THE POLITICUS MYTH

INTRODUCTORY REMARKS

WE have now done with the three purely Eschatological Myths, and enter on a series of Myths which are mainly Aetiological. We begin with the Myth of the Alternating World-periods in the Politicus.

The Cosmos has alternating periods, according as God either goes round with and controls its revolution, or lets go the helm and retires to his watch-tower. When God lets go the helm, the Cosmos, being a ζῳ + ̑ον with its own σ+1F7Bμϕυτος ἐπιθυμία, and subject, like all creatures, to εἱμαρμένη, begins to revolve in its own direction, which is opposite to God's direction. The change of direction--the least possible change if there is to be change at all--we must ascribe to the changeable nature of the material Cosmos, and not either to God, who is unchangeable, imparting now one motion and then its contrary, or to the agency of another God. When God, then, lets go the helm, the Cosmos begins of itself to revolve backwards; and since all events on Earth are produced by the revolution of the Cosmos, the events which happened in one cosmic period are reproduced backwards in the next. Thus the dead of one period rise from their graves in the next as grey-haired men, who gradually become black-haired and beardless, till at last, as infants, they vanish away. This is the account of the fabled γηγενει + ̑ς. They were men who died and were buried in the cosmic period immediately preceding that of Cronus--the Golden Age of Cronus, when the Earth brought forth food plenteously for all her children, and men and beasts, her common children, talked together, and δαίμονες, not mortal men, were kings (cf. Laws, 713). But at last the stock of earthen men ran out--τὸ γήϊνον ἤδη πα + ̑ν ἀνήλωτσ

-173-

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The Myths of Plato
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Preface v
  • Contents vii
  • Introduction 1
  • The Phaedo Myth 77
  • The Gorgias Myth 115
  • The Myth of er in the Republic 133
  • The Politicus Myth 173
  • The Protagoras Myth 212
  • The Timaeus 259
  • The Phaedrus Myth 306
  • The Two Symposium Myths 397
  • General Observations on Myths 451
  • The Atlantis Myth 457
  • The Myth of the Earth-Born 471
  • The Mythology and Metaphysics of the Cambridge Platonists 475
  • Index 521
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