Navigation – Plan du site
Varia

On the translation of Timaeus 38b 6-c 3

Jeff Johns

Résumé

In the present paper, I shall discuss certain ambiguities arising from Timaeus 38b 6-c 3, with the object of demonstrating that the construal of χρόνος (‘time’) as subject of the verb ᾖ and the definite article ὁ at 38c 1-2 proves to be just as compelling as the construal of οὐρανός (‘the universe’) as that subject. For it will be shown that τὸ παράδειγμα τῆς διαιωνίας φύσεως (‘the paradigm which is possessed of a thoroughly everlasting nature’) at 38b 8 serves to signify αἰών (‘Eternity’) no less than ζῷον ἀίδιον (‘Eternal Living Being’), meaning that one might well construe χρόνος or οὐρανός as the subject of ᾖ or ὁ, if not χρόνος and οὐρανός as the dual subject of ᾖ and ὁ, as χρόνος is the image of αἰών, and the οὐρανός that of ζῷον ἀίδιον.

Haut de page

Notes de la rédaction

Version mise à jour le 24 mai 2015

Texte intégral

I

  • 1 See Timaeus 37d 1 (ζῷον ἀίδιον ὄν); 37e 5 (τὴν ἀίδιον οὐσίαν); 39e 7-8 (νοῦς ἐνούσας ἰδέας τῷ ὃ ἔστ (...)
  • 2 See Timaeus 37c 6-d 7, esp. 37d 1-7 (καθάπερ οὖν αὐτὸ τυγχάνει ζῷον ἀίδιον ὄν, καὶ τόδε τὸ πᾶν οὕτω (...)

1At Timaeus 38b 6-c 3, one is told of a perfectly everlasting, living paradigm, τὸ παράδειγμα τῆς διαιωνίας φύσεως, a title which might best be translated ‘the paradigm which is possessed of a thoroughly everlasting nature’ (38b 8). However, it is not altogether clear how one ought to conceive of this paradigm. Is it the same thing as ‘Eternal Living Being’ (ζῷον ἀίδιον), ‘Eternal Being’ (ἀίδιος οὐσία), and ‘that which is ‘Living Being’’ (τὸ ὅ ἔστιν ζῷον), and therefore just another title for the noetic realm?1 Or is that paradigm more accurately described as ‘Eternity’ (αἰών), which is just one aspect of ‘Living Being’?2 It is difficult to say, given the ambiguity of 38b 6-c 1 – χρόνος δ᾽ οὖν μετ᾽ οὐρανοῦ γέγονεν…καὶ κατὰ τὸ παράδειγμα τῆς διαιωνίας φύσεως, ἵν’ὡς ὁμοιότατος αὐτῷ κατὰ δύναμιν ᾖ. ‘Now, time has come into being with the universe…and it has come into being [sc. γέγονεν from 38b 6] in accordance with the paradigm which is possessed of a thoroughly everlasting nature, so that it should prove to be as similar as possible to that paradigm, relative to its capacity’. Note that the subject of the verb ᾖ at 38c 1 is unexpressed, and that this is conceivably χρόνος or οὐρανός (38b 6 χρόνος δ᾽ οὖν μετ᾽ οὐρανοῦ γέγονεν). Should one wish to clarify what is meant by τὸ παράδειγμα τῆς διαιωνίας φύσεως, one must determine whether χρόνος or οὐρανός is the subject of ᾖ at 38c 1, inasmuch as χρόνος is the image of αἰών, ‘Eternity’, and the οὐρανός that of ζῷον ἀίδιον, ‘Eternal Living Being’. And yet, one cannot say whether that subject is χρόνος or οὐρανός unless one has first established the meaning of τὸ παράδειγμα τῆς διαιωνίας φύσεως. One finds oneself in a hermeneutical circle.

  • 3 On the need to supply ἐστιν, see nn. 19-20 infra.

2So also, one is told that the image of τὸ παράδειγμα τῆς διαιωνίας φύσεως, ‘lasting through and through, ‘is’ [sc. ἐστιν] for all time, having come into being, and also being and going to be’ (38c 2-3 ὁ δ᾽ αὖ διὰ τέλους τὸν ἅπαντα χρόνον γεγονώς τε καὶ ὢν καὶ ἐσόμενος).3 But what is this image? Seeing as the subject of the definite article ὁ at 38c 2 is unexpressed, this is not altogether clear. And once again, it is conceivably χρόνος or οὐρανός, though one cannot tell which one it is unless one has first established the meaning of τὸ παράδειγμα τῆς διαιωνίας φύσεως. One finds oneself in another circle. Arguably, the subject of ὁ at 38c 2 is the same as that of ᾖ at 38c 1, though one is hard pressed to determine which construal is more appealing, χρόνος or οὐρανός. Some scholars have preferred οὐρανός on philosophical grounds, and some χρόνος, though more on philological than philosophical grounds, as this reading results in the tautology ‘time lasts for all time’ (ὁ δ᾽ αὖ [sc. χρόνος]…τὸν ἅπαντα χρόνον [sc. ἐστιν]). Still, there have been others who have seen no reason to assume that the subject of ᾖ and ὁ has to be the same. For some have preferred to construe χρόνος as the subject of ᾖ, and οὐρανός as the subject of ὁ.

3Either way, a preference for χρόνος over οὐρανός or οὐρανός over χρόνος has no slight influence upon our understanding of this text, and of Platonic ontology more generally. In the present paper, I would like to devote my attention to these ambiguities, with the object of demonstrating that the construal of χρόνος as the subject of ᾖ and ὁ at 38c 1-2 is just as compelling as the construal of οὐρανός as that subject. For it will be shown that τὸ παράδειγμα τῆς διαιωνίας φύσεως at 38b 8 serves to signify αἰών, ‘Eternity’, no less than ζῷον ἀίδιον, ‘Eternal Living Being’, which means that one might well construe χρόνος or οὐρανός as the subject of ᾖ or ὁ, if not χρόνος and οὐρανός as the dual subject of ᾖ and ὁ, inasmuch as χρόνος is the image of αἰών, and the οὐρανός that of ζῷον ἀίδιον.

II

  • 4 J. Burnet (ed.), Platonis Opera, Tomus IV (Oxford, 1902).

4It is best to begin with a translation of Timaeus 38b 6-c 3, leaving the subject of both ᾖ and ὁ at 38c 1-2 unexpressed. I furnish the Greek text and critical apparatus from the edition of Burnet.4

χρόνος δ᾽ οὖν μετ᾽ οὐρανοῦ γέγονεν, ἵνα ἅμα γεννηθέντες        (b 6)
ἅμα καὶ λυθῶσιν, ἄν ποτε λύσις τις αὐτῶν γίγνηται, καὶ
κατὰ τὸ παράδειγμα τῆς διαιωνίας φύσεως, ἵν’ὡς ὁμοιότατος
αὐτῷ κατὰ δύναμιν ᾖ· τὸ μὲν γὰρ δὴ παράδειγμα πάντα      (c 1)
αἰῶνά ἐστιν ὄν, ὁ δ᾽ αὖ διὰ τέλους τὸν ἅπαντα χρόνον
γεγονώς τε καὶ ὢν καὶ ἐσόμενος.

b 6 γεννηθέντες A Y: γενηθέντες F P et fecit A2     b 8 διαιωνίας A F Pr. Philop. Stob.: αἰωνίας P Y Stob. (alio loco) et δι punct. not. A2       c 1 ᾖ A F P Y: εἴη A2 (εἴ s. v. et acc. punct. not.)

  • 5 Compare Timaeus 28b 2-c 2 (ὁ δὴ πᾶς οὐρανὸς…γέγονεν); 31b 3 (εἷς ὅδε μονογενὴς οὐρανὸς γεγονώς ἔστι (...)
  • 6 Here one may also translate ἅμα by ‘at the same time’ or ‘simultaneously’ (contrast Timaeus 37d 5-6 (...)
  • 7 Of course, that χρόνος or the οὐρανός should ever cease to exist is a counterfactual possibility ne (...)
  • 8 Compare Timaeus 39e 1-2 (πρὸς τὴν τῆς διαιωνίας μίμησιν φύσεως).
  • 9 Note L. Brisson (ed.), Platon, Timée-Critias (Paris, 1992), p. 128, who has translated διὰ τέλους b (...)

Now, χρόνος has come into being with the οὐρανός (χρόνος δ᾽ οὖν μετ᾽ οὐρανοῦ γέγονεν),5 so that, together (ἅμα) having been engendered, together (ἅμα) they may perish,6 should some dissolution (λύσις)7 of either the one or the other ever occur, and it has come into being [sc. γέγονεν] in accordance with the paradigm which is possessed of a thoroughly everlasting nature (τὸ παράδειγμα τῆς διαιωνίας φύσεως),8 so that it should prove to be as similar as possible to that paradigm, relative to its capacity (ἵν’ὡς ὁμοιότατος αὐτῷ κατὰ δύναμιν ᾖ); for that paradigm ‘is’ for all Eternity, being, whereas the other (ὁ δ᾽ αὖ, that is, its ‘image’), lasting through and through (διὰ τέλους),9is’ [sc. ἐστιν] for all time, having come into being, and also being and going to be’.

5Since ὁ δ᾽ αὖ at 38c 2 must refer to an εἰκών or phenomenal ‘image’, τὸ παράδειγμα τῆς διαιωνίας φύσεως at 38b 8 might lead one to construe χρόνος or οὐρανός as this image, and therefore as the subject of ᾖ or ὁ, in that τὸ παράδειγμα τῆς διαιωνίας φύσεως is conceivably αἰών or ζῷον ἀίδιον.

  • 10 Proclus, In Platonis Timaeum Commentaria IV, 254c (III, p. 50, 21-31 Diehl) (μία μὲν οὖν αἰτία τοῦ (...)
  • 11 See, e.g., B. Jowett (ed.), The Dialogues of Plato, Volume III: Republic, Timaeus, Critias (Oxford, (...)
  • 12 See, e.g., Cornford (1937), p. 99, n. 1; Brague (1982), p. 42, n. 56; Sorabji (1983), p. 109; Patte (...)
  • 13 See, e.g., W. Scheffel, Aspekte der platonischen Kosmologie (Leiden, 1976), pp. 46-47, 50-51; Briss (...)

6Nevertheless, it would appear that οὐρανός has long been regarded as the subject of ὁ at 38c 2, if not also of ᾖ at 38c 1. Aristotle will have understood οὐρανός to be the subject of ὁ at 38c 2, one might argue, – so long as it is 38c 2-3, and not 31b 3 (εἷς ὅδε μονογενὴς οὐρανὸς γεγονώς ἔστιν καὶ ἔτ᾽ ἔσται, ‘this one, one-of-a-kind οὐρανός, having come into being, ‘is’, and yet also will be’), which Aristotle paraphrases at De Caelo I, 10, 280a 28-32 (εἰσι γάρ τινες οἷς ἐνδέχεσθαι δοκεῖ καὶ ἀγένητόν τι ὂν φθαρῆναι καὶ γενόμενον ἄφθαρτον διατελεῖν, ὥσπερ ἐν τῷ Τιμαίῳ· ἐκεῖ γάρ φησι τὸν οὐρανὸν γενέσθαι μέν, οὐ μὴν ἀλλ᾽ ἔσεσθαι γε τὸν λοιπὸν ἀεὶ χρόνον, ‘there are some for whom it seems possible both for that which is ungenerated to perish and for that which came into being to remain imperishably, just as one finds in the Timaeus; for he (sc. Plato) says that the οὐρανός came into being, and yet that it will last for all time’). On the other hand, Proclus clearly understood οὐρανός to be the subject of ᾖ as well as ὁ (In Platonis Timaeum Commentaria IV, 254c, III, p. 50, 21-31 Diehl, ap. Johannem Philoponum, De Aeternitate Mundi Contra Proclum V, pp. 103, 25-104, 3 Rabe).10 And as for modern scholars, more than a few – a fair majority, in fact – have construed οὐρανός as the subject of ὁ,11 with some having construed οὐρανός as the subject of ᾖ as well.12 And then there are those who have construed χρόνος as the subject of ᾖ, and οὐρανός as the subject of ὁ.13

  • 14 See Cornford (1937), p. 99, n. 1. In this context, τὸ πᾶν and οὐρανός are synonymous terms.
  • 15 Brague (1982), p. 40.
  • 16 Archer-Hind (1888), p. 123. Note also Scheffel (1976), p. 50, who argues that the construal of χρόν (...)
  • 17 G. Fraccaroli, Platone, Il Timeo (Turin, 1906), p. 202, n. 2.
  • 18 A. E. Taylor, A Commentary on Plato’s Timaeus (Oxford, 1928), p. 190.

7Still, why should one construe οὐρανός and not χρόνος as the subject of either ᾖ or ὁ? F. M. Cornford has given at least one good reason to construe οὐρανός as the subject of ᾖ at 38c 1 – a comparison of 37c 8-d 1 (ἔτι δὴ μᾶλλον ὅμοιον πρὸς τὸ παράδειγμα ἐπενόησεν ἀπεργάσασθαι, ‘He [sc. the δημιουργός] thought to make the All [sc. τὸ πᾶν] still more akin to its paradigm’) and 39d 8-e 1 (ἵνα τόδε ὡς ὁμοιότατον ᾖ τῷ τελέῳ καὶ νοητῷ ζῴῳ, ‘so that this [sc. All] should prove to be as similar as possible to perfect and intelligible ‘Living Being’’) seems to suggest that οὐρανός is also the subject of ᾖ at 38b 8-c 1 (ἵν’ὡς ὁμοιότατος αὐτῷ κατὰ δύναμιν ᾖ, ‘so that it (sc. the οὐρανός) should prove to be as similar as possible to that paradigm, relative to its capacity’).14 And Rémi Brague has compellingly objected to the notion that χρόνος is the subject of ὁ at 38c 2, given the resulting tautology – ‘une difficulté se présente, celle de la redondance qui résulterait de cette interprétation: on a du mal à attribuer à Platon une phrase dans laquelle le temps serait caractérisé par le fait de durer pendant tout le temps, c’est-à-dire en dernière instance, par lui-même’.15 Of course, this is not a novel objection. R. D. Archer-Hind had said much the same long ago – χρόνος ‘produces tautology’.16 Even those who have construed χρόνος as the subject of ὁ have said as much. Giuseppe Fraccaroli, though regarding χρόνος as that subject, had to confess that ‘la espressione è bensì irrazionale per via del τὸν ἅπαντα χρόνον (continuamente) che segue’.17 A. E. Taylor would arrive at the same conclusion. ‘Fraccaroli seems to me probably right in holding that the subject means χρόνος rather than the οὐρανός, in spite of the redundancy of the following τὸν ἅπαντα χρόνον’.18

8Nor are these the only reasons to construe οὐρανός as the subject of ᾖ and ὁ. Note that τὸ παράδειγμα τῆς διαιωνίας φύσεως at 38b 7-c 1 (καὶ κατὰ τὸ παράδειγμα τῆς διαιωνίας φύσεως, ἵν’ὡς ὁμοιότατος αὐτῷ κατὰ δύναμιν ᾖ, ‘and it has come into being [sc. γέγονεν] in accordance with the paradigm which is possessed of a thoroughly everlasting nature, so that it should prove to be as similar as possible to that paradigm, relative to its capacity’) is also mentioned at 39d 8-e 2 – ἵνα τόδε ὡς ὁμοιότατον ᾖ τῷ τελέῳ καὶ νοητῷ ζῴῳ πρὸς τὴν τῆς διαιωνίας μίμησιν φύσεως, ‘so that this All should prove to be as similar as possible to perfect and intelligible ‘Living Being’ with respect to the imitation of its thoroughly everlasting nature’. Seeing as 39d 8-e 2 is expressing an ontological claim about the οὐρανός qua image of τὸ παράδειγμα τῆς διαιωνίας φύσεως, this is another suggestion that οὐρανός is the subject of ᾖ at 38c 1.

  • 19 T.-H. Martin (ed.), Études sur le Timée de Platon, tome I (Paris, 1841), p. 103, italics mine.
  • 20 A. J. Festugière, ‘Le sens philosophique du mot αἰών. À propos d’Aristote, De Caelo I, 9’ La Parola (...)
  • 21 Cf. Respublica V, 474c 8-480a 13; Sophistes 236d 9-259b 7; Phaedrus 247c 7 (οὐσία ὄντως οὖσα); 247e(...)
  • 22 Cf. Parmenides 141e 2-3; 152c 6-d 2; Proclus, In Platonis Timaeum Commentaria IV, 251f-252a (III, p (...)

9Furthermore, however one wishes to translate ὁ δ᾽ αὖ διὰ τέλους τὸν ἅπαντα χρόνον γεγονώς τε καὶ ὢν καὶ ἐσόμενος at 38c 2-3, one needs to supply a verb. And the verb which must have been presupposed is the one which is employed in the preceding claim, – namely, the ἐστιν from 38c 1-2, ‘the paradigm ‘is’ for all Eternity, being’, τὸ μὲν γὰρ δὴ παράδειγμα πάντα αἰῶνά ἐστιν ὄν. Such an interpretation is reflected in the translation of Thomas-Henri Martin (‘car de toute éternité le modèle est existant, et de tout temps, jusqu’à la fin, l’image est ayant été, étant et devant être’).19 A. J. Festugière has also thought it necessary to supply ἐστιν.20 However, other scholars have translated this passage as though there were no need to supply ἐστιν, no doubt in light of the distinction between ‘being’ and ‘becoming’ in Platonic thought (27d 5-28a 4, 37e 4-38b 3). But this distinction is not, in fact, absolute. For at 27d 5-28a 4, τὸ γιγνόμενον never ‘is’ only in the sense that it never ‘is’ categorically. Note the adverb ὄντως at 28a 3-4, γιγνόμενον καὶ ἀπολλύμενον, ὄντως δὲ οὐδέποτε ὄν, ‘coming into being and perishing, but never really – i.e., categorically – being’. So also, at 37e 4-38a 2, one is told that ‘was’ and ‘will be’ (τό τ᾽ ἦν τό τ᾽ ἔσται) should not be said of ‘Eternal Being’, which ‘is’ categorically, not that τὸ γιγνόμενον never ‘is’ at all. Hence there is no barrier to supplying ἐστιν at 38c 2-3. Were it the case that τὸ γιγνόμενον never ‘is’, one would not find the participle ὢν being employed at 38c 3, the very presence of which demonstrates that ‘becoming’ has its ‘being’ in succession.21 Accordingly, ὢν at 38c 3, if not also γεγονέναι νῦν (‘to have come into being now’) at 38a 5, presupposes a phenomenal ‘is’.22 And this is consistent with the ontological claim at 31b 3, – ‘this one, one-of-a-kind οὐρανός, having come into being, ‘is’, and yet also will be’, εἷς ὅδε μονογενὴς οὐρανὸς γεγονώς ἔστιν καὶ ἔτ᾽ ἔσται. One can see clearly enough that γεγονώς ἔστιν καὶ ἔτ᾽ ἔσται in this passage corresponds with γεγονώς τε καὶ ὢν καὶ ἐσόμενος at 38c 3. One can also see that at 31b 3 it is the οὐρανός which is said to persist for all time, which is another suggestion that οὐρανός is the subject of ὁ at 38c 2.

  • 23 See, e.g., Fraccaroli (1906), p. 202, n. 2; Taylor (1928), p. 190; Festugière (1949), p. 186, n. 1; (...)

10From this perspective, it would appear that it is not χρόνος but the οὐρανός which ‘‘is’ [sc. ἐστιν] for all time, having come into being, and also being and going to be’ (38c 2-3). Still, as one has seen, there are those who have preferred to construe χρόνος as the subject of ᾖ and ὁ, regardless of the fact that such a construal results in a tautology.23 Of course, χρόνος is most naturally construed as the subject of ᾖ and ὁ, given that χρόνος is the subject of γέγονεν at 38b 6 (χρόνος δ᾽ οὖν μετ᾽ οὐρανοῦ γέγονεν). On the other hand, οὐρανός certainly seems more appealing on philosophical grounds. At least, this is what the preceding arguments are meant to demonstrate. But are these arguments altogether sound?

  • 24 See n. 1 supra.
  • 25 See n. 2 supra.

11Note once again the parallelism between 38b 7-c 1 (καὶ κατὰ τὸ παράδειγμα τῆς διαιωνίας φύσεως, ἵν’ὡς ὁμοιότατος αὐτῷ κατὰ δύναμιν ᾖ, ‘and it has come into being [sc. γέγονεν] in accordance with the paradigm which is possessed of a thoroughly everlasting nature, so that it should prove to be as similar as possible to that paradigm, relative to its capacity’) and 39d 8-e 2 (ἵνα τόδε ὡς ὁμοιότατον ᾖ τῷ τελέῳ καὶ νοητῷ ζῴῳ πρὸς τὴν τῆς διαιωνίας μίμησιν φύσεως, ‘so that this All should prove to be as similar as possible to perfect and intelligible ‘Living Being’ with respect to the imitation of its thoroughly everlasting nature’). Clearly, 39d 8-e 2 is expressing an ontological claim about the οὐρανός qua image of τὸ παράδειγμα τῆς διαιωνίας φύσεως. So is 39d 8-e 2 an iteration of 38b 7-c 1? Or is 38b 7-c 1 expressing a different claim? Insofar as the meaning of τὸ παράδειγμα τῆς διαιωνίας φύσεως remains unclear, it is difficult to say. Perhaps it is the same thing as ζῷον ἀίδιον, ‘Eternal Living Being’.24 Perhaps it is αἰών, ‘Eternity’. But if the latter, should one not construe χρόνος as the subject of ᾖ and ὁ, inasmuch as χρόνος is the image of αἰών?25

  • 26 É. Benveniste, ‘Expression indo-européenne de l’ « éternité »’ Bulletin de la Société de linguistiq (...)
  • 27 It has been suggested by Degani (1961), p. 105, that μέθην αἰώνιον is ‘un’espressione orfica’, thou (...)
  • 28 On the transition from τυγχάνει to ἐτύγχανεν, note Proclus, In Platonis Timaeum Commentaria IV, 243(...)
  • 29 Cf. A. Covotti, Le teorie dello spazio e del tempo nella filosofia greca fino ad Aristotele (Pisa, (...)
  • 30 On the duration of αἰών, see Festugière (1949), p. 187; Vlastos (1965), p. 408, n. 3; C. H. Kahn, ‘ (...)
  • 31 I am grateful to Inna Kupreeva for suggesting the translation ‘lasting through Eternity’ (δι᾽ αἰῶνο (...)

12Everything rests upon the meaning of the term αἰών in this context. As the linguist Émile Benveniste has shown, αἰών originally meant ‘« force vitale »’, then ‘« âge, vie », qui en est dérivé’, then ‘la durée de la vie’, then ‘éternité’, a meaning of αἰών which is apparently established for the first time at Timaeus 37d 5-6 (εἰκὼ δ᾽ ἐπενόει κινητόν τινα αἰῶνος ποιῆσαι…μένοντος αἰῶνος ἐν ἑνὶ, ‘and He [sc. the δημιουργός] thought to fashion a certain moving image of ‘Eternity’…of ‘‘Eternity’ remaining in unity’’).26 Still, it is not at all transparent how this last meaning of αἰών is established. In truth, one must first determine the meaning of αἰώνιος, its adjectival derivative, not only because the first appearance of αἰών in the text (37d 5-6) is preceded by that of αἰώνιος (37d 3), but also because the explanatory function of αἰώνιος in this context entails that one must first grasp the meaning of αἰώνιος if one is to understand the meaning of αἰών in the following lines of the text. But, if so, how should one construe αἰώνιος, seeing as this adjective is a Platonic coinage, and thus itself in need of clarification? It seems more likely than not that ἀίδιον at 37d 1 (ζῷον ἀίδιον ὄν, ‘‘Living Being’, being ἀίδιον’ ‘eternal’ or ‘everlasting’) serves as a gloss for αἰώνιος at 37d 3, even though this is not the first time that it arises in the Platonic corpus. It makes its first appearance at Respublica II, 363d 2, in the oxymoronic phrase μέθην αἰώνιον, where τὸν ἄπαντα χρόνον ἤδη διάγειν, ‘to live for all time immediately’ at 363c 6-d 1 no doubt glosses αἰώνιον, at least in that context.27 As for αἰώνιος at 37d 3, the notion that ἀίδιον is a gloss is suggested by the manner in which these two adjectives are employed at 37d 1-4, where each one is predicated of ‘Living Being’, ἀίδιον of ‘Living Being’ in and of itself, and αἰώνιος of its φύσις or ‘nature’ – καθάπερ οὖν αὐτὸ τυγχάνει ζῷον ἀίδιον ὄν, καὶ τόδε τὸ πᾶν οὕτως εἰς δύναμιν ἐπεχείρησε τοιοῦτον ἀποτελεῖν. ἡ μὲν οὖν τοῦ ζῷου φύσις ἐτύγχανεν οὖσα αἰώνιος, καὶ τοῦτο μὲν δὴ τῷ γεννητῷ παντελῶς προσάπτειν οὐκ ἦν δυνατόν. ‘Now, just as the paradigm happens to be an eternal ‘Living Being’ (αὐτὸ τυγχάνει ζῷον ἀίδιον ὄν), He [sc. the δημιουργός] sought to render this All a complete thing of such a kind, so far as this was possible. However, the nature of ‘Living Being’ happened to be αἰώνιος (ἡ μὲν οὖν τοῦ ζῴου φύσις ἐτύγχανεν οὖσα αἰώνιος), and this it was impossible to bestow completely upon that which is engendered’.28 Here ‘Living Being’ is ἀίδιον, ‘eternal’ or ‘everlasting’, precisely because its nature is αἰώνιος. One might then translate αἰώνιος in the same manner as ἀίδιον, as ‘eternal’ or ‘everlasting’.29 And, since αἰώνιος is the adjectival derivative of αἰών, one might translate αἰών in a reciprocal fashion, as ‘Eternity’. But, even so, αἰών must also signify life and its duration,30 in light of its traditional connotations (‘« force vitale »’, ‘« âge, vie », qui en est dérivé’, ‘la durée de la vie’). And indeed, the same must be said of αἰώνιος, and so also of διαιώνιος, another Platonic coinage, and one which is perhaps best translated ‘thoroughly everlasting’ (with emphasis upon the intensifying effect of the prefix διά), if not ‘lasting through Eternity’ (δι᾽ αἰῶνος).31 On the other hand, one might object to the redundancy of the affirmation that ‘Living Being’ is ἀίδιον, ‘eternal’ or ‘everlasting’ (αὐτὸ τυγχάνει ζῷον ἀίδιον ὄν), in that its nature is αἰώνιος, ‘eternal’ or ‘everlasting’ (ἡ μὲν οὖν τοῦ ζῴου φύσις ἐτύγχανεν οὖσα αἰώνιος). For this reason, one also has to emphasize the traditional connotations of αἰών in translating αἰώνιος at 37d 3-4 – ‘the nature of ‘Living Being’ happened to be (eternally or everlastingly) durational, and this it was impossible to bestow completely upon that which is engendered’. Owing to its everlasting duration, to its ‘remaining in unity’ (37d 6 μένοντος αἰῶνος ἐν ἑνὶ), ‘Living Being’ is itself possessed of a ‘thoroughly everlasting life’, whereas the οὐρανός, the All, is αἰώνιος only approximately, as an image of ‘Living Being’.

  • 32 Compare Timaeus 37d 3-4; 38b 6-c 3; 39d 7-e 2; 39e 7-8.
  • 33 Cf. Mondolfo ([1934] 19562), p. 104, n. 1; G. S. Claghorn, Aristotle’s Criticism of Plato’s Timaeus(...)
  • 34 Cf. Taylor (1928), pp. 184-191; Mondolfo ([1934] 19562), p. 104, n. 1; Cornford (1937), pp. 97-105; (...)
  • 35 See Brague (1982), pp. 43-47.
  • 36 Pace Brague (1982), pp. 63-69.
  • 37 Brague (1982), p. 66.
  • 38 On the masculine gender of κινητόν, see Brague (1982), p. 28 (‘Alors qu’ailleurs il est toujours fe (...)
  • 39 Cf. Tarán (1979), p. 45, and Baltes (1996), p. 86, n. 33, pace Brague (1982), pp. 47-55, who has ar (...)
  • 40 Cf. Proclus, In Platonis Timaeum Commentaria IV, 247c (III, p. 28, 27-29 Diehl) (τοῦτ᾽ ἔστι τὸ ὁμοι (...)

13From this analysis, one may conclude that αἰών, αἰώνιος, and διαιώνιος connote ‘everlastingness’ no less than ‘everlasting life’. One may also conclude that ἡ διαιωνία φύσις at 38b 8 and at 39e 1-2 refers to ζῷον ἀίδιον, in light of its description at 37d 3 as ἡ τοῦ ζῷου φύσις…αἰώνιος, which means that τὸ παράδειγμα τῆς διαιωνίας φύσεως is ζῷον ἀίδιον, while αἰών is its ‘everlasing life’ or ‘nature’.32 So indeed, it has been said that αἰών is a characteristic or condition of ζῷον ἀίδιον.33 And yet, even so, αἰών is also a paradigm in its own right, seeing as χρόνος is its αἰώνιος image and imitation (37d 7 αἰώνιον εἰκόνα, 38a 7 χρόνου…αἰῶνα μιμουμένου).34 Nor is this all. In fact, αἰώνιον εἰκόνα at 37d 7 refers to χρόνος as well as the οὐρανός. At 37c 6-d 7, one is told that the divine δημιουργός, having engendered the All (37c 7 ὁ γεννήσας πατήρ), ‘thought to fashion a certain moving image of ‘Eternity’, and, ordering the οὐρανός at the same time, He renders it – the οὐρανός (the All, τὸ πᾶν) – an everlasting image of ‘‘Eternity’ remaining in unity’, an image which is proceeding in accordance with number, this [sc. image] which we have named χρόνος’ (37d 5-7 εἰκὼ δ᾽ ἐπενόει κινητόν τινα αἰῶνος ποιῆσαι, καὶ διακοσμῶν ἅμα οὐρανὸν ποιεῖ μένοντος αἰῶνος ἐν ἑνὶ κατ᾽ ἀριθμὸν ἰοῦσαν αἰώνιον εἰκόνα, τοῦτον ὃν δὴ χρόνον ὠνομάκαμεν). Following Brague in his interpretation of this passage, I have construed οὐρανὸν as the accusative object of διακοσμῶν as well as ποιεῖ, with εἰκόνα in apposition.35 However, pace Brague, who goes on to argue that ἀριθμὸν…αἰώνιον should be seen as the antecedent of the demonstrative τοῦτον (‘an image proceeding in accordance with αἰώνιος number, this [sc. number] which we have named χρόνος’), I understand αἰώνιον εἰκόνα to be that antecedent, where αἰώνιον εἰκόνα is referring to the οὐρανός in its temporal mode or aspect.36 Now, the antecedent of τοῦτον is conceivably εἰκόνα, ἀριθμὸν or even οὐρανὸν, as Brague himself has observed. ‘Le τοῦτον qui suit, et auquel s’accroche la subordonnée « ce que nous appelons temps » serait de toute façon au masculin par attraction. Nous ne pouvons par consequent pas discriminer le genre de l’antécédent qui peut être aussi bien le féminin εἰκών que les masculins ou ἀριθμός ou οὐρανός’.37 Of course, one might object to the construal of αἰώνιον εἰκόνα as the antecedent, in that the feminine εἰκόνα is here modified by a masculine adjective. Even so, there is precedent for it just two lines earlier, where the same noun is modified by a different masculine adjective (37d 5 εἰκὼ…κινητόν, ‘moving image’).38 But a far better reason for construing αἰώνιον εἰκόνα as the antecedent is that such a construal is entailed by 37d 3-4. For here it is the οὐρανός, the All (note the subject at 37d 2, τόδε τὸ πᾶν), which is considered a γεννητόν, an ‘engendered thing’, and hence αἰώνιος only approximately – ἡ μὲν οὖν τοῦ ζῷου φύσις ἐτύγχανεν οὖσα αἰώνιος, καὶ τοῦτο μὲν δὴ τῷ γεννητῷ παντελῶς προσάπτειν οὐκ ἦν δυνατόν, ‘the nature of ‘Living Being’ happened to be (everlastingly) durational, and this it was impossible to bestow completely upon that which is engendered’.39 Nor is χρόνος ‘number’ simpliciter. Rather, χρόνος is an image proceeding in accordance with number, imitating ‘αἰών remaining in unity’ through numerical recurrence (38a 7-8 χρόνου…αἰῶνα μιμουμένου καὶ κατ᾽ ἀριθμὸν κυκλουμένου, where the καί is epexegetic), with the cyclical movements of astral phenomena serving to distinguish days, nights, months, and years, the formally recurrent units of χρόνος by which its passage is objectively measured (37e 1-4, 38c 4-39e 2). For it is through recurrence of such a kind that χρόνος imitates the sameness or ‘remaining-in-unity’ which is the defining characteristic of αἰών.40

14So, given that τὸ παράδειγμα τῆς διαιωνίας φύσεως serves to signify αἰών no less than ζῷον ἀίδιον, one is entitled to translate 38b 6-c 3 in more ways than one. On the one hand, one might construe χρόνος or οὐρανός as the subject of ᾖ or ὁ, inasmuch as χρόνος is the image of αἰών, and the οὐρανός that of ζῷον ἀίδιον. On the other hand, one might also construe χρόνος and οὐρανός as the dual subject of ᾖ and ὁ, inasmuch as the οὐρανός in its temporal mode or aspect is the αἰώνιος image and imitation of αἰών.

III

  • 41 Brisson (1992), p. 128, italics mine.
  • 42 See Scheffel (1976), pp. 50-51.
  • 43 Compare Degani (1961), p. 79, n. 121 (‘L’eterno vive nell’eternità, il temporale nella temporalità: (...)

15When it comes to translating 38b 6-c 3, then, one might follow Luc Brisson in his construal of χρόνος as the subject of ᾖ and οὐρανός as the subject of ὁ. ‘Le temps est donc né en même temps que le ciel afin que, engendrés en même temps, ils soient dissous en même temps, si jamais ils doivent connaître la dissolution; en outre, le temps a été engendré sur le modèle de la nature éternelle, pour qu’il entretienne avec elle la ressemblance la plus grande possible. Effectivement, le modèle est de toute éternité quelque chose qui est, alors que le ciel, sans discontinuer, d’un bout à l’autre du temps a été, est et sera’.41 Such an approach has a definite appeal on philosophical grounds, one might argue, given that it eliminates the tautology ‘time lasts for all time’ (38c 2-3 ὁ δ᾽ αὖ [sc. χρόνος]…τὸν ἅπαντα χρόνον [sc. ἐστιν]).42 Nevertheless, even if one understands χρόνος to be the subject of ὁ, the resulting tautology is not necessarily otiose. For indeed, in the parallel phrases πάντα αἰῶνά ἐστιν ὄν and τὸν ἅπαντα χρόνον [sc. ἐστιν] γεγονώς τε καὶ ὢν καὶ ἐσόμενος at 38c 1-3, one might argue that everlastingness is being defined in a dual sense. On the one hand, πάντα αἰῶνά ἐστιν ὄν would be a definition of everlastingness for αἰών, which is ungenerated and essentially unchanging; it ‘is’, categorically (37e 4-38a 1). On the other hand, τὸν ἅπαντα χρόνον [sc. ἐστιν] γεγονώς τε καὶ ὢν καὶ ἐσόμενος would be a definition of everlastingness for χρόνος, which is generated and incessantly changing; it ‘is’, successively (38a 1-b 3). Whereas χρόνος, ‘lasting through and through’ (38c 2 διὰ τέλους), persists through change, αἰών is ‘remaining in unity’ (37c 6 μένοντος αἰῶνος ἐν ἑνὶ), as it is. One is αἰώνιος, the other διαιώνιος. On this reading, the tautology would actually serve to clarify a distinction between temporal and extratemporal duration.43

  • 44 Earlier versions of this paper were presented at seminars in Paris and Durham. My thanks to Luc Bri (...)

16On a dual reading, however, one might say that the perfect everlastingness of ζῷον ἀίδιον is measured by αἰών, even as the everlastingness of the οὐρανός is measured by χρόνος. For just as τὸ παράδειγμα τῆς διαιωνίας φύσεως ‘‘is’ for all Eternity’ (38c 1-2 τὸ μὲν γὰρ δὴ παράδειγμα πάντα αἰῶνά ἐστιν), so χρόνος, – that is, the οὐρανός qua αἰώνιος εἰκών, – ‘lasting through and through, ‘is’ for all time’ (38c 2-3 ὁ δ᾽ αὖ διὰ τέλους τὸν ἅπαντα χρόνον [sc. ἐστιν]). Such a reading is just as much exegesis as translation, as is usually the case. But this approach is certainly warranted. ‘Eternity’ and ‘Eternal Living Being’ are inseparable (38b 8 τὸ παράδειγμα τῆς διαιωνίας φύσεως), and this is reflected in the fact that their images, time and the universe, are also inseparable, as neither one has its existence without the other (38b 6-7 χρόνος δ᾽ οὖν μετ᾽ οὐρανοῦ γέγονεν, ἵνα ἅμα γεννηθέντες ἅμα καὶ λυθῶσιν, ἄν ποτε λύσις τις αὐτῶν γίγνηται). Nothing within the universe can be said to exist apart from the regular passage of time, a proceeding-in-accordance-with-number which is reflected in the coming-into-being of all phenomena (38a 1-6). So also, ‘Eternal Living Being’ is inconceivable apart from its eternality. No doubt it is this inseparability which explains the ambiguity of the text at 38b 6-c 3.44

Haut de page

Notes

1 See Timaeus 37d 1 (ζῷον ἀίδιον ὄν); 37e 5 (τὴν ἀίδιον οὐσίαν); 39e 7-8 (νοῦς ἐνούσας ἰδέας τῷ ὃ ἔστιν ζῷον). On the expression τὸ ὅ ἔστιν ζῷον, see C. H. Kahn, ‘Some Philosophical Uses of ‘To Be’ in Plato’ Phronesis 26:2 (1981), p. 128 (‘τὸ ὅ ἔστιν ζῷον functions as a syntactic unit like τὸ τί ἦν εἶναι in Aristotle’). All translations are mine unless otherwise noted.

2 See Timaeus 37c 6-d 7, esp. 37d 1-7 (καθάπερ οὖν αὐτὸ τυγχάνει ζῷον ἀίδιον ὄν, καὶ τόδε τὸ πᾶν οὕτως εἰς δύναμιν ἐπεχείρησε τοιοῦτον ἀποτελεῖν. ἡ μὲν οὖν τοῦ ζῷου φύσις ἐτύγχανεν οὖσα αἰώνιος, καὶ τοῦτο μὲν δὴ τῷ γεννητῷ παντελῶς προσάπτειν οὐκ ἦν δυνατόν· εἰκὼ δ᾽ ἐπενόει κινητόν τινα αἰῶνος ποιῆσαι, καὶ διακοσμῶν ἅμα οὐρανὸν ποιεῖ μένοντος αἰῶνος ἐν ἑνὶ κατ᾽ ἀριθμὸν ἰοῦσαν αἰώνιον εἰκόνα, τοῦτον ὃν δὴ χρόνον ὠνομάκαμεν); 38a 7-8 (χρόνου…αἰῶνα μιμουμένου καὶ κατ᾽ ἀριθμὸν κυκλουμένου).

3 On the need to supply ἐστιν, see nn. 19-20 infra.

4 J. Burnet (ed.), Platonis Opera, Tomus IV (Oxford, 1902).

5 Compare Timaeus 28b 2-c 2 (ὁ δὴ πᾶς οὐρανὸς…γέγονεν); 31b 3 (εἷς ὅδε μονογενὴς οὐρανὸς γεγονώς ἔστιν καὶ ἔτ᾽ ἔσται); 92c 8-9 (γέγονεν εἷς οὐρανὸς ὅδε μονογενὴς ὤν); Critias 106a 3-4 (τῷ δὲ πρὶν μὲν πάλαι ποτ᾽ ἔργῳ, νῦν δὲ λόγοις ἄρτι θεῷ [sc. οὐρανῷ] γεγονότι προσεύχομαι). It has been said by some scholars that the perfect aspect of γέγονεν is temporally ambiguous between past and present; and this has led some to argue that neither χρόνος nor the οὐρανός will have had a temporal beginning, but that both are always being generated and thus have no beginning at all (note γιγνόμενα at Timaeus 28b 8-c 2 τὰ δ᾽ αἰσθητά, δόξῃ περιληπτὰ μετ᾽ αἰσθήσεως, γιγνόμενα καὶ γεν[ν]ητὰ ἐφάνη). However, it should be noted that the perfect aspect of γέγονεν is ambiguous only in the absence of temporal adverbs such as ποτέ and νῦν, which signify past time and present time, respectively. Hence the employment of ποτέ with γεγονότι at Critias 106a 3-4, which suggests that χρόνος and the οὐρανός will have had a beginning in the remote past, at some time – namely, at the very first moment of time. Cf. P. Chantraine, Histoire du parfait grec (Paris, 1926), pp. 157-162, and D. N. Sedley, Creationism and Its Critics in Antiquity (Berkeley, 2007), pp. 98-107, pace L. Brisson, Le Même et l’Autre dans la structure ontologique du Timée de Platon. Un commentaire systématique du Timée de Platon (Paris, 1974), p. 392; M. Baltes, ‘Γέγονεν (Platon, Tim. 28b 7). Ist die Welt real entstanden oder nicht?’ in K. A. Algra, P. W. van der Horst, and D. T. Runia (eds.), Polyhistor: Studies in the History and Historiography of Ancient Philosophy, Presented to Jaap Mansfeld on His Sixtieth Birthday (Leiden, 1996), pp. 76-96; G. R. Carone, Plato’s Cosmology and Its Ethical Dimensions (Cambridge, 2005), pp. 32-33; S. Broadie, Nature and Divinity in Plato’s Timaeus (Cambridge, 2012), p. 259; C. H. Kahn, Plato and the Post-Socratic Dialogue: The Return to the Philosophy of Nature (Cambridge, 2013), p. 178, n. 1.

6 Here one may also translate ἅμα by ‘at the same time’ or ‘simultaneously’ (contrast Timaeus 37d 5-6, where ἅμα only makes sense if it is translated in this manner – διακοσμῶν ἅμα οὐρανὸν, ‘ordering the οὐρανός at the same time’). A similar choice arises at 37e 1-3 (ἡμέρας γὰρ καὶ νύκτας καὶ μῆνας καὶ ἐνιαυτούς, οὐκ ὄντας πρὶν οὐρανὸν γενέσθαι, τότε ἅμα ἐκείνῳ συνισταμένῳ τὴν γένεσιν αὐτῶν μηχανᾶται).

7 Of course, that χρόνος or the οὐρανός should ever cease to exist is a counterfactual possibility never to be realized, since the οὐρανός persists in accordance with the will (βούλησις) of its divine δημιουργός, whose authoritative fiat guarantees its everlastingness and, as a corollary, that of χρόνος. Compare Timaeus 29a 2-6; 30a 2-3 (βουληθεὶς γὰρ ὁ θεὸς ἀγαθὰ μὲν πάντα, φλαῦρον δὲ μηδὲν εἶναι κατὰ δύναμιν); 32c 3-4 (τὸ τοῦ κόσμου σῶμα…εἰς ταὐτὸν αὑτῷ συνελθὸν ἄλυτον ὑπό του ἄλλου πλὴν ὑπὸ τοῦ συνδήσαντος γενέσθαι); 36e 4-5 ([sc. ψυχή] θείαν ἀρχὴν ἤρξατο ἀπαύστου καὶ ἔμφρονος βίου πρὸς τὸν σύμπαντα χρόνον); 41a 7-b 2 (‘Θεοὶ, θείων ἐγὼ δημιουργὸς πατήρ τε ἔργων, ἃ δι᾽ ἐμοῦ γενόμενα ἄλυτα ἐμοῦ γε μὴ ἐθέλοντος. τὸ μὲν οὖν δὴ δεθὲν πᾶν λυτόν, τό γε μὴν καλῶς ἁρμοσθὲν καὶ ἔχον εὖ λύειν ἐθέλειν κακοῦ…’). Cf. also Phaedo 80b 1-5; Respublica VIII, 546a 2; Politicus 273d 4-e 4; Phaedrus 246b 6-d 2; Leges X, 904a 8-9. At Timaeus 41a 7-8, I follow the emendation of R. Hackforth, ‘Notes on Some Passages of Plato’s Timaeus’, The Classical Quarterly 38:1/2 (1944), pp. 33-34.

8 Compare Timaeus 39e 1-2 (πρὸς τὴν τῆς διαιωνίας μίμησιν φύσεως).

9 Note L. Brisson (ed.), Platon, Timée-Critias (Paris, 1992), p. 128, who has translated διὰ τέλους by ‘sans discontinuer’, so as to emphasize that χρόνος and the οὐρανός will never be dissolved.

10 Proclus, In Platonis Timaeum Commentaria IV, 254c (III, p. 50, 21-31 Diehl) (μία μὲν οὖν αἰτία τοῦ γεγενῆσθαι μετ᾽ οὐρανοῦ τὸν χρόνον εἴρηται, ἵνα ἄλυτον ᾖ τὸ πᾶν καὶ ἀίδιον. δευτέρα δέ, ἵνα καὶ ὁμοιότατον ᾖ τῷ παραδείγματι· τὸ γὰρ αὐτὸς αὐτῷ ὁ οὐρανὸς λέγει τῷ παραδείγματι…καὶ ὁ κόσμος τὴν σύμπασαν τοῦ χρόνου χορείαν μεριστῶς καὶ διῃρημένως ὑπομεμένηκε, δι᾽ ἣν καὶ γεγονὼς καὶ ὢν καὶ ἐσόμενός ἐστιν); Proclus ap. Johannem Philoponum, De Aeternitate Mundi Contra Proclum V (pp. 103, 25-104, 3 Rabe) (καὶ ὁ οὐρανὸς ἄρα ἐστὶν ὡς ὁ χρόνος ὁμόγονος ὢν τῷ χρόνῳ καὶ οὔτε πρότερον οὔθ᾽ ὕστερον χρόνου γεγονώς, ἀλλὰ τὸν ἅπαντα χρόνον, ὥς φησιν ἐκεῖνος, γεγονώς τε καὶ ὢν καὶ ἐσόμενος).

11 See, e.g., B. Jowett (ed.), The Dialogues of Plato, Volume III: Republic, Timaeus, Critias (Oxford, 1871), p. 457; R. D. Archer-Hind (ed.), The Timaeus of Plato (New York, 1888), p. 123; A. Rivaud (ed.), Platon, Œuvres complètes, tome X: Timée. Critias (Paris, 1925), p. 152; R. Mondolfo, Le infinito nel pensiero dell’antichità classica (Florence, [1934] 19562), p. 105; F. M. Cornford, Plato’s Cosmology: The Timaeus of Plato (1937), p. 99, n. 1; H. F. Cherniss, Aristotle’s Criticism of Plato and the Academy (Baltimore, 1944), p. 417; G. E. R. Lloyd, Polarity and Analogy: Two Types of Argumentation in Early Greek Thought (Cambridge, 1966), p. 281, n. 1; L. Tarán, ‘The Creation Myth in Plato’s Timaeus’ in J. Anton and G. Kustas (eds.), Essays in Ancient Greek Philosophy (Albany, 1971), p. 379, n. 60; M. Baltes, Die Weltentstehung des platonischen Timaios nach den antiken Interpreten, Teil I (Leiden, 1976), p. 175, n. 345; R. Brague, ‘Pour en finir avec « le temps, image mobile de l’éternité » (Platon, Timée 37d)’ in R. Brague (ed.), Du temps chez Platon et Aristote: Quatre études (Paris, 1982), pp. 39-42; R. R. K. Sorabji, Time, Creation, and the Continuum: Theories in Antiquity and the Early Middle Ages (Ithaca, 1983), p. 109; R. D. Mohr, The Platonic Cosmology (Leiden, 1985), p. 67; R. Patterson, ‘On the Eternality of Platonic Forms’ Archiv für Geschichte der Philosophie 67:1 (1985), pp. 28-29; L. Brisson (1992), p. 128; M. Á. Durán and F. Lisi (eds.), Diálogos VI: Filebo, Timeo, Critias (Madrid, 1992), p. 183, n. 34; E. Berti, ‘Tempo ed eternità’ in E. Berti (ed.), Nuovi studi aristotelici II: Fisica, antropologia e metafisica (Brescia, [1998] 20052), p. 105; C. Eggers Lan (ed.), Platón, Timeo (Buenos Aires, 1999), p. 122; K. Thein, Le lien intraitable. Enquête sur le temps dans le République et le Timée de Platon (Paris, 2001), pp. 234-236; Carone (2005), p. 33.

12 See, e.g., Cornford (1937), p. 99, n. 1; Brague (1982), p. 42, n. 56; Sorabji (1983), p. 109; Patterson (1985), pp. 28-29; Thein (2001), pp. 234-235.

13 See, e.g., W. Scheffel, Aspekte der platonischen Kosmologie (Leiden, 1976), pp. 46-47, 50-51; Brisson (1992), p. 128.

14 See Cornford (1937), p. 99, n. 1. In this context, τὸ πᾶν and οὐρανός are synonymous terms.

15 Brague (1982), p. 40.

16 Archer-Hind (1888), p. 123. Note also Scheffel (1976), p. 50, who argues that the construal of χρόνος as the subject of ὁ results in ‘ein logischer Unsinn’.

17 G. Fraccaroli, Platone, Il Timeo (Turin, 1906), p. 202, n. 2.

18 A. E. Taylor, A Commentary on Plato’s Timaeus (Oxford, 1928), p. 190.

19 T.-H. Martin (ed.), Études sur le Timée de Platon, tome I (Paris, 1841), p. 103, italics mine.

20 A. J. Festugière, ‘Le sens philosophique du mot αἰών. À propos d’Aristote, De Caelo I, 9’ La Parola del Passato 4 (1949), p. 186, n. 1. Cf. Proclus, In Platonis Timaeum Commentaria IV, 254c (III, p. 50, 28-31 Diehl), who also seems to have supplied ἐστιν (καὶ ὁ κόσμος τὴν σύμπασαν τοῦ χρόνου χορείαν μεριστῶς καὶ διῃρημένως ὑπομεμένηκε, δι᾽ ἣν καὶ γεγονὼς καὶ ὢν καὶ ἐσόμενός ἐστιν).

21 Cf. Respublica V, 474c 8-480a 13; Sophistes 236d 9-259b 7; Phaedrus 247c 7 (οὐσία ὄντως οὖσα); 247e 1-2 (ἐν τῷ ὅ ἐστιν ὂν ὄντως); Proclus, In Platonis Timaeum Commentaria 71f-72a; 73e-f (I, pp. 233, 30-234, 3; 240, 1-12 Diehl).

22 Cf. Parmenides 141e 2-3; 152c 6-d 2; Proclus, In Platonis Timaeum Commentaria IV, 251f-252a (III, p. 42, 23-43, 4 Diehl); L. Tarán (ed.), Parmenides: A Text with Translation, Commentary and Critical Essays (Princeton, 1965), pp. 183-188; Scheffel (1976), p. 51; L. Tarán, ‘Perpetual Duration and Atemporal Eternity in Parmenides and Plato’ The Monist 62:1 (1979), p. 44, n. 9; Patterson (1985), pp. 30-31.

23 See, e.g., Fraccaroli (1906), p. 202, n. 2; Taylor (1928), p. 190; Festugière (1949), p. 186, n. 1; E. Degani, Aiôn da Omero ad Aristotele (Padua, 1961), p. 79, n. 121; A. S. Mason, ‘Why Does Plato Believe in a Timeless Eternity?’ in F.-G. Hermann (ed.), New Essays on Plato: Language and Thought in Fourth Century Greek Philosophy (Swansea, 2006), p. 181. See also Scheffel (1976), pp. 46-47; 50-51; Brisson (1992), p. 128 (n. 13 supra).

24 See n. 1 supra.

25 See n. 2 supra.

26 É. Benveniste, ‘Expression indo-européenne de l’ « éternité »’ Bulletin de la Société de linguistique de Paris 38 (1937), pp. 103-112.

27 It has been suggested by Degani (1961), p. 105, that μέθην αἰώνιον is ‘un’espressione orfica’, though there is no evidence of αἰώνιος in pre-Platonic literature. Apart from the Respublica and the Timaeus, αἰώνιος appears at Leges X, 904a 8-9 (ἀνώλεθρον δὲ ὄν γενόμενον, ἀλλ᾽ οὐκ αἰώνιον). On αἰώνιος in the Platonic corpus, see further Degani (1961), pp. 80, n. 124; 91, n. 149; G. Vlastos, ‘Creation in the Timaeus: Is it a Fiction?’ in R. E. Allen (ed.), Studies in Plato’s Metaphysics (London, 1965), p. 408, n. 3; Brague (1982), pp. 64-67; T. M. Robinson, ‘The Timaeus on Types of Duration’ Illinois Classical Studies 11 (1986), pp. 143-151; I. Ramelli and D. Konstan, Terms for Eternity: Aiônios and Aïdios in Classical and Christian Texts (Piscataway, 2007), pp. 7-14.

28 On the transition from τυγχάνει to ἐτύγχανεν, note Proclus, In Platonis Timaeum Commentaria IV, 243b (III, p. 16, 11-21 Diehl) (διὰ τί δὲ ἐτύγχανεν οὖσα αἰώνιος ἡ τοῦ ζῴου φύσις, ἀλλ᾽ οὐχὶ ‘τυγχάνει’, καίπερ τῷ αἰῶνι τοῦ νῦν ᾠκειωμένου μᾶλλον ἢ τοῦ παρεληλυθότος; ἐχρήσατο μὲν οὖν καὶ ἐν ἄλλοις [29e 1] τούτῳ τῷ εἴδει τῆς ἀπαγγελίας, ἀγαθὸς ἦν εἰπὼν περὶ τοῦ ἀγαθοῦ ὄντος ἀεί, σημαίνων, ὅτι οὐκ ἀπὸ χρόνου τοῦτο, ἀλλ᾽ ἀεὶ ἦν).

29 Cf. A. Covotti, Le teorie dello spazio e del tempo nella filosofia greca fino ad Aristotele (Pisa, 1897), p. 162, n. 1; Mondolfo ([1934] 19562), p. 104, n. 1; Degani (1961), pp. 80, n. 124; 91, n. 149. According to Degani, ‘nulla infatti impediva a Platone di usare αἰώνιος nel senso di ἀίδιος in 37d e di impiegarlo invece in un significato più generico nel nostro passo, per indicare la semplice attinenza con αἰών’, such that ‘nel Timeo ἀίδιος è perfettamente equivalente ad αἰώνιος’ (p. 80, n. 124).

30 On the duration of αἰών, see Festugière (1949), p. 187; Vlastos (1965), p. 408, n. 3; C. H. Kahn, ‘The Greek Verb ‘To Be’ and the Concept of Being’ Foundations of Language 2:3 (1966), pp. 255-256; J. Whittaker, ‘The ‘Eternity’ of the Platonic Forms’ Phronesis 13:2 (1968), pp. 131-144; J. Whittaker, God, Time, Being: Two Studies in the Transcendental Tradition in Greek Philosophy (Oslo, 1971), pp. 11-13; 16-17; 25, n. 5; D. O’Brien, ‘Temps et éternité dans la philosophie grecque’ in D. Tiffeneau (ed.), Mythes et représentations du temps (Paris, 1985), pp. 62-67; 73-79; 81-85; Patterson (1985), pp. 27-46; Robinson (1986), pp. 143-147; Mason, (2006), pp. 181-182.

31 I am grateful to Inna Kupreeva for suggesting the translation ‘lasting through Eternity’ (δι᾽ αἰῶνος). Cf. Empedocles, fr. 110, 3 Diels-Kranz, where δι᾽ αἰῶνος means ‘through life’.

32 Compare Timaeus 37d 3-4; 38b 6-c 3; 39d 7-e 2; 39e 7-8.

33 Cf. Mondolfo ([1934] 19562), p. 104, n. 1; G. S. Claghorn, Aristotle’s Criticism of Plato’s Timaeus (The Hague, 1954), p. 84; E. Maula, ‘Is Time a Child or a Grandchild of Eternity? (Tim. 37d, 50d)’ Ajatus 31 (1969), pp. 51-54; J. N. Findlay, Plato: The Written and Unwritten Doctrines (London, 1974), p. 316; Brague (1982), pp. 55-69; Patterson (1985), p. 28; Mason (2006), p. 178. Note also Plotinus, Ennead III, 7, 5, 12-18, p. 374 Henry-Schwyzer (εἰ οὖν τὸ οὕτως ἔχον αἰώνιον καὶ ἀεὶ ὄν, τὸ μὴ ἀποκλῖνον εἰς ἑτέραν φύσιν κατὰ μηδὲν, ζωὴν ἔχον, ἣν ἔχει πᾶσαν ἤδη, οὐ προσλαβὸν οὐδὲ προσλαμβάνον ἢ προσληψόμενον, εἴη ἂν ἀίδιον μὲν τὸ οὕτως ἔχον, ἄιδιότης δὲ ἡ τοιαύτη κατάστασις τοῦ ὑποκειμένου ἐξ αὐτοῦ οὖσα καὶ ἐν αὐτῷ, αἰὼν δὲ τὸ ὑποκείμενον μετὰ τῆς τοιαύτης καταστάσεως ἐμφαινομένης); D. Nikulin, ‘Plotinus on Eternity’ in A. Neschke-Hentschke (ed.), Le Timée de Platon: contributions à l’histoire de sa réception (Louvain, 2000), pp. 17-24; M. Guyot, ‘Traité 45 (III, 7)’ in L. Brisson and J.-F. Pradeau (eds.), Plotin, Traités 45-50 (2009), p. 68, n. 2 (‘l’éternité [αἰών] est le substrat, la perpétuité [ἀΐδιότης] est sa manière d’être’).

34 Cf. Taylor (1928), pp. 184-191; Mondolfo ([1934] 19562), p. 104, n. 1; Cornford (1937), pp. 97-105; G. Vlastos, ‘The Disorderly Motion in the TimaeusThe Classical Quarterly 33:2 (1939), p. 76; Festugière (1949), p. 186, n. 1; Mohr (1985), p. 56, n. 8.

35 See Brague (1982), pp. 43-47.

36 Pace Brague (1982), pp. 63-69.

37 Brague (1982), p. 66.

38 On the masculine gender of κινητόν, see Brague (1982), p. 28 (‘Alors qu’ailleurs il est toujours feminin, il le fait régir ici la forme masculine de l’adjectif, κινητόν, forme que les citateurs ressentirent comme si bizarre qu’ils la corrigèrent parfois en κινητήν’). Similarly, the feminine μέθην is modified by the masculine αἰώνιον at Respublica II, 362d 2.

39 Cf. Tarán (1979), p. 45, and Baltes (1996), p. 86, n. 33, pace Brague (1982), pp. 47-55, who has argued that at 37d 6, and also at 38b 6, οὐρανός refers to astral phenomena, ‘l’ensemble des astres’, not the All. But it seems better to construe οὐρανός at both 37d 6 and 38b 6 in the latter sense of the term, given that the οὐρανός (the All) is said to have had a beginning at some time in the remote past – namely, at the very first moment of time (see n. 5 supra). For at 38b 6, χρόνος is said to have had a beginning ‘with the οὐρανός’ (χρόνος δ᾽ οὖν μετ᾽ οὐρανοῦ γέγονεν), each having been engendered ‘at the same time’ (ἅμα γεννηθέντες), which entails that οὐρανός is here referring to the All, and so also that διακοσμῶν ἅμα οὐρανὸν at 37d 6 merely anticipates what is said at 38b 6. (As a corollary, the temporal order of the creation myth (34b 10-35a 1) would have to be understood metaphorically, as would the temporal (though not ontological) priority of generation πρὶν οὐρανὸν γενέσθαι (30a 2-6; 37e 1-3; 52d 2-4). It is ‘temporally antecedent’ only from our own, temporalizing perspective of the creation.)

40 Cf. Proclus, In Platonis Timaeum Commentaria IV, 247c (III, p. 28, 27-29 Diehl) (τοῦτ᾽ ἔστι τὸ ὁμοιότερον αὐτὸν τῷ παραδείγματι ποιῆσαν τῷ ἐν ἑνὶ μένοντι, τὸ εἰς τὸ αὐτὸ ἀποκαθίστασθαι καὶ ἓν διὰ τῆς κατὰ τὸν χρόνον κυκλήσεως), with Cherniss (1944), pp. 418; 420; W. von Leyden, ‘Time, Number, and Eternity in Plato and Aristotle’ The Philosophical Quarterly 14:54 (1964), pp. 39-42; Brague (1982), p. 61.

41 Brisson (1992), p. 128, italics mine.

42 See Scheffel (1976), pp. 50-51.

43 Compare Degani (1961), p. 79, n. 121 (‘L’eterno vive nell’eternità, il temporale nella temporalità: irriducibilimente’).

44 Earlier versions of this paper were presented at seminars in Paris and Durham. My thanks to Luc Brisson, Jamie Dow, Phillip Horky, Inna Kupreeva, Arnaud Macé, Olivier Renaut, Christopher Rowe, and Barbara Sattler for their observations.

Haut de page

Pour citer cet article

Référence électronique

Jeff Johns, « On the translation of Timaeus 38b 6-c 3 », Études platoniciennes [En ligne], 11 | 2014, mis en ligne le 15 avril 2015, consulté le 23 avril 2017. URL : http://etudesplatoniciennes.revues.org/599 ; DOI : 10.4000/etudesplatoniciennes.599

Haut de page

Auteur

Jeff Johns

University of Edinburgh

Haut de page

Droits d’auteur

© Société d’Études platoniciennes

Haut de page
  • Revues.org