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τὸν μὲν οὖν πρῶτόν τε κτλ. According to this reading, which was known to Proclus (l. c. pp. 218 ff.) and is found in all our MSS without any important variation except the omission of ἕκτου (line 31) in Vat. Θ, the order of the different whorls in respect of breadth of rim, beginning with the broadest, is as follows:—

1. Whorl of Fixed Stars (first)

2. Whorl of Venus (sixth)

3. Whorl of Mars (fourth)

4. Whorl of Moon (eighth)

5. Whorl of Sun (seventh)

6. Whorl of Mercury (fifth)

7. Whorl of Jupiter (third)

8. Whorl of Saturn (second).

See fig. iv on p. 444. (This figure, which is a simplified form of a drawing in Professor Campbell's Plato's Republic, published by Murray 1902, is intended to illustrate the upper surface of the whorl of Necessity's spindle. The small disc in the centre represents a section of the shaft, and the order of breadths of rim is indicated by the arabic numerals.) What does Plato mean us to understand by the different degrees of breadth of rim? On this subject I formerly wrote:—“The simple and natural explanation is that the breadth of the rims represents the size of the different planets. Each rim must of necessity be broad enough to contain the planet which resides in it, and no reason can be conceived why it should be any broader” (Cl. Rev. XV p. 392). In maintaining this view, I supposed that the surfaces of the different whorls were separated from one another by an interval representing the distances between the several planets, interpreting νῶτον in 616 E (with Jowett) as the lower and not the upper side of the entire whorl. But, as Professor Cook Wilson points out, the Greek does not allow of this interpretation, for ἁρμόττων, καθάπερ οἱ κάδοι οἱ εἰς ἀλλήλους ἁρμόττοντες, and νῶτον συνεχὲς ἑνὸς σφονδύλου ἀπεργαζομένους περὶ τὴν ἠλακάτην (616 D, E) shew conclusively that the individual whorls are fitted closely into one another like a nest of boxes, their upper surfaces forming one continuous plane. Cf. Proclus l. c. 216. 8 μηδενὸς γὰρ ὄντος κενοῦ μεταξὺ τῶν ἐνηρμοσμένων σφονδύλων κτλ. From this it follows that, if the breadth of a rim is equal to the diameter of its planet, “planets in the same part of their orbit will touch one another, and if we carry out the principle to the centre whorl, the moon will be always touching the earth. Moreover the outer planet will be continually grazing a fixed star” (Cook Wilson). These considerations are fatal to the view which I advocated; and I take this opportunity of retractation. The theory which has most in its favour, as I now see, is that “the breadth of the rims is intended to signify the supposed distances of the orbits from each other” (Jowett and Campbell). “It would be extraordinary,” writes Professor Cook Wilson, “that Plato in representing the heavenly system by his whorls should not have represented somehow the distances between the orbits of the heavenly bodies, and the obvious way to do this was by making the thickness of the spheres to which they are attached, or (as he prefers whorls on account of the distaff of Necessity), the breadth of the rims of the whorls, symbolise these different distances.” On this view the natural position of the planet will be “close to the outer edge of its rim, and touching the outer surface of its hemisphere.” For a further discussion of this subject see App. VI.

The reading in the text is described by Proclus (l. c. II pp. 218-222) as δευτέρα καὶ νεωτέρα, κρατοῦσα δὲ ἐν τοῖς κεκωλισμένοις (κεκολασμένοις, conjectures Pitra) ἀντιγράφοις. Proclus tells us that there was also another reading, προτέρα καὶ ἀρχαιοτέρα, which we can see from his description to have been as follows:— τὸν μὲν οὖν πρῶτόν τε καὶ ἐξωτάτω σφόνδυλον πλατύτατον τὸν τοῦ χείλους κύκλον ἔχειν, τὸν δὲ τοῦ ἑβδόμου δεύτερον, τρίτον δὲ τὸν τοῦ ὀγδόου, τέταρτον δὲ τὸν τοῦ ἕκτου, πέμπτον δὲ τὸν τοῦ τετάρτου, ἕκτον δὲ τὸν τοῦ τρίτου, ἕβδομον δὲ τὸν τοῦ δευτέρου, ὄγδοον δὲ τὸν τοῦ πέμπτου. The origin, authority and interpretation of this reading are discussed in App. VI.

τὸν μὲν τοῦ μεγίστου: sc. σφονδύλου χείλουσ-κύκλον.

ποικίλον. The epithet ποικίλον means ‘spangled,’ rather than “exhibiting a variety of colours” (D. and V.). The reference is to the heavens ‘stellis ardentibus aptum’: cf. Proclus l. c. 222. 29 φησὶ ποικίλον μὲν εἶναι τὸν τοῦ μεγίστου διὰ τὴν τῶν ἀπλανῶν ἀστέρων ἐν ἐκείνῳ τῷ κύκλῳ ποικιλίαν and VII 529 C note

τὸν δὲ τοῦ ἑβδόμου κτλ. The attributes which belong to the planets are poetically transferred to the rims which they inhabit.

τὸν δὲ τοῦ ὀγδόου. We infer that Plato believed the moon to be an opaque body fastened in the eighth rim and lightened by the Sun. The discovery that the moon shines with borrowed light was ascribed to Anaximenes (Zeller^{5} I p. 248).

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