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[617a] took its color from the seventh, which shone upon it. The colors of the second and fifth were like one another and more yellow than the two former. The third had the whitest color, and the fourth was of a slightly ruddy hue; the sixth was second in whiteness. The staff turned as a whole in a circle with the same movement, but within the whole as it revolved the seven inner circles revolved gently in the opposite direction to the whole,1 and of these seven the eighth moved most swiftly, [617b] and next and together with one another the seventh, sixth and fifth; and third2 in swiftness, as it appeared to them, moved the fourth with returns upon itself, and fourth the third and fifth the second. And the spindle turned on the knees of Necessity, and up above on each of the rims of the circles a Siren stood, borne around in its revolution and uttering one sound, one note, and from all the eight there was the concord of a single harmony.3 And there were another three [617c] who sat round about at equal intervals, each one on her throne, the Fates,4 daughters of Necessity, clad in white vestments with filleted heads, Lachesis, and Clotho, and Atropos, who sang in unison with the music of the Sirens, Lachesis singing the things that were, Clotho the things that are, and Atropos the things that are to be. And Clotho with the touch of her right hand helped to turn the outer circumference of the spindle, pausing from time to time. Atropos with her left hand in like manner helped to turn the inner circles, and Lachesis [617d] alternately with either hand lent a hand to each.

“Now when they arrived they were straight-way bidden to go before Lachesis, and then a certain prophet5 first marshalled them in orderly intervals, and thereupon took from the lap of Lachesis lots and patterns of lives and went up to a lofty platform and spoke, ‘This is the word of Lachesis, the maiden daughter of Necessity, “Souls that live for a day,6 now is the beginning of another cycle of mortal generation where birth is the beacon of death. [617e] No divinity7 shall cast lots for you, but you shall choose your own deity. Let him to whom falls the first lot first select a life to which he shall cleave of necessity. But virtue has no master over her,8 and each shall have more or less of her as he honors her or does her despite. The blame is his who chooses: God is blameless.9“’ So saying, the prophet flung the lots out among them all, and each took up the lot that fell by his side, except himself; him they did not permit.10 And whoever took up a lot saw plainly what number he had drawn.

1 Burnet, op. cit. p. 123, says; “This view that the planets had an orbital motion from west to east is attributed by Aetios ii. 16. 3 to Alkmaion (96), which certainly implies that Pythagoras did not hold it. As we shall see (152) it is far from clear that any of the Pythagoreans did. It seems rather to be Plato's discovery.” Cf. ibid. p. 352.

2 The best mss. have τὸν before τρίτον. It is retained by some editors, but Schleiermacher rejected it and Adam and Burnet omit it.

3 The music of the spheres. Cf. Cic.De nat. deor. iii. 9. 26, Mayor, vol. iii. p. 86, Macrob. on Somn. Scip. ii. 3, Ritter-Preller (9th ed.), pp. 69-70 ( 81-82), K. Gronau, Poseidonios und die jüdisch-christliche Genesisexegese, pp. 59-61. Aristotle's comment, De caelo 290 b 12 ff., is that the notion of a music of the spheres is pretty and ingenious, but not true. He reports the (Pythagorean?) explanation that we do not hear it because we have been accustomed to it from birth. see Carl v. Jan, “Die Harmonie der Sphären,”Philologus, lii. 13 ff.

4 Pictured in Michelangelo's Le Parche. Cf. Catullus 64. 306 ff.; Lowell, “Villa Franca”: “Spin, Clotho, spin, Lachesis twist and Atropos sever.”

5 See What Plato Said, p. 550, on Phaedr. 235 C.

6 Cf. Laws 923 A, Pindar, Pyth. viii. 95, Aesch.Prom. 83, 547, Aristot.Hist. an. 552 b 18 f., Cic.Tusc. i. 39. 94, Plut.Cons. ad Apol. 6 (104 A)ἀνθρώπων . . . ἐφήμερα τὰ σώματα, ibid. 27 (115 D)ἐφήμερον σπέρμα. See also Stallbaum ad loc., and for the thought Soph.Ajax 125-126, Iliad i. 146, Mimnermus ii. 1, 12 and 859 (Nauck), Job vii. 6, viii. 9, ix. 25, xiv. 2, xxi. 17, etc.

7 Zeller-Nestle, p. 166, says that this looks like intentional correction of Phaedo 107 D. Cf. Phaedo 113 D and Lysias ii. 78 τε δαίμων τὴν ἡμετέραν μοῖραν εἰληχὼς ἀπαραίτητος. Arnobius, Adversus gentes, ii. 64, says that similarly Christ offers us redemption but does not force it upon us.

8 Cf. Milton's “Love Virtue; she alone is free” (Comus).

9 Justin Martyr.Apol. xliv. 8, quotes this. Cf. Tim. 42 D, Dieterich, Nekyia, p. 115, Odyssey i. 32 f., Bacchylides xiv. 51 f. (Jebb, p. 366)Ζεὺς . . . οὐκ αἴτιος θνατοῖς μεγάλων ἀχέων, etc., Manitius, Gesch. d. lat. Lit. d. Mittelalters, ii. p. 169. For the problem of evil in Plato see What Plato Said, p. 578 on Theaet. 176 A, and for the freedom of the will ibid. pp. 644-645 on Laws 904 C.

10 Cf. Symp. 175 C, where the words are the same but the construction different. For the indirect reflexive cf. 614 Bοὖ ἐκβῆναι, Symp. 176 D, Symp. 223 B δὲ ὕπνον λαβεῖν.

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