Browse Designs
Plato's Timaeus

Plato's Timaeus

    Mystic Realms   Texts    Plato's Timaeus

Write to the Russian embassies around the world and tell them that what they have done is wrong  -


by Plato

Translated by Benjamin Jowett


PERSONS OF THE DIALOGUE: Socrates, Critias, Timaeus, Hermocrates.

SOCRATES: One, two, three; but where, my dear Timaeus, is the fourth of
those who were yesterday my guests and are to be my entertainers to-day?

TIMAEUS: He has been taken ill, Socrates; for he would not willingly have
been absent from this gathering.

SOCRATES: Then, if he is not coming, you and the two others must supply
his place.

TIMAEUS: Certainly, and we will do all that we can; having been handsomely
entertained by you yesterday, those of us who remain should be only too
glad to return your hospitality.

SOCRATES: Do you remember what were the points of which I required you to

TIMAEUS: We remember some of them, and you will be here to remind us of
anything which we have forgotten: or rather, if we are not troubling you,
will you briefly recapitulate the whole, and then the particulars will be
more firmly fixed in our memories?

SOCRATES: To be sure I will: the chief theme of my yesterday's discourse
was the State--how constituted and of what citizens composed it would seem
likely to be most perfect.

TIMAEUS: Yes, Socrates; and what you said of it was very much to our mind.

SOCRATES: Did we not begin by separating the husbandmen and the artisans
from the class of defenders of the State?


SOCRATES: And when we had given to each one that single employment and
particular art which was suited to his nature, we spoke of those who were
intended to be our warriors, and said that they were to be guardians of the
city against attacks from within as well as from without, and to have no
other employment; they were to be merciful in judging their subjects, of
whom they were by nature friends, but fierce to their enemies, when they
came across them in battle.

TIMAEUS: Exactly.

SOCRATES: We said, if I am not mistaken, that the guardians should be
gifted with a temperament in a high degree both passionate and
philosophical; and that then they would be as they ought to be, gentle to
their friends and fierce with their enemies.

TIMAEUS: Certainly.

SOCRATES: And what did we say of their education? Were they not to be
trained in gymnastic, and music, and all other sorts of knowledge which
were proper for them?

TIMAEUS: Very true.

SOCRATES: And being thus trained they were not to consider gold or silver
or anything else to be their own private property; they were to be like
hired troops, receiving pay for keeping guard from those who were protected
by them--the pay was to be no more than would suffice for men of simple
life; and they were to spend in common, and to live together in the
continual practice of virtue, which was to be their sole pursuit.

TIMAEUS: That was also said.

SOCRATES: Neither did we forget the women; of whom we declared, that their
natures should be assimilated and brought into harmony with those of the
men, and that common pursuits should be assigned to them both in time of
war and in their ordinary life.

TIMAEUS: That, again, was as you say.

SOCRATES: And what about the procreation of children? Or rather was not
the proposal too singular to be forgotten? for all wives and children were
to be in common, to the intent that no one should ever know his own child,
but they were to imagine that they were all one family; those who were
within a suitable limit of age were to be brothers and sisters, those who
were of an elder generation parents and grandparents, and those of a
younger, children and grandchildren.

TIMAEUS: Yes, and the proposal is easy to remember, as you say.

SOCRATES: And do you also remember how, with a view of securing as far as
we could the best breed, we said that the chief magistrates, male and
female, should contrive secretly, by the use of certain lots, so to arrange
the nuptial meeting, that the bad of either sex and the good of either sex
might pair with their like; and there was to be no quarrelling on this
account, for they would imagine that the union was a mere accident, and was
to be attributed to the lot?

TIMAEUS: I remember.

SOCRATES: And you remember how we said that the children of the good
parents were to be educated, and the children of the bad secretly dispersed
among the inferior citizens; and while they were all growing up the rulers
were to be on the look-out, and to bring up from below in their turn those
who were worthy, and those among themselves who were unworthy were to take
the places of those who came up?


SOCRATES: Then have I now given you all the heads of our yesterday's
discussion? Or is there anything more, my dear Timaeus, which has been

TIMAEUS: Nothing, Socrates; it was just as you have said.

SOCRATES: I should like, before proceeding further, to tell you how I feel
about the State which we have described. I might compare myself to a
person who, on beholding beautiful animals either created by the painter's
art, or, better still, alive but at rest, is seized with a desire of seeing
them in motion or engaged in some struggle or conflict to which their forms
appear suited; this is my feeling about the State which we have been
describing. There are conflicts which all cities undergo, and I should
like to hear some one tell of our own city carrying on a struggle against
her neighbours, and how she went out to war in a becoming manner, and when
at war showed by the greatness of her actions and the magnanimity of her
words in dealing with other cities a result worthy of her training and
education. Now I, Critias and Hermocrates, am conscious that I myself
should never be able to celebrate the city and her citizens in a befitting
manner, and I am not surprised at my own incapacity; to me the wonder is
rather that the poets present as well as past are no better--not that I
mean to depreciate them; but every one can see that they are a tribe of
imitators, and will imitate best and most easily the life in which they
have been brought up; while that which is beyond the range of a man's
education he finds hard to carry out in action, and still harder adequately
to represent in language. I am aware that the Sophists have plenty of
brave words and fair conceits, but I am afraid that being only wanderers
from one city to another, and having never had habitations of their own,
they may fail in their conception of philosophers and statesmen, and may
not know what they do and say in time of war, when they are fighting or
holding parley with their enemies. And thus people of your class are the
only ones remaining who are fitted by nature and education to take part at
once both in politics and philosophy. Here is Timaeus, of Locris in Italy,
a city which has admirable laws, and who is himself in wealth and rank the
equal of any of his fellow-citizens; he has held the most important and
honourable offices in his own state, and, as I believe, has scaled the
heights of all philosophy; and here is Critias, whom every Athenian knows
to be no novice in the matters of which we are speaking; and as to
Hermocrates, I am assured by many witnesses that his genius and education
qualify him to take part in any speculation of the kind. And therefore
yesterday when I saw that you wanted me to describe the formation of the
State, I readily assented, being very well aware, that, if you only would,
none were better qualified to carry the discussion further, and that when
you had engaged our city in a suitable war, you of all men living could
best exhibit her playing a fitting part. When I had completed my task, I
in return imposed this other task upon you. You conferred together and
agreed to entertain me to-day, as I had entertained you, with a feast of
discourse. Here am I in festive array, and no man can be more ready for
the promised banquet.

HERMOCRATES: And we too, Socrates, as Timaeus says, will not be wanting in
enthusiasm; and there is no excuse for not complying with your request. As
soon as we arrived yesterday at the guest-chamber of Critias, with whom we
are staying, or rather on our way thither, we talked the matter over, and
he told us an ancient tradition, which I wish, Critias, that you would
repeat to Socrates, so that he may help us to judge whether it will satisfy
his requirements or not.

CRITIAS: I will, if Timaeus, who is our other partner, approves.

TIMAEUS: I quite approve.

CRITIAS: Then listen, Socrates, to a tale which, though strange, is
certainly true, having been attested by Solon, who was the wisest of the
seven sages. He was a relative and a dear friend of my great-grandfather,
Dropides, as he himself says in many passages of his poems; and he told the
story to Critias, my grandfather, who remembered and repeated it to us.
There were of old, he said, great and marvellous actions of the Athenian
city, which have passed into oblivion through lapse of time and the
destruction of mankind, and one in particular, greater than all the rest.
This we will now rehearse. It will be a fitting monument of our gratitude
to you, and a hymn of praise true and worthy of the goddess, on this her
day of festival.

SOCRATES: Very good. And what is this ancient famous action of the
Athenians, which Critias declared, on the authority of Solon, to be not a
mere legend, but an actual fact?

CRITIAS: I will tell an old-world story which I heard from an aged man;
for Critias, at the time of telling it, was, as he said, nearly ninety
years of age, and I was about ten. Now the day was that day of the
Apaturia which is called the Registration of Youth, at which, according to
custom, our parents gave prizes for recitations, and the poems of several
poets were recited by us boys, and many of us sang the poems of Solon,
which at that time had not gone out of fashion. One of our tribe, either
because he thought so or to please Critias, said that in his judgment Solon
was not only the wisest of men, but also the noblest of poets. The old
man, as I very well remember, brightened up at hearing this and said,
smiling: Yes, Amynander, if Solon had only, like other poets, made poetry
the business of his life, and had completed the tale which he brought with
him from Egypt, and had not been compelled, by reason of the factions and
troubles which he found stirring in his own country when he came home, to
attend to other matters, in my opinion he would have been as famous as
Homer or Hesiod, or any poet.

And what was the tale about, Critias? said Amynander.

About the greatest action which the Athenians ever did, and which ought to
have been the most famous, but, through the lapse of time and the
destruction of the actors, it has not come down to us.

Tell us, said the other, the whole story, and how and from whom Solon heard
this veritable tradition.

He replied:--In the Egyptian Delta, at the head of which the river Nile
divides, there is a certain district which is called the district of Sais,
and the great city of the district is also called Sais, and is the city
from which King Amasis came. The citizens have a deity for their
foundress; she is called in the Egyptian tongue Neith, and is asserted by
them to be the same whom the Hellenes call Athene; they are great lovers of
the Athenians, and say that they are in some way related to them. To this
city came Solon, and was received there with great honour; he asked the
priests who were most skilful in such matters, about antiquity, and made
the discovery that neither he nor any other Hellene knew anything worth
mentioning about the times of old. On one occasion, wishing to draw them
on to speak of antiquity, he began to tell about the most ancient things in
our part of the world--about Phoroneus, who is called 'the first man,' and
about Niobe; and after the Deluge, of the survival of Deucalion and Pyrrha;
and he traced the genealogy of their descendants, and reckoning up the
dates, tried to compute how many years ago the events of which he was
speaking happened. Thereupon one of the priests, who was of a very great
age, said: O Solon, Solon, you Hellenes are never anything but children,
and there is not an old man among you. Solon in return asked him what he
meant. I mean to say, he replied, that in mind you are all young; there is
no old opinion handed down among you by ancient tradition, nor any science
which is hoary with age. And I will tell you why. There have been, and
will be again, many destructions of mankind arising out of many causes; the
greatest have been brought about by the agencies of fire and water, and
other lesser ones by innumerable other causes. There is a story, which
even you have preserved, that once upon a time Paethon, the son of Helios,
having yoked the steeds in his father's chariot, because he was not able to
drive them in the path of his father, burnt up all that was upon the earth,
and was himself destroyed by a thunderbolt. Now this has the form of a
myth, but really signifies a declination of the bodies moving in the
heavens around the earth, and a great conflagration of things upon the
earth, which recurs after long intervals; at such times those who live upon
the mountains and in dry and lofty places are more liable to destruction
than those who dwell by rivers or on the seashore. And from this calamity
the Nile, who is our never-failing saviour, delivers and preserves us.
When, on the other hand, the gods purge the earth with a deluge of water,
the survivors in your country are herdsmen and shepherds who dwell on the
mountains, but those who, like you, live in cities are carried by the
rivers into the sea. Whereas in this land, neither then nor at any other
time, does the water come down from above on the fields, having always a
tendency to come up from below; for which reason the traditions preserved
here are the most ancient. The fact is, that wherever the extremity of
winter frost or of summer sun does not prevent, mankind exist, sometimes in
greater, sometimes in lesser numbers. And whatever happened either in your
country or in ours, or in any other region of which we are informed--if
there were any actions noble or great or in any other way remarkable, they
have all been written down by us of old, and are preserved in our temples.
Whereas just when you and other nations are beginning to be provided with
letters and the other requisites of civilized life, after the usual
interval, the stream from heaven, like a pestilence, comes pouring down,
and leaves only those of you who are destitute of letters and education;
and so you have to begin all over again like children, and know nothing of
what happened in ancient times, either among us or among yourselves. As
for those genealogies of yours which you just now recounted to us, Solon,
they are no better than the tales of children. In the first place you
remember a single deluge only, but there were many previous ones; in the
next place, you do not know that there formerly dwelt in your land the
fairest and noblest race of men which ever lived, and that you and your
whole city are descended from a small seed or remnant of them which
survived. And this was unknown to you, because, for many generations, the
survivors of that destruction died, leaving no written word. For there was
a time, Solon, before the great deluge of all, when the city which now is
Athens was first in war and in every way the best governed of all cities,
is said to have performed the noblest deeds and to have had the fairest
constitution of any of which tradition tells, under the face of heaven.
Solon marvelled at his words, and earnestly requested the priests to inform
him exactly and in order about these former citizens. You are welcome to
hear about them, Solon, said the priest, both for your own sake and for
that of your city, and above all, for the sake of the goddess who is the
common patron and parent and educator of both our cities. She founded your
city a thousand years before ours (Observe that Plato gives the same date
(9000 years ago) for the foundation of Athens and for the repulse of the
invasion from Atlantis (Crit.).), receiving from the Earth and Hephaestus
the seed of your race, and afterwards she founded ours, of which the
constitution is recorded in our sacred registers to be 8000 years old. As
touching your citizens of 9000 years ago, I will briefly inform you of
their laws and of their most famous action; the exact particulars of the
whole we will hereafter go through at our leisure in the sacred registers
themselves. If you compare these very laws with ours you will find that
many of ours are the counterpart of yours as they were in the olden time.
In the first place, there is the caste of priests, which is separated from
all the others; next, there are the artificers, who ply their several
crafts by themselves and do not intermix; and also there is the class of
shepherds and of hunters, as well as that of husbandmen; and you will
observe, too, that the warriors in Egypt are distinct from all the other
classes, and are commanded by the law to devote themselves solely to
military pursuits; moreover, the weapons which they carry are shields and
spears, a style of equipment which the goddess taught of Asiatics first to
us, as in your part of the world first to you. Then as to wisdom, do you
observe how our law from the very first made a study of the whole order of
things, extending even to prophecy and medicine which gives health, out of
these divine elements deriving what was needful for human life, and adding
every sort of knowledge which was akin to them. All this order and
arrangement the goddess first imparted to you when establishing your city;
and she chose the spot of earth in which you were born, because she saw
that the happy temperament of the seasons in that land would produce the
wisest of men. Wherefore the goddess, who was a lover both of war and of
wisdom, selected and first of all settled that spot which was the most
likely to produce men likest herself. And there you dwelt, having such
laws as these and still better ones, and excelled all mankind in all
virtue, as became the children and disciples of the gods.

Many great and wonderful deeds are recorded of your state in our histories.
But one of them exceeds all the rest in greatness and valour. For these
histories tell of a mighty power which unprovoked made an expedition
against the whole of Europe and Asia, and to which your city put an end.
This power came forth out of the Atlantic Ocean, for in those days the
Atlantic was navigable; and there was an island situated in front of the
straits which are by you called the Pillars of Heracles; the island was
larger than Libya and Asia put together, and was the way to other islands,
and from these you might pass to the whole of the opposite continent which
surrounded the true ocean; for this sea which is within the Straits of
Heracles is only a harbour, having a narrow entrance, but that other is a
real sea, and the surrounding land may be most truly called a boundless
continent. Now in this island of Atlantis there was a great and wonderful
empire which had rule over the whole island and several others, and over
parts of the continent, and, furthermore, the men of Atlantis had subjected
the parts of Libya within the columns of Heracles as far as Egypt, and of
Europe as far as Tyrrhenia. This vast power, gathered into one,
endeavoured to subdue at a blow our country and yours and the whole of the
region within the straits; and then, Solon, your country shone forth, in
the excellence of her virtue and strength, among all mankind. She was
pre-eminent in courage and military skill, and was the leader of the
Hellenes. And when the rest fell off from her, being compelled to stand
alone, after having undergone the very extremity of danger, she defeated
and triumphed over the invaders, and preserved from slavery those who were
not yet subjugated, and generously liberated all the rest of us who dwell
within the pillars. But afterwards there occurred violent earthquakes and
floods; and in a single day and night of misfortune all your warlike men in
a body sank into the earth, and the island of Atlantis in like manner
disappeared in the depths of the sea. For which reason the sea in those
parts is impassable and impenetrable, because there is a shoal of mud in
the way; and this was caused by the subsidence of the island.

I have told you briefly, Socrates, what the aged Critias heard from Solon
and related to us. And when you were speaking yesterday about your city
and citizens, the tale which I have just been repeating to you came into my
mind, and I remarked with astonishment how, by some mysterious coincidence,
you agreed in almost every particular with the narrative of Solon; but I
did not like to speak at the moment. For a long time had elapsed, and I
had forgotten too much; I thought that I must first of all run over the
narrative in my own mind, and then I would speak. And so I readily
assented to your request yesterday, considering that in all such cases the
chief difficulty is to find a tale suitable to our purpose, and that with
such a tale we should be fairly well provided.

And therefore, as Hermocrates has told you, on my way home yesterday I at
once communicated the tale to my companions as I remembered it; and after I
left them, during the night by thinking I recovered nearly the whole of it.
Truly, as is often said, the lessons of our childhood make a wonderful
impression on our memories; for I am not sure that I could remember all the
discourse of yesterday, but I should be much surprised if I forgot any of
these things which I have heard very long ago. I listened at the time with
childlike interest to the old man's narrative; he was very ready to teach
me, and I asked him again and again to repeat his words, so that like an
indelible picture they were branded into my mind. As soon as the day
broke, I rehearsed them as he spoke them to my companions, that they, as
well as myself, might have something to say. And now, Socrates, to make an
end of my preface, I am ready to tell you the whole tale. I will give you
not only the general heads, but the particulars, as they were told to me.
The city and citizens, which you yesterday described to us in fiction, we
will now transfer to the world of reality. It shall be the ancient city of
Athens, and we will suppose that the citizens whom you imagined, were our
veritable ancestors, of whom the priest spoke; they will perfectly
harmonize, and there will be no inconsistency in saying that the citizens
of your republic are these ancient Athenians. Let us divide the subject
among us, and all endeavour according to our ability gracefully to execute
the task which you have imposed upon us. Consider then, Socrates, if this
narrative is suited to the purpose, or whether we should seek for some
other instead.

SOCRATES: And what other, Critias, can we find that will be better than
this, which is natural and suitable to the festival of the goddess, and has
the very great advantage of being a fact and not a fiction? How or where
shall we find another if we abandon this? We cannot, and therefore you
must tell the tale, and good luck to you; and I in return for my
yesterday's discourse will now rest and be a listener.

CRITIAS: Let me proceed to explain to you, Socrates, the order in which we
have arranged our entertainment. Our intention is, that Timaeus, who is
the most of an astronomer amongst us, and has made the nature of the
universe his special study, should speak first, beginning with the
generation of the world and going down to the creation of man; next, I am
to receive the men whom he has created, and of whom some will have profited
by the excellent education which you have given them; and then, in
accordance with the tale of Solon, and equally with his law, we will bring
them into court and make them citizens, as if they were those very
Athenians whom the sacred Egyptian record has recovered from oblivion, and
thenceforward we will speak of them as Athenians and fellow-citizens.

SOCRATES: I see that I shall receive in my turn a perfect and splendid
feast of reason. And now, Timaeus, you, I suppose, should speak next,
after duly calling upon the Gods.

TIMAEUS: All men, Socrates, who have any degree of right feeling, at the
beginning of every enterprise, whether small or great, always call upon
God. And we, too, who are going to discourse of the nature of the
universe, how created or how existing without creation, if we be not
altogether out of our wits, must invoke the aid of Gods and Goddesses and
pray that our words may be acceptable to them and consistent with
themselves. Let this, then, be our invocation of the Gods, to which I add
an exhortation of myself to speak in such manner as will be most
intelligible to you, and will most accord with my own intent.

First then, in my judgment, we must make a distinction and ask, What is
that which always is and has no becoming; and what is that which is always
becoming and never is? That which is apprehended by intelligence and
reason is always in the same state; but that which is conceived by opinion
with the help of sensation and without reason, is always in a process of
becoming and perishing and never really is. Now everything that becomes or
is created must of necessity be created by some cause, for without a cause
nothing can be created. The work of the creator, whenever he looks to the
unchangeable and fashions the form and nature of his work after an
unchangeable pattern, must necessarily be made fair and perfect; but when
he looks to the created only, and uses a created pattern, it is not fair or
perfect. Was the heaven then or the world, whether called by this or by
any other more appropriate name--assuming the name, I am asking a question
which has to be asked at the beginning of an enquiry about anything--was
the world, I say, always in existence and without beginning? or created,
and had it a beginning? Created, I reply, being visible and tangible and
having a body, and therefore sensible; and all sensible things are
apprehended by opinion and sense and are in a process of creation and
created. Now that which is created must, as we affirm, of necessity be
created by a cause. But the father and maker of all this universe is past
finding out; and even if we found him, to tell of him to all men would be
impossible. And there is still a question to be asked about him: Which of
the patterns had the artificer in view when he made the world--the pattern
of the unchangeable, or of that which is created? If the world be indeed
fair and the artificer good, it is manifest that he must have looked to
that which is eternal; but if what cannot be said without blasphemy is
true, then to the created pattern. Every one will see that he must have
looked to the eternal; for the world is the fairest of creations and he is
the best of causes. And having been created in this way, the world has
been framed in the likeness of that which is apprehended by reason and mind
and is unchangeable, and must therefore of necessity, if this is admitted,
be a copy of something. Now it is all-important that the beginning of
everything should be according to nature. And in speaking of the copy and
the original we may assume that words are akin to the matter which they
describe; when they relate to the lasting and permanent and intelligible,
they ought to be lasting and unalterable, and, as far as their nature
allows, irrefutable and immovable--nothing less. But when they express
only the copy or likeness and not the eternal things themselves, they need
only be likely and analogous to the real words. As being is to becoming,
so is truth to belief. If then, Socrates, amid the many opinions about the
gods and the generation of the universe, we are not able to give notions
which are altogether and in every respect exact and consistent with one
another, do not be surprised. Enough, if we adduce probabilities as likely
as any others; for we must remember that I who am the speaker, and you who
are the judges, are only mortal men, and we ought to accept the tale which
is probable and enquire no further.

SOCRATES: Excellent, Timaeus; and we will do precisely as you bid us. The
prelude is charming, and is already accepted by us--may we beg of you to
proceed to the strain?

TIMAEUS: Let me tell you then why the creator made this world of
generation. He was good, and the good can never have any jealousy of
anything. And being free from jealousy, he desired that all things should
be as like himself as they could be. This is in the truest sense the
origin of creation and of the world, as we shall do well in believing on
the testimony of wise men: God desired that all things should be good and
nothing bad, so far as this was attainable. Wherefore also finding the
whole visible sphere not at rest, but moving in an irregular and disorderly
fashion, out of disorder he brought order, considering that this was in
every way better than the other. Now the deeds of the best could never be
or have been other than the fairest; and the creator, reflecting on the
things which are by nature visible, found that no unintelligent creature
taken as a whole was fairer than the intelligent taken as a whole; and that
intelligence could not be present in anything which was devoid of soul.
For which reason, when he was framing the universe, he put intelligence in
soul, and soul in body, that he might be the creator of a work which was by
nature fairest and best. Wherefore, using the language of probability, we
may say that the world became a living creature truly endowed with soul and
intelligence by the providence of God.

This being supposed, let us proceed to the next stage: In the likeness of
what animal did the Creator make the world? It would be an unworthy thing
to liken it to any nature which exists as a part only; for nothing can be
beautiful which is like any imperfect thing; but let us suppose the world
to be the very image of that whole of which all other animals both
individually and in their tribes are portions. For the original of the
universe contains in itself all intelligible beings, just as this world
comprehends us and all other visible creatures. For the Deity, intending
to make this world like the fairest and most perfect of intelligible
beings, framed one visible animal comprehending within itself all other
animals of a kindred nature. Are we right in saying that there is one
world, or that they are many and infinite? There must be one only, if the
created copy is to accord with the original. For that which includes all
other intelligible creatures cannot have a second or companion; in that
case there would be need of another living being which would include both,
and of which they would be parts, and the likeness would be more truly said
to resemble not them, but that other which included them. In order then
that the world might be solitary, like the perfect animal, the creator made
not two worlds or an infinite number of them; but there is and ever will be
one only-begotten and created heaven.

Now that which is created is of necessity corporeal, and also visible and
tangible. And nothing is visible where there is no fire, or tangible which
has no solidity, and nothing is solid without earth. Wherefore also God in
the beginning of creation made the body of the universe to consist of fire
and earth. But two things cannot be rightly put together without a third;
there must be some bond of union between them. And the fairest bond is
that which makes the most complete fusion of itself and the things which it
combines; and proportion is best adapted to effect such a union. For
whenever in any three numbers, whether cube or square, there is a mean,
which is to the last term what the first term is to it; and again, when the
mean is to the first term as the last term is to the mean--then the mean
becoming first and last, and the first and last both becoming means, they
will all of them of necessity come to be the same, and having become the
same with one another will be all one. If the universal frame had been
created a surface only and having no depth, a single mean would have
sufficed to bind together itself and the other terms; but now, as the world
must be solid, and solid bodies are always compacted not by one mean but by
two, God placed water and air in the mean between fire and earth, and made
them to have the same proportion so far as was possible (as fire is to air
so is air to water, and as air is to water so is water to earth); and thus
he bound and put together a visible and tangible heaven. And for these
reasons, and out of such elements which are in number four, the body of the
world was created, and it was harmonized by proportion, and therefore has
the spirit of friendship; and having been reconciled to itself, it was
indissoluble by the hand of any other than the framer.

Now the creation took up the whole of each of the four elements; for the
Creator compounded the world out of all the fire and all the water and all
the air and all the earth, leaving no part of any of them nor any power of
them outside. His intention was, in the first place, that the animal
should be as far as possible a perfect whole and of perfect parts:
secondly, that it should be one, leaving no remnants out of which another
such world might be created: and also that it should be free from old age
and unaffected by disease. Considering that if heat and cold and other
powerful forces which unite bodies surround and attack them from without
when they are unprepared, they decompose them, and by bringing diseases and
old age upon them, make them waste away--for this cause and on these
grounds he made the world one whole, having every part entire, and being
therefore perfect and not liable to old age and disease. And he gave to
the world the figure which was suitable and also natural. Now to the
animal which was to comprehend all animals, that figure was suitable which
comprehends within itself all other figures. Wherefore he made the world
in the form of a globe, round as from a lathe, having its extremes in every
direction equidistant from the centre, the most perfect and the most like
itself of all figures; for he considered that the like is infinitely fairer
than the unlike. This he finished off, making the surface smooth all round
for many reasons; in the first place, because the living being had no need
of eyes when there was nothing remaining outside him to be seen; nor of
ears when there was nothing to be heard; and there was no surrounding
atmosphere to be breathed; nor would there have been any use of organs by
the help of which he might receive his food or get rid of what he had
already digested, since there was nothing which went from him or came into
him: for there was nothing beside him. Of design he was created thus, his
own waste providing his own food, and all that he did or suffered taking
place in and by himself. For the Creator conceived that a being which was
self-sufficient would be far more excellent than one which lacked anything;
and, as he had no need to take anything or defend himself against any one,
the Creator did not think it necessary to bestow upon him hands: nor had
he any need of feet, nor of the whole apparatus of walking; but the
movement suited to his spherical form was assigned to him, being of all the
seven that which is most appropriate to mind and intelligence; and he was
made to move in the same manner and on the same spot, within his own limits
revolving in a circle. All the other six motions were taken away from him,
and he was made not to partake of their deviations. And as this circular
movement required no feet, the universe was created without legs and
without feet.

Such was the whole plan of the eternal God about the god that was to be, to
whom for this reason he gave a body, smooth and even, having a surface in
every direction equidistant from the centre, a body entire and perfect, and
formed out of perfect bodies. And in the centre he put the soul, which he
diffused throughout the body, making it also to be the exterior environment
of it; and he made the universe a circle moving in a circle, one and
solitary, yet by reason of its excellence able to converse with itself, and
needing no other friendship or acquaintance. Having these purposes in view
he created the world a blessed god.

Now God did not make the soul after the body, although we are speaking of
them in this order; for having brought them together he would never have
allowed that the elder should be ruled by the younger; but this is a random
manner of speaking which we have, because somehow we ourselves too are very
much under the dominion of chance. Whereas he made the soul in origin and
excellence prior to and older than the body, to be the ruler and mistress,
of whom the body was to be the subject. And he made her out of the
following elements and on this wise: Out of the indivisible and
unchangeable, and also out of that which is divisible and has to do with
material bodies, he compounded a third and intermediate kind of essence,
partaking of the nature of the same and of the other, and this compound he
placed accordingly in a mean between the indivisible, and the divisible and
material. He took the three elements of the same, the other, and the
essence, and mingled them into one form, compressing by force the reluctant
and unsociable nature of the other into the same. When he had mingled them
with the essence and out of three made one, he again divided this whole
into as many portions as was fitting, each portion being a compound of the
same, the other, and the essence. And he proceeded to divide after this
manner:--First of all, he took away one part of the whole (1), and then he
separated a second part which was double the first (2), and then he took
away a third part which was half as much again as the second and three
times as much as the first (3), and then he took a fourth part which was
twice as much as the second (4), and a fifth part which was three times the
third (9), and a sixth part which was eight times the first (8), and a
seventh part which was twenty-seven times the first (27). After this he
filled up the double intervals (i.e. between 1, 2, 4, 8) and the triple
(i.e. between 1, 3, 9, 27) cutting off yet other portions from the mixture
and placing them in the intervals, so that in each interval there were two
kinds of means, the one exceeding and exceeded by equal parts of its
extremes (as for example 1, 4/3, 2, in which the mean 4/3 is one-third of 1
more than 1, and one-third of 2 less than 2), the other being that kind of
mean which exceeds and is exceeded by an equal number (e.g.

- over 1, 4/3, 3/2, - over 2, 8/3, 3, - over 4, 16/3, 6, - over 8: and
- over 1, 3/2, 2, - over 3, 9/2, 6, - over 9, 27/2, 18, - over 27.).

Where there were intervals of 3/2 and of 4/3 and of 9/8, made by the
connecting terms in the former intervals, he filled up all the intervals of
4/3 with the interval of 9/8, leaving a fraction over; and the interval
which this fraction expressed was in the ratio of 256 to 243 (e.g.


And thus the whole mixture out of which he cut these portions was all
exhausted by him. This entire compound he divided lengthways into two
parts, which he joined to one another at the centre like the letter X, and
bent them into a circular form, connecting them with themselves and each
other at the point opposite to their original meeting-point; and,
comprehending them in a uniform revolution upon the same axis, he made the
one the outer and the other the inner circle. Now the motion of the outer
circle he called the motion of the same, and the motion of the inner circle
the motion of the other or diverse. The motion of the same he carried
round by the side (i.e. of the rectangular figure supposed to be inscribed
in the circle of the Same) to the right, and the motion of the diverse
diagonally (i.e. across the rectangular figure from corner to corner) to
the left. And he gave dominion to the motion of the same and like, for
that he left single and undivided; but the inner motion he divided in
six places and made seven unequal circles having their intervals in
ratios of two and three, three of each, and bade the orbits proceed in a
direction opposite to one another; and three (Sun, Mercury, Venus) he made
to move with equal swiftness, and the remaining four (Moon, Saturn, Mars,
Jupiter) to move with unequal swiftness to the three and to one another,
but in due proportion.

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.

When the father and creator saw the creature which he had made moving and
living, the created image of the eternal gods, he rejoiced, and in his joy
determined to make the copy still more like the original; and as this was
eternal, he sought to make the universe eternal, so far as might be. Now
the nature of the ideal being was everlasting, but to bestow this attribute
in its fulness upon a creature was impossible. Wherefore he resolved to
have a moving image of eternity, and when he set in order the heaven, he
made this image eternal but moving according to number, while eternity
itself rests in unity; and this image we call time. For there were no days
and nights and months and years before the heaven was created, but when he
constructed the heaven he created them also. They are all parts of time,
and the past and future are created species of time, which we unconsciously
but wrongly transfer to the eternal essence; for we say that he 'was,' he
'is,' he 'will be,' but the truth is that 'is' alone is properly attributed
to him, and that 'was' and 'will be' are only to be spoken of becoming in
time, for they are motions, but that which is immovably the same cannot
become older or younger by time, nor ever did or has become, or hereafter
will be, older or younger, nor is subject at all to any of those states
which affect moving and sensible things and of which generation is the
cause. These are the forms of time, which imitates eternity and revolves
according to a law of number. Moreover, when we say that what has become
IS become and what becomes IS becoming, and that what will become IS about
to become and that the non-existent IS non-existent--all these are
inaccurate modes of expression (compare Parmen.). But perhaps this whole
subject will be more suitably discussed on some other occasion.

Time, then, and the heaven came into being at the same instant in order
that, having been created together, if ever there was to be a dissolution
of them, they might be dissolved together. It was framed after the pattern
of the eternal nature, that it might resemble this as far as was possible;
for the pattern exists from eternity, and the created heaven has been, and
is, and will be, in all time. Such was the mind and thought of God in the
creation of time. The sun and moon and five other stars, which are called
the planets, were created by him in order to distinguish and preserve the
numbers of time; and when he had made their several bodies, he placed them
in the orbits in which the circle of the other was revolving,--in seven
orbits seven stars. First, there was the moon in the orbit nearest the
earth, and next the sun, in the second orbit above the earth; then came the
morning star and the star sacred to Hermes, moving in orbits which have an
equal swiftness with the sun, but in an opposite direction; and this is the
reason why the sun and Hermes and Lucifer overtake and are overtaken by
each other. To enumerate the places which he assigned to the other stars,
and to give all the reasons why he assigned them, although a secondary
matter, would give more trouble than the primary. These things at some
future time, when we are at leisure, may have the consideration which they
deserve, but not at present.

Now, when all the stars which were necessary to the creation of time had
attained a motion suitable to them, and had become living creatures having
bodies fastened by vital chains, and learnt their appointed task, moving in
the motion of the diverse, which is diagonal, and passes through and is
governed by the motion of the same, they revolved, some in a larger and
some in a lesser orbit--those which had the lesser orbit revolving faster,
and those which had the larger more slowly. Now by reason of the motion of
the same, those which revolved fastest appeared to be overtaken by those
which moved slower although they really overtook them; for the motion of
the same made them all turn in a spiral, and, because some went one way and
some another, that which receded most slowly from the sphere of the same,
which was the swiftest, appeared to follow it most nearly. That there
might be some visible measure of their relative swiftness and slowness as
they proceeded in their eight courses, God lighted a fire, which we now
call the sun, in the second from the earth of these orbits, that it might
give light to the whole of heaven, and that the animals, as many as nature
intended, might participate in number, learning arithmetic from the
revolution of the same and the like. Thus then, and for this reason the
night and the day were created, being the period of the one most
intelligent revolution. And the month is accomplished when the moon has
completed her orbit and overtaken the sun, and the year when the sun has
completed his own orbit. Mankind, with hardly an exception, have not
remarked the periods of the other stars, and they have no name for them,
and do not measure them against one another by the help of number, and
hence they can scarcely be said to know that their wanderings, being
infinite in number and admirable for their variety, make up time. And yet
there is no difficulty in seeing that the perfect number of time fulfils
the perfect year when all the eight revolutions, having their relative
degrees of swiftness, are accomplished together and attain their completion
at the same time, measured by the rotation of the same and equally moving.
After this manner, and for these reasons, came into being such of the stars
as in their heavenly progress received reversals of motion, to the end that
the created heaven might imitate the eternal nature, and be as like as
possible to the perfect and intelligible animal.

Thus far and until the birth of time the created universe was made in the
likeness of the original, but inasmuch as all animals were not yet
comprehended therein, it was still unlike. What remained, the creator then
proceeded to fashion after the nature of the pattern. Now as in the ideal
animal the mind perceives ideas or species of a certain nature and number,
he thought that this created animal ought to have species of a like nature
and number. There are four such; one of them is the heavenly race of the
gods; another, the race of birds whose way is in the air; the third, the
watery species; and the fourth, the pedestrian and land creatures. Of the
heavenly and divine, he created the greater part out of fire, that they
might be the brightest of all things and fairest to behold, and he
fashioned them after the likeness of the universe in the figure of a
circle, and made them follow the intelligent motion of the supreme,
distributing them over the whole circumference of heaven, which was to be a
true cosmos or glorious world spangled with them all over. And he gave to
each of them two movements: the first, a movement on the same spot after
the same manner, whereby they ever continue to think consistently the same
thoughts about the same things; the second, a forward movement, in which
they are controlled by the revolution of the same and the like; but by the
other five motions they were unaffected, in order that each of them might
attain the highest perfection. And for this reason the fixed stars were
created, to be divine and eternal animals, ever-abiding and revolving after
the same manner and on the same spot; and the other stars which reverse
their motion and are subject to deviations of this kind, were created in
the manner already described. The earth, which is our nurse, clinging (or
'circling') around the pole which is extended through the universe, he
framed to be the guardian and artificer of night and day, first and eldest
of gods that are in the interior of heaven. 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

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.

Now, when all of them, both those who visibly appear in their revolutions
as well as those other gods who are of a more retiring nature, had come
into being, the creator of the universe addressed them in these words:
'Gods, children of gods, who are my works, and of whom I am the artificer
and father, my creations are indissoluble, if so I will. All that is bound
may be undone, but only an evil being would wish to undo that which is
harmonious and happy. Wherefore, since ye are but creatures, ye are not
altogether immortal and indissoluble, but ye shall certainly not be
dissolved, nor be liable to the fate of death, having in my will a greater
and mightier bond than those with which ye were bound at the time of your
birth. And now listen to my instructions:--Three tribes of mortal beings
remain to be created--without them the universe will be incomplete, for it
will not contain every kind of animal which it ought to contain, if it is
to be perfect. On the other hand, if they were created by me and received
life at my hands, they would be on an equality with the gods. In order
then that they may be mortal, and that this universe may be truly
universal, do ye, according to your natures, betake yourselves to the
formation of animals, imitating the power which was shown by me in creating
you. The part of them worthy of the name immortal, which is called divine
and is the guiding principle of those who are willing to follow justice and
you--of that divine part I will myself sow the seed, and having made a
beginning, I will hand the work over to you. And do ye then interweave the
mortal with the immortal, and make and beget living creatures, and give
them food, and make them to grow, and receive them again in death.'

Thus he spake, and once more into the cup in which he had previously
mingled the soul of the universe he poured the remains of the elements, and
mingled them in much the same manner; they were not, however, pure as
before, but diluted to the second and third degree. And having made it he
divided the whole mixture into souls equal in number to the stars, and
assigned each soul to a star; and having there placed them as in a chariot,
he showed them the nature of the universe, and declared to them the laws of
destiny, according to which their first birth would be one and the same for
all,--no one should suffer a disadvantage at his hands; they were to be
sown in the instruments of time severally adapted to them, and to come
forth the most religious of animals; and as human nature was of two kinds,
the superior race would hereafter be called man. Now, when they should be
implanted in bodies by necessity, and be always gaining or losing some part
of their bodily substance, then in the first place it would be necessary
that they should all have in them one and the same faculty of sensation,
arising out of irresistible impressions; in the second place, they must
have love, in which pleasure and pain mingle; also fear and anger, and the
feelings which are akin or opposite to them; if they conquered these they
would live righteously, and if they were conquered by them, unrighteously.
He who lived well during his appointed time was to return and dwell in his
native star, and there he would have a blessed and congenial existence.
But if he failed in attaining this, at the second birth he would pass into
a woman, and if, when in that state of being, he did not desist from evil,
he would continually be changed into some brute who resembled him in the
evil nature which he had acquired, and would not cease from his toils and
transformations until he followed the revolution of the same and the like
within him, and overcame by the help of reason the turbulent and irrational
mob of later accretions, made up of fire and air and water and earth, and
returned to the form of his first and better state. Having given all these
laws to his creatures, that he might be guiltless of future evil in any of
them, the creator sowed some of them in the earth, and some in the moon,
and some in the other instruments of time; and when he had sown them he
committed to the younger gods the fashioning of their mortal bodies, and
desired them to furnish what was still lacking to the human soul, and
having made all the suitable additions, to rule over them, and to pilot the
mortal animal in the best and wisest manner which they could, and avert
from him all but self-inflicted evils.

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 the 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; and if again any sensations enter
in violently from without and drag after them the whole vessel of the soul,
then the courses of the soul, though they seem to conquer, are really

And by reason of all these affections, the soul, when encased in a mortal
body, now, as in the beginning, is at first without intelligence; but when
the flood of growth and nutriment abates, and the courses of the soul,
calming down, go their own way and become steadier as time goes on, then
the several circles return to their natural form, and their revolutions are
corrected, and they call the same and the other by their right names, and
make the possessor of them to become a rational being. And if these
combine in him with any true nurture or education, he attains the fulness
and health of the perfect man, and escapes the worst disease of all; but if
he neglects education he walks lame to the end of his life, and returns
imperfect and good for nothing to the world below. This, however, is a
later stage; at present we must treat more exactly the subject before us,
which involves a preliminary enquiry into the generation of the body and
its members, and as to how the soul was created--for what reason and by
what providence of the gods; and holding fast to probability, we must
pursue our way.

First, then, the gods, imitating the spherical shape of the universe,
enclosed the two divine courses in a spherical body, that, namely, which we
now term the head, being the most divine part of us and the lord of all
that is in us: to this the gods, when they put together the body, gave all
the other members to be servants, considering that it partook of every sort
of motion. In order then that it might not tumble about among the high and
deep places of the earth, but might be able to get over the one and out of
the other, they provided the body to be its vehicle and means of
locomotion; which consequently had length and was furnished with four limbs
extended and flexible; these God contrived to be instruments of locomotion
with which it might take hold and find support, and so be able to pass
through all places, carrying on high the dwelling-place of the most sacred
and divine part of us. Such was the origin of legs and hands, which for
this reason were attached to every man; and the gods, deeming the front
part of man to be more honourable and more fit to command than the hinder
part, made us to move mostly in a forward direction. Wherefore man must
needs have his front part unlike and distinguished from the rest of his

And so in the vessel of the head, they first of all put a face in which
they inserted organs to minister in all things to the providence of the
soul, and they appointed this part, which has authority, to be by nature
the part which is in front. And of the organs they first contrived the
eyes to give light, and the principle according to which they were inserted
was as follows: So much of fire as would not burn, but gave a gentle
light, they formed into a substance akin to the light of every-day life;
and the pure fire which is within us and related thereto they made to flow
through the eyes in a stream smooth and dense, compressing the whole eye,
and especially the centre part, so that it kept out everything of a coarser
nature, and allowed to pass only this pure element. When the light of day
surrounds the stream of vision, then like falls upon like, and they
coalesce, and one body is formed by natural affinity in the line of vision,
wherever the light that falls from within meets with an external object.
And the whole stream of vision, being similarly affected in virtue of
similarity, diffuses the motions of what it touches or what touches it over
the whole body, until they reach the soul, causing that perception which we
call sight. But when night comes on and the external and kindred fire
departs, then the stream of vision is cut off; for going forth to an unlike
element it is changed and extinguished, being no longer of one nature with
the surrounding atmosphere which is now deprived of fire: and so the eye
no longer sees, and we feel disposed to sleep. For when the eyelids, which
the gods invented for the preservation of sight, are closed, they keep in
the internal fire; and the power of the fire diffuses and equalizes the
inward motions; when they are equalized, there is rest, and when the rest
is profound, sleep comes over us scarce disturbed by dreams; but where the
greater motions still remain, of whatever nature and in whatever locality,
they engender corresponding visions in dreams, which are remembered by us
when we are awake and in the external world. And now there is no longer
any difficulty in understanding the creation of images in mirrors and all
smooth and bright surfaces. For from the communion of the internal and
external fires, and again from the union of them and their numerous
transformations when they meet in the mirror, all these appearances of
necessity arise, when the fire from the face coalesces with the fire from
the eye on the bright and smooth surface. And right appears left and left
right, because the visual rays come into contact with the rays emitted by
the object in a manner contrary to the usual mode of meeting; but the right
appears right, and the left left, when the position of one of the two
concurring lights is reversed; and this happens when the mirror is concave
and its smooth surface repels the right stream of vision to the left side,
and the left to the right (He is speaking of two kinds of mirrors, first
the plane, secondly the concave; and the latter is supposed to be placed,
first horizontally, and then vertically.). Or if the mirror be turned
vertically, then the concavity makes the countenance appear to be all
upside down, and the lower rays are driven upwards and the upper downwards.

All these are to be reckoned among the second and co-operative causes which
God, carrying into execution the idea of the best as far as possible, uses
as his ministers. They are thought by most men not to be the second, but
the prime causes of all things, because they freeze and heat, and contract
and dilate, and the like. But they are not so, for they are incapable of
reason or intellect; the only being which can properly have mind is the
invisible soul, whereas fire and water, and earth and air, are all of them
visible bodies. The lover of intellect and knowledge ought to explore
causes of intelligent nature first of all, and, secondly, of those things
which, being moved by others, are compelled to move others. And this is
what we too must do. Both kinds of causes should be acknowledged by us,
but a distinction should be made between those which are endowed with mind
and are the workers of things fair and good, and those which are deprived
of intelligence and always produce chance effects without order or design.
Of the second or co-operative causes of sight, which help to give to the
eyes the power which they now possess, enough has been said. I will
therefore now proceed to speak of the higher use and purpose for which God
has given them to us. The sight in my opinion is the source of the
greatest benefit to us, for had we never seen the stars, and the sun, and
the heaven, none of the words which we have spoken about the universe would
ever have been uttered. But now the sight of day and night, and the months
and the revolutions of the years, have created number, and have given us a
conception of time, and the power of enquiring about the nature of the
universe; and from this source we have derived philosophy, than which no
greater good ever was or will be given by the gods to mortal man. This is
the greatest boon of sight: and of the lesser benefits why should I speak?
even the ordinary man if he were deprived of them would bewail his loss,
but in vain. Thus much let me say however: God invented and gave us sight
to the end that we might behold the courses of intelligence in the heaven,
and apply them to the courses of our own intelligence which are akin to
them, the unperturbed to the perturbed; and that we, learning them and
partaking of the natural truth of reason, might imitate the absolutely
unerring courses of God and regulate our own vagaries. The same may be
affirmed of speech and hearing: they have been given by the gods to the
same end and for a like reason. For this is the principal end of speech,
whereto it most contributes. Moreover, so much of music as is adapted to
the sound of the voice and to the sense of hearing is granted to us for the
sake of harmony; and harmony, which has motions akin to the revolutions of
our souls, is not regarded by the intelligent votary of the Muses as given
by them with a view to irrational pleasure, which is deemed to be the
purpose of it in our day, but as meant to correct any discord which may
have arisen in the courses of the soul, and to be our ally in bringing her
into harmony and agreement with herself; and rhythm too was given by them
for the same reason, on account of the irregular and graceless ways which
prevail among mankind generally, and to help us against them.

Thus far in what we have been saying, with small exception, the works of
intelligence have been set forth; and now we must place by the side of them
in our discourse the things which come into being through necessity--for
the creation is mixed, being made up of necessity and mind. Mind, the
ruling power, persuaded necessity to bring the greater part of created
things to perfection, and thus and after this manner in the beginning, when
the influence of reason got the better of necessity, the universe was
created. But if a person will truly tell of the way in which the work was
accomplished, he must include the other influence of the variable cause as
well. Wherefore, we must return again and find another suitable beginning,
as about the former matters, so also about these. To which end we must
consider the nature of fire, and water, and air, and earth, such as they
were prior to the creation of the heaven, and what was happening to them in
this previous state; for no one has as yet explained the manner of their
generation, but we speak of fire and the rest of them, whatever they mean,
as though men knew their natures, and we maintain them to be the first
principles and letters or elements of the whole, when they cannot
reasonably be compared by a man of any sense even to syllables or first
compounds. And let me say thus much: I will not now speak of the first
principle or principles of all things, or by whatever name they are to be
called, for this reason--because it is difficult to set forth my opinion
according to the method of discussion which we are at present employing.
Do not imagine, any more than I can bring myself to imagine, that I should
be right in undertaking so great and difficult a task. Remembering what I
said at first about probability, I will do my best to give as probable an
explanation as any other--or rather, more probable; and I will first go
back to the beginning and try to speak of each thing and of all. Once
more, then, at the commencement of my discourse, I call upon God, and beg
him to be our saviour out of a strange and unwonted enquiry, and to bring
us to the haven of probability. So now let us begin again.

This new beginning of our discussion of the universe requires a fuller
division than the former; for then we made two classes, now a third must be
revealed. The two sufficed for the former discussion: one, which we
assumed, was a pattern intelligible and always the same; and the second was
only the imitation of the pattern, generated and visible. There is also a
third kind which we did not distinguish at the time, conceiving that the
two would be enough. But now the argument seems to require that we should
set forth in words another kind, which is difficult of explanation and
dimly seen. What nature are we to attribute to this new kind of being? We
reply, that it is the receptacle, and in a manner the nurse, of all
generation. I have spoken the truth; but I must express myself in clearer
language, and this will be an arduous task for many reasons, and in
particular because I must first raise questions concerning fire and the
other elements, and determine what each of them is; for to say, with any
probability or certitude, which of them should be called water rather than
fire, and which should be called any of them rather than all or some one of
them, is a difficult matter. How, then, shall we settle this point, and
what questions about the elements may be fairly raised?

In the first place, we see that what we just now called water, by
condensation, I suppose, becomes stone and earth; and this same element,
when melted and dispersed, passes into vapour and air. Air, again, when
inflamed, becomes fire; and again fire, when condensed and extinguished,
passes once more into the form of air; and once more, air, when collected
and condensed, produces cloud and mist; and from these, when still more
compressed, comes flowing water, and from water comes earth and stones once
more; and thus generation appears to be transmitted from one to the other
in a circle. Thus, then, as the several elements never present themselves
in the same form, how can any one have the assurance to assert positively
that any of them, whatever it may be, is one thing rather than another? No
one can. But much the safest plan is to speak of them as follows:--
Anything which we see to be continually changing, as, for example, fire, we
must not call 'this' or 'that,' but rather say that it is 'of such a
nature'; nor let us speak of water as 'this'; but always as 'such'; nor
must we imply that there is any stability in any of those things which we
indicate by the use of the words 'this' and 'that,' supposing ourselves to
signify something thereby; for they are too volatile to be detained in any
such expressions as 'this,' or 'that,' or 'relative to this,' or any other
mode of speaking which represents them as permanent. We ought not to apply
'this' to any of them, but rather the word 'such'; which expresses the
similar principle circulating in each and all of them; for example, that
should be called 'fire' which is of such a nature always, and so of
everything that has generation. That in which the elements severally grow
up, and appear, and decay, is alone to be called by the name 'this' or
'that'; but that which is of a certain nature, hot or white, or anything
which admits of opposite qualities, and all things that are compounded of
them, ought not to be so denominated. Let me make another attempt to
explain my meaning more clearly. Suppose a person to make all kinds of
figures of gold and to be always transmuting one form into all the rest;--
somebody points to one of them and asks what it is. By far the safest and
truest answer is, That is gold; and not to call the triangle or any other
figures which are formed in the gold 'these,' as though they had existence,
since they are in process of change while he is making the assertion; but
if the questioner be willing to take the safe and indefinite expression,
'such,' we should be satisfied. And the same argument applies to the
universal nature which receives all bodies--that must be always called the
same; for, while receiving all things, she never departs at all from her
own nature, and never in any way, or at any time, assumes a form like that
of any of the things which enter into her; she is the natural recipient of
all impressions, and is stirred and informed by them, and appears different
from time to time by reason of them. But the forms which enter into and go
out of her are the likenesses of real existences modelled after their
patterns in a wonderful and inexplicable manner, which we will hereafter
investigate. For the present we have only to conceive of three natures:
first, that which is in process of generation; secondly, that in which the
generation takes place; and thirdly, that of which the thing generated is a
resemblance. And we may liken the receiving principle to a mother, and the
source or spring to a father, and the intermediate nature to a child; and
may remark further, that if the model is to take every variety of form,
then the matter in which the model is fashioned will not be duly prepared,
unless it is formless, and free from the impress of any of those shapes
which it is hereafter to receive from without. For if the matter were like
any of the supervening forms, then whenever any opposite or entirely
different nature was stamped upon its surface, it would take the impression
badly, because it would intrude its own shape. Wherefore, that which is to
receive all forms should have no form; as in making perfumes they first
contrive that the liquid substance which is to receive the scent shall be
as inodorous as possible; or as those who wish to impress figures on soft
substances do not allow any previous impression to remain, but begin by
making the surface as even and smooth as possible. In the same way that
which is to receive perpetually and through its whole extent the
resemblances of all eternal beings ought to be devoid of any particular
form. Wherefore, the mother and receptacle of all created and visible and
in any way sensible things, is not to be termed earth, or air, or fire, or
water, or any of their compounds or any of the elements from which these
are derived, but is an invisible and formless being which receives all
things and in some mysterious way partakes of the intelligible, and is most
incomprehensible. In saying this we shall not be far wrong; as far,
however, as we can attain to a knowledge of her from the previous
considerations, we may truly say that fire is that part of her nature which
from time to time is inflamed, and water that which is moistened, and that
the mother substance becomes earth and air, in so far as she receives the
impressions of them.

Let us consider this question more precisely. Is there any self-existent
fire? and do all those things which we call self-existent exist? or are
only those things which we see, or in some way perceive through the bodily
organs, truly existent, and nothing whatever besides them? And is all that
which we call an intelligible essence nothing at all, and only a name?
Here is a question which we must not leave unexamined or undetermined, nor
must we affirm too confidently that there can be no decision; neither must
we interpolate in our present long discourse a digression equally long, but
if it is possible to set forth a great principle in a few words, that is
just what we want.

Thus I state my view:--If mind and true opinion are two distinct classes,
then I say that there certainly are these self-existent ideas unperceived
by sense, and apprehended only by the mind; if, however, as some say, true
opinion differs in no respect from mind, then everything that we perceive
through the body is to be regarded as most real and certain. But we must
affirm them to be distinct, for they have a distinct origin and are of a
different nature; the one is implanted in us by instruction, the other by
persuasion; the one is always accompanied by true reason, the other is
without reason; the one cannot be overcome by persuasion, but the other
can: and lastly, every man may be said to share in true opinion, but mind
is the attribute of the gods and of very few men. Wherefore also we must
acknowledge that there is one kind of being which is always the same,
uncreated and indestructible, never receiving anything into itself from
without, nor itself going out to any other, but invisible and imperceptible
by any sense, and of which the contemplation is granted to intelligence
only. And there is another nature of the same name with it, and like to
it, perceived by sense, created, always in motion, becoming in place and
again vanishing out of place, which is apprehended by opinion and sense.
And there is a third nature, which is space, and is eternal, and admits not
of destruction and provides a home for all created things, and is
apprehended without the help of sense, by a kind of spurious reason, and is
hardly real; which we beholding as in a dream, say of all existence that it
must of necessity be in some place and occupy a space, but that what is
neither in heaven nor in earth has no existence. Of these and other things
of the same kind, relating to the true and waking reality of nature, we
have only this dreamlike sense, and we are unable to cast off sleep and
determine the truth about them. For an image, since the reality, after
which it is modelled, does not belong to it, and it exists ever as the
fleeting shadow of some other, must be inferred to be in another (i.e. in
space), grasping existence in some way or other, or it could not be at all.
But true and exact reason, vindicating the nature of true being, maintains
that while two things (i.e. the image and space) are different they cannot
exist one of them in the other and so be one and also two at the same time.

Thus have I concisely given the result of my thoughts; and my verdict is
that being and space and generation, these three, existed in their three
ways before the heaven; and that the nurse of generation, moistened by
water and inflamed by fire, and receiving the forms of earth and air, and
experiencing all the affections which accompany these, presented a strange
variety of appearances; and being full of powers which were neither similar
nor equally balanced, was never in any part in a state of equipoise, but
swaying unevenly hither and thither, was shaken by them, and by its motion
again shook them; and the elements when moved were separated and carried
continually, some one way, some another; as, when grain is shaken and
winnowed by fans and other instruments used in the threshing of corn, the
close and heavy particles are borne away and settle in one direction, and
the loose and light particles in another. In this manner, the four kinds
or elements were then shaken by the receiving vessel, which, moving like a
winnowing machine, scattered far away from one another the elements most
unlike, and forced the most similar elements into close contact. Wherefore
also the various elements had different places before they were arranged so
as to form the universe. At first, they were all without reason and
measure. But when the world began to get into order, fire and water and
earth and air had only certain faint traces of themselves, and were
altogether such as everything might be expected to be in the absence of
God; this, I say, was their nature at that time, and God fashioned them by
form and number. Let it be consistently maintained by us in all that we
say that God made them as far as possible the fairest and best, out of
things which were not fair and good. And now I will endeavour to show you
the disposition and generation of them by an unaccustomed argument, which I
am compelled to use; but I believe that you will be able to follow me, for
your education has made you familiar with the methods of science.

In the first place, then, as is evident to all, fire and earth and water
and air are bodies. And every sort of body possesses solidity, and every
solid must necessarily be contained in planes; and every plane rectilinear
figure is composed of triangles; and all triangles are originally of two
kinds, both of which are made up of one right and two acute angles; one of
them has at either end of the base the half of a divided right angle,
having equal sides, while in the other the right angle is divided into
unequal parts, having unequal sides. These, then, proceeding by a
combination of probability with demonstration, we assume to be the original
elements of fire and the other bodies; but the principles which are prior
to these God only knows, and he of men who is the friend of God. And next
we have to determine what are the four most beautiful bodies which are
unlike one another, and of which some are capable of resolution into one
another; for having discovered thus much, we shall know the true origin of
earth and fire and of the proportionate and intermediate elements. And
then we shall not be willing to allow that there are any distinct kinds of
visible bodies fairer than these. Wherefore we must endeavour to construct
the four forms of bodies which excel in beauty, and then we shall be able
to say that we have sufficiently apprehended their nature. Now of the two
triangles, the isosceles has one form only; the scalene or unequal-sided
has an infinite number. Of the infinite forms we must select the most
beautiful, if we are to proceed in due order, and any one who can point out
a more beautiful form than ours for the construction of these bodies, shall
carry off the palm, not as an enemy, but as a friend. Now, the one which
we maintain to be the most beautiful of all the many triangles (and we need
not speak of the others) is that of which the double forms a third triangle
which is equilateral; the reason of this would be long to tell; he who
disproves what we are saying, and shows that we are mistaken, may claim a
friendly victory. Then let us choose two triangles, out of which fire and
the other elements have been constructed, one isosceles, the other having
the square of the longer side equal to three times the square of the lesser

Now is the time to explain what was before obscurely said: there was an
error in imagining that all the four elements might be generated by and
into one another; this, I say, was an erroneous supposition, for there are
generated from the triangles which we have selected four kinds--three from
the one which has the sides unequal; the fourth alone is framed out of the
isosceles triangle. Hence they cannot all be resolved into one another, a
great number of small bodies being combined into a few large ones, or the
converse. But three of them can be thus resolved and compounded, for they
all spring from one, and when the greater bodies are broken up, many small
bodies will spring up out of them and take their own proper figures; or,
again, when many small bodies are dissolved into their triangles, if they
become one, they will form one large mass of another kind. So much for
their passage into one another. I have now to speak of their several
kinds, and show out of what combinations of numbers each of them was
formed. The first will be the simplest and smallest construction, and its
element is that triangle which has its hypotenuse twice the lesser side.
When two such triangles are joined at the diagonal, and this is repeated
three times, and the triangles rest their diagonals and shorter sides on
the same point as a centre, a single equilateral triangle is formed out of
six triangles; and four equilateral triangles, if put together, make out of
every three plane angles one solid angle, being that which is nearest to
the most obtuse of plane angles; and out of the combination of these four
angles arises the first solid form which distributes into equal and similar
parts the whole circle in which it is inscribed. The second species of
solid is formed out of the same triangles, which unite as eight equilateral
triangles and form one solid angle out of four plane angles, and out of six
such angles the second body is completed. And the third body is made up of
120 triangular elements, forming twelve solid angles, each of them included
in five plane equilateral triangles, having altogether twenty bases, each
of which is an equilateral triangle. The one element (that is, the
triangle which has its hypotenuse twice the lesser side) having generated
these figures, generated no more; but the isosceles triangle produced the
fourth elementary figure, which is compounded of four such triangles,
joining their right angles in a centre, and forming one equilateral
quadrangle. Six of these united form eight solid angles, each of which is
made by the combination of three plane right angles; the figure of the body
thus composed is a cube, having six plane quadrangular equilateral bases.
There was yet a fifth combination which God used in the delineation of the

Now, he who, duly reflecting on all this, enquires whether the worlds are
to be regarded as indefinite or definite in number, will be of opinion that
the notion of their indefiniteness is characteristic of a sadly indefinite
and ignorant mind. He, however, who raises the question whether they are
to be truly regarded as one or five, takes up a more reasonable position.
Arguing from probabilities, I am of opinion that they are one; another,
regarding the question from another point of view, will be of another mind.
But, leaving this enquiry, let us proceed to distribute the elementary
forms, which have now been created in idea, among the four elements.

To earth, then, let us assign the cubical form; for earth is the most
immoveable of the four and the most plastic of all bodies, and that which
has the most stable bases must of necessity be of such a nature. Now, of
the triangles which we assumed at first, that which has two equal sides is
by nature more firmly based than that which has unequal sides; and of the
compound figures which are formed out of either, the plane equilateral
quadrangle has necessarily a more stable basis than the equilateral
triangle, both in the whole and in the parts. Wherefore, in assigning this
figure to earth, we adhere to probability; and to water we assign that one
of the remaining forms which is the least moveable; and the most moveable
of them to fire; and to air that which is intermediate. Also we assign the
smallest body to fire, and the greatest to water, and the intermediate in
size to air; and, again, the acutest body to fire, and the next in
acuteness to air, and the third to water. Of all these elements, that
which has the fewest bases must necessarily be the most moveable, for it
must be the acutest and most penetrating in every way, and also the
lightest as being composed of the smallest number of similar particles:
and the second body has similar properties in a second degree, and the
third body in the third degree. Let it be agreed, then, both according to
strict reason and according to probability, that the pyramid is the solid
which is the original element and seed of fire; and let us assign the
element which was next in the order of generation to air, and the third to
water. We must imagine all these to be so small that no single particle of
any of the four kinds is seen by us on account of their smallness: but
when many of them are collected together their aggregates are seen. And
the ratios of their numbers, motions, and other properties, everywhere God,
as far as necessity allowed or gave consent, has exactly perfected, and
harmonized in due proportion.

>From all that we have just been saying about the elements or kinds, the
most probable conclusion is as follows:--earth, when meeting with fire and
dissolved by its sharpness, whether the dissolution take place in the fire
itself or perhaps in some mass of air or water, is borne hither and
thither, until its parts, meeting together and mutually harmonising, again
become earth; for they can never take any other form. But water, when
divided by fire or by air, on re-forming, may become one part fire and two
parts air; and a single volume of air divided becomes two of fire. Again,
when a small body of fire is contained in a larger body of air or water or
earth, and both are moving, and the fire struggling is overcome and broken
up, then two volumes of fire form one volume of air; and when air is
overcome and cut up into small pieces, two and a half parts of air are
condensed into one part of water. Let us consider the matter in another
way. When one of the other elements is fastened upon by fire, and is cut
by the sharpness of its angles and sides, it coalesces with the fire, and
then ceases to be cut by them any longer. For no element which is one and
the same with itself can be changed by or change another of the same kind
and in the same state. But so long as in the process of transition the
weaker is fighting against the stronger, the dissolution continues. Again,
when a few small particles, enclosed in many larger ones, are in process of
decomposition and extinction, they only cease from their tendency to
extinction when they consent to pass into the conquering nature, and fire
becomes air and air water. But if bodies of another kind go and attack
them (i.e. the small particles), the latter continue to be dissolved until,
being completely forced back and dispersed, they make their escape to their
own kindred, or else, being overcome and assimilated to the conquering
power, they remain where they are and dwell with their victors, and from
being many become one. And owing to these affections, all things are
changing their place, for by the motion of the receiving vessel the bulk of
each class is distributed into its proper place; but those things which
become unlike themselves and like other things, are hurried by the shaking
into the place of the things to which they grow like.

Now all unmixed and primary bodies are produced by such causes as these.
As to the subordinate species which are included in the greater kinds, they
are to be attributed to the varieties in the structure of the two original
triangles. For either structure did not originally produce the triangle of
one size only, but some larger and some smaller, and there are as many
sizes as there are species of the four elements. Hence when they are
mingled with themselves and with one another there is an endless variety of
them, which those who would arrive at the probable truth of nature ought
duly to consider.

Unless a person comes to an understanding about the nature and conditions
of rest and motion, he will meet with many difficulties in the discussion
which follows. Something has been said of this matter already, and
something more remains to be said, which is, that motion never exists in
what is uniform. For to conceive that anything can be moved without a
mover is hard or indeed impossible, and equally impossible to conceive that
there can be a mover unless there be something which can be moved--motion
cannot exist where either of these are wanting, and for these to be uniform
is impossible; wherefore we must assign rest to uniformity and motion to
the want of uniformity. Now inequality is the cause of the nature which is
wanting in uniformity; and of this we have already described the origin.
But there still remains the further point--why things when divided after
their kinds do not cease to pass through one another and to change their
place--which we will now proceed to explain. In the revolution of the
universe are comprehended all the four elements, and this being circular
and having a tendency to come together, compresses everything and will not
allow any place to be left void. Wherefore, also, fire above all things
penetrates everywhere, and air next, as being next in rarity of the
elements; and the two other elements in like manner penetrate according to
their degrees of rarity. For those things which are composed of the
largest particles have the largest void left in their compositions, and
those which are composed of the smallest particles have the least. And the
contraction caused by the compression thrusts the smaller particles into
the interstices of the larger. And thus, when the small parts are placed
side by side with the larger, and the lesser divide the greater and the
greater unite the lesser, all the elements are borne up and down and hither
and thither towards their own places; for the change in the size of each
changes its position in space. And these causes generate an inequality
which is always maintained, and is continually creating a perpetual motion
of the elements in all time.

In the next place we have to consider that there are divers kinds of fire.
There are, for example, first, flame; and secondly, those emanations of
flame which do not burn but only give light to the eyes; thirdly, the
remains of fire, which are seen in red-hot embers after the flame has been
extinguished. There are similar differences in the air; of which the
brightest part is called the aether, and the most turbid sort mist and
darkness; and there are various other nameless kinds which arise from the
inequality of the triangles. Water, again, admits in the first place of a
division into two kinds; the one liquid and the other fusile. The liquid
kind is composed of the small and unequal particles of water; and moves
itself and is moved by other bodies owing to the want of uniformity and the
shape of its particles; whereas the fusile kind, being formed of large and
uniform particles, is more stable than the other, and is heavy and compact
by reason of its uniformity. But when fire gets in and dissolves the
particles and destroys the uniformity, it has greater mobility, and
becoming fluid is thrust forth by the neighbouring air and spreads upon the
earth; and this dissolution of the solid masses is called melting, and
their spreading out upon the earth flowing. Again, when the fire goes out
of the fusile substance, it does not pass into a vacuum, but into the
neighbouring air; and the air which is displaced forces together the liquid
and still moveable mass into the place which was occupied by the fire, and
unites it with itself. Thus compressed the mass resumes its equability,
and is again at unity with itself, because the fire which was the author of
the inequality has retreated; and this departure of the fire is called
cooling, and the coming together which follows upon it is termed
congealment. Of all the kinds termed fusile, that which is the densest and
is formed out of the finest and most uniform parts is that most precious
possession called gold, which is hardened by filtration through rock; this
is unique in kind, and has both a glittering and a yellow colour. A shoot
of gold, which is so dense as to be very hard, and takes a black colour, is
termed adamant. There is also another kind which has parts nearly like
gold, and of which there are several species; it is denser than gold, and
it contains a small and fine portion of earth, and is therefore harder, yet
also lighter because of the great interstices which it has within itself;
and this substance, which is one of the bright and denser kinds of water,
when solidified is called copper. There is an alloy of earth mingled with
it, which, when the two parts grow old and are disunited, shows itself
separately and is called rust. The remaining phenomena of the same kind
there will be no difficulty in reasoning out by the method of
probabilities. A man may sometimes set aside meditations about eternal
things, and for recreation turn to consider the truths of generation which
are probable only; he will thus gain a pleasure not to be repented of, and
secure for himself while he lives a wise and moderate pastime. Let us
grant ourselves this indulgence, and go through the probabilities relating
to the same subjects which follow next in order.

Water which is mingled with fire, so much as is fine and liquid (being so
called by reason of its motion and the way in which it rolls along the
ground), and soft, because its bases give way and are less stable than
those of earth, when separated from fire and air and isolated, becomes more
uniform, and by their retirement is compressed into itself; and if the
condensation be very great, the water above the earth becomes hail, but on
the earth, ice; and that which is congealed in a less degree and is only
half solid, when above the earth is called snow, and when upon the earth,
and condensed from dew, hoar-frost. Then, again, there are the numerous
kinds of water which have been mingled with one another, and are distilled
through plants which grow in the earth; and this whole class is called by
the name of juices or saps. The unequal admixture of these fluids creates
a variety of species; most of them are nameless, but four which are of a
fiery nature are clearly distinguished and have names. First, there is
wine, which warms the soul as well as the body: secondly, there is the
oily nature, which is smooth and divides the visual ray, and for this
reason is bright and shining and of a glistening appearance, including
pitch, the juice of the castor berry, oil itself, and other things of a
like kind: thirdly, there is the class of substances which expand the
contracted parts of the mouth, until they return to their natural state,
and by reason of this property create sweetness;--these are included under
the general name of honey: and, lastly, there is a frothy nature, which
differs from all juices, having a burning quality which dissolves the
flesh; it is called opos (a vegetable acid).

As to the kinds of earth, that which is filtered through water passes into
stone in the following manner:--The water which mixes with the earth and is
broken up in the process changes into air, and taking this form mounts into
its own place. But as there is no surrounding vacuum it thrusts away the
neighbouring air, and this being rendered heavy, and, when it is displaced,
having been poured around the mass of earth, forcibly compresses it and
drives it into the vacant space whence the new air had come up; and the
earth when compressed by the air into an indissoluble union with water
becomes rock. The fairer sort is that which is made up of equal and
similar parts and is transparent; that which has the opposite qualities is
inferior. But when all the watery part is suddenly drawn out by fire, a
more brittle substance is formed, to which we give the name of pottery.
Sometimes also moisture may remain, and the earth which has been fused by
fire becomes, when cool, a certain stone of a black colour. A like
separation of the water which had been copiously mingled with them may
occur in two substances composed of finer particles of earth and of a briny
nature; out of either of them a half-solid-body is then formed, soluble in
water--the one, soda, which is used for purging away oil and earth, the
other, salt, which harmonizes so well in combinations pleasing to the
palate, and is, as the law testifies, a substance dear to the gods. The
compounds of earth and water are not soluble by water, but by fire only,
and for this reason:--Neither fire nor air melt masses of earth; for their
particles, being smaller than the interstices in its structure, have plenty
of room to move without forcing their way, and so they leave the earth
unmelted and undissolved; but particles of water, which are larger, force a
passage, and dissolve and melt the earth. Wherefore earth when not
consolidated by force is dissolved by water only; when consolidated, by
nothing but fire; for this is the only body which can find an entrance.
The cohesion of water again, when very strong, is dissolved by fire
only--when weaker, then either by air or fire--the former entering the
interstices, and the latter penetrating even the triangles. But nothing
can dissolve air, when strongly condensed, which does not reach the
elements or triangles; or if not strongly condensed, then only fire can
dissolve it. As to bodies composed of earth and water, while the water
occupies the vacant interstices of the earth in them which are compressed
by force, the particles of water which approach them from without, finding
no entrance, flow around the entire mass and leave it undissolved; but the
particles of fire, entering into the interstices of the water, do to the
water what water does to earth and fire to air (The text seems to be
corrupt.), and are the sole causes of the compound body of earth and water
liquefying and becoming fluid. Now these bodies are of two kinds; some of
them, such as glass and the fusible sort of stones, have less water than
they have earth; on the other hand, substances of the nature of wax and
incense have more of water entering into their composition.

I have thus shown the various classes of bodies as they are diversified by
their forms and combinations and changes into one another, and now I must
endeavour to set forth their affections and the causes of them. In the
first place, the bodies which I have been describing are necessarily
objects of sense. But we have not yet considered the origin of flesh, or
what belongs to flesh, or of that part of the soul which is mortal. And
these things cannot be adequately explained without also explaining the
affections which are concerned with sensation, nor the latter without the
former: and yet to explain them together is hardly possible; for which
reason we must assume first one or the other and afterwards examine the
nature of our hypothesis. In order, then, that the affections may follow
regularly after the elements, let us presuppose the existence of body and

First, let us enquire what we mean by saying that fire is hot; and about
this we may reason from the dividing or cutting power which it exercises on
our bodies. We all of us feel that fire is sharp; and we may further
consider the fineness of the sides, and the sharpness of the angles, and
the smallness of the particles, and the swiftness of the motion--all this
makes the action of fire violent and sharp, so that it cuts whatever it
meets. And we must not forget that the original figure of fire (i.e. the
pyramid), more than any other form, has a dividing power which cuts our
bodies into small pieces (Kepmatizei), and thus naturally produces that
affection which we call heat; and hence the origin of the name (thepmos,
Kepma). Now, the opposite of this is sufficiently manifest; nevertheless
we will not fail to describe it. For the larger particles of moisture
which surround the body, entering in and driving out the lesser, but not
being able to take their places, compress the moist principle in us; and
this from being unequal and disturbed, is forced by them into a state of
rest, which is due to equability and compression. But things which are
contracted contrary to nature are by nature at war, and force themselves
apart; and to this war and convulsion the name of shivering and trembling
is given; and the whole affection and the cause of the affection are both
termed cold. That is called hard to which our flesh yields, and soft which
yields to our flesh; and things are also termed hard and soft relatively to
one another. That which yields has a small base; but that which rests on
quadrangular bases is firmly posed and belongs to the class which offers
the greatest resistance; so too does that which is the most compact and
therefore most repellent. The nature of the light and the heavy will be
best understood when examined in connexion with our notions of above and
below; for it is quite a mistake to suppose that the universe is parted
into two regions, separate from and opposite to each other, the one a lower
to which all things tend which have any bulk, and an upper to which things
only ascend against their will. For as the universe is in the form of a
sphere, all the extremities, being equidistant from the centre, are equally
extremities, and the centre, which is equidistant from them, is equally to
be regarded as the opposite of them all. Such being the nature of the
world, when a person says that any of these points is above or below, may
he not be justly charged with using an improper expression? For the centre
of the world cannot be rightly called either above or below, but is the
centre and nothing else; and the circumference is not the centre, and has
in no one part of itself a different relation to the centre from what it
has in any of the opposite parts. Indeed, when it is in every direction
similar, how can one rightly give to it names which imply opposition? For
if there were any solid body in equipoise at the centre of the universe,
there would be nothing to draw it to this extreme rather than to that, for
they are all perfectly similar; and if a person were to go round the world
in a circle, he would often, when standing at the antipodes of his former
position, speak of the same point as above and below; for, as I was saying
just now, to speak of the whole which is in the form of a globe as having
one part above and another below is not like a sensible man. The reason
why these names are used, and the circumstances under which they are
ordinarily applied by us to the division of the heavens, may be elucidated
by the following supposition:--if a person were to stand in that part of
the universe which is the appointed place of fire, and where there is the
great mass of fire to which fiery bodies gather--if, I say, he were to
ascend thither, and, having the power to do this, were to abstract
particles of fire and put them in scales and weigh them, and then, raising
the balance, were to draw the fire by force towards the uncongenial element
of the air, it would be very evident that he could compel the smaller mass
more readily than the larger; for when two things are simultaneously raised
by one and the same power, the smaller body must necessarily yield to the
superior power with less reluctance than the larger; and the larger body is
called heavy and said to tend downwards, and the smaller body is called
light and said to tend upwards. And we may detect ourselves who are upon
the earth doing precisely the same thing. For we often separate earthy
natures, and sometimes earth itself, and draw them into the uncongenial
element of air by force and contrary to nature, both clinging to their
kindred elements. But that which is smaller yields to the impulse given by
us towards the dissimilar element more easily than the larger; and so we
call the former light, and the place towards which it is impelled we call
above, and the contrary state and place we call heavy and below
respectively. Now the relations of these must necessarily vary, because
the principal masses of the different elements hold opposite positions; for
that which is light, heavy, below or above in one place will be found to be
and become contrary and transverse and every way diverse in relation to
that which is light, heavy, below or above in an opposite place. And about
all of them this has to be considered:--that the tendency of each towards
its kindred element makes the body which is moved heavy, and the place
towards which the motion tends below, but things which have an opposite
tendency we call by an opposite name. Such are the causes which we assign
to these phenomena. As to the smooth and the rough, any one who sees them
can explain the reason of them to another. For roughness is hardness
mingled with irregularity, and smoothness is produced by the joint effect
of uniformity and density.

The most important of the affections which concern the whole body remains
to be considered--that is, the cause of pleasure and pain in the
perceptions of which I have been speaking, and in all other things which
are perceived by sense through the parts of the body, and have both pains
and pleasures attendant on them. Let us imagine the causes of every
affection, whether of sense or not, to be of the following nature,
remembering that we have already distinguished between the nature which is
easy and which is hard to move; for this is the direction in which we must
hunt the prey which we mean to take. A body which is of a nature to be
easily moved, on receiving an impression however slight, spreads abroad the
motion in a circle, the parts communicating with each other, until at last,
reaching the principle of mind, they announce the quality of the agent.
But a body of the opposite kind, being immobile, and not extending to the
surrounding region, merely receives the impression, and does not stir any
of the neighbouring parts; and since the parts do not distribute the
original impression to other parts, it has no effect of motion on the whole
animal, and therefore produces no effect on the patient. This is true of
the bones and hair and other more earthy parts of the human body; whereas
what was said above relates mainly to sight and hearing, because they have
in them the greatest amount of fire and air. Now we must conceive of
pleasure and pain in this way. An impression produced in us contrary to
nature and violent, if sudden, is painful; and, again, the sudden return to
nature is pleasant; but a gentle and gradual return is imperceptible and
vice versa. On the other hand the impression of sense which is most easily
produced is most readily felt, but is not accompanied by pleasure or pain;
such, for example, are the affections of the sight, which, as we said
above, is a body naturally uniting with our body in the day-time; for
cuttings and burnings and other affections which happen to the sight do not
give pain, nor is there pleasure when the sight returns to its natural
state; but the sensations are clearest and strongest according to the
manner in which the eye is affected by the object, and itself strikes and
touches it; there is no violence either in the contraction or dilation of
the eye. But bodies formed of larger particles yield to the agent only
with a struggle; and then they impart their motions to the whole and cause
pleasure and pain--pain when alienated from their natural conditions, and
pleasure when restored to them. Things which experience gradual
withdrawings and emptyings of their nature, and great and sudden
replenishments, fail to perceive the emptying, but are sensible of the
replenishment; and so they occasion no pain, but the greatest pleasure, to
the mortal part of the soul, as is manifest in the case of perfumes. But
things which are changed all of a sudden, and only gradually and with
difficulty return to their own nature, have effects in every way opposite
to the former, as is evident in the case of burnings and cuttings of the

Thus have we discussed the general affections of the whole body, and the
names of the agents which produce them. And now I will endeavour to speak
of the affections of particular parts, and the causes and agents of them,
as far as I am able. In the first place let us set forth what was omitted
when we were speaking of juices, concerning the affections peculiar to the
tongue. These too, like most of the other affections, appear to be caused
by certain contractions and dilations, but they have besides more of
roughness and smoothness than is found in other affections; for whenever
earthy particles enter into the small veins which are the testing
instruments of the tongue, reaching to the heart, and fall upon the moist,
delicate portions of flesh--when, as they are dissolved, they contract and
dry up the little veins, they are astringent if they are rougher, but if
not so rough, then only harsh. Those of them which are of an abstergent
nature, and purge the whole surface of the tongue, if they do it in excess,
and so encroach as to consume some part of the flesh itself, like potash
and soda, are all termed bitter. But the particles which are deficient in
the alkaline quality, and which cleanse only moderately, are called salt,
and having no bitterness or roughness, are regarded as rather agreeable
than otherwise. Bodies which share in and are made smooth by the heat of
the mouth, and which are inflamed, and again in turn inflame that which
heats them, and which are so light that they are carried upwards to the
sensations of the head, and cut all that comes in their way, by reason of
these qualities in them, are all termed pungent. But when these same
particles, refined by putrefaction, enter into the narrow veins, and are
duly proportioned to the particles of earth and air which are there, they
set them whirling about one another, and while they are in a whirl cause
them to dash against and enter into one another, and so form hollows
surrounding the particles that enter--which watery vessels of air (for a
film of moisture, sometimes earthy, sometimes pure, is spread around the
air) are hollow spheres of water; and those of them which are pure, are
transparent, and are called bubbles, while those composed of the earthy
liquid, which is in a state of general agitation and effervescence, are
said to boil or ferment--of all these affections the cause is termed acid.
And there is the opposite affection arising from an opposite cause, when
the mass of entering particles, immersed in the moisture of the mouth, is
congenial to the tongue, and smooths and oils over the roughness, and
relaxes the parts which are unnaturally contracted, and contracts the parts
which are relaxed, and disposes them all according to their nature;--that
sort of remedy of violent affections is pleasant and agreeable to every
man, and has the name sweet. But enough of this.

The faculty of smell does not admit of differences of kind; for all smells
are of a half-formed nature, and no element is so proportioned as to have
any smell. The veins about the nose are too narrow to admit earth and
water, and too wide to detain fire and air; and for this reason no one ever
perceives the smell of any of them; but smells always proceed from bodies
that are damp, or putrefying, or liquefying, or evaporating, and are
perceptible only in the intermediate state, when water is changing into air
and air into water; and all of them are either vapour or mist. That which
is passing out of air into water is mist, and that which is passing from
water into air is vapour; and hence all smells are thinner than water and
thicker than air. The proof of this is, that when there is any obstruction
to the respiration, and a man draws in his breath by force, then no smell
filters through, but the air without the smell alone penetrates. Wherefore
the varieties of smell have no name, and they have not many, or definite
and simple kinds; but they are distinguished only as painful and pleasant,
the one sort irritating and disturbing the whole cavity which is situated
between the head and the navel, the other having a soothing influence, and
restoring this same region to an agreeable and natural condition.

In considering the third kind of sense, hearing, we must speak of the
causes in which it originates. We may in general assume sound to be a blow
which passes through the ears, and is transmitted by means of the air, the
brain, and the blood, to the soul, and that hearing is the vibration of
this blow, which begins in the head and ends in the region of the liver.
The sound which moves swiftly is acute, and the sound which moves slowly is
grave, and that which is regular is equable and smooth, and the reverse is
harsh. A great body of sound is loud, and a small body of sound the
reverse. Respecting the harmonies of sound I must hereafter speak.

There is a fourth class of sensible things, having many intricate
varieties, which must now be distinguished. They are called by the general
name of colours, and are a flame which emanates from every sort of body,
and has particles corresponding to the sense of sight. I have spoken
already, in what has preceded, of the causes which generate sight, and in
this place it will be natural and suitable to give a rational theory of

Of the particles coming from other bodies which fall upon the sight, some
are smaller and some are larger, and some are equal to the parts of the
sight itself. Those which are equal are imperceptible, and we call them
transparent. The larger produce contraction, the smaller dilation, in the
sight, exercising a power akin to that of hot and cold bodies on the flesh,
or of astringent bodies on the tongue, or of those heating bodies which we
termed pungent. White and black are similar effects of contraction and
dilation in another sphere, and for this reason have a different
appearance. Wherefore, we ought to term white that which dilates the
visual ray, and the opposite of this is black. There is also a swifter
motion of a different sort of fire which strikes and dilates the ray of
sight until it reaches the eyes, forcing a way through their passages and
melting them, and eliciting from them a union of fire and water which we
call tears, being itself an opposite fire which comes to them from an
opposite direction--the inner fire flashes forth like lightning, and the
outer finds a way in and is extinguished in the moisture, and all sorts of
colours are generated by the mixture. This affection is termed dazzling,
and the object which produces it is called bright and flashing. There is
another sort of fire which is intermediate, and which reaches and mingles
with the moisture of the eye without flashing; and in this, the fire
mingling with the ray of the moisture, produces a colour like blood, to
which we give the name of red. A bright hue mingled with red and white
gives the colour called auburn (Greek). The law of proportion, however,
according to which the several colours are formed, even if a man knew he
would be foolish in telling, for he could not give any necessary reason,
nor indeed any tolerable or probable explanation of them. Again, red, when
mingled with black and white, becomes purple, but it becomes umber (Greek)
when the colours are burnt as well as mingled and the black is more
thoroughly mixed with them. Flame-colour (Greek) is produced by a union of
auburn and dun (Greek), and dun by an admixture of black and white; pale
yellow (Greek), by an admixture of white and auburn. White and bright
meeting, and falling upon a full black, become dark blue (Greek), and when
dark blue mingles with white, a light blue (Greek) colour is formed, as
flame-colour with black makes leek green (Greek). There will be no
difficulty in seeing how and by what mixtures the colours derived from
these are made according to the rules of probability. He, however, who
should attempt to verify all this by experiment, would forget the
difference of the human and divine nature. For God only has the knowledge
and also the power which are able to combine many things into one and again
resolve the one into many. But no man either is or ever will be able to
accomplish either the one or the other operation.

These are the elements, thus of necessity then subsisting, which the
creator of the fairest and best of created things associated with himself,
when he made the self-sufficing and most perfect God, using the necessary
causes as his ministers in the accomplishment of his work, but himself
contriving the good in all his creations. Wherefore we may distinguish two
sorts of causes, the one divine and the other necessary, and may seek for
the divine in all things, as far as our nature admits, with a view to the
blessed life; but the necessary kind only for the sake of the divine,
considering that without them and when isolated from them, these higher
things for which we look cannot be apprehended or received or in any way
shared by us.

Seeing, then, that we have now prepared for our use the various classes of
causes which are the material out of which the remainder of our discourse
must be woven, just as wood is the material of the carpenter, let us revert
in a few words to the point at which we began, and then endeavour to add on
a suitable ending to the beginning of our tale.

As I said at first, when all things were in disorder God created in each
thing in relation to itself, and in all things in relation to each other,
all the measures and harmonies which they could possibly receive. For in
those days nothing had any proportion except by accident; nor did any of
the things which now have names deserve to be named at all--as, for
example, fire, water, and the rest of the elements. All these the creator
first set in order, and out of them he constructed the universe, which was
a single animal comprehending in itself all other animals, mortal and
immortal. Now of the divine, he himself was the creator, but the creation
of the mortal he committed to his offspring. And they, imitating him,
received from him the immortal principle of the soul; and around this they
proceeded to fashion a mortal body, and made it to be the vehicle of the
soul, and constructed within the body a soul of another nature which was
mortal, subject to terrible and irresistible affections,--first of all,
pleasure, the greatest incitement to evil; then, pain, which deters from
good; also rashness and fear, two foolish counsellors, anger hard to be
appeased, and hope easily led astray;--these they mingled with irrational
sense and with all-daring love according to necessary laws, and so framed
man. Wherefore, fearing to pollute the divine any more than was absolutely
unavoidable, they gave to the mortal nature a separate habitation in
another part of the body, placing the neck between them to be the isthmus
and boundary, which they constructed between the head and breast, to keep
them apart. And in the breast, and in what is termed the thorax, they
encased the mortal soul; and as the one part of this was superior and the
other inferior they divided the cavity of the thorax into two parts, as the
women's and men's apartments are divided in houses, and placed the midriff
to be a wall of partition between them. That part of the inferior soul
which is endowed with courage and passion and loves contention they settled
nearer the head, midway between the midriff and the neck, in order that it
might be under the rule of reason and might join with it in controlling and
restraining the desires when they are no longer willing of their own accord
to obey the word of command issuing from the citadel.

The heart, the knot of the veins and the fountain of the blood which races
through all the limbs, was set in the place of guard, that when the might
of passion was roused by reason making proclamation of any wrong assailing
them from without or being perpetrated by the desires within, quickly the
whole power of feeling in the body, perceiving these commands and threats,
might obey and follow through every turn and alley, and thus allow the
principle of the best to have the command in all of them. But the gods,
foreknowing that the palpitation of the heart in the expectation of danger
and the swelling and excitement of passion was caused by fire, formed and
implanted as a supporter to the heart the lung, which was, in the first
place, soft and bloodless, and also had within hollows like the pores of a
sponge, in order that by receiving the breath and the drink, it might give
coolness and the power of respiration and alleviate the heat. Wherefore
they cut the air-channels leading to the lung, and placed the lung about
the heart as a soft spring, that, when passion was rife within, the heart,
beating against a yielding body, might be cooled and suffer less, and might
thus become more ready to join with passion in the service of reason.

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. For the authors of our being, remembering the command of
their father when he bade them create the human race as good as they could,
that they might correct our inferior parts and make them to attain a
measure of truth, placed in the liver the seat of divination. And herein
is a proof that God has given the art of divination not to the wisdom, but
to the foolishness of man. No man, when in his wits, attains prophetic
truth and inspiration; but when he receives the inspired word, either his
intelligence is enthralled in sleep, or he is demented by some distemper or
possession. And he who would understand what he remembers to have been
said, whether in a dream or when he was awake, by the prophetic and
inspired nature, or would determine by reason the meaning of the
apparitions which he has seen, and what indications they afford to this man
or that, of past, present or future good and evil, must first recover his
wits. But, while he continues demented, he cannot judge of the visions
which he sees or the words which he utters; the ancient saying is very
true, that 'only a man who has his wits can act or judge about himself and
his own affairs.' And for this reason it is customary to appoint
interpreters to be judges of the true inspiration. Some persons call them
prophets; they are quite unaware that they are only the expositors of dark
sayings and visions, and are not to be called prophets at all, but only
interpreters of prophecy.

Such is the nature of the liver, which is placed as we have described in
order that it may give prophetic intimations. During the life of each
individual these intimations are plainer, but after his death the liver
becomes blind, and delivers oracles too obscure to be intelligible. The
neighbouring organ (the spleen) is situated on the left-hand side, and is
constructed with a view of keeping the liver bright and pure,--like a
napkin, always ready prepared and at hand to clean the mirror. And hence,
when any impurities arise in the region of the liver by reason of disorders
of the body, the loose nature of the spleen, which is composed of a hollow
and bloodless tissue, receives them all and clears them away, and when
filled with the unclean matter, swells and festers, but, again, when the
body is purged, settles down into the same place as before, and is humbled.

Concerning the soul, as to which part is mortal and which divine, and how
and why they are separated, and where located, if God acknowledges that we
have spoken the truth, then, and then only, can we be confident; still, we
may venture to assert that what has been said by us is probable, and will
be rendered more probable by investigation. Let us assume thus much.

The creation of the rest of the body follows next in order, and this we may
investigate in a similar manner. And it appears to be very meet that the
body should be framed on the following principles:--

The authors of our race were aware that we should be intemperate in eating
and drinking, and take a good deal more than was necessary or proper, by
reason of gluttony. In order then that disease might not quickly destroy
us, and lest our mortal race should perish without fulfilling its end--
intending to provide against this, the gods made what is called the lower
belly, to be a receptacle for the superfluous meat and drink, and formed
the convolution of the bowels, so that the food might be prevented from
passing quickly through and compelling the body to require more food, thus
producing insatiable gluttony, and making the whole race an enemy to
philosophy and music, and rebellious against the divinest element within

The bones and flesh, and other similar parts of us, were made as follows.
The first principle of all of them was the generation of the marrow. For
the bonds of life which unite the soul with the body are made fast there,
and they are the root and foundation of the human race. The marrow itself
is created out of other materials: God took such of the primary triangles
as were straight and smooth, and were adapted by their perfection to
produce fire and water, and air and earth--these, I say, he separated from
their kinds, and mingling them in due proportions with one another, made
the marrow out of them to be a universal seed of the whole race of mankind;
and in this seed he then planted and enclosed the souls, and in the
original distribution gave to the marrow as many and various forms as the
different kinds of souls were hereafter to receive. That which, like a
field, was to receive the divine seed, he made round every way, and called
that portion of the marrow, brain, intending that, when an animal was
perfected, the vessel containing this substance should be the head; but
that which was intended to contain the remaining and mortal part of the
soul he distributed into figures at once round and elongated, and he called
them all by the name 'marrow'; and to these, as to anchors, fastening the
bonds of the whole soul, he proceeded to fashion around them the entire
framework of our body, constructing for the marrow, first of all a complete
covering of bone.

Bone was composed by him in the following manner. Having sifted pure and
smooth earth he kneaded it and wetted it with marrow, and after that he put
it into fire and then into water, and once more into fire and again into
water--in this way by frequent transfers from one to the other he made it
insoluble by either. Out of this he fashioned, as in a lathe, a globe made
of bone, which he placed around the brain, and in this he left a narrow
opening; and around the marrow of the neck and back he formed vertebrae
which he placed under one another like pivots, beginning at the head and
extending through the whole of the trunk. Thus wishing to preserve the
entire seed, he enclosed it in a stone-like casing, inserting joints, and
using in the formation of them the power of the other or diverse as an
intermediate nature, that they might have motion and flexure. Then again,
considering that the bone would be too brittle and inflexible, and when
heated and again cooled would soon mortify and destroy the seed within--
having this in view, he contrived the sinews and the flesh, that so binding
all the members together by the sinews, which admitted of being stretched
and relaxed about the vertebrae, he might thus make the body capable of
flexion and extension, while the flesh would serve as a protection against
the summer heat and against the winter cold, and also against falls, softly
and easily yielding to external bodies, like articles made of felt; and
containing in itself a warm moisture which in summer exudes and makes the
surface damp, would impart a natural coolness to the whole body; and again
in winter by the help of this internal warmth would form a very tolerable
defence against the frost which surrounds it and attacks it from without.
He who modelled us, considering these things, mixed earth with fire and
water and blended them; and making a ferment of acid and salt, he mingled
it with them and formed soft and succulent flesh. As for the sinews, he
made them of a mixture of bone and unfermented flesh, attempered so as to
be in a mean, and gave them a yellow colour; wherefore the sinews have a
firmer and more glutinous nature than flesh, but a softer and moister
nature than the bones. With these God covered the bones and marrow,
binding them together by sinews, and then enshrouded them all in an upper
covering of flesh. The more living and sensitive of the bones he enclosed
in the thinnest film of flesh, and those which had the least life within
them in the thickest and most solid flesh. So again on the joints of the
bones, where reason indicated that no more was required, he placed only a
thin covering of flesh, that it might not interfere with the flexion of our
bodies and make them unwieldy because difficult to move; and also that it
might not, by being crowded and pressed and matted together, destroy
sensation by reason of its hardness, and impair the memory and dull the
edge of intelligence. Wherefore also the thighs and the shanks and the
hips, and the bones of the arms and the forearms, and other parts which
have no joints, and the inner bones, which on account of the rarity of the
soul in the marrow are destitute of reason--all these are abundantly
provided with flesh; but such as have mind in them are in general less
fleshy, except where the creator has made some part solely of flesh in
order to give sensation,--as, for example, the tongue. But commonly this
is not the case. For the nature which comes into being and grows up in us
by a law of necessity, does not admit of the combination of solid bone and
much flesh with acute perceptions. More than any other part the framework
of the head would have had them, if they could have co-existed, and the
human race, having a strong and fleshy and sinewy head, would have had a
life twice or many times as long as it now has, and also more healthy and
free from pain. But our creators, considering whether they should make a
longer-lived race which was worse, or a shorter-lived race which was
better, came to the conclusion that every one ought to prefer a shorter
span of life, which was better, to a longer one, which was worse; and
therefore they covered the head with thin bone, but not with flesh and
sinews, since it had no joints; and thus the head was added, having more
wisdom and sensation than the rest of the body, but also being in every man
far weaker. For these reasons and after this manner God placed the sinews
at the extremity of the head, in a circle round the neck, and glued them
together by the principle of likeness and fastened the extremities of the
jawbones to them below the face, and the other sinews he dispersed
throughout the body, fastening limb to limb. The framers of us framed the
mouth, as now arranged, having teeth and tongue and lips, with a view to
the necessary and the good contriving the way in for necessary purposes,
the way out for the best purposes; for that is necessary which enters in
and gives food to the body; but the river of speech, which flows out of a
man and ministers to the intelligence, is the fairest and noblest of all
streams. Still the head could neither be left a bare frame of bones, on
account of the extremes of heat and cold in the different seasons, nor yet
be allowed to be wholly covered, and so become dull and senseless by reason
of an overgrowth of flesh. The fleshy nature was not therefore wholly
dried up, but a large sort of peel was parted off and remained over, which
is now called the skin. This met and grew by the help of the cerebral
moisture, and became the circular envelopment of the head. And the
moisture, rising up under the sutures, watered and closed in the skin upon
the crown, forming a sort of knot. The diversity of the sutures was caused
by the power of the courses of the soul and of the food, and the more these
struggled against one another the more numerous they became, and fewer if
the struggle were less violent. This skin the divine power pierced all
round with fire, and out of the punctures which were thus made the moisture
issued forth, and the liquid and heat which was pure came away, and a mixed
part which was composed of the same material as the skin, and had a
fineness equal to the punctures, was borne up by its own impulse and
extended far outside the head, but being too slow to escape, was thrust
back by the external air, and rolled up underneath the skin, where it took
root. Thus the hair sprang up in the skin, being akin to it because it is
like threads of leather, but rendered harder and closer through the
pressure of the cold, by which each hair, while in process of separation
from the skin, is compressed and cooled. Wherefore the creator formed the
head hairy, making use of the causes which I have mentioned, and reflecting
also that instead of flesh the brain needed the hair to be a light covering
or guard, which would give shade in summer and shelter in winter, and at
the same time would not impede our quickness of perception. From the
combination of sinew, skin, and bone, in the structure of the finger, there
arises a triple compound, which, when dried up, takes the form of one hard
skin partaking of all three natures, and was fabricated by these second
causes, but designed by mind which is the principal cause with an eye to
the future. For our creators well knew that women and other animals would
some day be framed out of men, and they further knew that many animals
would require the use of nails for many purposes; wherefore they fashioned
in men at their first creation the rudiments of nails. For this purpose
and for these reasons they caused skin, hair, and nails to grow at the
extremities of the limbs.

And now that all the parts and members of the mortal animal had come
together, since its life of necessity consisted of fire and breath, and it
therefore wasted away by dissolution and depletion, the gods contrived the
following remedy: They mingled a nature akin to that of man with other
forms and perceptions, and thus created another kind of animal. These are
the trees and plants and seeds which have been improved by cultivation and
are now domesticated among us; anciently there were only the wild kinds,
which are older than the cultivated. For everything that partakes of life
may be truly called a living being, and the animal of which we are now
speaking partakes of the third kind of soul, which is said to be seated
between the midriff and the navel, having no part in opinion or reason or
mind, but only in feelings of pleasure and pain and the desires which
accompany them. For this nature is always in a passive state, revolving in
and about itself, repelling the motion from without and using its own, and
accordingly is not endowed by nature with the power of observing or
reflecting on its own concerns. Wherefore it lives and does not differ
from a living being, but is fixed and rooted in the same spot, having no
power of self-motion.

Now after the superior powers had created all these natures to be food for
us who are of the inferior nature, they cut various channels through the
body as through a garden, that it might be watered as from a running
stream. In the first place, they cut two hidden channels or veins down the
back where the skin and the flesh join, which answered severally to the
right and left side of the body. These they let down along the backbone,
so as to have the marrow of generation between them, where it was most
likely to flourish, and in order that the stream coming down from above
might flow freely to the other parts, and equalize the irrigation. In the
next place, they divided the veins about the head, and interlacing them,
they sent them in opposite directions; those coming from the right side
they sent to the left of the body, and those from the left they diverted
towards the right, so that they and the skin might together form a bond
which should fasten the head to the body, since the crown of the head was
not encircled by sinews; and also in order that the sensations from both
sides might be distributed over the whole body. And next, they ordered the
water-courses of the body in a manner which I will describe, and which will
be more easily understood if we begin by admitting that all things which
have lesser parts retain the greater, but the greater cannot retain the
lesser. Now of all natures fire has the smallest parts, and therefore
penetrates through earth and water and air and their compounds, nor can
anything hold it. And a similar principle applies to the human belly; for
when meats and drinks enter it, it holds them, but it cannot hold air and
fire, because the particles of which they consist are smaller than its own

These elements, therefore, God employed for the sake of distributing
moisture from the belly into the veins, weaving together a network of fire
and air like a weel, having at the entrance two lesser weels; further he
constructed one of these with two openings, and from the lesser weels he
extended cords reaching all round to the extremities of the network. All
the interior of the net he made of fire, but the lesser weels and their
cavity, of air. The network he took and spread over the newly-formed
animal in the following manner:--He let the lesser weels pass into the
mouth; there were two of them, and one he let down by the air-pipes into
the lungs, the other by the side of the air-pipes into the belly. The
former he divided into two branches, both of which he made to meet at the
channels of the nose, so that when the way through the mouth did not act,
the streams of the mouth as well were replenished through the nose. With
the other cavity (i.e. of the greater weel) he enveloped the hollow parts
of the body, and at one time he made all this to flow into the lesser
weels, quite gently, for they are composed of air, and at another time he
caused the lesser weels to flow back again; and the net he made to find a
way in and out through the pores of the body, and the rays of fire which
are bound fast within followed the passage of the air either way, never at
any time ceasing so long as the mortal being holds together. This process,
as we affirm, the name-giver named inspiration and expiration. And all
this movement, active as well as passive, takes place in order that the
body, being watered and cooled, may receive nourishment and life; for when
the respiration is going in and out, and the fire, which is fast bound
within, follows it, and ever and anon moving to and fro, enters through the
belly and reaches the meat and drink, it dissolves them, and dividing them
into small portions and guiding them through the passages where it goes,
pumps them as from a fountain into the channels of the veins, and makes the
stream of the veins flow through the body as through a conduit.

Let us once more consider the phenomena of respiration, and enquire into
the causes which have made it what it is. They are as follows:--Seeing
that there is no such thing as a vacuum into which any of those things
which are moved can enter, and the breath is carried from us into the
external air, the next point is, as will be clear to every one, that it
does not go into a vacant space, but pushes its neighbour out of its place,
and that which is thrust out in turn drives out its neighbour; and in this
way everything of necessity at last comes round to that place from whence
the breath came forth, and enters in there, and following the breath, fills
up the vacant space; and this goes on like the rotation of a wheel, because
there can be no such thing as a vacuum. Wherefore also the breast and the
lungs, when they emit the breath, are replenished by the air which
surrounds the body and which enters in through the pores of the flesh and
is driven round in a circle; and again, the air which is sent away and
passes out through the body forces the breath inwards through the passage
of the mouth and the nostrils. Now the origin of this movement may be
supposed to be as follows. In the interior of every animal the hottest
part is that which is around the blood and veins; it is in a manner an
internal fountain of fire, which we compare to the network of a creel,
being woven all of fire and extended through the centre of the body, while
the outer parts are composed of air. Now we must admit that heat naturally
proceeds outward to its own place and to its kindred element; and as there
are two exits for the heat, the one out through the body, and the other
through the mouth and nostrils, when it moves towards the one, it drives
round the air at the other, and that which is driven round falls into the
fire and becomes warm, and that which goes forth is cooled. But when the
heat changes its place, and the particles at the other exit grow warmer,
the hotter air inclining in that direction and carried towards its native
element, fire, pushes round the air at the other; and this being affected
in the same way and communicating the same impulse, a circular motion
swaying to and fro is produced by the double process, which we call
inspiration and expiration.

The phenomena of medical cupping-glasses and of the swallowing of drink and
of the projection of bodies, whether discharged in the air or bowled along
the ground, are to be investigated on a similar principle; and swift and
slow sounds, which appear to be high and low, and are sometimes discordant
on account of their inequality, and then again harmonical on account of the
equality of the motion which they excite in us. For when the motions of
the antecedent swifter sounds begin to pause and the two are equalized, the
slower sounds overtake the swifter and then propel them. When they
overtake them they do not intrude a new and discordant motion, but
introduce the beginnings of a slower, which answers to the swifter as it
dies away, thus producing a single mixed expression out of high and low,
whence arises a pleasure which even the unwise feel, and which to the wise
becomes a higher sort of delight, being an imitation of divine harmony in
mortal motions. Moreover, as to the flowing of water, the fall of the
thunderbolt, and the marvels that are observed about the attraction of
amber and the Heraclean stones,--in none of these cases is there any
attraction; but he who investigates rightly, will find that such wonderful
phenomena are attributable to the combination of certain conditions--the
non-existence of a vacuum, the fact that objects push one another round,
and that they change places, passing severally into their proper positions
as they are divided or combined.

Such as we have seen, is the nature and such are the causes of respiration,
--the subject in which this discussion originated. For the fire cuts the
food and following the breath surges up within, fire and breath rising
together and filling the veins by drawing up out of the belly and pouring
into them the cut portions of the food; and so the streams of food are kept
flowing through the whole body in all animals. And fresh cuttings from
kindred substances, whether the fruits of the earth or herb of the field,
which God planted to be our daily food, acquire all sorts of colours by
their inter-mixture; but red is the most pervading of them, being created
by the cutting action of fire and by the impression which it makes on a
moist substance; and hence the liquid which circulates in the body has a
colour such as we have described. The liquid itself we call blood, which
nourishes the flesh and the whole body, whence all parts are watered and
empty places filled.

Now the process of repletion and evacuation is effected after the manner of
the universal motion by which all kindred substances are drawn towards one
another. For the external elements which surround us are always causing us
to consume away, and distributing and sending off like to like; the
particles of blood, too, which are divided and contained within the frame
of the animal as in a sort of heaven, are compelled to imitate the motion
of the universe. Each, therefore, of the divided parts within us, being
carried to its kindred nature, replenishes the void. When more is taken
away than flows in, then we decay, and when less, we grow and increase.

The frame of the entire creature when young has the triangles of each kind
new, and may be compared to the keel of a vessel which is just off the
stocks; they are locked firmly together and yet the whole mass is soft and
delicate, being freshly formed of marrow and nurtured on milk. Now when
the triangles out of which meats and drinks are composed come in from
without, and are comprehended in the body, being older and weaker than the
triangles already there, the frame of the body gets the better of them and
its newer triangles cut them up, and so the animal grows great, being
nourished by a multitude of similar particles. But when the roots of the
triangles are loosened by having undergone many conflicts with many things
in the course of time, they are no longer able to cut or assimilate the
food which enters, but are themselves easily divided by the bodies which
come in from without. In this way every animal is overcome and decays, and
this affection is called old age. And at last, when the bonds by which the
triangles of the marrow are united no longer hold, and are parted by the
strain of existence, they in turn loosen the bonds of the soul, and she,
obtaining a natural release, flies away with joy. For that which takes
place according to nature is pleasant, but that which is contrary to nature
is painful. And thus death, if caused by disease or produced by wounds, is
painful and violent; but that sort of death which comes with old age and
fulfils the debt of nature is the easiest of deaths, and is accompanied
with pleasure rather than with pain.

Now every one can see whence diseases arise. There are four natures out of
which the body is compacted, earth and fire and water and air, and the
unnatural excess or defect of these, or the change of any of them from its
own natural place into another, or--since there are more kinds than one of
fire and of the other elements--the assumption by any of these of a wrong
kind, or any similar irregularity, produces disorders and diseases; for
when any of them is produced or changed in a manner contrary to nature, the
parts which were previously cool grow warm, and those which were dry become
moist, and the light become heavy, and the heavy light; all sorts of
changes occur. For, as we affirm, a thing can only remain the same with
itself, whole and sound, when the same is added to it, or subtracted from
it, in the same respect and in the same manner and in due proportion; and
whatever comes or goes away in violation of these laws causes all manner of
changes and infinite diseases and corruptions. Now there is a second class
of structures which are also natural, and this affords a second opportunity
of observing diseases to him who would understand them. For whereas marrow
and bone and flesh and sinews are composed of the four elements, and the
blood, though after another manner, is likewise formed out of them, most
diseases originate in the way which I have described; but the worst of all
owe their severity to the fact that the generation of these substances
proceeds in a wrong order; they are then destroyed. For the natural order
is that the flesh and sinews should be made of blood, the sinews out of the
fibres to which they are akin, and the flesh out of the clots which are
formed when the fibres are separated. And the glutinous and rich matter
which comes away from the sinews and the flesh, not only glues the flesh to
the bones, but nourishes and imparts growth to the bone which surrounds the
marrow; and by reason of the solidity of the bones, that which filters
through consists of the purest and smoothest and oiliest sort of triangles,
dropping like dew from the bones and watering the marrow. Now when each
process takes place in this order, health commonly results; when in the
opposite order, disease. For when the flesh becomes decomposed and sends
back the wasting substance into the veins, then an over-supply of blood of
diverse kinds, mingling with air in the veins, having variegated colours
and bitter properties, as well as acid and saline qualities, contains all
sorts of bile and serum and phlegm. For all things go the wrong way, and
having become corrupted, first they taint the blood itself, and then
ceasing to give nourishment to the body they are carried along the veins in
all directions, no longer preserving the order of their natural courses,
but at war with themselves, because they receive no good from one another,
and are hostile to the abiding constitution of the body, which they corrupt
and dissolve. The oldest part of the flesh which is corrupted, being hard
to decompose, from long burning grows black, and from being everywhere
corroded becomes bitter, and is injurious to every part of the body which
is still uncorrupted. Sometimes, when the bitter element is refined away,
the black part assumes an acidity which takes the place of the bitterness;
at other times the bitterness being tinged with blood has a redder colour;
and this, when mixed with black, takes the hue of grass; and again, an
auburn colour mingles with the bitter matter when new flesh is decomposed
by the fire which surrounds the internal flame;--to all which symptoms some
physician perhaps, or rather some philosopher, who had the power of seeing
in many dissimilar things one nature deserving of a name, has assigned the
common name of bile. But the other kinds of bile are variously
distinguished by their colours. As for serum, that sort which is the
watery part of blood is innocent, but that which is a secretion of black
and acid bile is malignant when mingled by the power of heat with any salt
substance, and is then called acid phlegm. Again, the substance which is
formed by the liquefaction of new and tender flesh when air is present, if
inflated and encased in liquid so as to form bubbles, which separately are
invisible owing to their small size, but when collected are of a bulk which
is visible, and have a white colour arising out of the generation of
foam--all this decomposition of tender flesh when intermingled with air is
termed by us white phlegm. And the whey or sediment of newly-formed phlegm
is sweat and tears, and includes the various daily discharges by which the
body is purified. Now all these become causes of disease when the blood is
not replenished in a natural manner by food and drink but gains bulk from
opposite sources in violation of the laws of nature. When the several
parts of the flesh are separated by disease, if the foundation remains, the
power of the disorder is only half as great, and there is still a prospect
of an easy recovery; but when that which binds the flesh to the bones is
diseased, and no longer being separated from the muscles and sinews, ceases
to give nourishment to the bone and to unite flesh and bone, and from being
oily and smooth and glutinous becomes rough and salt and dry, owing to bad
regimen, then all the substance thus corrupted crumbles away under the
flesh and the sinews, and separates from the bone, and the fleshy parts
fall away from their foundation and leave the sinews bare and full of
brine, and the flesh again gets into the circulation of the blood and makes
the previously-mentioned disorders still greater. And if these bodily
affections be severe, still worse are the prior disorders; as when the bone
itself, by reason of the density of the flesh, does not obtain sufficient
air, but becomes mouldy and hot and gangrened and receives no nutriment,
and the natural process is inverted, and the bone crumbling passes into the
food, and the food into the flesh, and the flesh again falling into the
blood makes all maladies that may occur more virulent than those already
mentioned. But the worst case of all is when the marrow is diseased,
either from excess or defect; and this is the cause of the very greatest
and most fatal disorders, in which the whole course of the body is

There is a third class of diseases which may be conceived of as arising in
three ways; for they are produced sometimes by wind, and sometimes by
phlegm, and sometimes by bile. When the lung, which is the dispenser of
the air to the body, is obstructed by rheums and its passages are not free,
some of them not acting, while through others too much air enters, then the
parts which are unrefreshed by air corrode, while in other parts the excess
of air forcing its way through the veins distorts them and decomposing the
body is enclosed in the midst of it and occupies the midriff; thus
numberless painful diseases are produced, accompanied by copious sweats.
And oftentimes when the flesh is dissolved in the body, wind, generated
within and unable to escape, is the source of quite as much pain as the air
coming in from without; but the greatest pain is felt when the wind gets
about the sinews and the veins of the shoulders, and swells them up, and so
twists back the great tendons and the sinews which are connected with them.
These disorders are called tetanus and opisthotonus, by reason of the
tension which accompanies them. The cure of them is difficult; relief is
in most cases given by fever supervening. The white phlegm, though
dangerous when detained within by reason of the air-bubbles, yet if it can
communicate with the outside air, is less severe, and only discolours the
body, generating leprous eruptions and similar diseases. When it is
mingled with black bile and dispersed about the courses of the head, which
are the divinest part of us, the attack if coming on in sleep, is not so
severe; but when assailing those who are awake it is hard to be got rid of,
and being an affection of a sacred part, is most justly called sacred. An
acid and salt phlegm, again, is the source of all those diseases which take
the form of catarrh, but they have many names because the places into which
they flow are manifold.

Inflammations of the body come from burnings and inflamings, and all of
them originate in bile. When bile finds a means of discharge, it boils up
and sends forth all sorts of tumours; but when imprisoned within, it
generates many inflammatory diseases, above all when mingled with pure
blood; since it then displaces the fibres which are scattered about in the
blood and are designed to maintain the balance of rare and dense, in order
that the blood may not be so liquefied by heat as to exude from the pores
of the body, nor again become too dense and thus find a difficulty in
circulating through the veins. The fibres are so constituted as to
maintain this balance; and if any one brings them all together when the
blood is dead and in process of cooling, then the blood which remains
becomes fluid, but if they are left alone, they soon congeal by reason of
the surrounding cold. The fibres having this power over the blood, bile,
which is only stale blood, and which from being flesh is dissolved again
into blood, at the first influx coming in little by little, hot and liquid,
is congealed by the power of the fibres; and so congealing and made to
cool, it produces internal cold and shuddering. When it enters with more
of a flood and overcomes the fibres by its heat, and boiling up throws them
into disorder, if it have power enough to maintain its supremacy, it
penetrates the marrow and burns up what may be termed the cables of the
soul, and sets her free; but when there is not so much of it, and the body
though wasted still holds out, the bile is itself mastered, and is either
utterly banished, or is thrust through the veins into the lower or upper
belly, and is driven out of the body like an exile from a state in which
there has been civil war; whence arise diarrhoeas and dysenteries, and all
such disorders. When the constitution is disordered by excess of fire,
continuous heat and fever are the result; when excess of air is the cause,
then the fever is quotidian; when of water, which is a more sluggish
element than either fire or air, then the fever is a tertian; when of
earth, which is the most sluggish of the four, and is only purged away in a
four-fold period, the result is a quartan fever, which can with difficulty
be shaken off.

Such 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 unreasonable 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. For
where the acid and briny phlegm and other bitter and bilious humours wander
about in the body, and find no exit or escape, but are pent up within and
mingle their own vapours with the motions of the soul, and are blended with
them, they produce all sorts of diseases, more or fewer, and in every
degree of intensity; and being carried to the three places of the soul,
whichever they may severally assail, they create infinite varieties of
ill-temper and melancholy, of rashness and cowardice, and also of
forgetfulness and stupidity. Further, when to this evil constitution of
body evil forms of government are added and evil discourses are uttered in
private as well as in public, and no sort of instruction is given in youth
to cure these evils, then all of us who are bad become bad from two causes
which are entirely beyond our control. In such cases the planters are to
blame rather than the plants, the educators rather than the educated. But
however that may be, we should endeavour as far as we can by education, and
studies, and learning, to avoid vice and attain virtue; this, however, is
part of another subject.

There is a corresponding enquiry concerning the mode of treatment by which
the mind and the body are to be preserved, about which it is meet and right
that I should say a word in turn; for it is more our duty to speak of the
good than of the evil. Everything that is good is fair, and the fair is
not without proportion, and the animal which is to be fair must have due
proportion. Now we perceive lesser symmetries or proportions and reason
about them, but of the highest and greatest we take no heed; for there is
no proportion or disproportion more productive of health and disease, and
virtue and vice, than that between soul and body. This however we do not
perceive, nor do we reflect that when a weak or small frame is the vehicle
of a great and mighty soul, or conversely, when a little soul is encased in
a large body, then the whole animal is not fair, for it lacks the most
important of all symmetries; but the due proportion of mind and body is the
fairest and loveliest of all sights to him who has the seeing eye. Just as
a body which has a leg too long, or which is unsymmetrical in some other
respect, is an unpleasant sight, and also, when doing its share of work, is
much distressed and makes convulsive efforts, and often stumbles through
awkwardness, and is the cause of infinite evil to its own self--in like
manner we should conceive of the double nature which we call the living
being; and when in this compound there is an impassioned soul more powerful
than the body, that soul, I say, convulses and fills with disorders the
whole inner nature of man; and when eager in the pursuit of some sort of
learning or study, causes wasting; or again, when teaching or disputing in
private or in public, and strifes and controversies arise, inflames and
dissolves the composite frame of man and introduces rheums; and the nature
of this phenomenon is not understood by most professors of medicine, who
ascribe it to the opposite of the real cause. And once more, when a body
large and too strong for the soul is united to a small and weak
intelligence, then inasmuch as there are two desires natural to man,--one
of food for the sake of the body, and one of wisdom for the sake of the
diviner part of us--then, I say, the motions of the stronger, getting the
better and increasing their own power, but making the soul dull, and
stupid, and forgetful, engender ignorance, which is the greatest of
diseases. There is one protection against both kinds of disproportion:--
that we should not move the body without the soul or the soul without the
body, and thus they will be on their guard against each other, and be
healthy and well balanced. And therefore the mathematician or any one else
whose thoughts are much absorbed in some intellectual pursuit, must allow
his body also to have due exercise, and practise gymnastic; and he who is
careful to fashion the body, should in turn impart to the soul its proper
motions, and should cultivate music and all philosophy, if he would deserve
to be called truly fair and truly good. And the separate parts should be
treated in the same manner, in imitation of the pattern of the universe;
for as the body is heated and also cooled within by the elements which
enter into it, and is again dried up and moistened by external things, and
experiences these and the like affections from both kinds of motions, the
result is that the body if given up to motion when in a state of quiescence
is overmastered and perishes; but if any one, in imitation of that which we
call the foster-mother and nurse of the universe, will not allow the body
ever to be inactive, but is always producing motions and agitations through
its whole extent, which form the natural defence against other motions both
internal and external, and by moderate exercise reduces to order according
to their affinities the particles and affections which are wandering about
the body, as we have already said when speaking of the universe, he will
not allow enemy placed by the side of enemy to stir up wars and disorders
in the body, but he will place friend by the side of friend, so as to
create health. Now of all motions that is the best which is produced in a
thing by itself, for it is most akin to the motion of thought and of the
universe; but that motion which is caused by others is not so good, and
worst of all is that which moves the body, when at rest, in parts only and
by some external agency. Wherefore of all modes of purifying and re-
uniting the body the best is gymnastic; the next best is a surging motion,
as in sailing or any other mode of conveyance which is not fatiguing; the
third sort of motion may be of use in a case of extreme necessity, but in
any other will be adopted by no man of sense: I mean the purgative
treatment of physicians; for diseases unless they are very dangerous should
not be irritated by medicines, since every form of disease is in a manner
akin to the living being, whose complex frame has an appointed term of
life. For not the whole race only, but each individual--barring inevitable
accidents--comes into the world having a fixed span, and the triangles in
us are originally framed with power to last for a certain time, beyond
which no man can prolong his life. And this holds also of the constitution
of diseases; if any one regardless of the appointed time tries to subdue
them by medicine, he only aggravates and multiplies them. Wherefore we
ought always to manage them by regimen, as far as a man can spare the time,
and not provoke a disagreeable enemy by medicines.

Enough of the composite animal, and of the body which is a part of him, and
of the manner in which a man may train and be trained by himself so as to
live most according to reason: and we must above and before all provide
that the element which is to train him shall be the fairest and best
adapted to that purpose. A minute discussion of this subject would be a
serious task; but if, as before, I am to give only an outline, the subject
may not unfitly be summed up as follows.

I have often remarked that there are three kinds of soul located within us,
having each of them motions, and I must now repeat in the fewest words
possible, that one part, if remaining inactive and ceasing from its natural
motion, must necessarily become very weak, but that which is trained and
exercised, very strong. Wherefore we should take care that the movements
of the different parts of the soul should be in due proportion.

And we should consider that God gave the sovereign part of the human soul
to be the divinity of each one, being that part which, as we say, dwells at
the top of the body, and inasmuch as we are a plant not of an earthly but
of a heavenly growth, raises us from earth to our kindred who are in
heaven. And in this we say truly; for the divine power suspended the head
and root of us from that place where the generation of the soul first
began, and thus made the whole body upright. When a man is always occupied
with the cravings of desire and ambition, and is eagerly striving to
satisfy them, all his thoughts must be mortal, and, as far as it is
possible altogether to become such, he must be mortal every whit, because
he has cherished his mortal part. But he who has been earnest in the love
of knowledge and of true wisdom, and has exercised his intellect more than
any other part of him, must have thoughts immortal and divine, if he attain
truth, and in so far as human nature is capable of sharing in immortality,
he must altogether be immortal; and since he is ever cherishing the divine
power, and has the divinity within him in perfect order, he will be
perfectly happy. Now there is only one way of taking care of things, and
this is to give to each the food and motion which are natural to it. And
the motions which are naturally akin to the divine principle within us are
the thoughts and revolutions of the universe. These each man should
follow, and correct the courses of the head which were corrupted at our
birth, and by learning the harmonies and revolutions of the universe,
should assimilate the thinking being to the thought, renewing his original
nature, and having assimilated them should attain to that perfect life
which the gods have set before mankind, both for the present and the

Thus our original design of discoursing about the universe down to the
creation of man is nearly completed. A brief mention may be made of the
generation of other animals, so far as the subject admits of brevity; in
this manner our argument will best attain a due proportion. On the subject
of animals, then, the following remarks may be offered. Of the men who
came into the world, those who were cowards or led unrighteous lives may
with reason be supposed to have changed into the nature of women in the
second generation. And this was the reason why at that time the gods
created in us the desire of sexual intercourse, contriving in man one
animated substance, and in woman another, which they formed respectively in
the following manner. The outlet for drink by which liquids pass through
the lung under the kidneys and into the bladder, which receives and then by
the pressure of the air emits them, was so fashioned by them as to
penetrate also into the body of the marrow, which passes from the head
along the neck and through the back, and which in the preceding discourse
we have named the seed. And the seed having life, and becoming endowed
with respiration, produces in that part in which it respires a lively
desire of emission, and thus creates in us the love of procreation.
Wherefore also in men the organ of generation becoming rebellious and
masterful, like an animal disobedient to reason, and maddened with the
sting of lust, seeks to gain absolute sway; and the same is the case with
the so-called womb or matrix of women; the animal within them is desirous
of procreating children, and when remaining unfruitful long beyond its
proper time, gets discontented and angry, and wandering in every direction
through the body, closes up the passages of the breath, and, by obstructing
respiration, drives them to extremity, causing all varieties of disease,
until at length the desire and love of the man and the woman, bringing them
together and as it were plucking the fruit from the tree, sow in the womb,
as in a field, animals unseen by reason of their smallness and without
form; these again are separated and matured within; they are then finally
brought out into the light, and thus the generation of animals is

Thus were created women and the female sex in general. But the race of
birds was created out of innocent light-minded men, who, although their
minds were directed toward heaven, imagined, in their simplicity, that the
clearest demonstration of the things above was to be obtained by sight;
these were remodelled and transformed into birds, and they grew feathers
instead of hair. The race of wild pedestrian animals, again, came from
those who had no philosophy in any of their thoughts, and never considered
at all about the nature of the heavens, because they had ceased to use the
courses of the head, but followed the guidance of those parts of the soul
which are in the breast. In consequence of these habits of theirs they had
their front-legs and their heads resting upon the earth to which they were
drawn by natural affinity; and the crowns of their heads were elongated and
of all sorts of shapes, into which the courses of the soul were crushed by
reason of disuse. And this was the reason why they were created quadrupeds
and polypods: God gave the more senseless of them the more support that
they might be more attracted to the earth. And the most foolish of them,
who trail their bodies entirely upon the ground and have no longer any need
of feet, he made without feet to crawl upon the earth. The fourth class
were the inhabitants of the water: these were made out of the most
entirely senseless and ignorant of all, whom the transformers did not think
any longer worthy of pure respiration, because they possessed a soul which
was made impure by all sorts of transgression; and instead of the subtle
and pure medium of air, they gave them the deep and muddy sea to be their
element of respiration; and hence arose the race of fishes and oysters, and
other aquatic animals, which have received the most remote habitations as a
punishment of their outlandish ignorance. These are the laws by which
animals pass into one another, now, as ever, changing as they lose or gain
wisdom and folly.

We may now say that our discourse about the nature of the universe has an
end. The world has received animals, mortal and immortal, and is fulfilled
with them, and has become a visible animal containing the visible--the
sensible God who is the image of the intellectual, the greatest, best,
fairest, most perfect--the one only-begotten heaven.





Authentic Medieval Swords & Armor


Browse Designs



Join the biggest crew ever to save the whales

Lundy, Isle of Avalon Site Design & Contents Les Still 1998-2013 Motorpsycho Realms   Contact