Aristotle, On the Heavens

LCL 338: 130-131

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B of The Heavenly Bodies (continued)

Chapter I


Before passing on to other characteristics of the first body, A. recapitulates the most important of those already demonstrated, namely, its eternal duration, without beginning or end. He points out that those who have denied it this property have by the weakness of their arguments merely strengthened his own position, and reminds us that his view is in accordance with old, and particularly with Hellenic, religious beliefs. The beginning and end of all other motions are contained within the everlasting, all-embracing motion of

283 b26Ὅτι μὲν οὖν οὔτε γέγονεν ὁ πᾶς οὐρανὸς οὔτ᾿ ἐνδέχεται φθαρῆναι, καθάπερ τινές φασιν αὐτόν, ἀλλ᾿ ἔστιν εἷς καὶ ἀΐδιος, ἀρχὴν μὲν καὶ τελευτὴν οὐκ ἔχων τοῦ παντὸς αἰῶνος, ἔχων δὲ καὶ περιέχων 30ἐν αὑτῷ τὸν ἄπειρον χρόνον, ἔκ τε τῶν εἰρημένων ἔξεστι λαβεῖν τὴν πίστιν, καὶ διὰ τῆς δόξης τῆς παρὰ τῶν ἄλλως λεγόντων καὶ γεννώντων αὐτόν· εἰ γὰρ οὕτως μὲν ἔχειν ἐνδέχεται, καθ᾿ ὃν δὲ τρόπον ἐκεῖνοι γενέσθαι λέγουσιν οὐκ ἐνδέχεται, 284 aμεγάλην ἂν ἔχοι καὶ τοῦτο ῥοπὴν εἰς πίστιν περὶ τῆς ἀθανασίας αὐτοῦ καὶ τῆς ἀϊδιότητος. διόπερ


On the Heavens, II. i.

Book II

Of the Heavenly Bodies (continued)

Chapter I

the outermost heaven. Being thus perfect and eternal, it cannot involve effort, and this disposes of three earlier views, (a) the myth of Atlas, (b) the theory of a whirl overcoming the resistance offered by the weight of the heaven, (c) the theory of a soul moving the body of the heaven as our souls move our bodies. All these views depend on the fallacious belief that the heavenly bodies are made of a materia which has weight like the four earthly elements.

Trusting, then, to the foregoing arguments, we may take it that the world as a whole was not generated and cannot be destroyed, as some allege, but is unique and eternal, having no beginning or end of its whole life, containing infinite time and embracing it in itself. The case may be strengthened by means of the opinions of those who think differently and call it generated; for if it is possible for it to be as I say, but not possible for it to have been generated in the manner which they describe, that must in itself incline us strongly to a belief in its deathlessness and eternity. Therefore

DOI: 10.4159/DLCL.aristotle-heavens.1939