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Three Millennia of Greek Literature
Physis : World Creation  

Plato's TIMAEUS : The world's soul

Timaeus 34b-37c  * Greek Fonts

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Now when the Creator had framed the soul according to his will, he formed within her the corporeal universe, and brought the two together, and united them centre to centre. The soul, interfused everywhere from the centre to the circumference of heaven, of which also she is the external envelopment, herself turning in herself, began a divine beginning of never ceasing and rational life enduring throughout all time. The body of heaven is visible, but the soul is invisible, and partakes of reason and harmony, and being made by the best of intellectual and everlasting natures, is the best of things created. And because she is composed of the same and of the other and of the essence, these three, and is divided and united in due proportion, and in her revolutions returns upon herself, the soul, when touching anything which has essence, whether dispersed in parts or undivided, is stirred through all her powers, to declare the sameness or difference of that thing and some other; and to what individuals are related, and by what affected, and in what way and how and when, both in the world of generation and in the world of immutable being. And when reason, which works with equal truth, whether she be in the circle of the diverse or of the same-in voiceless silence holding her onward course in the sphere of the self-moved-when reason, I say, is hovering around the sensible world and when the circle of the diverse also moving truly imparts the intimations of sense to the whole soul, then arise opinions and beliefs sure and certain. But when reason is concerned with the rational, and the circle of the same moving smoothly declares it, then intelligence and knowledge are necessarily perfected. And if any one affirms that in which these two are found to be other than the soul, he will say the very opposite of the truth.

Ἐπεὶ δὲ κατὰ νοῦν τῷ συνιστάντι πᾶσα ἡ τῆς ψυχῆς σύστασις ἐγεγένητο͵ [36e] μετὰ τοῦτο πᾶν τὸ σωματοειδὲς ἐντὸς αὐτῆς ἐτεκταίνετο καὶ μέσον μέσῃ συναγαγὼν προσήρμοττεν· ἡ δ΄ ἐκ μέσου πρὸς τὸν ἔσχατον οὐρανὸν πάντῃ διαπλακεῖσα κύκλῳ τε αὐτὸν ἔξωθεν περικαλύψασα͵ αὐτὴ ἐν αὑτῇ στρεφομένη͵ θείαν ἀρχὴν ἤρξατο ἀπαύστου καὶ ἔμφρονος βίου πρὸς τὸν σύμπαντα χρόνον. καὶ τὸ μὲν δὴ σῶμα ὁρατὸν οὐρανοῦ γέγονεν͵ [37a] αὐτὴ δὲ ἀόρατος μέν͵ λογισμοῦ δὲ μετέχουσα καὶ ἁρμονίας ψυχή͵ τῶν νοητῶν ἀεί τε ὄντων ὑπὸ τοῦ ἀρίστου ἀρίστη γενομένη τῶν γεννηθέντων. ἅτε οὖν ἐκ τῆς ταὐτοῦ καὶ τῆς θατέρου φύσεως ἔκ τε οὐσίας τριῶν τούτων συγκραθεῖσα μοιρῶν͵ καὶ ἀνὰ λόγον μερισθεῖσα καὶ συνδεθεῖσα͵ αὐτή τε ἀνακυκλουμένη πρὸς αὑτήν͵ ὅταν οὐσίαν σκεδαστὴν ἔχοντός τινος ἐφάπτηται καὶ ὅταν ἀμέριστον͵ λέγει κινουμένη διὰ πάσης ἑαυτῆς ὅτῳ τ΄ ἄν τι ταὐτὸν ᾖ καὶ ὅτου ἂν ἕτερον͵ [37b] πρὸς ὅτι τε μάλιστα καὶ ὅπῃ καὶ ὅπως καὶ ὁπότε συμβαίνει κατὰ τὰ γιγνόμενά τε πρὸς ἕκαστον ἕκαστα εἶναι καὶ πάσχειν καὶ πρὸς τὰ κατὰ ταὐτὰ ἔχοντα ἀεί. λόγος δὲ ὁ κατὰ ταὐτὸν ἀληθὴς γιγνόμενος περί τε θάτερον ὂν καὶ περὶ τὸ ταὐτόν͵ ἐν τῷ κινουμένῳ ὑφ΄ αὑτοῦ φερόμενος ἄνευ φθόγγου καὶ ἠχῆς͵ ὅταν μὲν περὶ τὸ αἰσθητὸν γίγνηται καὶ ὁ τοῦ θατέρου κύκλος ὀρθὸς ἰὼν εἰς πᾶσαν αὐτοῦ τὴν ψυχὴν διαγγείλῃ͵ δόξαι καὶ πίστεις γίγνονται βέβαιοι καὶ ἀληθεῖς͵ [37c] ὅταν δὲ αὖ περὶ τὸ λογιστικὸν ᾖ καὶ ὁ τοῦ ταὐτοῦ κύκλος εὔτροχος ὢν αὐτὰ μηνύσῃ͵ νοῦς ἐπιστήμη τε ἐξ ἀνάγκης ἀποτελεῖται· τούτω δὲ ἐν ᾧ τῶν ὄντων ἐγγίγνεσθον͵ ἄν ποτέ τις αὐτὸ ἄλλο πλὴν ψυχὴν εἴπῃ͵ πᾶν μᾶλλον ἢ τἀληθὲς ἐρεῖ.

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