Plato on the cyclical nature of the destruction of earthly civilizations

Plato on the cyclical nature of the destruction of earthly civilizations
Plato on the cyclical nature of the destruction of earthly civilizations

"I will tell what I heard as an ancient legend from the lips of a man who himself was far from young. Yes, in those days our grandfather was, in his own words, about ninety years old, and I, at most, ten.

There is in Egypt, at the top of the Delta, where the Nile diverges into separate streams, called the Sais; the main city of this nome is Sais, from where, by the way, King Amasis was born. The patroness of the city is a certain goddess, who in Egyptian is called Neith, and in Hellenic, according to the locals, this is Athena: they are very friendly towards the Athenians and claim some kind of kinship with the latter.

Solon said that when he arrived there on his wanderings, he was received with great honor; when he began to question the knowledgeable among the priests about ancient times, he had to make sure that neither he himself, nor any one of the Hellenes, one might say, knows almost nothing about these subjects… Once, intending to transfer the conversation to old legends, he tried to tell them our myths about the most ancient events - about Foroneus, revered as the first man, about Niobe and How Deucalion and Pyrrha survived the flood; at the same time he tried to deduce the pedigree of their descendants, as well as to calculate by the number of generations the dates that have elapsed since those times.

And then one of the priests, a man of very advanced years, exclaimed:

“Ah, Solon, Solon! You, Greeks, remain children forever, and there is no elder among the Greeks! " - "Why do you say so?" Solon asked. "You are all young in mind, - he replied, - for your minds do not preserve in themselves any tradition, from time immemorial passed from generation to generation, and no teaching that has turned gray from time to time. The reason is this. There have already been and will be multiple and different cases of death of people, and moreover the most terrible - because of fire and water, and others, less significant - because of thousands of other disasters.

Hence the legend that is widespread among you about Phaethon, the son of Helios, who allegedly once harnessed his father's chariot, but could not direct it along his father's path, and therefore burned everything on Earth and himself died, incinerated by lightning. Suppose this legend has the appearance of a myth, but it also contains the truth: in fact, bodies revolving in the firmament around the Earth deviate from their paths, and therefore, after certain intervals of time, everything on Earth perishes from a great fire.

In times like this inhabitants of mountains and elevated or dry places are subject to more complete extermination than those who live near rivers or the sea; and therefore our constant benefactor Nile, and in this trouble, saves us, overflowing. When the gods, creating cleansing over the Earth, flood it with waters, boarders and cattle breeders in the mountains can survive, while the inhabitants of your cities are carried away by streams into the sea.; but in our country, neither at such a time, nor at any other time, does water fall on the fields from above, but, on the contrary, by its nature rises from below.

For this reason, the traditions that persist with us are older than all others, although it is true that in all lands where excessive cold or heat does not prevent it, the human race invariably exists in greater or lesser numbers. Whatever glorious or great deed, or even a wonderful event in general, may occur, whether in our region or in any country about which we receive news, all this has been imprinted since ancient times in the records that we keep in our temples; meanwhile, every time you and other peoples have time to develop writing and everything else that is necessary for city life, again and again at the appointed time, streams descend from heaven like a pestilence, leaving only the illiterate and unlearned from all of you.

And you start all over again all over again, as if you were just born, knowing nothing about what happened in ancient times in our country or in your own country.".

Plato. Compositions. T. VI

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