Plato, translated by B. Jowett.

Part 4 out of 4

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.


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