previous next

[56a] Wherefore, we are preserving the probable account when we assign this figure to earth, and of the remaining figures the least mobile to water, and the most mobile to fire, and the intermediate figure to air; and, further, when we assign the smallest body to fire, and the greatest to water, and the intermediate to air; and again, the first in point of sharpness to fire, the second to air, and the third to water. As regards all these forms, that which has the fewest bases must necessarily be the most mobile, [56b] since it is in all ways the sharpest and most acute of all; and it must also be the lightest, since it is composed of the fewest identical parts; and the second comes second in point of these same qualities, and the third third.

Thus, in accordance with the right account and the probable, that solid which has taken the form of a pyramid shall be the element and seed of fire; the second in order of generation we shall affirm to be air, and the third water. Now one must conceive all these to be so small that none of them, [56c] when taken singly each in its several kind, is seen by us, but when many are collected together their masses are seen. And, moreover, as regards the numerical proportions which govern their masses and motions and their other qualities, we must conceive that God realized these everywhere with exactness, in so far as the nature of Necessity submitted voluntarily or under persuasion, and thus ordered all in harmonious proportion.

From all that we have hitherto said about these Kinds, [56d] they will, in all likelihood, behave themselves as follows. Earth will keep moving when it happens to meet with fire and has been dissolved by its acuteness, whether this dissolution takes place in pure fire or in a mass of air or of water; and this motion will continue until the particles of earth happen to meet together somewhere and reunite one with another, when they become earth again; for assuredly earth will never change into another form. But water, when broken up by fire or even by air, is capable of becoming a compound of one corpuscle of fire with two of air; [56e] and the fractions of air which come from the dissolving of one particle will form two corpuscles of fire. And again, when a small quantity of fire is enclosed by a large quantity of air and water, or of earth, and moves within them as they rush along, and is defeated in its struggle and broken up, then two corpuscles of fire unite to make one form of air. And when air is defeated and disintegrated, from two whole forms of air and a half, one whole form of water will be compounded.

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.

Download Pleiades ancient places geospacial dataset for this text.

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