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Three Millennia of Greek Literature
Physis : World Creation  

Plato's TIMAEUS : Creation of the souls

Timaeus 41d-44d  * Greek Fonts


Page 2

When the creator had made all these ordinances he remained in his own accustomed nature, and his children heard and were obedient to their father's word, and receiving from him the immortal principle of a mortal creature, in imitation of their own creator they borrowed portions of fire, and earth, and water, and air from the world, which were hereafter to be restored-these they took and welded them together, not with the indissoluble chains by which they were themselves bound, but with little pegs too small to be visible, making up out of all the four elements each separate body, and fastening the courses of the immortal soul in a body which was in a state of perpetual influx and efflux. Now these courses, detained as in a vast river, neither overcame nor were overcome; but were hurrying and hurried to and fro, so that the whole animal was moved and progressed, irregularly however and irrationally and anyhow, in all the six directions of motion, wandering backwards and forwards, and right and left, and up and down, and in all the six directions. For great as was the advancing and retiring flood which provided nourishment, the affections produced by external contact caused still greater tumult-when the body of any one met and came into collision with some external fire, or with the solid earth or the gliding waters, or was caught in the tempest borne on the air, and the motions produced by any of these impulses were carried through the body to the soul. All such motions have consequently received the general name of "sensations," which they still retain. And they did in fact at that time create a very great and mighty movement; uniting with the ever flowing stream in stirring up and violently shaking the courses of the soul, they completely stopped the revolution of the same by their opposing current, and hindered it from predominating and advancing; and they so disturbed the nature of the other or diverse, that the three double intervals [i.e. between 1, 2, 4, 8], and the three triple intervals [i.e. between 1, 3, 9, 27], together with the mean terms and connecting links which are expressed by the ratios of 3 : 2, and 4 : 3, and of 9 : 8-these, although they cannot be wholly undone except by him who united them, were twisted by them in all sorts of ways, and the circles were broken and disordered in every possible manner, so that when they moved they were tumbling to pieces, and moved irrationally, at one time in a reverse direction, and then again obliquely, and then upside down, as you might imagine a person who is upside down and has his head leaning upon the ground and his feet up against something in the air; and when he is in such a position, both he and the spectator fancy that the right of either is his left, and left right. If, when powerfully experiencing these and similar effects, the revolutions of the soul come in contact with some external thing, either of the class of the same or of the other, they speak of the same or of the other in a manner the very opposite of the truth; and they become false and foolish, and there is no course or revolution in them which has a guiding or directing power;

Καὶ ὁ μὲν δὴ ἅπαντα ταῦτα διατάξας ἔμενεν ἐν τῷ ἑαυτοῦ κατὰ τρόπον ἤθει· μένοντος δὲ νοήσαντες οἱ παῖδες τὴν τοῦ πατρὸς τάξιν ἐπείθοντο αὐτῇ͵ καὶ λαβόντες ἀθάνατον ἀρχὴν θνητοῦ ζῴου͵ μιμούμενοι τὸν σφέτερον δημιουργόν͵ πυρὸς καὶ γῆς ὕδατός τε καὶ ἀέρος ἀπὸ τοῦ κόσμου δανειζόμενοι μόρια ὡς ἀποδοθησόμενα πάλιν͵ [43a] εἰς ταὐτὸν τὰ λαμβανόμενα συνεκόλλων͵ οὐ τοῖς ἀλύτοις οἷς αὐτοὶ συνείχοντο δεσμοῖς͵ ἀλλὰ διὰ σμικρότητα ἀοράτοις πυκνοῖς γόμφοις συντήκοντες͵ ἓν ἐξ ἁπάντων ἀπεργαζόμενοι σῶμα ἕκαστον͵ τὰς τῆς ἀθανάτου ψυχῆς περιόδους ἐνέδουν εἰς ἐπίρρυτον σῶμα καὶ ἀπόρρυτον. αἱ δ΄ εἰς ποταμὸν ἐνδεθεῖσαι πολὺν οὔτ΄ ἐκράτουν οὔτ΄ ἐκρατοῦντο͵ βίᾳ δὲ ἐφέροντο καὶ ἔφερον͵ [43b] ὥστε τὸ μὲν ὅλον κινεῖσθαι ζῷον͵ ἀτάκτως μὴν ὅπῃ τύχοι προϊέναι καὶ ἀλόγως͵ τὰς ἓξ ἁπάσας κινήσεις ἔχον· εἴς τε γὰρ τὸ πρόσθε καὶ ὄπισθεν καὶ πάλιν εἰς δεξιὰ καὶ ἀριστερὰ κάτω τε καὶ ἄνω καὶ πάντῃ κατὰ τοὺς ἓξ τόπους πλανώμενα προῄειν. πολλοῦ γὰρ ὄντος τοῦ κατακλύζοντος καὶ ἀπορρέοντος κύματος ὃ τὴν τροφὴν παρεῖχεν͵ ἔτι μείζω θόρυβον ἀπηργάζετο τὰ τῶν προσπιπτόντων παθήματα ἑκάστοις͵ [43c] ὅτε πυρὶ προσκρούσειε τὸ σῶμά τινος ἔξωθεν ἀλλοτρίῳ περι τυχὸν ἢ καὶ στερεῷ γῆς πάγῳ ὑγροῖς τε ὀλισθήμασιν ὑδάτων͵ εἴτε ζάλῃ πνευμάτων ὑπὸ ἀέρος φερομένων καταληφθείη͵ καὶ ὑπὸ πάντων τούτων διὰ τοῦ σώματος αἱ κινήσεις ἐπὶ τὴν ψυχὴν φερόμεναι προσπίπτοιεν· αἳ δὴ καὶ ἔπειτα διὰ ταῦτα ἐκλήθησάν τε καὶ νῦν ἔτι αἰσθήσεις συνάπασαι κέκληνται. καὶ δὴ καὶ τότε ἐν τῷ παρόντι πλείστην καὶ μεγίστην παρεχόμεναι κίνησιν͵ [43d] μετὰ τοῦ ῥέοντος ἐνδελεχῶς ὀχετοῦ κινοῦσαι καὶ σφοδρῶς σείουσαι τὰς τῆς ψυχῆς περιόδους͵ τὴν μὲν ταὐτοῦ παντάπασιν ἐπέδησαν ἐναντία αὐτῇ ῥέουσαι καὶ ἐπέσχον ἄρχουσαν καὶ ἰοῦσαν͵ τὴν δ΄ αὖ θατέρου διέσεισαν͵ ὥστε τὰς τοῦ διπλασίου καὶ τριπλασίου τρεῖς ἑκατέρας ἀποστάσεις καὶ τὰς τῶν ἡμιολίων καὶ ἐπιτρίτων καὶ ἐπογδόων μεσότητας καὶ συνδέσεις͵ ἐπειδὴ παντελῶς λυταὶ οὐκ ἦσαν πλὴν ὑπὸ τοῦ συνδήσαντος͵ [43e] πάσας μὲν στρέψαι στροφάς͵ πάσας δὲ κλάσεις καὶ διαφθορὰς τῶν κύκλων ἐμποιεῖν͵ ὁσαχῇπερ ἦν δυνατόν͵ ὥστε μετ΄ ἀλλήλων μόγις συνεχομένας φέρεσθαι μέν͵ ἀλόγως δὲ φέρεσθαι͵ τοτὲ μὲν ἀντίας͵ ἄλλοτε δὲ πλαγίας͵ τοτὲ δὲ ὑπτίας· οἷον ὅταν τις ὕπτιος ἐρείσας τὴν κεφαλὴν μὲν ἐπὶ γῆς͵ τοὺς δὲ πόδας ἄνω προσβαλὼν ἔχῃ πρός τινι͵ τότε ἐν τούτῳ τῷ πάθει τοῦ τε πάσχοντος καὶ τῶν ὁρώντων τά τε δεξιὰ ἀριστερὰ καὶ τὰ ἀριστερὰ δεξιὰ ἑκατέροις τὰ ἑκατέρων φαντάζεται. ταὐτὸν δὴ τοῦτο καὶ τοιαῦτα ἕτερα αἱ περιφοραὶ πάσχουσαι σφοδρῶς͵ [44a] ὅταν τέ τῳ τῶν ἔξωθεν τοῦ ταὐτοῦ γένους ἢ τοῦ θατέρου περιτύχωσιν͵ τότε ταὐτόν τῳ καὶ θάτερόν του τἀναντία τῶν ἀληθῶν προσαγορεύουσαι ψευδεῖς καὶ ἀνόητοι γεγόνασιν͵ οὐδεμία τε ἐν αὐταῖς τότε περίοδος ἄρχουσα οὐδ΄ ἡγεμών ἐστιν·

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