body arise; the disorders of the soul, which depend upon the body, originate as follows. We must acknowledge disease of the mind to be a want of intelligence; and of this there are two kinds; to wit, madness and ignorance. In whatever state a man experiences either of them, that state may be called disease; and excessive pains and pleasures are justly to be regarded as the greatest diseases to which the soul is liable. For a man who is in great joy or in great pain, in his unseasonable eagerness to attain the one and to avoid the other, is not able to see or to hear anything rightly; but he is mad, and is at the time utterly incapable of any participation in reason. He who has the seed about the spinal marrow too plentiful and overflowing, like a tree overladen with fruit, has many throes, and also obtains many pleasures in his desires and their offspring, and is for the most part of his life deranged, because his pleasures and pains are so very great; his soul is rendered foolish and disordered by his body; yet he is regarded not as one diseased, but as one who is voluntarily bad, which is a mistake. The truth is that the intemperance of love is a disease of the soul due chiefly to the moisture and fluidity which is produced in one of the elements by the loose consistency of the bones. And in general, all that which is termed the incontinence of pleasure and is deemed a reproach under the idea that the wicked voluntarily do wrong is not justly a matter for reproach. For no man is voluntarily bad; but the bad become bad by reason of an ill disposition of the body and bad education, things which are hateful to every man and happen to him against his will. And in the case of pain too in like manner the soul suffers much evil from the body.

νόσοι καὶ ἀγωγὴ τῆς ψυχῆς

[86b] Καὶ τὰ μὲν περὶ τὸ σῶμα νοσήματα ταύτῃ συμβαίνει γιγνόμενα͵ τὰ δὲ περὶ ψυχὴν διὰ σώματος ἕξιν τῇδε. νόσον μὲν δὴ ψυχῆς ἄνοιαν συγχωρητέον͵ δύο δ΄ ἀνοίας γένη͵ τὸ μὲν μανίαν͵ τὸ δὲ ἀμαθίαν. πᾶν οὖν ὅτι πάσχων τις πάθος ὁπότερον αὐτῶν ἴσχει͵ νόσον προσρητέον͵ ἡδονὰς δὲ καὶ λύπας ὑπερβαλλούσας τῶν νόσων μεγίστας θετέον τῇ ψυχῇ· περιχαρὴς γὰρ ἄνθρωπος ὢν ἢ καὶ τἀναντία ὑπὸ λύπης πάσχων͵ [86c] σπεύδων τὸ μὲν ἑλεῖν ἀκαίρως͵ τὸ δὲ φυγεῖν͵ οὔθ΄ ὁρᾶν οὔτε ἀκούειν ὀρθὸν οὐδὲν δύναται͵ λυττᾷ δὲ καὶ λογισμοῦ μετασχεῖν ἥκιστα τότε δὴ δυνατός. τὸ δὲ σπέρμα ὅτῳ πολὺ καὶ ῥυῶδες περὶ τὸν μυελὸν γίγνεται καὶ καθαπερεὶ δένδρον πολυκαρπότερον τοῦ συμμέτρου πεφυκὸς ᾖ͵ πολλὰς μὲν καθ΄ ἕκαστον ὠδῖνας͵ πολλὰς δ΄ ἡδονὰς κτώμενος ἐν ταῖς ἐπιθυμίαις καὶ τοῖς περὶ τὰ τοιαῦτα τόκοις͵ ἐμμανὴς τὸ πλεῖστον γιγνόμενος τοῦ βίου διὰ τὰς μεγίστας ἡδονὰς καὶ λύπας͵ [86d] νοσοῦσαν καὶ ἄφρονα ἴσχων ὑπὸ τοῦ σώματος τὴν ψυχήν͵ οὐχ ὡς νοσῶν ἀλλ΄ ὡς ἑκὼν κακὸς δοξάζεται· τὸ δὲ ἀληθὲς ἡ περὶ τὰ ἀφροδίσια ἀκολασία κατὰ τὸ πολὺ μέρος διὰ τὴν ἑνὸς γένους ἕξιν ὑπὸ μανότητος ὀστῶν ἐν σώματι ῥυώδη καὶ ὑγραίνουσαν νόσος ψυχῆς γέγονεν. καὶ σχεδὸν δὴ πάντα ὁπόσα ἡδονῶν ἀκράτεια καὶ ὄνειδος ὡς ἑκόντων λέγεται τῶν κακῶν͵ οὐκ ὀρθῶς ὀνειδίζεται· κακὸς μὲν γὰρ ἑκὼν οὐδείς͵ [86e] διὰ δὲ πονηρὰν ἕξιν τινὰ τοῦ σώματος καὶ ἀπαίδευτον τροφὴν ὁ κακὸς γίγνεται κακός͵ παντὶ δὲ ταῦτα ἐχθρὰ καὶ ἄκοντι προσγίγνεται. καὶ πάλιν δὴ τὸ περὶ τὰς λύπας ἡ ψυχὴ κατὰ ταὐτὰ διὰ σῶμα πολλὴν ἴσχει κακίαν.

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