previous next


It sounds absurd, but I think there is some probability in it.

What is this probability?

I seem to have a vision of Heracleitus saying some ancient words of wisdom as old as the reign of Cronus and Rhea, which Homer said too.

What do you mean by that?

Heracleitus says, you know, that all things move and nothing remains still, and he likens the universe to the current of a river, saying that you cannot step twice into the same stream.

True. [402b]

Well, don't you think he who gave to the ancestors of the other gods the names “Rhea” and “Cronus” had the same thought as Heracleitus? Do you think he gave both of them the names of streams merely by chance? Just so Homer, too, says—“Ocean the origin of the gods, and their mother Tethys;
Hom. Il. 14.201, 302 and I believe Hesiod says that also. Orpheus, too, says—“Fair-flowing Ocean was the first to marry,
” [402c]

“and he wedded his sister Tethys, daughter of his mother.

Orpheus Fr
See how they agree with each other and all tend towards the doctrine of Heracleitus.

I think there is something in what you say, Socrates; but I do not know what the name of Tethys means.

Why, the name itself almost tells that it is the name of a spring somewhat disguised; for that which is strained (διαττώμενον) [402d] and filtered (ἠθούμενον) represents a spring, and the name Tethys is compounded of those two words.

That is very neat, Socrates.

Of course it is. But what comes next? Zeus we discussed before.


Let us, then, speak of his brothers, Poseidon and Pluto, including also the other name of the latter.

By all means.

I think Poseidon's name was given by him who first applied it, [402e] because the power the sea restrained him as he was walking and hindered his advance; it acted as a bond (δεσμός) of his feet (ποδῶν). So he called the lord of this power Poseidon, regarding him as a foot-bond (ποσί-δεσμον). The e is inserted perhaps for euphony. But possibly that may not be right; possibly two lambdas were originally pronounced instead of the sigma, because the god knew (εἰδότος) many (πολλά) things.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

load focus Greek (1903)
hide Places (automatically extracted)

View a map of the most frequently mentioned places in this document.

Sort places alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a place to search for it in this document.
Pluto (Mississippi, United States) (1)

Download Pleiades ancient places geospacial dataset for this text.

hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: