Plato, Timaeus

LCL 234: 134-135

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Plato

55 σώματος γέγονε κυβικόν, ἓξ ἐπιπέδους τετραγώνους ἰσοπλεύρους βάσεις ἔχον. ἔτι δὲ οὔσης ξυστάσεως μιᾶς πέμπτης, ἐπὶ τὸ πᾶν ὁ θεὸς αὐτῇ κατεχρήσατο ἐκεῖνο διαζωγραφῶν.

Ἃ δή τις εἰ πάντα λογιζόμενος ἐμμελῶς ἀποροῖ πότερον ἀπείρους χρὴ κόσμους εἶναι λέγειν ἢ πέρας ἔχοντας, τὸ μὲν ἀπείρους ἡγήσαιτ᾿ ἂν ὄντως Dἀπείρου τινὸς εἶναι δόγμα ὧν ἔμπειρον χρεὼν εἶναι, πότερον δὲ ἕνα ἢ πέντε αὐτοὺς ἀληθείᾳ πεφυκότας λέγειν προσήκει, μᾶλλον ἂν ταύτῃ στὰς εἰκότως διαπορήσαι. τὸ μὲν οὖν δὴ παρ᾿ ἡμῶν ἕνα αὐτὸν κατὰ τὸν εἰκότα λόγον πεφυκότα μηνύει, ἄλλος δὲ εἰς ἄλλα πῃ βλέψας ἕτερα δοξάσει. καὶ τοῦτον1 μὲν μεθετέον, τὰ δὲ γεγονότα νῦν τῷ λόγῳ γένη διανείμωμεν εἰς πῦρ καὶ γῆν καὶ ὕδωρ καὶ ἀέρα. γῇ μὲν δὴ τὸ κυβικὸν εἶδος δῶμεν· ἀκινητοτάτη Eγὰρ τῶν τεττάρων γενῶν γῆ καὶ τῶν σωμάτων πλαστικωτάτη, μάλιστα δὲ ἀνάγκη γεγονέναι τοιοῦτον τὸ τὰς βάσεις ἀσφαλεστάτας ἔχον· βάσις δὲ ἥ τε τῶν κατ᾿ ἀρχὰς τριγώνων ὑποτεθέντων ἀσφαλεστέρα κατὰ φύσιν, ἡ τῶν ἴσων πλευρῶν, τῆς τῶν ἀνίσων, τό τε ἐξ ἑκατέρου ξυντεθὲν ἐπίπεδον ἰσόπλευρον ἰσοπλεύρου τετράγωνον τριγώνου κατά τε μέρη καὶ καθ᾿ ὅλον στασιμωτέρως 56ἐξ ἀνάγκης βέβηκε. διὸ γῇ μὲν τοῦτο ἀπονέμοντες τὸν εἰκότα λόγον διασώζομεν, ὕδατι δ᾿ αὖ

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Timaeus

was cubic, having six plane equilateral quadrangular bases. And seeing that there still remained one other compound figure, the fifth,1 God used it up for the Universe in his decoration thereof.

Now in reasoning about all these things, a man might question whether he ought to affirm the existence of an infinite diversity of Universes or a limited number; and if he questioned aright he would conclude that the doctrine of an infinite diversity is that of a man unversed2 in matters wherein he ought to be versed; but the question whether they ought really to be described as one Universe or five is one which might with more reason give us pause. Now our view declares the Universe to be essentially one, in accordance with the probable account; but another man, considering other facts, will hold a different opinion. Him, however, we must let pass. But as for the Kinds which have now been generated by our argument, let us assign them severally to fire and earth and water and air. To earth let us give the cubic form; for of the four Kinds earth is the most immobile and the most plastic body, and of necessity the body which has the most stable bases must be pre-eminently of this character. Now of the triangles we originally assumed, the basis formed by equal sides is of its nature more stable than that formed by unequal sides; and of the plane surfaces which are compounded of these several triangles, the equilateral quadrangle, both in its parts and as a whole, has a more stable base than the equilateral triangle. Wherefore, we are preserving the probable account when we assign this figure to earth, and of

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DOI: 10.4159/DLCL.plato-philosopher_timaeus.1929