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Timaeus On Divination

Timaeus says that the greatest fault in history is want
Timaeus condemned out of his own mouth.
of truth; and he accordingly advises all, whom he may have convicted of making false statements in their writings, to find some other name for their books, and to call them anything they like except history. . . .

For example, in the case of a carpenter's rule, though it may be too short or too narrow for your purpose, yet if it have the essential feature of a rule, that of straightness, you may still call it a rule; but if it has not this quality, and deviates from the straight line, you may call it anything you like except a rule. "On the same principle," says he, "historical writings may fail in style or treatment or other details; yet if they hold fast to truth, such books may claim the title of history, but if they swerve from that, they ought no longer to be called history." Well, I quite agree that in such writings truth should be the first consideration: and, in fact, somewhere in the course of my work I have said "that as in a living body, when the eyes are out, the whole is rendered useless, so if you take truth from history what is left is but an idle tale."

See 1, 14.
I said again, however, that "there were two sorts of falsehoods, the ignorant and the intentional; and the former deserved indulgence, the latter uncompromising severity." . . . These points being agreed upon—the wide difference between the ignorant and intentional lie, and the kindly correction due to the one and the unbending denunciation to the other—it will be found that it is to the latter charge that Timaeus more than any one lays himself open. And the proof of his character in this respect is clear. . . .

There is a proverbial expression for the breakers of an agreement, "Locrians and a treaty."

The proverb Λοκροὶ τὰς συνθήκας.
An explanation given of this, equally accepted by historians and the rest of the world, is that, at the time of the invasion of the Heracleidae, the Locrians agreed with the Peloponnesians that, if the Heracleidae did not enter by way of the isthmus, but crossed at Rhium, they would raise a war beacon, that they might have early intelligence and make provisions to oppose their entrance. The Locrians, however, did not do this, but, on the contrary, raised a beacon of peace; and therefore, when the Heracleidae arrived opposite Rhium, they crossed without resistance; while the Peloponnesians, having taken no precautions, found that they had allowed their enemies to enter their country, because they had been betrayed by the Locrians. . . .

Many remarks depreciatory of divination and dream interpretation may be found in his writings.1 But

Timaeus's attitude towards the art of divination.
writers who have introduced into their books a good deal of such foolish talk, so far from running down others, should think themselves fortunate if they escape attack themselves. And this is just the position in which Timaeus stands.
He remarks that "Callisthenes was a mere sycophant for writing stuff of this sort; and acted in a manner utterly unworthy of his philosophy in giving heed to ravens and inspired women; and that he richly deserved the punishment which he met with at the hands of Alexander, for having corrupted the mind of that monarch as far as he could." On the other hand, he commends Demosthenes, and the other orators who flourished at that time, and says that "they were worthy of Greece for speaking against the divine honours given to Alexander; while this philosopher, for investing a mere mortal with the aegis and thunderbolt, justly met the fate which befell him from the hands of providence. . . ."

1 The text is very imperfect here.

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