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[48a] For, in truth, this Cosmos in its origin was generated as a compound, from the combination of Necessity and Reason. And inasmuch as Reason was controlling Necessity by persuading her to conduct to the best end the most part of the things coming into existence, thus and thereby it came about, through Necessity yielding to intelligent persuasion, that this Universe of ours was being in this wise constructed at the beginning. Wherefore if one is to declare how it actually came into being on this wise, he must include also the form of the Errant Cause, in the way that it really acts. To this point, therefore, we must return, [48b] and taking once again a fresh starting point suitable to the matter we must make a fresh start in dealing therewith, just as we did with our previous subjects. We must gain a view of the real nature of fire and water, air and earth, as it was before the birth of Heaven, and the properties they had before that time; for at present no one has as yet declared their generation, but we assume that men know what fire is, and each of these things, and we call them principles and presume that they are elements1 of the Universe, although in truth they do not so much as deserve to be likened with any likelihood, [48c] by the man who has even a grain of sense, to the class of syllables. For the present, however, let our procedure be as follows. We shall not now expound the principle of all things—or their principles, or whatever term we use concerning them; and that solely for this reason, that it is difficult for us to explain our views while keeping to our present method of exposition.2 You, therefore, ought not to suppose that I should expound them, while as for me—I should never be able to convince myself that I should be right in attempting to undertake so great a task. Strictly adhering, then, [48d] to what we previously affirmed, the import of the “likely” account, I will essay (as I did before) to give as “likely” an exposition as any other (nay, more so), regarding both particular things and the totality of things from the very beginning. And as before,3 so now, at the commencement of our account, we must call upon God the Saviour to bring us safe through a novel and unwonted exposition [48e] to a conclusion based on likelihood, and thus begin our account once more.

We must, however, in beginning our fresh account of the Universe make more distinctions than we did before; for whereas then we distinguished two Forms,4 we must now declare another third kind. For our former exposition those two were sufficient, one of them being assumed as a Model Form, intelligible and ever uniformly existent,

1 στοιχεῖα, here applied to physical “elements,” was the regular term for “letters” of the alphabet; Cf. Theaet. 203 B ff.,Rep.402 A ff.

2 i.e., a method which aims only at “probability” or “likelihood”: to attain to “first principles” we should need to employ the “dialectic” method.

3 Cf. 27 C.

4 Cf. 28 A.

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