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[782a] and will never have an end, but always was and always will be, or else it must have been in existence an incalculable length of time from the date when it first began.

Clinias
Undoubtedly.

Athenian
Well then, do we not suppose that all the world over and in all sorts of ways there have been risings and fallings of States, and institutions of every variety of order and disorder, and appetites for food—both meats and drinks—of every kind, and all sorts of variations in the seasons, during which it is probable that the animals underwent [782b] innumerable changes?

Clinias
Certainly.

Athenian
Are we to believe, then, that vines, not previously existing, appeared at a certain stage; and olives, likewise, and the gifts of Demeter and Kore?1 And that some Triptolemus was the minister of such fruits? And during the period that these fruits were as yet non-existent, must we not suppose that the animals turned, as they do now, to feeding on one another.

Clinias
Of course. [782c]

Athenian
The custom of men sacrificing one another is, in fact, one that survives even now among many peoples; whereas amongst others we hear of how the opposite custom existed, when they were forbidden so much as to eat an ox, and their offerings to the gods consisted, not of animals, but of cakes of meal and grain steeped in honey, and other such bloodless sacrifices, and from flesh they abstained as though it were unholy to eat it or to stain with blood the altars of the gods; instead of that, those of us men who then existed lived what is called an “Orphic life,” keeping wholly to inanimate food and, [782d] contrariwise, abstaining wholly from things animate.

Clinias
Certainly what you say is widely reported and easy to credit.

Athenian
Someone might ask us— “For what purpose have you now said all this?”

Clinias
A correct surmise, Stranger.

Athenian
So I will try, if I can, Clinias, to explain the subject which comes next in order.

Clinias
Say on.

Athenian
I observe that with men all things depend on a threefold need and desire, wherein if they proceed rightly, [782e] the result is goodness, if badly, the opposite. Of these desires they possess those for food and drink as soon as they are born; and about the whole sphere of food every creature has an instinctive lust, and is full of craving, and quite deaf to any suggestion that they ought to do anything else than satisfy their tastes and desires for all such objects, and thus rid themselves entirely of all pain.

1 Or Persephone, daughter of the Earth-mother, Demeter. Triptolemus was a mythical hero of EIeusis, worshipped as the inventor and patron of agriculture.

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