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Plato's TIMAEUS: Diseases and therapy of the soul

Part 1

SUCH is the manner in which diseases of the body arise; the disorders of the soul, which depend upon the body, originate as follows. We must acknowledge disease of the mind to be a want of intelligence; and of this there are two kinds; to wit, madness and ignorance. In whatever state a man experiences either of them, that state may be called disease; and excessive pains and pleasures are justly to be regarded as the greatest diseases to which the soul is liable. For a man who is in great joy or in great pain, in his unseasonable eagerness to attain the one and to avoid the other, is not able to see or to hear anything rightly; but he is mad, and is at the time utterly incapable of any participation in reason. He who has the seed about the spinal marrow too plentiful and overflowing, like a tree overladen with fruit, has many throes, and also obtains many pleasures in his desires and their offspring, and is for the most part of his life deranged, because his pleasures and pains are so very great; his soul is rendered foolish and disordered by his body; yet he is regarded not as one diseased, but as one who is voluntarily bad, which is a mistake. The truth is that the intemperance of love is a disease of the soul due chiefly to the moisture and fluidity which is produced in one of the elements by the loose consistency of the bones. And in general, all that which is termed the incontinence of pleasure and is deemed a reproach under the idea that the wicked voluntarily do wrong is not justly a matter for reproach. For no man is voluntarily bad; but the bad become bad by reason of an ill disposition of the body and bad education, things which are hateful to every man and happen to him against his will. And in the case of pain too in like manner the soul suffers much evil from the body.

Part 2

For where the acid and briny phlegm and other bitter and bilious humours wander about in the body, and find no exit or escape, but are pent up within and mingle their own vapours with the motions of the soul, and are blended, with them, they produce all sorts of diseases, more or fewer, and in every degree of intensity; and being carried to the three places of the soul, whichever they may severally assail, they create infinite varieties of ill-temper and melancholy, of rashness and cowardice, and also of forgetfulness and stupidity. Further, when to this evil constitution of body evil forms of government are added and evil discourses are uttered in private as well as in public, and no sort of instruction is given in youth to cure these evils, then all of us who are bad become bad from two causes which are entirely beyond our control. In such cases the planters are to blame rather than the plants, the educators rather than the educated. But however that may be, we should endeavour as far as we can by education, and studies, and learning, to avoid vice and attain virtue; this, however, is part of another subject.

Part 3

Timaeus 86b - 90d

There is a corresponding enquiry concerning the mode of treatment by which the mind and the body are to be preserved, about which it is meet and right that I should say a word in turn; for it is more our duty to speak of the good than of the evil. Everything that is good is fair, and the animal fair is not without proportion, and the animal which is to be fair must have due proportion. Now we perceive lesser symmetries or proportions and reason about them, but of the highest and greatest we take no heed; for there is no proportion or disproportion more productive of health and disease, and virtue and vice, than that between soul and body. This however we do not perceive, nor do we reflect that when a weak or small frame is the vehicle of a great and mighty soul, or conversely, when a little soul is encased in a large body, then the whole animal is not fair, for it lacks the most important of all symmetries; but the due proportion of mind and body is the fairest and loveliest of all sights to him who has the seeing eye. Just as a body which has a leg too long, or which is unsymmetrical in some other respect, is an unpleasant sight, and also, when doing its share of work, is much distressed and makes convulsive efforts, and often stumbles through awkwardness, and is the cause of infinite evil to its own self-in like manner we should conceive of the double nature which we call the living being; and when in this compound there is an impassioned soul more powerful than the body, that soul, I say, convulses and fills with disorders the whole inner nature of man; and when eager in the pursuit of some sort of learning or study, causes wasting; or again, when teaching or disputing in private or in public, and strifes and controversies arise, inflames and dissolves the composite frame of man and introduces rheums; and the nature of this phenomenon is not understood by most professors of medicine, who ascribe it to the opposite of the real cause. And once more, when body large and too strong for the soul is united to a small and weak intelligence, then inasmuch as there are two desires natural to man,-one of food for the sake of the body, and one of wisdom for the sake of the diviner part of us-then, I say, the motions of the stronger, getting the better and increasing their own power, but making the soul dull, and stupid, and forgetful, engender ignorance, which is the greatest of diseases. There is one protection[1] against both kinds of disproportion:-that we should not move the body without the soul or the soul without the body, and thus they will be on their guard against each other, and be healthy and well balanced.

νόσοι καὶ ἀγωγὴ τῆς ψυχῆς

Part 1 [86b]

Καὶ τὰ μὲν περὶ τὸ σῶμα νοσήματα ταύτῃ συμβαίνει γιγνόμενα͵ τὰ δὲ περὶ ψυχὴν διὰ σώματος ἕξιν τῇδε. νόσον μὲν δὴ ψυχῆς ἄνοιαν συγχωρητέον͵ δύο δ΄ ἀνοίας γένη͵ τὸ μὲν μανίαν͵ τὸ δὲ ἀμαθίαν. πᾶν οὖν ὅτι πάσχων τις πάθος ὁπότερον αὐτῶν ἴσχει͵ νόσον προσρητέον͵ ἡδονὰς δὲ καὶ λύπας ὑπερβαλλούσας τῶν νόσων μεγίστας θετέον τῇ ψυχῇ· περιχαρὴς γὰρ ἄνθρωπος ὢν ἢ καὶ τἀναντία ὑπὸ λύπης πάσχων͵


σπεύδων τὸ μὲν ἑλεῖν ἀκαίρως͵ τὸ δὲ φυγεῖν͵ οὔθ΄ ὁρᾶν οὔτε ἀκούειν ὀρθὸν οὐδὲν δύναται͵ λυττᾷ δὲ καὶ λογισμοῦ μετασχεῖν ἥκιστα τότε δὴ δυνατός. τὸ δὲ σπέρμα ὅτῳ πολὺ καὶ ῥυῶδες περὶ τὸν μυελὸν γίγνεται καὶ καθαπερεὶ δένδρον πολυκαρπότερον τοῦ συμμέτρου πεφυκὸς ᾖ͵ πολλὰς μὲν καθ΄ ἕκαστον ὠδῖνας͵ πολλὰς δ΄ ἡδονὰς κτώμενος ἐν ταῖς ἐπιθυμίαις καὶ τοῖς περὶ τὰ τοιαῦτα τόκοις͵ ἐμμανὴς τὸ πλεῖστον γιγνόμενος τοῦ βίου διὰ τὰς μεγίστας ἡδονὰς καὶ λύπας͵


νοσοῦσαν καὶ ἄφρονα ἴσχων ὑπὸ τοῦ σώματος τὴν ψυχήν͵ οὐχ ὡς νοσῶν ἀλλ΄ ὡς ἑκὼν κακὸς δοξάζεται· τὸ δὲ ἀληθὲς ἡ περὶ τὰ ἀφροδίσια ἀκολασία κατὰ τὸ πολὺ μέρος διὰ τὴν ἑνὸς γένους ἕξιν ὑπὸ μανότητος ὀστῶν ἐν σώματι ῥυώδη καὶ ὑγραίνουσαν νόσος ψυχῆς γέγονεν. καὶ σχεδὸν δὴ πάντα ὁπόσα ἡδονῶν ἀκράτεια καὶ ὄνειδος ὡς ἑκόντων λέγεται τῶν κακῶν͵ οὐκ ὀρθῶς ὀνειδίζεται· κακὸς μὲν γὰρ ἑκὼν οὐδείς͵


διὰ δὲ πονηρὰν ἕξιν τινὰ τοῦ σώματος καὶ ἀπαίδευτον τροφὴν ὁ κακὸς γίγνεται κακός͵ παντὶ δὲ ταῦτα ἐχθρὰ καὶ ἄκοντι προσγίγνεται. καὶ πάλιν δὴ τὸ περὶ τὰς λύπας ἡ ψυχὴ κατὰ ταὐτὰ διὰ σῶμα πολλὴν ἴσχει κακίαν.

Part 2

ὅτου γὰρ ἂν ἢ τῶν ὀξέων καὶ τῶν ἁλυκῶν φλεγμάτων καὶ ὅσοι πικροὶ καὶ χολώδεις χυμοὶ κατὰ τὸ σῶμα πλανηθέντες ἔξω μὲν μὴ λάβωσιν ἀναπνοήν͵


ἐντὸς δὲ εἱλλόμενοι τὴν ἀφ΄ αὑτῶν ἀτμίδα τῇ τῆς ψυχῆς φορᾷ συμμείξαντες ἀνακερασθῶσι͵ παντοδαπὰ νοσήματα ψυχῆς ἐμποιοῦσι μᾶλλον καὶ ἧττον καὶ ἐλάττω καὶ πλείω͵ πρός τε τοὺς τρεῖς τόπους ἐνεχθέντα τῆς ψυχῆς͵ πρὸς ὃν ἂν ἕκαστ΄ αὐτῶν προσπίπτῃ͵ ποικίλλει μὲν εἴδη δυσκολίας καὶ δυσθυμίας παντοδαπά͵ ποικίλλει δὲ θρασύτητός τε καὶ δειλίας͵ ἔτι δὲ λήθης ἅμα καὶ δυσμαθίας.


πρὸς δὲ τούτοις͵ ὅταν οὕτως κακῶς παγέντων πολιτεῖαι κακαὶ καὶ λόγοι κατὰ πόλεις ἰδίᾳ τε καὶ δημοσίᾳ λεχθῶσιν͵ ἔτι δὲ μαθήματα μηδαμῇ τούτων ἰατικὰ ἐκ νέων μανθάνηται͵ ταύτῃ κακοὶ πάντες οἱ κακοὶ διὰ δύο ἀκουσιώτατα γιγνόμεθα· ὧν αἰτιατέον μὲν τοὺς φυτεύοντας ἀεὶ τῶν φυτευομένων μᾶλλον καὶ τοὺς τρέφοντας τῶν τρεφομένων͵ προθυμητέον μήν͵ ὅπῃ τις δύναται͵ καὶ διὰ τροφῆς καὶ δι΄ ἐπιτηδευμάτων μαθημάτων τε φυγεῖν μὲν κακίαν͵ τοὐναντίον δὲ ἑλεῖν. ταῦτα μὲν οὖν δὴ τρόπος ἄλλος λόγων.

Part 3


Τὸ δὲ τούτων ἀντίστροφον αὖ͵ τὸ περὶ τὰς τῶν σωμάτων καὶ διανοήσεων θεραπείας αἷς αἰτίαις σῴζεται͵ πάλιν εἰκὸς καὶ πρέπον ἀνταποδοῦναι· δικαιότερον γὰρ τῶν ἀγαθῶν πέρι μᾶλλον ἢ τῶν κακῶν ἴσχειν λόγον. πᾶν δὴ τὸ ἀγαθὸν καλόν͵ τὸ δὲ καλὸν οὐκ ἄμετρον· καὶ ζῷον οὖν τὸ τοιοῦτον ἐσόμενον σύμμετρον θετέον. συμμετριῶν δὲ τὰ μὲν σμικρὰ διαισθανόμενοι συλλογιζόμεθα͵ τὰ δὲ κυριώτατα καὶ μέγιστα ἀλογίστως ἔχομεν.


πρὸς γὰρ ὑγιείας καὶ νόσους ἀρετάς τε καὶ κακίας οὐδεμία συμμετρία καὶ ἀμετρία μείζων ἢ ψυχῆς αὐτῆς πρὸς σῶμα αὐτό· ὧν οὐδὲν σκοποῦμεν οὐδ΄ ἐννοοῦμεν͵ ὅτι ψυχὴν ἰσχυρὰν καὶ πάντῃ μεγάλην ἀσθενέστερον καὶ ἔλαττον εἶδος ὅταν ὀχῇ͵ καὶ ὅταν αὖ τοὐναντίον συμπαγῆτον τούτω͵ οὐ καλὸν ὅλον τὸ ζῷον - ἀσύμμετρον γὰρ ταῖς μεγίσταις συμμετρίαις - τὸ δὲ ἐναντίως ἔχον πάντων θεαμάτων τῷ δυναμένῳ καθορᾶν κάλλιστον καὶ ἐρασμιώτατον.


οἷον οὖν ὑπερσκελὲς ἢ καί τινα ἑτέραν ὑπέρεξιν ἄμετρον ἑαυτῷ τι σῶμα ὂν ἅμα μὲν αἰσχρόν͵ ἅμα δ΄ ἐν τῇ κοινωνίᾳ τῶν πόνων πολλοὺς μὲν κόπους͵ πολλὰ δὲ σπάσματα καὶ διὰ τὴν παραφορότητα πτώματα παρέχον μυρίων κακῶν αἴτιον ἑαυτῷ͵ ταὐτὸν δὴ διανοητέον καὶ περὶ τοῦ συναμφοτέρου͵ ζῷον ὃ καλοῦμεν͵


ὡς ὅταν τε ἐν αὐτῷ ψυχὴ κρείττων οὖσα σώματος περιθύμως ἴσχῃ͵ διασείουσα πᾶν αὐτὸ ἔνδοθεν νόσων ἐμπίμπλησι͵ καὶ ὅταν εἴς τινας μαθήσεις καὶ ζητήσεις συντόνως ἴῃ͵ κατατήκει͵ διδαχάς τ΄ αὖ καὶ μάχας ἐν λόγοις ποιουμένη δημοσίᾳ καὶ ἰδίᾳ δι΄ ἐρίδων καὶ φιλονικίας γιγνομένων διάπυρον αὐτὸ ποιοῦσα σαλεύει͵ καὶ ῥεύματα ἐπάγουσα͵ τῶν λεγομένων ἰατρῶν ἀπατῶσα τοὺς πλείστους͵ τἀναίτια αἰτιᾶσθαι ποιεῖ· σῶμά τε ὅταν αὖ μέγα καὶ ὑπέρψυχον σμικρᾷ συμφυὲς ἀσθενεῖ τε διανοίᾳ γένηται͵


διττῶν ἐπιθυμιῶν οὐσῶν φύσει κατ΄ ἀνθρώπους͵ διὰ σῶμα μὲν τροφῆς͵ διὰ δὲ τὸ θειότατον τῶν ἐν ἡμῖν φρονήσεως͵ αἱ τοῦ κρείττονος κινήσεις κρατοῦσαι καὶ τὸ μὲν σφέτερον αὔξουσαι͵ τὸ δὲ τῆς ψυχῆς κωφὸν καὶ δυσμαθὲς ἀμνῆμόν τε ποιοῦσαι͵ τὴν μεγίστην νόσον ἀμαθίαν ἐναπεργάζονται. μία δὴ σωτηρία πρὸς ἄμφω͵ μήτε τὴν ψυχὴν ἄνευ σώματος κινεῖν μήτε σῶμα ἄνευ ψυχῆς͵ ἵνα ἀμυνομένω γίγνησθον ἰσορρόπω καὶ ὑγιῆ.

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== Footnotes ==
  1. From the word commonly translated Salvation in the Bible.